[Writing Prompt] Scratch & Sniff

Oooh boy:

Create ten all-new funny scratch and sniff stickers.

1.Milk that is two days or so beyond expiration date, so it probably doesn’t smell sour, but your imagination is running a little wild so you think there might be a hint of sourness in it, so you ask someone else to smell it to be sure, but ask in a way that is leading them to be in the same ‘it might be’ loop.

2. Chum Biscuits

3. Home of an irresponsible cat owner

4. Mystery Leftovers

5a. Mixed Berry
5b. Segregated Berry

6. Fetus

7. Bag of corn chips left in a car, during the summer, for longer than a week.

8. Their fart – not yours – yours are fine.. it’s their’s that are fucking atrocious.

9. Transformer’s Taint.

10. Safe Word: A mix of fear, lust, lube, and leather

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[Writing Prompt] Easter Bunny Login

So the more I go through this writing prompt book – the more I keep running across these weird ones… I said I was going to try and do every prompt in this book – so I guess even silly things like this count.

Create three original screen names and passwords that the Easter Bunny may use when logging in to check his email.

1. USERNAME: EBunny // PASSWORD: Ivurry
(..get it?)

2. USERNAME: Eostre // PASSWORD: NorthUmbs4Lyfe

3. USERNAME: BigFuckinRabbit // PASSWORD: IShitEggsOhGodWhy

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[Writing Prompt] Fortune Cookies

Write ten original thoughts that will be stuffed inside fortune cookies for perfect strangers to read.

1.   Hallo. I am looking for cousin Larry Appleton.

2.   Truly I say to you that one of them will betray You.

3.   Did you think perhaps I was happier in that cookie?  No. No you didn’t. You only think about yourself.

4a.  When immersed in water, this fortune turns into a sponge.
4b.  Watch, your date is about to put their fortune in water. Just laugh, don’t tell them we know.

5.   This cookie was inspected by #445. Dry clean only.

6.   You are thinking of the number 15. Yeah, I’m that fucking good.

7.   ♫ Never gonna give you up.. never gonna let you down. ♫

8.  My mixtape is straight fire, check it out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

9.  When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

10.   A/S/L?

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[Writing Prompts] Cell

Name one thing you wish your cell phone did for you that it currently does not.  


Paul glanced down at his cellphone and realized that he was late. Very late. Questioning whether he should bother going in late. The type of late that you call in and invent a story about a Nyquil haze due to a temperature in three digits late.

Laying on his side, looking with bleary eyes at his phone, he startled when he felt the bed shift behind him. He didn’t have a pet and he didn’t bring anyone home last night… but…

yes he did.

His mind raced trying to piece together the missing block of time. He had gone out to have a drink to.. why? Why did he decide to go out and have a drink? This was the first question that was plaguing his mind. He wasn’t the ‘go out and drink’ type, but he definitely would if there was a good reason.  He went to his text messages and there was nothing. His emails, his social media. Both nothing. There were two calls to the same number at around 9, but they weren’t connected to any contacts.

“…mmpaul?” a mumbling feminine voice came from behind him. “…dwanna get breakfast?”

His stomach gave out a pleasing yelp. He did want breakfast. This lead him to the weird consideration that he wasn’t hung over. If for some reason last night, he had gone out and gotten drunk, and then brought a random woman home with him with a missing block of time, why the hell wasn’t his head just pounding? The further this situation went, the harder it was for him to comprehend and the harder it was for him to not turn around and see whether drunk him had made a smart move or a drunk one.

He had one last idea and tapped Tindr.  Bingo. His recent messages included a conversation from last night with a woman by the name of ‘ProzConz’. Her picture was cute too, and was exactly the type of woman Paul would swipe right on. They typed at each other for a half hour and the conversation stops with them agreeing to go meet at a local bar for the potential of a late night hook-up.

With the first part of the mystery solved, Paul rolled over and looked at ProzConz and just like her picture, she gave him a charming lopsided smile. “Thanks for a good night…” she said, still half asleep.

He nodded, picking his words carefully. “I’d love to get breakfast, but I’m already late for work, so I’m going to have to get dressed and go.” Without knowing how well they had hit it off the night before, he was hoping she would get the message that she would have to go too.

