View Full Version : Off the cuff- challenge

09-21-2005, 06:28 PM
This is a challenge or game if you'd like. There is no way to test and see if you follow the rules, so you are on your own. After you read this, you have five minutes to write a story opening. It can't be from a WIP. It has to be entirely fresh. It can be on any Genre.

Mark your opening with a name and Title, example- Nateskate-"Frogs in the green". That way we can distinguish between posts that are new openings, and comments on them.

Feel free to post as many openings as you'd like. But they have to be fresh thoughts hot off the griddle. No working and re-working!

09-21-2005, 06:44 PM
"What was that?" I asked myself, as I stumbled over a loose stone along the narrow walkway. My nerves were already shot. It wasn't the blowout of my tire or the fact that sheets of rain were hitting my face so hard it felt like sandpaper. I could have sworn something much larger flew into my windshield. It didn't exactly pound it or it would have smashed the glass. Rather it alighted there, and it's taloned-foot was caught in my wiper for a moment.

No it wasn't a bird. It was much larger, at least as large as a man, but its face was definitely batlike. There's no way to mistake those long fangs and red eyes. But it wasn't human. Those long leathery wings were certainly no cape.

"Get a grip," I told myself as I readied to rap on the thick walnut door. "That flickering light in the window is only a candle!" But the oddities of the light were less disturbing than the deep-groved scratches that caught my eye. I reached forward and slid my fingers into one of the large claw-marks. I thought, "What monster cat could have turned this into a scratchpost like this?"

09-22-2005, 05:14 PM
Have you ever sat in a quiet place and wished you could send the pencil flying from the hands of the jerk across the room, to stop him from tapping it on the desktop? I did that a month ago. And did you ever wish you could levitate the car blocking two parking spaces and move it within one set of lines? Did that two days later. I’m not talking dreams here, I’m talking about violating the laws of physics.

Now, I have a problem. Should I use this gift for good? You know, to help people, to make life around me better in some way? Or should I use it for less sterling objectives, like making tons of money, hassling people, lifting girl’s skirts. Hey, I’m a twenty-three year-old single father.

I know what my father wants me to do. He’s serious about it. But I don’t know where he is. And he has my daughter, his granddaughter. Why not just use my gift to find him? He has the gift, too, but not like mine. He’s given me one week to decide. Why did that jerk have to tap his pencil?

David McAfee
09-23-2005, 06:38 AM
With the crisp, staccato sound of a pistol shot, the problem was solved. Irene wouldn't be running to the police to tell them about me, and if I played my cards right I might even collect on the insurance money.

The first thing I did was pull the diamond off her finger. That damn rock had cost me almost 3 g's. Surely I could sell it for a little something. not enough for Marco to call off his dogs, but maybe enough to hit the OTB and try some ponies. Hell, maybe the ponies even would pay for a change.

Wouldn't that be sweet?

09-23-2005, 07:28 AM
For the first time in her life, Jamie was going to do something that would make her something other than average. Unfortunately, it would also make her dead.

Nine out of ten times when a woman commits suicide she does it by some means other than a gun. A gun created too much mess. When Jamie had read that fact in a magazine, she instantly decided she would use a gun to kill herself. She didn't care about the mess and she didn't really like her face that much anyway.

It was a boring, average face, topped with average brown hair and she looked at the world through average brown eyes. Her grades in school had been average and when she bought pants they were always average length. In other words, she hadn't done anything in her life to stand out. She had lived for twenty-eight years in the shadows, no one ever noticing her.

But she was about to change that. Everyone would remember her now.

She pressed the heavy pistol against her head just below her right ear and was surprised that the barrel felt cold when the grip was hot under her sweaty palm. She was scared but she also knew she would die so quickly, it wouldn't even hurt.

Jamie pulled the trigger and in the split second before she died, while the bullet ricocheted around her skull, Jamie realized she had been wrong. It did hurt.

09-23-2005, 07:42 AM
The Amulet of Ell, by Mark Pettus

"Magic is like dirt, boy. A strong man can lift more dirt than a maiden, and a maiden can lift more than a child, but even a babe can toss enough dirt in the air to make your eyes water."

The old man studied the lad with his one good eye, and the studying caused the boy to shift on the hearth; one bony butt cheek giving way to the other. The old man, convinced the boy was paying attention, continued, "But, remember this: that babe could pull the lanyard on a trebuchet and instantly move a hundred times more dirt than the strongest man could hope to lift in a day. That is what you hold in your hand there, boy. A magic catapult. With that amulet, even you can move whole mountains. I... I could move the world. Do you see?"

