The Writing Habit

Writing for the fun of it

The Party

This short story is based on the following writing prompt from reddit:

Describe someone socially anxious’s attempt to go to a party, in the style of a Herculean epic.

Nate mustered his inner strength, reaching his trembling hand towards the doorbell. Hearing the voices from inside his thoughts quickly drifted, I could still head back home. Shawn would probably miss me, but I’ll tell him I’ve been throwing up all night. Reality jumped back when he heard that voice, like a goddess calling softly from the heavens, it was Jen. He could not turn back now, he could not bow down to his own cowardice, this was no time for regrets. His hand, as if forced by a higher power, reached out and confidently rang the doorbell.

As the door gave way to Chad’s smiling face Nate was instantly filled with regret.

“Hey buddy!” Chad yelled raising a red cup filled with warm beer. “Welcome to the party, hey everyone! Chad’s here.”

Nate stepped through the door gazing at a line of unfamiliar faces, searching for an ally, where was Shawn when he needed him? With no easy escape in sight he would need to introduce himself now. “Hello everyone”. Hello? Who the hell says that?

To Nate’s great relief no one had noticed the blunder, the awkward introduction was returned with muted replies and the nodding of heads. He was now free to begin the search. Desperately he journeyed through the house, avoiding any eye contact, searching for any sign of Shawn.

He traveled through the living room where the booming voice of a giant was recounting the stories of his intramural ball hockey season. He found himself out in the backyard where a song, about a wondrous wall, was being played by a fair haired bro. The kitchen, filled with the aroma of the best cheeses imported across the world, was filled with hungry eyes focused on the pasta in the pot.

He had flown through each room like a shadow, fortunate enough to have avoided any type of contact but still no sign of Shawn. As he arrived at the bottom of the stairs he gazed up at the second floor where he heard the hushed sound of intimate conversations sprinkled with light laughter. Even he would not be able to move from room to room, up in those close quarters, without being noticed, without being questioned.

As the bathroom door gave way to a familiar face relief rushed over Nate.

“Hey Nate! You actually made it out tonight.” Shawn said with a smile. “Jen was actually waiting for us upstairs.”

Nate found himself smiling as he followed Shawn up the stairs but he didn’t know why. He had been expecting a break, a little bit more time, before having to face his next and most difficult challenge.

As they entered the dimly lit bedroom Nate could feel his heart pounding, trying to escape from his chest. Jen and Niomi sat on the bed giggling as they looked to the door, Nate found himself examining the poster on the wall, a quiet looking village – if only he could escape there. But then, mustering his inner strength he turned to look into those dark green eyes and managed to stammer: “W-What are you two doing up here?”

“Waiting for you.” Jen moved to the edge of the bed with her coy smile. “So we could play a game of truth or dare.”


The Closet

This short story is based on the following writing prompt from reddit:

Jim receives a note under the door and is intrigued, especially because it’s the closet door.

How peculiar Jim thought to himself looking up from the horoscopes in the paper to see a note poking out from under the closet door.The mail usually comes through that little slot on the front door, no matter.

After reading today’s Scorpio horoscope Jim felt particularly satisfied. He was about to enter a new chapter in his life, with a new love interest to boot. As he bent over to read the note he could only think that this may finally be it for him, maybe he would finally find the love of his life.

He unfolded the note, adjusting his spectacles as he read the scrawled handwriting: “I’m Watching You.”

Interesting indeed Jim thought as he examined the door, how could she be watching me from the closet? There is absolutely no way to see out. She must certainly be interested if she went through so much trouble just to see me.

After he cleared his throat, stood up straight and unbuttoned his collar for good measure – it’s best to look casual in these situations – he opened the door. Utter disappointment. As usual there was an empty closet where he thought he would find love. After searching high and low Jim found himself utterly pissed at the closet.

It was fine for his friends to pretend to be an interested lady when he tried online dating. It was fine for his co-workers to constantly ask if there was anyone he was seeing. It was even fine when his mother occasionally suggested he might be gay. But this, a closet playing with his heart? It had gone too far.

By the time he sat back on the recliner with a beer he was proud of his work. The spare lumber from the basement made it easy to barricade the door completely. Sure, if he wanted to go golfing he would need to rent clubs, and he no longer had access to his rain boots if the weather turned sour – but damn was he happy. Jim just couldn’t contain his smile as he thought the closet would never be able to taunt him again.

