Creative Writing Exercise: Develop Your Imagination

    Creative Writing Exercise

    Welcome to our Creative Writing Exercises, designed to flex your creative muscles.

    We’re thrilled that so many of you are participating in our writing prompt series.

    How it works

    • We set the scene
    • You make it your own, and
    • Share your creation in the comments section of this post

    Of course, it’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to share your work, but we hope you’ll do the exercise anyway.

    The ground rules:

    • Your story must begin with the exact wording we provide.
    • Your story must be 350 words or less.
    • Your work must be original and not previously published.
    • WTD provides an encouraging and safe environment for writers to grow and learn from each other. We’d love you to comment on other people’s submissions in a friendly and supportive manner.
    • We reserve the right to delete any comments or entries we deem inappropriate and those that do not meet the specifications above.

    This month’s installment Develop Your Imagination allows you to exercise your creative muscles by writing a story in which you give your imagination full rein. Your goal is to startle the reader with the unexpected, while still telling a coherent story.

    It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.  

    Now make it your own.

    We can’t wait to read what you come up with, so please add your submission to the comments section of this post.

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com. Grab a copy of her free report, How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet in Less Than 5 Hours. In her “spare” time, Mary’s also the brains behind AlistBlogging.net. and GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • Columbia University has a new creative writing major and on the application instructions, it says that anyone pursuing anything in the creative or visual arts may submit a supplement to their application. Creative writing is specifically listed, however, I am not sure what to submit. . . Would they accept a few writing samples in the mail after I electronically send my application or should I include the writing in an attatchment with my personal statement online?.

    • Paul skinner says:

      It was pitch dark outside and driving at night made me nervous
      But I took the car keys anyway and I stepped into the blinding sunshine.

      For the last 2 weeks I was on the road at night transporting
      Freight all the way to New York City .
      I was a semi driver. And I guess I lost track of time and was under the delusion
      That it was dark outside. I was really relieved to see the midday
      Sun glistening on my forehead. I stopped at a roadside diner for lunch.

      I was halfway to New York by that time.
      This haul was actually a pleasurable trip for me.
      I had 2 weeks off and was ready to get back on the road again.
      The next morning I arrived at my destination checked into a motel
      That night and made the trek back home to my husband and kids.

    • Doug says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. I look down at my tattered clothes and bare feet. The sand beneath them is hot enough to hurt, and I hop back and forth to relieve the pain.

      It had happened again. The sun, the exposure, and the thirst had taken its toll, and I had blanked again, fading into a wandering slumber. At least this time I had not fallen, if I fall I doubt I have the strength to get up again.

      I stare at the far horizons around me, and I am certain of only one thing: I am in deep trouble. The sun ahead of me, I stagger forward with my hand up as a visor to shield my eyes.

      Judging by the height of the sun to the horizon, only a couple more hours remain ‘til sundown. If I make it until then I may still have a chance. Night would bring shivering cold, but that would be a relief, at least in the beginning.

      I rest my back against a small boulder, and crouch down, hiding from the sun in the meager shade. My head against the cool stone, I choose to conserve my energy until sunset, so I can make my last push to find shelter and water. This evening will make or break me, an all-or-nothing proposition.

      I wake with my legs cramped and my feet frozen, and I realize I have slept through sunset. The moon overhead, I see my breath misting and I curse myself for missing the chance to travel through dusk. It can’t be helped, so I roll over and drag myself up against the boulder. My whole body aches and I slowly shuffle into a jog heading west.

      Up ahead in the distance I see a glimmering shine behind the hills. I don’t trust my eyes enough to be certain it’s real, but I feel something inside me I had not expected to feel again.

      A glimmer of hope.

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door — and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      “What the hell,” I blustered, raising my right hand to shield my eyes. I backed up inside, closed the door.

      “Dad, what is it?” shouted Tomas.

      “Nothing! It’s ok. Go back to sleep.”

      I looked at my watch. 11:35pm. I held my wrist up to my ear to make sure it was still ticking. It was. Let’s try this again.

      Turning the knob I eased the door open a few inches. Light sliced through the opening, cutting a swathe through the darkness of the room. I closed the door again.

      This didn’t make sense. A quick glance at the window across the room—even with the curtains drawn—indicated that it was night. I could see the glow of streetlights casting shadows.

      “What’s wrong? I thought you’d left.” Alice was standing in the kitchen door, drying a wine glass. She raised her eyebrows.

      “Yeah, just a sec,” I muttered.

      “You’re not staying.”

      “Alice? Do me a favour. Look out the front window and tell me if a car’s pulled up in the drive?”

      “What’s wrong with you? Of course there’s no one in the drive.” Alice stooped slightly to look, then straightened herself, turning back into the kitchen.

      Again, I opened the door and stepped outside. Clutching the keys in my right hand, I closed the door behind me with the left. The lock clicked. I stood on the front porch. Judging from the sun’s position it must be close to noon. The sky was a bright blue. I stepped off the porch and walked across the front lawn.

      Where’s the car? This is crazy. Am I nuts? A few minutes ago, I kissed my young son goodnight, polished off a glass of red wine, and said goodbye to my ex-wife. It was 11:35pm. Almost midnight. “Where the hell did I leave the car?”

      I turned sharply and looked back. Everything was gone.

    • Deb Cerrito says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.
      I awoke covered in perspiration once again, another convoluted dream concerning “the white light”. The symbolism was not lost on me, especially in my current position. Lying in my hospital bed, I had plenty of time to think, pondering “the white light” , and what would come next. I wasn’t afraid of my destiny. I had lived a good life, and my heart and soul were clean and ready for my last journey.
      I had made my peace with the world, and I was good with the leaving. Except for one thing, the one thing keeping me tethered to my earthly life. The recurrent dreams, kept bringing me back. Back to the reason I was still here. There was something I needed to know, something that I needed to resolve before I could move on.
      My memory was unclear, but my dreams always involved a car, or driving. “Why can’t I remember?” I asked my nurse. She didn’t answer, she just grunted and gave me a look of disgust, as she checked my vitals.
      These dreams, although fragmented, became more detailed with each awakening. I prayed for the day when the puzzle would be complete.
      When that day came, I awoke covered in perspiration again, but this time I has not seen the “white light”. This time I had seen the truth, and the puzzle was completed, in movie style technicolor, before my own horrified eyes. I saw the crash, heard the screech of twisting metal, and the screams of those who were dying in pain. I watched myself, seat belted in my car, still holding the cell phone I had been texting with. I looked at the other car unable to comprehend what had just happened, because I was too drunk to see clearly.
      The occupants of the other car were a family of five, all died at the scene. All but me. I would live for a long time. I would be left alive, to lie immobilized in this hospital bed, despised by those who were paid to care for me. For the rest of my miserable days, I could do nothing more than relive the memories of living a good life.

      • Deb Cerrito says:

        Sorry for the typo has/had. I just found this website and was so excited to do the writing prompt, that I did it on my cell phone … (Not while driving – of course)!

        • P Bar says:

          Well done.

          • Deb Cerrito says:

            Thx so much ! ,,, my first time submitting anything on line !
            Did it on my iPhone while waiting in a doctors office.

