The challenge given was not exactly a scene where a character dies, but a scene with a death in it. Despite this, I’m going to go with the prompts and see where this challenge takes me.
Prompt: Crossroads & Dead-ends, The Best Laid Plans
The Final Piece
If anything, I was going to cross over anyway.
Do not be upset, though I know that in your usual fashions, you will probably not listen to me. Instead, ask yourselves how you’re going to move on from here.
Eamon, keep at your driving. I know you’re often overlooked or feel taken for granted. But I can assure you - even from where I am - that you mean so much more to the rest of us than ever. When the time comes for you to continue your legacy and choose your own proteges, remember that it’s the strengths of their hearts that count, and not just their sharpness of mind and reflexes. You are ready to give back and pass your skills on. I know I’ve learnt more than a few things from you.
Iris, the closer you look, the less you see, remember that. I will always remember your first day at the compound - tricked into playing 52-Pickup by the rest of your seniors. Well, what a fat lot of good they turned out to be. I don’t ever have any plans for you because you often already have those. So the next time you sleight a card from your next target, ensure that you don’t give the rest of your teammates the same slip. You may be alone at the card table, but you’re never alone in life.
Keenan, you told me that you’ll be grateful to even have dice to roll than be afraid of the roll’s outcome. Look at how far that has gotten you! The world is as fair as the dice in your pockets, but know that the dice you weight can save us from time to time. I trusted my gut and brought you into the team, and that was the same reason why you have been able to excel so greatly. The next time you roll a pair for a major decision, however, think about this instead - Did the situation call for the need to leave it up to fate? Or have you already rolled the dice in your mind?
Wilhelm, my son, my dear son. I am so sorry that you had to see me like this while dealing with all the truths behind how the family treated you because of your gift. I’m so sorry that you never had the desire or the opportunity to really connect with your father. I’m sure I’ll be able to bump into him now that I’m where I am, but now a decision has fallen onto your lap - will you be able to continue what we all started or have our team find their own way? Regardless, we love and support you with your decision, whether it’s one you pondered or one you bet on at the wheel.
Resonance, the one who got away, the one I miss at the mahjong table. Whether or not you get this message from my son or any of the team, I want you to know that I’m proud of you - whoever you have become. I trust that you have been paying back, what we all teach our students to do, like you’ve always wanted to do for a while, and at least you know your way. Keep at it. We all know that the world always need a bit of that unique twist you bring to the table. We both know that it’s not exactly the luck of the draw at the table, but the form of the hand and the disposition of the player.
I won’t be able to give you advice anymore, but I leave this realm knowing and confident with the five of you.
Regardless, I leave the choice of this team with all of you.
Know that I will support and love you all, no matter your choice.
This has been my plan.
Know the team’s. Know yours.
So that’s it from me this month. Stay tuned next month for another writing challenge!
I’ll be honest - I’ve been waiting for this challenge for a long time, so let’s just get right to it, shall we?
Prompts: Inner Demons, A failed delivery
World / Fandom: Inception
The Mind’s Eye
Karine looked down from the helicopter with bated breath. The chopper pulsed, its beat banging against the back of her head as they flew across the tree canopies, finally coming to a clearing in the middle of the forest.
“There,” her partner, Dr. Kang, pointed at a building in the middle of the clearing, “That’s where you need to go.”
“Don’t you mean, ‘we’?” Karine yelled over the chopper.
The look Dr. Kang gave Karine reminded her of her purpose for this mission. Making the final checks on their parachutes, both of them waited for the signal on their trackers to turn on, before loosening their grip and plunging into the forest nearby.
Landing among the trees, the pair recovered quickly, hiding in the shadows, sneaking their way to the building.
“There are guards,” Karine breathed, her hands shaking.
“And we’ll handle them,” Dr. Kang replied, bringing the walkie-talkie to her mouth, “Control, help us out here.”
