Month: August 2015

Reddit Writing Prompt #23: The Rise Of President Threkids

The year is 2024 and three children in a trench coat have taken office, but no one can tell that they are kids. –ThatFuzzySalmon

There’s something about this man, thought Secret Service Agent Jacob Miles, as he followed the newly-elected President of the United States through the halls of the White House. Something… different.

President Threkids was a tall man, with the boyish face of a twelve-year-old, with a thick handlebar mustache growing on his upper lip that had the strange tendency to slip to the side every so often. He walked with a strange gait, as if he had incredibly short legs. That might have explained why he always wore that trench coat: he was embarrassed about his strange deformity, and so he hid it from the world.

He had taken the country by storm, though nobody knew precisely where he had come from. His first public appearance was in a political debate between candidates for the office of the Mayor, which was hosted in a small movie theater because the usual venue was being fumigated. Threkids had walked into the theater, his confident waddle making it clear where he belonged, even if he looked a bit confused.

The man exuded charisma, and was talked into participating in the debate. Threkids was a humble man, repeatedly stating that he was only here to watch the reboot of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, and that he was most definitely an adult, yes.

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Reddit Writing Prompt #22: The Face In The Static

All television static is a signal from a Lovecraftian horror whose message takes a very long time to discover. Somehow, its message is accidentally decoded while trying to figure out something else. –thedeliriousdonut

She had first seen the face in the static as a young girl, impatiently waiting for her father to adjust the antenna. It crackled on the screen like a black and white blizzard, and she liked to pretend she could see funny shapes in it. There was a bunny wearing a top hat. A bear on a unicycle. A face, pressed against the glass, staring at her. A flower.

If she had just blinked at the right moment, she would have missed it, and her life never would have turned out the way it did. But fate is cruel, and the face in the static stayed with her. She tried to tell her parents, but they believed it to be a sign of an active imagination. For her birthday that year, she got a set of watercolor paints. She quickly ran out of black, as she tried to recreate the static-y face on the white paper.

She could never get it right. Her memory of it kept changing, usually by the time she finished one picture, as if the face was slowly moving in her own mind. It shifted gradually over the span of months and years. Nobody else could see the face in her pictures, though to her it was plain as day. Her parents thought she was just going through an ‘impressionist’ phase.

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Reddit Writing Prompt #21: Gray Skin, Red Neck

“You are the product of five billion years of evolution. Fucking act like it.” -Correcthorse121

“Yer the product of five billion years of evolution,” the gray-skinned, dome-headed alien said, staggering drunkenly as he pointed my bottle of Jack Daniels (now mostly empty) at me. “Fuckin’… act like it.”

“Gettin’ reeeaaaal into character, man,” I drawled, trying to take my booze back. The guy in the alien costume held me off with his long, three-fingered hand, tossing his head back to empty the bottle.

“I mean, lookitchu,” he said, falling on his rear and trying to make it look like he had meant to do that. “I flew ‘cross fifteen gazillion – hic – miles of empty fuckin’ space to meet you ffffuckers, and who’s the first guy I meet?” He bit the neck of the bottle off, chewing it like it was hard candy instead of glass. “Some fuckin’ sad sack sittin’ inna middle of Bumfuck, Nowhere feelin’ – hic – sorry for hisself.”

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Reddit Writing Prompt #20: Birth Of A World

Jack is an apocalypse architect. He travels the galaxy to barren planets, pre-intelligent life, and makes subtle changes to ensure that when life evolves, the planet’s inhabitants ultimately meet an apocalyptic end. –NotAnAI

The seas bubbled, thick with the building blocks of life, as Jack ate his lunch on the edge of a cliff. Tiny crumbs of bread fell and were caught by the wind, but Jack paid them no mind. Yes, there were half a dozen regulations that promised painful death to any double-As that brought foreign biological matter onto a pre-life world without the proper clearance.

Jack didn’t care. He hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning, and it was impossible to manufacture the end of a world on an empty stomach.

