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Monthly Writing Prompt
For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

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Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 An Interesting Mission (Complete)

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TerishD


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PostSubject: An Interesting Mission (Complete)   March 29th 2012, 10:56 pm

A Fight for Recognition
Story Three: Complete
An Interesting Mission

Captain DeStran did not have a smile on his face as he walked into his apartment. The sour mood was not due to the extra briefcase of folders and DVDs, but the reason he carried them was responsible for his unhappiness. He had ordered a pizza as he left the general’s office, and left the door open so the enlisted man that delivered it – no pizza delivery person would be allowed on this part of the base – could quickly come and go. Luckily, there was still beer in the refrigerator. Opening a bottle did not help his mood, but the liquid would at least keep it from getting worse.

He had gone to the general’s office knowing that he was in trouble. He got into brawls too often. Nothing major normally became of the fights, because he kept things personal and tried to only pick on those about his own size. Every now and then however the surrounding ‘friends’ of his opponent would think to join in, and in those occasions certain rules of conduct were tossed out the window. Because he was now an officer, an advancement he probably should not have ever applied for, he was supposed to act with more decorum. He had heard the lecture a thousand times, but he was certain that the general felt that he needed to hear it one more time.

“Captain DeStran, sit down.”

He had not saluted, so there was no need for the superior to return a salute. Had the general been more formal he would have saluted, but the command came before he could judge the general’s demeanor. The higher ranking officer was doing paperwork on his desk, and really did not look like he wanted to bother with formalities. The quick command thus assured a lack of salute. The general wanted the meeting to be strictly business.

“There is a briefcase beside your chair. In it are your new orders. As soon as you are finished with that assignment, you are officially retired. There is no rush to this assignment however.”

The captain did not doubt the presence of the briefcase, but wondered why the words from the superior were not harsh. “I do not understand, Sir.”

“You have served our government long enough, Captain. You have earned your honorable discharge. Go fight your own battles with our blessing. However, there is one final matter on which we would like your expertise.”

The general did not want to prolong the conversation, but could tell in the way that the captain did not reach for the briefcase that he was completely mystified. “Captain DeStran, take the briefcase and study the assignment. You will not be allowed to join up for another tour, however this tour of duty may be extended indefinitely with your continued cooperation. Your government will accept your decision without complaint. Take it on, make it your mission, and continue to serve. Sign off on it, give us your honest appraisal of the situation, and you may retire.”

Captain DeStran now looked to see what was beside his chair, then picked it up and opened the briefcase. He did not do anything more in front of the general than assure that the container was not empty. The general was not a joking person, but Captain DeStran had expected some type of official reprimand. Actually seeing something that would demand his time, he took the briefcase and left.

He simply looked at the container until the enlisted man arrived with his pizza, then tipped the deliverer while saying, “Go get a drink, so you can deny that you were here.”

“I am on duty, Sir.”

“That was an order, Private.”

He ate a couple of slices of pizza while assuring that he had certain necessities before him. Notepads, pens, and a stack of three-by-five cards were placed in accessible places on the table. Finally, he opened the briefcase. He found himself pleasantly surprised to see a few pages stapled together of military people. He ate a piece of pizza as he pleasantly found them to be agents already in place and not personnel that he would need to train. If anything, they would probably need to train him. He looked at the DVD wondering if it would be the start of his lessons, and assured the positions of his necessities before turning off the lights to watch whatever it would show.

What appeared on the screen was not a news clip. It was the complete footage before being edited to fit allotted time. There was also no sound. While a news lady would occasionally come into the picture obviously making some commentary, whoever had made the DVD did not consider her words important.

The initial setting appeared to be some council meeting. Captain DeStran could not tell if it was a gathering of union members or some other unified citizen’s group. There was a desire to know what was being discussed. Whatever the topic, certain people were not happy with what was said. The captain replayed a section where a couple of punches were thrown, he however put the frames on pause as one of those fighting suddenly went down as a part of his body suddenly started spouting blood. Captain Destran was not certain what this event had to do with the military, but analyzed the setting and participants before allowing the scene to continue.

Those with guns had gained control and were making threats towards the camera when a figure zipped towards those armed. She was not large. The clothes were mostly yellow, probably leather. Her head was covered in a yellow leather covering. She did not run, but moved as if wearing roller skates.

Those with guns attempted to shoot the lady. She however moved in a series of twirls and jumps that prevented those waving weapons to gain a fix on her. Her kicks and punches were not meant to really harm her opponents, but disarm them. As waiting officers felt able to close on the assailants, those who thought they were in charge fled.

Captain DeStran stopped the player, turned the lights back on, then flipped through the pages stapled together. What he had assumed were an additional detail pages near the rear spoke of what he had just seen. There were a few small pictures of the lady, but not a good one of her face. What Captain DeStran noticed was that the images were from other sources than the video he was watching. The pages stated that she was called Ballet Slipper, and seemed to be a vigilante with a history that dated back around a year. The local police had no warrants out for her, but instead had issued her a few medals. Captain DeStran did not want to approve of her methods in the crowded room, but had to admit that the battle he saw turned out better than most of those he fought. There was no real name or address in the data for the lady. Wanting further evidence, he again started the player.

The officers in the hallway fell back or down. Those with weapons were using them to clear the path before them. Some attempted to shoot behind them. Ballet Slipper appeared to put on a show as she twirled and jumped between efforts to give chase. Whoever was operating the camera thought to find a safe place to hide, but the lady vigilante seemed confident in being able to dodge any bullets.