Karine didn’t hear anything apart from a slight crackle coming from the speakers.
From where it was previously, the chopper swooped closer to where the pair landed, releasing a clip of bullets onto another forested area on the other side of the land. Yells ensued beyond the barrier of trees, followed by the sound of propellers whizzing away towards a far flung direction. Dr. Kang hazarded a peek from the shadows.
“All clear,” she gestured towards Karine.
Despite their chopper’s rather effective distraction, both of them kept to the walls of this compound, armed and ready for conflict. There were no gates or fences separating this building from its surroundings, and they had to be ready.
“Where’s it?” Dr. Kang asked.
“What are you looking for?!”
“We’ve been working up to this stage for so long, you’re doing a lot better than our previous attempts,” Dr. Kang said, “What are you looking for?!”
Karine darted her eyes to the top of the building.
“Good,” Dr. Kang said, “I’ll cover you.”
The building was an older, rectangular building reminiscent of army barracks from the 1930s. Serviced only by staircases leading up on either side of the place. Back and shoulders against the textured concrete, Dr. Kang took the led, armed and ready for any of the skeleton crew still patrolling the area.
“You know which room you need to head to,” she briefed Karine.
Both of them nodded, and the two sped up, Kang first.
When they reached the second floor, Karine stopped and turned left, “Here.”
Counting the doors, Karine finally stopped in front of the fifth closed door. She put her palm on the surface, then to the handle.
It clicked. Karine looked at Dr. Kang with a smile.
Dr. Kang nodded.
Pushing the door ajar, Dr. Kang’s head jerked up at the sound of a pair of footsteps speeding up from behind Karine. She pushed her partner through the door.
“Go! Go on!” Dr. Kang yelled to Karine. Panicked, Karine bursts through the room.
She cocked the gun she had, and fired twice.
The two bullets found their marks on each masked man’s shoulders, sending them back a few steps and Dr. Kang forward the same few. As she got closer, however, she started to recognize their masked silhouettes.
Firing a couple of times, the bullets missed their mark, the two masked men coming closer and planting themselves as a barrier between Dr. Kang and her. Determined to push through, Dr. Kang dove through the tiniest crack between the two, only to be grabbed and pushed against the building’s railings.
“We’re kind of disappointed,” the two men said, now flanking her on each side, “We were hoping you’d be dreaming a little bigger.”
The last thing she felt was her body lifted over the railing, and off the ledge.
She woke up to see Karine, her patient, looking over her, furrowed brows and concerned eyes. Tables turned, she thought, waving Karine away and propping herself up on the chaise lounge.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Dr. Kang breathed, “I think that’s it for today, you can set your next appointment with Yasha outside… I’ll see you then…”
Backing up a little, grabbing her handbag a little too quickly, Karine nodded and sped out the door.
At the last dregs of her recovery, Wynne Kang opened a drawer near her chaise, extracting an EpiPen. With still-trembling hands, she clicked and injected its contents into her shoulder, before slumping back into the lounge.
“Thank you all for coming to this lecture, I’ll be taking questions now,” Wynne smiled at the end of her speech.
“What is your view on using your proposed bio-technology for purposes not as altruistic as what you’re doing now?” a familiar voice sounded from the corner, one of the same voices from the treatment scape.
Catching the asker at the corner of her eye, she smirked.
“I see your taste hasn’t changed,” Wynne said, dropping Eames at the lobby of the Carlton.
“How much of Arthur rubbed off you the last we saw you?”
She shrugged and smiled.
“Fancy a trip?” he gestured to the lift.
“The compound’s not a toy,” she replied. He shrugged, then entered the lift. She followed.
There was shuffling behind the door the two of them stopped in front of. Wynne’s brows furrowed. Eames smirked, and unlocked the door.
“Okay, everything’s ready, let me know when she…”
Arthur, in his familiar vest and shirt, stopped just as he finally laid his eyes on Wynne.
“Arthur,” she greeted him.