She nodded, ‘Mmkay. Let me just get myself together.” She sat up, and quickly got to her feet striking a very nice naked profile against the incoming sunlight.  He watched as she moved around his bedroom like she knew it well. Before he even had slipped on a pair of boxers, she was dressed, long hair bundled up in a messy bun, and slipping on her shoes.  The more he watched, the more annoyed he was that he didn’t remember the previous night at all. Between the grace in which she moved and the fact that he definitely was attracted to her, he had no doubt they had a good time.

“So..” he said as she was getting ready to walk out of the bedroom with no further conversation of prodding on his part, “can I call you again?”

She grinned, stray auburn hairs falling in front of her eyes. “Of course. Any time next week would be fantastic.” She walked up to him, kissed him on the forehead. Before he could even fathom what the next sentence should be, the door to his apartment banged shut and she was gone.

The sequence of events was the most ideal outcome. He had time to figure out who she was, and hopefully get back whatever weird drunk time he was missing. Now though, he had to figure out what to do with his work situation, which was still a huge ordeal left in the day.  He stepped into the bathroom and his phone rang before he could even prepare his toothbrush.

The phone number showed as his bank.  Odd. He put it on speaker, the automated message loudly echoing through his tiled bathroom.

“This is a courtesy message for, PAUL R ANDERS, concerning unusual activity on his, checking account ending in 7544. If this is PAUL R ANDERS, please stay on the line to speak with a representative.”

He held, taking his phone into the bedroom and sitting back down. A cold chill started to touch in Paul’s stomach. He was very responsible with his money, and had never had a late payment let alone unusual activity.  When he finally heard a human voice on the other side of the phone, he was starting to actually feel sick versus having to pretend for work.

The woman’s voice on the phone verified his name, his birth date, his address, and each question felt more and more excruciating than the last. After all of that she asked quite plainly, as if it was a common occurrence, “Mr. Anders, last night did you withdraw the entirety of your checking account from an ATM on Sycamore Drive?”

The cold chill was now a full blown hailstorm in his gut. “No.” he whispered quietly.

“Hmm.. I see that Sycamore Drive is just under a mile from your home. Did you lose your card at all? Have your wallet stolen?” And then asked, still with the chipper voice of a woman who was completely oblivious to the fact that she was about to make him vomit. “Do you have your card now, Mr. Anders?”

Paul looked around his floor and found his pants in a heap at the foot of his bed, and wasn’t surprised at all to not see his wallet there. “..looking..” he whimpered into the phone as he stood up and left his bedroom for the first time since waking.

He dropped the phone leaving his customer service representative saying ‘hello’ loud enough for him to hear her. He didn’t hear her though, or at least he didn’t respond to her. Paul was too busy looking at his completely empty apartment. An apartment where he had lived for the past few years was now empty like the day he had moved in. There was clutter around. Piles of papers, books scattered around, garbage strewn about the kitchen floor, but the entirety of the apartment was gone. Couches. Television. Kitchen appliances. Bookshelves. DVDs. All of it.


He bent down and picked up his phone slowly.

“i’m…. gonna have to call you back…”

He hung up before the customer service rep could get a word in edgewise.

There was only one thing he could think to do. His mind was a mix of dread and his stomach was moments away from expelling everything.  ProzConz… Pro-Con.. how could he have been so stupid? He had been had. Drugged and taken for every single thing he was worth. Tears were falling down his cheeks, and he was doing his best to not just scream. The police would be here soon enough to take a report from him, he didn’t want them showing up before he could call them.

He began to move, ever so slowly through his apartment. His phone was blinking for some reason, but he didn’t pay attention. He was too busy remembering the way his apartment looked the day before, recognizing everything he lost. His laptop. His Ikea kitchen stand with all of the spices. The sound system…..

The sound system.  He had, when installing it, hammered just a little too hard and left a quarter sized hole in the drywall.  The spot was gone and looked just like regular wall.  Did whomever ProzConz was working with fix his wall before they left? It seemed impossible, especially since that means they would have had to paint over the whole so well that it looked like it never happened.

His phone let out a noise that sounded like a submarine was about to dive.  When Paul turned his head, he could also see the screen blinking red.

“What the hell..” Picking it up revealed one word and a button.


