I’m going to share the story I wrote at the A Cthulhu out of the Hat – Writing Prompts for the Deranged panel at Balticon. The moderator provided a bag of stuff he’d picked up from his kids’ rooms and each panelist picked three items. We had about 20 minutes to write a story that included two of the items. Then we read them aloud. There were some really creative stories. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of my items, but I was too busy thinking about what I could possibly write. My prompts were a green rubber frog, a small plastic silver surfboard (another panelist helpfully identified it as being the Silver Surfer’s surfboard; I had no idea what it was), and something green that looked like a top and had circuits in it.
So here’s my story. I’ve just titled it now, but aside from fixing any spelling errors due to my crazy frantic handwriting, I haven’t changed anything.
The Strange Fate of Mr. Frog
Carlton Frog hadn’t taken a vacation in years, but the internet deal was nearly too good to be true–a house for rent in Ipswich, one week for the price of two days. Something told him not to pass up the opportunity, so after a few emails, he packed his bags and was on his way. Ipswich was a quaint town by the sea, cobblestone streets, historic houses, very quiet and peaceful. His rental was on an isolated bluff overlooking the rocky shoreline.
The old woman who let him in said she lived down the road and that the owner had asked her to take care of the rental. She had never seen the man before, but she seemed almost fearful. “You may want to come into town during the full moon,” she warned Carlton.
He merely chuckled and sent her on her way. Full moon? Really? As if there might be a werewolf or something hiding in the basement.
Carlton spent the day reading and relaxing. The house was old and quaint. It did have a basement, a dark foreboding place, with one locked door. He saw a strange light coming from beneath the door and heard a faint humming sound. A generator maybe? He tried to force the door but soon gave up, not willing to seem like a bad renter.
That night, a terrible storm blew up the coast. The windows rattled in their panes and the rain beat upon the roof in an ominous tattoo. Carlton jumped at a loud clap of thunder. Lightening flashed. There was a boom close by. The lights went out.
An unsettling fear crept over him, but he remained calm and found a flashlight in the kitchen. He carefully inspected all the rooms and found nothing amiss, save the pounding of his own heart.
And then, a humming sound began to fill the house. That noise from the basement was growing louder. Carlton steeled himself and slowly descended the rickety steps. Maybe it was an ancient furnace, he told himself.
The humming grew louder, and green light shone beneath the locked door. He pushed against it, calling, “Is something there?” No answer, but the humming grew louder, a strange pulsing in his blood. He had to open the door. Grabbing an axe from the workbench, he began to hack at the door until finally it crashed open.
Green light illuminated the room. The humming called to him, beckoning him closer. He entered, still holding the axe.
In the middle of the room was a strange metal object, almost like a green top. It was the source of the sound and the light.
What the hell, Carlton thought, mesmerized. He moved closer, wondering if he should call 911 first. No, that would be silly.
“We’ve been waiting for you,” a voice intoned.
Carlton reached out a trembling hand and touched it. A jolt of electricity seemed to shoot through him. He felt like he was flying–no, it was like he was surfing, riding wave after wave on a silver surfboard until it all crashed down.
With another clap of thunder, Carlton Frog was no more.
The gateway to the elder realm grew silent, waiting. Carlton Frog had helped, but he was not the answer to opening the doorway. No fear. Another would come.
The landlady next door came by later with a sigh as she collected Mr. Frog’s belongings and prepared to place another ad. The Elders would wait. She would soon find the one they sought.