Author Topic: WRITING PROMPT #1  (Read 6927 times)

Setherick

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WRITING PROMPT #1
« on: September 13, 2009, 08:12:36 PM »
I've been meaning to talk to Ross about putting up another board on the forums that would be strictly about fiction writing because as RPG nerds I know many of us are also creative writers (as well as artists, etc). Since I've been too lazy to do this, I've decided just to make a Writing Prompt thread and boy do I have a good writing prompt for everyone here:

There is a woman that lives in my building, I believe on the floor below mine, that has the nastiest hacking cough I've ever heard. She started her hacking cough earlier this year. I'm not really sure when, but it became noticeable as soon as it was warm enough to open up our windows (we don't have central AC). The prompt, if you choose to accept it, would be to tell a story about his woman and her hacking cough. Does she have really bad emphysema? Is she some sort of alien/mutant/multidimensional horror from beyond all time and space that can't breathe the Earth's atmosphere properly? You decide in 500-1000 words.

I'll try to convince Ross to read these on future RPPR episodes or use them for the basis of a one-shot scenario.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2009, 06:42:04 PM by Setherick »
"Something smart so that I can impress people I don't know." - Some Author I've Not Read

Shallazar

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2009, 10:50:39 PM »
There is a woman that lives in my building, I believe on the floor below mine, that has the nastiest hacking cough I've ever heard. She started her hacking cough earlier this year. I'm not really sure when, but it became noticeable as soon as it was warm enough to open up our windows (we don't have central AC). The prompt, if you choose to accept it, would be to tell a story about his woman and her hacking cough. Does she have really bad emphysema? Is she some sort of alien/mutant/multidimensional horror from beyond all time and space that can't breathe the Earth's atmosphere properly? You decide in 500-1000 words.


Alright I accept the challenger. This is my first time doing this sort of thing- so bear with me.

I awoke to the sound of the garbage men swearing. They'd been called in to remove the bloated corpse of a groundhog that had swollen in the sun since the last pickup. I'd noticed it walking home from work in the crepuscular dawn, I work nights, and sleep days. On first glance I just thought someone had missed the dumpster, but as the week went by I gradually built up the courage to check it out.

Barely awake and greasy from a long night in front of the fryers, I crept to the window.Outside in the parking lot a green suited figure, presumably a waste management technician, sauntered up to the dead groundhog and looked at it, like he was sizing up a hurdle. He flicked away his cigarette and stepped back four or so yards. Through dirty windows I could not discern his designs on the expired woodchuck.
A cough sounded from bellow me. Not a dry, church cough, but a full throated lung-butter-conjuring hack. Room 204, that damn hag.
Quick were his legs, and then he leapt. Fuck. Out came a gout of maggots as his boots crunched the softbag of dead animal. A voice from the truck a called out.
But beneath me,
another cough, a slow dryheave punctuated with a clap. And maybe meowing?

I turned away from the window, not wanting to see how the sanitation engineer extricated himself from the puddle of mangey fur, clotted blood, and weekold intestine. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. Good afternoon. I went about my business and eventually headed off to work, the goddamn garbage men had left the woodchuck to back on the asphalt. Assholes. I was on grill that night, and after seeing the recreation of Mr. Rubbish, all those quarter pound patties looked awfully similar to beefed woodchuck. I worked straight through my break and skipped my employee meal. Hungry, tired, sick to the stomach- I walked home.

That morning it rained, 'thank god,' I had thought, 'wash this dirty place.' Before bed I heard a scuffling in the parking lot, probably just some dog after the kibbles and bits of groundhog.7 O'clock found me awakened by a series of phlegmy staccato notes emanating from the lady downstairs' coalshute-throat. Thank god, I needed to get to work. The glare from the fading sun shown on the parking lot, clean finally.

Work wasn't so bad, I even felt good enough to get a double burger. As I passed 204 I paused outside the door but could only hear the gentle buzz of a TV tuned to static.Up to bed.
During the day/my night, someone had put posters all over the apartment for a: LOST CAT: orange tabby - responds to names Boog, Boog-boog and Bogey. It was the summer, animals hate being inside as much as I hate going to fucking work.

