I entered the prompt contest on Writer’s Digest this week for fun (write to their prompt, under 500 words, within a week) and thought I would post both their prompt and my answer here. It was both more fun and a bit harder than I was expecting, but it’s done even if I don’t think it’s some of my better work. Thanks to my friend, Kate, for letting me steal her name for the role of ‘best friend’. It worked out well.
The original posting is here and the prompt and story follow.
Your best friend knocks on your door one afternoon. You open it and he or she is dressed in a strange costume. Before you can say anything, your friend hands you a sword and says, “I need your help. Your family’s life depends on it.” Just then, your friend opens what looks to be a porthole to another dimension, grabs your hand and jumps through.
I stumbled slightly as we exited the portal, almost stabbing myself with the sword Kate had handed me. Kate waited until I had righted myself before striding off towards the towering castle.
“What’s going on?” I asked. “You can’t just yank me into Hell without any explanation…” I stifled a yelp as a tree branch tried to grab me. “Really?!”
Kate spun around, but kept walking, hacking at the branch with her own sword. “Not Hell, Hades. And I told you, your family’s in trouble. Slay the dragon; rescue the prince, blah, blah, blah.”
“Kate, I write fairy tales, I don’t live them.”
“Yeah. Well. Someone screwed up.”
“Oh, this is not going to end well,” I groaned.
She grinned evilly. “But it’ll be fun.”
“Oh, you did not just quote Buffy at me.”
Another grin was her only response and I slogged after her, muttering about how this was always more interesting to write about.
By the time we got to the actual castle, my back was killing me, my feet had stopped speaking to me, and I’d remembered why I gave up fencing all those years ago. I was also wishing for an archery set because that I had half a chance of using competently. “You said my family was in danger, but you didn’t say who or how,” I said as we paused just outside the stone building.
“Slay the dragon, rescue the prince, free the family.”
“Really, Kate? Not helpful.”
“Look. I don’t have the gig of all knowing, all seeing. I’ve only got as much information as the Powers the Be give me.”
“How about telling them to cough up information?”
“We have to go thataway?” she said, pointing in a direction.
I groaned, hefting the sword. “How about a sheath?”
Kate just headed in the direction she’d indicated.
I sighed, before following along, trying not to drag the sword.
In the end it was all anti-climactic. The dragon actually allowed us entrance when we waved our swords at him and the prince ended up being a whiny complainer that neither of us wanted to deal with. Kate and I exchanged glances before shuffling him towards the exit. It took us a little while to search the castle, but we finally found my family stashed in the upper tower.
I picked up the globe that they were encased in. “When you said my family was in trouble, this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. How do we get them free?”
“I’m pretty sure breaking it is not the answer.”
“So take it back to Earth? Can you open the portal or however you got us here?”
Kate grinned and waved her hand, the portal opened before us and she yanked me through.
I clutched the globe, attempting to not break it, or lose my breakfast, lunch, or dinner. “Now we need to get it open.”
When I followed her instructions, the globe burst open and my family was released, ending the spell.