The demon spawn, sulking in the darkness of the closet, was not so satisfied with this chain of events. How could months of planning have ended so badly? Jim was certainly unlike any human he had ever encountered, he couldn’t entirely blame himself – though he knew his wife would… whenever he found a way out of here.



This short story is based on the following writing prompt from reddit:

You’re traveling on humanities first spaceship capable of intergalactic travel. After entering hyperspace, panic breaks out on the ship.

It had been an eventful month aboard the USS Endeavour. Even with her crew of fifteen it felt as though I had been working non-stop. As we passed each section of the solar system there seemed to be an endless supply of tests to be conducted, reports to be written and results beamed back to earth. I never imagined how tiring it would be to work in this weightless environment but I also couldn’t have imagined the feeling of flying through space, venturing further than any human had before us.

I realized now all the work had kept my mind off this day. It occurred to me that perhaps mission control had planned our schedules as such to stop us from thinking on it, I would have to thank them for that. No amount of training could prepare me for the feeling of entering hyperspace, entering the unknown.

I sat strapped into my control console going through the checklist one more time to make sure it was in order. As I looked out the window I could see Neptune coming into view and felt my heart start to jump against chest. This was it, we would achieve our last gravity assist from Neptune then turn on the drives.

Looking around the empty engineering capsule made me wish I was at a station with some of the team. Cracking a couple jokes would have eased my mind. As if in response I heard the crackle of commander Zane Hill’s voice over my headset.

“Howdy boys and girls, I’ve just heard from mission control that we’re allowed to push this hunk of junk into fifth gear, how do you fancy that? I’m going to run through our checklist, confirm everyone has performed their checks and we can hit the road.”

The next twenty minutes were filled with technical jargon and confirmations. As I performed my roll call and system checks I tried to keep the tremor from my voice. I was almost glad to hear Yuri, Sheala and Mike’s voices shaking as they went’ through their prompts – at least I wasn’t the only one. Hearing their emotions helped break me out of this feeling of isolation, isolation from the crew, from the earth – from the reality I had always known.

As Zane started the countdown it was all I could do to keep myself from shaking with fear. It was difficult to monitor the controls with all the thoughts running through my head. No one had ever tried this, who knew if it was even possible? But, oh, how possible it was.

I don’t remember much after we achieved hyperspace. I remember the intense flash following by the empty darkness outside the Endeavour. I remember looking out and not seeing any stars, looking back down at our navigation systems and seeing location unknown. Then it’s hazy – until I saw Zane’s face through the gas mask spraying me with anesthetic. They kept me unconscious for the next two months before deciding to wake me up – I really wish they hadn’t.


Alcoholics Anonymous

This short story is based on the following writing prompt from reddit:

A trendy bar in Times Square is bombed. Alcoholics Anonymous claims responsibility

Everyone had heard the news and opinions seemed to vary widely. Was this terrorism? Could Alcoholics Anonymous really be behind the attack? One thing was certain, the AA Chairperson claiming his group was responsible for the attack was making a statement at 3pm.

The broadcast was planned to stream from a list of websites that continued to grow as the clock neared 3pm. Clearly they were worried about the government shutting them down. As the time drew near activity seemed to stop in the offices across the country, the roads were less busy and shops nearly empty. Everyone was waiting patiently to find out what exactly was going on.

The stream finally sprung to life showing a large round man standing up straight with his hand upon the bible. Behind him was what looked to be several hundred masked men standing at attention. After several seconds of silence the man’s voice boomed:

“It has been too long! Too long since is country was run in accordance with the bible, in accordance with God’s will. Instead, the government, the media and society as a whole encourage the consumption of addictive substances to the masses. We members of Alcoholics Anonymous, over one million strong, have all witnessed first hand the destructive power of alcohol but also the healing power of sobriety through God.”

There was a long pause as the man stared into the camera.

“It is time for someone to stand up and share that healing power with the rest of the world. To stand up to tyranny and stop the propagation of this dangerous drug. Yes, we were responsible for the bombing of the Stratus bar in New York. We are all over the country, anonymous, and are willing to execute more attacks if our one simple demand is not met. Stop the sale of alcohol in all establishments and make it’s consumption illegal. I thank you for your time and I truly hope we can avoid any more violent attacks.”

As the stream cut off, people all over the country started to form their opinions on this new version of Alcoholics Anonymous.


