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Meanwhile, Back at the Dungeon!

Jim is an accomplished writer with many great literary achievements, most of which he simply made up.


Another day at the office

A wretched creature sits with his feet in the stocks, a rat gnawing nonchalantly on his leg. The rat? He's sort of like a mascot around here. The guys affectionately named him, Raphael. Another poor fellow is chained to the wall by his thumbs. A dejected soul swings overhead in a iron cage of sorts. Looks cramped! Glimpses of others, affixed to various devices to inflict pain, slowly come into focus as your eyes adjust to the darkness. The putrid odor of despair fills the dark, dank confines, littered with oppressed humanity. Stocks, chains, and various instruments of torture are scattered around.

It's another cheery day at the dungeon!

The door swings open, a shaft of light briefly illuminates the dark confines of a dreary place

"Good morning," the dungeon-master exudes cheerfully. "I just love this place!"

"Morning." -glum.

"Morning." -depressed.


"Morning." -despondent.

A chorus of less than enthusiastic greetings is exchanged. One by one they repeat the obligatory greeting.

"Good morning everyone," exclaims one cheery fellow!

Everybody groans at the same time's that cheerful guy in the back of the dungeon.


One by one they report various complaints.

"My gruel is mushy," one gripes.

"You pulled all my teeth," another complained.

"I can't feel my legs," intones another with a low moan.

A female voice mutters, "I gained five pounds last week."

Plagues, pestilence, wars, rampant disease, and more pestilence ...forgive me if I try to bring a little ray of sunshine into the world

"Guys," he chides the group, "we can't all be doom & gloom. I knock myself out every day trying to do my job as well as I can and this is the thanks I get?"
- brief pause before he continues.

"Plagues, pestilence, wars, rampant disease, and more pestilence ...forgive me if I try to bring a little ray of sunshine into the world." His ploy for pity fell flat. It’s a tough crowd of grim faces, staring blankly back at him.

"So improve morale I've decided to read some things I've penned.” He takes out a quill and some scrolls. “Now, Don't be bashful. Tell me what you think?! I can take it."

I'm sorry if were not like the other dungeons...

"You'll like this," he grins. The protagonist begins to read and is immediately met with a chorus of groans and moans.

"That doesn't do it for me," says the guy in the stocks.

"Hmm? OK, You'll like this one." One by one the dungeon-master reaches into his 'toolbox' to pull out another painful instrument of cruelty.

"How about some insightful commentary? I wrote this last week end..."

They all shriek in unison.

"I know what will get you guys going? A little humor, huh? I think you guys will like this one. It had me rolling..."

More groans and moans.

"Hey. This piece is filled with whimsical observations from life."

"Stop it," they plead.

"Oh, ...oh! I wrote this really great satire piece..."

"Not again." cries the poor soul overhead in the iron cage.

"OK, OK. I get it. How about some gleanings from life to brighten the drudgery of..."

Shrieks and howls fill the room. The rat stops chewing long enough to stop up his ears with cloth fragments...

"Raphael?! You too?!!"

"Somebody call PETA," a female voice protests.

The dungeon-master continues despite the objections of his audience. A little later the entire dungeon is clamoring, "No more. Stop!"

"Come on," the dungeon-master complains. "How bad can it be?"

The listeners cringe as he continues to read. Their ears huddled like frightened rabbits against their heads ...frightened with no where to run.

"Please! No more," they beg. "Can't you just stretch us on the rack until our bones come out of joint or maybe pull out our fingernails other dungeons do?"

"Yeah," another agrees. "My neighbor says the dungeon he goes to, they just tie you to the wheel and bludgeon you."

"The dunking booth! The guy across the street, that's what his dungeon is doing"

"Well," the offended jailer protests. "I'm sorry if I'm not like all the other dungeons! Besides, that's not very creative, if you ask me."

Flogging or blogging pick!

"So what's it going to be today? Flogging or blogging, You pick?"

"Flogging" One by one they all choose the same form of punishment.

"Guys," he exclaims, "Aren't we exaggerating a bit much?

"No, no. We want flogging," the dejected group insist!

The dungeon-master breathes a heavy sigh, "Look, I know I'm no Shakespeare but give me a chance. Even the Bard had to start somewhere."

The guy in the stocks interjects, "You're a monster!"

"Now Bob," the optimist lectures "'s not going to hurt you to be supportive. Can't you think of anything positive to say?"

"It meant it as constructive criticism," his voice dropped off apologetically.

Another pitiful fellow added, "I know we're a captive audience but couldn't you try your material out on someone else for a change?"

"So that's how it is? All this time I felt we had some sort of connection between us?"

The guys in the dungeon avert their eyes, looking around sheepishly. The Raphael gets up to leave. It seems like the rats are always the first to leave...

Someone bangs on the heavy wooden door to interrupt. "You've got mail!"

"Mail? For me?" The jailer's face brightens. He reads a moment, lips moving excitedly before his face suddenly turns pale. Angrily, his countenance changes. He wads up the letter and chunks it down in anger. "What does he know," he cries in anguish!

"Another rejection letter," they whisper.

Several let out loud sighs. "Its going to be a long day, isn't it?"

After a pause, one of the group asks, "How can you be so ...cruel?"

"That's a fair question," he replies. He pauses to reflect before adding, "I was a writer once."

"Ohhh," says the guy in the cage swinging overhead.

The guy chained to the wall adds, "A writer? Yeah ...I can see that."

The punctuation, is brutal. Excess exclamation ...I'm tripping over the commas. Was that apostrophe really necessary?!

So much for my creative writing class

The picture suddenly transitions from a dingy dungeon torture scene to a writing class. The unhappy gaggle in the dungeon turn out to be fellow classmates. I'm reading my assignment as the others comment. Out of the corner of my eye I see one guy that was chewing on his pencil, make his way to the door.

"Raphael! Where are you going?"

"Um, to the bathroom..." he alleges.

"Deserter," I mutter under my breath. "The rats ...they're always the first to leave."


The cheerful one in the back of the room? It turns out he's the instructor, trying to blunt the criticism of fellow classmates.

After several torturous attempts at creative writing, a general groan of discontent is wafting overhead.

"What? What is it now, I cry?"

"You changed your POV again. You were in the first person and you change mid-paragraph and now you're all over the place. I'm getting all bent out of shape here!"

"Yeah," the other's agree. "It's torture!"

A female adds, "The plot is convoluted. I feel like I'm on some medieval rack!"

- awkward pause.

"Well, OK. It's a in progress," the cheerful guy in the back points out. No one takes him seriously anymore because he's always so ...constructive.

"I think you're trying too hard on your dialogue," says another.

"The punctuation is brutal," says the guy sitting against the wall. "Excess exclamation marks ...I'm tripping over the commas. Was that apostrophe really necessary?"

"No offense,” another voice adds. “Your humor ...I'm just not getting it."

- another awkward pause.

"Well, that's ...all for today," pipes up the cheerful guy in the back, shoving his papers into a briefcase as he hastens toward the door. "Assignment due on Wednesday. Don't forget to read chapter 5. See you all next week!"

So much for my creative writing class!

© 2020 Jim Henderson

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