I don't think I could hang for 40 days in the desert.  Fortunately, I don't have to.

The Judge

Lets give a warm welcome to last week's winner and returning judge David A Ludwig.
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The Prompt

This week's prompt comes from a conversation well-known to most of us.  You are welcome, of course, to take it wherever you want!
"I can give you all of this"

The Rules


3/26/2012 02:24:31 am

“I can give you all of this.” Jakran’s hand swept across the vista before the tower window.

“That’s the thing, Jakran. I don’t want ‘all of that’.” Tricia waved vaguely.

He turned his golden eyes on her, his expression resigned. “What do you want, then? Lands?”


“Jewels and gold?”

“No.” Tricia wrinkled her nose in distaste. “That’s just stuff.”

“Power? There’s nothing more powerful than being Queen of the Goblins.”

“No, Jakran. I don’t want power, or stuff, or property.”

“Then what? I can give you anything you want.”

Tricia sighed. “Can you give me your heart?”

“Sorry?” he barked, a horrified look flooding his face. “My heart? But I’m still using it.”

“What? No, not physically. That’s disgusting.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Do goblin females really demand that sort of thing?”

“Only when going for King’s Consort.”

“Eewww.” Tricia grimaced and shivered. “No, it’s a human expression, meaning to give your love, heart and soul, to someone. I don’t want the organ in your chest, I want to be loved. I don’t need power, or jewels, or lands. I need…love.”

At his blank look, she shrugged and tried to swallow the disappointment. Maybe she’d spent too much time being human, but while every little girl dreamed about being a princess – or a queen in this case – she still wanted the happily-ever-after of the Disney films.

Jakran looked so regal and handsome, everything a prince, or a king, should look. But rag-sot-riches stories only worked if the people got together in the end, and Tricia would much rather be poor and in love than be wealthy and live with a handsome roommate.

“I can’t offer you that.”

“I know.” Her heart ached. Too bad she’d gone and fallen in love with him over that last few months. Stupid me. “Maybe you should just take me back to the human world and look for someone else. There are plenty of women in Las Vegas who’d marry a guy just because he won a big jackpot at one of the casinos. I’m sure you could find one who’d happily take on a whole Kingdom.”

“Tricia, I –”

She held up one hand to stop him. “It’s okay. I’m not right for you. I get that. I’m too needy for things you can’t give. Let’s just chalk it up to a learning experience and work on a solution.”

She gave him a false smile and turned away before the tears she swore she wouldn’t shed overflowed her eyes.

415 #WIP500 words

3/26/2012 11:35:48 am

Awesome. :)

Ryan Strohman
3/26/2012 02:27:05 am

“I can give you all of this,” she said with slurred words, undoubtedly from whatever drug coursed through her veins. She was pretty for a prostitute, and she was young with gorgeous blue eyes and a small beauty mark just to the left of her left nostril.

He nodded and followed her across the lot and back to a dingy motel, where they entered and he handed over the $50.

A half-hour later he left, satisfied, and trudged back up the street to his battered Plymouth minivan. He had no shame.

His cell phone began to ring, and he grabbed it and looked at the number. Chris, his lifelong friend, was calling. While he loved the man like a brother, his calls had been more and more frequent and demanding as of late. The man was obsessed with getting back at his wife for taking their kids in the divorce nine years ago.

“Hello, Chris. What do you need?”

“Will, I just heard from Sampson. He has a lead on Maggie and Scott.”

Will sighed audibly and rubbed his weary eyes. Sampson was a rival private investigator, notorious for exposing cheating lovers and digging up the detriment of society. Will specialized more in fraudulent insurance claims, background checks, etc., and ninety percent of his clients were companies and not individuals. The same could not be said for that greasy toad, Sampson.

“Chris, I can’t help you now. I just got done with some business, and now I have to go meet with a client.”

Chris hadn’t seen his kids in over five years. Not only had his wife taken them, but she had moved to California, remarried, and then was thrown in jail on a drug trafficking charge. The kids were now both over 18, and had he not been such a deadbeat for years, Chris would have had a better chance at reconnecting with them now that his ex-wife was no longer in the picture.

“You don’t understand, Will. They came back here. They are living here.”

“Wait, in town?” This was news.

“Yes, Scott moved here first. He got his GED and came back here to attend a technical school. Sampson thinks he changed his name, though.”

“OK, well, we may be able to find him. What about Maggie?”