09-23-2005, 08:01 AM
The TV rolled over and over in a forever tumble of static and sound. Millie didn't care. There wasn't much that she cared about anymore since she learned about the slow destruction of the planet. And no one knew it was going to happen except for her.
Earlier in the day, she watched children play ball hockey on the street below and felt how wonderful it would've been to be oblivious and innocent again. No one would expect it.
And for some reason this empowered her.
For the first time in her life she felt she had the power to change things. That was only if she had a reason to do it. If she cared.
There was a knock at the door. Like how she knew the world was ending with the whimper of a suffocating black space dust cloud in less than two hours, she knew her visitor would be anything but easy to deal with. Unlike her, this visitor did care.

09-23-2005, 08:10 AM
The frying pan came flying straight for my head, the handle rotating as it approached. I ducked, of course. I had dodged many projectiles before. My alien maid was on the rampage again. And no, he was not from one of those southern countries; he was from the planet Gorc. And there was something about the shape of the frying pan that he liked, or so I guessed as he tended to throw frying pans more than other appliances.

I definitely needed to call that inter-galactic temp agency back. Unfortunately I'd lost the number. ...what to do?

The pupils of his ten eyes were moving. They were usually staring off in different directions but now I realized they had all settled on me. Oh no! When he did that he was a deadly aim. I ducked again just in time as my barbecue fork soared past my right ear and stuck into the wall behind me.

It was time for desperate measures!

(edited the add more)

09-23-2005, 03:44 PM
If you get the desire, you can post more than one. I think openings are fun, and once the mind gets going, they can become like eating chips.

09-23-2005, 10:18 PM
She liked to stare at the trees as she woke. As if the wind that rippled through the leaves might ripple through her thoughts as well, bringing to life what was dormant only moments before. But instead of any logical pattern of thought, she found only vague snatches of memories: the ghosts of the night past, the horrors hidden in the day's brightness. Get up. Set one foot in front of the other. Move. Live… or not. With a wry smile, she realized at the moment it made no difference.

09-23-2005, 10:47 PM
With only three roads to travel and two going straight to Hellfire, it's a bit of stretch to say that Jenny was thrilled about her options.

Wasn't this the reason for millenia of parental scorn for all human life younger than thirty? Poor planning, no choices. It was simply the way small-town life turned out. We're a bunch of untried miscreants gambling our way through paradise, trying to save the world on our lunch break, and our paychecks don't come in until next month.

She had hoped her mistakes wouldn't be so costly, that her occasional self-indulgence in the hedonistic wares that passed as entertainment in Carville wouldn't follow her around with an inflatedprice tag. After all, she wasn't shopping for a marriage or children at seventeen. Especially not when both were mutually exclusive. Damn all wholesome, tractor-trailer farmboys who act like men when it suits them and cry like babies when it's time to sacrifice. This isn't the only setback I'll endure alone.

Ironically, Jenny was further from the truth when the world preached it to her in school than when it actually paid her a visit and left its calling card.

All she could say to herself, crawling under the loosely woven throw her brother had left on the couch that morning, cradling her chin as if it were ice, was that she wished someone else would pick up the bill.

09-24-2005, 01:48 AM
I walk with heroes.

I look after their horses, order everything they need for the longest of journeys, and book them nights at every inn they might venture into. I'd like to be a hero, but I don't quite fit the requirements.

They defend our country, day in, day out, stalking the borders like wolves hungry for a feed. They race from watchtower to watchtower, seeking news of anything unusual. I ride behind in a carriage low to the ground, cringing at every bump in the road, or else walk ten paces behind them, carrying their weapons.

In my dreams, I'm right by their side.

09-25-2005, 09:29 PM
Deep within the cave, a mile below surface, a lone raspy voice whispered out of the thick darkness, saying, "The time has come." And the silence was no more. They all awoke at once, and burst forth like thousands of fast moving fire ants. Yet, they were not insects at all. The sounds of their many pincers clacking against the stone sounded like thousands of crabs climbing over each other on a rocky shoreline.