She walked past the two men, leaving them in the front lobby. Past the open bathroom, she leaned over the living area and saw the familiar silver case, clipped close.
On the other side of the room, Arthur and Eames kept their eyes on her - both softened.
“I called Dom for this,” she said.
“Dom’s retired,” Arthur shifted his weight, “So it’s us or nothing at all.”
Wynne paused, looking at her previous partners when she first started in the business.
“Alright then,” Wynne said, reaching into her bag and extracted a spray bottle the size of a perfume sampler, “Then we’re going under my way.”
This was probably one of my most fun pieces to write, and one of the pieces I’ll most likely expand on. Stay tuned next month for another writing challenge!
Another month, another writing challenge. This time, it’s endings! Again, I get my prompts and challenges from NIka Harper’s Wordplay series on the Geek & Sundry Vlogs. It has been up for a while, but you can still check out these challenges for yourself here.
Prompts: Alarm Clock that Won’t Stop Ringing, The Joy of Watching the Sunrise, The End?
Wai took her time to inhale the night breeze.
Leaning over the edge of the balcony railing, she closed her eyes and let the wind from the sea crashing just below them play with her hair. Next to her, Chong stood, his hand ready to hold hers as she reached out for him.
“How long?” she asked.
“About now,” he replied.
While the dark indigo of the horizon started blending into a lavender blue, the same sky echoed with a trumpet orchestra - One of Wai’s favourite songs, Ride of the Valkyries. Chong tightened his grip around Wai’s fingers.
“Nervous?” she asked.
Chong smiled, before turning his gaze back to the lightening horizon.
“We haven’t gone this far before,” he replied.
Wai shuffled closer, letting Chong put his arm around her.
And as the horizon shifted colour at those few inches, the couple leaned against each other, finally watching the lavender sky gradient to a warm orange, brightening with the crescendo of the orchestra in the air.
Because who knew when they’ll be back again, at least on this layer.
Her eyelids protested against the jarring sound coming from her night stand, head pounding, throat parched. Like she remembered, Wai woke up, arms in the same way Chong and her left them on that balcony.
“How long, this time?” Chong croaked.
Wai checked her watch, the one she used from the first time.
“Real world time, or the time from that parallel?”
So that’s it from me for this first half of 2018’s worth of writing challenges. Thank you all for reading once again and see you all next month!
This is out a little late, mostly thanks to some new stresses from the day job. Nonetheless, we’re pushing on! This month’s writing challenge - ghost stories. Not a huge fan of in-your-face horror, which seems to be the go-to whenever someone mentions ‘ghosts stories’, but let’s see how this goes.
Also, this short piece is for my good friends - Lyn and Raven - thank you for inspiring this story. LOL.
Prompts: Lilies to say goodbye, a needed conversation
Welcome, welcome! You must be here for the open house. You’re five minutes early, so why don’t you have a seat by the flowers while we get you come water.
Allow me to introduce our team - I’m Lily, and my partner here, is Lilly - yes, two Ls. People keep getting us confused, so that’s why she doesn’t talk to interested buyers. But not to worry, you are in safe hands here. Shall we start?
Now, what we have here is a newly-renovated, three-storey, semi-detached unit with a modern facade. The owners are rather keen to sell this place off, something along the lines of needing to find themselves after working to death in the city. Nevertheless, you’ll find that this property will be well worth your money.
This place boasts seven separate rooms, including the balcony with an open bar. Starting here, past the vast living area, you can see the outdoor patio and pool, that can be used for your morning swims and a nightly soak at the jacuzzi corner - the dark marble pool floors and lights do make this area rather romantic in the evenings.
The kitchen is outfitted with your usual fixings - stovetop, oven, microwave oven, a wine cooler, and yes, a walk-in fridge and freezer for all your needs. Huh? What floor entrance? Nah, that’s nothing - probably a floor cooler for more storage. Why is it locked? Well, you have people coming in all the time, you’d want to keep some privacy to yourself, right?
