My Weekly Writing Challenge

My themed weekly writing challenge stumped a few last week (the themes were GrottoHospital or Isolation) but for others, it clearly inspired. You can read their wonderful pieces below.

Now onto this week and yes, it’s J, K and L and the themes for these letters are: Job, Kill and Love. For some inspiration on what you could write about using those themes, take a look back at my series:

https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/monday-motivationsthe-abc-of-short-story-ideas-part-four/

 

Onto last week’s stories and poems:

 

Keith Channing brings this tale he was told by an Australian Evangelical Priest 30 years ago to life. Not only will it grip you, it’ll set you thinking:

Isolation

After the accident, I found myself to be alive and well, although in darkness and silence. Confused and a little frightened, my mind went beck to the lost moments I remembered.

I had been spending an evening in the gambling den at the back of a strip club. I had a lot to celebrate; I had just pushed through a deal that would add a few more millions to my bank balance. Admittedly, a few people; good people, but that means nothing these days; would be sent to the wall, and a few thousand people would turn up on Monday to find there was no job for them. Regrettable, but this is business, and you have to be ruthless to get on. Some of my deals had led to suicides, but these people were weak, and there’s no room in my world for weak people. I was doing rather well in the club, too. Blackjack, we were playing, and I was on a blisteringly strong run, up a couple of hundred thousand pounds on the night.

My mobile buzzed and vibrated. It was a text message from my wife. “Kayleigh just turned up,” it said. “Please explain!” My wife, Joanne, was meticulous about writing texts properly, tweets too. She hated abbreviations and sloppy grammar. Anyway, reading that message, telling me that my secret girlfriend had turned up at the house; the girlfriend I thought I had hidden from Joanne; obviously overloaded something, and I must have blacked out.

But where was I now, what am I supposed to do, and how did I get here? These were just a few of the questions in my head. Others included how much it would cost me to get out and whom should I pay. I decided to take control; it had worked for me all my life so far, and I saw no reason it wouldn’t work now.

“Okay, where the hell am I?” I asked.

A low, quiet voice responded, “Hmmm. Where the Hell? That’s a very appropriate question.”
The voice put me in mind of the menacingly calm voices that used to be attributed to gangsters with Italian accents, in old Chicago and New York.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded.

“Where you are has no name. You may think of it as Hell; you may think of it as Nowhere. How you think of it doesn’t matter; what matters is what it is.”

“And what is it?”

“It is,” replied the enigmatic, disjointed voice.

This place; whatever, wherever it is; seemed totally isolated. The only sound was my voice. The other voice was inside my head; it came from no direction, and although very close, I felt no breath. There was no light, and I realised that I had no sensation. I wasn’t sitting, standing or laying on anything. I think I had worked it out.

“Okay, smart guy, I got you. This is one of those sensory deprivation chambers, isn’t it? Who are you working for and how much does he want to let me out?”

“This is not as you describe it. This is,” the voice said, emphasising the word ‘is’.

It began to dawn on me that I might be in trouble, big trouble. I’d never been in a situation I couldn’t buy or bribe my way out of.

“WHERE AM I?” I yelled.

The voice repeated, “Where you are has no name. You may think of it as Hell; you may think of it as Nowhere. How you think of it doesn’t matter; what matters is that it is.”

“I want to speak to my lawyer.”

“Your lawyer isn’t here.”

“Well, at least let me speak to my business partner.”

“Your business partner isn’t here.”

“Can I at least call my wife, please?” I asked, beginning to panic.

“Your wife isn’t here.”

“Oh my God,” I cried, sensing the seriousness of my situation.

“God isn’t here,” the voice said in even, placid tones, followed by an eternity of silence…

 

Jason Moody‘s story made me smile all the way through. Prepare to be entertained:

He walked into the bar, hair slicked back, shoes shined within an inch of their lives. He wanted people to notice him.
The truth is, his aftershave had announced his arrival some ten minutes previous to his actual entrance. No matter.
He had the walk of a man who needed urgently to scratch his bottom. Confidence he called it.

He was on the look out for a beautiful woman, for he was a beautiful man, in his own opinion.

Across the bar, something caught his eye. A woman stood at the bar with her back to him. Her red hair was so shiny, it looked like it had been painted. He moved in.

He cleared his throat and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned, slowly.

She was as beautiful as her hair was shiny. She looked at him with her big brown eyes, sitting under the shadow of some very heavy mascara.