“Well, she’s here too, but Sampson said she’s fallen on harder times. She’s a user, Will. And she may be selling her body…”

The words hit Will like a punch to the gut. Maggie, the little, spunky eleven-year-old, with sparkling blue eyes and a tiny birthmark near her nose.

After several long, silent moments, he softly uttered, “Chris, I have to go. You might want to try the old Rolling Hills Motor Lodge, though. It’s a hotspot for prostitutes and drug addicts.”

He hung up, thinking it would be impossible to ever look his best friend in the eye again. Who was the greasy toad now?

486 words

3/26/2012 03:26:03 am

A Cursed Land

“I can give you all of this,” Haydn stretched his arms out wide, his eyes sweeping over the vastness of the land behind him; the rich and breathtaking beauty that made up his estate.

Jessa hated to admit it; the property was beautiful. “I’m sorry but I cannot accept. It was kind of you to offer...”

Haydn brought his arms back down, and looked down at the red dirt. God. Look at this place. He dragged his shoe back and forth, creating a shallow trench and turning the toe of his shoe red in the meantime. Why would anybody want to leave?

“I’m sorry Haydn,” Jessa repeated. “I wish it didn’t have to be like this.”

Yes, I bet you do.

“I’m sorry,” Jessa replied then fled.

Haydn watched her, the skirts of her cream coloured gown dragging in the dirt, reminding him of blood.

A chill ran through him.

“Jessa!” the sound of Haydn’s own screams woke him. The sound of her name on his lips drove him to tears and men weren’t supposed to show their tears. Snap out of it!

He swallowed back the tears and forced air into his lungs. Welcoming the pain once more. At least the pain was real.

Just as Jessa had been, until he’d lost her.

“Damn you!” he screamed. “Damn you to Hell.”

He pulled the blankets tighter around him, seeking comfort in their warmth, as the last remnants of the dream – and Jessa – left him.

He’d wanted her, but she hadn’t wanted him and in the end it was the land that had claimed her.

“Some women are just made more fragile than others, son,” his father had told him, the day of Jessa’s funeral. It was cold comfort then, and no more bearable now.

“I’m sorry Jessa,” Haydn whispered into the empty room. “I’m sorry, so very sorry.”

Those were the words he should have uttered when she’d been alive. Instead, he’d driven her away and for what? The desire of her body? How pathetic. He could have had any woman. Instead he had to go after the one woman who hadn’t wanted him, and it had cost her. She hadn’t known this area as he did and so she’d faltered; the dirt and the heat tripping her easily until she was at their mercy and death had his hands all over her.

397 words

3/26/2012 03:35:37 am

"I can give you all of this." Clara indicated the crafts on the table. "I can give you anything except this pendant."
Morrigan's impatience rose like steam from his forehead but he swallowed his frustration. "I'm sorry, young lady, but that's what I came for."
The native village girl stood in defiance at the outsider, by the looks of his cloak, from the imperial courts. "Well then you'll have to go back empty-handed. I'd rather die than give it to you."
The menace in the stranger's glare sent ice trickling through Clara's veins. "That can be arranged if necessary."
Clara shrank back covering the pendant around her neck.
The old man sighed. "Listen, we don't have to go through all of this nonsense. I am prepared to offer you a very large sum of money for such a silly trinket. Surely, you can't be that stubborn."
"I won't take any amount of money. My father gave it to me when I was a baby."
"Then your father was a thief." The menace returned to his voice as he towered over Clara.
Clara smacked him without thinking. "I never knew my father but I know he was no thief!" She turned to run away.
Morrigan grabbed at her necklace. The spark made him withdraw his hand immediately. "It can't be," he said.
The momentary confusion allowed Clara to get distance between them.
"Wait!" He cried out with a very different tone then before, but she refused to stand around and find out why. She disappeared into the wood where only the wild ones go.
Jartan, from the imperial guard rode up to the camp. "Did you find her?"
Morrigan weighed his options for a moment. If he was right… "No, she's not here. I'm afraid the trail has gone cold."
"Let's get out of here then." Jartan spit on the tent. "I don't want to catch poverty by touching one of these scum. If we're lucky Lord Chamberlain will let us keep our heads. Two years we've looked for this thing, I'm beginning to doubt it exists."
"Oh it exists," Morrigan said carelessly.
"How can you be so sure?"
Morrigan pasted on a smile. "Let's just say I've felt it's power more than once in my life." He mounted his horse and rode away.

