Paula Shablo: Ticky Tacky Houses

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by picardwurtz from Pixabay.

Ticky Tacky Houses

Paula Shablo

They weren’t really houses. They were storage sheds-slash-garages. Garishly painted in pastel colors, they stood out like sore thumbs in the alleyway.

The first time I saw them, this silly song jumped into my head, that old tome “Little Boxes.” Of course, if you really listen to it, it isn’t silly at all. It shares a truth people might like to ignore.

But those sheds—the words “ticky tacky” just fit. They look like someone threw them together from scraps and tried to disguise their essential junk funk with pretty pastels.

They are not pretty. They’re hideous.

I think that’s what drew me to them, honestly. The tacky paint jobs, now seriously in need of fresh coats, made them singularly unappealing. You looked, and then you looked away, appalled.

It lent them an air of invisibility.

Invisibility was exactly what I needed.

I’d done my research and knew that they had been deserted a few years back. The owner had been renting them out to folks in a nearby projects housing development for cheap. The housing had been torn down and everyone collected their cars and their junk and moved on.

I hear tell that some folks left their stuff and the owner had a shed sale to get rid of it all. I don’t really know the whole story, and it doesn’t even matter.

What matters is I needed someplace to lie low while Barry was still on his rampage, hunting me down.

He always swore I would never have the nerve to leave him. “I take care of you, babe,” he said. “I pay the bills around here—you’re nothing but the freeloader I allowed to use me. So buckle up, Buttercup!”

I hate those words. “Buckle up, Buttercup” basically meant one of two things. Either I was going to spend an hour or so pretending he was making love to me, or I was going to spend about the same amount of time protecting my face so I could go out in public without anyone staring at me.

The worst part of it? He was right. I didn’t dare leave. I didn’t have a job or any marketable skills. Where would I go? What would I do? I was nothing.

But that changed. The little plus-sign on the stick I peed on changed everything.

I had been nothing, but now I would be something. Now I would be a mother. And my baby was not going to grow up in that environment.

No way.

If I could get to Mallory, I would be fine. But she’d be the first person he checked with. And he’d keep checking.

So I didn’t call her.

I made a get-away plan. I had to do it quickly, before Barry realized what was happening inside my body. The last time I’d dared to get pregnant, he’d fixed that situation quick.

Bastard.

I wasn’t stupid enough to tell him this time.

I pulled money out of the checking account I wasn’t supposed to use for anything but grocery shopping. At first it was ten dollars here, twenty dollars there—it was easy to hit that cash-back button when I scanned the card, but I didn’t want amounts that would draw attention. Not right away.

I had a little stash of my own that I had been building on since … since the last pregnancy. “Change” from the washing machine. Barry notoriously refused to clean out his pockets before throwing them on the bathroom floor, and sometimes I was able to net as much as fifty bucks on laundry day.

If he asked if any money was there, I’d give it to him. I’m not crazy. “Oh, yeah, honey, it’s in the laundry room, let me run and get it for you.” But basically, it meant nothing to him. He usually returned his cash to his wallet, and the bills he occasionally stuffed in a front pocket generally amounted to only a dollar or two. But I did get lucky sometimes and found a ten or a twenty.

Hey, it adds up over a couple of years.

I walked one day to a used-car lot to look around. I bought this little car that looks like it is being held together with toothpaste and duct tape and chicken wire, but runs like a dream. The guy who sold it to me said his son used it as a motor-shop project at school, but he dropped out before doing the bodywork.

“Knocked up his girlfriend.” The guy looked disgusted and disappointed and proud all in one second—it was uncanny. “Got his GED, though. He’s working.”

He didn’t want to deal with the bodywork, and I didn’t care what it looked like as long as it would run, so we made a good deal.

Go, me!

I took some clothes and the few personal items I care about and I checked out of hotel Barry for good.

Fine, upstanding citizen Barry was not going to come looking for me on the far side of town where even the projects won’t live anymore. He would expect me to look for help among our moneyed friends and neighbors, and he’d have some wonderful stories to tell about how crazy and messed up I am.

That wouldn’t be a lie, exactly. I’m pretty messed up. But now I believe there were a lot of our friends who suspected the problem was not me.

I left my big house and my nice car. I left my books and my cell phone. I copied all the phone numbers I might want later into a tiny address book and kept that on me at all times.

I set my sights on the blue ticky-tacky box because the door looked big enough to drive the car inside.

It was nothing but a space, that shed. When the car was inside, I didn’t have much room. But I cleaned it up and made a home out of it. I got some old fruit pallets from the shipyard and put an air mattress on top and made myself a decent bed. I found an old card table at the dump and cleaned it up and got myself a folding chair. I spent some ill-gotten money on a hibachi so I could cook. 

I became queen of second-hand. The trunk of my car was my closet. I dressed in rags and went to the soup kitchens. I kept my head down.

