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Exercise #846 Prep

Exercise #846: Prep
Posted 3/13/20 - 3/26/20

Each person was asked to submit a scene.


From Chris:


Word Count:  329

“Here we are in Pretty, Pretty princess land. Where the sun shines all the
 time, unless we want a rainy day. He he.”

“Giving plenty of mud for the monster trucks to hold their rally and crush
 some cars! Vroom!”

“As I was saying, the daffodil fields are in full bloom providing the
perfect carpet for the Precious Ponies to scamper and run. Re-hee-hee-hee!”

“Until it’s covered in blood by the soldiers who fall on the battlefield!
 Bang, bang! Rat-atat-tat! Uhhhh!”

“But, but there’s also Tiny Town with its rows of quaint little homes
and homely businesses. And in the middle of it all, are the little children
playing in the playground. With slides and ladders. Tire swings and monkey
bars. A sand box and-“

“But none of that matters when the evil Charbnox and his hordes of evil
minions, tear up the town and slaughter the inhabitants! Help us, please
help us! There’s nowhere for you to run! Mu-ha-ha-ha!”

“Or, or we can visit The Enchanted Forest, with its wonderful inhabitants
who make their homes in the trees and live in perfect harmony with nature.”

“But it all comes to an end when a massive horde of ogres, orcs and goblins
 run amok and trash the sleepy little village. And there’s nowhere to run.
 Nowhere to hide. Rawr!”

“Alright, this has to stop.”

“Why what’s wrong?”

“We can’t play with my toys and your toys if you’re going to behave
so roughly.”

“But I have to. It’s how you play with them. Haven’t you seen the

“Well, we’re not playing that way.”

“Why do you get to make the rules?”

“Because I said so, and if don’t like it you can get out of my room!”

“It’s my room too!”

“Not when I need it, it’s not!”

The door bursts open. “Knock it off, both of you! Either you get along or
you’ll both be decorating separate corners!”

Together. “Yes mom.”



From Sue:

Word Count: 269

But Mom, why can’t I sleep over at Josh’s house? His parents will be

You know full well that the punishment for stealing at the Zippy Mart was
no activities for a month. That includes sleeping over at a friend’s house.

But Mom, I didn’t take the candy bar. Tommy took it and put it in my pocket.

You weren’t supposed to be there in the first place. And, when you found
it, why didn’t you take it out and put it back on the counter?

Mom, I told you. By the time I found it, it was too late!

This discussion is finished. You may not sleep over anywhere for another
three weeks.

And so ended the conversation with her son John. But later that night, the
subject came up again with her husband, Fred.

Don’t you think you’re being a little tough on John? He didn’t take
the candy bar and a month is a long time for an eleven year old.

It’s too bad. When he asked about going to the market, I told him not until
after lunch. He went, anyway, and part of the punishment is for not listening
in the first place.

Ah, come on. Didn’t you ever do anything sneaky when you were a kid? He’s
a boy, after all.

That has nothing to do with anything. If John had been a Joanna, it would’ve
been the same punishment. Don’t be a sexist.

Well, I still think the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

Well, that’s too  bad. You weren’t home to handle it and I was. I handled
it my way.


From Randy:

The cavern
500 words

The cavern went for miles, breaking off into side tunnels, which broke off
into more. There was a history of explorers never returning, and of bones
littered in caverns. Ted and Anita weren’t explorers, they were each barely
 a dozen years old, but a dare is a dare, no matter how stupid.

“Why’d you agree to this, anyway.” Ted scowled, rubbing a web away
from his face and stepping back into his best friend.

“Ouch, watch my feet! It’s not like I had a choice. You know how Derrik
is.” Anita pushed Ted away, further into the tunnel. “Besides, you like

“Not the kind that get me killed.”

The lights flickered as if they might go out, and then came back brighter
than normal.

“Generator’s lugging.” Ted stopped where he was and looked at the
lights, as though he was an expert and could do something if they suddenly
went out. He couldn’t. He didn’t know anything more than what his dad
said: When the lights flicker it’s the generator lugging.


Ted could hear Anita’s breathing. Could feel it on his neck, or at least
he imagined he could.

The two came to their first intersection of tunnels. The shale-like
fragments of rock, which covered the ground, glistened with water. Small
stalactites at the ceiling dripped water in a relentless chorus, its sound,
droplets splashing randomly around them, made the tunnels seem haunted.

“Let’s go left.” Ted didn’t wait for an answer, he turned and walked
into the left-most opening. The lights were dimmer and seemed to flicker
more. “Damn loaded generator.”

The further into the tunnel they went, the further the lights were spaced,
and the darker it became.

“Oh my Gawd,” Anita squealed. “Something just ran across my feet. An
alligator or something.”

“There aren’t any alligators in here. Rats maybe.” But he didn’t
know any more than she did and started looking around for alligators.

“Ewww. I hate rats.” Anita started bouncing up and down and stomping her

“Stop it. They won’t bite you.” Ted wanted to look back and check out
the expression on Anita’s face. It must have been something, but there was
a sound coming from up ahead. Like footsteps, somebody walking through water.
 He stopped. “Did you hear that?”

