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Day 10- A Mysterious Start by Fallon Brown

StoryADay prompt cover
Fallon Brown invites you into a mystery

The Prompt

When I opened the door, I never expected to be hit by *that*.


What is *that*? An idea, a smell, a sight, a sound? Something else? How does the protagonist react to it? What do they do next? Start your story with this line and see where it takes you.


Fallon Brown

Fallon Brown is a nonbinary writer from Northwestern Pennsylvania. They write mostly romance and cozy mystery novels, with some fantasy and historical in there as well. When they aren’t writing(rarely), they tend to devour books or let their mind unwind with crochet or cross-stitch projects. The first two books in their Jax of All Trade mystery series are available. You can also find them at stitchingastory.substack.com or on Instagram and twitter: @frbrown906

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30 thoughts on “Day 10- A Mysterious Start by Fallon Brown”

  1. I love a good open-ended prompt. Thank you for this.
    I’m on mostly a 100 word per story spree as I play catch up on a busy work and life month.

  2. Commenting late! I wrote on this day and let me tell you, I was delighted with what this prompt brought up for me. The execution on this first draft is long-winded and unexciting, but I had a good time and I’m interested in the idea!

    Someone opens the door and gets hit with a face full of cologne, wafting off the rich cloud-dwelling man who just yesterday winched them up out of the little boat they had lived on for a year with three strangers who had become their found family. The POV character wants to talk rescue of the others on the boat, but the cloud-dweller wants a return on his investment first…

  3. This is one I’ll expand later, most likely. I just ran out of steam with yard work and client care, and napped longer than I expected to. Left me with just enough time for a drabble.

    Loved the prompt!

    **

    GOOSED!

    “Are you okay, Jim? What happened? Your nose is bleeding, and you’re going to have a black eye, it looks like.”

    “When I opened the door, I never expected to be hit by that,” he managed, gesturing in the general direction of the offender.

    “By what?”

    “It must have retreated into the bushes. The attack was quite sudden, so I can’t be sure, but I think it may be injured.”

    “What was it, Jim?”

    “Shh… I’ll get the blanket, and we can trap it.”

    “Trap what?”

    “Be alert, Lydia.”

    “Why, it’s a mama goose with goslings! And her wing’s broken.”

  4. Nice prompt! It led to a story I know I’ll want to return to and put through another draft sometime.

  5. Well, what a gift of a prompt that was…I certainly didn’t expect to have as much fun writing this as I did. I’m coming back to this story for sure, I was sad to stop when other responsibilities beckoned. Thanks Fallon!

    PS- I did post a comment for yesterday’s prompt too…for some reason it didn’t post (my bad). Suffice it to say, I did it despite feeling like my tank was empty. Felt very triumphant afterwards!