I kept my eye on the news—Barry didn’t report me missing right away.

When he finally did call the police, the speculations started. People we knew started speaking out about how they suspected I was being abused.

It was so weird to hear an acquaintance of ours talking to news reporters about how she failed to reach out to me and find out if I was okay, and then starting to cry. I felt like I barely knew her. All the friends were Barry’s, you know?

I used a free clinic to keep tabs on my baby. I didn’t use my real name, and they specialized in “no ask, no tell.” But this morning my appointment went a bit off the rails.

“I know who you are,” Dr. Morgan said. “You don’t have to keep this up, you know.”

“If you know who I am,” I retorted, “then you must understand that I certainly do have to keep this up.” I started to cry—big, sloppy sobs, the kind people call “ugly crying.” What else could I do?

“There must be—”

“You don’t understand.” I pulled up my stupid paper hospital Johnny and used it to wipe my face. “This baby—I have to keep him safe.”

“Lila,” she said—using my false name, bless her heart. “Don’t you have someone you can call for help?” She rolled her little stool closer to where I sat on the cold metal examining table. “I know from the news that you were a foster child, so you don’t have family, but—”

“I sometimes think,” I whispered, “that it was one of the things that made me appealing to him.”

“I wouldn’t doubt it for an instant.” Dr. Morgan looked grim. “I’ve seen that sort of codependency before.”

“I have a friend. A good friend. But I don’t want … him … to bother her. I mean—he’s probably already been bothering her.” I shrugged. “That’s why I haven’t called her.”

“Where is this friend? Close?”

“No. She’s in Chicago.”

“Look. I’m not going to ask you where you’re staying, or how you’re getting around. I have to assume you’re somewhere close by. You’re certainly nowhere near your … um … neighborhood.”

I laughed at that. “No, I’m sure not,” I agreed.

“I can send you to someone who can help you get to Chicago,” she offered. “And get you a safe place to stay in the meantime.”

“I’m safe where I am,” I told her. “I just have some things to figure out.”

“But we could—”

“I don’t want to go to the shelter,” I cried. “They’ll be obligated to tell the police where I am, and then Ba—” I stopped, horrified that his name had almost slipped out of my mouth. “They’ll tell him. I know they will.”

Dr. Morgan shrugged. “Right now they think he killed you,” she stated flatly.

“They do?” That was interesting. I hadn’t heard that on the news.

“It’s in their demeanor. The things they say when they appeal to the public for information.”

“Oh?” I had a sudden thought. “And has … has he made any appeals?” I slammed my hands over my mouth. “No—don’t answer that. I’m not falling for any more of his shit.”

“It so happens that he has—big press conference and everything.” Dr. Morgan folded her arms. “I wasn’t all that impressed, frankly.”

“Who else here knows?” I demanded. “Everyone?”

The doctor looked surprised. “Not that I know of,” she assured me.

I was not assured.

“Am I done here? I have to go.”

What had I been thinking? A short haircut and a change of color and oversized sunglasses apparently didn’t do enough to change my appearance.

“Lila, don’t. Don’t go. Let me help you get away.”

“Why?” I demanded. “Why would you do that?”

She looked uncomfortable. It made me suspicious.

“Well?”

“Let’s just say … I am paying it forward.”

“What?”

She took a deep breath and tightened her lips. “Okay,” she said. “I don’t talk about this—ever. But I have been where you are. Oh—” She held up her hands to stop my protests. “Not exactly where you are; but close enough.” She shrugged. “Someone helped me. Now I want to help you.”

And she did.

That would be a whole book’s worth of story, and I may tell it someday.

For now, I just want to tell you that no one ever looked in that ticky-tacky house. Mallory and Susan—Dr. Morgan, that is—came here with me today. I showed baby Mickey my beat-up old heap of a car and my stash of throw-away furniture and my hibachi. He grinned and drooled and was absolutely unimpressed.

“You should show more consideration, Mickey,” I said. “Mommy got out of the box.”

We loaded the car onto a trailer and hauled it back to Chicago. I’m taking an auto-shop class, and I’m going to give it the body it deserves.

It still runs like a dream.

Please visit Paula on her website: https://paulashablo.com/

Louise Jackson: The Silent Sentinels

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by picardwurtz from Pixabay.

The Silent Sentinels

Louise Jackson

Like soldiers guarding a fortress, these colorful huts have stood in line guarding the road for years. They have withstood the tests of time. Year after year, standing silently listening, watching as the town grew and changed all around them. Never wavering from their posts along the dry and crooked road. The paint may dry and peel in the sun as it bakes through the years, but they don’t complain, they just keep standing and keeping watch. At night during the witching hour, if you walk the dark street you might hear the faint murmuring between some of the huts, but you’ll think it’s your imagination, or is it? Some of the locals say these huts have been here so long they say they hear them murmuring to each other late at night about the day’s goings-on.

