This week's judge has also suggested the prompt for this week.  As it happens, the prompt coincides with my recent experiences, besides I thought it sounded fun, so here we go!

Shameless Promotion

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The Spirit of Poe
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The Judge

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From the moment she hit the Flash Fiction circuit, Rebekah Postupak has been making a name for herself, not just as a winner and judge here at Motivation Monday.  She racked up wins and Honorable Mentions at most of the competitions within her first two weeks.

And now a message from our judge:

"What a pleasure to take the judging reins this  week,
and not just because it means a breather from Motivation Monday's  fierce
competition. I'm terribly excited to read what you come up with; I am certain
you will take the prompt places I'd never have imagined  (like you always do).
Now pick up those sharpened #2 pencils and get to  work!"

The Prompt

The sign read, "No howling."

The Rules

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  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the
    first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the
    prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an
    unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted
    by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be
    invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the
    one on the right.
  6. Have fun!


Example Story

Read, Spot, Read
By Wakefield Mahon

The sign read “No Howling”.  

Remind me to add literacy to the list of talents to teach the puppy.  My  wife brought home a two-year old Rottweiler/ Doberman this weekend.  He has  the brawn of a Rottie, the bravery of a Dobie and all the brains of a Labrador  retriever. 

I’m not sure which was more embarrassing, the fact that DJ  was howling at the moon like a werewolf in heat, or that the “moon” he was  serenading was on the marquee of the newest strip club in town, Full Moon (now  there’s an original name for you).

When a tall lanky woman stalked out the  door and towards us, I tried to yank on his harness but DJ set stubbornly in  place.  It was hard to tell in the dark, but I had the feeling his hackles  were raised.

“Excuse me, can’t you read the sign?”

Lack of sleep  exacerbated my naturally snide nature - DJ had kept me up the previous night  pacing.  I gave an exasperated sigh.  “Sure, I can read just  fine.  But little DJ here is still having trouble with his ‘N’s.”

The  woman’s hard expression gave a slight upward tick.  “A man should never  have a dog he can’t control.  It’s very unsexy.  Tell your ‘little DJ’  this is a place of business.  He’s disturbing my  customers.”

Unintentionally, I glanced over her.  Her face looked as if  she’d lost more than one knife fight.  And her body?  Well, let’s just
say she made aeon flux look positively plump.

Her grim smile turned up into a  snarl.  “Yes, genius, I’m the manager.  But I assure you I get plenty  of play.  Now, why don’t you and your pup run along before I lose my  patience?”

I pulled on the lead but DJ started growling. 

Heat  rolled off the woman as she growled back and lunged forward with teeth that were  anything but human.

Full Moon, feral expression, anxious dog… werewolf?   I yanked my silver cross from my neck and held it in front of DJ.

Faster than  I could blink she grabbed the necklace and tossed it down her throat.  “I  prefer gold, but I’ll forgive your insolence since you offered me a gift.”

“What are you?”

She burped and burst of flame erupted from her  mouth.  “Silver always gives me indigestion.”  Her skin began to turn
red and scaly and her took on a catlike shape.

DJ yelped and finally took off  down the road.  I gladly let him drag me.  What are dragons doing in a  place like this?

426 ineligible words
@WakefieldMahon
 


Comments

07/23/2012 10:12

"The sign, Red."

"No."

Howling in frustration, she tore her arms against the restraints and kicked the bucket she'd been sitting on flying; it caromed off two walls and rocked to rest against my wheelchair, upside-down.

I glanced down at it, then back to her, pressing my index fingers against my lips in reproach. She huffed, glaring at me, before turning aside and lowering her head.

We went through this all too often, and my patience was wearing dangerously thin.

"You're why we can't have nice things."

"Like you? When were you ever nice?" I wasn't nice, either. She ignored the taunt.

"What's it going to take to get you to let me out of here? Presidential pardon? Act of God? The Doctor?" It looked hard to pace with both arms shackled to the wall like that, but she managed, if only one short step in each direction.

Actually, I'd probably let her go for that last one. But she didn't need to know that. Not until she gave me what I needed, and I could be very, very patient.