Paul couldn’t help but wonder if somehow they had done something to his phone, too.  The noise was getting louder, as if the phone insisted on being rebooted.

Paul was scared and unsure if doing what his phone insisted was the right idea.  The fear was that it might make his situation worse, which was the ultimate catalyst to him hitting the button. A clear-minded part of him, somewhere secreted away bubbled up briefly to point out that there was very little that could happen that would be worse than what had already transpired.

Just as his finger brushed the screen, the klaxon stopped his screen blanked.

Paul woke up with his head drenched in sweat. His stomach felt like he had done a hundred sit-ups. He sat up and felt his head being weighed down, only to realize he was wearing his giant noise canceling headphones.

“Fear Dream Sequence, Completed.” A chipper computer voice spoke to him.

He followed the headphone cord to his phone which was hidden beneath a pile of blankets. The screen showed a timer which seemed to have counted down from 60 minutes. Hitting back he came to the first screen.

Binary Creations Emotional Dream Simulator
Please select:

Paul sighed. He had hit the wrong button. He seriously wished there was a way to get a more precision click on his damn cell phone.


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[Writing Prompt] Bucket List

The book that I picked up has a lot of inspirational questions that I’m not answering. I will though, use each prompt to try and create something.

List ten things on your bucket list.

Mitch coughed blood into a tissue. He couldn’t help but examine them when the coughs wracked his body so hard that he found some of his insides coming out. They were these horrible Kleenex Rorschach tests that he would look at and try and quickly imagine what the first thing he saw was. This one had an unsymmetrical gob of dark red that looked like nothing more than a reminder that Mitch was dying.

He balled it up and methodically took a plastic baggie filled with a rainbow of these tissues, placing it inside. “Why, Mitch. That shit is disgusting.” Vick made a gagging gesture, and Mitch wasn’t entirely sure if it was real or mocking, but he still continued stuffing the kleenex in the bag, rezipping it up and then placing it back into his shoulder bag.

“I’m not leaving my cancer rags on the top of this mountain. We’re already up here crunching in the snow, fucking with the wildlife. I’m not letting some poor mountain goat eat my cancer. It’s gross.” Mitch had given this a lot of thought. He saw his cancer as this living and breathing entity. It was a monster that he wasn’t going to defeat. It was a force of will greater than his own. The best he could do was try and do good things while living in its shadow, but there would come a time when that shadow completely enveloped him and all that was left would be the tales of his adventures.

Adventures like this.

The bucket list was Vick’s idea. She had read it in some ‘dealing with loved ones dying’ kind of book, of which there were a surprising amount of. Mitch also got that too. He hated how much of these things he now understood, like cancer opened up some sort of amazing door to the inner workings of man, yet depleted your time to use it well. People all mourn differently, so when their loved one dies, some people write a book about how they think they should get over it. After that works for them, it must work for someone else, so they sell it. It guarantees that even if the life didn’t mean something, the mourning did. Mitch was trying to leave an imprint on this world, the hypothetical book writer was trying to leave an imprint about their grief on the world. It was just an ego trip all the way down.

Mitch took in a deep breath, testing his lungs against the thinner air after a vicious coughing fit. It felt strained and tight, but he was able to take in the whole of it, and it felt amazing. The air here was untouched. His breath, with particles of the city, and the plant he worked in for most of his life, his car, and a hundred other places were dirtier than the air he was taking in. Even if there were particles of other places of the world, they were filtered through hundreds of miles of mountainous expanse.  Mitch felt like if he stood here and breathed that air forever, perhaps it would be enough to clean out whatever darkness was clinging to his lungs. Similarly, Mitch was aware that that thought process was how snake oil is born.

“Ok, I’m set up.” Vick said, breaking the incredible silence. Mitch turned from the view of the mountain ranges in all directions, and towards Vick and her tripod. On top was a state of the art video camera on a small, but powerful, stabilizing rig. Both machines clicked and then began to whurr softly, telling Mitch that they were ready too. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Mitch had been asking himself that same question for the last twelve hours. This was nuts. This whole premise was batshit, as his mother would say. It was the last one on his list though, so it had to be the biggest. It had to be the one he might not come back from. He started his journey with no regrets, and now that he was at the first idea he had written down, he would end it with no regrets. Up to the point a few months ago, when he realized he was living on borrowed time, he had never lived like that. He held back ideas. He made safe choices. He planned.

