Category Archives: Challenges & Prompts

Sleeping Gods in poetry and prose

Today I thought I would try a little experiment. Consider it a challenge or prompt if you’d like. The challenge to myself was to write a short poem or rhyme, as well as a short piece of prose or free write. Both pieces had to cover the same subject or theme, and would allow the reader to see it in two different ways. I don’t know if I succeeeded in this, but here’s what I came up with. Hope you enjoy.

SLEEPING GODS

We are the dreams of the sleeping gods 

Peacefully adrift on oceans of time

Wondering if there is more than this

Being a mere fragment of the mind.

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Once, when I was young, I dreamed I was a dream, and at any moment the gods would awake and I would find myself drifting off into nothing, my whole life amounting to just a figment of heaven’s imagination. In this, the futility of growing up became apparent. For after all, if we are but a dream in the minds of the gods, then nothing is permanence. At any given moment, our very world could change, even to the point where the gods wished to dream of us no more.  

Writing Prompt: Put Down That Book and Fight Me

Here we go with another writing prompt to get the creative juices flowing. Today’s task is to write a short story beginning with the phrase, Put down that book and fight me. 

If you want to participate, it’s easy. Just start writing 😉 Feel free to share what you write in the comments, or provide a link to your blog so others can see what you’ve come up with.

Have fun! 🙂

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“Put down that book and fight me.”

The old man in his easy chair didn’t look up. “I admire your tenacity, but I truly must finish this chapter.”

“To hell with your chapter. Stand up and defend yourself.”

“Ones defense is not determined by some notion to get up from your reading chair. Now if you don’t mind, I only have a few paragraphs left and you are interrupting my solitude.”

“You can have solitude when you’re dead,” the young assassin exclaimed. To prove his point, he swished his sword back and forth as if he were cutting through the very air. 

The old man ignored him and continued to read. So intent he was on the written word, his killer could have trashed every shelf in the library and he wouldn’t have budged from the comfort of his chair. In this, the newly arrived Intruder would have to take more drastic measures with his intended target.

“I will give you to the count of five to put your book down and fight. After that, I will kill you where you sit.”

Still, the old man read on, as if the assassin’s voice was nothing but the whisp of a memory echoing in the room. He turned to the next page of his book, and continued to take in each word. A slight smile crossed his face in the same way we ourselves might exhibit when reading a particular clever passage in our favorite tome.

The killer, shuffled from one foot to another as he counted. “One…”

He waited a beat. “Two…”

The old man’s eyes glued to the page, as he nodded in satisfaction.

The killer gripped the hilt of the sword tighter. “Three…”

He took one step forward. “Four…”

A breath. He raised his sword, preparing for the deadly swing. 

Crack! An excruciating pain in his ankle. He staggered back on his other foot, looking down unbelieving at the damage. He hadn’t even seen the old man move, and yet his his leg had shot out from him in deadly precision to strike the breaking point of the killer’s ankle. The rest of him had not moved, and in fact still sat in the high backed leather chair engrossed in his book.

“Oh, you are so dead,” the assassin snarled and charged forward, his sword swinging forward in an arc towards the chair. Before he reached it however, it was flipping backwards, the old man still in it, tumbling over twice until the avid reader was buried under it.

The sword had missed its mark and struck only fabric, enraging the killer. With his good foot, he tried to sweep the chair over on its side so he could see the old man, but the chair was too big and he staggered and swayed off balance. Regaining his footing, he thrust the point of the sword through the chair. 

Thunk! The tip of the sword didn’t meet flesh and bone, but the solid wood of the floor. The old man wasn’t under the chair. 

Looking up, he spied him right away. He was standing by the fireplace. In one hand he held a hot poker, just removed from the embers. In the other, the book he had refused to put down. He raised the volume to eye level and began to read again. 

Angered to the point where the broken ankle no longer mattered, the assassin charged, the arc of his sword swishing back and forth in crisscross movements before him. 

Holding the book out at arms length, the old man brought the poker to bear, gray ash flying off its tip. Sword met poker with a clang. The metal vibrated in their hands, but neither dropped their weapon. Instead, they parried back and forth, the old man taking the lead by driving the young killer back, while the would be assassin himself couldn’t believe the elderly gentleman in coattails still had not put down the book, even while fighting.

This distraction was too much to bear, and the old man with one swift twist of the poker, disarmed his attacker. The sword flew across the room, too far away to be retrieved. With a roundhouse movement , he swept the legs out from under his younger opponent. 

The youth landed on his back hard, the breath nearly knocked out of him. The hot poker was inches from his chest as the old man leaned over him. But the victor was not gloating, nor was he even paying attention. On the contrary, he was still reading. 

