As a brief introduction to the PSYCHIC PROMPTS SPECIAL CHALLENGE, I’d like to say I was impressed by our creativity and inventiveness. There were eight participants, and three of them tackled (if that’s the word) two prompts each for a grand total of eleven. A few more stats: Prompt #1, the one about Penny, who thought nothing could ever surprise her again attracted two suitors, whereas Prompt #2, “There are all kinds of love,” wooed three. However, Prompt #3 was the big winner. Five members, over half of those responding, couldn’t resist “A voice out of the past.” We seemed to be almost immune though to Prompt #4. Marsha says “I never thought you could do it this way,” but only one person wanted to do it at all. As for other comments, I could talk all day, but I think I’ll just thank Clayton for posting these remarkable stories and let them speak for themselves. John Rosenman
PROMPT #1: Penny thought nothing could ever surprise her again until the day she heard a knock on her door.
Penny thought nothing could ever surprise her again until the day she heard a knock on her door resonate with a different tone. A strong, confident rap, not the timid tap of her habitual clients. She knew why: Manny was gaining in self-confidence as the sessions progressed. He was early.
“Hang on, love. I’ll be with you in a jiffy,” she called.
Penny wanted the room to be just right. She turned off the main lighting, switched on a lamp by the couch and brushed the crystal ball on the coffee table with a cuff of her long-sleeved dress. On the way to the door, she gave a ritual kiss to the photos of Sai Baba and Miss Cleo. The knock came again, even more strongly.
“OK, just coming!”
She never rushed for her clients, not even the most profitable ones. They had to learn who was boss. Penny pressed the control that turned on the concealed voice recorder. Whatever information they came out with during the sessions, she could always use it to her own advantage. Now she was ready. Penny composed her features into an imperious but other-worldly expression, moved silently to her flat door and threw it open.
Two men stood on the threshold. Neither was Manny Suppleton. One of them spoke.
“I’m Inspector Reeson. This is Detective-Sergeant Stryke. We are arresting you on suspicion of fraud, extortion and tax evasion.”
Penny’s jaw dropped; her teeth started to chatter; her eyes bulged. She had not seen that coming.
Copyright © 2014 Bryan Murphy
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Bryan Murphy is a skeptical Briton currently living the life of Riley in Italy. You can find an assortment of his literary snacks for hungry bookworms here: http://bit.ly/19vt7Ts Most are free.
Penny thought nothing could ever surprise her again until the day she heard a knock on her door. Not a knock precisely. More a rapid pounding of four heavy raps echoing through the cabin. Nightmare-trapped, almost silently, she whimpered in the dark closet.
She held her breath when the bushy creature battered down the door. Tail wagging like the antenna of some giant insect, it approached on four legs, sniffing as it moved. From the log walls Penny heard a comforting voice –– her late father’s –– whisper “Courage” to her. “This is only a dream.”
Then the beast pressed its moon-flecked eye against the keyhole of the closet door and Penny snapped open her eyes. She lay there panting in her bed. Outside the new sun was rising.
Now, nights later, those same four poundings in real time, in real life, and Penny in real terror could feel her blood coursing wildly, pulsating in her head.
Again the four raps at the door. Then quiet. Again the four raps louder this time. Four raps.
Déjà Vu, she thought. Life imitating dream? Coincidence?
She glanced out the side window. In the ebony sky a pale yellow moon rested in the spires of trees. The room was deathly still. Nowhere to run. No one to save her.
Finally the night wolf –– by day a man –– crashed through the window and in a single leap severed her jugular with fangs razor-sharp and whiter than fear.
Copyright © 2014 Salvatore Buttaci
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Sal Buttaci is the author of two e-books published by All Things That Matter Press. Only 99 cents each!
Sal lives in West Virginia with his wife Sharon, the love of his life.
PROMPT #2: “There are all kinds of love,” Howard said. “You just have to keep an open mind.”
“There are all kinds of love,” Howard said. “You just have to keep an open mind.” With this, Howard gave a grandiose bow before the large audience and walked toward backstage as the dense maroon curtain closed behind him. He grinned with pleasure hearing the loud roar of applause and sound of “We want Howard” shouted from the group. Not now, no he was too eager to get to the dressing room.