So this is level one, with a guest bathroom, a guest bedroom, and another smaller room at the corner that doubles as a library. You don’t have to fill this place up with books, but that was how the previous owners did up this room - you can also exit from this room, with a hidden door built in just for fun!
Any questions so far? No? Alright then, let’s head up to the upper levels, you can take a look at what the previous owners did to make this place a livable masterpiece.
Starting from the top, here’s their rooftop patio with an open bar and barbeque grill - great for your outdoor parties and such. Hmm? The deadbolt and security cameras? Those are for your safety, can’t have burglars taking advantage of this entrance, can we?
Here’s the Master Bedroom, you have the entire third storey to yourself - great for privacy and space to unwind. That being said, you have to admire the creativity of these owners, building a walk-in on such a small space! They even have a sliding door at the end of the corner for your laundry - convenient, ain’t it?
What do you mean you didn’t recall a laundry area? It’s clearly downstairs, you’ll see.
The second level boasts another two rather spacious bedrooms - for kids, or for entertainment. Hmm? More cameras? Might be a security thing - you can always remove them once you move in. And here… huh? What sound? What murmuring and muffled shouting? It must be your imagination, or the neighbours turning up the TV volume a bit too loudly.
Come on, let me show you the backyard, put your mind at ease.
There, you see? There’s nothing to worry about.
What’s wrong now? That door? That door leads to the library, remember where we saw it first? Huh? What do you mean the library was on the other side of the house?
Oh, you need to go now? Alright then.
Just remember to call us - it’s Lily and Lilly - and this place is getting offers, so remember to contact us soon! You don’t want to be that person.
I hope you’ve enjoyed what I managed to churn out this time - until next month!
Today, on "Writing Challenge on Jo's Blog", we'll make this dialogue short and sweet.
The Mission: Write a dialogue-only piece with the theme Starlight and an acoustic guitar and You just don't get it.
The Added Challenge: Let's see if I can write this in 15 minutes.
Cradled Cats and Tarnished Spoons
"Here it is, sweetheart, the beauty herself."
"Say, where did you find out about the Starlight? This was recommendation-only."
"My father was in the music industry."
"A comrade, then?"
"Perhaps I've heard of him?"
"Alright then, tell you what, I'll take five hundred off the asking price, and throw in the trimming kit for free."
"For the strings?"
"The wood. 25 years old and still growing, you'd think the trimming will have you give up this work of art quickly but once you hear her sing, you'll know it's all worth it."
"Sounds like something you'd do for your kids."
"Pah! Never had the time nor the style to have them."
"You never had kids?"
"Them screaming buggers who have no appreciation for anything but to ask you for money? Not my thing."
"If you want, you can hold on to it while I get you the case."
"That wouldn't be necessary."
"Huh? You kids need to take care of these things!"
"You still don't recognize me?"
"So this was what took you away from us. This should be easy."
"...and the cat's in the cradle and a silver spoon... Silver spoon? As if."
And with three minutes to spare! Thanks for reading guys, tuned in for next month's writing challenge!
Kicking off one of the busiest months on my calendar with a Noir writing challenge. When I got the prompts for this - I immediately went to a piece the Tiger saved for me and decided to enhance it a little more.
Prompts: The Photographer, The Other View
The Perfect Opportunity
The door clicks. The bell rings. You ignore the roar of the teenage wave crashing into the café. Picking at your pastry, you keep the corner of your eye across the road – you waited for the predator.
His wife came to your office when you were closing early.
“Are you Inspector Vass?” she asked.
“Call me ‘Tania’,” you said. You hadn’t heard ‘Inspector’ in a long time.
“How may I help you?” you asked.
“My husband…” she started, and you knew. Contrary to popular belief, there were many uses for people like us in Singapore – background checks, surveillance, missing people – and domestic cases were the necessary evil PIs had to take for survival.
