All of this blog’s content is also available in an audio podcast on iTunes and on Podbean under the podcast name “Another Notch”
Welcome to Another Notch, the podcast about writing prompts. I try to get thoughts on paper and stretch ideas until they become stories. If it inspires you, that’s awesome. If my writing can stand to be improved, and I know it can, then give me some constructive criticism! The whole idea is to make me a better writer, and I know I’ve got a lot of room to grow in this area.
Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found on the internet. The prompt was to write about a couple on the beach at night when a ghlostly pirate ship shows up to, according to local legend, claim their hidden, buried treasure.
Glen and Dana were in the middle of an amazing week at Dana’s uncle’s summer house out on the cape. Her Uncle Terrence had let Dana and her boyfriend use the house for a week on the beachfront property if they promised to clean it up a bit while they were there. They had a tiny little sandy cove, all their own, for the entire week of Spring Break.
As beachfront property goes, it was small, but amazingly secluded. It was off the beaten path and away from tourists and all the commercialism typically associated with it. If they didn’t feel like cooking, there was one little cafe within walking distance, open only for breakfast and lunch, but that was about it. They generally preferred staying in to cook their own meals which left them more time for the beach, reading, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
After the first couple days of sun-soaking, exploratory walks and moonlight swims, accentuated with wine from Uncle Terrance’s wine chiller in the horrid, bamboo-themed patio bar, they gave their own food preparation skills a rest and opted for breakfast at the cafe.
Fresh from the shower, they found clean clothes from their backpacks and searched for a few minutes until they found the key to the front door. It had been the first time in three days they had left the property through the front door. It almost felt a bit awkward, as if reality had seeped back into their brain when they locked the door. Three days left, they reminded themselves, and walked down the narrow, unlined street to the tiny cafe at the end of the block.
They had mostly been in their bathing suits, if that, for the past couple days.Now, Glen in his beach combers and printed t-shirt and Dana in her sweatpants and tanktop made them even more aware they were now out in public once more, even as secluded as it was, and they craved the beauty and privacy of the cove once more.
Breakfast arrived on quaint, colorful mis-matched plates, made by Quinn who owned the local pottery shack and art school in town. There were huge, fluffy omelettes and pieces of thick sizzling bacon, tiny glasses of orange juice and huge, steaming mugs of coffee. They devoured everything.
They chatted sleepily with the waitress as she came by to lay down the check.
“So, did you two happen to wander over here from town, just exploring?” said the waitress, smiling as picked up the last empty plate from the table.
“Actually,” said Dana, smiling back, “we’re just using my uncle’s place over at the cove for Spring Break. It’s been…so great.”
“That’s wonderful. I’m glad you’re enjoying it out here.” said the waitress. She hesitated a moment, as if she were going to say something else, and then gave a polite little nod with her smile and carried off the last of the dirty plates.
Glen placed anough cash on the table for breakfast and generous tip. They got up, stretched and yawned, shaking off their little food-induced mini coma, and Glen grabbed Dana’s hand and gave it a squeeze as they strolled to the door. The little bell chimed as they opened the door to leave and the waitress returned from the back to wish them well.
“Please do be careful out there in the cove at night.” she said. She now had more of a look of concern than friendliness. “Especially this weekend. I mean…”
“Now, Janie…that’s enough. Let those kids be. Let them enjoy their Spring break.” said a voice from the back of the cafe. A muscular man in khaki pants and a clean white buttoned shirt wearing an apron and one of those paper hats required in commercial kitchens stepped around the door jamb and waved to them with a smile.
Glen and Dana looked at each other for a moment with a wry smile and Dana said “Thank you! Everything was fabulous!” They walked out hand in hand and headed back to the house.
Jim, the man in the apron who had cooked them breakfast, leaned against the door jamb with his arms crossed and gazed at the front door of the cafe. Janie sat at one of the wicker chairs at the table next to him. Elbow on table, chin in hand, she heaved the most exasperated sigh there ever was.
“What was she saying about after dark?” Glen asked. They were about half way down the street and the house was looming, welcoming and comfortable in front of them.
“I have no idea. She probably just doesn’t want us to go out swimming in the middle of the night and drown. Who knows? She’s just the friendly, small town, caring type.” Dana said with a grin.
She reached into her pocket and fished out the house key on it’s trendy bottle opener promotional keychain from the local sports bar back in town. As she fit the key into the lock, Glen wrapped his arms around her waist and placed a gentle kiss on her neck. She carressed his arm as she gently unwrapped his embrace and said “Calm down, my little beach bum. I’m still too full to deal with whatever you’re thinking about right now. Let’s just relax for a while.”
She was slowly backing into the house, facing Glen and caught in the lightest of embraces with momentary kisses across her face when a slow creaking sound rolled across the ceiling. Something was moving around upstairs. Something…larger than a cat.
The cat, they now noticed, was sitting on the top of the couch. All three of them now stood silent, staring at the ceiling.
“That has to be this old place settling. I mean, the house is built on a beach, right? It has to shift around a lot.” said Glen.
“The house has a stone foundation and it’s been around in the family for a couple generations now, sweetie. That’s got to be something living in the attic.” said Dana. She gave him a kiss on the lips and a quick shove backwards which caught him off guard. Glen stood back, smiling, eyes wide and arms held open in mock surprise.
“I’m not going to sleep in this house until you go upstairs and check it out. Bring the baseball bat from the hall closet if you want.” she said as she stared at Glen, looking adorable but adament.
Glen grinned and, with renewed energy, jogged up the stairs two steps at a time. He neglected to grab the bat on his way up but found a cane in an umbrella stand on a landing halfway up the stairwell. He pulled it out and, in a dramatic gesture, held it in front of him like a swashbuckler lofting a sword.
“En garde!” he yelled and finished leaping up the stairs, two steps at a time. He disappeared down the upstairs hallway.
Dana shook her head and rested her arm on the banister at the bottom of the stairs, watching in the direction Glen had wandered. She could hear him walking around intermittently for a minute or two, and then it was quiet again.
“What do you think he’s up to now?” Dana said, looking at the cat. The cat blinked and, apparently no longer interested, started washing his face with his paw.
Then, Dana and the cat froze. They both heard the long, creaking sound again. This time, it was louder…and then there was a loud thud.
Dana’s could feel the blood drain from her face as she looked back to where the cat once stood. She glance at him just in time to see his tail disappear through the cat door leading from the kitchen to the back patio.
Dana suddenly felt very alone.
Glen had planned on using the cane to poke at whatever he found upstairs and drive it out of a window or whatever hole it may have climbed through to get into the house. He figured it had to have been some kind of stray animal that squeezed through the cat door late at night. ‘Probably a possum.
He know possums were obstinate and he wasn’t going to fight one with a cane but he had to at least try to corner it in a room, if he couldn’t chase it out, and then they could call animal control.
He thought he knew where the sound had originated and he headed to the second of the two second floor bedrooms on the back side of the house. The door was barely touching the door jamb so he pushed it open with the cane. The door creaked open with the same familar sound they had heard when they entered the house.
Glen gripped the old wooden can in both hands, the brass T-gripped handle in his right hand, the wood shaft in his left. As he held it, the cane suddenly came apart. His left hand still held a hollow, wood shaft and, in his left hand, a long, gleaming stilleto knife reflected the moonlight from the window. While momentarily surprised at this sudden conversion, Glen was fortified with a new bit of bravery due to the discovery.
He saw something move out of the corner of his eye and, turning to see what was behind the bedroom door, he struggled to back away. Glen tripped over an empty wine bottle laying near the foot of the bed and landed face up, with a loud thud, in the center of the room.
Now, as you heard, I didn’t strictly adhere to the restrictions of the original writing prompt. But that’s one of the great things about writing prompts. Unless you have a contract to ghost write a story with specific plot guidelines, you can switch it up and pretty much write about whatever you want, as long as you’re inspired. In all honesty, I was still heading towards the original intent of the writing prompt but, after writing almost four pages and not quite yet getting to the goal, I decided to go ahead and share what I had.
I may have to come back to this one some day and have an episode where I have Glen and Dana actually experience the ghost ship showing up on the beach. But that’s for another day.
Well, that’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscrobe if you find this interesting. Thanks for listening and thanks for your feedback. This is Kurt Copeland. Keep the momentum and take your writing up Another Notch.