Writing Prompt Challenge (writing practice)


#1

Here is a little fun challenge below is a writing Prompt for an idea of a story.

The protagonist dies at the beginning of the story but is saved by Death. Who allows them to live on but only by stealing time from others.

Now onto the challenge turn this into a short story.

I’ll be doing the same and I’ll post it when I’m done.

I look forward to seeing how you do.


#2

Don’t tempt me, I already have too many projects :smile:
Looking forward to seeing what others come up with though


#3

Lol its just a little practice before starting season two in earnest lol


#4

This is a really good idea! I’ve done something like this before, where the “prompter” will provide writers with a basic plot point, and the writers have to write short stories based around it. I’ll give it a go. :blush:

I wonder why he chose me. Granted, I was young. “Too young to die,” some might say. But I certainly wasn’t unique in that regard. After all, thousands of children die every day. I remember when I was just twelve years old, my friend Curtis had an older sister, Diane. Her friends convinced her to take an ecstasy pill on her sixteenth birthday, and she died of heart failure that very night. Death did not intervene.

I’m starting to wonder if it’s because I’m a bad person… I certainly didn’t think that before all this happened. I got good grades at school. I had plenty of friends. I respected my parents. I certainly was never considered a bully. Hell, I’d never even been in a fight in my life. More than that, I’d never stolen anything, never cheated on my girlfriend, never done anything to indicate that I was anything other than a sweet, kind and perfectly decent young man. Still, that night, Death stood before me and offered me, and me alone, a choice. I could carry on my journey to what ever came next, or I could stay awhile longer. As long as I wanted, in fact. But on one condition… Any length of time I chose to live would have to be taken from another person… I always thought I was a good person before, but when Death presented me with this choice, I didn’t even hesitate. He knew I wouldn’t hesitate. What does that say about me?

Still, I can’t think about that right now. On the night I got my life back, I took three months from a nearby homeless man to keep myself going. To give myself time to think. And now, that time is nearly up… How much longer do I keep on going? How much life am I willing to take from others to keep myself alive? Should I live another fifty years? A hundred? A thousand? Or perhaps I should just stop now. After all, I didn’t really have time to think about it before. I was scared. I didn’t want to steal life from other people, I just didn’t want to die. Is that really such a crime? Maybe I should end it now, before it goes too far. Just give up on this selfish idea of stealing time from others, and let myself die tonight. That would be the right thing to do.

“Hey, Mr!” I hear a little voice call to me, and see two eyes peering at me over the fence. “Mr, can I have my ball back, please?”

I know this girl. Crysta, I think her name is. She’s my neighbour’s daughter. I see her riding her bike down the street all the time. “Uhh… Sure,” I reply, searching for the ball in my lawn. I was so lost in thought that I didn’t even notice it. Eventually, I find the thing half buried in my boxwood hedge. It’s one of those light weight, pink balls, decorated with various princesses from Disney cartoons I don’t recognise. “Here you go,” I say, passing the ball back to her, and as her fingers gently brush mine, I make an impulsive decision… “Five years.”

Now, you might consider it cruel, taking life from one so young, but I see it the opposite way. After all, this child can’t be more than seven years old. She has all the time in the world. Even if I take five years from her life span, she’ll most likely live another seventy years or more. If it were an elderly person, the ninety eight year old woman across the road who lives alone with her five cats, for example… Well, the effects of that would be too real for me. If I took a handful of months from her, that may well be the only time she had left. Any chance to say goodbye or make her peace with whatever friends or family she has left would be gone. My parents would probably attend her funeral, out of sympathy for the poor, lonely soul. Not only that, but they’d most likely insist that I join them, and I would have to stand there, knowing that I was directly responsible for her slightly too early demise. No. I would much prefer to take the time from this young girl. After all, I will be long gone from this place, before I have to witness the ramifications… Or at least, that’s what I thought.

I didn’t even get those five years. I got four years and three months, and then little Crysta dropped to the ground, dead… “Damn,” I whisper under my breath. This was not supposed to happen. Hopping the fence, I lean forward and scoop up the tiny, lifeless body in my arms. Seven years old… Damn.

I wonder how she was supposed to go. Car crash? Terminal illness, maybe? I suppose it doesn’t matter now. There’s no way to ever find out. However it was meant to happen, this girl was supposed to live another four years, and here she is now, dead in my arms. What does that make me, exactly? I’m starting to think that Death did not grant me more time out of mercy. Perhaps all he wanted was someone to help him fill his quota. An assistant of sorts. Perhaps there is more than one Death roaming this world, searching for lost souls to collect… Perhaps I, myself, am Death.


#5

A wonderful first entry :slight_smile:


#6

Oh oh oh, my turn! :raised_hand:t4: :raised_back_of_hand:t4:


Thank You for Taking Your Time

Hahhahaha!