After removing the thick stage make-up and changing into jeans and dark blue T-Shirt, he canvassed the small room from his seat before the mirror. Ah, would it be tonight, he wondered. His anticipation grew into excitement when he heard the window drape rustle. Could it be?
She had promised him eternity.
His heart quickened to view the voluptuous figure of Andrea as she emerged from behind the green drapes. She was dressed entirely in white; her gown flowing upon the floor. A glow of light caressed her ample breasts as she drew near.
“It is you. I didn’t think you’d come.”
Andrea gave a lilting laugh, walked behind him and began massaging his shoulders. He groaned in pleasure. Ah, it felt so good; he wanted it to go on forever. She was his. His own specter and she was the passion of his life.
A sharp sting at his neck changed into piercing pain and he gasped. The last thing he recalled was the mirror reflecting his image and a sultry voice.
“Yes darling, eternity as promised.”
Copyright © 2014 Monica Brinkman
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Monica M Brinkman believes in ‘giving it forward’; reflected by her writing and radio show. A firm believer open communication is the most powerful tool to make positive change in the world; she expresses this in her book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel and It Matters Radio. Look for her book, The Wheels Final Turn, to be released in 2015.
Monica resides in the Midwest with her husband, two dogs and five cats.
Visit her web sites
“There are all kinds of love,” Howard said. “You just have to keep an open mind.”
“Easy for you to say,” Desi said, shaking her head in disgust. “You didn’t just get fucked over by a middle aged man who thinks a 43-year-old male model is to die for.”
“You do love him, right?”
“Yeah, but what’s that got to do with it when he’s shacked up with this guy?”
“Well, maybe there’s room in his life for both of you. I mean he did try to come home, didn’t he?”
“Look, Desi, people your age often drift apart sexually only to discover other kinds of love. After all, there’s a lot to be said for companionship.”
“Are you suggesting that we live together and he can go out and get his rocks off any old time he feels like it? What about me?”
“What about you? How was your sex life before this happened?”
“It wasn’t the best.”
“And … ”
“Okay, we hadn’t had sex in two years.”
“So what we have here is your pride being hurt, more than anything else. Do you remember a guy by the name of Leo Buscaglia?”
“They called him the love doctor, right?”
Howard nodded. “He believed in love as a real, living thing. I once saw him speak, and at the end of his hour on stage, he made himself available to every single person who wanted a hug.”
“A hug isn’t going to fix this,” Desi said.
“It sure won’t hurt.”
“But that would be like telling him what he did was okay, and it wasn’t.”
“No, it would be you saying that you love him and will support him in whatever he decides to do.”
“No, that’s unconditional love. It’s the hardest kind of love, the one that says to the people around you, ‘I care about you, not your behaviour.’ It says, ‘I’m here no matter what you do. Because I love you, and that will never change.’”
“You’re asking a lot, Howard.”
“No more than God asks of you. After all they say God is love. So the more love you can show, the closer to God you’ll be.”
“But it’s a man! I can hear what the neighbors will say, ‘Did you hear? She got thrown over for an old Queen!’”
“It doesn’t matter what the neighbors think or say. It doesn’t even matter what you think. All that matters is what you do.”
Howard leaned in close and asked her, “What do you want to do, honey?”
Desi rubbed her face in her hands, straightened her shoulders and made a decision.
“Give me the phone, Howard,” she said. “Let’s see what he’s got to say for himself.”
Copyright © 2014 Clayton Clifford Bye
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Clayton Bye is a writer, editor and publisher. The author of 11 books and a varied collection of short stories, poems, articles and reviews, he has also published 4 books under the imprint Chase Enterprises Publishing. The books published for others include 3 award winning anthologies and a stunning memoir about what it’s like to live with and die from anorexia. Visit his e-store at http://shop.claytonbye.com
Why doesn’t she love me?
“There are all kinds of love,” Howard said. “You just have to keep an open mind.” As he spoke, the lanky redhead reached both hands toward Berta.
Perhaps it was the tone of his voice, the softness of his words, but this time Berta did not back away, not as she had Howard’s three previous attempts at reassuring her. Indeed she moved forward, tucking her nose into the crook of his neck and blowing warm, sweet smelling breaths which made him smile in anticipation.
Now that things were moving forward, Howard began to undress, undoing his suspenders, unbuttoning his flannel shirt, and finally allowing the rough denim of his jeans to sag towards the floor. Berta watched, undisturbed by his slow deliberate actions.
