Category Archives: Writers Unite!

Calliope Njo: The Mysterious Chest

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! 

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The Mysterious Chest

By Calliope Njo

It had been a journey that took the better part of two years. At first, it didn’t seem that dreadful. With the map at the ready, I boarded a ship to take me to an island off the western coast of Africa. Once I disembarked, prearranged transportation took me to the campsite. Since they had employed most of that town, it shouldn’t be an issue to find it. Right?

Wrong. I got to the ship and got to the port. OK. No trouble. The instructions I received didn’t mention which village or town, and because there were more than one, it took the better part of three days to find it. At last, yes, the town lay right ahead of me. “Yay ha!” Went out when I saw it. The happiest declaration I ever had in my twenty-five years of life.

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting a McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken. I’m not that naive. The preparation for a meal that comprised of insects I couldn’t…bleck. I never ate so much fish as I did during that time.

My stomach did the topsy-turvy thing for the rest of the journey, but was able to survive on bits of food here and there. No relief existed so I had to grit my teeth and bear it. It reminded me every time the thought of food entered my brain.

Exhaustion won out though as we located the Soul of Greed. A remarkable treasure chest filled with precious metals and jewels. No key would open it. Instead, a chant and a series of pushes and pulls had to be done in the right order before the lid would open. It needed to be chanted in the original language and done by a woman.

The woman part wasn’t the bad part, because hello, I am a woman. The original language part was the difficult one. A complete set of interpretations for the language didn’t exist. What we had, none of us were sure was correct. We couldn’t find an expert on the language either. The best we could do was sit there and stare at it.

If any hardware tool was used to break the chest that would’ve been a catastrophe. Burning it would’ve been worse. The lock was such that nothing could get between the lid and latch to open it either.

So there it sat in the main room of the lab. Waiting to be opened, and yes, we tried to do the magic genie thing out of desperation. No, that didn’t work.

It’s a pretty chest to look at though.

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Please visit Calliope on her blog! https://calliopenjosstories.home.blog/

Chester Harper: The Chest

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! 

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 Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

The Chest

By Chester Harper

Katie sat staring at the chest. Nobody had ever been allowed to look at the contents; Grandma Rose was very firm about that. Nobody opened the chest until she was dead and gone. Her will stipulated that the chest go to Katie and be opened on the one-year anniversary of Rose’s death. Well, here it was, the day the chest could be opened. Anna Rose Easley, the family matriarch and the glue that held the family together, had mandated this anniversary gathering, just like she had insisted on family gatherings every holiday. They all must be present for the opening at this last gathering mandated by the lady they all loved…had loved, no, still loved dearly.

Katie wiped a tear and looked up at her family. Why had Grandma Rose left the chest to her and not to her dad, Chet, Grandma Rose’s only child? Katie looked around the circle they had all formed with chairs and stools around the chest. They were all there: Chet, the dad, was still in his scrubs after a twelve-hour shift at the hospital as an ICU nurse; Rachel, the mom, with flour in her hair and on her pants after baking cakes all day; and Mattie, the college student activist, wearing her save-the-sea-turtles t-shirt. Then there was Lizzy, the vet; Paul, the preacher; Jonathan, the wildlife officer; and, finally, Katie, the stay-at-home mom.

“Are we all ready?” Katie asked in a trembling voice. Only nods answered her question.

Katie opened the chest. The first thing she noticed was the scent of fabric and cedar. Then she saw the first quilt, red crosses on an unbleached muslin background. A piece of paper on top of it pronounced it as Chet’s. Her father took the quilt with tears in his eyes. Next came a quilt in the cake stand pattern for Rachel, done in blues and greens with a touch of pink, her favorite colors.

By now they had all crowded around to see what was coming next. The patterns and fabrics had been chosen carefully and with much thought for each person. Mattie got a Lincoln’s Platform quilt in bold primary colors; Lizzy received a nine-patch done in animal fabrics; Paul’s double wedding ring was green, his favorite color, and purple, his wife’s favorite color — but somehow it worked, and Jonathan had a bear-paw pattern done in very earthy colors.

Katie could barely focus through her tears as she got to the bottom of the chest. Her name was printed on an envelope on top of a plain white bed sheet. She opened the envelope and read: 

Katie, you are the only one who listened to my stories about our family and you wrote them down, so they wouldn’t be forgotten. I so enjoyed our time together. I pass the torch to you.

Grandma Rose.

Katie carefully moved the bedsheet. There she found the family tree Grandma Rose and she had so carefully constructed; Great-grandma’s Bible; and the family photo album that contained pictures as far back as the Civil War. Under all of this was the most beautiful sampler quilt Katie had ever seen. Katie pulled the quilt to her face and sobbed; it smelled just like Grandma Rose. She looked at her family’s tear-stained faces and in her best Grandma Rose voice stated very loudly, “Y’all better be here every holiday or have a darn good reason not to be; I’ll hunt you down and drag you here, ya hear? 

Once again, only nods.

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Please visit Chester on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/C-W-Harper-Author-101485477895994/

WU! On Dr. Paul’s Family Talk

WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” Podcast!

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Friday, here is the Podcast of the segment.

Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, “ Story Structure”.

Story Structure

If you would like to listen to the show in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), click on this Podcast link for Friday’s show!

IMPACT RADIO USA strives 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.

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk 11-15-19

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Enzo Stephens: The Cat in the Box

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! 

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The Cat in the Box


By Enzo Stephens

“Welcome to Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. Lone Star flight 2626, arriving from Abilene at gate C6. Baggage Claim Carousel J.”

