The Prompt

_ "I'm not sure how to tell you this," she said.

The Judge

This week's judge is @redshirt6.  Please be sure to support them and check out their website at

The Rules

  1. Story must continue from the prompt. (This means the prompt is the first sentence of 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!

12/5/2011 03:29:02 am

“I’m not sure how to tell you this,” she said.

Senator James William Stanton glared at his secretary as she hovered uncomfortably by his office door.

“What is it, Rosalie?” he snapped. “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of a debriefing?”

“Yes, sir, I’m sorry, sir,” she squeaked, but held up the creamy envelope with a red blob of wax sealing it. “But it’s from the President, sir. I thought you’d like it immediately.”

Stanton gestured for the envelope impatiently, but turned his attention back to Stephen. “Have you found my daughter yet, Captain?”

The secretary scurried out of the office before he answered. The Senator had dropped his eyes to the envelope, scanning its contents.

Damn, could this guy be any more of an asshole?

“No, sir. Preliminary search of the estate and the surrounding forest has turned up nothing.”

“What about her horse?” John Coolidge asked worriedly.

“Horse, sir?”

“Yes, every time that damn girl gets in a snit she takes her horse and rides out to “find herself”, or some such nonsense.” The Senator waved a hand dismissively. “Find the horse and you’ll find her.”

Stephen gritted his teeth. “Her horse is gone as well, sir?”

“Yes. That’s when we realized Bethany was missing. She’s never without her mount,” John soothed, a theatrical expression of worry etched on his pinched features.

“I made it clear to the grooms and servants to cooperate with all the investigators. They didn’t tell you?” Stanton grumbled, releasing the letter. “Damn that girl! Why did she have to do this now?”

Stephen stood at parade rest, but he wanted to grab the Remington statue on the desk and throw it at the pompous bastard. “What breed of horse and what color is it, sir?”

“She has a champion bloodline Quarterhorse gelding, sorrel in color, and goes by the name of Killian Ford’s Tenpenny,” John replied as Stanton sat back in his chair, rubbing his chin.

“Can either of you recall any other details about Ms. Stanton’s behavior that might suggest where she could have gone, sir?”

“She seemed no more upset than usual,” Stanton mused, suddenly turning on the ‘doting father’ persona he’d first showed the Team.

“She sometimes gets her back up about things, but she always comes back after a ride.” John’s concern oozed through the room. “Please, Captain, find my fiancée and bring her home. You have to find her.”

“You should go with them, John.”

“Of course, sir! Anything for my dear Bethany.”

“I must protest, sir.” Stephen felt his guts drop into his feet. “My team is highly trained in search and rescue and we work as a cohesive unit. While Mr. Coolidge is capable, you brought in the best for just that reason.”

“John knows this estate best, Captain. You’ll need his help.”

Stephen swore inwardly. “Yes, sir.”

As he left the office, Coolidge in tow, he caught the eyes of his SIC Staff Sergeant Circe Bryant and rolled his own. They were so screwed they’d need a DeWalt to get them out of this.

500 words

12/5/2011 03:36:05 am

My life changed last week and it was all because of a letter but let me start from there.
"I'm not sure how to tell you this," the postie said as she handed me the letter. “The post office apologises for the delay and hope it didn’t cause any undue stress.”
“Mom?” I yelled into our home
“I’m not deaf you know. Now what is it Claudine? You think you’d almost at sixty five you’d show some compassion for your mother.”
“Mom this two letter came for you. It’s...”I began but she saw the letter turned pale and looked like she would pass out.
“Sixty- five years, where did you get this?”
“The post person. Who is Claude? There’s two of them”
She opened the first letter her face full of trepidation.
“He loved me. He loved me.” She said through tears.
“Who Mom, who loved you?”
“Your father loved you.”
“Of course Dad did.” I answered
Then she fumbled opening the second and gasped at first then said. “Claudine I have something to tell you.” She began “It was wartime and I was working for the CWACS fixing tanks and stuff, when I met him Claude Denier.”
“You fixed tanks in the war? I thought you just wrapped bandages or something and this is the Claude Denier who wrote you?”
“Yes Claude was handsome and was from Montreal. We dated for months but when he was shipped back to Canada after he was injured, I never heard from him again until now...”
“I don’t understand Mom what are you talking about? What has this to do with me”
“Claude was your father.”
“But Daddy.”
“Your daddy yes, well no he wasn’t.”
“Who wasn’t?” I asked not wanting to really know.
“The man you knew as your father Paul was a good man. He adopted you so he was your father but not your biological father.”
“So this Claude was my father then why wasn’t he there when I grew up? Why haven’t I heard of him until now?”
“It was so painful .I couldn’t talk of him and then your Dad Paul passed away. How could I tell you the man you loved wasn’t your real father?”
“You could have told me.”
“I just did and...”
“Who could that be at the door?” I asked hearing the doorbell.
I answered to find a white haired man standing six feet tall. He proudly stood with military bearing that was only oddly enhanced by the cane in his hand .
“Hello I’m Claude.”
“I’m Claudine...”is all I got out before my eighty year old mother threw herself in his arms both of them crying. Much later when they noticed me Claude marvelled that I was his daughter. The letter he sent asked her to marry him and said if he didn’t hear he know it was no.So today we are standing in front of a judge and my mother is marrying my father. Claude never married until now!
496 words