Now he was on the top of a mountain, ready to do the craziest thing he had ever considered. He had done the simplest stuff first. He met a relative from a distant part of his family. He wanted to know if there were similarities between himself and them, and was surprised to find out that there were subtle ones like the small patch of grey both he and his distant cousin had on the left side of their head. Mitch’s father had it, and apparently so did his relative’s. He did a day of roller coasters, which he had previously avoided because of an incident from his childhood where he threw up at the peak of one, raining down his sick on the people behind him.

He didn’t vomit, but he was still certain he didn’t like them.

When he walked into restaurants, he asked to talk to the cook. He was surprised how many places let him do that. He would ask them to make him their favorite dish on or off the menu. Sometimes he got whatever was on special, but other times he received this amazing concoction of meats and sauces that he never might have known about.

Each one of these would cross a line off his list of things he wanted to try, and even though it was completely in his head, he felt lighter with each passing one. Like he had unburdened his soul and was closer to heaven-bound. When he told Vick about that, she just held his hand and told him how much she loved him.

Today though was the biggest challenge yet. When Mitch had been 8, his family had taken him skiing and they all had a fantastic time, but Mitch stood at the top of the mountain, frozen solid.  He felt like his feet were locked in the skis and the skis were locked into the earth, and this would be where he remained forever. He couldn’t imagine surviving the experience of throwing himself down a mountainside. He saw no enjoyment in the concept, only blood curdling fear. When he relayed the story to Vick, he had told her the one fact about the story that nobody had ever known, not even his parents. Standing on this very mountain, near to this very spot, staring down this same wide open field of snow. He had pissed himself as a kid. It scared him so much that he just stood frozen while warmth just traveled down his leg, which somehow made the fear even more real.

That’s why this was the first one on his list, and the last one to be completed.  It was his greatest fear, and now that his body was giving up on him, he was going to defeat the last self-made demon he could.

He turned to the camera, and smiled at Vick. She looked amazing in the cold. Her pale cheeks were more flushed, and the frost that clung to her hat and wisps of hair framed her face beautifully. “Hi. I’m Mitch. I’m your dad… I’m sorry I don’t get to meet you, but, well, this world sucks sometimes. I just wanted to tell you a story before I do something completely nuts…”

He told his tale into the camera. The ski trip. The fear. The pee. All of it. He spoke to his unborn child in a way he didn’t think he would have been able to the day before he had gone into the doctor’s office with a chest cold he couldn’t seem to get ahead of. He spoke more earnestly than he could have when he was picking pieces of mirror out of his fist, the day the results had come back as completely, mortally, positive. Every word was built around accepting who you are and doing what you need to, but also not being afraid to take risks. He did his best to explain to his future child who he was and who he had become, and how much he loved their mom.

At the end of it all. He told both Vick and the camera that he loved them. He gave Vick one meaningful look, her face encrusted with salt and tears from listening to him pour his heart out in a way he had never really done all at once like that. Mitch simply smiled, put on his goggles, turned, and pushed off, throwing himself both down the mountain, and the trail’s inevitable end.


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[Writing Prompts] Rabbit Hole

If you fell down a rabbit hole, what do you think you would find?

There comes a time in one’s life where you have to look at your achievements and ask yourself, ‘Is this all there is?’

Alex had been circling that drain for the better part of two years when he saw the rabbit. Calling him simply ‘the rabbit’ doesn’t do him justice at all. From his crushed velvet jacket, to the pristine miniature pocketwatch he was holding. From a consideration of species, he was a rabbit, but from his state of dress he was clearly something quite different than the floppy eared pet you may have initially thought of.

“Escuse me?” the rabbit shouted towards Alex as he bound towards him. A soft lisp to his voice, that Alex questioned if it was due to the creature’s elongated front teeth. “Escuse me, sir.. do you happen to have zhe time?”

Alex glanced at his watch. “4:30.”

That was not what the rabbit wanted to hear. “FOUR SIRTY! FOURRR ZHIRRRTTYY! I am quite quite quite quite late!” And in a blink the rabbit was bounding past the stunned Alex.