Me and my old friend Bob laughing at the bar.
“And then what happened next?” I curiously asked him, my eyes can’t stop watering.
“The poor, old man got so confused that he must forget to breathe!”
“Seriously? Hah, poor soul. You surely didn’t go that far, do you?” I gulp my drink 'till the last drop.
“Of course not,” Bob swirls his glass. “I finally talked to him ‘do you have the time?’ and he was like ‘Oh, okay.’ But hey, he’s a good guy! I appreciate him for willing to spend some time with me on the street.”

The next few minutes are filled with silence. Both of us look to our empty glass with a weird grin that planted on our face. I looked at my watch and realized that it’s already late night. It’s time to go home.

“Hey, Bob,” I call out to him. “I think the time’s up.”
Bob stares at my watch for a moment. “Guess so,” he nods and looks down.

“Well, got to go home,” I get my jacket on and pay the bartender for our drinks.
“Ah…” Bob goes speechless. “You don’t have to…”

“It’s fine. I’m having a great time, Bob. I’ll treat for today.”
“Heheh…” His lips form a weird grin. “Thanks. Me too, bud.”

“Thank you for spending some time with me. I really need that.”

“Anytime, Bob,” I pat his back. “Anytime.”


#7

more inspired by the prompt than following it faithfully

“So you’re a vampire, then.” Light crackled in the campfire, spilling shadows out against the tents and trees. Someone was snoring. Lisa brushed her fingers against Jenny’s cheek. “You don’t feel like a vampire.”

Jenny tilted her head into Lisa’s hand. “I’m not a vampire.”

“But you steal life.” Jenny’s skin was fire-warm and soft.

Jenny kissed the heel of Lisa’s hand gently. “Not life. Time.”

Lisa lowered her hand; Jenny caught her fingers before she could pull away. “Isn’t that the same?”

“Not always.” A branch popped in the fire and an owl uvulated in the dark. Someone shifted in the occupied tent and the snoring quieted. Jenny leaned against Lisa, her dark curls tickling Lisa’s chin. “I can share. Kinda.”

“What do you mean?”

“A second for you, a second for me. Time will pass more quickly, but doesn’t it always when you have fun?” Jenny tilted her head to look up at Lisa’s face; she was taut with tension.

“We do have fun,” Lisa allowed and Jenny relaxed. They met in a kiss too quick to be satisfying. Lisa stood and pulled Jenny to her feet. “We should get to sleep.”

“I’ll douse the fire.”

Lisa watched Jenny pour water on the flames and then mix the ashes and dirt, ensuring the fire was truly out. She scratched along the back of her jaw, thinking. “I’m glad.”

“Glad?” Jenny asked. She clapped the dirt from her hands.

Lisa shrugged. “That Death saved you, that you told me, that you’re here–take your pick.”

Jenny smiled. “Let’s go to bed.”


#8

I see a roadie coming down the hall, yelling at me to get on stage right now. I can see the concert lights illuminate the way. The crazy sound of the screaming audience, calling my name.

I take my steps steadily up the hall, but it feels like i’m slipping off with each move i make. Something is pulling me back…

I find myself in a room lightened with neon purple. I don’t know how i ended up here, but i remember one thing… I remember that i died.

There is just a chair, and a locker in the room. I take a look around to see nothing else than that. But then… It’s there, The Death, with all its magnificence, standing before me. Not like the one i imagined though, this is more like a pure light source; and not even dark—rather so white that my eyes hurt.

“Forget your eyes, Breña. After my offer, you will see the pain is worth it. I offer you my hand. Behold! Forget all that you’ve learned, comprehend the true concept of time—as it is not linear, but seperate framed parts with unique frequences. I give you the chance to rule it. No, not just yours, but also the ones that care about you, as it would be easy for someone as you to suck it out of strangers. After you suck the time out, it will be added into your life and while their lifespan reduce, yours will increase. And know that every sound your guitar makes onstage, you will be reaching those frequences, and will have a chance to suck in not just their future, but the memories as well. In the end, the choice will be yours.”

Then it is gone, and the light now glows dim. I am left with a chair, and a locker; not even a door out…

I stand up, walk to the locker, and pull the wooden handle. It opens with a loud creak that insantly turns into the sound of my guitar.

The fans are going crazy in front of me, and i am playing one of the best guitar solos of all times. It doesn’t take long for people’s memories to form in my mind, and it will be time to decide soon. Will i suck out their time as mine, or should i reject Deaths offer?

Death

image

The Stage

image


#9

Alrighty- why not take a break from writing by… writing…

That makes sense!

I sit in a creaking office chair, it swivels back and forth as I swing from side to side, the old wheels catching on the carpet- making my surprised shuffle backwards a lot less of a smooth slide and more of an awkward pre-pubescent middle-school cha cha motion. The room around me is warmly decorated, there’s a twisting palm beside a large bookcase pressed up against the warm red-and-even-darker-red-striped wallpaper that surrounds the small cream carpeted office. There’s photos on the walls, all of them have the same man in them. He stands shaking a woman’s hand, she wears a long dark cloak, and they stare into the camera with two beaming grins while she accepts some medal that looks like an axe, beside that is a similar photo with a man- only his medal has what seems to be the shape of a rat, and then third photo with a different woman- a skull-shaped badge, and another one with a final person- and a rotting apple badge. Then there he is again, this time framed in gold, wearing bathing trunks at a beach, helping a little girl with the same hair and eye color as him build a sand castle, and again- this time sitting on what looks to be a throne, the little girl is there again, sitting on his lap flashing a fanged grin into the camera. Wait, what? Fanged?

