Last month we challenged our readers to a writing contest and they responded! We received three amazing entries that we’d like to feature today. Each one is an example of how different people can read the same writing prompt and take it in wildly different directions. The creativity of our readers never ceases to amaze us! Check out the original prompt and their entries below!
Write a story that begins with the line: “He wasn’t alone in the house…”
By Sanjoy Dutt
He wasn’t alone in the house, sitting on bed glued to his computer, working on an important presentation that would give him a chance to impress the CEO.
Maya walked into the room and sat in front of the dressing table combing her silky hair that flowed and covered half of her nightgown. Dipak observed her reflection in the mirror. Maya has remained as beautiful as she was when Dipak met her. Dipak was in love with her but her parents agreed to their marriage only after Dipak completed his management degree and got placed in a large corporation.
“Dipak, is this the presentation you were talking about?”
“How much raise do you expect this time?”
“My efforts have increased company profits, I’ve my fingers crossed.”
Maya walked to the bed, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.
“I feel bad for you,” she said resting her head on his shoulders.
“Why?” Dipak said as he felt Maya’s softness touch his elbow, her hand gently rubbing his back.
“You have to do all your important office work on the bed, you deserve a home office.”
“How can I work in the living room while Renu is watching TV?”
“The living room can’t be your office, sweetie.”
“I can’t afford to buy a bigger apartment now,”
“That old man will see us all dead before he dies,” Maya gasped.
“Please, darling! He has been a caring Dad and father-in-law and a great grandfather,” Dipak said.
“My parents could never spend a night with me because we don’t have an extra bedroom.”
“Plan a weekend in our farm house. They can spend the night with us and we will have a vacation.”
“We have been doing that for the last five years!” Maya said moving aside swiftly and sat at the edge of the bed.
“What do you want me to do?”
“There are many old age homes.”
Dipak’s Mom died when he was only thirty months. His Dad never remarried, instead his life revolved around grooming Dipak. Dad taught him to be kind, polite and courteous.
Once upon a time, Dipak’s 5’10” structure appeared chiseled out by a sculptor. Now, in his early fifties, the hairs around his temples have grayed, shirt bulges out around the midsection and biceps have also slacked. Life conquered by a craving, money and more money.
For the next few weeks, Maya kept influencing Dipak, “After marriage all husbands forget their promises. Before marriage you said, I will do anything for you, now I don’t matter to you at all.”
Dipak was on the horns of the dilemma, of a dutiful son, and the peace, tranquility of a married life.
After a week of deliberation, he selected to make Maya happy but noticed no response on his Dad’s face when he told him about the home.
On a weekend, Dipak left with Dad for the Old age home.
After two days Maya was upset to see Dipak return with Dad.
“Did he not like the place?” Maya asked.
“I could not be more selfish.”
“I understand nothing,” Maya exclaimed.
Dipak explained what happened, “I could not find the route to the Old Age home. Seeing me struggle Dad showed me the way to get there, I asked him if he had been there before, he did not answer.”
The place covered in lush greenery spread over some acres of land with a temple, a home each for the Old and abandoned children, a school, and a small hospital. The serenity of the place made me take a stroll around the property. When I returned I found Dad talking to an old priest very intimately.
Later when Dad was not around, I asked the priest, “Do you know my Dad?”
“I know you too my son! Years ago, someone abandoned you on the stairs of this temple. Your parents were here and decided to adopt you.” The priest smiled between his white beards.
I found my legs shaking, I was dumping the person who wholeheartedly gave me everything.
Later, I saw a man touch Dad’s feet and talked to him bestowing highest respect.
When I got closer Dad said, “There comes my son.”
I got the shock of my life, it was my CEO, who I have been trying to impress.
“Dipak you never told me you are my Guru’s son,” CEO said.
“I didn’t know you knew my Dad, Sir,” I fumbled.
“I wouldn’t have made it this far if your Dad had not supported me to continue with my education.”
Dipak’s eyes filled with tears, his voice choked.
“I was very mean, Dad will stay here forever, I’ll never complain I promise,” Maya lamented.
He Wasn’t Alone in the House…
By Tammy Mack
He wasn’t alone in the house, this much he knew. Pulling the pistol from its holster hooked to his thin leather belt, Kane pushed the front door open. Hearing it squeak, as if to announce his arrival to whoever waited inside. His heart pounded in his ears. Kane just knew that whoever waited inside for him worked for the Kai family. It had only been two days since Kane and his partner, Mark, had taken down the second in charge of the Kai family’s side business. Illegal guns, drugs, prostitutes. You name it, the Kai family had their grummy little fingers in it.
Taking in a deep breath, Kane pushed his way into the foyer of his small apartment. The bathroom door on the right was closed. He would check it after he cleared the living room. He slipped off his heavy work boots to quiet his search. He took a sideways glance into the small mirror on the left-hand side of the wall. It only gave him a small look into the living room, which unfortunately remained dark. If anyone was waiting for him in there, they were up against one of the walls.
Slowly, taking a painful effort to not make a bit of sound. Kane inched his way down the foyer and into the living room. Once he was on the cusp, he put his back against the wall and slipped his hand a half inch around the corner to flip on the lights. He was hoping that whoever the Kai family had sent to take him out had been sitting in the dark long enough for the sudden appearance of light to blind them. Giving him a slight advantage.
