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Come for tea?

All writers like to play with characters, scenarios, and ideas. It’s what they do best and it’s why we love their books. For many, a large part of developing and polishing the skills and craft of the writer involves challenging themselves and putting their characters into unusual or unfamiliar situations.

Some call that a writing prompt, or a writing challenge. Here at Osier Publishing we like to have a giggle now and then, and we love to play the “What if?” game. What if Star Trek met Star Wars? What if you took this character from that book and dropped them into this story instead? What would they do? It’s huge amounts of fun.

This challenge is for any writer who wanders by to add a character to the story that will unfold in the comments and write the next part. You don’t have to be published in any way, you can just jump in and play. Everyone is welcome, bring your friends and have them join in and play too.

Osier Publishing hates rules, but there have to be just a couple of guidelines, sorry.

  • If your reply is too long then people won’t read it all…. Try to keep your reply to 500 words or less. You can always come back and play again later.
  • We work hard to keep Osier Publishing as a Work Place and Family friendly site and as such we don’t share excerpts that would detract from that. Please keep your contribution clean and legal.
  • You’re welcome to include a single link with each reply – that can lead to your website, blog, facebook page or any location where your work is for sale. Please don’t abuse this.
  • Have fun!

That’s it. We do reserve the right to remove any replies, or links, that we find offensive.

Right, you need a starting point. With Sarah Barnard’s Portal series short story, The Heir being our debut publication, I think we’ll invite Sarah to open this one.

Warm sunlight streamed between the leaves bursting from the branches overhead. Brightly coloured cloth lay on the bright, green, Spring grass and on the cloth was set a selection of picnic food. Water bubbled, out of sight, somewhere off to one side. She set out the glasses and left the wine to one side, in the shade.

“Now, all I need is some company.” Susan leaned back against the rough bark of the wide oak trunk, lifted an apple and bit deeply into it, savouring the sweet crunch.

(Note: Susan is Sam’s daughter and Lily’s grand-daughter from the Portal books.)

Off you go, come and join the picnic and we’ll see how they all get on and where this goes.

The character of Susan is adult here, so in terms of the Portal series this would be set towards the end, or after, Child of the Portal.

Disclaimer – any links within replies here will not be checked by Osier Publishing and you’re advised to remember that we have no control of any website other than our own.


15 thoughts on “Come for tea?

  1. Susan chuckled softly, reached out to pat the knee of the man sitting beside her, knowing he was so far out of his depth and she had only an inkling of what might be going on. “She sounds like Yoda turned up in Star Trek.” Her hand snaked out to retrieve the bottle of wine and she pulled the cork and poured herself a glass before waving the bottle to offer some to the others.

    1. The pat on the knee was enough to assure him that he wasn’t hallucinating. At least the reference to Yoda and Star Trek was familiar enough.

      “I’ll take a glass of that, thanks.” he nodded at the bottle. “I get the feeling I’ve either died and gone to mortal hell, I’ve died and gone to writer’s heaven. Either way, the drink can’t hurt a dead man.”

      He looked at the notepad in his hand, with a slightly wistful expression. “I wish I’d brought a bigger notepad. If I ever get back to reality, this’d make a helluva piece of fiction.”

  2. “The light reminded me of something they used to do.” Susan gazed into the distance, seeing something other than the trees. “Don’t worry about it. You said, Ship, so what you just used isn’t the same.”
    Her eyes still distant, Susan frowned. “Oshawa isn’t a 15 minute drive from wherever we are now. I think you’re further away from home than you believe.” She blinked, refocused.

    1. Calmly Kala reassures her, “No, my method of travel is not …” She pauses searching for the right description, “..mythical, but technical. A form of technology that moves living biological matter from one location to another with exceptional precision.” Kala watches Susan for several moments in silence, “Much weighs on you about them.”