Reply
07/23/2012 12:43

The Priest and the Werewolf
By J M Filipowicz

The sign read, “No howling.”
The man’s face was scowling,
The moonlight concealed by a cloud.
But soon in its round glow,
The man’s fangs and fur grow.
And he can’t help yowling out loud.

The sign reads, “No howling.”
The wolf stands there growling,
At a priest with a cross and gun.
Silver bullets to kill,
And the wolf’s blood to spill,
To avenge the death of a nun.

Though that priest took a vow,
He loved her anyhow,
The nun with the beautiful smile.
He resisted the lust,
And asked God why he must.
He wished he’d lain with her a while.

The priest found his sweet love,
Her face white as a dove.
Stone dead on the floor of her room.
Bloody paw prints showed him,
Who the killer had been.
So he plotted the werewolf’s doom.

His faith in God shaken,
And his true love taken,
The priest aims straight for the beast’s heart.
And then as the beast dies,
The wolf howls , whines and cries.
And the unholy changes start.

Now the priest sees a man,
Lying dead at his hand.
This monster, this beast from the wood,
Was his nephew, poor soul.
Now the priest’s heart turns cold,
He murdered his own flesh and blood.

Words 212
@SuperHappyJen

Reply
07/23/2012 13:07

The sign read, “No howling”, that hung from the large glass pain in the door. I shook my head and entered the lodge. The thin squirrel of a man looked at me anxiously as I approached.

“I need a room for the night.”

His nose twitched side to side as I spoke.

“Of course, sir,” he said and turned to the cubbies. His hand ferreted into one then another before retrieving a key from the third. “Room 13, up the stairs, to the left.” I took the key from where he placed it. His hand skipped around the spot it had been. “Check out time is ten in the morning and please sir, no howling.”

“What?”

“No howling, it disturbs some of the guests and quite frankly, me.”

I replied with a shrug and headed up the stairs. The thick blinds covering the windows did not allow light in. I flipped the switch next to the door. The lights flickered then bounced to life, lighting the room with an orange glow. I pulled the layers of drapery away from the windows and watched the woods turn grey as the sun went down.

I’d been hunting Walter for so long, it was almost sad that this would be the end of it. All I had to do was wait a few hours, and then I could move on with my life. He was a tricky bastard that was for sure. I have learned trickery that last five years, too. Would he be very surprised to see me here or even be surprised to find out I how came to be here?

The pull of her became stronger and I knew it was time. I left lodge and walked into the forest. A chill swirled in the evening air. The shadows became stronger in the forest but not a sound was heard. Her silvery light splashed in pools in small clearings of trees. I felt the changes wanting to happen and took off my clothes. I sniffed him on the air and snarled a toothsome grin.

He stood in a clearing, her light pouring down on him but he remained unchanged.

“I see you’ve decided that it’s easier to join me than to fight me,” he said with a sarcastic laugh. “It’s a much better condition, isn’t it?” He asked, not expecting an answer.

Walter thought too highly of himself. The only way for me to find him was to make this sacrifice. I would never be able to be near my family again or anyone else when the moon shown fully in the sky. I leapt through the air and watched him begin to transform into a great dog. Before he finished his change, my teeth pierced firmly into his neck. I twisted my head side to side to bring him down. I heard sounds of laughter come from him and then his breaths were hard and shallow.

“You are now me,” he whispered his final breath.

@ChuckWesJ 496 words

Reply
07/23/2012 13:17

The sign read, "No howling." Yet it seemed to act more like an invitation. Those who read it took no heed to follow the warning.
And it was a warning. They obviously didn’t understand what inflection they’re using when belting out in the moonlight.
They could’ve been saying anything. And it would be in their best interest not to say something rude.
I heard the howls in the distance and shook my head.
It wasn’t rude, this time, but it always lifted his spirits when he thought there’s someone else out there like him. He won’t be happy when he finds that the howls were merely trespassers ignoring the sign.
I shrugged.
I didn’t like cooking anyways.
At least my husband wouldn’t go hungry.
124 words
@theglitterlady

Reply
07/23/2012 13:40

The sign read, ‘No Howling’, and it was not the first time I’d seen it.
I’d been coming to this particular bar for five years, and I’d sat at the same table for three of those.

