Sunday writing chat prompts for 30 Oct 2022

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    • #8850

      The Sunday Brunch Prompted Writing Chat is an opportunity each week to test your skills at writing under pressure — or to have some fun without the need to be brilliant — or both!

      The prompts are intended as both as a challenge and a starting point, open to creative interpretation. You can use these as an excuse to write anything that comes to mind, whether it’s fiction or creative non-fiction or a mixture of both. You can write a separate piece for each prompt, or try to link them all together in a single story.

      If you join in the chat, you can add “an excuse to complain about unfair prompts” to the entertainment, too. But even if you can’t attend the chat session, feel free to give the prompts a try anyway (and leave your responses, comments, or complaints in this thread if you like).

      This week’s prompts are posted below.

      1. Use the following five words: pen, respectable, firm, recovery, danger. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “Here’s the plan.” (10 min)

      3. Write about being overwhelmed. (10 min)

    • #8851

      It was summer. Classes were done, finals were done, and everyone was granted two weeks of leave, at the end of which some of them were requested and required (to quote old naval jargon) to show up at summer camp to do a couple months as interns operating spacecraft from the ground.

      Jun went to the dismissal assembly where they issued final orders and travel documents. Captain Watanabe, who’d been her prof for what the mid shippers had come to call PrinSCOps (Principles of Space Craft Operations), was passing out the paper packets.

      “This one has to be yours,” she said, when Jun was more or less the only one left. “Jen Gong?”

      “Jun Gong,” said Jun, and they laughed together at the cultural ineptness of the bureaucracy. “Thanks for the in-depth PrinSCOps class, by the way,” she said.

      “Well, you’re about to find out just how realistic the course wasn’t,” said the Captain. “But I’ve taught you to swim, so I hope you can make a respectable recovery from diving in to the deep end of practical, hands-off, remote operation of really expensive hardware.”

      “Yes, Ma’am,” said Jun.

      The service standard was to call senior officers Sir irrespective of their gender, but so many of them were women that it was often overlooked.

      They exchanged a firm handshake. “Good luck,” said the Captain.

      “Thank you, Sir,” Jun replied, with a correct Korean bow. “Ma’am,” she added.

      The Captain grinned. “You’ll do fine. There’s not much danger of mistakes, and lots of people around to catch them before you make them.”

      Jun signed the receipt for her orders, on actual paper with an actual pen.


      The building, when she arrived, was cylindrical. Seismic structural engineers had figured out (Jun hoped devoutly) how to make tall buildings in the LA area, not far from the Satellite Beach headquarters of a major aerospace firm. The self-driving taxi dropped her off in exchange for debiting her phone.

      She picked up her sea bag and carried it in the entrance. The place was arranged like a ship, except of course the gravity all pointed one direction, along the axis of the cylinder. The reception area was like the quarterdeck on a ship, so she saluted the colors and the officer of the day and said, “Midshipman First Class Jun Jeong reporting for duty, Sir.”

      “At ease,” said the officer, a Lieutenant whose name tag read “Smith.” As in Mr. Smith and Ms. Jeong. Not Jones, like some of the incognito movies but pretty close. Except she expected she would stand out like the proverbial thumb among a bunch of anglos.

      “Here’s the plan,” said Lt Smith. “We’ve assigned you quarters on Cylinder one, Deck six, Pod three.”

      “CylOne, DeckSix, PodThree,” Jun repeated back.

      “There’s a briefing for the Middies tomorrow at oh eight hundred in the auditorium, Cylinder four, Deck zero (that’s the one we’re on), Room one.”

      “Four, Zero, One,” said Jun, as she made a note in the calendar app of her head bug. It was like a phone without tying up your hands.

      “The mess hall is just one deck up from the auditorium,” said Lt Smith. “And there are restrooms marked most everywhere. Any questions?”

      “No, Sir,” said Jun. “Four, One, One,” she added as she noted the mess hall location.

      Jun found the lift. Unlike the ship design the building was based on, the lifts went up the axis of the building, since that’s the direction gravity pointed here. “Deck Six,” she said aloud, and the voice recognition apparently sorted out what it needed from her accent, which most Americans found easy to understand. But sometimes it confused machines.

      She walked off the lift, to the first intersection, which was CylOne, and thence around the circular hallway to her pod. Her name was already on the display next to the latch. She pushed the button and the mechanism pinged her head bug for identification, and opened.

      “Ginny!” she said, to the woman sitting on the bunk to her left. She dropped her sea bag at the foot of the other bunk.

      “Jun!” said Ginny. “I was wondering if there was another Mid1 Jeong in the known universe.”

      “Probably? If there are other Koreans in the Academy. It’s a pretty common family name.”

      “Food now? Or do you want a shower first? The bathrooms are pretty nice,” said Ginny.

      “Food good,” said Jun. She remembered grunting something to that effect during an especially difficult week earlier that spring.

      “Come with me, then,” said Ginny.

      “Woh,” said Jun, when they arrived. She was staring at the menu board. “So much to choose from! It’s kind of intimidating. Ooooooo… They have kim chi pancakes. You wanna split one?”

      “What is it?”

      “Fermented cabbage. Comfort food.”

      Ginny laughed. “For you, maybe. I’m sure we can find something we’d both like.”

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