Where am I? I thought I was going to pick up eggs at the supermarket and then I…

I was in the parking lot and…

“You look confused,” My head snaps up, past the cherry wood desk, where a photo of that same little girl sits next to one of those perpetually bobbing bird-things, dipping in and out of a cup of bright red… water? My eyes flick past the cup, swallowing thickly as an increasingly worrisome bout of fear grips at my spine, and I stare at the man in the high backed rolling chair across from me. He gives a bright, unconcerned smile that stretches across thin lips, revealing sharp teeth, rowed teeth. Like a shark. He leans forward, long, lean fingers intertwined on the top of the desk, “Perhaps I can help explain some things?”

“Who are you?” My fingernails dig into the sides of my seat.

The man chuckles, he has a deep, warm voice- I catch my grip relaxing just as it was about to break the fabric of the chair I was in. I tear my hands away, and scoot further away from him, that fear prickling through the dull, calming sensation like background static. He leans back in his chair, running a hand over a light smattering of stubble on a strong jaw, slitted eyes dancing to the side with a contemplative hum.

“Well, now,” He purrs, one trimmed eyebrow quirking upwards, “I think that depends on what you believe.”

His lips stretch even further- as if that was somehow possible- and yet somehow the smile seems almost… kind. “There’s no real right answer, is there?”

“Where am I?”

“Now that I can answer!” The stranger’s eyes sparkle as he sits upright, straightening the folded cuffs on his dress shirt- the tie has been loosened, I notice, and the jacket slung across the back of the chair casually, “You’re in the place between.”

“Between…?”

“Life and death,” He shrugs, weighing each on his hands with a loose gesture.

“I…” I place a hand to my chest, gripping at my shirt as if I were searching for my heart, “Are you saying I’m dead?” I say it, and there’s a truth that settles into my bones. My body. My mind. It’s true. Panic wells within me- I can’t breathe. I hear the roar of blood in my ears- is there even blood in me? Do I need to breathe? What’s the point? I dig my nails into my scalp. I’m dead? I’m dead. I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m-

I look up when I hear the running of water, the man has moved away from the desk- to a cooler in the back. He fills a paper cup and, numbly, I watch as he walks back over to me- offering the cup with a sympathetic smile. “I understand that this is a shock- drink, it might help.”

I eye the cup warily.

“It’s water.”

I continue to eye the cup warily. But- what have I got to lose? I’m dead, aren’t I? I’m… oh god… I’m dead.

Before my mind can break down again I snatch the paper cup, some of the water splashing over the edge and onto my pants leg, I down it all in one gulp, the cold makes my teeth ache but I don’t care. I’m almost grateful that there’s still some feeling.

Granted, most of that feeling is panic and now discomfort but at least it’s something.

“How do you feel?” The man sits back on the top of the desk, he knocks into the photo of the little girl in doing so, and readjusts it with careful, ginger precision.

“Like I got hit by a car.”

“Funny you should say that…”

I give him a seething glare. But the man continues to grin, unaffected. I take a deep breath, my words come out in a defeated sigh, “So… what now?”

“Now, you get a choice.”

“I get to chose?” I interrupt, “I thought I was just… y’know… assigned.”

The man waves his hand, “Well, it’s a bit different than that- you don’t really get to chose where you go, if you chose to go, but-”

I stand up, fast enough to knock my chair down behind me, “I can stay?!”

“Well…” Before the man can finish, there’s a knock on the door. His smile changes there- that warmth fades into a kind of anticipated knowing. Without speaking, he pushes himself away from the desk and walks to the door, but before he can open it- it opens itself.

Well, no. A woman opens it- with such force that it bangs against the side wall and rattles the desk until the picture knocks over, for the first time disturbing the man that I’ve seen- but she moves so quickly I don’t see her until she’s in front of me, grinning wildly and grasping my hand, shaking it up and down with so much force I feel as if I’m being flung up and down over and over again, and have to grab my own arm with my other hand just to prevent it from being ripped off. “You’re here! Oh, I’ve waited so long to meet you! It’s so, so, so good to see you! I cannot express how happy I am to-”

“Death.” The man barks, still fussing with the photo until it’s back to its perfect position. She snaps to attention, letting go of my hand immediately and staring at the man. He grumbles something incomprehensible, spending a few more moments making sure the photo is just right. Then, with a sigh, his relaxed smile returns and he turns to us both. “You’re scaring our guest.”

The woman’s head flicks towards me, her short, choppy hair bouncing with each movement. She claps her hands over her mouth, “Oh! I’m so, so, so sorry! How terribly inconsiderate of me!” She’s the woman from the photo- isn’t she? The same skull pin is in her long black cloak. “Please, let me reintroduce myself.”