Some of the old women say that the missing children aren’t missing, that they are really trapped in one of the huts because it is a doorway to the nether realm. They don’t say which one of the huts, so no one knows which one to stay away from, so everyone says they are just foolish old women. But what if that were true, there are children that go missing, not that many, and the last place they are seen alive is around these huts late in the evening. No one wants to dig into it until, that is, the day the mayor’s daughter goes missing. She was last seen playing at the far end of the huts in the late evening, so perhaps there is some truth to the huts luring children in. 

The mayor was a very robust and gruff man, who was used to getting what he wanted when he wanted, and when he didn’t, he got very red in the face. He was extremely overweight and waddled everywhere he went and was always out of breath. The whole town believed the little girl was not his but was afraid to say anything to his face for fear of reprisal or of what he would do to his wife and the child.

The morning after she disappeared, he waddled down the line of silent sentinels yelling at each one that if they didn’t give him back his daughter he would knock them down one by one! He was getting redder and redder and more out of breath the more he walked and talked. After an hour of this and no answers from the sentinels in time, he started banging on their doors with his big balls of meat he called fists. The huts shook at the banging, but the silent sentinels stood, not wavering from their positions, not saying a word. Well, would anyone expect a wooden building to answer? No, and neither did any of the townspeople, but the mayor remained convinced the huts had stolen his daughter and sent her to the Netherworld. This display of futility went on most of the day. Utterly worn out by the expenditure of energy, which he wasn’t used to, the mayor collapsed in front of the blue hut.

He lay in a heap in front of the door and cried. “Please give my daughter back to me. She is all I have in this world and all I care about in this world. I’ll give you anything if you give her back to me.” 

He then lay his head on his hands and wept uncontrollably, his huge body heaving under his weight with the force of his sobs. Most of the townspeople by now had left because the spectacle was too much to bear. Just then came an earthy, woody, mellow sigh from inside the blue hut. The doors opened and out came the mayor’s daughter, unharmed. The mayor stood up and wiped his eyes on the back of his sleeve. The little girl ran into her father’s arms.

“Daddy, I had the most wonderful time, I wish you could have been there. Why are you sad? I wasn’t gone long. I have some new play friends, you will meet them someday soon, I promise. Let’s go home now, I am hungry.”

The mayor hugged his daughter close, smiled at the blue hut, and mouthed a thank you to it.

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Please visit Louise on WordPress: https://staylor2021.wordpress.com/

Kenneth Lawson: Spy versus Spy

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by picardwurtz from Pixabay.

Spy versus Spy

Kenneth Lawson

A frigid wind blew through the street as I sat watching the line of old sheds along Canal Street. One of them was a dead drop. I waited patiently, sitting in a car as old as the sheds, trying to blend in, in the rough part of town. I watched a man drop a soda can carefully into the bushes in front of the shed with the blue door—a standard drop method. When a blue Mercedes pulled up, I was happy my patience had paid off.

Russell Long exited the car and retrieved the soda can. Russell wasn’t careful. He pulled the can from its hiding place and returned to the car without a glance around. If he’d looked, he would have seen his old partner watching him. I am retired now, but I could still play with the big boys if I had to, especially when the big boys were careless.

Word reached me from anonymous sources that there was a shoot-to-kill order out on me. I expected that. What worried me and lured me back into the country was the word that my former bosses had questioned my mentor and old friend LeAnne Talbot about my retirement and my whereabouts. We had expected that too. However, they had taken it to a new level. Informal questions had become formal, and the government, my former bosses, charged her with treason for aiding and abetting the enemy.

I let my mind briefly wander back over the years as I followed Russell’s car from the dead to the living side of town. We worked together for the Company for over ten years, and both of us had done things we hated in the name of national security. He was now the agent in charge at this station. I’d worked with him in the “Good Ole Days” when it was fun to be a spy, but I also knew Russell’s dark side. The part he kept hidden from the world. I’d seen him go dark and dangerous more times than I cared to remember. The last time was in Russia seven years ago, and it almost cost us our careers and lives. 

We were undercover working on a construction site near the Kremlin, planting bugs to intercept messages from inside the compound. Our cover as construction workers gave us access to the grounds.

But a Russian general’s daughter who worked at the Kremlin had caught Russell’s eye. She drove past the construction site daily, and he became obsessed with her. He stayed after work one night and followed her back to the general’s estate. I trailed him. He cornered her there, and when she refused his advances, he became crazed. What he did not know was that I saw and videotaped his crime.

I should have reported him to our superiors, but the political climate was too volatile, and if our cover were blown, all hell would have broken loose. So, I hid the video where no one could find it. The authorities questioned us as we were on her daily route, but our construction worker covers held. I always suspected the Russians didn’t believe us, but they had no proof. The official report said she’d been raped and strangled by an unknown person. The Russian police had no solid leads and no suspects other than the construction crews working in the area, and there had been no arrest. The Company station director removed us from the country, and we returned to the states.