I walked down to the second floor, maybe the old lady had picked up the cat thinking it was hers? The door ajar. I pushed it open further with a foot. I glimpsed stacks of soggy cardboard and whole bags of dogfood, before a goddamn roach the size of a small child ran over my foot. I took a step inside- more shit!  There were dark things kept inside over turned orange crates with  screens and a pile of green baby booties lay in a puddle of gravy. In the corner the TV glowed blue.
Then two things happened. My back became cool and wet as a bronchial hawk thundered behind me. My hand reached for the wet spot on my back, it had felt like someone tossed Chef Boyardee on my shirt. I grabbed it off my back and turned to address my assailant.

Another elephentine whoop, like liver shot out of a cannon- Instinctively I closed my eyes. When I opened them the crone stood before me, her hands cupped in front of her holding what appeared to be red casserole. Her sunken eyes bored holes into the front of my shirt, her mouth slack and jaundiced. Suddenly I became aware that i had grabbed something off my back. I slowly opened my hand to reveal a greyish, deflated meatball- with a string. Red string. The crone smiled, sharp teeth and black gums. I looked into her hands, the casserole swam and bubbled. A worm slithered to the surface and crawled over her hands to fall with a plop on the floor. My strength gave way and I collapsed in the hall.

When I awoke I was in my apartment, the leather couch stuck to me like a wet sock. I've since quit McDonald's and now use the fire escape to reach the parking lot.

(I'm not sure if it is even long enough)
I wish I was Tom.

Granted, you are now Tom.

clockworkjoe

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 02:17:42 AM »
Between wheezes, she told me.

Yes, he did it.

How did you find out?

Not right away.

When?

I found out the night he busted my arm. Threw me into the wall. See that?

A dent in the wall, fibrous plaster torn, half fixed.

 M'boy's not so good with the plaster. You can still see it. Bless his heart for trying though.

I could only hear her scraping the air up between coughs and my pencil scratching the notepad.

Anyway he got lit up real good. Cried a bit. Angry mostly though. I asked him, that's when he went off on me.

I look at her. Aged well, considering her life. Her great-grandma probably worked on a farm till her nineties. Good stock. Too bad about the cancer.

Anyway, he shut me up. Musta thought I was out cold. Played possum you see. Anyway, he calls up his dead-beat jailbird friend of his.

Phil? The biker?

Yeah. Never saw a tweaker stay so fat. They talk about getting rid of the evidence like they're on the fucking TV.

That's when you knew?

Yeah. Mentioned burning her blue jacket. Saw her picture on the paper. Pretty girl. You could tell she was a real pistol.

A long pause. Not coughing.

So, I waited for him to go.

That was it?

Well, had to get my arm looked at. M'boy took me. He wanted a go at him but I told him he was going to get taken care of.

The police.

Or, you know, after. Got to pay your tab sooner or later. Some people wait too long...

Her fingers touch the silver cross around her neck. Reflex.

No point in going to the trial. I knew he and that friend of his

Phil

Yeah, Phil they were a real comedy team. Couldn't find their assholes with both hands.

So, you've stayed silent until now. Why speak now?

Doctors said I don't have long. I want to apologize to that girl's family. Even if he don't. No one deserves that.

But?

But, he did put a roof over m'boy's head and he wasn't all bad, you know? We had some real good times. Some of the best.  It's just...It's just when he got in a mood...well.

Any last thoughts?

He was some kind of a man.

I smiled. She smiled. What else is there to say?

Setherick

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2009, 11:45:38 PM »
These are good. Keep 'em coming. I'll write mine during my office hours tomorrow. I promise.
"Something smart so that I can impress people I don't know." - Some Author I've Not Read

M. Night Shyamalan

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2009, 02:55:39 AM »
I'm ashamed to admit I was waiting for her to die, damned witch.

I remember the first time she came a knockin'




 Handsome old woman though she was, her inability to speak in more than one syllable before a spasm struck her, irritated me.

I wanted her to die.
She kept coming by at least once a week to knock intensely then offer phlegm and contagions.                             My girlfriend is really too nice, she told me to make her some Campbell's tomato soup. There's no E in tomato.

I tried, I was tempted to spit in it though.





  I        listened at her door before knockin g ... I
didn't hear her coughing.Thedoor was flung wide open before I had the chance
to knock. She embraced me, spilling the now lukewarm contents of the Ziplock Tupperware container between us. I push
ed her away frantically as she began hacking into my ear. Her eyes screaming as she motioned for me to come inside her dimly lit apartment.        I REALLY WANTED HER dead.
Does that make me an asshole? or just merciful?
 I entered her home and she quickly turned on a light to reveal


pictures of my childhood, drawings I had done while stoned in the 7th grade, and Journals. Hell, she even had my first girlfriend's torn fishnet stockings I had kept under my mattress with all the Fredricks of Hollywood
 catalogs I'd stolen from my step-mom.

