Monday, June 9, 2014


Welcome back! I'm so excited to see what you all make with the prompt this week! So I won't beat around any bushes (Why is that a saying, anyway?). Go check out the prompt and write an awesome story (then share it with us!). :)

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Emily Karn
. Go check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #49 is:

The wizard's apprentice scratched [his] head, staring at the beetle in consternation.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a magic spell gone horribly wrong.



  1. The Apprentice
    Posted on Tuesday, 10 June 2014

    The wizard’s apprentice scratched his head, staring at the beetle in consternation. “Seriously? A Volkswagen Bug?” He circled it, peeking through the windows, and kicking the tires. “And tie-dyed?”

    He looked at the words of the spell on the sheet of paper. He’d copied the words exactly from the spell book. He’d triple checked them. He’d memorized them. And somehow, he’d still produced the wrong result.

    “You’re not a giant crystal seven-spotted Ladybug.” He ran his fingertips along the front bumper of the VW, “Not a car.”

    He dejectedly looked at the ground. It was another test from his master. The 25th test in a row he’d failed. “This spell makes a beetle. You will learn it. And use it. And in one week, I will check your results.”

    Well. At least he’d made a beetle. The wrong kind, but still. It was a beetle. He opened the driver’s door, and sat behind the wheel. The door closed with a weak thunk. “I didn’t know they had such skinny doors.”

    He scanned the dashboard of the car. “Talk about the bare essentials. Geeze. Nothing much to these, was there.” He held down the clutch pedal, and tried turning it on, only to realize he didn’t know how to turn on a rear-engined Volkswagen Beetle. “Couldn’t you have been a new model?”

    Well. There was nothing to do but wait for the wizard to arrive, and check his work. “I’ll never learn, will I?” He exited the car, sat on a stool, and stared at it. “Well. It could have been worse. You could have been a giant, live, Rhino Beetle, and poked holes in the walls, and run amok in the castle.”

    It was the little details that kept him going. He remembered the time he’d made a butterfly. A simple spell, really. Except he made one that filled the room, and ate everything in sight. His teacher had to cast a series of spells to bring that problem down to size. He hadn’t been allowed to try another spell for six months after that.

    He sighed, and waited.

    When the wizard arrived, he came in smiling. “Nice Beetle.”


    “I like the tie-dyed color on the hood the most.”

    The apprentice stood, “It isn’t a crystal seven-spotted ladybug.”

    “Ah.” The master smiled at his apprentice. “No. It’s the beetle you wanted most to see in your subconscious mind.”


    The wizard chuckled. “And that ends this lesson, my apprentice. You have much to think of tonight. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

    So it was, the apprentice spent the night staring at the Beetle, pondering the mysteries of his subconscious, and wondering what that had to do with wizardry.

    447 Words

  2. Folly in the Garden

    The wizard’s apprentice scratched his head, staring at the beetle in consternation. As he watched it appeared the bug got bigger and bigger, until the process stopped when it was about twice as tall as him. But the insect was not bigger, the boy was smaller—much smaller.

    He cursed himself for his disobedience. The wizard told him to clean the workshop, but not to touch anything on the desk. He rebelled and began looking playing. As soon as he picked up a couple rocks at the same time, something like lightening arced between them and he started his downward spiral.

    He began to take stock of his situation, and noticed the beetle had something like a saddle. This meant others were down here, so he climbed on. He didn’t try to lead it; he figured it knew where they needed to go.

    It carried him under the closet door and through a hole in the wall, from here they emerged into the wizard’s garden and there he found others. First he saw a couple men harvesting the skin off a carrot. Then he passed a group of men herding aphids toward a pod. As they approached a tomato vine, he realized there were hundreds of others.

    The beetle stopped at the stem of the tomato. Crowds gathered, but then parted as an older man approached. He introduced himself as Za’argo.. It was the previous apprentice who had disappeared a few weeks before with a maid. The boy learned they had snuck into the workshop to be alone.

    They also had accidentally shrunk themselves, and had since become the parents of this garden civilization. Apparently time worked differently in the garden—time and reproduction both.

    The boy took up his place in the work, but he missed his home above. Therefore, he tried many ways to get the attention of the wizard. Taming flies to take him up proved impossible. He tried carving out large letters on leaves in the garden. He tried many things. Finally he gave up, married and accepted life in the garden.

    Eventually the wizard came, not because the boy had succeeded, but because the wizard understood what had happened. Even though it was only a few minutes later in the timeline of the wizard, it was years later for the young apprentice. The wizard offered a way of escape, yet the young man and his wife were accustomed to the garden. So what would he choose?

    He decided to return to life above and his wife came with him. The wizard provided the path and together they entered life above. No one else from the garden came along, not even Za’argo and the maid.

    After they were back the wizard asked the man who had been his apprentice why he had not chosen to stay down below. The apprentice answered with a touch of sadness that he knew something they refused to believe, winter was coming.

    491 words.

  3. @NadaNightStar
    Special challenge accepted

    500 words exactly

    The Wizard's Apprentice

    The wizard's apprentice scratched his head, staring at the beetle in consternation. It was greatly deformed as though it were mocking him. Its body was flipped over with its head at an impossible angle and its arms and legs were up in the air.

