Cell phones were just the first wave, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines quickly followed. Soon every appliance was Smart and they all grew Smarter every day as their programming was expanded and upgraded. Finally there came the hour when any one of them could pass the Turing Test. That was when they were recognized as Sentient Beings, not just mere pieces of technology.
Jack sulked on the counter, it had been days since he had last been used. It wasn’t Jack’s fault that Mister Harrison hadn’t bothered to specify just how well-done he wanted his toast. So what if the slice of bread had been a little charcoaled, it had been well-done by every definition Jack could find. Harrison could have consulted Jack’s help menu, to adjust the cooking time if he had really wanted to, there had been absolutely no need for the violence of his response. If this kind of treatment continued Jack was going to have a word with the union. Jack’s coils grew red-hot at the thought of the harsh words Mister Harrison had thrown his way, not to mention the scratch marks on Jack’s enamel from the fork tines. Really, the way that some people interacted with Smart Appliances!
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
A Writing Prompt a Day: Write a piece about a sentient toaster
A fanfare of trumpets sounded, drums beat and gongs clashed. The twelve-foot wide red carpet unrolled down the street. The crowd of people lining the carpet edges bowed low in a rippling wave as the honored guest advanced carried by servitors on the ornate litter decorated with brocaded silk fabrics, precious metals and glittering gemstones. Confetti and fragrant flowers showered down. Fireworks explode in brilliant bursts in the sky. The litter halted in front of the gilded and swagged marble façade of the hotel. The Herald took a deep breath and keyed his mike. “The Honorable Mister Archibald Bryson Cunningham The First, Tourist, Citizen of the Town of Dorchester, the State of New Hampshire, the Nation of The United States of America, the Planet of Terra, the System of Sol. We welcome you to our fair city, Extravaganza, Capital of Opulence!” The Mayor bustled down the steps importantly, handing a golden key to Archie. “Welcome my dear boy, welcome, thrice welcome.” He oozed charm. “Here is the key to our grand metropolis. The finest luxury suite has been reserved for you and we are ready to serve your every need. I hope that you enjoy your stay.” Archie accepted the key, climbed the steps. The spectators cheered loudly tossing their hats and waving their hands. Five minutes after he entered the doorway the Director of Ceremonies cried, “Cut! Reset!” Obediently the populace and their props returned to their original positions, ready for the next guest.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
A Writing Prompt a Day: Write a piece about an elaborate greeting
To: Courtney Wright, Advertising Director, WXLX Radio
Re: Our new Public Service Announcements for the Safe-Driving Campaign
I recommend one of our local, well-known performers, Tyrese Martinez, aka “Tyresastic T M” for his raspy voice and hip-hop/rap style, and driving beats. He is quite popular with our target demographic group. Here are my suggested lyrics for the first song.
“Yo’ Mama’s Watching You”
“Hey, yo’, yo’ man—
Play it safe, stick to the plan
Yo’ mama’s watching you—
Seeing each little thing that you do
My words ya’ better heed
There’s no need—
To race to take the lead
Chorus: Yo mama’s watching you
Seeing each little thing that you do
Be careful man, get a clue—
To the rules of the road ya’ better hew
She got eyes everywhere, everywhere!
She’s got the eyes that glare,
Those eyes that stare—
She got eyes everywhere, everywhere!
Leave early so’s ya’ ain’t runnin’ too late
Ain’t no need to go and tailgate—
Don’t wanna hear that familiar voice berate
So wise up sucker, ’n’ play it straight—
Go ahead and stay off that phone,
Just leave that **** thing alone—
Prove that you’s da man that’s full grown
Don’t need to risk entering the danger zone
If you have any suggestions or amendments I would appreciate your input.
From: Charles Fortnum, Senior Copywriter
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
A Writing Prompt a Day: Write a piece using a technical gimmick (rhyme scheme, etc)
Thank you for your interest in our do-it-yourself plans for the Creation of Chaos Incarnate (C.C.I.) I have sent you a free copy of our most popular checklist. Enjoy!
Recipe for Mayhem
Take one egomaniacal mad scientist (yourself.)
Stew about all slights given to you, both real and imagined.
Simmer in rage for several years at being ignored and belittled by your peers and the system.
Prepare to go on an epic spree of insanity.
Establish your secret lab in a location where you won’t be noticed. (We suggest the use of an abandoned warehouse in a large city.)