Captain DeStran replayed segments as he attempted to determine how Ballet Slipper moved. She did not run. She was also not wearing roller skates. A wide floppy brim to her boots made it difficult to study her feet. Somehow she was able to switch from gliding on the floor as if ignoring any coefficients of friction to jumping or moving down stairs in the normal fashion. He thought it a strange superpower, but found himself mystified by the lady.

Ballet Slipper was moving away on a motorcycle as the camera operator chanced going outside. The news van had been illegally parked in front of the building however, so it was not far behind Ballet Slipper as it began to give chase. Captain DeStran munched on a slice of pizza as he watched the vehicles race through the city streets.

Captain DeStran cursed as his piece of pizza hit the floor. He however only wiped the grease off his fingers. The floor he would clean later. His interest was in replaying a certain scene.

The figure that descended was dressed in a shimmering blue-black. He appeared to be holding onto a bar beneath a black rectangular box. Captain DeStran felt silly as he looked into the cracks around the edges of the screen, but he felt certain that there was an airplane out of view.

Another page among those stapled together was read. This superhero was called Minnow. Again there was no name or address. Minnow had been operating for over three years. Ballet Slipper had a notation that she had been treated at the local hospital once. Minnow had no such notation. He also had a number of medals awarded to him. A notation mentioned that he had yet to pick any of them up.

There were no details about the workings of the flying machine. The folder mentioned it, but only a simple drawing acted as a schematic. How it was powered or operated was not explained.

It was hard to visualize what Minnow did. Several replays finally allowed the captain to get a mental image. The criminals were driving a large, probably armored, sedan. Minnow flew down to place himself in front of the vehicle. He flipped putting his flying machine between him and the car. The next thing that happened was Minnow was on the hood of the sedan as his machine blocked the view of the driver.

A man in the passenger seat rolled down a window and raised himself through it. Minnow was focusing on maintaining his position on the hood. The rifle was probably aimed at the superhero, but the bullet ricocheted off the machine. The flying object suddenly took off vertically. Minnow jumped to the roof of the vehicle.

Captain DeStran could not help but become interested in Minnow. The hero seemed confident riding the top of the car and not his flying machine. The one who moved through a window to fire was disarmed by a well aimed foot before he could fire again. As the attacker dropped back down into the vehicle, Minnow stood and jumped off the sedan. The hero returned to the chase holding onto the bar of a flying machine.

The video was replayed in order to Captain DeStran to ascertain that Minnow was now using another machine. The one that flew off did not spin or move slow, but it had been taken out of the action. The one that Minnow used now was slightly bigger. Captain DeStran made a note that this person was a professional.

Ballet Slipper was not giving chase as if she was a professional. While the van of the news crew kept a steady course, the female superhero weaved from side to side in sometimes extreme turns. Captain DeStran wondered why she bothered. With the arrival of Minnow, the criminals were not worried about her. The lady was obviously not in the same league as the man.

Another piece of pizza hit the floor as the captain watched himself being proved wrong. Ballet Slipper suddenly had her motorbike race up along the side of the rushing sedan. The bike continued a steady forward fast movement as the lady stood on the seat of the two-wheeled vehicle. She suddenly dropped back into the seat and the motorbike fell back. Minnow performed a flip to put him hanging from his flying machine from his feet. The flying vehicle rushed over the window that Ballet Slipper was about to go through. Hanging from the object, Minnow had his hands free. He extended his body just as he came to the window of the vehicle, grabbed a hand holding a gun, then slammed the appendage against the top of the window frame until the gun was released. As the criminal pulled back his empty and hurting arm, Minnow dropped down enough to reach his hand inside the window and open the door. With precision smoothness, Ballet Slipper rode up on her bicycle and entered the sedan through the opening. Minnow dropped from his flying machine to land on the seat of the vacant motorbike and safely park it on a curb. By the time he was again in the air, the sedan had pulled over and its criminal occupants were exiting to be apprehended by waiting police.

Captain DeStran simply watched the screen as the news lady attempted to get interviews with the superheroes. Neither one stopped for the camera however. Ballet Slipper returned to her bike and sped off. Minnow in the meantime disappeared into the sky. It was the police who smiled at the camera while making statements.

The next morning Captain DeStran was standing at attention in front of the door to the general’s office. The superior officer returned a salute, opened the door, then indicated for the captain to enter first. Before doing so, a folder was placed in the hands of the general.

Closing the door behind him, the general said, “I assume that you are accepting the mission.”

“Yes Sir, I am. What you have is my explanation for certain funds.”

The general opened the folder and flipped to the final number. Finding the total within acceptable limits, the general glanced back through the pages simply to find something to talk about. One item seemed appropriate for just that reason.

“Three thousand dollars for tailoring services, Captain?”

“Yes sir. The figure is probably high, but I am uncertain about specifics at this moment.” Seeing his superior simply stare at him, Captain DeStran knew to say more. “I really do not know what it will cost to create an appropriate superhero costume.”

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PostSubject: Re: An Interesting Mission (Complete)   July 27th 2012, 2:13 am

Nice, I love the video footage. You describe the action as if the Captain was watching an action movie. Awesome work!.

I realize I like Dancer better than Minnow. Now that I have the list to go by, (thanks so much for that) I am ready for the next superhero you create. So what is Captain going to be?

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PostSubject: Reply   July 27th 2012, 7:37 am

Whoa, you are reading them out of order. This is #3, and I am presently writing #13. I thus won't tell you what Captain is going to be, as you can read it. I do thank you for reading.

I like Ballet Slipper as well. Her technology is just limited. I do my best to make her sliding around seem wonderful, but I believe if seen in a movie her super power would look rather lame.

Thanks again for reading.

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