Writing Prompt #9 Imaginary enemies.

An eccentric relative died and left you a cat and an old pair of glasses. The cat was pretty normal except it spent a lot of time play fighting imaginary enemies. Or that’s what you thought, before you put on the glasses.

~~~~~~

I’m not a cat person. Mostly because I’m allergic to them. I have never owned a cat in my 30 years alive on this Earth.  That being said, I still can’t understand why Aunt Belinda left me her cat Benjamin, and these weird glasses. We weren’t close per se, but we maintained an awkward relationship over the last few years. I would visit her at least once a month to make sure she was doing okay. Aunt Belinda was never married and was a little eccentric. I knew she was lonely, and felt bad for her. Since my mom died a few years ago, she didn’t have anyone else. While we bonded over our love of Nutella and Game of Thrones. Sometimes she would say off the wall things that I never understood. She once told me that we descended from demon hunters of all things. I remember just shaking my head at her thinking she was crazy, but she adamantly argued that it was true. Belinda told me it’s been years since our line was needed but that was no longer the case. She pleaded with me to go through my mothers things to find our family ring. 

I knew the ring she was talking about. It was a very strange ring that looked like a hand gripping your finger with a Black Obsidian stone in the middle. I kept it in a box in my secret safe at home. Mom gave it to me a week before she passed. It was almost as if she knew she was going to die. The manner of which they found her was awful. She was brutally mutilated just outside of her home. The police report stated that she was mauled by a black bear, here in our heavily populated area in South Florida. I knew we had them in the Everglades but we were by no means close to that area. I still had nightmares about it to this day and she died five years ago. I jested with Aunt Belinda that she’d been watching too much tv and needed to get out more. I’ll never forget the look of utter disappointment in her eyes. It haunted me to this day. She really believed that stuff. 

I shook my head to clear my thoughts as I watched my cat. He was a beautiful Russian Blue cat with grey coloring and yellow-green eyes. I’ve had him with me for a week now. I take daily allergy pills just so I can be around him and not sneeze to death. Oddly enough, it seemed to be working. Usually even allergy pills weren’t enough around cats. It’s a good thing too because I just didn’t have the heart to give him away. He was so quirky and unlike any cat I’d ever met. Sure he slept a lot, and don’t bother him when he was in his little hidey hole. I found out the hard way he likes his alone time. I’ve still got the scratch marks to prove it. I watched him with great fascination as he went at it. He really looked like he was fighting something. Benji as I liked to call him, was hissing at the air in front of him and swiping ferociously. He hopped from one side to the other as he swiped and hissed. I could almost imagine where the thing was that he was play fighting. Was this normal behavior for a cat? I wouldn’t know honestly. In my musings I must’ve missed something because Benji was now halfway across the room and limping. Wow, he was really getting into it. Maybe he fell off of something. Except wait, was that blood? 

I rushed over to Benji and inspected him. Sure enough, he had a cut behind his ear and was bleeding. I started panicking as I inspected the wound until I realized it was just a bit more than a scratch. I went to get the peroxide and some cotton balls to clean him up as I pondered how in the world he got hurt. When I was satisfied that I’d cleaned him up thoroughly, I inspected him further. Other than his limp he seemed okay. My ornery cat waited patiently for me to inspect him which I found rather odd. It was almost like he knew he needed to be tended to and was utterly still as I inspected him. Usually trying to do anything to him other than pet him was a mission. Benji must’ve come to the conclusion that I was done and promptly dismissed himself. I sighed audibly as I watched him go into his hidey hole.  I swear sometimes he acted like a moody old man. 

I sat back down at my table and picked up the glasses again. Glasses probably wouldn’t be the right term for them. They were more like goggles. You know those goggles that you suctioned onto each eye separately when you went swimming? Imagine those in all black with smoke tinted glass within their frames. They even had an adjustable rope cord. They were odd thing to wear and why in the world would she wear these out and about? I hadn’t even tried them on yet. Truly, I wanted to just throw them out, but I couldn’t. She left them to me for a reason. I hopefully would figure out what that was sometime soon. 

Out of curiosity, I went in search of the ring. I pulled the box out of the safe and sat back down at the table turning the box over in my hands. I’d never even tried it on. The ring had always felt like a bad omen considering my mother died shortly after giving it to me, but the conversation I had with Aunt Belinda had stayed with me. She seemed pretty upset that I didn’t have it with me. Honestly, what could it hurt to wear it for her? She also died mysteriously last week. She was strangled in her sleep but by whom? She didn’t have a boyfriend that I knew of, and she didn’t have many friends. She had the marks on her neck but there was no forced entry into the house. It looked like she struggled in the bed and the cat had shredded the sheets but nothing else was out of place, making the whole thing suspicious. The police had assured me they were still investigating. The whole thing brought back the sadness that had been lingering around the edges. First mom and now Aunt Belinda. I was the only living woman left in our family. At least I still had my dad, I thought miserably. I opened the box as I stared at the creepy looking ring. I ran my finger over the smooth stone feeling a pull towards it. I pulled it out of the box and placed it on my right ring finger. Once the ring hit home at the base of my finger, I was knocked out of my seat by an unseen force. I landed square on my back hard, the wind knocked out of me. 

I struggled to breathe as I wondered what the hell just happened? I got my breathing under control and I realized Benji was sitting on my chest staring at me, purring. He looked pleased, which was strange. Why was he sitting on my chest staring at me? I reached out tentatively to pet him and he snuggled into my hand as his purring intensified. Since I’d had him, he had by no means even attempted to snuggle with me. I was touched by my little furball. I sat up and carried him with me to the couch. Once seated he readjusted himself on my lap and fell asleep. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t understand it and suddenly was very tired. I passed out on the couch with Benji on my lap. A first in our relationship. When I woke up it was around 3:30 in the morning and I noticed Benji was play fighting again. He was hissing loudly and screeching at his invisible enemy. I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and called out to him. He ignored me of course, as he continued to battle. Poor little guy looked tired though. I didn’t understand what drove him to play at such a strange hour. I questioned myself again about whether or not my cat was normal. I vowed to do some research tomorrow when I really woke up. Sleep was calling to me again. It felt like I was drugged and my body was struggling to respond. I was being pulled hard to rest. My limbs felt heavy as I dragged myself to the bed and passed out. 

When I woke up, Benji was curled up on the bed next to me. I smiled at the sudden change in his behavior. Not understanding it, but grateful for my little companion. As I started to pet him I realized he had another cut on his flank. There was dried blood caked in his fur. What the hell? I got up and got the stuff to clean him up again wondering how he did this. As I cleaned him up I got the distinct impression of gratitude from him. It was strange because I could swear it was coming from Benji. I smiled at myself and the ridiculous notion as I finished cleaning him up. When I was done I checked the time and was shocked to realize I slept for an additional 12 hours. It was now 3:30 in the afternoon! I couldn’t believe it. I felt fantastic though, almost like the fog had been lifted and I could see and hear everything clearly now. My stomach grumbled at that moment reminding me that I hadn’t eaten since lunch yesterday. I made my way to the kitchen and put a pot of coffee to brew. It didn’t matter that it was the middle of the afternoon. Coffee was always necessary upon waking. I was contemplating what I should eat when I suddenly felt the desire for Bacon. I loved Bacon, but strangely I knew it wasn’t me that was craving it. I looked down and realized Benji was staring up at me. Was it him that wanted the bacon? I pulled the bacon out of the fridge and showed him. Suddenly I was hit with a yes, yes, yes! He purred and rubbed up against my legs as the thought came through. Was my cat communicating with me? I just might be losing my mind, but I decided to indulge the cat. Who didn’t love bacon anyway?

I was about to sit down and eat at my table when Benji started rubbing up against my legs again reminding me I had yet to give him his bacon. I chuckled and took a few strips off my plate and set them in his cat bowl, making sure to crumble them up a little so he could eat it easier. We both finished eating around the same time. As I sat and sipped my coffee lost in thought over what happened last night with my ring, Benji jumped up on the table and sat in front of me. He stared me down until he had my undivided attention. I sensed he was waiting, so I put my coffee cup down and looked at him quizzically. He pointedly looked down at the goggles sitting on my table for a few beats and then looked back up at me. My brow furrowed as I stared at him. What does he want? I sensed frustration and agitation suddenly as he took his paw and started toying with the cord on the goggles until they ended up falling off the table and into my lap. Once I had a hold of them in my hand I looked at him startled. His feelings were starting to come through to me. They weren’t always clear but right now I was sensing expectation from him. Did he want me to put them on? As soon as the thought crossed my mind he meowed at me almost as if in answer. My eyes widened in shock as I realized that he either read my mind or somehow I sent that question out to him and he answered. 

My hands were shaking as I picked up the goggles from my lap. Benji started looking to his left and then back at me. Once again, I sensed frustration from him but more concerning was the fear and concern that I felt from him. He meowed at me again and through our mental connection I felt a push to hurry. Hastily, I put on the glasses. I secured them around my head and adjusted them on my face. As soon as they were on Benji took off to the left where he had been looking before. At first I didn’t notice anything until I found where Benji was play fighting. This time I could see. He wasn’t play fighting at all. He was fighting something very real. There was a demon in our kitchen and he was doing his best to keep it away from me. I gaped at the situation in front of me. All this time this has been what he’s been doing? The demon was terrifying to look at. It was a dark mass of smoke and shadows that slithered from place to place it’s shape changing depending on it’s attack. It had a humanoid head with eyes that were pure white but, the rest of its body was black and constantly changing. The eyes seemed to glow within that dark mass as it watched my Benji while keeping me in it’s sights. At the moment it looked like it had a spider body with long sharp talons. It took a swipe at my cat with one of it’s many legs. It missed Benji by a hair.  

I stood up abruptly, knocking my chair over. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I couldn’t let him fight alone. Absently, I touched my ring and felt everything fall into place at once. I knew what to do. The knowledge came to me in an instant. It had always been there lying dormant waiting for me to call upon it. As soon as I felt for it, the power rose within me. I closed my eyes as I took it all in. When I opened my eyes again I realized I was floating, but I wasn’t alarmed. There was a demon in my house that needed to be gone. I floated closer to the fight. I analyzed the demon picking him apart to figure out the best way to end him. Since he seemed very much like smoke, I imagined a cyclone that would suck him in. I started to spin one hand in a circular motion to create the cyclone I had within my mind’s eye. The other hand I kept open hoping Benji would jump into it. Once the cyclone fully started to take shape in our kitchen I felt Benji jump into my hand. I smiled as I cradled him to my body. Soon the cyclone started to suck the demon into it as it was helpless to escape. When I was sure I had the demon in its entirety I gently set Benji down at my feet and slapped my hands together in one loud clap followed by a forceful push down with both of my hands. Just like that the cyclone and the demon were gone. I wasn’t sure if I pushed them back into the boundaries of hell like I intended, but they were no longer in my kitchen so that was a huge plus. 