Far above, just sixteen feet from the cave opening, Ami and Selina sat upon a rock overlooking the emerald grass. Selina and Ami were friends since childhood, best friends. She secretly loved him for at least two years now, as did half the girls she knew. He was unlike most of the other young men of Langorn. Ami was tall and strong, but he was more interested in poetry and drawing than he was in joining the men in games, or hunting. And he would tell her stories, riddles, and proverbs and displayed wisdom beyond his years in the explanation.

The warm breeze caught his long dark hair and she said, "Come with me. I want to tell you something, but not here." She predetermined to bring him over to the pond to profess her true feelings. But as they were walking, Ami stopped and pulled her near and kissed her tenderly; and he said, "I am so glad you talked me into coming here. The beauty of the distant surise gracing the hills was worth the journey.

Selina thought her heart would beat out of her chest. "Did he just kiss me to say thank you; or did he kiss me to say more?" She didn't hesitate. She stood high on her toes, and pulled his head down, and kissed him passionately.

She waited for a comment or acknowledgement of some kind. He simply smiled with eyes beaming so wide, she wondered if she was not looking into two lanterns aflame. Then his expression turned complex, and her heart sank. Selina said, "What is wrong? Are you angry that I kissed you like that?"

Ami said, "No, of course not. I loved the way that felt, and I want to kiss some more...but for now you need to be still...I hear some odd noise coming from by the cave." Then he paused, and asked, "Did you hear that?"

Cathy C
09-26-2005, 01:39 AM
By Any Other Name, by Cathy C

"Do you still owe me a favor, Hawk?"

Dan McGraw looked up from his computer to see his chief investigator, Justin DeWit, leaning in the doorway. From bloodshot eyes to rumpled clothing, it was obvious he’d spent yet another night in the office. The multiple holes that crawled up his ears were barren of jewelry, but it appeared he’d added another tattoo to the colorful collection on his forearms.

"Oh, probably," Dan replied and closed the screen on the brief he was writing for Monday. "C’mon in and pull up a chair. It looks like you could use a break. What’s up?" He nodded toward the file folder under Justin’s arm, already stained by splashes of coffee. "Is that Michaels case giving you fits again? Do you need some help getting ready for the evidentiary hearing?"

Justin shrugged wearily. "Nah, I’m all ready for it, and the dozen other assorted cases. No, the favor is a personal one."

Leaning back in his chair, Dan managed to suppress his initial surprise. In the entire year they’d worked together in the Eagle County District Attorney’s office, Justin had never asked for a personal favor. He picked up an oversized, cobalt blue coffee mug emblazoned with the scales of justice in gold leaf and took a sip of slightly cool sweetened coffee. "I’ll help if I can. What’s the favor?"

Crossing the room in a few short steps, Justin flopped down in one of the leather wingback chairs across from Dan. He leaned back into the thick padding with a contented sigh. "I can’t believe you moved these all the way to Colorado from New York, but I’m sure glad you did. I missed these chairs. A person could nod off to sleep in one."

Dan chuckled. "Is that the favor? You want to sleep in my chair over the weekend? I’d think you’d prefer your own bed."

The reply began with a sad, nearly bitter snort of air. "Yeah, I sure would — if I could just figure out how to get Barbara out of it."

Another sip of coffee hopefully covered a wince. "Sorry, Justin. I know you guys haven’t been getting along too well lately. If you need to crash at my place, you’re welcome. I’ll be watching the game on Sunday, but other than that, you can have the couch."

Justin waved off the suggestion as Dan set the mug back on his desk. "No, it’s fine. We’re trying counseling. Hopefully, it’ll work. But that is part of the reason for asking for the favor."

Thanks for the challenge! I've been trying to start a new short story for an anthology, and this gave me the oomph to do a bit of BIC! :D

09-26-2005, 08:32 AM
"Song of the Marsh"

Laura stood at the edge of the marsh, letting the wind play with her hair. The long brown locks blew into her face, and she shook her head to clear her eyes. Before her the world was awakening. The sleepy chorus of crickets was turning into the bright warbling calls and clicks of flitting birds skimming the air. The waves sloshed, eating the peat moss and then retreating, leaving dazzled fiddler crabs beneath their surface. A motor started behind her, and she turned as the bright lights from the bulldozer broke the rosy calm of dawn.

