The Write On Wednesday story prompts are designed to prompt quickly-written stories that you can share in the comments. It’s a warm-up exercise, to loosen up your creativity muscles. Come back every Wednesday to see a new prompt.
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This week’s prompt was conceived as a character study, but the more I think about it, I realise it can focus on descriptive writing, point of view, or almost anything!
The Prompt – Trapped
Write a story where the main (or only) character is trapped, literally or figuratively.
Literal traps can be prisons, a locked room, the side of a mountain, inside an alien spaceship, a bear trap, a maze, anything you can imagine! (Personally, I’d love to see someone write a claustrophobic locked-in-a-box story with only one character, and see how you manage to sustain that — great opportunity for character and description!)
Figurative traps could be anything from a bad marriage to con and could be a fairly conventional short story that lets you work on your dialogue or plotting.
What will you write?
- Don’t worry about your audience and who might read it
- Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.
- You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
- You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
- Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
- Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!
Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook
Some tweets/updates you might use:
Don’t miss my short story: Trapped #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-pA
This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is a cool old map! #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-pA
Come and write with us: Trapped! #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-pA
See my story – and write your own, today: Trapped! #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-pA
6 thoughts on “[Write On Wednesday] Trapped”
Hi there…Just a tiny bit of flash fiction from me, given my current writing challenge I didn’t have time for much else but I did want to get involved. Thanks for the prompt, it was fun!
Laura was hot and sticky, warmed by the crowds and the oppressive atmosphere. Hundreds of bodies sitting lay strewn around her on chairs, on the floor, heads supported by back packs and rolled up jackets. Hungry tired children tugged at their mothers skirts, all wound up but nowhere to go. She brushed hair away from her face before fanning herself with her wide brimmed hat. All ready for her greatest adventure, but unable to take one step toward freedom. Laura felt the frustration rise in her chest as she checked the monitors for signs of change. Nothing.
Her mother had warned her that heading off on a package holiday to Marbella alone would be a disaster, but she had at least hoped that any disaster would have involved too much sun, too many cocktails and the wrong man in her bed. Being trapped in the departure lounge wasn’t exactly what she’d had in mind.
Ha! I wasn’t sure where that was going Marbella! 🙂 Nice!
Thanks for ‘playing’. Impressed you managed this as well as your regular daily writing. Amazing, isn’t it, how writing begets more writing?
It’s dark. Or she’s blind. Oh God, is she blind?
One hand scrabbles at her face, her other on the floor, pushing her body up from its fetal position. Her breaths come fast and shallow. Heart racing, she blinks and swivels her eyes in their sockets. The air feels — what? Close? Blinking more, four, five, six times, she’s gradually aware of a dim line of not-quite-light in front of her. A thin patch of hope. She is not blind.
Then it is dark. Her arms splay out: a Moro reflex, reacting to her new world. She slams her knuckles, hard, on smooth cool walls. She’s inside something. Of course she is. She can hear her gasps for air echoing back at her, ugly, rasping gulps. Hint of a wimper. The air seems thin, her chest tight. Her arms flail to the roof, just inches from her head as she sits on the floor. How much air does she have? It’s running out now, she knows it.
Where is she and how did she get here? Unable to see or remember, she starts to lose herself. Bright spots of light appear at the edges of her vision: a way out?
Something (Instinct?) tells her to get her head below her heart and she obeys without thinking (why would she? What does she know? Not even who she is!). As the blood rushes to her head, the spots of light fade and something (Instinct? Training?) directs her to breathe deeply, slowly. Her chest loosens and her lungs fill with good, if slightly stale air. Her palms are slick and she is still in a box in the dark, but she will not panic.
Head on the cold hard floor, rear in the air, (child’s pose) she breathes. An image: A soldier and civilian, one fair, one dark, across a tiled room from her. The soldier starts to smile.
But she cannot make herself remember.