I couldn’t believe what I had just done. Suddenly, I felt completely drained and almost fell to the floor. I trudged over to the sofa and plopped down. Benji came running after me and sat on my lap. The extent of everything he’d done for me thus far hit me at once and I was so grateful for him. I wasn’t sure if he could hear me so I just decided to tell him out loud. 

“Thank you Benji, for everything you’ve done. I had no idea, and I’m so sorry it took me so long. I promise you won’t fight alone anymore.”   

Benji responded clear as day in my head. “It’s about time Nilsa. I’ve been waiting for you for years.” He said as he curled up in my lap. I was stunned at the clarity of his thoughts. “Oh, and stop calling me Benji. I hate that nickname. My name is Benjamin!”    

Photo by Paul Stollery on Unsplash

Writing Prompt #8 Puddle Jump

You trip in front of a puddle and fall. Straight through it. To another dimension. 

It’s been one hell of a day. I woke up late and I missed my train. I ended up having to wait 30 minutes for the next train making me an hour late for work. In my three years of employment I’ve never been late, today was just the wrong day to run into bad luck. They were making an example out of everyone that came in late today. We were fired, immediately. I packed up my things and got on the train back home. I was carrying the box with my office stuff inside which made me an easy target. I knew better, and not following my gut instincts cost me when they took off with my purse. Now I was broke and had no job to replenish what the muggers took from me. On the way home from the train it started pouring. I was carrying this stupid box with no umbrella and getting soaked to the bone. I dropped the box and all its contents into the garbage. I was disgusted with the fact that I brought it with me at all. There was nothing there worth all this aggravation. I blew out a frustrated breath as I took cover from the downpour on one of the covered benches. 

When the rain finally stopped, I got up and started walking. There were puddles everywhere which was to be expected. I smiled as I jumped from spot to spot avoiding the puddles but nearly falling in the process. I laughed out loud when I landed on my feet successfully after a particularly huge jump. Feeling exhilarated and a little bold, I saw my next puddle jump, though it looked a little different. The puddle looked like the water had a slick layer of oil on top making it ripple with a rainbow of colors.  I didn’t think much of it and jumped anyway. I almost cleared the jump landing on my toes. I teetered back and forth before I finally lost my balance and fell backwards into the water. To my utter surprise, I didn’t hit the ground, I fell through it. 

I fell for what felt like ten minutes but was probably only seconds. It was bizarre the strange swirling colors that I saw as I fell. At first I thought I must’ve hit my head hard and was hallucinating, but I was suddenly thrust through the earth. I flew through the air briefly before landing on my butt, in a puddle of murky water. When I looked up I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t know where I ended up, but I knew it was not my Earth. I wondered if perhaps I had fallen into another dimension because we didn’t have dragons on my Earth and here they were everywhere. I was mystified as I stared up at them. They were more beautiful than I could’ve ever imagined. There were dragons of every color and size and they were freely roaming and flying around. As I took it all in I realized there were no people anywhere, nor were there any tall buildings. Any existing buildings lay in ruins. As I struggled to get up I was noticed by a beautiful amethyst dragon. It’s body and tips of its wings seemed to glow a bright fuchsia. I was so caught up in it’s beauty that I didn’t realize how much danger I was in. The dragon opened its mouth as the fire started to ignite, but before I could become a barbequed human I was tackled to the ground just as the fire came down upon us. 

Whatever it was that was holding me down was covered in a fire retardant suit because there was no intense screaming or melting going on by this person. I could tell they were trying to shield my body with their own so that I wouldn’t get burned. They must’ve done a decent job because as I felt the heat flow over my body, but I didn’t feel pain. As soon as the fire receded the mystery savior scooped me up in their arms and ran. I looked around as they ran, completely bewildered by all of this and wondered where would we go that would be safe from dragons? I saw it not a minute later. There was a small building up ahead that looked like it had taken a few hits from dragon fire. We walked inside and it was tiny. Barely enough room for three people to stand and he was about as big as two. I was guessing it was a he anyway. It was then that I finally took a good look at my savior. His suit was made of some kind of heavy black material. It had fins and spikes coming off if it in odd places. It also had streaks of fluorescent red that seemed to glow the way the dragon did. He even had a solid helmet on with long horns coming off the top. Honestly, I didn’t know how he could even see in there. It must’ve been to camouflage against the dragons and it worked because they didn’t come after us. My savior was facing my direction and I was wondering if he was staring at me. He pointed down at my legs as I stared at him trying to figure out what he wanted.

Just as I was about to ask what was going on he stomped on a metal plate in the floor. Ten seconds later it was swinging open and I was directed to climb down. As I descended into the unknown, I started smelling somewhat familiar smells. They were strangely mixed together. Lavender and cooking meat, bread and grease, cotton and dirt. The closer I got to the floor the stronger the mixes were. When I stepped away from the ladder I realized why. All the humans were here, underground. There was a city here larger than I would’ve ever imagined. Everywhere I turned there were people. They had shops selling all kinds of things from clothing to weapons. There were little shacks all over the place selling different kinds of food. I even spied a bar where people were drinking and singing merrily. This was all so very bizarre. I was given a not so subtle push as my savior guided me in the direction they wanted me to go. I could tell he was angry with me. Given that I had no idea what I was doing here, or where I was supposed to go, I walked without hesitation. As we walked down what I could only assume was a makeshift road I couldn’t help but notice all the little homes and activities going on down here. 

We reached a building that seemed a little more official than everything else I’ve seen so far. It was cleaner and in pristine condition. When we walked inside it smelled sterile like antiseptic and was completely white. Not a speck of dirt to be found. This oddly disturbed me as much as the dragons. Everywhere else in this underground city seemed a little gritty and dirty. This place was way too clean. There was some mumbling going on ahead of me. The two people standing in front of me in all white with their hair pulled back severely from their faces wearing gloves and hairnets surveyed me as I waited. The three of them kept staring, whispering and gesturing to my legs. They were arguing with my savior, who still had not taken off his gear. I looked down at myself to see what all the fuss was about. I was disgustingly dirty. Falling through two muddy puddles didn’t help that. My hair was still dripping down my back and there was dirt everywhere. As I looked over the condition of my clothing I was a little taken back to see that my pants were half gone and the edges singed. What started off this morning as solid black slacks were tattered shorts that fell just above my knees. You could tell they had been through fire. That was odd since I didn’t get burned myself. I remember feeling the heat, especially over my legs but it didn’t hurt. It was oddly comforting. I shrugged as I continued looking over myself. The dirt and soot seemed to be sticking to my skin making it feel stiff and hard. I couldn’t wait to get clean. 

I was brought out of my internal assessment by someone clearing their throat. When I looked up my savior had finally taken off their helmet and was watching me with a smoldering intensity that made me nervous while blushing at the same time. I was not expecting someone so ruggedly handsome under there. He had long black hair that clung to his face from the helmet. His grey eyes were framed with long lashes. There was a long scar that ran down the side of his face that somehow made him even more alluring. He had stubble growing in thick that framed his strong cheekbones and square jaw. The sterile people seemed to respect him and his authority and quickly moved out of his way as he pointed me to the door. I sighed audibly as I walked through the door and down the hall to a room with a table and two chairs. It was an interrogation room. I was promptly cuffed to the table after I sat down and wondered why they felt the need to cuff little ole’ me? I was a little thing. I was never taken seriously because I looked more like a teenager than a grown adult. I was only five feet tall and 110 on a good day. At 26 years old I still got dirty looks when I bought an alcoholic drink because they always assumed I was a teenager.  

When he walked in, I could feel the power radiating off him. I didn’t even need to turn around to see him. I knew it was him. He slammed his helmet on the desk to intimidate me. It kind of worked. He slowly but gracefully sat down in his chair and proceeded to stare at me. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t even blink. It was making me extremely uncomfortable. What the hell was his problem? I started fidgeting unconsciously not knowing what to do with myself when he finally spoke. 

“What the hell were you doing out there, alone?” His voice was deep and husky. It matched his brooding personality, but the tone of his question rubbed me the wrong way. It was an accusation. Like I did it on purpose. It pissed me off and made me want to be snarky. Which was strange because I’m wasn’t that girl. I was the quiet one that did what she was supposed to do, day in and day out without getting noticed. 

“I was in the mood to become dragon barbeque.” I sassed right back at him as I stared him down. I couldn’t cross my arms over my chest because of the cuffs, so that was the best I could do. His eyes widened slightly and his eyebrows went up a bit at my sass. He wasn’t expecting that. I almost laughed because it was funny. This man didn’t get people who talked back to him, but I didn’t want to die, so I kept my laugh to myself. 

With a deathly serious tone he asked again. “What were you doing out there little girl. Answer me honestly this time or I will drop you back where I found you.” He had a certain air of authority and smugness to him this time. It wasn’t helping to endear me to him at all. 

“First off, I’m not a little girl. I’m 26 years old. Secondly, what the hell do you think? Do I look like any of the people here? Am I dressed the way your women are dressed? Did I react the way someone who’s grown up around dragons would? The answer to your question is quite obvious but I’ll spell it out for you since you’re being such a gentleman right now. I fell through a puddle in my world and landed here in your world. That’s about all I can offer you.” There were equal parts of sarcasm and agitation in my answer. I could give a shit if it pissed him off. I was grateful that he saved me but unhappy at being treated like a prisoner and a child.   

He sat in contemplation for a moment taking in my answer. He kept looking me over and really staring at my person. “What do you mean you fell through a puddle into our world? What world did you come from?” His brow furrowed as his eyes squinted a bit. 

“One that is completely different from this world. There are no dragons in my world. They are just a myth. We live above ground and are free to roam about without fear.” I said in a monotone voice. 

My smug and cocky savior gaped openly at me. “What do you mean free to roam without fear? What hunts you?” He asked incredulously. 

“Nothing, well, I guess just bad people.” I watched his face as he watched me in disbelief. 

