I will admit - this was a thinker. Writing a monologue takes layered thought and a good amount of effort so I was quite glad to have a go of this rather early, and get it out to all of you.
This will be my final Writing Challenge for this year, so enjoy!
Prompts: Once more with feeling, Guilt
You’re not in that place anymore.
No, not the hospital. That was a problem, but something you managed to blaze through anyway.
You’re not in that place anymore.
No more smokey heat from those chili-red candles, no more glaring neon lights flashing at eerily erratic intervals, no more chanting of words in a foreign language, no more searing pain on your back, and most importantly - no constant crying from your parents and Azalea. She’s safe, at least you think she is.
You’re safe. Relative to how things were.
You’ve made mistakes - perhaps in blind panic, perhaps in uncalled anxiety - and that rubbed people around the wrong way. These people who have done what they can to keep you alive.
Eleanor and Clive have left, so it’s now just one person waiting for you.
You’ll get through this - you’ve experienced worse, and can hold your own.
And screw everyone else - you’ve had to endure whatever was carved on your back for more than a decade - they can deal with an hour of discomfort if they happened to glance your way.
Take a deep breath, go up to Morales, and tell him what you know. He has saved you and everyone else at least more than once. At least for now. There will be more to fear and fight, as long as Azalea remains uncontactable and that gap in your memories remain in the shadows.
I know you’re terrified, but there’s truly nothing left for you to do to combat these fears.
What good is feeding the terror when it does nothing to serve anyone’s needs?
With that, we mark the end of the Writing Challenge blog series for 2018. While I will continue writing, do stay tuned to see where these pieces end up at. Keep writing and sharing your stories!
Ah, the good friend of many Singaporean writers, but also my greatest challenge. I will be honest - I cannot stand reading descriptive exposition that’s too long. But since exposition also means backstory, I'm going to mix descriptions with my 'I-just-want-to-know-what-happens-next' sensibilities, so this is going to be interesting.
Prompts: Noticeable body marking, Could have stopped at any time
Nargis smiled, adjusting the scarf around her marked neck while she continued observing the distillation of whatever potion she was asked to look after.
“Didn’t do it or was taking the rap for a Master?”
“For someone who has been around convicts so much, Tormi,” she said, tapping one of the bubbles out of the pipes, “You don’t seem to take the rule of ‘don’t ask’ very well.”
The other woman, a stockier, weathered person on the other side of the potion contraption, put herself next to Nargis.
“I don’t have anything to fear from you,” Tormi replied, still fixated on the Perso-Arabic script tattooed just under her left jawline and side of her chin, “How old are you again?”
“20,” Nargis replied shortly.
“What the hell happened?”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to break your vow of silence to these convicts over a kid from the outskirts of Narkavrum,” Nargis replied, releasing the distilled potion, drop-by-drop into the vial at the end of the contraption. Tormi walked to Nargis’s other side, her eyes fixated on the latter’s right temple.
Reaching for the carved flaming flower on Nargis’s right temple, Tormi started talking again, “No one gets markings like that around here without a story.”
Nargis turned the potion contraption off.
“I didn’t do the arson,” she said at first.
“Of course you didn’t.”
Nargis wagged her fingers over the crate of potion vials next to the both of them, picking a clear vial before dispensing this batch’s first potion. When the clear, ruby liquid flowed into the palm-sized container, the citrus scent of the sumac wafting from the concoction. While Tormi took in the refreshing scent, Nargis turned away.
“Isn’t this your signature?” she asked.
“First rule of alchemy,” Nargis readjusted her scarf, this time with her neck tattoo more visible, “Inhaling everything is not the best way to go about your day.”
Tormi herself turned away as Nargis corked the full vial before handing it to the prison trader. As Tormi held the vial closer to her face, she responded, “Was that how your arson came about?”
“What makes you think that it’s not my affinity to make things burn?”
The stockier woman pocketed the vial, then placed herself between Nargis and the rest of the apparatus, “Before a good part of his mansion burnt down, the Khan’s compound was often filled with women interviewing for his son’s harem. Rumour has it that it was the work of a single dancer, a single immigrant dancer, one who managed to survive one of the worst blights in Narkavrum, one who managed to go through the ranks, that was found in the middle of the burnt wreckage.”
“Now, I’m wondering,” she continued, “The officials warned me about you - said you survived things you weren’t meant to. So I’d like to ask you one more time…”
Then, Tormi looked Nargis in the eyes.