Seventy-one minutes later, the mass of humanity laying claim to the myriad of brightly colored pieces of luggage that thumped and bounced around on the winding carousel dwindled to … no one. The space was empty and desolate; the echoes of joyful greetings and warm, longing embraces clung to antiseptic, characterless walls.

And yet the carousel ground onward.

There were two passengers on that carousel that were as-of-yet unclaimed. One was a large pet-carrier that was neon-pink and festooned with ribbons and jingling bells and a bright, brass nameplate proclaiming the occupant of the carrier to be named ‘Mufffinhead’. 

The jingling and tinkling bells made everything seem just a little bit lonelier than it should have been, however the occupant of said pet-carrier — Muffinhead, didn’t mind the jingling at all, nor the loneliness for that matter (although her stomach was beginning to contradict that apathy).

No, Muffinhead was just beginning to come out of a phenobarbital-induced fog, and goodness gracious she was indeed a true muffinhead. Her sixteen-pound Calico bulk lay pressed against the side of the joyful container; her luminous eyes mere slits that stared blankly at the rear of the featureless plastic box in which Muffinhead lounged as the carousel wound her around and around the baggage claim area.

The second occupant of Baggage Claim Carousel J was an ancient wooden chest.

There were inscriptions and writings on the box that were indecipherable; no one stepped forth to claim it, so it too rode the Carousel mindlessly, adding the clink and clank of thick rattling chains that crisscrossed the chest to that of the jingling Muffinhead carrier. Despite the clinking and clanking of inch-thick links, Muffinhead remained undisturbed in her P-Barb fog.

At the intersection of chain-links on the very apex of the chest lay a massive cast-iron padlock; the kind that required a large, long skeleton key to pry the tumblers free. The chest thumped and bumped its way around the forlorn carousel, yet that massive padlock didn’t budge; as if it were Gorilla-glued in place.

^^

Tommy Edelstein was bored out of his mind; stuck in this gawd-awful dead-ender of a job, all he could think about was knocking back some vodka shooters and ogling up the night’s array of naked girls at the Wet Cowboy down in Mckees Rocks (also known as ‘The Bottoms’, although Tommy had no idea why). There was one particular Asian girl that held Tommy’s attention, appropriately named Jade.

Oh well, at least the pay is good, he rationalized for about the millionth time. Still, midnight couldn’t get around fast enough on this snoozer of a night. He propped his tablet up on its stand on the counter in the Baggage Lost and Found Office and swiped through to his favorite porn-video site and lost himself in the wonders for a while as Lone Star flight 2626 from Abilene (that’s in Texas) barfed up its luggage contents onto carousel J.

He was vaguely aware of the events that were playing out; bags thumping their way down a conveyor to plop onto the carousel while crowds of people picked and poked through them seeking their belongings, hoping they a) be there and b) the bag would be intact. (Tommy hoped that both a and b played out well for everyone so he wouldn’t be distracted from his Pornopia viewing pleasure.)

Time cruised by and Tommy eventually became aware of the crowds petering out until no one remained and the distant hum of the conveyor became calmingly pervasive. However there was the occasional thump and bump, which signaled unclaimed bags. 

Tommy thumbed his tablet down and hoisted his bulk to his tiny feet, wincing at the stab of pain emanating from his right knee. “Shit,” he barked to himself as he pushed through the glass door to his professional world. Gazing at carousel J he spied first the bright pink pet carrier on one end of the belt, and on the other, the odd wooden chest, which evoked a raised eyebrow from Tommy.

Odd. Curiosity impelled him to scope out that chest, but the pet carrier warranted a higher priority, simply because its occupant might actually be alive. He’d seen his share of dead pets land on these carousels. A live one was … a pleasant occasion. He moved to a midpoint of the carousel to intercept the pink carrier, snagged it and hoisted it in one smooth move, surprised at the heaviness. Weight shifted in the carrier and he lifted it to his line of sight, surprised to meet the gaze of a big Calico staring right back at Tommy with unblinking eyes.

“Aw, hey kitty. Did somebody forget to pick you up?”

Of course, the cat did not reply and Tommy couldn’t resist; he poked his finger through the bars of the door and scratched the kitty under its chin and was rewarded with a deep, sonorous throbbing purr. Smiling, Tommy set the pink carrier on a cushioned chair. “Be right with you there Muffinhead. Betcher hungry.”

What kind of ass-hat named their cat Muffinhead? He grimaced as he moved to intercept the wooden chest.

Tommy peered at it closely as it trundled its mindless way toward him; there were odd markings all over it. The wood looked old, maybe fossilized. No handles along the sides, but a massive black chain was crisscrossed around it. Tommy braced himself to snare it from the carousel and as it meandered into his bear hug, he set his legs and wrenched it up.

The chain rattled and he could barely clear the rail of the carousel. Good Lord was the thing heavy! He almost dropped it. Had to be at least 200 pounds!

Tommy checked the labels plastered on the side of the chest. One said ‘La Paz’. Tommy thought about that for a sec, then it clicked for him. Bolivia?

Weird. Tommy returned to his office where he rolled out a two-wheeler and returned to the chained crate.

But something was really off about the thing, and it was setting distant alarms in Tommy’s head that he wasn’t liking at all, and Tommy learned a long time ago to pay heed to those mental alarms. He slid the tray of the two-wheeler beneath the trunk then stepped back several paces to survey the thing. He shook his head, as if trying to clear his brain then yanked his two-way radio from his belt. “This is Edelstein from Baggage. Over.”

“Go ahead Edelstein. Over.”

“Can you get TSA down here? I’ve got a suspicious package. Over.”

A pause, then, “Describe the package please. Over.”

Tommy laid out a terse description, then, “Have you run a wand over it? Over.” Tommy blinked as if it were an unheard of idea. Of course not, but there’s no time like the present.

