Illegal Aliens

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, then go write somrthing! If my writing needs help, then, please…help. The whole idea is to make me a better writer, and that’s the point.


Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found on the internet. A con man who convinces people they’ve been abducted by aliens and takes their money…is abducted by aliens.


As always, I write what I can in one day’s time and what ends up on the table is a rough first draft of however far I got into the story. These are not finished stories. Perhaps, one day, I’ll get around to finsihing some of these stories. In the mean time, I think I’m benefitting from the practice. So, keeping that in mind…

…here we go…

DId you ever wonder about that secret government base called Area 51 and how a certain portion of the population seem to have had life-altering experiences such as being abducted by aliens, being “probed” by aliens, and generally just being harrassed by aliens? Have you ever thought about how much of that stuff may have some grain of truth to it or some basis in reailty? Well, the truth is…there’s not as much reality to it as some folks would have you believe. And here’s a true story to explain some portion of the crazy stories you may have heard.

Jason Hawsworth was a bartender at the Pradisio Hotel in Las Vegas, about a hundred miles southeast of that popular secret site known as Area 51. He worked late nights at the hotel bar and that suited him just fine. Jason had an occasional side hussle going on in the bar that helped bolster the tips and wages he made in the off-the-beaten-path hotel.

It was two in the morning at the Pradisio Hotel. Jason rinsed highball glasses, swept broken glass and stray ice cubes, and started closing down the bar. He kept a close eye on the guest from Room 228 whose arm was beginning to tire from pulling on the one-armed bandit on the far side of the room. The slot machines actually paid out once in a while and the experienced, prepared guests knew how to keep feeding one until it let loose its holdings. Ya gotta spend money to make money…or so the adage goes. They were the only two people in the bar.
“Sir. Are you gonna want anything else before I close up shop for the night?” said Jason from behind the bar.
The man didn’t hear him. His eyes were heavy. He slumped against the machine with the weight of all the the gin and tonic he had been nursing the past few hours. His bloodshot eyes locked on the screen, his arm grew heavier each time he reached for the handle.
“Ok, then. Hey! One more for the road. Something to celebrate your success!” said Jason as he walked from behind the bar. He had a shot glass in his hand with a clear liquid.
He reached the middle-aged man and reassuringly pat him on the shoulder. The man seemed to stir and come awake, almost. Jason held the shot glass in front of him and smiled a bright and animated smile. A more sober guest may have questioned the complimetary drink but, at this point, anything in a glass is just waiting to meet its just end.
The rumpled guest in his slacks and and sneakers, buttoned shirt and windbreaker, was now heading into complete shut down mode. The gin-flavored dose of Rohypnol Jason put in the shot glass made sure of that.
“There ya go. Easy does it.” said Jason as the intoxicated and drugged man tried to stand. The guest reached out an arm in, as if in protest, as if some portion of his subconscious was aware of something wrong. Jason helped him down into one of the wheeled dining room chairs which he had placed against the wall earlier, with its faux leather cushioning on the back and arms. . The moment the man passed out would never be remembered. The moment he woke up would never be forgot.
With one hand on each end of the back of the wheeled chair, Jason pulled the unconscious man away from the slot machine, out of the bar area, down the hall and up to a storage room near the ice machine under the stairs. He pulled a keychain out of his pocket, found a small brass key, unlocked the storage room and pulled the chair and its passenger inside. He shut the door behind him and the door was locked once more.
Aged fluorescent lights on a motion sensor flickered and came on with a buzz and a dull glow. The room was partially filled with replacements for various room features such as shelves of table lamps with their cords wrapped around their base, larger floor lamps, used coffee machines in various states of repair and cleanliness, and a couple broken televisions.
Jason reached up to a small tissue box on the top shelf of the closest rack and pulled out a fresh pair of latex gloves. He pulled them on and wrestled the man out of the chair and onto a thin, dirty twin-sized mattress laying on the floor. He made a thorough, methodical search of all of the man’s personal belongings, pocket to pocket, and unabashedly tossed everything into a five gallon paint bucket next to the mattress. Wallet, keys, chips from nearby casinos, cash, coins won from the slot machine down the hall. Everything but the hotel room access card went into the bucket. The access card was placed on the shelf behind him. The rest would be sorted through later.
Next was the victim’s clothes. Jason took off the mans shoes, cut and removed the man’s clothes, skivvies and all, and shoved them into an heavy duty garbage bag. He sealed the bag with a plastic zip tie from a bundle next to the tissue box and placed it next to the bucket by the door. The first time Jason had done this part of the process, it was awkward and horrendous. By this time, he had learned to get it over with as efficiently as possible and be done with it.
Jason, kneeling next to the naked guest, reached back and grabbed one of the flimsy folded hotel bedspreads from the shelf behind him, unfolded it and let it float down over the body. He paused for a few moments, listening to the man still breathing in his drug-induced slumber. That was a good sign.
He got up, stretched, and stepped around an old newspaper rack, exiled from the lobby years ago, and pulled out a folding wheelchair stored between the shelf and the wall. With a quick yank, the wheel chair expanded and, in less than a minute, Jason had the unconscious guest arranged comfortably covered with his blanket, sitting quietly, waiting to be taken away.
A sleeping man in a wheelchair being pushed down the hallway after two in the morning would hardly be noticed by anyone and, if it were, it wouldn’t look suspicious. Jason peeled off the latex gloves and tossed them in the plastic bucket with the man’s belongings. He left the bucket and, opening the door, he peered out and looked up and down the hall. No one. He grabbed the man’s room access card off the shelf.
Jason commandeered the wheelchair, navigating it through the storage room door, around the corner, passed the ice machine and the stairwell, and up to the elevator doors. A quick trip in the elevator and he and his passenger were on the sexcond floor. He stopped at a maid’s closet and pulled out his brass key to step inside and grab a clean hand towel. Thirty seconds later, they were in front of room 228.
Jason swiped the access card in the door slot, the lock flicked open, and he gripped and twisted the knob with the bar towel. He nudged the door open, careful to not touch anything, and rolled the chair and his victim inside. The access card went back into his pants pocket.
Jason carefully laid the man on the bed and then firmly pulled the wrapped bedspread from him. He wadded this up and tossed it into the seat of the empty wheelchair. The man as haphazardly spread-eagled, prone, face down, and snoring into the clean bedspread beneath him. Jason shook his head and chuckled at the image that entered his mind of what it would be like for this guy to wake up hours from now, wondering what had happened.
Using the hand towel once more, he pulled the door open, rolled the wheelchair into the hall, and pulled the door shut behind him with a click. He stopped along the way to drop the bedspread and the hand towel into a half-full housekeeping cart in the maid’s closet. He rode in the elevator and returned the wheelchair to its folded position behind the rack shelf in the storage room.
Next, he spent a few minutes going through the contents of the five-gallon bucket. Adding up all the casino chips, cash, slot machine fodder and such, there was about four hundred and thirty eight dollars. Then, he pulled all the debit and credit cards and the man’s driver’s license. He pulled an old digital pocket camera out of his jacket pocket and snapped images of the cars, front and back. The cards were tossed back into the bucket.
He put the digital camera back in his jacket pocket and carried the bucket down to the front desk. A young woman wearing a hotel name tag was sitting behind the desk, engrossed with her phone.
“Hi, Sandra. What’s up with you?” he said. She glanced up and back to her phone.
“Not much, Jason. Just waiting for six. This place is dead. I can’t wait to go home and sleep.” Sandra said to her phone.
He walked with the bucket behind the counter and to the console not occupied by Sandra. Sandra seemed to notice nor care that he had a bucket. He pulled the phone out of his pocket and began scrolling through the images to bring up one of the credit cards. He tapped the mouse to bring the computer console to life and brought up a browser. A couple minutes later, he had four large pizzas ordered at the 24-hour Pizza Hut down the street. He used the images on the digital camera to get the credit card numbers, name, and security digits. He used the image of the ID card for zip code to verify the card. The first one he tried was declined. He swiped through the images and entered another number. The second card worked. The pizza would be ready to pick up in about twenty minutes. Glancing at the ID once more, he noticed the man’s name was Edward Kepler.
He reached into the bucket and found the man’s car keys and put them in his pocket. Then he stepped back into the office behind the front desk. He brought another console awake by tapping its keyboard and proceeded to go through and delete all of the hotel’s security camera recordings on the DVR. Then he did a hard boot on the camera system. This would give him an additional four to five minutes of no recording for him to be able to get off the property.
He found a box of heavy duty trash bags in a filing cabinet. He pulled one out, whipped it open, and poured the contents of the bucket into it. He twisted the bag shut and placed it in the bucket, carrying both back down the hall.
“Good night, Sandra.” he said.
” ‘night.” she said, still glued to her phone.
He stopped at the storage closet to place the bucket back where it had been. He took the first garbage bag, the one with the man’s clothes, and carried it alongside the second one out through a side door by the ice machine to the parking lot.
Jason reached into his pocket to find Mr. Kepler’s car key’s and began pressing the button on the key fob to find his car. After seeing the flashing lights of an eight-year old Oldmobile, he quickly strolled to the car, opened the door, tossed the two garbage bags inside and climbed into the driver’s seat. He revved the engine to life and quietly rolled out onto Elvis Presly boulevard.
He drove three blocks and found an all-night laundromat. He pulled in around the alley, grabbed the garbage bags, jumped out and pulled open the sheet metal door of the dumpster sitting there. In went the bags, and Jason was back in the Olds, cruising down the street.
Five minutes later, Jason was parking the car in front of the Pizza Hut. He ran inside and picked up the pizzas. He wolfed down a couple slices on the way back to the hotel. Parking in the same spot where he found the car, he closed the windows, grabbed the key fob from the ignition and carried the pizza boxes into the hotel. He was very nonchalant and calm as he was aware this portion of his excursion would actually be on the video footage retained by the DVR.
He hopped on the elevator, pizzas in hand, and headed back up to room 228. He pulled the access key out of his pocket, swiped it, and stepped into the room, closing the door behind him.

Chapter 2
“Where is everybody, Eddie? What happened? Why are you…naked?!” said Jason, laughing.
Edward Kepler groaned and suddenly realized he was in his hotel room…and naked, as described, and someone had been narrating this to him… No! Someone was in the room with him! Who in the hell was that? And why did it smell like pizza in here?
He opened his eyes and glanced back at the voice. A man in slacks and light jacket sat at the desk in his room, eating a slice of pizza out of an open box, from a stack of pizza boxes.
“For Christ’s sake, Eddie. Put some clothes on. What happened while I was gone?” said Jason, grabbing a bath towel from the bathroom and tossing it over Edward Kepler’s exposed torso. He took another bite from the pizza and went back to the desk to pick up the remote and turn on the television.

Alright! Thank you for joining me in this little glimpse into the world of a character who is obviously a psychopath. I wish I had found the time to get on paper a bit of the concept for the ending, where the guy get a taste of his own medicine, but time restraints led to me trying to get this episode out in a reasonable time. If I waited until I completely finished every writing prompt exercise to put out an episode, I may never get out any new episodes.
That’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscribe 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.

The Witches of East Armenia

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 the goal! If my writing doesn’t impress you, give me some tips. Help me get it right! The whole idea is to make me a better writer, and that’s why I do this.


Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found on the internet. The prompt was…a candle, a cup and a mirror. A portal opens when a candle in a cup is held next to a mirror. That’s the prompt.


So, if you’ve been listening to these episodes, you know that I’ve been writing about one per day and I also have to record and edit and upload it, and I also have a full time job, a wife and three dogs, so, I don’t really have time to write a finished story each day. Perhaps, one day, one or more of these little concepts will become something but, for now, you’re just getting the first draft. Keeping that in mind, and thank you for your patience, I really appreciate what you have to say about the bit I do manage to get done. So, for now…

…here we go…

In the middle of Armenia, there is a lake. On the edge of the lake is an ancient monastary. From the windows of the monastary, in the early hours of the morning, tiny flickering lights can be seen, for just a few moments, across the water. About seventy five hundred years ago, they were far more prominent. In these modern times, they can rarely be seen at all.
Why are there faint, glimmering lights on the distant shore of a lake in Armenia? It all began about six thousand B.C., to the west of Armenia, in what is now called Turkey. This is where the very first mirrors were made. They were cut and polished pieces of obsidian. A couple thousand years later, more modern civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt would develop mirrors from sheets of copper and then bronze and, eventually, the Romans made them from lead-backed glass. And while all of this developing, a culture of sorcery was being developed around the technology of mirrors.
And those lights? They are the remnants of an ancient witches coven, old even before the pyramids were built, using candles and mirrors to transport themselves between dimensions. Local legend has it that the candles, when held near a small, highly polished mirror, and accompanied by the proper incantation from the lips of a coven member, will open a portal through the fabric of the space-time continuum. It lasts only a moment, long enough for a witch to step though into the other dimension, and into the relative safety of their fortress.
Without their interdimensional fortress, the coven would likely have fallen to its enemies centuries ago. The ability to shift to an alternate plane of existence with such a simple remedy made the difference between surviving and thriving as a community…quite literally, the difference between life and death for the witches. The fact this fortress was concealed in an alternate dimension in a remote forest in the middle of Armenia made their comings and goings appear like occasional fireflies from an an untold distance in the dark.
Now, here, I kind of switch from a narrator format to kind of a rough outline format like I was using in the recent episode about the man who finds the half-filled antique ledger in the thrift shop.
A couple is hiking through a national park in the mountains of Armenia and come across an old monstary by a lake. They love the beautiful setting and set up camp for the night. After their camp fire dies down, they notice the lights. The next day, they hike further around the edge of the lake, into the woods, and set up camp once more. They had heard the stories but never gave it any credence until they saw the lights for themselves. Now, they felt compelled to investigate.
They are met by a beautiful witch who, over the next several hours, uses various spells to disorient them, scare them, and urge them to leave. Not easily disheartened, they keep trying to communicate with her. The witch keeps trying more aggressive tactics until one of the hikers ends up being seriously injured. The witch realizes she cannot draw attention to the coven by having them leave injured and, basically, her options come down to either killing them both and leaving their bodies in the bottom of the lake, or healing them and casting a spell to wipe all memory of the past day or so from their minds, and letting them go.
After some deliberation, she decides to heal them, befriend them, tell them all about herself and her history and the coven, and then she wipes their mind and sets them free.
The couple wake up the next morning, continue hiking, and treasure their photos of some old monastary near a lake whose precise location continues to elude them to this day.

I am enjoying these little excursions into the edge of the wood and into the past and beyond the edge of the solar system and such. I hope you find at least some of this to be inspiring for your own writing practice and ideas.
In the back of my mind, I am beginning to formulate some idea of other features I would like to include on the show, including, perhaps, some writing contests and book giveaways, special guests and interviews, and possibly some other things at some point in the future. But that’s for another show.
That’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscribe 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.

Old Guy in the Park

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 amazing. If my writing can stand to be improved, and I know it can, then give me some fodder for the future! The whole idea is to make me a better writer, and I know it’s gonna happen one day.

Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found on the internet. The prompt was…

” ‘I can’t cast that spell for you because ___ ‘, said the man behind the old gray beard.”

Take it for what it’s worth. It could have gone a thousand different ways, but here’s what I came up with today. Remember, as always, what I’m reading to you is a rough first draft, whatever I came up with, and is not to be considered anywhere near complete. A more polished draft would have real character names and better dialogue and a great deal of other better things. This is not that draft! Thanks for your understanding.

And, here we go…

A boy, about four years of age, was at a city park with his mother one late morning. They were there to enjoy the playground for a few minutes before they had to go wait for the bus. There weren’t too may other people around at that time of day. There were a couple young teen boys shooting baskets, an older lady in a sun hat walking her tiny dog, and an old, gray, bearded man, sitting on a bench, reading a hardcover book without a dust jacket.
The little buy was trying to climb onto a swing while his mother became preoccupied with her phone. He struggled for a minute and then decided he would lose his balance and fall before he would be able to get situated in the seat of the swing. He gave up.
He looked over at his mom, who was still typing something in response to something she saw on Facebook, and then he glanced around the park to see what other options he may have. He suddenly noticed a piece of wood, directly beneath the swing he had been trying to climb on. It was a piece of 4″x4″ lumber, about a foot long. It was a perfect litte step up to the swing!
He walked back to the swing, wondering how he could have possibly missed the block of wood the first time. He would have practically had to have tripped over it. He tested it with his foot, and it felt solid, so he stepped up and climbed into the seat of the swing.
The boy tried leaning back and pushing himself forward, over and over, longer and harder each time. He couldn’t seem to make the swing budge. He knew if he could just get started, he could make it go higher and farther. He had a tiny bit of a higher vantage point from his seat on the swing and he took another look around the park.
Just then, one of the older boys playing basketball tried to run up to the basket and shoot, but tripped over his shoe lace, messed up his shot, and the ball bounced off of the big metal pole holding the backboard. The ball ricocheted across the court, across the grass, and straight towards the swings. The older kid recovered his balance, ran over to retrieve the ball, and noticed the young boy.
“Hold on, kid! Here ya go!” said the ball player. He jogged up behind the boy on the swing and gave him a gentle push from behind. Then he ran back to the ball, scooped it up and went back to his friend on the court.
Now the boy had a little momentum. He was thrilled! He would push the chain forward and lean into it when the swing was on its way backwards, and then he would shift, leaning back, pulling on the chain, and kicking his legs forward when the swing came back forward again. He would do this again and again, climbing a little higher each time. His mother glanced up from her phone.
“TImmy!” she yelled. She jumped up from the tree she had been leaning on and raced over to the swingset, clasping her phone tightly.
“How did you get up there?!” she said, gasping. The little boy pointed down to the block of wood. It wan’t there. His mother glanced down, and back at him, confused.
“How did you possibly start swinging so high?!” she said, mortified. The little boy pointed over to the basketball court, now empty. There was no sign of the older kids. The boy’s mother looked in the direction he pointed and then back at him again, eyes wide and mouth agape, now just shaking her head.
She quickly looked around the rest of the park while reaching for her son to collect him from the swingset. The old man on he bench was still reading his book.
“Come on, sweetie. We have to go. It’s almost time for the bus.” she said as she carried him back to the sidewalk leading out of the park. She set him on the sidewalk and they started towards the bus stop.
The bus could now be seen a block away and moving right along. The mother hastened her step, gently urging her son with a tug, when one of his favorite action figure toys bounced from the top of his mother’s shoulder bag and landed on the ground beside him. He looked back as his mother began dragging him to the bus stop.
Just then, the boy saw the old man on the bench glance up from his book. The man discreetly lifted his index finger, just for a moment, and pointed it right at them. The action figure seemed to somehow come to life and began chasing after Timothy and his mom. It ran like a crazy little 4″-high man in a plastic space suit, jumping and leaping as if he were on the moon, bounding higher with each jump. Within seconds, as Timothy watched, the action figure had made one final desperate jump, did a summersault, and slipped through the open top of his mom’s bag. His mom didn’t even notice.
The bus growled up to their stop, released the air brakes with a hiss, and the doors dwung open impatiently. Mother and son were soon on a bench seat three rows back. The bus was already moving again.
Timothy struggled for a moment and stood on the seat to look out the window. His mother was already engorssed in her phone again. Timothy could see the old man sitting on bench with his book. The man seemed to look up and nod directly at him, and then immediately went back to his book. The bus turned a corner and the park was out of sight.
Tim never saw the old man again.

Once again, I didn’t strictly adhere to the restrictions of the original writing prompt. But that’s not a problem! One of the great things about writing prompts is that they’re supposed to inspire. So, we got that much, anyway.
Maybe part of this should be an effort to stick to the guidelines of the writing prompt. There might be an actual benefit to the process, right? Perhaps next time.
Anyhow, that’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscribe 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.

The Leather Ledger

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, come back for more! If it sucks, let me know. The whole point of this is for me to improve my writing.

Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found on the internet. The prompt was to write about some unique item found in a thrift store. Challenge accepted! Just a quick note: I usually try to produce a rough draft to share but, sometimes, I end up making a quick outline instead. Today was one of those days! I won’t be reading this to you as if it were the actual story, just a quick synopsis. Here we go…

Jamal’s Cafe – coffee in the morning, the MC stops here on his way to work for coffee, sometimes breakfast to go, before heading to his regular job. He is also a budding photographer in his spare time.
Kepler Antiques – something in the window – Kepler’s Antiques is across the street from Jamal’s Cafe and he always sees something interesting in the window and promises himself he will come by some time when they are open and check it out.
MC is a struggling photographer
Finds half-filled old leather ledger in Kepler’s Antiques and purchases it as a prop for a photo shoot he is planning for an accountant who wants business prmotion photos.
He flips through some of the pages and reads the entries including the last entry, some time in 1800’s. The earlier entries are modest incomes and expenses, but they rapidly grow after a certain point in the ledger.
When he gets home later, he notices the ledger contains an entry for his purchase of the ledger. He assumes the cashier had done it while he left it at the counter and shopped around.
The next day, he gets home and finds entries for his breakfast purchase at Jamal’s Cafe and some other purchases.
Half jokingly, he writes in an antry for a cash deposit of $1000
The next day, he checks his account balance on his phone while at work and discovers he there has been a $1000 deposit made to his account.
MC begins creating entries for made up photo shoots and and begins spnning tales of how bsuiness has been picking up and word of his business is spreading.
A month later, he is purchasing new equipment with cash. A year later, he has a girlfriend and has moved into a nice house. He buys a Land Rover to haul his equipment around to photo shoots and personal photo projects like a book he is self publishing.
He is talented and he attributes his success to being able to have buy the best equipment, hire an assistant, pay for promotion and marketing, and most of that is attributable, at first, to the power of the ledger.
As the years go by, he relies on the power of the ledger less and less, aware that he has one less entry line each time he uses it and the ledger has less pages than it did when he found it.
MC grows older and, having made a good life for himself and his family, he makes several sizable contributions to beneficial organizations around the world.
MC eventually dies all of his personal belongings are willed to family or sold at public auction. The ledger ends up in an antique store.

So, what I did this time is a little different than what I have been doing, but I do occasionally get away with it because, well, I make the rules as I go.
I could spend more time elaborating on that synopsis and develop it into a rough draft as I usually have on the show, but I get the feeling it would have been longer than the four pages I came up with for the last show about the beachcombing couple. I may seriously have to consider making this a longer show. I don’t know. Would you listen to a longer show, or should I stick with what I’ve got?
Anyway, that’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscribe 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.

My First Blog Post

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, fantastic! If you have critical commentary, I’ll take that, too. The whole idea of this is to make me a better writer, and from where I am starting, the only place to go is up!

Here’s today’s writing from a random prompt I found in the internet. The prompt was to write about someone caught in the crossfire of rival street fighting. So, here goes…

Prologue
Allegiance. Respect. Territory. Control.
Some of the things properly motivated youth will die for.
If a lieutenant orders a hit on an enemy, they made it happen. It’s as simple as that. The bloodier, the better. It stood as a warning to others. There was no collateral damage. There were only things and people that got in the way of them doing their job. Such is the mindset of a gang member.
Kenneth wasn’t a gang member. He was the guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had just purchased some Excedrin and a Coke on his way to the train when his headache went from bad to irreparable. It couldn’t haver been a better shot if the thug had actually been aiming for him. Dental records could have identified him well enough but everything above that was pretty much gone.
Kenneth had no idea why he had died on his way to work. His mind had no time to react to the sound of the first two shots echoing down the sidewalk. He never heard the sound of the shot that took him out. The bullet arrived well before the bang. He collapsed with the forward momentum of his fast-paced stroll and was dead before he hit the ground.
The intended target was only wounded by one of the two earlier rounds. That guy was fortunate he had a trained bodyguard returned fire. By the time the thug had fired his three shots, the bodyguard had stepped in front of his boss, drawn his own weapon, and put five tight-grouped rounds, center of mass, into the thug.
The thug would also die from his wounds, but not for several minutes. After taking five rounds his torso, he eventually bled out. The bodyguard and his employer were gone; Their limo halfway across the city.
This is how 27-year-old bartender Kenneth Garner died on that cool afternoon. The Excedrin and Coke wouldn’t go to waste. It was retrieved later by a homeless guy from the nearby alley. Everything gets recycled. There is no waste. Everything serves a purpose, eventually.

Now, that was the first draft. All of these writings will be the result of shooting from the hip, so they’re not finished works. In retrospect, I find that I was trying to get down thoughts about scene and background and a little bit of character, and I have included no dialogue whatsoever. I admit, I generally tend to go back and add dialogue after getting a general setting and scene. Writing dialogue is a different mindset for me. Its like I have to get everything else started and then go back and get the character’s reactions to the story progression.
I have to work on that, among a great many other things.
Anyway, that’s today’s writing prompt. I’ll be back with more. Be sure to subscribe if you think it’s something that may interest you. Thanks for listening and for your feedback. This is Kurt Copeland. Keep the momentum and take your writing up Another Notch.

A Pirate Story…Almost

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.

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