Word Count: 300 max
How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). One entry per person.
Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!
Results announced: Next Wednesday afternoon.
Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).
It began with a whisper.
By Ronel Janse van Vuuren
It began with a whisper. The wind rustled the leaves; leaving a message for those who can hear it. The whisper flowed, caressed, cajoled until it could no longer be ignored. Flowers, acorns and others awoke. Stretching, they opened their eyes to see what the wind wanted.
‘Look. Look carefully,’ it whispered.
Slowly they crept closer to the corruption of nature. The more they looked, the sadder they became. Their tears renewed life in the ground it fell upon.
Gradually it turned into a roar. The awoken no longer cried. It was time for action; to attack those assaulting their home. Some used their roots to bury the offenders alive. Others used their amassed strength to drown the wicked. All of the awoken gave their lives to cleanse the earth of humans and their pollution. Blood, flesh and bone became one with the ground.
And it ended in silence.
I like how this does start quietly--almost romantically--building in strength, just like a whisper turning into a roar.Delete
By Mike Jackson
It began with a whisper. A small, delicate voice, tucked somewhere in the back of my head quietly telling me all the things I wanted to hear. As the week’s went by it became more strident, more demanding. It would interrupt my train of thoughts, put words in my mouth that were not mine. At first I tried my best to ignore it, but not being listened to merely made it more persistent and aggressive. I slowly realised that the only way to manage it was to appease it, let it tell me the things it felt I needed to know. Slowly but surely I feel I am beginning to control that voice in my head.
“How’s it going Jones?”
“Very well, sir. As you know, we implanted the 'voice' in to his head three weeks ago. He has tried various ways of coping and now believes he is able to control it.”
“And is he?”
“Not at all sir. We have simply allowed this thought to grow to make him more susceptible for the next stage. We will now turn the volume up a few notches and the demands will also begin to increase. If all goes to plan, the ‘voice’ we implanted will have completely taken control of his mind by the end of this week.”
“Excellent news Jones. And the others?”
“Alongside the Prime Minister we are also working on the Chancellor of The Exchequer. By the middle of next week we will have implanted the ‘voice’ in all the remaining members of the Cabinet. The entire government will then be at your disposal, sir.”
“Well done Jones! Well done! Now, I must talk to you about members of the opposition party…”
Very sinister! Liked it a lot.Delete
Performance by Jeff RowlandsReplyDelete
It began with a whisper of a note, a hint, as he stood in the silent, ruined concert hall. Rubble everywhere, crumbling walls, patches of sky visible through numerous holes in the roof. Hardly anything remained, no elegant seating, the extravagant decorations that once embellished the building smashed and gone. The place had changed but he wanted some connection with his past.
He had lead the resident symphony orchestra, grown accustomed to the rapturous responses of crowds that sat in rapt attention for hours. Hundreds losing themselves in music. He had loved those days, wished they could have lasted for ever but now he was a shaky, arthritic, lonely widower in an overcoat that had got too big for him as his stature shrank. He was reduced, a fraction of his past.
The stage had remained largely intact, a little oasis of respect shown by time and the elements. A solitary set of steps to one side pointed to the stage. He inched up them slowly. He steadied himself on the stage, smiled for the first time since? Since when? Never mind that. He strode more confidently to his old position. He closed his eyes to the sight of a full house. Music filled his mind. The orchestra on top form. His guidance confident and fluid. Everything perfect.
You could hear a pin drop in the momentary silences. The performance reached a crescendo. He heard the first seats starting to flip up as the crowd shows appreciation for the performance. He bows, eyes still closed to his imaginary audience. She enters his mind, warm, young again, winks at him. He smiles back. Bows again as the prolonged standing ovation rings in his ears at the end of his most accomplished performance.
This was beautiful. Thank you. I appreciate how you've given him little anchors to keep him steady as he rebuilds his past in this shattered future.Delete
A Whispered Wish
It began with a whisper.
The dragons are coming.
The leaves rustled it in their song when the hot winds blew from the south.
The dragons are coming.
It came to the minds of the magicians before the messengers had reached the cities. It clouded their mirrors of magic and dragon tails curled in the smoke from their alchemical fires.
The dragons are coming.
Faces of the rich and poor turned towards the west with each red sunrise, waiting to see if the new light would speed the dragons on their way.
