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blah!?'s One Prompt, Ten Authors - A Story and a Half


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So, I'm in a bit of a weird situation here. I originally came up with one idea based on the prompts we had, but after writing half of it, I really just felt like I couldn't go on. On the one hand there was a clear path ahead for where to take the story, but I just didn't feel interested in it anymore. Then after a few more days of thought, I came up with another idea. This one led to a much shorter story, but I think my use of the prompt words was a bit more creative, and I really need to get myself to write more short-form stuff and not turn everything into some kind of epic.

Anyway, I'll put up the completed story first, and then what I wrote for the unfinished idea after just so it won't completely go to waste.


For the first time since college, Jill decided to grab a Christmas tree for her apartment. After spending a few days procrastinating, she finally bundled up and headed out. Wanting to relive the memories of her family cutting down their own tree, she drove past the various parking lot vendors and made her way to a proper tree farm on the edge of town. Shortly after arriving, however, Jill began to feel a tickle in her nose.


She ignored it at first, assuming she was simply reacting to the cold air, but when she was finally about sawing at the trunk of a small tree, Jill tumbled headfirst into a sneezing fit. She could barely respond to the attendant when he asked if she was alright, and she had no choice but to conclude that she’d somehow developed a tree pollen allergy over the past few years. Feeling awkward and embarrassed for wasting the man’s time, Jill bought a few ornaments that would ultimately go unused and headed home.


“Eh… Hhh-! Ha’Tshhoo!” Jill sneezed as she stepped into her apartment, shaking a few stray pine needles loose from her jacket. She frantically brushed herself off and slumped back against the door to close it. After taking a moment to snuffle and firmly rub her nose, Jill groaned pathetically and shed her coat on the floor, refusing to even hang it up properly. She kicked off her muddy shoes, angling them toward the door to keep them away from the carpet, and finally she lumbered into the kitchen.


After grabbing a glass and a bottle of wine, Jill sniffled her way to her bedroom and plopped down in front of her computer. She gave another “Ah-Tshoo!” as she poured herself a glass, nearly spilling a bit of the crimson liquid on her desk, and then she drank nearly all of it before plugging her phone into her computer and opening Photoshop.


An unknown quantity of wine later, Jill had downloaded a picture of a huge, ridiculous department store Christmas tree and was in the process of erasing the background. Beside it, she’d loaded a selfie she’d taken a few months ago when she first moved into her current apartment, with just enough open space behind her for the image of a tree. Surely none of her friends would be able to tell the difference. Just as she started to drag the trimmed image of tree into the right place, a twinge in her nose made her frantically set down her wineglass and scramble for a tissue.


“Eh’TSHhvff!” Jill sneezed powerfully into her tissue, muffling the sound as best she could. Gripping the tissue with one hand, she loudly blew her nose and stood up, deciding it was finally time to do what she should have done when she first got home. Jill left a trail of clothes on the floor between her bedroom and bathroom, with the used tissue mixed in somewhere along the way. Then, once the glass around her shower had collected enough condensation, Jill practically dove inside.


Raising her arms above her head, Jill let out a relaxed moan as hot water cascaded down her body. At first, she didn’t even wash herself. She simply stood under the showerhead for what felt like an entire hour. Maybe it was, she didn’t know. The steam immediately began to ease her congestion, and she felt a twinge as her left nostril suddenly opened up that made her snort and rub her nose.


Jill coughed and shook her head, and finally she started to bathe properly. Even after rinsing herself off, however, she continued to stand in the shower and enjoy the warmth, water bill be damned. Letting out a content sigh, Jill turned to the glass and drew a smiley face in the fog. She giggled and smiled back at it, at least until a sudden “Aht’SHOO!” covered it in a new layer of mist.



And now the unfinished one...