A year had passed since I abruptly retired from the Company, or more precisely, fled from the Company and disappeared. I had decided that I couldn’t do the work anymore, but one does not retire from this job and disappear completely, but that is what I did. My former employers had issued “shoot to kill” orders, but I had to come. 

The black ops prisons that former operatives disappeared into and never heard from again were common knowledge. We couldn’t tell secrets if there was no one to tell.

However, I kept a few trusted contacts, and the rumors were that LeAnne was scheduled to vanish. She knew too much, and they wanted her out of circulation so that she couldn’t talk to anyone. The people who wanted me dead retained her to question her before she was sent to a black ops prison because they suspected she knew where I was. LeAnne had helped me disappear but did not know where I had fled. 

I followed Russell’s Mercedes until he got to the area of town where there was extensive CTV. I dropped back and let him go because I knew where he was going, and I didn’t want to be recognized.

I spent the next couple of days outside the city to finalize my plans to rescue LeAnne. I had retrieved the information I had hidden and set certain wheels in motion, which would happen regardless of my success. Then I rested and waited.

I watched the comings and goings from my vantage point outside of the city, never daring to enter until now. My contact reported that Russell was alone with LeAnne at the covert location. The trek took longer as I avoided the security cameras around the city. The skills they taught me to keep the country safe served me well to keep myself out of the kind of jail they denied exists.

They held her in a black ops house that I knew well. As I neared the house, I realized this was my last chance to back out, but I couldn’t. I owed her.

Russell opened the door as I stepped on the porch. “I never expected to see you again.”

“You wouldn’t now, would you?”

“How did you find me?”

“I hung out at the sheds in Lower Town. You always hated to find new drop locations. Followed you until I was sure you were headed for this ops house. I heard you had LeAnne and plan to transfer her to a federal prison tomorrow. A prison she will never walk out of, will she?”

He scoffed. “You can’t stop it. Besides, we have what we want now—you.” 

“Not going to happen, Russell, because LeAnne and I are walking out of here right now.”

Russell pulled his gun from its holster and aimed it at me. “You know I can’t let you do that.”

I smiled. “Yes, you can, and you will.” I pulled a manila envelope from inside my jacket. 

“In here are the details of the Russian mission nine years ago—pictures, names, dates, and video of what happened when the general’s daughter died. It proves you raped and strangled her. We all know the official version and that they bought it. Barely. This will put you where you want to send LeAnne.” 

“I can just shoot you.” He stuck the gun barrel against my chest.

“Within five minutes of my death, a copy of this report will go to your superiors and every major news outlet in the world, starting with the Russian press. How long do you think you’d last?”

He started to respond, but I dangled the package in front of him. He crossed the room and unlocked a door. “Get out here.”

LeAnne timidly entered the room and ran to me. “Thank you. I hoped you would come.” 

Russell was still holding the gun on me. “Give me the file.”

“Sure.” I raised my arm as if to toss it to him, but instead, in one quick move, I sent an uppercut to his jaw, and he was out cold. 

I dropped the envelope onto his body and grabbed LeAnne’s hand. As we hurried from the house, she asked why I had given Russell the information. 