Concentrate on something else, she thinks. Stretching her arms out, she measures her world in sweeping motions. An arm span on each side, half a leg-length behind. Gingerly she tilts her head and opens her eyes, searching for the thin line of not-quite-light. For a moment she can’t find it. She sways, suddenly dizzy. then she sees it. A distinct line of slighly-less-darkness, running along the floor. A door? Another wave of dizziness hits as she realizes she cannot judge how far away the line is. It could be a tiny line at arm’s length or a four foot crack a hundred yards away.
She closes her eyes and shuffles forwards on her knees, head still down, leading with her hands. The floor is gritty. Sand? There was something about sand. A desert. Landing craft. Swarms of silent soldiers, swift and purposeful. Like ants.
She shuffles forward. After maybe six feet she can feel the space closing in on her again, and her fingertips touch a vertical surface. Smooth, but there! That’s a crack. It is a door.
She starts to feel upward, methodically searching for a handle, a catch, a hinge, anything she can use. Her breathing is under control now and in the silence she can hear the rough skin of her hands brushing the smooth wall, searching for a chink in its armor.
And then there is something that she feels more than hears. A low whump and a rumble. She jerks back from the door as if scalded, scurries crablike to the back of her cell and crouches there, waiting.
The rumble is gone but it has triggered something. An image of smoke and brightness and a broken doorway. Again, the man and the soldier, the soldier flashing her a triumphant smile. Then brightness. A concussion grenade. (How does she know that? But she does knows it as surely as she knows she is in the dark, and how to stop herself from fainting.)
Silent, she crouches. She gets her feet underneath her, arms around her knees for now, but ready. She is aware of her senses, on autopilot, measuring the space, calculating the right angle for a leap forward if her captors open the door.
And she can hear them coming. Muffled voices. The heavy tread of feet in military rhythm. Every muscle tenses. She is feral. She is ready.
The footsteps stop. Voices confer. There is a faint beeping and a click. The line of not-quite-dark begins to brighten and expand into a triangle of white-heat. She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes against the dazzling light. The door opens outward (a terrible design. Why does she know that?) and she leaps. She doesn’t feel the pain of her shoulder-charge against the thick door of her cell, though part of her is aware is will hurt later. If there is a later.
The fingers of her left hand sink into soft flesh and she can feel the rigid windpipe under her thumb even as she brings her right up for a below-the-belt blow. Pride. She has judged it just right. Wait ’til she tell Robinson about this. But who — no time. Momentum carries her forward and bears her victim to the ground beneath her where she continues to pound surgically at each the vulnerable spot she can reach. She has started to open her eyes in bursts to get her bearings, but still guard against the dazzling light. She knows there are two, maybe three more men around her, stunned into inaction, but not for long. She calculates she has time for two more jabs before they wake up and grab her. She shifts her weight onto her feet, ready to run. Instinct? No. Training.
No-one has laid a hand on her, but she reels as if she has been punched. She has been trained for this. It is only a fraction of a second but it is enough. Heavy hands grab her arms and try to pull her upright. She tightens her grip on the cartiledge in her left fingers. Voice are screaming at her but she cannot hear them. Everything is too bright and too loud. She flails and struggles, but they are too much for her. Still, she keeps her grip on the prone man’s throat.
Until she hears it. One sybillant syllable.
It comes from the man underneath her. She knows that he is talking to her. She opens her eyes and looks blearily at the purpled face, eyes pleading.
“Sir…” he manages again.
And she remembers.
She is Stasia.
“Robinson?” She whispers it, sees the relief in his face even before she loosens her grip and allows the hands to pull her upright.
The man on the floor coughs and rolls himself into a ball, heaving great breaths into his lungs. He massages his throat for a moment before staggering upright and snapping off a passable salute, in the circumstances.
“You’re alive then, Captain?” he croaks, with a crooked grin.
She salutes back. Captain. Sir. She is Captain Stasia Utler. Registration Number Four Dash Three Dash Seven Nine Four, King’s Elite Forces.