Jack swallowed the last of his sandwich, feeling the tiny legs of the sandwich’s meat wriggle as they passed down his throat. He belched, and then opened up his toolbox to start working. Vials of engineered chemicals glowed unnaturally in the small box, and Jack flipped through the trays like the pages of a book to find the one he needed.

“Let’s see, green for an oxygen atmosphere, level three for a white dwarf star…” he mumbled to himself, searching for the proper vial. He found the tray of green vials, but one of the containers was empty. “Oh, drat.” That was right; it had been a busy morning seeding death in worlds that might bring about intelligent life, and he’d been assigned a lot of planets with oxygen-rich atmospheres orbiting a white dwarf. He puckered one of his mouths; this might be a problem.

He could head back to the office to restock, but he had a quota to fill that cycle, and the time spent getting more vials would be better spent seeding more planets.

Hum. A conundrum.

Jack eventually shrugged his numerous tentacles, and took a green level one and two from the trays. He overturned them, letting the glowing green liquids mix together as they fell to the bubbling sea below. His logic was infallible: green level one plus green level two equals green level three. He was just an apocalypse architect, he didn’t understand how the stuff worked.

Not many did. It was a complex, volatile substance that was used to sterilize planets that might develop multi-cellular life, which might in turn lead to intelligent life, which would in turn lead to trouble. A cocktail of protein chains and viruses that would spread like a plague – because, well, technically it was a plague – through every single-celled life form on a pre-natal world. It would prevent the proper bonds from forming that would allow a single-celled organism to evolve past that stage, preventing them from developing into troubles for the rest of the universe. It was crowded enough already, thank you.

Jack, satisfied at a job well done, brushed some more crumbs off his front, scooped up his toolbox, and began to hover back to his ship. The silvery needle left the planet, the third such one orbiting this particular star, behind, and Mike, like all lifeforms who are paid to do a job without thinking too much, forgot about it entirely.

He couldn’t have known that the formulas, specifically prepared to be used solely on a certain type of world, would interact so violently, the viruses tearing each other apart. He couldn’t have known that the crumbs from his sandwich would contain a particular element that had been missing from the world so far, one that would provide the final building block for life that had been missing from that world.

The world was forgotten by the universe, and so nobody saw, millions of years later, when the planet’s surface had cooled and its waters had calmed, a slimy little fish drag itself out of the water.

And nobody could have known about the amazing things that would one day happen on that pale blue dot.

Reddit Writing Prompt #19: Killstealer

You are a being whose sole purpose is to take over a person’s consciousness and experience death for them, so no humans ever have to experience it themselves. –lethalbacon

I swoop, unseen, towards the woman collapsed in the middle of the road, her crutches fallen and her eyes wide with fear as she stares at the truck bearing down on her. I reach her, as I always do, at the last moment. I envelope her mind, shoving her consciousness to the side and taking her place. Her body becomes my body, her fate becomes mine. I close her eyes and wait.

The impact of the truck’s grill slams through her like a tidal wave, like it always does, and I let myself be taken by it, like I always do. The pain lasts only for a second, and then everything goes blank. Continue reading “Reddit Writing Prompt #19: Killstealer”

Reddit Writing Prompt #18: The Prank Wars

In the future, the nations of Earth have settled into a lengthy peace. The military forces of the world grow bored. A covert task force is set by one country up to pull an elaborate, harmless prank on their friendliest ally. Things escalate. Write a story about the ‘Prank Wars’. – charliewr

The airplane zoomed through the sky, the wind from the open door blasting against Captain Sterr as he watched the world far below. Miles below his feet, the continent of Asia was lit against the night by countless cities and countless lives. His heart pattered in his chest; he’d done parachute drops before, but never from this high.

“Approaching drop point!” the pilot announced. “ETA two minutes!”

