Fiction Suspense

“It’s a game and it’s just for fun. We each ask a question or make a statement in response to the other’s question or statement and each response must contain one additional word than the previous response. If that makes sense let’s begin, I’ll start.”


“How what?”

“How could you?”

“How could I what?”

“How could you not know?”

“How could I not know what?”

“How could you not know the game?”

“Why is this game so important to you?”

“How could you even ask a question like that?”

“Where am I supposed to go with this from here?”

“Ideally, we need to surpass one thousand words in the conversation.”

“That will make it a little easier since it’s not all questions.”

“Yeah, can you imagine trying to create a question that’s forty-five words long?”

“Are we permitted to have multiple sentences in our response or keep to one?”

“We should try keeping to a single sentence, but let’s just see how it goes.”

“I’m not very confident I’ll be able to keep this going, knowing we’re only on sixteen.”

“I’m more confident considering we can discuss any topic and make the conversation go anywhere we choose.”

“If I ask you about politics and your opinions of the current political climate, how would you respond?”

“I would choose not to respond because I don’t think the reader wants to go down that rabbit hole.”

“Whoa, whoa, wait, you’re telling me someone’s going to be reading this conversation that was supposed to be a game?”

“I probably should’ve told you this is an exercise for budding authors and part of a contest designed to foster creativity.”

“That’s fine but what if I’m not able to contribute at the level you require and to the satisfaction of the readers?”

“Oh, you’ll be fine, but I did neglect to tell you one more thing – with any luck it’ll be read by numerous people.”

“Good lord, we’re going to need more gripping material to keep the attention of the reader, but you’re the writer so what say you?”

“I could tell the story about how our company began the process of permanently working from home and the impact on me then and now.”

“Oh no, I’ve heard that story a handful of times and it’s not really that interesting to me – and I can’t imagine it’s anymore riveting now.”

“It all began on March 13th, 2020, which was a Friday, and we held a staff meeting about midday to establish some guidelines for working from home.”

“This is the part where you dive into triskaidekaphobia and how you feel sorry for these folks and the impact to their lives and disruptive to their thinking.”

“How funny would it have been if we had used the word triskaidekaphobia in line thirteen of our conversation where we were discussing the idea of a forty-five-word question?”

“I doubt anyone would realize that at the time they were reading line thirteen, but it’s funny to think how they would respond to knowing after it was pointed out.”

“Anyway, the original idea was for everyone to work from home for two weeks, as instructed by the Governor, and then reassess the situation based on information that was yet unknown.”

“Blah, blah, blah, two weeks turned into four, stay home, turned into eight, blah, blah, blah, mask up, turned into twelve, blah, blah, blah, shut down restaurants, blah, blah, blah, double mask.”

“Well, I must admit, you have a very interesting delivery, but you’re not giving the story its justice or telling the story how it should be told – or how I want it told.”

“So, because your house wasn’t really set up for work from home for you, it certainly wasn’t set up for three of you working and schooling from home, which forced you to the basement.”

“Now you’re getting the hang of it, but I would add it wasn’t the best environment for working because it was cold during all seasons, and I worked on a bar stool at my workbench.”

“As I recall, your wife worked at the kitchen table and your daughter schooled from her bedroom, which wasn’t all that great for them either, but you go ahead with your ‘it’s all about me’ story.”

“As I was saying, our company eventually decided to implement a permanent work from home policy – primarily because the end of our lease fell in December and there was no clear end in sight to the pandemic.”

“…and so, if that’s the end of your story, it’s very likely the shortest version I’ve ever heard you tell and probably the least exciting, but then again you always do exhibit long pauses in your story telling.”

“Hold on, I was about to say that things have improved because my wife is back to in-class teaching, my daughter in now in college, and I’ve taken over the third bedroom, which is more like a real office.”

“What a seemingly great story, but how about we move onto something else, you know, something to really get the attention of the reader and something to preserve our record of using only single sentences in responding to one another.”

“In the spirit of your request, let’s keep talking about me and how I first got into writing, who inspired me, what inspired me, which genres I like versus don’t like, which books I like, who supported me, and the like.”

“You do realize we’re at line forty-two and nearing the end of what’s required for the exercise – and for you to cover everything you just blurted out will require more time than I have and likely no time that readers will have.”

“You see, I had read The Old Man and the Sea in college and then – prompted by my wife – read The DaVinci Code in my forties, which lead to rereading The Old Man and the Sea and then The Sun Also Rises and...”

“Dude, I know you enjoy writing dialogue and enjoy a good challenge but remember that you still have to write this and make sure that the game was played well and according to the requirements that both you created, and the writing contest expects.”

“It’s great timing anyway because I’m going to need to take a break with all the coffee, water, and iced tea I’ve been drinking during our conversation – and considering my more frequent urges to use the restroom based on my age. Thank you for playing.”


February 20, 2023 20:58

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Keri Dyck
22:40 Mar 01, 2023

Hello Douglas! I was given your story to critique. There’s not a whole lot to say; the grammar, punctuation, and spelling were good. I didn’t count the words per paragraph 😅 , but it looked proper. I must say that the sarcastic character was what kept me invested. Oh—one other thing. As this is an online sight and a lot of people use their phones, it’s easier on the eyes if you do a double return between paragraphs. Good job, and keep writing!


Douglas W. Carr
22:51 Mar 01, 2023

I had never considered anyone reading on a mobile device. Thank you for that information. Also, thank you for your feedback.


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Wendy Kaminski
22:15 Feb 20, 2023

hehe Nice, Douglas! Well done, and also would answer for the dialogue one, too, though I see that is a separate one you tackled. :) I just wanna know how you could hit " line forty-two" and no Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?! Really, after missing triskaidekaphobia at the appropriate time, too! Hmf! :P Enjoyed this very much. :)


Douglas W. Carr
01:13 Feb 21, 2023

Okay, well, there's good reason for the lack of a Hitchhiker's reference, which is a little embarrassing.


Wendy Kaminski
01:23 Feb 21, 2023

haha Ok.... now I gotta know... :)


Douglas W. Carr
01:38 Feb 21, 2023

I've been chastised before, but I'm not familiar with the work. I guess I should add it to my reading list.


Wendy Kaminski
01:40 Feb 21, 2023

Oh nah, can't read EVERYTHING in the world..! :)


Douglas W. Carr
01:46 Feb 21, 2023

I'd probably like it.


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R W Mack
15:53 Feb 25, 2023

Nice use of two prompts at once. Well played. These stories have been Hell to judge given how bizarre and constraining the fundamental premises are and how weak most of the stories have been. What otherwise might've been engaging or contain more personality is stunted by arbitrary framework constraints that seem antithetical to the art itself. It's a fun little experiment, but as a writer, I'd refuse anyone demanding how I structure my work. Themes, topics and plot, even, I can work with, but demanding how I structure and build my story at ...


Douglas W. Carr
17:28 Feb 25, 2023

Thank you for your glowing remarks. I don't envy you as a judge - and especially for this prompt - but I can appreciate your position. I enjoy writing dialogue and I feel it certainly helped me this week. Although, regarding the constraints of form, I had a discussion with another author and we felt it forced another level of creativity. Not a bad thing necessarily, but it did take away from what might normally have been constructed or written. Coincidentally, I've recently been indulging in punk rock from the eighties and nineties. Thanks...


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