The Portal

This short story is based on the following writing prompt from reddit:

You wake up one morning to find that you have become an Intergalactic Emperor

The sun hitting my face slowly forced me out of bed. With dread I looked at my watch and saw that I would be late yet again. Why did it always feel so good to hit the snooze button over and over again? These thoughts seemed to be part of my morning routine – just the same as having a shower and brushing my teeth.

What seemed strange this morning was the small bearded man who greeted me on my way out of the bathroom. If it wasn’t for his size I may have felt intimidated standing with only a towel around my waist staring at an intruder.

I didn’t get a chance to get a word in before the little man puffed out his chest and bellowed “I, Nilen Havtov the IV of the planet Vunlar of quadrant 3453 declare you, Dave Snide, the 8,746,235th emperor of the federation of galaxies of the near green cluster.”

I must admit that it took me nearly a minute of laughing to pinpoint that this must have been the work of Nick. I had got him pretty bad at Pete’s party but he really outdid himself with this prank, I wonder how he managed to get the key to my apartment?

I brushed by the dwarf on my way to the kitchen counter and started to pour myself a box of cereal. “Tell Nick that you scared the shit out of my then nearly made me die laughing. Also, did you improvise that or did he tell you to say that? Either way it was funny as hell. Would you like some cereal?”

The short man’s forehead creased as his face turned into one of disgust. “This is why I always say not to gift the position to a non connected planet… but they never listen.”

“Hey my friend no need to be upset, you really did get me good. I’ve got cornflakes or cheerios if you’re hungry. It’s actually pretty early to be pulling off this kind of prank.”

After closing his eyes for a minute in frustration while I crunched away on cheerios the man finally seemed to gain the energy to respond. “Mr. Snide, as a member of a non connected planet it is often difficult to adjust to your new position. Generally I would ease you into your new reality but I rather don’t have the patience today so we’ll get right to it.”

With that he grabbed out of his pocket a small black cube and placed it on the ground. When the portal, I don’t know what else to call it, opened in my living room I suddenly was standing in front of dozens of people. Well it’s hard to call them people, they were of all different shapes, sizes and colors.

My cereal dropped to the ground as I dashed for the privacy of my room, doing my best to make sure that my towel stayed intact… since I’m not sure my mind had.


Over the Ridge

This short story is based on the following writing prompt from reddit:

Base a story on the following image.

Dravis stood overlooking the valley, silhouetted by the pink morning sky. The soldiers, huddled close, quietly took in the stunning view as birds sang for a new day. Each man holding on to this last moment of peace.

They had been running for days, separated from all support and communication. Hunted like animals up through these unforgiving mountains. Using the maps they had to try to find their way to Switzerland. Maybe in the neutral state they could find peace and reunite with their countrymen. As Dravis slowly walked back towards the group they knew it couldn’t be good news.

He whispered just loud enough for the nine others to hear. “There looks to be a small camp of Frenchmen waiting near the railroad in the valley. We need to move quickly and strike while they are still waking up – before it gets too bright. There may be up to forty but we can win with the element of surprise”

There were several nods from the group from those who still had the energy. Most still were focused on the sunrise, not wanting to be woken from their fantasy into the cold hard word, back to reality.

Dravis pushed through the pain and pulled the two closest men to their feet. He was the leader whether he liked it or not, these men wouldn’t survive without him pushing them on. If he wanted to get out of here alive he would need to drive the men forward.

“Rise up brothers, load your weapons and eat what’s left of your food. We’ll head down the mountain single file and spread out around the camp to take them by surprise. We’ll be eating a hot meal in no time.”

They band started slowly walking down over the edge, doing their best to keep quiet. Dravis waving them along. Just as he was about to turn to follow the last man he caught sight of Fredrick still sitting with his back against a rock.

Fredrick dreamt of sliding into the forest and trying to make it out on his own. He knew some French, he could ditch his uniform and avoid any nasty fighting. But when his eyes caught the glare of Dravis he knew he couldn’t abandon his duty, his friends deserved to arrive home as much as he did. He slowly stood up and followed his friends over the ridge silently.

The Skill Download

This short story is based on the following writing prompt from reddit:

In the future, humans have the ability to directly download information into their brain. A hacker creates a virus…

I sat staring at my computer screen, locked in my basement. Working, thinking, planning a way to achieve the impossible.