David McAfee
09-27-2005, 12:24 AM
I now know what made me so dangerous. It was the same thing that made Raine and even Ramah dangerous, the reason I had an edge others feared. Most Chosen on my bad side, and even some who were not, would tremble when they heard I was near, then look for excuses to be elsewhere. It was why I succeeded so well as the Council of Thirteen’s chief Enforcer. It gave me the ability to walk into dangerous situations with a cool head and calm demeanor that left my opponents in awe of my apparent lack of fear.

The reason? Like Raine and Ramah before me, I just didn’t care. My life had as little meaning to me as the dirt on which I walked. They could kill me or I could kill them, it didn't matter.

F**k it! Who gives a sh*t?

That’s why I was so dangerous, and why the Council was afraid of me.

Actually, this will probably be the opening paragraph of Part Three of my current WIP. I hadn't started it yet, but this thread gave me a nice opportunity to crack somehting out and see how I felt about it.

09-27-2005, 03:02 AM
Seven little men stood in the woodland clearing that surrounded their house, gazing at the silhouette of the castle in the distance. They stood silently, staring at the place that had, seven years ago, been a place of happiness for them and their friend. Now, it was only a reminder of their loss.

"I think he's had her long enough," Doc mumbled to whomever was listening. "She was ours first, anyway."

"I've heard rumors," said Grumpy, "that that prince isn't so damned charming after all. I overheard a courtier passing through the forest with her companion say she had a black eye last week, and that she was pregnant...again."

"You'd think he'd leave her alone. Five sons, and still he demands she make more. I think it's time we take action, boys." Doc said.

Grumbles of angry agreement circulated through the seven little men. When Doc turned away and stomped back into the little house they shared, the others followed suit. The mines would have to wait, today. They had a rescue to plan.

09-28-2005, 08:04 AM
White. Shining white arrogance pranced like ivory keys on a grand piano. Ebony dots paced the ceiling above, quietly gazing wonderingly into my spinning madness. They mocked me in my mental hurricane of fog. The black dots melded in my stormy vision. They watched me. They taunted me strapped to the four steel posts of my antiseptic bed.

Shadows mocked the white brilliance, leaning their grayness over my upturned face. I perceived a form to be familiar, yet unknown. A face of unmelting facial features molded together. The face belonged to someone I remembered once, but became forgotten.

09-30-2005, 03:07 AM
Tolwed looked down from his high perch above Mt. Lonecrest, toying with the translucent green chains that kept him shackled there for eons.

It had been three thousand years since he'd last seen company passing this close. So, he paced back and forth, staring on with bug-eyed interest at the trail of lights winding their way up the mountain. "They'll be here by tomorrow if they keep heading up this trail?" he said, frantically pacing and rubbing his hands together, as his heart raced and big beads of sweat dripped down his brow. "No...no more nasty humans. They are the reason I am in these chains. I must destroy them before they come to torment me."

His first instinct was to shrink back into his cave, and cover it with a boulder to stay hid, or to try to shake the loose enough shale to cause a murderous rock-slide. But if it failed, it might alert then to his presence. Then he said, "Could this be the opportunity for my escape? Perhaps they have a weapon that can break these chains? I will wait behind these rocks, and I will listen to them to learn the reason for this journey. There is always time to grind their bones later.

10-01-2005, 07:14 AM
I stood with the knife in my hand and watched a rivulet of blood trickle down the sloped linoleum on the kitchen floor, catch in the cross-hatch pattern, and flow toward my toes. I backed up.

But I was numb. I didn't remember why Johnny got so mad at me, or what he'd said to me that made me pull the knife from the drawer. But I did remember knowing that if I didn't swing, he'd kill me.

Now he lay at my feet, curled like a little boy, and even his blood wouldn't stop coming after me.

I don't know how long I stood there watching him die, but his final breath wheezed out like a summer breeze through a screen door, and I knew it was over. I cried then. Not because I felt bad about what I'd done, but because I didn't.

10-01-2005, 09:07 AM
It's all about what's on the other side. It's all about where you don't go. You walk the road and for so long you have no choices, but today, something changed.

The trees are the same brown/yellow/green. The birds make the same chatter. The flutter-hop on wings with the same speckled salt-and-pepper scatterings as always. But today you have a choice, and that's new.

You aren't one hundred per cent sure that you didn't take a wrong turn somewhere, that you ended up somewhere with a turning. But how could you have taken a wrong turn when there have been no turnings at all? This is your road. It offers you a choice.