“No, there was only blank paper in the envelope. I mailed the real report to his superiors. Russell will pay for what he did.”

 ~~~ 

The drive out of town seemed to take longer than it did. For an experienced operative, I jumped at every sudden move that any vehicle in my sight made. By the time Russell woke up, the files I’d sent from an anonymous, untraceable email account would be landing on his director’s desk, along with the ones I sent to various news agencies. LeAnne disappearing would be the least of his worries.

Eventually, the Company would get around to LeAnne and me. Russell would tell them I was there, but we would be long gone before they came looking for us. The only way to truly disappear was to die, and that is what LeAnne and I did. I’d faked bodies before, but I never thought I’d be faking my own.

A raid on a cadaver farm provided the bodies, and the staged car wreck burned the bodies beyond recognition. I planted our DNA at the scene, so there was just enough material left to prove it was us.

Six months later, while sitting in a beach cabana with LeAnne, I read the local newspaper. On the back page buried under the local island news about the cockfight ring that had just been broken up was a small piece about a former US spy charged in the rape and murder of a Russian General’s daughter more than nine years ago. 

As for LeAnne and I, we settled down to a quiet beach bum life. No black ops prisons for us. But I never stopped looking over my shoulder. 

Please visit Kenneth on his website: http://kennethlawson.weebly.com/

WRITING TIPS, TOOLS, AND TIDBITS: Your versus You’re

Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author, and WU! admin, Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image from Pixabay.

YOUR versus YOU’RE

People often mix up the words your and you’re. They may sound the same, but these words have different meanings and uses.

Your is possessive and means that something belongs to you. If you want to show possession or ownership, then use the word your with no apostrophe. Your is always followed by a noun in a sentence (although not always immediately).

Examples:

  • I think this is your sweater.
  • What is your name?
  • Salads are good for your health.
  • What are you planning for your birthday?
  • Is this your phone?
  • Turn in your report by tomorrow.
  • How is your new job working out?
  • I love your new dress.

You’re is a contraction of “you are.” The apostrophe shows a letter is missing. If you can replace it with the words “you are,” then use you’re with the apostrophe.

Examples:

  • You’re very good at that.
  • You’re going to get wet if you go out in the rain.
  • It looks like you’re going to the store now.
  • You’re going to love this book.
  • You’re going to need a coat if you go out.
  • You look relaxed when you’re in that chair.
  • You’re very funny.
  • Send me a postcard when you’re in Hawaii.

Basically, if it is possessive or shows ownership, use your.

If it is a contraction of “you are,” use you’re.

A simple test: If you can substitute “you are,” then use you’re. If not, then use your.

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Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.

I hope you find this helpful. These tips and more grammar tips and tools are also on my website and blog. Thank you!
Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/

SUCCESS PHILOSOPHIES WITH DR. CHUBACK EPISODE #14

In our quest to assist writers in becoming the best you can be and remain motivated, we would like to introduce you to John Chuback, M.D. A cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Chuback found his goals waylaid by his lack of motivation. In a series of interviews with Paul W. Reeves, host on Impact Radio USA, Dr. Chuback discusses “The 50 most powerful secrets for success in and out of the classroom.”

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Please click on the link below to hear Episode #14 in the series, and start enhancing your journey toward success today.

DR. JOHN CHUBACK, a cardiovascular surgeon from New Jersey, joins us in this series to celebrate the release of his book, “The Straight A Handbook – The 50 Most Powerful Secrets For Ultimate Success In And Out Of The Classroom”.

Throughout this series, they will cover each of the 50 chapters in detail, each of which will guide you toward success in all that you do in life.

On this segment, Dr. Chuback and Paul discussed chapters 30, 31, 32, and 33..

Enjoy!

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Previous Episodes of “Success Philosophies With Dr. Chuback”

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Dr. John Chuback

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Dr. John Chuback was born and raised in Bergen County and graduated from the Dwight Englewood School. He earned his medical degree from New Jersey Medical School at UMDNJ, in Newark. Dr. Chuback then completed a five-year General Surgical Residency at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC). Dr. Chuback is the author of Make Your Own Damn CheeseKaboing, and The Straight A Handbook.

All books are available on Amazon. com. 

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Impact Radio USA

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Welcome to ​IMPACT RADIO USA, where we strive to  provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

As we are continuing to add content on a daily basis, please feel free to click on the “LISTEN NOW” button at the top of the page to hear us 24 hours a day.While you are here, please check out all of our links to our shows, our podcast page, our blog, and learn how YOU can host your own show with us.  Thank you for listening to IMPACT RADIO USA!!!

Impact Radio USA ListenNow

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Paul W. Reeves 

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Paul W. Reeves is a longtime Detroit area author, radio talk show host, educator, composer/arranger, and professional musician!

Listen to “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA and visit Paul’s websitehttps://paulwreeves.com for more information on his books and CDs.

https://www.impactradiousa.com/

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Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits: Who’s Versus Whose

Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author, and WU! admin, Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image from Pixabay.