I mean, what is the use of information? People had discovered how to load their mind with all the information they could want but it didn’t provide them any way to process it. Information is useful only up to a certain point, it’s making the connections and analyzing the information that is important.

Everyone was working on a skill download, a download that could actually change the way you think and act. A way to download the skill of a programmer, engineer, a salesperson – most important skills require more than simply information. You could overnight become the most skilled soccer player your physical body could provide. It was the holy grail of productivity, of human kind.

But how difficult it really was, people had been working on it for years. Of course it needed to be highly regulated. When you are planning to change the way someone’s mind works there will always be bugs and defects in the code. Luckily the internet allowed a community of people on the cutting edge. People who were willing to do what companies and governments would never allow – they could test the software downloads on themselves.

It was a strange feeling putting your code out into the community. Waiting for people to give it a try, and hoping beyond hope that it wouldn’t cause the permanent damage which was all to common. Three days ago  something happened in the community which never happened before. Instead of getting “good” reviews detailing little to no permanent damage my code had gotten “positive” reviews. It had allowed the users to utilize the massive amount of chess games and strategy available to become instant grandmasters.

The first 24 hours had been one of the best periods of my life. The program spread like wildfire even with the authorities trying to shut it down. Everyone wanted to become and instant master. You could literally see chess websites become overflowing with new members all playing at the highest level. The news sites showcased mixed reviews. They confirmed reports that the software worked but denounced the unregulated nature of the code.

That was 24 hours ago. The reports had started to come in yesterday. People had been pressuring others to download the software and when friendly coercion didn’t work – had become violent. It hadn’t been noticed initially because it seemed normal for others to actively suggest others to download it. It was only when those advances failed that it got out of hand.

It seems the code is not focused on the individual winning games but rather the software winning as many games as possible.

So I sit here, locked in my basement working as fast as I can. The creator of the worst virus in history. As the world rips itself apart outside I work to plan a way to put an end to the madness.


The Breakthrough

This short story is based on the following writing prompt from reddit:

You worked alone for many years; finally, you’ve achieved commercial nuclear fusion

One more try before lunch, I thought to myself. Maybe by the end of they day I can get the geometry of the magnetic field just right. It was surprising how the changes were improving efficiency.

Once the unit started humming I could see the plasma ebbing and flowing in the magnetic field on the computer monitor. Then it just seemed to click, the plasma was staying in a steady shape and the power intakes dropped. Shit, did the adjustments throw off all the work on my power intake controls?

Just as my hand reached the shutdown button I saw it. The power generation had remained intact, it was a self sustaining reaction.

It felt like the eerie calm before the storm, sitting in the near silence in the room broken only by the humming of the unit. Had I done it? All these years working alone, being kicked out of the faculty, losing my wife – was the payoff finally here?

The next three hours were a blur, I had to record everything. Then I had to restart the unit and recreate the reaction. I may not have eaten but by 9pm I was sure, my goal had finally been achieved. My whole life had built up to this moment and I had changed the course of humanity!

Looking at the phone I realized I had never thought this far ahead. My eye was always on the fusion, not so much on the aftermath. Who would I call first?

My ex-wife, I would love to see the look on her face. Or Gary, I bet he would regret taking me off the team. Maybe Fred who had helped me gather all my supplies.

As I picked up the phone I knew it would be Gary. He had humiliated me and now it was my turn. I worked for 7 years at the university before he forced me out, convincing everyone fusion was impossible, a waste of time.

The line connected “Hello?”

“Hey Gary, is Brian Stein calling.”

“Hey Brian, how long has it been since we talked, 3 years? Hope you’re doing well.”

I could feel my mouth curl into a smile. “I’m doing better than well Gary, I did it! I created a stable fusion reaction, without any help with funding, all on my own.”

“You’re still working on that? Brian, I hope everything is ok.”

“I’m more then working on it, I’m finished! I just thought I would give you the heads up before it hits the paper’s. And to tell you I told you so.”

There was a long pause on the other line and I could just imagine the look on Gary’s face. But when the voice came back on the line Gary didn’t sound frustrated or angry… he sounded scared.

“Brian… If what you are saying is true then watch out for yourself. It wasn’t me that wanted you out, my hand was forced. Take care of yourself.”


The trembling in Gary’s voice and the sudden silence sent a chill through my body. I heard loud knocking on the door and a voice telling me to open up. As I turned towards the door my elation slowly turned to fear.