Pretend it's only a road. You're only out for a walk. These are only the woods in the back hundred acre; you know where you are. Pretend you can't get lost. Even so, all your tomorrows will be changed by the choosing: North, or South?

I am writing you from the end of the South fork. I don't know how to advise you. I wrote these words on a spare sheet from my notebook, and I folded the paper into a little paper airplane, and it sailed all the way to you. You, at the crossroads. You have opened me up. And I have made you a risk to take.

You are looking up the North fork, and I can't tell you about that. You are looking down the South fork, and I am there.

Who are you?

Who do you want to be?

Every choice you make has to answer those questions, and additionally: How will this action make me that person?

If you take the South fork, that action will make you into me. But you know how to fold paper airplanes, and you know you can't get lost. You will have your say, someday. And someday I will be somewhere else and we won't be talking anymore.

Someday you'll know what I was supposed to say to you.

10-01-2005, 09:41 AM
I awoke to the bleep of my instant messenger alert. Still half asleep I stumbled out of bed, threw my terry robe on and sat down in front of my computer.

<JEDeye> You There?
<Me> Just woke up...
<JEDeye> Did you hear about what happened?
<Me> No what?
<JEDeye> My boss found out about my blog and I got fired.

I was in shock! I had heard about this type of thing happening, but always figured it was a fear tactic used to subdue the freedom of speech rebel that exists in all of us. JED did have a particularly risque blog. He often discussed work place debauchery and office affairs. He sometimes posted excerpts from Memo's and mocked the corporate natziness of them.

After a quick shower I sat back at my computer, hair still wet sipping my instant coffee. 27 new emails. Most of them horrible SPAM jokes that I didn't care to read. I quickly scanned and deleted the plethora of horrible viral videos and annoying chain letters. I often wondered if something terrible would happen to me from deleting almost every single chain letter I received. Back in the dinosaur age of the internet, I would often forward the chain letters to others with a message saying "don't wanna take any chances", but now I was a stealthy cyber-vixen who was much smarter.

10-05-2005, 06:58 PM
I'm not sure this came across, but you can comment on story openings if you'd like. The reason for the titles was to make sure that when someone commented, people would know that a redundant title was a comment and not another new story.

I must say that more than a few here were good openings. In a sense, it is the art of creating a hook, and it is fun to practice without having to draft an entire story.

10-05-2005, 07:36 PM
I walked out of the building, making a neon mental note to myself – never joke with a lawyer. They have no sense of humor. Especially not your wife’s divorce lawyer.

Charlie Kaplan, my own attorney scurried along on his stubby legs beside me. I imagined his thousand-dollar suit and tie made him look something like an overdressed wiener dog being taken for a walk by Shaquille O’Neill. It pissed me off even more.

“Christ Charlie,” I said. “Why do you let me speak? You know how I get. Couldn’t you have given me an emergency tracheotomy or something?”

“Don’t worry, Jack. It wasn’t nearly as bad as you think.” He was starting to get winded walking so fast. “I’ve been in a million... meetings and... that wasn’t near... the worst.”

“Great,” I muttered. “Something to aspire to.” I finally slowed down, but not out of concern for my lawyer. My shoelace was untied. As I squatted down to tie it, Charlie bent over, leaning on his knees and huffing.

“Listen to me, Jack. It’s just the first meeting. They never go well. What did you expect?”

“I thought I’d have a little more time before I totally parted with my dignity.” I yanked so hard on my shoelace it came off in my hand.

Charlie just laughed.

10-06-2005, 12:44 AM
gonna shoot this over to the prompts and games section...

10-06-2005, 05:29 AM
Jay wakes up to the roaring sound of cleaning trucks hugging the streets with it’s brushes, and washes his face in the pint-sized, white bucket that lay in the corner of his humble abode. The concrete floor and the glassless window always allow the sound of polluted air to stop by, but mostly unwelcomed.

He heads out for his daily chores of collecting cans and bottles with his old buggy to make a life for himself.

He’s a Vietnam vet, he told me so.

He even showed me his battle-scar that lays clean across his chest. “Me and my platoon was walking down this hill that was booby-trapped; I’ll never forget that day in my life. There was a machete hooked up to a tree and cut me right across my chest. You see? Right here.”

But Jay doesn’t have medals of courage from his Vietnam days. He’s not even a hero. He’s homeless and addicted to crack cocaine…

[that’s all I could get out in five minutes :Hammer: ]