Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Give the Devil His Due!

Welcome to another installment of Random Word Improv, or as I like to think of it, a chance to have fun with words.

Whether you wrote a lot, a little, or none at all this week, a few minutes of Improv is a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page. As a plus, it will improve your daily word count.

All right, let’s get started. This week’s words were inspired by a television show I’ve been watching recently and the Work In Progress of our own Eight Lady Jeanne. Do with them what you will.


Today’s bonus word is:                   apocryphal

Today’s bonus phrase is:              “sympathy for the devil”

Here are the rest of today’s randomly selected random words:

Lucifer                  sin                          curse                     damnation

Devil                     struggle               infidel                  free-will

Immortal             expulsion            temptation         forbidden          

For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here’s how to play:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

Okay. Are you ready? Go tell us a story!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

You’re back. Kind of fun, right? Can’t wait to see what you have come up with.

10 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Give the Devil His Due!

  1. I couldn’t fit ’em all in, but here’s a try:

    When Jack came in, Lucy was onstage at the Cafe Mesuline, belting out “Sympathy for the Devil” as a ballad, and it sounded as if she was struggling to retain her free-will against the hidden temptations of the song, urging her to give in to the dark side. Jack shuddered; Lucy was always the angsty one. If there was any moral dark side to any situation, Lucy was the one to find it, feed it, and write a sonnet about it.

    Fortunately, that was the end of Lucy’s set, and Jack made his way to the bar accompanied only by the buzz of the patrons and the clunking of beer mugs upon the tables. “The regular, Joe,” he ordered. Joe was a curly-headed Italian, broad as a minotaur, clean-shaven. Great bartender, and when he put on a dress and got on stage, his immortal arias knocked them all out.

    Joe put a double whiskey in front of Jack and whispered, “Nixie’s on the warpath tonight. Lucifer – I mean, Lucien — gave his notice.”

    “About bloody time,” Jack said. “Did you hear her up there? If Mick’d been in tonight, there would have been hell to pay. Singing that song as a folk tune is a sin against all the gods of music. I’m surprised Nixie gave Lucien time to quit – I would’ve thought she’d given him the axe, then rolled his head into his trunk and mailed it to Siberia. Ghastly.”

    “Expulsion from this paradise?” Lucien slid onto the barstool next to Jack, and held his cheroot up to be lit. Jack obliged. Lucien was in a tight pair of slacks and a disco shirt, but he’d left on his stage makeup. Lucien took a puff. “I’d rather walk out on my own free will.”

    “You’ll be lucky if you crawl out.” Nixie rose from the trap door behind the bar like a ghost from Shakespeare. She pointed a pistol at Lucien. “You have five minutes to pack your things, darling, and if you are not gone, I will begin shooting.”

    “Nixie, you she-devil, I . . . .” Lucien was interrupted when a bullet nicked his left ear. He stumbled off the stool, cursing. The sudden silence that had fallen over the cafe when the shot was fired now exploded into short, sharp conversations. No one would leave, of course. The regulars all knew that Nixie only shot what she meant to shoot at; nothing more and nothing less.

    Jack lit two cigarettes, and passed one to Nixie, then sucked coolly on his own. He’d heard the bullet whistle past. “One day, darling, you are going to go too far and maim the wrong person.”

    “But not today, Jack. Lucy deserved to be shot. She’s just lucky I didn’t shoot that microphone off the stand. I was on the phone and couldn’t make it upstairs in time.” Her gears suddenly shifted; Jack could see the mental workings skipping right through logic to the other side of a new problem. “Jack, you’ll never guess who was on the phone. What a terrible day I’ve had!”

    • Love that, Michaeline, especially ”Lucy was the one to find it, feed it and write a sonnet about it.”

      Here’s mine (I think I got the full set):

      Miranda had always hated lilies, so it seemed entirely appropriate that the church was full of them. The organist was working through his repertoire of Bach’s most dismal compositions, which meant there was still time to run.

      Marcus, who should have been waiting at the altar, stood between her and the door, the lines of his coat marred by the pistol in his pocket. His personal scent, a combination of liniment, whisky and stale sweat, warred with the lilies and won.

      Bach gave way to Handel. Marcus closed and barred the door with a satisfied grunt. “Good. He’s not coming.” He offered her his arm with a tobacco-stained parody of a smile. “Shall we?”

      He’s not coming. There was no doubt who ‘he’ was. Lucifer. The offspring of a brief but violent infatuation between Marcus’s first wife and a dashing Moor (‘that damned infidel’), he’d been named in a fit of pique though Marcus has stopped short of disinheriting the boy until he managed to father a legitimate heir. Which he had been unable to do with any of his previous four wives.

      The tales of Lucifer’s childhood – a daily struggle of beatings and worse, ending in expulsion from the family home – were no doubt apocryphal, but Miranda knew what was in store for her, and she had complete sympathy for the devil.

      Marcus kept a strong grip on her arm as she mumbled her responses. The vicar droned his way to ‘just cause and impediment.’ It was almost done.

      “I have a question.” The voice echoed around the walls.