I took a step backward, closer to the door, while starring at her horrified. She ripped off her blouse with surprising strength to

reveal her bare chest.                                          I felt faint.                The tattoo off my brother's name on her chest

mirrored my own...
zOMG She is MEEE!!!! from the future, with a sex change!


" CONTINUUM!!! HE/SHE'S TORN A HOLE IN THE SPACE-TIME "
    
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 02:59:53 AM by M. Night Shyamalan »

allen

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2009, 11:22:46 AM »
Boy sits on an area rug.  Light through window. 

(off-screen)
Wa hah, wa hah, wa hah. 

Boy stares at the of window.  Afternoon.  Tree visible, light breeze audible.

BOING!  It's hot.  Sweaty face.  Gasp!

Boy climbs out of window onto fire escape.

BOY
Who coughs up there? 

Woman visible in ratty arm chair through dirty glass.

WOMAN
My hot lungs are filled with fluid, you brat.  Do you have any food?  I want - wa hah wa hah - a piece of meat.

FADE TO BLACK

FADE IN

Boy standing next to woman with contraption that looks like a gas power generator running a tube into her mouth and down her throat. 

WOMAN
Drain the fluid. 

The boy drains the fluid by flipping a switch.  Power on, noisy.  Black fluid drips into a translucent plastic container and seals it with a bumpy white cap. 

BOY
What shall I do with our fluid?

WOMAN
It is mine! 

(pause)

WOMAN (cont.)
Put it out on the curb.  There are hippies in this town who use my fluid for their stupid vehicles - "broach crates" - which litter the streets and do nothing but spread filth across the region.

The boy imagines young men and women riding in wooden crates that are mysteriously dragged down the street.  Their smiling faces, long flowing hair, and baggy clothes vibrate together in a single swirl.

STREET

The boy slowly places the plastic container on the sidewalk.  Before he releases his grip on the handle, the hippies from his vision slide up in their broach crate. 

HIPPIE MAN
Hey doogie, are you liberating that grunk pod?

(leans forward)

HIPPIE MAN (cont.)
You should give it to me. 

Hippie Girl giggles

HIPPIE GIRL
That sauce will take us all the way over yonder.

Boy cringes in response to the hippies.  He dumps the fluid out onto the street.  It runs into the drain.

HIPPIE MAN
That's wretched.  What a shame.  You're a real dope, kid.  We need more...

Boy stands with dirty container.

FADE TO BLACK

FADE IN

Hippie man, hippie girl, and the boy stand in a static constellation in the old woman's apartment.  The machine is running again.  Fluid drips into the plastic container.  The old woman frowns.

OLD WOMAN
Ack!  Wa-hah, wa-hah!

HIPPIE MAN
Yeah our crotch is all broke up outside.  We gots ta slam.  And uh, we really appreciate it. 

Plate of muffins.  Flies buzzing around. 

OUTSIDE

Broach crate on sidewalk.  There is an orange parking ticket on it.  Hippie man approaches.  Takes the ticket.  Looks at it as if through bifocals.  Delayed reaction. 

HIPPIE MAN
(under his breath)
Parking violation...

He suddenly realizes what it is.

HIPPIE MAN
Shove it! 

Hippie man rubs the ticket on his face and gurgles. 

HIPPIE GIRL
Aw, that's too bad honey.  Don't get flusterated.  I'm gonna pour this in now.

Hippie girl holds up the bottle to show him.  She dumps the fluid into the broach crate.  The two hop in.  The crate slides away. 

Inside of boy's apartment.  View of window.  Boy climbs into the apartment and sits back down on the area rug.  The sun is going down.

Setherick

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2009, 03:11:46 PM »
{As promised, written during my office hours after I met with a student.}

EUROSTATE COMMUNIQUE NO. 105895

RESTRICTED ACCESS: ALPHA-1 CLEARANCE REQUIRED
(ENTER PASSWORD)

ACCESS GRANTED

“SHOREWOOD SYNDROME”: HISTORY AND ETIOLOGY

Prepared: 14 January 2165
Prepared By: Lt. Markos Kounalakis


History


“Shorewood Syndrome” refers to a highly contagious and lethal virus that originated in the village of Shorewood, Wisconsin (43°05′31″N, 87°53′11″W), a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the former sovereign state The United States of America. As per the Beijing Treaty of 2029, Shorewood exists now as part of the Middle Demilitarized Zone between the Pan-Asian Alliance controlled western half and the Eurostate controlled eastern half of the North American continent.

