Take care of the kid

Allison’s to do list never seemed to end. Quickly loading all the baking ingredients she needed for the Casey’s school bake sale into her minivan, she rushed to pick up Madison from soccer practice. She parked and quickly headed over to the soccer field just in time to see Madison score the winning goal in the last few seconds of the game and ready with orange slices for the whole team. With a game victory the kids know it’ll be pizza for supper tonight.

After finally getting home, relieving the sitter, putting on a load of washing and getting Jo to settle down for the night after having to read three bedtime stories, Allison could finally settle down with a glass of wine and put her feet up. Madison and Casey were on their devices now that their homework was done so they’re pretty much done paying any mind to her for the rest of the night.

The first thing she did was check for any new messages on her encrypted cell phone.

An email from her handler Pale Horse:

15°24’15″N, 30°10’3″E

P.S take care of the kid too.

Truly the best family annihilator in the biz, you never leave kids’ bodies behind.

Furrowed brow and quizzical expression, Allison almost spat out her sip of wine. The realisation hit, she was supposed to kill the kids, not adopt them. I mean what kind of hired assassin adopts the kids after just taking out their entire family.

Writing Prompt

A quick note on migraines

The frailty of existing has been ever present these past few weeks

The pain now bites into me for days at a time, with very little reprieve

I feel consumed by it, my body feels betrayed by it

It’s making it difficult to think clearly

A mind engulfed in fog

That niggling feeling of chlorine water sloshing in my ear on a summer’s day

A stubbed toe sensation that never leaves the pit of my stomach

The slow constant drip, drip, drip, drill bit to my head

The suck of being the oldest sibling

With an exasperated sigh John leaned over the papers on his desk and placed his head in his hands. This month’s city repair bill is exorbitant. A collapsed bridge, a caved in train tunnel, two banks burnt to a crisp. Ever since superheroes and supervillains became public knowledge the mayor’s office became responsible for managing all repairs in the aftermath of their very public and destructive battles. Popping off the cap of the painkiller bottle, he throws back 2 tablets, washing it down with the bottle of bourbon he keeps in his bottom drawer.

It’s Thanksgiving dinner this evening at his parent’s house, his brothers will be there, another headache that he needs to deal with. After all these years a as public servant John still uses public transport, it’s important for the people of the city to see that he is just one of them. Trundling up the pathway to his parent’s front door, he knocks once before entering.

Already sitting at the dinner table, in full costume, his baby brother Raymond, or as he goes by his superhero moniker, SuperRay, on account of him being able to shoot laser beams from his eyes. Next to him stuffing baby potatoes into his already chewing mouth, was The Monolith, the city’s supervillain, all-around dumbass, and the attention seeking middle child Monroe.

Opting to sit at the farthest end of the table whilst his mother fixes him a plate. John turns towards Monroe and asks, “Did you really have to destroy the town library? I geddit, haha, the two of you “battling it out” just to get a rise out of me, all because of that one time I gave you both wedgies. But how many times do I have to ask you to fight near abandoned warehouses and away from people?”

Writing Prompt

Down the water slide we go

The water park is abandoned, well it would be, what use is a water park if most of the world is devoid of water?

Before the world went to shit and the climate change denialists were, well in denial about the state of the planet, Ally and Ayesha were social media influencers. Ally ran a very successful Instagram and TikTok account of almost 2 million followers respectively called @puglife. She used to post recreations of iconic album covers with her cute pug aptly named 2Pug as her model. Her weapon of choice in this post-apocalyptic world is a machete. Ayesha ran a life hack/DIY/travel blog with over one hundred thousand subscribers. Her weapon of choice is a baseball bat with nails sticking out of it haphazardly.  When the world eventually ran dry of water as predicted only the 1% could afford it. Now Ally and Ayesha post survival tips, water hacks and earned their water coupons by doing the odd job coming their way from the government and that damn 1%. Anything to keep their families and community alive. On the plus side, the internet still worked.

