Friday, September 21, 2012

Cabin Fever

I love writing challenges.  I've shared the results of some here before, most notably 100 word stories with no repeats.  But here's a different one.  For this challenge you have to use an many song titles as part of your story as possible.  And to make it even trickier, see if you can make them all from the same artist!

Here's a little story I wrote using song titles from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.  The titles are in bold and underlined.  I think I managed to squeeze 20 into this one....


Lucy stretched a, slender leg, tracing the tattooed python that snaked its way from ankle to thigh.  She breathed in the burnt-hair smell that emanated from the tiny bar heater sitting in the corner, struggling to warm the frigid air.  The canvas tent smelled old and musty even though it had been standing for four days already.

The circus were stuck in Tupelo; had been for three days now, the entire region blanketed under fifteen feet of pure white snow.  It was unseasonable to say the least, and Lucy was getting bored.  She stretched the other leg, this one featuring a Chinese dragon that wound its way up and up, finishing beneath the tight fabric of her sequinned leotard.

Deanna,” Lucy whined.  “I’m so bored!  There’s nothing to do!”
“Practice your act,” Deanna called back, giving Lucy an upside down grin, her back bent at an extreme angle, legs splayed in a perfect split.  Bending back even further, she let one of her feet touch the ground and pushed herself back into a standing position. 
“Bravo!” sighed Lucy as she watched Deanna contort her limber body.  Behind her was a poster advertising her act.  Christina The Astonishing” it read, and showed Deanna in this same impossible position but dressed in a red satin bikini that barely covered the bits that needed covering for decency’s sake.

Hey, Joe,” Lucy called to the carny who was sitting on a pile of mattresses just inside the door, pulling wings off flies.  “I’m bored.  Entertain me.”
“You’ve got a bad case of cabin fever,” Joe muttered through clenched teeth.  “Why don’t you go out for a while? Check out the loom of the land?”
“Maybe…” Lucy hesitated, eyes moving fearfully right and left.  I had a dream, Joe.  A bad one.  And you know…”

Lucy’s dreams were enough to strike fear in the stoutest hearted men.  Rarely were her night-time visions wrong.  Circus folk are superstitious at the best of times, and after so many of Lucy’s prescient dreams proving correct, when she announced she’d had a dream, well, everyone listened.

“What was it?” Deanna stopped her contortions and came over to the mat on the floor where Lucy lay.
“It was horrible.” Lucy shook her head and sat up.  “I was back home, by the river, where the wild roses grow.  Suddenly a shadow fell across me, blocking the sun.  When I looked up, there he was…”
“Who?” Deanna was leaning forwards, hands clasped under her chin.
Blind Lemon Jefferson!” Lucy choked, shuddering at even uttering the name of the singer who had lost his mind at a performance three years earlier, opening fire on the crowd in the tent before turning the gun on himself.  “It can only mean something bad is coming.  I’m frightened.”
“So am I!” Joe admitted.  “You’ve never been wrong before.  This can only be an omen.”
“Oh!” Deanna shivered in her leotard, reaching for the sweater she’d thrown across a chair.  “I hope it’s nothing like what happened to John Finn’s wife!”

A sudden noise from outside the tent sent the three occupants rocketing to their feet.  It was a pounding sound, muffled somewhat by the thick snow.  Before any of them had a chance to move, think or say a word, the side of the tent bulged inwards.  Seconds later it exploded as the body of a young horse ploughed through the ancient canvas, all scrabbling legs and flying hooves.  Lucy squinted in the sudden brightness of the sun reflecting off the snow.  The horse stopped just in front of her, snorting and blowing through distended nostrils.
“Shhh…” Deanna stepped forward and cautiously touched the horse’s nose, flinching as it tossed its head away.
“Careful,” warned Joe, coming around to stand by the horse’s left flank.  “This one’s Sorrow’s child; he’s not much more than wild.” 

Deanna shrank back against the far wall of the sagging tent, eyeing the horse warily.  Joe stroked the horse’s heaving side with a gentleness that was at odds with his size.  Taking the mane in one hand, he turned the beast.
“You’ve got him!” Jack’s shadow filled the rent in the canvas and the horse trainer easily slipped a bridle over the calming nag’s head and ears.  “Everyone alright?”
 Oh my Lord! We could’ve been killed!” Deanna breathed.
“I know,” Jack shuffled his feet as he led the horse from the ruined tent.  “I’m sorry.  He got away on me.” 

Lucy and Deanna gathered their belongings and stepped through the torn canvas into the cold.
“What now?” Lucy asked, peering around the circus grounds, deserted in the thick snow.
“There is a town,” Deanna said slowly, gesturing northward.  “Perhaps we ought to find a motel room.”
Bring it on!” Lucy grinned at her friend.  “No stupid horse is going to lay me low!  Onwards!  To the city of refuge.

Have you ever tried anything like this?  How'd it go?


  1. That's really fun! I've never tried this.

  2. Very fun. A friend of mine is a comedienne and challenged herself to a lunch out using only Michael Jackson song titles.

  3. Wow, that was amazing. I wish I had time to do that.

    1. Between books... I have plenty of time to screw around...