What's in the box?

While this is a writing exercise, I’d like to think that anyone can join in. So, if you want to have a go then please do. I hope there will be exercises such as this one posted up here from time to time, from various of our members, and I hope you’ll all play along and have some fun.

Rules:

  • The poster sets word count limits and any other conditions.
  • Supportive and constructive comments only if you feel the need to comment on another’s contribution.
  • There are no prizes.
  • Your words are your own, the Independent Writers’ Association holds no right to anything you post on our site.
  • Have fun!

I’ll start you off and ask you a question, you carry on the piece in 250 words or less and post your response in the comments here. If you wish to share your response, or this exercise then please link back to this post from wherever you’re sharing.

Lit by candles, the table stood in the centre of the room. Its smooth surface the result of years of use and the pressure of many hands across its wooden planes. Three pale wax candles rested on a metal plate to one side, flames casting a flickering light on the box.

The box was a perfect cube, gleaming steel with no apparent opening. But contained inside…..

Your task: What’s in the box?

You have 250 words to explore the room, the table and discover what’s in the box.

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20 thoughts on “What's in the box?

    1. Sarah Post author

      LOL, Catrina!
      Next prompt on Saturday, from Isobel. Will you all come and play again? And bring friends with you?

        1. Jake

          Saturday sounds good. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions and it was fun putting my hand to writing something a bit more creative than a discussion on liquid natural gas or search engine optimisation.

  1. Sarah Post author

    But contained inside…

    He let his fingertips dance across the smoothed wood of the table feeling the grain and brushing against the chill metal that rested on it. Finally, it was real, it was here.
    Open the box.
    He paused, hand outstretched.
    Not yet. They would come and he wanted them to see.
    He waited. The candles flickered. Candles, how archaic.
    The door behind him stood open, a chill seeping through it to pool at his back. He shivered, tugged his jacket closer.
    He walked round the table until he stood with the cube between him and the open door. He heard them coming now, screaming, shouting, boots pounding closer and closer. A slow smile spread, cold and vicious as he placed his hand on the top of the box. He breathed in, pulling himself up proud. He could do this. The box opened, sliding apart, coded for the genetic profile of his people alone and hidden for generations. Only he could open it, the last of his kind.
    Silence as they reached the door, stood blocking it, weapons raised.
    “Don’t!” A warning, but the scent of fear too. They knew, they saw.
    He raised his hand, holding in it both life and death.
    His thumb pressed, glass shattered and the contents released.

  2. Jake

    This is my first attempt in years to do one of these and I absolutely enjoyed the exercise. Here’s what I came up with (prompt is incorporated into the prose):

    Lit by candles, the table stood in the centre of the room. Its smooth surface the result of years of use and the pressure of many hands across its wooden planes. Three pale candles rested on a metal plate to one side, flames casting a flickering light on the box.

    Sitting around the table were Athan, Michael, Jerod and John. Athan beckoned me forward and I hesitantly moved towards the table. Reaching its edge, I lifted my gaze to look at each of them, meeting their eyes with mine. It was a solemn moment; no smile crossed our lips, although the looks were not unkind. Releasing their gazes, my eyes took in the object on the table – the object which brought us together this night.

    The box was a perfect cube, gleaming steel with no apparent opening. But contained inside was the secret to our continuance; a tool, a weapon, a curse and a blessing—an object that when placed within the right hands would ensure our world’s survival.

    As fifth child, I was the box’s rightful keeper—the one member of our family who knew how to open and use what it contained. Yet, I was also female and, as such, I should not have been allowed in this room, much less near the box. Until now, I had not been. It was only desperation that had brought us to this moment.

    You see, our society had specific rules: the reigning line only bore male children, the fifth child always the blessed one capable of wielding the power of Agartha, the jewel held within. But while I had indeed been blessed, I was not male.

    In my hands, the box would open. On my forehead, Argatha would rest in a circlet. Through me, the power would be wielded and our world would survive.

    I looked up at my brothers, smiled and opened the box.

