Palm Sunday is past, Easter is almost here.  Let's see where the prompt takes you.

The Judge

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Siobhan Muir lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband, two daughters, and a vegetarian cat she swears is a shapeshifter, though he's never shifted when she can see him. When not writing, she's dreaming about the heroes and heroines who make up her world. An avid reader of science fiction/fantasy since she was old enough to know other people wrote about their dreams, she has been writing stories and completed her first fan fiction novel at the age of 13. No, it will never see the light of day.

Siobhan believes in happily ever after, redemption, and communication, all of which you will find in her paranormal romance stories.

Siobhan is one of my favorite rising authors and a regular here at Motivation Monday.

Check out Siobhan's Her Devoted Vampire from Evernight Publishing

The Prompt

The streets teemed with people cheering

The Rules

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4/2/2012 07:36:50 am

The streets teemed with people cheering; some even throw confetti in the air. My senses hone in on my next meal. The ones that stand apart from everyone else, not really fitting in with the crowd but pretending that they belong, are the best ones; no one seems to notice their disappearance as quickly. The alleys are a maze similar to the catacombs below. I’ve learned each turn and shadow to memory. Even with it being full daylight, I can hide and move around without being seen.

The back of his neck is warm from the sun. My hand takes him quickly and I pull him into the rank urine soaked alley. His cry of surprise blends in with the cheers of the masses. I snap his neck with little effort and rip through his flesh with my teeth easily. The shadows of the Dumpster’s conceal us, no will know of my meal until much later—maybe when the homeless scour the place for some left over morsel or when the garbage workers come to empty the great green bins. It does not matter when, as I will be nowhere to be found by then.

My eyes open momentarily to show me her standing at the alley entrance. I lean back into the cover of the shadows, hoping she has not seen me and what I am doing. I cannot risk the encounter. I leave my meal and rush from between the Dumpster’s away from the crowd and…her.

“Why do you worry about a spectator?” the Darkness shrieks its disapproval at my cowardice. “Whoever watches can be the second course.”

I know she watches my escape, I feel her eyes hot on my back but I do not look back—I never look back. Will my fear be recognized; surely she will turn me in? She knows my description. She knows where I…lurk. Still I run, as I always do when she is concerned. I run from her for fear of what she will do to me and not because of what I can do to her. I know I can hold off the hunger if I choose and if I did not and devour her on the spot, I would merely think her as just another meal. However, the way I feel when she is near is too reminiscent of my feelings of Fine and I cannot allow such feelings again. Those feelings only lead to hurt and pain and broken promises.

@ChuckWesJ
405 Words

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4/2/2012 08:15:28 am

The streets teemed with people cheering. His smile would have been blinding without the intensity of the midday sun. Somehow the hero mugging for the adoring crowd made her nauseous. Dignitaries of high and low standing braved the baking sun to recite the deeds of the reckless youth—dragons slain, demons vanquished, natural disasters turned back, and myriad other accomplishments from grand to mundane. It made her feel empty.

She watched from her breeze-cooled balcony, shaded by awnings and cleansed by a modestly murmuring fountain. In the cold of her father’s shadow, her skin ached for the warmth of sun just out of reach. The warmth of the joyful people—the warmth of her hero. Yet she knew if she were to brave the outside, the heat would quickly overwhelm her.

He carried the world on his shoulders, time and time again exceeding all imagining reaching impossible victories. All the kingdom depended on him, and yet he was unburdened. In contrast she had only her family name and estate to concern herself with and the weight was stifling. Even flexing like a moron she felt her heart pull to the wild blonde. Hands that would never know the heft of a sword or scrape of physical labor clutched about the polished marble of her arm rests.

What she would give to be free and see the world through her hero’s eyes. Reverent silence pierced the city like a bolt from a ballista. She didn’t need to look to know why. She had heard the silence when the king made an appearance many times before. Though this was the first time it was punctured with a cheesy “heeey!” from the hero, complete with snapping fingers.

In recognition of the hero’s achievements the king announced to the assembled crowd, he was offering the princess’s hand in marriage to the bright youth. The young duchess finally stood from her marble chair and retreated deeper into her father’s apartments.