“I don’t believe you.” He said with venom in his voice. I shrugged carelessly. Not sure what he wanted from me. “If that is the case why don’t you seem eager to return?” 

I thought about it for a moment. How do you explain this to someone who’s had to fight their entire lives for what they had. To constantly live in fear over something you had no control over. “I guess when you grow up in my world you take your existence for granted and you stop appreciating things. We don’t have to fight to stay alive the way you do. The world and the people in it become obsessed over materialistic things and we lose sight of what’s really important. It can be a very lonely existence when everyone is only looking out for themselves.” I was pretty sure he didn’t understand, but I honestly didn’t know how to explain it better. So I didn’t add anything else.

“Why didn’t your legs burn? I tried to keep them covered but I know I wasn’t able to cover them completely. Your pants were burned off and part of shoes have melted, but your legs are unscathed. Would you care to explain that?” There was an open curiosity in his question. He honestly just wanted to know. 

I looked down at my legs again, confused. Did they get hit with fire? He was right. I didn’t notice before but the whole bottom layer of my shoes looked thinned out and fused with the rest of the shoe. I had already noticed my pants. “I don’t…I…I don’t know.” I stammered out as I looked down at my legs again. I had the overwhelming urge to touch them but my cuffs wouldn’t allow it. I was distressed about this information. If it was true what did it mean? Was I fireproof?

He must’ve sensed what I needed to do. I looked up and he was unlocking the cuffs so that my hands could be free. I dropped off the chair and pulled my legs to my chest. They felt like my legs. Nothing different. I rubbed my hands up and down my legs in a soothing manner, as I rested my head on my knees. I was lost in thought when he crouched in front of me. There was a tenderness there that I didn’t know such a hard man could possess. 

“Are you alright?” He asked with concern in his eyes. I nodded briefly but didn’t speak aloud. After a few beats of silence he asked what I knew would come next. “Would you be willing to help us here?” There was a hopeful glint in his eyes. Maybe I was crazy for considering staying. I thought about my life on my earth. I thought about my sad and lonely apartment, about my lack of employment. I thought about how my parents were no longer around and how I felt utterly alone most days, but mostly I thought about how if I really was fireproof maybe I was meant to be here to help these people. That gave me hope and a purpose.

I looked up into that handsome face and smiled. “Yes, I think I would.”

Writing Prompt #7 Wishing Well

As a child you found a wishing well. It was a silly wish, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The coin got stuck on something halfway down. It never reached the bottom, and thus your wish went unfulfilled, until one fateful day 30 years later when something jostled it free. 

They were bullying my daughter Angie again. I could see them from the window of her homeroom class. My daughter had been struggling with bullies lately. That was the reason for me standing here in her class, listening to her teacher assure me that they take this kind of thing seriously. There was a strict anti-bully program at the school. Angie had done the right thing. She told the teacher what was going on, hoping that it would take care of the problem. I knew better though. 

My mind wandered back to when I was her age. I had the same problems she does now. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t care as much about those kinds of things back then. I was left to figure out how to deal with it on my own. It was a miserable time for me. I remember being desperate for help. I even took to making wishes. Any fountain I passed, I always stopped to make a wish. There was this one wishing well that was known to grant wishes. It wasn’t close to us either, but I found a way to get there. After two busses and two miles of walking, I finally made it there. I had only one coin left to use my wish on. I needed the rest of the money to get home. My hopes were lost as my coin got stuck halfway down the well. I was hit with crushing disappointment. I knew I’d have to figure things out without the help of Telekinesis. As an adult now, thinking back, I’m not sure what I planned to do once I obtained this power. I had some vague memories of my plans; pulling down their pants in public, hiding other student’s things in their desks to get them in trouble…but I guess it didn’t matter. I had to find other ways to deal with my problems. I was forced to become stronger. I figured out ways to always be two steps ahead of them.  I begged my parents for boxing lessons so that I could defend myself. It was then and only then that I was able to put a stop to the bullying. Once they realized I wasn’t scared anymore and pushed back they’d stopped bullying me. It was a valuable life lesson. I shook my head out of my past and brought myself back to the here and now. 

Angie wasn’t like me. She was stronger. Not to mention that I put her in MMA lessons three years ago. I’m pretty sure that if she wanted, she could knock those bullies out, but my Angie was a strait-laced girl. She followed the rules obsessively and didn’t like to rock the boat. She was trying to solve this little problem within the school rules. I commended her for it. That’s why I was here even though I thought this was a waste of time. I knew eventually she’d have to push back on these bullies, but until then, I was here for her in whatever way she needed. As I signed off on the teacher parent conference paperwork she came running into the room and gave me the biggest bear hug. We left shortly after and spent the night talking and going through our usual routine. By 9:00 she was in bed, and I was so spent, I passed out not long after. 

The next morning the alarm blared, and I struggled against the pull of sleep, not wanting to leave my cocoon of warmth to shut off the alarm. On impulse I pushed out a mental thought to shut the thing off and It cut off abruptly. In my sleepy stupor I thought that was odd, but I didn’t question it further as I fell back asleep. An hour later Angie came barreling into my room. 

“Mom! Why are you still sleeping? We’re gonna to be late!”  She yelled at me from the doorway before she stomped off mumbling under her breath. I shot up out of bed and looked at the clock on the nightstand. Shit! I was supposed to be up an hour ago. Why didn’t the alarm go off? I had a strange dream where I shut it off mentally, but that was a dream. I rushed around my bedroom trying to get dressed as fast as possible. I needed to get out of there within the next five minutes in order to get her to school on time. She hated being late. It was putting me in a frenzy because I hated being the reason, she was late. I ran into the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee for the road. After pouring it into my travel mug, I dumped in the cream and sugar as I desperately searched for a spoon. I gave it a quick stir when I heard Angie screech at me for being late. I dropped the spoon on the counter and realized with a start I left the fridge open. I swiped my hand to close it realizing that even though I was close, I didn’t actually touch it, and it closed anyway. My brow furrowed at this momentarily, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. It must’ve closed on its own due to gravity or something else explainable. 

Coffee in hand, I ran out into the living room area where Angie was waiting by the door tapping her foot impatiently. Keys? Where the hell are my keys? I searched frantically because I had no idea where I left them last night. I looked through my purse but nothing. I got down on my hands and knees wondering if they fell when Angie called me again. 

“I’m trying Angie! Please be patient.” I said with a little more anger than I intended. I looked up at her face and saw hurt. “I’m sorry sweetie.” I said as I sat back on my rear. “I don’t know what happened this morning. You know I don’t like to be the reason you’re late. If I could just find those damn keys!” I said as I closed my eyes and concentrated. I was trying to remember where I left them, focusing so hard on the keys. Suddenly, there was a scraping noise. The keys were being pulled from under the dining room table scraping against the hardwood floor as they were dragged to my open hand. Did I just do that? I shook my head as I squeezed the keys hard in my hand and felt the metal bite into my palm. Yep, they were really in my hand and I wasn’t hallucinating. Wincing a bit, I looked up at Angie. Her face pale, eyes as big as saucers. 

“Mom, did you do that?” Angie asked tentatively. 

I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. I wanted the keys in my hand so badly and then there they were.” How could this be?  

“Try something else.” She suggested with a bit of trepidation. 

I sighed audibly and wished I had my coffee in my hands. I needed that boost of caffeine to help me make sense of all this. I looked up and there it was floating in front of my face just waiting for me to grab it. I heard Angie gasp, as she realized that I had indeed pulled it there with my mind. 

“How is this possible mom? Have you been holding out on me all these years?” She asked with the attitude that only a preteen could muster at something so ridiculous. 

Without meaning to I snapped right back at her. “Why yes Angie! All these years I’ve been able to move things with my mind while hiding it behind your back. Even denying my powers when they would’ve been so helpful to us in our situation.” I took a giant gulp of my coffee as I stared her down.

“Sorry mom. I’m just a little shocked. That’s all.” She said as she slumped down against the door joining me on the floor. “I know you wouldn’t do that to me, but how did this happen?” 

Then it hit me like a freight train. I was just thinking about this yesterday. The wishing well. I wished for the ability to move things with my mind when I was ten years old, but the wish never came true because my coin got stuck. Now, 30 years later, my wish was finally granted. Did the coin finally get dislodged from its spot therefore granting my wish? I needed to test my theory. I stood up abruptly and set my keys and coffee on the counter. I picked up Angie’s backpack with my mind and made it float in front of her. She stood and gaped at me but didn’t move. I made her arms extend out and slipped it on her back using my newly found powers. Then I walked back through the house and turned all the lights off and closed every open door with my mind.  When I came back to the front of the house Angie was just staring at me in shock. 

“Let’s get you to school. You might be a little late but within your five-minute window before you get a tardy.” I said as I opened the front door without moving from my spot. “I know why I have these powers now. I’ll explain on the way to school. 

“You see Angie, there was this one wishing well that was known for granting wishes…”

Writing Prompt #6 The Sketch

You’ve been sketching your soulmate’s face since you were old enough to pick up a pencil, the drawings become more realistic through the years as the day you meet comes closer. 

It’s been 25 years since I started drawing him. I had no idea who he was, and yet I was compelled to draw him. I almost felt like there was a connection there, somehow. Like I was getting to know him through these drawings. Ever since my mom bought me special pencils for drawing at the tender age of 7, I’ve been sketching him. My drawings of him have aged with him over the years. Always staying true to our age at that time. At twelve the drawings were becoming good enough that you could tell they were based off a real person. My mom used to tease me all the time about the boy I was obsessed with. I let her believe he was in one of my classes. I knew it would bother her if she found out I was drawing a complete stranger. I kept my sketches of him hidden most of the time. I didn’t want anyone see my sketch book. I’d ruined plenty of relationships because of those sketches. The irony was not lost on me that I kept losing relationships over someone I never met.  Not that my boyfriends ever believed me, they always seemed to be threatened by this stranger. Convinced we were seeing each other on the side or that I was secretly in love with him. I got tired of trying to explain to them that I didn’t really know him. He could be someone my brain invented for all I knew. 