  6. May 10, 2023
    When I opened the door, I never expected to be hit by that. The stench overtook me and the LEO who helped me into the home. I never smelled anything like it. I immediately assumed I would be greeting a dead body inside the home, though I had nothing to compare the smell to.
    Dispatch told the police the caller was a concerned neighbor. They’d been smelling this for about 2 days before they knocked on the door to check in with The Jordans. Four-year-old Sandra Johnson answered the door. The smell was overwhelming to the neighbor. The neighbor reported Sandra not being able to answer his questions about who else was home that day. So, he finally decided to call in concerns that someone might be dead in there with the four-year-old girl fending for herself.
    So, when I received the case to investigate the claims of a four-year-old girl in this situation, I was baffled because there was no mention of any police investigation. The LEO who accompanied me explained that they had no jurisdiction or probable cause to initiate that investigation, but that DCF did have the right to investigate the child maltreatment.
    I went into the home, covering my nose and mouth, trying to breathe as little as I possibly could.
    “Sandra…” I called out into the darkness. I didn’t see any lights on or hear any noise through the first floor living room, kitchen, and hallway. I inspected two bedrooms and a bathroom in that hallway, and found nothing out of the ordinary and nothing out of place.
    I climbed the stairs, and that’s when I noticed the smell getting stronger. I was getting hotter. And I was breathing even less than before.
    “Hello?” I called out again. As I made my way down the upstairs hall, I noticed only one door was closed. That has to be it, I thought. I prepared myself to witness something awful, counted to 3 silently to myself before barging into the unknown room.
    A very surprised Mr. and Mrs. Jordan and little Sandra gasped mid-bite of the smelliest fruit I had ever smelled.
    “What are you doing in our house?” Mrs. Jordan asked me.
    “I’m sorry,” I said. “My name is Lorraine, I am a child protective investigator with DCF. We got a report from a concerned party that someone may have died in the home, leaving Sandra alone and unsupervised. Obviously, that’s not the case,” I said, struggling to breathe between words.
    “This is durian.” Mr. Jordan said, waving the fruit in my face. “My parents brought some back from their trip for Sandra since it is her favorite.”
    Convinced and ready to get out of there, I made my way out with a confused LEO dragging his feet behind me, then to the office to write up a report about the 4-year-old who wasn’t left alone in a house with a dead caregiver, but just enjoyed really stinky fruit.

  7. Well, that was odd. I wrote a story about an insurance actuary who is randomly assaulted at home by a circus clown. It petered out at the end, but I think I might have something humorous to return to when revising these stories.
    Day 10 is done!