She sticks out a hand, beaming, “Death of the Apocalypse, pleasure to meet you!”

I hesitate, then slowly reach out and grasp her palm- it’s warm… somehow I didn’t expect that. “I’m-”

“Oh,” Death laughs, “I already know who you are!”

“O-oh.” I glance towards the man. He gives me another sympathetic smile.

“Death is here with a special opportunity,” He begins to explain, “You see, we’ve been having a bit of trouble recently-”

“There’s an excess of time!” She blurts.

“A what?”

“An excess of time.” The man picks up, “Rather, there was a recent… mishap, among the fates and now everyone’s time has gotten slightly… mixed up.”

“Children have two months left!” Death groans, “While those who have already lived their lives well now have another seventy years to do nothing!”

“And you,” The man interjects once more, “Well, you’re a victim of this as well.”

“A-ah… so I… wasn’t supposed to die?”

“Nope!” Death pats my back, “I wasn’t supposed to meet you for quite some time yet!”

“Oh…”

“We are currently working to fix this problem,” The man runs a hand through his styled hair, a tired frown twisting his face, “However, in the meantime it is difficult to prevent… collateral damage- so many are already running out of time early. Again, like yourself.”

“So… does this mean… I’m… not dead?” You gaze at the two of them in bewilderment, “Or that I… get to be resurrected?”

They share a look. “Not… quite.” The man begins.

“We can’t resurrect anyone,” Death takes over, “Death- that is, the previous Death, tried that once and it, uh, well, it didn’t really work out all that great?” She shrugs loosely, “Resurrection’s been outlawed for centuries, and we can’t really go against that…?” She twists her hands together, passing me an apologetic shrug.

“Ah…”

“But that’s not to say you can’t return.” The man begins once more, “Death here has come up with a special program for those like you who have been… negatively effected by this unfortunate mishap.”

“Program?”

“That’s right!” Death clasps my hands together once more, beaming at me brightly, “I call it- The Time Exchange Program,” She pulls me in close, waving her hand in an arc along the air as if highlighting some grand sign that doesn’t exist. She pulls back again, hands slapped onto my shoulders, “Basically- we send you back, and it’s your job to take time back from those who got too much of it in the mixup! You give it back to us so we can redistribute it to those who didn’t get enough! In return, you get to keep a portion of the time you take- so you can continue to live! So long as you keep helping us out!”

“I get to live?”

“Yes.” The man nods from the desk, once more retreating to the other side and settling into his high backed office chair, “However, the task will not be an easy one. Those who have been… revitalized will not give up their time easily. And then there is the matter of our previous program participants…”

“What happened with them?”

Death and the man share another uncomfortable gaze. Eventually, it is Death who speaks, “Uh, they got… greedy, and decided that, well, time is great! And wanted to, um, keep it for themself? And take time from people who didn’t have too much…”

“You are our last option,” The man speaks up again, “All others have fallen to their greed, but Death has been watching you-”

“Well, that’s a charming thought.”

“-And she’s assured me that you can help us fix this problem.” The man leans back in his chair, “But if you can’t, or if you refuse, then we’ll have no other option than to send out Pestilence, Famine, and War to destroy the extra time.”

“What happens to me if I refuse?”

The man shrugs, “You move on. There is no penalty- this is our mistake and we are asking you for a favor.”

I look at Death again, who stares at me with wide, hopeful eyes, then to the man, who gazes calmly, steadily towards me, both of them waiting for an answer. I look down at the cream carpet, my shoes sinking into the plush. I take a deep breath and turn back to the both to them. “Alright…” I say,

“I accept.”


#10

“This doesn’t feel right,” I muttered as the girl in black plucked a small hourglass from her pocket and shook it.

“Nonsense. You haven’t even had a decade of life.” She turned it over, and the sand started flowing again. “You’ll have to find others to give up their life for you.”

“That still doesn’t feel right,” I said stubbornly. Nothing about this business felt right. My best friend shouldn’t have been the one to watch me die. She shouldn’t have to be the one snatching me back from the underworld, and she shouldn’t have turned out to be one of the most powerful entities in the universe.

I looked into Death’s eyes and found only my friend. She held out her hand, nails stained with permanent marker and cheap black poster paint. “Deal?”

I shook it and she vanished.

The next few years were a nightmare. Stealing life from random strangers, on the bus ride, in restaurants. It only took a few hairs, and I never had to see the aftermath. I tested how long I could hold on without taking more, stealing more, killing more. I held on until Death appeared beside me, her sad eyes asking if I had given up.

I never had the nerve to give up. But I saw her again. I ended up in the hospital just so she would visit me. I stole the last few breaths of the people in the ICU, counting the seconds until she materialized in front of me.

I wanted my friend back. I wanted to talk to her again. I wanted to show her what I learned, what I had made of the life she’d given me.

I made a name for myself. They built monuments to me, named cities after me. There was much mourning after I retired.

I saw the earth fade and die, watched the last of the plants and bacteria give up the ghost. I saw the last of the humans, his throat stained with red, his blood on his hands. And I’m back in the hospital with no one around me, counting the seconds until she comes to take me away.