A few days ago, they made a bizarre unexplainable discovery in the abandoned water park. While setting up for a shoot 2Pug managed to make his way down the slides and disappeared for ten whole minutes in one of the tubes, when he eventually emerged on the other side he was completely drenched. Since that day Ally and Ayesha have sent 2Pug with a container around its neck to see if he was able to bring back water with him. Taking the containers back to their community they have tested the water numerous times to check that 1) It is in fact water and that 2) It was safe for human consumption. Today is finally the day when they will make their way to other side to see if they can safely transport water back from the other side.

“If we survive this, we’ll be heroes!” Ally says to Ayesha with a smirk on her face, who sarcastically retorts, “And if we don’t survive?”

“Then we’ll be legends. Either way we have found a water source.”

Writing Prompt

The brightest star in the galaxy just dropped a fortune on my doorstep

The warm, stagnant night air is abuzz with frazzled energy, twitching, pulsating. At 4am things are finally slowing down for me. I drop off a group of young scantily clad women outside an all-night pizza place, they clearly seem to be in desperate need of carbs to soak up all their tequila shot and to refuel after a night of dancing. They tip well, give me 5 stars and none of them puked in the back of the Uber, so I am not complaining. I am about to call it a night when a ride request popped up on my phone. Only a couple of blocks away, I accept the request.

I pull up in front of the Crouching Chicken, Hidden Duck restaurant. My passenger quickly gets in, glancing back I try not to stare. The woman has luminous skin, so pale it seems translucent. Ashen blonde hair, almost white with equally striking pale grey eyes. The ride continues in silence. I think I’ve become quite at gauging whether my passengers want some chit chat, someone to just listen to them rant about their shitty day or whether they prefer absolute silence. So, silence it is. I drive for about thirty minutes before bringing my car to a stop next to a nondescript building, that looks not only closed down but condemned. Surely, this can’t be where she wants me to drop her off I wonder to myself. “Ma’am, are you sure this is the right address?”

She leans over to get closer to me, and in a breathless whisper says, “Ali, you have to trust the timing of everything.” With a flick of her wrist, she pops open the door handle and wafts out of my vehicle. All before I am able to say my standard catchphrase “If you enjoyed your ride, please remember to say thanks with five stars!” She walks up to a boarded-up dentist office that looks like it has been out of business since the late nineties. The door to this dentist office somehow appears to just open up for her. Shrugging off the encounter, I drive away and head home. I can still squeeze in a couple hours of sleep before I need to get to my first class later that morning.

A few days later, I find an official looking envelope in my mailbox, from the I.G.A, the Intergalactic Agency. Probably an invite to an upcoming Halloween party, people sure are creative these days, but curious, I open the envelope and unfold the letter. A card drops on the floor, I reach down to pick it up and quickly skim it. It read, “Dear Ali, what a fortuitous encounter the other night! I must say it is not often that I do anything as grandiose as this, but I wanted to thank you for getting me to my destination, and in the nick of time at that. A second later and I might not be in the position that I now find myself. A millennia long feud ended, and a war averted. I am most grateful. As a small token of my appreciation, I have enclosed a deed to an entire constellation in the Andromeda. Someone will be in touch with you shortly.” The note was simply signed Sirius.

I chuckle, must be from someone in my study group, as a post-grad astrophysics student it is not the first time I get pranked. I pick up the “deed” and think to myself, well this is really official looking and who would really go through all this trouble. Just as I am about to put the deed down on my counter, there is a knock at my door. I open it to find a curious looking man in a psychedelic suit and a serious looking clipboard. “Mr. Ali Mansour? I am here to pick you up for your Intergalactic flight, Pi Airlines flight number 3.14159265359, leaving Planet Earth in the next 10 minutes and don’t worry about packing a toothbrush or underwear, you won’t need any of that where we’re going.”

