Emp'uh'uh of the empire

The Emp'uh'uh

The Setup

At a writing meet up I had 20 minutes to write something based on the word 'empire', so I turned to my trusty Rory's Story Cubes app while the others chatted. I 'rolled' 4 cubes on my phone to act as prompts, and they helped me write 'The Emp'uh'uh' that night. I seem to remember one cube was a dragonfly, another a cat, but I can't remember the others. Normally I photograph them to remind me. Sometimes the writing goes well and I was pleased with my imagination in this one. See what you think...

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Round robin anyone?

Surely-nothing-vintage

The Setup

Read about round robin story writing here. To do it you need to be in a room with or connected online maybe, to a bunch of other writers. A round robin starts when everyone involved writes down a random paragraph, and passes it to the writer on their left to add to the story. The writer on your right gives you their paragraph and you add another one, then pass the sheet on. Before you know it Bob's your Uncle and Charlie's your Aunt! If there's a fair few of you, by the time your paper gets back to you you've almost got a story. Just tie up the loose ends in a final spurt of writing as well as you can.  [The photo shows some of my round robin from the exercise.]

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Gardenias again

It was past my usual finish time, when I wearily climbed the stairs to my apartment. The Soames woman caught me in the hallway, stepping out of her door.

"Did you come home for lunch today, Mr Harris?  I heard you singing along to the radio. Quite a nice voice, dearie." She dropped a plastic charity sack to leave for collection sometime maybe.

I thought about the windows I once broke caterwauling at the Glee Club, and said "No time for lunch today.  We were closing a big deal and the owner asked us to work through. Said he'd see us all right at the end of the month though."

Mrs Soames frowned, and shook her head at my masochistic attitude to nutrition,  retreating back to her apartment, like a gnarled turtle to its shell.

Someone'd stamped out a half-smoked Black Sobranie outside my door.  "Damn’ postmen ... paid too much these days."  I grumbled to myself. "That and their elastic bands everywhere. Goddamn Sumatra's gone broke 'cos of them." I was really enjoying being a crusty old guy these days.

Opening the front door I realised, must have left the hall light on before walking out this morning.  I hung my coat on the hall stand, dropped my case and headed for the drinks trolley, like a fish looking for water.

“My usual, bartender.”

Funny thing... not like me to leave a drink unfinished, but there was a glass with a half inch of bourbon still hanging around on the trolley. Could I afford to ditch even a half inch of old bourbon? Didn't smell the same when it was left out all day but whatever way you drank it, it was still bourbon. Down the hatch.

After filling a new one with a couple more fingers of the good stuff, I left the old glass in the kitchen for the maid to sort out.

Yeah that’s right... me, the next time I wash up.

I pride myself on my nose. (I know, it's big enough - there, I thought I'd say it before you did), but in spite of having started in on the Woodford Reserve, a pretty fragrant brew in itself, I was sure I could maybe smell gardenias.

"Reminds me of the perfume Jane used to wear". It had crossed my cerebral cortex before I had a chance to stop it.

I hadn't opened any of the windows yet, not even the French ones. So it couldn't be the smell of flowers drifting in. Then, just as quickly, it was gone, like cigarette smoke in an afternoon breeze. I hunted high and low with my famed nose, but no gardenias anymore. I reasoned it was better to have loved 'em and lost 'em than never to have smelled 'em. I'm like that. Pragmatic, all the way down the line.

After a tv dinner and a half bottle of good ole Mister Montepulciano, I went to turn in.  I dunno... all work, and no play these days.

Would you believe the maid hadn't put my spare toothbrush back in the bathroom cabinet after that last work trip to St Louis? There it was on the washstand, like I'd used it this morning. But I hadn't. Weird shit happening round here.

Can't understand this drop in my usual household standards.  I'm usually quite a 'together' guy.

Folks'll be phoning the Good Housekeeping Institute if I don’t clean up my act.

© adewils 2018


Interruptions

Setup

Steve got a writing toolkit for Christmas, so we each took one of its' emery boards containing a prompt, and started writing. He interrupted us every 5 minutes with another line which we used to change the direction of our stories. My starting prompt was: I loved the way she said "balloon". She said it as if she were blowing bubbles

My story with the interruptions in italics is below.Read more


The wheels on the bus ...

The other day Writers & Artists Yearbook posted on Facebook "Writing exercise time: write a short paragraph to accompany this image." Here's one for you.