Once he flipped the light on, Kane all but jumped around the corner and into the living room. It was empty, and Kane stood there dumbstruck for half a moment before more than a dozen people leaped out from behind the couch, loveseat, and recliner that filled his living room.
“Happy birthday!!” They screamed at him.
Kane’s heart jumped up into his throat, as he tried to sneak his service weapon back into its holster. He hadn’t even realized it was his birthday. All he could think about was how he had not only put his life in danger by going after the Kai family but his fiancee’s life as well.
Carrie stood at the forefront of the mass of well-wishers, a frown on her face. From the looks of it all, she had put a lot of heart and thought into his birthday surprise, and he had nearly shot someone.
“I can’t even do this for you.”
“Maybe a reminder this morning that it was my birthday, and I wouldn’t have freaked out so bad.”
Carrie huffed, “Who needs to be reminded of their birthday.”
Kane sighed. “Well. At least I didn’t actually shoot anyone.”
Carrie eyed him carefully but shrugged. “I can’t be mad at you. It’s your birthday, and I knew you were on edge. Now, let’s do cake because I’m starving.”
He Wasn’t Alone in the House…
By Gretchen Mayer
He wasn’t alone in the house. The sounds coming from downstairs—muted scrapes, soft bumps—were increasing in volume and frequency. As near as he could tell, there were two of them.
Kevin cursed himself for deciding to leave the party early. “I’ll leave the door unlocked,” he had told his wife. “Stay and have fun. Just don’t drink too much.”
Lana had smiled, bent over and gave him a hot kiss. “You’ll get more of these when I get home.” He said goodbye to the rest of her family and wheeled down the ramp to his van.
Why hadn’t he armed the security system? Lana knew the code. He was fumbling for the cell phone in the pocket of his wheelchair when he heard footsteps approaching the stairs. The pocket was empty—damn! He scanned the room, finally spotting it on the bedside table. Turning the chair quickly in an arc he reached the table without making a sound. Beads of sweat were running down his forehead as he grabbed the phone and punched the 9. He was moving his thumb up to hit the 1 when the phone was smacked out of his hand.
“Oh, we’ll have none of that!” A tall, skinny man in a threadbare coat stood over him holding a hunting knife. “Hey, Leon, there’s someone home after all!”
The low rumble and the screech of a gate announced Leon’s arrival. A short, potato-faced man stepped into the room.
“Can you believe that, Joe? An elevator in a house—oh!” he said, looking at Kevin, realization slowly hitting him.
Kevin let his eyelids droop. “Please. I’m nearly blind and, as you can see, disabled. I can’t harm you and hope you won’t hurt me.”
“Blind, eh? Well, who drives that van?”
“I have an aide. He won’t be back until morning.”
There was a long pause while the two men seemed to slowly absorb this.
“Where’s the money?” asked Joe.
“I’ll give you anything you want,” Kevin said while at the same time thinking, ‘Just please leave before my wife gets home.’ He felt a breeze blow past his face—they were testing him to see whether he truly was blind. Then he heard someone snap their fingers by his ear.
“He’s blind, not deaf, you idiot,” Joe said. “Alright, then. Where is it?”
Kevin fumbled for the wheel of the chair, turned it and pointed. “Can you see the dresser in the corner?”
“Course we can, we ain’t blind,” Leon said, laughing at his own joke.
“Top drawer. Wooden box.”
Joe slid the drawer open and then lifted up a small piece of lace. “My, my, what have we here?”
Kevin flinched, knowing he’d made a fatal error.
“Where is the owner of these tiny panties?”
“She’s, uh, on a trip, visiting her mother.”
Kevin could hear the big man breathing hard. “Well, I think you’re a liar, so me and Leon are going to stick around until this lady shows up and then we’ll give her what you obviously can’t.”
Joe turned back to the dresser, tossed everything out on the floor, then grunted. “Ah, here it is. Only a couple hundred bucks, though. Gotta be more, big fancy house like this. Where is it?”
When he didn’t answer right away, Joe reached down and brought the knife across Kevin’s thigh, slicing open his trousers. Through his half-closed eyelids, Kevin could see blood pouring out of the wound, but felt nothing.
“Well, I guess you really are a crip. Now—the money.”
“In the elevator—there’s a safe hidden behind the panel.”
Both men stepped into the tiny car and Joe opened the panel revealing a small padlock. “What’s the combination.”
Kevin wheeled his chair closer. “Turn the dial all the way around to the left, past the two, then right to seven and left to four.”
He heard the man rattle the lock. “Wrong, dummy. You better give me the right number or I’ll push your damn chair down the stairs.”
“Those are the right ones. The lock is sensitive. You have to stop exactly on the number. Try again.” Kevin wheeled his chair closer. He was by the door now. Both men were bent over staring intently at the dial. “All the way around to the left……” Kevin said, grabbing the gate and slamming it shut. As the men turned, he threw the lever, locking the door, hoping they only had a knife and no guns.
“Son of a—“Joe’s curses were cut off as Kevin punched the button and the car descended. When it was between floors he hit the stop button and then the lock. The elevator would go no further.
Then he smiled hearing the tires of his wife’s cruiser hit the gravel drive.
Gretchen is a retired newspaper journalist with a degree in Sociology. She’s been published on several blogs and was the winner of the Operation Awesome Flash Fiction Contest. For more of Gretchen’s work, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter @GretchenMayer.