  3. Her gaze drifts to the older gentleman, “Kansas?” Stares at him briefly, hearing his thought clearly on the subject, she smiles, “Of course. A reference to an archaic entertainment piece. I will make it a point to review the ship’s entertainment archives when I return for such a visual display.” She hides her distaste of the pungent aroma stemming from the gentleman. She leaves the small bottle near Susan before sitting on the ground near the blanket, “Your mother and grandmother are not known to me. Perhaps in another time and place, but not this one. Care to tell me of them?” Folds her hands on her lap and relaxes her mind and body.

    1. Stan’s eyebrows disappear into his hairline.

      “What the Sam hill are you talking about, girl? You sound like you just fell out of an Asimov book, or off the psych ward bus. Archaic entertainment. Christ on a cross, child, I’m old not dead!”

  4. Some huffing and puffing precludes the arrival of a tall, slim man with grey, slicked back hair, and a “w” shaped mustache. His face is wrinkled and flushed by his efforts. The cane he’s using isn’t doing much for his limp.

    He scans the area, takes in the blanket, food and wine, lifts his left brow, and then scowls at the woman against the tree.

    “Alright, I’m here. So what’s the scoop? The Chief sent me out here for a story, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to haul my tired old carcass all the way out here and not get one.”

    Without waiting for an answer he pulls a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, and takes one out as he rambles on.

    “So? Fundraiser? Charity picnic? Senior’s day trip? What’s the story, young lady?”

    He produces a lighter from seemingly nowhere, lights the cigarette, inhales and exhales.

    “I don’t suppose you’ve got any decent coffee here?”

    1. “I’m Susan.” She smiled without rising, ran a hand through recently cut blonde hair that stood up in a soft mes before falling back to her ears. “I have no idea what we’re doing here either. I was just told to be here and see what happened next. Won’t you come and sit?” Amusement danced in her blue eyes as she took in his appearance, sensing his physical discomfort as well as his attitude. “I didn’t bring coffee, it’s bad for your heart. Someone else may bring some though. Why don’t we wait to see who else is coming?” Her soft voice blended with the gentle breeze that moved the grass.

      1. “Humph! Waste of my damned time.” There’s an amused sparkle in his eyes, though, as he lowers himself to the blanket, with obvious effort.

        “Stanly Willems, The Oshawa Herald.” He takes a small notepad and pen from the opposite shirt pocket. Fishing in his trousers, he produces a tin jar lid, flicks his ashes into, and carefully ignores the young woman as he scans his notes.

        1. A soft whine permeates the air, and a gentle light flickers from existence not far into the wooded area opposite the water. The lightest of foot steps cross the threshold into the clearing not long after. A woman, petite in size stand with red hair falling to her shoulders and across her back. Her simple attire is a single color a-line tank dress that falls to her ankles. She carries a small bottle in one hand and metal and plastic device in the other.

          She walks to the edge of the blanket and looks at the individuals at the picnic. “Lovely day isn’t it?” Looking from one to the other, “I’m Kala. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to join you.”

          1. Susan smiled her welcome, an expression that held sadness and memories. “Hi, Kala, pleased to meet you. I’m Susan and this is Stanly.” She waved Kala forward to join them while her attention was still on the spot where the light had been. “That brings back memories. I don’t suppose you knew my mother? Or my grandmother?”

          2. Stanley nodded at the new girl. Strange outfit she was wearing. Lily would have loved it. Well, except for the lack of rainbow colours. Odd name too. He was beginning to feel a little out of place here.

            “Definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto.” he mumbled to himself.

        2. “Pleased to meet you, Stanly.” Susan held out a hand for him to shake. “Where in the world is Oshawa? I’m not familiar with the name.” She didn’t try to look at his notes, holding her apple in one hand. It was half eaten by now.
          Susan turned at the flare of light……

          1. Stan stared at the girl, trying to determine if she was pulling his leg.
            He wondered for a moment if he was having an alcohol-induced hallucination, but he was sure he hadn’t had a drink in weeks.
            A flash of light in the trees stole his focus for a second, before he answered.
            “New around here, huh? Oshawa is that small city just South of here. About a fifteen minute drive. You can’t miss it really. The Herald is our local snot… uh, newspaper.”

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