The only one who really understood the sketches was my best friend Rita. She never looked at me like I was crazy, on the contrary she had this burning curiosity in her eyes every time I spoke about him. Rita was a hopeless romantic and was in love with the idea that he might be my true soulmate. That we were somehow meant to find each other. I, however, was starting to think I might be losing my mind. The frequency to which I felt compelled to draw him was increasing. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with the overwhelming need to draw. I felt as if my hand had a mind of its own as I started to sketch. I knew the outline of his face as easily as my own. I let the pencil take flight over the paper as I poured myself into the drawing and lost track of time. Most days, I got lost in his eyes. The almond shape, the long lashes, deep amber color and the crinkle that always showed up when he was smiling. He had a crescent shaped scar in-between his eyes.  This was a new detail that I’d never drawn before. I wondered how he got the scar as I continued to draw the rest of his face. His nose that was just a bit larger than it should be. That imperfection always made him seem more real to me. There was a fine stubble on his face that framed his cheeks and his squared off chin. He was smiling lightly as if something amused him. There was a slight dimple that you could see through the stubble. I smiled down at his face and pretended I was part of the reason he was amused. I sighed wistfully as I moved to add the final details that would complete this little drawing session.  

My mind was at ease when I was sketching. It had always been a way for me to escape the pressures of my daily life. I’d feel the stress of the day melt away as I put pencil to paper, but with him, it had become a necessity. I felt like I needed to draw him. The drawings had gotten more detailed as of late, so much so that you could probably have him identified through a search database. I was too scared to do something like that. The idea that he might be a figment of my imagination was heartbreaking. I wanted to believe he was out there somewhere. Even if I never got to meet him, I hoped he was happy. I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that in the deepest part of my heart, I hoped he was real and that one day we would meet. I didn’t want to set myself up for that kind of disappointment, so I never let that hope blossom. Every now and then I’d let that hope out to turn into a fantasy of meeting him somewhere. I didn’t let myself get carried away though. I needed to be able to separate myself from those feelings. I needed to live in the real world, not my fantasy world, no matter how appealing it may have seemed. I was 32 years old and was starting to wonder if I was going to be alone forever. That thought was depressing. I slammed my sketchbook shut and climbed back into bed. I had another three hours before I had to face to world. It took a little while but once I finally fell asleep, I fell into a deep slumber as those almond shaped eyes haunted my dreams. I felt like I chased him all throughout my dreams but never quite caught up to him. 

I woke up grumpy and irritated because of my dreams. As I fully came out of my dream, I realized two things. One, my best friend brought me a cup of my favorite coffee, a cup of hazelnut flavored brew sat on my desk next to my bed with the perfect mix of cream and sugar. Two, I realized Rita was sitting at my desk staring at my latest drawing. As I took a sip of the delicious and much needed caffeinated beverage, I wondered what Rita was thinking. She was oddly quiet. 

“You’ve got a lot more detail here than I’ve ever seen before.” She said as she stroked the page reverently with her fingers. “In all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never seen his face with such clarity. What do you think that means?” 

I knew she was waiting for an answer, but I also knew she was trying to work it out for herself. “All I know is that I woke up from a deep sleep at 3:00 in the morning and I had to draw him.  I have noticed a few new things I’ve never drawn before. Each drawing is more detailed than the last. I’m not sure why either.” I said as I shrugged. 

Rita had that faraway look again as she tapped her chin. “Maybe it means you’re going to meet him soon. Destiny needed to be sure you recognized him and gave you all the details to do so.” She had a hopeful smile on her face, and I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes.  Rita was recently engaged to the love of her life and she was still floating on cloud nine.  

“Or, maybe, I’ve become so obsessed with this drawing that I’ve started adding my own details and am slowly losing my mind!” I said as I put the cup down on the desk and stood up. “Listen Rita, I would love to live in the romantic world you’ve spun here, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. Because when reality comes crashing down on me, that he’s probably just a figment of my imagination, I don’t want to lose it. You know?” I was on the verge of an emotional meltdown. I could feel the hopelessness of my situation. The fact that I probably was in love with a drawing, and that I would always measure every man I ever met against the face that I’ve drawn countless times over the years. It was almost too much to bear. I’ve been deluding myself. The more I drew him the more attached I became. I didn’t even look at other men anymore. 

“Oh sweetie! Don’t do that. Please! Don’t give up hope. I know you’re scared. I’ve seen what you’ve gone through with other relationships, but they weren’t meant to be. I know you don’t believe in destiny or fate but, I also don’t think you would’ve been this connected to one person your whole life if you weren’t meant to meet. Maybe you won’t end up falling into some great love but maybe you will be great friends. You never know. Just don’t lose hope. Ok?”

“Ok.” I whispered as I started to come down from my emotions. “I’m just going to jump in the shower to get ready.” I told her as I walked past her and into the bathroom. We were supposed to go out today to start her bridal shopping, and I needed a few minutes to pull myself together. By the time I was done with the shower I felt much better. Before walking out of my room I had the strangest urge to grab my sketchbook and bring it with me. I was going to be with Rita, so I didn’t think much of it as I stuffed it into my bag and walked into the living room. 

When I walked into the living room Rita was there waiting with a stack of magazines in her arms. “Oh my God! I’ve got so many ideas! I can’t wait to get started. I’ve got a list of stores to go check out today. These magazines also have ideas that I’ve dog-eared, so that we could see if we could find some of this locally. I’m so excited!” She was practically jumping up and down with excitement and it rubbed off a little. I may not be getting married, but I was happy for her and I was excited to be the maid of honor. 

We made it through four stores before my stomach started rumbling. Rita insisted we try this new restaurant that opened a few months ago. It was supposed to be fantastic but was always so busy. It was hard to get into, but she insisted we’d have no problem that day. Sure enough we were seated within minutes of entering the restaurant. The food was fantastic, and we were having a great time just eating and making plans. We were looking over the dessert menu when I heard the restaurant manager speaking to the people in the booth behind us. I didn’t bother to look up from my menu even though that voice seemed to call to me. I got lost in my head for a minute when the voice became much closer.

“Hello ladies! My name is Dean and I’m the restaurant manager. I was checking to see how your experience was this afternoon?”

I was afraid to look up. If this guy was as handsome as he sounded, I was in big trouble. Instead, I looked over at Rita and she looked like she’d seen a ghost.  My brows furrowed in confusion wondering what her problem was when I felt a swift kick to my leg. I knew without asking why she did that. I looked up and my heart stopped. I couldn’t breathe. I dropped the menu I was holding, and it knocked my drink over. No one seemed to notice. He wasn’t just a handsome guy; he was my handsome stranger.

We stared at each other in shock. Both of our faces mirroring the same kind of surprise. I couldn’t believe it. Here he was in the flesh and looked just like my drawings. I was speechless. After all these years of waiting, I finally got to meet him, and I couldn’t make my brain work long enough to form thoughts. I was overwhelmed. I itched to push the hair back on his forehead that was always falling in his eyes. I don’t know how many times I drew it that way and had the same thought. 

“I can’t believe it…” I whispered in shock. 

“It’s really you…” He whispered back. 

My eyebrows shot up in surprise at his words. “You know me?” I asked, eager for his answer.

He didn’t move from his spot as he just stared at me. It was almost as if he was cataloging my every feature. “I’ve known you since I was eight years old.” He admitted. 

I gasped as I stared at him in awe. “Wait! What do you mean you’ve known me since you were eight?” My heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to burst from my chest. It couldn’t be true. Could it?

“Hang on a second. I’ll be right back. Please don’t go anywhere.” I could see the pleading in his eyes. He was afraid I was going to bolt. 

“I’ll be here.” I whispered with a shy smile as I looked up into those beautiful amber eyes I knew so well. I didn’t think there was a soul on this planet that could tear me away from this table.  As soon as he was out of sight, I realized Rita was calling my name but failing to get my attention. I looked over at her and she smiled brightly at me. 

“See! I told you!” She beamed from her seat. “Now listen, I’m going to go now. I don’t want you to feel rushed because I’m here. I’ll have Tony come get me so you can drive home. Please make the most of whatever this is, and don’t worry about me.” Rita dropped a $20 on the table as she stood up. It didn’t feel right that she had to leave. I was about to say something when she put her finger to my lips. “Don’t. This is epic. You need this more than you need to be here with me. I’m fine. Call me later ok?” I shook my head yes and she moved out of there with a quickness I didn’t know she possessed.

When Dean came back, he had a black spiral bound sketchbook in his hand. It was the very same kind of sketchbook I had with me in my purse. “Is your friend ok? I hope I’m not intruding on your lunch.” He asked with real concern and such kindness in his eyes. 

“She’s fine. She just had to run and thought I really should stay and talk to you.” I told him as I felt the blush creep up my face. 

The amusement I recognized from his face last night appeared again in that moment. “Why is that?” He asked playfully. 

I blew out a nervous breath and tried to still the butterflies in my stomach as I reached over for my sketchbook. I pulled it out of my purse and set it in front of my nearly cleared area. Huh, I was so caught up in my thoughts I didn’t even realize the waiter had been by to collect the plates. I looked up into those eyes to see what he might be thinking. He looked intrigued as he stared at my sketchbook. “Because of this.” I pointed to the book. “I’ve known you since I was 7 years old.” I ventured a look at him, and he looked just as eager as I was to see inside the book. “How bout we exchange books and take a look at what we have here.” I suggested. I hoped that I wasn’t wrong, but my gut feeling told me this was the right thing to do. 

“Are you sure?” Dean asked with a tremble in his voice. 

I rested my hand on top of his and assured him that this was ok. We exchanged books and both looked at each other before we made a move to open them. When I finally cracked open his book what I saw took my breath away. He was incredibly talented there was no denying that, but what left me breathless was the image. It was a drawing of me laying in my bed looking up at the ceiling in contemplation. This was last night! I could tell because of the t-shirt I was wearing in the drawing. I laid there in bed trying to fight off the sadness I was feeling before I fell asleep. Dean seemed to catch my expression perfectly. My hands were shaking as I went to the next page. I was laughing at something Rita said as we sat at my little dining room table. Each page seemed to catch a moment in my life with great care and detail. When I got to the last page in the book, I had tears running down my cheeks. I could tell these were done with the same care I took in my sketches. They were important to him just as my drawings of him were to me. It spoke to something deep inside of me. I wasn’t crazy after all and maybe fate did have a plan for us.    

Writing Prompt #5 Error 404

The moon doesn’t exist. It’s a hologram, put there by beings unknown. One night it says ‘Error 404’ where the moon should be. You go to tell your roommate but all you find is a red glowing ‘Error 404’ hovering above where they should be sleeping. 