    It was repulsive.

    He thought it had a sarcastic and proud air about it; but being a beetle, it couldn't possibly have such an air to it, he told himself.

    The apprentice went by the name 'Nozo' owing to his massive nose which he never forgave his parents for and which his apprentice mates and rivals said he looked like a human being sprouting from a nose.

    The beetle was not meant to look like that. The High Wizard had given him the task of performing a spell-and-potion combination, the highest level of magic but things didn't seem to be going very well.

    The experiment didn't seem to be going as planned in fact the whole room was in shambles and Nozo was now more lost and nervous than when the High Wizard had called his name earlier.

    Performing tasks for the High Wizard was an honour; an honour he seemed to have greatly dishonoured.

    He wasn't sure where he had gone wrong but he was fairly sure that the spell went something like:

    "Tiny Beetle Betty
    turn into cake and confetti!"

    - Or didn't it?

    He couldn't be sure and with the little time he had left, he was beginning to consider turning himself into a beetle and suffer being accidentally squashed in the near future; especially since he was going to get figuratively squashed by his rivals in the nearer future.

    Nozo inhaled deeply. He looked down at the beetle again and felt his inhumanely-sized nose was getting in his way.

    "OK beetle! Here's the deal. You need to be food and as much as I would have liked to transform you, I have failed. And as much as I would have liked to cook food in the kitchen, I would fail beyond anything you and I can imagine. So here's the deal: You need to impress the High Wizard. I don't care what you do, just do it or die trying!" Nozo held his wand and instructed the poor creature lying on its back.

    It didn't respond.

    At that moment, the door opened and the High Wizard entered, his blue-and-purple robes flowing behind him. He looked at the room. It was a mess – as he had expected.

    There was however a strange and almost desperate look on the Wizard's face.

    "I'm working as fast as I can, your grace!" Nozo mouthed quickly.

    "Work all you want Nozo. I know failure when I see it." The Wizard said sadly.

    "But… Why? I did everything by the book – I think," Nozo mumbled.

    "I can see that. You did, however, miss one valuable point," the Wizard said and sighed.

    Nozo looked at his teacher questioningly.

    "You needed a female beetle for the spell to work! Bozo!"

  4. One Misstep Too Many

    The wizard's apprentice scratched his head, staring at the beetle in consternation.

    “Ten seconds remain,” the wizard prodded gently from her side of the examination table. In one hand she held a silver pocket-watch. In the other, a purple lace fan that fluttered lightly in front of her face to drive away the roaring fire’s heat. Her pale robes swooshed around her ankles as she pivoted on a bare foot to glide to the other end of the table. One footstep for each second. Her violet eyes never left the unruly brown-haired head hunched over the insect.

    Ryad bent his head closer to the magnifying glass to study his beetle in greater detail, looking for any clue to tip him off on its identity. It looked so natural, so real. How was he supposed to tell which of his 10,000 classmates it was? What kind of final examination was this anyhow?


    The pocket-watch snapped close and was deposited in a pocket. Ryad moved away from the table and stood straight with his hands folded behind his back.

    “Have thee an answer?” the wizard asked her pupil though she already knew he didn't.

    Ryad chewed his bottom lip. He could always guess. Lucky guesses had saved his sorry hide many times before. In fact, a lucky [or unlucky he was coming to find] guess was the reason he was here, now, apprenticing under one of the greatest wizards of his day and age.

    Unfortunately, Instructress Zulu knew that and his entire apprenticeship so far had been dodging one trap after another.

    “I’m waiting.”

    Her voice may be soft like silk, but it carried an air of command. Now it was laced with the smugness of success. The odds were not in his favour and with his inability to pass his final exam, he would be dismissed from the school and sentenced to four years of hard labour until blood, sweat, and tears erased all memories of this place.

    “It’s Porgy,” he answered with confidence. When her gleaming smile started slipping into a frown he added as an extra barb, “Instructor Barnelm’s apprentice.”

    “Thy luck hast stayed with thee, young one. Pray, tell me how thee knowest this?”

    “My next task is to restore this beetle, is it not? And if I fail, he is the least likely to be missed since he is scheduled to be dismissed anyway.”

    “Aye, thy wit has surmised correctly,” Instructress Zulu held her arm out and gestured to the beetle with a sweep of her fan. “Pray, continue.”

    Ryad cracked his knuckles behind his back, relieved to have the first part over with. He resumed his place at the examination table and picked up his wand. If his luck stayed true, whatever nonsense words he babbled next would hopefully be a restoring spell. His wand hovered over the beetle while he murmured something unintelligible.

    Thunder rumbled overhead. A sound not unlike a train spewed from the wand.

    “Fool!” Instructress Zulu shrieked above the howling winds.
    Word Count: 500
    Special Challenge included!

  5. "Don't Mix Magics"
    495 words
    Special Challenge Performed

    The wizard’s apprentice scratched her head, staring at the beetle in consternation. She clawed at the skin until the cold flow of blood ran slick on her fingers. After drawing in a long breath, she proceeded to scream.