I can’t wait to see her again.


#11

Good entries! A short one for me, since I am hammering this out with thumbs.

Starving

I’m starving, but I can’t eat. That leering skull won’t get the best of me.

Only fragments of my death can be recalled, and even that’s hard to take. The crunch of metal, an impossible shriek, and an impact like the whole world had been dropped onto my chest. And then there he was, an impossible specter casually sitting on the hood of my crumpled car. My lifeblood pooling around his bleached anklebones. “Live…” he croaked, in a voice older than time. “Take life from others, and live the one you were so cruelly denied.” I nodded, or at least I think I nodded, and then I was behind the wheel again, driving home with a whole automobile and a body to match.

I thought it was just a horrific daydream. Something brought on by stress, or the heat, or a brain tumor for all I knew. Everything was the same. Except the hunger. When I got home I started eating, and didn’t stop until my overstuffed stomach started sending it back up. And yet through it all I didn’t feel satisfied. I went to the grocery store, hoping to find something substantial enough to fill me. And I did.

It was subtle, but once I noticed it I had a hard time focusing on anything else. Every person I saw had a glow about them. The old and ill-looking ones, most of them were a dim blue, that flickered like a dying fire. People my age were usually more of a ruddy color, like rich Georgia clay. And the children…incandescent, almost hard to look at for too long. I felt drawn to these auras, and tentatively sniffed at one, a middle-aged man with his back to me. I could feel it energizing me, dulling the pangs in my belly even as the aura around the poor man started to dim. He coughed, and I stumbled back in shock. I remembered Death’s message, and it all became clear.

So I left. Left the store, left town, left civilization. Because no one, living or dead, has the power to make me a monster. I will sit here as long as it takes until he shows back up and finishes the job that tractor-trailer started. But I hope he comes soon.

Because I’m just so hungry.


#12

Great premise! Here’s what I came up with.

El Contador

“That’s it?”

I suppose if Death had eyeballs, or even skin, a surprised look would have come over that empty space of black at my nonchalant reply to their live-saving offer. “Uh, yes.”

“You mean I don’t have to actually kill anyone? I just have drain some time away from them? Shorten their lifespan, if you will?”

“That was the offer…it’s supposed to be a moral conundrum.”

“If you say so. I’ve spent two decades on Wall Street, so that’s like child’s play.”

There was the briefest of pauses where I thought I had overplayed my hand, that this aberration would withdraw what amounted to a second chance at life. But then those boney fingers reached out and handed me a black robe, “Usually, those lucky enough to hear my voice and survive are a little more appreciative. No matter, a deal is a deal. Good luck to you.”

No puff of smoke, no inundation of fog. Death just disappeared, so I cracked my knuckles, because I knew exactly where I was going to start.

Six months later…

There’s something you should know about me. My paternal grandmother suffered from dementia for three years before she finally passed away. By the end, she couldn’t remember if I was her grandson or her long-lost cousin.

My paternal grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 70. He went through chemo (which confined him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life) only for the cancer to come back and spread to his brain. He spent the last half-decade of his life wasting away, unable to speak.

My maternal grandmother was the picture of perfect health up until she hit 82. For whatever reason, she decided to try some new pill-only diet fad and had a stroke a month later. I remember visiting her in hospice care. The stench of the place. The screams. She clung to life for two years after that, bedridden and infirm, her mind trapped in the prison of her own body.

As for my maternal grandfather, he ate what he wanted, drank what he wanted, right up to the day he died of a massive heart attack at age 65. He was the smart one.

I tell you that story, not to put a smile on your face, but to let you know why I do what I do. Since my little run-in with Death, and I’ve never felt better. The minutes I’ve taken from you while you’ve been reading this will extend my own life at the cost of yours, but trust me, you won’t miss ‘em.


#13

Great entries so far guys :smile:

Temporal Thief

You walk the darkened streets of a neighbourhood far from home, stepping carefully around the holes in the pockmarked sidewalk and pulling your coat tightly closed against the frigid night air. Reflexively you check the ornate silver watch on your wrist once again. Almost midnight. A shiver runs down your spine that has nothing to do with the cold. It’ll be close, perhaps too close. Hopefully you haven’t left your run too late this time.

You affect the stance of someone who doesn’t belong. Hunching with head down, you step rapidly as if with fear and pull the sleeve of your coat high enough that the expensive time piece is clearly visible from the street. A mastiff lunges to the end of his chain barking wildly, eyes rolling in fear. Such a shame, you used to like dogs.

As you hurry down the empty streets, you consider your predicament. Ask anyone what is most valuable, and they’ll give you a variety of responses. Some are to be expected like good health and family. But probe further and people will tell you of money and the things that they own. No one guesses what is most important of all: Time. Before, you’d never thought much about its passing, sometimes even squandering hours without a second thought; but without those precious seconds that tick away, you’ve come to realise nothing else could exist.

Distracted, you almost miss the glimmer of moonlight on steel. At last. Honestly, you’d been beginning to worry. The thug strides towards you, arrogant and sure. He thinks you to be a victim. That’s fine with you.