Under the Weather

Sitting inside a barrel wasn’t exactly Nylah Marquez’s preferred method of travel. Unfortunately, such uncouth accomodations seemed to be the only way to get past the Imperial blockade these days. Nylah’s heart had raced while she was being loaded onto a ship, and for several hours thereafter, but once the sounds of the bustling harbor fell away, she actually managed to get a bit of sleep. She still felt the gentle rocking of the ocean when she awoke; she clearly hadn’t managed to pass the whole journey. After letting out a quiet sigh, Nylah remained silent and tried to fall asleep again.


A few minutes later, Nylah heard a series of footsteps making their way into the cargo hold. Though she had no way of seeing what was going on, Nylah’s eyes flicked in the direction of the noise. The sounds of a man and woman bickering filtered through her wooden container, and she began to sweat as they drew ever closer. Something hard hit the deck to Nylah’s left, then again to her right. Although she had steeled herself for more noise, she had to fight hard not to let out a yelp when a third object suddenly slammed down on top of her barrel.


With both hands clapped over her mouth, Nylah stared up at the lid of the barrel, expecting it to be torn away at any moment. The deck creaked around her, and the voices continued, this time from directly above. They were still muffled through the wood, but now they were close enough for Nylah to understand them.


“You must want the night watch something fierce,” said the woman, her voice husky and playful.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the main replied, impossibly baritone.


“I always beat you!”


“You have your luck, sure. But one of these days…”


“Eh, it’s fine. We’re past most of the blockade anyway. You’ve got a calm night ahead of you. ‘Cept for all this fo-”


“Please just deal, ma’am.”


A series of soft, rapid thumps reverberated through the wood: a hand of playing cards being dealt onto a table. Nylah closed her eyes. The sound was rather soothing, despite the rather immediate danger. Before she could begin to relax, however, something more urgent began to tug at the stowaway’s senses.


Nylah’s nostrils detected an all too familiar aroma. Most people might call it “spicy,” but to her it was always more “itchy.” She sniffed sharply in reaction, immediately bringing a hand up to her nose to stop herself. Her unsuspecting visitors didn’t seem to notice, but if Nylah wasn’t careful, she’d quickly make herself impossible to miss. She rubbed two fingers back and forth under her nose, but the itch didn’t stop. The overwhelming scent continued to force its way into her nostrils, as if it was coming from all around her.


“Ha! Three of a kind!” whooped the lady, startling Nylah enough to break her concentration. She gasped for breath, and she just managed to squeeze her nose in time to stifle a desperate “Ah-HNNNnnt!” Nylah began to sweat once more as the man let out a deep groan, but she relaxed somewhat as the sounds of shuffling and dealing repeated. Unfortunately the itchy aroma continued to saturate the air around her, and relaxing wasn’t something she could afford to do.




“Bless, ma’am.”


“Heh, thanks. I- Wait. I didn’t sneeze.”


“Ah… Ahhh…! Hn’CHff!”


“Bless again, ma’am.”


“That still wasn’t me!”


Nylah might have been able to sense the sailors staring down at her barrel if she wasn’t deep in the throes of another sneeze. She held two fingers firmly under her nostrils, pressing her nose up as hard as she could, but she ultimately found herself powerless to resist. Having exhausted her stamina stifling and suppressing her previous sneezes, Nylah gave in and thrust forward with a loud, powerful “HaeeSCHHOOOH!”


The barrel teetered back and forth, propelled both by Nylah’s sneeze and by the two sailors leaping to their feet. Whatever had been placed on top of Nylah’s hiding place crashed to the ground, and eventually her momentum carried her onto her side and sent her rolling away across the deck.


“Son of a bitch!” yelled the female voice, growing progressively farther away as Nylah continued to roll. “Stop that sneezing barrel!”


A series of heavy footsteps raced toward Nylah, and she jolted to a halt. The stowaway entirely forgot about her continued need to sneeze when the end of a blade suddenly pierced the side of the barrel, reaching toward the gap between her eyes. Nylah yelped and thrust her arms upward, shoving the lid of the barrel away and sending it clattering across the deck.