    • Judith Krouse says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door-and steped into the blinding sunshine.
      ‘It’s aways so dark in the house with those dark curtains closed. Why does Mindy have it so dark,’ Glen thought.
      As he got into the car, his thoughts now went toward Mind’s whereabouts. He would try her sisters across town. He could have called but Carolyn might not tell him the truth.
      As his Chevy stopped at each stop sign, ‘why doesn’t Mindy come home? He only make one mistake and how many did she make.’
      Pulling up the drive to Carolyn’s house, he noticed things didn’t look right. The yard was a mess, which was unusual. All of the windows and doors in front were closed. Unusual they are all open to let the sun shine in.
      Glen opened his door, got out and walked to the front door and knocked. No answer. He walked around the house, opened the fence gate and looks behind the house. It looks even worse.
      Walking over to the back door, all the shades and curtains are also, closed. He knocked, no answer. He opened the screen door and tried the door knob. The door opened and Glen, slowly, walked inside. All quiet. With three kids and parents, this didn’t seem right. Through the kitchen, the dinning room and then stopped in the living room. It was so dark.
      “Surprise!”
      Shocked, with almost having a heart attact, Glen gazed at friends and neighbors.
      “What’s this for?” Glen asked, still in a daze.
      “Glen, you are th recipent of the state prize of one million dollars. Didn’t your wife tell you?”
      “I wanted to surprise him. The letter came yesterday and we got this surprise party together,” relates Mindy.
      “Well. I have a surprise for all of you. I called the police before I came in. I hear them now.”

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    • Logan says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door and stepped into blinding sunshine. I froze. Chills ran up my back. Turn. The door was oak, I could have sworn that it had been spruce. I looked passed it into my house. It was day. ‘What am I doing?” I paused. “The car! Right, got it.” But as the thought came my motivation was gone. It wasn’t right, it just didn’t seem right. My eyes drooped in their lids.
      “Luke! Where were you?”
      I turned around legs shaking. John’s worried face stared back at me.
      “I was… I was… I… don’t… know.” The words fell from my mouth. ‘Where was I?’
      John eyed me strangely.
      “Luke, are you all right? I haven’t seen you since you married Bec.”
      My mind started whirring. Who was Bec? My eyes widened.
      “I-I’m married?”
      John’s face shook with horror, “No, not again… not again.” He muttered. “Luke, do you remember me?”
      “Yes… you’re John.”
      “Luke,” He said grabbing my arms. “Do you remember what we did as children. Do you remember?”
      “What-”
      “Luke, this is important! Do you remember?”
      I closed my eyes, panic rising from my throat.
      “No.”
      John shook his head, tears dribbling down his cheeks.
      “Where’s Bec?” He yelled at me. Tears prickled at my eyes. “Where is she?”
      “I don’t know! I don’t even know who she is!” I was crying now. John looked deep into my eyes.
      “Get out of my way. Go!”
      He threw me to the side. The sharp gravel driveway tore through my legs. I gasped. My black hair fell across my eyes. His footsteps echoed from the hallway. Stop. He had stopped. I clambered to my feet and scrambled after him.
      “What’s going on?”
      I followed the muddied prints to the kitchen and stopped. A scream clogged my throat. A girl lay on the floor. Blood. A knife protruded from her stomach. John turned to me tears filling his eyes and rage emanating from his face.
      “What did you do?”

      ————————————
      I do realize that I’m lacking description of the characters and many objects in this story.

      • Peter Bar says:

        you got a lot in there for a 350 word limit enjoyed the read

    • Peter Bar says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.  

      In the distance a tremendous mushroom cloud billowed upward over Los Angeles . Flaming cinders rising, turning day into night. A flocks of ravens rocketed out of the trees in the the valley below my house.

      I began to count the seconds. In maybe a half a minute a searing wall of heat, and radioactive ash wound sweep up the mountainside and envelope the house.

      They’d finally done it. Al Queda has basically painted a picture for us. Four minor explosions over the last eight weeks leading to the big one. Two years of intercepted communications. We were just the the tech heads at the FBI, nobody upstairs took it seriously.

      I’d started building the shelter a year ago. My neighbors though I’d lost it, a crazy doomsday prepper.

      I glanced at the car. There would be no drive to the airport. No flight to catch. No meeting up with Ellen and the baby. But they were safe.

      The dog was whining in the hallway. She knew and followed, when I raced down the hall, then down the basement stairs, two at a time. I could hear rumble, like distant thunder, then a roar.

      Thirty feet across the basement floor the heavy steel door lay open. Two foot concrete walls, and a ceiling, air filtration, a months worth of food and water.

      I sealed myself in as the house came apart.

      In the dim battery light I finished my exercise routine and looked at the calendar. Twenty nine days. It felt like years.

      Tomorrow I would dig out of the rubble into a changed world. How many bombs did they have? How much weapons grade uranium did North Korea, or Iran manufacture? How much went missing in Kazakhstan? Dark Ages.

      I looked at my backpack and rifle. Three weeks worth of food. 1252 miles to our cabin in the Alaskan outback. Far away, but I wondered if it was far enough away.

      • Peter Bar says:

        Hmmm before anyone jumps on this it’s night into day not day into night OK.

        • Peter Bar says:

          FIRST POST WRITTEN ON THE FLY THIS IS CLEANED UP

          It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.  

          In the distance, a tremendous mushroom cloud billowed upward over Los Angeles, a plume of rising cinders, turning night into day. A flocks of ravens burst out of the trees in the the valley below my house. They wouldn’t make it.

          In less than a minute a searing wall of heat and radioactive ash would sweep up the mountainside and envelope the house.

          They’d finally done it. They’d basically painted a picture for us. Four minor explosions over the last eight weeks, leading to the big one. Two years of intercepted communications, only we were just the young tech heads at the FBI. Nobody upstairs took it seriously.

          I’d started building the shelter a year ago. My neighbors though I’d lost it, another crazy paranoid doomsday prepper.

          I glanced at the car. There would be no drive to the airport. No flight to catch. No meeting up with Ellen and the baby tonight.

          The dog was whining in the hallway. She followed when I raced down the basement stairs. I could hear a rumble, like distant thunder, then it became a howling roar. Trees were starting to snap on the property.

          Thirty feet across the basement floor, the heavy steel door lay open. Two foot concrete walls, air filtration, a months worth of food and water.

          I sealed myself in just as the house came apart.

          In the dim battery lights I finished my exercise routine and looked at the calendar. Twenty nine days. It felt like years.

          Tomorrow I would dig out of the rubble into a world forever changed. How much weapons grade uranium had North Korea, or Iran manufactured? How much went missing in Kazakhstan? Jihadist dawn, twilight in the west. Dark Ages.

          I looked at my backpack and rifle. 1250 miles to our homestead in the Alaskan outback. Mary and the baby in the cabin. So far away, but I wondered, was it far enough away?

      • Logan says:

        Peter, this is a brilliant peice of work. It sent shivers up my spine. Maybe it’s just me but conspiracy theory, spy books and sci-fi are all amazing. I think that you brought out what was happening in a fast dramatic and impacting way.

        • Peter Bar says:

          thank you glad you enjoyed

      • BG says:

        Nice creative jaunt. Very fun to read. Keep writing.

        • Peter Bar says:

          Thanks BG

    • Mindy says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      “That man!” I muttered to myself as I stumbled blindly towards the car, “I tell him I want some soft landscape lighting around the bushes and what does he do, installs mega-watt spotlights aimed straight at the door. You could land a plane out here!”

      I’m pretty sure, if anyone was looking out their window at this time of night, they’d bust a gut laughing. Fuzzy slippers are not such a novelty. There’s cute little leopard ones or ultra-soft white ones but mine, well, mine are special. Mine were a present today for Mother’s Day from the 4 year-old so when I opened my eyes I had to fake my delight at Shrek feet: green, four bulbous toes on each foot with gnarly toenails. The 7 year-old had added the nail polish to each of those nasty nails a bright neon color.