Writing Prompt

Never trust a devil summoning spell

Chad couldn’t tear his eyes away from the chiseled jawline and dazzling red eyes. He was memorized. Every sense seemed heightened. I inhaled deeply and got a whiff of frankincense and myrrh and something earthy that he could not quite put his finger on.  He shook his head to rattle away the intruding thoughts that kept popping into it. The more he tried to clear his head to form a coherent sentence, the more the raw sexual magnetism of the individual sitting across from him pulled him in. Pure charisma and boyish charm.  He knew there was a reason he was in this office. He looked at his watch. His appointment was at 17:00, it is now 17:25. What was he doing for the past twenty-five minutes? Surely, not just awkwardly staring, mouth agape. Things were not exactly going the way he planned. It should have been easier than this. He managed to track down the summoning spell and got all the necessary ingredients and now here he was, and he can barely remember what brought him here. Oh yes, Amanda, the love of his life? His all-consuming love for her now seemed small, trivial, like a school playground crush. Silly, really, now that he actually thinks about it. The one he is meant to be with is sitting right in front of him. He has never felt surer of anything in his life.

Finally breaking the silence, Lucifer says, “So, I believe you are here about a woman named Amanda?”

Writing Prompt

Group Therapy

Stepping out of the shower, Lisa reached for a towel and wrapped it around her body. As expected Abadon has left her a message in blood on her steamed mirror, “Don’t forget you have yoga at 2”.  Rolling her eyes, she wiped the message and started getting for the day ahead.  Heading to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee, she sees another message, this one on the fridge. “You’re out of milk.” Sighing, she mutters under her breathe, “Boundaries, Abadon, boundaries.” She decided that this evening she will need to take drastic measures, things cannot continue the way that they have been. Before heading out the door she scribbled a quick note on a post-it and stuck it onto the fridge.

After a full day of working at her psychiatry practice, of couples therapy and family therapy and group sessions, Lisa finally headed home, with one quick pitstop. She entered the dilapidated and abandoned building and ended straight to the basement. There she found everyone gathered in a circle, seated in their chairs, eight in total with the last empty chair for her. Seated she glanced at her patients, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Sathanas, Abadon, Mammon, Belphegor and Asmodeus.

She gave a slight nod before sitting down and greeted everyone. “Okay, guys, I agreed to help all of you deal with your daddy issues, anger management issues, and existential dread that you all seem to face. What I did not agree to was you having you show up at random times, leaving messages, interrupting my work, interfering with my life. This is really unacceptable behavior. So, the first thing we will cover in our group therapy session today is boundaries.”

Writing Prompt

12-Gauge Ghost

*Disclaimer: I abhor violence, but this was a fun little writing prompt.

Time has slowed down to crawl, my breathing is deep and slow, even my heart rate has slowed down. The sounds of the forest have all but disappeared. I am trapped in this moment.  My eyes are focused on the deer ahead of me. My grandfather gives me a silent signal. I fire. In an instant the deer is lying dead in the clearing. A clean shot. It did not needlessly suffer. I hand the 12-gauge Remington back to my grandfather and we slowly make our way over to the deer. He says his usual prayer, an offering to the universe, showing respect for all that is connected to us.

Years later this memory always comes back to me, as I am heading to my cabin. I am in desperate need of R&R.  Getting out of the Jeep I take in deep breath of moss, pinecones, and fresh pollution-free air.  I grab my duffel bag and slowly make my way to the front door, which I now notice is ajar. It is not uncommon for interlopers to break into cabins as a place to hunker down during the cold winters, but this feels different. An ice cold feeling and sense of dread washes over me. Before I am able to decide what to do next, the door is yanked open, and a man is holding my grandfather’s Remington to my face, without hesitation he pulls the triggers.

