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Concept Art Writing Prompt: Creepy little girl goes fishing for monsters

Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: Creepy little girl goes fishing for monsters

Mysterious creatures lurk beneath the waters of this week's concept art writing prompt. As always, we ask that you come up with a flash fiction story inspired by this painting and post it in the comments. So is this girl about to get eaten? Or is she doing the eating?

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Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: Creepy little girl goes fishing for monsters

This week's writing prompt artwork is "Go Fish" by Monica Langlois. It appeared in a World of Warcraft trading card game and on the cover of PC Game Russia. Via reddit.

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Edit: WOW-players are pointing out that the figure is full-grown gnome, not a little girl. Feel free to use the prompt in whatever way inspires you.

Here's my story. Post yours in the comments:

When Amity's father told her about the monsters in the lake, he thought he was lying. He was hoping to chase his daughter into ballet classes or beauty pageants, so he told her tales of swamp demons with razor-sharp teeth and giant catfish who feasted on the flesh of little girls. But Amity had spent enough recesses dragged across the playground by her pigtails, and a swamp demon struck her as the perfect solution. So each Saturday morning, she trotted down to the cemetery with her bucket and her shovel.

An illness had swept through the schools that started with a fever and ended with your liver turned to jelly, so there were always fresh bodies to dig up. Amity purchased a small hacksaw with her allowance, and grew skilled at slicing off hands and feet. She liked how each hand gave her five little worms to bait her hook, even if feet were a bit messier.

Once she'd refilled the graves, she'd drag her bounty down to the lake shore, force the meat on the hook, and wait. But the only things that ever nibbled upon her offering of human flesh were fish, and not even fish of unusual size. By evening, she'd hurl the chopped up hands and feet into the water, hoping it would attract more monsters to her shore.

Then, one Saturday, Amity went to graveyard as usual, before the sun had a chance to rise. But among the usually quiet rows of headstones, she spotted men shoveling dirt back onto disrupted graves. She dropped to the ground, crawling behind a marble angel for cover, and spied a cart loaded with small bodies. She didn't dare ask the men if she could have the fingers.

After the graverobbers left, Amity tried digging for fresh bodies, but found only earthworms filling the empty graves. So she filled her pail with the squiggly nightcrawlers and plodded down to the lake.

As she sank her wormy hook into the water, Amity sighed. Perhaps she should just catch a few fish for her supper and enroll in Krav Maga the next day. But then she felt a tug on her rod. Amity had caught plenty of fish before, but this felt strange, insistent, more a pull than a heavy bob. Amity started to pad toward the edge of the lake, but before she could look down, an unseen force whipped her rod through the air — and Amity with it.

She barely had time to hold her breath before she was pulled down into the water. It was difficult with the water swirling and thrashing around her, but Amity fought to keep her eyes open. Finally, the currents cleared and she could see the thing at the end of her fishing pole. It was enormous and green, as if constructed from all of the seaweed that had ever accumulated inside this lake, and its mouth was planted firmly around her hook, its massive jaws working on the tiny worm. When it spotted Amity, it opened its yellow eyes as wide as they could go, and let out a panicked roar. The seaweed creature yanked the hook from its mouth and batted a large paw at Amity, hurling her out of the water and back onto land.

Amity sat up just in time to see the creature stomp off across the lake, throwing a tentative glance back her way. Rubbing her head, Amity stared down at her bait bucket and smiled. There were monsters in this lake after all. And what they wanted was worms.

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Corpore Metal

He was the master of all he surveyed for all the other animals feared him. Many years ago he'd taken this swamp after wounding and pushing out the previous owner, another like himself, but older and failing in strength. In time he grew strong enough to take the territory of others and, with the greater food supply, grew still more. Over the course of years, there was some mating. The females wandered dancing and singing into his territory and were duly impressed its size and his strength. They would couple with him and then leave before the winter came. This was a precaution. Because his kind sometimes ate their own young.

He would never see his children until, perhaps, one would return to this swamp and take it from him. But until that day, his rule was rarely challenged and the food was plentiful.

One day he saw a strange things in the sky buzzing, shining, flying creatures unlike the chitonous ones he was used to catching and eating. The flew around his swamp and easily avoided his efforts to bat them out of the sky with rocks or tree limbs. They'd shown bright lights in the dark in shades he'd never seen before. They'd hover and make strange warbling calls he'd never heard before. He grew irritated with them because they'd scare game away, and he was getting more hungery than usual.

This lasted through the summer and nearly into the fall and then, just as abruptly, they were all gone.

He would wander his territory scaring off rivals, looking for food and approaching potential mates. This was the pattern for another few years until one day he saw his second strange sight. He was following the river that ran through his wet land until it came to a rapids and he looked out across the valley to see a strange, new treeless hill off in the distance. He noted it only briefly because it was far outside the wet lands that he preferred. The hunting was bad in that direction and no of his kind ever went out there.

A few seasons later he saw a strange animal wandering brazenly and carelessly into his territory. It looked soft enough to be food. It was stupid and careless food seeing the way it didn't move quietly, quickly or evasively.

He slid quietly away and down into a pond to hide. Ambush aways worked well for him. He'd taken many animals that way, a surprise leap and grab followed by the noisy rending of muscle and bone. The anticipation made his stomach growl audibly but otherwise he was still as rock and there were no swim things to pester him. It was a perfect ambush.

Terry Gibbons had all the power and tools of the 30th century behind her. That was probably the only reason why her parents let her go "monster huntin'" all alone in the wet lands outside Target City on Fred's Planet. Today she was looking for shambling mounds and she had all the right equipment.

The Network told her all about shambling mounds including a lot of boring historical footnotes about ancient role-playing games. The terraforming robots had made very exhaustive examinations of Fred's life including the shambling mounds so, Terry knew everything on how to catch one of the things.

She didn't know it but, she also had a robot following her in case anything serious happened.

Terry sat, took a wriggler from her knapsack and baited her hook and made a few adjustments to her fishing line. AR told her that a shambler was nearby, probably in that pond yonder. She panned around and spotted an obvious, big source of heat right at the shore. That was probably it. Now she'd enact the part of plan she didn't tell her parents: she was going to put it to sleep and call robots to bring it back home!

Earlier that day, she'd taken some wigglers and shot them full of nanomachinery. These machines would be what put the shambler to sleep without killing it. Her plan was simple: get the shambler to eat the wiggler, wait for it to surface after it fell to sleep and then radio the robots. But then a flaw became clear to her. It would too easy just to cast her line into the pond from where she was and she couldn't be sure something else would just eat the wiggler instead. Shamblers liked bigger food.

She had the house AI make some adjustments to the machines before injecting them into the wigglers. These machines would make the wiggler irresistible to the shambler and repulsive to the other creatures likely to be a pond. And she had another bold part of her plan, this part she neglected to tell her parents.

Now that she was near the pond the next step. She strode right up to the shore and right out onto the head of the creature! She readied her pole.

He was dumbfounded by his luck! That's what stayed his paws. Otherwise he would just bounded out of the water and taken the creature. A rare curiosity overtook him and he just waited to see what the creature would do.

Meanwhile Terry's minder drew in closer trying to figure out what she was up to.

Terry dropped her line in. The wiggler began to leak its irresistible scent.

He stared at the wiggler and had to reach out to eat it. The moment he popped it into his mouth he was doomed.

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Meh, ends weakly. Oh well.