12/5/2011 10:19:32 am

“I’m not sure how to tell you this,” she said. “Marc, something’s happened.”

The solemn words pulled my attention from particle analysis of comet P/2042 B1. I glanced at Tegan, taken aback by her serious expression. I’d grown used to her as playful and wild. This side of her seemed out of place.

“Have you checked your mail?”

I finally noticed the cream envelope in her hand. It looked old-fashioned and fancy. It even sported a red wax seal.

“Not in a few days,” I said uneasily. “I’ve been buried in trace analysis. Besides, I’m not expecting anything.”

“We’ve been chosen, Marcus.”

“Chosen? For—oh.” The only possible meaning of her words sank like a heavy weight in my gut. “For the Gaea project?”

“Yes.” The letter crumpled noisily as Tegan clenched her fist.

“Babe,” I started, “I thought we wanted this. Have you changed your mind?”

I’d signed up over a year ago and gone through every imaginable battery of tests. The idea of traveling twenty light years was barely conceivable and beyond risky, but life on Earth didn’t hold many prospects for a xenobiologist.

I’d never expected to meet the woman I wanted to spend my life with in the thirteen months that followed, and I’d nearly withdrawn my application. But adventurous, ambitious geologist Tegan Hernandez signed up, too. When we’d both made it to the final round of testing, I’d started to believe we might truly leave Earth. Together. Life had seemed full of promise.

But Tegan didn’t look excited or happy.

“Tegan, what is it?” I got up from my desk and crossed the room, pulling her into my arms. She stiffened, setting my nerves on edge. This wasn’t going to be good, I knew it. “Talk to me.”

“We’ve been partnered,” she whispered.


“With other people.”

“So we have to work with other people? Big deal. I don’t get the problem here.”

She shook her head, the sandy gold of her long hair spilling across my arms, tickling my skin. “We have to mate with other people.”

“We—what?” I set her back a pace, my hands locked on her shoulders. She didn’t want to look at me. “Tegan, what the hell are you talking about?”

“A number of the tests we took were designed to find mating pairs. They tested chemical attraction as well as potential physical and mental compatibility.” She pulled free of my hold. “You’ve been partnered with Commander Bryant. She’s a good woman, Marcus. You should give her a chance.”

“Partnered? As in ‘have sex with?’ No way.” I pawed across my desk, looking for my phone. “I’m calling EASA right now. I’m dropping out.”

“They’ll sue you, Marc. For breach of contract.”

“I don’t care.”

“We signed, Marcus.”

“Tegan, we’re not animals. We don’t act, think, or choose our partners like animals. They can’t pick mates for us.”

“Actually,” she sighed, her green eyes bright with tears, “they can. I’m not yours. And you’re not mine. Not anymore.”

500 words

12/5/2011 10:16:48 pm

Amy rubbed at her face. She stared at the stars that used to be their constant. They could tell what direction they were in by using the stars. That had been something as old as they knew.

“Amy?” Joseph walked out, carrying Sam on his shoulder as the little boy peered at her against Joe’s neck.

She glanced over at them to the huge observatory where there were several men and women trying to figure out the phenomenon. Her throat worked convulsively, her body shaking even though the breeze was warm as it brushed against her.

