Category: Four Elements Prompts

Fleur’s Father Settled on the Satin Sheets

  • by KentWe’re living in the golden age
  • even without feathers
  • and now so am I
  • God I love you. You’re so pretty.
  • trembling with paralysis

Tune in next time part 85                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

Fleur’s father settled on the satin sheets between us, clipboard in hand. He smoothed the curling points of his mustache and then plucked a quill from the crest on his turban.

“True or false,” he began. “We’re living in the golden age of calligraphy.”

“False,” Fleur said confidently. Her father chortled indulgently and marked her response with an ironically elaborate symbol. Penmanship remained the most vital way for warlords of their clan to command respect, and any aspirant factional leader learned how to fashion suitable styli even without feathers for quills. Learned young.

He looked at me sternly for the next question. “You’re full of blank, and now so am I.”

I found myself unable to think of anything except the responses I should *not* say out loud, until finally I stammered, “C-cracker crumbs?”

The leathery face of my warlord-in-law leaned closer. “God I love you. You’re so pretty. But, no. That’s wrong.” One of his bodyguards raised a slender tube to his mouth and I felt the blowdart’s sting on my neck. “And as you’re fully aware, incorrect responses must not be permitted.”

I sat there, nude, with a doily on my lap, trembling with paralysis and dreading the penalty I must pay.

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The Hall of Mirrors Didn’t Slow Ulrike Down

  • by Kentleaned over my sleeping wife
  • their colored turbans
  • Right?
  • sat down lumpily
  • planted a big kiss right on Hopfrog’s mouth

Tune in next time part 81                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

The hall of mirrors didn’t slow Ulrike down as much as I’d hoped, but I had a good head start and the chaos of the midway to conceal me. I got on the carousel, riding a giant amphibian and checking on my would-be pursuer on each revolution. The clot of teenagers outside the funhouse distracted her, and by the time my warty steed, Hopfrog, brought me back around she was sashaying away with one arm around a boy and the other around a girl. They weren’t even putting up too much of a fight.

To celebrate, I swung out of the saddle and planted a big kiss right on Hopfrog’s mouth. But I was a little dizzy from the ride and sat down lumpily on the floor. It’s normal for adults to be more susceptible than kids to this kind of circular motion. Right?

Hopfrog winked at me. I smacked my numb lips and tried to stand up, but it was no use. I knew now that the frog’s kisser had been coated with real bufotoxin, by someone who knew me well enough to anticipate that I’d choose that mount, and that I’d lay one on it.

There was only one person on Earth who could predict my actions so uncannily. Her agents were easy to spot by their colored turbans, not that I had any hope of evading them now. As I blacked out I felt strong hands loading me into a crate.

I came to in a tent, a gentle ocean breeze coming in through the open flap. I leaned over my sleeping wife and tried to guess why she brought me home.

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We Only Made It a Few Hundred Yards Down the Boardwalk

  • by jenwidely presumed to be sexting constantly
  • “See ya later.”
  • like a tantalizing love machine
  • it helps to have a mirror in the room
  • a “mechanical control abnormality”

Tune in next time part 80                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

We only made it a few hundred yards down the boardwalk before a light on the dashboard started blinking, signaling a “mechanical control abnormality” and smoke poured out of both the engine compartment and the taffy bin.

“Scheiße!” cried Ulrike, frantically squeezing the brake lever.

But we did not slow. Our rocket sled hurtled out of control, klaxons blaring, like some post-apocalyptic ice cream truck. I reached around Ulrike’s unrestrained bosom and hit the button for the ejector seat. We shot upward, clinging to each other and dangling from our single parachute. Below us our taffy sled rocketed through the railing at the end of the pier and hurtled into the sea.

The massive cloud of steam generated by jet engine meeting salt water hid us from view as we made a clumsy landing on the beach. Ulrike grabbed my wrist again and dragged me into the nearby funhouse before the fog cleared.

“When hiding from one’s enemy it helps to have a mirror in the room,” she said, and shoved me into the hall of mirrors. We were suddenly surrounded by dozens of versions of ourselves, some perfect copies, others stretched and warped in hideous ways.

Ulrike gazed around at all the mirrors and breathed hotly in my ear. “I had forgotten how much like a tantalizing love machine you are.” Or at least she tried to. She actually breathed in the ear of one of my reflections, fogging up the glass.

I laughed and said, “See ya later.”

Luckily I had this particular labyrinth memorized. I closed my eyes and ran through, leaving Ulrike cursing and stumbling behind me.