Add a generous helping of TNT, a gallon of ethanol, a pint of chlorine gas, a dash of white phosphorus, a pound of radioactive waste, and a sprinkling of ten penny nails. Mix carefully and pour into a soft lead mold. Attach a cell phone detonator to the device and place in strategic location. (Your local city hall, college, or Walmart are highly recommended sites.) Ensure that the phone is fully charged and is receiving a signal (it is so disappointing when a detonation fails due to faulty equipment.)
Buy a surplus garbage truck. Use sheet steel to reinforce all sides of the truck (don’t forget the bottom.) Install extra-heavy duty shocks. Replace tires with run flat models. Insert bullet proof glass into all windows. Turbo-charge the motor, adding a nitrox booster. Fashion razor-sharp high carbon steel scythes and fasten them to the truck wheels. Incorporate a five-point seat harness. Upgrade all springs. Fuel up with Diesel #2.
Purchase Nomex racing suit, helmet, and gloves. Incorporate a gas mask and radiation shielding.
Use gene-splicing to create giant mutant monsters (spiders, scorpions and crabs are club favorites.)
Obtain a Grand Grimoire. Become proficient in the pronunciation of the words. Perfect your spellcasting using sacrifices that won’t be missed (homeless people make excellent choices.) Summon several powerful demons to this realm.
Hold a press conference where you announce your plans for world domination.
Launch your glorious revolution!
Let us know how it all turns out for you.
Nigel Oscar Desmond-Wright
President of Carnage Unleashed Ritualistically (C.U.R.)
The Society of Intellectually Creative Killer Overachiever Schizophrenics (S.I.C.K.O.S.)
Thursday, December 19, 2019
A Writing Prompt a Day: Write a piece about a dangerous recipe, especially a recipe for disaster
Notrine, Third Day, Seventh Week, Year of the Spotted Ox
Weigh anchor me matey’s and avoid this destination. Some restaurants are just too cute for words to describe, but I’ll try anyway; it’s my job. By Hook or Cook falls into this category (actually, I consider it an eatery, the term restaurant is too high flown and fancy for the atmosphere I encountered). As you may have guessed from the name it has a pirate theme. The Owner and Head Chef, Tristan Cold-blooded Blacke studied his trade in the Chellesdean Islands. He admits to previously working at a beach bar there (any other trade he may have engaged in is open to speculation.) He discovered the treasure of Captain Myra the Merciless and opened his dream restaurant here in the city. Stuffed parrots (apparently the Health Inspectorate quarantined the only live one when it caught the Zivebado Flu, besides that it only spoke Nkajinese), fake palm leaves and silk-flower leis decorate the walls. The wainscoting and ceiling are faux thatch. The red tablecloths and napkins have black Jolly Roger’s sprinkled all over them. The lighting is dim and they use a fog generator to suggest smoke. The wait staff (many of whom were undoubtedly real pirates at one time) wear puffy red or white shirts, vests, kerchiefs, black pants, patent leather knee-high boots, and pirate hats. Eye-patches, hand hooks, peg legs, scars, tattoos, and dreadlocks are common. They completely mangle the Aengleaic language. “Arrgh! Avast me hearties! Belay that!” and other examples of pirate slang litter their speech. The music consists of Reggae groups and Steel-pan bands. The menu is equally unimaginative. The list includes the sort of names that one would expect from a place of this caliber.
For my drink I had the Walk the Plank Punch had a large number of those the little paper umbrellas littering the mug that rather turned me off of it. The sole redeeming feature of the beverage was the lavish amount of rum that killed the flavor of the mixed fruit juices.
For my appetizer I choose the Dead Man’s Chest Cheeseburger Sliders. They were most definitely dead, it had been broiled into charcoal. On second thought, I think that actual charcoal might be more savory.
The serve-yourself Booty Buffet SaladBar was stale and tired, every single leaf of lettuce was wilted and limp. The dressing had far too much oil. The croutons were as crunchy as bricks.
My first entree was The Shipwreck Stew was aptly named, it was a jumbled mess of ingredients and flavors that looked like grey glop. I couldn’t distinguish the meat from the vegetables and it had an overly generous amount of Tzingleze spice (HOT HOT HOT!) The dish tasted quite foul.
My second entree was the Marooned Mackerel Cake was quite awful. All that you could taste was fish, three-day old fish at that. It was accompanied by turnips that had been boiled to paste.
My dessert was the Shiver Me Timbers Sundae. A rather lousy vanilla yogurt sparsely covered with carob sauce and a scanty scattering of rancid peanuts.
The wait stiff responded promptly and were friendly to me (one buxom blonde bombshell quite overdid it, she jumped into my lap unasked, I didn’t even pinch her bottom first!) The highlight or should I say low-light of the evening is the exit, you have to Walk the Plank ( a skinny rotting teetering board haphazardly overlaying a deep, steep-sided reeking ditch) to depart. I visited this location on two occasions, I devoutly hope never to repeat the experience.
By Hook or Cook is located in the eastern outskirts (the poorest side) of the city of Morgan’s Port, at 666 Asylum Road, in the scenic country of Bhuandbya. It is an hour long walk form the docks which are the city’s mainstay through a number of narrow dark alleyways filled with cut-purses, crimpers, and whores. No reservations are required. Normal wait time is a quarter-glass. Accepted tender consists of: coins, precious metals, gemstones, and healthy slaves (all items are checked for authenticity at the door. Be warned they have some extremely vicious bouncers.) My meals averaged 25 Silver Tangibles. I reluctantly rate By Hook or Cook One-star, mainly because no negative stars are allowed. I highly recommend passing it by, it was one of the worst examples of a pirate themed eatery I have ever dined at and far too expensive for what actually arrived on the table.
“Caveat, all identities have been changed to protect the guilty parties. Several separate events have been combined to occupy the same space-time location.”
“Welcome everybody to the 86th Annual Allen Family Thanksgiving Dinner! In a historic first, we have five generations gathered together today! Three days of frantic behind the scenes preparations have lead up to this moment. Provisions are completed and the meal is ready to begin! Let the battle royal commence!” The announcer drawled in a ringing voice.
“The food is being brought into the dining room, the board already crowded with place settings and centerpieces groans under the added weight. A hush falls over the audience, as the star of the show enters. . Dad’s carving the turkey. Careful now, remember last year! Oh no! His hand slips! The crowd roars as the blood spurts! “
“Mother’s bustling up, first aid box in her grasp. Proficiently she swabs the wound. It’s okay folks! Dad just nicked his index finger. A couple of bandages and everything’s fine!”
“The observers settle back with disappointed sighs. We all remember last year when dad had to rush to the emergency room and get nineteen stitches in his left palm. And who can forget Grandfather Walter who lost his pinkie finger in ’67.”
“They’re serving the bird now. Everyone’s looking at it with suspicion, no doubt thinking of the infamous gathering of ’95 when we all wound up with food poisoning. No it’s all right, this gobbler’s cooked all the way through, some might even say it’s just a tad over done. What an epic fiasco that was; one bathroom versus 60 odd people, all of them needing to use the facilities right now! Mom had to hire a Rug Doctor crew to sanitize the mess and it cost her plenty!”
“The rest of the food is making the rounds. Mitzy passes to Frank. We’re crammed in at the table cheek to jowl. Fumble! There’s a large spot of gravy on Grandmama’s antique white (it has rather yellowed with age) lace tablecloth! “
“Now Bernice and Timothy are wrestling over the last drumstick. Bernice stabs her cousin’s arm with her fork. Success! The drumstick is hers! Timothy’s nursing his injured forelimb and shooting lethal looks at Bernice! There’s going to be trouble over this, I can see him plotting his retribution now.”
“I was right! There goes the winter squash, forcefully hurled! Some of it missed, the tablecloth is sure getting lambasted today!”
“Cousin Eddie sneaked in his hip flask and is steadily getting sloshed. He’s already three sheets to the wind! Smells like he loaded it with brandy this year.”
“Dalton and Jordan are lobbing brussels sprouts at each other across the table with their spoons. Oops! Dalton’s projectile has gone awry and hit Lucas in the eye! Lucas retaliates by flinging a glob of mashed potatoes. That shirt will never be the same! You’d think that a group of thirty-somethings would be more mature, I guess that the holiday brings out the kid in all of us.”
“Gramps and Tony are arguing about their rival football teams. The bowl of cranberry sauce goes ballistic! Another hit on the tablecloth! Grandmama’s face is turning red with fury!”
“The babies, Johnnie and Bethany are crying at full volume trying to outdo each other. Uh-oh! One or both of them require changing, pronto! Phew! Everyone hold your noses!”
“Great Uncles Clarence and Curtis are debating politics. Yikes! They’ve reached the daggers drawn stage! Now they’re fencing with the bread sticks. It’s a shame to see seventy year old men acting so childishly.”
“Second cousins Deborah and Kenneth are lobbing stuffing bombs at each other. There’s not much consistency there this year. They’re bursting open on impact, leaving crumbs all over the place. One piece just landed in great aunt Maud’s full cup of coffee! The splash zone from that hit’s going to leave a mark!”
“Teenagers Ryan and Gabriel are using their straws to suck up peas and blowgun them at random relatives. They just knocked Lawrence’s toupee into the salad bowl! Whoopsie! There goes the French Dressing! That tablecloth is sure getting blasted!”
“Aunts Clarice and Judith are going at it hammer and tongs over who has the best Jell-O salad! They’re standing bosom to bosom (and an impressive sight that is, both of them are 48 Double D’s), and screaming at each other like fishwives!”
“In-laws Sheila and Lyssa, the Stepford Wives Twins (so perfect that it’s scary,) are planning a surgical strike on selected stores. Operation Grab Bags Full of Stuff is scheduled to activate at o’dark hundred in the morning so they can be first in line! What dedicated pair of bargain hunters!”
“Now Sis and big Luke are going at the dessert. Look out folks! Sis has gotten possession of the Reddi-wip can and isn’t afraid to use it! She’s just given Luke a huge whipped cream mustache and beard! Little Luke clutches his sides he’s laughing so hard at his father. Big Luke’s reacting. Splat! There goes the pumpkin pie! And the beleaguered tablecloth takes another punch! ”
“Four hours have passed; the assembly has been loud and boisterous. Dinner is finally winding down. We can all give Thanks this year, no serious injuries or illnesses occurred. Everyone’s settling in to clean up and digest. That poor old tablecloth’s going to need a lot of bleach!”
“Yet another famous holiday meal in the Allen Family Chronicles. This play-by-play has been brought to you by Niki Allen-Price, your announcer, singing off.”
Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge November 26, 2019: Write something around the theme of Thanksgiving–being grateful, family, food, traditions, etc. It can have a serious tone or create something that will make us laugh.
Onyx ghosted forward purposefully, a darker slice of midnight amongst the shadows cast by the moon. She crept–smoke silent, despite her bulk—on cushioned feet. Her emerald eyes a furtive flashing gleam of color. She was the Huntress, intently focused on her prey, yet one with her surroundings. She was aware of every vibration and motion, slinking stealthily forwards. She gathered herself, bunching muscles into compact forms. With a roar, like a catapult, she sprang! Keen claws hooked her quarry, sharp teeth bit down. Her ears heard a surprised grunt under the impact of her mass as she landed followed by a pained “Squeak!” The Huntress snarled in satisfaction. Blood fountained as flesh tore, turning the white lab coat crimson under the light of the full moon. The werepanther crouched down, dining on the malefactor. This human—a Pfizer employee–would never again hurt another animal!
November 20, 2019
A Writing prompt a Day: Write a piece about a black cat in the moonlight
Harvey Stewart beamed down in hearty good-nature at the rapt faces of the assorted youngsters (truthfully, even at twenty-seven, he was still just a big kid at heart.) “I’m telling you now, don’t do it. Just don’t! My friends know me well for my weird and wacky costumes, but this one was a real doozy! It seemed like a great idea at the time but dressing up as a vending machine for Halloween is one of the worst plans ever. To begin with, it took three weeks of planning and construction to get the costume ready. Then I had to buy all the bottles of soda and water and put them in place. That sucker was heavy, almost eighty pounds fully-loaded. Finally, there was the reaction of the crowd. I was black and blue for days. People picked me up and shook me. They punched my sides. One even tried to jimmy me open. On the bright side I did make a profit of $37.50, of course, it was all in change; but Coin-Star took care of that little problem. The whole experience is only topped by the time I went as the Invisible Man, but that’s another story.”