Everyone greeted me when I came in, the bartender gave me my drink before I ordered it, and everyone knew to leave me alone.

I’d not made one friend in the establishment, or any enemies, but we had a mutual silent respect for each other. I didn’t ask them questions, they didn’t ask me, and it had worked just fine – until now.

“Red, get that pup out of here,” Ned, the Bartender, said.

I looked up from the bottom of my glass just in time to see Red grab a teenager by the scruff of his neck, and toss him out.

Ned rolled his eyes at me, and I gave him a nod in response.

The door slammed open, and because I was certain it was Red, I didn’t bother checking.

“Hiya, Lyta,” a voice said.

I nearly choked on my drink, but I managed to keep it down.
Slowly, and precisely, I set the glass down, and looked at him.

He looked the same; long rugged slightly dirty hair, a week old beard and a broad jaw to match it all. It didn’t take long until he was sitting next to me, about half a second – too fast for human eyes.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, and leaned back in my chair.

I couldn’t look at him, in case he was angry, or happy to see me. Both would end my life.

“Looking for you, always looking for you,” he answered.

He sounded smug.

“Garrick, this is not the time or the place,” I said, and downed the last of my drink.
“I think it is,” he countered.

He smiled broadly and his white teeth shone in the light.
At first, I didn’t think he would, he wouldn’t be that reckless. But I was wrong; because, as I watched his teeth grew longer. It wasn’t long before he had a pair of fully erect fangs glistening in his mouth.

My face grew pale, and my heart beat faster, not because of fear; no, but because I knew what this bar was.

Red and Ned, the brothers who owned the bar, took one glance at Garrick, and that brought on what followed.

The howling started, and it could not be stopped - not until they’d hunted us down. My secret was out.

“You’ve had your time alone to discover yourself, and now it’s time to come home,” he said, and lifted me into his arms, and rushed us out the door.

Garrick could fly, the shifters could not, and once again we would out-run them. This was my last attempt at finding freedom; this was my last taste of what it was like. Before the sun set, I would be bound to him forever, and there would be no turning back.

Word Count: 499

@ChessnySilth

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07/23/2012 14:47

The sign read, “No howling.” Beneath that, “No blood drinking.” Then, “No demonic possession.” My eyes grew wider at each bullet point. A painfully neat, handwritten postscript added, “This establishment discourages supernatural activity on the premises. Management reserves the right to enforce policy and employee safety by any means necessary, up to and including the use of lethal force.”

“Wow. That’s blunt enough, I suppose.”

“Looks like my cue to leave.” Over my shoulder, Gray eyed the tidy storefront. “How do you suppose they go about ‘enforcing’ this?”

“Beats the hell out of me,” I said. “Frankly, I’m intimidated enough not to ask questions.”

“Truly? Tin and permanent marker?” He snorted. “It takes me seconds to shift into seven feet of claws and teeth and a sign worries you?”

“It’s either an all-in bluff, or they have the means to back it up,” I said. “Care to gamble which it is?”

“Ah.” Gray shifted on his feet. “No, I’m rather enjoying our living and breathing status.”

“Excellent logic. Maybe your Grandmother didn’t have the Oxford thing all wrong.” I elbowed him playfully.

“Only the high school dropout figured it out first,” he said. “She would be very put out by this development.”

“Put out?” I snickered. “Is she the type of woman who has vapors? Gets vapors? However it is one experiences these mysterious vapors?”

“You clearly don’t read enough historical romance, Red.” He clucked his tongue. “And corsets—the driving force of vapors throughout history—have been out of mainstream style for some time.” His blue gaze turned sly. “Although, I confess, I wouldn’t mind seeing you in one.”

I felt my face flame.

“Or getting you out of one, should you find yourself feeling faint.”

“Faint?” I felt faint now.

He ran a suggestive finger along the length of my spine. His breath warmed my throat, the only warning before his mouth touched my skin and I forgot—everything.

