Writing Prompt of the Week: July 24-31 (Dark, Dreadful & Dystopian)

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Welcome to the sixth Writing Prompt of the Week!


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Week of July 24-31
Submissions: July 24-29
Voting: July 30-31
Winner Badge Awarded: August 1

Dystopia, Horror, and Mystery

These prompts are creepy, mysterious, maybe downright scary. There’s some prompts with room for comedy, though. Give us your best spin on a thriller, mystery, or horror short story. Whatever genre you choose, make sure there’s a spine-tingling plot twist or chilling ending for maximum effect!

This Week’s Prompt

Five are alive.


Five are alive. The words strike fear in her heart, and she breathes faster. But she forces the anxiety away. She’s conquered hundreds of the robots already.
Five are alive.
But not for much longer.

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really on the nose towards the enddd but i had fun!

The camera flashes brightly, bathing the family of eight with yellow light, and Dennis takes a moment to blink away the rainbow dots as sweat trickles down his back. The room is hot, the studio set for the photograph crowded with too-too-merry purple and yellow Hintermas decorations. His sisters’ perfumes stick to the inside of his nose, the ruffles of his mother’s gloves prickly on his neck as she holds his shoulder to keep him still, and he just itches all over in his clothes like his skin is made of wriggling insects waiting to wrestle free.
Dennis blinks at the ceiling, holding his breath and waiting for this to be over.
“Tell the boy to kneel,” someone is saying, and a few others around the studio ring their approval to the sentiment before his father’s gravelly voice speaks. “Dennis, be a dear and kneel, would you?”
Dennis bobs his head. He takes in a deep, long, rattling breath.
The studio is quiet.
Everybody waits, eyes on him expectantly, and from among them, he even finds Tiffany’s, his younger sister’s, hazel orbs, and Tiffany was supposed to be mad at him for not playing catch with her after breakfast. He couldn’t have played with her back then, Mom told them they’d get their clothes wrinkled, or worse, before the shoot, and he couldn’t let their mother down. He smiles at Tiffany now, the motion painful from posing the exact same smile to all these cameras for what’s felt like the past few decades. Tiffany turns her nose up at him, looking away.
Dennis just wants all of this to be over.
Dennis moves, relieved as his family gives him some space, even if it isn’t much. Dad shuffles a little to the right, Tiffany makes do by squeezing into the little bit of room between Vivian and the wall. He holds his wings tight to his back so it wouldn’t hit any of the others. Rachel shrieks with delight as the feathers brush her face, and reaches with tiny fingers to grab onto his wing. It tickles, and a nervous giggle rises up out of Dennis. The photographer startles at the sound, the other people around the studio look a little nervous. Dennis closes his mouth, relaxing his face so it looks like the distant, fixed smile he’s been giving them all this time. He knows it scares people when he shows too much emotion. His mother’s hushed voice sounds, along with Anabeth’s, and though Dennis wants to protest, they make Rachel let go of his wing. He stifles a low whine from escaping his throat. His little sister has always had a calming effect on him, and her hold on his wing had been a little comforting, if only also a little painful.
It is another long eternity of excruciating posing for more family photos, before they’re allowed to leave. “I don’t know why we have to make this a dreadful affair every year,” their mother is murmuring, as she helps Stefan stand and holds Rachel’s hand.
“Be careful, dear,” his dad says, and holds out his arm to Dennis. Dennis takes it gratefully, leaning on him for support as he stands. His wings feel cramped from being in such a small space for so long, and he closes his eyes as painful tears prick his eyes when he shifts them. He steadies his breaths. No, he just had to get some fresh air, and he’s going to be fine.
His dad stops to talk to a few people at the studio, thanking them for all of their hard work and patience. Dennis stifles a yawn, and then, failing that, he lifts a hand to cover his mouth. The sharp incisors set in his gums would only scare people away-- the photographers flinch when Dennis moves, and Dennis immediately feels bad. He goes back to seeing how long he can hold his breath, as his dad goes from person to person, smiling and exchanging pleasantries with each of them. Dennis knows no one there likes him. They don’t want to look at him.
“It’s a real tragedy,” one of the photographers say. “You must be devastated, losing one of your boys so young. A terrible thing, this plague is.”
Dennis feels the muscles along Dad’s arm tense all of a sudden, and then relax again. “What a strange thing to say,” Dad says mildly. When Dennis tips his head to look down at him, his father is smiling.
When Dad is finally done talking to everyone, Dennis is still holding onto his arm, having lost the battle to hold his breath so many times now, but still too weak to walk off on his own without his dad’s help. Dad pats his hand reassuringly, “Don’t worry, Denny. We’ll get you home soon.”
Dennis nods, smiling down at his dad.
They walk towards the door, Dennis’s eyes watering at the sting of sunlight in his eyes. Dad pulls out a dark umbrella, holding it between the two of them. It’s sweltering hot outside, and much too bright. Dennis hunkers down a little, bending so the top his his ears aren’t bumping against the umbrella. He blinks around at the summer heat, and slowly, painfully, relaxes his wings, letting them take up the space they want to.
The warmth is nice on his fur and feathers after a while, a gentle weight that nips feeling back into his muscles.
They walk across the heated expanse of asphalt that is the parking lot, all the way to where his five siblings have already piled into their car, Mom at the driver’s seat, all the windows rolled up to keep the air conditioning in.
Dad helps Dennis into the backseat, where he has to constrict his wings again, pulling his knees close to his chest and bending his neck so his head doesn’t hit the ceiling, before pulling the seatbelt across his stomach. He and Vivian and Anabeth, the oldest, get to sit right behind Mom and Dad, and the other three have to make do at the back, Rachel taking up the most space with her car seat. Anabeth and Stefan are in the middle of an argument, Stefan insisting he’s not kicking the back of her seat and Anabeth demanding Tiffany to keep an eye on him.
“Stefan, wanna switch places with me?” Dennis asks politely.
His brother looks over, and then looks over at their mother.
Mom and Dad are talking in low voices, as Mom starts up the engine. They never mean for Dennis to hear, of course, but he always does.
In the end, Stefan doesn’t get to switch places with him, and everyone sulks about it because he wouldn’t stop kicking Anabeth’s chair.

