April 23, 2019-Prompt- Put Your Character in a Precarious Situation

Was Billy still angry?

In spite of our Smack-down fight a week ago, I was hanging from a rawhide Reata knotted about my waist one quarter down the one hundred foot cliff. I had dropped hand over hand on the frayed two-inch jute rope as Billy let me down. Now I had let go of the jute and relied only on the rawhide. Billy was to keep the Reata from sliding across a rock above while I hung free and lifted the owlets into each sack looped under and over my belt.

Our wrestling for fun always turned into mad fights. Was Billy was still angry? Both rawhide and jute belonged to his dad and I’d not seen them before we borrowed them from his River Road Construction business truck. From the nest ledge, it was still about seventy-five feet to the huge sharp boulders at the cliff base. Neither rope would reach past the rocks and dropping from their ends would not be a painless choice.

Now Billy had to take up the slack in the rawhide as I climbed back up because neither of us trusted the frayed jute alone to hold my weight. Could I trust him? This was way past the best time to ask. I had won the Smack-down Billy started. He was really mad when he left and today was the first we’d met since that fight.

Donavin Leckenby

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February 5, 2019 – Prompt -peel,wood,lace, light,blue

I’m not sure I want to go through with this, Annie said to herself as she slipped the light weight dress over her head and put her arms through the lace bolero.

It had been a rough day. It seemed like something was wrong.

She had just met him today. His eyes were as blue as the sky but there was something that made her skin prickle when he touched her arm as he helped her step down off of the train. It wasn’t a good prickle either! Why had she agreed to meet him for lunch!

The air had turned chilly, a wind ruffled the tree leaves. She shivered as she threw a piece of wood on the smoldering fire in the fireplace. Maybe he won’t come. I hope he doesn’t she thought as she settled into a chair by the fire and began to peel an orange. Oh! I hope he doesn’t. I was stupid to agree to see him again.

Just as a clap of thunder split the air there was a knock at the door
.
Lorraine Ueeck

January 29, 2019 – Prompt – a photo

polar bearDammit, where the heck is that smoked salmon? I asked Mama Bear to be sure to pack it- she knows it’s my favorite. Too much junk in here. Baby Bear’s stuff; toys, diapers, onesies. Maybe that little blonde-haired wench stole it at the 7-11 we stopped at. Now what was her name? “Goldie” ? “Lockslie” ? NO It was GOLDILOCKS !

Tom Rutherford

*****

Jack was a wildlife photographer. During his vacations, he took pictures of deer and eagles in the North woods of Wisconsin. He longed for retirement when he could travel outside Wisconsin to see the “real wildlife” in places like the Yukon . When the time finally came for his retirement and he had enough money saved for a pickup truck and gas to go far North to the Yukon. The truck was old but he outfitted it with the simple necessities of an RV.

He had traveled for weeks from Wisconsin’s Fall weather to the winter-like climate of the Yukon. One day as he traveled along the back highways, expecting to see all the wildlife like moose and polar bears, he ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. He was tired and took a snooze just as it started to snow. He pulled the blanket over his face to keep warm and fell asleep. While he slept a bear started to climb into the back end of his truck. He was shocked to awake from his slumber to see this big furry bear sniffing at his camera laying on the floor. Needless to say he didn’t get the shot as the bear took his camera with him as he ambled away in the driving snow.

Linda Scott

January 22, 2019 – Prompt – Insanity is the Right Way

Dave has been an AI researcher for over twenty years now. He spent all his waking hours trying to bring consciousness to computers. There have been great accomplishments in the field including self-driving cars, real time language translation and handwriting recognition. But to Dave, none of these is true intelligence. None of these are self aware or introspective. They all produce the same results consistently and reliably. This is necessary for a car, but is it right for true intelligence? Dave is going down a new route now. He has been studying people incarcerated in institutions and trying capture the essence of the patients there into his programming. It is his new mantra now, that insanity is the right way towards true intelligence.

Cheers
Stephen Smith

January 15, 2019 – Prompt – apple, car, sidewalk and bowl

THE APPLE INCIDENT
Saturday morning I was driving my CAR back from the grocery store. It was raining so hard that my windshield wipers could hardly keep up. With the visibility so bad, I could hardly make out the boy on his bicycle riding on the SIDEWALK next to me.

He was peddling hard through the puddles and had no raincoat or hoodie for protection. All of a sudden he veered off the SIDEWALK right in front of me! I slammed on the brakes and braced for what was sure to be a tragic accident. My tires slid on the wet pavement, and I miraculously stopped before slamming into the young man.

