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More doodles based on picture prompts.


Sula's blood splatter and gecko tapes

The Game

Be prepared to receive a message, shrieks Sula, and in response everyone falls asleep, or pretends to.

But they are not ignoring her, and she is no despot on television singing her own glory. They are a bunch of erstwhile school-friends dispersed across the lands like the seeds from a Jacaranda, gathered in Sula’s home for a repeat of the endless childhood pretend games played in the not-so-shiny Singapore of yesteryears, the precursors of the video-games their children are so fond of now.

Sula has done all the hard work. She floated the idea of the reunion in the first place, how nice it would be for all of them to run around her maze of a house one last time before it got razed to the ground to make way for a 30-storey condominium, she said, how exciting to be able to become a crocodile, and swim in the muddy waters, snap off an unwary arm or leg, tread like only a giant can across an entire metropolis, increasing in size with each human crushed on the way,  climb out of a canyon on gecko legs, all those things they did as students when their allowance did not let them buy movie tickets or go to theme parks. She devised the game, arranged the rules, the writing, the dates, costumes, curtains, weapons.

They all agreed because they loved it all those years ago when it was Sula’s turn to host. The rooms in her home could be different countries, her swimming pool a boiling ocean full of enormous tentacled monsters, her bulldog often served as the king of the animal world, and obediently snoozed on the cushion allocated to him in the centre of the courtyard while gangly arms fought with plastic scimitars for the possession of his kingdom.

And now she commands them all to rise, and receive the gift, ye scoundrels and no-goods, and blasphemous tartans!

But the game is to ambush Sula with lasers when she lets fall her veils of protection, and none of the eight middle-aged men or women move.

In that moment before pandemonium would break loose, before they would all gang up on their alleged leader, beat her to pulp and blood spatter, they shed their pounds, years, their make-ups and their branded, Versace, Armani clothes, their collections of Barolo wine and limited edition Tourbillon watches, and become geeky kids who snort at fancy cars and spit out old wine, reaching for cans of coke instead.

Sula can keep her veil on for only so long, and her attackers wait, stifling giggles and snorts, guns at the ready, for the game to begin.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • indigobunting says:

    I love this.

  • Damyanti says:

    bronxboy55, you humble me by saying all this. I’ve seen enough writers who free-write, imho much better than me. In fact a group of us write together each week often using the same prompt and come up with fascinating results. One of us, who is a renowned theatre actress, writes characters during our meet-ups that leave me stunned. 🙂

    Thanks for your kind words. Really. Having me and ‘talent’ put in the same sentence gives me hope.

  • bronxboy55 says:

    As I read these stories on your blog, I find myself trying to envision a roomful of writers with similar gifts of imagination and skill. All looking at the same picture, each would (I’m sure) create a different narrative, filled with unique characters and action, and composed in a distinctive style and voice. The difficulty comes in believing that it’s possible to find that many writers with your talent. Maybe I’ll give up on the idea now and just enjoy what I keep finding here.

  • Damyanti says:

    Gladys, you’re too kind. This is mostly writing practice–typed into the blog instead of scrawled into my notebook. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

    Paul, I write most mornings, using prompts of some kind or the other. I use prompts that speak to me, and basically take down what they’re saying. I write down what they say, and write as long as they speak :). Haven’t thought of word limits yet. Maybe I should?

  • I like this picture prompt idea. About how many words are you shooting for with these, or do you not have a word limit in mind?

    Great work!


  • What an incredible writer! You amaze me. So much action and colour compacted deliciously into a restricted frame.

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