Saturday December 31st, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the New Year's Eve party.

Happy New Year to all of you, and may 2012 bring each of you good fortune and countless happy moments.


As the sun sets on one more year,
We come together in good cheer
To reflect, toast, attempt to sing,
And wonder what the next will bring.

Friday December 30th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the giant.

Just one day left in 2011. It's been a pretty busy year, to say the least.


The giant surveyed the land below him, craning his neck to peer around a cloud as he used a redwood held between his thumb and index finger to excavate the remains of his lunch from between his teeth. It hadn't been a particularly satisfying meal, but he was hopeful that the next herd of cows he encountered was of a more reasonable size.

At length he spotted what he was searching for and bent his knees to begin the long descent down to ground level. Grasping the circus tents in both hands, he couldn't help thinking that there really had to be a more efficient way to gather toilet paper.

Thursday December 29th, 2011

The exercise:

Your writing task for today requires you to create something to do with: support.

At 11:30 this morning it was 16 degrees here. Welcome back, spring!


The men studied the blueprint they had stretched across the surface of the dinner table, their fingers twitching for the coffee mugs that held it in place. If they hadn't been so distracted while laying it out, they would have used empty mugs for the task. As it was, they were trying not to rush through their analysis for the sake of more caffeine.

"It's a beaut of a design," one of them said and the others nodded their agreement. "The layout of the living room and the way it flows into the kitchen is particularly sweet."

"You said Cody is responsible for it?" the man to the first speaker's right asked. "Man, I should hire him the next time I'm looking to build. The guy that did my current place must have got his degree from his neighborhood's kindergarten class."

"Can we focus, please?" The third man to speak stared at the others, daring them to continue. "Thank you. Now. This is the main support beam, correct?"

"Yessir," the first speaker confirmed. "We blow that bad boy up and your ex-wife's home will come crashing on down in a big old hurry."

Wednesday December 28th, 2011

The exercise:

Trying something a little different today - show me what you've got for: that could have been us.

Inspiration for prompt explained below, but I'm particularly curious to see what you guys come up with. 

It's good to be home (now that the fireplace has finally warmed it up).


We spent last night in Williams Lake and were up early as we were all eager to get home as soon as possible. Kat and I mostly because we figured if we got here before sundown then it wouldn't take as long to warm up the house (turns out we were right). Anyway, with us being smack dab in the middle of our shortest days of the year, that meant being on the road before sunrise.

I took the first shift, since Kat's dad had been doing the majority of the driving over the course of our trip up to Dawson Creek and back. The roads were okay - mostly clear with a bit of slushy snow in some spots - and dawn was already well on its way. In other words, we were off to a good start.

Then the sun came up over the horizon.

With it shining straight into my eyes, not to mention reflecting off of a wet road, the next hour or so was definitely in my top ten worst driving experiences. Oh, and throw in some eighteen wheelers driving in the opposite direction and throwing up a windshield-covering amount of dirty snow. You know, just for kicks.

Maybe I should just slot it into the top five.

Anyway, after getting us through that barrel of monkey fun for as long as I could manage, I pulled over in one of the many small towns (villages?) that line the highway and Kat's dad took over. With the sun a little higher in the sky at that point it wasn't quite so bad, but I'd had my fill.

A little while later we pulled into a gas station and Kat's dad topped up the tank while I did my best to clean off the windshield and side windows. We could have made it to the next town but Kat's dad doesn't like the tank getting too low, plus we needed a bathroom break.

We hit the highway again but we didn't get very far before we came upon an accident. The police had blocked the road but the ambulance hadn't arrived yet, so it couldn't have happened all that long before we got there. It happened right in front of... something - I didn't really notice whether it was a general store, a garage, or something else entirely. At any rate, the owner of whatever that building was directed us to use his driveway to get around the accident.

Because there had been a fatality and the police weren't likely to open up the road again any time soon.

It was not a particularly difficult stretch to think that very easily could have been us.

Tuesday December 27th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: babies.

Blame it on Natalie. Spending four days with a 3 month old was bound to start screwing with the prompts sooner or later.

I'm scheduling this one, as I have no way of knowing whether or not we'll have internet access at our hotel tonight.

I'll catch up with all the comments from the past week over the next few days.


It's not always there,
but when she shares it with us
her smile hugs our hearts.

*     *     *

The scream is piercing,
the messes are unending,
but still we want one.

Monday December 26th, 2011

The exercise:

Your prompt today: the sack.

I need to finish up my Christmas week story already, so I'm just going to get to that.

We're heading home tomorrow morning, stopping off... wherever we happen to be when we get tired of being in the car. Looking forward to being back in our own bed Wednesday night.


Tensions were high as Santa harnessed in the reindeer to the Sleigh. Eye contact between man and beast was avoided completely, except when a buckle pinched the skin on Rudolph's neck. Rosa and Miguel had to move quickly to prevent a last minute disaster.

Once the team was ready to take flight, Santa climbed up onto his seat but, after a moment's thought, left his whip on the floor by his feet. No need to aggravate them unnecessarily - they all certainly knew what they were doing by that point.

Taking a deep breath to calm nerves that were usually steady as a rock, he noticed that all of the reindeer were facing forward. Turning his head slightly, he gave Rosa and Miguel a quick nod before beginning his traditional spiel.

