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Day 12- What Are We Masking? by Gabrielle Johansen

In today’s writing prompt, is your character’s outward appearances showing us the truth or is it masking something else?

StoryADay Writing Prompt illustration

The Prompt

Write a story about a person wearing a black mask with the slogan, “NOT TODAY, SATAN” in white print, all caps.


StoryADay Bingo Day 12

Gabrielle Johansen

Gabrielle Johansen is a fantasy writer who wishes she had a magic wand.

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

34 thoughts on “Day 12- What Are We Masking? by Gabrielle Johansen”

  1. Just popping in to say that, in a twist that will surprise no one who knows me, I actually have a mask just like that.

  2. OK…Here’s the deal. Can you believe it? Computer installed a bunch of updates and…well, it is just too bad we didn’t have some esoteric prompt about a rouge computer and histrionic writer, because I could have filled up a novella from cover to cover in about 15 minutes! (It would have looked something like this: &^%$*@$#@$ and *&^%$&*!!!)! Well, after the technical slap my beloved, yet unsuspecting computer received–all is well, but it took many hours to get back on track! So…I’m finally caught up. Yes…not sure if this is legit–But I took today’s prompt and the two I was behind on and rattled off a rather verbose little fantasy story. Dumbest thing I ever wrote! But I’m here…I’m writing and I’m smiling! Tomorrow’s another day and a new prompt! Write On!

  3. At first, I thought, “What the??? am I going to do with this challenge? (In my defense, I was getting ready for a long work day when I peeked at today’s prompt and so, I was barely awake for my initial reaction.)

    Fast forward, and I’ve written two responses over 700 words a piece to take the prompt in different directions. 1. A faithful god fearing woman wears it as a shield against discouragement and negativity. 2. Beezelbub’s saucy girlfriend has a long to do list and, when pestered by an onslaught of texts from the dark lord, responds with a peace sign selfie while wearing the mask.

    There were at least two or three more ideas that sprang up as I considered the first two, so this turned out to be a really fun prompt. I’m finding as I go along with the May challenge and establish a writing habit, the synapses start making connections and kindling new approaches, and more ideas. I don’t know what “I’ll do” with any or all of it. I just know that writing makes me happy. =)

  4. So now when I miss a day or two (or three) I really feel unsettled until I get back to the challenge! Is this what a habit feels like?! Yesterday I caught up days 7-10 but forgot to post. I didn’t want to miss the experience of writing different things. Today I finished days 11 & 12. Yesterday’s I turned into Sleeping Beauty being grateful to miss the plague. “Not today, Satan” is about Southern stereotypes and assumptions! I’m having fun getting away from my wip for a few days!

    1. I am not sorry for making you feel unsettled.

      As someone who resisted routine and habits for a long time (mixing the two up) I am happy for you that you are experiencing the pull of a good habit 😉

  5. My plan for the month is to use the prompts for my fiction WIP, but this one actually fit a real life scenario. I ended up fictionalizing the real event to explain why the MC wore this particular mask for the event. Very satisfying, lol!

  6. At first I really wasn’t feeling this prompt. But I was playing the soundtrack from Dark City and I just started writing to the beat of an instrumental song. I ended up with a creepy poem. It’s a bit repetitive, but it has the mask and the slogan, and I like it. So I call it a success!

  7. It took a while to get a story out of this prompt, but I’m glad I struck with it. I wrote 724 words. It’s Halloween and three teenage girls go a haunted house. There are three masked people, each standing in front of a different door. The masks are: Not today Satan, Satan’s Revenge and Satan’s Recruits. They all choose a different door. Behind the door of “Not today Satan” is a beautiful Garden of Eden. In Satan’s Revenge there are gremlins and creatures grabbing at the teenager. Satan’s Recruits? Nobody knows because she does not return.

  8. I love all the responses! Glad I could give a catalyst. I think strong reactions to the prompts are best. My mask wearer is a woman witnessing a fight between a daemun and the protagonist of my urban fantasy novel. Needless to say, she sees more than the average human would.

  9. I wrote a story that borrowed heavily from The Handmaid’s Tale. My character is living under a theocratic regime.

    1. I tremble. Still remember your credit card story.

      Why is that some of the nicest people I know are so skilled at writing dark stories?