Is this all there is?

His life felt empty. Boring. Devoid of interest. He barely felt connected with this world most of the time. As the rabbit was just cresting the horizon, Alex charged after him. “Mister Rabbit!” He yelled, and where he was sure the rabbit had heard him, he gave no sense that he would stop or pause for a moment.

The average rabbit, the sans coat and pocketwatch kind, are notoriously fast. This one though was running not with the same bounding leaps you imagine, but on two legs which made him fast, but not as fast as he could be if he was on all fours. Alex, giving chase now, was certain he was catching up by inches every second that passed.

They toured through the woods, around trees, over fallen logs, and then at least, he watched as the rabbit simply disappeared. Within the span of a blink, the rabbit was nowhere to be seen. Alex kept running and skidded to stop when he saw where the rabbit must have gone.

A hole.  A giant hole.

At least five feet across, this hole fell into darkness, and Alex was certain his new puff-tailed friend had taken his leave down there.

“HELLO?” He shouted.

There was no sound in response.

The young man tried to think about whether he had been into this area of the woods before, but the more he looked around for context of his exact location, the more he realized he was completely lost.

From somewhere deep within the hole he heard the lisping voice of the rabbit, “Are you zhoining me? I’m laaaate!” The voice echoed off the walls, and it took him until the second report to realize that somewhere beneath the earth the rabbit was speaking to him.

Is this all there is? 

Alex sighed. Finally, a moment of unique experience. A moment that few, if any, had ever experienced. It was the beginning of a grand adventure that was surging through his bones, and that was what pushed his feet from the ground and sailing through the air. It was the potential of flights of fantasy and a new world that lay at the bottom of this hole.

The rabbit, Morris, listened as the excited yawp from above ground grew closer. He glanced at his watch again, a nervous tic he had since he was in the warren with his dozens of brothers and sisters. His foot tapped impatiently. He wasn’t as late as he had let on, but he found it was the easiest way to not have to answer questions.

Morris had gone through this so many times, he could tell from the pause in the excited yelp that there were only a few seconds left.




Morris took a step back as Alex landed, spraying ichor and gore to every corner of the small landing chamber. He glanced at his watch, wiping the watchface of liver or spleen on his vest. From a connecting passage, Morris’ wife dressed in a powder blue sundress entered the anti-chamber and gasped as she saw the sight of the young man, with the growing pool of colors that his body lay in the center of.

“That’s the third this week. You are doing wonderfully this season.” She commented, leaning over and kissing her husband on the cheek.  Morris looked and smiled as there was a touch of pink just beneath her twitching nose. “Now come on, sweetie. I put dinner on the table just a few minutes ago.”

Morris’ head tilted to the side. “Oh, darling, I apologize. I really am late.”

Their laughter filled the halls as they headed home, thrilled at the life they had built together.

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[Writing Prompt] Message In A Bottle

On a lark, I bought this book with 400 writing prompts. I don’t know if I’ll do one every day, but I definitely will be doing them to work out the writing muscles more. I’ll likely write more about life and stuff here eventually, but I’m just trying to bring writing back.. so lets start here.

So without further adieu….

While at the beach you decide to write a message in a bottle. What would it say? Who would you like to find it?

Aaron stood with the water rushing in over his ankles, staring off into the horizon that felt like it was hundreds of miles away, but was realistically only a few. He had spent months stranded on this small little island and he had one word for all of those survival movies he had seen.


Cruise ships don’t notice signal fires and the countless times he tried to fire his laser pointer at helicopters, the only thing he got in return was sparkles blinking in his eyes from looking towards the sun too much.

His life wasn’t entirely miserable here on Aarontopioa, as he had come to refer to it. There was a fresh water stream that provided him with enough water between rainfalls and if he had access to the internet, he would guarantee the little pigs that ran around the island in abundance would be the key to letting him know where he actually was. He had never seen their like before anywhere, which meant they probably had some unique island specific name and were protected by one animal group or another.

He pondered if the article would also explain that their meat tasted like it was pre-smoked in hickory.  Probably not.