It was 3:00 in the morning when something loud startled me awake. I thought it was my roommate. She was always banging around doing something. I swear the girl couldn’t be quiet if her life depended on it. Wearily, I got up out of bed and decided I’d go check on her. As I stood up something caught my attention outside. It looked like something flew by my window. When I got there I noticed it was darker than usual. I couldn’t see much more than the pale light from the moon or lack thereof.  I looked up to where the moon should be when I saw it. There it was up in the sky in large white letters. Error 404. What the hell? 

I stepped back inside the room and decided to ask my roommate about it since I knew she was awake. When I opened the door to her room, I was greeted with a red glowing Error 404 sign above her bed. I swiped my hand through the hologram wondering where it originated from but I couldn’t find anything. My heart was pounding at all the possibilities of what this could mean. I sat down on my roommate’s bed to think. 

Years ago we were told that the moon was fake. The government was sketchy about the facts surrounding the hologram. We’ve been told conflicting stories and not one of them seemed right. I shook my head to dispel my jumbled thoughts. Now was not the time to start going over those theories. Although, one stuck out in my mind. Especially in my current situation realizing my roommate has apparently been a hologram. This whole place being a simulation was starting to seem more like a reality. I’ve never felt like I belonged here. Since I was relocated six months ago, I’ve always felt like something was off. I never felt like I could connect with anyone and never made any friends. I’ve spent the last six months going through training and testing for my new job and not much else. 

I needed more information, so I got dressed and strapped on my carry piece. Within minutes I left the apartment to head outside. Granted it was 3:00 in the morning so I didn’t expect to see much. As I walked down the hallway in my apartment building everything seemed quiet, but that was normal. As soon as I stepped foot outside I realized something was very wrong. There were Error 404 Holograms everywhere there should be people. I knew it! 

The city felt eerily quiet as I walked down the block. There was nothing going on. I kept hearing static like the whole city was on the verge of blacking out. Considering all the error signs it was a real possibility. How could I have been so blind to all this? Why was I here? Was I the only real person in this city? My thoughts were suddenly interrupted as I heard something. Off in the distance I heard movement. It had been so quiet since I woke up that the noise seemed excessively loud. As if on autopilot I automatically moved towards the sound. I made it a block before I was attacked from above. Something flew down and hit me from behind. I fell back on my rear and looked up trying to locate what just hit me. When I finally realized what it was, it took me a moment to comprehend what I was seeing. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was also a simulation. The creature was circling back around to take another shot at me. I knew I needed to move but I was captivated by this strange creature. It was a bat woman. Not like the superhero either. She had leathery wings and a furry head and body with pointed ears just like a bat. What made her strange was that her entire body looked very much like a human woman with long legs, ample bosom and long flowing hair. I would almost say she was beautiful, if you were into furry things. That was until she turned her crimson eyes on me and they started to glow in the darkness.  The time for curiosity had ended and it was time for action. The bat woman swooped down out of the darkness with lightning speed. I pulled out my pistol and fired off two shots. She was moving so fast that the first shot missed but the second shot got her right in the shoulder. She screeched in pain and just as quickly flew back into the air. I wasn’t sure where to go so I ran to the first open building I came upon. Turned out I ran into a convenience store. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking as the adrenaline coursing through my body. Once I was feeling a bit calmer I walked to the cooler and pulled out a soda. I sat down on the floor to gather my thoughts and drink my soda. I almost felt normal again when I heard something enter the store. There was a strange dragging sound accompanying the presence.

Given the way my morning was going I was hesitant to look over to see what had joined me in the store. I wasn’t sure if they knew I was there or if it was just a coincidence. I heard the sound again not far from the door. It was as if it was assessing the room. Perhaps looking for me? I peered around the corner and could see nothing. The silence was deafening as I waited. I looked up and realized there was one of those circular mirrors sitting just above my head and gave me full view of what was in the store with me and my heart stopped cold.  It had its hollowed out nose up in the air as if it was sniffing for something. I realized in that moment when bat lady hit me she drew blood. It trickled down my neck as I made the connection. I groaned internally as I watched yet another strange creature. There was no mistaking this one for human. While it may share similar type of body with long arms and legs that’s where the similarities ended. It had a hunched back with long spikes coming out of its spine. It’s skin was a dull lifeless grey. It had large almond shaped eyes that were a dark amber color that seemed to glow from within. The eyes took up the majority of the head, but the scariest part would have to be the mouth. As it sniffed around it let it’s mouth hang open as its snake like tongue drifted out and tasted the air. It had rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth. Reminding me of a sharks mouth. The dragging noise I heard was it’s latest kill hanging out of its grip. 

It was in no hurry to find me because it was at that moment it pulled up the body it was dragging and bit into it. I used that moment to tear my shirt off and clean away as much blood as I could before this thing could find me. I threw the shirt down the aisle and headed off in the opposite direction as quietly as possible. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to get out of the front door. I was hoping there would be a back entrance I could sneak out of. I made my way to the back of the store with relative success. The thing hadn’t stopped it’s feeding until I made a stupid mistake and tried to turn the corner too soon knocking over a ladder. In my haste to get out I didn’t realize the ladder was just leaning precariously next to the wall. It took but a slight touch to knock it over. When the ladder slammed down on the concrete floor the creature stopped what it was doing and turned towards the sound. Shit! 

I could see the open bay door within my reach but that thing was moving fast. Without hesitating for another minute I made a run for it. As I turned around to slam down the bay door I saw the thing almost on me. I screamed as it lunged at me. Thankfully by the time it got close enough the metal door was already moving quickly in it’s decent to slam shut. Just as it made contact with the floor it rattled with a hit. The creature slammed into the metal door trying to get to me. I heard it hiss as it’s nails scraped the door again and again. Frantically, I looked around for the safest place to hide. Then I saw what I hoped would be my salvation. There was a sporting goods store across the street. I knew for a fact that they sold weapons and it was time to arm up and take better control of the situation. 

 I walked into the store and felt a sense of comfort wash over me. I quickly pulled a fitted t-shirt off the rack nearest to me to replace the one I lost. Running around in just a bra made me feel especially vulnerable. My jeans were holding up well so at least there was that. My next stop was over to the weapons station in the back of the store. On my way there I came across some tactical vests. I grabbed one and put it on over my t-shirt. I had a feeling I would need it. Next stop was guns. I needed more firepower than just my carry piece. The selection wasn’t great but I couldn’t complain. At least I had something. I picked up a dual holster belt and picked up another Glock 18 to match the one I already had on me. I went behind the counter and picked up as much ammo as I could carry. Next I picked up a few knives and a couple of flashlights. I strapped on as much as I could as quickly as possible. 

What bothered me the most is that I didn’t know what else I could run into or where I would go. As I walked back through the store I saw a light on in the back. I headed that way to realize I had stumbled upon the employee area. It appeared the light in one of the offices was left on. So far this had been the only sign of life I had encountered that wasn’t a monster. I walked to the office and stopped just outside the doorway to listen. There were no voices or any indication that there was someone inside. All I could hear was that static sound that seemed to be consistent with my morning and an erratic beeping noise. I slowly turned the corner and walked into the room. There was another error 404 sign just above the office chair in blue. There was nothing else out of place, just a basic office. Then I heard that beep again. It was coming from the tablet on the desk. I tapped the tablet to illuminate the screen. There was a message notification there addressed to me. What the hell? I frequented this store often but I didn’t know anyone here by name nor should they know me. I tapped the screen again to open the message. 

If you found this message congratulations on surviving. Head to Department 404 in the government building for further instructions. 

Well at least I had a destination now. This was getting stranger by the second. I headed back towards the front of the store. Listening for anything out of place. Once I reached the front of the store I looked out the glass storefront to see if the street was clear for me to exit. The government building was about four blocks from here. Normally that would take maybe 20 minutes to walk there but considering what I’d been facing all morning who knew how long it would take. I was about to walk out the door when I saw my next challenge. 

They were huge and there were two of them. I was terrified of snakes and now I was looking at something that looked like part snake, scorpion and part human. It had a long snake body with a tail ending in a scorpion like stinger. It’s upper body had a human-like appearance with a torso and a chest with strong arms that were gripping long sculpted spears. Their heads were all snake. They had the hoods of a rattlesnake and the yellow reptilian eyes, but the intelligence behind those eyes was truly terrifying. They seemed to be communicating telepathically with each other as they would stare at each other for a few beats before moving on to the next area. It was only a matter of time before they found me. 

I waited until they were almost out of sight before I made a run for it. I ran as hard and as fast as I could. I got about two blocks before I heard them behind me. The slithering sound a snake makes but much louder. The stingers started coming down behind me, much too close for comfort. I turned the next corner and saw a building under construction. I ran for the building but knew there weren’t many options for cover. I hid behind some concrete beams wondering, where the hell do you go to hide from snake people? I got myself into position and took aim behind the beams. If I could get a few shots off before they got too close I just might make it. They paused at the corner of the building. I could hear them hissing and slithering around. I held my breath and wondered if they knew where I was. I watched from my position behind the beams and saw both of their heads snap up as if they heard something. They went still for a few moments then they started moving again, but instead of getting closer they were moving further away. It was like they were distracted. 

I wasn’t going to question my lucky break. They were gone and I could see the building from here. I took a good look around and decided it was safe to run for it. When I finally made it to the building I yanked the door open and ran inside. Once inside, everything stopped. All the doors locked around me and the overhead lights all came on at once making everything so bright I had to squint my eyes for a few moments. Once I adjusted to the blinding bright light, I looked around the plain white room. There was nothing there. No furniture. No windows. Just two doors. Both at opposite ends of the room. There were a handful of people standing in a line observing me. There were four armed guards, two doctors and a man in a suit. They were all staring at me and I didn’t know why. Finally, the guy in the suit steps forward to shake my hand. 

“Congratulations on surviving the test. You did well today, but sadly, you were the only one to make it. Now we can get on with the real training. The world has gone crazy and what you saw today was just a small sample. We need you.”

Writing Prompt #4 The Statue

There is a beautiful statue of a person in the middle of a large city, and the rumor surrounding the statue is that when they touch hands with their soulmate, they will become human. Naturally it becomes a perfect photo and video opportunity to pose while holding its hand. One cute selfie attempt results in an empty statue podium and you just barley catching a very confused person in your arms. 