      My flamingo-covered nightgown, from the 11 year-old on (I live in Kansas so the flamingo is not the state bird), is stuffed into sweatpants making my legs look lumpy, like liposuction gone bad. I’ve thrown on an old sweater and I pretend the sunglasses and ballcap pulled low make me invisible.

      After the horrendous dinner fixed in my honor which I moved around on my plate while making fake yummy sounds, all I want is some Taco Bell. They’re all asleep, my favorite old movie starts in 30 minutes and I’m focused on two hours of ME time; junk food and George Clooney, now that’s what Mother’s Day is all about!
      And I’ve made it with 5 minutes to spare! I have my feast spread out before me, the correct channel on the TV, and even some stashed chocolate at the ready for dessert. I so deserve this!

      “Moooommy,” whines a little voice, “I threw up.”

      I quickly kick off the Shrek slippers so I don’t accidently ruin them by stepping in vomit, “It’s ok, Sweetie. Mommy’s coming!”

      • RachaelBenson says:

        Mindy,
        I really enjoyed your story! It hooked me from the start, there was a good flow, and I absolutely understood the character.

        Perhaps a comma after “honor” here:
        “After the horrendous dinner fixed in my honor which…”
        Also, after “ME time” I would trade out the semicolon for a dash. I am in the camp that believes semicolons stop flow in fiction! 😉

        Overall – my favorite story here. A tight read, with humor and authenticity. Well written to boot! 🙂

        Cheers!
        Rachael

      • Logan says:

        Mindy, I love your story. I read so much sci-fi and conspiracy theory and fantasy so occasionally things get a bit dark. It was refreshing reading your story. It was light hearted, modern day and held much humor that is appreciated because it really is how people think. I thank you for this delightful contribution to human society, even if it is only shown to the people on this blog.

    • D.B. Blue says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      It won’t last, I say to myself. The sunshine flickers away. Day has been take over by darkness. We are spinning faster now it seems, but then it slows again. I go to my car and the ignition turns to life. The sun is rising in the east as I pull out of my driveway.

      They say we are safer underground. But, I know those who already left on the various ships and rockets are the safest. We weren’t chosen. I fear we will be forgotten. Will I be forgotten? I miss my wife. I don’t blame her though. She won the lottery and was only allowed one ticket.

      The sun shines high above my car, and quickly follows me west. It will beat me to the horizon. The moon is in a crescent, and it is beautiful. There are even stars in this night cycle. Driving at night has always made me nervous, but this time I hope it stays. Night or day I don’t care. I just hope it stays.

      Traffic to the underground shelter is long. At least 50 miles. It’s been night for two hours now. That’s good. I flip through the radio stations, but they’re all static. I close my eyes. Sleep came quick.

      Screams awaken me. Oh God what is it? My stomach is nauseous, and my head spins. Can’t think. Night and day. Night and day. The moon is getting bigger. Night and day.

      Heat. No more screams. Comfort.

      • Logan says:

        D.B. Blue, that was stunning. I enjoyed the futuristic setting and the disaster zone. It was a brilliant take on the seen. You’ve got a typo near the beginning, but other than that, and that is such a small thing, it was amazing.

      • Peter Bar says:

        nice work

    • Beverly says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. Had I been in a reverie and presumed it was night, or had my trepidation about driving at nighttime frozen my capacity to realize that it was day! I could now kiss my nervousness goodbye as I slid behind the wheel of my spanking new BMW, rolling the windows and the top down as I drove along the coastal highway uninhibited and carefree.

      The weather was perfect. The foam from the waves crashed against the rocks on the coastline making it look like the froth on the cappuccino I had with my muffin, all light and airy. My eyes scanned the horizon; the frigate birds circled and winged their way in the sky. A few wisps of clouds floated across the sun occasionally dimming its glare.

      There was a sense of composure I hadn’t felt for a while. The only thing missing—well not thing—but person missing from the scene was this guy, the one who had called out of the blue a couple days ago wanting to talk, to reconnect after about a decade—had it really been that long? I didn’t quite know what to make of it. As my thoughts turned to him I felt a flutter of excitement, there was a feeling of warmth and effervescence which brought a blush to my cheeks although I was alone.

      A tiny tear escaped from the corner of my eye and cascaded down my face. It had been a long time since I felt this joy, many years in fact. Could I be falling in love?

      Exhilaration yet a sense of serenity washed over me as I began to feel as I had before I slipped the key into the ignition, nervous, yet in opening the door I had been ushered into a different and effusive light.

      • Logan says:

        Beverly, I love way you’ve captured that nervous excitement that comes when your in love. It’s a lovely story. It’s amazing to go through this page and see the stories balancing each other out. There’s a great deal of both dark and light stories here, but in reality I think we need more of this lighthearted tone. The world is filled with so much darkness, its nice to see you spreading the light. Keep spreading the light. Keep bringing joy.

        -regards, Logan.

    • Vince Nakovics says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.
      Again I have had a negative light experience. The doctors told me they would stop after a while. They called them Ocular Migraines. This is very strange though, I mean everything is dark where there should be light. It only lasts for for a few hours each instance, but then the reversal is true. It is midnight and to me it is as if it is 12 noon. I don’t think they understand how severe the difference is. I will have to make a better effort explaining myself.
      At the doctor’s office I am suddenly hit with the negative sight problem. The nurse rushed off to get the doctor. I can’t see where she went down the hall because it is brighter because of the large windows so I see it as darker. Nurses don’t wear white outfits anymore so at least I can see a shadow of movement or else it would look like a darker spot in a dark room.
      The doctor has arrived and is looking at my eyes; he doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary with my eyes. We go to the exam room, he dilates my eyes, and bam everything is back to normal for this time of day. He did see that there was a momentary contracture of my iris, but other than that nothing. He tells me I have to see a neurologist.
      The neurologist asked me what kind of work I do, I told him I write for a living. He said good then he doesn’t have to worry about my loosing any fingers at work. Thanks I tell him. He tells me there will pretty much be nothing they can do about it. I have to live with it. Of course he wants me to come back and do studies, but he is going to do them for free if I agree. What choice do I have? Light or Dark?

    • Sheila says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.
      “What the….” I went to my Toyota Camry and it wouldn’t start. I was scared to death so I called my Dad.
      “Hello, sweet cheeks. What is the problem?” Dad asked.
      “The sun is out at night. I am shocked.”
      “I told you to watch the news, gerber baby. That bald guy, Neidermeyer, said it is fine just a fluke or something. The weather should be back on track soon.”
      “My car won’t start. I wanted to go to the mall before it closed.” I whined.
      “Go to sleep, pumpkin snout and it will all blow over in the morning. That Neidermeyer guy sure knows the weather. I never seen a bald newscaster before. That was weird but I trust him. You know the newscasters all have George Clooney hair and stiff suits but this guy had no hair and his clothes look like Daft Punk outfits.”
      “Thanks, Dad. Love you.” I hung up and went back into my apartment. I turned on the local news and Neidermeyer was on and he was doing some sort of Jamaican dance to a Bob Marley song. I laughed, but then I realized Neidermeyer wasn’t human because his head was human but his hands were green like a reptilian lizard thing. I barfed then walked to my Dad’s house.
      Mom and Dad were in the cellar and I joined them. Mom had baked cookies and there were plenty of leftovers. It was a great last meal.