Upon exiting I pushed my way through a group of teenagers. All teens are widely presumed to be sexting constantly, and these did nothing to dispel that stereotype. With any luck their overabundance of hormones would confuse Ulrike’s sensitive nose when she finally blundered through the maze, and allow me to make good my escape.

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Tessa Leapt From the Roof

  • by jenon foot
  • “They’re after us, Bill.”
  • perhaps a seal
  • I don’t wanna call bullshit on that woman
  • confiscated her hip flask

Tune in next time part 58                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

Tessa leapt from the roof and landed in a squat on the sidewalk below. She waited impatiently as I clambered down the drainpipe and we set off on foot, Tessa leading the way.

Before we turned the corner onto the main boulevard, some quick adjustments to her ninja garb transformed it into a sleek black cocktail dress. The residents of Ipswich were still under Dr Minka Stiletto’s control. Her power over them had not ceased with her death. We would have to be careful.

“Where are we going?” I inquired.

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it,” Tessa whispered as we joined the throng queued up outside the opera house. “Follow my lead.”

Tessa’s lead had a way of getting me in trouble, but in this case I had little choice.

She jostled and cut in line ahead of a pair of middle aged men, making just enough of a fuss that the ushers were sure to notice.

“What do you mean we should just let them? We were here first!” she said loudly in my direction. “They’re after us, Bill.”

She only called me Bill in times of great peril. It was code for ‘be on your toes.’

When the ushers rushed over to break up the kerfuffle, Tessa flashed something from her purse at them, perhaps a seal or a badge. I didn’t get a good look.

I don’t wanna call bullshit on that woman,” said the shorter of the men we were scuffling with, “but we were here first.”

Tessa winked at me, and then slugged the man in the chin.

In the ensuing melee, I got a black eye, Tessa got a bloody nose, we both got arrested, and they confiscated her hip flask, which is what I had foolishly mistaken for a badge earlier.

In our holding cell Tessa explained that adrenaline and violence was the only way to break Dr Minka Stiletto’s hold over the populace. She’d sacrificed our freedom in order to return the town’s to them.

“And anyway,” she concluded, “Lyudmila will be here to bail us out any minute.”

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Helga Concealed Herself

  1. k-avatarcharacter –bigfoot
  2. setting — dry dock
  3. object –wooden shoes
  4. situation –wet t-shirt contest

Helga concealed herself below the experimental hydrofoil in the dry dock. Stowing away on it in Seattle had been the only way for her to reach Holland undetected, preserving the secrecy of her woodland race. But the next stage in her mission would require that she show herself, in fact the magic tulip bulbs would only be given to the winner of the wet t-shirt contest. And to be allowed into the waterfront dive where the Dutch National Wet Tee Convention would be held, she had to first obtain the traditional footwear. She hoped she could find them in her size.

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I Led Tessa Outside

  1. by jenCharacter – Harajuku girl
  2. Setting – behind the wheel of a large automobile
  3. Object – keys
  4. Situation – hiccups

Tune In Next Time Part 12                             Click Here for Earlier Installments

I led Tessa outside and balanced her on the handlebars of my stolen bicycle as I pedaled through the dark city to the self-storage facility where my excavation machine was stored, along with the rest of my inventions. Things were improving between us, but I didn’t fully trust Tessa. I couldn’t imagine letting her get a look at the contents of my storage unit, so I left her in the office, talking to the night manager, a Japanese woman with bright pink hair, cat ears and a parasol.

The submersible digging machine was far too bulky to carry on the bike, so when I hurried back to the office I asked Michiko if I could borrow her car. She charged me $200 and tossed me the keys. Tessa hadn’t run off during my brief absence, which both pleased and frightened me. The two of us climbed into Michiko’s Hello Kitty-bedazzled Lincoln Continental, me behind the wheel, Tessa riding shotgun but twisted around to stare at the mechanical wonder in the back seat.

As I navigated back to the pier, Tessa gave a loud hiccup, and then another. She turned around to face front and hiccuped again. I knew those hiccups well. Tessa always had an attack when she was horny.

“Now’s not a good time, babe,” I said.

“I — hic — know,” she said. “And that only makes it — hic — worse.”

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Sheets of Flame Enveloped Every Surface

  1. k-avatarCharacter – pimp
  2. Setting – Hell
  3. Object – baseball card collection
  4. Situation – amnesia

Sheets of flame enveloped every surface, including the bubbling black tar of the river.

“I don’t remember how I got here,” I said to the tall, goat-headed person beside me.