He nodded his head, smiled, and put his heel upon the young man’s chest to let him know he was not to get up. He snapped the book shut. He took a deep, satisfactory breath and tossed the poker away. Leaning down, he looked in the young man’s nervous eyes.

“The true reader doesn’t allow anyone to interrupt the tale,” he said.

The fallen warrior shook his head. “I can’t believe you beat me,” he whined.

“I was finished with the chapter.”

The old man reached down with his free hand and helped his student to his feet. 

Doll (50 word story)

I really love doing prompts and challenges. Sometimes I just want to push myself to try and write something that is more strict and confined in its guidelines. I’m so used to stretching stories out that when 50 word challenges come along it can be quite daunting. Though the following little story wasn’t brought on by a challenge from another blog or source, I gave myself this one word prompt while working in the basement and coming across the doll illustrating this post. It belonged to my mother and I snapped up a quick shot and fed it through my photo editor. Taking a look at it later, the 50 word story began. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to post your own 50 word story  in the comments if the pic inspires you to write. Have a great Saturday and stay away from dolls, lol….
The old porcelain doll looked at me from the dresser. Her cracked amber eyes seemed to harbor evil and malice. Her tiny mouth sneered. My wife slept peacefully beside me, so I ignored the thing and tried to get some rest too. I didn’t even know we had a doll. 

Blood Pupil (Hand Over The Girl new edit)

“Hand over the girl.”

I looked at the suit holding the gun and knew he was used to getting what he wanted. I sighed. “Its not going to happen.”

“Are you crazy? We have you outnumbered.”

“And your point is?..”

He looked me dead in the eye. “We can take her by force if we have to.”

“That’s not a good idea.”

He threw his head back. “Ha! And why not?”

“For every action there is a reaction. You are a ripple in the pond. Don’t turn it into a wave.”

“I hated school teachers as a kid. I hate them even worse now, so just give us the girl.”

“You can learn nothing from her. Leave her alone.”

“We just want to talk to her about what she saw.”

I looked at the thugs before me. There were three of them. Either they weren’t that worried over what she saw or they didn’t think they’d have any trouble out of a little girl and her runaway school teacher. “She didn’t see anything. Nobody called the cops. Live and let live.”

The leader of the three shook his head. “I’m sorry, the boss wants to see her just the same. Just to make sure.”

“I can’t let you take her.”

“Come on, teach. Be smart. Don’t make me shoot you.”

The gun in his hand, pointing directly at me, was starting to make me nervous. “You don’t understand.”

“So make me understand and maybe I’ll let you live.”

I noticed the other two suits laughed under their breath. Yeah, I didn’t believe it either.

“She can’t go outside,” I said. “Not yet anyway.”

“What? Is she grounded or something? Teacher, giving her after school lessons in the dark? Ha-ha!”

“No, she just likes it here in the dark.”

“Freaking perv. How many little girls you bring down here in this dark, damp basement?”

“I’m not a perv. I’m her teacher.”

“Not for long, you ain’t. Now, one last time, hand..over…the …girl.”

I sighed. We were never going to get through this unless I did as they asked. I glanced over my shoulder towards the darkness in the corner. Not even shadows invaded that space, but I knew that’s where she was.

“I’m sorry Elena. These men want to talk to you. I tried my best. I guess I’m not much good at being a protector.”

The lead suit grinned. “That’s better, teach. Now get her out of that corner.”

“Elena, it’s alright. You can come out and go with them. But just this one time, okay?”

“That’s right girly, come out and go with us.”

I tried to peer into the dark, wondering if she was coming or not. Nothing moved there, but I knew she waiting for further instruction.

“Remember what I taught you. Never for pleasure, always for survival, okay?”

The thug leader rolled his eyes. “Whatever, teach. Come on girl, we ain’t got all day. Earl, go over there and get her.”

One of the other gangsters, Earl I assume, took a quick, purposeful stride towards the corner. “Right, boss. I’m on it….Hey, what’s up with her eyes? Why is she freaking smiling like that…..Aaaaaaaa!”

His screams pierced the silence of the basement. There was a crunching sound as he vanished into the pitch black corner. A guttural growl issued from the dark and Earl’s screams seemed to rise a moment before being replaced by something that sounded like he was drowning. We could hear the gurgling in his throat.

“What the hell? Get her off of him!”

The leader shoved his other gun toting cronie towards the corner. The guy hesitat d, seriously afraid, but knew he had no choice. He bounded into the dark, his gun blazing.

“I told you she wants to stay in the dark,” I said.

The gunfire suddenly stopped. “Oh my god, boss! She has…. Aaaaaa!”

