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Alex and the Bucket | June 2024 Prompt Entry

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Prompt: Write a story out of this line: "All we need for this plan to work is some rope, five dandelions, and that cursed bucket."

"Well, this is a lovely place to camp," Jeff says as he kicks a bucket out of the way.

The forest is too dark at night and the rain doesn’t make the words any safer. Thankfully, this large abandoned house is conveniently here to give us shelter. I follow Jeff’s lead and walk into the house, flashlights assessing the creaky wood boards and the endless darkness beyond the entryway to the living room.

Let’s go camping, it’s going to be SO fun!” Sienna mocks in Shay’s voice. Not gonna lie, she hit that note so perfectly, she sounded so close to Shay.

“It is–was,” Shay says. “Until it started raining and nobody remembered to bring tents.”

“And whose fault was that?”

I remember the one in charge of packing the tents was Nick. I turn to him, not expecting the entire group to also give him judgmental stares.

“Wait, in Nick’s defense, we all called it a short hike and no camping,” Rosalie says.

Playing the blame game isn’t gonna get us anywhere. I turn back to the dark corridors that await us. “Maybe this cabin has a mattress to spa–”

Something brushes my ankle and then there’s squeaks echoing on the floor, I’m sure it’s the kind of squeak that doesn’t come from the floorboards.

“There’s rats!” Rosalie screams.

I leap without thinking, tripping on a vase before I step on a faulty woodboard. The floors break and the darkness eat me alive. For a moment I thought I floated in space until I hit the ground. I don’t know why Shay enjoys doing her own stunts when they film, but this hurts more than I can bear.

Rats! It had to be rats! I hate rats. When I try to get up, someone offers me a hand and I take it. “Thanks.”

“W..el…come…” the person replies. His voice doesn’t sound like Jeff’s or Nick’s.

I pick up my flashlight and flash it to his face. He has no head.



“It’s me, it’s Jeff! Calm down,” Jeff says.

I roll away from him, my whole body shivers at the memory? Dream? What was it? I spot my flashlight by the foot of a stronghold, I grab it and search for proof of the headless man existing. But there’s no one in the room but Jeff and I.

“You fell and I went after you. The others are trying to find a rope to get us out of here,” he explains.

“I don’t like this cabin. It’s horrible, it’s haunted and there’s rats!”

“Yeah, I don’t like it here either. It’s like we’re living a nightmare.” He turns to the darkest part of the room. “Maybe there’s a door here.”

I follow him and he’s right. A set of planks are nailed to a wooden doorframe. “You don’t think they’d mind if we break this, right?”

“You already broke the floor,” Jeff teases. “Let me break this one to be even.” He kicks it once–twice until he managed to break the first plank in half.

This time, I help him until there’s enough space for us to crawl out of. For some reason, this cabit has no lighting at all. No lamps. No torches.

I pan my flashlight up the ceiling. No bulbs even. “Who designs a cabin with no lights?”

“Alex, over here.”

Moving my flashlight to see what Jeff is trying to show me, there’s pretty flowers by the table. “Dandelions?” Then flower steps on the floor. It’s petals are spread on the floor in a straight line.

“It’s a path?”

“Let’s follow it.”

The petals lead us to a room full of flowers and in the very center of the room lay a body wrapped in white linen.

“Well, I guess someone lives here after all,” Jeff says.

There it is again, the squeaking. I look down and large black rats crawl around our feet. I don’t know about Jeff, but my first instinct is to get out of the room and just shake my entire body.

“Okay, I’m done with this cabin. No more exploring. Let’s just go home,” I say.


“All we need for this plan to work is some rope, five dandelions, and that cursed bucket,” Shay says.

“We need what?” Sienna raises a brow at Shay.

Shay shows her an old book from the cabin’s shelf. “I can’t read faded scripture, but I can read pictures. For some reason the pictures says we need these three items to get out of here.”

“It’s an offering to the ghost that haunts this place. They probably love dandelions,” Rosalie says and gestures at the broken flower pot.

“Appease the ghost,” Nick agrees.

“We can just walk out of the cabin,” Sienna says.

“No, Alex and Jeff are still inside. If we leave without appeasing the ghost, then who knows what will happen to them.” Shay tries to find any reference from the book that she’s right but even the other drawings are faded.

Sienna picks up the bucket that Jeff kicked. “Rosa, where’s that rope you got?”

Rosalie hands her the rope and they tie it to the bucket handle. “What do we do?”

“It’s Alex and Jeff who are stuck, right? They need this to appease the ghosts, not us.”

“You are outright evil, but I love it! Let’s ditch them after we give them the survival items that they need.” Shay throws in the book into the bucket. “So they’ll know they need dandelions too.”

“Oh, you ladies are horrible friends,” Nick mumbles.

Sienna and Shay lowers the bucket with the rope and once they’re sure the bucket touched the ground, they throw in the rope as well.


“Jeff, Jeff look! They brought us something,” I say when I spot the bucket.

“Is this the rescue or they’re just delivering us stuff?” Jeff says.

I pick up the book inside the bucket to check if Shay left any messages. But it’s just an old dusty book with sketches that are almost invisible and the pages almost blank.

“How are we supposed to use this to get out? It doesn’t make any sense.”

The squeak is back, and this time there are a dozen more squeaks. I point my flashlight at the broken planks and there the rats gather. Black, large, fat rats. I throw the book at them and they tear it down like wild piranhas.


The rats charge towards us with its army.

I scream and try to fight back but what can I do without a weapon?


I hop out of the pod, screaming and hugging myself. The tingles coming from the rats touching and nibbling on my skin like it’s cheese still makes me cringe. I take the helmet off my head and throw it into the pod.

“Hey, careful, we don’t want to pay for damage,” Shay says and laughs.

“That felt so real!”

“I know! That’s why it’s a virtual reality game. It’s pretty cool, right?”

“No. No, it’s not!” I exclaim. “I can’t believe you convinced me to play a horror game. How in the world do we even win without weapons?”

Shay snorts. Jeff also just got out of the pod behind her, cringing himself as he gags.

“You use the bucket to give the mummy back his head, then you offer the dandelions to the ghost and the rope was to tie up the corpse at the flower room,” Shay says. “It was easy as pie.”

“That doesn’t even make sense!”

“That’s why it’s called a puzzle, Alex. It’s a horror game with puzzles to give a sense of mystery to it,” Shay says.

“I’m never playing virtual games with you again.”


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