    • RachaelBenson says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.   “Oh, God, no!” I whispered, terror stabbing my heart and wrenching my guts. Whipping around, I closed the door as fast, and as silently, as possible, amazed how immediately and unconsciously survival behavior returns (and a beer run can be forgotten). With my back against the bullet torn door, I slid down to the floor, my adrenaline soaked brain almost completely frozen in disbelief. The conscious part of my mind begged for this all to be a dream. A very bad dream.
      Still hushed, I muttered, “This isn’t happening. Can’t be. How is it possible?” I looked over my shoulder at the guest-bedroom-turned-armory door, with one dominating thought, “I’m not livin’ through this shit again, already fought an’ won this nightmare.” Trembling, I stood up, walked toward the triple locked door thinking, “Bet enough time hasn’t even passed for dust to start accumulatin’,” while I mentally cataloged the racks of guns, the boxes of ammo, I’d find inside.
      R-E-S-P-E-C-T! sang out from my left pocket making me jump and somehow freeze at the same time. “Shhhhhh!” I begged as I wrestled my rarely used cell out and tossed it on an old armchair. Taking a deep breath, I turned my attention back to the door in front of me.
      Two keys and one combination later I felt a satisfying heavy clunk in my hand when the final lock was pulled down – I was in! “My one-way ticket away from the hell that’s returned to my doorstep.”
      ONE WEEK LATER
      “Sarg, I got a last contact for our vic. A text!,” shouted Officer Diangelo to his superior out on the front porch.
      “Yeah? What’d the text say?”
      “It says….oh man, Sarg! At least this is gonna make our investigation easier!”
      “DIANGELO!”
      “Alright, alright, jeez, sorry, Sarg! Text says, ‘I’m here!But down the street.Cant get near u with all the electric co. trucks.Something big musta blown, place lit up like x-mas!!Anyway-I have the pizzas if u still want to catch movie at my house instead.Just remember to bring THE BEER!lol’”

      • RachaelBenson says:

        TIA for any and all feedback! My first time here. Just found this great site today. 🙂
        QUESTION- How do I go about putting my photo up? I see others have pics. Can’t figure it out. Is there a “members” section, or the like, I’m missing?? Thanks! Rachael

    • RBB says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      I’d forgotten; those hab blackout screens really worked. With their artificial nights, we colonists could sleep on an Earth schedule long after the 25-hour Martian day had slipped out of sync. Well, some of us could.

      Foster’s voice scratched into my O2 helmet’s earpiece. “I’m coming,” I shot back. I heaved myself into the rover parked in front of my habitat and switched it on. Andy’s unused rover sat next to it, sunlight glinting off tinted windows. Dust storm must have cleared them off, I thought.

      “Foster,” I radioed, apologetic. “Thanks for meeting me again, man. It’s been a long night.”

      “Aight,” he said. “Does she know?”

      “No. It’s dark inside, so she’s out.”

      I drove down Meridiani Street and banked left toward Endeavour, hands shaking. Thank god my brain was wrong and it’s daylight. I don’t like to drive at night because you can’t see the craters. Then again, driving when everyone else is awake has its own risks, Andromeda always said.

      I pressed the accelerator. Damn 5-speed rover. I have to get back before our daughter wakes up. Finally, I pulled into the lot and greeted Foster. He nodded. “You got it?”

      I gave him the gun, silvery finish flashing in his gloved right hand. “Thanks again,” I said.

      “Aight,” he said. “But we’re done now, man.”

      “I thought you said it was no biggie, Foster.” The water factory’s reactors are hot enough to melt nano-enforced steel, let alone a wussy laser gun.

      “Hey, man, this is the third disposal now. I can’t get caught. I can’t go back Earthside. That’s it, I’m sorry.”

      I closed my eyes, counted to five. “I understand.”

      I got in the rover, turned back on Endeavour and gunned it through the red light.

      Third weapon disposal, he said. So that’s two to go, Connie. Two more in the bag and your mom can come home from Earth. And Daddy can finally get some sleep.

    • ngb says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      After almost getting caught last time, Aunt Flora made me promise I’d never use my powers again. But, what choice did I have now that she was in danger? Especially when my using them was what put her there.

      I shrugged at the neighbors pouring out of their homes as if I were just as confused as they were. Hands used as visors, they all craned their necks upward as if they’d be able to see why the sun was in its noon time position at 9 o’clock at night.

      With no time to dwell, I jumped into Flora’s car and turned the key. Resting my hands on the steering wheel, I closed my eyes. My thoughts zigzagged at the speed of light down a straightaway anchored with flashes of color whizzing by on either side.

      As the vision slowed, the edges took shape. The dock. A warehouse. Flora was tied to a chair and gagged. Her eyes focused straight ahead, unblinking. She was trying to tell me something, but I was too far away to hear.

      Throwing the car into reverse, I peeled out of the driveway. As I drew closer to the docks I could feel Flora in my head. The words weren’t clear, but her feelings were. She was worried.

      I eased the car to a stop on the outskirts of the mammoth warehouses lining the water. Opening the door, my mind swirled at a dizzying pace.

      It’s a trap mija. Do not try to save me. It’s a trap, mija. Do not try to save me…

      Flora! Her voice was such a welcome relief despite her words.

      Fortunately for her, I was known to be stubborn. Unfortunately for her captors, there wasn’t a trap built stronger than the bond of family. I made my way toward her prison, preparing myself for the lecture Aunt Flora was sure to give me for disobeying her…again.

    • Cynthia Pearson says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. The light led me to a beautiful flower garden. From it, the aroma of rose and lilac filled the air. The path was bright and everywhere I went, glowed with the warmth of the sun on my skin.

      Taking a deep breath along the perfumed path, I met a shy hare that whispered “good morning” and scampered away. Surprisingly, a talking hare did not seem strange and as I made my way above a gentle slope, I found a few ants arguing over some picnic crumbs.
      “It’s my crumb, I saw it first!”- shouted the large one.
      “Not so”, argued another.
      But when they saw me they murmured, “Excuse us, please”, and moved out of my way. After a few moments I saw them lift the crumb together over to the moist grass to continue their debate.

      My wanderings down the slope in the bright sunshine took me to a small white cottage nestled among some oak trees. As I passed by some squirrels stopped to wave and smile at me. I waved back at them feeling contented as I neared some yellow butterflies that flit around a Goldenrod bush near the front door. I knocked on the door but no one answered. I grasped the brass handle that was in the shape of an outstretched hand and pushed open the door for my tongue was now parched. I was desperate for a drink.

      I entered what seemed like a living room. It was neat with polished red floor. There was a soft leather sofa near a window from which the sun brightened the room. Taking a right I saw a compact kitchen with a red stove and fridge. As I opened the fridge to remove a beer, a tall old man with the the gentlest of smiles appeared as I gulped down the beer. As I held back my head to take the last sip, he said, “Welcome to Heaven”.

      • asha says:

        Love this one, especially the super polite talking ants. Wish I was there.

      • niko says:

        So lovely!

        • Cynthia Pearson says:

          Thanks, guys for the feedback.

          Cynthia

    • ngb says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      After almost getting caught last time, Aunt Flora made me promise I’d never use my powers again. But, what choice did I have now that she was in danger? Especially when my using them was what put her there.

      I shrugged at the neighbors pouring out of their homes as if I were just as confused as they were. Hands used as visors, they all craned their necks upward as if they’d be able to see why the sun was in its noon time position at 9 o’clock at night.

      With no time to dwell, I jumped into Flora’s car and turned the key. Resting my hands on the steering wheel, I closed my eyes. My thoughts zigzagged at the speed of light down a straightaway anchored with flashes of color whizzing by on either side.