WHO’S versus WHOSE

People often mix up the words who’s and whose. They may sound the same, but these words have different meanings and uses

Who’s is a contraction of “who is” or “who has.” The apostrophe shows a letter is missing. If you can replace it with the words “who is” or “who has,” then use who’s with the apostrophe.

Examples:

  • Who’s ready to go?
  • Who’s scared of thunder?
  • Who’s there?
  • Who’s got the keys?
  • That man, who’s admired by many, will be speaking.
  • This woman, who’s inspired thousands, will receive an award.
  • Who’s eaten the cake I just baked?
  • Who’s going to the party later?

Whose is the possessive form of who. If you want to show possession or ownership, then use the word whose with no apostrophe.

Examples:

  • Whose sweater is this?
  • Do you know whose purse this is?
  • Undercover officers are those whose identities are protected.
  • My dog, whose tail is wagging, is very friendly.
  • That is David, whose dog I used to walk.
  • Someone turned in a report, but I don’t know whose it is.
  • This is an idea whose time has come.
  • Whose car is honking?

Basically, if it is a contraction of “who is” or “who has,” then use who’s.

If it is possessive or shows ownership, then use whose.

A simple test: If you can substitute “who is” or “who has,” then use who’s. If not, then use whose.

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Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.

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I hope you find this helpful. These tips and more grammar tips and tools are also on my website and blog. Thank you!
Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/

Lynn Miclea: Gateway House

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by picardwurtz from Pixabay.

Gateway House

Lynn Miclea

Mason, Carter, and Dylan ambled down the empty street, talking and laughing as they always did. The three boys had been friends for years, and now that they were in high school, their friendship was even stronger.

As they turned down the street in the older part of town, their voices grew softer and quieter.

Mason nervously glanced around the empty street. “What did you want to show us, Carter?” His forehead scrunched as he looked around. “Something doesn’t feel right here.”

“Those are the little houses I told you about,” Carter said, pointing at the row of small, dilapidated old homes, each barely larger than a shack, and each one painted a different color. “I tell you, something weird is going on with them. I wanted to see them closer, but I wanted you guys with me.”

“I’m not sure about this,” Mason responded as a shiver ran up his spine. “They’re just old homes. I remember seeing them a while back, but I don’t think anyone lives here anymore. And I feel on edge here. Something’s not right.”

Dylan shook his head. “This whole area is creepy,” he muttered, scuffing his shoes on the ground as he walked. “I agree with Mason. I don’t think we should be here.”

Carter turned to his friends. “C’mon, guys, there’s something eerie going on and I want to check it out.” He pointed to the green house in the middle. “That one. I swear, last time I was here, I saw —”

Carter suddenly gasped. As the three boys looked at the green house, a strange red glow emanated from the front window. They immediately stopped in the street, staring at the house. A few seconds later a burst of white light flashed through the house.

Carter’s face was pale. “Did … did you guys see that?”

Mason stared, then swallowed hard, his mouth dry. “I don’t like this. I don’t like it at all. I think we should leave.”

“Me too,” Dylan chimed in. “We should not be here. Let’s go.”

“Don’t you want to know what that was?” Carter looked at his two friends. “I’m curious. I want to know what is going on.”

Mason shook his head as his belly flipped. “I don’t think so, man. That is too spooky. We have no idea what that is.”

Dylan took a step back. “I don’t like this at all. I’m not going near that place. In fact, I think we should leave now. C’mon, let’s get out of here.”

Carter looked back at the house. “I just want to peek in the window, that’s all.” He looked back at his friends. “Dylan, you can wait here.”

Carter started walking toward the green house. He turned and gestured toward Mason. “Hey Mason, you coming?”

Mason hesitated and then shrugged his shoulders. “Yeah, okay, just to look in the window. But that’s all. Then we should leave.” He walked forward, joining Carter, and the two approached the green house. Mason stopped a few feet away as Carter went up to the house.

Watching from a safe distance, Mason glanced back at Dylan, who remained in the street.

Carter leaned against the window, putting a hand up to ward off the glare, and peered inside.

“I don’t see anything,” Carter muttered. “Let’s go inside.”

“No,” Mason answered. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Let me try the door.” Carter reached forward and tried the doorknob. It turned in his hand, and the front door creaked open. He peeked in and stepped forward, disappearing into the dark interior.

Mason hesitated and then tentatively followed him and slowly entered the house, seeing a fairly dark room with a few pieces of shadowy furniture. It was silent, and an old, musty smell filled his nostrils. His eyes scanned the room in the dim light, taking in the few pieces of aged, ratty furniture and torn, flimsy curtains hanging at the sides of the front window. As he turned around looking at the small living area, another bright flash of light filled the house. He gasped and his muscles tensed.

“Did you see that?” Carter whispered.

Mason slowly became aware of a low humming sound that filled the room. Shaking, he spun around, his eyes searching the room. No source for the sound or the light could be determined.

Mason jumped as something crashed in a back part of the house. “We need to leave,” he muttered, terror flooding his body. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Okay, maybe you’re right.”

A cold breeze suddenly blew through the room, and Mason shivered.

“I don’t like this,” Mason whispered.

A deep voice echoed through the house. “Get out!”

Mason froze in horror, then turned toward the front door and started rushing toward it, Carter at his side. As they approached the door, it slammed shut and the deadbolt snapped in, locking it.

The two boys turned back to the main room.

Wispy, gray ghostly forms floated through the room.

“W — Wh — Who are you?” Carter stammered.

