Exquisite Corpse – A Writing Experiment

Tonight at prompts, we got into groups and wrote exquisite corpses. Writing an exquisite corpse is quite simple. Sometimes one writer will write a line and pass it and then the next will add to their story, fold the page over to hide the previous writer’s line and then pass it to a third person. For our purposes, we took turns, one first writing the beginning of the story, the next writing the middle and the last person finishing the story, all within the time limit of ten minutes. Here is what we came up with.

 

Exquisite Corpses

by RR Poy, Meg Merriet and Craig Johnson

#1

The old woman looked in the bathroom mirror at her naked body. She was bent, wrinkled and worn out. She picked up the smooth stone from the vanity and bounced it from hand to hand. Was it a sin? No one would blame her for wanting to be young again. She rubbed the stone over her skin… Damn the consequences!

Nothing happened at first. She checked the packaging for instructions. There was nothing but an ingredients list with strange and nauseating ingredients. Greta sighed. She rubbed the stone on herself again, but mid-rub, her arm erupted in boils. The hideous sores oozed green puss down her wrists.

What had she done! She screamed in terror. She folded her arms, crouched to her knees and wept. She felt very strange. The welts were sliding off her skin, leaving smooth, youthful flesh. Her hair had a tingling sensation. As she smoothed it back, it felt longer and thicker. She turned on the faucet and climbed into the shower.

 

#2

Harry and Paul were in the morgue looking at the body.

“Yep. That’s Stanley, our supervisor. He fell off the building during work. I don’t know how I will explain it to his family. I hope he has enough life insurance,” said Harry.

“Wait,” Paul said, stepping closer to the body. “What’s that?”

Harry pushed his glasses up his nose and leaned in.

“I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head, “but I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Should we tell someone?” asked Paul. Harry shook his head. “I think we should take it with us.”

Paul reached into Stanley’s eye socket and pulled out his diamond-studded glass eye.

“We could fence this for a fortune. I know a guy,” Paul said. Harry chuckled darkly. Suddenly their supervisor gasped and sat up on the table.

“Aha!” Stanley shouted. “You fell for my elaborate ploy to prove you were a couple of criminals! You’re fired!”

 

#3

Arya and her grandfather tended a crackling fire by their camp. The old man set a metal tray over the flame and cooked the fish they had caught that morning.

“Did you know that if you eat the fin of a mermaid, you will live forever?” he grandfather told her. Arya’s eyes went wide.

“Grandfather. That’s amazing!” She had visions of the Disney movie The Little Mermaid. She finished her meal and held up the tail of the fish. “Here, grandfather! I saved this for you so that you will stay with me when I get older.”

“Aw. That’s sweet, honey,” her grandfather said with a laugh. “But I will tell you a secret. Can you keep a secret?”

Arya’s eyes got bigger and she wiggled closer to the old man.

“Sure I can keep a secret!” she said. Grandfather looked around the campfire to make sure they were alone.

“Back when I was in the Navy, I fell off the boat. I was drowning, but a mermaid saved me!”

“Wow!” said Arya.

“She took me to a deserted island and well… I got a little hungry.”

 

 

Exquisite Corpses

by Karen Davis, Jeff Hercules and Ryan Michael

#1

The dry Spanish countryside slid by, silently outside the car window. Coreen was sleepy, but the burnt sienna landscape was so stunning, she couldn’t close her eyes. Up and up they went along a wicked switchback. The boulders, pebbles and twigs seemed to be etched in high relief.

“Slow down, dear.”

“Nothing to worry about. I’ve driven this road hundreds of times.”

“Not with me, you haven’t.”

Andre eased off the gas.

“Thanks, darling,” Coreen cooed, sounding relieved. “I think I am going to enjoy living around here.”

“Yeah, the view is…” she trailed off, her eyes following the red sun’s glow on the earthy hills.

“I haven’t been here since my teens,” Andre laughed.

Suddenly a giant gorilla appeared in the back seat and pulled Andre’s head from his shoulders.

 

#2

“I don’t want to go to grandma’s stupid house,” Shelly stomped her feet.

“I know but you have to go. Where else will you stay while your mommy and I go to the play? We will pick you up in the morning and you can have breakfast at your favorite place.”

“McDonald’s?” Shelly’s eyes brightened.

Her father grimaced momentarily.

“Only if you promise to behave.”

Shelly threw him a long calculating look and he wondered to himself the inner workings of the 9-year-old brain.

“Fine,” she relented, though crossing her arms to convey her dissatisfaction with the unexpected babysitter. Grandma’s house was forty-five minutes outside the city.

It was so boring there: nothing but parks with no swings or slides and lots of old people sitting around talking. The only thing she liked there was Grandma’s big piano. Shelly loved to open up the gigantic Upright to feel the notes pouring out.

 

#3

Emma didn’t understand the magic of the serum, but then again she didn’t need to. Morphing into a totally different person was the only option left. The taste was only half complete, but she didn’t care.

She focused her thoughts as sharply as possible. It wouldn’t do to morph into the indeterminate unidentifiable creature. Visualizing with nearly hallucinatory clarity, she swallowed the bitter liquid. When she opened her eyes, she was the very image and likeness of her father: Judge McEntire of the 5th circuit.

She configured the completeness of the transformation. The face in the mirror smiled back at her. Her eyes narrowed to slits. Her jaw tightened. She would get revenge for her father.

 

Exquisite Corpses

by Purvi Patel, John Crittenden and P. Martin

#1

Lydia held the frog gently.

“It’s very green, Papa.” Her father looked distractedly across the pond.

“Yes. Very green.” He blew the gunpowder out of the barrels and reloaded the shotgun. He had missed his target, as he usually did. He had been trying to bag the long white crane each night for a month. Soon it would be on its way north. The pond would be less beautiful without it, but there would still be the frogs Lydia liked so much.

He shot again and then went still in surprise. He had actually caught the thing. He tried again. His luck had changed it seemed. The loud boom echoed through the clearing. Damn. He’d missed. From across the pond, he heard a scream. Shock froze him, before he set the shotgun down, grabbed Lydia in his arms and ran. His rushed to get around the pond. Who had he shot? He could see the red spreading.

 

#2

The boys in the graveyard heard screams. It chilled them to the bone, but instead of running they froze. The voices they heard were clearly a man and a woman. They boys hid, trying to find out what was going on without getting caught. They were not supposed to be in the graveyard at this time at the night and they knew it. Nobody was supposed to be here. John’s father was a caretaker, so John had shared that knowledge. That man and woman were up to no good. Was the man killing the woman? Was that what the scream had been? They hoped no, but what else could it be?

“Why can’t we be in a city graveyard?” Alex whimpered. “There’s tons of people around.”

“Ghosts hate that,” Edgar sneered.

The voices grew louder, clearly arguing, but the words were strange.

“I think we should call the Ghostbusters.”

“That’s just a movie.”

 

#3

Going to this event was going to be a drag. How the Hell did she get pulled into these things? Ana asked herself that every time, but it still kept happening. An undead wedding. What the Hell was her best friend thinking? Who had a wedding with an undead theme?

Cheryl had joked about this, about her and Jake in matching caskets in front of a priest dressed as a darkly-hooded monk. They would have tiny live asps for wedding rings and Ana would be her undead bridesmaid.

But now Ana was worried that Cheryl looked like she really was not breathing. She was taking the concept far too seriously.

“Surprise!” Cheryl shrieked suddenly. And just as suddenly Ana was laughing. She’d caught the spirit of this Gothic fantasy. Cheryl and Jake would have the most talked about wedding in Shreveport this year.

 

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