3/26/2012 03:57:38 am

"I can give you all of this" Brett offered
“All of what? Just what are you offering me?”
“Life and so much more.” Brett quipped.
You’ve still told me nothing.” I complained.
“Eva I give you choice that others don’t have. Take it.
“And if I don’t accept?”
“Death will follow.”
“I don’t understand any of this Marco.”
“I am what you envision.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“Drink Eva and you will find your true path.”
I was thirsty and I drank deeply of the cup he proffered.
“Now you are one of us.”
“One of you?”
“In drinking of the cup you accepted our way of life.”
“I accepted what way of life?”
“Eva, my bride, you are my life partner and now my partner in eternity.”
“You mean I am...”
“Yes you are my Vampire Queen.” Marco explained.
140 words

3/26/2012 05:11:37 am


“I can give you all this and more.”
Melanie looked over her sunglasses at the crystal water of the wading pool. The manicured grounds of the multi-million dollar mansion were perfect; not a single flower or blade of grass out of place.
“You’ll never want for anything, Melanie.”
He was suave and handsome, to be sure. But Melanie had no problem attracting the affections of handsome men, it was her blessing and curse to be seen and desired; but never known and loved.
“All you have to do is say…yes.”
The Tiffany’s diamond ring was stunning, hand-crafted to accentuate her slender fingers. She knew it would come to this someday, having grown up with wealth and surrounded by puppet-people.
“…we’ll have the ceremony in the Hamptons, and honeymoon in St. Barts.”
Accept the ring and live a life of comfort. She would live in self-imposed slavery to a man with no values beyond: I want.
“…two kids and a pekinese…”
Her new identity, fake passport, and ten thousand dollars in cash, were sitting in her purse.

3/26/2012 05:15:33 am

And start a new life where no one GIVES her anything. If I want it, Melanie thought, I’ll fucking TAKE it.

(last line got chopped off - sorry!)

3/26/2012 06:38:18 am

“I can give you all of this.” The violet glow from the syringe cast eerie shadows on her frightened face.

“And then what?”

“It’s the new medicine. You’ll sleep until after the plague has passed.”

She looked from the syringe to his face, shaking her head in disbelief. “This isn’t happening, Trevor. Is it?” Her chocolate eyes were huge and round.

“Didn’t you see the news?”

“No, I…” The crash of metal cans hitting the building nearby made her jump into his arms, her hair a strawberry-mango swirl of softness. Growling and scraping noises had her clutching his arms. “Those things out there, I saw them eat …”

“I know.” He hid his face.

“So much blood. Poor Lenny.”

“I don’t want to talk about him.” His voice cracked with strain. “I can't watch them do that to you, Carla.” Keeping his emotions hidden, he noted the moist sheen of unshed tears in her eyes. Her face was close, so wonderfully close. She licked her lips, and he tilted his head to one side, hopeful, expectant.

“Is there a syringe for you, too?”

His eyes flowed over her beautiful face coming to rest on her lips again, willing them closer. “No, just the one.”

Somber, she didn’t comment on his sacrifice. “What about them?” The screaming outside intensified, she pressed closer. Their breath mingled mingling in the dark between their faces.

“My house is an old fallout shelter. You can sleep safely there. They won't be able to get in.”

“How far is it?”

“Five minutes at a dead run. Think you can do it?”

“I’m scared, Trevor.”

“I’ll be behind you every step of the way.” He soothed back her hair. Then his fingers stroke her collarbone, moving the strap of her tank top. “If they get me, keep running, okay? Don’t look back.” He kissed the top of her shoulder, feeling her body trembling. He moved to open the dumpster they crouched in.

“Wait.” She pulled him close, pressing soft lips against his mouth. Her breath was sweet, her tongue minty. He tasted it eagerly. Fear and lust pounded in his chest. Their bodies pressed together and his hands roved over her curves, taking his first feel of a woman’s flesh. He wanted so much more, but there wasn’t time.

“I won't forget this,” she murmured. He nodded, almost sadly.

They crawled out of the dumpster and she hit the ground running. The howls behind them made her feet fly even faster than they did at track meets.

“Don’t stop!” he called after her with anguish in his voice. Then, he turned to face the creatures crashing through the brush at him.

Lenny lumbered up, peeling off his rubber mask. “Did she kiss you?”



“Sweeter than you know.”

“Good prank, bud.”

Trevor wasn’t so sure. After this, she’d probably never forgive him. Although that kiss was almost worth it all by itself.

486 words

3/26/2012 06:39:23 am

“I can give you all of this all you have to do is vow to me.”