  10. (I don’t usually get political.)

    The floating platform whooshed and wheezed under the Great & Powerful Leader’s weight. He looked down on his minions and took a deep breath, wishing he had just stayed in his air-bed. The nicotine rushed from the nico-vap’r attached to his temple. It flowed into his lungs and then wrapped around the neurons of his brain. The minions all sighed as they enjoyed the communal high.
    “My people,” he thought. The intra-neurolic implant buzzed. “Today we must unite, for the greater good,” he blinked and nodded. The minions blinked and nodded. Guardian robots absently wandered through the crowd.
    There was a soft crackle in The Great & Powerful Leader’s frontal lobe. The robots paused, trying to locate the anomaly. A massive screen, left-over from the ill-fated 2076 news wars, flickered behind the Great & Powerful Leader. A face emerged from the electrical fuzz. Bright blue eyes glared at him. A black mask, with white block letters ~NOT TODAY, SATAN~ covered their mouth.
    The Great & Powerful Leader felt a pop as the neurons from his minions disconnected.
    The minions gasped and looked at each other. Blinking in unison, they turned their attention upwards to the large screen, silently waiting for instructions.
    The Great & Powerful Leader shrugged his shoulders, took a deep drag from his nico-vap’r and headed back to his climate controlled pod.
    The head on the screen looked down upon the crowd in triumph, then confusion. Then, the eyes opened wide with panic.
    The screen went black.

    1. and the minions cheered. The great and powerful leader was finally dead!!! HOORAY!and HAPPY DAY!
      The minions were free now to live a life they wanted, marry who they chose and if the choice included progeny great, if not, no problemo as the olders had said. Now that the bullies of the past had died there was a bright future indeed. Being any age had certain drawbacks and now women in particular were free to live their lives as they see put.
      “Hope he is getting warmer in hell than the climate change is producing on earth!!!” said Alice. Fred agreed with a nod of his head and then Rich spoke. We knew this day would come, but my feelings of elation are overwhelming. I haven’t felt so hopeful since Obama, ” he said. What do we need a president for if the Senate votes on everything and we have the Secretaries in the Cabinet and now that redistricting laws have been repealed, the people will finally have their voices heard.

      For the next elections, the people showed up at the poll in a record 80% in almost all states. Sure, the southern states were still steeped in the good old boys bullshit that had been their platform forever and had been told so many times to have fear instilled in the hearts of decent men and women that they always believed it.

      It was a new day for the people of the United States and even though the sun was shining the temperature was in the 70’s, not 90’s. Hoorah!!!

      1. ahhh, but the minions did not know how to take care of themselves. They were used to being told what to do. They now had to learn to think for themselves.

    2. But you do political so well! I love the line “the ill-fated 2076 news wars” and the concept of thought communication.

  11. I have had a long day and I wanted to write a micro-story or something similar as a result. But once I started writing on the prompt, the story just came alivelike that!
    The Day The Son Gone-Astray Repented

    What did that owner of the tea-stall tell me that night? That she prayed to God to burden no one in this world with children!
    I had reached my son on my bike to the birthday party. It was his best friend’s birthday.
    I had dropped my son some hundred metres away from his friend’s as I didn’t want to bother the friend’s parents. I told my son that I would find a tea-stall or something, have a cup or two of tea to while away the time. Once the party was over, I asked my son to give me a call so that I could pick him up.
    It was while I was into my second cup that I heard the owner of the tea-stall, a withered woman with her grey hair letting out that curse.