Of course the princess would get the hero.

333 words
@DavidALudwig

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4/2/2012 09:04:08 am

The streets teemed with people cheering. Who were they cheering for? I just had to find out. I hadn’t heard about a gathering in the city square, but here they all were.
I crept closer inching through the thousands of people. Who could this be...this person who was their object of idolatry? I heard snippets of conversations as I passed the thronged hoard.
“I can’t believe I’m here... making history.”
“We are pretty far away but maybe we’ll see her if she does a walkabout.”
Who were they talking about was the Queen and her consort here? Or was the bride, the heir apparent here?
“It’s not like she’s can even hear us.” I heard.
Who were they talking about? t.
People were happy and seemed in a party mood. I heard more snippets of conversation.
“She’s making history today.”
Who were they speaking of a sports hero?
The crowd surged forward and I began to worry I would be crushed. It was here that I heard more snippets that gave me great unease.
“But they’re only children. Shouldn’t they wait until they are grown, ”
I could hear the voices but I could not pinpoint the source of them. I cried out and was comforted by unseen hands. The crowd surged forward once again and I found I was trapped people on either side. My arms clamped by my sides, it was an odd experience for me. No one recognized me, I was truly incognito. I felt myself lifted higher over the crowd and up towards a dais and placed into waiting arms.
Aloud booming voice I recognized as Queen Adeline announced “King Aelfric and I wish to announce the betrothal of our son Alaric to Princess Margareta of the Prisis Lands. She is the infant child of Queen Beatrice and King Roscoe. And now the betrothal party begins.
So this is what the crowd was waiting for me, I thought held high in the air. I was engaged at six months old. The life of a royal is filled with difficulties and duties and this was my first duty. I must gurgle, smile and appear the perfect child, their perfect Queen to be.
363words
@SweetSheil

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4/2/2012 12:02:01 pm

The streets teemed with people cheering at the tops of their lungs. Cries rang out in the native gibberish. I understood it, if I bothered to listen closely, but I tuned out the noise and danced my way through the crowd.

In my ear, Jammer translated on-the-fly, and I listened for anything out of sorts.

“I got something, Sarge,” he said quickly.

“Copy that, Jammer. Position?”

“Northwest quadrant of the square. Got a hush-hush convo. Can’t make out all of it, but I definitely caught El Presidente’s name and mention of some highly explosive substances.”

“Any definitive threat?”

“Negative, Sarge. Just a possible.”

“Understood.” I lifted my hand to wave and smile. I saw the answering signal across the square. “Franco. Check northwest for possible activity.”

“Copy that, Sarge.”

Franco peeled away from the crowd, reeling like a happy, intoxicated reveler. A shadow at my side caught my attention. Tillman bumped into me with a cheerful apology and made a show of steadying me to steady himself. He pressed sloppy kiss against my cheek and a micro USB drive against my palm before stumbling away, cheering his idiot head off.

“Command, we have the data,” I said, pocketing the drive. “Permission to clear out.”

“Target confirmed,” Franco interrupted. “EOD, northwest, five meters to my right.”

Explosive ordinance demolition? Aw, shit. My eyes automatically sought the spot Franco flagged. A group of young men waved their flags and smiled. The looked like any one here.

Just like my team did.

Command confirmed the call for EOD with an ETA of ten minutes.

The cheering crowd surged in volume and agitation. Ten minutes would be too long.

“Jammer,” I said. “We need to take down that bomb now. The presidential motorcade is nearly on top of it.”

“Already on it, Sarge,” he said.

A hand fisted in my hair and yanked me about face. Fetid cigar breath turned my stomach. A small pistol tried to ram up under my left breast but ran hard into the body armor beneath my loose clothing.

The man stifled a curse, his planned end for me stymied. With a fierce grin, I grabbed his wrist and introduced it to my Yarborough, the utility blade plowing through skin and cartilage. I yanked the knife free, making certain I caused as much damage as possible. The gun clattered to the cobblestones beneath our feet. I lifted my skirts to show off my ACU boots. I kicked the gun clear, then smashed my sole into his howling face.

“Command, we are compromised,” I called. “Franco, Jammer, Tillman. This is Bryant. Radio check. Over.”

