Lightning Rounds 54

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from writers.stackexchange.com.Visit the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: Just an ounce

If I could stop sneezing, writing would be a lot easier. I thought that I had it knocked when I doubled up on the decongestant, but that seems to actually be making it worse. My snot is thinner, but it’s pouring out of my nose. I collected it in this tissue here, but it got soggy fast. Really fast. I think it’s tickling my nose as it comes out and that is why I am sneezing so much.

Now it’s hard to think, because my frontal sinuses are tickling. It’s funny because my neuro told me that I had pretty much non-existent frontal sinuses and that’s why I was probably prone to migraines. It has nothing to do with the hallucinations though; I guess just an ounce of mescaline is enough to mess a body up good for a decade or so. When one of the main disadvantages of losing weight is tripping out and ending up in a truck stop shower on a Sunday afternoon three weeks and ten states past your last memory, you end up putting on a few pounds over the years and I guess that’s what I’ve done.

I wish I had a few more tissues. They ration them here, like cigarettes in prison. I considered stealing a roll of toilet paper in order to keep up with the slimy discharge that insists on oozing from my nares, but that seems like it would inconvenience more than a few of my co-workers and how would that help position me in the long run, here at the office? Not well, I tell you. Not well at all.

I tried tea, I tried coffee. It’s hard to breathe and harder to swallow without breathing because I get that horrible water-filled nose sensation. I hate being sick.

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Lightning Rounds 53

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from writers.stackexchange.com.Visit the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

I missed the one last week, so here it is.

Topic 1: Dying

“Is it done then?”

Amos removed the limp body from the makeshift container. He turned it over carefully in his gloved hands, then nodded. “Yes.”

Kara pressed her lips together and held out the shoebox. Amos carefully laid the squirrel inside. Kara set a bit of tissue paper over it and replaced the top. She stood for a moment, staring at the box she held awkwardly in her hands. Her brow furrowed. “I’m not sure what to do now.”

Amos gave a sober chuckle, then shuffled to the back of the maintenance shed. “Well, you could bury it, I suppose. Under your rose bushes.”

Kara straightened slightly, then turned and craned her neck to see where he had gone. “I don’t have no rose bushes.” She took a few steps toward the end of the crowded metal shelving. Peering around the standing cabinet on the endcap, she spotted the stained coveralls of the ageless caretaker. He pulled his glove off and wiped his nose with the back of his hand before he ran his fingers through his hair. He turned slightly and propped his elbow on the tool rack, his eyes a mass of scrunched wrinkles. “Guess you could toss it in the incinerator.” He shrugged, removing his other glove and tossing the pair onto the desk. He shuffled through a stack of papers, then reached for his coffee cup.

Kara looked down at the box in her hands, then back up at him. She sighed. “Yeah, I guess that’d be the best thing to do.”

Topic 2: “It’s up to you, innit?”

I found it rather remarkable, as I stood on the edge of the rooftop staring 80 floors down to the pavement, that I didn’t just fall from the sudden vertigo. The cars below me spiraled clockwise slowly, and I concluded that it must be countering the natural spin I always experienced when I was up high looking down. The angel standing next to me shifted slightly, placing a hand against the small of my back. “It’s a leap of faith.” Its voice bubbled through my consciousness, and my nose wrinkled involuntarily.

I scratched my ear with the knuckle of my pointer finger. “It’s up to you, innit?” I drew my head back and closed my eyes briefly as I turned to face the winged messenger, trying to keep my balance. “You’re going to push me if I don’t do it myself.” I looked at it levelly, searching its eyes for some kind of humanity, but the human shape — even if it had wings — was just a trick of the senses. It wanted me to empathize, it wanted me to treat it as though we were somehow equals. But we weren’t. Its eyes betrayed it.

I smiled briefly and held out my arms. “Let me embrace you before I go.” The angel returned the smile automatically and reached for me. I pushed hard and dropped back onto the roof top, and the angel tumbled, wings spread and useless as leaves on the wind.

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Lightning Rounds 52

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from writers.stackexchange.com.Visit the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: fun freebies

The sun baked the sticky sweet smear of ice cream into the vinyl beneath my hand.

“Aren’t you worried about bugs?”

I shrugged and leaned back, licking around the edge of the waffle cone. “I like it with a little crunch.”

My husband made a face, then grinned and pinched my knee. “Hey,” he pointed out the window, his eyes darting quickly from roadside back to the windshield. “Was that a crossbow?”

“We should check it out.” My tongue made another round, catching the tops of my fingers this time. He crunched across the gravel in a stranger’s driveway and turned back to the yard sale. When we pulled up under the shade tree next to the dooryard, he jumped out and went ahead. I took a bite of the cone and followed him at a leisurely pace. At the end of the driveway, I stopped to pick through the freebie box.

I rummaged through one-handed, like a pro. I propped the elbow of my other arm against my side, eating the cone sideways so I could keep my eyes out for treasure. I pushed aside an old mitten. My hand froze, eyes locked on a puzzle piece the size of a postage stamp. It was blue, the deep blue of the ocean, with just a hint of a cresting wave along one edge.

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Lightning Rounds 51.

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from writers.stackexchange.com.Visit the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic:It’s Pompeii and Vesuvius is about to erupt.

Ocean had been angry, making rumblings for days. We weren’t sure why, but we were all nervous. Prophet said that Forger was pounding inside the mountain, making something for Thunderbearer. The sky glowed red at night. The smoke billowed down, bringing fine ash and soot. I didn’t know what he might be making, but it was something fine, fine enough for a god to bear. I wondered whether Ocean was angry with Thunderbearer, and that’s why he made Earth shiver. And that maybe Thunderbearer wanted Forger to make him new lightning so he could smite Ocean. Still, it didn’t make sense. Ocean’s daughter Love was married to Forger, and he would not harm his father-in-law. On the other hand, Thunderbearer was the mightiest of the gods. I pondered while I gathered my nets and creel and strolled down to Ocean’s doorstep. I didn’t want to be on the wrong side of a fight between such great powers. Maybe I should throw in my lot with someone else. Maybe the Greeks.

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Lightning Rounds 50.

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from writers.stackexchange.com.Visit the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: Describe how it feels to be Superman flying over the Rockies

Clark yawned and rubbed his nose with his knuckle. These cross-country flights were getting old, but he didn’t have the heart to tell Becky he was moving on. She was just the latest in a series of aging loves. They always wanted to be different. They never were. Still, he made them happy with his brooding and he enjoyed their worship for a while.

A few more minutes, and he’d clear the Rockies, the glittering plains of Los Angeles would spread out below him, terminating abruptly in the darkness of the Pacific Ocean. He could see it now if he squinted, but he was so used to confining himself to a human-level sensory environment that it felt like cheating somehow. It was the same reason he didn’t hit supersonic speeds when he made the journey, the same reason he followed the same flight patterns as jumbo jets.

He coiled his finger into the curl on his forehead. The moon reflected whitely off the snow thirty thousand feet below. The whole earth looked wrinkled and pale, like she’d just emerged from a hundred-year-long bath. He pressed his lips together and rolled onto his back, choosing instead to stare up into the stars, searching again for his home like a lost tooth. He wasn’t even meta-human. Not even human. And he was far, so far from his home.

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Lightning Rounds 49

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from writers.stackexchange.com.Visit the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: The Heart of Pluto

He stood with his hands behind his back, his chin lifted slightly. From her vantage point, she could not see his face as he gazed into the darkness beyond the window of their palace. He cleared his throat and shifted slightly, turning his head to the side so he could address her over his shoulder.

“It is difficult to tell you this,” he began, then turned back toward the window. Her hand tightened ever so slightly against the arm of the throne, but she remained silent. He folded his arms across his chest. “I know you are displeased that I brought you here.” He paused, then heaved a deep sigh. “Truth be told, I find the prospect of marrying my sister quite off-putting. You are a convenience only, to avoid that fate, and if you do not wish to stay here once we are married, you may go home to your mother.”

“The damp darkness and cold autumn wind does my health no good, Uncle.” She stood up and padded quietly down the dais toward the alcove where he brooded. His shoulders slumped slightly, and he waved his hand dismissively, but before he could speak again, she continued. “I suppose perhaps I could remain here for half the year, if you think your dog will let me pass.”

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Lightning Rounds 48

This blog post is a ten-minute timed writing exercise from writers.stackexchange.com.Visit the Writers chat room every Tuesday for new writing exercises.

Topic: “Why do I feel nauseous?”

“Oh god,” she said, lurching sideways and gripping the brick wall. “Why do I feel nauseous?” Her fingers found little crevices. Her nails scratched against the mortar. She knelt, her hip pressed against the rough uneven dampness of exposed pipes.

“Easy, Fox.” Bill put a hand on her shoulder, his eyebrows furrowed with concern. “We’re not going to claw our way through that.” He lifted his head, his eyes searching along the ceiling for openings.

“I’m not trying to claw my way out.” She clutched her head suddenly. “Oh damn it.” She pointed toward the floor, then waved her hand at the pipes. “It’s all iron. Shit, I think I’m going to be sick.”

Bill lifted her feet off the ground, pulling her away from the pipes. Fox smiled briefly and put her arms around his shoulders, letting her head rest under his chin. “That will only help for a little while. I’m afraid I’m not going to be much help getting out of here.”

He nodded once, still scanning their surroundings. “I’m going to put you on my back, OK?”

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