“Wanding now. Over.” He bent over the trunk and thumbed the metal detection wand power on. He knew the chain and the lock would trigger the wand, but if the trunk was innocent there should be a dead spot or two. Instantly the wand shrieked, going off like a diabetic sucking down a bottle of syrup.

Tommy stepped back hurriedly, that niggling note of caution in his rear-brain blooming into quick burst of fear. Bomb?

The two-way squawked. “Edelstein? Report. Over.”

“Yeah, the thing went off. No dead spots. Over.”

“TSA on the way. Maintain 25 feet distance. Out.”

Yeah, sure enough. He bolted into his office to await the Transportation Safety Officers; completely forgetting about Muffinhead, who likely didn’t burn any brain cells remembering Tommy or caring about this situation in the least.

An electric cart whickered through the baggage claim area headed straight for the baggage claim office. Fortunately, carousel J was right beside the office so Tommy wouldn’t have to go far to meet the officers.

A tall, smartly-uniformed man stepped from the cart, followed by a short, stocky woman in a rumpled uniform. They strode to Tommy’s office and he met them at the door.

“Edelstein? I’m Carter and this is Officer Yates.” All shook hands quickly (Carter unconsciously wiping his hand down the side of his pressed pants).

“The trunk is over here.” And the three strode to form a loose perimeter around the trunk while maintaining distance. 

Carter glanced at Tommy. “You move it off the carousel?”

“Yeah.”

“Heavy?”

“Felt like at least 200 pounds.”

Carter’s eyebrow arched. “You can lift that much?”

“Look, I know I’m fat, but I’ve done some powerlifting, so yeah, I know what 200 pounds feels like.”

Yates was peering at the tag on the side of the trunk, sidling over to get a better view while keeping her distance. “What’s that tag say? Did you see it?”

“La Paz. As in Bolivia.” Tommy felt uber-intelligent in providing a geography lesson.

“Yeah, we know where La Paz is,” snapped Carter. “You scanned it and it went off, right.”

“Like a banshee.”

Yates returned to the men. “How did it pass detection to be loaded on the plane? This is a Lone Star flight, right?”

Tommy shrugged. Carter pulled his two-way and thumbed the mic. “Dispatch? Get a shield-lift down to baggage claim, stat. Notify our Suspicious Package Unit to get the VBCC mobilized and on-site.”

“Roger, Carter. Do we really need the Vehicular Bomb Containment Carrier, and do we have an evacuation event here? Over.”

That second question caused Tommy’s eyes to bug out. As in, Oh shit!

But Carter allayed Tommy’s sudden terror with, “Affirmative on the first question dispatch. Negative on the second question, though content is still undetermined. Let’s get it contained as precautionary, but keep the noise down to avoid panic. 

“Also, get Allegheny County’s Bomb Squad out here; tell them to come quietly. Over.”

“Carter, AC has their own protocol. They’re coming with sirens and lights. Over.”

“Roger. Hurry up. Out.”

He looked at Tommy. “Anybody else around here that you know of?” And that’s when Tommy remembered Muffinhead.

Tommy moved over to the row of plastic padded seats where Muffinhead lounged in her pretty pink carrier. “Just this cat,” he said as he hefted the thing by its handle. Muffinhead purred inside the box, which Tommy thought was pretty cool considering the onset of insanity that was looming. He slipped his finger between the bars and stroked the warm furry side of the cat. It was nice.

Carter spoke rapidly with Yates who moved briskly to the cart from which they arrived. She jumped into the passenger seat and it took off. Carter turned to Tommy. “Take the cat and stay in your office until further notice. I’m sealing this area off until further notice.”

^^

Tommy sat the cat carrier on the counter facing him. Muffinhead rested within, gently pushing out a soft and constant purr. Briefly he contemplated removing the cat from her cage and snuggling it in an over-the-shoulder hug, but discarded that idea at the thought of the cat taking a whiz on his shirt, which is what a cat would do if it was scared.

Cat piss really stinks.

So Tommy watched the flurry of chaos that ensued from the false security of his office, protected by a simple glass door which would blast spears of piercing glass through his arteries and kill him by bleeding out. The thought did indeed occur to Tommy, no matter how hard he tried to dispel that imagery.

Electric carts with flashing lights were positioned at the bottom of the escalators and stairways and blocked elevator access, and uniformed TSA officers wound yellow tape around all the entrances to the lower level of the airport.

And then nothing for a long thirty minutes. Then, from the outside, in came what looked like a combination tank and forklift driven by a heavily armored TSA officer. The forklift made its way to the trunk and slid its tines to either side of the trunk, knocking over the two-wheeler Tommy placed there eons ago. The tines pressed together, then raised up, lifting the trunk from the floor. 

It spun smoothly and rolled out the door from which it came. Tommy raced to the windows of his office and followed the tank-lift as it moved inexorably down the four lanes of tarmac that fronted the lower level of the Arrivals section of the airport. 

At the end of the tarmac sat what looked like a dumpster painted bright red with red and yellow warning stripes on gigantic tires, a huge door yawning open to receive the suspicious trunk from the tank-lift.

Officer Carter stood near the VBCC, two-way radio in hand, barking direction, while people scurried around the front of the VBCC. 

Blaring sirens grew louder as they approached, signaling the arrival of the Allegheny County Bomb Squad, and Tommy say back in his chair. “This is some serious shit there Muffinhead. You should see all this craziness!”

Of course, Muffinhead didn’t seem to care, especially when Tommy slid his forefinger in again to scratch Muffinhead under her furred chin.

^^

“Hello Agent Carter, I’m Agent Morrison from DHS.”