“Don’t try and scare me. I think we should leave.”

“Not until we’ve done the dare. You don’t want to be jinxed for eternity
do you?”

Anita didn’t respond. He assumed she was considering her options. “Hey,
wouldn’t it be rad if we found a skeleton?”

There was no answer. Ted turned around, but Anita was gone.


No answer. Ted ran back down the tunnel calling her name, but there was no
response. He came to the intersection and found her jacket and flashlight
in the center, the shale rocks were scattered as if there was a struggle,
but he didn’t hear anything. There couldn’t have been. He would have
heard it.


From Shirley:

339 words
The new car smell permeated the air as the traffic came to a screeching halt.
 “It’s making me sick,” Sheila said coughing for effect.
“Crack the window,” her mother said enjoying the heated leather seats
and illuminated dashboard.
“I liked our old car. The one dad took. Why couldn’t he take this one?
Even the radio sucks.” Sheila pushed back and crossed her arms.
“What did I tell you about that language?”
“Terry talks like that all the time, dad seems to like it.”
Jennifer took a breath and stared at the traffic light that should
have turned green by now.
“If you’re trying to get out of the weekend with your father, it’s not
 going to work.”
“Why do you have to drive me?”
“This is the arrangement we made and by the time we get there, he’ll
be home from work with pizza from Tony’s, didn’t he tell you?
Primavera your favorite.”
“I don’t want to go. I want to stay in my own room and see my own
friends.” “You have a nice room at your father’s house, he let you
pick the paint, the bedroom set, and curtains, and he wants to spend time
with you.”
It’s court ordered.
“He should have thought of that before he dumped us for her.”
Jennifer swallowed hard. “He’s still your father.”
“And Terry’s my new mommy.”
Distracted Jennifer stopped short, mere inches from the bumper of the
car in front of her.
“I’m sorry, honey,” she said grateful for the new brakes in the new
car and the registration still secure in the glove box. “No one
planned for this.”
“He didn’t love us enough... he didn’t love me enough.”
Drawing back the tears, Jennifer looked to the left and the three
lanes of traffic going south on Broadway. “We’re all hurt and this is
just the way it is now.” She adjusted the rearview and brushed away
the insistent tears before Shiela noticed. “It’s nobody’s fault,
especially not yours.”
“Pull over, mom, I’m going to be sick.”


From Jo:

Dilemma Word count 178 Jo Best

"Oh my god! Jerry, come see this!" Sally slumped down onto the couch in
front of the television.

"What's going on?

"Looks like we aren't going to work today, at least not both of us. All
local schools closed this morning, indefinitely.”

Upon hearing his mom's declaration, nine-year-old Ben flew down the stairs.
"Yay! Let's play games! Come on, Bets, we don't have to go to school."

Bets slowly came down the stairs. "You're kidding... I can't miss school;
I've got that big math test. How do you know this is true?"

"It's on all the news channels. That virus that the 'powers that be' said
was no real big threat and would amount to nothing soon has spread
everywhere very fast. It's more dangerous than first reported."

 Crazy ideas whirled around in Sally's mind even as she talked. She and
Jerry had worked every day of their married life. Except for a two week
vacation once a year, they hadn't spent many full days alone with their two
children. What to do? How will we survive?



From M A Lovati:

Doll among Dolls
400 words

Mike couldn’t help pacing up and down the crowded market hall, like a horse
 galloping around the turnout pen. The clatter of his hooves echoed among
the stalls bursting with crafts, jewelry, clothes, and candies.

At the Vintage Village, the colorful stall packed with vintage teddy bears,
his wife Lara was challenging the patience of the old seller.

“Yes madam, it is an original teddy bear from the 20’.” The shopkeeper
 handed the toy to Lara, “please judge for yourself the prime quality of
the details”.

“Isn’t it adorable?” She showed it to a young lady who was trying to
prevent her toddler from smashing a rather expensive antique toy.

“Such a cute one,” said the mother, glaring fiercely at the boy.

Lara spotted her husband. “Look at this teddy,” she mimed the charming
expression of the stuffed toy. “It is looking for a forever home.”

“It won’t come home with us.” The everlasting childish smile on her
face was giving him a headache. “You have thousands of these.”

“This brute doesn’t want you sweet teddy.” Lara laid it over the
mountain of plushies she had examined in the past hours.

“If you are looking for something special, this one is a real unique.”
The shopkeeper handed her the teddy.

 “A teddy bear with a working growler.” His high-pitched voice reverberated
 his excitement.

“Oh my, a working growler.” She triggered the sound and put the teddy
closer to her husband’s ear.

Mike grabbed the toy from her hand, and only the sight of the price label
stopped him from smashing it.

“Let’s go now.”

“Not before I have found something that even a brute like you would love.”
 She turned to the seller. “He is a rude man. He cannot understand beauty.”

The husband glared at the enormous clock that reminded him of the kick-off
of the rugby match. “Damn, the match has already started”, he said. The
tick-tock of the clock started beating time in his head.

“You cannot say no to me,” Lara’s hand was moving a chimpanzee hand
puppet, whose shiny glass eyes stared at him.