"Now! Dasher, now!" Santa shouted as the two elves brought a wriggling, shifting sack over to the Sleigh. "Dancer, now!" Miguel and Rosa heaved the sack onto the seat beside Big Red and scurried away as the reindeer eased into motion. "Prancer and Vixen, on!"

The Sleigh attained liftoff as Santa continued his shouting. Miguel and Rosa watched with the other elves as the team tore off into the night sky - but they were the only ones who spotted the antlered head peer out of the sack beside their boss.

The trainees for next year's Flight were aboard and learning; the only question was whether Santa could keep them hidden from the current team until the end of this one.

Sunday December 25th, 2011

The exercise:

Merry Christmas to one and all! We're going to keep it straightforward today - your prompt is simply: Christmas.

I hope Santa is kind to all of you. I'm writing this on Saturday afternoon so that I don't have to worry about finding time to do it on the big day. I'm hoping to bring my Christmas week story to a satisfying conclusion today, but I might extend it for one more day if it starts looking a little long.


"What in the world is going on, Santa?" Miguel asked as his boss crawled out of the bushes rubbing the side of his head.

"You just hit me in the head with a snowball, from like ten yards away!" Santa replied, clearly unimpressed.

"But what were you doing hiding in there in the first place?" Rosa asked before Miguel could get himself in even more trouble.

"I'm teaching those bloody reindeer a lesson!" Seeing the elves exchange confused glances, he huffed mightily before carrying on. "I was explaining to them last week that it was high time I started training their replacements, what with them getting on in years. Well, they did not like that one bit, no siree!"

"You can hardly blame... er, so what did they do?" Miguel asked, changing tact when he saw Santa's expression darken.

"They disassembled the Sleigh!" Santa shouted, then looked around nervously to see if anyone else had heard. Spotting nobody, he carried on in a whisper, "They're trying to hold Christmas hostage! Well, I'm here to show them that two can play that game!"

"Tough to have the Big Day without Big Red," Rosa said with a nod. Miguel elbowed her in the ribs for sucking up.

"Exactly!" Santa said with a satisfied smile. "So, is everyone in a big panic about me going missing?"

"Er, not exactly." Rosa looked to Miguel for support but he just crossed his arms and looked back expectantly. "You see... um..."

"What is it?" Santa's smile was fading quickly.

"We're kinda the only ones that know you haven't been around."

Saturday December 24th, 2011

The exercise:

The second last day of Christmas week would very much like you to write a four line poem about: Santa. Though if you're trying to continue your story I'll understand if you need to go beyond those constraints.

Happy Christmas Eve! I hope you all enjoy a happy and safe day tomorrow, with lots of loved ones around and maybe a few nice presents under the tree too.

Up north with Kat and her family. Hopefully I get net access up there, because this is all I had time to schedule before leaving Osoyoos!


He's hiding in the bushes,
Like a kid playing hide-and-seek.
But what's he really doing?
Let's gather 'round and hear him speak.

Friday December 23rd, 2011

The exercise:

Heading into the final few days of Christmas week, we write today about: snowballs.

I'm away at the moment but should have net access again starting tonight. But just in case I've got another post scheduled for tomorrow.


"This is stupid... maybe we should just give up and ask Frosty to take over," Miguel said, scooping up two handfuls of snow and forcing them into a lumpy snowball.

"You're just grumpy because you finally sobered up," Rosa chided him, hoping to raise his spirits as they followed the path through the trees from the workshop to their dormitory.

"No, I'm grumpy because we've been searching all over the North Pole for Santa for days now and we haven't turned up so much as a piece of red fluff," Miguel said before winding up and firing his snowball as hard as he could at the nearest shrub.

The two elves had taken another four or five strides before they realized that neither of them had uttered the Ow they'd just heard.

Thursday December 22nd, 2011

The exercise:

The (now officially labeled) Christmas Week trundles onward with: candy canes.

Kat and I are on the road and heading north today. Take care of the place while I'm gone, won't you?

We're expecting to be back next Wednesday, but I suspect that will depend on the weather.


"Where have you been all night?" Rosa asked when she spotted Miguel stumbling into the workshop. The other elves were preoccupied with their final assignments but she kept her voice low anyway.

"Looking for Big Red," he replied, blinking at her in confusion. "Where else would I be?"

"Listen, I've made a list of places for us to search," Rosa said, pulling him to a quiet corner.

"Have you checked it twice?" Miguel asked, struggling to maintain a straight face.

"Not funny. At all. We're running out of time here; we need to be more organized!"

"Of course, of course. Let's have a look at it then."

"Okay." Rosa glanced around before pulling a folded square of paper out of her coat pocket. "I've ticked off everywhere we've looked together: stables, woodshed, Frosty's place, Jack Frost's cafe, and the grounds to the east and west of the Claus home."

"So what's left?" Miguel asked, swaying slightly from apparent exhaustion.

"Well, there's the Abominable Snowman's bar, the Candy Cane Club... no need to check there though. Mrs. Claus has forbidden Santa from stepping foot in there ever again after that incident last New Year's Eve. Those girls are permanent residents of the Naughty List, that's for sure."

"I checked there already anyway."

"You... what? Is that where you've been?"