In anger the leader cracked me against the head with the butt of the gun. I knew it would draw blood, but I didn’t go down. I stood my ground as he charged to the rescue of his guys.

“I’m coming , hold on! I’m going to pump you full of lead, you little bitch!”

He came up short, raised his gun at the target he could barely see. He pulled the trigger firing off several rounds until there was nothing but clicks.

“What the shit? What..what the hell are you? I just emptied all my bullets into you!”

He tried to take a step back, all the while his finger still pulling the trigger of the now empty gun. A small hand reached out of the darkness. Long, thin fingers bent at odd angles, as if the bones had all grown out in different directions. They grasped his gun arm, wrapping around his biceps and pulled him back into the horrible dark, where even I could not witness his fate.

“No, get away from me! Why are you looking at me like that? Oh Mary, holy mother of Jesus, is that blood on your teeth? No, no, no!…… AaaaaAAA!”

I took a short step forward. Pulling out my handkerchief, I wiped the blood off my forehead where the gun handle had whacked me.

“Elena, don’t turn them. Survival only, remember?”

I approached the dark corner and held my hand out. There were unsettling noises coming from within. Cracking bones. Hungry slurping. Animalistic growls overshadowing the moans of the dying. There was a final crunch like someone setting a broken leg on the field of battle and then her hand reached out to grasp mine gently. It was a normal child hand. No long, thin fingers bent outwards in opposite ways. And as she emerged from the darkness, her dusty brown hair covering half her face, I smiled.

“That’s a good girl,” I said.

She squinted her dark eyes against the light from the basement bulbs. Small slices of sunlight filtered through boarded up casement windows, and I maneuvered her small frame around them.

“Come on, let’s get you away from the light.”

She held her arms up to me and I picked her up.

“Whoa, you sure are heavy after you’ve had breakfast….”

She lay her head over on my shoulder. I could smell the blood in her hair and on her clothes. Her little arms tightened around me and I thought to myself, one day I was going to miss this. Caring about someone. Protecting the innocent. Perhaps you wouldn’t understand, but she’s my blood pupil, not yours. I dare you to come between us…

2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Read the original dialogue only version here: Hand Over The Girl: Dialogue Prompt for Sunday 12 Feb

Hand Over The Girl: Dialogue Prompt for Sunday 12 Feb

Alright, here we go with yet another prompt. I really enjoy doing these, and I hope you don’t mind me passing the challenge over to you. I just find prompts a great warm up to get those creative juices going. So today, we have a slice of dialogue to inspire your flash fiction or short story. The object is to use this in its exact form somewhere within your text. In case you missed it in the image for this post, the dialogue to use is as follows:

“Hand over the girl.”

“Not going to happen.”

Again, Put this anywhere within your story. I did take it a step further personally by adding a further rule for myself: My flash fiction had to be told completely with dialogue. You don’t have to do yours this way if you don’t want to. I was just trying to challenge myself further. Okay , well here we go….

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One Morning Before Breakfast


“Hand over the girl.”

“Not going to happen.” 

“Are you crazy? We have you outnumbered.” 

“And your point is?..” 

“We can take her by force if we have to.” 

“That’s not a good idea.” 

“Ha! And why not?” 

“For every action there is a reaction. You are a ripple in the pond. Don’t turn it into a wave.” 

“I hated school teachers as a kid. I hate them even worse now, so just give us the girl.” 

“You can learn nothing from her. Leave her alone.” 

“We just want to talk to her about what she saw.” 

“She didn’t see anything. Nobody called the cops. Live and let live.” 

“I’m sorry, the boss wants to see her just the same. Just to make sure.” 

“I can’t let you take her.” 

“Come on, teach. Be smart. Don’t make me shoot you.” 

“You don’t understand.” 

“So make me understand and maybe I’ll let you live.” 

“She can’t go outside. Not yet anyway.” 

“What? Is she grounded or something? Teacher, giving her after school lessons in the dark? Ha-ha!” 

“No, she just likes it here in the dark.” 

“Freaking perv. How many little girls you bring down here in this dark, damp basement?” 

“I’m not a perv. I’m her teacher.” 

“Not for long, you ain’t. Now, one last time, hand..over…the …girl.” 

“I’m sorry Elena. These men want to talk to you. I tried my best. I guess I’m not much good at being a protector.” 

“That’s better, teach. Now get her out of that corner.” 

“Elena, it’s alright. You can come out and go with them. But just this one time, okay?” 

“That’s right girly, come out and go with us.” 

“Elena, remember what I taught you. Never for pleasure, always for survival, okay?” 