Aaron stood every sunrise and sunset like this with the long rope vine in hand, tugging it rhythmically. It was the only time of day he could really stand and watch the horizon for signs of ships. In the mid-day it was too hot and he would burn himself alive and at night, his machine didn’t work.

“Machine” was a bit of an exaggeration. What he had was a dozen or so aluminum panels that he had taken from his crashed plane. He had bound them together, and arranged them so that, when he tugged on his makeshift rope, they bounced up and down in the hopes to act as a signal for anybody in the sea or air.

A glint of light caught his attention.  A quarter mile from where he stood, something was bobbing in the water.  At first he considered that it was a fish that jumped up at the right time, but after he saw it flicker twice and then three times, he realized there was something there.

In his first month, Aaron had used everything he knew from Castaway, Life of Pi, and Joe vs. the Volcano to try and build a raft to find one of the other dozens of small islands that were likely just out of sight to him, but he found it impossible to break across the barrier of the tides a mile or so out.  A dozen times he took his raft made of logs and luggage, reeds and patchworked fabric to the water, and each time he would get to some invisible point a quarter mile away from his island and the force of the ocean would bring him back.

Aaron didn’t think it was some strange mystical force that kept him locked in to his paradise prison. He just didn’t know enough about how the tides work to explain it.

It did mean that, on occasion, things would wash up on shore.

This particular thing was getting closer, and judging by the shape outlined in light as his signal machine bounced its big metal aluminum sheets, it was a bottle.

The sun rose slowly, turning from purple to red to orange to yellow, and the heat that had begun to bathe Aaron told him it was going to be a scorcher. The bottle bobbed and swam, and it was definitely getting closer, but if it took much longer, Aaron would have to wait until tonight to find it on the beach. He had read somewhere that the most dangerous sun was early in the morning, and he wanted to get inside his makeshift cave before it got unbearable.

The bottle moved a little faster, like it wanted to be retrieved. Aaron decided to meet it halfway and swam out to get it. The cold water of the ocean felt like the greatest balm on his already heated skin, and he reveled in the feeling. If there was one thing he had grown to love during his time on the island, it was swimming. When he looked around, he was surprised to see the bottle right next to him, remaining afloat because of a cork stuck in the top, and again he got the feeling that this message was important. At the very least, it was interesting.

Back on shore, he walked to his home, examining his new curious treasure. It was a letter in a bottle, like you would imagine happening to man trapped on a deserted island or, more likely, a song by the Police. Aaron couldn’t help laughing at how cliche the whole thing seemed, but that didn’t stop his excitement to find out what his new aquatic pen pal might have to say. He hoped it was someone who had seen him and this was the only way they could get a message out to him. It sounded preposterous, but what else could it be?

Aaron waited until he was situated in his small home. He sat on his bed made of the airplane’s fire blanket. After popping the cork, getting the piece of paper out took a bit of manipulation, but with the help of a long thin branch, he was finally able to get a corner of the paper to emerge from the top of the bottle which let him pull out the whole.

He was flush with excitement. ‘Here we go’ he said to nobody, in a voice hoarse from disuse.

“Dear Sir/Madam:

We regret to inform you that, due to Statute L4W:1663 of local aviation law, you are hereby fined the sum of $2,500. The use of a laser or laser-pointing device on an jet/airplane/helicopter is forbidden by law, and attaches to it the previously mentioned fine.

Please fill out the bottom half of this form, whether or not you wish to dispute this claim. If you do not wish to dispute this then also enclose a check or money order along with the form. If you do wish to dispute this, please include a brief explanation to explain your case and it will be adjudicated on.

Thank you for your time,
The Judiciary of the Palmyra & Associated Islands & Atolls”



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A Christmas Card – Gift of the Magi!


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I’m late – I’m late!

aliceinwonderlandwideNo time to say “Hello, Goodbye”.
I’m late I’m late I’m late!

For those who might be paying attention. I’m now officially late.  I was doing wonderfully until today for the Nano, but that’s ok. One day back doesn’t seem insurmountable to me.  Especially with my strange ‘Oh, 2k words later’ superpowers.  I will admit, one or two paragraphs in the previous chapters have come about me going, ‘Oh, let me bulk up this sentence here…’ and it turning into another 100 words. When I find a spot to blow-up in, I’m pretty tolerable at it.