"I had to be very thorough," Miguel said, his wide smile ruining any attempts at solemnity. "You know, just in case."

Wednesday December 21st, 2011

The exercise:

The countdown to Christmas continues with: Frosty (capitalization optional).

We're heading out tomorrow morning, so the next few days will consist of scheduled posts here. Which will require me to get some more writing done tonight, seeing as I've only got Thursday's down on paper so far.


Frosty watched the two elves approach as he eased himself back and forth in his rocking chair on his front porch. Unaware of his presence - coal proved to provide excellent night vision, much to his surprise and completely unbeknownst to anyone else - the elves appeared anxious as they spoke in hushed tones.

"It's only three days to Christmas," he heard the one called Rita (or was it Barbara?) say. "What will we do if don't find him?"

"We will," the one called Martin... Marcel? Whatever his name, that's what he said. "We have to."

"One of your donkeys go missing?" Frosty called out, startling them both.

"For the last time," Miguel said, hands on hips, "they're called reindeer. And no, they're all accounted for."

"A fellow munchkin then?" Frosty somehow blew several perfect smoke rings in their general direction while he spoke.

"Elves, you tarted up igloo," Rosa countered. "We're all here too."

"Sure you haven't lost one or two in the cracks of the woodshed? I've always thought I could fit a dozen of you in there."

"This is a waste of time," Miguel said, turning away.

"Who's gone missing then?" Frosty asked, barely resisting the temptation to suggest it might be the Wizard of Oz.


"Really? How intriguing." Frosty fell silent for a few moments before adding, "Well if you're in need of a replacement on the Big Donkey Ride, I'd love to help out."

"I bet you would," Miguel muttered as he dragged Rosa away before she could reply - or attack. "I bet you would."

Tuesday December 20th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: naughty or nice.

I was considering giving myself an early Christmas present by skipping Two Haiku Tuesday this week, but then inspiration finally struck. So my story continues on! Will yours?

Hmm, more snow outside. Again.



They may not know where
to find Santa, but they were
extremely helpful!

*     *     *


Too helpful, if you
ask me. I say those reindeer
are up to no good.

Monday December 19th, 2011

The exercise:

Carrying on with the countdown to Christmas, your prompt today is: the reindeer.

I'll be continuing with what I started yesterday and you're welcome to either do the same or have each day as a stand alone piece.

Kat and I will be leaving Thursday morning with her parents to spend the holiday with her brother's family up in Dawson Creek. The plan is to pass the night in Quesnel and then finish the drive on Friday. I'm not sure what my net access will be like up there, so I'm going to schedule a few posts just in case.

Also not sure how long we'll be staying up there, but I know we'll definitely be back down in time for New Year's.


"So what's next?" Dasher asked. He was, as usual, ready to charge into the next stage of the plan. Whatever that might be.

"That's not really up to us," Rudolph replied, his nose glowing brightly in the mid-afternoon darkness. "It all depends on how they react once they discover what we've done."

"Waiting is lame," Dasher whined, looking to the others for support. "Why don't we speed along the search? Maybe suggest places for them to look?"

"That would only draw suspicion to us, as Rudolph's nose draws the arctic moths to its constant illumination," Comet said, as he did most things, rather dreamily. The others rolled their eyes and shook their heads, but he failed to notice as his eyes were on the stars. As always.

"Just trust in the plan," Rudolph said firmly. "Stick together, believe in each other, and we can't fail. We know -"

"Quiet!" Blitzen called out from where he was keeping watch by the stable doors. "Miguel and Rosa are headed this way."

Sunday December 18th, 2011

The exercise:

With just a week to go until Christmas, I figure it's time to jolly things up around here. I haven't exactly decided on a theme yet, but my yearly countdown to the big day shall begin with: the elf.

Edit: now that I've finished today's writing, it's looking like I might be getting myself into another week-long story. We'll see where it ends up!

It hit plus ten degrees here today, so most of the snow has melted away again. The weather really can't seem to make up its mind.


"Have you seen Santa?" The question reached Miguel's ears immediately, seeing as Rosa had asked it from less than a foot away, but it took several seconds to work its way through all the thoughts tumbling through his mind.

"Isn't he in his office?" Miguel asked without looking up from his current project. The rocking horse for Emily in Boise was nearly complete, then he could move on to the train set for Jeremy in Toronto.

"No," Rosa replied, the worry in her voice bringing Miguel's hands to stillness. "And there's no note on his desk or anywhere that I could see."

"Mrs. Claus?"

"Locked up in the kitchens until Takeoff."

"Maybe he's checking up on Rudolph and his crew," Miguel said, not sounding like he believed it himself. "Have you checked the stables?"

"Not there either. Will you help me track him down?"

Miguel put the finishing touches on the wooden horse before placing his tools on the bench and rising up to his full height of two feet and seven inches. Looking down at his young coworker, he nodded once and they made their way out of the workshop without telling any of the other elves what was going on.

Saturday December 17th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: generosity.

And we're officially done with the farmers market until May. We're offering what we have left (mostly spaghetti squash) at a deep discount to our local customers this weekend, and then the farm business is being put to bed until things start growing in the greenhouse again.

I have to say I'm looking forward to the break.


He'll give you the shirt
Right off of his back,
But if you keep it
He will knife attack.

