Wednesday Write-in #33


Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

CAKE.shortandsweet runs a write-in every week to writers to practise their skills, and get chatting to each other about their work. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the more people you tell, the more everyone will get out of it.

Prompts

chloroform  ::  banana split  ::  stench  ::  cracker  ::  shoestring budget

Guidelines

There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some brief guidelines:

  • You can use the prompts as inspiration or try to work them into your story somehow. Use as many as you want.
  • When your story is done, post it online (your blog/twitter/in a comment here), tag with #wednesdaywritein and comment with a link so we can read it. You can write as many stories as you like.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you can.

Featured Story

We’ll feature our favourite story on the blog with a review of it and links to the author’s blog/twitter/facebook if relevant.

Posts will generally go up at 12am on Wednesday – stories are due by 10am Thursday (UK) to be considered for the featured story. You can keep posting your work after this, it just won’t be featured.

The winner will also be eligible to publish on our special CAKE.shortandsweet genre through Ether Books.

Get Involved

Look for us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the write-ins, or click the follow button to get blog updates!

Join our CAKE.writers group on Scribophile, an online community for writers to give and receive constructive criticism.

Read our Previous Issues and check out the Submissions page if you’d like to be a CAKE.author!

Any questions? Otherwise, have fun writing!

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65 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #33

  1. The Job
    You never knew what you’d find inside. The police had done their bit with the body, now it was his turn.
    He took a deep breath and adjusted his face mask, tightened his grip on the handle of the metal box and stepped into the dingy corridor. Immediately there were signs of death and decay. There was no mistaking the smell. He expected that. Neighbours only called when the stench got too much. He stepped over a pile of newspapers and a blackened banana, split open and spilling its slimy innards onto the threadbare carpet. On into the kitchen. Spewing out of carrier bags littering the floor were gnawed packets of cereal and sugar and crackers. He vaguely thought there was a lot of shopping for a pensioner on a shoestring budget. Vermin had had a field day, leaving tiny footprints and droppings as they scurried through their feast.
    He found them in a small utility room at the back. A high window had been left open a crack letting air in and the stink out. There had been ten in the litter. The bitch was stiff on her side in the corner and nine little corpses lay strewn around her caked in their own excrement. But one was still moving, barely alive. There was no hope. He gently picked it up and placed it in the box with the chloroform. It wouldn’t suffer.
    This was the part of the job he hated.

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    • This was great – topical, relevant, interesting, with a great flow to it and a very accomplished writing style. The prompt wasn’t immediately evident, but then I guess that’s a good thing! You wove it into your work seamlessly, which is something to be congratulated. Great stuff.

    • You paint a worrying picture of a future where history repeats itself and war is inevitable. I like the interview format.

    • It’s the oil, stupid. A good portrayal of how it happens on our screen. You’ve managed to capture the adversarial approach interviewers adopt when dealing with evasive politicians.

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    • Your story made me shiver – I’m talking literally! Gah. Is he her boyfriend? Her friend? Some random guy who she barely knows taking an opportunity? Someone unknown to her (though ‘their friends’ being upstairs might discount that)? Powerful and punchy, the way good flash fiction should be. Marvellous. But creepy. 🙂

    • Scarey. You don’t know whether it’s a rather extreme party joke or for real. I rather think the latter. A short piece and very effective.

  4. #wednesdaywritein
    Hi, I have managed this week, but please be forgiving. It’s the school holidays and my house is havoc! Look forward to reading.

    Dan’s American Cafe had newly opened. It shone out from the corner of the row of shops on the main street. On Saturday afternoons, the queue went round the block.
    Steve asked me if I’d like to go there after school one day.
    He was 17 and about to sit his Highers. I was tall for my age and two years younger than him.
    We went on the Wednesday. I wore lip gloss and spent a wet lunchtime under the shelter of my school bag to ensure the straightness of my hair.
    Still in school uniform, we made our way into the shiny happiness of Dan’s. Slippery surfaces in shades of creams and yellows (and a paper-round budget ) inspired us to split a banana split.
    I climbed onto the high stool with Steve’s help. He smelled of Imperial Leather and the must of shared cigarettes. I was tongue-tied by his looks: his face was squarer than the boys’ in my year group and his shoulders were broader.
    He told me he would be off to university all going well with his exams. I couldn’t believe he was on the verge of leaving home (term time) and here he was with me.
    I went to see him in the school play and felt needles of jealousy when he kissed the Lead Girl. I went over to his house once and listened to his LPs before his mum called dinner time. It was time for him to leave for university, and he promised to think of me.
    Christmas came, and I wrapped up a packet of cigarettes for him. I planned to take them round to his house, hoping he would think me worldly and dangerous now. But coming home from school I chanced upon him and a group of his friends standing outside Dan’s. I smiled but saw him wince at the sight of my school uniform. I didn’t stop, but the redness of his cheeks embarrassed my thoughts throughout that holiday.
    Terms went by and I was ready for college. Performing Arts. My dad told me I’d turned into a ‘cracker….The West End would be lucky!’
    One summer’s day I saw Steve at the same spot with the same friends- a guitar had become a part of his luggage. I walked passed and realised I was noticeably taller than him.
    This time he called out, ‘Hi. Long time no see.’
    ‘Yeah. Guess so,’ I said stopping a few feet from him.
    ‘You got time for a coffee?’ he said nodding towards Dan’s plain old coffee shop.
    ‘No, sorry,’ I said.’Maybe some other time.’
    ‘I’m playing a gig at the local, Tuesday. If you fancy that.’
    ‘I’ll see. Got to get accommodation sorted out for next year. I’m really busy.’
    I walked away hoping that he didn’t feel too awkward, but I still allowed myself the hint of a swagger.

