Hidden Message | StoryADay 2024 Day 18

A challenge within the challenge

Day 18 cover

The Prompt

Write a story in a cypher: where the first word of each sentence is the REAL message

Things To Consider

It helps to write out the message you’re hiding in the story first.

Then, simply write a story and find a way to start each new sentence with the next word of your hidden message.

You can choose to hide the message in the second or third word of each sentence if you find that easier, or the last word (though I think that would be hard to pull off, unless you like dangling participles).

You can see my tips on a previous iteration of this prompt here

As an alternative to this you might try Grant Faulkner’s prompt from a StoryADay 2022….

When you have finished do something to celebrate. It can be as simple as grinning for five seconds, or doing a little dance (I like a victory dance, myself).

The important thing is to take a moment to revel in the good feelings you get from meeting your goals.

Leave a comment and let us know how it went!

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17 thoughts on “Hidden Message | StoryADay 2024 Day 18”

  1. I chose A-Z.

    Advancing to the head of the line soon I hope.”Raising our voices so we can hear each other.”
    Been waiting in line for what seems like hours.
    Cats and dogs running loose, looking for food.
    Daring the people in line to yell at them.
    Eating some snacks while we wait.
    Fearing the concert will be canceled.
    Groping in my pocket to make sure I have the tickets.
    Handing Joey his ticket so I won’t lose it.
    Instantly he grabbed it and checked the time.
    Just as I thought, he said.
    Knew you had the wrong time.
    Loser, he said, we are late and at the end of the line.
    My mouth dropped open, fearing he was right.
    Now what, the good seats will be gone.
    Only you could be late every time, he said.
    People ahead of us are waiting patiently.
    Queued, not at all bothered by the wait.
    Raising our voices so we can hear each other.
    Should have stayed home since we will be last inside.
    Thanks a lot Amy, Joey sputters out.
    Useless criticism as I will never change.
    Vacations with you never go as planned he said.
    Why do you come with me then?
    ‘xpectations that you will change one of these days.
    Yes we are finally moving.
    Zooming to the entrance finally.


  2. Hedgehog is prevented from leaving burrow because of her fear of Owl nearby. Wants to leave to go see her cousin. Out of a clear blue sky Owl lets her go.

  3. I wrote a letter. Girl very clearly tells her cousin in the opening that she’s sharing a secret, but, alas, it guess right over his head.
    I’ll just share the opening paragraph…

    My dearest cousin,
    Since I’ve remembered you wanted mail, I thought I’d help. I’ve written you a letter! Not a long letter, of course. No secret, I’m bad at those. Now you to have to write me, though. You should do so immediately. You know you’ll forget otherwise.

  4. I have been working on this long enough, to tell you honestly. But I am not happy with the net result. There is still a lot of ground to be covered, lot of loopholes to be repaired before I can put it together. Anyway, try to find out what was written in Dave’s letter. Here is the story :
    Parting Gift for the Monster :
    “Dear Ron”, the letter begins. Early winter is here. At such a time, when I ought to have been by his side, I’m sorry to say that I was not. Regrets do not necessarily come after every action.

    “Ron,” Uncle Tonny, his long time associate-cum-lawyer, brings me back to the present. “On the 16th of this month, we’re going to be here for the anniversary. Now, do I need to tell you why it’s important for you to be here?”
    I shake my head, well aware of the accusing tone in his voice. Kimberly & Associates was Dave’s dream and his second love. Now, with him gone, I’ve no other choice but to take it over, do I? On second thought, I can of course, sell the company to Uncle Tonny. Won’t that be smart of me? You think, I’m being selfish here, I guess. OK, then. Under no circumstances must you disclose my secret. Let me tell you this that Dave was an eyesore from the moment I set my eyes on him. Little molehills becoming big mountains in my relations with him. Hopeless, I could have killed him. And got away scott free. Very surprisingly, I refrained from carrying out my desire. End the discussion, shall we?
    Forgiveness, unfortunately, has never been my strong point. Or, I’d have realised long back that Dave never treated me ill.
    Regarding the issue of our relationship, let me say as little as possible, OK?
    “God, merci.” I hear someone chuckling inside. Vanity, I realise, has always been my greatest strength.