      “Hell and damnation.” Spewing curse after curse, Marcus dropped her arm and fumbled for his pocket.

      The broad-shouldered young man walking down the aisle with a silver-chased pistol hanging negligently from one hand was well-named. He was beautiful enough to be immortal, superficially angelic until you saw the devil dancing in his eyes.

      “You shouldn’t have forbidden me to attend,” he said to Marcus. “The temptation was too great.” He turned to Miranda. “Forgive me for asking: are you marrying him of your own free will?”

      She rolled her eyes. “What do you think?”

      “Should you prefer to live in sin?” he inquired, offering her his arm. “It’s not as respectable as this, but I guarantee you’ll enjoy it a great deal more.”

      “Do you know,” Miranda said, placing her gloved hand on his sleeve as the vicar choked, her mother fainted, and Marcus glowered, “I think perhaps I would.”

      • Wow, you two have set a high bar today! I especially liked “His personal scent, a combination of liniment, whisky and stale sweat, warred with the lilies and won.”. No wonder Miranda chose living in sin over that.

    • Great job Michaeline – that was really fun. I loved the “No one would leave, of course.” Sounds like a fun place / group of characters that I’d like to see more of.

  2. Really fun entries so far today. I’ll be working on my own entry after dinner and posting later. Cassie and Nicolai are really going to have to step things up 🙂

  3. I’ve been reading Darynda Jones’ Graves series (omg, they’re so much fun), so this is perfect. Will have to see what I can come up with tonight…after I finish doing my taxes. *groan*

  4. Okay, I know Friday has passed, but here is the next installment of Cassie and Nicolai’s story, continuing on from where I (accidentally) left things hanging last week. Enjoy.

    * * *

    Nicolai shook his head. “He got in the typical trouble when he was a kid – pushing boundaries, teenaged rebellion – heck, we both did. Nothing criminal though, well, unless you count stealing the pot of gold from Mrs. O’Shaunessy’s garden leprechaun. He was only five at the time, so that doesn’t really count. I find it hard to believe he’s involved in any of this.”

    “Well, there’s one way to find out if he is.”


    “You need to pretend to be Demitri.”

    Whatever Nicolai had thought I was going to say, that apparently wasn’t it. He let out a curse and I had a little sympathy for the poor devil.

    “We searched Demitri’s apartment and found his datebook,” I explained. “He’s supposed to be attending an event with Penelope tomorrow night. Since we’ve got him on a 48-hour hold, we need you to take his place.”

    Nicolai frowned and seemed to be struggling to process the information. I wondered just how much of that whiskey he’d had to drink.

    He looked me in the eye. “What do you know that you aren’t telling me?”

    Damnation. Apparently his mind was working just fine. Ignoring his question was a real temptation, but I figured he deserved to know the truth. Besides, Chief Daniels hadn’t forbidden me to tell him. Well, not in so many words.

    I downed the last of my beer and then stood up. “Come on, Lucifer. Let’s go take a walk through the park across the street and get some fresh air.”

    Nicolai followed me without a word. The other patrons, intent on the football match on the screens overhead that appeared to be in double-overtime didn’t so much as glance our way.

    We walked in silence along the tree-lined path in the park, the ground underfoot slightly damp from a brief rain shower earlier in the day, while I debated how much to tell him. “I met with Penelope this afternoon,” I said, breaking the silence.

    Nicolai looked over and waited for me to continue.

    “She admitted to knowing Demitri, which we already knew, but she said he was a patient of hers and had been for several months.”

    “Patient? Why would Demitri be seeing a brain surgeon?”

    I shrugged. “She refused to give us the specifics, citing doctor-patient confidentiality, but her area of specialty is dealing with aggressive, inoperable tumours.” I looked at Nicolai as I talked, wanting to see his reaction. He looked a little shell-shocked, like Lucifer after his expulsion from heaven, so I nudged him toward a nearby bench and we both sat down.

    “A tumour?” Nicolai shook his head. “I guess I always kind of thought we were immortal, being Greek gods and all.” He gave me a small smile.

    I chose not to tell him about the medications we’d found at Demitri’s during our search. A sin of omission, perhaps, but I figured I could worry about that on Sunday. “It’s only a supposition at this point, but it raises some interesting questions, especially since Demitri denied having any involvement with Penelope when we questioned him.”

    “Well, we know that isn’t true.”

    “Exactly. That’s why we need you to take his place tomorrow night with Penelope, to keep her from finding out we have Demitri in custody and to see what else you can find out.”

    “I can think of any number of things I’d rather do to tomorrow night.” He stood up and we continued walking. “Fine. Where am I going with the charming Dr. Penelope?”

    “Oh, you’ll love it.” I was lying, of course. “It’s a lecture on free-will at the local university.”

    Nicolai just shook his head. “I’m going to need a lot more whiskey.”

    I felt bad for him, really I did, so I kept the rest of the details about what we had learned from Penelope to myself. He didn’t need to know all of that right now. Instead, we headed back to the pub where I trounced him at darts while he attempted to drown his troubles in fine aged whiskey.

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