“Nargis,” she said, “What happened to you and what are you now?”
Nargis glared back, the slightest inkling of a head cold building at the back of her head. With a smile, she pulled her headscarf away from the right side of her head, revealing a carved tattoo on her right temple, a gift from her mentors, “Maybe it’s this.”
Before Tormi could respond, a flash of black light tore through Nargis’s line of vision.
‘Hello,’ a voice sounded, ‘You seem perturbed. Something troubling you?’
Nargis inhaled deep, her head now heavy, left ear ringing, liquid trickling down her nose. Tormi rushed forward to catch the now-stumbling Nargis, asking, “Hey, what’s going on?!”
‘I see you’re brewing something,’ the voice continued, ‘Have you called me back?’
“Knock…” Nargis squinted, half-supported by the worktable and a slightly panicked Tormi, “Knock me out, knock me out!”
She felt the sting searing through her left temple before everything went black.
Nargis awoke to see Tormi standing outside her cell - a tiny little shoebox that she did her best to at least keep clean despite the cold, damp environment. Unable to fight off a smirk, she hauled herself from her sleeping platform.
“You shouldn’t be here,” she said.
Tormi extracted a cypher from her sleeve, “I’m surprised you don’t speak prison guard.”
“Okay,” Nargis stood up, arms raised in resignation, “I’m fine now, you don’t have to stick around.”
Tormi leaned closer, her forearms dangling over the prison bars, “You thought I was working with you because you’re the only one here with a perceived half a brain?” Her right hand reached into her left sleeve and extracted a piece of papyrus with an emblem inked into its stained, creased surface.
Leaning closer, Nargis almost fell back at the familiarity.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” Tormi folded the papyrus with her right hand and slipped it back into her sleeve, “I don’t work with Emblems, but no one could say no to that amount of money.”
Clutching her headscarf, Nargis’s eyes darted around, her fingers tapping the air involuntarily, until she found purchase and support against the wall. Catching her breath, she leaned her back against the wall, then eyed Tormi.
“I’m fine, so your job is done,” she breathed, “Is that what you wanted to hear?”
Tormi rolled her eyes. Nargis shrugged.
A tense couple of seconds ensued - the silence dangled over a tightrope between the two.
“What else did they ask from you?” Nargis finally asked sheepishly.
“Nothing else,” Tormi answered, “But if you’re harbouring something that might endanger my work with your so-called caretakers, I’m going to have to know everything…”
The lady on the other side of the bars slowly sat back down on her sleeping platform. “You can tell them I’m fine then. And this will be the last you’ll see of me…”
Tormi continued standing there, gaze piercing through to the young inmate.
“I don’t know if any of your caretakers told you about this before you go thrown in here,” Tormi finally said, “But it’s not just the big cities and kingdoms that are changing. If there are problems in Neth, it won’t be long until the trouble reaches us.”
Nargis looked up.
“Have you heard talk about strange happenings?” Tormi continued, “Missing people, dark auras…?”
“Superstitious nonsense is common within these walls,” Nargis scoffed.
“Whatever it is, the people are getting more and more uneasy,” she said, “You’re a smart kid, and I’d expect that you’ll come out of this alive, if not stronger. But if what I saw in the lab just now had something to do with these rumours, you’re in…”
“It’s the entity that brought me here,” Nargis finally said. Tormi’s shoulders relaxed, and the inmate continued, looking over her shoulder one more time before she lowered her voice, “I was on assignment for my mentors - the Khan was suspected of being affiliated to a few networks set up to undermine Neth.” She blinked back a dull ache that was now collecting at the back of her head.
“And before I was able to gather any information, what you saw in the lab happened.”
The slightest gasp escaped Tormi’s throat.
“My mentors told me that they found me unscathed, in the middle of the rubble of what was apparently the Khan’s treasure room.”
“So I was right,” Tormi said.
“Hey,” the smuggler called after the inmate as Nargis stepped back to her platform. Tormi didn’t wait for Nargis to turn back before she continued, “I could still use your help - and you could still use mine.”
Nargis’s brows furrowed.
“You need my connection back to the outside if you want any knowledge out of this place,” Tormi explained, “And I could use someone with your talent.”
Then, she stretched her hand out for a handshake.
“What do you say?”