“Franco. Okay. Over.”

“Jammer. Oka—” The word ended in a gurgling shout. I saw Tillman leap through the crowd, heard the unmistakable report of rifle fire.

The people closest erupted in a stampeding frenzy, their fear rolling through the crowd like a tidal wave. I fought against the tide to reach my team.

Tillman caught me close, pulling me with him.

“We have to run.”

@caramichaels
500 words

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4/2/2012 12:54:06 pm

The Emperor’s New Suit
By Lisa McCourt Hollar

The streets, teemed with people cheering, flowed crimson with the blood of the politicians. Tax after tax had been levied against the people, unemployment at an all-time high, while the cost of gasoline and food continued to climb, until something had snapped inside of them. Discontent with their government, untrusting of those who promised a better future, only to break their vows, while lining their own pockets with the money they’d stolen, the populace rose up and fought back.

A week of celebrating led to the main event. The man who had led the rebellion was holding a press conference on the steps of the Senate, the bodies of their false prophets still swaying in the wind. They had been left as a warning of what could happen when one thwarted the will of the masses. Young children had used the corpses for target practice, shooting the decaying flesh with bb guns and rocks. Some pretended they were David, bringing down Goliath and slingshots became the weapon of choice. They all waited eagerly to hear from their hero, as he climbed the steps, scattering carrion along the way.

David, ironically, was his name. He began speaking about how they had broken their shackles and were now truly free. The crowd cheered. He spoke about a provisional government, of jobs and food for all. The crowd went wild. A few among them questioned how this was going to be achieved. There would have to be a tax, of course, but it would be a fair tax, unlike before.

A few among them grumbled? How would this tax be different than the tax before? The rich were gone, David said, gesturing to the swaying bodies. The people would be the rich now, working for themselves and lining their own pockets.

The crowd roared, pleased with David’s words. They were fine words, filled with promise and hope for a better future. Some even believed him, turning a blind eye to the new suit he was wearing.

Word Count: 333
@jezri1

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Jake Wilkins (journeyman6216)
4/2/2012 02:35:41 pm

The streets teemed with people cheering as another fire engine roared by. The last shimmers of daylight waned.

“Man,” Sel thought, “these shore towns love their parades.”

Part of him wanted to join in. But he pulled his focus back to the woman thirty paces ahead of him. He watched Anna walk, taking raw pleasure in the movement of her hips and the sight of the tattoo peeking out above the top of her jeans. He knew the curve of her back and the smell of her hair and could still taste her kiss and feel her skin beneath his fingers.

He’d never felt close to anyone before Anna. “The job” always got in the way. Falling for her had made him want to protect her. He even left once, walking away so she wouldn’t have to witness the madness or become one of its victims. But the lure of Anna proved stronger than “the job”. Winning her back hadn’t been easy but they’d made it work.

Now as he paced her steps he knew what had to be done. Imperceptibly, his hand brushed the large sharp blade hanging under his jacket. He focused on the heavy knife strapped to his ankle and felt a chill remembering from experience the force it took to plunge them in.

“What’s she doing?” he wondered as she stopped at another store window to peer inside. His mind was racing and he willed her to turn down a side street or alley.

As if reading his thoughts she turned down a darkening alley and toward the other end, leather tassels on her sleeves whipping as her pace quickened. Caught off guard by the speed of her move he raced to catch her. Panic set in as he rounded the corner. She was gone.

Sel moved cautiously, searching. He scanned the alley. But it was the tingle on the nape of his neck that told him his mistake. In an instant she was on him, crashing in from above, the blow knocking him into the brick wall.

Sel reached for his blade but there was no time. He saw blackened lips curl back over deadly fangs as her feral yellow eyes narrowed.

As she prepared to spring again her left leg lurched from underneath. A loud “ZING!” struck the air as a silver blade severed the rest of the leg and made contact with the concrete. A final flash of a silver stiletto to the throat and it was over. Instantly, the beast began changing to human form. When it was done a woman lay lifeless in the alley.

Anna crouched close by, eyes wild, one last stiletto in hand just in case.

“God, you’re hot when you hunt,” Sel said.