I had become obsessed with the soulmate statue. Since moving here two years ago, I studied everything about the legend of the statue. The story just spoke to me and my romantic nature. It had become such a tourist attraction that people designated a hashtag for it. I laughed when I found it, but I followed it religiously. I always wondered if the story was just something someone made up to bring more tourists to the area. There really wasn’t much that drew people to our city outside of the statue, so I’ve always assumed it was a made-up story to attract visitors.

As the legend goes this man Marcellus was a known tyrant. He lorded his wealth over the town and forced the people to do his bidding. He was cruel and unforgiving. If you failed in his demands, you suffered harsh consequences. Many people lost their lands and their livelihoods because of his ruthlessness. He amassed many properties and businesses but was never satisfied. People had no choice but to deal with his tyrannical ways. One day he was visited by a desperate family that had fallen behind on their house payment. They were on the verge of eviction, and they pleaded with him to give them more time. The father had fallen ill and was unable to work to provide for his family. Being the cruel bastard, he was known to be, he didn’t relent in his course of action as it pertained to their home. The woman begged him as she cried for her family. When her cries fell on deaf ears, she warned him that there were always consequences to being selfish and cruel. She urged him to reconsider his actions, to which he laughed and ordered her to be removed.

The next day the woman returned with her coven of witches. She offered him one more opportunity to change his ways. Warned him that he would be set to have his cruelty turned back on himself. He laughed in her face and told her to go ahead and try. The witches left his building and gathered outside. In the early morning sun, they formed a circle and put a curse on him. The townspeople were all there to witness the curse being placed.

“Let cruelty, pain and selfish ways

Follow this villain through all his days.

Reverse the torment he creates

to turn on him a crueler fate.”

Marcellus didn’t take them seriously, and that was his biggest mistake. In the next few months he had a very bad run of luck. He started losing all his properties and investments. Everything he held of value was ripped from him until he was left with nothing but the clothing on his back. He found the coven’s head witch and begged her for forgiveness. He promised he would be a better man.

The witch could see he was being genuine but told him he had done too much damage to just be forgiven. However, she offered him an alternative. Another curse to take its place, on the condition that he proved to be a better man. For five years the curse would be lifted, and he could resume life. Marcellus would have to prove he had become a better man not only to the head witch, but to the entire town. The new curse she placed on Marcellus was centered around love. It was because of the lack of love and compassion in his heart, and his inability to show compassion for his townspeople, or love of anyone other than himself. At the end of those five years the man would be cast in stone, and set in the center of the city, until his soulmate could be found. Upon joining their hands would he be made human again ending the curse.

In a way I felt bad for Marcellus. If the stories were true than sure he deserved to be punished, but to be turned into stone for an undetermined time seemed excessive. Then again, I was a sucker for redemption stories, and I guess I was just hoping that he got his happy ending after all these years. Supposedly, he’d been in that town square for over 100 years.

As for myself living on the outskirts of the city made it difficult to visit the statue. Ever since I moved here two years ago, things have been tough. Jobs have been difficult to find, and my old car was on its deathbed. I’d been depending on my boyfriend to help, but he wasn’t always cooperative, making my relationship with him rocky. I had been contemplating breaking up with him for a while now. I didn’t know why we were still together. We fought more than we got along. 

Things were changing though. I started my new job a month ago. The pay increase was substantial enough that I was able to buy a new car. Finally, I had the means to get to that statue and that’s exactly what I planned on doing. Nothing or no one would stop me, or at least that’s what I thought. My boyfriend came stomping into my apartment a few moments later.

“Marisol! Where are you?” John yelled as he stomped around my apartment. I sighed as I directed him to my bedroom where I was currently getting ready.

“Hey! Why haven’t you answered any of my messages? I’ve been texting you for a while now.”

“Sorry I was getting ready to go out today, and I guess I didn’t hear the phone go off.” I said without stopping what I was doing. We didn’t have plans today, so I didn’t think of even checking my phone for messages. I’d been so excited about my trip that I completely forgot.

“Where are you going?” He asked with accusation in his voice.

I dreaded answering him. He didn’t understand my obsession with this statue, and I knew he was going to give me a hard time for wanting to go. “I’m going into town to see the statue.” I admitted to him, without looking at him.

“What? C’mon Mari! Really? I don’t want to waste my day going to see some lame statue.” He started whining like a child and it was really getting on my nerves.

I looked over at him standing there like a petulant child and snapped. “So then don’t go! You don’t have to come with me today. I didn’t ask for you to come because I knew you wouldn’t want to.” I needed to take a deep breath and calm down before I spoke again. I got it. He wasn’t into the statue, but I thought he might make an exception because I was very into it.

“I’m sorry Mari. I’m just saying, why don’t we do something fun today instead of making the drive for some stupid statue.”

I blew out a frustrated breath and looked up at the ceiling. He just didn’t get it and I was tired of trying to explain it to him. “Look John, I’m going. If you don’t want to go, then don’t. I’ll meet up with you later.”

“So, you’re just going to go alone?” He taunted. “Who’s going to take your picture.”

I pulled my selfie stick out from my bag and wiggled it in his direction. “See, you really don’t need to come.” I said with a satisfied smirk. Honestly, I knew I’d enjoy this trip much more without him.

“Fine! I’ll come! We have to go get something good to eat afterward though.”

“Ugh, whatever.” I was annoyed that he forced his way into my plans. I could feel my irritation building to a boiling point. I was trying hard not to lash out at him again.

We got into the car and I plugged in my phone. I turned up my favorite playlist so I wouldn’t have to talk to him on our drive over. I wasn’t in the mood for small talk, and I was still pissed at him for almost ruining my day. Thankfully he didn’t complain and just fell asleep on the way there.

We pulled up about 45 minutes later and I was bouncing in my seat. Finally, I was going to see the famed statue in person. John was still sleeping, and I was tempted to leave him in the car. I poked him in the arm until he woke up. “We’re here. Let’s go!”

There were so many things going on in the town square. There were food vendors everywhere selling delicious smelling meats and breads. There was even a section of small tents that sold various trinkets and cheap jewelry. The main draw of course being the statue. I wasted no time with any of the other things and got right in line. It seemed like there was always a line to see and take pictures with the statue. There was even a photographer standing there offering his services to people. I smiled wide as I waited in anticipation. Even John’s complaining about all the people and the blistering heat couldn’t take away from my excitement.

When it was finally my turn, I shoved my camera in his hands and told him to take the picture. I also told the photographer to take my picture as well, just in case John messed it up. I wasn’t going to take any chances considering it took so long for me to get here in the first place. I slowly walked up to the statue admiring it in person. It was so much better than admiring a flat image. He was standing up straight with his one arm outstretched like he was reaching for someone. His face was what captivated me the most. You could tell by looking at him that he was filled with sadness and longing. It broke my heart a little. I got myself into position for the picture and finally reached out to grab his hand.

As I smiled for the cameras, I felt a bit odd and nervous. I was so focused on smiling and staring at the cameras that I didn’t realize the entire square had gone silent. I looked over to my boyfriend and I saw my him drop the camera and gape at me. I looked over at the photographer and he had a similar expression on his face. It was then that I realized that the stone hand I was gripping was no longer stone at all. It felt warm and soft. Alarmed, I looked up into the most beautiful brown eyes I’d ever seen. I stared up into his handsome face amazed. Could it be? Was this really happening? Marcellus stared at me with awe in his face as he closed the distance between us.

“You’ve finally found me.” He said with a blinding smile.

“Yes, I guess I have.” I admitted. My heart was beating wildly with excitement. I’d never had someone look at me the way this man was doing. Before I could say anything else, he cradled my face in his hands and kissed me with a passion that filled my entire being. I heard catcalls all around us and knew pictures were being taken by just about everyone there. I got my wish. Marcellus had finally found his happy ending and it just so happened to be me.

Writing Prompt #3 The Glass Orbs

While cleaning your attic you find a box of glass balls with names on them. You accidentally drop one and as soon as it shatters, a person appears. 

As I looked over the mess in the attic, I struggled to remember that she was actually gone. I never wanted to admit to it to myself, but I knew that one day that she would pass. I was foolish in thinking I’d have more time. As I looked over all the things in the attic it became painfully clear that she was never coming back. I stood there trying to figure out where to start, when I noticed a small vintage, hand carved, wooden chest. It was a dark wood and I was puzzled as to what it might hold. I felt drawn to as if it were calling out to me. I walked over to it and looked for a latch or a release with no luck. I ran my fingers over the elaborate carvings in wonder. I traced the vines and leaves swirling around a beautiful flower. As I moved around the other side of the chest, I noticed the design was a little different with twin boxes holding in the vines and leaves. I ran my fingers down the center of one of the boxes and applied a small amount of pressure. That’s when the door popped open and I saw the chest had a set of drawers.

The top drawer held spell bottles and various herbs that were used for casting spells. I moved on to the second drawer and came across a set of shimmering orbs. At first glance I thought they might be Christmas ornaments. They were in various colors and seemed to have a swirling effect as you looked at them. I was so taken by their ethereal appearance, that I almost missed the engravings on each one. I stared into the drawer and studied them. As I looked them over, I noticed there were only four of them and they were a lot bigger than I initially thought. Clearly, they were more important than mere ornaments.

Curious, I lifted the first one up and inspected it. A beautiful blend of blue and turquoise liquid was swirling inside. I held it up to the light as I wanted to see if it was a trick of the eye. I walked closer to the open window and as the sun shone through the orb, I could see it was swirling on its own. As I turned the orb around in my hand, I ran my finger over the engraving. W.E. Anahita. What in the world? I had no idea what that even meant. I walked back and carefully returned the first orb to its place. I picked up the next one and realized it was just as beautiful as the first but was bright orange and yellow. Instead of swirling liquid it seemed like there was floating smoke inside. F.E. Aidan engraved into the surface. I was awed by the beauty in these orbs and was compelled to pick up and examine each one. The third one looked white at first glance. As I stared into the orb, I realized it too had a swirling cloud with strands of silver threaded through it. It also held an engraving that said A.E. Ilma. The last one was by far my favorite. It was my favorite color after all. I picked it the orb up and walked over to the window with it. I stared at it in wonder as the light and dark green swirled inside. Every few seconds there would be a hint of brown mixed in with the green. I turned it over curious as to what the engraving would be and found E.E. Cypress. I ran my fingers across the engraving again and again, trying to figure out what this was. I was lost in my own mind trying to conjure up possibilities of what they could be when the door slammed open and scared me so badly that I dropped the orb. As the glass shattered, I heard my little brother cackling at my expense. I was about to get up and go after him when I realized there was a man standing before me.

