The rules for 23/5 Exquisite Corpse, again, are:
Take the nearest six to ten books from your shelf.
Open them to page 23, and find the fifth sentence.
Write down those sentences and arrange them to form a short story.
Post the text in your journal along with these instructions.
So here goes:
He was revealing the basic mysteries of his craft, and was happy, making the while the broad series of stock pleasantries which have probably been current in composing rooms since printing was invented.1
He paused to enhance the dramatic effect of what he was about to say.2
What is the easiest thing?3
“Nothing to find out,” he cut in.4
Then he ceased struggling and pleaded with them to stop.5
They seemed very angry, so I thought I had better go.6
Above these the ever-present birds of prey, the vultures, ravens and kites, weave slow and intricate patterns upon the hard blue sky.7
1Betty Binns, Better Type
2Marcel Möring, In Babylon
3John Florio, in Burton Stevenson, The Macmillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases
4William Tenn, “Bernie the Faust,” in Judith Merrill (ed.), The 9th Annual of the Year’s Best SF
5Alan Furst, Night Soldiers
6Thomas L. Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem
7Gavin Maxwell, Lords of the Atlas
Addendum. I just found a great one at Eve’s Swamp, and I thought I’d reprint it here for everyone’s delectation; visit Eve for the sources:
I didn’t know that I was adopted, so I don’t know why I gave my clothes away, but I did. But the new sciences would point the way toward the fundamental nature of life and mind, mysteries that the physical sciences had never been able to touch. The waterspout did a big dance over the sea, leaning and twirling and the whale whirled in its coils, with corks and bottles, high up over the sea. After short silence then and summons read, the great consult began. “Boys,” said the Colonel, after a moment’s reflection, “I’m not sure what I’m getting into, but Hobson will be out of your tent today. We don’t have to establish his ‘character.’ But you will be my equal if you tame the haughty Moor and our fierce Scythian foe: Love binds us in a fellowship of woe.” Case felt the weight of the night come down on him like a bag of wet sand settling behind his eyes. Several times he seemed to shrink up within himself at the noise of the American Press on the terrace above—the terrace which was popularly believed to be safer from hand-grenades.