“Been chasing that bitch since Fort Worth,” she said. “Figured it was your turn to be the bait.”

“Send me a memo next time the plan changes,” he smirked.

Anna kissed him. “Let’s go,” she said. “I love parades and I want cotton candy.”

Word Count: 500
@JakeWilkins3

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4/2/2012 10:45:14 pm

The streets teemed with people cheering. They were happy that the lost princess was found. She had been sent away as a babe to protect her from the court machinations until she was old enough to come claim her throne. The young knight sent to get her rode by her side and they couldn’t stop smiling at each other.

Samra sighed and rolled her shoulders as she traveled behind them with the other guards that had gone with. Yes, yes. It was all very lovely. Lost princess, blah blah. She was happy for the kingdom, her people. The current rule had been full of assassination attempts on the king ever since the Lady Queen had died two years ago. His health wasn’t the best and perhaps he was tired of the wolves eyeing his throne before he was even dead in the ground. There were a few women on the King’s Guard and chances were they would be the ones on protection detail for the princess. Everything was so happy and joyful and she was surprised rainbows weren’t sprouting all over.

She wanted to work on her jousting and sword play. The fact that she had her own gaze on a higher seat in the guard didn’t help. She was going to have to put all of her own dreams on hold until things were settled.

“No pouting though. Maybe I’ll get you a pretty dress so you can wear makeup and go to the ball.” The quiet voice spoke beside her.

She turned her head to glance at Jaron grinning at her from his horse. She made a face at him. “I will smack you and shove the dress down your throat.”

A small snicker. “Temper, temper.”

“You’re not the one who is going to be picked for guard duty until the coronation.”

“Think of it this way. Maybe you’ll do such a good job, they’ll promote you.”

Samra thought about that and nodded. “That would be nice but I wanted to do it on my own merit.”

“Take what you can get, right?”

She made another face at him, looking forward just as the Captain glanced back and called out an order to halt in front of the steps by the castle where the King stood. It was a joyful reunion.

* * *

“The Princess is DEAD!”

Samra stared at the grisly scene within the chambers that had been set up for the girl. “How the hell did they get past? I was standing at the door the entire time.”

The Chamberlain glowered at her, a thin beringed finger pointing into the room. “Obviously they were much better than one of the King’s Guard. ARREST HER!”

His personal guards surged forward to grab her arms as she struggled. “I told you, I didn’t hear a thing. You were the only other person to enter the room!”

“You’ll be lucky if you don’t lose your heard, girl.” The man sneered at her. “Take her to the dungeon!”

499 words
@solimond
Possible #WIP500 story

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Ryan Strohman
4/2/2012 11:35:09 pm

“The streets teemed with people cheering. At first it was only a few, then dozens, hundreds, and thousands. They poured out of buildings, clapping and hugging. It was an epidemic. Crowds began snarling traffic, bringing the city to a standstill. Jubilation had run rampant.

Riot police were called in to control the civilians and retain order, but soon they were overcome with happiness and frenetic merrymaking as well. They tossed aside their orders and joined in on the applauding and dancing.

Everyone seemed to forget their problems. For those few moments they had cast aside their burdens and tribulations, instead relishing in the joy that had overtaken the city.

After hours and hours, the partying began to die down. Slowly, over the course of nearly half a day, the masses began to disperse. The streets were littered with trash, making them look more like a landfill. City workers spent days cleaning up.

As social scientists tried to make sense of the incident, they had discovered that the entire city had become filled with optimists. People greeted total strangers warmly, held open doors, put away their mobile devices in public unless they absolutely needed them. Drivers ceased honking their horns and allowed others to merge in or pass without complaint. Crime decreased. The population had changed.

But unfortunately it did not last. As people outside the city began hearing of the wonderment, they began to visit, and their curiosity brought on twinges of xenophobia. They could not understand, and their attitudes began to rub back off on the citizens of the city. Meanwhile the citizens had returned to their daily lives, burdened with their debts, stress, busy schedules, or whatever troubled them. Discontent began to prevail again. The time of happiness was gone.

Incidents like this happen time and time again, perhaps not always to that extreme, but enough to make me wonder why the masses just can’t retain their positive outlook on life. Optimism after presidential elections, hope and togetherness after tragedies, joy after sports teams win championships. The happiness never lasts though.