“Copy!” Sterr responded, checking his gear one last time. Black combat gear, check. Parachute, check. Spray paint, check. Cyanide pill, check. This would be the biggest day – er, night – of his military career.

The timer reached zero, and Sterr launched himself out of the plane.

Five miles, straight down.

Sterr was very glad he wasn’t afraid of heights.

When he had dropped far enough, he yanked on the parachute cord, and the pitch black silk billowed out behind him, arresting his descent with a heart-wrenching jerk. He was also very glad he hadn’t eaten anything before this. Sterr drifted to the ground, far outside the reach of any stabbing searchlights. It would be a ten mile hike through the mountains, dodging patrols, until he reached his target.

Upon landing, he cut himself loose of his parachute, checked his gear one last time, and hurried off into the night, unseen.

His feet chewed up the ten miles in no time at all – or at least it felt that way – and Sterr’s ultimate destination was in view. The Great Wall of China. Maybe not visible from space, but still impressive. Sterr had been given a history of the wall during his debriefing, but he didn’t think it was very important.

Small packs of armed guards patrolled the top of the wall, peering down the sides with flashlights. Monument security had become paramount across the world, after an unidentified nation somehow managed to turn the Statue of Liberty’s torch upside-down without being noticed. The Prank Wars were dark days indeed.

Sterr waited for a gap in the patrols and raced forwards, hugging the wall. He would only have one shot at this. He shook the can of spray paint, and prepared to perform tactical vandalism.

He pushed the button, and moved the can in a horizontal line to draw the beginning of the ‘KILROY WAS HERE’ mark, but what came out of the can wasn’t bright orange paint, as he had expected.

Instead, it was the piercing sound of an airhorn.

Every guard on a ten-mile stretch of the wall heard the horn, and with electronic communications, all the guards out of earshot were made aware seconds after that. Sterr dropped the fake spray paint, holding his ears and howling at the unexpected noise.

Betrayed! Somebody – a spy – had swapped his mission equipment for a fake! An airhorn disguised as a spray paint canister! Bastards!

From on top of the wall, flashlights pierced the darkness to illuminate him, and a guard yelled something in Mandarin. Presumably ‘don’t move or I’ll shoot’. Sterr immediately swallowed the cyanide pill, and was curious why nobody told him that cyanide tasted just like sugar. Sterr put his hands above his head, knowing he would be punished for his failure. When the guards arrived and pinned him to the ground, he caught sight of something etched on the bottom of the fake spray paint can.

It was a maple leaf.

Reddit Writing Prompt #17: Sherlock’s Warning

Sherlock (either BBC series or historical) dissuades a young boy from becoming like him. – thoma5nator

Sherlock Holmes stared down at the sign on the small card table, while the brown-haired boy awaited an answer to his question. It read: “25 cents per day, plus expenses – no case too small”. Sherlock tutted; the boy was either selling himself short or the town of Idaville, Maine was economically trapped in the sixties.

Sherlock had only heard about the boy through the faintest whispers on the grapevine: a name periodically found in the reports made by the Idaville police chief, the boy’s father, who would consult him on difficult cases. It had been on a particularly boring day that Sherlock had heard about the boy, and decided on a whim to fly across the world to see the boy for himself.

“‘Scuse me, but can I help you?” the boy asked again. Sherlock looked up, scanning the boy.

“Perhaps you can,” Sherlock said, fishing a coin from his pocket. A fresh, shiny quarter, which was slapped on the card table in the small garage with the impact of a gavel. “I have a case for you, Mister Brown.”

The boy took the quarter, dropping it into a jar filled with similar coins. “A bit older than the usual customers,” said the blonde girl bouncing a tennis ball against the far wall of the garage.

“A quarter’s a quarter,” the boy said. “What’s the case?”

“Tell me,” Sherlock said with a small, snakelike smile, “who I am. Where I’m from, what my name is, my occupation, everything you can logically discover about me from where you’re sitting right now.”