When I decided I was doing this, and in the first 12 hours I was up above goal words for the day, I messaged with my friend Caitlin who is also doing her Nano thang. She replied, at 10am, “Ugh, I’m already so late…”

I did the math.  She was roughly 6-700 words behind. This is silly since I don’t imagine there are any people writing 70 words an hour to meet their goals.  When I told her this, she was quite adamant in telling me it didn’t matter.. she was late.

So where does that put me with a full day behind?

Ask me tomorrow, when I do my best to get where I need to go.

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[Nano16] Day 4 – Hero By Exception, Chapter 4


With a lack of fanfare, and also a centrally focused desire to get home, Harold ran until his heart was fighting to shoot itself out of his chest, and his stomach was a knot wrapped around a tangle of ropes, entwined around a rock that was also trying to dislodge itself through his ribcage.  His legs hurt from his near sprint. His arms hurt from how hard he was holding the box to his chest.

Not only did he do the job he was asked to perform, but he learned that his world might be different than he had always known.  What was Sweetfoot trying to tell him, and why would, after Harold found out, it be enough to send him back into the woods to start a new life as a dwarf’s employee?  The curiosity was killing him.

Only as Harold came up on his family’s plot of land did he think that he should have been more careful in his journey home, but that thought was cut short when he realized he wasn’t going home first. He had to deliver the box directly to Alphus and Dalton.  ‘Dammit’ he thought, ‘I want to know…’ he thought as he stopped in front of the front gate to his home and caught his breathe.  Sweat dripped down his face, and he wondered if there was an excuse he could make to run in, but nothing came to him. If he misstepped right now, he might not learn what was going on. If he failed, he might not earn his father’s trust or be told any of whatever was going on.

After his heart stopped thudding so ferociously, he began to walk towards the center hub of town.  HIs sprint had saved him time, so he wasn’t worried about being late. His father hadn’t given him a timeframe to work within anyway.  As he came to the end of his road, where the street opened up into the modest town square, the sweat had dried to his skin and the warm summer air had started to cool off his overheated body.  

The town hub of Arrow’s Keep was one of the more affluent community centers in the surrounding towns.  The Keep, as it was called, was rich enough to afford them a cobble stone center with a marble fountain in front of the grand gate that lead to it’s namesake. The citadel in the center of the fountain was a precise replica of the structure that loomed behind it, but with waterfalls spouting from every side. Aside from the capital’s Reginar Castle, the Keep had been referred to as the most defensible place in the entirety of the country.  It had been the site of many wars before Harold, or even Harold’s father had been born.  It was hard to not be impressed by the structure, with its dwarven stonework and look as if it was trying to touch the heavens.  

As children, Harold and his friends would pretend that they were defending the keep like the heroes of stories. Invisible dragons would fly through the air and dive at the treeforts they referred to as the Keep, as the boys would hang from branches and try and scramble defenses and defeat all insurgents.  Harold missed those times.  So many of his friends had left in the past year as they reached apprenticing age.  Today, Dalton would go, leaving just Harold to fend for himself in town.

He wondered if the words of Sweetfoot were making him wistful for adventure. He had always considered the idea of being a hero to be the world’s greatest endeavor.  You discovered lands that hadn’t been seen for centuries. You found the treasures left by the heroes that came before you. He sighed and swallowed down those thoughts. Not everyone gets to be a hero, and as the heir to the Orian business, he knew his place in the world.

Delivery boy for a man he wasn’t sure he knew very well.

“Hail Harold!” The clear voice of Dalton came from across the hub.  Harold looked up and saw his friend walking towards him with a small sack in his hand.  The boy’s new red cloak, unembroidered or embellished like his father’s, hung around him like a bedsheet. It seemed that as you got older you learned to walk and make your cloak feel like part of you, much like Alphus did.  Dalton didn’t have such grace yet, so it truly looked like he was a child wearing a loose towel around his neck. Beneath the cloak, the young man was wearing travelling leathers, with his hair pulled back into a braid like his father’s, but blond. Dalton stepped up and they shook from the wrist and a quick embrace.  Dalton gasped at Harold’s squeeze, being a head shorter than him and half his weight.  As they separated, he tipped his bag towards Harold, and he could smell the steam of roasted nuts from Mika’s Grocer, a loved treat in town.

