Prompt: Finish the Story (#2)

First, thank you to everyone who participated last week.  If you haven’t read the entries yet, check out these posts:

Jamie
Judah First and another submission
JED
mine

And these submissions from the comments section:

Juliette Kings
Jaded
Zoe
ES

And, second, the new prompt is below.

I’m toying with the idea of making this into a weekly thing.  I’ll post a new prompt every Tuesday and then post my own response at some point before the end of the week.  I guess we’ll see how it goes.

If you want to play along, leave your ending to the story either in the comments or write a post on your own site and link to this one so I can find it.  Happy writing.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

Headlights bounced off another green sign, another discarded path on the journey of your life, momentarily brightening the predawn darkness before the weight of the black morning came crushing down upon you again.  You acknowledged the exit, as you had the rest, noticed it, confirmed the words weren’t the ones you were looking for, and then your eyes switched back to the road and your thoughts moved to more pressing matters.  Where was your exit?  Would you recognize it?  Would you miss it and slip into the night forever?

The edge of your soft headlights caught the dull yellow line running down the certain of the freeway.  It was the only constant in your life.  And then it broke out into dashes and your realized there was nothing constant in your life.  Your heart skipped a beat.  Your eyes flew wide with fear and joy.  And then the solid was back and your norm returned.

The miles slipped beneath your tires and the hum of their passage was a lullaby calling you back to sleep.  It was inviting, but your bed was too far in your past to return to, and the dreams that had accompanied your sleep recently were the kind you could do without.  Names shouted in anger and pain.  The red of gore splashed against white walls.  The dangerous crossings of what had been and what could have been.

No, shaking your head to ward of the partial memories, to not let your thoughts dwell on discerning the truth, you focus again on the pavement coming into view just ahead of those two tiny beams of light.  Your future is out there in the darkness, waiting to be found, just beyond the arc of your headlights.  Another green sign comes into view…

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94 thoughts on “Prompt: Finish the Story (#2)”

  1. The words flash in your headlights. The same thoughts flit through your mind – not the right words, where are the words, I can’t find the words.
    The same arguments ricochet through your brain – the yelling, the screaming, the recriminations.
    The red, the red, the red….
    The confrontation echoes in your mind – so much blood, so much blood.
    The miles pass, you see the signs, as you begin to accept that the fault was yours.
    The visions of blood and red dripping meat fade from memory, and your pregnant wife’s smiling, hungry face looms in your minds eye as you ride beneath the sign you were looking for –
    “Leathersteaks – Home Of The well Done Burger”

      1. Thanks. He was just going to keep on rolling, but then I thought – wait a minute – that gore could only be one thing!

        this story business is cheaper than therapy. ;)

      1. They can order it that way at a restaurant, but if I’m cooking, I’m not going to ruin a good piece of meat I’ve paid for. They just have to either eat what I serve them (and like it) or starve.

      2. Medium for me, maybe medium rare. nice and juicy and thick, a bit of salad, onion rings, a sauce of some description, Mmmm Hmmm.

      3. Well that all depends, Burgers are not my forte, but I would give it a go for sure. Hmm let me think, variety is good, so may even try some lamb burgers with cumin, maybe some beef burgers with fresh chilli, regular beef burgers with blue cheese, Beef burgers with a jack daniels glaze, all in a Brioche Bun

        All served with fresh salad, onions rings and olive oil, salt and black pepper basted potato wedges.

      4. Yes.. yes they would. nice crispy outer skin, soft fluffy center, when you cut the open a little puff if steam rises, yummmmmm

  2. Then you heard the voice again. That voice! Always crowding in to push the darkness back, the sweet darkness that hid and sustained you. “Shut UP!” you screamed in your head. Still it came, relentless.

    “Mr. Peabody, please come back to bed,” the nurse said with quiet authority.

    Your head snapped up in sudden recognition. “Where am I?” you mumbled groggily.

    “Sleepwalking again, Dearie. At least this time you brought your flashlight,” the nurse crooned. “Bad dream tonight?”

    “Uh, yeah,” was all you could muster in reply.

    “Well, walking up and down this parking lot isn’t going to clean the mess off the walls of your room. At least you finally got rid of that rat for us! Ready to go back inside now?” Then you noticed the bucket and rags she carried.

    Looking up at the stone walls you caught a glimpse of the light shining from your window on the third floor. “Sure,” you said softly. Taking your arm in hers, the nurse gently led you back inside the asylum. “Home at last,” you thought..

      1. You and me both! How long do you have to drive? My commute is about 1.5 hours total. I have taken to listening to books on tape. The next one I would like to find is by Brene Brown. I usually listen to fantasy/sci-fi, but I’m feeling like it’s time for a change.

        What do you do to pass the time?