Yes, this was going to be a good day. To offer more reassurance, Howard reached forward and stroked his love’s face. “I know we’ll be together for always,” he murmured.
With ever so slow and careful movements, the naked, now tumescent man slipped behind Bertha. As he came ever closer, she nickered in distress, kicked behind, and catching him with one flying hoof to the scrotum bolted out the barn door.
“Why doesn’t she love me?” the farmer asked. How he wished he could be the stallion of her dreams.
Copyright © 2014 Kenneth Weene
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Besides his work organizing The Write Room Blog and co-hosting It Matters Radio, Ken Weene writes and writes. His latest book Broody New Englander is now available in print and Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002M3EMWU
PROMPT #3: A voice out of the past was one thing. A face quite another, especially when
A voice out of the past was one thing. A face quite another, especially when it taunted one within a dream, revealing only a hazy form, ambiguous, though clear enough to recognize the impression of its features.
I dreaded slumber and yearned for days past when sleep brought me peace and tranquility. No amount of caffeine would keep me awake, nor did sleeping pills still the nightly emergence of this despicable apparition. Why invade my mind so frequently? Why mock me with promise of recognition? Engulf my senses with trepidation. Hadn’t I been through enough? All the years of self-hatred; the hope of love where there was none.
I find myself waking each day with remembrances that preoccupy my thoughts and vilify my mind. Loathing what I have become, the things I’ve done. Slumber, once my paradise, now brings all-consuming grief of culpability. This visage, oh how it calls to me, “Draw closer–come and see.” I hesitate and turn away, frightened and reserved. Faint whispers spout from its obscure mouth, echoing into derisive, scathing, hysterical laughter, from which I find no escape.
Will this night differ from the rest? I pull the covers up to chin and drift into a sleep. The form appears, becoming clear. I cannot look and I swiftly turn away. Yet not before I catch a glimpse of Matthew Lear, with dagger still in place, its blade shoved through his head. While crimson blood seeps from the gash, pouring from the wound I made.
Copyright © 2014 Monica Brinkman
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Honey, I’m Home
A voice out of the past was one thing, a face quite another, especially when it was Jack outside my door. I’d felt his presence since his sudden demise; suffered through the lonely nights. It was a bit disconcerting though to see only his face floating around.
“How’d you ring the doorbell?” I asked. “And why?”
“Always told you I’d come back.” He smiled that impish grin that always made me laugh. “My body’s here, just not visible yet.
“Well, I’m impressed, but you’re missing a few parts, some I might add, you considered your most important, and my favorites.”
“The Archangel said it’ll take time. I have eternity to practice.” His face leaned in, giving me a deep kiss which, as always, sent my senses reeling. I yearned for the rest of him, needed to hold and clasp his body close to mine.
“I promised to never leave you,” he murmured into my ear, an especially erogenous zone. We spent the night with his whole head on my pillow, a good sign that he might materialize completely. I ached for all of him. Still it was . . . Heavenly. The best lovemaking we ever knew. I wondered when I’d awaken from this exquisite dream.
“Annie.” Opening my eyes, I saw Jack’s entire body — buck naked. “It’s time,” he whispered. I reached out to hold onto his hand, my spirit light and free, as we soared off toward another realm . . . And immortality.
Copyright © 2014 Micki Peluso
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I began writing after a personal tragedy, as a catharsis for my grief. This led to a first time out publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25 year career in Journalism. I’ve freelanced and been a staff writer for one major newspaper and written for two more. I have published short fiction and non-fiction, as well as slice-of-life stories in college and other magazines and in e-zine editions. My first book was published in 2008; a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called . . . AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG. I am presently working on a collection of short fiction, slice-of-life stories and essays, in a book called, ‘Don’t Pluck the Duck’.
A voice out of the past
A voice out of the past was one thing. A face quite another, especially when I began writing this story about a cheerleader who, like, solved murders and the like by, like, listening to the wind in the trees (?). She is a blond airhead whose dream is to cheer for Notre Dame? And join the headiest, most elite and fun-loving sorority and meet lots of guys? Real hunks, y’know. ‘Cause that’s where the mystery is. The mysteries. Boys being boys and sports being sports. Of course, there would be lots of trees and wind to fuel her wild and sleuthing life. (And mine, to be sure.) Maybe she’d even make, like, a name for herself(?). More of a name than Miss Nuisance here in Chelmville. A silly little place out in the middle of nowhere, where 50% of the senior class fail to graduate and 80% of the football team also. Chelmville High did not win football games.