    1. Sinead MacDughlas

      Loved this, Jake! If you haven’t done this in a while, you’re certainly not out of practice. Sarah says there are more coming, so keep your eye on this page and, pehaps, we’ll meet here again…

  3. Sinead MacDughlas

    Wow! 250 words was tough. My piece is a continuation from the introduction, so I will include the introduction here. My own addition is exactly 250 words, though I had to cut it back from nearly 400. lol

    Lit by candles, the table stood in the centre of the room. Its smooth surface the result of years of use and the pressure of many hands across it wooden planes. Three pale wax candles rested on a metal plate to one side, flames casting a flickering light on the box.
    The box was a perfect cube, gleaming steel with no apparent opening. But contained inside…

    …was something more valuable more precious than wealth, more beautiful than birth, and more powerful than death. It was a trust, protected by the eldest daughter of the three. There are always three. I looked at the four women across the table.

    My youngest Cherry, fair ,lithe; eyes and hands never still. She had such energy and purpose, always flitting around the world, bending her willowy back in the service of those in need. It had been difficult to convince her to come home.
    She fussed over Anita. So much alike, they could be mother and daughter. I could see the impatience in my youngest sister’s eyes. She wanted to be up and “doing”, but her health had reduced to hosting charity teas and knitting blankets for hospitals. The youngest always fade quickest in our family. No sister outlived the others, more than a year, in all our ancient line. Anita was wearing thin already.
    Fay knew it. The placid acceptance in her eyes was comforting, as always. While Anita “did” and I dreamed, Fay believed. My younger sister never worried, never questioned. Whenever I worried, she wrapped her sturdy arms around me and whisper, “It will be as it should, Asha. It is our destiny.”
    Beside Fay, my middle daughter, Leala, waited patiently. As stalwart as her Aunt and just as serene. “She will come, Mother.”
    We waited for my eldest, Nadia, who must take the Pithos from me now; the burden of our ancestress , Pandora…Elpis…Hope.

  4. Catrina

    She stood on the platform, waiting for him. The audience assembled represented everyone who came with them to begin again. They began a life, upon this planet together and now, today she was one of two chosen to lead them. Her hearts raced as he crossed to her, holding the box that would change everything.

    Without needing him to open it, she knew inside was the blade of matrimony. She knew to lead her people, with him, they would have to be wed and she was still anxious. So much had transpired that forced her to hesitate with this union, but that no longer mattered. It wouldn’t be long before both hands were bound around the sickled blades, and cut by the trusted one, then tied together by the chosen. Their lives would be forever intertwined, changing everything she knew, but restoring what she once wanted.

    When he placed the box on the podium before the overseer, Yatrell turned to his bride to be and found himself almost floating through the motions. He smiled as he looked into her dazzling green eyes. He had no doubts in that moment, that they made the right choice together.

    The overseer opened the box, and inside was a double sided blade. Both sharpened points gleamed in the bright light of the sun above. The handled was hand crafted and etched with the date. This date that would be remembered as the day Xarrok was born.

    (242 words)

    1. Sinead MacDughlas

      Hmm…These characters sound familiar. 😀 Well done, Catrina! I could feel her trepidation and his joy. Thank you.

  5. Isobel

    He paused at the threshold. It lay before him, still possibly not the prize he searched for. He licked his lips, rounded pink tongue just flickering across his mouth and leaving a sheen of moisture. Fear tugged from both sides. Afraid to enter the room, and afraid to fail. If he succeeded, if the box contained what he hoped, then it would all be over. If it didn’t? If it didn’t then the price for failure would be high.
    He just scraped six feet in height, if he bothered pulling himself up straight, and the archway was tickling the top of his hair. The room was roughly a seven feet cube, plain and dark, containing only the table, the candles and the box. He remained motionless, scanning the room for any sign of a trap.
    There was bound to be a trap, there was always a trap. He saw no wires, no sign of anything on the smooth floor.
    The candles flickered, wax dribbled down the sides.
    He saw it.
    He’d almost waited too long. Indecision would have cost him.
    A single step, a sweep of his arm and the box rested in the palm of his hand. It was warm, and it pulsed, a rhythmic throbbing.
    Success.
    With the soul of the oldest demon left alive secure in his pocket, he left. His search wasn’t yet over. Now he had to find the means to kill it.

    (238 words)

    1. Sinead MacDughlas

      Now that I’ve posted mine, I could finally read the others. Excellent piece, Isobel! You conveyed the tension so well, and I could “see” the scene clearly. A pleasure to read. 🙂

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