Friday December 16th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the quiz.

I shan't link you to the website that inspired that prompt, as I'm afraid you'd never come back if I did. Well, maybe I'm just especially prone to getting addicted to silly quizzes and you'd all be fine. But I'm not taking that risk!

Tomorrow morning is the final, final market of the season. After this one, no more until spring. Hopefully it'll be a good one.


The professor glared at his students from behind his podium, daring them to provoke him with the smallest noise or movement. Satisfied that they were as volatile as statues, he began to speak.

"As you have struggled mightily with the concept of pens down at the end of my quizzes, I have provided you with your writing instruments today. You have twenty minutes to fill in your answers, at which point I strongly suggest you place your pens in the metal cans at your feet - for in precisely twenty minutes and one second from now they are set to explode."

Thursday December 15th, 2011

The exercise:

Write about: the candidate.

We are once again covered in snow. Seeing as we're halfway through December now, I suppose I can accept that.


They're looking for a sure bet,
So they're casting a wide net;
From penthouses to gutters,
From college grads to nutters.

So deeply desperate to win,
They'll even dabble in sin.
Their chosen man may be young,
But he's got the devil's tongue.

Wednesday December 14th, 2011

The exercise:

I'm feeling random this week, so today we're taking a swing at the Random Book Prompt.

Grab a book, preferably one you haven't read yet, and nab its opening line - I found mine in a coffee shop in Oliver that had a take a book/leave a book thing going on. Now use that sentence as the first sentence in your prose and take it where you will. Credit where blah blah blah.

Had a pleasant surprise today, as one of our regular farmers market customers called us up and placed a very nice order for us to bring up to her in Penticton this Saturday. It's nice to know the final market will be worth the trip this far ahead of time.


I was born poor in rich America, yet my secret instincts were better than money and were for me a source of power. They allowed me to walk with chest out, head up, back straight. Encouraged me to meet every challenging stare with unblinking confidence.

They could have their big houses, fancy threads, movie star cars. Let them believe themselves above folks such as myself, beyond the reach of hard work and grime, untouchable.

They were not, of course, but let them believe.

The truth was that all those things could be taken from them at any time of day. That I could take them away. Could drag them off their fairytale pedestals and bring them low.

Money wasn't a requirement for the things I knew how to do. Only instincts and a strong stomach.

Tuesday December 13th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku that take place on: the ranch.

There's a very definite chill in the air here these days. You'd think we're almost halfway through December already or something.


Cigarette smoke clouds
loiter above cowboy hats
and gruff Good mornings

*     *     *

Coffee calls at dawn.
The horses neigh nervously
as fat cowboys wake.

Monday December 12th, 2011

The exercise:

Screw it, I think it's been long enough since the last time - we're going with another round of the Random CD Prompt.

So take the first line of a song, chosen as randomly as you can manage, and use it as the opening line of your poetry or prose. Then take it from there to wherever your imagination directs you. Credit where it's due, as always.


"What if the storm ends and I don't see you?" he asked as he stared out at the blizzard that had trapped us in the cabin for the last three days. I wondered if he was hoping for it to end, or to continue until we ran out of supplies and died there together. It was hard not to suspect the latter.

"Why wouldn't you see me?" I countered, wriggling deeper into my blanket. "I'll still be two doors down, same as always."

"I guess." He sipped his coffee tentatively, knowing he should let it cool a little longer but too desperate for its warmth to wait. "But Kevin will be there with you."

"Of course he will - he's my roommate. So what?"

"I just... don't like him."

"You just don't like me sharing a place with a guy," I said. "Even when we're not romantically attached."

"There's just too many opportunities for misunderstandings, mixed signals, that sort of stuff. Besides, he's probably just waiting for the smallest indication you like him and he'll be all over you. Trust me, I know how guys work."

"This conversation is over." I struggled to my feet, almost tipping over sideways in my blanket cocoon. "For both our sakes, let's just keep the rest of our thoughts to ourselves until we can get out of here, okay Dad?"

Sunday December 11th, 2011

The exercise:

Two weeks shy of Christmas, your prompt is: the boggart.

After having to get up at 5 yesterday I had a big sleep in this morning, and the pace never really picked up for the remainder of the day. I'm hopeful all that rest will help finish off this cold.

Looking forward to having Kat back home tomorrow.


I almost didn't answer the phone when I saw Grandpa's name on the caller id, but my sense of duty managed to reign victorious over my hopes to spend the morning reading the paper. I set the sports section aside and picked up the receiver.

"Hello?" I could have just greeted him straight off, but that invariably led to him wondering how I knew it was him that was calling, which always ended up with me succumbing to his accusations that I'm part warlock. Best just to skip all that, really.

"Jim, it's Grandpa. I've got some trouble at the house and I need you to come up here and help me take care of it."

'Up here' was a bad ten hour drive away. Nothing short of him threatening to kill himself would get me off my recliner and out of my bathrobe.

"What's the problem?" Trying and, I thought, succeeding at sounding like I actually cared.

"I've got a boggart infestation. Little buggers are everywhere and I can't seem to catch them. You know I don't move so well these days, with my hips the way they are."

"Yes, Grandpa, I know." He'd had a fall a few years back that put his hips in a bad way. He'd been telling everybody about it ever since.

