A word that has been throbbing on the collective consciousness lately. 500 words or less. Due Thursday, 5/14 by 8 pm EST. I am in the process of putting together a new podcast episode so one of the writers from the first three issues will be chosen randomly to be interviewed. I will also include a story from each issue to be read on the podcast. Perhaps a little incentive to get those words flowing. All 500 (or less) of them.
Submit here or send to email@example.com.
I grew up with a kid named Alan. He and I had the same last initial so we were always sitting one in front of the other throughout school. Alan and I shared a love of reading and music, though on both fronts we had vastly different preferences. He liked Megadeath, I liked Bob Dylan. He liked Dean Koontz, I liked Tolstoy. To each their own, I would say now, but it is possible that I was not so open-minded in my youth. Alan, on the other hand, possessed a surprisingly liberal attitude from a young age. Alan could readily appreciate Dylan and Tolstoy whereas I could not tolerate Megadeath or Koontz. I found it particularly irksome when Alan went through a copycat stage with his writing, mimicking Steven King and Dean Koontz in the stories that he wrote for English class. After perhaps a little too much complaining on my part, he wrote a story that featured me.
It was not a long story. Basically, I went over to his house to spend the night with his younger sister and he invited me out for a walk. Living in Florida, there was naturally a swampy area along the path which made it easy for him to tie me up, duct-taping my mouth first, of course, and push me into the water, where I was immediately devoured by alligators. I thought it was hilarious and I did let up on the complaining after that.
Five years ago, Alan died, just a few days shy of his thirty-fourth birthday. His death was sudden and heartbreaking for everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. Today, November 26th, was Alan’s birthday. In honor of my horror-loving childhood friend, I am asking you writers out there to craft some horror stories that would make Dean Koontz’s skin crawl. And, due to the fact that I am busy with the print edition, I am giving you two weeks to complete your stories with an expanded word count of 1000. Let the blood ink flow, writers.
By popular suggestion, write a PSA this week. Make it serious, absurd, romantic, heartbreaking, terrifying, whatever you please, but make it so it could be broadcast on a loudspeaker or posted on a bulletin board.
Hear ye, hear ye…
As usual, 500 words or less. Due Thursday, November 22nd by 8 pm EST.
The quiet of the world as it turns from night to day. The light just before sunrise, dim and yet somehow everything is visible, still but visible. Emptied streets, shuttered shops, a lone runner. A few birds stir but hold their songs until the great star shows itself again, as if they are unsure that the cycle will continue to repeat itself. There are lesser stars still in the sky, minor in their distance and influence. The moon seems listless, already fading. A young woman looking old sleeps on the bus stop bench, torn tights and black leather boots, her purse serving as a pillow. For her, dawn is not a beginning but the end of a long night of flashing lights and dizzy laughter, of hoping strangers would be anything but. The first bus of the day approaches, its driver used to collecting stray people. The sky shifts from lavender to pink and the birds let loose their pent-up melodies. A new day has dawned.
This week, include dawn in your stories, whether it be as setting, action, or person. Dawn can have many different meanings: I want you to choose one to weave into your story.
As always, 500 words or less. Submit by Thursday, November 15th here.
For this week, let’s include a tree. Or trees. Include a primeval forest if you like, or perhaps a petrified one. You do not need to anthropomorphize them into characters, though you certainly could if you wished. Perhaps they are magic, perhaps they are giving, perhaps they are rotten, perhaps they contain treasure. Or perhaps a tree just casts a shadow in a bedroom where a woman lies weeping after being forsaken by her lover. After all, trees exist in the background of our lives, only coming to our attention when they blush into beautiful pinks or crush a garage during a hurricane.
((Oh, and I included the Japanese up there because it just seemed appropriate: it is the kanji for ki (tree) and mokuyobi (Thursday). ))
Oh, and the podcast is on the way (it is hard to record in a house crowded with people and with night construction banging along outside my window for the past week) and I will contact the two author’s for the next podcast today.
There are still a few days left to nominate a story for The Pushcart Prize. I have received a lot so far but would like to hear from as many readers as possible.
A little late this week because, well, Mondays. Yesterday was a bit more tiresome than usual due to my classes starting up again and the fact that I am from Jacksonville. It has given me a lot to think about, regarding gun rights and violence and racial disparity. I will write about it elsewhere but essentially I am just saying, I absolutely lost track of time. It happens.
This week, due to my own hectic schedule and a suggestion from a contributor, I am changing the rules a bit. Double-double, two weeks, 1000 words. This prompt is very specific. Write about someone who is the last of something, anything you like, but something. Like maybe they are the last hot dog seller or the last member of a royal dynasty. Think about how it would feel to be the last of something, to know that no one after you will do what you do or think how you think. Once you figure out what your character is the last of, then I think the story will practically self-construct.
In a few days, I will make an announcement about some changes to Mercurial Stories but until then, focus on your stories. With so much time and so much space, I am expecting great narratives from you all (or as we say in Jacksonville (aka Jax), y’all).