      As the vision slowed, the edges took shape. The dock. A warehouse. Flora was tied to a chair and gagged. Her eyes focused straight ahead, unblinking. She was trying to tell me something, but I was too far away to hear.

      Throwing the car into reverse, I peeled out of the driveway. As I drew closer to the docks I could feel Flora in my head. The words weren’t clear, but her feelings were. She was worried.

      I eased the car to a stop on the outskirts of the mammoth warehouses lining the water. Opening the door, my mind swirled at a dizzying pace.

      “It’s a trap mija. Do not try to save me. It’s a trap, mija. Do not try to save me…”

      Flora! Her voice was such a welcome relief despite her words.

      Fortunately for her, I was known to be stubborn. Unfortunately for her captors, there wasn’t a trap built stronger than the bond of family. I made my way toward her prison, preparing myself for the lecture my aunt was sure to give me for disobeying her…again.

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      Speechless, I gaped at the sand dunes facing me, then turned back to my door. There was no door, no house. Just more dunes. I looked around. No rows of houses. Miles and miles of dunes.

      My nerveless fingers dropped the keys. I reached down and gripped… the guard of a knife? I looked down: I indeed held a curved, wickedly beautiful knife in a sheath embossed with a coat of arms and Arabic words. The ivory haft ended in a finely carved human head wearing the keffiyeh. A hooked nose and short pointed beard were prominent on the thin face, but what held me were the mesmerizing black eyes. They seemed to draw my soul in and possess me. A harsh voice, vibrant with the habit of command, whispered something.

      That harsh whisper again, from behind. I spun around and saw a man of medium height and slight build standing close. He had a hooked noise and pointed beard under a keffiyeh.

      It was the man on the dagger.

      He pointed at the dagger and again whispered something. I shook my head, telling him I couldn’t understand him. He must have read it wrong, because he suddenly produced another dagger, the twin of the one I held. He said something harsh with menace, then jumped and stabbed me in the belly. Out of pure reflex, I unsheathed my dagger and sunk it in his heart just before both of us toppled over.

      Still holding the dagger, I staggered to my feet, took a step toward him, tripped and crashed through the partially open door, tumbling into the dark hall. The door hit its stop hard and swung back, slamming shut. I got to my feet, holding my car keys, unbuttoned my shirt out and reached inside. There was no fresh wound, no blood. That long old scar was throbbing.

      It hadn’t done that for 17 years.

      • Cynthia Pearson says:

        This is an intriguing story that held my attention to the end.

    • Annette says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. But how can that be? I am a rational symbiotic being of sound mind and body therefore; I know that this cannot be a mere trick of the mind. No this – this is more. It should be the blackest of night – the worse time to travel afoot. Slowly, I turn my head from left to right, searching desperately for some indication that my vivid imagination has finally addled my wits, but alas, it is still daylight. My need to leave wars desperately with my sense of reason. Clenching the keys tightly, I close the door as well as my eyes, inhaling deeply hoping and praying beyond belief that I am asleep or that my vision has finally betrayed me. Steeling my nerves, I open the door. It is twilight.
      I leap back “What the devil…” I gasp aloud to no one in particular. Fearfully, I close the door again, my mind racing, my heart pounding.
      “What is going on here? This is, this is not right, not possible.”
      I close the door again, closing my eyes hoping that the cosmos correct itself. Opening the door one more time – it is late, far beyond midnight. Those glittering stars burn ever so brightly above me. I close it, open it, close it and open it yet again. Repeatedly, as if some wave of mania has taken over me I open and close the door and each time I do – I watch time move before me. The hours turn to days, the days turn to hours, the hours turn to months, and the months turn to years. Still I can’t stop. I am father time, watching time past by me, the earth aging while I alone remain timeless, standing in my doorway clasping my keys as if I am an explorer outside of the space time continuum. Do I stop? Do I enter this new word that leaps before me?

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. “uuuhhh……what the….” I turned my head and closed my eyes; stumbling back I grabbed the door and slammed it shut. My mouth dropped open and I stood there hoping I’d wake up soon but that never happened. Confused, I refocused and looked out the windows, pitch dark as usual. I flipped on the outside light and as soon as it turned on it shattered and the darkness returned. I stood by the door on the opposite side of the knob, with my left hand slowly turning the knob and easing the door open. A crack of bright light lined the floor and ceiling sharply dividing the living room wall. I wasn’t about to look through the crack for fear of going blind. I closed the door again went into the kitchen and returned with a large roll of aluminum foil then I proceeded to my art studio and grabbed duct tape and several sheets of foam core. I wrapped the foam core with the foil and then duck taped them together to make a large reflective shield. I placed my homemade shield by the door and eased it open again. I could see the bright light flooding around the edges. I fully opened the door and stepped outside or I guess I should say, attempted to step outside. I couldn’t it was like steel wall of light. I stepped back and shut the door. Sometimes the easiest solution is the simplest one. I realized that as long as I was in the house and the door closed I was fine. Nothing was attacking me or hurting the house so I just went back to bed. I got up as soon as the sun was up and peeked outside the windows, everything seemed normal. I opened the door and all I could see was nothing it was pitch dark. “Are you kidding me?”

      • RachaelBenson says:

        Brian-
        Fun, humorous romp!
        I enjoyed it.

        Cheers!
        Rachael

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      The spotlights were surrounded by armed troops, crouching with weapons at the ready.

      I paused, momentarily taken aback until the agent at the door spoke. ‘Can I help you, sir? You need to be inside under cover.’

      I relaxed… The guns were aimed outward, guarding me against attack. An attack like that which had felled our President just hours before. Felled the entire Government except me. I had been the token ‘designated survivor’ off site during the State of the Union speech.

      It had always seemed a bit far-fetched.

      Not so much now that I was President.

      • RachaelBenson says:

        Hello, Bruce! I really like the idea for your short tale! Ironically, it reminds me of a book I am currently reading: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19132267-extermination-day

        One thought to clean up just one sentence for clarity:
        “An attack like that which had felled our President just hours before.”
        May perhaps be improved to:
        “An attack that had felled our President just hours before.”

        Cheers!
        Rachael

    • Christina S. says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      I shouldn’t have come here, was my immediate reaction, but there was something trustworthy with the voice I heard on the phone earlier. “Come meet me by the lake,” he had said. “You will get your answers.”

      Answers. For the last five years my mind had been riddled with nothing but questions. I couldn’t pass this up. My body felt stiff, uncooperative, and begged me to dive back into my Jeep and get the hell away from there. I squinted and let my gaze skim past the glaring headlights where I could see a tall person beside the car in front of the pale lake where I used to swim as a kid.

      “Your sister,” the tall man said, voice low and sounding modified after what must have been years of smoking. “She’s still alive, and I know where you can find her.”

      My breath hitched in my throat. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t even breathe. My little sister Jamie went missing the night before her eighteenth birthday, five years ago. I never found out whether she was dead or alive–until now. My gaze blurred and the harsh lights sprung into a thousand fragments and I wiped at my eyes furiously. Where? My mind screamed. How? WHY? Is she all right? My lungs tightened and I couldn’t make a sound.

      “Do you trust me?” He asked then, stepping in front of the headlights, throwing a shadow over me that felt cold and hollow. “Abigail Snow,” he said, “do you trust me?”

      My body still tried to inch me back, away from this spot and to never look over my shoulder. How could I?
      I stepped forward, tears still obscuring my vision and blind determination clouding my mind. “Yes.”