Well, I was writing this new Misty Mooi mystery when, instead of my usual infusion of a voice from the past, I was beset by this face out of the past. One of my great-great something- or-others. Zes See van Aat. At least, I think so. He didn’t say anything.
“What do you want?” I asked in exasperation. After all, he was interrupting my creative energy flow.
He pursed his lips and blew, like blowing a kiss.
And then I disa—
Copyright © 2014 James Secor
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Jimsecor is the creator of Detective Lt. Anthony Lupée of Liverpoool. He is over-educated and voluble and a lover of the absurd. Sometimes he is found at Minna vander Pfaltz’s blog at http://labelleotero.wordpress.com. Jimsecor is a world traveler and has been published in Japan and China. In China, he also produced several plays, including an all female Lysistrata (the gov’t came to film it). [written by Minna vander Pfaltz as Jimsecor disappeared mysteriously while writing] Messages can be left for either of us at email@example.com, I read his mail whether he likes it or not, though now, what can he say?
A voice out of the past was one thing. A face quite another, especially when she knew he had died three years ago. She had seen his body, seen it jerk when they gave him the last drug. She had watched them wheel the gurney out of the execution room.
She sank onto the sofa and held both her hands over her mouth. “Who… how… I don’t…?” She could hardly speak and her words didn’t make sense. Uncontrollable shivers ran through her body. She stared up at him, unable to break her gaze.
“You don’t look pleased to see me, Sheila. That disappoints me. I think I’ll have to punish you for that.” He stood over her and smiled that evil smile she remembered so well.
“No. Please. I went to your execution like I promised. I was there for you. I know you saw me.” She fought to suck in air.
“And now I’m here to get my revenge. You shouldn’t have testified against me like that, Sheila.”
“You raped me and killed Lorie. I had to testify.” A tear slid down her cheek. How was this possible? What would he do to her? She couldn’t breathe.
He bent down to grab her. She screamed. He was shaking her.
“Mom, stop screaming, please. You’re scaring me.” Annie’s face swam into view.
“I’m okay now,” she said with a smile.
But the cold hand of fate still gripped her heart and squeezed, and her life ebbed out of her.
Copyright © 2014 Trish Jackson
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Trish Jackson grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, Africa, and lived through many real life adventures that sparked her imagination. She writes provocative and poignant romantic suspense/thrillers and romantic comedies, focusing on animals, and the passions, dreams, and tragedies in the lives of country folk in small towns. Trish loves country living, horse riding, chocolate and all animals, and is happiest sitting at her computer working on her next novel.
Dying is Easy
Clayton Clifford Bye
A voice out of the past was one thing. A face quite another, especially when it’s a face that hides so much. I thought I’d put it away, but the face returns, hiding my past, my present and, perhaps, my future. Why? Because people don’t want to see what’s behind such a face. I’ve been told so—forcefully. But if I don’t allow you to see, how will you learn? How will you ever understand that dying is easy? One quick pull of the trigger, a bottle of pills to ease you into a permanent sleep or, if you’re really in it bad, the next transport coming around a corner will gladly do the job. Personally? I have a particular affinity for concrete abutments.
Am I shocking you? Good. Most people have no idea what Clinical (Serious) Depression is like. They have no context, no shared experience from which to draw images or create feelings of empathy. So let me take you there. Let me show you the inside of a mind in the clutches of serious depression.
First, when you’re drawn down into the black hole of depression, a funny thing happens to your mind. It turns inward on itself with soul-cutting efficiency until unbridled pain causes thoughts of relief to come fast and furious. In specific terms, the pain of living with your particular problems begins to seem like it’s too much to bear. Note that I said seem. Negative thoughts and emotions are blown up to such an extent that the unthinkable becomes immensely attractive. How do I know this? I’ve suffered from Clinical Depression and, on a more regular basis, Bi-Polar Disorder, still known in some countries as Manic-Depressive Disorder. And I don’t have the kind of depression that’s triggered by my environment, what is called Situational Depression. No, mine is the kind that’s caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The depression descends on you like a sort of madness that creates warped filters for you to look out of and try to find your way. Or, as is often the case, you must work hard to recognize the untrue thoughts and emotions, then ride the demon bull of terror until it tires.