My groceries were everywhere, with eggs and yogurt on the dashboard. The red delicious APPLES I had purchased had become ammunition as they flew from behind me like mortars.They barely missed my head.

I got out of my car and found the young man shaking and crying, but unhurt. I gave him and his bent bicycle a ride to his home.

When I returned to my own home I gathered up my groceries, what was left of them, as best I could and cleaned up the mess in my CAR The red APPLES seemed non the worse for the wear, so I placed them in a silver BOWL on the kitchen table.

Tom Rutherford

******

The Rolls Royce came careening around the corner, two wheels jumped the curb onto the sidewalk as the passenger window opened and a long arm threw something at the homeless person standing with his back against the building.

Whatever was thrown the man caught it, flailed his arm violently and screamed back as the car bounced across the curb into the proper lane of the street and sped off.

I went over to check the homeless old man and asked, “Are you alright? Whatever they threw at you did it cause an injury? Just in case, I got at least most of the license plate number!”

The man seemed angry when he looked at me but spat, “I am ok NOW!” He showed me what he’d caught. It was a bowl and held what appeared to be an apple pie.

Now I was puzzled, but before I asked he volunteered, “It’s my lunch. My son-in-law always delivers it that way.”

Donavin A. Leckenby

December 11, 2018 – Prompt – What do you think Santa’s Elves do on there day off? Write a story about an elf that gets into trouble on his day off.

Pinkey was an elf, different in every way from all the other elves. To begin with, Pinkey was aptly named for the fact that his nose would turn a bright neon pink whenever he did something that would put him on Santa’s naughty list if he was an ordinary human. But he wasn’t. He was an elf, not just an ordinary elf. Pinkey was the son of Santa’s brother and an elfin witch. Perhaps that’s why Pinkey was always in trouble and Santa didn’t fire him.

It was days before the Christmas rush, and Pinkey was bored of all the work. So he went to the reindeer stable and “borrowed” Rudolph for a joy ride. Pinkey misjudged the distance when he rode Rudolf too close to the North Pole. Rudolph hit the pole and hurt his nose and wouldn’t be able to lead the reindeer through the dark polar night.

Santa was furious with Pinkey whose nose glowed an exceptionally bright neon pink. Santa thought that if Rudolph couldn’t guide the sleigh perhaps Pinkey’s nose could.

And so it was that Pinkey with his own the pink nose led all the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh to make the rounds on Christmas eve. However, true to his mischievous nature, Pinkey ate all the cookies and drank all the milk that was left out for Santa.

Linda Scott

 

December 4, 2018 – Prompt – A man enters his house and notices several things are just slightly out of place.

TWILIGHT (Bob Kelly)
“Hmmm… I must have left a newspaper on the floor this morning,” I thought as I stepped on the neatly folded newspaper.

I had just gotten home from work and walked through the dimly lit house into the kitchen where I was greeted by the bitter smell of freshly brewed coffee.

“What the hell? Did I forget to reset the timer this morning?”

After dinner I tried to watch the evening news. I had to search for the TV controller and when I finally located it, discovered that the channels were all mixed up. This was really starting to annoy me.

Yes, I had recently had a stroke but had never before faced this kind of confusion.
Later that evening as I was preparing to brush my teeth, I discovered that all of the brushes were neatly placed in the cup but upside down. Likewise, the toothpaste was not in its usual drawer but instead was two drawers away. An eerie silence seemed to fill the house.

I fled to the safety of my bed and lay quietly in the dark. Suddenly the radio beside my bed blared to life and the opening cords from “Twilight Zone” flooded the room.

November 27, 2018 – Why I Write?

November 27th, 2018

Today as I write about Tito a beloved Communist leader after visiting his Parliament in Belgrade last May, I remember the smell of the pink with yellow center rose that was named after him. Learning about his funeral that was attended by many dignitaries on Both sides of the Cold War. It was said no funeral rivaled it for five years by Pope John Paul II, then thirteen years later by Nelson Mandela.

I was sitting writing these facts in my NaNoWriMo novel, as I received a text from a neighbor saying she had just heard our neighbor down the block didn’t make it out of surgery. It was a sad day in our neighborhood, as we’ll miss Jerry’s smiling face. He was a retired Air Force officer. I saw Jerry walk across the street as I was on the way to meet a friend for church. I’d been told he was leaving the next day for Palm Springs as it was a dangerous surgery requiring at least four specialists. He had a hernia of the diaphragm that needed repair. I impulsively jumped out of the car and hugged Jerry so hard it broke my dollar store glasses, I had tucked into my blouse.  Saying I hoped to see him home soon.

When I told my friend of his passing, she said, “I want to go to the movies.”

My thoughts were she needs, “Calgon take you away time,” (an old bubble bath commercial). I prefer to feel the raw emotion, “That’s why I write!”

Carol Bouchard

 

November 20, 2018 – Sunsets and Heartbeats

This week we had a take home prompt. We were to use the sentences below as your prompt make one the first sentence and the other the last sentence but use both. Limit to 500 words or less.

*Sunsets will never be the same again

*Heart beats shouldn’t be this loud

Sunsets Seen Differently

Heartbeats shouldn’t be this loud. I said in that bleary stage before my mind grasped where I was. I woke in the dark of the night, alone. I felt a mighty massive fist clasping my heart and squeezing it trying to wring every drop of blood from it. I could sense it pulsing in my ears, and I feared when I would no longer hear it. My breaths which had been weak gasps now diminished to shallow gulps. I was descending into a black hole and as I fell I spun and all around me a high pitched shrieking scream rose and fell, rose and fell, rose and fell. Then vanished.
Hours later I revived to find myself surrounded by beeping, throbbing, susurrating machines. Perhaps the scream I’d heard had been the shrill sound of an ambulance’s siren. Who had known? Who had called? Who was the angel that saved me from a death for which I was not yet ready?
I will see things differently from this day forward, and sunsets will never be the same.

Christine Howard

November 9,2018 – Prompt – circle,cliff, jewel,paper and lamp

Five Innocuous Words
Lloyd Rain Yuma AZ 11/9/18

(Based on Prompt “Circle, Cliff, Jewel, Paper, Lamp”

True story; however, the five words above have been changed from those used in the original interview.

My short-term memory has been failing for several years. This became most noticeable as I turned 80 years old a few weeks ago. Even though I had taken an Alzheimer Test about three years ago, now it was time to get serious about it – take another one and see if anything has changed.

The session went like this. My family doctor’s nurse at YRMC (1) sat in an interview room with me. At the beginning of the assessment she told me she was going to give me five words and would ask me to repeat them sometime later during the interview. No tricks, no subterfuge, no circumlocutions, no pranks. Just memorize five common words and repeat them a while later when asked. She pronounced them slowly and distinctly – Circle, Cliff, Jewel, Paper, Lamp. I used my own memory ploys based upon years as an air force pilot memorizing ten if not hundreds of checklists and then memorizing various lecture templates when I was a university professor some years later.

Checklists for everything especially when flying high speed jets were the essence of survival. They had to be known and, when necessary, activated instantly. Pre-start, Start-up, Warm-up, Radios, Nav instruments, Pre-taxi, Brake checks, Pre-take-off, Post take-off – some of them ten or twenty items long, each of them just to get the aircraft off the ground. Then a slew of others; Control-alignment, Under-carriage-stuck, Bomb-rack release, Speed brake checks, Fire-warning lights, engine failures of various kinds, and on and on and on. No sweat. Five little words. I had them locked within a few seconds, but just to make sure, I used three extra memory enhancement techniques. They were:

1) I repeated them aloud about five times so regardless of their meaning, simply the memory of the sounds, just as if they were a foreign language, would embed them in my memory.
2) I then visualized a picture of a circular butte-like cliff topped with a jewel printed on paper under lamp.
3) I quickly made a sentence containing all five. (“I circled the cliff with my jewel on paper under a lamp.”)

All this only took perhaps ten or fifteen seconds and I nodded to my nurse, “Done.” knowing that I probably wouldn’t forget those words for at least a month.

We went on with the interview as she asked me a variety of standard cognitive tests (I was later to discover that these were called the “30-question test”, standard initial trials to ascertain if more comprehensive tests should be done). Easy stuff. Other typical questions; my birthdate, seventeen plus 19, day of the week, name of a ship that had sunk, my middle name, 43 times two, graduation year from high school, the last movie I saw, last book I read, recite a short nursery rhyme, and a bunch more, all of which seemed innocuous – geared for the mind of a five-year-old.
And then we were through. But just as she was gathering her paperwork to leave, she said, “Oh, and by the way, what were the five words I asked you to memorize at the beginning of our chat?”

So, I said to myself, Ah-ha. Easy as pie. And I rattled them off as if I were reading them right off the page…except when got to the fourth word…it was gone. It was totally gone. I was stumped. I asked for more time. Placed my head in my hands closed my eyes and repeated the word sentence that I had constructed. Nothing. I mentally repeated the five words in order but the forth was gone. I couldn’t believe it. I tried to recall the mental picture I had concocted. Nothing there either. It was as if someone had reached into my head and plucked that work right out of my brain. I smiled weakly at the nurse and ask for another minute. She said, “Certainly, no hurry. Take as much time as you wish.” By this time my skin was clammy, bordering on perspiration. I stood up and turned circles as I recited “Circle, Cliff, Jewel, Lamp. I’m missing one, aren’t I.” I pleaded. But it was gone. It was as if I had only been given four words, not five and they were all there in perfect order – except for one. I tried standing, sitting, looking at the ceiling, tapping my foot, mentally repeating the first line of the French National Anthem, my very first truncated pre-landing check in a conventional aircraft, gear-fuel-carb-mix- pins-flaps-brakes-seatbelt-radio-lights, Mary had a little lamb, – my fists were tight by this time from gripping my hands. Nothing came. That word was just gone. GONE. Nothing but silence. Finally, I gave up. I told her there was another word but I just couldn’t recall it at this moment. She smiled, thanked me, said goodbye and left the room.

I sat there alone, fuming, angry, devastated. Suddenly I realized that I was now waiting for the bad news. I knew I’d remember the word by the time she came in. But I couldn’t. It seemed like an hour but it was only five minutes later that my Doc came in to discuss my condition. All was well, she said. Nothing to worry about. But I was sitting there rigid waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it did. But not exactly what I was expecting. Not disaster. But not pleasant either.

She never even mentioned the missing word. What she did say, was a question. She asked, why did you want to take this test? And I spewed out a litany of my current memory failures. Walking into a room a forgetting why I went there. Forgetting where I left my coffee, my car keys, my phone. Forgetting to close a window at night, forgetting to take out the garbage. All small stuff but irritating. One time I even switched the last four digits of my address for the last four of my phone number (my phone number last four are 0405 and of my address is 4067, and after I had given what was supposed to be my call-back number, I realized that I had actually said 782-4067! Same thing had happened one time when I gave my social security “last four” as the “last four” of my phone number.

She then gave me the good and bad news. I had scored 30 out of 30 three years previous, and my score today was 27 of 30. Not bad. But definitely worth following up. I asked, based on that scale, what kind of score would indicate a serious deficiency. The answer, anything less than 24 would require additional consideration. Perhaps a more intensive test.

In the final analysis, she said there is nothing to be done at this time. Live your life, be happy.

She diagnosed me as having age-related, mild cognitive decline. “(Stage 2 on the 7-Stage CGS Scale (2) – if you need to know the numbers).”
“But,” she said, we’ll do the test again in a year or two and see how you’re doing. In the meanwhile, use notes. Mostly Post-It notes and put them in those places where you think they’ll probably be of the most use.”

A few more words and that was it. We hugged “goodbye” (our usual substitute for a handshake) and agreed to meet again in six months.

Now, every time even the tiniest memory lapse appears, I attribute it to age-related cognitive degeneration. One time I forgot to feed the dogs for a couple of hours. When I realized that I hadn’t fed them I was mortified. Note on cupboard. Note to watch SNL – Note to buy a John Le Carre book – note on computer to look up keyboard replacement. Notes everywhere: buy toilet paper, Tina’s birthday, dog shot appointments, buy gas, must see movie, check on public record request from Washington, return book to library, call daughter re Korea trip, checklist for leaving house on garage door (wallet, phone, gum, glasses, address, etc.). And on and on. It helps. But it doesn’t make me happy.

Fifty-five years ago, I crashed a jet aircraft due to pure stupidity. No harm done. (except a multi-million-dollar aircraft up in smoke). Now I wouldn’t trust myself to memorize a simple three-item check for fire-warning-light display because when that happens you don’t have time to walk around a room with clenched fists trying to recall a simple patch process. You either know what to do instantly or you’re dead. Now I barely trust myself to drive. Now I know that the devasting day I have to turn in my driver’s license is creeping up from behind and it could grab me at any moment.

And writing. One of my strongest skills – the English language. My use of the Thesaurus and Word Web and Rhyme Zone are increasing noticeably. And there’s not a damned thing I can do about it. Yep, that word recall day and that driver’s license day, which used to be way beyond the horizon, are now just around the corner.

And every day I’m watching for them. Watching very closely. Constantly looking over my shoulder.