The man nodded to himself. This was it.

“If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”

The woman giggled like a love struck schoolgirl.

“No,” she said softly, biting her lower lip.

He was in here.

“Do you know that you should be a parking ticket?” he said.

The woman smiled coyly and once again bit her shimmering lower lip.

“No,” she purred.

He nodded again. Now for the killer blow.

“‘Cos you’ve got fine written all over you,” he announced, proudly.

The woman grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him close.

“I want you, right now,” she said.

His heart raced. His throat was dry. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This was unfamiliar territory.

She grabbed his hand,  drained her drink and pulled him away.

“My flat…now,” she demanded.

They’ve took a taxi to her flat. They wasted no time talking; they headed straight for the bedroom.

Clothes were thrown all over the place. Bottles of perfume tumbled off dressers. Every available space was covered as they grappled with each other like amateur wrestlers.

“You are a very naughty boy,” she purred, throwing him into the bed. He led there, exposed and a little excited.
She made a growling noise, or a close approximation of one and leapt towards him.

The last thing he remembered was agonising pain. She leapt off the bed and he starred at his nether region. Something clearly was not right.

He lay on the hospital bed. Trying very hard not to re-run the night’s antics in his head. Just in case. The curtain was pulled around his bed, giving him the sense of being in isolation. Not that he wanted anyone to see him right now.

She never did call. He never called her.

Shame. He was in there.

 

Jasdeep Kaur has written this stunning poem:

White Sheets

The spread of white
dignifying restoration
from the adversities
to the gratification.

But the horrid cries
pound my heart
when the heads droop and
the hearts part.

Or when I see
the same figure
frailer than before and
with lost Vigor.

The shoulders that sag
with rising bills,
the abrasive eyes
sifting through pills.

But my pessimism
vanishes to see
a relieved face
filled with glee.

When life is salvaged;
anxieties pacified.
With unspoken words, the
white is glorified.

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m already looking forward to reading next week’s offerings!

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20 Responses to My Weekly Writing Challenge

  1. “How much longer do we have to spend floating around in this tin can?”
    A question I had been asking myself for weeks, and never come to an answer I liked.
    “We knew when we took the job,” I said, “that there would be months of this boredom before we reach our destination. It was in the briefing notes, and I know you read them, Sally.”
    “I know, Tom,” Sally replied, “but there’s a world of difference between reading about months of tedium, and living through it.”
    “Do you love me, Sally?”
    “You know I do, Tom. Don’t I tell you often enough?”
    “Of course you do, Sal, but sometimes we say these things in a formulaic way. And before you yell at me, I’m not saying you are doing that; but we both need to be sure and reassure each other that our love is as strong as it was when we lifted off six months ago.”
    “I know, Tom. I know you aren’t digging at me, but I’m not sure if I can stand another three months of this before we reach Mars.”
    “We’re two thirds of the way there, Sal. We can do it. We are strong enough. Remember how we were saying, less than a year ago, that we would kill for this job? How we worked so hard to convince the selection board that a husband and wife team was not only a workable option, but also the optimal solution, if the habitat is to be a permanent, self-sustaining colony? Our children will be Martians. How cool is that?”
    “Yeah – cool,” Sally giggled. As she did, their module rang like a bell that had just been struck, and started to spin.
    “What the hell was that?” she asked. “Checking telemetry…”
    “Too far out for space junk,” Tom exclaimed, “can only have been a stray lump of rock. Anything logged?”
    “Hold. Stabilising attitude, check; confirm course, not right; applying auto course adjust, check. Phew. Back on track… I think. What were you asking?”
    “Is there anything in the log?”
    “Hold…” she said, “Bugger!”
    “What?”
    “Logs are shot. We’re flying blind. Call ground control.”
    This is Major Tom to Ground Control, we’ve been hit by a meteor that was’t in the logs. Sally has re-established directional stability and I think my spaceship knows which way to go, but the logs are shot, so we’ll have no warning of approaching objects.”
    “How long until we hear back from them?” Sally asked.
    “Round trip time is currently around half an hour.”
    “By which time any number of things could hit us, and we’d never know.”
    “Sal. We’re going to be OK. This tin can is solid, it’s designed to take a few knocks. It will get us to Mars.”
    “Yes, Tom, but in what sort of shape?”