"So when shall I expect you?"

"How do you know there are boggarts in your place?"

"They keep hiding my keys! Never where I left 'em." He sounded genuinely aggrieved.

"You're probably just getting forgetful. Nothing to worry about, it happens to everyone when they get older. Heck, I'm starting to -"

"You don't believe me."

"Come on, Grandpa. I need a little more proof than your keys going missing."

"Fine. Stay on the line. I'll see if I can trick one of them into speaking with you."

I almost laughed, but I held it in. I spent the next five minutes shaking my head at my empty living room, and towards the end I started to consider hanging up. He'd probably forgotten all about me, just like his silly keys.

But that was when a new voice came down the line.

Saturday December 10th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the eclipse.

We had a lunar eclipse here this morning around the same time I was loading up the truck to go to the market. So, of course, my poem is about a solar eclipse. I can be like that sometimes.

The market itself was rather... slow. Not a lot of people, not a lot of sales. But it was good to sell off some of our excess potatoes and squash.


Don't stare at the eclipse!
Leave that choice up to me.
It's really pretty, don't you...
Aaagh, my eyes! I can't see!

Friday December 9th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: the brigand.

I'm all set to go to the market tomorrow morning. I think. It's been almost a month and a half since the last time I did this, so I'm feeling pretty out of practice.

Hopefully I don't forget anything too important.


As the newest recruit to the group, it was Eddie's job to bring the stage coach to a halt. Which was a rather hazardous position, considering the driver could just decide to shoot him and carry on rather than risk bringing his precious cargo to a standstill. And all while his cohorts kept themselves safely hidden behind rocks, trees, and bushes.

But, even as he donned his disguise, he still wasn't sure that was enough justification for dressing up like a buxom barmaid.

Thursday December 8th, 2011

The exercise:

Write about: the nomad.

Kat left this morning for a weekend of onsite training in Vancouver for the online counseling course she's been taking. I stayed behind in order to do the farmers market this Saturday and to make sure the house doesn't freeze to death.

Hopefully I won't burn it down in the process!


Never fully at rest,
He is constantly shifting,
Like the sands of his desert home.

The stars his only guide,
The wind his sole companion,
Yet he's never lost or lonely.

He is on a journey
That has no destination,
Yet every step has a purpose.

No man knows his true name,
History will forget him,
And with all this he is content.

Wednesday December 7th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the fortune teller.

This one fits into the 'I can't believe I haven't used this prompt before' category.


Theresa eyed her client with undisguised curiosity as she guided him into her inner sanctum. He was the polar opposite of her typical marks: he gave every appearance of being calm, he was male, and he couldn't have been more than nine years old.

She found it all rather unnerving.

"Please, have a seat," she murmured, drawing the curtains so that her crystal ball was now the only source of light in the cramped space. Unbeknownst to her clients a low wattage bulb under the table, which could be easily covered with a thin piece of red paper for a wonderfully effective parlor trick, was the actual source.

The boy sat on the edge of his chair, his dangling legs swinging back and forth. The legs of his dress pants hitched up slightly, revealing striped socks.

"What great secrets of the universe are you interested in unlocking?" Theresa asked as she sat across from him. She used the distraction of arranging her skirt to sneak a hand under the table. Turning the dimmer switch with her fingertips caused the crystal ball to fade, heightening the anticipation in the room.

"I simply wish to know but one secret," he replied solemnly in a posh accent. "I am not greedy."

"No, of course not," Theresa said, moving her free hand over the surface of the glowing globe. "Speak it and the answer shall be yours and yours alone."

"Tell me how I shall make my first fortune."

"Your first...?"

"Yes. Then I can tell Daddy so he will finally get off my back about it."

Tuesday December 6th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: the hypnotist.

Feeling maybe slightly better today. Perhaps.


Please don't tell me that
I am getting sleepy while
I'm trying to drive

*     *     *

I find it rather
suspicious that he never
gets speeding tickets

Monday December 5th, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: amnesia.

I appear to be coming down with a cold. This... displeases me.

If you're interested in continuing mine, I expanded it and brought it over to Protagonize as a choose your own adventure.


You wake to chaos.

Chaos and pain.

The throbbing ache at the back of your head holds your attention for several laboured breaths before other sensations force their way to the forefront. Cool pavement against your left cheek. The scent of burnt metal in your nostrils. Shouting.

With a groan you shift to a seated position and force your eyes open. You immediately wish you had kept them shut.

You are in the middle of a narrow road that disappears down an incline a few hundred meters ahead of you. On either side of you is a thick forest of evergreens, into which men are fleeing. A glance over your shoulder shows you what they are running from.

A prison transport bus is on its side, smoke billowing from beneath the hood. Unmoving bodies lay scattered around the vehicle, most of them wearing prison guard uniforms. Were you on that bus? You must have been, but you can't remember.

You close your eyes and try to picture the accident but your mind goes blank. Telling yourself not to panic, you switch tactics and try to recall your time as a guard. Nothing again. Training sessions with fellow recruits? No. Your name?

Oh God, you can't remember your name.

Eyes open once more, you struggle to your feet. Focus on what you do know: you need to pull your partners away from the bus before it explodes. Save them first, then worry about the rest later. Move.