“Shorewood Syndrome” appeared in the Milwaukee major metropolitan area in September 2009. By December 2009, cases of “Shorewood Syndrome” had spread to Chicago, Illinois (41°52′55″N, 87°37′40″W), at the time a major urban population center of the former United States of America. Scattered cases of “Shorewood Syndrome” were reported worldwide, but because the virus spread via contact with bodily fluids and had not evolved into an airborne pathogen these cases were believed to be easily quarantined. The lethality rate of “Shorewood Syndrome” when it first appeared was 98%.

Even though efforts to quarantine the major metropolitan regions of Milwaukee and Chicago seemed to have slowed the spread of “Shorewood Syndrome” outside of those regions, inside the region the virus continued to spread. During this time, the rapid mutations and evolution that characterize “Shorewood Syndrome” were first observed and reported.

Given the unpredictable nature of the virus and believing the virus was mostly quarantined within the Chicago-Milwaukee Region, the government of the United States acting secretly and in concert with other major foreign governments devised Operation Terminate to eradicate the virus before it evolved into a theorized unstoppable airborne pathogen.

On 6 February 2010, acting on a report of the first airborne spread of “Shorewood Syndrome,” the United States government enacted Operation Terminate. The following excerpt is from a Presidential Memoranda concerning the event:

Quote
Twelve B-2A strategic bombers carrying a payload of sixteen B61 gravity bombs (500 kt yield) flew from Whiteman Air Force Base. They released their payloads above the targets without incident or malfunction. Expected success rate: 50-75%

As we now know, Operation Terminate failed to eradicate “Shorewood Syndrome,” which quickly evolved into an airborne pathogen and spread quickly across the globe.

Etiology

Although archaeovirologists are still researching the etiology of “Shorewood Syndrome,” patient zero is widely believed to have been Mary Kasan a resident of Shorewood. Two documents seem to prove this assessment.

The first document is the remnants of a newspaper article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dated 21 September 2009:

Quote
A Shorewood native died on Thursday due to complications from a mysterious, unidentified illness at Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital. Mary Kasan was admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms but her case quickly progress. . . .

The second document is the controversial Shorewood Diary found in the ruins of a Shorewood apartment complex following the aftermath of Operation Terminate. Though the diary entry has been claimed to be inconclusive, and even a hoax by some scholars, it raises a number of questions:

Quote
Today, I heard the woman next door coughing again. It’s a wet cough and every time she coughs I feel the phlegm rising up in the back of my throat. Today when she coughed I gagged. I think she is dying because her cough seems to be getting worse, but I don’t think she has gone to a doctor about it. I wonder why. Maybe she thinks a doctor will just tell her the inevitable. I think if she doesn’t stop coughing soon though, I’m going to call the health department because I don’t want to get sick.

Status


“Shorewood Syndrome” is still considered an active virus.
"Something smart so that I can impress people I don't know." - Some Author I've Not Read

clockworkjoe

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2009, 08:51:54 PM »
Good but needs a better description of the virus itself - symptoms etc. 

Setherick

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2009, 09:14:49 PM »
Good but needs a better description of the virus itself - symptoms etc. 

It's what you get in 650 words. :D
"Something smart so that I can impress people I don't know." - Some Author I've Not Read