      2. It’s only about 40 minutes in the mornings, and I listen to music, loudly and stuff I can sing to, so I stay awake (I’m in the car around 4:45AM). In the afternoons it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes to get home. Then I’m usually calling people to chat with (on a hands free device, of course.)
        I tried books on tape once, but … it was very distracting, I got so lost in the story I either a) almost ran into the cars around me, or b) missed my exit on the freeway.

    1. Not too many drivers on the road with me in the mornings, thankfully. And the phone conversations in the afternoon keep the cursing to only that which is absolutely necessary for my sanity.

      1. :) Yeah, I do a lot of chatting on the phone too while driving (hands free as well, of course), but I find that talking on the phone makes me miss more exits, not to mention forgetting where I parked the car at the grocery store… Wait! That could be function of *eh-hem old age.

      2. Sometimes I miss my exits while talking on the phone too. But, I think that has to do more with my general state of tired these days than anything else. The Little Prince (16 months now) still isn’t letting us get a good night of sleep, and my new work hours mean getting up at 4… so, by the time I’m headed home in the afternoons I’m pretty well tuckered out.

  3. Orangevale.

    I’ve never heard of the place but I turn off.

    I think of warm breezes, beautiful fragrant fruit, tall cool drinks and lazy afternoons. The exit brings me to a river and I see a damn. A bridge road leads me to tall bluffs. The drive takes me through houses, more lights as I slow off of the highway into places where people live their quiet lives.

    Another light and I turn then move my car down through a winding road through the woods to the end where a gravel parking lot waits empty at night.

    Almost 200 miles since I started. Wiping the blood off of my hands and steering wheel with an old sweatshirt I get out. The air smells of oak trees and dry ground. Something, birds or deer rustles in the trees. Faint noises of traffic can be heard.

    The quiet of the place, a place I’ve never heard of, sings to my soul.

    There are no Oranges here, at least not in this spot. Only the oaks and the faint outline of digger pines. My skin starts to itch. I roll my shoulders. No use thinking about it anymore.

    I’ll make this my new home. Nobody except my accountant will know where I am.

    My stomach growls. Has it been so long since I ate anything? I try to remember but only see blood then nothing. I don’t remember. I stretch and howl at the moon, and then on all four paws I run to the river before sunrise comes.

    1. Ah, to be a wolf. Simple needs. Simple life. The freedom of the woods and anonymity to hide the sins of your past, and future.
      But, can the accountant be trusted?

  4. You tried to read the sign, but the car is now passing you. You hear a squeal of tires and for a brief moment are blinded by the headlights. A moment passes and you can see again. Checking your rear view there is nothing in sight. Odd. Realizing you completely have missed the sign you continue driving, doubting it was your exit. After sometime a winding river meets your road and you cross over a long bridge. Once you are over the bridge you note that the landscape has mellowed out some. Then a yellow caution sign crosses your path. It warns you to be on the look out for a pack of animals. Odd, signs usually only print one silhouette of an animal, not three, and there had distinctly been three heads on that outline. Shaking your head you continue to drive.

    Time passes but the gray light of predawn doesn’t move at all. Finally you find another green exit sign. You read it several times, unable to comprehend the words. Asphodel. That hadn’t been on any of your maps. Glancing ahead you notice what appear to be toll booths. They hadn’t been on your maps either. Moments tick by, your confusion freezing you until you’ve missed the exit, again. Rolling to a stop at one of the many booths you roll down your window. The attendant appears to be sick, deathly skinny, his skin clings to his bones. On second inspection you realize there is no skin, the person manning the booth is a skeleton.

    “Destination?” The skeleton rasps.

    You choke out, “Excuse me?”

    “Destination?”

    “I…I’m headed to Troy.”

    “Ha ha, good one. Destination?”

    “No, really, I’m headed to Troy, Missouri.”

    The skeleton, without benefit of skin and eyes, manages to glare at you with sockets alone. You start to feel the chill emanating from the countryside. It had been 105 when you had started the ride. You know something is definitely off, but can’t quite place it.”

    “Fine. I’ll let the judges deal with you. Take the second road from the right and drive until you hit the lot. Welcome to the Underworld, have a nice afterlife.”

    “What?”

    “Second road from the right, move along.”

    You look around, utterly confused. As you creep forward, you can’t help checking the rear view mirror. The skeleton is already raising the gate for the car behind you. It looks like it’s been in a nasty accident recently. As your eyes start to flick back to the road you catch your reflection. Slamming on the breaks you drop the visor. There is a gash across your head. No longer bleeding but obviously a serious injury. Then you look at the rest of yourself. Your entire body is ghostly white. Touching your skin it’s colder than ice. The cold hadn’t been coming from outside after all. The truth sinks in. Unsure how it happened, you are dead.

  5. This one was different. It sent a shiver down your spine. The words, did you really see what you thought. You decided it was just late, your eyes and mind were tired. You kept driving.

    Soon another sign was spotted. You looked closer and was sure of what it read. Still you kept driving. It just didn’t make sense. You had taken a new route. You chose a new path. Why were you still headed for the same place?