“Your watch, give it to me,” he growls, levelling the knife at your throat.

You hold up your hands, keeping them in clear view while carefully undoing the clasp and then drop it into his waiting hand. At the touch of the cold metal, his arrogant smile wavers, confusion flitting over his features before he collapses at your feet.

Sighing, you retrieve the time piece from his now pale and clammy fingers, watching as the hands whirr, winding back. 12.01. You’ll live to see the sun rise it seems.

Looking down at your would-be thief, you realise to your surprise that although as white as death with a face lined with advanced age, his chest rises and falls in a slight but even motion; still alive. “Well my friend, it seems you had more time left to you than most who run these streets. You should count yourself fortunate.”

Clipping the watch around your wrist once more, you stride away into the night.


#14

Ooh, this is fun. I started doodling a few words, and well…

Hearts and the Ace of Spades, or Filthy Euchre

In the history of all cliched first lines, nothing’s so cliched as ‘it was a dark and stormy night’. But it was—so maybe I should just go with saying, ‘it was late’. Or maybe, ‘there was no way I was driving home in that storm’. Or maybe just, ‘I died.’

Or any of the other truths about that night—not that you’d believe them. I mean, I hardly do. But you asked, right? You want to know what happened with me and Death.

You want to know what my ever-loving, ever-lost soul was thinking, getting into an argument with Death. What’s the deal with you and Death, you say?

There is no way in the fourteen circles that make up heaven and hell I ever thought I would be saying this to somebody…but all right.

Since you asked. I’ll tell you.

I was playing euchre, late one stormy night. Me and Death, and two others.

And you know what?

Death is one hell of a sharp card player.

I had some pretty good hands that night. I was playing alongside Val, who was nobody’s fool. We took hearts. I did good with hearts that night, somehow. Kept on winning. My hands liked the hearts, and they liked me.

Death and their partner, a short person in overalls, ordered up clubs. Then diamonds. My pockets were getting light.

Then I turned down spades. Oh, was I a fool.

Spades seemed to like Death. And they always held the ace—the ace of spades. I don’t know how. They swear they weren’t cheating.

‘I better back out,’ I said. Pockets were empty.

‘Oh come on,’ said Death’s partner, brushing back their straight black hair. ‘Just one more hand.’

‘I got empty pockets,’ I said.

‘That doesn’t matter,’ they replied, looking at Death.

And then, well…it was late, and I’d had a few, and when the tall, warm-skinned, black-clothed Death said, ‘Bet you your soul’, yeah, I thought it was a joke.

Wouldn’t you?

So I said sure, all right, I bet my soul. Val tried to say something, but I didn’t listen. Just played.

Damn that Death—they took every trick. Took the last one with that infernal ace of spades.

‘Nice soul,’ said Death, admiring.

All right, so I sputtered a little. Everything went all cold and a little grey, but I managed to make my mouth move. Managed to speak.

‘I was using that,’ I said. ‘Isn’t there…isn’t there some other way? Something else you’d like?’

Death frowned at me, their warm brown eyes all crinkled up at the corners. Not that I cared. That was my soul.

‘You’re on my time now,’ Death said, pensive. ‘Yours is all run out.’

‘Your time?’

They waved a chubby finger. ‘Yeah. And I take time, you know? I take it.’ Death looked into their ale, then back up at me.

‘You could take it too.’

‘Me?’ I sounded like a broken record, like some old black and white comedy film had got cut into the middle of a Hammer horror flick by mistake.

‘Yeah,’ Death said. They leaned back casually. ‘Take time. Take people’s time.’

‘…It ain’t mine.’

Death shrugged. 'Want to live? Take a little time. I do it every day—it’s not so bad.

‘And besides, that’s what you mortals always say, right? Take time to smell the roses. Take some time off. Take your time.’

Death nodded at me encouragingly. ‘So take it.’

‘I won’t,’ I said, stubborn. That was my soul there, sure, but I wasn’t some kind of time-sucking penny-dreadful vampire with one too many special effects and no plot in sight.

Death frowned, rubbing those chubby fingers together. ‘You know,’ they said, ‘I like you. You’re not a bad card player. Taking people’s time can get awfully dull. Night after night, day after day, another hospital, another accident, another—’

‘No,’ said I, firm.

We stared at each other.

I felt my resolve starting to wane.

‘Whose time?’ I said, starting to waver. And then a picture came to me out of the blue. Me, eleven years old. My little maths tutor, barely taller than the dining room chair, with their fabulous natural black hair and their broad smile and their twinkling eyes. ‘There’s always a solution,’ they said. ‘That is how it is with maths.’

‘A solution…’ I muttered. Adding it up. Remainder. Left over.

Death’s eyes widened. They were waiting, all attention, one hand caressing that ace of spades.

‘Look,’ I said. ‘You ever late for your appointments?’ Death opened their mouth, but I held up a hand. ‘The truth now.’

‘Well,’ they said, wavering. ‘This isn’t on the record, right? I mean, I could get in trouble for this, big trouble. But…’

‘When you can take time, it’s all too easy, right?’