New whispers started.
Only the true king can control the dragons.
Knights and warriors armed themselves and waited for their orders. Gold and jewels changed hands behind closed doors and messengers stole away in the witching hour.
Only the true leader can control the dragons.
Armies readied themselves on fields soon to be stained with blood. Banners bearing the colours of lords and kingdoms unfurled in the hot summer air.
Only the true leader can summon the dragons.
“The dragons will show us a new leader,” an old woman said, sitting beside the kitchen fire, telling stories to her young grandchildren. “They will choose who they will follow.”
The true leader will summon the dragons.
The Seafolk heard the whispers of the world as they drifted on the wind, turned their eyes to the western horizon, and watched the movement of the water. They wondered at the person who would summon the dragons of old.
“I want to see dragons one day,” the child said, staring at a drawing in a tattered book. “Look, are they not beautiful?” The child leaned closer still, long braids brushing the pages. “I wish there were dragons here.”
The dragons heard.
Wow! Got good chills with this. I loved the break in the narrative to keep referring to the leader and dragons and the way the story gathered like a coming storm.Delete
It began with a whisper. Spoken directly into the people’s ears, the eavesdroppers couldn’t hear. Said behind raised newspapers, the lip-readers couldn’t see. And when the time came for action, the enemy was unprepared.
That’s how we came to power. When the dictator was taken, when his image was torn from the billboards, when his statues were pulled from their podiums, we stopped whispering and we started to scream.
These were not screams of terror, but a release, the chance to sound those voices that had for so long been silent, or almost silent; we had our whisper. Once we had found our voices, we screamed long into the night, a night in which we crowned a new king. That king will not make the same mistakes.
So head out onto the streets and spy. Listen out for that whisper and when you hear it, be swift; bring silence.
Whispers never seemed so loud. I'm beginning to dread them...:)Delete
A Shallow PoolReplyDelete
It began with a whisper, a sleazy hiss of the profane.
At least, that’s how I was drawn in.
I was ripe for sleaze that summer. Sixteen, ready to descend.
Monroe had been dead a year.
The world still didn’t feel right.
“Did you hear about that skank, Rosie Talbot?” he leered, “what she’s willing to do?”
I didn’t know Scamper Hodges well. He usually moved in circles I didn’t even know existed.
We shared one thing, though; a love of morning swims at the old reservoir.
The water was as blue as black ink, deep and well-water cool. And the mornings so peaceful.
I was curious, of course, about his revelation. I knew Rosie, counted her amongst my friends, a small coterie of people I trusted.
Even there, treading water, waiting for Scamper’s gossip, I felt odd, like I shouldn’t want to hear whatever it was he had to say about Rosie.
But I couldn’t help myself.
“No,” I said. “Haven’t heard a thing. Spill!”
“Okay! You know Bob and Barry Grange..?”
I knew of them. College guys. Three, maybe four years older. Had graduated High School a few years earlier. Jocks.
“Of them…” I gasped, legs pedalling, barely keeping afloat, eager to be brought up-to-date on whatever Scamper was offering.
“They’ve got some wild tales about University. So, home for the summer, working at the mill, they’re…”
“They’re what?” I ask.
“Hungry! For nookie! So they hook up with Rosie, go over to her place, her folks are out…and…, well, it’s sweet party-time.”
He’s grinning. I smile.
The morning ends.
Soon, summer was over.
The story about “Easy Rosie” stuck to her like flypaper.
I thought it was a crock.
But I didn’t know for certain.
She dropped out in the spring.
Moved to Calgary.
We lost touch.
300 words that simply won't go away
That was a good read and, for me, rather deceptively brutal. I liked the idea of sixteen and ready to descend. Thanks for the snippet :)Delete
Lethal Whisper (297 words)ReplyDelete
By Sara Codair
It began with a whisper. A slithering, hissing, rustling whisper so slowly whispering in my ear. It grew faster and faster, more urgent, until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
I honed my blade until it was razor sharp.
I stalked the man the whisper didn’t like.
I watched him pound his keys and hound his secretary while the slithering, hissing, rustling voice whispered his sins in my open ears.
I followed him while he followed her over city streets, inside subway tunnels and up creaky, squeaky stairs. I slipped in behind them as the door closed. Quiet like a mouse, I was, so they didn’t know I was watching when he pounded and hounded between her legs.
I glided like a ghost when he fled her bed, slinking through the suburbs to a new blue house with a bight white fence. I followed him inside and up not so creaky stairs and watched him ignore his wife and children as they hounded him for attention.
I watched them eat and sleep and not sleep. I watched his wife slip out of bed in her swishing wishing nighty, slowly slithering down the stairs. She put her hand on my shoulder and whispered two wild words in my open, listening ear: “It’s time.”
I crept into the bedroom while she stole away with the sleeping children. I slid my shiny sharp knife out of its shiny black sheath. I let the tiny tip glide across his stubbly peach throat. I watched the wine red blood pour out, soaking deeply into the mattress, staining it as deep red as his dirty soul was black.
I slipped from the house, following the whisper to a dingy, stinky motel. Subtle as a spy, she slipped crinkly green cash into my greedy hands.
Fantastic! Even the words you use are like hissing, hushing whispers: slither, subtle, sheath...Delete
It began with a whisper. Sweet nothings breathed in my ear, their meaning sent goosebumps down my neck. I pulled you closer and whispered the words back. We made love.
It ended with a gasp. Your admission told to my face, the weight of your eyes buckled my knees. I pushed you away and screamed admissions of my own. We scorched earth.
It changed with a heartbeat. Proof of our love growing inside, the life of our child transformed my mind. I paved you a path and sobbed tears of joy. We made amends.
It transformed with a cry. The birth of a person, our tangible connection entered the world. I pressed you into my soul and made a small family. We lived life.
I enjoyed how you segmented everything around a particular sound, and each sound is soft, yet there's something tremendous behind it.Delete
It began with a whisper. A tip off. He perches on a barstool, eyes focused on blurry edges; half-prepared for the details that will have changed, vigilant for the details that won't. A whisper of delicate bones. A birthmark of butterfly wings. Grey irises framed by thick rings of black.ReplyDelete
Gaudy shadows of former selves adorn the arms of a shithole's two-bit clientelle. And he's half grateful, half pissed that he hasn't found what he's looking for.
Harsh and very good! Really got me, this one.Delete
“It began with a whisper…then came a whistling…followed by a whirring…” he said, hoping to convince them. They gave him no audience, but a shot of tranquilizer instead. Far as the shrink and the psychiatric aides were concerned, a man with an unstable psyche was no reliable witness. Hallucinations were his forte on an average day, so why would whatever he said he saw be taken with more than a grain of salt? He could swear he saw a hooded figure with a Swiss knife slitting the throat of a victim. If only the shrink, Dr. Phil, would believe him.
The twin murders at the hospital had everyone in jitters. Two bodies in just two weeks apart, the number three had been knife-written on the back of the first victim, and “2” on the second. Obviously, it was a countdown. Everyone feared more that they would be next than they cared for another’s safety.
This midnight, he sees a long shadow along the hallway, approaching Dr. Phil’s office. He yanks off his restraints; the nurse had been careless to tie him too loosely. Tiptoeing into the office, a sucker punch from behind the door knocks him down. Standing over him, fist clenched, is the doctor—the last thing he sees before fainting.
Fuzzyheaded, he rouses to see the doctor, mangled and with a jagged inscription on his bloodied back: “1” or so. Though horrified, he is glad it is all over. They should have listened to him though. But he begins hearing the familiar sounds returning: A whisper, a whistle, then some whirring weapon slashing the air. It is while wondering where to hide that he clearly makes out what the dead doctor carries on his back: 1A.
Meanwhile, the sounds get louder. And nearer.
Portentous...just when you thought it was over! Does this mean that he's planning a 1Z?Delete
It began with a whisper, the crowd hissed, then a thunderous sound of applause followed. They were up on their feet and I could see the adoration in their eyes. I flushed in embarrassment, bowed and waved.
Somehow I felt a little uncomfortable. I hadn't sung the song so well, but then maybe I had, who knows. The audience was happy and I felt so proud of myself.
Being the daughter of a famous celebrity was not an easy task. My father was one of the most celebrated country singers of our little town. He was retired and reclusive. Never met anyone or even attended any of my shows. Today he had promised to attend my final show in town, incognito.
So as I waved and bowed I realised that the crowd was actually looking at someone behind me. When my father gently took the mic from my hand I realised all the cheering had been for him.
For a minute I was furious, but then he started singing an old song of his I knew so well. He used to sing it for mom all the time. The band started playing and I joined in too. The crowd went crazy. We held hands the whole time. I was a mixture of emotions. A little angry, extremely proud, happy that dad had come and sad mom wasn't with us anymore.
Now as I stand in grief, watching him being lowered into the ground, that moment keeps coming back. I'm going to miss him so much.
Very emotive. It began with a whisper and ended with a moment of silence.Delete
T. O. DavisReplyDelete
It began with a whisper. Then the rumors flew through the office’s cheap, modular walls like some zombie pandemic. No one thought to ask Brandon; no one thought to question if the painkillers had been his or why he was always calling in. The flushed and disheveled look, the same rumpled white button-down shirt, which accumulated stains like a map of the new world, the paisley tie, which did not match the shirt even when Brandon was “normal,” but contrasted even further as he devolved. These clues spoke for themselves, but we had ignored them until the whisper was a shout.
“What would you do different?” The investigator, Charles Weathersby, asked, and then took a sip of coffee.
He was not used to office coffee, I could tell; the slight twitch in his cheek gave it away. Here is a man, I thought, who drinks milk with his coffee. A man who has time to wait in line instead of behind a fabric-covered panel, which is adjacent and conjoined to other fabric-covered panels. I sighed and adjusted my shoulders. “I don’t know, Mr. Weathersby.”
“Charles,” he said.
“I don’t know, Charles. Less nose to the grindstone, I guess.” I snorted, cleared my throat, and crossed my arms to show Charles I was done just like Lisa in HR had showed us in the Emotional IQ videos we were regionally required to watch each quarter.
Charles slipped his pen into his pocket, and flipped through his legal pad. He stopped, and said, “Alright then.”
After the investigation, I would be transferred to the Raleigh office. No one would talk about Brandon anymore, but I would carry him like a lead balloon; it’s on their faces under the fluorescent lights, though I never see them beyond those partitioned walls.
Highlighted how even when we're together, we're still alone. Isn't it ironic that the closer we get packed together, the less we see of each other, and despite how close, a whisper goes unheard.Delete
It began with a whisper. It was a highly romantic notion, but that was the consensus of the people huddling in the dark. Despite being barely audible, it had smothered everything. In retrospect, the EMP had helped. Without the rumbling traffic, blaring horns, the barely-there whine of numerous electrical devices, the silence had been all consuming. Ears had rung with the need to hear something.
Pedestrians stopped, glaring and stabbing fingers at mobile phones—manic CPR on a black screen. When they finally managed to crack the stiff vertebrae in their bent necks and look around, the enormity of the situation slithered into their hindbrains.
"Hey! Anyone got a signal?"
"No chuffin' power!"
"Who's got a charged phone?"
"Look at the cars, moron!"
"Got a car charger, then?"
Such words filled the unsettling vacuum, growing in confidence as they joined a flowing river of anger and dread rolling along the highstreet. Disjointed and disconnected, old habits kicked in: some went to work, some went home. The more thoughtful looked at the sky.
"This ain't right, man."
"The end is near!" laughed a homeless man, picking up his coffee cup of proffered change to hurl the useless contents at the milling suits, his smile was broad and eyes manically gleeful: he'd just inherited the earth!
“Who can get Google up?”
Coloured lights slipped through clouds, and beyond, the duplicitous, murderous sun hovered high in the burning sky. Hearts hammering, the thoughtful plucked up loved ones and sought downwards! Battling against time and tide, they scrambled down into the Underground, jumping onto the tracks to scurry along the dead lines like rats. Got to go deep! In silence, they waited, blocking out the faces they couldn't save. Above, the sun blew the last trump…as loud as a whisper.
Eerie. 'manic CPR on a black screen'- fabulous. That last line, perhaps a reference to a certain person? Maybe I'm reading too much into it. But I loved it and the fact it's happening so quietly.ReplyDelete
Thanks for reading and leaving the lovely comment. The last line has no link to any politician or person alive or dead: it's a trumpet blast.ReplyDelete