The ghostly voice responded. “You did not listen. Now it may be too late.”

The boys turned back to the front door and tried it. The deadbolt would not unlatch. Mason desperately fumbled with the doorknob but it would not turn. They ran to the window with the flimsy curtains and urgently tried to open it. The window was sealed shut and did not budge.

Slowly, they turned back to face whatever was in the room.

The wispy, gray ghostly forms fluttered and floated by, watching them.

Another crash sounded and then a flash of red light came from the back of the house.

Mason’s heart pounded in his chest and a lump formed in his throat. His legs felt rubbery.

The deep ghostly voice returned. “This is a gateway. We tried to warn you. We tried to save you.”

A dark, ominous cloud congealed into a massive form at the back of the room. Burning red eyes glowed and glared at them. A rumbling growl emanated from deep inside the dark cloud, as a sulfuric odor filled the air.

Mason reached for Carter and took a step back. He struggled to take a breath as the air became thick and heavy.

The rumbling congealed into words. “You must die. All humans must die …”

Then the dark form dissipated and disintegrated into small, dark-gray cloudy patches which finally disappeared.

The wispy ghosts remained, and they spoke again. “They are the ones who will hurt you, not us. You have been spared for now.”

Carter cleared his throat and found his voice. “Wh — what was that?”

“They are entities from a world far away from here, and they are very powerful. This house is being used as a gateway. They are evil creatures who want to annihilate you and all life forms on your planet so they can take over. We’ve seen them do this on other worlds. We have been trying to protect your world, but we cannot hold them back much longer. They are much more powerful than we are.”

Mason’s voice was raspy. “We — we need to leave …”

“Yes. Get away before they return. If they come back, they will not let you out again. You will not have another chance.”

The deadbolt clicked open, and the front door creaked as it opened toward them.

“Go. Run and don’t come back.”

Mason and Carter rushed out of the house, stumbling and gasping for air. In the front yard, they turned and looked back at the house. The front door slammed shut and they heard the deadbolt engage. A gray wispy cloud slithered past the window.

Mason stared at Carter. His mouth opened, but no sound came out.

Carter looked back at Mason. “What the —”

Mason finally found words. “No, no, no,” he stammered. “That was beyond horrifying. I feel sick. We need to get out of here.”

Carter looked at his wrist and then patted his pockets. “Wait. Where’s my watch? It must have come off in there. I need my watch. I have to look in the window to see if it’s on the floor. Just a quick peek. I’ll see what’s happening and see if my watch is in there.”

Mason stared at him in horror. “No, don’t even go near that house. Didn’t you hear them? Are you crazy? We need to leave.”

“Let me just look real quick. Then we’ll go.”

“Hey,” Dylan called from the street. “Are you guys okay? You were in there a while. What happened? What did you see?”

“I … I … I’m not sure …” Mason’s voice was shaky. “We need to go.”

Carter glanced at Dylan and paused before speaking. “You were right, Dylan. There’s something evil and alien in there. It was bad. Terrifying, actually.” He swallowed. “But I lost my watch in there. I have to see if it’s there. They can’t hurt us if we don’t go in.”

“What?” Mason stared at him. “You gotta be kidding me. What are you gonna see? Even if your watch is in there, we’re not going in. Carter, we need to leave. We can’t mess with this. You don’t know what abilities they have or what they can do.”

“Just a quick glance, that’s all.” Carter walked back to the green house. “I’ll stay outside. They can’t hurt me out here.” He leaned forward and peered through the window.

A blaze of red light flashed in the house and streamed through the window, radiating over Carter’s face.

Carter gasped and stumbled backward, choking and then breathing hard.

Mason ran to him. “Are you okay? Carter? What did you see? What happened? Talk to me.”

Carter trembled and slowly brought his gaze to Mason. As Mason watched, Carter’s eyes seemed to shift. Carter squinted and then his eyes slowly opened and turned black. Within twenty seconds, they glowed with an eerie red light.

Mason shrieked and stepped back, his eyes glued to Carter. “No … no … no …”

A flash of red light flared in Carter’s eyes and beamed directly into Mason’s eyes.

Mason’s eyes opened wide and he gasped as he felt the evil entity slither inside him. He yelled at Dylan. “Run, Dylan. Get away. It’s in both of us now. It is evil. I can feel it. They must be stopped.”

Mason grabbed Carter and pulled him back to the green house. The front door opened as they approached it, and Mason pulled Carter inside. He shut the front door and ran into the kitchen, desperately searching. There — that’s what he could use. Trembling, he picked up a book of matches and ran back to the living room.

His hands shaking, he struck a match, but it did not light. He tried another. That one caught fire. As he approached the curtains, a cold wind blew through the room and extinguished the flame. Mason hunched over and lit another match, then quickly touched it to the flimsy front curtains which immediately erupted in flames.

Howling filled the house and another cold wind blew through the room, but it did not extinguish the flames.

With trembling fingers, Mason lit another match and hastily set the furniture on fire.

The cold wind in the small house increased, and something grabbed Mason and threw him into the far wall. Stunned, his chest aching, Mason slithered to the floor. He clutched at his chest as terror overwhelmed him. His body ached, and he lay there a few minutes trying to catch his breath.

“There’s my watch!” Carter stared at it on the floor, appearing confused, but did not pick it up. Then he looked around and yelled. “Hey — are you okay? What are you doing?”

Mason stared back at him, unable to respond.

Carter seemed agitated. “Why did you set the fires? You can’t do that!”

Mason struggled to his feet. “Don’t you feel it inside you? It is evil. I can sense what they want to do. If they have their way, they will kill all of us. We have to stop them. We need to kill them before they slaughter us.”

Carter choked on the smoke entering his throat. “But we don’t need to die. This is not the way.”

