Aphelion Issue 296, Volume 28
July 2024 --
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A challenge to Writers

By Aphelion Webzine

Narrative Hooks

Welcome to the second round of Aphelion's Writer's Challenge. Like the first round, here you will be given several story ideas in hopes of sparking off a fit of creative writing. However, instead of pictures, this round uses narrative hooks- A sentence or paragraph that grabs a reader's attention and makes them want to read the story. I've listed forty two hooks below that should kindle your creativity. Stories submitted to Aphelion using these hooks should be identified as "Writer's Challenge 2" stories somewhere in your submission. This will insure that I can identify the tale as such when I do the story's link from the index page. These putative submissions will be treated to the same standards as all other submissions, so: (1) Write a good story, (2) Watch your grammar, and (3) Spellcheck!

Remember, this is not a contest. This is a game to see how many people can make something of these ideas. Every writer is a winner here, so make it fun!

Narrative Hooks:

  1. Hell opened up and spat out a hero.
  2. The world was a ball a million miles in diameter- with an artificial sun at it's center - populated inside and out. Foamed metallic walls, one thousand miles thick, were perforated with connecting shafts at major population centers. A thin surface crust layered both the inside and outside surfaces of the ball.
  3. "There was five of us," said the old man, "when we found that old wrecked alien ship out in the asteroid belt. I'm the only one left alive."
  4. The typical K-trill native is a hive mind, consisting of flocks of up to one hundred bird-like creatures averaging a meter in height, each of which looks as if a lonely peacock had gotten romantically and genetically entertwined with a squid. The mind itself can manifest itself in any or all of the individual flock members.
  5. In the back of every mind, a monster lurks- chained in the mind's dark recesses, kept away from the light of day for all eternity... but chains can break.
  6. Once you've been shot at your perspective on life changes.
  7. She was the greatest beauty to grace the age. He was the painter who gave her immortality. Together they toppled an empire.
  8. I hate to kill a man for bad manners, so I was glad when he took a shot at me.
  9. The doorway irised open and a whole new world lay open before me.
  10. Frequently, the biggest trouble with time travel is keeping your mouth shut.
  11. Its difficult to invent a new way to screw up, but somehow I managed it.
  12. You haven't lived until you've had to outwit something that's decided that you'd make a nice snack.
  13. Its not enough to succeed, you have to survive and get home again too.
  14. Unfortunately, no telescope in the world was pointed in the right direction to see the asteroid that was destined to destroy Europe.
  15. After the fourth corpse showed up in the case, I began to wish that life would cease to imitate art.
  16. Over and over again in my mind, I watched the creature slay my friends one by one, then turn and stalk me...
  17. At the sound of gunfire, I dived for cover under the nearest car. It seems that I wasn't the only one with that idea. Under the same car was a man with the biggest pistol that I'd seen in my life, breathing heavy and bleeding slightly from a graze on his arm.
  18. Beauty may be only skin deep, but evil goes all the way to the bone.
  19. Most people never notice the weirdness all around them.
  20. Thunder spat from the enemies' guns. We fired in return, but I fear to little effect.
  21. The worst thing about being a city boy lost in the desert was that to me one cactus looked pretty much like the rest.
  22. Any time that you find yourself close enough to actually be looking at a wall of water a hundred feet tall and moving towards where you are standing, you know you're pretty well screwed- baring a miracle.
  23. It was the Marie Celeste all over again...
  24. Most folks never notice how easy it is to wander from one timeline to another. Some of them though, they wind up in some very strange realities.
  25. I looked out at the coming dawn and thought upon the life of the man I was about to have to kill...
  26. Never underestimate the stupidity of the ruling classes. Although, come to think about it, they defend themselves rather well...
  27. Lightning crashed, striking a nearby tree and arcing to my atacker's upraised sword. His armored body exploded with a violence such to send me flying.
  28. Being a wizard was boring, for the most part. Centuries of waiting, interspersed with brief moments of sheer terror.
  29. Cackling with glee, my assailant raised his meat cleaver on high- and gave me the chance to finally get the small pistol out of my borrowed shoulder holster and shoot him in the kneecaps.
  30. "Mr. Gates, just who was it that wrote the program that let the internet develop self-awareness and decide it was the only being fit to rule the world?" asked the Senator from Cuba.
  31. After a fourteen year flight, our ship finally touched down upon the soil of an alien world.
  32. "Please excuse me," said the android calmly- as smoke began to pour from it's ears and flame began to erupt from it's clothing.
  33. I'd set out to make peaceful contact with the natives, and suddenly I was gaining new insight into the mindset of General Custer at the Little Big Horn...
  34. Brak of Calmore was the best thief in the thirty kingdoms, so how did he wind up in the dungeons of Saigathe? Easy, it was all part of his master plan...
  35. Explosive decompresion is a nasty way to die, and I had about twenty seconds until the mutineers opened the outer airlock door.
  36. Weaponless, I faced down the slathering carnivore that had jumped into the light of my campfire.
  37. With a hearty "See you later," the man in the trenchcoat jumped off of the rollercoaster and vanished in a soundless flash of light- two hundred feet above the ground. No one was going to believe this one.
  38. With a growing feeling of unreality, I watched the Tin Man pour tea for the Mad Hatter.
  39. "For it is written in the holy book of Windows 2010 for Dummies that 'the geek shall inherit the universe and all others shall perish by one another's hand-' and so we see the world about us today," said the ceramic priest in plastic robes.
  40. The barbarian chieftain filled the door of the crude, woven reed hut. After three days without food or drink, I could hardly lift my head to look.
  41. "Of all the demons that try men's souls, drink runs a poor second to women," sighed my sergeant. "Try and forget her, lad- dwelling on what's gone could get you killed." In the distance, cannons began to fire as battle was joined.
  42. My enemy's enemy is my ally... Whether he likes it or not.

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