    “Ladies and Gentlemen,” said General McMasters, “that is the end of the recording. When the module soft-landed on Mars, both occupants were dead, and examination showed they had died two months previously. What took place in the month between the end of the recording and their passing; as well as the manner and cause of their demise, will remain among the mysteries of the Mars Colonisation Program. We honour Tom and Sally today, as we honour all those who gave their lives that the human race may continue when the Earth can no longer support it.”

  2. Jasdeep Kaur says:

    Eternal Love

    Have you heard about telepathies
    and said no way?
    Or ever pondered on the world’s
    most wondrous play?

    The blossoming of flower with
    the kiss of a bee,
    or love of snakes with
    the sandalwood tree…

    Why a baby gets comfort only
    in her mother’s arms?
    Or lovers are assured by merely
    the touch of palms?

    The love of the holy with
    God and his commands,
    or the love of the evil with
    their reckless demands…

    No creation of this world is
    without this sensation.
    In heaven, nether regions, and earth, all
    experience this emotion.

    Like ever-present almighty Lord,
    love will always stay,
    ‘cause the world is nothing but
    love infused in clay.

  3. Ayo Oboro says:

    I had a job you could kill for.
    I didn’t kill,It came on merit.
    I enjoyed the perks,
    I enjoyed the power,
    The leadership skills I had to display.
    My boss said ‘good job’,
    So I thought I was good.
    One day the cloud darkened,
    Someone came in,
    I thought it was to help.
    I welcomed her warmly,
    Shared what I knew.
    What I didn’t was she had been given my job.
    And then one day they said no more.
    They packed up my stuff I had to leave
    I couldn’t understand
    I had been doing so well
    I loved my job that I didn’t kill for.

  4. Kate Loveton says:

    Some terrific stuff by these writers! Does your challenge run Thursday to Thursday?

  5. JasonMoody77 says:

    Hope I’m not too late

    His phone beeped. He knew what it was, and what it meant.
    It was standard procedure. Recieve the text advising where to meet the contact, and then recieve details of the job.

    The message was from the usual source. He figured it would take him ten minutes from his current location.

    He appeared front he tube station, and sure enough, leant against the window of a fast food outlet was the contact.

    He sidled up toothed man.

    “Marcus.” he said.

    The man handed him the envelope.

    “Fitz. Normal rules.” The man said.

    Fitz. That was the only name he went by. He was slowly approaching forty. He was athletic and slender. This was solely down to the hours put in at the gym. His clothes were fitted, but unremarkable.

    Fitz walked away and headed back to the station.

    Ten minutes and fifty two seconds later, he was sat on a bench overlooking the Thames. He carefully opened the slim brown envelope and pulled out the picture inside.

    The mark was named Beth Summers. She was twenty nine, single with no children.
    Fitz glanced over the small note paper clipped to the photograph: place of work, hangouts and other general information.
    He looked at the photograph again. She was pretty. Blue eyes and straight light brown hair. She had a small mole on her left side just under her eye.
    He placed the photograph back in the envelope and got up.

    Opening the door to his apartment, he senses something wasn’t quite right.
    He gently closed the door and crept into the lounge. All seemed in order. There were magazines on the floor. Last nights takeaway still on the glass table.
    He made his way into the kitchen, all was fine there.
    He headed towards the bedroom, when he heard a flushing sound. He dived back into the bedroom, pulled open a drawer in the bedside chest and produced a gun with silencer attached.
    He crept into the hallway and waited a few metres from the bathroom door.
    The door crept open and a young woman emerged, her hair wrapped in a towel. She jumped back, half screaming.

    “Jesus Christ Fitz. You scared the shit out of me.” She said, breathless.

    Fitz relaxed. “You’re scared? You could have been anybody Marcie.”

    Marcie gave Fitz a hug. He wrapped his one free arm around her, hiding the gun.
    She turned and went back into the bathroom. This gave him enough time to secure the gun.

    “What brings you to my part of town Sis’?”

    “Date.” She let out a whooping sound. “Your place was closer. You don’t mind do you honey?”

    “Nope. I gave you a key didn’t I?”

    “I know. I just don’t want you toothpick I’d go snooping in all your drawers, that’s all,” she started to laugh. “There isn’t anything here I shouldn’t see is there?”

    “Nah, just my assault rifle, 9mm pistol and my sniper rifle.” he said.

    Marcie scoffed. “Geek.”

