I hope you’re having a good Monday. It is Victoria Day in Canada, so if you are Canadian, enjoy your holiday. What a great chance to write a story!
The challenge of Muse on Monday is to write a short story and use the elements listed below. If you’re 18 years old or younger, you can submit your story using this link for a chance to have it published next Monday when the new prompt comes out. You just need to submit it before 12:00pm EST next Sunday.
If you have an idea for a prompt for a future week, please send it to me at email@example.com! It can be in this form or anything else.
Normally, I have a series of prompts to work into a story, but this week, we’re going to do something different. The prompt is the picture below. Write whatever story comes to mind when you look at the picture. This is a picture I took in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Story Prompt: May 24, 2021
And now, a story based on last week’s prompt:
- Setting: in a bank
- Characters: a homeless man
- Genre: horror/suspense
If you see a cash machine with the light off, don’t use it.
It was late at night and I didn’t have enough money for a taxi home, so I went to the first bank I saw with a CASH sign. I didn’t recognize the bank name.
There was a row of machines inside the bank lobby and a man near the door, yelling profanity into a cellphone. I went to the one farthest away from him. The one with the light off.
The screen flickered and went a shade of light green that reminded me of vomit, or slime. I put my card in and punched in my PIN. It was all in a language I didn’t recognize, but there was a button for English, so I hit that. Only some of the words changed to English.
There were two options: &#*@CASH and QUICK^&%$. I hit the “quick” one since at that point I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. The man on the cellphone started crying and kicking the wall. I hunched over the screen, willing it to go faster.
There was a click and the machine started whirring as it does when it’s counting the cash to spit out. The bills emerged.
I grabbed the cash and was about to put it in my wallet when the money grabbed me back. It sounds crazy, but the bills wrapped themselves around the back of my hand and started to move up my arms, tightening around my wrist. I caught a glimpse of a half-rotted corpse on the faces of the bills. I didn’t know who it was supposed to be, and now I was realizing I didn’t even know what kind of currency it was.
I screamed even louder than the man having the meltdown on the phone and slammed my hand against the wall, tearing at the slick paper that kept trying to crawl up my arm. I wrenched it off and threw it to the floor where the pieces of paper squirmed like maggots. I took off for the door.
“Hey man, are you going to take your money?” It was the man by the door, suddenly dead calm. He was staring at me.
“I don’t want it,” I muttered.
“Take the cash,” he repeated. His eyes never left mine until I pulled my gaze away.
The money was lying still now. I scooped it up in one fist and gripped it tight, just in case it tried anything. Then I hurried past the man and out into the night.
I hoped the moisture inside my clenched fist was just sweat. I just wanted to get rid of the cursed money as fast as possible.
“Can you spare a buck?” I turned so wildly at the voice that the homeless man stepped back. “Okay, okay,” he mumbled.
“Here,” I said, holding out my hand. I had a moment of terror as I opened it, that the money would try to climb up my arm again, but it fell in a crumpled ball into the man’s outstretched hands. It looked perfectly normal in that low light.
“You steal this?” the man asked, in a tone that said he didn’t really care. He shoved it into a pocket and turned away. And I walked away, feeling suddenly lighter.
As I walked away, I heard the sound of a police siren far away through the nighttime urban jungle. At least I think it was a siren. But it might, just might, have been a scream.
Happy writing and have a wonderful week! Come back next Monday for another story prompt.