Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned

Finish the Story: Sprinted Away


Join in for a lighthearted, no-pressure writing prompt. Leave your perfectionist at the door and follow a dangling story thread to see where it leads you.

I always post my story doodle in the comments, and I’d absolutely love to see yours as well if you feel comfortable sharing it!

He sprinted away, not daring to look back, his footsteps echoing down the hallway like distant gunshots. He just had to get to the back stairway and up to his office on the second floor, where …


  • He sprinted away, not daring to look back, his footsteps echoing down the hallway like distant gunshots. he just had to get to the back stairway and up to his office on the second floor, where his salvation lay in a locked briefcase.

    In the distance, sirens wailed. Overhead, the fire alarms shrieked, the sound piercing some primal part of his brain with the sound of danger.

    He imagined he could feel the heat following him, could almost feel the flames licking at his heels as he burst through the stairwell door and began lurching up the stairs two steps at a time.

    Almost there, almost there.

    The sirens grew louder and the heat at his back escalated, no longer phantom but a very real force. His breath rasped in his lungs as he turned to the inner door and tried the handle.

    Locked. Of course it was locked, stairwells were always locked from the inside.

    Hands shaking, he pulled his keys from his suit pocket, fumbling as they stuck to the sweat-soaked lining.

    As fast as he could, he teased out the master key and fitted it into the lock just as a voice called up from the floor below, “O great and powerful master, I come.”

    His heart leaped into his throat as he finally twisted the key, bursting through the door and shutting it behind him.

    As if that would stop this.

    He was halfway across the cubicle-strewn office space when the voice came again, sweet and dark as smoked honey. “O wise and terrible master, I come.”

    Legs already burning, he pushed them even harder, stumbling past a chair left in a hallway by a retreating worker.

    He just needed to get in that briefcase. He could stop all of this. He’d just lost track of time, that’s all it was. Two decades was a long time to remember a single date, no matter how important.

    “O frightened and murderous master, I come,” the voice whispered, accompanied by a hot breath of air across the back of his neck.

    There. His office door. He slammed into the glass door shoulder-first, not bothering to fumble for the key. There was no time.

    Glass shards tore into his hands without pain as his staring eyes peered through the growing dim of smoke to find the briefcase lying so innocently on his desk.

    His fingers slid against the combination lock, slick with blood. He had to get it. Just one rub on the lamp, and he could make his next wish and the djinn would be in his control for another 20 years.

    Another 20 years of success. Of wealth. Of power.

    The lock clicked and the top of the briefcase popped open, hinges operating with expensive smoothness.

    The dull brass of the lamp gleamed impossibly warm against the flickering white light of the office lights and he reached one torn hand forward to touch it.

    A heavy heat wrapped itself around his neck, coalescing into a shockingly hot metal ring. He staggered back, choking as the smell of smoke and honey spilled down his throat.

    “O foolish and selfish slave, I am here.”

  • He sprinted away, not daring to look back, his footsteps echoing down the hallway like distant gunshots. He just had to get to the back stairway and up to his office on the second floor, where his carefully prepared trap lay ready to spring.

    “Fulminos!” Sarah’s voice cracked down the hallway like a whip.

    I felt power lash down the corridor and was knocked off my feet as her strike thundered against the shield I’d woven around myself. Plaster fell from the walls to my sides in a dense cloud as my shield deflected the blow and I saw cracks spread out like spiderwebs from the point of impact.

    My shields held, that was the important bit. I scrambled to my feet, running even before I’d gotten all the way up. There was no time to sit and catch my breath. My veins felt like they pumped battery acid but there wasn’t the time to let myself recover. I had to make it to my trap or die and I wasn’t dying today.

    Certainly not to her.

    I felt power gathering behind me and I ran harder, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible. It was too late to stop and recast my shield, too late to worry about it now. It would either hold and I’d live or it’d fail and she’d catch me.

    “Arcanium!” Sarah’s voice again.

    God, had I ever found that voice soothing? Could I have? At some point, I must have, right? After all, we’d been together for years before today. I wouldn’t have stayed this whole time if I’d known what she was like that whole time, would I have?

    It’s funny what kind of thoughts occur to you when you’re caught up in a void bubble.

    I grimaced and clasped my hand around the shield charm on the chain around my neck. Closing my eyes for an instant, I channeled precious power into it, using it to reinforce the mage shield I’d bought earlier that day to prepare for this encounter.

    My foot moved forward, an excruciating amount of will that got easier the further I got from her ranged void trap.

    Ye gods and little fishes, the power that woman commanded. Even with the shield charm I’d bought from a mage from the high tower, specifically crafted to ward away magic, it still needed reinforcement from my own will to pull out of her trap.

    I risked a quick glance back. Sara floated down the hall on a cushion of power. Dark cracks had formed in the skin of her face. It spread out from the edges of her eyes and the corners of her mouth. Eldritch energy seeped out through the cracks, a violent purple light that seemed to darken the corridor.

    She froze for a moment in mid-air, not moving forward. She hovered in place, as still as if she’d been carved from stone.

    “Run, Carter,” Sarah said. The angry expression on her face didn’t change one whit while she said it so I knew that she’d managed to get a message through past the possession.

    I knew what it would cost for her to do that so I didn’t waste my chance. I got to my feet and hoofed it, charging down the hall toward where my trap lay ready. There was a lot running through my mind as I ran, everything from how I almost couldn’t recognize her, to just how dead I would be if she caught up to me, but one thought echoed in time with my frantic footsteps down the hall. It was the same thought that had been running through my mind for the past week as this nightmare played out.

    Why, oh why, had we accepted the manticore’s bargain?

Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned