Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten Minutes #1

About five weeks ago I created a post on Narrative Prompts. It was a creative and enjoyable post to write, and I created a mix of ten writing prompts. Even as I was writing the post I was expanding on the prompts in my head, creating characters, and backstory.

It would be a shame not to use the prompts I created, and that is the exact reason for my brainwave. For the next ten weeks I shall work my way through my list of prompts, and spend just ten minutes expanding on them.

Prompt One: It is snowing in August. Not just snowing, but a full blown blizzard. The air feels wrong, thick in my lungs as if it is laced with something artificial. Then, I hear the siren.

Reaching down, I pick up a handful of the snow. It’s cold, but not snow cold, and feels a little ashy as I squish it between my finger tips. Ash is the wrong word though, ash would suggest something has been burnt; this isn’t hot or singed, it is pure white, cool, and odourless.

“Are you deaf, Kyle?” My Dad shouts from the truck. He holds his hands to the air as the siren sounds on. “Move your ass, boy.” He looks worried, not ‘I haven’t got money for the rent’ worried, but ‘end of the world’ worried.

“It’s not snow,” I say, climbing into the truck.

“No shit, Sherlock.”

“Then, what is it? Terrorists? It could be a chemical weapon.”

Dad gives me a pointed look. “You better hope it isn’t, seeing as we’ve been breathing whatever it is in for the last five minutes. Turn on the radio.”

White noise fills the truck as I turn the dial with little effect. I look to Dad, but he keeps his eyes on the road. The ‘not snow’ falls thicker, the windscreen wipers barely keeping up with it.

“Where are we going?” I ask.

“To the church. Isn’t that where people go in emergencies?” he replies.

We round the corner into town, and yes, it appears people do go to churches in emergencies. We can’t drive any closer. The road is littered with abandoned vehicles, and hundreds of people muscle their way to the church gates. Reverend Cowell stands on the street, ushering everyone inside.

“You should be inside Rev,” says Dad. “You don’t want to be breathing this in any longer than necessary. Where’s Wilson and the other lads from the station?”

“I haven’t a clue. The siren sounded and everyone started showing up here. They need a leader, Stu. People are scared and rightly so.”

Dad nods. “You go inside with Kyle. See that everyone inside is okay. I’ll stay out here and wait for the station boys to show their faces.”

My stomach lurches. “Dad?”

“I’m the closest thing to authority around here, Son. Take the Reverend inside, and do what you can.”

Dad turns his back on me to help lift Mrs Poltar’s wheelchair down the step into the churchyard. In his heart Dad is still a police officer. When Mum died, he had a breakdown and had to take time off. He never returned to the force; he resigned, using me as an excuse, and now, he fits carpets for a living. Everyday a little more of him dies.

Reverend Cowell uses me as a crutch. He is old and shaky, and Dad is right- he shouldn’t be outside in this. None of us should.

He kicks up some of the ‘not snow’ with his cane. “What is this? It reminds me of the white stuff your dad started the barbeque with at the church fete.”

He is spot on. I remove my lighter from my pocket. Reverend Cowell gives me a fatherly, judgemental look, but offers a receipt from his jacket pocket. I light it, hold it in the air, and as soon as the flakes touch it they ignite into a mini fireball. We stagger away, people around us screaming in shock.

The receipt burns out before it hits the ground. The hair on my hand is singed and smells rank. Dad sprints over, taking me roughly by the arm, but Reverend Cowell moves between us.

“It’s flammable, Stu,” he whispers. “Where is it coming from? It can’t be from the atmosphere. Why would anyone drop this stuff over us? “

A gargled scream cuts through the night air, and Mrs Poltar’s wheelchair is cast upside down. Her body twitches as a Greyhound mauls at her neck, her blood staining the ‘not snow’. Everyone scrambles away as more dogs race towards us. Dad pulls his gun from his waistband.

“No, Stu!” Reverend Cowell shouts, eyeing my singed hand. “You’ll ignite this stuff.”

Dad throws his gun aside. “Everyone inside- now!” 


All excerpts are the works of K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman’s debut novel: EVO Nation

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