Death nods.

I grin.

‘I tell you what…’

Some Time Later

It was a good night. Death and I, we weren’t playing euchre that night—no, it was poker, and the dead have one hell of a good poker face, as it turns out.

Death looked up at the clock—not that they needed to. I still don’t know why they do that. ‘Twenty minutes past two. We’d better go.’

‘How much time?’

‘Three point five seconds.’

I nodded. Nothing special, just another hospital patient: tragic for the family, old hat for me. Me and Death.

When we got there, no angels in sight. They still haven’t noticed what we’re doing; that, or they’re just ignoring it out of the goodness of their angelic souls. I have no idea which is which, and frankly, I don’t care.


When you travel with Death, time doesn’t pass in the normal way. So later is all I can say—later, about 150,000 people worth of later—we were on the last patient for the night.

‘Sorry,’ Death says to the soul that hovers above the hospital bed.

‘I wasn’t going anywhere,’ the young man says, looking at the silver cord holding him to his body.

‘No, you weren’t,’ Death agrees, drawing the blade. ‘Sorry we were a couple of seconds late. Don’t worry, you won’t remember—we’re going to take that time. My friend here is, that’s to say. After all, you weren’t using it for anything….’

The young man barely has time to nod. The room is enveloped in a bright flash of light as Death severs that silver strand.

Then the soul’s gone. Death and I leave too, unnoticed by the nurses, the other patients, the check-in desk. I keep asking how that works, but Death won’t tell me. Death, the eternal killjoy.

‘That should do you for a little while,’ Death says on the way out, tapping me on the arm. ‘About…oh, till Saturday at about six p.m.’

‘You were counting,’ I say. Old joke. Wasn’t funny the first time.

‘I was,’ Death returns. They have a sense of humour, but you wouldn’t know it for the first couple of weeks or so. It’s real subtle.

‘Yeah,’ I agree. ‘What now? Meet you Saturday afternoon, then?’

‘Yeah. We’ll make the rounds, but first…cards? We’ll play the tarot—no spades.’

‘You got yourself a deal,’ I said.

And they did, too. I promised to tell you what the deal was, right? The deal with me and Death?

Well, now you know. Simple little story, how I died—greed, ale, and filthy euchre.

Fin


#15

Dear mother of fucking god, that was a work of art. It gave me chills. Do the world a favor and PUBLISH THAT!


#16

This writing prompt puts me in the mind of the Piers Anthony novel: “On A Pale Horse”

Tommy’s Deal

Finding the lucky penny under the couch cushions meant that Tommy would have a change of luck, wouldn’t it?

It wasn’t long ago that Tommy sat in the neurosurgeon’s office being told he had an inoperable brain tumor and he had only days left to live. Tommy was devastated and didn’t know what he was going to do.

Walking out of the sterile doctor’s office and into the parking lot, Tommy saw a flyer stuffed under his windshield wipers, advertising a weekend getaway to the fabulous city of Las Vegas. That is when Tommy began living on borrowed time.

Flying out to Vegas on the first non-stop flight was the first step on Tommy’s wild ride. It was here while experiencing travel sickness, Tommy made his deal. “Father Time, listen to me.” Tommy knew that his fellow passengers heard nothing but moans and groans. “Let me live out my life with Lady Luck by my side and I’ll pay whatever price you want.”

“Sir, are you o.k.?” Looking up at the stewardess, Tommy knew. This was Lady Luck and Father Time had accepted his deal. From that moment on, Lady Luck was by Tommy’s side. Landing in Vegas, Tommy with Lady Luck by his side went on a whirlwind spree, from one casino to the next. With Lady Luck by his side and no matter the deal or dice throw, Tommy would beat the house.

Penthouse suites, private jets, the best lobster, and champagne … Lady Luck provided it all.

Then this past week had been one betrayal after another. The dice came up craps, the cards were bust and the casinos no longer rolled out the red carpet for Tommy. The fast car was sold, the Rolex watch pawned and even the silk shirts sold cheaply to cover the cost of a night’s lodging at the Motel 6.

Refocusing on the penny for a moment, Tommy asked: “Well, what do we have here?” Tommy, usually with Lady Luck on his hip, only had his reflection in the cracked mirror to answer. “Free Money. My luck has turned once more.”

Hearing a knock on the door, Tommy flips the penny up in the air before fumbling the catch and letting it drop on the floor, once more to roll away under the couch. Whoever was pounding on the door wouldn’t let up. “Hold your horse, man! I’m coming.”

Without thinking, Tommy twists the doorknob open and gets thrown back as the door is violently slammed against him. “What are you thinking, Tommy?” A hulking presence, all menace, and dread enters the room and clears the way for Lady Luck. “I told you that you were finished in this town. You don’t cheat on Lady Luck without consequences. Death, dear, make yourself useful and go get me a drink while I talk to Tommy here.”

Lady Luck fits whatever description you want her to fit. Tommy’s vision of Lady Luck today was that of Death’s companion. Whatever she looks like, it was the eyes that said it all to Tommy tonight. They were hard, cold and unforgiving. “Please, I’ll do whatever you want. Only let me live!”