A flash, a bang, and then silence. I see my dead body lying on the porch, further into the distance I feel a warmth beckoning to me. I move away from that feeling as quick as possible. My soul or am I a ghost, makes it way into the cabin. The place is a mess, a pungent smell hanging in the air. Clearly ransacked of whatever valuables there were. I glanced over at the 12 gauge and reach for it longingly. In that very instant I realise that I am able to pick it up. How is this possible? The man who shot me, looks up startled. The other two people in the room have paled, eyes wide open, staring at me with complete disbelief.  I feel the comfort of the handle and barrel in my hands. I aim, I slowly pull back the trigger. Apparently ghosts don’t need to reload bullets. I leave an unrecognisable mess. I am at peace as I walk towards that light, that warm welcome.

Writing Prompt

The wooden cross

Sarah wiped a stray tear away from her eye and gently touched a simple wooden cross. Slowly making her down the pathway she notices a girl crying next to a grave. Walking over to the girl to make sure her she is okay and that her parents or a family member is nearby, Sarah asks, “What’s wrong?”

The girl starts to cry even harder now. “Nobody came to my funeral.”

Sarah did a double take thinking she misheard, but as she looked past the girl and at the photograph on the headstone of the grave where the girl was standing, she could not mistake the striking resemblance between this girl and the photograph. A cool breeze suddenly picked up from nowhere and the hairs at the back of Sarah’s neck stood up. Her mind started working mile a minute, stay calm, just breathe, just think.

The girl finally turns around and fully faces Sarah, “Oh, hi Sarah. You know one of these days you are going to have stop asking me that question and if I correctly recall you barely had a funeral. Timothy and I are going to go play in the abandoned asylum later, you can join us if you feel up to it. New survivors moved in.” The little girl skipped away gliding through her own headstone.

In that moment the last few moments of Sarah’s life flashed before her. Her childhood, her home, her parents, the bite, the infection, the spread, the violence, the looting, the fall of the army and the government, chaos. She quickly walked back to where she was, the grave with its makeshift wooden cross and etched writing, probably with dad’s army knife. She looked down at the name carved into the cross:

Sarah Clarke

2001 – 2022

Writing Prompt

Ms. A. Nancy

Another day meddling in the insipid affairs of these petty people, but it pays the bills so no point in complaining. This is just one of the thoughts mulling through Ms. Abigail Nancy’s head.  Ms. Nancy realized years ago that there is more money to be made in match breaking than matchmaking and she pivoted her business years ago. She just broke up an affair between a cheating husband and his mistress and with some perfectly timed photographs the soon to be ex-wife will be able to take her husband to the cleaners.

Her most pressing thought however was this new case she was working. It’s been a week since that slimeball attorney hired her to break up the cute as buttons coffee shop owner and the bespectacled nerdy book store owner from their budding romance. She manager to get both their exes pop-up out of nowhere, hoping it led to some doubt. She created a fake social media profile and left some risqué comments on Ethan’s posts, she made it appear as if Jasmine was stood up Ethan later that evening. When that didn’t work, she started messing with their businesses, a machine malfunction here, a missing first edition there. All of this somehow only seemed to bring them closer together. Today is the last day that she will attempt to break them up, and if this new plan does not work, she will cut her losses and refund “Mr. Snake Oil”.

She decided to head to Jasmine’s coffee shop first because she could no longer deny that this girl can make a mean cup of coffee. Might have to make it a cold brew, the weather has been warming up unseasonably.  As soon as she enters Double Shot Jasmine flashes that damn cheery smile and asks, “What can I get for you today, Abigail?” Just as well that it is time to move on, thinks Ms. Nancy wryly, one can’t get too comfortable. She orders her cold brew and as Jasmine leans over to hand her the cup of coffee, just as she was about the turn away, she saw the mark on Jasmine’s shoulder, the mark of Cupid.

“That old rascal, he is at it again.” She burst out laughing, it finally dawning on her that there was nothing she could have done to break up that couple no matter how hard she tried. She continued about her day thinking there’s still plenty of souls to make miserable, enough saps for the both of us.

Writing Prompt