Heartburn was becoming more and more prevalent with each passing minute for Carter, and it just spiked when the Department of Homeland Security made their way into the proceedings. He distractedly shook Morrison’s hand.

“Give me a sitrep please.”

Carter sighed. Same old shit with the AC Bomb Squad, and now DHS. Give me a sitrep. Go piss up a rope!

“You see the trunk. We’ve run a metal scan positive. We’ve run an x-ray scan; it’s utterly impenetrable. Almost like it’s lead-lined, and the weight would support that supposition. Scale shows it at 248.8 pounds, which is consistent with quarter-inch-thick lead lining given the calculated interior area of the trunk.” Carter stopped himself from providing what he felt was an educated conclusion.

“Lead lining indicates radiation containment.”

“Primitive but effective.”

Morrison scratched his square, clean-shaven chin. “I’m thinking nuclear device.” He removed his Fedora and rubbed his clean-shaven head. “Your thoughts, Carter?”

“Nuclear device is possible, which means we need to get this thing out of here right away. But it’s hard to say what we’re dealing with as far as destructive power—”

“—If it’s really a nuke.”

“Right. But I think we should treat it as such.”

“Of course, but we can’t get containment in under 24 hours, and without knowing the detonator or the trigger, it could go off any time.”

“Can it be ‘coptered out?”

Morrison nodded, then held up his forefinger. “Let’s see what’s in there first. We can drill a small hole in the bottom of the trunk and insert a micro-camera.”

Carter nodded. It’s risky but it made sense.

Both men snared their two-ways and began barking commands. 

The area around the VBCC was immediately cleared of people, though the task became more challenging when the local news vans arrived. Tommy saw them and waved from the window of his office. “Muffinhead! The news is here! We’re gonna be famous!”

A low-slung, small six-wheeled vehicle trundled forth, rolling up the tarmac toward the VBCC. A long pole stood up from the body of the vehicle and as Tommy watched, the pole began telescoping upward. The six-wheeler stopped before the VBCC and the waiting trunk. He absently scratched the chin of Muffinhead who was busy purring and pressing the side of her head into his touch.

A segmented cable stretched out from the extended pole and wove its way to the exposed bottom of the trunk where it hung there for a few moments like a weaving cobra, and then darted forward to plant itself into the old, fossilized wood.

Tommy strained to see the details of what was transpiring, but unless he was right on top of it, the events would be difficult to see. And since he was inside, whatever noise was being generated did not reach Tommy’s ears. He glanced at the clock on the wall to see that it was 1:10 am. Tommy felt that noting the time would be important for some reason.

From the head of the segmented cable that was now attached to the bottom of the trunk emerged a diamond-headed drill bit which began to whir at blinding speed and then pressed slowly into the wood.

Muffinhead stopped purring, though Tommy failed to notice.

The drill ground inexorably into the wood of the chest and Carter and Morrison were watching intently, tension throbbing. 

The drill punched through, then whipped out of the new hole.

Tommy jolted upright as Muffinhead yowled and then began pulling at the horizontal bars of her carrier violently, throwing her body side to side. Her growls were terrifying! Tommy bent down to look into her confine and stepped back immediately when her suddenly blood-red eyes bored hatred at Tommy. “What the f—”

“Let. Me. Out. Of. Here!”

The voice was high pitched but gravelly as if it was struggling to form words and then to push them out through brand new vocal chords. He was stunned frozen.

A small video camera poked out of the end of the segmented cable that was still attached to the wooden trunk and then meandered its way into the trunk, LED lights illuminating the interior. Carter and Morrison were hunched over a video monitor, watching the progress of the device as it was manipulated by a technician.

“Nothing,” said both men.

Tommy struggled to wrap his mind around the fact that Muffinhead actually spoke. Maybe it was only in his mind; his imagination. He moved his face closer to the cage then pulled back hurriedly as Muffinhead swiped at him with raking talons. 

Muffinhead laughed, long and loud, causing Tommy to plop to the floor on his butt, staring.

“Oh you fools. We’re free! After so many thousands of years, myself and my kind are finally free.”

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Please visit Enzo on Facebook” https://www.facebook.com/Enzo.stephens.5011

Kerr Rawden: The Boxed Heart

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! 

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 Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

The Boxed Heart

By Kerr Rawden

To avoid it breaking,

Davy Jones carved out his heart

and kept it in a box much like this one.


He cast it away

into the Dead Man’s Chest

as protection from his grief,

leaving behind the empty chest

of a dead man.


But don’t we all

box our hearts

from time to time.

Or indefinitely.


Whether the box be made of wood,

of betrayal or social expectations

carved by other people,

we all box our hearts from time to time.

Or indefinitely.


See we don’t craft the box ourselves.

The box is gifted,

a splinter off the block

that boxes someone else’s heart.


And inside the box

our hearts scream for light,

but what is a noise in the forest,

if there’s no one there to hear it.


We all box our hearts

from time to time.

Or indefinitely.

And give away the key

to someone lost in the past.


But the heart must be free,

so if you’ve boxed yours away

look deep inside for the key

before it’s too late.


The only Dead Man’s Chest

to truly exist

is of the man

who’s boxed away his heart.

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Please follow Kerr on Facebook and Instagram: 

Www.facebook.com/kerr.rawden 

Www.instagram.com/kerr.rawden

Lynn Miclea: The Old Trunk

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! 

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The Old Trunk

by Lynn Miclea

My body swam with a combination of excitement and dread. Wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans, I realized I had always been both curious and scared of what was in that old trunk.

Now it was time to go out to the shed behind the garage and find out. My stomach tightened at the thought. For years, my father had always emphatically insisted that I was never to either go in the shed or open that trunk under any circumstances. He forbid it. I had never seen him that severe or unyielding.

