Prompt Reply: In Hiding


Thank you to all of you who participated in our Prompt!

We selected Lily Cushman’s to share:


As I descended the crude man-made trail through the ruined city, pungent scents of smoke and mildew sting my nose. Graffiti filled walls guide me to the once safe haven to find a young soldier, very young, gasping for air on the ground, lying in pooled blood, though whether it was all his own blood I couldn’t tell. The smoke was thicker around here, reminders of the firefight we had interrupted with our medical helicopter mission. 

 I knelt beside him, QuikClot gauze in my hands and my jump kit heavy on my shoulders, filled with my field gear, IVs, medicines, bandages. Do you know how many pounds medics carry on a battlefield? I don’t know, but it’s a lot. A lot for my skinny person. 

 The soldier looked at me, fear and hope in his eyes. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he could see me. That was a good sign. If he started babbling about seeing lights and such I would worry more. 

 “Hey,” I said as gently as I could. “I’m a medic. I’m here to help you. We are going to help you so you can go home. You read me, buddy?”

 He nodded vaguely. I gave him a small smile and then started looking at the damage. There were multiple gunshot wounds, and some lacerations on his hands and face. He was in bad shape, bleeding a lot, and his breathing was ragged. But I had seen worse. I started treating with QuikClot, a gauze that helped stop bleeding quickly, and then bandaged the small cuts on his face. The bullet holes, beyond QuikClot, could not be treated anymore effectively at this point. I started getting a 20 GA needle, an extension set and a saline bag ready so I could start an IV. 

 “I won’t – die?” He asked quietly. 

 I looked down into his face, and saw the hope taking over the fear in his eyes. You’re never supposed to lie to a patient or tell them something you don’t already know the answer to. But I had hope. Hope that he would pull through. Not just hope like ‘I hope it won’t rain this weekend.’ A genuine hope, like a ray of light piercing a dark cloud cover. A glimmer of good after so much evil. 

 “You’re going to be fine.” I said. I squeezed his hand and he squeezed back. “We are going to get you home. Home to your family. I promise.” 

 Hope filled his whole face, even during the pain. 

 Hope is a gift, and when you can give it, it gives you a little hope as well. Hope that the darkness you face every day in everything won’t win. Hope that life is worth living, it’s worth pushing through the hellishness to see a hurting person smile, a broken heart be healed, beauty pulled from the ugliness that is rampant around our world. 

 As I descended the crude man-made trail through the ruined city, pungent scents of smoke and mildew sting my nose. Graffiti filled walls guided me to the once safe haven to find hope. Hope even in the despair. 


Prompt Part 2: This is My World…

Pen Friends ~ Here is Part Two of the Dual POV Prompt Reply: This is my world… Enjoy the stories! Thanks to all who participated!

Teen Writer, Lily Gooch’s Prompt Reply:

This is my world. It’s beautiful here, but too quiet now. I hate all the stillness. There’s no one to talk to and I think too much. I can’t help but remember why it’s so quiet here. I don’t want to remember how they all died, but I do–silent blood paints the walls of the palace.

I’d give anything to live somewhere that wasn’t so sad. Words can’t express how much. Somewhere where noise would distract my mind. Where I could drown the memories in music. Somewhere where I could finally get peace.

Hilary Bowen’s Prompt:

This is my world. Prince Ferris sighed, gazed out the stained glass windows of the school spire, and wished for the umpteenth time that he was the one out on the spines of the Rhadrize instead of here memorizing history and lists of policy. It wasn’t fair that she, (in his better moments he referred to her as Kat—but today, stuck inside when the spring sun beckoned—was not one of his better moments) Master Philomius lectured on. Sneezing briefly ever so often when dust from the tomes and scrolls wafted up into his beak of a proboscis.

Ferris let his thoughts wonder. Up the twisting winding paths, past fern growth and pines out into the thin, clear air of the top of the spine. From the window the mountains were a range of blue and purple hues. Up close they pulsed in a variety of grey, greens, browns, almost every shade imaginable.

And he was stuck in here. He bet he could find what she was looking for. In fact, what if they traded places. She could study boring politics and he could go hunt for that treasure. She would be the one to rule Mid’Arch anyway.

“Prince Ferris. PRINCE Ferris!” Master Philomius’ voice was considerably louder the second time and it jerked Ferris back into the library.

Kris D Keith’s Prompt:

This is my world, and I must save it. I awoke this morning knowing I must meet her, as the Seer predicted. But I fought my future. I helped mother prepare bread for supper. I helped Alana with her washing, ignoring the other boys who laughed at me for doing a womanly task. I wandered, not knowing where I went but knowing I didn’t want to end up here, at the Grand Falls.

“What are you looking at?” I say to her, not knowing or caring if she’d understand.

“You’re eyes,” she says, not the least bit afraid, “they’re red.”

Rebecca Henry’s Prompt:

This is my world…I thought as I grinned up at the wisps of clouds, lit up by the moons. The iridescent glow gleamed green as I raced across the still wet grass and under the low hanging branches, only skidding to a stop at the edge of the river. Pebbles scattered like diamonds at my feet and tinkled into the glassy water.

I glanced back behind me with a mischievous grin.

My hands broke into the surface of the water until I held a firm grip on a vine of kelp. With a whoop, I threw myself into the river and let the current carry me speeding forward toward the edge.

This was always my favorite part, the feeling of being swallowed by nothingness, the freedom of flying through the air. I tipped over the brink of the waterfall and plunged into the empty abandon of space.

Here the rules of gravity were broken, for only the water would spin back and travel against the underside of the earth. Everything else: fallen leaves, loose pebbles, and perhaps a wayward wild child like me, dropped into the darkness. Most were never seen again.

But, just as the gust of cold air gripped at my lungs, its frozen fingers trying to claim me, the rope of river kelp bounced me back to reality.

I shook the spray of water from my face as I settled back onto the riverbank and held the rope out to him.

“It’s your turn.”


A Prompt-Reply: Spies

Their ideal base for retreat and restocking for the next mission.

The mountains were green, thick, and peaceful. It was hard to believe that danger was not far from us. I dipped my hand into the water-blue, clear, and icy-cold. The water had kept us alive; it brought our supplies, and it would carry us toward our mission tonight.

The very element that offered protection ushered us into unknown territories. I want to scream, kick, and rebel against the command that we need to not only accomplish this task but succeed. Continue reading

Best Christmas (or Holiday) Story Ever Contest Winner

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays Writers and Readers!

Thanks to everyone who sent us stories written on the theme, “Away from Home for the Holidays.” We loved reading all of the intriguing and moving entries.

The winner of our Holiday Story contest is: Kris D. Keith, with a story entitled, The Stranger. It is published below for your enjoyment! Her other writing can be read here and Gotham Writers recently selected Krystal’s twitter story for their cover art for their winter class schedule, view that here.


THE STRANGER, by Kris D. Keith

“I’ll be home for Christmas” played in the background, mixing with the grumbles of the other passengers, filling the train with a melodious chaos.

It isn’t fair, Christina thought. I haven’t been home in over a year. I missed last Christmas, thanks to Babette. The baby girl, born last Thanksgiving, was a constant reminder of all Christina’s mistakes. Alone and almost homeless, the pair survived day by day in their tiny apartment, complete with ants, silver fish, and the occasional spider.images-28

Babette wiggled then whimpered in her sleep. “Sshhh,” Christina whispered as she bounced the tot on her legs, still clutching her to her chest. Continue reading

Prompt Replies

Pen Friends ~ Thanks to Vanessa Weight (our selected prompt winner) and Noah Dingman, our SP teen contributor for replying to the prompt. Due to changes on our blog, we were a bit late in posting. Sorry! Please enjoy their creativity!


Prompt #1 Vanessa Weight, age 16, Washington

A thirsty cry startled me from a sweaty sleep. The sound– high-pitched and screechy– rang in my ears. I licked my dry lips and cracked a smile. I knew that sound. Among the tents of my father I heard it all the time –camels. Today it was much more. It was the sound of salvation. I was close. It had been three days since I entered the desert… , but yet I felt as though my journey had just begun.

As the comforting sound of the camels slowly drifted away, I came to realize that I wasn’t safe to rest, not here in the open. I couldn’t afford to make myself more vulnerable than I already was. I quickly started packing my supplies–including my dagger and my revolver–into my bag as I prepared to keep moving. I figured there’d be enough food and water for at least another week, as long as it was used sparingly. I had to find shelter, and fast. As the break of dawn began to rise, I would be spotted far too easily. If I had any chance of finding the artifact, I had to get there soon.

Continue reading

Prompt Reply: The Ruins

Pen Friends~Thanks to Sarah Snyder, Noah Dingman, Sabrina Carvalho, Ruby Ma, and Hilary Bowen for replying to the Prompt! Five talented writers and five different perspectives…Enjoy!

Prompt - camping in ruins

Prompt #1 by: Noah Dingman, 16 years old, Washington State

I wake in the middle of the night camped in more ruins. The sky is sprinkled with a host of stars. A fire burns next to me. I’m not scared. I should be, but on the contrary, I wish I could stay. But after last night…

The only thing to fear is fear itself, a voice says in my head. I can’t remember who said that but it’s not important. What’s important is how to survive another night. I can’t fail again.

The fire sputters out, I sit upright and look around. The stars slowly blink out, one by one. It’s happening again.

Continue reading

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. Continue reading