She looks around the bright, tiled corridor and sees three more slightly nervous soldiers standing around her, each sporting the gold cross of the King’s Elite on his sleeve.
And then she remembers it all.
It had been the last stage of the assault. It was bloody and fast but they were through. She had seen Robinson take the minister into custody. Their eyes met. She had felt her mouth start to form the tight, quick smile of congratulation that was all she would allow on missions. Then a flash. Then darkness. Then this.
“Sorry Sir,” Robinson says, a little less hoarse now. “One of them got past us. Had a flash rocket. Knocked us back just long enough for them to snatch you.”
“You lost the minister?”
Her voice is low. Threatening.
“Wouldn’t have come to get you if we had, Sir. Wouldn’t have liked to hear what you had to say about that. No, Sir, we secured the prisoner then came down here and kicked a few arses around until we found out where they were keeping you.”
The captain flashes her rare, brief smile and Robinson’s grin widens.
“Good job, lads. Let’s go and see what you’ve got for me then, shall we?”
Nodding curtly, Captain Utler heads for the staircase at the end of the corridor. Robinson is at his proper place beside her — her right hand. The three other members of her squad bring up the rear, close in behind her. And now she doesn’t just remember. She knows. She is no mewling newborn. She is one part of a powerful body, where all the parts work together or they don’t work at all.
Footsteps in perfect unison, as if one person’s alone, echo off the walls.
I was almost there, but I turned back again. Why can I never take the last step, Sarah thought to herself. Her depression set in again…that dark, foreboding that sapped her strength; the listlessness; the self hate.
She, at thirty years of age, heard again the voice of her father yelling, “You didn’t think. You never think.”
Why am I so stupid, she wondered? She knew she was stupid. Her older brother had told her so that daily. Whenever she was close to success, she did something so dumb that no one could overlook it.
At the urging of a friend, Sarah consulted with a counselor.
“I can never take the final step to success. I’m so stupid.”
“Are you sure about that? According to your history you have advanced degrees and you have held a job for 8 years.”
“Oh, well, anybody can do well in school. You just have to do what the teacher says…and my job is really easy. Anyone could do it.”
“I think you are underestimating your abilities…but tell me, what happens when you back away from a final step to success? What do you think? How do you feel?”
“I get this awful feeling that I am a fraud…that if anyone sees who I really am, they will hate me.”
“A fraud in what way?”
“Everybody thinks I am smart, but I’m really not. I’m afraid they will find out the truth.”
“Who taught you that you were not smart?”
Sarah told the counselor what her father and brother had said to her over and over.
“Sarah, were your father and brother correct?”
“Oh yes. They are a lot smarter than I am.”
“How do you know?”
“They told me.”
“If I told you I have green hair, would you believe me?
“Of course not, that’s silly.”
“If I told you I am smarter and better educated than you, would you believe that?”
“Yes, I’m sure that is right.”
“Actually, Sarah, you have more degrees than I do, and I’ll bet that if we took IQ tests, you are just as smart as I am, if not smarter.”
“That can’t be.”
“Because you are successful and I’m not.”
“Sarah, I think what has happened to you is that you were brought up in a family that did not honor your abilities, perhaps because you were a girl. That happens a lot in our culture. I think you have been trapped in the untrue lessons you were taught as a child. If you are willing to work with me, I’d like to help you learn the truth about your abilities and capabilities. Will you work with me?”
“I guess so.”
“Don’t guess. It will not be easy. Most people are afraid to let go of their negative self evaluations…but the results are well worth the effort. Are you willing to work with me?”
Sarah worked with her counselor for 18 months. Over that time, she was able to take several big steps toward success. Her depression lifted, and she began to have fun for the first time in her life.
@ jflorob Thanks for posting. I got a strong sense of Sarah as a real person – and yet she wasn’t so weak as to be annoying. Well done! Scary and true.
I have written my story. How do I post it?