Nargis looked over her right shoulder as they worked, catching Tormi averting her gaze from the corner of her eye.
“So what about the flaming flower here?” Nargis turned and saw Tormi pointing towards her right temple.
“When I start owing you favours,” Nargis smiled.
Regardless, I hope you enjoyed this piece! Stay tuned for this year’s final Writing Challenge, coming up next month!
Most stories don’t happen in one place, so this challenge was straightforward enough. That being said, I don’t know if I can stop this challenge just after one transition written in.
Prompts: When we were kids, What once was lost
“Gao,” she lowered her tiles on the green-felted tables.
The rest of the players lay back against their seats, one in frustration and the other two in resignation. All three looked like they would have to walk out of the place with bags over their heads just to maintain a shrivel of dignity. The wrinkled uncle on her right peered over, his forehead lined with both disbelief and anger.
Four sets of the directional tiles and a pair of Red Dragon tiles stared back like opulent gravestones. All of a sudden, she could see the relief in one of her other opponent’s shoulders.
Thank goodness we agreed on a winnings cap, she projected with a smile.
“Dai Sei Hei,” Resonance Wong said, “Maximum.”
The hesitant shifts in the other seats preceded the grudging clinks of point chips across the mahjong table. That sequence of events then preceded the next show of frustration.
“Okay,” the auntie in her bright flannel top and translucent jade bangle said before she rose from her seat, “That’s it for me, need to be up early tomorrow.”
The second auntie at the table did the same, albeit with a preferable sneer over the saccharine diplomacy from the first auntie counterpart. The last person to leave did so with an unnecessary comment.
“One day, you will see why you need to respect your elders,” the uncle spat at her foot.
Left alone with a table of washed up mahjong tiles, Resonance shrugged and started stacking the tiles back into the Hub’s crocodile skin suitcase. A few stacks in, she lifted her head to a sound she hasn’t heard in a while.
The footsteps stopped, and she slowly lifted her head.
Wilhelm was there, doing that annoying balancing trick he liked to do with the roulette ball on his left hand, holding a folded envelope in his right.
“Something happened,” Resonance said.
He dropped the ball back into his left hand, then handed her the envelope. It was already torn open.
She took the letter out and her eyes darted across the paper. Gradually, she put the piece of paper down, inhaling through her nose in an attempt to keep her eyes steely and unwavering.
“We cremated her yesterday,” Wilhelm said.
“So why are you here?”
“Care for a ride?”
There needed to be a term to describe the smell of the night breeze, Resonance thought to herself. She was named after the inkling of good things to follow - something her birth mother would look for, and get, while she was still pregnant with Resonance.
The view from the Terrace Gardens, atop Mount Faber, was postcard-worthy, but both Resonance and Wilhelm knew they weren’t there to enjoy any kind of view.
“What are you doing here?” Resonance asked, after Wilhelm locked his car and followed her to the closest railing.
“You correctly guess Mum’s death,” Wilhelm said, “Surely you can guess this.”
“I don’t guess,” she replied, “Your mother taught me not to.”
Wilhelm sighed, his breath exhaling through his nose.
“Rez,” he said, “Something happened.”
“Mum didn’t go because of age or sickness,” he continued.
Resonance got up from the railing.
“What did this contender leave?” she asked.
And that’s it from me this month! See you all next month for another Writing Challenge!
When I think Sonnets, I think poetry and it’s something I need to make some effort to get to. Luckily for my planner side, sonnets actually have a loose set of rules:
If you want to know what iambic pentameters are, this video does it rather well.
Prompts: Fading Light, Discovery
The Last Night at the Casino
Digits, coins, and cherries upon the screen,
The melody spins to the lever’s pull.
Wheels, spins, and sweeps wipe the Red and Black clean,
Chips gather, and clump the croupier’s last tool.
Felt tables give you fifty two to hit,
Be they two cards, five, or Russian thirteen.
Six-sided fate plays its last in the pit,
Schrodinger’s numbers in their final scheme.
Your tiles show you the way: North, South, East, West,
Signalling the last winds, the curtain call.
Chips cashed, the team settles down for a rest,
Mission accomplished, a side of windfall.
A final flick, when darkness came, a wave.
Until then, when they call, our next conclave.
Poetry and Sonnets are not necessarily my strong suit. Despite that, I hope you’ve enjoyed this piece! Stay tuned next month for another writing challenge.
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!
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.