He never gave an explanation, but I didn’t need one. I respected him and, feeling intimidated and frightened, I honored his demand. But I was always curious.

Even after my mother passed away, he again insisted that I was never to open it. “Rhea, if I die before I can safely get rid of that trunk,” he had told me one day, “you need to burn it. Just whatever you do, do not open it. Please. Promise me.”

And now that he had passed away, I was free to open it. I knew I had promised not to, but what harm could there be to just take a quick peek? And there was no one to stop me.

For a few minutes, I simply stood on the walkway behind the garage. It felt like a betrayal to even consider going into the shed and open the trunk. But now I had to. I had to clear out the entire house and yard so I could put it on the market for sale. And I had to finally know what was in there.

I wracked my brain trying to remember why I was not allowed to open it. I knew my father’s job was something secret with the government that he did not discuss. Did that have anything to do with this? I had no idea.

Maybe the trunk was simply filled with something personal. Or some secret he didn’t want getting out. Or some treasure that I was supposed to discover after his death. I had no idea.

Staring at the door to the shed, my mouth was dry and it was hard to swallow past the lump in my throat. My legs felt heavy as I slowly trudged forward. This was it.

My hands shook as I reached toward the deadbolt, the key in my hand. A tremor went through me as I slipped the key into the lock, turned it, and opened the door. The interior of the shed was dim, and I waited while my eyes adjusted. Pale light came through a small, square window, giving me enough light to see. There was not much there. A few old boxes, a few bags, some books and notebooks on a shelf, and lots of cobwebs.

And the old trunk. The trunk my father had told me never to open. Why? What could be in it? It could be anything or nothing at all. And now I would finally find out what it was.

I slowly stumbled toward the old trunk. The shed felt warm and stuffy, but as I approached the trunk, I started feeling cold. An icy tingle went down my spine.

The trunk was locked. Was there a key? There — a key hung on a string from a hook on the wall just behind it. Hand shaking, I grasped the key and removed it from the hook, almost dropping it. My fingers were cold, almost numb.

The key slipped into the lock on the trunk. Did I want to do this? Yes. I had to. I twisted the key. At first it didn’t move. I jiggled it, and then I heard the click as it opened. My hand trembled as I removed the key.

Inch by inch, I slowly opened the curved lid. A strange, putrid smell reached me. At first it was too dark to see anything. It looked like a jumble of cloth and something leathery. What was it? It almost looked like a dead body. But that couldn’t be. I had been watching too many movies.

Something in the trunk suddenly moved. I gasped and stepped back. That was not possible. I must have been mistaken.

I eased forward again and squinted, trying to see what was inside. I was sure whatever I thought I saw was just a combination of the lighting and my imagination.

Cloth. Long, leathery, bony rods, fingers — No! It was something not human. What the—

It clearly moved this time. Gray, bony fingers grasped the edge of the open trunk, making a clunking noise. Something rattled. A wrinkled, scaly gray face with large red eyes peered out and looked right at me.

Terror flooded my entire body, and a strange squeal escaped my lips. I backed up until my back hit the wall behind me.

A bluish glow emanated from the alien creature and filled the small room.

No!

I turned and scrambled toward the door to leave, but my rubbery legs gave way and I crashed to the floor.

I scurried backward as the alien creature approached me and a fetid odor filled the shed.

It studied me and hissed as its thoughts echoed in my head. Your father should have killed me when he had the chance.

Paralyzed with absolute terror, I could not move. My throat constricted and I struggled to breathe.

Its voice rasped in my head. Now it is too late.

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Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

Please also visit Lynn’s blog, like the story there, and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-qC

Please also visit Lynn’s website for more information on her books – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/

Paula Shablo: The Treasured Chest

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! 

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The Treasured Chest

By Paula Shablo 

It wasn’t anything fancy, just a small wooden trunk with rope handles and iron hinges, but it fired Arthur’s imagination the moment he saw it.

“Where’d it come from, Mama?” he asked.

“It was my grandfather’s,” Mama told him. “He had it when he went into the Air Force.”

“A wooden trunk?” Daddy asked. “Isn’t that unusual for the Air Force?”

“It’s been passed down for a few generations,” Mama said. “I’d have to do some research.”

“Can I have it?” Arthur asked.

Mama and Daddy exchanged worried looks.

“I promise I won’t color on it, or anything!” Arthur cried. “I will take good care of it. The best! I swear!”

His parents worried about his treatment of a genuine heirloom, but they needn’t have. Eight-year-old Arthur was enchanted. He barely had the arm span to grasp it by the rope handles and lug it to his room, but he insisted on doing it himself.

Once in his room, Arthur reverently lifted the lid and looked inside. The trunk was empty, save for a large manila envelope that lay on the bottom. Inside, there were labels. “What are they, Mama?” Arthur asked.

“Shipping labels,” she replied, examining them and then passing them to Arthur’s father.

“Wow,” Daddy said. “It looks like they were carefully steamed from the trunk and peeled off.”

“My mother must have done it.” Mama looked sad. Grandma was gone now; it had been three months, and Mama still cried all the time. Arthur hoped this wouldn’t make her start again.

There were no boys in Grandma’s family, and so the generation who might have been drafted into the Vietnam war had been spared. Mama, too, had no brothers. Arthur was the first boy to be born between all those many years between the Korean conflict and now.

The trunk, however, had stayed in the family.

“Arthur,” Mama said. “I am trusting you to keep your word and take very good care of this.”

“I promise,” Arthur repeated.

Soon Mama made good on her own promise to research the origins of the chest. What she discovered was confirmation that it was a true family heirloom.

