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My musical prompts were:

Heavy Metal: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica
Pop/Rock: “Electric Feel” by MGMT
Country: “Strange Way” by Firefall
Instrumental/Soundtrack: The theme song from The Munsters
Wild Card: “Feel Good, Inc” by Gorillaz

I blended the Metallica and the theme from The Munsters . . .


He lay on the gentle slope in the sunshine, the fulsome St. Augustine somehow failing to be soft beneath him. Somewhere he heard a band playing—practicing, by the sound of it, because they weren’t very good. The music had a carnival sound that made his head spin as if he were on a whirling ride. He was dizzy, could feel the turning of the world as it slowed. It was slowing, slowing to a stop.

Tuba. Too much tuba, honking like geese, punctuating the melody with big, fat, full stops that interrupted the flow.

He was bleeding. He was almost certain of it, could feel the trickling from between his shoulder blades, but he couldn’t open his eyes to look. The sun was bright, too bright, and the world was spinning, and he was dizzy. He seeped into the earth beneath him, blood and sweat and thin streams of tears that dripped past his ears, and despite the raging sun, he could not get warm. He was cold on the inside, and there was no blanket for that.

Class. The thought popped into his mind in the breaks between the band’s warbling notes. He had American History at one and he hadn’t done the reading. He’d come out here to read before class, had been walking across the grassy lawn . . .

A crack like lightning.

The band stopped abruptly, tuba geese halted mid-honk. Crows cried alarm and then went silent. The sudden absence of sound assailed him, made his head feel stuffed with cotton. All at once he was alone on the ride, in the world. The earth was claiming him, pulling him to her, trying to warm his freezing innards. He could feel himself melting to nothing. Dust to dust.

Another echoing snap, like the crack of a whip, and for a second his eyes flew open, but all he saw was cloudless sky and, at the very edges of his vision, the leafy green crowns of the oaks that lined the mall. He closed his eyes again. Too bright, too bright.

Slowly, sound filtered back to him. Screaming and shouting. Someone speaking through a bullhorn, but the words were mushy and made no sense.

The clock tower chimed “Jowett’s Jig” then mournfully tolled the hour.

He was late. And he hadn’t done the reading.

Beneath him the world slowed to a stop. His turn on the ride was over.


In 1966, Charles Whitman climbed the University of Texas clock tower and began shooting students and faculty on campus. While this submission is a piece of fiction, this historical incident—along with my own experience of the UT campus as an undergrad—informed and inspired the work.


Our newest member, Manda

Our newest member, Manda