“Whatever, teach. Come on girl, we ain’t got all day. Earl, go over there and get her.” 

“Right, boss. I’m on it….hey, what’s up with her eyes? Why is she freaking smiling like that…..Aaaaaaaa!” 

“What the hell? Get her off of him guys!” 

“I told you she wants to stay in the dark.” 

“Oh my god, boss! She has…. Aaaaaa!” 

“I’m coming , hold on! I’m going to pump you full of lead, you little bitch!…What the shit? What..what the hell are you? I just emptied all my bullets into you!…No, get away from me! Why are you looking at me like that? Oh Mary, holy mother of Jesus, is that blood on your teeth? No, no, no!…… AaaaaAAA!” 

“Elena, don’t turn them. Survival only, remember? That’s a good girl. Come on, let’s get you away from the light. Whoa, you sure are heavy after you’ve had breakfast….” 

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2017 Paul D Aronson. 

Flash Fiction: Count To 50 And Breathe

Woo-hoo! It’s flash fiction Friday, but a day late 😉 So, anyway today I’m going to share this piece of flash fiction, and hopefully inspire you to join in with some of your own. There’s no rule to this other than whatever you write is based upon, inspired by, or otherwise encouraged by the provided image heading this post. So, take a look at the image and wherever it takes you, just write. After all that’s the real purpose here, to get those creative juices flowing. My own attempt  at this is below, and please feel free to share your own take on this challenge in the comments or by providing a link to your work, so we can see what everyone comes up with. Have fun!

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The bedroom is dark, not totally devoid of light, but just enough to cast shadows upon the wall. The light from the hallway under the door. The black light that hangs in the closet, a remnant from when this was my big brother’s room and his closet walls were adorned with velvet posters of Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones that changed colors under the ultraviolet bulb. The posters are gone now, but the black light is irresistible and now casts strange shadows against the wall making Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands seem like he could come down and sit beside me just to say he knows how I feel. I often feel like Edward, lost in a world that didn’t want him, misunderstood by all except one, and yet I don’t have that one , unless you count my gray tabby, Captain Howdy. Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t name him. It’s another remnant from my brother who I think got it from either a Stephen King novel or a song by Twisted Sister.

Sometimes I find the darkness in my room liberating, as if in the black pitch I can truly be me without putting myself on parade, masquerading as mommy and daddy’s happy little girl. And yet sometimes the darkness becomes claustrophobic, as if my world is a box that steadily gets smaller and smaller like something out of Alice In Wonderland. It’s in these moments, when everything is closing in around me, that I count to fifty and breathe. It’s a trick my grandmother taught me. A way to overcome fear, nervousness, or any situation that seems so alien it’s dangerous.

When I was little I was afraid of the dark. I would whine and cry for my father. He wouldn’t come. My grandmother would finally get up and come to my rescue. We would count to fifty together and it made everything better. I’m no longer afraid of the darkness; it just gets so stifling lonely sometimes. Boys my age don’t understand this. Nor do many of the girls. If they do they don’t admit it. They would rather pretend that loneliness doesn’t consume them or cover them like an ever present shroud. But I can’t pretend. I am lonely and the only ones who understand are hanging on my wall.

Challenge: Abandon Your Comfort Zone

Recently a friend of mine on Facebook challenged me to write something outside my comfort zone. “Whatever you are scared to write about, write it anyway,” he said. I let this sink in awhile, but didn’t really intend to take him up on the challenge. Still, it wouldn’t leave me. Could I abandon my safe writing place and tackle something that makes me uncomfortable or is darker than what I would normally write? Finally, while meditating with my adult coloring book, it came to me. What I felt is one of  the hardest things for me to write about just sprang to mind with a stark opening line. I feel weird telling you that I hope you enjoy this piece, but hopefully it does bring something to the table, to maybe inspire you to write a story or poem outside your own comfort zone. You don’t need to use the picture heading this post, just write what you don’t want to write 😉 Feel free to share anything you may write in regards to this challenge if you like. You can post it as a comment here in my post, or share a link if you have it written or posted somewhere else. Okay, takes a deep breath, here it goes.

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The Devil Is A Cold Floor
I am a shadow.

 A ghost moving against the chill of a cold concrete floor.

The voice of the devil tells me this is what adults do.

Lay still. Be quiet. This will hurt just a bit, then it feels good.

The devil lies. The hurt goes on forever

Following from one lover to another

To mess you up for everyone

Hot water heater

I imagine its the mouth of hell

As I stare up in into its tiny flickering flame

Wishing it could burn the shame away

But the shame remains as it always will

A stark reminder that the devil is a cold floor

Upon which all innocence dies.