The trunk was a present, originally hand made by Arthur’s four-times great-grandfather. He gifted it to his newborn son in 1865, soon after the war between the states had ended. All during his military service, he had carried a knapsack, and vowed that his son would have better luggage should he ever need it.

However, the trunk’s first purpose had been to hold the infant’s clothing and toys. As he grew up, Arthur’s three-times grandfather continued to use it as his storage place, and when he was old enough to join the Army, the trunk went with him.

This man, who was also named Arthur, spent several years in the Army, and during his service he heard of combats in resettling the Native Americans, but never engaged in battle himself. During the Spanish-American War in 1898, he was injured when his platoon was traveling on a train that derailed, losing his left leg. He was 33 when he retired on commission, due to disability. They’d been traveling to do battle; it was an honorable retirement.

The trunk had been on the train at the time, and sustained a good many scratches. It took six months for Arthur to locate it again. The treasured chest underwent some sanding and stain to soothe its injuries, but it bore its scars thereafter.

At the time of his retirement, Arthur had three children, including 8-year-old Maxwell. The boy had helped restore the trunk as well as possible, and braided new rope handles for it. As the oldest son, he would be the one to inherit the chest and the items within it some years later.

Maxwell took the trunk with his father’s blessing when he enlisted in the Army in 1917 and joined America in its fight during World War I.

Maxwell’s son, Anthony, broke with family tradition and joined the Air Force. He wanted, more than anything, to fly. He was a well-trained pilot when World War II broke out, and a seasoned fighter a few years later when he ended up in the Korean conflict. Near the end of his life, he’d told his daughter that “conflict” was a stupid word, made up by politicians who no longer cared to admit they’d involved the country in a war.

Anthony carried the trunk with him to his many different stations over the course of his career. He was happy to pass it on to his oldest daughter. “Now,” he said, “it can return to its original purpose. Put your baby blankets and keepsakes in it.”

Grandma had used it as a hope chest. She wasn’t old when she passed away, only 50, and she had left it to Mama, who was the oldest of her girls.

Arthur listened with awe as Mama related the military history of his family and his new, beloved trunk. “I will take this everywhere with me, too, Mama,” he said.

That was 1988. My brother was eight years old.

Growing up, Arthur let me put my stuffed bunny in the trunk for naps and we would hide birthday and Christmas presents for Mama and Daddy in there, too.

Arthur was never selfish about sharing his space. He didn’t even get mad when I put our new puppy, Dingo, in there and he pooped. He did make me help him scrub the wood clean and disinfect it and everything else inside, but not because he was angry. It was so that I would learn a lesson and know better in the future.

I did. I would never, ever put a puppy in a wooden box again. Getting the smell out was hard work!

Arthur joined the Marines in 1998. The trunk went with him.

After training, Arthur and his trunk went to Afghanistan. The day his flight took off was the first time I ever saw my father cry. Mama said having the trunk with him would bring him luck.

Mama was wrong.

When Arthur was flown home to us in the fall of 1999, his trunk and all his belongings came with him. Mama didn’t want to look at it, so I took it with me, back to my college dorm.

That treasured chest has gone with me everywhere since then. For twenty years, I never opened it.

Arthur would be forty now. Just now, this very day. He hadn’t made it to his 20th birthday in 1999, falling two months before that date.

My brother never went to a bar. He never bought his own car. He never married and never had children. The photos we took of him and his date for Senior Prom are the last of the happy pictures. His military photos all show a solemn, serious boy.

My brother Arthur was a man, of course, and the best of men. He gave up his very life for this country. I have always been so very proud of that man. We all have.

Today we gather in my new house, and Mama holds my new baby grandson. It’s my brother’s birthday, and we are going to open his chest and see what treasures he may have left behind.

Whatever they might be, we will deal with them. I have no doubt there will be tears. I hope there will also be smiles.

There will be cake. My husband baked and decorated it, and it is beautiful, almost too nice to cut and eat.

After that, this very treasured chest, now 154 years old, will be filled with my grandson Arthur’s clothes and blankets and toys. While he grows up, he will place his treasures there. I will be sure to tell him that live puppies can’t sleep there, even if he is very careful not to shut the lid.

I pray the trunk never sees another war. I pray that this Arthur uses it only as a treasure chest.

Happy Birthday, brother.

I lift the lid.

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Please visit Paula on her blog: https://paulashablo.wordpress.com/

Lisa Criss Griffin: The Memory Trunk

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! 

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A nostalgic story for a month of thanksgiving! ❤️

The Memory Trunk

By Lisa Criss Griffin

Angie looked at the large antique trunk that had just arrived from her mother’s estate with mixed emotions. It was a lovely work of craftsmanship, filled with the most important memories of her mother’s family, and possibly some of the most intimate family secrets that had been hidden from her over the years.

She caressed the intricate metal scrolling lining the edges of the ornate trunk, half afraid to open it because of what she might find inside. Angie took a deep breath, unlocked the burnished metal clasp and carefully raised the curved lid of the trunk to reveal the contents. A slightly musty odor quickly dissipated into the air.

There was a top tray of smooth, hand-rubbed wood, tastefully decorated with delicate floral paper. Several inner trays contained small pictures of her mother’s family and bundles of yellowed letters tied with faded ribbons. There were also a variety of velvet drawstring bags filled with antique jewelry.

Angie picked up the top tray of the trunk by the handles carved into both ends and set it aside on the cream-colored carpet of the spare bedroom. On top of the other items in the trunk was a lovely dress made out of dark blue satin and exquisite lace. Angie carefully lifted the gorgeous dress out of the trunk and laid it across the bed in order to see it more clearly. She recognized this dress. Her grandmother had worn it on her wedding day.