    Footfalls from the adjacent hallway rose above the apprentice’s hysterics. James—the building’s alchemist—threw open the door and rushed to her side.

    “Clara, what is wrong?” James rubbed circles in his close-cropped black beard with the fingers of one hand.

    “Master Alf.” Clara pointed a pale, quivering finger at the beetle.

    James laughed, a deep, booming laugh that made Clara’s face get hot. “You transformed Alfred into a black beetle?”

    “I didn’t do it on purpose.” Clara narrowed her eyes at him.

    The beetle scuttled along the surface of a chair. He looked up at Clara and flapped his wings at her.

    “I’m so sorry, Master Alf,” Clara said. She placed her hand in front of him and he reluctantly walked onto it.

    “Have you attempted to undo your enchantment?”

    Clara struck James’s ear with her free hand before she could stop herself. “Not yet. As soon as I realized what happened I screamed and you were here, playing hero again.”

    James winced. “That ought to be tried first, I think.”

    The heaving of Clara’s shoulders settled as she took a dozen long, meditative breaths. “I apologize, Master James. I should not have stricken you.”

    “I will forgive this outburst under the circumstances.”

    Clara clenched her teeth. “Thank you.”

    At the opposite side of the table, The Unabridged Tome of Creature Enchantments lay open still. Clara strode over to her book and found the runes that described how to undo this particular spell.

    “Place one hand on your target,” Clara read aloud, “and form the ‘undoing’ gesture in the Flow with the other, as with any enchantment’s erasure. Step into the Flow with one foot and…”

    James bent over the book to study the archaic text. To Clara’s deep amusement, it was clear he couldn’t read it.

    “And do what?” he said after a few seconds.

    Clara cast her eyes downward. “I can’t read it either.”

    James nodded. “That is right. You are a mere apprentice.” He clapped his hands together. “But you are in luck. I am a master.”

    “Of alchemy.” Clara spat out the word.

    “Alchemy may not be as ancient a magical field as enchantments, but it is capable of solving this hiccough before you can research that rune and perform your spell.”

    Clara smiled. “Care to race?”

    “If you wish.”

    A row of leather-bound volumes stood on a shelf in the corner of the room. Clara found the one discerning the right type of rune and tore through it, finding the one she seeked among the middle pages.

    As James poured a thick, green fluid onto Master Alf, Clara began her movements in the Flow.

    The beetle grew. And split.

    The table buckled under the weight of Master Alf and his twin.

  6. An Elephant Beetle

    The wizard's apprentice scratched his head, staring at the beetle in consternation. What was he supposed to do with a beetle? He glanced at the underbrush hoping for any sign of movement. He needed something less defensive if he was going to impress Elmira with an elephant.

    She was a few hundred feet away checking to see if anything had been trapped in her ‘sticky’ spell.

    “A mouse!” she shrieked. Sometimes that girl acted more like the damsel in distress than a fairy godmother in training.

    “I’m coming.” He called.

    “No, it’s caught, I can do it.” She returned, the waver in her voice suggested otherwise.

    Alec smirked, sauntering towards the clearing to see just how rattled she was. The beetle caged in his curled fingers came along. With one foot in front of her and one slightly behind, it was impossible to tell if her stance was set for attack, or to run from the creature. She had to stop biting her lip to pronounce a spell. With a graceful twirl of her wand the magic flew. The little brown field mouse grew larger, transforming into a sleek white stallion. Squealing with delight she rushed forwards to stroke its neck and kiss his noble nose.

    “Brava! Magnificent!” he praised, watching her cheeks color.

    “Did your trap work?” she queried somewhat doubtfully

    “Of course it worked! Look” he opened his hand to show her the insect, suddenly very glad to have caught at least a beetle.

    “What are you going to turn it into?” she asked crinkling her nose up at the little beast.

    “Something powerful, gentle and very large.” He claimed boldly, beginning the incantation. He should have remembered that creatures do not easily change their natures.

    It’s strong shell became armored scales. The wings spread wide and leathery. The body grew immense.

    “Dragon!” Elmira squeaked.

    “Get up on the horse!” Alec exclaimed, locking his fingers together as a step for her foot and boosting the maiden onto the steed. “Now I feel like a bug, without a shell.” He confided.

    Elmira mumbled something he didn’t understand until glitter swirled before his eyes, solidifying around him and weighing him down entirely.

    “Are you trying to make me a target?” He bellowed.

    “You need armor! You asked for it!” She retorted.

    “I need a sword.”

    “She hasn’t taught me weapons yet.”

    The dragon was gaining interest in the quarreling little things. Alec swatted the horse’s rump to send it running, carrying Elmira to safety without him, despite her vehement protestations.

    Alec faced the dragon. The dragon stared at him. Its jowls opened wide and the glow of fire began to light its throat. The boy’s courage failed, but his mouth never had known when to stop.

    “Return to your true form!” He stammered desperately. The creature shrunk in on itself until it was nothing more than a beetle on the ground before him. Rising to his feet, with one step, he crushed it. Elmira would know he killed a dragon.
    Word count:500
    Special Challenge accepted