    Even when he, lying in his death bed, had sent for me, I refused to meet him! Now, lemme not harp on the same point again and again …..
    My sanity restored, I read through the next few lines of his letter. Endlessly, he goes on the topic of now him being gone, as if I care two hoots!
    “Now I’m gone..”, those words have a finality about them though, that strangely stabs me in the heart!
    Oh! How I wish I could have been the son that Milu told her father had never had!
    Wishing, luckily, doesn’t bring the dead back alive! I continue reading through the next few lines slowly for my own mental satisfaction. And I can visualise her smiling face. Milu saying, ‘Mend your ways’. Gone and buried she’s been exactly for 5 years to this day!
    Of all the people, God could’ve spared Milu. Never in my wildest dreams, could I imagine her kicking the bucket in the prime of her life! Expectations I didn’t have any after her car crash.

    It, I mean, the company is worth $1600 bucks at its current market value! Wao! Isn’t that a lot of petrol? So, I have decided to accept this free gift. Have some sense, man.

    The little gliches on her part, used to make me go berserk.
    He, on his part, having seen my abhorrence, antagonism, apathy – stopped calling her altogether. I felt victorious, over the moon. Never did I slacken my stand on her for a moment! God, they say, is blind. So, I was happy being the monster I was, thinking I had ensured Milu’s distance from her father.

    When Milu told me about going for the licence , I grabbed this opportunity. Eavesdropping is bad, but I couldn’t help it when her childhood friend had called in to inform her (Milu) about Dave’s cancer.
    Regrets honestly, ought to be my companion for as long as I live! End result, to get back to my story – Milu stopped being her jovial self from then on.

    “Dave loved you dearly, Son. I’m an witness to that. For I’ve never seen a father speaking so highly of a son-in-law! Forgive me if I’m crossing the limits…. Eager to meet you till the last….,” Uncle Tonny continues in the same breath, “Dave never stopped talking about you. Really, you’re unlucky as you failed to hit it up with him…” he stutters.
    Echoes of his strongly-implied reproach does little to torture my soul!
    Now, I take a look at the picture on the wall of Milu as a child, holding her father’s hand walking on a path through the shady trees. Too late, there’s not much I could’ve done to save her or her dad.
    But he is up there somewhere. End of a soured relationship and good riddance.
    The first time Milu introduced me to the widower, I remember him patting me on the back, saying :“What a handsome young man! Envious of such a catch, Milu!” Exactly, the kind of impression I wanted him to form.

    Never one to understand this father-daughter relationship, I vented out my anger on her that night.
    Utter suspicion on my part, I admit. Some people are not all that clever, you know.
    Poor Milu, a gem of a girlie – learnt to live life the wrong way, uncomplainingly! Least of all, how mean I had been to her all along!
    “Everybody has problems,” she’d say. You’ll mend your ways.”
    Ever heard of a wife with that kinda positive attitude?

    And I think tears dried up in my eyes long time back. Cruel, I know, I’ve been. Crooked, if you prefer that. Excessively monsterish at times.
    Plenty of sins I committed, no doubt, I think to myself. Time I ‘mended my ways’ and undid the wrongs by taking over what rightfully belongs to me. My mind whimpers. “Your time’s come to atone for the deaths you caused, mate.”

    “Parting gift..” I stare at those two words. And what ‘parting gift’ did my great father-in-law have in mind for me?

    “Ron, I’ve to read out the details of Dave’s will…” Uncle Tonny comes sneak-peeking in. “To YOU, Dave’s bequeathed his everything. I was present when his last will was being dictated.”
    Not that he can conceal his feelings, try his best he as he does so.
    “Got to admit it he looked forward to meeting you one last time before Death laid his icy hands on him. Got to admit at the same time that he was often right in whatever he did,” he concludes, sniffing.