Angie remembered the beautifully framed picture of her grandparents on their wedding day that hung on a wall in their home. Her grandmother had been an extraordinarily beautiful woman, and the dress highlighted her beauty. The color of the dress accentuated her striking blue eyes and was skillfully tailored to adorn her petite figure. Her grandfather was an athletically built tall man, with kind eyes and a disarming smile. She had always been fascinated by their wedding picture since it had been difficult for her as a child to imagine her elderly grandparents as the vibrant, young attractive couple in the photograph.

The other picture in her grandparent’s home that captivated Angie was a full-length portrait of her grandmother. It was almost life-sized and took up a good part of one of the walls in her grandfather’s study. Her grandmother closely resembled Vivian Leigh, who starred as Scarlet O’Hara in the epic film Gone With The Wind. The portrait featured her youthful grandmother in a gorgeous full-length dress, gazing confidently yet wistfully into the study. Angie’s grandmother, although unbeknownst to her at the time of the portrait, would never have to worry about money. Her grandfather had done very well in his business and was a pillar in their community.

Angie sighed, brushing her fingertips across the soft silk of the wedding dress as she put it on a hanger and into a garment bag for safekeeping. She was surprised at the memories that just this one dress had invoked and looked back into the trunk.

There were several wedding guest books signed by people from generations long ago. Some of the names she was familiar with, most of them she didn’t know. She found the guest book from her parents’ wedding, sprinkled with many familiar names of people that she had either met or heard about over the years. She was a little surprised to find it, since her parents had gone through a vicious divorce when she was a teenager. Her mother had purged anything related to her father from her life, so Angie assumed that her grandmother had saved these things. She appreciated it. It was comforting somehow to have records and pictures of her parents in their younger and happier days. Even up into her late 80s, Angie’s mother had chosen to remain bitter and would not admit to anyone she had shared twenty years of marriage with Angie’s father. Angie and her brother had always wondered how their mother explained the origin of their existence after the divorce.

Angie reached back into the trunk and pulled out a hardback book. Inside she found a history of her grandfather’s family lineage. She remembered her great-grandfather a little bit. He used to let her sit on his lap and play with his long white beard during family reunions. He also used to put her up on the bare back of his favorite horse and walk them down the sandy driveway to the mailbox and back again. She remembered that he had laughing blue eyes and that she was always happy to see him. Angie couldn’t have been more than four when he died, and it had been hard for her to understand why she suddenly didn’t get to see him anymore.

Her grandfather’s parents lived on a farm in Kansas and had eight children. The family had survived the misery of the Great Dust Bowl that had ravaged the massive farmlands in the Midwest. Angie had heard stories of her family having to sweep the dust and dirt out of their homes daily, and of the multiple cases of dust pneumonia. She could not imagine the sky darkening, not with rain, but with tons of choking dirt that would encase everything in a giant wave of blowing dust for days on end.

Both sets of Angie’s maternal great-grandparents and their children had survived the Dust Bowl, but Angie’s grandfather, being the oldest boy, had left home at a young age so his siblings would have enough to eat. He went to work and eventually attended college in a nearby town. He was walking with a friend across the school campus when he saw Angie’s grandmother for the first time. He turned to his friend and informed him that he was going to marry that girl! His friend laughed, but sure enough, he pursued her and he married her.

Angie had always thought that was an interesting story, especially since she discovered her husband had said the exact same thing to his friend the first time they had met. It made Angie wonder if it was just a fun coincidence or if there was something more to it. Who knew? Perhaps she was more connected with her predecessors than she imagined.

Angie gathered the bundles of yellowed letters and headed for the recliner in the living room after replacing the top tray and closing the trunk. She poured herself a cup of coffee and untied the first bundle of letters. They were letters from her grandmother to somebody who was taking care of her great-grandmother.

Angie’s grandmother’s parents had eventually moved into town after the Dust Bowl. Her great-grandfather was a talented carpenter and his skills were in high demand in the town. Her great-grandmother found herself mysteriously unable to walk in midlife, so she was housebound. They never did figure out what had happened to cause her to lose the use of her legs, but she adjusted her life with grace. Angie’s mother had always enjoyed any opportunity to visit her maternal grandmother and spoke highly of her. When Angie’s maternal great-grandfather died, his crippled wife moved out of state to be close to her only son, Angie’s grandmother’s brother.

Angie never had the opportunity to meet her great-uncle. He had died at an early age, before Angie was born. Rumor had it that he had been murdered during a robbery at his successful mercantile, but when pressed, Angie’s mother said she thought her uncle had a heart attack. Angie and her brother still believed he had been murdered and it was just one of those things that the family didn’t talk about, although there had been plenty of murmuring about it behind closed doors. Angie remembered his widow though, who used to “visit” family members for weeks on end after his death. She was a delightful person, but her extended “visits” put a strain on the families. Even as a young child, Angie heard the whispers of dread among the older family members about who Aunt Millie was going to choose to “visit” next.

Angie finished reading the letters her grandmother had written to the person taking care of her crippled mother. After her son’s untimely death, Angie’s great-grandmother chose to live close to her son’s children and eventually entered a long-term care facility run by nuns. She was well taken care of, but it was obvious from Angie’s grandmother’s letters that her grandmother was grieved by how far away they now lived from each other. The last letter Angie read was a response to a letter her grandmother received informing her of her mother’s death. The sadness and guilt still dripped from between the lines of her grandmother’s written response. Angie found it interesting since she couldn’t recall her grandmother ever mentioning her great-grandmother to her.

