Fantasy, Census, Mill

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

There was an explosion in his mind, a spectacular explosion of imagination. A world appeared out of thin air. It moved, breathed, projected light and shadows. Creatures moved in and out of the darkness and light. Buildings pocked the land from castles to shacks. It was a world of his own creation, built from scratch through memory and imagination. A world so vast and ever expanding it was impossible to keep a running record of all its inhabitants.

The walnut shaped mill in his head kept churning his thoughts into fantasy.

Everything was imagined from mythical beasts to majestic feasts. Yet he could not conjure her, even in his own memory. She would not appear in his imagined world.

The waiting room in which he had dozed had grown in occupants. Nearly every seat was filled with someone coughing, bleeding, clutching their chests, or nodding off to sleep. An EMT made her rounds through the room, checking vital signs and taking temperatures, just enough to ensure people were alive in that purgatory before a hospital bed.

He’d come in to the waiting room many times before. Sometimes for food from the vending machine, sometimes for warmth but mostly for a place to sit. He often waited a full day but it was still a nice reprieve from sitting by the highway or sleeping behind the rubble of an abandoned lot. Here he had to be seen, if not immediately, then eventually but he would be seen and heard and felt and spoken to.

Here in the waiting room, they were required to pay attention to him. To hear him out. Listen to him speak and speak back. Here he would be counted among the living, even if just before they died. There would be a record of him, no matter how menial the numbers of his blood pressure were.

He nibbled at the vending machine egg salad sandwich, savoring each bite. Here he was a person, waiting like all the rest to be seen.

Few, Differ, Disgusting

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by

The few, they trudged across that vast expanse. From the mountain peaks their journey ahead seemed disgusting.


No, daunting, that’s the word. Their journey seemed daunting.

Daunting? Really, isn’t that a bit cliche?


The journey ahead was dangerous or daunting. What if they journey ahead was silly? What if it would be mostly smooth but somewhat annoying? Let me decide if it will be daunting and tell me what it was. Enough preamble.

I suppose our opinions differ.

I’m in outer space and you’re trying on the 8.5 size shoe at JC Penny because the 8 was just a little bit too tight in the toes. Yeah, I suppose we differ.

Ok, the few continued their journey ahead with no idea what was in store for them.

Who is that for?


“…no idea what was in store for them.” Is that for me, the reader? Are you smashing me in the nose with the obvious? Why would they know what was in store for them?

It’s just a story.

Well tell it better.

Suddenly a ravenous beast roared across the plain.

So no they’re on a plane?

No across the expansive plain.

And so the journey started and suddenly a beast roars? Excuse me, a ravenous beast.

It’s exciting.

I have no frame of reference. I don’t know who to root for, I mean you make the “beast” sound scary but it could be someones dog. I don’t know who the few travellers are and why they are where they are.

I’m going to tell you.

yes but at this point I’ve read enough.

I shall continue anyway.

I’ve closed the book, so have at it.