“I’m not sure how to tell you this.” She said, reaching out a hand to them.

“What is it, babe?” Joe walked over, lacing his fingers through hers.

Amy gave a wan smile, reaching up to touch Sam’s face. “The stars…” Her eyes rose to meet her husband’s before dropping to the haunted eyes of her little boy.

“Amy, you’re kind of scaring me here. What about the stars?”

“They’re gone.”

He stared at her, not sure what she was thinking. “What?”

“Gone. They are disappearing!” She waved her hands before driving them both through her hair, fingers curling around the disheveled strands.
He glanced up and could see them in the sky. There wasn’t one that was bright. The green nimbus around the moon seemed to be the focal point lately of the astronomers and the population.

“They look like they are there.”

She shook her head. “For now. But Orion is gone, so is Betelgeuse. There are holes in the Milky Way. Stars are disappearing!” She gestured to the sky with both hands. “No one can figure out what the hell is going on!”

Sam whimpered and hid his face against Joe’s neck while the man frowned at her.

“Amy, you need sleep. You’ve been up almost forty-eight hours."

“Don’t TELL me what I do and don’t need, Joseph. You don’t understand. Stars just don’t DISAPPEAR! There is a method to when they expire and too many are disappearing from sight all together. There is a void there. Not a black hole, a god damn void! DON’T YOU GET IT!?”

The little boy tightened his arm around his dad’s neck who took a step back from the raving woman. “You’re scary Sam and you’re scary me. Please calm down.”

She ran her hands through her hair again, pulling strands from the braid it was in. “You don’t understand, you don’t understand…” She took a deep breath and her gaze landed on the whimpering child. “Sammy, come here, baby. Mommy is sorry. It’s just mommy is working on important work.” She gave a shaky smile and held out her arms.

Sam glanced at her before burrowing his face against Joe’s neck.

Her lips twisted at the child’s refusal to come to her and arms dropped to her side.

“Honey.” He reached out to her.

“No! Get the hell away!” She shoved his hand away and stormed off.

“It’s okay, Sam. Mommy’s just tired.”

500 words

1/9/2012 03:55:11 am

“I'm not sure how to tell you this, Ma” Winslow whined as he came scurrying up towards his mother. “Maaaaaa,” he let out a yowl of terror, falling over his own feet.

“Winslow, calm down, calm down, son,” his mother spoke soothingly. “You can tell me anything, and you know that.”

Of course he knew that, his mother was the best. Soft and snuggly, she was always ready to soothe and love him and his brothers and sister, Tad, Scout, and Angela. He curled up right next to her and just soaked in the comfort and the love she exuded. Finally his heart returned to normal and the hair on his head didn't feel as if it was standing straight up anymore.

He looked into her gray eyes and smiled, playing with the shiny thing on the red ribbon around her neck. She nuzzled the top of his head. Her children were getting older and braver, especially Winslow. He was the ringleader of the group, so adventuresome and seemingly always finding things to do which brought some degree of trouble. Now something had happened and he didn't have words to tell her. She could see it was going to have to be coaxed from him.

She and the children went through a rough patch with no place to live, eating food from where she could find it, or someone would give to them, sleeping in different places every night. It wasn't anyone's fault she supposed, but never being sure about that. Fate intervened and she met Joe and Eva Pennypacker, who took them right in, assuring Mama they would always have a home there. Life was good, she and the children were safe and well fed, sheltered and comfy in their adorable little house. This Summer they all had been free to lounge about in the coolness of the big rooms with high ceilings, fans softly blowing, or just while away the hours in alcoves, window seats or the sun room. In the winter they could come in to visit with Joe and Eva by the fireside. The children loved all the hiding places and playing chase, running up and down the stairs. Joe and Eva thought they were all the entertainment needed.

Mother gently pushed him and said, “Now, what can be so bad that you wouldn't know how to tell me?”

Winslow's eyes flew wide as he dropped his treat. Screeching incoherently he tried to explain to his mother. He was really excited! He could feel the hair standing up on the back of his neck again.

“Mama, oh, Mama, come quick. They're all in the tool shed and can't get out. We were chasing a mouse!”

“Meow,” his mother said loudly, scooting in the door to find Joe, Winslow right behind her with tail all fuzzed out. Joe would rescue her children.

475 words


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