    • I thought this was great – it rings very true. I loved the line where she sees him blush and ‘the redness of his cheeks embarrassed [her] thoughts throughout that holiday’ – a really telling and subtle line. I was almost sad at the end that the relationship didn’t quite work out, but I will admit to feeling ‘yeah! Go, girl!’ at her growth in confidence. I really enjoyed the read, thank you. 🙂

      • I was hoping for that type of ending where you don’t really dislike any of the characters. Thanks for kind comments.

    • Ah, young love – so fickle. It really rings true, all the build-up to the first ‘date’ then the humiliation when he goes off you! Then you realise he wasn’t so great! (That right, girls?) I like the ‘shiny happiness of Dan’s’ and the ‘needles of jealousy’.

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    • I actually liked it! I like the idea of a shop that you find one day, but can’t ever find again (reminds me of Terry Pratchett), and I loved some of your descriptions, like the waitress being ‘all bust and hairnet’, and the idea of the place needing a ‘generous slobbering’ of paint. It would benefit from a re-read and a slight tidy-up, but I thought it was interesting and I enjoyed it. So, well done! 🙂

    • An odd ‘out of time’ sort of story. I’m not sure anyone enjoyed their sweets, but felt compelled to go into the uninviting cafe and eat dessert. (I just go to the kitchen cupboard!) I enjoyed reading this.

    • I liked this. I liked the description of the waitress, too. I wonder why they are all there in this parallel ice- cream parlour? Very interesting. What do they all have in common?

  6. Those prompts were challenging! Here’s my one.
    The Nut Cracker
    What do you do when your town is on fire? What do you try to save?
    With flames roaring around me I weaved my way to the doctor’s surgery. I had to get him out. A blaze was setting seed, grabbing onto the building. The door was locked but I knew he was inside. With a rock through the glass I was in. Smoke crept like a conscious being along the floor.
    We’d been expecting an attack and I’d thought this moment through. I knew where he would be. In the darkness illuminated by the flicker of flames starting to take hold, I ran to his room. When I burst in the door I was met by an image which froze me to the spot because of how it thwarted my plan. The soles of the doctor’s feet pointed towards the heavens.
    There was an explosion outside that snapped me back to action. I walked over to the body. The doctor had obviously thought this moment through too and decided to save himself. He lay prostrate on the floor like a banana split, a needle sticking out of his arm like paper umbrella.
    What could I save? I grabbed the bin in the corner. The glass-fronted cabinets were locked so I smashed more glass and emptied as much as I could into the bin. Then I thought I heard voices calling me to come out. The place was filled with thick acrid smoke. My eyes were streaming. I removed the bin liner from the bin and threw it over my shoulder. Outside of the doctor’s room I couldn’t see anything. I covered my mouth and nose, held my breath and ran straight down what I hoped was the hallway. Glass jars popped and shattered behind me. I ran to where I heard the voices calling me. I tripped over the rock and skidded on the broken glass out the door, coughing and choking.
    When I looked around outside there was nobody there. The fuming orange flames punched their way out of each window and reached for the sky. My skin felt like it was going to melt so I moved back away from the heat. I could taste ash on my tongue and the soot in my nose. I spat blackened saliva onto scorched earth. With a loud surge, the flames engulfed the roof. Shortly after it collapsed and the walls fell in on top of each other like dominoes.
    The bin-liner had partially melted and I lost some of my stash. I gathered the trail of it and was proud of what I had rescued. I lined it up, removing shards as I went. I had bandages, little glass bottles and a black pen. From these materials I hatched my next plan.
    In the days after, what was left of our town gathered in the centre. The putrid stench of death hung around us. There were no men left. The doctor had been the last. The rest died fighting. Men had turned to savages and nothing was safe. I had to protect our town.
    In the pile of things that hadn’t been incinerated, I found a pair of pointy high heels. I thought of the photos I had seen of the glamorous ladies during the Second World War. On a shoestring budget, they sacrificed the warmth of nylons and drew a black kohl line up the back of their leg to look like a stocking seam. I did the same with my black pen. I stuffed my bra with bandages and headed for the port, the only way into our town. This is the place where decades ago, before all the fighting, a sailor would be welcomed upon his arrival by the sight of an ample bosom.
    I waited a long time before I saw the first ripple of a boat. When he disembarked he leered at me and I smiled encouragingly.
    “You’re a bit of a cracker aren’t you?”
    “Oh I sure am. “ I said seductively.
    He leaned towards me and that’s when with my pointy toe I delivered the swift kick to his manhood, his weak spot. When he buckled forward, gagging on the pain I was able to reach and cover his mouth with my chloroform steeped bandage, holding until he dropped.
    From there I rolled him off the edge into the sea. There was a certain satisfaction gleaned from the splash he made when he hit the water.
    There’s many a solitary male roaming these seas in search of refuge, fleeing destruction. They are always alone. Men no longer trust each other. Evolution has caused it to be too dangerous, too much of a risk to survival.
    There’s many a lonesome boatman I have rolled back into these seas. I have kept this town safe for now but what do you do when the chloroform starts to run out?

    • Excellent! Really atmospheric and exciting. I think you should get extra points for using the word ‘manhood’, too. By the end I was starting to wonder if the world really was as bad as your character imagined, or was she just a touch irrational… Great work this week. Well done!

    • What an unexpected ending! I like the title, too. The descriptions of the flames punching their way out is great. Well done.

    • Apocalyptic! Your descriptions are amazing. Up to ‘the rest died fighting’ it could have been any war zone. But then it became a bleak futuristic place where the population will die out, unless she decides to save a few boatmen to act as studs! Great.

  7. I like that He/She uses some bad language and watches great movies. Very interesting narrative. I also find the idea of paranoia interesting. Wow, really powerful climax. Really enjoyed this. Great.

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