  8. This was fun! Thank you, Fallon!

    When I opened the door, I never expected to be hit by a dragon. In fact, the dragon was as surprised as I was. “You have to help me,” he pleaded, smoke coming from his nose with every word.
    “Um, OK.” I wasn’t going to argue with a dragon. I was curious about what he was doing in the second-floor restroom of the local public library. Being a retired librarian, I learned long ago not to ask. “What do you need?” I asked.
    “A bag of marshmallows.”
    “Oh?” I replied. “Indeed.” Well, that was confusing. “Um, what were you planning on doing with them?”
    “Toast them, of course.” He looked affronted.
    “Of course,” I echoed. “After all, what else would you do with marshmallows, except for cocoa, maybe.”
    “Exactly!” He snorted in pleasure. “You really know your stuff! So,” he asked, “Do you know where I might get some?”
    “Supermarket, I suppose,” I said, surprised that he wouldn’t have figured that out. I heard a sound behind him and peered over his wing. A troop of gnomes was dancing around a minuscule bonfire, and fairies danced in and out of the thin wisp of smoke that rose from the flames. “Having a party?”
    The dragon glanced back at the creatures behind him, and replied, “Birthday. Queen Zazook is five hundred today.”
    “My!” I exclaimed. “Congratulations!”
    “She hasn’t arrived as yet. Headwind, probably. Anyway, where is there a supermarket? And, do you have any money?”
    “I know the closest, but it is a mile walk from here. And, I do have money, if you need it.” I wasn’t going to cross this dragon, even if it was burning a fire in the library bathroom, an event generally frowned upon.
    “Jump on my back, and we’ll fly there.”
    “Really?” My heart skipped a beat.
    “Yes. Let’s go!”
    I was not one for turning a dragon down for any request. I jumped onto his back and away we soared, across the main stacks, down the stairs, past the Children’s room (delighting ALL of the kids, and making the librarian put on her frowny face), and out the door. We soared into the air, banked right, avoided a telephone pole, a stop light, and a low-flying helicopter before we landed in the parking lot of the supermarket. I rushed inside to buy the marshmallows.
    And stopped dead. There were two types, regular-sized, big, and mini. Since the creatures celebrating around the fire were little, I seized the bag of mini marshmallows. Ah, but the dragon was big, so I grabbed a bag of super-sized marshmallows. And, hoping to snag an invitation to Queen Zazook’s party, I got the more human-sized ones as well. Quickly I rushed to the self-checkout, grabbed my bag, and clamored upon the dragon’s back. With a leap and a bound, he took to the air, avoided an airplane landing at Logan Airport, skirting another telephone pole, and landed at the front door to the library.
    “Quickly!” the dragon called, leading the way through the doors and up the stairs. I followed in the dragon’s wake, calling, “Pardon me! Excuse me! Coming through!” The children in the children’s room were all pointing and laughing. The old lady who read only romance books barely looked up from her latest. The science nerd shook his head in disbelief, and the circulation clerk, who has seen everything at least twice, just shook her head and sighed.
    The dragon led the way into the bathroom. There was Queen Zazook, wider than she was tall, basking in the “Happy Birthday” song. We stood respectfully back by the trash barrel, waiting for her acknowledgment. She smiled and nodded towards me and the dragon as we joined in the song. As the song wound down, I joined in the applause, and the queen bowed her gratitude. She lowered her hand, indicating that I might seat myself next to her. “What is this, child?” she asked, pointing to the shopping bag as everyone began to talk at once.
    “Marshmallows, Your Majesty,” I answered. I pulled out a bag. “I got this size for anyone who needs them this size.” I nodded to the gnomes and fairies, who crept in closer. I handed the bag to the stubby gnome next to me, who smiled and bowed his thanks. His pointed had fell off of his shiny bald head, but I picked it up and handed it back to him. He tottled off to share.
    The next bag I pulled from the shopping bag was the giant-sized marshmallows. Since the dragon was the largest creature in the room, I handed them to him. He squealed, a rather fiery response, but one of the fairies waved her wand and put the fire out. “I can have some s’mores!” he declared.
    “Oh, well done!” the queen exclaimed. “How thoughtful. You absolutely must stay for the party.”
    “Thank you, your majesty. I have one more bag of marshmallows, for those who might want a little more, or, perhaps, a little less.” I pulled out the regular-sized marshmallows.
    The queen took these and hugged them close. “I do love marshmallows,” she declared. She eyed me and sized me up. “Perhaps, you would share with me?”
    “I would be honored, your majesty,” I said, trying to bow from my seated position. We all sat around the little bonfire. I helped the dragon make his s’more, which he gobbled down at once. The gooey marshmallow stuck to the roof of his mouth, and we all laughed with him as he tried to speak. In the end, the dragon had four s’mores, and the gnomes and fairies at least eight apiece.
    The queen asked me to assist her in constructing her s’more. She held it delicately in two fingers, afraid to get chocolate all over her elbow-length gloves. “Perhaps your majesty should take them off?” I suggested.
    “Oh, well done!” she cried, and thoroughly enjoyed her first s’more in her five hundred years of existence. She ended up eating five, one for each century of her life.
    It was quite the party. The fairies danced and pirouetted in the air, the gnomes played their pipes to accompany them, the dragon snoozed, making odd snorting sounds, but not setting anything on fire, and the queen sat next to me, wanting to know all about me, and how I became expert at s’more making.
    “Girl scout camp,” I answered. She asked about the girl scouts (Was it military? No; Are their cookies tasty? Oh, yeah).
    Hours later, the fairies danced their last dance, and popped home, the gnomes disappeared into the shadows, the dragon got up and stretched, the queen knighted me Head S’more, and I got a story to tell. This is it.

  9. When I opened the door, I never expected to be hit by such a stench.

    That’s my first line. Now to write without the obvious dead body…

  10. Thank you, Fallon. Wow. This prompt took one crazy turn. My first thought was Dean Martin’s song “When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie, That’s Amore.” He was one of my mother’s favorite singers. She passed away almost twenty-four years ago, and I thought I would write a funny/fond memory about her. That’s not what happened. Between upcoming Mother’s Day and dealing with my father’s serious illnesses, the prompt led to a 1533 word conversation with her about what’s happened over the years and shared feelings I’ve never told anyone.