    Later that night Fitz’s phone beeped. It was details of the hit. It gave details of where the target would be, and at what time. He never got told the reasons behind the targets, and he never asked. He never questioned whether or not these targets were necessary. He did his job, got paid and moved on. It was best to keep things simple.

    He grabbed a bottle off wine from the fridge, and liberated a bag of crisps from the cupboard.
    He slumped in his sofa, and drinking from the bottle, turned on the TV.

    It was the news.

    “Police are hunting the killer of reclusive business tycoon Eric French. His body was found at his North London residence by his cleaner this morning…”

    He turned off the TV.

    “Fucking amateurs,” he sighed.

    The next day was a busy one. He woke early to do his weekly shop. Then it was back to the apartment to tidy up.
    In the afternoon he visited his Mum in the nursing home. Today was one if her better days, as she was quite lucid. These were always the days he enjoyed. He loved his Mum more than anything. The rapid and aggressive onslaught of the dementia taking hold, was painful to take. He figured that she may not have long, so he visited at least twice a week.

    Late in the afternoon he hit the gym. It was important finger a good workout before a job. It helped focus him, to calm him. He was never nervous on a job, this ritual maintained his focus.

    It was time.

    The restaurant was half full. It was a fancy place just outside of the city. Reservations were always expected, so he assumed the hit had money and indeed, influence. His people had sorted a reservation for him.

    He entered, exchanged pleasantries with the staff and was executed to his seat.
    The light was dim, most tables had candle light. He held the picture in his mind. He was sure checkouts know the target.

    He ordered a glass of wine and waited. He didn’t have to wait long.

    She arrived, wearing a long, blue satin evening gown. She looked good, he thought.

    She took her table and fidgeted. She played with her hair. She glanced over and caught Fitz’s eye. She smiled.

    Shit.

    Fitz was persisted to wait it out. His plan was to wait for the target to visit the bathroom. He would follow and take care of business. That’s all it was, just good business.

    Half an hour later, and the target still sat alone. He tried, but Fitz once it twice looked over. He caught her eyes sparkling in the candlelight. He was noticing more than he should.

    This was it. The target stood and made her way towards the bathroom. Fitz stood and made to follow. They had reached the hallway just inside the entrance.
    The target stopped in her tracks as a car screeched to a sudden halt outside the restaurant.
    The doors to the black people carrier were thrown open. Three or four well dressed, heavy set men headed towards the doors. Two of them felt into their jackets.

    Fitz didn’t know who they were, but he recognised killers when he saw them. He sprinted towards the target.
    He grabbed her by her arm.

    “Come with me.” The woman didn’t argue.

    The men entered en mass. They shoved the staff member tontine side and split up.
    One of them, a bald man with a granite jawline headed in Fitz’s direction.

    Fitz was now in the ladies bathroom. Mirrors and sinks lined one side. The other was a row of eight cubicles.

    He pointed to the last cubicle.

    “Get in there, and don’t move.”

    This wasn’t right, he thought. She should be dead. He waisted little time with the details. He stepped into the first cubicle, stood up on the basin and waited.

    The door to the bathroom opened. He heard the sound of heels on the tiled floor. This wasn’t a guarantee it was a woman. Moments later the door opened again, no heels. Seconds later he heard a scream. He could hear someone hitting the floor.

    Fitz smashed open the door. In one fluid motion he had pulled the gun from his belt and had hit the man in the forehead. He dropped to floor with a heavy thud.
    The woman sat on the floor was petrified. She screamed. Still holding his gun, he gestured to the door of the cubicle in the middle.

    “Get in there, and stay in there.” She was frozen. “Now,” he hissed.

    The woman ran into the cubicle. He could hear sobbing.

    He tapped on the door at the end.

    “Get out.”

    The target opened the door. Her face was white with fear. She was physically trembling.
    Fitz held out his hand and sighed. This job had gone horribly wrong.

    “Stay behind me, it you’ll be dead.”

    “Ok,” she croaked. Her voice broken. Her eyes watering.

    Fitz led her into the main restaurant. All other diners had gone. One man was stood behind the bar. A third man was nowhere to be seen.
    He ducked behind a small table set at the entrance. He gestured to the woman to follow his lead.

    He spiders wardrobe just off the entrance.

    “Get in there. And stay there.” He ordered.

    Fitz moved towards the bar. The man was preoccupied pulling himself a drink. He crawled forward, squatted. He picked a bar towel from the bar top and continued.
    He leapt to his feet. He forced as much of the cloth as he coud into the mans mouth.
    He was a large man. A struggle would be unwise. The man turned to face Fitz. Unmoved, Fitz pulled his trigger a second time. The man fell backwards, hitting his head on the bar and flopping to the ground.