“Who works here?”

“One of the full-spectrums,” I managed.

“Which one?”

“I don’t know. We’re lucky to have pried an address from Gail.”

“Do we really need to go in?” he asked, his voice deeper than it had been moments before. His teeth scraped gently over my neck.

“No,” I said. “Wait. Yes.” I squirmed free of him, needing space to restore my sanity. “Bad dog,” I scolded.

His laughter caught someone’s attention inside.

The front door opened, and I nodded politely to the wizened woman eyeing us with canny suspicion, both surprised and pleased to see a face I knew from my youth.

“Are you the one enforcing the sign?” Gray asked.

“Aye and what of it, pup?” she said in rolling Irish tones.

I diplomatically hid a smiled behind my hand. I’d never met her before, but Saoirse ó Conchobhair—O’Connor in the modern tongue she rarely used—had a reputation in LSI. Simply put, one did not fuck with her, because she knew a thousand ways to fuck back. And she wouldn’t hesitate to use them.

@caramichaels
500 #WIP500 words

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07/23/2012 15:14

The sign read, “No howling.”

Vixie had always imagined moving to the city would be this exciting adventure, but day to day she got these little reminders that the city was its own special kind of dull. So many silly rules, though each must have an interesting story behind them. Living among so many people was as exciting as she’d dreamed growing up in the mountains; there were just details she hadn’t counted on.

Streets and buildings were constrictive, the multitude of commandments and prohibitions even more so. Cities weren’t open like the country, the air wasn’t as fresh. But there was always something going on, and new people to meet. The wild redhead didn’t regret moving to the bustling port, even if she often wished she could tear off her civility and run free.

She’d traveled all over the world, seen strange sights even the most learned of the city-dwellers wouldn’t believe, and encountered so many different cultures with so much to offer. In spite of it all, accents Vixie didn’t recognize still popped up regularly on the market streets and in the slums of her new home.

Cen had adapted to city life quickly. A craftsman by trade, the only adjustment he had needed to make was to realize that unlike back home, he could never finish all of his work. Enough people wore through their leathers every hour; the small-town tanner had to learn to keep hours instead of just working until the work was done. Now he enjoyed the routine, Vixie still hungered for something more spontaneous.

Adjusting their four month old daughter in her arms so little Missy could see, Vixie pointed past the sign at the dour woman trying to herd a mess of ethnic toddlers toward naptime pallets. The sign read, “No howling”, but was probably supposed to be a prohibition on crying.

“When you get older, we’ll show them what howling really is. Won’t we, Missy?”

Vixie was joking, of course, but still couldn’t help looking forward to her daughter’s first change.


340 words
@DavidALudwig

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07/23/2012 17:12

Here is last correction I apologize for other mistakes too long a day and not enough sleep

"No howling." ”No Howlers.” Coming home after an absence of fifteen years I saw on a sign just as I came into Veden, West Virginia. This sign looked to be six years old, but it was new to me.Had dogs been banned? Or were they aware of werewolves? I laughed at my own joke. Obviously the sign was code for something I didn’t know. I threw my long red hair over my shoulder and slowed the car to a crawl. There was a speed trap up ahead at least there always had been. Where was everyone? Veden appeared deserted. I saw Bob’s Gas and Fill and pulled in to fill up before proceeding to my Dad’s house.
“You’re not welcome here. Keep on going” the man in a hooded black sweatshirt commanded as he came out to my car under the canopy.
“Phil is that you it’s me Maggie-May.”
“Maggie-May? You should go back to the city there’s sickness here.” Phil explained.
“My Dad called and said he needed me, so I came home.”
“He’s gone...left last week. Now you should go.” Phil insisted.
“Okay.” I lied, it was late and his story made no sense. Why would Dad tell me to come if he wasn’t here?
The sunset as he said this and darkness seemed to set in quickly. Just as I was about to put my car in gear and drive to my Dad’s a figure appeared out of thin air.
“Who is this new blood in town, Philip?” asked the man.
“Monsieur Dubois, this is Maggie-May Beauregard.”
“Charmed to meet you, mademoiselle.” Monsieur Dubois replied ignoring Philip and put his lips to my hand. His lips were chapped and rough and when I looked at my hand a small amount of blood was on them.
“What is your first name?” I asked
“Antoine.” he answered smiling. Then began to tell me about himself, the changes in Eden and how sorry he was about my father.
I was flattered. I should be feeling nothing but grief but this man was touching my inner core with his manner and his words. What was wrong with me?
“Nothing is wrong with you. Come have dinner with me.” He answered as if reading my mind.
I accepted. A girl has to eat after all. I ate he picked at his food eating very little. He followed me to my father’s; it was there that the dog-like creature came out and tried to bite me but Antoine stepped in between and it left.
“There’s been a rash of them that’s why we put up the sign. Would you like me to spend the night?” Antoine explained.
I found myself nodding. One thing led to another and we ended up in bed. I felt him kiss my neck roughly, a rush of blood flowing from my neck, but I didn’t resist. Good thing I love the nightlife, for I’m now one of the many who live here in Veden or Vampire Eden.