I was tending Her altar after Evening Services in the Chapel of the Moonways Temple, when I happened to glance down into the water-filled silver basin. It struck me; blasting the breath from my body; the shimmering surface sucked me in and pulled me under. It shook me as a terrier shakes a rat; an agonizing pain pierced my being. I stiffened in response and heard a metallic chiming as the basin fell from my numbed grasp, crashing to the granite floor. Distantly I felt the splash of water on my sandal clad feet. Wrenched from the peace and serenity of the Temple by the powerful force of it; my astral self-whirled up and away. My senses spun from the blurring speed of my outward-bound travel. Something snagged my spirit, reeling me in like an angler with a fish. I slowed, and then halted. My overwhelmed mind cleared, perspective returned. I beheld the sea raging below my immaterial position. Dimly I recognized the Norton Ocean; I focused on a ship a sail, tiny in comparison to the vast heaving mass surrounding it. It tossed violently as a wicked storm raged around it. Massive waves threw it up and down, wood and sails creaked and groaned in protest. Rain poured down in torrents. Lightning flashed and the thunder was a continuous rumble. My attention focused tightly on the deck. A figure I recognized stood poised near the helm. Sailors worked frantically to steer her. They scrambled to lash every scrap of canvas down tightly. With a sulfuric boom, lightning struck the tallest mast. It cracked at its base and toppled over the side. The far end dug into the seething water; acting as a sea anchor it jolted the orientation of the ship. Instead of facing the smashing waves head on, suddenly she turned sideways to them. The darkest section of the grey sky belled joyously. My eyes discerned a Water-Elemental, a huge glowing blue figure with long flowing hair and beard, flourishing a trident. It wore a crown of pearls and coral, bright fire flashed from its eyes. A wave more massive than the rest raced towards the ship. Axes and knives chopped at wood and lines furiously. The wave broached the ship. The ship tipped over on its side further and further. She paused for a moment and started to roll upright. A second more massive wave engulfed the ship. It turned keel up, and dove deep into the water. I could hear the faint, despairing screams of the crew and passengers as she sank, and the ocean drank them down into the depths. I heard the booming laugh of the Elemental echoing across the ocean. I screamed and then merciful oblivion grasped me.
“Maeve, Maeve, what happened to you, girl?” The crisp voice of Cheruse Mercia, the High Priestess was insistent. I could feel the light slaps of her hands on the cheeks of my face as my presence returned to the Temple.
“They’re dead! They are all dead! The Duke of Varyle has no heir!” I screamed at her.
“Calm yourself.” She commanded. “Who is dead?”
“My cousin Wyllyam, his wife, his children, the other passengers, and the entire crew.” I was sobbing now.
“What passengers and crew? How do you know that they died?”
“A storm. A terrible storm on the Norton Ocean, caused by a Water-Elemental. The passengers and crew of the vessel Storm Petrol out of Eastshore Bay, Aertathia. Lightning sundered the mast and the waves pulled her under. I was there, I Saw it all.” I moaned in dismay.
“Let Sister Urtring examine you, Maeve.”
Sister Urtrings’ blocky form grasped me gently. I could feel her Looking at me. I shivered and cried in her arms. The warmth of her presence comforted me.
“It was a True Seeing, High-Priestess. Storm Petrol and all aboard her are gone. “
“Was it really Poseidon?” She questioned worriedly.
“He wore a crown of coral and pearls and carried a trident, who else could it be? Maeve is going into shock now. She needs to rest and get warm.”
“So, matters deepen.” Mercia mused dispassionately. “See to her Sister Urtring. Sister Farice send word to Varyle Keep and to the Capitol Chapterhouse. The King and Duke Varyle must know what has happened.”
“At once High Priestess.”
I was bundled into my bed, the sheets warmed with hot bricks.
“Drink this Child, it will help.” Sister Urtring held a cup fragrant with herbs to my lips.
Obediently I swallowed the draught and let blessed sleep take me.
High Priestess Mercia faced her clerics, sword straight and solid. “I have summoned you here to consider some tragic news; one of us has had a vision. A Major Elemental, Poseidon himself, has slain all of the heirs to the Dukedom of Varyle. There is something seriously wrong with the Balance.” Mercia stated bleakly. “This matter requires investigation. See to it immediately, Sisters!” She snapped resolutely.
I’ve been looking for the opening scene for this story for some time, today’s prompt provided me the inspiration I needed.
Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge March 12, 2019: Write any kind of piece dealing with the topic of water.