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About 35°C in the shade

'Opening the wardrobe door' was a recent writing prompt I was given. Quick as a flash fiction writer, I came up with this... Read more


6 word story anyone?

Ernest Hemingway, I love you!

Don't worry... it's love in a manly, bear hug type of a way, for everything you ever wrote. I'm ashamed and gratified, all at once, because even though I haven't read it all yet, my heart's gladdened because I know I've tons of enjoyment to look forward to.

BUT...Read more


Murder. No mystery.

The runes were cast and these are what the gods came back with - a black cat, a lightning bolt, a light bulb, an eye, a question, a footprint, an abacus, a compass and a magic wand - see the picture! I did my best with this meagre material... so here is my offering!Read more


Photo prompt kills!

The rain was falling in rivulets down the windows by the time the car pulled up outside the police station.
Redundantly Jacobs intoned "We have arrived madam".

The family's faithful retainer opened and held the car door for me. The rain was pouring off the peak of his black chauffeur's hat. The drab pavements were flooding like a levee had broken.

I gathered my mackintosh around me and pulled its hood down while Jacobs unfurled a large black umbrella and raised it over our bowed heads. I heard the doors locking as we made an unsteady journey to the opened door of the precinct building.

"Miss Lois, please come in," said Inspector Henderson. His grizzled hair was wholly in keeping with the tone of the afternoon.

I felt myself shake my arms and coat Like an Alsatian freshly in from the lake.

"Very bad weather we're having in Metropolis today, Miss Lois."

"Please, just Lois." I said.

"Yes, Miss Lois" he said in his soft Irish brogue "Here, let me take your coat."

I unwrapped myself from the soaking raincoat, and drew some fingers through my hair, by way of making myself feel more presentable. But he didn't care. We were only here for one reason.

"This is Mr Harper" he inclined a nod towards a short dumpy little man with a few remaining strands of hair glistening on his head. The little man had sharp blue eyes similar to those of a mynah bird we once had caged in the kitchen at home. Gordon continued, "He's my most trusted forensic man. He'll take you through to the morgue and help you with the identification. I should warn you that it will harrowing for you Miss Lois."

I swallowed heavily and felt heat waves running through my scalp "I'm prepared" I lied through my clenched teeth.
A sharp astringent smell irritated my nostrils when Harper opened the door of the morgue. I coughed slightly and felt for a tissue in the pocket of my skirt.

"I'm going to lift this sheet, and all you have to do is nod if you recognise the face. Do you understand Miss Lois?"

"I do."

He lifted the sheet and I saw Clark's closed eyes in his waxy lifeless face...


Tommy's tale

It was getting very late and everyone was dispirited after the last announcement given personally by the nervous station master who had since retired to his snug office with the small but bright fire in the grate.

"Unfortunately due to the heavy snowfall there will be no trains until tomorrow mid morning by which time the line is expected to be clear enough to allow passage through." were his words. "I'm sorry to say that, because of the weather, you will have to make the best of the accommodation we have here..." he had waved around somewhat feebly, at the confines of the simple waiting room, they were situated in. "At least there's a fire, and plenty of logs to feed it with", he had said.

After the station master had hurriedly left there had been some grumbling but they all agreed there was really nothing they could do. There was no hotel or guest house open for miles as it was winter, and this was a thinly populated suburb and not a skiing resort of any nature. They must make the best of it. So some tried to make rudimentary sleeping arrangements, chiefly consisting of finding a corner to prop themselves up in, or annoy their neighbours on the seating by falling on them every few minutes as they fell asleep.

A thickset man, in his 50's, a salesman he'd said, decided to try and cheer things up, in his own oblique way it must be said, by coming out with a few stories of things that had happened to him, in his travels on the road.
One or two others became interested and reciprocated with their own tales, but after a while they seemed to be drying up, until a well-built blonde woman at the back in the darkness of the railway station's waiting room said in a low voice to a man who may or may not have been her husband, as far as the listeners knew.

“Tell them Tommy. It might help.” she said. Her partner, who was probably in his early 60s, seemed reluctant to go forward, but eventually he moved towards the light and speaking hesitantly at first, said, “I’ve an experience to share." He looked around at the expectant onlookers. "My sister thinks it might be good for me if I tell you my story. She calls it a story, anyway. But it won’t make the snow disappear and I don’t think it will make the train come any sooner.”
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