Writing Prompt Boot Camp: Day 14 - BlueAnteater.com

Writing Prompt Boot Camp: Day 14

“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.”
— George Carlin

This is it. You’re at the end of your rope. In a jam. At wit’s end. Other synonyms.

You’ve no job, no partner, no money, no social life to speak of.

A friend of an acquaintance takes pity on you. She tells you to google a book called, “Self Help for Those in Need of Helping Themselves to a Better Life.”

(She would give you her copy, but she’s still using it.)

So you go home from that bar where you had to rely on your acquaintances to buy you drinks, and you use Google to search for this book. It’s pretty expensive, even on Amazon, you notice. But you decide to consider IT a lifetime investment, so after deciding you probably won’t use that much water this month, you order the book.

It arrives in five to ten business days in a box twice its size. You check to make sure it’s none the worse for wear (after all, you want to make sure you got your money’s worth) and open it up. You begin reading.

Frankly, it’s all stuff you’ve heard before: put yourself out there, collect unemployment, sacrifice small animals, go out and make friends, consider robbing a bank, etc. You start feeling a little discouraged despite the encouraging title.

The penultimate chapter is titled, “Alternative Self-Help Methods.” The first sentence reads, “When it seems like all else has failed, consider going beyond this world – to that of the supernatural.”

You find this both troubling and intriguing, and keep reading.

“The Ouija board is a device used to contact ghosts. If no one living can give you the advice you seek, why not try the dead? By this point, you’ve probably nothing left to lose.”

You can’t argue with that, so back to Google you go, this time to buy a Ouija board. After deciding to use less electricity this month, you click “order.”

Two to three weeks later, the Ouija board arrives in a box almost too small. As it is, you have to rip it open entirely to get the board out. After reading the instructions carefully in French (you accidentally tore the English ones in your box-ripping excitement), you set up the Ouija and grab your now very worn self-help book.

You place your fingers on the planchette and wait.

To your (admitted) surprise, it begins to move, shifting from one letter to another:

H – E – L – L – O

Startled, you remove your hands, but the planchette keeps moving by itself:

S – A – L – U – T – A –

“Wait a moment!” you say. “Let me get a pen.”

After rummaging around your junk drawers for pen and paper, you sit back down by the Ouija board.

S – A – L – U – T – A – T – I – O – N – S

You read over the word on your paper. This is tremendously exciting. A ghost really has come, is really here to help you!

“Salutations!” you say to the board grandly.

W – H – A – T – Y – O – U – N – E – E – D

“Are you a ghost?” you ask.

The planchette moves irritably to the “yes,” then spells out the words again.

“Oh! I just need help,” you say. “In life. With relationships and friends and family – Here, let me start at the beginning.”

An hour later, you feel you have fully divulged your life story. This ghost now has all the facts of who you are and what you need.

The board is silent, though. You begin to worry that perhaps you’ve broken it somehow. You’re about to pick it up, when the planchette twitches. It moves very slowly to each letter:

I – S – T – H – A – T – A – L – L

“Yes, I think so,” you say. “I don’t think it’s necessary to talk more about my love of beans, anyway.”

The planchette hurriedly darts to the “no” and remains there for a moment. Then, it shifts from side to side, as if building up suspense. Here it comes, you think. Knowledge from beyond the grave. Who else but a ghost would know how to fix one’s life!

It moves to the first letter, then the next and the next. You write down each dutifully on your paper. The planchette lands on one last letter, rises up slightly in the air, then snaps in two.

Trembling with excitement, you read the ghost’s final message:

T – R – Y – A – S – E – L – F – H – E – L – P – B – O – O – K


Woo, last prompt! So I made it as silly as possible!! XD I’ve never used a Ouija board, so I had to look up what the heck they look like. Seems to be more fun – and funny – while in a group.

Want to do the challenge yourself? Here is today’s prompt: Write a story featuring a Ouija board, a search engine, and a self-help book.

“Ouija Board” by Indi Samarajiva is licensed under C.C. by 4.0.

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