You turn to find an escaped prisoner running towards you, a pair of handcuffs dangling from his right wrist. As he nears you raise your hands to shield your face from the coming attack.

That is when you realize that you are also in handcuffs.

"Come on, we gotta go!" The man shouts, grabbing you by the arm. "The cops will be here any minute!"

Sunday December 4th, 2011

The exercise:

Let's go with: sabotage.

We finally got around to building our backyard compost this morning. It'll be nice not to have to walk all the way up to the one by Kat's parents house anymore.

Okay, 'all the way' might be a slight exaggeration. But with the weather getting colder it was about to feel a whole lot farther away.


His technique was flawless. His timing impeccable. It was as though he knew exactly what to say at the precise moment his words would cause the most devastating result. His actions, both subtle and ostentatious, were equally magnificent.

Often he wasn't fully aware of what exactly it was he had wrought until well after the fact. Some might call it a natural gift, possibly dumb luck. His victims preferred to label it as ignorance or raging stupidity.

Regardless of your point of view, the end result was the same: he'd sabotaged yet another promising relationship.

Saturday December 3rd, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem about: the antique shop.

Kat and I were planning on going bowling with our farming friends this evening, but when we arrived at the alley they were closed for a private function. Rather disappointed, but we still had a good time hanging out and having drinks.

Still haven't managed to go bowling here yet though. Getting a little ridiculous.


Twilight, Biebs, Pokemon?
This garbage is not what I seek!
These bloody teenagers
Don't know the meaning of antique.

Friday December 2nd, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose that have something or other to do with: hands.

Kat and I went into town this evening to catch the (brief but still fun) Santa Claus parade. Haven't been to one of those in ages.


They are simple, rather ordinary hands. Wrinkled and slowed by the passing of years, but without noticeable scars or injury. Truly unremarkable in nearly every way, nothing to help them stand out from innumerable others.

But I don't need to see the wedding ring I placed on your finger to know they belong to you.

Thursday December 1st, 2011

The exercise:

Today we write about: the pursuit.

Hmm, it appears to be December. How odd. I'm quite sure I didn't give my approval for it to be here yet.


I've been running for as long as I can remember. Lately though, the days have been blurring together worse than usual. Used to be I could tell ya the day of the week; now I'm lucky if I get the month right. I suppose it's just a matter of time before I lose track of the year.

I'd stop for a rest, get my bearings if I could. But they won't let me. I can't sleep because they don't sleep. Not sure how they manage it, or why they think I'm worth the damned bother, but there you go and here I am. Exhausted.

Heard tell they think I stole something from 'em. Great joke, that is, with all the thieving they do. You'd think they'd hire me to work for 'em if that was the case. Help 'em rob every last penny from their slaves.

Pardon, I mean subjects. They don't like it when you call 'em slaves. Implication being that would make 'em slave owners, and that's just bad PR, ya know?

Anyway, the point is I didn't take nothing from 'em that wasn't already mine. Not that I'll ever get the chance to explain that. They'll have five bullets in me before I can even open my mouth.

Shame, too, cuz I've got some choice words in mind for 'em.

Though I'm so tired it might be a challenge to get 'em in the right order.

What I need is a place to hide, but there ain't nowhere safe left for the likes of me. Reward for my capture is too big; nary a soul to be trusted with that kinda gold being bandied about.

Guess I best keep running then.

Wednesday November 30th, 2011

The exercise:

The third movie in the Oliver film club series - Life, Above All - was shown tonight. Still stunned. Can't really say much more than that at the moment.

Your prompt: courage.


Her courage is quiet,
Her greatest challenge:
To just keep going.

One foot in front of the other,
Spine unbending,
Despite the unimaginable burden
And the road unending.

You can see it in her eyes,
That determination;
She will reach it one way or another,
Her destination.

Tuesday November 29th, 2011

The exercise:

Two haiku about: the moving company.

I got a couple hours of work helping a lady move yesterday and earned a bit of cash and a writing prompt to boot. I'm still hoping and looking for something a bit more regular, but jobs like that certainly help in the meantime.


One's on crutches, the
other's ninety - of course they
charge by the hour.

*     *     *

The constant smoke breaks
I can sort of understand.
The beer breaks, less so.

Monday November 28th, 2011

The exercise:

Do what you will with: the aftermath.

Apparently I just couldn't resist one more go at last week's story. But I'm done with it now, I swear!


Their response was predictably bureaucratic. Board members stumbled over each other in their rush to introduce new policies and operating procedures.

These were debated, refined, expanded, struck down, and reintroduced in due course. When the hot air finally settled the expanded paperwork was championed at news conferences, on televised interviews, in newspaper article after newspaper article.

The message was uniform and clear. Yes, of course it was a terrible tragedy. But all of these extra words in the manuals and standards, drawn up by your trusted representatives, would ensure nothing like it would ever happen again.

But, of course, it would. For they had not yet found a way to regulate human nature out of the equation.

Sunday November 27th, 2011

The exercise:

Space Week draws to its inevitable conclusion today with: the landing.

I'm finishing up my story today and you're welcome to either do the same (with as many comments as required) or just keep on keeping on with it. I leave the choice in your creative hands.

Regardless, I'd just like to say thanks to you guys for making this week particularly enjoyable.