I yelped in surprise, as I realized I wasn’t alone. My heart was beating wildly, and my hands were shaking. I looked into those eyes and recognized those same beautiful colors I was just admiring in the orb. Then, realization hit me. The orb had fallen out of my hands and shattered. In its place was a tall and handsome man with dark hair, bronze skin and those hauntingly beautiful eyes. I stared at him with my mouth gaping, looking like a fish out of water.

“Are you well?” He asked in a deep timber that unnerved me.

I was unable to respond. My brain and my mouth had not reconnected since his appearance. I shook my head no and continued staring and gaping. I probably should’ve run out of there. I didn’t know this person, and they did just appear out of thin air, but I felt rooted to the spot.

He seemed amused by my reaction and let out a small chuckle as he smiled at me. It was a good smile. One that seemed to relax me, and made me realize that yes, I had the ability to speak and probably should do so.

“Sorry, but uh, who are you? Also, why are you here?” My voice was shaky at best. I’d be surprised if he understood me.

“You don’t know who I am?” The beautiful stranger asked incredulously. 

“Sorry, no. Should I?”

“I’ve been waiting years for you and you don’t even know who I am?” His hands were clenched at his sides, and his voice went up in volume. I felt dirt and dust fall from the ceiling and the wood floorboards beneath my feet trembled, as if they were just as agitated as he was.

“Look, I’m sorry if I offended you, but I honestly don’t have any idea what’s going on. I only came up here to clean out my grandmother’s things. She just passed away and there is no one else to do this. My little brother scared the crap outta me and I dropped the orb, the next thing I know you’re standing there. So excuse me if I don’t have the answers!” I stomped my foot on the floor and crossed my arms over my chest completely exasperated by this stranger.

“Are you not Evelyn?” His eyebrows drew down and his eyes squinted as he looked me over. “Though you do bear a resemblance to Marilyn.”

I gasped at his words as my mind went into overdrive. Thoughts starting firing through my head at a rapid rate. Evelyn was my mom, who died when I was five years old. Marilyn was my grandmother, that just passed away the week before. How the hell did he know who they were? 

“My name is Caitlyn. Evelyn was my mother and Marilyn was my grandmother. They are both dead.” My lip quivered as I answered his question. I missed my grandmother so much, and her loss was still so fresh. Just speaking her name was difficult. 

“I’m sorry.” He blew out a breath in frustration as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I didn’t mean to be so callous. I didn’t know. I was supposed to be awakened for Evelyn when the time was right. I am called Cypress.”

I nodded like I was ok, but what the hell? This was getting weirder by the minute. I started biting my lip, as I often did when I was nervous, trying to figure out what was next. I knew grandma was a witch, but she never let on that she was capable of great magic. It was in my blood as well, but it wasn’t the focal part of my life. It was just something I happened to be good at. Grandma never made it a big deal. She taught me things and explained how magic worked. Showed me how to cast and the rules that came with using magic. She made sure I knew the important things and we practiced practical magic often but never anything extravagant. She was by no means a showboat, so this was very surprising to me. I mean, I had no idea she could trap a freaking person!

“Ok, Cypress. It’s nice to meet you, but I’m still unsure what you’re doing here. Can you tell me a little more about yourself and perhaps why you were trapped in that glass orb?”

His eyes shot up in surprise as he took me in. “Caitlyn, I am an Earth Elemental bound to you.” Cypress explained like I was just supposed to know what that meant. I had heard of Elementals. My grandmother told me many stories about them over the years. If my memory served me correctly there hadn’t been a sighting of one in over 100 years. She failed to mention however that she had one upstairs in the attic.

“Uh, what do you mean you’re bound to me?” I said as I started to shake, knowing that whatever he answered was going to rock me to my core.

“It means that I am bound to you, and only you. I have been with your family for generations. We are always bound to the first-born daughter of the witch before her. I am released as destiny demands.”

I fell back onto the window seat as I thought about what he just said. Then I remembered the engravings on the other glass orbs. His was E.E. Cypress. I thought of the others and realized that I had the other three Elementals in that drawer. Holy shit!

“Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God! I didn’t mean to release you. I’m just a clutz that dropped the orb when my brother scared me.” I admitted as I rubbed my face with my hands.

“Accident or not, there are no coincidences as to when I’m released.”

“Ugh!” I gritted in agitation. The word had just left my mouth when a darkness seemed to fill the room. Confused, I looked out the window and noticed the sky had gone completely black. It was only 3:00 in the afternoon! The darkness was unnatural. It wasn’t like the dark skies that came before a big storm. It was much darker, almost as if nightfall had come early.

“Still think it was an accident?” He asked with a smirk.

“Well, shit. I don’t know anymore. That doesn’t look good.”

“Perhaps we should release my brethren then?”

“Yes, I think we should.”

Writing Prompt #2 The Telepath

Writing Prompt #2: You, a telepath, are getting migraines from the loudest internal screaming you’ve ever heard from the next room.

My head was pounding. My go to when the headaches got this bad was to lie down in a cold dark room and even that wasn’t helping. I’ve had two cups of coffee, hoping the infusion of caffeine might help but, nope. Without stopping the incessant screaming, coming from the next room the headache just wouldn’t ease.

I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to hearing things I’m not meant to. I’ve learned long ago not to act on what I heard. More often than not, it just freaked people out, and my intention to help just got me into trouble. At that moment, I was listening to expletives of how horrible the male species was. I rolled my eyes as I got up out of the bed. Sounds like another girl fell for my neighbor’s lies.

The guy that lived next door to me was a real piece of work. Being privy to some of his private thoughts told me all I needed to know about him. He thought very little of others but very highly of himself. He was a compulsive liar, telling women whatever he needed to get them home, and on a few occasions I was certain he’d drugged them against their will. Basically, he was an asshole. I usually hear them all when they are there. Sometimes their internal ramblings were amusing, but most times I just didn’t want to hear it. Out of necessity, I’ve learned how to tune it out and let it fade into the background until it just became noise. I had to actually pay attention if I wanted to know what they were saying.

I walked into the bathroom and splashed some cold water onto my face. The cold water felt good on my heated skin. As I stared at my face in the mirror, I realized it’s been a few days since I’d shaved, and the stubble had grown in thick. As I contemplated my lack of attention to personal grooming, I realized that the screaming was louder than normal. It was strange considering the source was in the room adjacent to my bedroom, in the apartment next door. I’d never heard them quite this loud and clear before. It felt like she was standing right next to me. I ran my fingers through my hair in agitation.

What the hell was I going to do? I couldn’t go on like this. I wouldn’t be able to relax or concentrate. Should I leave and hope she’s gone when I got back? I stopped and listened for a moment to see what she was saying. She didn’t sound like she was in danger. My urge for relief spurred my decision. I’d leave and go down to the bar around the corner for a while. Hopefully when I got back, whatever was going on next door would be over, and I could go back to my life as normal.

I got dressed and approached my door to walk out when I hear a scream. I stopped suddenly, confused as to if the scream came from my head or outside. I heard another scream that was abruptly cut off. The second one confirmed it was not in my head but rather from the apartment next door. The background chatter had stopped. There was complete and utter silence. I should’ve been relieved, but something seemed off. I got the feeling that something bad had just happened or was about to happen. Whomever this girl was, had a very active mind that never shut up. The fact that I heard nothing worried me. For once in my life I was desperate to hear something. Why haven’t I heard my neighbor? Was her voice so loud in my head that I couldn’t hear him? I didn’t move, afraid I’d miss something. I strained and reached out with my mind until I heard it. It was low, almost as if he’s whispering in his mind.

“Fucking bitch! Thinks she can just leave me like that. No one leaves me until I’m good and ready. I’ll teach her a lesson she won’t forget. She’s going to know that she belongs to me now. When I’m done with her, I’ll dump her like the trash she is, used up and washed out. No other man will ever want her when I’m finished.”  

What the hell? What did he do to her? My protective side took over and I wanted to storm in there and stop whatever was going on. I had to control myself. I needed to think about this.  I rubbed my chin feeling the stubble there as I contemplated my next move. I needed more information. I decided to play the part of concerned neighbor.

I walked out of my apartment and over to his door. Before I knocked, I heard him again.

“Eh, not as bad as I thought. Slapping that bitch felt good but I thought for sure it’d leave a better mark. Guess I’ll just have to step it up next time. Instead of a firm backhand to the face when she starts to mouth off maybe I’ll just punch her.”

I didn’t hesitate after hearing his inner monologue. I knocked on the door and I strained to hear what’s going on inside his head.

“Who the fuck is that? What the fuck do they want? Fucking nosy-ass neighbors always bothering me with stupid shit.”

Not two seconds later the door flew open. If I wasn’t looking for it, I would’ve missed it. There in the kitchen was a girl tied to one of the kitchen chairs. Her head was hanging down and her auburn hair was shielding her face. In his anger my neighbor opened the door too wide, but he quickly realized his error and shut the door just as quickly, leaving less than a foot of space to speak to me. I schooled my features not letting on that I knew he had someone in there.

“Yeah? What do you want?” My surly neighbor asked me, staring me down, waiting for me to respond.  

I quickly looked him over before I answered him and noticed he had a gun printing out of his shirt. “Uh, yeah, I just thought I heard a scream. Wanted to make sure everything was good over here.” I explained as I scratched the back of my head nervously.

“Just the tv man. Sorry bout that. I’ll turn it down.” My neighbor actually looked sheepish as he gave me his lie about the tv. Who was this fucking guy? It’s scary how believable he looked. If I didn’t know what was going on in there because of my gift, I would’ve believed him without a doubt.

“Oh, Okay. No worries then. Have a great night.” I said as I backed up and turned around to go back into my apartment. When I get to my door his door slammed shut. I stepped back inside my apartment and started to pace. I really didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just ignore what’s going on over there. I knew in that moment I was about to break my rule about getting involved.

I called the police and told them I was concerned about my neighbor. I admitted that I heard a few screams and some banging around. They assured me they would send someone over to check it out, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they would make it before it was too late. It usually took them a long time to get down here into my shitty neighborhood. I plopped down onto my couch; my hands reached up into my hair and started to pull at the strands. As I tried to figure out how to help her it hit me suddenly. I didn’t use it often because I didn’t want to take advantage of people for one, second it put an incredible strain on my body. However, in this case, I thought it might be the only way. My power of suggestion through telepathy would do nicely. I knew what I needed to do now, but I couldn’t execute my plan until the girl regained consciousness.