I do not see what is hissing these words in my ear but I see the visions it placed in my mind. The sunlight glows around us. We sit in the grass watching our boy play and run and laugh. Everything around us is distorted us, all that matters is my little family and the joy they bring into my soul. I do not understand why it shows me this, I have this any day that it warm outside.

“This is the alternative.”

The scene changes, the light is filtered as though a fog is blocking out the sun. I see the front of our home. I look around me; no one is near, not even Fine and Jerome. I call out and my voice echoes back to me from the narrow streets and alleys. The smell of decay is all around. I hear the clopping of hooves on the ground and the squeak of wheels approach me from behind. I turn and watch the cart slowly approach. The man guiding the horses wears a dark hood over his head; I can only see vague parts of his face.

He stops the cart between my home and me. Another man jumps out of the back of the cart. It shakes with his movements and I hear muffled thuds from the cart. The second man gives me a consoling look and rushes to meet the other at my door. I am froze to the spot, my muscles ache with tension as I try to move forward. I try to scream but no sounds will come from me.

“The wee lad is still living but barely,” I hear one say from within my house.

I am finally able to break free of the hold the ground had on me. I dodge the cart and leap into our main room. His tiny fingers are dark with necrotized flesh. Dried blood soaked into his pillow. I am silent; I cannot make a sound if I want to as I watch his raspy breaths barely expand his chest. My boy is dying. Where is my wife? I turn around the room.

“You don’t want to see this,” one says and grabs my arm taking me back into the street.

He returns into my home. I hear them whisper to each other and step outside. My eyes are dry and red with grief. They place her gently into the cart and return inside. Quickly, the hooded one returns with him in his arms with his head bowed. The other follows him and shakes his head.

“I pledge myself to you,” I scream. “Just don’t let me see that again.”


461 words

3/26/2012 07:55:20 am

Fight or Flight
By Lisa McCourt Hollar

“I can give you all of this…” The plus sized hooker ran her hands down her body, lingering over her ample bosoms. Jarrod smiled, pleased at what he saw. She would do.

“How much?”

“For you sugar, fifty dollars.”

“Hop in.” Jarrod leaned over and opened the passenger door. The old car groaned beneath the weight of her overly sufficient frame, as she struggled into the leather bucket seat.”

“I hope you aren’t expecting to do it in here,” she laughed.

“No, I have someplace special in mind.”

Driving off, Jarrod clicked the auto locks, startling the woman. Sounding nervous, she asked, “It’s not far is it? I mean, your hour started the minute I got in the car.”

There had been a rash of murders lately. The victims had all been prostitutes and all had been…unusually large. He imagined that thought had to be running through her mind. She probably even had a weapon on her. Most whores did these days. It was a high risk job.

“No,” Jarrod said, twisting his mouth into a smile. “We’re here now.” They had only driven a few blocks.

Looking at the empty warehouse that sat in the parking lot, she asked, “What is this place?”

Jarrod heard the rise in the pitch of her question. Her danger meter was going off. Showing his teeth he said, “It’s my playhouse.”

“That sounds… interesting.” She stepped out of the car, her eyes darting around. Jarrod saw her hand reach into her purse. She was trying to decide, fight or flight. Either would be fun for him.

Guiding her towards the door, Jarrod looked around to see if anyone was watching. The neighborhood was seedy, so it wasn’t likely he would draw attention, but there were a few do-gooders in any borough that were interested in cleaning it up. No one took notice though and he opened the door.

It was dark when she stepped into the room, but she caught the smell and was already backing towards the door, when he turned on the light. At first she couldn’t see, then her vision began to clear and she saw the blood. It was splattered on the walls and the floor, looking deceptively like paint, except for the scent of death that came with the amount of violence that had taken place in this room. Placed around the room were various devices of torture, many with a medieval look to them. The main attraction though was the table, complete with stirrups and leather straps. Surgical equipment lined a tray next to it, still stained with blood.

“Listen mister,” she said, frightened, “I don’t know what you’re into, but I can guarantee you, I don’t play like that.”

Jarrod grinned, placing both hands on her arms, letting her know she wasn’t leaving. He smiled even wider when he felt the knife in his side. He liked it when they got rough. They always tasted so much better when he had to work for his dinner.

Word Count: 500

3/26/2012 11:07:04 pm

"I can give you all of this. And more. All you need to do is tell me about the rebellion.” Deter gave a slow smile, not exposing his teeth. He gave a side long look at the boy standing next to him in tattered and bloodstained armor. “You can stop the fighting. You can save the people. But I need to know where the others are staying.”

