Saturday Story Prompts are a weekly collection of five short snippits of story that my Muses never went further with. Hopefully they’ll spark a story for someone else!
1. “So what brings you into the wood?” asked the fox who wasn’t a wolf and wasn’t a bear. “It’s not safe out here in the dark.” He rippled as he spoke and wasn’t a cougar and wasn’t a lynx.
“You’re right,” she said and shot him with silver until he was just a fox again, “it’s not safe at all.”
2. I finally had to call in sick after a fruitless hour of tearing my apartment apart searching for my keys. My boss was more amused than annoyed, but I was headed into to a full-blown not-really-midlife crisis.
3. Dolphins are the teenaged assholes of our coast– sure, sometimes they’d help rescue a drowning fisherman, but for the most part make a game of dismantling our fish pens, harass the hippos that bring barges down the river, and snatch away the larger gamefish just before we can get them on the boat.
4. Over the years the forest expands outwards from the circle, rows of trees radiating in straight lines as if planted by an army of gardeners.
5. There’s a cliff by the sound end of the beach where you can lie right on the edge and watch the waves crash in below you. It’s just high enough to seem scary when you’re small, but short enough not to terrify your parents.
1. One day I realized other people could talk.
2. Another day at the campgrounds and I think she would have snapped. Heck, we might have been able to push her over the edge just by threatening to stay– but thankfully (or not) Phil had carefully rationed out our vacation into a Sally-approved adventure.
3. The shield might keep them safe, but it tinted the whole colony a depressing shade of blue.
4. “There are more domestic unicorns in Tennessee alone than there are left in the wild.” She looked out across the pasture with a sigh. “At this rate I’ll never get to see a real one.”
Her unicorn flicked his ear and snorted in amusement, but didn’t look up from his hay.
5. They save on fuels by following the winds, waiting until they’ve been truly mired in the doldrums to nurse the engines back to life.
1. Parallel universes spill off her fingers like drops of blood.
2. The ocean never changes and the ocean always changes. The phrase is so ingrained in the culture that it punctuates most conversations and she stops noticing it after a few weeks of living on the island.
3. Smoke is everywhere, not as thick or as acrid as when the fires were burning, but still dense enough to mask what’s entwined in the smoldering rubble. They pick their way out of the carnage and never look down.
4. Company life is broken down to a series of ruts and hills: you’re either at a job or on a ship heading to the next job. He learns quickly to enjoy the downtime while it lasts.
5. “‘My mother‘ this, ‘My mother‘ that– let the poor woman rest in peace and stop comparing us!”
1. No moon means no tides and she can’t bring herself to trust a sea so still.
2. A week ago I retired by accident. I was at the right place at the right time to do a favor for a very rich man and now I’ve got no debts and a trust fund big enough to live modestly on for– well, forever. So now what?
3. Dragons love base metals as well as precious, a master tinsmith’s work is just as honored a gift as a goldsmith– it’s the artistry that draws their eye first.
4. The clouds are like layer cakes, fluffy white interspersed with a bright crystal blue, and they dive through them recklessly. Each wingbeat kicks off tiny windstorms that trail in their wake, down, down until they are brushing the tops of the trees.
5. Transporters have too many moral dilemmas attached, so they stay inanimate-only.. at least until the war.
1. Magic is abundant, but useless. It litters the landscape with faded auras that sparkle when the moon is full… and not much else.
2. “Better sorry than safe!” was her favorite phrase and she fully expected it to be carved into a tombstone long before she hit old age.
3. They dig tribute rivers to the sea, draining lakes and ponds in their quest to calm the Deep Mother’s hunger for her children.
4. Watching the fire turn my childhood to ash was the closest I’ve ever come to being happy.
5. Tomorrow, yesterday– empty constructs that fall away as the days roll by, each one a perfect twin of the one before. For a while he slips into the hallucination that he’s living the same day over and over, but there are subtle variations in Purgatory, once he learns where to look.
1. Space is vast and empty and boring… but so is Earth, if you look at it right.
2. Horses only come in sandy chestnut here, the first herd was too small for the other colors to survive the rains. So she dreams in bays and grays and palominos… and wonders how mad her uncle would get if she ‘borrowed’ his hair dye.
3. Cold weather rolls down from the mountains and pools in the valley until the weather witch rolls up her sleeves and knots up the winds to the river.
4. Keeping college students as pets amuses her for a while, but they’ve no respect for antiquity– their lives revolve around finals and midterms. She settles on history-themed graduate students instead and torments them with insights she couldn’t possibly know… that all turn out to be true when they dig.
5. Deacon is less intimidating in person than over the phone, there’s some magic power that keeps him from cussing as loudly (or creatively) when he has to do it to your face.
1. The unicorn snarled, a low rumbling bellow that echoed in her bones.
2. Poor men walk and rich men ride and richer men stay home and let someone else do the traveling for them. Sadly Nathan’s riches only got him a mule and growing hatred for beans and rice.
3. There’s a constant hum throughout the ship, a melodic tone that’s generated to drown out the distracting clicks and whirrs and chirps that keep us alive. The tone’s annoying, but your brain filters one tone out easier than the chaos it’s hiding– at least until someone ‘helpful’ reminds you it exists.
4. The concept of sandwiches is apparently too much to grasp; they just keep disassembling them as soon as she hands them over.
5. Power goes out and the world goes with it. No one cares what’s happening overseas any more than they care what’s happening in a town three hundred miles away.
1. Open the door, they whispered from the shadows. Open the door, over and over until his childhood echoed with it.
2. They aren’t transporters so much as replicators, it’s only the law and the failsafes that clean-up the you that’s left behind.
3. Every so often I vow to give up the internet and accomplish something physical instead of virtual– but there are a depressingly few number of respawn points on this planet.
4. The wolves are small coyote-size things, stunted by generations of poor hunting and long winters. The sheep are massive, comparatively, and the canines learn quickly that my mountain flocks are nothing like their dimwitted low-valley cousins.
5. Telepathy depends heavily on your ability to translate the input; it’s more akin to interpretive dance than cryptography.
1. He’s forgotten more in a month than I’ve ever learned and it’s terrifying to watch something so ancient try to fit into a human shell.
2. ‘Happy thoughts’ really depend on who’s thinking them.
3. “This is the last time I save you from stupid choices.”
“I thought last time was the ‘last time’,” he said with a grin. “Come on Aunt Marg, you know you love the chance to tell Mom she was wrong.”
“The last time,” Margery repeated… and she almost meant it.
4. Raindrops are larger here, due to the gravity and atmosphere, and he spends a few lazy hours watching them splash against the windows.
5. Caravans are always delayed: it’s a time honored law of low-tech travel, so they’ve built in two-week buffers to compensate.
1. Unplugging –completely opting out of the net– isn’t possible anymore. Even if you aren’t directly connected everyone around you is and you’re defined by the blank space in their lives.
2. “If you say ‘I never meant to hurt you’ I swear I will gut you like fish.”
“I’m new to these sorts of battles, but I don’t think you’re allowed to fight clichés with clichés…”
3. Years are the only currency he has left, so he takes the bargain and steps out of time and into purgatory to pay his dues. What’s a century or two among friends, after all?
4. Hot springs are an unexpected bliss, tucked away just far enough off the trail that only the faintest hint of sulfur gives them away. The path is overgrown and none of the tracks are fresh so they’re safe enough to stop and soak.
5. Waiting is the worst part of bad events. I wait for them to happen, wait for them to be over, and wait for the next one to come along– being psychic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.