Reply
07/24/2012 01:27

The sign read, "No howling." Folks who ignored it were so desperate for help that nothing was going to dissuade them from finding his front door.

It was safe to assume that just such desperation drove her to his shop. Hell of a storm brewing and nearly midnight, but there she stood, a tangle of gold hair and bare feet, rapping the dragon door knocker for all she was worth.

Course he opened up and let her in. Couldn’t let her stand out there and catch cold. Didn’t hurt that she had curves that’d make a man weep.

Containing her in the foyer, he said, “Let’s have it, miss, and don’t bother with theatrics. I’m impervious to tears.”

“There’s a man in Chinatown says you can cure ink fever.”

Only man left alive who knew that kind of dicey information was Lao. And if he gave it up, he was no longer alive. Not on this astral plane, anyway. Best to get her out of the shop because his world was about to get very small.

“Sorry you wasted your time,” he said, avoiding eye contact. ”Here, take this overcoat on your way out. It’s getting nasty out there.”

She dropped her chin and reached for the coat, but before he let go of it, she drove him against the wall and staked his sleeves to the stucco with a pair of double-edged daggers.

He sighed. “Is this the part where you tell me you’re going to kill me slowly for whatever crime you wrongly assume I committed? Because I have to tell you, not everything can be killed. Take me for example -”

She jerked the blade out of the wall and stepped back. “No. This is the part where I tell you that Chiu Luen Yee is on my tail and if you don’t use your ink fever cure to release my talisman, you’re going to wish you were capable of dying.”

“Show me,” he demanded, letting the coat drop to the floor.

She turned her back to him, hauled her shirt up over her head and showed him the ink.

“If that’s just a tattoo, the cure will kill you.”

She dropped her shirt on top of the coat. “Just do it already.”

He grabbed her arm, hurried her up a staircase into the attic and out onto the roof. Facing her to the east, he bent his face to her back and began to breathe against the ink.

Down on the street, a pair of black sedans pulled up to the house.

He drew in a deep breath and exhaled. Flame licked along the ink and the roof began shrieking as their bodies expanded. Moments later, they were fully fitted with claws, and teeth and scales.

She whirled on him, eyes wide with surprise. “Lao didn’t tell me - ”

He extended his magnificent wings. “He didn’t know, but wherever he is, you can be sure he’s having a good howl over it.”


- - - - -
@bullishink / 497 words

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07/24/2012 08:50

The sign read, “No Howling.”

Typical. She never did like much noise, but using the same word that was used for those tiny, yipping creatures… Well, that was just rude.

I bellowed, “Adarra!” and smiled, flashing my teeth in the waning light of the sun. That was nothing like a howl. Those stupid dogs couldn’t get that much echo if they all yipped in unison.

A growl came from the entrance to my right. I started to turn that direction before recalling her architectural prowess and her paranoia. She could very easily rig some sort of tunnel or something to project her voice to a different area of her lair. I stayed where I could see all the entrances – those that I knew of, anyway.

