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Friday, May 22, 2009

Writing Prompt #1: 300-word Story Challenge

Recently John of SF Signal challenged me to write an extremely short story using a rather bizarre prompt:
A steampunk culinary cat mystery involving manga in 300 words or less.
Since a commenter recently suggested I start offering writing prompts to my readers, I thought this would be a great way to start. Since I've already written my 300-word story on this prompt, I'm going to put it up to my readers to come up with their own versions.

So, in 300 words or less, tell a steampunk culinary cat mystery involving manga. You can use those elements however you please, so long as it remains under 301 words. Post your stories in the comments section for this post and let everyone else know about it. Anyone may enter, whether you're a budding writer or someone who has never really written anything before.

Here is my entry:
Catnip Pete and the Case of the Naruto Blanco
The rusty cat-box steamed and told me it had happened at midnight. Someone had stolen the infamous Naruto manga from Mr. Wilson’s front window, and the Mechanical Steam-powered Cat-box Enclave didn’t like that one bit. So I took the case, along with a recipe for Cherry Rhubarb Pie for the misses. I can smell it now, like catnip for the sophisticated palette.

That’s not all I smell: Mr. Wilson’s front window reeks of five-year-old, and the chocolate fingerprint smudges on the glass tell me I’m dealing with none other than Johnny Stumblefeet. I follow the scent; he’s close, too close, but what do you expect from a five-year-old?

I find him in the alley, munching on a chocolate bar and rubbing his grubby fingers over the pages of the manga. Already I can see that half the pages are ruined. He smells of old cheese. Gouda.

He sees me and grins. “Kitty!” His hands grab, tug my tail, mess my fur.

I push him away with a declawed hand. “Give me the manga, Stumblefeet.”


I grab the book. No time to argue, the misses is waiting for her pie. He stands, but his grip loosens and I flash him a toothy grin and rip the book away. His feet catch underneath him as he pursues. I hear him strike the ground as I round the corner at the end of the alley. He’ll live.

Mr. Wilson grins when I return his Naruto. My reward is a can of cherries and some sliced rhubarb. Heading home, I think about that pie and salivate. The misses meets me at the door, her fur gleaming in the sun.

“So?” she says, wondering how it went.

I grin. “Elementary.” School, that is.


Hope you all enjoyed that. Make sure to spread the word about this post and to post your entry!

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  3. Amuse-gueule

    The woman walked out of the steam billowing over the dirigible platform. Cradling an exotic shorthair cat in her muscular arms, she looked down after shyly meeting my gaze. The edges of her angularly-cut hair slid over her face in perfumed curtains.

    Twin swords were laced into her striped corset. Her skirts looked more like petticoats than proper wear for a young lady. By God, she was half-naked, her legs and feet bare. I couldn’t stop looking.

    She was perfect, my own personal manga heroine come to life.

    I cleared my throat. "You know why you are here?" I asked.

    She raised her eyebrow and the cat yawned. "It’s no mystery to me," she said.

    "You’ll do it? Kill my wife?" I said, smoothing my cravat nervously, unable to quell my hands. "You do realize how evil she is?"

    The assassin pulled out a lacquered keypad. Tiny puffs of steam huffed out of the device as she tapped the ivory keys. She held out the keypad and a stylus. "Please sign the screen," she said, biting her lip, for all the world as if anticipating some pleasure she wasn’t sure that she would receive.

    I signed with a flourish. She grabbed my arm in a fierce pinch, dragging me up into the dirigible’s stateroom. "I say, my dear girl—" My words jammed in my soft palate.

    I was facing my wife. She was, incongruously, carrying a spoon.

    "I’m not sure I need to watch—" I said. The swords came down upon my skull, slicing my scalp, leaving my brain intact, if exposed.

    "He consented?" my wife hissed.

    "He signed the contract."

    "Excellent. A willing victim increases the salutary effects for zombies such as ourselves."

    My wife’s spoon dipped into my brains. She fed the assassin’s cat first.

  4. Spacey: Thanks for contributing. I really liked that! A lot more steampunky than my own and you tossed in a zombie bit at the end, which tickles my fancy quite dearly.