Mason yelled back. “Yes, yes, this is the only way. We have to do this.”

Something pushed Mason back and he yelped as he fell to the floor. “Carter,” he said, gasping between breaths. “I can feel it — I know what they intend to do. Trust me — I can hear their thoughts. Can’t you hear them too? We have to kill them here and now to save everyone. To save all life on Earth. We have to destroy this gateway so no more can come through. We need to end this … before they … before they …”

Carter suddenly was lifted into the air and thrown into a side wall. His face showed shock and then he screamed as he fell to the floor.

As the flames, smoke, and heat intensified, a loud howling spread throughout the house, along with a deep voice. “This is not the only gateway, Earthlings. You cannot stop us.”

Mason and Carter screamed as the flames licked at their feet.

Dylan stood in the street and watched the house go up in flames. He heard the screams of his friends and a deep howling from inside the house. Shocked and horrified, his stomach churning, he turned to leave.

As he passed by the pale blue house next door, he glanced at it and saw a red glow coming from inside that house through the window.

Panicked and horrified, pushing down the growing nausea, he turned and ran as fast as he could.

***

Copyright © 2021 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Please visit Lynn’s blog and follow her at – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/
Please also visit Lynn’s website for more information on her books – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
And please visit her Amazon author page at – https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Miclea/e/B00SIA8AW4

TN Kerr: Estero Point

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by picardwurtz from Pixabay.

Estero Point

TN Kerr

Like Joseph’s coat of many colours, now worn and faded
Almost matching, they stand in line, a particoloured coastal town, akin to soldiers at the edge of the road
A place for the Sunday Seafarer to store his skiff
Reel Deal resides at number four
Bull Fish, number twelve
A couple crewmen from the trawler “Taboo” squat in sixteen
 
The beacon at the Point remains ever watchful

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Please visit TN on WordPress: tnkerr.wordpress.com/2021/08/08/dancing-key/

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!: ITS versus IT’S

Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author, and WU! admin, Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image from Pixabay.

ITS versus IT’S

People often mix up the words its and it’s. They may sound the same, but these words have different meanings and uses.

Its is possessive and means that something belongs to it. If you want to show possession or ownership, similar to the words his, her, and your, then use the word its without an apostrophe.

Examples:

  • The hotel has changed its color scheme.
  • The supermarket keeps raising its prices.
  • This store is convenient and its variety is wonderful.
  • That company has its own way of doing things.
  • This car won’t work without its engine.
  • My bicycle had its wheels stolen.
  • The tree is losing its leaves.
  • My house recently had its roof replaced.

It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” The apostrophe shows a letter is missing. If you can replace it with the words “it is” or “it has,” then use it’s with the apostrophe.

Examples:

  • It’s going to rain later.
  • It’s awful that she got sick.
  • I’d rather go inside where it’s warmer.
  • He wants to find out if it’s possible.
  • It’s wonderful that you published your book.
  • I can’t wait until it’s summer.
  • It’s been so long since I’ve seen you.
  • It’s about time he got here.

Basically, if it is possessive or shows ownership, then use its.

If it is a contraction of “it is” or “it has,” then use it’s.

A simple test: If you can substitute “it is” or “it has,” then use it’s. If not, then use its.

Note: there is no such word as its’ — the apostrophe never goes after the s.

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Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.

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I hope you find this helpful. These tips and more grammar tips and tools are also on my website and blog. Thank you!
Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/View Insights158 Post Reach

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!: Then versus than

Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author, and WU! admin, Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image from Pixabay.

THEN versus THAN


People often mix up the words “then” and “than.” These words have different meanings and uses.

Then is used when it is related to time. It could mean at that moment, at that time, next in time, or will happen soon. When you are talking about time, use then.

Examples:

  • First we’ll eat and then we’ll go to the park.
  • Brian will go first and then Carla will go.
  • Cars were cheaper back then.
  • I grabbed my coffee and then sat down.
  • If I eat too much pizza, then I won’t have room for dessert.
  • My class is over at 3:00 and we can meet then.
  • Back then, things were easier.
  • I went for a walk and then came back home.
  • We’ll read this book first and then we’ll read that one.
  • Let’s meet first and then we can discuss the sale.

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Than is used for comparisons — one thing compared to another. It is a conjunction used to introduce the second part of a comparison. It also can show the rejected choice when there is a preference. When you are comparing, use than.

Examples:

  • James is shorter than Michael.
  • She would rather read a book than paint.
  • This dress is silkier than that one.
  • Better late than never.
  • I need to study now more than ever.
  • He likes hiking more than I do.
  • She is taller than me.
  • I like blue more than green.
  • I would rather drive than walk that far.
  • She wanted a puzzle more than any other toy.

Basically, if it relates to time, use then. If it is a comparison, use than. Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.

May be an image of text

I hope you find this helpful. These tips and more grammar tips and tools are also on my website and blog. Thank you!
Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/

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