Harold took a few and threw them into his mouth, relishing the sweet mix of honey and sugar mixed with the heartiness of the nuts. “One last bag before you go on your epic quest?” He smiled.

Dalton nodded, “Aye. We’re in the last moments of preparation, so I thought I’d take my time and enjoy the Keep one last time before we go. There is a chance it will be quite a while before I get back.”

Harold tilted his head, “I thought your journey would only be a few weeks or so?”

His friend shook his head, “No. My father’s trip will only be a few weeks. If I am accepted by the Mage’s Guild, there is a period of study that could keep me locked up for quite a bit longer. I only learned that myself the other day.  It seems the amount of things I knew about magic are nothing compared to the things they tell you after you’ve sworn to be one.  How about you?  My father seemed quite unhappy with yours today.”

They sat at the fountain and shared Dalton’s food while Harold told him the entirety of the morning. Everything from the argument between Alphus and Fergus to what Sweetfoot had said to him about not knowing the entirety of his father’s story.  Dalton listened enrapt.  Finally looking down at the box that Harold had brought, “And this is… well, whatever it is?”  

Harold nodded. “I’m to give it to your father and nobody else. I’m not even sure it’s ok that I give it to you.”

Dalton scratched his chin, small blonde stubbly hairs, matching the color of the braid on his head, had just begun to grow and he had taken to touching them when deep in thought. Harold thought it looked like he was trying a little too hard to seem like a sage or historian. “I admit, your father has never struck me as the nicest man, but some mysterious dark dealing criminal? I think perhaps the dwarf was putting you on.”

Harold nodded quietly. “Well, whatever the case is, I’ll find out after I give this to Alphus.”  He stood up. “Shall we?”

Dalton didn’t stand, still in the midst of thought. “One last consideration.  What are you going to do if this dwarf was correct?  Let us say that it is something reprehensible.  What then?”

Harold didn’t answer.  It was the concern that had been with him since he left the dwarf’s encampment.  His thoughts of being a hero and pondering where all his friends had gone were all part of the same. He was moving towards a crossroads, and even without Sweetfoot’s words, he would have been. Now, with the possibility that there was some moral question, it was even more apparent that big decisions were going to be made in Harold’s life.  “I’m gonna miss you Dalt.”

Dalton realized his question was going to be left unanswered and stood up, embracing his friend again. “We’ll see each other again. Our fathers be damned.”

The conversation slipped into more basic things, with the moment of gravity passed.  They had spent years together. Adventures together. They had smoked tobacco and drank the first time together, and were the lie for the other when their parents asked where they had gone.  Dalton helped Harold learn how to read and Harold made sure that the older kids in town didn’t pick on the more slight Dalton. They were a pair for many years, and even as they got older and studies became more important to Dalton, their friendship was secure.

When they reached the front of Dalton’s home, Alphus was strapping packs to horses. “Hail Father.” Dalton said, and the man turned, saw both of them and Harold noticed the roll of his eyes until he saw the box.

He stepped up and without greeting, without any preamble, looked to Harold. “Is that mine?”

“Aye sir.” Harold said, presenting it.

Alphus snatched up and walked around the horse, opening a leather satchel and sliding the box inside of it. “Dalton, go get your pack. That was the last of what we needed and we should have been on the road just after dawn.”

Dalton looked to his friend with apologetic eyes, but Harold shook his head to tell him it wasn’t his fault.  “Yes, Father.” He said, and reached out his arm once more to Harold.  They shook and turned away before the welling of tears in their eyes gave them any reason to say anything else that might embarrass them in front of the older man.

Dalton ran inside his home, and Harold stood there, watching Alphus leading the two horses to a trough of water to give them one last drink before the journey.  After a silent few beats, he looked to Harold, “Anything else?”

The man had been so friendly earlier in the day.  Harold had never had reason to fight with Alphus, but it seemed whatever fight there was between him and his father had overflowed onto him.  It all felt very curious to Harold, but he recognized that he wasn’t going to get any answers from this camp.  

Maybe at home. “Sir. Safe travels.”  He said, respectfully, and turned on his heel and began the journey home, where he hoped things would become clearer.

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