Kyyrn

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2009, 01:06:33 AM »
Blood.  There’s always blood, part of every life, every person, living or dead.  They all have blood.  They all need blood, and when they die, there’s always blood.  It’s one of the only truths in this life you can count on.  Blood.
Right now there’s a lot of it.  Splashed on the walls, covering the bed, everywhere but the yellow tape the boys in blue put up, and flimsy barrier to keep the average citizen from understanding just how fucked this whole scabrous city is.  They already dragged out the bodies, those incompetents.  It would have helped to have gotten a chance to get a look at it, but my luck’s been shit lately.
From the police reports my contacts slipped me, she was a Jane Doe, a nobody.  Some chick selling herself on the street trying to get her next fix.  Nobody’s gonna care.  Nobody but me.  I’ve seen the truth, there’s so much more lurking than what you see flipping through the channels on your evening news. 
The tiny flashlight I’m holding flickers, and not for the first time I wish I actually had more than a dime to my name.  Some better equipment would sure as hell help this gig, but you gotta work with what you got.  I narrow the beam and focus it on the bed posts, noticing tiny cuts and scratches in the wood.  Handcuffs.  Must have been.  I close my eyes.  Sick bastard.
The grooves left by the cuts aren’t too deep, meaning the victim didn’t really have a chance to struggle.  Whatever happened to her happened fast.  There’s cracks in the bed frame, to.   Now that’s interesting.  Very interesting.  The real story though, well, that’s in the blood.
I cut a corner off the blood stained sheet and pocket it.  I’ll get that to my contact in forensics, see if I can get an ID on the body.  Whoever did this was sloppy. 
There’s nothing else in the room I care about, it’s all been pulled and sealed in plastic bags.  Evidence nobody cares about.  But there are some things I don’t think the cops checked.
I move through the tiny shit-hole apartment.  A one-bedroom piece of crap with a refrigerator and a bed shoved in to justify twenty bucks more a month in rent.  There’s a window overlooking the street, it’s not big.  I move the flashlight to the four corners, and it’s as I guessed.  Four holes, something was nailed over it.  No light.  Makes sense, I think I’m starting to get the picture.  I just need a few more pieces and I’ll get out of here.  I move to the bathroom.
And it’s as I guessed.  I haven’t been in this gig for too long, but I know what to look for.  The toilet.  Everything in this place is a shit hole, the former occupant sure wasn’t much on cleaning.  But the toilet is spotless, looks like it hasn’t been used in years.  It doesn’t fit. 

Kyyrn

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Re: WRITING PROMPT
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2009, 01:19:54 AM »
I hear something in the living room.  Not a lot, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that not being a little on edge means you’re dead.   I slip the .45 out and turn slowly.  I take a knee and aim for the bathroom door, steady hands, about chest level.  I don’t know what’s coming through there, and I sure as hell am gonna feel bad if I shoot a cop, but feeling bad and losing some sleep’s better than being dead.
It happens fast.  There’s a burst of motion through the door, and I jerk the trigger.  It’s not what they taught me in the Marines, but it’s the only shot I got.  The form staggers, but it looks like I guessed right.  It just keeps moving impossibly fast.  It looks human, dressed like a gang-banger from hell.  Blood streaks it’s shirt, and I realize that I have the killer.  Back to the crime scene to cover up what it is.  I don’t have time to think about right then though. 
I dive to the side but I’m only human.  It clips me in the shoulder and I spin around, the gun slides from my grip.  I hear it hit the ground, I realized I’m screwed.
I reach out for it, but no luck.  A booted heel slams my hand, and I wonder if it’s the tile in the floor, my wrist or both that I hear snap.  My hand goes numb. 
It bends over and hisses in my face, and I try a pathetic left hook.  I take it in the chin, but it’s just not good enough, and I think we both realize that.  It laughs at me then slams a fist into my jaw.  Everything gets dark…
I wake up.  I’m tied and hanging upside down.  It stinks and I hear water running, must be a sewer.  Oddly fitting.  I can’t see much, it’s dark and my eyes haven’t adjusted yet.  I hear footsteps, and I realize someone’s coming . I wish they’d just kill me and be done with it.
“Welcome, welcome to my humble home.” It says.
“Fuck you,” I say.
It laughs.  I feel my chin being jerked backed, and a needle is slammed into my neck.  I feel a liquid being forced in, and all the sudden I feel better.  Strangely euphoric.  Energetic.  Strong, invincible almost.  He gave me a speedball.   Must have.  Sick bastard, must’ve been an addict in life, looking for the same kicks in death.  Shoots his victims up before he drain’s ‘em.  Makes sense.
Everything’s muddled in my head, and I know the end is coming, but I’ve been in bad situations before.  I test the bonds on my wrist… cheap cuffs.  I begin to pull, trusting the heroine to numb the pain, and I feel the skin coming off my hand.  I pull harder, I’m not a streetwalker, and I’ve been training for this.  I gotta move fast.  I’ve gotta ignore the pain. 
It’s hand moves teasingly over my face, gently caressing.  I shiver.  I feel the blood running freely down my wrist, but then it happens.  The cuff pops open.  The bastard must’ve still been high from his last victim, because I got the jump on him.  I grip the open cuff and whip it around, jamming the side of it into his neck.
And there it is again.  The blood, and it’s spurting.  I hit the jugular.  He staggers back and I twist up, and untie my feet.  I hit the concrete with a jerk, and in the back of mind I know it’s gonna hurt. 
Then again, not as bad as this bastard is about to…