Have you ever heard of The Storymatic? Sounds like a weird-looking tool, like something you throw ideas into and grind up to see what happens. That’s the basic concept, but in a game/writing prompt format. The box holds two sets of cards: gold and orange. The gold cards are ideas of characters, the orange cards are places or situations.
I decided to give it a shot today. I’ve never been great at short stories, but I’m always up for a fun challenge. Here’s what I drew:
All right. A person who can’t remember an important word—lots to play with there. Something that is lost or in an unknown location. And a cemetery at five in the morning. And since I write mysteries, you know it’s gotta have a dark twist.
Let’s try third person. Random name generator says my main character should be Ingrid Elena Ayers. I’ll aim for about four hundred words. Here it goes…
It wasn’t as if Ingrid expected to find signs of life in the cemetery. And at five in the freaking morning, not even the sun was awake. Awesome. She just wanted to get this over with.
“Marcus?” She hissed the word into the darkness. Like it was going to bother the dead. This old cemetery was so neglected, the living barely even saw it any more. The only humans ever here were the ones six feet under.
Except for her. She of questionable sanity.
“Ingrid. Over here.”
She followed the voice through the darkness. Why was it she’d agreed to this? Oh right. Because Marcus had some theory he wouldn’t shut up about. Body snatchers or something. Agreeing to meet him here was the only way she could get him to promise to let it go.
Her foot caught on something and she fell, her arms flailing into the darkness. A sharp pain spread through her skull moments before everything went completely black.
When Ingrid awoke, the sun still hadn’t bothered to shine. She could thank the clouds for that. The faint light was gray and dismal, casting the overgrown cemetery in murky shades like a black and white movie.
A groan pulled her attention to her left. Marcus. Oh no. Slumped against a tree, he had a hand pressed against his stomach, blood coating his fingers.
Ignoring the pain pulsing behind her eyes, Ingrid crawled over to him.
“Marcus! What happened?” So much blood. How in the world was she supposed to stop it? She pressed his hand against it, hoping to help slow the flood.
“Stabbed,” he mumbled.
Blood covered her hands, smears of it on her shirt now. Where was her phone? She needed to call for help but her phone had vanished from her pocket.
“Stabbed? Who stabbed you?” She glanced back at where she’d fallen. No phone there either.
His face wrinkled, his mouth struggling to find the word.
“Do you know?”
Marcus nodded, his face pale. “The word . . . I can’t . . .”
Could he not remember?
“Yes? What is it?” She could hear her voice growing shrill, her breathing turning ragged as the smell of blood overwhelmed her.
Lifting his free hand, Marcus pointed. Ingrid turned, attempting to follow the angle of his finger. But then she realized he was pointing at her.
And suddenly she knew. The word he was struggling to remember. One simple word. Three letters.
So. Readers. How’d I do? What kind of story would you write with those prompts?