She went on about the messages on his phone, the pictures he did not bother hiding, and the unfamiliar clothes he did not bother explaining anymore. He is influential, she repeated.
“He will leave me destitute if he wants to,” she said. You comforted her, and went through what she brought for you. You skimmed through his schedule, his license plate, and took a long, hard look at his photograph.
He appears. You take care not to look up too eagerly. Surveying, you watch him swagger on the opposite side. Hyenas had no need for appearances, they just hunt, bite, and snatch. With a face and name like that, you don’t need to check your photos to know this was the one.
“Dr. Shaun Tan,” your supervisor said.
That name etched itself as deep as his alleged actions were long. You scoffed at his plea when you opened his file.
“We were in love,” he claimed then.
The professor was caught with his A-Star student and pants down. With nothing to go on then, you snooped around. You spoke – to the university, to his colleagues, to the IT dude, to the girl’s friends, to the girl.
“I don’t see the fuss,” the girl had said, “And we’re not together anymore, please don’t bother me.”
You ignore the messages buzzing in your pocket, your eyes glued as he approaches his prey. You fish your phone out in case it was new information. Nothing. You sneer.
When you got that anonymous tip, you jumped.
‘I can’t say who I am,’ the message said then, ‘But I have something that can help you. I saw something. I hope this helps.’
The letter from Mr. Anonymous made it to court, but it also signed your permanent resignation from civil service. Your source came into question, and Tan countersued for evidence fabrication. You swore seeing a smirk at the corner of his mouth in court. And when you surrendered your badge, news of Tan’s IT serviceman’s death came in. Fell off a bridge after a night of drinking, they said. You knew better.
His prey looks no older than the one you questioned before. Predators hardly change their tastes. However, hands gripping elbows do not speak excitement - she knows she is prey. Regardless, he approaches her, you start snapping.
She backs away, a bruised gazelle. He charges forward, jaws wide, she steps, her face turned away to not show the tears. You click, click, and click. The intervals between each push reducing. You glare - hunting is meant to be swift.
When he reaches for her, you know what will come next. You slip your camera into your pocket, and your ankles are primed for action. Adrenaline courses through your veins as he sinks his claws. She screams. No one reacts.
You remember promising yourself that you would never run head-first into a situation like this the moment they took your badge. You slink out of your seat and sprint, horns pointed and forward.
Some promises are meant to be broken.
Got you, you son of a bitch.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this piece, and stay tuned for more pieces from writing challenges in the upcoming months!
Hope you enjoyed the story I did for the writing challenge last month. This month, I’ll be trying to dive into poetry (again). Here’s something I came up with with the prompts: Memories, and The Reason It Isn’t There (~50 lines).
My Answers to your Questions
I never see you,
Yet your questions are legion.
You sit, satisfied,
Stomach filled with the free
Food that you can always cook
Better, you know best, anyway.
After all, what is rice,
When it’s salt that is needed?
After all, what is wisdom,
When it’s status that’s all important?
Years past, three hundred and sixty-five
At a time, a cycle we continue
Out of ritual, out of tradition,
A moment in the sea
Of ties forged and old wombs.
And you ask, smirking.
While I answer, a telepathic
Wave at the front
Your face, but one you will
Blood of brotherhood
Water of the Womb.
So in your effort,
Filling your gossip
Rolodex of noise…
“What are you doing now?”
“Something I care about.”
“Why not <this>? There’s no money in…”
“And obviously, you don’t.”
“What have you been eating?!”
“Food. What have you not?”
“Why did your mother let you get this fat?”
“Why did yours let you get this rude?”
“Your partner is not your type!”
“Clearly, they’re not yours either.”
“When is it your turn?”
“After you’re done with the snacks, thanks.”
“Why do you care so much?
Those people are not your family.”
“As are your intentions,
Those, not out of integrity and concern.”