When they pull into their driveway, Dennis has drifted off to sleep, head lolling against the window and his knees. Vivian shakes him awake, and he blinks slowly, yawning, all his teeth showing.
“Come on, children, it’s time for lunch,” Mom says, getting out of the car. “You must be famished after that ordeal.”
Annabeth opens her door and hops out, followed by Vivian. Dennis pushes open his own door to stand outside.
It’s much nicer here.
It’s always nicer at home.
Trees rustle quietly over their heads, shielding them from the sun. The nearby lake always keeps the air damp, and not overbearingly hot. Their house towers dark over them, reaching into the sky.
Dennis spreads his wings wide, and as his other siblings hop out of the car, Tiffany carrying Rachel at her hip, they head towards the house.
Dennis feels a tug at his sleeve, and looks over at Tiffany in surprise.
“Can we play after lunch?” Tiffany asks.
“Of course!” Dennis beams at her.
Tiffany nods, struggling to hold onto Rachel, who’s trying to grab at Dennis’s wings again.
Dennis giggles, wishing he could offer to hold Rachel himself. Mom and Dad don’t like that, they say he might hurt himself trying to carry their little sister, even though he’s much stronger than all of them now.
On the way up the steps to the front door, Dennis spots the familiar gravestone, set into the side of the house. The gravestone etched with Dennis’s name on it, the boy who had once lived in this house with his five siblings and his parents.
He wonders if the Dennis who’d been alive liked having their yearly portraits taken. The living are so strange, after all, in the things that matter to them.
He frowns, at the offending thoughts. Mom and Dad don’t like it when he thinks about these kinds of things. They want him to be Dennis, the boy they’ve raised for the past twelve years.
So he shakes his head, and he follows his sister through the front door, letting it fall shut behind them.