I almost gave up on this one, another entry in the writing challenge, partly because no amount of brainstorming was generating a good idea, and partly because once I did come up with an idea, the rough draft started at about 1000 words, nearly double the requirement of the prompt I was using. I think that I have figured out that I’m trying to cover too much ground in the stories that I’m trying to tell, and if I want to get more descriptive detail in, I’m going to have to brainstorm smaller nuggets of story, or come back to them later to flesh them out. This one feels like I ended up with just an outline of a longer story, but it weighs in at exactly 450 words.
1 the earth’s core: center, interior, middle, nucleus; recesses, bowels, depths; informal innards; literary midst.
2 the core of the argument: heart, heart of the matter, nucleus, nub, kernel, marrow, meat, essence, quintessence, crux, gist, pith, substance, basis, fundamentals; informal nitty-gritty, brass tacks, nuts and bolts.
the core issue: central, key, basic, fundamental, principal, primary, main, chief, crucial, vital, essential; informal number-one. ANTONYMS peripheral.
Mr. Weber opened the door before I could ring the bell. It was 5:45. He did not look very happy to see me. Apparently, when he had called to ask me to babysit, he had been serious when he told me arrive at 5:30 for a half hour orientation.
His wife was right behind him, and she was friendly. “Megan, I’m so glad you could help us out. Grant, let her in. Give her a quick tour and then we must get going.”
He glared at both of us, but stood back. “Fine. We’ll do the short version.”
I scrambled to keep up as he strode off down the hall.
He tapped a thick binder on the kitchen counter, saying “This is your instruction manual. Anything you could want to know is in here.”
Mrs. Weber grabbed the binder before he could open it and start reading to me. “Let’s take this upstairs so Megan can meet Josie.” He sighed, but followed us back out into the hall and up the open staircase.
We found Josie playing in her big, pink toy room. She grinned shyly at me and gave her parents kisses and hugs.
Mr. Weber had ended up with the binder again and handed it to me before his wife dragged him out of the room. “At least read the table of contents.”
Josie seemed pretty happy with her dolls, so I let her play while I opened up the binder and started skimming.
It was a core dump of every fatherly worry from small to epic.
Vomiting, fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, choking.
“What to do if Josie falls down the stairs.”
“In case Josie is run over by a car.”
“What to Do in the Event of a Nuclear Bomb Attack.”
I had started to read that one when the sound of someone pounding on the front door startled us. Josie said “You’d better go tell them to stop banging. Daddy doesn’t like that.”
I almost checked the binder for “how to handle people pounding on the door.”
The front door has large windows on either side, so I could see the crowd on the front porch. I stared, dumbfounded, taking a few moments to register the bloodstained clothing, ruined faces, and vacant stares. The pounding grew louder when the creatures outside saw me.
Josie had followed me down the stairs and her scream startled me in to action.
I checked the lock on the front door and then ran back upstairs, dragging Josie with me in to a closet.
I had carried the binder with me and found myself hoping there was a section called “What to Do in the Event of a Zombie Attack.”