  11. I just wrote the first thing that came to my mind after reading the prompt. It reads more like the beginning of a story than a finished one. I think you can tell that the protagonist of my story gets things done in a hurry. She won’t stay in bed long. I don’t know if I’ll continue it or write another but at least the prompt got me writing. I like the prompt, it’s short but gets you thinking right away.

    As soon as I had answered the front door, a man shoved a pile of papers into my hands and looked me straight in the eye saying, “You’ve been served.” As he walked hurriedly back to his car I could see they were divorce papers. I was in shock.

    “Wait a minute,” I said, “I don’t understand!.”

    “It’s all there,” he said, turning to look at me as he got back in his car.

    “Wait! Wait!” I cried, running after him and pounding on his passenger window. “I don’t understand!”

    He rolled down the window. “Your husband’s divorcing you,” he said. “Read the paperwork.” Then he stepped on the gas and took off.

    “What a horrible job,” I thought, “What a heartless man this guy is to go around breaking people’s hearts.”

    I wasn’t prepared for this. Of course we weren’t getting along but why this? Maybe my husband had been looking for an excuse to leave me. What would I do now?

    Well, I did the obvious thing. I cleaned out his closet and piled his clothes in my car. I set his coin collection in there too. His books and records I threw in the trash. I’d keep his tools, I could use them.

    The clothes were worth nothing so I took them to the thrift store. The odd woman at the coin store offered me $16,000 so I sold the stupid coins. I was excited they were worth so much. I still had the house, which was paid for. At least I thought.

    I went home, called a locksmith who agreed to change the locks at 3pm, and went back to bed to try and ease my shock. 30 years. It didn’t take much for him to end it. What would happen next.

  12. I used this prompt to add to my continuing story (using some of the previous ones from this month). I just used my characters names instead if I. I’m really pleased with the way this is going. I’m enjoying this year’s StoryADay. I may turn this into the novel I’ve always wanted to do but had a hard time keeping it going.

  13. I was surprised at what came out! It was a mystery to me as I kept writing and it unfolded. Let me just say there are interchangeable eyeballs in my story! 10/10

  14. I wound up writing a true story, about my grandfather coming home at night through the woodshed, and walking face-first into a cheesecloth bag of curds my grandmother had hung from a beam to drain. It was fun to write, and the prompt got me to write it in the first person, but it came out as more of a scene than a story. Unless you count my grandfather’s struggle with the cheesecloth, it lacks conflict.

  15. What an intriguing prompt! I let myself brainstorm as many endings to the sentence as I could think of in 15ish minutes. And now I have started three different stories. I think I gave myself too many possibilities, but I might come back to this later today. Even if I don’t, I will at least have about ten possibilities for future stories.

  16. My second non-selkie story of the month. Today I spent a little time with Lou(from my Jax of All Trade mystery series) as they go to their brother’s to babysit for the night(and was hit with a glob of baby food). My favorite bit:

    “Yes, your daddies deserve some time together. And I get a chance to spoil you rotten. What could go wrong with that?”
    “Do not say that around my child,” Ross said. “I know what happens when you say something like that.”
    “What?” I asked, looking up at him. “You don’t think I can summon another murderer with my words.”
    “Just, no, Lou. I’m getting dinner and spending a night alone with my husband. I do not want to come back to you having made my child into an infant investigator.”

  17. The Damsel in Distress
    When I opened the door, I never expected to be hit by *that*. And can’t even imagine what I mean by that, can you? As my eyes got used to the semidarkess in the room ( there was a flicker of the street light coming in through a square hole on the wall), I found a girl in her mid-twenties, tied, hands and feet, to a chair. The sight of a damsel in distress was not exactly what I had in mind. Though I didn’t think anything about her silhouette at first, there was something in her – whether it was the fear in her eyes, the incomprehensible sounds that emitted from her mouth tied with a gent’s handkerchief, or the desperation about her persona – that I simply couldn’t overlook.