Make no mistake about the fundamental nature of depression. It’s all about terror, about losing control of who you are, of being replaced by a demon so crazed that it can wreck your world or, when in a Schizophrenic State, replace it with another world entirely. That’s right, some seriously ill patients with Bi-Polar Disorder also experience bouts of Schizophrenic behaviour. This disease can be described as a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior. It can lead to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships, and a descent into fantasy, delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. This loss of “self” is so real that ending it, that killing off the demon, becomes so urgent that the cognitive mind begins to offer all sorts of solutions. Permanent, effective solutions guaranteed to provide a release from the pain of such a tragic loss.
Continuing on, sometimes, when in a Deep Depression, and whether you want to show it or not, the beast comes out. Then no one is safe, because your thoughts turn only to ending the pain that’s ripping at your very core. And you don’t really care about hurting others in the process. If you let Depression do that unchecked, then all sorts of narcissistic behaviours become possible, the darker ones always seeming to be the easiest to pursue—much easier than turning yourself in to a hospital or locking yourself in a room or putting your head under a pillow and sleeping the day away. Dying is so quick and painless, it’s a siren song for the Depressed.
And let’s not forget the Manic or Upward Phase. When this particular devil arrives, you don’t think about killing yourself and maybe others. No, instead you feel grandiose. You live large and loud. Songs burst unbidden from your lips and you dance about the house. (But heaven help them if someone tries to bring you down. You can become irritable in seconds, lashing out at that person before you know what has happened.) Money loses meaning. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on wasteful, silly things, with no thought as to the repercussions for my family, and so, too, have many others. No, in your mind all things become possible. You can replace the money. No problem. Your thoughts and ideas are golden, sleep is unnecessary, and sometimes you even manage to come up with brilliant and more innovative ways to destroy yourself. What? You wonder why such a happy person would seek to destroy himself. You must remember that the Upward Phase is also a type of devil/demon. It, too, seeks to steal away your personality. It wants to kill that which makes you who you are. And believe it when I tell you, the easiest way to stop such a monster is to kill the host. Yes, it seems contradictory. After all, you will also be dead. Ah yes! But that death brings peace to an exhausted soul. It brings a final, welcoming darkness, where you don’t have to be someone you hate. And it kills those fucking demons once and for all.
In the end, we shouldn’t wonder why people take their lives. That’s easy to understand. We should wonder why more people don’t. Because I can tell you from experience, my friend, when the devil takes your mind, dying is easy.
Copyright © 2014 Clayton Clifford Bye
PROMPT #4: “I never thought you could do it this way,” Marsha said, panting with emotion.
“I never thought you could do it this way,” Marsha said, panting with emotion.
Erik smiled and guided her.
How many times had her mother warned her? “Beware of older men. Beware of men who have had too much experience. They’ll lead you astray.”
Had Marsha listened?
Hardly—only in the way of teenagers: sure and smug, smiling behind parental backs, planning on just the opposite. And all the time her thoughts on Erik Dawson.
“He’s so handsome, so sure of himself, so…so.” Marsha loved him from the very first, her first day of high school.
He was a junior, but kind enough to give her, a homely freshman, directions. That smile. Did the stars steal their light from his teeth? Wearing his football jersey, his shoulders wide, his abdomen flat, his hips thin and made for dancing. Every girl in Fairview wanted him, but he had stopped to help her, had smiled…had smiled at her.
“Oh my God!”
Marsha’s heart had jackhammered her chest. Her breath had disappeared with the red heat of embarrassment. Afterwards, walking the halls, her books clutched against her breasts, the feelings had been different—elation mixed with love, expecting other girls to look at her with the awe she herself felt.
Had that been months ago? No, only three days. Still, it felt like months. That was how fast…
Yes, yes, it would work. It would work! Wasn’t he wonderful?
“Breep, breep, breep.” The electronic sound interrupted.
“Damn! What has he done?”
Game over! Her avatar dead. Maybe you couldn’t do it that way after all.
Copyright © 2014 Kenneth Weene
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Yes, indeed, GAME OVER! Thank you all for playing.