    • E Tully says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      I shut the door quietly and skittered down the empty hall back to the room I had been living in for the last week. I peered outside to see if anything was about. The yard was as silent as it was dark. At the patio door, I noted the calmness of the pool which was barely visible in the dark.

      I sat on the bed clutching my bag. The truth slammed into me like a fist. It was all a lie. Deception haunted me from the beginning of this case and now I was housed with two hybrids, one of whom was a pitch stealer, a controller of the night.

      The pitch had always oppressed me, shortening my breath, inserting its skeletal fingers into my dreams, mocking me. No surprise then, that I had not slept well since I came. I dug through my bag, ignoring the gun in favor of the cigarettes. I lit one and took a long slow drag.

      As the smoke infused my lungs, my glimpse at the sun stained yard came back in a dark flash. The pitch was already taking its toll on my mind, but this I knew with certainty: my car was not in the drive. I would have to find it or steal one of theirs. It had been a long time since I had used a vehicle modified for a hybrid, but I would take the chance.

      I dug again to the bottom of my satchel, scratching the leather in search of my watch. I retrieved it along with a cough drop swaddled in lint. It was 2:15. Mid-afternoon, judging by the brightness of the shine. If I was going to leave, now was the time, while my hosts slept wrapped in their pitch soaked beds.

      I nestled the glock into my waistband, threw the satchel over my shoulder, and headed for the door. The cough drop would have to wait.

    • Mona says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. No, not sunshine. Headlights, those extremely bright lights that’s illegal for private citizens to own. I’ve seen them before. They were only used by the government, or others that didn´t care about what was legal or not. Either way, I was doomed.

      My eyes were adapted to the bright light and I could see different vehicles and shadows of armed personal behind them. No one moved and no one spoke. My brain tried to find a solution, an escape. But nothing came up. The only thing I could think of was the dinner that was ready for me, and the people who were waiting for me to show. People that didn’t know and now, never will.

      A man stepped in front of the lights. I couldn’t see his face but his stature told me he was not here to play nice. I gripped the keys tighter in my hand; I could cause problems with a key. But it wouldn’t matter. The man might lose an eye but I would lose my life.

      “Time to go.” The man said sternly. “There’s someone who can’t wait to see you.” I dropped the keys and pulled out my phone and wallet from my pockets and they too fell to the ground. I wouldn’t need them anymore.
      “Lead the way.” I said slowly, unable to hide the pain I felt about leaving. But I knew I had no choice. My past had finally caught up with me.

    • Norah Deay says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I
      picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into
      blinding sunshine. What the hell? I stepped back quickly and banged the
      door. I peered through the narrow window in the hallway and heaved a sigh
      of relief that I hadn’t lost my mind. It really was dark outside.

      I opened the door confidently and as soon as I stepped out the sunshine hit
      me with a punch. I blinked rapidly as I fumbled in my handbag for my
      sunglasses. The light was too blinding. It wasn’t sunshine as I knew it.
      It was a white light that draped everything in view with a white blanket.
      There were no green trees; no blue sky and no silver road
      stretching into the distance; even my little car had lost its red coat—everything was present, but not.

      I stretched out a foot and my black boot disappeared into the white. Excruciating pain raced up the nerves in my leg. I pulled my foot back to the doorstep. My boot materialized and the pain faded away. I retreated to the house and checked the phone. It was dead, and my mobile too when I checked it.

      Standing there biting my lip to stop myself from screaming I noticed the local paper that was lying on the carpet. A screaming headline read

      GLOBAL WARMING IS FACT. BRIGHTER DAYS ARE COMING!

      • Peter Bar says:

        great

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. The sunlight hurt my eyes there were plush tropical plants and trees all around me coconuts skyscraper tall palm trees. I blinked then again and kept my eyes closed then opened my eyes I was still in this tropical paradise.

      With my left hand I reached out and grabbed the windshield wiper lever and pulled in in and down. There was a torrent of water that hit my windshield the car moved with the rhythm of huge waves. The radio crackled on static at first then a clear voice yelled out echoing in the cabin of the car.

      “Captain we are taking in water, orders, orders what you want us to do!” a hint of terror in his voice.

      I started to sweat put the key in the ignition and turned the key. NOTHING…The front of the car pitched deeper in the water. Another crackle from the radio roared.

      “Please Captain Please!” the voice begged.

      I tried the key again stamped my right foot down on the gas pedal and screamed. “Come on damn it come on!” the engine roared I took hold of the gear shift. The car jerked up I looked in rear view mirror and saw big clouds and blue sky.

      I watched as my car soared high above the clouds. I felt at ease why I don’t know but I felt at peace. Then I heard a bell beeping the same bell as if I left a car door open…open at this altitude. I heard a voice far off become louder, clearer. I sprung from my seat to see a cabin full of people.

      A stewardess turned to me “Sir please sit down we are about to land.” She said softly. I could still hear the bell I sat down and she reached over flicked the button and off went the bell.

      Embarrassed “Sorry first time flying”

      She looked at me and dripping with sarcasm said “REALLY.”

    • Oliver Aldridge says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      I blinked and checked my watch. Red eye flights are tough on the body, but I would have sworn it was three AM, not the afternoon. I reminded myself what I was doing. NyQuil. It was sorely needed apparently.

      My over-tiredness was wearing on me. Half way home, I could barely remember buying the NyQuil. ‘It isn’t safe to be out,’ I thought.

      Motion behind a house caught by eye. I saw a woman pulled by her hair into the woods.

      I ripped the car off the off the road and chased the disappearing damsel. It’s true what they say about adrenaline – I had not idea I could run so fast.

      When I caught them, the attacker hadn’t seen me. He was focused on his catch. I charged into them to break his grip.

      We fell to the short underbrush we were running through. My eyes never met the attacker. He only glanced and ran.

      I turned to the dark haired woman beside me, “Are you OK? The guy ran off.”

      She cried.

      I helped her back to the street and called the police.

      After giving a statement. I went home to finally sleep. Even with the NyQuil, sleep eluded me. My noise canceling headphones gave a little solace. A few hours later I began drifting off.

      Hands shook me. Two police officers stood above my bed, “Mr. Campbell. You need to come with us.”

      “Good Lord. Weren’t the questions earlier enough?”

      I heard a holster snap. Apparently not. “The thing is, Mr. Campbell, there’s no way in the middle of the night you could have seen Ms. Conner being attacked. Now that Ms. Conner has slept through the night, she thinks you must be the guy who grabbed her.”

      “What?”

      They never answered. I was pulled through the front door into the starry night. The officers put on their sunglasses. I looked at my watch again – noon time stars.

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. My nerves often propelled me into doing things I would rather not. What else could I have done, considering the circumstance?

      The heel of my Jack Rogers white leather pumps slid on the loose gravel as I exited. I grabbed the chrome handle of the car door to steady myself. The backs of my thighs had left the red leather interior driver’s seat damp but my throat was dry. I had driven the final hour with the window down to keep myself awake. Mr Tambourine Man’s lyric “I’m not sleepy and there’s no place I am going to” played through the Delco speakers as I yawned, standing only a few hundred feet from my final destination. I laughed at the irony.

      The lengthy drive through the familiar countryside had stirred forgotten memories. I shaded my eyes and squinted, focusing on the final destination a few hundred feet down the red dirt road. I knew this day was inevitable. I knew it would be this soon. I also knew how I would feel. Every emotion was falling into place just as I had imagined. The anger wrapped in guilt, the sadness cloaked with a gentle content and then there was the fear. Recalling the conversation the night before I remained reticent. I had to be calm. I would be the only one able to be. Away from here, away from this place, I was not the confident person he knew me to be. Here, at home, I was able to take responsibility. I always had. Maybe that’s why, now, I prefer not to be. Too much for way too long.