Jos chewed on his lip, chapped and worn as it was, his face was gaunt from lack of food. Deter’s greater forces were keeping the food trains from getting to them all the time. His troops were starving to death. The medical supplies, also getting stopped. Someone was telling the enemy forces what routes were being taken. He glanced at the stretch of plain that Deter had gestured. So much land. So much he could do with it. All he had to do was speak up.

Deter leaned forward, staring at Jos with black eyes. The corruption had changed even the whites to black. He looked so alien compared to those who worked for him. “If you don’t speak up now, I will have them take you back to the cell. Perhaps that lovely girl we just brought in will be more willing to tell me what I want to know.”

“NO! Leave her alone!” Jos’s head snapped around. His hands curled into fists and his face flushed. The bastard better leave Frieda out of it.

The other man gave a chuckle, exposing black needle teeth. He had really pulled in all the corruption. He was hardly human anymore. “Ah. So, you are more willing to speak up for you companion. All right. I’ll let the two of you go for the location of your camp.”

The boy stood, his lips tightened before he shook his head. “No, I won’t do it. I won’t be the one to betray them. I will find a way to escape and I will take Frieda with me and we will destroy you!”

Deter pursed his lips. “Huh, really. Well then I guess there is only one thing left to do.” He lifted an arm and waved his hand.

Jos crouched down, hands in front, ready to fight.

The possessed man snickered. “What are you doing, boy?” Black teeth gleamed in the low light as his hand touched the shoulder of the companion who arrived. “Take care of him for me, will you, my dear? I have a camp to invade.”

Jos blinked a few times, his jaw slack in shock as Deter’s companion turned her face towards him. The black swirls that clung to her face hadn’t obscured the blonde hair. “Frieda? What did he do to you!?”

“I’m changed for the better, Jos. I’m tired of living on nothing and starving.” She smiled at him. “He offered me something I couldn’t resist.” She pulled a blade from the sheath by her side. “And now I need to prove my worth to him.”

497 words

3/27/2012 01:49:59 am

Pickin' Heaven

"I can give you all this!" That was what that
Ole Devil Man had said to Jesus when he
was tryin' to drag Him on down to Hell by
gittin' Him to bend the knee. While he knew
as it was a mighty sin, Shadrach Freeman
was jest that moment wishin' Scratch was
there offerin' him a fancy sit-down eat. He
knew t'weren't no ways he could enjoy him
no such food but he reckoned as, in his
current state, just the smellin' of such
would do him a fair amount of good.
He was powerful foot-sore and truly feelin'
the need for some succor as he led his sway-
backed mule down that dusty Alabama

He recalled a passage from the Book where
the Almighty, hisself, done told Adam that,
iff'n he had him a hankerin' for grub, he'd
have to do him some sweatin' for to earn it.
Runnin' one gritty hand crosst his forehead,
Shadrach figgered that was one of the
Lord's rules he was doin' his best part to

He walked on, hopin' they was a town
comin' up but not knowin' a bit for sure. Not
every place he wandered to had them a use
for a minstrel man. Last place, he'd no more
than tied up Jezzy than a law man was on
him. Tole him to take his ass on his way a-
fore he got him any too settled in. Shadrach
didn't see him no gain in arguin' the matter
and move on he had.

He was regrettin' that now as he had
naught but a few mealy biscuits and 'bout a
spit's worth of warm water left to him with
no prospects of nothin' better ahead no
time soon. He knew he had him no choice
but to keep on a-settin' one foot to 'fore the
other long as he had it in him to do.

His resolve were strong but not enuff to
move him further 'long. He went a-fallin' on
that there road, knowin' he had him no
gumption to git back up. He knew he didn't
even have the will to say his piece a-fore he
passed on. He allowed as if His eye were on
that sparrow, then likely He knew the mind
of one used-up ole minstrel man.

Fadin', he heard what seemed a right odd
sound...the crunch of boots on the hard-
packed dirt. He'd convinced hisself was
some kinda trick until he heard the voice

"Rise up Shadrach, you gittin' all dirty and
the Master don't like his folks grubby when
they meet up with him."

A tall, strong-built white man in a gleaming
seersucker suit held a hand out to him.

"C'mon boy. Time's a-wastin'. We havin'
fried chicken tonight and the whole
Heavenly Host makes for a long line if ya
dawdles. Best grab yer strum box up. Boss
do dearly love him some good banjo

Shadrach did take his hand and together
they walked through them Pearly Gates and
straight for that fried chicken.

500 words. @klingorengi


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