Life is fleeting. Find that moment of happiness for you and stay there, before your ride on this planet is over.”

The students all yawned, stood up, and left the classroom, their expressions ranging from boredom to apathy—in other words total listlessness. Only one, a cheerful blonde young lady, approached him and said, “Thanks for the awesome lecture, Doctor.”

403 words
@rastrohman

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Bob Mahone
4/2/2012 11:39:55 pm

SANDFORD’S SON

The streets teemed with people cheering. Nearly thirty thousand, by some estimates. They had all turned out as a visual legacy of one native son. A youth, as of one born out of due time. One who drank of the cup of sorrows for us all. Cut tragically short by a blast heard at the end of the most haunting of cries for help.

But this day was to advance the cries for justice. Not for the disproportionate incarceration kind that spawned “Just us” as comic rue. But to celebrate the perpetual fervor for the justice that attends to the liberty assured by the rule of law. Liberty that is advanced and protected when people heed the officers of our law.

The people in these streets were crying out for this son’s right to freedom from prejudice. Their free assembly was to demonstrate that a hooded multitude does not denote a throng of hoodlums. That a dark-skinned individual is not devoid of the light of life; is not a “fucking coon” seeking to get away with something. What? Skittles.

Beat

The beauty of that day will fade in some minds as justice proceeds. In pursuit of truth, under an adversarial justice system, lines of demarcation will both harden and blur. The blood of the erstwhile son will silently cry out from the earth. The probable defendant will be proclaimed the victim. The media will call attention to the slightest minutia, and grant spin platform to the most biased of accounts.

Selah

“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” Although the death of His saints is precious in His sight, He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Despite reports to the contrary, the cries from the street were not for death. They were for justice for Sanford’s son. Let the truth be heard!

@Computilizer
312 words

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4/3/2012 01:22:54 am

The Grand Heretic

The streets teemed with people, cheering
with a variety of unrestrained fervor that
the State, as a matter of policy, neither
condoned nor tolerated.

Had this wanton display of enthusiasm
possessed the potential to become
commonplace it would have, most certainly,
been snuffed out. It would have been
crushed with the same brutal efficiency by
which the State provided a "sustained
atmosphere of good order and discipline" to
its citizenry. But this was a singularly
unique and remarkable occurrence that the
State, wielding all civil power, could afford
to be magnanimous.

Today, the whole world would be permitted
the opportunity to participate in the public
vilification of he who the State had
proclaimed to be The Grand Heretic. The de
facto leader of the seditious societal
subculture known as the Artists' Enclave
had, at long last, been run to ground.

This very day, punishment would be
imposed and sentence would be
pronounced and carried out on Professor
Anton Schopenaur. His crimes and
aberrations were legion and included:
author/essayist, painter, sculptor and a
dozen more such forbidden proclivities.
Those would all be brought to a final,
unequivocal end by the very society he had
violated in such an unrepentant manner.

To those of us who had known him in what
came to be known as the Unfettered Times,
Anton was not the same man the State now
held. He was a mentor, a colleague, a
confidante and a friend. His was the calm
voice of reason and of artistic acumen. He
was creativity personified in the shell of a
quiet and unassuming soul, desirous of no
more than the opportunity to express that
creativity without regard to political
acceptability.

With the advent of the Age of Proscription,
the world transformed itself into a wholly
strange and unknown environment with no
place for the likes of us. While the truth of it
is that none can say who first proposed the
need for the Enclave, history has placed its
establishment firmly at the feet of Anton.

It is a fact, disputed by none, that his was
the single most ardent voice that rose in
opposition. No state or State had the right
or the rightness to dictate what were to be
acceptable and sanctioned forms of
expression. To assume otherwise was an
unforgivably specious and flawed belief. To
the very end, he never spoke or felt
otherwise.

As he was led past, his body bloody and
broken, simple prudence dictated we feign
the sentiment of the masses. In our hearts
and souls, however, we wept bitter tears,
not for the loss of a sage politico or of an
iconic rebel, but for the quiet man who only
wanted to be free to be himself.

450 words. @klingorengi

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