Prompt Replies: Balloon Fair

Pen Friends ~ Thanks to Allison Voltaire, Noah Dingman, Hilary Bowen, and David Pinkerton, who responded to the Prompt Challenge!  Here are four unique and entertaining prompt stories. Enjoy them below!


Prompt 1: Hilary Bowen, “Sanctuary”

It was all so innocent–at least, we’d hoped it appear as such. With the Balloon Fair in town, nobody would know it was us. It was the perfect cover. The dim light of dawn, the waking crowds who were not yet caffeinated, and those balls of fire just itching to be lit.

I looked down at the fingers on my left hand there was a faint glow and as always, they were tingling. I imagined the faint curl of smoke that would herald me as one of the flaming ones, or Carriers as they were more often called. I smiled. It was such a delicious secret. All my friends except Cara wanted me to reveal. Not that many of them knew, but it was getting harder to hide. During group games, at family prayer, I would try to position myself next to Summer or Jordan; they were always teasing me about revealing, but they hadn’t announced—yet. Not that there’s anything wrong with being Carrier. In fact, although neither of them would admit it, they’re both a little jealous that they aren’t flaming ones as well. All they see is the grandeur, the honor, and probably the gold out-coats that they wear.

I look down and finger the green of my kirtle, smile temporarily gone as the green starts to shimmer gold.

Our house sits behind the sanctuary and I hear it sometimes, the soft murmur of the younger Carriers, or acolytes. Once I heard them singing, beautiful words about the Creator and the glow of life-power; but the melody was achingly sad. That’s where I received him from, the Spirit; it was dusk and after dinner I wandered up to the hedge of the sanctuary, surprised to see one of the acolytes watching me, I heard the whisper on the wind, “Do you want to feel?” Her lips never moved. She just reached out and her fingers brushed my face.

I never told anyone. My friends just assumed that the Spirit was latent in me and simply awoke. The touch of Carriers is reserved only for those deemed worthy or important, and is usually given out on days of procession.

“Hey Joelle.”

“Oh, hey Cara.” I wave and she comes running over.

“What’cha doing?”

I ripple my fingers and a trail of gold as fine as dust particles swirls in the early morning light. Even though it’s beautiful, she looks away, eyes troubled.

“Come’on Cara, it can’t be all bad, and it feels so right.”

“I know, but…” She sighs and takes my hand. “I’ve seen them too—” I give her time to finish “—all gold and glittering. Joelle, I don’t want to say goodbye.”

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Prompt 2: Allison Voltaire, “As Love Lifts Off” 

It was all so innocent–at least, we’d hoped it’d appear as such. With the Balloon Fair in town, nobody would know it was us. It was the perfect cover. The dim light of dawn, the waking crowds who were not yet caffeinated, and those balls of fire just itching to be lit…

He takes my hand and leads me onto an empty, oversized basket. The nerves overtake my entire body as the officials prepare us for this adventure we are about to embark. Just before the sun awakes, the fire comes alive as if it is a rocket ready to explore the universe.

Upon lift-off, my body tenses as he locks his fingers into mine and we defy gravity. After all, we’ve only known each other for a short while and this was another outrageous date. I cannot believe the connection we feel. We are the epitome of love at first sight. Giving into the moment, my head rests on his muscular form as we depart from the Earth and become one with the wind.

Neither of us can stop staring at the unbelievable bird’s-eye view we are experiencing. However, everything shrinks in comparison to the passion that fuels this balloon through the clouds. He reaches into a large container that is off to the side of the basket and pulls out two glass and a bottle of top-shelf champagne. We toast and then we sip. Champagne before breakfast is not a usual occurrence for my rather ordinary life, but this man is nothing short of surprise and adventure.

He takes my glass and sets them both into the container just before he pulls out a tiny black box and kneels down onto one knee. He begins, “I love you more today than I did yesterday. I want to spend the rest of my life watching you smile. Will you marry me?” He lifts the lid of the box and the diamond ring is more than I ever imagined. The large center-stone is hugged by many tiny diamonds enhancing its sparkle.

Tears sting my eyes as I shout, “YES!” He smiles and jumps onto his feet before his mouth meets mine. He is definitely feeding into the passion that has heated and risen with this balloon that envelopes us.

This man who has kept our relationship a secret the entire time I have known him wants me to be his wife? Spending everyday vowed to him is a dream of mine I never knew I had until the day he waltzed into my life! I cannot wait to begin our happily ever after.

Find more of Author Allison Voltaire @


Prompt 3: Noah Dingman

It was all so innocent–at least, we’d hoped it’d appear as such. With the Balloon Fair in town, nobody would know it was us. It was the perfect cover. The dim light of dawn, the waking crowds who were not yet caffeinated, and those balls of fire just itching to be lit…

The fire fascinated us the most. The force that gave life, but also destroyed. The whole world could burn. That was our plan.

I see her. A man’s voice spoke in my mind.

Lumere? Another whispered.

She will be our down fall! Screamed another.

Quiet! I screeched, we will continue as planned. If she becomes troublesome, end her.

Yes, yes.      

As you wish.

The voices faded into whispers that could be ignored. That was the problem with a hive mind, there was too much to hear. You could become distracted by what another was doing, or the whole group could lose focus, forfeiting any advantage we had. There were benefits as well. You could see and hear what others in the hive were seeing and hearing all at once, giving you the ability to adjust the plan with a simple thought and keep going. Lumere didn’t stand a chance.

At least she knows who she is.

Where did that thought come from? I shook it from my head. Lumere was separating our minds.

Where is she, we must stop her, I asked.

Behind the balloons.

Do we need to kill her? A woman’s voice asked. She’s just a girl.

Stop thinking separately! I yelled, remember our mission. I need two of you to confront her with me.

I’ll go.

Me too, the woman answered.

The rest of you stay put, I said.

We were supposed to be thinking as one, Lumere’s presence was ripping us apart.

I left my post an information booth and headed towards the balloons. Weaving through the crowd of people, I saw two others walking in sync with me. On my left was the woman. Her blond hair flowed behind her. To my left was a tall, burly man with short back hair. Then I saw her. Lumere, standing in a clearing behind the balloons. Her auburn hair reached her shoulders. She looked at me, tears streaking her face. She smiled. I hated her.

We ran, hands raised, dark power filling our fingertips. She kept smiling. We stopped ten feet away from her, purple lightning bounced from our fingertips.

“Please, think for yourselves.” Lumere said.

“Never,” we said in unison, but I wondered what it would be like.

Lightning jumped from our hands towards her, suddenly getting blocked by an invisible barrier.

“Think about who you really are!” She screamed.

Flashes of memory tore through my mind, ice cream, drive-in theaters, and Lumere’s smiling face. The lightning stopped. I was on my knees crying. I couldn’t sense the hive anymore, Lumere won. But I didn’t care, I could remember who I was. I was Janae, and Lumere was my daughter.

Lumere walked to me with outstretched arms.

“I’m so sorry.” I whispered through tears.

“It’s okay.” She said kneeling on the ground to hug me.

A group of witnesses had surrounded us. What they had seen, no-doubt woke them up more than any coffee. I didn’t care I was with my daughter again, “Lumere,” I whispered.

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Prompt 4: David Pinkerton

It was all so innocent–at least, we’d hoped it appear as such. With the Balloon Fair in town, nobody would know it was us. It was the perfect cover. The dim light of dawn, the waking crowds who were not yet caffeinated, and those balls of fire just itching to be lit, lighting up the dawn sky just like the coffee was about to light up the dim minds of this insular, stiff town. This was going to be the best last day of school prank the world has ever seen!
The walkie-talkie crackles as Trev speaks, “My ballon is just coming into position now Brad. Are you ready for the fireworks?”
I wait a minute, as I think about the stupid annual hot air ballon committee, and how us letting off their fireworks will destroy them! They spend most of their year planning for this stupid thing, and the fireworks are the finale on the last night. We will be well gone by then.                                                                                                                                                               “Trev, you’re meant to say ‘over’ when you finish speaking, over.”
“Sorry about that, Captain America, over,” he says sarcastically before bursting into laughter.
Laughing, I clip the walkie talkie to my belt again, then lean over the edge of the basket just in time to see Sunnyhaven High School’s roof pass below me and the football field come into view.
This morning’s weather is perfect for dropping petrol bombs onto many thousands of dollars worth of fireworks, just enough of a breeze to make the balloons drift slowly over the field, giving us time to drop our payloads with accuracy and get out of the way at the same time. The coolness of the morning air also means we can ascend rapidly and get away before any of the morons know whats hit them.
Sunnyhaven is famous for two things, the first is having the biggest Air Ballon fair in the US, and the second, is having a repressed, out-of-date set of town laws. That means from children up to graduating high schoolers are required to “serve the community,” which really means free child labour, and then they are told what profession they will train for.
“Ready for action?” I say into the walkie talkie.
“Here goes nothing,” Trev replies.
We look at each other across the length of the field. I flick the lighter and watch as its tiny flame licks against the gas dampened fabric in the bottle, before dropping it over the side of the basket. I watch as it lands perfectly in the cordoned off section containing the fireworks.
My attention is quickly drawn away from what should be a satisfying explosion of fireworks. The sound of two helicopters appear from nowhere. I watch as the machine guns drill lines of holes over buildings in front of us as they move to the centre of town.
This day, suddenly, is not going as planned.

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