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Monday One-Word Writing: Vacate

Posted by Zack on April 22, 2013 in One Word Writing |

Welcome back to another Monday-One Word Writing, the series where I try to take an entire word and turn it into one story! (Strike that, reverse it.) Today’s word came from the good ol’ random word generator, but computers aren’t as fun as people, so if you have an idea for a word, please leave it in the comments below! Of course, read this awesome story (which happens to do with the word vacate) before heading to the comment section below…

 

He packed the few objects he still owned into his bag: a few blankets, some spare t-shirts, a small toy doll. He took special care with the last object, making sure nothing would rip any of the seams in her dress or leave a stain on her plastic face. It was all he had left.

He looked around the room that had once been his and his wife’s. The day they had bought the house, she had looked at it with such glee. A walk in closet, and plenty of space for a king sized bed! He had been happy as well, but only because she was. The room would have been just the same as any other if she hadn’t liked it. He hefted his bag to his shoulder and left the room, closing the door behind him. Closing it like he should have so long ago.

He followed the well-worn path between his room and the small bedroom down the hall. There, the walls were painted pink and the faint outlines of princesses could be seen on the faded molding running the outside of the room. It was empty, as was every other room, but the depressions in the carpet of a long forgotten single bed were visible.

He left the room and began walking down the stairs. He paused on the third step from the top and searched for the faint stain that no amount of cleaner could remove. It was there, and he scratched his thigh slightly while staring at it. He broke his gaze and continued down to the stairs to the foyer, where he looked closely at the door frame, running his hands up and down it. But it had been repaired well, and there was no sign of the unwelcome visitor’s entrance.

He reached out his hand to grab the doorknob, and realized that this would be the last time he ever opened his front door. He put his hand on the cold metal and felt the thing that had welcomed him into the house so long ago, and that had welcomed him again just a few months ago, but not as its owner, not after the medical bills and custody battles, but as a guest in a hotel room under someone else’s name. He had hardly been welcomed by this house after that warm August night, and he wondered, not for the first time, why he had put himself through the torture of living here again, without her, and with the faint consolation that he might one day see his little one, and come to her as a father who could support her instead of having to live with her grandparents.

He turned the doorknob and walked out into the cool night air. He wondered what it had felt like for the man who had fled with the jewelry and life of his wife. Had he regretted his mistakes in life? Had he wished he could spare her as if she were as innocent as the one he had left alive? Had he known that he had left the wounded man alone in this world? He shook his head and cleared the thoughts that so often ran through it. With one final parting glance at the house that had once been home, he moved on to find a new place to live.

 

This is usually the part where I say I hope you liked the story, but you really shouldn’t like the story, so I hope you enjoyed the literary techniques and feel sorry for our sad protagonist. Again, please leave a comment with your suggestion for next week’s word, and I’ll see you next week, same time, same place!

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Monday One-Word Writing: Gates

Posted by Zack on April 15, 2013 in One Word Writing |

Hello and welcome back to another Monday One-Word Writing, the part of the week where I try to take one word and expand it into a whole story. This week, I had to throw it back to the old random word generator, which gave me the word “gates”. Which worked out just fine, considering the story that I wrote…

 

The iron gate slammed shut behind him, and Fabius found himself alone. Well, alone besides the thousands of people in the cheering crowd. They all watched with anticipation for what was about to come. The emperor, too, stared on in anticipation, but not for the thrill that the crowd would get. The emperor wished to see how his little game would play out.

Fabius looked at his options. Three wooden gates stood in front of him in a four walled room with no ceiling. This was the emperor’s new sport: a game of chance. Inspired by the Labyrinth of Crete, but wanting to put his own spin on it, he had transformed the Coliseum into a grand game of chance. Behind one of the door in front of Fabius was a new intersection; behind the other two, danger and certain death. One door would have some kind of scenario he might be able to defeat – the other would contain a trap that when sprung could not be stopped. And Fabius, confronted with death should he choose to turn back or stop, would have to hope to pick the right door.

The cheering of the crowd died down as Fabius stepped into the middle of the first intersection. Think, he thought. They wouldn’t put it right in front of you to start with, so it’s either left or right. He took a guess and pulled the lever next to the right gate.