When the ship landed at last on Nukzhul, teams of medical personnel were ready and waiting for them. The moment the main gangway touched down they rushed on board, pulling carts overflowing with fully functioning Individual Environment Suits behind them. Once inside they split off in groups of twos and threes as they began their search for survivors.

There were, if they were being honest, more than they had expected. After all, they'd had no contact with the ship in the final two hours of the voyage aside from the automatons that had taken over the flight controls. Status updates would have been a waste of precious air.

Most of the survivors were in pairs, having shared their breathing apparatuses between them like Old World scuba divers submerged with a single tank. A few of the higher level Technicians had hacked their own suits and keyed in a scaled back oxygen output in order to extend their supply at a minimally life sustaining level.

A few lower level Technicians had attempted the same technique, with fatal results.

The Engine Room was the final area to be searched. The medical crew that had the dubious honor of exploring its claustrophobic corners filed the following report:

The deceased were found next to each other in the Engine Room. Dog tags identified the crew members as Timothy Higgins, Mechanic, Second Class and Miranda Sanchez, Mechanic, First Class.

All signs indicate they were working on an important adjustment on Engine Three. It is our belief that an argument broke out over the correct settings and a physical altercation ensued. At some point during this scuffle First Class Mechanic Sanchez's IES was irreparably damaged.

We believe that Second Class Mechanic Higgins was overwhelmed with grief at the unintended results of his actions and knelt over his fallen comrade for some moments, escorting her spirit to the other side. Eventually his pain was more than he could bear and he made the decision to take his own life with a kitchen knife. We are not certain how this weapon came to be in the Engine Room.

On a personal note, we would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to those on board that this was an isolated incident and that all other crew appear to have pulled together in the face of this terrifying emergency.

The grim truth of what had actually come to pass in the Engine Room was not brought to light until the video surveillance was reviewed several days later.

Saturday November 26th, 2011

The exercise:

The penultimate day of Space Week brings us to a four line poem about: isolated/isolation.

I know some of you chose to work your Two Haiku Tuesday into your prose and you're welcome to do something similar today, especially with tomorrow being the grand finale.

I'm too stubborn to do anything of the sort, of course.


You're right where I want you,
No one else is near;
Scream as loud as you wish,
Not a soul will hear.

Friday November 25th, 2011

The exercise:

Space week draws nearer to its conclusion with four lines of prose about: the escort.

I'm sticking directly to the challenge, but I'm willing to let you guys slide if you wish to expand a little since this could be a rather constricting day. But maybe keep it to four paragraphs?

Alternatively you could view this as a chance to ramp up the tension with just four lines as we head into the final two days. Up to each of you though, as always.


"Mechanic Second Class Higgins," Sanchez replied with a strained smile, struggling to contain her contempt for the incompetent grease monkey who had interrupted her thoughts.

"Heading for the Engine Room?" he asked, glancing over his shoulder for no apparent reason.

"Yes," came the reply after two soft hisses from her IES and no reasonable lies coming to mind.

"Me too," Higgins said a little too eagerly, "and I'll be happy to escort you!"

Thursday November 24th, 2011

The exercise:

Space week continues with the prompt: adjustments.

In order for mine (and, awesomely enough, pretty much everybody's in the comments as well) to make sense, you'll have to go back to Monday and the beginning of Space Week and read from there, as each of us is working on our own continuous story.

I have no idea how I'll manage to wrap all this up with Sunday's post, but I'm determined to find a way. So, consider that fair warning that my writing on the last day could be like two thousand words.

I'm mostly joking.


It had been a difficult adjustment after Eric had left. His declaration that he was accepting a promotion to Head Engineer on another ship had blindsided her and left her to raise her son alone.

Eric may not have been the father, but he had made promises when he first entered her life. Now, on top of her motherly responsibilities, she was burdened by feelings of betrayal, violation, and bitterness.

And now this. Faced with a ticking time bomb with only three options, the last of which was utterly out of the question.

1. They both would die.
2. She would die so that he would live.
3. He would die so...

She couldn't even finish the thought.

Looking up from where he lay sleeping on his bunk, his IES making it seem like he was a patient in the infirmary, the clock embedded on the wall of their compartment showed her there was only six hours of oxygen left for both of them. Which left just five hours for her.

If Eric hadn't left he could have saved us both.

She knew it wasn't a fair thought, but she was too angry and frightened to care. Rising from her seat at their shared desk, she moved silently to the door of their room. She paused to look back at her boy before exiting, reluctant to be apart from him for even a moment.

But she still had her duties to attend to and the call had come in for some adjustments to be made on Engine Three. No point sacrificing herself and then have a ship failure render it meaningless.

Leaving the room and turning left, a thought crept into her mind and took hold with barbed, icy fingers. It nearly stopped her in her tracks but she forced herself to continue walking as it tumbled over and over through her head.

What if there was a delay and her son needed more than an extra hour of air?

She was so troubled by this possibility that she didn't hear her name being called somewhere behind her until the third try.

"First Class Mechanic Sanchez!"

Wednesday November 23rd, 2011

The exercise:

In case you're just joining us, the theme for this week's writing is outer space. I'm rather pleased with what has resulted from it so far. Shall the trend continue? I suspect it shall.

Because you guys kick ass.

Today's prompt is: the key.