    The exits continued to pass, each one repeating the one before. It was inescapable. You began to wonder if it didn’t matter what road you took. Maybe the destination was always going to be the same.

    You thought back to years before, to what the road trips used to be like. The black pavement passing under the tires. The late night stops at random bars. The drunken woman you had talked into leaving with you.

    The screams, the blood. the terror in their eyes. You couldn’t help but smile a bit at the memories. You may have changed your ways but not your true feelings or desires.

    How many exits had passed? You hadn’t been paying attention, your thoughts consuming you. Ahead the path seemed to be flickering, moving. The light and darkness were intertwined.

    You realized the car was sputtering, the needle having fell beyond the E. You were slowly coming to a stop. The headlights were barely enough to see the sign you approached. Below the sign the ground erupted and fire consumed the road.

    You knew you had reached your final exit. The fire surrounded you as the car and the road melted away.

    1. A life of sin leads to an end in the fires… Gripping, really. I didn’t want it to end, though. I wanted to see what happens next. Does it just stop, their world ceases as the fire consumes them, or does their story continue on?

      1. Might be a story for another time. What becomes of those souls consumed.

        I hope you continue these. I have a lot of fun with it.

      2. Planning on continuing for a while… see how long I can stretch the series. But, considering I ran two weekly themed posts for over a year when I first started, I’m betting I can keep this going for a long time.

      1. Turkey Pastrami sandwich on whole wheat, with swiss and mustard, a strawberry yogurt, and a string cheese. Then I’ll probably raid my junk drawer for some mini-snickers and anything else I can find there to fill in the corners.

  6. Wow, those other entries are so good. My mind is a blank sadly, I detect some insanity (in the story, maybe in my head too) there; but cannot find the words to pull into a story, This is a great idea though, certainly something to consider continuing.

  7. … Still the wrong exit; how long would this continue? I’d know it if I saw it, surely I would, I had not been wrong before and I had to get there before they did, I had to warn those people.

    I thought back to the dream, it was so vivid then but now the details were fading and becoming fuzzy around the edges, I was beginning to doubt myself. When I had awoken I knew where I needed to go and had rushed out in the small hours in order to get to that location, I’d never been to that place before but I knew how to get there, I always seemed to have this knowledge after these dreams, it was a message I am sure, but a message from whom?

    I felt like I was in the Matrix and that I was Keanu Reeves when he wanted to learn a new skill he would just plug himself in, I didn’t understand it, but I had the knowledge of these areas and how to get there it is just the way it was.

    But these names… all these names they were wrong, perhaps I had come to the wrong place. Another green sign ahead, the car naturally drifted to the left where the rapid slapping of rubber against the cats eyes brought me out of my daze, the sign was nearly behind me when I saw the words.

    My foot instantly went to the brakes and pressed hard, the car tipped forward the screeching of brakes and white billow of smoke from the tyres drifted off into the dark, cold morning. I sat there a short while, a slight, blueish light from the dashboard cast shadows over my face. I reversed and re-read the sign. This was it, a crazed grin spread across my face and I hit the accelerator bursting down the slip road., “haha I’ll beat them” I shouted as I tore through the A roads now confident that my acquired directions were correct.

    I could feel myself getting close I would find them and warn them of the danger coming their way, they would hide or move and then I would have beaten them and it would all be over. I saw a police car ahead, red and blue flashing lights adorned its roof spreading coloured lights over the bushes and trees. Something was wrong, the car was half blocking the road and two officers stood on the tarmac, my lights reflected off the yellow high viz and I slowed to a crawl turning my indicator on to go into the close, this was the location but my gut feeling was bad, .my stare went from the Policeman to the turnoff and back to the Policeman.

    One of the officers stepped forward holding out his hand gesturing for me to stop which I did and would down my window.

    “You can’t go in there at the moment” he said, his voice stern but with a trace of fear.

    “Why not officer” I replied trying to keep calm, belying the panic in my gut.

    “There has been an incident the whole street is closed down, you will need to use the other entrance if you want to get home”

    “Oh, I see, what sort of incident?”

    The officer looked back at his colleague and I detected a slight shake of the head, they had just shared that unspoken understanding that no information would be passed, at least not to me”

    “A murder, you will need to move along.”

    I pulled out onto the main road, tears welled up in my eyes and I hammered the steering wheel with my hands… “fucking too late… again!”

    ————
    I couldn’t think of anything earlier, but then re-read it and thought of something that I read about years ago. any grammatical errors are DJs fault :P

    1. I take full responsibility for all grammatical errors, and the usage of terms that are more English than American I’ll claim as well. :-P
      Great bit of suspense and mystery here, Moi. Well done. I especially like the detail you put in. I could feel the car slamming to a halt. I could see the police cruisers. The driver’s emotions were palpable.

      1. It’s all about the details :D… thanks, that was tough, I was blank earlier, completely blank then I remembered a story I read years back and it influenced the outcome.

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