The counterweights pulled the gate upwards, and Fabius feared for a second he might have sprung a trap. But it was safe, and he had been lucky. Beyond the newly opened portal was another intersection identical to the first. The crowd cheered as Fabius stepped into the middle of the new intersection and tried to think of some kind of logic behind the placement of the correct gates. He assumed the right gate would not hold the correct path again, and so he walked to the gate straight in front of him. As he reached for the lever, an audible gasp came from the crowd.

Of course, he thought. They can see what lies beyond this gate. Their ability to look down upon the entire maze might just save him. He walked away from the center gate and pulled the lever for the gate on the left.

Beyond it was another safe intersection. Fabius breathed a sigh of relief and entered. He continued to play the crowd at each intersection, making his way through by their reaction to his movements. They were generally reliable: once, a group of spiteful old men with front row seats led him to believe he was taking a safe path, and only after the blade narrowly missed him did he see the trap. But eventually Fabius reached the end, and the last gate opened to a pair of soldiers who brought him to the emperor’s balcony.

“I commend you for your luck,” the emperor told him. “But I fear you were not the only one opening those gates correctly. And so you make my decision difficult.” The emperor bowed his head and considered the situation for a moment before standing and waving to the crowd. After the noise had died down and a final crowd chanting “Life!” had calmed themselves, the emperor raised his fist and extended his thumb.

It pointed downwards. Some in the crowd cheered; others booed and hissed. Fabius made no sound, but let himself be escorted out by the soldiers. Such is the life of a Coliseum gladiator, he thought.

 

I hope you enjoyed it! If you think you have a great idea for a word for me to use next week, please leave a comment below! Seriously, getting these things from a computer isn’t as cool as getting them from a fan. So leave a comment, and I’ll see you next week for a new word and new story!

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Monday One-Word Writing: Carnivore

Posted by Zack on April 8, 2013 in One Word Writing |

Welcome to another Monday One-Word Writing! In case you don’t know what this is all about, I take one word, usually suggested by one of you guys in the previous week’s comments, and develop it into a full short story. This week’s word, as you may be able to tell by the title above, is the word carnivore. I now leave you with the story!

 

Nina wandered by a large flowering plant. She couldn’t quite remember the name of it, which irked her greatly; as a botanist going for her doctorate in the field, she should be able to recognize every one of these plants. Except, of course, the one she was looking for. That plant should look completely foreign.

She wondered for a moment if she would even be able to discern if the plant was different from a known species. She had found out about it from a rather peculiar source – an Amazonian tribe that had only recently made contact with the civilized world.

Well, Nina hadn’t directly talked to the tribesmen, but rather her old professor and friend at Cambridge, a man who had spent six months with the tribe. He had learned of a powerful neurotoxin the men of the tribe used on the tips of their blow darts, and had suggested to Nina that she find the plant it came from.

And so here Nina was, in the middle of the jungle, hunting for a plant she might not even be able to find. The locals called it kanu-takadu in their language, which literally translated to “man-killer”. A fitting name for a plant with a deadly neurotoxin, Nina thought.

Her jungle guide was with the parked Jeep a half kilometer back, upon her request. He might know the jungle, but he didn’t know the plant, so he was useless to her. She pushed past a large fern leaf and came to a clearing. It was quite odd for such a clearing to occur in the middle of the river basin – usually the ground was always covered in gnarled tree roots or small plants. But this clearing had a pool of water in the center, surrounded by bare dirt.

Nina walked up to the pool and examined the water. There was no sign of any plant life in there, so she turned to move on, only to find her right foot had sank into the mud. She tried to pull it out, but her hiking boot came off and mud covered her sock. It felt cool, so she left her dirty sock on, figuring there would be more dirt to come.

She reached over and pried her boot from the mud. The mud felt cool to her fingers as well, but even stranger, it felt cool inside her fingers. She looked at her hand and realized her hand was slowly going numb. She tried to wiggle her fingers, but couldn’t control them.

With a start, she realized she couldn’t feel her entire right leg. Everything had gone numb, starting from her foot and moving up her body. With her good leg she could feel the mud slowly sucking her down. Quicksand, she thought, but not some normal kind of quicksand.

Neurotoxin. The word crossed her mind. But there was no time to think on it. She tried to crawl towards the solid ground of the jungle, but with her right leg completely limp and her arm slowly becoming useless, she made little progress, and smeared herself with more mud in the process.