Timothy Higgins, Mechanic, Second Class.

The job title had always grated on him, for it was more than just a designation of rank. It marked his place in the ship's caste system.

One rung above the bumbling idiots in Third Class and, much more to the point, one below those arrogant First Class pricks. And they made damned sure it was never forgotten, always passing on the work they considered beneath their universe-class skills to those in the Second Class. Talking down their noses all the while.

As Higgins walked through an empty corridor on Deck 8, he had two items in his pockets. He kept his hands away from both, though the rhythmic hiss of his breathing apparatus made sure his thoughts never strayed very far from either item.

The first, lying crumpled at the bottom of his left pant pocket, was a piece of paper with three hastily scrawled names on it. These were the worst offenders in First Class, the ones he knew had argued against his promotion to their lofty ranks.

Ryan Clark
Miranda Sanchez
Warren Simpson

If he was going to do this anyway, he might as well get some revenge while he was at it.

The other item, secreted away in his right pant pocket, was a knife he'd stolen from the galley shortly after the second announcement had come from Captain Romero.

Whichever of the three he could isolate first would be his ticket to survival. The key, he knew all too well, would be to kill his target without damaging their IES.

Tuesday November 22nd, 2011

The exercise:

Space week continues with two haiku about: decisions.

I've decided to take the challenge and have all my posts this week relate to each other. I'm hoping to wrap the story up on Sunday but I haven't planned this out at all, so we'll see how that turns out.

Today's haiku are meant to portray the responses of two different crew members to the situation that's just begun to develop in yesterday's writing.


The math is clear: by
the thirteenth hour one must
die so he may live.

*     *     *

Elsewhere a mother
holds her son and contemplates
one last sacrifice

Monday November 21st, 2011

The exercise:

Greg made a suggestion almost two weeks ago about having an overarching theme for a week's worth of prompts, and I've decided to test it out this week. You're welcome to have all your responses relate to each other (though with Two Haiku Tuesday coming up tomorrow that could be a challenge) or have them be stand alone pieces.

So here we go. The theme for this week? Outer space.

And today's prompt: contact.


The collision had seemed insignificant at first. Some of the crew weren't even aware that the asteroid had made contact with the hull of the ship. In fact, when the announcement came from Captain Romero over the comm system that they were leaking oxygen, many thought he was joking.

He was not.

A second announcement soon followed the first, this one instructing all crew to don their IES (Individual Environment Suits) while they re-routed to Nukzhul for emergency repairs. The oxygen tanks affixed to the back of each IES would provide enough air for a person at rest to survive for fourteen hours.

Panic didn't truly take hold until the first crewman realized that Nukzhul was fifteen hours away.

Sunday November 20th, 2011

The exercise:

Let us do some more continuations. Just pick up the story where the last person left off and do what you will with it for a little while.

We had Kat's parents down for dinner tonight, and then afterward we had a Skype chat with Kat's brother and his family. Our niece was definitely the star of that little show.


The crowd gathered in the town square to hear the speech, huddling in clusters of friends and family for warmth. The only sounds to be heard were created by shifting feet on the hard packed snow. The result was similar to the discontented groans the people didn't dare allow escape from their throats.

The soldiers patrolling the perimeter of the square were watching far too closely for such foolishness to emerge.

Minutes crawled by like an advancing glacier, but still the royal balcony remained empty. Their overlord enjoyed making his subjects wait.

As the sun sank wearily toward the horizon, murmurs began to spread through the townsfolk. Then the soldiers started exchanging nervous glances and gripping their weapons a little tighter. The same question tumbled through every frost-bitten mind.

Where was King Morris?

Saturday November 19th, 2011

The exercise:

A four line poem to do with: repetition.

Kat and I worked the local municipal election today and it went pretty well. We got there at 7:30 this morning, the polls opened at 8 and then, aside from half an hour each for lunch and dinner, we worked until the polls closed at 8pm. And then we stayed an extra hour to help clean up and sort ballots and whatnot.

So yeah, a little drowsy now.

Back to the point, one person at each table was required to inform each voter of a few things. I didn't have to do it very often (as my co-worker preferred doing that over registering voters on the computer), but I could see how saying the same thing over and over all day could get a little tiring. Thus the prompt, and thus my take on it.


The same words come tumbling out,
Always in the same damned order;
For the love of all that's good,
Someone get me a recorder!

Friday November 18th, 2011

The exercise:

Four lines of prose about: shake/shaken/shaking/boom shakalaka.

Okay, maybe not that last one.

Too late, the voices in my head cry out, for Greg has already begun writing!

Anyway. We had ourselves a little earthquake here this morning. It was a 4.6 magnitude shaker that woke us up shortly after 5am. Since the epicenter was less than 100 km away the house did perform a brief wiggle.

To say that it was a rather confusing and disorienting scene would be an understatement. We weren't even sure it was a quake until Kat checked the news after breakfast.

As best I can recall that's the first quake I've ever felt. Not sure I'd want to experience anything much stronger.


The news had rocked him to his very core. Hours after word had first reached him, he sat at his kitchen table, staring at nothing. His pumpkin soup sat cold and ignored in a brown bowl in front of him, a corner of his black phone barely visible in the center.

After all those years of playing, he'd finally won the lottery.