“Here is the deal, Tommy. You cheated me and now Father Time wants what is owed.” Pushing Tommy away, Lady Luck starts pacing back and forth, growling under her breath. “Father Time demands his due from us all, sooner or later and now he wants what is his from you.”

“What do you mean, Lady?”

“I mean, Father Time wants the borrowed time you are living on back. All those moments that we used to win at cards and dice. The fun times we stole aboard the private jets and the mysterious times we had late at night… Father Time wants all that time back.”

“We spent all the time we had together, Lady.”

“Don’t I know it, Tommy.” Lady Luck stops her pacing and faces Tommy directly. “Regardless, Father Time sent his boy, Death to ensure you give back what is his.”

“What about yo-”

“What about me, Tommy?” Lady Luck kisses Tommy on the cheek. “I’m Lady Luck, and I made a deal with Father Time … a lucky deal that gets me off scot-free.”

Death returns holding a diet soda. “Thank you kindly, dear. I’ll take this soda and go wait out by the pale horse outside while you two talk business.”

“Sounds good, Lady.” Tommy here and I have time, don’t we Tommy?" Death turns to the double bed and sits down on the decades-old mattress. “Have time to sit with Death, Tommy?”

Watching Lady Luck leave the room, Tommy turns to Death and says: " I have nothing but time to give ya."


#17

Great entries so far. I’m fascinated by how different the stories can be.


#18

I’m gonna quickly give a little one because why not

Death and its passing

I wake up on the side of the street, face stuck to sidewalk. I peel myself off from the gravel finding my legs to be numb and my back to cause pain when I use them. I fight through the pain and gain my balance. Looking around I see the rest of the street and the surrounding city, coverd in a blue haze with no people in them. I begin to walk but when I take my first step in this ghost town a voice calls out to me. “Hey!” It calls out in a raspy voice “Don’t be running around out here, you’ll never find your way back or worse” I turn around to see a figure covers in a long dark cloak, with a hood that stops me from seeing his face. His presence is terrifying, even though his hunched back and raspy voice I could tell he could kill me instantaneously. He was sitting on the side of the street, about a foot away from where I woke up. How did I not notice home there? I see his hand, it looks as though it had no muscle on it. Only flesh and bone, pushing on the skin. He seems to have a cigarette in his hand, occasionally moving it to his mouth hidden by the hood. “I swear if you say these will kill me I’m gonna leave you here” he says with a slight chuckle. I ask “Where am I?” He replies in that same raspy voice saying “The afterlife, sorry kid but you are dead.” My heart skips a beat, I’m not sure how that happens if I’m dead but I’m gonna go with it. “What?” I ask “I thought I was going to paradise or the underworld or reincarnated or something. Am I just stuck here or will I be leavin here eventually?” He mumbles in a cold and stoic voice “Huh 193267” I arch my eyebrow and he shakes his hand dismissively. “Sorry keeping a record. Okay this is essentially the state between death and life, call it whatever you want if it makes you happy but I’m gonna call it the passing. I’m supposed to send you somewhere, where I have no idea. All I know is that I cut you with the scythe and you teleport away” “Wait, where is said scythe?” I ask as he pulls it instantaneously out of the air. He points it at me and says “Shush or I’ll send you there blind. As I was saying I cut you with this and you get sent wherever you are supposed to go. But I have a special offer for you, what if I told you you could stay alive?” I laugh and he seems to jump a little bit “Oh what’s the price, my soul, the blood of a virgin, one thousand goats blood?” I ask ask sarcastically he replies with a lighter voice “Well if you only take the life span of virgins or goats that’s on you but no. My offer is that you gain the ability to take the lifespan of other people. Will you take it?” I stand there in silence, wondering about the possibilities of such an ability. I eventually make up my mind “Yes, I’ll take it” I say with a solid voice. The “grim reaper” gets up from the sidewalk and comes over to me cigarette in and places his middle finger on me head. After a cool air passes over me he says “And now you have the power, just touch the person and you take their time. Anyone you want to use this on?” “Yes” I reply “You” I say as I grab his hand “You were offered this too weren’t you” I ask as I feel the uncountable amount of time inside of him pouring into me. “What no don’t do this you’ll turn into death, you’ll never die until someone does this for you too!” He screams his voice growing more youthful and warm. His hood falls of after trying to shake out of my grip and I see his face, eyes sunken in and like his hand has no muscle only bone and skin. But as I take his time the muscle starts to grow back and his eyes eventually return to the forefront of his face. “I know” I say “I’m taking your place, no one should have to live this exsistence” he stops struggling instead he stands there, life slowly returning to him. Eventually all the time in the work is in me, and the manlooks up at me “Thank you” and with that, I summon the scythe and prick his finger. Now he has passed.


#20

Awh! I like the twist at the end. :grin:


#21

D’awh! Thank you! I actually have a few short stories I’ve written based on prompts like this, but I’m not really sure what to do with them. :yum: