writersdigest.com prompt

writersdigest.com prompt. This is not even close to a complete story. I went all wordy on it, had to cut it short. Flash fiction didn’t work for me. But, I like the idea. I like the characters. Might use it later. No edits. 


“There’s no card-counting in baseball!” I slammed my fist hard on the table. Wiley snorted out a laugh beside me. I was drunk, and he was probably a little drunk too. The security team – five guys in mis-matched suits glaring at us from the other side, two seated across Wiley and me, the others standing in various menacing poses behind them – did not get the movie reference. Or the joke.

These guys.

“Seriously, I don’t count cards,” said Wiley. “I’m just really fucking lucky tonight. This morning. Whatever.”

“He smells like luck,” I leaned over Wiley’s shoulder, took a deep whiff. Cigarettes. Jack Daniels. Sweat. Toffee or molasses or coffee. I licked his cheek and he snorted again. “Lady Lucy’s got balls tonight, gentleman, and those balls are on this man.” I jutted my thumb out to indicate Wiley, just in case they thought I was talking about a different lucky dude with balls.

“Lady Luck, you mean.”

“What? What did I say? I thought I said Lady Luck.”

“You said Lucy Luck.”

“The fuck is Lucy?”

“I don’t know, you said it.”

“Lady Luck is what I meant.” Drunk as a skunk.

“Sir, Ma’am,” the pit boss interrupted. There was a ‘thunk’ and Wiley and I turned in sync, our eyes finding the pit boss’s ugly mug, then trailing down to the surface of the table, finally resting on a large, black, hard object. It was sitting there like, ‘What, like you’ve never seen one of these before, wink, wink’.

“I wasn’t counting cards,” Wiley said, and I swear I heard him gulp.

“You threatening me with a dildo?” I said. Like a lady.

“It’s a gun, Ma’am.”

“Shit,” I screwed up my eyes and the blurry penis turned into a gun. Right. “Ok. Gun. Got it.”

“Listen, man, we’re just betting, like, betting and playing. Normal Vegas shit. No reason to get all hard on us,” Wiley said. My turn to snort. Wiley looked at me and – I swear to christ almighty – he was giving me that, ‘don’t you fucking do it’ look.

But, really, why the hell did he keep me around? Of course I was going to do it.

“Oh, wait, wait, Wiley. Wiley. What if they’re using a shit bullet. No, seriously, what if they’re using shit bullets?” Wiley stared, an adorable crinkling between his eyes like a hobo’s paper sack, all wet and sad like, no, the cops can’t tell this is a beer. “You eat a bullet, then you shit it out, then you shoot someone with it and even if they don’t bleed out or whatever, they eventually die. Of dysentery. Like, fucking dysentery, Wiley. This is some Oregon Trail shit, here.” I turned to the pit boss. “For shame.” He actually looked ashamed for a moment, then cleared his throat.

“No Ma’am. No shit bullets. Just the regular, uh, bullet-bullets.”

I huffed, crossed my arms and leaned back in the chair. “Then you aren’t even trying.”

“Uh, Pearl?” Wiley said.

“Yeah,” and, ok, I may have sounded a little pouty.

“Do you really believe in shit bullets?”

I slammed my fist on the table. Again. Because, fuck yeah, we’re in Vegas, baby.

“How can you not believe in shit bullets?” I let a little spittle fly this time, catching the pit boss on the nose. “This is real life, Wiley. You can’t hide from it. There’s gun,” I pointed to the gun. “There’s us,” I vaguely pointed at my boob. The one on the right. It was the bigger of the pair. “And there are shit bullets.” Check. Mate. Bitches.

No one, not even Wiley, seemed impressed.

“Can we go?”

“Yeah,” the pit boss said.

“That’s right,” I said. Wiley grabbed my arm, pulled me from my chair and we were escorted out of the building.

Outside, I leaned on Wiley, inhaled his lucky musk. The sun was just a peek on the horizon, showing her ever-loving-face to the world like a women wiping the last dusty crumbs of coke off her nose, looking around the room for the first time in hours and realizing, shit, where the fuck am I.

Ah, Vegas.

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Flash Fiction – terribleminds.com prompt

I may have failed at this prompt, but I like the story so I’m keeping it. I was supposed to mix two genres – dieselpunk and superhero – but I’m not well versed in dieselpunk, and my superheroes usually end up villains (sorry). The prompt is here, if you’re interested: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/10/25/flash-fiction-challenge-the-subgenre-smash-and-grab/

The Little Mermaid

Oh hell, I killed this one too. I was trying to save him, but he gave me this look, like I’m so scared of you. Exclamation point with a gulping scream, sucking in water to say, I’ll drown before you take me. And my hands wrapped around his shoulders moved to his neck and ‘snap’. Dead.

My own fault. I shouldn’t smile when I pull them up. My mom’s always saying I have a nasty smile. Not, Oh my precious daughter with her perfect bone structure and lovely, long hair the color of blood drifting through sea kelp. No, it’s all, You and your nasty smile, no wonder your father left. I believe she thinks she’s complimenting me, but she’s not. She’s really not.

Still, mom may have a point. My teeth are a little crooked, and humans aren’t used to seeing shark-mouth from the maw of a beautiful woman. Maybe they think I’ll bite. Ok, yeah, so I’ve bitten a few, truth be told, but I was going in for a romantic I-just-saved-your-ass-from-a-sinking-ship kiss and then they’re always like, Ahhhh, gurgle gurgle. Offends a girl, ya know?

I just want to be a hero. Mermaids never get to be heroes around here. It’s all ‘sea witches’ and ‘crones of the deep’, but whatever, really, what do they expect? Bring their metal ships out here, spewing all kinds of mud and bile into our water, eating up the good stuff , tossing their trash. Bunch of rapscallions, humans, with the wails and creaks of their leviathans, that stomping around, yelling, To port! To stern! Pull ‘em in, laddies! – whatever that means – waking us up all hours of the night. Social contract, morons. Night time is quiet time, people are trying to sleep.

So we kill a few, yeah, rip their hearts out, suck their blood. Sometimes, on holidays, we slice the skin off their bones in pretty, papery slivers like seaweed. It curls around itself, makes these dainty little ribbons that look so sweet and delicate. I like to dry them out, make hair bows out of them with shells. Everybody likes my hair bows; the princess wore one to last year’s winter feast. My sisters were so jealous.

Bonus letting the humans know we mean business.

But they keep coming like they can‘t read the giant, ‘GET THE FUCK OUT’ flag we‘re flying. Show some respect; our ocean, our turf. Most of the men I’ve tried to save can’t even swim. They wear these fat, heavy boots tied on tight as barnacles makes them sink like anchors. I’m like, really? That’s what you wear surrounded by miles-and-miles of ocean? You aren’t even trying.

But I decided last year – new year’s resolution really – that I’d save one. I’ve been reading these stories I found in my mom‘s closet, shoved in the back behind our old board games like she didn‘t want anyone to know she had them. There’s always a beautiful mermaid – which will be played by me, of course – who rescues a handsome human prince from the wreckage of his sinking ship, breaking the cultural mermaid/human stigmas with her heart-of-gold and sacrificial nature. She drags him to the safety of land, pulls him to shore. He wakes up, befuddled at first, then he sees his heroine, falls instantly in love, and they kiss. She leaves him, but he never forgets his mermaid beloved.

I’d swim to the shore everyday after school, watch as he stares longingly into the waves, looking for me, yearning. Maybe I’ll show him my fin as I dart back into the froth. He’ll probably cry a little, maybe call out my name, but I’ll be gone.

So. Damn. Romantic.

So I’ve taken up sinking ships, lately. Can’t just wait for that to happen on it‘s own, not if I want to reach my goal by next year. It’s not working out as planned. I keep killing them. The way they look at me, it’s so mean, like, Let me go! Let me go!

They don’t even know what they’re missing. Maybe I’ll try not-smiling next time. 

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Song Title – terribleminds.com prompt

Writing prompt from terribleminds.com

Cherry Pie

His eighteenth wife, and I’m exhausted. My hands raw from picking cherries – always cherries – heart raw from loving my daughter too much. My girl, who’ll some day marry a man with more wives than he knows what to do with, some day pick cherries for him in the grove,  feel the same brand of tired like her bones have been sucked of their marrow. My daughter, another cherry picker for a cherry eater, their fool lips pink with the juice of our labors, always wanting more, more, more.

Why we let them take our planet, just hand it over like it was nothing, like we wanted to be slaves, I don‘t know. I’ll never know. All those idiots who did it are long dead; it’s just us left with monsters, picking their cherries and having daughters for them to marry.

I hope my alien husband chokes on a pit.

My sweetie, though, she was made for better stuff, I can see it in her big, beautiful yellow eyes. Got the spark of something, that ‘zing’ that’ll take her away when she’s old enough to leave the pods. I hope she has beautiful dreams (aren’t they always beautiful on the meds?), and someday I’ll tell her who I am and I’ll kiss her brown, perfect cheeks. Teach her how to run. Teach her how to inject poison – careful, can’t let the needle prick show – how to kill her husband. Then she’ll run.

I’ll be dead, of course, taken outside the dome to burn in the sun, but it won’t matter. She’ll make it, I‘ve paid good nip for my intel. She’ll jump that ride out of here, take the fast train to moon, if I can show her how to sneak and hide, give her my maps to the launching pad. She’ll get off this planet. Right off.

I’ll die. I’ll take my man out first, just see. I have my ways. We women of Cava always do. Don’t know why they haven’t killed us all off yet, the rate we poison them, but they’ve got to have their cherry pickers.


If I have to eat another goddamn cherry, I might just swallow a bullet after. The academy trained me for a lot of things; breathe underwater, tame a venomous pusbutt with my fingertips and tongue clicks, loosen ragweed from the right hole on a five-assed scorpion. Things that made sense for planet jumpers, things we’d need to survive. They didn’t prep me for a diet of cherries or the explosive diarrhea goes along with it.  If I’d known we’d be babysitting psychotic cat women on a goddamn dome world, I’d never have volunteered. Eighteen cat women following me around with their buckets, practically dumping that shit down my throat.

I swear, I’m gonna kill them. The don’t live long, sure, and more’ll hatch out of those pods, take their places like they always do, but I didn’t sign up to be a dignitary. I’m a soldier, a goddamn fight-on-the-lines planet jumping soldier. I should be holed up on Earth, battling Teeth Face and the Sharkmen. Should be anywhere but here. Haven’t had a solid shit in months.


Few more days, my baby will be out of the pods. I can feel the weight of it on me, like great Cava’s saying ‘be ready, she’s coming’. My hair’s falling out. I don’t have much time left. My legs aren’t so good, either, but I managed to run and hide like always, get in, get out, get the poison, get the needles. Few more days is all. Be strong for my baby girl.


Written up again for ‘abandoning duties’.

Let them see you smile, wave, eat cherries, pat their heads. t makes them happy, tame. We need them, they are THE KEY. Those Sci-En-Tists with their clipboards. They don’t have squads like we do, don’t have that cherry smell mucking up their sinuses.

Fuck their fucking key, I can’t stand this place, and I don’t give a shit anymore about curing the cancer. My asshole feels like an open wound, all that acid just pouring like hot liquid sugar, I could make candied apples outta my shit. Step right up, kids, I got a sweet treat for you.

I want out.


She’s getting out, today, this afternoon. I’m going there, as her mother I’ll be the first to hold her, pat her soft bottom, smell her baby smell like fresh baked pita, I suspect, salty and deep. She’ll bloom, a red hot sun at mid-day, take the ground running. Two more days, she’ll be in her fullness, and we’ll talk beneath the groves, hidden in their lilac branches, the life of our planet closing us in, protecting us. I’ll tell her my plan, then she’s gone. And I’ll be dead, but so will he.


One of my numbers did something strange today, and all the men were there when it happened. Had to play along like a good soldier. She was nearing the end of her life cycle, could tell by the patchy hair, milky eyes, her hobble. She gave me a cherry, just one, and smiled. I didn’t know they could smile. It was weird, they usually bring buckets. Maybe they’re learning something from us. I ate it, had to. No pit, which was unusual. Still, it was a cherry, almost made me lose my rations. But maybe this will get me off planet, they‘ll see I‘m on the team. I’m playing the game.

Calling in early, have a sleep in the tent to try and knock off this nausea. Probably just another case of the cherry shits. Tomorrow, I’ll talk with leadership, get myself out of this pie hole.

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The Fortune – Writersdigest.com prompt

“I know, Jillian, goddamn it, I know.”

“It was making that clickity-clockity sound all week and I said you needed to take her in, didn’t it? I told you we’d end up broke down on the frontage, and look what’s happened? We’re broke down on the frontage.”

“I know, Jillian.”

“You’re about as useful as a dead dog, you know that?”

“I know.”

The argument – if it even was that – had kicked off an hour back when the Jeep started spitting bits of metal from its underbelly out onto the highway in clumps of grease and rust. Jillian had screamed, scared at first when the shuddering took the Jeep like we’d been scooped up onto some kind of tilt-a-whirl, then her scream pitched downward and the fear turned into anger which she directed straight at me. I had trouble getting the Jeep down the exit ramp and onto the frontage with her fist slamming into my shoulder every couple seconds, voice grunting like an irate gorilla. She could get that way sometimes, and after twelve years of marriage, I just thought of it as her ‘animal moments’. Didn’t make it easier, but I could laugh internally through the fits if I pretended I was watching some carny sideshow throwing poop at the audience from a caged platform.

That’s how marriage is, I suppose. But at that moment, I had been focusing on not crashing, keeping us alive. We finally stopped on the shoulder and I called the nearest auto repair shop.

It took the tow-truck about twenty minutes to show. They hooked us up and we rode in the front cab with the air conditioner running as strong as the country music station on the radio. When we pulled off the frontage, Jillian was eyeballing me from her window seat, her way of saying, “What the hell kinda circus are you taking me now, dipshit?”

I actually agreed with her. The tow truck drove us under a rusted arch with metalwork letters that spelled out ‘La La Land’, or I think that’s what it was meant to say, and into a carnival gone sour. When Jillian realized I wasn’t going to respond to her – though how the hell she thought I could do that, I’d never been good at non-verbal communication – she started muttering foulness under her breath, but driver didn’t seem to notice as he hummed along to some country lover-gone-lost song, so I ignored her too and just stared out the front into a nightmare of rusted metal and faded paint. If it had been dark out, I would have pissed myself.

The truck turned a corner past some boarded up food stands, and pulled into a large warehouse that looked- thank god – like an auto shop. He stopped and another man waved us out, asking the model-make of our Jeep, assuring us he knew what the hell he was doing, and don’t mind the atmosphere, kids, it’s just a rotting corpse wearing clown makeup is all.

Jillian took a seat and I stood next to her feeling like I shouldn’t sit down in case there were manly chores to see-to even though I knew I was out-of-my-league when it came to vehicle repair. I wandered to the back office just to have something to do and poured myself a paper cup of water from the fountain.

“Hey man,” a young voice said, and I turned. He was sitting behind the desk, peering around the open screen of a laptop and smiling like we were old friends. I nodded, took a sip of water. He nodded back, and his grin went clown-like.

“Hey man, you that Jeep out there?”


“That’s what I thought.”


“Hey man, you want a fortune read or something? I mean, while you wait?”

“Uh,” he took me off guard, “uh, no. Maybe my wife…”

“Naw man, I don’t do ladies. ‘Men only’, says my MeMaw, god rest her soul. She don’t like me telling fortunes for the ladies. You want a fortune read?”

He must have seen the sickness on my face, because he stood shaking his head and waving his hands in front of him.

“Naw man, ain’t nothing weird, just a fortune. My MeMaw used to own this place, this carnival see, and she taught me stuff before she passed. Said I had the gift, whatever the hell that is, but I can see some things…sometimes. How ’bout it?”

I looked out the office interior window and saw my wife bolt-right in the chair, fanning herself with something and looking like she was pissing cats.

“Sure,” I heard myself say, but goddamn if I knew why.

The youths eyes lit and his clown-grin returned, then he smashed his fist into my nose and everything went black.

I woke up to his grinning face hovering over me and saying something I couldn’t hear over the ringing in my head. The dimness adjusted and I could make out his laughing and all I could think of was, ‘I think I just pissed myself.’ But I hadn’t.

He helped me off the ground. I should have walked out right then, but I don’t know, it was too much I think, and I stood there knowing I was about to get stabbed by this kid.

“Aw man, I’m sorry, that’s just how I work. I gotta add violence and contact to get the juice going,” he said, pressing a cold pack on my head.

“Yeah.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I took the cold pack from him and looked out the window again. Jillian hadn’t moved, hadn’t turned to check on me.

“Man, you got some weird shit up there.” The youth was giving me a strange look when I turned back around.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you got some strange shit going on in your head. You got the Trash Angel, man. That ain’t good, but it ain’t all bad. It’s like,” he paused, squinted his eyes, “…like an angel that lives in filth, I guess you could say. You got something evil in your life. You think it’s all pure milk and honey, but that’s what the Trash Angel does to a man. Makes ‘em think it’s shit clean, but it ain’t. It, like, wallows in it’s own filth and it pulls you in deep with it.”

I just stared at him.

“You get that out of your life, you’ll be fine. You don’t and you’ll do some sick shit later. That’s the way with Trash Angels, always has been. Right now your, like, aura and shit is some deep purple bruise color. If you keep going like this, man, it’ll be turd-soup in no time. Then you’ll do some sick shit.” He finished with a shrug and went back to the desk and sat. A moment later it was like I wasn’t in the room anymore, he was click-clicking away on the laptop, so I turned and walked back to my wife.

Jillian was fanning herself with a paper plate crusted over with the remnants of ketchup and mustard. The smell coming off the air she made kicked my stomach and I tasted bile in my throat. She looked up at me, glaring like I’d passed gas. I sat.

“It was making that sound all goddamn week and you didn’t do a goddamn thing.”

“I know.”

I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. Marriage is like that, I suppose

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Someone Else is Living Here – Writersdigest.com prompt

There they are again, the children, spreading that powder  over the house, those little brats. It’s forensics, Auntie June , they say in their baby bird voices, cheep-cheeping into the air then puffing out powder over all the clean furnitures like droppings squirted from their bottoms.

And I clean it up again, like I’m paid to do. I smile and pat them on their yellow heads, saying Good, babies. You so smart, babies. Try to be careful, babies. But they ain’t, those carefree doves. They ain’t never careful.

And that’s how I’ll catch ‘em.

See how they suck their bony fingers, wipe at their noses, get that forensics powder all over their good Sunday jimmies. Dusted hair, dusted babydolls, dusted beds. Moms and Pops, their big glinting smiles for their good, smart finches, cooing, Good, good. Look what you did. You’re sure to be the President, the  Scientist, the Doctor someday . And to me they say, Clean that shit up, Auntie.

So Auntie cleans it up. First, I get my hands on the strong stuff down from the pharmacy, kills city rats as big as turnips. Then I get into those sleuth kits and I do some rearranging, some switchery.

One-by-one, they drop from their perches. One-by-one, the little chirps are cut smart and the silence, clean, clean silence takes the house.

And I dust, smiling, making sure I clean that shit up.

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The Reaction – Writersdigest.com Prompt

I lit a joint on the bunsen burner, took a drag.

“Don’t do that in here,” Carol said, then reached across the lab table and took the joint from me. She pulled a drag, choked, then bent into a coughing fit.

“Just breathe,” I laughed. “And you told me there weren’t any volatile chemicals in here. Your words.”

“Oh fuck you,” she said between coughs.

She straightened from the fit, wiped her eyes and handed the joint back. “That was a mistake.”

“You say that now, wait a couple minutes and you’ll thank me for bringing it.”

“Or I might accidentally blow us up.” She glanced down at the glass beaker quietly vibrating atop a magnetic stirrer. She swiped up her clip board, eyes bouncing over the detailed report she had meticulously penned throughout the night, her nose crinkled with worry. “Number twenty-three,” she said.


She shook her head. “I just thought,” she paused, then waved her hand. “Nevermind. All is right with the world and I probably won’t blow us up.”


“What time is it,” Carol yawned the words, stretching her arms over her head.

“Nuh uh, rules are rules,” I said, pointing to a paper sign taped to the wall with the word ‘Time’ printed in black inside a red circle with a slice through the middle. “Time does not exist in The Sanctuary. Only Discovery! Invention! And Science!” I repeated her words from two days ago, flourishing my arms then breaking into a little robot dance. We really had been in here too long.

“I hate you,” but she smiled when she said it. “Grab number twenty-three.”

“Queenie? Oh I love Miss Queenie.”

“Queenie? I thought I told you not to name the droids.”

“Yeah but Queenie is different. Her little bunny butt has, like, five tumors growing out of it. That girl’s got ass.”

Carol’s expression could not have been more confused, so I tried to explain. “Queenie, like the band. Queen, that song ‘Fat Bottom Girls’, you know?” She didn’t know, so I started singing until a pencil hit my forehead. “Alright, alright. Listen, my brain is on random shuffle right now. Until I get greasy food and some sleep, that’s what you have to deal with.” I headed to the droid cages. Queenie was looking sweet and fluffy and perfect, her bunny nose twitching. I unlatched her cage and pulled her out as gently as I could.

“They’re droids, Baron. Not animals.”

“I know, but they still have hearts. Gotta be gentle,” I said, rubbing my thumb over Queenie’s ears.

“Whatever,” Carol said, drawing liquid from the beaker into a large needle. “Sit her here,” she pointed. I sat Queenie in front of her, cupping her tiny head in my hands, and Carol injected the chemicals into one of the larger tumors.

There was a ‘POP’ and a ‘SIZZLE’. Queenie’s ears were smoking. A bunny eyeball popped out, landing with a squelch on my sneaker. I laughed, couldn’t help it. I looked up at Carol.

Carol’s face was covered in a spongy brown substance and she curled over and wretched on the floor. Queenie’s nose twitched.

“Jesus goddamn,” I said, kicking the eyeball off my shoe, ready to help Carol, but she was already sitting with the clipboard, scribbling a report, and humming ‘Fat Bottom Girls’.

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