“That’s normal,” the demon replied. “Which is too bad, because the dimensional transit vortex is really bitchin’.”

“The spinning tunnel of sulfurous lightning? Oh I remember that part,” I said. “I meant in a philosophical sense. As in, what did I do that was so terrible?”

“Ah!” Goat-Head brayed. “Tasty. Existential dread added to the other forms of torment! You’re gonna be a celebrity down here.”

“Maybe I can figure it out,” I said.

“Oh, I hope not.”

“Let’s see. I stole my sister’s baseball card collection…”

“That’s a first. But no, that’s not the reason.”

“I had a stable of skanky hos, sold their asses all up and down the north side. And I was looking to expand my territory, which come to think of it is probably what got me killed.”

“I’ve been a loyal customer for years. That’s not it.”

“Really? I was sure that would be the answer.”

“You were a businessman. The big guy doesn’t hold that against you.”

“Well, then what is it? Why did I get sent to Hell?”

Goat-Face grinned. “You’ll thank me someday for not telling you. Things get a bit monotonous after a century or two, and that question will be all that still interests you.”

I looked at him. His words made a kind of twisted sense, even if his breath was a roadkilled skunk in late July. “Thanks,” I said. “You’re okay in my book.”

“Keep your voice down,” he hissed. “If I get fired from this job, I’ll have to move back in with my mom.”

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“I Don’t Care That You’re Married, Genevieve”

  1. by jenCharacter – cheating wife
  2. Setting – witch’s cottage
  3. Object – sequined handbag
  4. Situation – I smell smoke

“I don’t care that you’re married, Genevieve,” cried Wilhelm. “So am I, and I won’t let it keep us apart.”

The beautiful raven-haired woman behind the cauldron nodded and held out her hand, and Wilhelm handed over her gift. As she opened it, Wilhelm admired the pale green undertones in her silky complexion and the way the firelight danced in her deep black eyes. Those lovely dark orbs sparkled with delight when she saw the sequined handbag under all the layers of tissue paper. Or was it the smoke that made them glisten?

“Thank you darling, it’s lovely,” Genevieve purred. She pulled a ladle from the voluminous folds of her long black gown and scooped up some of the liquid from her bubbling vat. The fumes made Wilhelm’s head spin. Genevieve carefully poured the effervescent concoction into a vial and handed it to Wilhelm.

“Have your wife drink this and our troubles will be over.”

“What about your husband?”

Genevieve smiled lazily. “Let me worry about him.”

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Ripples Would Betray Him

  1. k-avatarCharacter – ninja, just one week from retirement
  2. Setting – penguin enclosure
  3. Object – snorkel
  4. Situation – revenge

Ripples would betray him, so there were no ripples.

Shivering would reveal his lack of adaptation to this environment, so there was no shivering.

Oddly, the snorkel didn’t seem to pose a problem.

Swimming among the penguins behind the glass, Jin sought to merge with their graceful motion the way his black garb helped him blend with their distinctive coloration. Swimming, he watched the crowd on the other side of the glass. Watched for them to note something amiss, watched for them to discover that one of the penguins was actually a ninja. Hoped they wouldn’t realize that, in fact, two of them were.

Na must be in here somewhere, too. The one who had dishonored the guild and deflowered Jin’s betrothed. He could only be hiding among the penguins, because Jin knew he wasn’t in any of the other traditional ninja hideouts.

Time was of the essence. Jin and Na were both only a week from retirement, and union rules were very strict about seeking vengeance once a shadow warrior started drawing a pension. But Jin knew he was close, that he need only be patient a little longer.

The time would soon be right. The place was certainly right.

Revenge, after all, was best served cold.

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Tracy Clutched Her Skull in Agony

  1. k-avatarCharacter – equestrian
  2. Setting – the moors
  3. Object – halter
  4. Situation – blinding headache

Tracy clutched her skull in agony, wrapping her arms around her head to ward off further dashings as Seawind galloped heedless across the moors with Tracy’s leg thrust through the stirrup.

She knew the mare was too spooked to stop, might plunge over the approaching cliff. She had to regain control. She shouted, “Seawind! Whoa!” and coughed as soil and grass flew into her mouth. Desperate, she risked reaching with one hand. She heaved her torso upwards and strained after the halter. Seawind’s pulsating movement threw her about, the leather straps slipping her fingers three times before offering a hold.

Tracy clambered up the animal’s flank, drawing her weight off her leg and pulling it free. Seawind veered and Tracy tumbled into the heather, and then the horse went riderless over the lip.

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