    There was still one at large.

    He appeared from around the corner.
    His gun trained on Fitz. The favour was returned. It was a standoff.

    The man shook his head.

    “You’re on a contract?” He laughed.

    Fitz wasn’t in the mood for conversation.

    “Silent man, huh?” The man moved closer.” Where’s the bitch?”

    Fitz stood, unmoved.

    A waiter appeared from the kitchen. He froze as he saw the two armed men. The man span round and shot the waiter in the leg. He hit the floor and yelped in pain. Another shot. The waiter dropped.

    “Where is she?”

    The sound of a door opening came from behind Fitz. He closed his eyes. He had told her to stay put.

    “Et voila,” the man said. “Now get out of the way dickhead, this is my contract.”

    Fitz backed up towards the target.

    From behind the man, the waiter, barely able to stand, approached the gunman from behind, a kit candle in one hand. He skunked behind the man and pushed the candle into his neck.
    The man gave out an almighty scream. The waiter let himself drop to one side. The gun dropped to the floor as the man writhed in pain, holding his neck with both hands. He looked to Fitz for but a second, knowing the game was up.

    The low hiss of the silencer signalled the end for the gunman. His head snapping back as the bullet pierced his skull.

    The target ran to Fitz. She wrapped her arms around him. She was shaking and sobbing into his shoulder. Instinctively, Fitz put his arm around her. His gun still in his left hand. This wasn’t the plan, he kept going over in his head.

    He could now feel her rapid heartbeat against his chest. Her sobbing relentless. He wasn’t accustomed to this. He was a ruthless killer, a vanquisher of the evil, the corrupt and the down right no good.
    He suddenly had a realisation; he’d never had a female target before. Was this his undoing? Had he accidentally discovered his weakness? Women.

    He pulled away from her. He leapt over the bar and returned with a glass and a bottle of champagne.

    “Sit,” he said. The woman obliged.

    Fitz headed for the bathroom and released the other woman. She was sat in the toilet, quivering and crying hysterically. She wasted no time in following his instruction and leaving the establishment. He returned to the restaurant.

    He turned to the target. He put a hand on her shoulder. She was sat. The hand holding the glass shook. He liked into her eyes for the briefest if moments, something inside his being was changed. This wasn’t right.

    “You alright?” he asked. He looked again into her blue eyes, watered with tears. She was beautiful. “Beth, are you ok?”

    She’s beautiful, he kept thinking to himself, like a twisted mantra.

    “What? What? How do you know-” she stammered.

    “Don’t worry. Are you ok?”

    Beth nodded.

    “We’ve got to get out of here Beth, ok? Were going to go out the back door. Act natural. Dry your eyes.”

    He was very matter of fact. Beth obeyed. She grabbed her coat and they made their way to the kitchen. He quickly scoped the room, he wasn’t letting his guard down completely. The coast was clear.
    They exited through a fire door. The alarm rang out. Over the shrill alarm he could make out police sirens.

    “We gotta move Beth.”

    She took his hand again and together they ran down a darkened alleyway, snaking left and right between waste bins.

    “Who are you?” Beth asked, her voice wobbling as she ran at pace.

    They turned a corner. He slowed the pace down to a stroll. He placed his arm around her. She was petrified, but this dangerous strangers arm felt strangely comforting.
    They were now on a busy street. Other couples passed them and smiled. They must have looked good together.

    “What’s going to happen to me?” she asked. A slight chime of hope in her voice.

    “I don’t know Beth. Just keep walking.” his reply was robotic. His head now a mess of conflicting thoughts and emotions. All things a man in his profession didn’t need.

    Beth stopped, and turning to face him place both hands on his chest.

    “What’s really going on? Please.”

    Fitz looked down at her. Her face was like that of an anxious child. Her eyes open and searching him with every passing second.

    He took her hands in his and gently squeezed.

    “You are safe. That is all you need to know.”

    She offered no argument. This tall, beautiful stranger had saved her. That was good enough.

    Fitz placed his arm around her and pulled her in. She sunk into his chest.
    This meeting had changed everything. They would likely both become targets. Fitz had broken all his own rules. This night had re-written them. Now they were part of a new world, a new game.

    But for now, Beth was safe.

    For now.

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