Happy to have gotten a hard copy of the first print run of Anna AB and Wayne Rée's 'Prompt'. Numbered and autographed. Yayyy. (E-book is available on Lulu, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.) Seven simple prompts (which are never simple), 14 short stories by two writers sharing each prompt.
Wayne said 'Prompt' is dedicated to the Ramones. I thought he was joking. Till I flipped to the publisher's page and read the author's dedications. Anna thanked everyone and everything she has "watched/read/listened to for three decades" and told them they "don't know the half of it." Wayne literally wrote "To Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy. Gabba gabba hey." Okaaaay. Pinhead mask and polka dots.
The stories don't go into the realm of sci-fi. Nope. They're just stories, everyday stories. Kinda poignant, kinda mysterious and all very cool. 14 stories. Then Wayne emailed over two bonus stories for people who bought the first print runs of the hard copy. Hurrah. Bonus prompt is 'Santuary' - Wayne's 'She Sells Sanctuary' and Anna's 'This Place is a Prison'. Great ideas in all 16 stories. Concise and the endings aren't weak. Which left a mark?
Ignored the time travel stories. Not into time travel as a genre. It gives me a headache when all its paradoxes reverberate loudly as unanswered questions. Based on this reason alone, I wasn't into the two stories under the prompt 'Time Travel' - Wayne's 'Captain Buck Kitsune of the Year 3099AD' and Anna's 'Where I End and You Begin'.
The prompt 'Smoke' has - Wayne's 'Mr Memphis', which I really like for the idea of Aamon and Mephistopheles. Hurhurhur. Anna's 'The Accolade' had the glory of wrestling and the stage, and secret deals with an old lady Mab with red hair, red lips and a glass eye smelling of sulphur. She only appears to a few and grants fame and fortune to the select with a huge price of likely... their souls for eternity.
"Never make the same mistake I did. When she comes a-callin', and she will again, just tell her no and walk away. Girls like Mab, they don't take too kindly to rejection, but she'll get over it soon. Even if it means you're gonna end up a broken man at forty, don't do it. Because the alternative is the long wait, counting the hours till she finally shows up, and the nothingness that comes next. I don't know what kind of world she lives in, and what the payment is for a brief taste of immortality, but I'm sure it will be a worse hell than I could ever imagine."
In the last prompt of the book 'Last Days', Anna's 'Retrograde' unsurprisingly touched on a virus that's wiping out humans and a new world order. It always comes down to that. Wayne's 'Shave and a Hair Cut' was eerily flat, monotonous and nicely hid the little twist at the end that was kept tiny, but scary. Imagine if that was indeed what your neighborhood barber is. Oof.
"Poor thing," said the barber, noncommittally."Why haven't you aged, Uncle Ali?" Frankly asked, surprisingly casually."Your father would have been so angry, ah? United not doing well this season/"A pause, then with a smile, Franklin said, "No, they're not."