Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Writing Prompt! (Briane Pagel)

Here's a thing I'm gonna try: giving writing prompts.  IO9 does this on Saturdays, and I think it'll be a fun thing to do here.

So here is how this will work: I'm going to use a list of 8 randomly-generated words (from this site) and a picture that is called to mind by those words, and write a story using as many of those words as possible -- but you've got a time limit of 15 minutes, max, to write your story.

Here are the words:

loft, trellis, jump, duck, ball, scar, medicine, trolley.

And here is the picture, from stock.xchng:

So let's go.  My clock on my laptop says 7:08 p.m.

Things Like This Never End Well.

It was just supposed to be three wishes, Lofton kept thinking, as things fell apart around him.

Just three, but then he'd thought quickly and before the genie could say and no fair wishing for infinite wishes Lofton had said I wish for infinite wishes.

The genie had paused, midway through the sentence.  "Eh?" it said.

"I said I wish for infinite wishes," Lofton said.

"That's one of the rules, actually, I was just saying it..."

"But you hadn't said it, yet."

"But I was going to."

"But you hadn't."

The genie considered.

"You know," it said, "This never ends well for humans."

Lofton stared back at him, across the table, the cheap plastic-ish table in the depressing bar in the rundown Holiday Inn just outside of Cleveland.

"How do you mean?" he asked, back.

"I mean: this never ends well for humans.  Haven't you read your stories? Every person, from Aladdin to Thomas Edison, who ever got wishes from a mystical being ended up getting the raw end of the deal."

"Thomas Edison?"

"You think humans could invent the light bulb on their own?" The genie snapped his fingers, and a light bulb flared over his head.  "The whole thing was our idea.  When you live in a lamp, you want to find yourself an alternate light source pretty quick."

In the end, the genie had to cave and Lofton had taken the warning with the smallest grain of salt possible.  What trouble could I get into? He thought. I can always wish myself out of it.

And then he'd finished his beer and thought to himself, Man, that redhead over there is sexy, and then he'd realized that he didn't have to just dream, anymore, he realized screw this job interview tomorrow and I'm going to screw her, too, and he'd wished that he could have sex with the woman and within moments he was breathing heavy and sweating and they were panting and she was all over him and they were doing it, right there in the bar, and an off-duty cop got up and grabbed Lofton's shoulder and pulled him away yelling something about public indecency and maybe rape too as the woman looked drunk, too drunk to consent to him mauling her like that in public.

"You know this guy?" the cop asked the woman.

"No," she mumbled, her words slurred, and her eyes glazed over with shots.  Lofton was in handcuffs and saw the genie smirking but no biggie he thought and wished himself free, free I wish I was free he said outloud and the cop shook his head with sarcasm but Lofton was suddenly bumping along the ceiling and everyone -- well, the five people in the bar plus him -- staring at him.  The cop tried to jump up and catch him but Lofton was already heading through the skylight, being practically flung into the sky.

"Free of gravity, too," he said.  Clever, he thought, but let's see how the genie likes a taste of his own medicine.

"I wish the genie would have all the same things happen to him as happen to me," he said, and the genie was there with him, suddenly, both of them far far above the Cleveland skyline.  Lofton would have felt worried, the streets forming a trellis outline filled with lights from apartments, shops, below him, but he had his wishes.

"Nice try," the genie said, and started to dive back down.

"Hey!" Lofton said.  "You don't get to back out of it!"  But he saw that he hadn't wished for that, and was about to when suddenly he felt the air going slack around him.

He had been accelerating, hitting hitting loftier reaches of the atmosphere and there was almost no air left.  His lungs felt punched out and he was suddenly freezing.  Quick quick quick he thought and with what little breath he could muster he said I wish I was in a space capsule that actually worked and protected me from but that was all he got out.

The capsule was around him.  He was warm again. There was air -- enough for him to quickly wish that the air would keep refreshing and not go stale and that he would not run out of it.

This never ends well for humans, he thought, curled into a ball as the capsule spun around him.  He could hear rocket engines, could see the Earth receding below him, the thin scar of the daylit portion that he could see overwhelmed by the bulk of the planet turned away from the sun.

He ducked his head under the edge of the door to the capsule, free falling still, acceleration and gravity equally not touching him.  He figured he could come up with a precise enough wish to get himself back in touch with universal forces like that soon enough, but had to gather his thoughts. He belted himself into the pilot's seat and rubbed his temples.

"I wish," he said, and thought for a second, "That I would be back home, safe and sound and without being harmed."


"I wish," he said, "That I would be sitting in my own easy chair, with a beer in my hand, in my apartment on Earth where I lived for the past five years, and unharmed by my recent experiences."

The planet below him was now completely black.

Nothing happened.  The rocket engines continued to roar.  He stared at the window, at the nightscape below him, at the black of space.

"I wish the genie were here," he said.


"I wish for a ham sandwich on my lap right now!" he yelled, figuring that would be tangible.

There was a light blinking on a pair of headphones in front of him.  A beep sounded from them.  He picked them up, adjusted them on his ears, and spoke into the microphone.

"Hello?" he asked.

"Hello," he recognized the genie's voice.

"I wish I was home!" Lofton said.

"Fine," the genie said.  "But magic doesn't work in outer space."


So I went a little over the time limit-- it's 7:26 on my clock right now.  Try it yourself and post the story on your blog (or email it to me and see if you can get published and paid for it)! Leave a link to your story in the comments and I promise I'll visit.

Briane Pagel has eaten pizza for the past six meals as of this writing.  He blogs at Thinking The Lions, and publishes stories of his own on lit, a place for stories.  You can submit your stories to him at that site, and get paid!  Details on how to do that by clicking this link. 


  1. I am not much for writing prompts, but I'll think about it.

    I liked this, though.

  2. That was an amazing story! I've always wanted my shot if making wishes against a genie that twisted my wishes into something negative. I always thought I could add addendums and such in a way that would be a net positive for me.

  3. Thanks for sharing this kind of information to us. They can now be able to learn something new and useful about English writings. summarize my paper