Her voice echoed from within, “What do you want?”

“To talk with you, you old hermit, so come out where I can see you!”

“Tridan?” her snout peaked out from the entrance a little ahead and to my left.

“Who else would come all this way to try to talk some sense into you?”

She inched out of the cave. I didn’t know if she was nervous or flirting. The way her scales shimmered in the setting sun gave me the shivers and I had to flap my wings and take a few sidesteps to calm down. She really should reproduce. It would be a shame to lose her coloring – the way her scales had that iridescent shimmer over that deep scarlet. She was breathtaking. The fire in my belly started to boil. Focus! I wasn’t here to court her!

“Why did they send you?” She was definitely frightened. I’d never seen a dragon try to hide in the open, but she was doing her best – head down, neck folded double against her chest, tail curled around the front of her – It was a pathetic picture.

“I’m not going to hurt you, force you, or even reprimand you. Please. We used to be friends.”

“That was a long time ago. Things change.”

“You know why I’m here.”

“The same as all the others?”

“Yes.”

“What makes them think I’ll give you a different answer?”

“I don’t know, but I told them I’d try.”

“What if I just say ‘no’ right now? Will you leave?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.” I paused trying to decide if I would leave. I didn’t want to. I’d forgotten how spectacular she was. How radiant! Imagine if she were to stretch that neck toward me! I put my head down so I could clear the image from my mind. It was as hard to think as ever with her around. “I don’t want to.”

I dared not look up. How would she respond? Would she ask me to leave? “What if I say ‘no’ and invite you inside?”

My head snapped up and I looked into her swirling, multi-facetted eyes. The rainbow of truth swirled around a very bright red spark.

Perhaps my trip wouldn’t be completely in vain.

498 words
@lissajean7

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Nellie
07/24/2012 08:53

The sign read, "No howling."

Gerry stared at it before pushing the broom past. The past few days have been strange. He tried to tell Mrs. Wilson about it, but the nurse stared at him before shaking her head, stating that she hadn’t heard the screams and the howls in the middle of the night.

He was beginning to think that he shouldn’t have taken the job at Hellam. He always felt like he was being watched and the head doctor never said anything to him. He wasn’t sure if the man just didn’t associate with the clean-up crew or he was just strange.

He jumped when there was a racket in the supply closet, heading towards it and pulling the mop and bucket along the way. He had to refill before finishing the floor and then he could go home. Buckets were spilling out and cleaning supplies were tossed all over the floor. He cursed under his breath. He never restock the cabinet, that was specifically done by Mrs. Wilson. Gerry did remember hearing that there was more in the basement. He cleaned up the mess and put everything away and threw empty bottles out before going to the friend elevator. Of all the things, the cogs and gears provided smooth transportation.

The basement was creepy. That was the first thing that came to mind. There were lights but they flickered and the gas lights were out. The generator must keep the lights going but to most of the other buildings. They flickered and case shadows across the walls.

The basement was also damp. He didn’t want to touch the walls as they looked slimy. Gerry wasn’t sure if he was walking in the right direction but he could always turn around. He pushed out a breath as damp palms were wiped on his jump suit. He felt that maybe he should report to Mrs. Wilson that the supplies fell out and let her get the refills. He shouldn’t be down here, he shouldn’t be after he was told that this was off limits.

The groaning noise startled him enough that he would have turned around and ran away and quit this job.

“You’re just foolin’ yourself, Gerry. It was the pipes, that’s all.” He glanced up at the metal rods that ran over his head. They hissed quietly but looked to be in decent condition.
There was another groan as he turned the corner but it was more guttural. Light flickered ahead and he heard quiet noises. Someone was saying a prayer. This was a bad place to pray at when the chapel wasn’t that far from the same building.

He stopped when he saw the shadow of someone standing over table.

“No, please..please. I’ll be good.”

The small whimpers had the hairs on the back of Gerry’s neck raising. He saw the shadow of something wiggling with lots of thick tentacles. Gerry didn’t give it much thought, only to turn around and run as something inhuman screamed.

500 words
@solimond


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