      It was early morning, but the heat from that blinding sun was already drying the dew that lay on the fragrant trailing arbutus in the field between the gravel road and the house. I stomped on the gravel, stirring up dust, sat back down in my Chevelle and closed the door. I put the car in neutral and cruised slowly down the driveway, coming to a complete stop when I seen him come to the door.

      He looked worse than ever. I wanted to feel sorry for him, but I couldn’t. I only felt hate stinging the back of my throat, I swallowed to keep the hate from becoming a violent verbal splattering against the peaceful morning. His out-of-date pompadour was untamed and in need of some Murray’s pomade. He wore the same red suspenders over the white tee shirt, but under the plaid flannel shirt. It was too hot for flannel and I wondered why he was wearing it.
      He smelled.
      bad.
      I could see it.

      I removed my Jack Rogers pumps and replaced them with my black capezio flats, grabbed the bag of fresh vegetables I had purchased on my way out of the city last night and eased my way to him. He had been upset. Crying. For days probably. But his sorrow, now, was too little.
      And she was gone. So it was definitely too late.

      I turned and looked directly into that blinding sun again, holding my eyes open to bring tears. My nostrils burned, and I swallowed again, throat still dry. I felt a tear on my warm cheek, and then another. That should do it I thought. A little forced emotion had never hurt. God knows he used it enough on my mother. I just had to be careful in choosing my thoughts. It was so early and there was so much to do. It was best we start with the worst first, get it out of the way. But I was right. He did smell bad. I just wasn’t sure if it was only his body, or a combination of him and whatever lay inside for me to uncover. I had to work fast though, because it would take all day, and I hated driving in the dark.

    • Brittik Basu says:

      “It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine”, whispered Christine before she fainted in her mother’s arms.

      She talked like she was high on weed, but Marie and I knew that she never did drugs. Something for sure had happened that made her this way. But she was unhurt and there was a smile on her face. While I carried her to the car she mumbled, “we are not alone”, many times. I was worried for my daughter.

      The thing that shocked me was that, there were no keys in the car, yet the lights were turned on. I couldn’t think of any logical explanation to it. “Did the car drive itself?”, I asked myself. I told Marie to get the extra keys and we were on the way to the hospital.

      In the car, Christine was starting to have convulsions, there was a strange light in her eyes. It looked like some kind of ancient writing. “It’s Hindi, I think, it’s kind of religious!”, exclaimed my wife. After a while, the convulsions subsided and Christie was somewhat stable. Suddenly she opened her eyes, sat up straight and said, “where am I?”. She did not know what had happened, Marie told her that everything was alright and that we were about to reach the hospital. On reaching the hospital, she was examined and an MRI scan was conducted, everything was normal. We told the doctor what had happened and what we saw, he scheduled her a psychological evaluation. I am sure he didn’t believe us when we told him about the light in her eyes.

      Marie and I later found out on google that the Indian writing we saw in Christie’s eyes is considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism and it’s called ‘Om’.

      Maybe god had chosen to talk to my daughter. We felt fortunate and knew that no one will ever know what we saw in Christie’s eyes and who or what Christie saw with her eyes.

      Exactly 350 words!
      Thanks for reading 🙂

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. At least that’s what the night looked like. Thankful for the newest modulating lenses, I fired up my Land Rover and headed directly into downtown Nairobi. Aware that it was still hours before sunrise, my nerves took another jolt as I drove past a line of kids in what appeared as an undulating, wailing funeral procession. These new lenses created bizarre apparitions; chocolate children glowing in night covering as they escaped the clutches of Kibera, having survived one more night, singing as they chased dawn into the city for another day of begging.

      And then I saw her. Neat cornrows and countless tiny braids interrupted by teal beads. Her dress was threadbare, almost translucent, putting her adolescent body on display through vulgar Land Rover beams; she was barefoot, walking unconcerned over all sorts of debris – broken glass, plastic bags, filth left by the passing of countless orphan generations. She seemed transfixed by my passing. But her color was wrong. She was more tan than chocolate; somehow I felt she didn’t belong, but was somehow imprisoned. Blue eyes on fire, her stare penetrated my tinted windows and drove a stake into my heart.

      Now I remembered why I was nervous at night. Today, no – tonight was her birthday. She saw me and she knew that it was fourteen years ago this very night that she was born and I abandoned her mother. And she wanted me to know that she knew. But I’m a diplomat and her mother a prostitute, a slave to changaa. No one will ever know, and they’ll find a way to survive. Look, they’ve made it for fourteen years already, I reasoned. Vomiting all over my opaque, tinted window, I left again, once more choosing myself, affirming I was my own god and condemning the woman I once loved and my daughter to an unrelenting lifetime of hell in Nairobi’s Kibera slum.

      • niko says:

        This is an incredibly powerful piece. Beautiful work!

    • Polly Sanford says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door and stepped out into blinding sunshine. Confused for moment, I dropped my car keys. Then I pinched myself, “Yep, that hurt!”

      My pastoral training automatically kicked in as I listened to my inner voice. Centuries ago Paul experienced such a bright light. Only his was God telling him how torqued He was at Paul for mistreating Christians.

      Out of Paul’s meeting came conversion,grace, and a worldwide ministry. He taught God’s love and plan of salvation to all man. But I recalled Paul went through all sorts of horrible trials to get the job done. But what could this have to do with me if it is the God of the light?

      I fell to my knees, closed my eyes and whispered, “Lord if this is You, please make Yourself known to me.” Nothing happened beyond my sore knees. “Slow down fella, you don’t know this is God or something else” I told myself, “Don’t jump to conclusions!” .

      But what would I do if Jesus were to tell me that I was offending Him too? I swallowed hard, and braced myself for whatever was to come. Even so, I hoped whatever this light represented, it did not come bearing the same sort of message as Paul’s!

      Then I heard a snicker and someone say, “Be quiet.” I opened my eyes to find five police officers glaring at me. Had they never seen a old man praying in his driveway in the middle of the night?

      One laughed, and said, “Sir, you had better go inside – there was a jail break in town tonight and 2 escapees were sited in your neighborhood! I hope our spotlight did not scare you.” And off they went, light and all.

      I sighed and chuckled; I had forgotten we even had the need for a jail in our peaceful town.

      I picked up my keys and went back into the house. Suddenly the desire to venture out was gone. I prayed for my neighbors safety though, that they would not see a bright light and expect a God encounter. But you never know…

    • asha says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped outside into blinding sunshine.

                      All I could think was not again. I’d called the repairman to fix the door, and he’d charged me a hefty sum, but apparently nothing had changed.  We’d had it installed on a whim.  “See the world from your front door” the advertisements had exclaimed enthusiastically.  Fine enough if it worked, and you could reliably set it back to reality when needed.  Not so fine when you had to be at work in 15 minutes, and your front door opened onto Sri Lanka.  I can’t count how many times I’d had to crawl out the living room window, carefully avoiding the boggy soil under the hydrangea bush.

                      A gust of wind blew the door shut. Shit! I searched frantically in my purse for the remote, but the portal was fading fast, literally see through now. Stretching out before me were white sands all the way to the horizon. Overhead a blazing sun already absorbing into my dark hair and melting my brain. The remote was nowhere to be found.   A pointless attempt to bang on the door sent my hand through into nothingness.   You’d think I’d know better by now – Never leave the remote sitting on the hall table, never leave it in your other purse and especially never walk out a Portal Door unless you’re dressed in layers.