    I look up to see if he really means it. For aren’t humans the most pretentious of all animals?
    To his credit, I must say that even if he feels betrayed at not being left with the sole authority of the Company, he seems to know how best to conceal his true feelings.
    Towards the end of our talk, he looks a defeated man. Afterwards, I put a hand around his shoulders. Knowing him as I do, I have no doubt about his loyalty to K&A. Eureka, I pat myself for the first time since I came in.

    “Can you give me a few minutes before I’m done with this letter? And let’s please keep the will for some other time.” Referring to the reading of the will, I said, purposefully.

    “Exactly, as you wish,” he replies.

    So, I get to the last part of the letter. Only this time, I ought to feel an emptiness in my heart. Never again shall I hear the fool addressing me as “son”.

    “Love you, Son….”
    Of course he did, I had not the slightest doubt about that.Very seldom have I seen a father with so much love for his family.

    Exactly, a year has passed since Dave’s demise. Yea, the company’s been sold out.

    On his anniversary, I pay a visit to the cemetery. Under a star-lit sky, I place the flowers and the banquet on the tomb.
    “Dad,” I address him quite loudly in the presence of a few people close behind. And it comes quite naturally to me. Vain, boisterous, arrogant and pretentious….you can go on calling me names if you care, and I have been all this, I admit.

    “Emerald Day Care Centre” – from the cemetery, I find myself heading towards the centre, waiting outside for our daughter, Mia, for picking her up and taking home….
    The end

    1. By the way, I forgot one important thing. No two. First, this has to be the worst story ever written.
      Second, I spent some time in the morning writing a 50-worder. I couldn’t shake it off my mind while writing
      “The Parting Gift…..”
      Let me share the micro fiction for you.
      The Eye-Opener

      Our relationship never got going. I didn’t attend his funeral.

      A call from his lawyer found me rummaging through the diaries in his room.

      The first one had mostly addresses. Next – his daily expenses neatly recorded.

      Something was scribbled about his regrets, will, wistful love for me in the last.

  5. OK – I’m going to have to give this one a go tomorrow – it’s 12:55 am on the 19th here, so off to bed for me, had to get yesterday’s story done though.

    Night all – have a good day.

  6. “How many times have I…” she began.
    “Eight,” he snapped back.
    “Right,” she said. “Mr Clever Clogs, I’m not going to tolerate your insolence any more.”
    “I’m not insolent,” he said. “That was just an answer to your question.”
    “Certainly wasn’t,” she said, “Rhetorical questions don’t need answers,”
    “And I gave you one anyway,” he said. “Boy, am I generous!”
    “Sarcasm will get you nowhere,” she said.
    “A form of verbal aggression is not a mode of transport,” he said. “Getting somewhere is not what I had in mind.”
    “Aggression, then – you admit you were being aggressive?”
    “I admit this isn’t the first time,” he said.
    “No, you’re just getting a sense of déjà vu,” she said.

  7. I mashed together all kinds of prompts today and wrote a travel brochure with a hidden message/suprise party invitation, and then gave the resulting story a very long title (because otherwise it would make no sense). It was a puzzle and I had a ton of fun with it.

    The story is called “Unfortunately My Wife Intercepted The Note and Decoded Every Fifth Word Instead of Every Second, and Ruined Her Surprise Party Entirely”

  8. I couldn’t help myself:

    Story is what it’s all about, after all. A sentimental attachment to characterization or atmosphere is all very well, but at the end of the day – by the end of every day for a month – there’s a new story told. Day after day, you have to write something. Rules are few; support is plentiful; and the fun is just plain abundant.

  9. 405 words. Lou is sent a note but it doesn’t make much sense. But along with their friends they figure it out, but it’s too late to help the sender of the note. This may or may not be able to be reworked into the bigger story. But, it’s an idea to how to handle the second victim in the story.

    1. Fallon I haven’t finished mine yet but mine is along the same lines. My character receives a note that doesn’t make any sense but she must decipher the code. I usually don’t post my story but I may do when I finish this one.

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