“I surrender!” she cried, waving her hands through the opening in the top of the barrel. Nylah squeaked in surprise when one of the sailors grabbed her wrists and heaved, but she only shifted a few inches.


“Ow, ow, ow!” Nylah whined as they pulled again, and then she felt her body rise up off the deck as the other sailor lifted the barrel.


“Okay, you go this way, and I’ll-”


This time Nylah finally popped free of the barrel, and she found herself staring into the face of the lady sailor. The woman was still holding her up by her wrists, leaving Nylah’s toes just barely tapping the boards beneath her.


“Well, well, well, what have we here?”


The sailor grinned, and Nylah took a moment to be impressed by the cleanliness of her teeth. Nylah tried to plead for mercy with a smile, but her eyes narrowed as her chest heaved, and then…




“Agh! Son of a bitch!” the sailor swore, immediately releasing her grip as she attempted to wipe Nylah’s sneeze from her face. Nylah’s sore, tingling legs gave out as her weight fell upon them, sending her sprawling to the deck. When she opened her eyes, she found herself on her hands and knees, surrounded by a sea of tiny black granules that had poured forth from a broken box a few feet away. It only took Nylah a moment to realize the mess she was in, but by then it was already much too late.


“You’ve got your work cut out for you, my little stowaway,” said the lady sailor as she knelt beside Nylah. “These Redmere peppercorns are worth a fortune in Agartha’s Vineyard. Now, lest you want to be thrown overboard, you’re going to pick up every last-”




Nylah sneezed again, sending peppercorns scattering all across the deck. The sailor screamed and ran around the hold, trying to catch her prized contraband before too many of them fell through the gaps between the boards. Nylah had a moment to herself, which she spent snuffling and rubbing her nose in relative peace until the other sailor grabbed her by the back of her shirt and lifted her into the air. Still holding a finger under her nose, Nylah opened her eyes and stared at the man. He was massive beyond all reason, and despite looking at him with her own eyes, Nylah wasn’t entirely sure how he could actually fit in the hold. Still, he seemed to possess a certain gentle quality, one lacked by the woman shrieking and running around behind him.


“You’ll have to forgive the captain, little miss,” he said in his impossibly deep voice. “She’s rather on edge these days.”


Nylah tried to nod, but the only response she could manage was a strained “HaeSCHH!” Her eyes shot open when she felt something press against her face, but to her relief it appeared to be nothing more than a handkerchief.


“Here you go, little miss,” holding a surprisingly soft silk square to Nylah’s nose. Nodding appreciatively, she took the handkerchief in her own hands and blew harshly into it.


And that's all. Despite how clumsily I handled this, it was still a lot of fun! I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with!

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The first story was so cute! Especially the fog part. 

And the second story was delicious! Intrigue, comedy, adventure, romance if I squint and boy did I SQUINT....it was a little bit intense and kept me reading fast but it also had this slow down hurt/comment effect where this craziness is happening and she’s just sneezing and helpless and her nose is so irritated!  :boom:

My favorite sneezing while hiding scenario is sneezing while not hiding well for long! XD

p.s. Intentioned or not, I was getting some serious sick vibes in this allergy story that I was digging and the dude at the end sounds amazing. 

Awesome job!!!

Thanks for starting off OPTA strong!

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I thought I already commented on this fic days ago, sorry about that. :blink: 

The first one is really great, it struck me as I read it that we almost never get a story that deals with the aftermath of an allergy attack, I guess we normally don't have the endurance to last that long, huh? :lol:  So that was quite an original take, I love it! And you managed to get a Christmas feeling to it as well, I never even thought about that with mine, but that's super clever considering the season! Awesome work!

The second had a lot of potential, but I understand what you mean. When the inspiration isn't there anymore, the result up to that point doesn't matter, the story will stay unfinished. It's a shame, because it's great so far, but I'm glad you decided to share it anyway. Oh, and also, this:

On 12/11/2019 at 4:47 PM, Blah!? said:

Most people might call it “spicy,” but to her it was always more “itchy.”

Definitely relatable. :lol: 

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