Angie got up and refilled her coffee cup, needing some fortification for the remaining bundles of unread letters. She ran her fingers through her blonde streaked hair as she passed by the hall mirror, noticing the sadness in her striking blue eyes. She wondered what she would eventually leave behind that would give her grandchildren a glimpse into her adult life. She hoped it wouldn’t be sad. Some terribly sad things had happened in her life, but that was not how she wished to be remembered. Most of Angie’s life had been filled with exciting and wonderful experiences, and she hoped her progeny would have the opportunity to know those things about her.

Angie returned to the comfortable recliner and sipped her coffee slowly as visual memories of her grandparents played in her head. They had been good to her, and she had been sad when they died. Her grandfather had gone first. It had been devastating for her grandmother, who was experiencing mid-stage dementia at the time. Angie’s grandfather had moved them both into a lovely, local assisted-living facility a couple of years earlier, and had wisely made arrangements for his wife’s care if she outlived him.

Angie’s grandmother peacefully passed away in her sleep about a year after Angie introduced her to her youngest grandson. Although her grandmother was unable to recognize any of her family by then, an excited light ignited in the depths of her empty blue eyes as she gazed upon the baby boy. She smiled, then the light suddenly faded and she was lost in the dementia once again. Angie treasured the memory of her grandmother’s delight over the baby. It was a beautifully honest reaction from the depths of her grandmother’s soul.

Angie sighed and put her coffee cup down on the side table. She picked up another bundle of letters and untied the faded ribbon. She found herself reading her mother’s narrative to her grandmother about herself and her little brother when they were very young. Angie had not realized how overwhelmed her mother had felt with two little children only eighteen months apart.

There were also a lot of questions about sewing and homemaking. Angie’s grandmother was an expert in those areas, and was one of the best cooks in the family. Angie’s mother did an immense amount of social entertaining, both for business and for pleasure. Angie and her little brother used to help her prepare the hors d’oeuvres for the gatherings and they both developed a love for cooking. They had traditional desserts they would make every year for Christmas, and Angie had continued the traditions with her own children. Angie’s brother was an amazing cook, and she enjoyed every meal he cooked when she had the opportunity to visit him. Both of Angie’s sons were excellent cooks. Her youngest son could easily be a chef, and she always looked forward to sampling his latest creation.

Angie finished reading the letters, surprised by the amount of worrying her mother had done. She had hid it well while they were young. Her mother had always invoked a certain amount of anxiety in Angie, and it now occurred to her that she had been a sensitive enough child to pick up on her mother’s anxiety. It was suddenly clear that she was not the source of her mother’s anxiety, although she was sure she contributed to it during her teenage years. Again, how sad. And the way their little family had been destroyed by such a bitter divorce was incredibly sad.

Angie made a different choice when she and her husband had gone through a rough patch, and she had never regretted the effort they both put into repairing their relationship. She was determined not to put her children through the hell she and her brother went through as children of a nasty divorce. Angie’s little family was still very close, even though her children were now grown.

Angie returned the letters to their envelopes and retied each bundle with the faded ribbons. She took them back to the memory trunk and carefully returned them to the top tray. She opened the velvet bags and watched the antique jewelry tumble onto the cream carpet. She picked up a ring of her grandmother’s that she had always liked and slipped it on her finger, surprised that it fit. She fingered the other pieces of jewelry, enjoying the memories associated with each piece.

Angie returned all the other jewelry to the velvet bags and carefully closed the memory trunk. She walked back to the living room to retrieve her coffee cup. On the way, Angie stopped in front of the hall mirror, suddenly seeing the bits and pieces of her mother’s family reflected in her face…especially the striking blue eyes that were usually kind and the disarming smile she enjoyed flashing. She was a composite of them all, yet she was uniquely herself. Those who had gone before her had contributed to who she was, and she loved them. Angie smiled, enjoying the feel of her grandmother’s ring on her finger. Even though sad things had happened to her family, the beautiful antique trunk was filled with very precious memories.

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Copyright © 2019 Lisa Criss Griffin

All rights reserved

Please visit Lisa on FB:  https://www.facebook.com/authorlisacrissgriffin/

WU! on Dr. Paul’s Family Talk

WU! On “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” Podcast!

If you missed Writers Unite! on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” today here is the Podcast of the segment.

Join host Paul W. Reeves and WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff as they discuss the topic, “Characters”.

Characters

If you would like to listen to the show in its entirety (and it’s a lot of fun), click on this Podcast link for Friday’s show!

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk Friday November 08, 2019

IMPACT RADIO USA strives 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.

Impact Radio USA

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Jenny Booker: Tales of Treasure

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! 

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 Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Tales of Treasure

By Jenny Booker

For years ever since she was a little girl and heard the tales of the box from her father, she needed to find it.

For many years she worked her way up and was able to captain a crew and buy a ship for the long journey.

They came through some of the toughest of seas across the golden ocean, for many a ship sank due to the frequent storms — fighting their way all the time to find the island.

Betrayals and hard times she battled onwards and for days they nearly starved but once on that island, things started to improve.

Walking for what seemed like weeks and nearly getting lost due to the map being very confusing, they found the cave. X marked the spot!

Among the traps laid out only a few from her crew were still around to witness the box, sitting on top of a pile of gold and jewels.

Slowly as if in a dream, as this moment was what her life was dedicated for — for her family, for all those who mocked her father, there it was as real as you and I, she walked towards it.

The others dived into the piles of treasure around her, ignoring the most precious thing that was in the cave.

She touched it and breathed it all in — this was it, slowly opening the creaky box to reveal…

The moment taken away due to the cave rumbling — she had to wait a bit more to see the contents.

Safely getting out of the cave, she then dragged the box back on board the ship where she could then admire the box once more. Locking the door she turned to open the box.

Staring back at her were four very small dragon eggs!

“At last,” she beamed and emotions took hold of her as she picked one up.

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Please follow Jenny’s blog: https://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com