    Later I learnt from the fellow tea-lover, who came riding on a scooter and having parked it beside mine, stepped into the stall. He had what looked like a musk in his hand. The man sat beside me on the bench and put the musk down beside him. While the woman was making tea, the man looked away from her and told me that she had worked hard all her life at that roadside tea-stall. That there was a time when her tea sold like hot cakes. Within a few years she had earned enough to buy a house ( here the man pointed to a freshly-painted, two-storied building on the other side of the road.
    “You know the funny thing?” The man asked me next.”Can you see the jewelry shop on the ground floor of the house? Even that was gifted to that ungrateful son by the lady.” He whispered into my ear finding the woman heading our way with two plastic cups of steaming tea on a plate.
    “If she is so rich, why does she toil at this tea-stall at her age?” I couldn’t help asking him.
    “That’s Life for you, man.” He answered taking a sip at the cup. Then finding the puzzled look on my face, he went on to narrate the rest of the story.
    “The woman invited, even during the pandemic, nearly a hundred people on the gala occasion of her only son’s wedding. It was the wedding of the century.”
    “What happened then?” Curiosity was getting the better of me.
    The man threw the plastic cup away after having lit a cigarette. Blowing the rings of the smoke into the air from his lungs, his eyes half-closed like he was brooding over a lost memory.
    “She was kicked out of the house within two month’s of the son’s wedding?” He replied after a while
    “Why so?” I nearly choked as I tried to gulp the tea down my throat.
    “The eternal mother-in-law versus daughter-in-law rivalry, of course. The daughter raised a hue and cry when she learnt that the widowed mother slept in the same room with her son.”
    “So what? I’ve heard of a few loving sons having done the same. All people aren’t rich enough to afford a flat, let alone a house with many rooms!”
    “Right! But this son became a henpecked husband, completely under the thumb of his wife right after marriage.” The man threw the burning butt of the cigarette out stylistically.
    “Was his a love marriage? ”
    “No way, bro. The woman found the girl, thought she would be a good match for her son and had the marriage arranged.”
    I was so shocked that I sat on the bench with my mouth agape. “Why didn’t she disown her son?” I found my voice after a while.
    “She couldn’t.She still loves her son. But now, she lives in a dingy room on the back of this stall, all by herself as the son has severed all ties with her. She tries to get by with what little she earns from this stall.” Did I detect a tone of sadness in his voice as he got up to go out?

    I was wondering why he didn’t bother to pay the tea-stall owner when I found him picking up the black musk from beside him and putting it on. On it was written in white print, bold letters : NOT TODAY, SATAN.
    The woman came back to collect the tray. She caught me looking queerily at the retreating figure of the fella tea-lover, thought for a second before wailing out:
    “What was my son telling you, Son? He was married two years back to this day. I spent on their wedding down to my last farthing. In return, he and his witch of a wife treat me like a servant. At seventy-two, I am made to fend for myself! Even now they try to jab as much as they can from me on one lame pretext after another. I’ve changed and don’t let them make a fool of me anymore.” She finally vented out her angst, frustration, call it what you will by whining :”It was a greatest blunder on my part to have bequeathed my all to my son. Is there no God? I pray to Him not to burden anyone with children.”
    The end

  12. I used my own prompt yesterday, so I figured I should come back to the fold today. At first, the prompt put me off, but I wrote a couple lines, and then a little story popped into my head. I admit I enjoyed writing it. Here is a link to the result, entitled “Yes, Today.” https://www.jimthewriter.net/yes-today/

  13. Wasn’t too sure when I first read the prompt, but then I remembered the story I’ve been writing off and on about the son of the devil. I wrote a 120-word story in less than 5 minutes. Probably won’t include it in the larger story, but it made me chuckle as I was writing it.

    “Really, Keane? Do you truly believe that is necessary?”
    “I am not sure what you mean, Dad? You are the one who wanted this meeting. So, here I am.”
    “The mask. I am speaking of the mask. You did not need to wear that to this meeting.”
    “You have a problem with masks? I’m sure you want to increase your ranks, but I didn’t think you’d use a virus to do it.”
    “Then, you vastly underestimate me, son. You should know I use anything at my disposal. Now, remove the mask.”
    “No. As it says: Not today, Satan.” With that, Keane turned and walked away. He thought his father might just burst into flames.
    It wouldn’t be the first time.

    1. This made me chuckle, too. A story about the son of the devil – can’t wait to read that one, Fallon.

  14. Thanks! Had me stumped for a moment, but who better to wear such a mask than 75-year-old Edith as she goes about minding her own business. 750 words of a nice little story starting to emerge. The more impossible they seem, the more my imagination overcomes all the procrastination and finally comes up with something. A gym for my mind – who knew!

    1. This sounds great, I would love to read about Edith. And I agree, the prompts that initially seem the hardest encourage the most creativity in us. What’s that Little Women quote? Necessity is the mother of invention.

    2. “A gym for my mind” is such a great way to describe the pondering and unconscious work of writing. 750 words is a great day!

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