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The Daily Prompt #1

Nostrovia! Poetry wants to help writers and poets grow in their craft.  At times, inspiration, or our Muse, seems to have silently dipped out the back door.  We’re responding to writer’s block with a hammer named The Daily Prompt.

Every Sunday a new creative writing prompt will be posted.  These prompts will not be the run of the mill, rather unusual, and sometimes difficult to respond to.

We encourage writers to post their prompt responses to their blogs, and link to the post in the comment section below.  Give each other feedback, and help each other grow.

The Daily Prompt – Week #1

Physical contact has now been made illegal.  There are shady hug dealers and hand-holders working in the dead of night.

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14 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Daily Prompt #1 | Annie Cecil

  2. The images on the big screen cast shadows and light across the faces of those in the cinema. Occasionally, a flash of white reflected off the scopes of the semi-automatic rifles held by the officers standing watch around the edges of the room. The audience would stiffen visibly at these harsh reminders of The State’s omnipresence. Couples sat side by side, shoulders tense, hands clutched tightly in laps. Physical contact would not be tolerated, and the punishment for breaking the First Law would be swift. Later (after the credits had rolled) they would gather outside the complex and discuss the movie. They would talk about the action, the soundtrack, the plot. Yet each comment given would be superficial and lack real depth. Concentrating was difficult when the possibility of death was a constant. On the screen the latest government propaganda played on. The acting was wooden, the script bland. Characters sprouted moralistic tripe designed to reinforce the benevolence of The State. ‘We Care’ was the motto of the ruling power. Billboards lined the buildings of the city. Images depicted happy families dutifully following the law of proximity.

    Ten years after it was first instated, the city was a shell of its former self. Walkways and footpaths no longer filled with the busy chatter of people talking and laughing. They were so consumed with the task of avoiding touching others that they had no time to engage in pleasantries. Streets that were once a hive of activity now resembled a silent regimented congo line. The required proximity distance of half a metre was adhered to religiously. Attention to the task of moving fixed and unwavering. In the Time Before, people gave no thought to their contact with others. Accidental touch was a common occurrence that, if stories were true, had ultimately led to the outbreak. Now, silence reigned on the streets. At each corner an officer of The State stood sentry. Their grey uniforms and black visors that covered their faces added to their mechanical, robotic appearance. It was not their purpose to serve and protect. Armed with the power of absolute authority, their main weapon was fear.

    The symbols began to appear in the lead up to the annual Enlistment Day. Two interlocked hands within the outline of the now obsolete national flag. The State issued harsher graffiti laws and clean up crews patrolled the streets. For each symbol removed two more appeared in its place. The first communication came in the form of a flyers posted on power poles across the city. It’s message was short and to the point: The Rebellion has begun.

    • Very quickly draws the reader in. I really dug the simplicity of the closing sentence. Thank you for sharing. I hope to see your response next week. Cheers!

  3. TOUCH

    It is the midnight hour
    in the walled-off city of Oxenfree.
    There is a cold hollow silence
    filling every corner of the city.
    Nothing but dead air
    for what seems like forever.

    Outside,
    the game is on – Tag! You’re it!
    That’s all it takes
    any skin to skin contact
    and you could be a dead man.

    I’m awake because silence has gotten too loud.
    It’s been two weeks since my last fix.
    I’ve been relegated to sneaking contact wherever I can get it.
    The other night I “accidentally” grazed a stranger’s hand
    when reaching for the same box in the cereal isle.
    – An offense I could have been reported for.

    I can’t sleep.
    As I walk these post-curfew streetcorpses
    careful to avoid Big Brother’s electronic eyes,
    I think to myself:
    You’re so pathetic.
    Where’s your survival instinct?
    This is why they make these rules.
    For weaklings like you.

    I pull a scrap piece of paper from my pocket.
    a symbol and a number.
    Location and time.
    It was slipped under my door this morning.

    As I stand under the bridge, waiting for the guide.
    I keep thinking
    This is a set up
    It’s gotta be –

    My thoughts are cut short
    by the sound of boots on pavement.
    I hide as best I can in the shadows
    with one eye in the direction of the sound.
    _

    I feel a body hovering over me,
    it’s skilled hands untangle the knot at the back my head
    – remove the blindfold from my eyes.
    I look around at the candlelit room.
    Some basement – somewhere.

    “Sorry, precautionary measure.” she says.
    I nod.
    I know the deal.
    She takes my hand.
    I fight the initial urge to draw it back,
    then give into the warmth of her soft statin skin.
    She removes her shirt, revealing herself: vulnerable, lovely.
    I remove mine as well.
    She holds her arms out to embrace me.

    Time, dissipates.
    The universe becomes just this basement room.
    Nothing else. Nowhere else.
    I am safe and comfortable
    and loved.
    If only for as long as time is stopped.

    I glace at the candles,
    they are melted down to the table.
    I must have fallen asleep.
    She looks down and smiles at me.
    “Are you satisfied?” She asks.

    I know too well what she means.
    I pull away. Put my shirt back on.
    I reach into my wallet.
    _

    As I walk home, it is mid-morning.
    Curfew has ended.
    People are busying about.
    No one comes within 3 feet of one another.
    Everyone is in their own little bubbles.
    We don’t even seem to make eye contact anymore.
    I wonder how many of them are like me?
    Despriately hoping someone will come by
    and pop them free?

    http://hellopoetry.com/poem/touch-86/

    Here’s my take.

    • This is partly aligned with a project I’ve been working on that proposes a dystopian future in which the disease that destroys most of humanity follows the rules of the childhood game Tag. Thanks for posting this prompt, it brought me back to this idea and allowed me to play with it some more.

      • Hahaha I really dig that idea man. That’s really unique. I’m actually reading Survivor Stories: Poetry from Sanctuary 251. Any relation?

      • Josh Romig

        They are not exactly related, other than in theme.
        they both take place well into an appocolypse

        Survivor Stories takes place well into a zombie apocolypse senario and seeks to portray a time in which the senario has become somewhat normalized. No one’s running and fighting for thier lives anymore. They are just living.

        The Tag story has no zombies, it imagines a world in which childhood games are twisted into dark post-apologypic versions of themselves. sort of a reaction to obsessive nostalgia. The disease works like Tag, and is passed via skin to skin contact, and if you don’t pass it to someone else, you’ll die inabout 24 hours. yet, if you do pass it and avoid death, you’re atill contageous for that 24 hour period.

        The world outside of home bases like ‘Oxenfree’ are full of twisted verions of childhood games and nursry rhymes. For example – the CDC rounds up people they suspect to be infected and puts them into an asylum/former prison known as Rosemary Corectional Institution, once there they are branded. People frequently esacape and are recaptured and rebranded. So in the ‘Playground’ (aka the wastes/anywhere that’s not a home base) it’s not uncommon to hear someone ask “how many times you been ’round the Rosie?” and you see someone produce thier arm, full of burn marks.

        tl;dr: They are close in theme and concept, but are different worlds altogether.

      • Josh Romig

        survivor stories poems sort of gave birth to a short lived roleplaying social network game / colabrative storybuilding expirement called ‘The Dead of Our Lives’ that took place in the world presented in the survivor stories poems.

  4. Pingback: The Daily Prompt #2 | Nostrovia! Poetry

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