“Can’t I just ask questions?!”
But if you cared,
I’ll answer proper.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this piece, and stay tuned for more pieces from writing challenges in the upcoming months!
In an effort to flex my writer / storytelling muscles a bit more, I’ve decided to revive my pieces derived from Nika Harper’s Writing Challenges from Wordplay on YouTube. Since this month starts with the Short Story, here’s what I came up with.
Prompts: Unbridled enthusiasm & A guy walks into a bar
The Other Currency
“House special, please,” Warden said, “Extra strong.”
The barkeep chuckled as she tucked her flopping fringe back behind her ear. With a single swoop, she poured and mixed parts of club soda, cola syrup, and pomegranate juice into a shaker before giving the drink a rinse and tumble. Pouring out the soda in a tall, clear glass, she smirked at him.
“A little too enthusiastic for your first time here, aren’t you?” she asked.
He did nothing except smile sheepishly in response, reaching for his drink.
“So,” the barkeep continued, wiping the walnut bar while she kept her gaze trained on this newcomer, “How did you get in?”
“I have my ways,” Warden replied with a wink.
The barkeep smiled back with that kind of smile you see curling at the side of a mouth of someone being snarky. Her gaze shifted from his eyes and face, down to where his fingers fumbled around with an incisor-like shell pendant hanging around his neck. Inching a couple of steps away, she ran her fingers on the underside of the bar until they found a switch, and she let the pads of her fingers rest against the device, as she continued her conversation.
While the small talk continued, the bar crowd came and went in regulated batches, as they were meant to. Halfway through their conversation about the upcoming Sugar Tax, the barkeep’s attention went beyond Warden’s right shoulder, square on another stranger at a high table at the far end.
Knocking his knuckles lightly against the metal table, the sounds created a beat one could only associate with music pumping out from the rich areas. Dressed in a casual suit, face clean shaven, and hair back, the barkeep pushed the button under the bar.
“If you’ll excuse me for a moment,” she said to Warden, before leaving her post.
Warden’s gaze followed her as she exited from behind the bar and headed straight for one of the bar’s bouncers. Hiding behind his drink, his eyes traced their gaze from the corner to the same stranger the barkeep saw just a few moments ago.
Then, his empty glass hit the bar with a clink.
“I see you’re new here too,” he said after taking a seat next to the stranger.
“Likewise,” the stranger answered, “What’s your story?”
Warden raised an eyebrow.
“Everyone who finds themselves here have something up with them,” the stranger explained, “So, what’s your shtick?” Instead, Warden shifted in his seat, leaned in and said, “What do you want to know first?”
“How much are you asking?”
“I don’t trade currency.”
With the slightest movement, Warden leaned in further and stroked the top of the stranger’s right forearm. “The world cannot run on money alone,” he said, his forefinger tracing its way to the tip of the stranger’s sleeve.
“Knowledge and information, however,” Warden continued, his eyes locking onto the stranger’s, his free hand sliding off the table.
Then, his eyes went from the stranger’s to the mark peeking from underneath.
“Is a different story.”
The stranger bolted, only to be chained down when Warden grabbed his wrist with the stroking hand. Before the stranger could do anything, Warden’s free hand came over the table and tasered him right in the tattoo.
Screaming, the stranger retracted his arm and fell onto the floor, writhing and jerking against the aftershocks from the stun gun, now pocketed on Warden’s belt. The latter turned around, walking past a bar full of people now with their eyes locked on him, one hand on their drink, their other hand on some kind of a weapon aimed at this dark, tattooed guy walking through the bar at the moment.
Reaching the bar, Warden reached into his pocket and placed a photograph on the table.
Cautiously, the barkeep took the photo – an exact match for the stranger now lying in the middle of their speakeasy – and flipped to the back.
“Now, can I assume that I’ve passed the audition?” Warden asked.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this piece, and stay tuned for more pieces from writing challenges in the upcoming months!
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.