When she saw she wasn’t going to get out, she cried out, “Help me!” She called three more times before her lower jaw began to go numb and the words became a soft slur of “Herp!” She sank deeper into the mud, until she was finally submerged. The last sensation she had before she died of asphyxiation was what felt like a leaf close over her face.

 

I hope you liked it! The word suggestion came from a reader who posted a comment on last week’s story, so if you have a word you’d like to see me try, please post a comment below! See you next week!

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Monday One-Word Writing: Suppressor

Posted by Zack on April 1, 2013 in One Word Writing |

It’s Monday, and around here, that means a brand new piece of writing! For those of you new to the blog, Monday One-Word Writing is a challenge to me and entertainment for you; I take one word and try to make a short story out of it in around 30 minutes, and then post what I come up with on here! Usually, the word comes from a comment on the previous week’s post, but since this is the first post in while, I’ve cranked up the old random word generator and was given the word “suppressor”. Which works just fine… So without further adieu, here it is!

 

Three puffs and he was down.

I had heard the soft sound come from somewhere in the trees. Three quick bursts of a muffled sound reached my ears as my brain began to process the sight in front of me. William, guarding the door across the complex, was collapsing. My legs began to move towards him involuntarily as my brain comprehended the noise. Gunfire, I thought. Suppressed.

Then everything went black.

I woke with extreme pain in my gut. I couldn’t move my head to confirm where the pain was coming from, but I knew I had been shot. Moving my head wouldn’t have done much anyway, because the moment I stirred, I was whipped around by a man. He leaned in close and whispered, “What is the combination?”

I groaned, partially because of the pain and partially because his breath smelled terrible, like day old fish left on a grocery counter. He must have misinterpreted my cringing, because he pressed his gun into my neck. I felt the cool metal of the silencer and mustered a chuckle. “I am not afraid to die,” I mumbled groggily.

“Of course you aren’t,” the man whispered. “But everyone is afraid of pain.” In one quick motion he shoved a rag in my mouth and his knee into my gut.

My eyes darted open and I screamed into the rag. “Now, are you ready to talk?” he asked. I looked into his eyes with determination and shook my head. “Then we continue.” And he forced his knee deeper into my stomach. This time, the pain was unbearable; his knee had found the bullet hole. I let a gut-wrenching scream out, but it was muffled by the rag over my mouth. “Now are you ready?” he asked patiently, and I nodded my head vigorously in reply. He took his knee and waited for my groans to stop before removing the rag.

“5287,” I gasped. “The combo is 5287.”

He rolled me over and I felt a large object slam into the back of my head.

“Then I woke up and was brought here. I guess you caught him,” I said meekly.

“You could say that,” Dr. Reyes said. “If by caught, you mean caught in gunfire. The man is dead. And as to why you aren’t… Well, I guess that’s why they call them the good guys.” He spoke the word ‘good’ like it was a swear word. “Still, I believe you have proven yourself a… Oh, what’s the word…” Dr. Reyes stumbled to find the correct word in his second language of English. “Ah, there it is! Liability.”

My gut hurt once again, but this was no physical pain: it was fear. “Liability?”

“Yes, that is the word. You have proven yourself untrustworthy. And so something must be done.”

The two men standing beside Dr. Reyes stepped towards me. “Dr. Reyes, you can’t do this! I’m loyal! I can fight!” I continued to protest to the old man as I was dragged away, until suddenly one of them punched my stomach and I blacked out again.

 

I hope you liked it! Remember to leave your comment below with a suggestion for what word you think I should use next week with a new piece!

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Welcome to the New Site!

Posted by Zack on March 30, 2013 in Announcements |

You may have been following my blog and noticed I’d gone dark for a couple months. There’s a very good reason for that, and you’re looking at it right now – my brand new site! This site has been in the works for a while now, and it was going to be official announced a few weeks ago, but I was hit with massive amounts of spam and had to take care of it. (On a side note, if your comment contains the word “loan”, it will automatically be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but you can thank aggresive marketers.)

Anyway, the new site will have all your favorite features from the old one, plus a few new features I’ve been working on, like commenting using your Facebook or Twitter account (go ahead, try it!). As well as continuing Monday One-Word Writing, I’ll be trying to incorporate other kinds of posts, like excerpts from Shifter and Entanglement, and some brand new pieces of writing. So go ahead, try exploring the site, and I’ll see you Monday with a new post!

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