“That’s easy,” the boy said. “You’re from London, England, your name is Sherlock Holmes, and you’re a private investigator and occasional police adviser.”

Sherlock smiled. “Very good. How did you know?”

“I’ve seen you on television,” the boy said simply.

“Of course you have,” Sherlock said. “What else can you tell about me?”

“You came here as quick as you could once you got off the plane, and took a bus to the Idaville Bus Depot. You walked there from here,” the boy said after a moment of thought. “You haven’t changed the time on your watch yet, and you couldn’t have driven here because I didn’t hear a car approaching before you arrived. You could have caught a taxi from the depot, but you felt like walking because you’ve been sitting down enough for one day.”

The blonde girl rolled her eyes, just like John would after Sherlock showed off his deductive abilities. “Very good,” Sherlock said, allowing himself another small smile. “Then can you guess why I’m here?”

“I could, but I think you’re going to tell me,” the boy said.

“Clever. Quit playing at detective, boy.”

The words fell on utter silence. The blonde girl stared at Sherlock, and missed the rebound of her tennis ball; it hopped weakly around the garage before rolling out the door and down the driveway.

“You’re nuts,” the boy said. “Why would I do that?”

“Because eventually, you’re not going to be satisfied with simple childhood games of deduction,” Sherlock said, voicing the words he wished somebody had told him a long time ago, when he’d had a table just like this one. He had charged a pound per case, though. “You’ll get bored with scheming juvenile conmen, and yawn when Tommy from down the lane asks you to help him find where he left his bike again. You’ll keep hunting for challenges, begging your father for more complicated cases, for bloody, grisly horrorshows that set your mind on fire. This small town isn’t going to be able to amuse you forever, and when it turns into a bore, you’ll leave, and you’ll hunt down brilliant cases just to keep yourself from going insane. And your friends will drag themselves along for the ride, trying to stop you but praying you’ll keep going because the game is just so exciting. And when you reach the end, when there’s nothing left to interest you any longer, you will understand why boredom is worse than death.”

The two children were utterly silent, weathering the battering rain from the stormcloud Sherlock had become. “You’re a smart lad. Find something else to apply yourself to. Don’t hunt down mysteries just to prove that you’re cleverer than the rest. You’ll only find pain and worse at the end of the line.”

The boy stared at him. “I,” he said, swallowing dryly, “I’ll have to think about that.”

“I thought you would,” Sherlock said. He straightened, and nodded at the boy. “Have a good day.”

And with that, he left.


It was dinner time. Only the boy’s mother was eating, his father too busy explaining a dastardly theft, and him staring at his peas, lost in thought. “-but there was no sign the safe had been opened,” his father finished. Silence. They were waiting for his answer.

It was obvious. How could they not see it? Nothing had been taken from the safe because nothing had been in the safe in the first place. An elementary school student could have figured it out, but why couldn’t they see it?

“Leroy?” his mother asked. “Is something wrong?”

The boy looked up. They were staring at him, waiting for the answer. He always knew the answer. No matter how impossible the mystery seemed, he always knew.

This is boring, a tiny voice said to him. Why can’t they ever give me a real challenge?

He swallowed.

“I’m sorry, Dad,” said Encyclopedia Brown. “I don’t know.”

Reddit Writing Prompt #16: Fish and Throats

You choke on a fish bone and die. You are transported to Heaven where you must live with the fish you were eating for the rest of eternity. – COMPTON4LIFE

The pearly gates of Heaven stood silently behind Saint Peter as he leaned over the podium to look at the man on his knees, clutching at his throat and making horrific choking noises. “Are you alright, mister…” He checked his list. “Peter Happman. Nice name.”

Peter Happman opened his mouth to try and speak, giving Saint Peter a good luck at what was caught in his throat, staring out at him and just as surprised as both Peters.

“A fish?” Saint Peter said, disbelieving. He checked the list for cause-of-death. Peter Happman, age twenty-nine, cause of death: choking on a bone in his salmon fillet.

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