    I knew that my time was running out. The kidnappers were most probably, waiting somewhere in this ramshackle building, watching my every move, expecting me to make a blunder and then grab my attache and flee. With or without Jeet.
    But I also couldn’t leave the lady like that. Then another thought came to me – what if she took me to be one of them? She must have for as I opened the door of the musty room and stepped in, she had tried to move back.
    “Madam, let me straight away get to the point. I …We have no time to waste. My kidnapped son must be in big trouble by now. I’ve to find him before it’s too late. I just wanna favour. I am gonna free you. Once you are outside, please make a call to the police asking them to come here at the earliest….”
    For the first time since I got hit by that lady, she looked fair and square at me.
    I had, in the meanwhile, started untying the ropes. It proved easier than expected. In the next five minutes or so, I had the hankie removed from her mouth.
    I couldn’t help sneaking a peek at her face then. She looked prettier from up close. She sprang up to her feet, cast a look at me and was running out of the room the next minute.

    I wasn’t even sure if I could bank on getting any help through a lady who looked anything but stable.

    Where could they have kept Jeet? I tried to do some quick thinking. I imagined what I would have done in their place. Whoever the kidnappers might have been, they were doing it for the ransom money. They needed the money desperately (They had demanded 10 lacs from me within 24 hours). They must have brought the lady for the same reason. If they had been holding her a hostage, they would expect the relatives somewhere around this place, kinda killing two birds with the same stone. I also had a haunch that Jeet was being held captive somewhere in the same building itself. If so, where was he?
    As I had got used to the semi-darkness of the room by then, I noticed a staircase leading upto to the next floor. Stealthily, I tiptoed up the stairs. The staircase ended on a corridor with closed doors on either side.
    I was confused. Where did they keep the boy? I nearly cried out his name. Then the door right in front of me opened and a boy came out. As he had seen me, I knew I had to act fast. He was quite lean and thin for a gangster. I just raced towards him and putting my hand over his mouth, I pushed him hard backward towards the wall. Though I didn’t intend it, the back of his head hit the wall behind first. The next minute, he tumbled down to the floor, unconscious.
    I looked around to see if anyone was watching me. No one. I dashed into the room. The first person I noticed was Jeet. But why was he asleep in the bed? Had he been drugged or what? I hurried to the bed. Before I could pick him up, there was a sound from behind. Before I knew what had hit me, an iron rod struck me on the temple.
    “God, why are you so cruel? Why didn’t you help me rescue my ……?”
    Then I saw firecrackers all around me.

    When I came over, I found myself staring at the faces of two strangers on either side of my bed.
    “Thanks to you, Mr. Raj, we could finally arrest the most notorious Mafia gang in this locality. We shot their most-wanted leader dead in an open encounter. No, no, please don’t try to sit up. Your son and wife are down there waiting to meet you…”
    I looked up. My wife? She left me when my son was not even three. They were clearly mistaken somehow. I got out of the bed and put on my chappals. As I alighted the steps, I saw my son with a gorgeous lady sitting by his side on the sofa.
    “Dad, this is the aunty, the one who called the police…”
    “I don’t know how to thank you for saving us from the kidnappers.” I blurted out.
    “I couldn’t have run out and called the police if you had not freed me first.”
    “Me? When? You must be making a mistake..” I stammered. Then it all came back to me – how I was hit by her sight. I broke in a laugh.
    “Raj,” I told her stretching my hand out.
    “Simran.” She replied locking my hand in a handshake.” Ek treat to bantai hain na, (I owe you a treat, right?) for saving my life?”

    The police car started honking precisely then.
    The end

  18. Finally, after a weekend and two days with a feverish toddler at home, I wrote again today. So I guess you could say I’m back to A Story A Day May.

    Today’s story fit well into my novel project, I took a short but intense journey to the sea and back, a very figurative description of my main character drowning in somebody else’s arms… A bit of Kitsch doesn’t hurt, does it? 😉

    Anyway, I’m glad I’m back, inspired as ever.

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