Knowing it was going to take a lot out of me, I decided to fill my stomach with a sandwich and drink two glasses of water. That way when it was all over I wouldn’t pass out on the spot. I’d at least be able to maintain some control over my body for a little while before I was overwhelmed with exhaustion. Depending on how much I was going to exert myself I wouldn’t know when I’d wake up. With nothing left to do but wait, I started pacing again and counting my steps. By the time I got to 250 steps I hear her start to wake. I stopped pacing and sat down in my chair. I leaned back into the chair and relaxed my mind knowing the moment would be here soon. When she awoke fully and remembered what was going on I could hear her start to panic. This was the moment I’d been waiting for.

I silenced my thoughts and focused on her voice as I mentally reached out to her. I instructed her to relax. I could sense the shift immediately. Her mind quieted momentarily. That was until my asshole neighbor realized she was awake again and wanted to resume his game. She started screaming out loud in sheer terror when she realized this would not end the way she thought.

“Shut the fuck up, you stupid bitch!” My neighbor yelled at the girl before he slapped her again. It was quiet for a moment and that’s all I needed. Next, I found his inner voice and latched on. I searched through his thoughts and realized, I was right. He’s carrying a gun under his shirt and eventually he plans on killing her with it. His thoughts stopped suddenly, and I could sense his confusion. I needed to be quick before he realized something was going on and he was not in control. I pushed him to untie the girl and even though he was complying, I could feel his resistance to my command. It took a lot more out of me that I expected. While I was fighting for control over his thoughts and actions; I also reached into her mind and instructed her to grab the gun sitting on his right hip as soon as he untied her. Mentally I pushed the instructions on how and where to shoot him to make sure he doesn’t get up again.

Being engaged in both of their minds gave me a pretty clear picture of what happened next. My neighbor untied the girl. As soon as he stood up again and faced her, she lunged at him. Just as instructed, she reached for the gun on his hip and pulled it out of his jeans. Within seconds of having it in her hands, she fired the gun and landed a perfect shot right to the head. My neighbor dropped like a ton of bricks, blood and brain matter everywhere. The girl released her grip on the gun and it clattered to the floor as she stared down at her hands in disbelief.

From her thoughts I could tell she didn’t understand what happened. She was questioning how she was able to do that considering she’d never held a gun before. Realization hit her hard. She killed someone. She’s a pacifist at heart, and the fact that she did this sent her into a tailspin of despair. Of course, she didn’t want to die or be tortured at the hands of this maniac, but murder? Why did she shoot him in the head? Why not just in a place that would slow him down enough so she could get away? It was almost as if she wasn’t in control of her actions. She shook her head of those thoughts. That’s not possible…is it?

I came back to myself and wondered if I did the right thing. He was going to kill her. This much I knew without a doubt. I heard his thoughts. He was going to torture her and then kill her. I shook my head in confusion as I started to walk towards my bedroom. As expected, using that much suggestion took all my energy and I was having a hard time with motor control. I heard the sirens approaching nearer as I struggled to get to my bed. I made it to the bed and the last thought I had before I passed out was: Did I do the right thing?

Writing Prompt #1 Arranged Marriage

Your father is forcing you to marry someone you have never met. The night before your wedding you tie your sheets together and make your escape through the window. Half way down you make eye contact with someone doing the exact same thing a few windows over.

It’s not happening! I thought as I started the descent down the tower. There was no way in this life I’d marry some stranger. I didn’t care what my father wanted. As much as I loved my family, I’d heard far too many horrors resulting from arranged marriages. Stories that were filled with cruelty, abuse and mistreatment. I wasn’t a piece of property to be married off for fortune or political leverage. My family would survive without the money or elevated social status.

Arranged marriages were always held at the sacred ceremonial room inside the monarch’s castle and my room was up at the top of the main tower, several floors above. With only the pale moonlight to guide me, I struggled as I rappelled down the tower. Having never been very physical in my 18 years of life, this climb was harder than I imagined. I gave no consideration to how my normally vibrant, flowing blonde hair would obscure my sight and make my task all the more difficult. I didn’t have the foresight to tie it up before I left. To make matters worse, my hands were sweating and I felt like I may slip. I was nearly halfway down when I heard a hushed grunt. Startled out of concentration, and curious to it’s origin, I looked over to my right. Exactly two windows over was a man who shared my intentions and was currently climbing down the building as well. The moon provided just enough light to make out his physique and hair color.

I almost lost my footing as I stared at him. I was so caught off guard by his presence and his rugged good looks that I missed a step and fell briefly. I let out a shrill scream as I began to fall, but my flailing arms managed to grab purchase of the makeshift rope again. I steadied myself and took a fortifying breath. Nervous about the scream I just released, and the fact that someone probably heard me, I decided to refocus and double my efforts.

Without looking down, I started my decent again. I managed to make it the length of two sheets down before I felt my muscles begin to fatigue. Fear took a hold of me as my hands began to cramp. I struggled to hold on. I wrapped one of my legs around the sheet rope hoping it would keep me from plummeting to my death. It was foolishly naive of course. When my hands and arms succumb to the increasing fatigue, I lost my grip and began to plummet. The leg that was wrapped around the sheet kept me from falling momentarily, but at a great cost. I flipped over and my head crashed against the hard stone wall of the castle, left to hang upside down for a few brief moments. My vision blurred as my body struggled to get through the pain, and then suddenly, I began to fall further. The terror of my imminent death was what kept me from losing consciousness.

So this is how I’m going to die? My brain briefly idled at the thought. In perhaps some small measure of comfort, I was happy I would no longer be forced to marry a stranger. I knew I was about to hit the ground, so I closed my eyes tight and waited for end that would come when I hit the earth. An end, that to my surprise, never came. Instead a pair of powerful arms caught me before impact, and then we both stumbled to the ground. My head landed harshly against the hard ground for the third time and I felt the darkness close in around me. Before my eyes shut against the pain, I swore that the man I saw climbing down nearby was cradling me in his arms speaking to me. I was uncertain, as my injuries began to intrude on my ability to focus before unconsciousness took a hold of me.

When I awoke I didn’t understand where I was. I looked around and realized that I was lying in the grass by a running stream. My head was pillowed by something soft. I tried to sit up and my head swam. I felt so dizzy that I immediately laid back down and moaned in pain. My hands felt raw and my body sore. I lifted my pale arms to look them over and saw why I was in such pain. My hands and arms had suffered many scrapes and bruises. A result no doubt from the fall. I turned to my side and realized my pillow was made up of some of my escape sheets. How in the world did I get here and who did this for me? Then it dawned on me. The handsome stranger that caught me. Did he bring me here? Did he drop me off and continue with his escape? I didn’t see him anywhere. I guess I really couldn’t blame him. I was fortunate he caught me.

What was I going to do now? I wasn’t supposed to be in so much pain when I escaped. How was I going to get away from the castle and from my situation in this condition? It was twilight now. I must’ve been out for several hours. I knew I needed to get going. I tried sitting up again. The pain was still intense. It felt as if someone put my head in a vice, but I would survive. I started rubbing my temples in a soothing way when I heard someone approaching.

I panicked and scooted back till I hit a tree nearby. I could hear the leaves crunching under someone’s steps as they neared. I was in such a fright that I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. I looked around for anything to use as a weapon. The options were limited, and less than ideal. My best bet was a long stick I saw near my feet. I picked it up and stood up quickly almost causing myself to pass out again. I leaned on the tree and readied myself with my stick. Hoping like hell it was just a deer, but I knew better. The steps coming my way were heavier and more consistent with a human. They were close now and their steps faulted. I knew they were right behind me now probably not realizing that I was on the other side of the tree. Fortunately, the tree was large enough that it shielded my presence. Without giving myself the option to flee, I turned and swung my improvised weapon at the stranger.

“Whoa!” He said as he caught the incoming branch. I held firm trying to move forward until I saw his face and froze. “It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m sorry I left you, but those cuts on your arms were looking pretty serious. I went down to the river to get some fresh water to help clean you up.” There was a dripping cloth in his left hand and his right hand was still gripping the tree branch. My arms relaxed, dropping instantly, and I started to sway. I put all my remaining energy into that attack and now I felt weak and drained. I sagged back into the tree and he approached me slowly.

With measured steps he walked towards me and told me he was going to clean my cuts. I nodded quietly while I took him in. It was dark when I saw him initially. In the morning light I could see how handsome he really was. His dark brown hair fell in waves over his forehead and his ears.  His eyes caught my attention next and it was hard to look away from them. They were a stunning green color with flecks of brown surrounding the pupil and yellow mixed in with the green. His mouth curved up in a half smile when he realized I was staring at him. Unrepentant, I continued to look him over. He carried himself well and I could tell by his walk that he was sure and confident of himself. Filthy as we both were, he still managed to look incredibly attractive. I initially thought rugged when I saw him and I wasn’t wrong. He had a barrel chest and strong arms that strained against his dingy white t-shirt. I paid special attention to his arms as he wiped the dried blood away. There was just something about nice arms that enticed me. It was then I realized, I was letting a complete stranger clean me. For some reason it didn’t bother me as much as I expected.

I looked into those stunning eyes again and saw him smiling at me. Before I could get distracted by those breathtaking eyes again I asked him, “Who are you?”

“Apparently I’m your future husband.” He admitted with a smirk and a playfulness in his eyes.

I smiled despite myself. “How do you know that?” I asked a bit suspiciously trying to mask my smile and appear more serious.

“Your hair. It’s still has the wedding braid with the blue ribbon and seeing that they only do one wedding a week that means your the one.”  

Subconsciously I reached up and felt for the braid. Sure enough it was still there. I meant to take it out before I left. I guess things happen for a reason.

“So why are you running away?” I asked curiously.

“Probably for the same reason you are.” He said rather quickly without meeting my eyes.

“Oh, I see…so you’re afraid that your future husband is a man stronger than you who will be cruel to you and abuse you on a daily basis?” I said with a wry smile as I watched him carefully.

He flinched just slightly when I brought up abuse. “Maybe I just don’t believe in arranged marriages. Maybe I might want to choose who I spend my life with. I don’t want to be pressured into something so important because of some decision my father made.” He said on a shrug.

I couldn’t agree more.