Posted by: Amy | June 16, 2012

Short Story, in response to Stephen King’s prompt

A few of my friends decided to write a short story based on a prompt in Stephen King’s memoir/how-to book “On Writing.” I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King, but this is a good book for anyone who is interested in writing.

I am a fan of Ray Bradbury, who died recently. This is my poor attempt at honoring him.



As fast as I could, I rolled up the pants of my jailhouse orange jumpsuit and threw on Dr. Margie’s raincoat. She remained on the floor, unconscious. It’s been a while since I’ve had to do something like that. I hoped she was going to be OK. She was a nice lady. Not that this all mattered. But I need to get out of here. I need to find my Sophie.

I grabbed one of the psychiatrist’s small decorative pillows from the couch and stuffed it down the jumpsuit and buttoned up the raincoat. Luckily Dr. Paula is on the chunky side. I checked the mirror again, this time more satisfied. No one is going to mess with a pregnant woman.

I opened the right-side drawer of her desk where I knew she kept her purse. I quickly went through it, pocketing cash and putting on her sunglasses. I glanced at the digital clock atop the filing cabinet. I have a few more minutes. I kept opening drawers and cabinets, hoping to find more money. At the bottom of the filing cabinet, I found a backpack. Clothes, small first aid kit, energy bars. It must be the doctor’s emergency kit. Every year, I made a similar one for Sophie to keep at school.

As I zipped up the backpack, I fought back the thoughts of Sophie, of Jay, his betrayal, my lockup. I needed to stay focused. I needed to get out of here. I needed to find Sophie and keep her safe before it was too late. Jay? I haven’t decided his fate. Not that it really mattered what I did now.

I looked at the clock again. I closed my eyes, focused on my breathing. The fire alarm shrieked, piercing eardrums. I went to the door and peeked outside.

“Please remain calm and exit this way,” a male voice commanded. Bailey, psych ward’s warden. I can see people rushing toward me toward the back exit. I slipped into the crowd. I kept my head down, backpack in my right hand, left hand placed on the side of my belly. This was the way I used to walk when I was pregnant with Sophie.

Chaos broke out despite Bailey’s call for calm. In the yard, staff members were chasing down patients as the fire began to rage in the cafeteria. I got caught in the mad rush for the doors and found myself outside in the parking lot. I willed myself not to break out in a dead run. I kept my stride somewhat brisk; I was “pregnant” after all. I crossed the parking lot and started walking down the street. I heard sirens in the distance.

First things first. I needed to get into regular clothes. See, Dr.  Margie? Would an insane person be able to think so clearly? Nope. And yet Jay was able to convince everyone that I was a lunatic because I was trying to protect Sophie. The Invasion was starting, but these stupid Earth inhabitants are too busy with their petty arguments and watching the Kardashians on TV to see that this … this reality, all that they know … will be wiped away.

They are coming. I know.

Because I am one of them.




  1. Interesting POV and nice twist at the end. I would have liked a little more background on “I fought back the thoughts of Sophie, of Jay, his betrayal, my lockup.” Also, I’m not sure whether she just acted on the spur of the moment to take advantage of the fire or if she is the cause of the fire. Just how dangerous is she?

    I’m so glad someone else did the exercise. I was feeling very lonely.

    • Thanks, Melody. I didn’t include a lot of background on purpose, thinking that would all be revealed later. I’m still noodling. 🙂
      This was a fun exercise. I’m glad you did it, too.

  2. Oh, I forgot to say Bradbury is one of my favorite authors as well. All the ones I grew up with are dying off. It makes me feel old…;-)

    • I am ashamed to say that I’ve only read “Fahrenheit 451” and that was only a few years ago! The book blew my mind. I keep meaning to read his other work. I suppose they will re-issue them now.

  3. Nice work, Amy. I loved reading the story in first person – it made the story feel intimate and immediate. Your pacing was spot-on – the story began intensely and continued to pick up speed without overwhelming the reader.

    There were two parts in particular that I don’t believe are necessary, as they broke focus and caused me to trip up. The first is “Jay? I haven’t decided his fate.” The second is “I can see people rushing toward me …” They’re not bad, I just don’t think you need them to propel the story.

    On a note of style–which, as we know, is highly personal–I would recommend changing your “to be+ verb ending in -ing” phrases, specifically “were chasing.” Again, not bad, but I personally found that if I replaced “were chasing” with “chased” while reading the story, it flowed better for me.

    Overall, amazing work that gave me goosebumps!

    • Thanks, Lynn. I appreciate your comments and suggestions. I will make the changes once I have a better sense of where I want to go with this. An alien invasion is cliche, but at the same time so much fun! LOL.

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