prompted

The Fight (First Draft) (Title Subject to Change

Someone sneezes and I’m sent flying through the air. The world is really big, blurs of colour and sound, and I’m really very small. If I don’t land where I need to be, it’s going to be another long sleep until someone brings me back again. I don’t want to go to sleep though. This sleep isn’t anything like a normal sleep. It’s like dying only to come back to life in some unknown future. I miss out.

I fall into a bowl of peanuts. It’s like a smaller version of that ball pit I was in once before. Everyone’s hands were so sticky there. Here, the hands are much larger. One descends over the bowl and I hide behind a peanut until it’s lifted into the air. Then I cling to it, holding on for dear life. This is perfect, straight shot to the stomach and none of that pesky skin or noxious fluids to get stuck in.

Rolling around in this mouth for a while, I’m thankful I’m small enough not to be crushed by those huge, chomping teeth. Unlike that there peanut, you’re doomed, buddy!

I feel a blade on my shoulder and turn to face that cursed saliva. It’s going to be another fight for my life. I can’t believe I forgot about these idiots. Their medieval defensive strategies are legendary. My sword clashes against theirs amidst the crunch of peanut sludge. Gotta be careful not to get stuck. We parry for a few steps and I block each attack. It’s not easy with all the change of surface. I just need to bide my time, wait until this body swallows. They swallow much more quickly than they used to. It gives me a break from ridiculous sword fights with old-fashioned enemies.

My only chance is coming now. Dodging this next blow, I dive for the sludge and slip down the slippery pink slide of the oesophagus, a rollercoaster ride I should be more concerned about the end of. The last thing I want is to survive a fight with saliva only to be vaporised by the nuclear substances of the human stomach.

There! It’s a soft spot I can grab a hold of. I hang on just long enough to save myself from certain death and pull myself up. Pushing away the fold of tissue, a cosy waiting room is revealed. A cushioned armchair beside a fire: the perfect place to hide out. I stay there for a while, days at least, feeling warm and full and large. Everything is bigger. The room is starting to throb. My host gives a sudden hacking cough, large enough to topple me over. It seems my stay has come to a close.

***

Prompt: present a character in a negative light and make him/her redeemable to the reader

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Seeking (Draft 2)

She gives the skirt another pull and walks on, her destination up ahead. It’s sad, really, how excited she is. Her hands reach down to smooth her skirt. It keeps riding up with every step, almost revealing her practical seamless underwear. That’s what you get for wearing stretch nylon. Her black ballet flats are sensible and the matching tank top makes the vibrant print of the skirt pop.

The café is up ahead, white sailcloth propped out the front to shade patrons seated at the purposefully mismatched outdoor furniture. One final yank on the skirt before she enters. Hopefully, it will stay down.

Blue eyes behind black wayfarer sunglasses scan the crowd. She passes by man with long blond hair occupied by his cell phone. It could be him. His attention never wavers and she dismisses the thought.

The rest of the café is filled with families of varying age and number, a squalling infant or two. Better check up back, behind the novelty teapots and overpriced armchairs, just to be safe. No one else seems to be alone. One cast iron beauty with a dragon carved into its base catches her eye. She reaches for it but pulls out her phone to message him instead.

i’m here. where are you?

She doesn’t believe in that shortened text message crap.

parking.

The place is her favourite: a local secret and only a ten-minute walk from her house. She smirks. She wanted to meet on her own turf. The bearded man by the register catches her eye and smiles. Beneath the shade cloth out the front she selects a high stool and sits down, hands folded.

“Neesa, I presume,” he says, spotting her straight away. He lands a peck on her cheek before she can stop him.

“Andy?”

He nods and smiles. He’s short, with tan skin and crows’ feet and smile lines. The close-cropped brown hair and polo shirt-jeans combination gives him the appearance of an overgrown boy.

“Nice to meet you.”

“Your profile picture doesn’t do you justice.” Andy tries to pass off the line effortlessly.

Neesa’s mouth twitches. “Thank you.”

“Well, I’ll have a coffee. Anything on the menu for you?”

“Tea, please.”

He returns with a tray bearing a black pot, a heap of leaves and an empty cup as well as a latte for himself.

Neesa busies herself with the tea. It’s a warm day but craves something warm in her hands.

Andy selects a sugar packet from the bowl on the table and squeezes it between two fingers. Neesa watches, unable to look him in the eye.

“Have you ever done this before?”

“Yes but I’ve not had any success so far.”

“Oh that’s a shame.” Neesa sips her tea. “I haven’t.”

Never been on a date either.

“I’m never in one place long enough to commit. Most of the women I’ve met before seemed like pro’s. This one had a … menu. She gave me all the options and laid down all her prices. I told her that wasn’t what I was looking for.”

“And what are you looking for?”

“Let’s make an arrangement.”

***

Prompt: choose one of the 3 plot structures (surprise, suspense, curiosity)

Dream Date (Draft 2)

The first thing I notice is the sounds of laughter and talking, the dull clink of what can only be knives and forks against china. We take a few steps forwards and he manoeuvres me through the room, his warm hand firmly covering my eyes.

Part of me cannot help noticing how cliché this whole thing is. Another part of me is secretly thrilled.

“Here we are,” he says and removes his hands.

A table set for two is revealed: lit candles in ornate stands frame a centrepiece of gorgeous orchids in a crystal vase atop a deep crimson tablecloth. At one setting is a medium-sized box. My heart lurches in anticipation.

Well, it can’t be a ring, I tell myself. The box is far too big.

“Please, sit.” He pulls the chair back for me and I do as he says. After scooting me forwards, his hands rest on my shoulders and he plants a kiss on my cheek.

I reach for the box and start to open it… and someone knocks into my side, jolting me back to reality. Slumped over a table, I can see blurry wood grain. There is the smell of antibacterial soap and metallic tang of cheap cutlery. If the plain black slacks and a black top weren’t obvious enough, the apron and notepad clue me in and with a sinking feeling I realise where I am.

I peer around the partition and see the diner bar and Suesy with her bright pink hair. Checking my watch, I see it’s well after midnight. My shift is nearly over, thank god. I must have dozed off on my break. I spend the rest of my shift out the back polishing cutlery – it never ends – and am out of there as soon as I can.

My car is ways away. Gravel crunches loudly underfoot. It’s the only sound I can hear until someone grabs me from behind, an arm around my waist and the other hand on my mouth. My scream stays locked in my throat. I dig my nails into the arm; it’s thick and beefy. He smells of salt and tobacco and I kick out and flail helplessly. It’s no use. He’s big and I am small.

“I like a little fight,” he mutters, slamming me against my car.

I fall limp from the impact and am spun around like a doll, his body pressed against me, hands tearing at my shirt.

“Please. Stop.”

I try to push him away but that only encourages him. With my eyes squeezed shut, I hear him unzipping his pants. This is my last chance, I realise. Using as much force as I can muster I ram my knee in between his legs. He drops and I bolt for it.

In bed, shadows creep across the walls. I cannot close my eyes without that night, that man, revisiting me. The same immobilising weight against my body: too warm and soft and heavy on my front; too cold and hard against my back; smothering, painful, crushing.

I drift off somewhere close to dawn.

The box is in front of me. I reach for it and a breeze passes through. The smell of salt and tobacco. I knock the box from the table and run as far as I can.

***

Prompt: 3 plot points and reverse