      • RachaelBenson says:

        Hello, Asha-
        Your story was my second favorite in the bunch. Well written!
        You had such a great idea, very unique. Grabbed my attention immediately. I was excited to be reading along… but then I thought you sort of lost your way toward the end. Almost felt like you “ran out of steam” (the strong start compared to the “I’m done writing now” feel to the end).

        Cheers!
        Rachael

      • Peter Bar says:

        i think you nailed it

    • carina says:

      It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. At least that’s what I thought at first. But as soon as my eyes adjusted I realized that instead of sunshine the headlights of a car greeted me. In combination with the weird call I got beforehand, this scene was really unsettling. Only seconds ago my brother’s best friend called me telling me something bad happened to Marcus. Or was it even him? He sounded weird. Aggressive. Angry. Not like his usual self.

      “Mum?”Is that you?” I called out. But noone answered and because of light it was impossible to see anything. My heart started thumping. Who could that be? And why doesn’t he say anything? “Marcus?” I tried again. My voice wavering at the end. I couldn’t even hear my surroundings anymore so loud was my heart beating. There. Was that someone talking? No. Only the neighbor’s cat . My palms started sweating. “Mr. Wilson? Dad? Jules? Anyone?” I tried again and with each name my voice got higher and higher until it was shriller than the fire alarm.

      Suddenly the person in the car started the motor, but instead of driving away he slowly came closer towards me. My eyes widened not caring for the lights. My pulse now pounding in my head like a machine gun. “Keys! I need to get away.” My brain screamed at me. So I looked through my bag and when I finally found them they fell down. And I am sure with them fell my heart.

      The someone in the car stepped on the gas. That’s when I pressed my eyes tightly together and started screaming. I screamed. Someone touched me at the shoulder. And I screamed even louder. Someone shook me until I finally opened my eyes. Looking right into my brother’s.
      “Dude, I told you it was a bad idea to scare her like that on Halloween!” My brothers best friend muttered, looking ashamed.

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine.

      I had too. I had received a call, previously. An anonymous voice spoke in a very polite accent. Though the accent was polite, the message wasn’t.

      “Hello, Mr. Rayasam. Sorry for calling you this late but I’m afraid to tell your friend Brown is with us and, he is not in a very good condition. We’ve kidnapped him.”

      “Wait, what?! Who’s this speaking? What are you talking about?”

      “I’d love to continue talking to you but I’m afraid I can only do that in person. 12th Street, Greentown. 20 minutes.” Disconnected.

      My just-about conscious brain called Brown, just in case. There was no answer. Yes, he is a sound sleeper, but I was miles, miles away from taking the risk.

      I managed to reach the spot just in time, hopefully. There were shivers running down my spine, my heart was pumping faster than ever and my aching eyes wandered all around for hope. Too afraid to get off my car, I kept looking around for the next 10 minutes.

      My phone started ringing.

      “Where are you, Mr Rayasam?”

      “I’m right where you asked me to be. Where is Brown!”, queried my dry, petrified, yet angry throat.

      Not sure if it was my dumbstruck brain or if I actually heard some giggles.

      “Hahaha. Mate, this is me Ron. Sorry, mate. This is a prank! Never thought you’d move your lazy ass all the way! Good job, man, and I’m really, really sorry!”, said Ron, unable to control his laughter.

      You could imagine what went through my mind, then. In all that rage that could’ve killed Ron, my mind suddenly deviated to the thought, “Damn! Brown is really a sound sleeper!”

    • Barbara says:

      Crack. My body is chest-down flat against the black pavement, my right cheekbone glued to the red goo that oozes from my head, my ear, I don’t know. Open car door, blinding sunshine, full body warmth, and now pinpricks of rocky pavement boring into the pores on my cheeks on my arms, on my legs. I feel goosebumps run ransack over my body, I’m shivering but for the warm blood that is pooling around my nose, around my mouth. I try to shout, “help me” but silence only escapes my mouth, not even a whisper, I think to myself, I never finished that book, I never had kids, I never tried that peach tart in the bakery window this morning…
      “Can you hear me?” a voice echoes above me, I can’t tell if it’s a man or woman. I only know that it is the sweetest sound I ever heard.

      • Peter Bar says:

        nice

    • It was pitch dark outside, and driving at night made me nervous, but I picked up the car keys anyway. I opened the door – and stepped into blinding sunshine. The light shot from the darkness. I felt like a deer in headlights and I froze in my tracks on my back porch. My hand tried to block my eyes. I looked down as I shaded my eyes to regain some clarity but all I could see was but a few feet in front of me. I raised my other hand as I stood back up to signal to the source of the light. “Hey, please, turn off the light!” I repeated my demand a second time and took two steps off the porch, as I tried to determine who or what controlled the light, and more importantly, why is this light being shined?

      From the darkness behind the light came a voice, “Mr. Brown? Are you Mr. Brown?” The voice did not sound threatening.

      I kept my hand in front of my face to protect my eyes. “Who is asking? Please turn the blasted light off or away from me.”

      The light slowly was lowered to my feet. At that point my eyes began to make out the shadows in the darkness beyond the light. It was a pick up truck and the light emitted from the spot lights above the roof.

      The dark figure of a man spoke, “Sorry to upset you. Are you Mr. Brown?”

      “Yes. Why do you ask:? What do you want?” My agitation crescendoed with my questions. Midnight is my least patient time of the day.

      I could not make out the man behind the voice but I could hear the jingle of keys as he slowly approached. He had both arms raised. “Mr. Brown, we were sent to fetch you.”

      “Who sent you to fetch me? Why?”

      “Your wife knew you would be getting antsy and would come looking for her. She is okay but she is at the hospital.”

      Aggravation turned panic. “Hospital, what hospital, why? What’s wrong?”

      “She is helping my wife in the ER. My wife and I did not make it to the hospital in time and your wife stopped when she saw me wave her down. Your wife helped with the delivery of our first baby. She told me how to find you and she went with my wife to the hospital in her car. Please, come with me!”

      • Barbara says:

        What a great story. From feeling fearful to bringing on a smile. As I read your story, I saw the action take place in my mind, even details you didn’t mention, and it all came to life.

        • This was a good read. The narration was amazing, given the constraint of finishing the story in fewer words. And what interested me the most was when it was said that the voice which was calling you wasn’t threatening. In routine stories, we usually hear threatening voices; not here. Good piece, Mr. Brown.
          I’ll try to write one on my own.

      • How can you turn off sunshine?

    • satan says:

      I stepped into the car. I heard sirens I didn’t care the people were saying I did something the whole block was covered in police cars two of them slammed me to the floor one broke my nose I heard this is thev end through the blood. I know I would be going to the hospital soon. My friend. The end.

    • jerri says:

      Then I remembered…… I was now in Alaska, land of the midnight sun.
      “This will take some getting used to,” I said out loud to no one, and chuckled. I was going to a writer’s meeting that was being held at night and had been worried about finding the location in the dark.
      “Hi, welcome to the Anchorage Nano’s, you must be new.”
      “Yes, and looking forward to all the new experiences that Alaska has to offer…… including the midnight sun,” the greeter smiled and showed me to the back where the others were gathering.
      “Everyone, this is Jerri, and she is a 4 year nano, but new to Alaska.”
      Greetings by everyone and I was asked to share my first impressions of the state.


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