Mike yanked at the wife’s arm. His strong callous hand closed on her arm
with such a ferocity that she was forced to open the hand and leave the
chimpanzee sank to the ground like a wounded animal.



From Wmson:

CAUTION: One (very true) upsetting detail about a dog

Animal Control Officer for Grand Union County, Georgia (417 words)

Gwen Branch maneuvered the Grand Union county Dodge Ram through the narrow
gap in the tree line. After turning down a road that wasn’t listed in the
Union’s records and crossing an over-grown meadow, she followed a faint
set of tire tracks in the crushed grass.

For the tenth time today, she wished the county had given her a drone. All
of this would be a lot easier. Animal Control was a thankless job, and a
dangerous one at times. There was a lot of ground to cover in this county.

Today she was working a case of suspected dog fighting. Three weeks ago, a
young dog was found on a deserted road, near death; one ear was ripped off
and his head, chest and legs were covered in bites and gashes. He was rescued
but there were reports of other animals that hadn’t made it out alive.

Gwen sighed, thinking of what might be at the end of this bumpy track.

Weaving through saplings, she eventually came to a makeshift camp. Gwen took
mental notes as she entered the rough clearing. What she couldn’t remember
would be captured on her body cam, tethered by its clips near her shoulder.

Outside the wooden shack a popup canopy stood listing to one side, it’s
white tarp dirty with mold. Near the shack, an ancient Indian motorcycle
barely stood, leaning heavily on its kickstand.

Underneath the canopy stood a large man. Gwen didn’t recognize him, but
this was a large county. He wore a look of surprise even though he certainly
heard her truck coming. He had a shotgun aimed at the dusty truck.

Gwen pulled to a stop several yards from the man and raised her hands up
against the windshield.

“I am not armed,” she shouted. “I’m from Grand Union County Animal
Control. I just have some questions for you. I don’t have a weapon on
me.” Her heart raced, as always when facing an unknown, though she’d
been through this a hundred times. Sometimes there was real danger and her
thought turned to her father. David “Butch” Branch died in the line of
duty decades ago at Ruby Ridge. She pushed the thought from her mind.

“I ain’t answering nuthin’ you got to ask, woman. Go on, git outta
here!” The man was about fifty years old, unshaven, and Gwen noted he had
several missing teeth as has spat on the ground towards the truck.

Gwen steeled herself and opened the door, slowly, and stepped out.



From Jo (#2):

No Way Down      Word count 113  Jo Best

We never thought we needed a guard
around an old Maple in our yard
We never thought it needed a trim
of the low-hanging beautiful limbs.
They beckoned to the daring-do
of climbers of which we had a few
First Tina the monkey went to the top
Then Sinbad, our cat, we couldn't stop
He followed Tina, the silly fool.
Both had never obeyed or respected a rule.
Immediately, we heard the excited bay
of our brave hound to save the day.
He jumped to branches hanging low
But too high to jump off, and stuck, oh no!
Three buddies now marooned in a tree
How do we ever get them free?



From winebird:

The Rock
154 words

Ruby searched the yard for a good rock. Gravel filled the spaces
between flowerbeds but those pebbles were too small. In the fading
evening light she was having trouble making out details but she needed
one with good heft. If it had a sharp edge that wouldn't hurt, either.
She scrabbled in the dirt by the shed, criss-crossed the yard by the
fence line and peered into all the likely corners. Nothing.

By the roses she finally found it, fist-sized, egg-shaped, smoothed
like a river rock. She picked it up and went back to the house.
Choosing the window lowest on the wall, she swung the rock and
shattered the glass.

As the last of the sound faded, a man's voice called out "Halt!"

Ruby turned slowly to see a police officer coming toward her. She
dropped the rock and raised her hands. "Officer! Thank God. It's not
what you think; please help me!"



From Sharona:

approximately 280 words
Home Alone
Val picked up her phone on the second ring.  Now she was confined to her
room in the retirement home, she got all her calls.  She guessed you could
call that a plus.


Hi Val!  It's George and Gracie. How are you managing?

Hi you two.  I guess I'm not bad physically, though my hip has been hurting
for weeks, all down my leg.  But my mind's going crazy.  I haven't left my
room for six days.

Oh Val, that's awful.  Why can't you come out of your room?

They haven't told us why, but I talked to my friend in another home and she
said they can come to the dining room and sit at tables for two. I don't
know why we can't.

Val, is there anything we can do?  We're not having church anymore, but the
pastor's recording a service with his family for Sunday.  Do you have a
computer or a cell phone?

No, I'm ninety seven.  You might say I'm an old dog.  How are tricks with
you two?

Oh, we're fine-we're self isolating with each other. It's like being in

Yes, I guess if I ever get arrested I'll know what prison is like.  I'm in
solitary confinement here.  It's driving me nuts!

We love you Val.  You're a big part of our church family.  We're going to
find a way to bring some sunshine to you. You've always lightened up our

Thanks, guys-but I can't think of anything you could do.  Oh here's my
lunch, an hour late, because these poor souls are delivering meals to our
rooms.  I'm going to eat it while it's lukewarm.  It means a lot that you

Bye-bye, Val.  We love you.

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