Two prompts recently filled


At a recent writers’ group meeting (most of us were fanfic writers) we were given prompts to pick from a hat and a time limit for writing.

My first linked prompts were: ‘a historical personage’ and ‘coming out’. That, in fifteen minutes, produced the following:

A ghost talking? I can see your disbelief. But we’re all ghosts now, those of us who were here two millennia before you. Yet to me it is yesterday and I need to tell someone about it. You’ll do.

The word in the forum was rumour built upon rumour until even the youngsters were scrawling their ideas on the walls; black, white and ochre graffiti. ‘Who the woman in the relationship?’ they scribbled. ‘Who the one shamed?’ Drawings asked questions as rudely as words; laughter came alike from merchant, soldier and slave. But no-one really knew the truth of it; it was all suspicion and turmoil, envy of those in high position, belief that leaders might or even should have feet of clay.

I could have told them. Throughout the campaigns, military and political, I remained silent and so did he. We never spoke of what we shared, even to each other, of the hot sweaty grappling that ended in heaven-sent release. The army was, in any case, a forgiving environment where what men did in tent or camp stayed there and did not follow them back to Rome. And yet it hurt, somehow, to pretend we were no more than friends or colleagues, hurt not to acknowledge the real, closer relationship.

We all knew events were spiralling out of control. We all knew secrecy could breed sourness on every side and that every public mask could hide a growing private bitterness. I knew in my heart that jealousy and a fear of power would eventually rot and spoil what we had together. But I had never thought that love could turn around as if from north to south, into hate.

I never intended to out myself or my lover. Then as I felt my life seeping away, the dagger thrusts hurting my heart more than my body, I could not help but say, with what I knew was a tone of injury beyond mere death, “Et tu, Brute?”


My second pair of prompts were: ‘Merlin (the show) or Arthurian legend’ and ‘threesome’. Another fifteen minutes gave me this.


Before the fighting began, before their armies were drawn up behind steel lines, before it was too late… and yet perhaps it was always too late? Anyway, they drank together, trying to find some way back. Drink loosened their tongues and their moods. Drink fuelled a pissing contest, real and metaphorical. Whose piss arced furthest? They were too drunk to measure with any accuracy. Who was the bravest? Gawain might know but he wasn’t there. Who was the most daring? They took time in a confused fashion to tease apart the ideas of bravery in the face of immediate danger and daring in rushing to face danger that had not yet appeared. Who was the best lover? They could hardly ask Guinevere.

The last two questions merged. It seemed the answer could be had from anyone, male or female. They did not so much invite Mordred as hijack him and take him to one of their beds. It wasn’t clear whose bed it was but Guinevere, at any rate, was not in it.

Consensual but very drunken sex followed. If they fumbled and were less than brilliant in their loving, well, all were drunk and unobservant. They all swore a solemn oath on the grail they could not see never to tell Guinevere, or anyone else. Mordred pronounced, his judgement as weighty as that of Paris but less intelligently reached.

Next day they awoke together but fled apart, each thinking someone had played a cruel hoax when they had been in their cups. None of the three could ever recall anything of the night other than a faint feeling that their relationships were not quite as they used to be. Not that, in the end, it mattered.

“Exit, pursued by a bear.”

250px-Monkey-typing                                                                                                                                   (picture in public domain)



“We’re supposed to be rewriting Shakespeare, not messing about researching Polar Bears.” Amy was always grumpy before the keepers brought their morning fruit.

“Not rewriting, writing all over again. But Polar Bears are more interesting. I saw some in the zoo once.” Adam always had a reply for Amy. Of course, he was the leader and was expected to keep everyone in order.

“When?” Amy was brave, questioning him, but then she was always brave. “When you went to the hospital?” Adam just sniffed but Antony looked admiringly at him. A trip to the hospital was an adventurous thing to have undertaken, even if occasioned by a septic toe. The grand outing had spawned enough tales to keep Adam’s image glowing with glory.

“They eat sheep.” Alan looked up from his research and announced this fact to the assembled group. “Well, they eat meat of any kind really, but at the zoo they eat sheep meat. It says here.” He gestured towards the screen. There was a silence, broken by Adam scratching his head.

“Any meat? You mean…” Perhaps a Polar Bear wouldn’t make such a good hero for their story after all. He shuddered and remembered the delicate look of the railings around the enclosure.

“But you’d keep us safe, wouldn’t you?” He knew without looking that that was Antony, so certain and trusting.

“It’s only a story, Antony,” he said, and Amy laughed, pointing at Antony and chuckling, her sides heaving with mirth.

“But you really would?” Antony was insistent and Adam reached out to fondle his head.

“I’m not God, Antony, even in the story,” he reminded him. “But I’d do my best. You know I would.” They all nodded, even Amanda, who was, as usual, distracted by the antics of baby Bill.

“None of us believe in God,” said Charles, leader of one of the other groups. There were about a hundred of them in the huge room and sometimes rivalries and tempers threatened to wreck the supposedly literary atmosphere. “I’m not sure,” he went on, “that we believe in you, Adam, or even in your hospital trip.”

There was a brief but extremely loud scuffle. When order had been restored Adam watched Charles walk away, cowed for the moment but hardly defeated. Charles looked, he thought, a little like a goat, with his wispy beard and the way his ears stuck up like horns. And those slitty eyes… He looked out of the window towards the enclosure where the petting animals grazed and browsed contentedly in the children’s corner. Yes, a goat. Perhaps the next stage in the plotting of the story would involve tethering Charles as bait for the bear. It was turning into quite an epic, with villains and heroes and suspense.

Antony was tugging at his arm, chattering in excitement at seeing his own hero defeat a rival. Antony’s attentions were very satisfying, Adam decided. He fondled the youngster again in a proprietorial manner and they settled to grooming each other, only half aware of Alan and Amy, who were considering a sub-plot of romance.

“If we had Adam and Antony…” Amy began.

“But we thought in terms of a Romeo and Juliet theme,” said Alan.

“Romeo and Romeo would have been just as intriguing,” Amy told him. “And now that you’ve introduced bears I think we have a bestseller on our hands.” And so saying, she grinned before peeling and munching noisily on a banana. The fruit had arrived and all was well with her world.