Writing Prompt: All Is Not As It Seems

It’s Friday, which means it’s short story day, where I share a short story or bits of other writings, or what I’ve worked up from a writing prompt. This week is from a writing prompt in my Facebook group, Author’s Tale.

I played around with a few things in this one. First, I played around with complete gender neutrality – there is absolutely no indication as to gender in the entire piece. I also worked with a bit of strange circumstance and a twist ending. The prompt didn’t immediately speak to me, but I forced and forced and finally came up with this.

Sometimes writing is just forcing words onto the page, even if they’re garbage. I know this isn’t great, but it’s something and I was able to play around with a few concepts and try my hand at something. If you want to write up something based on this prompt, I’d love to read it!


Prompt: You hear a knock at the window and find a bird, a metal bird, waiting there. It has a message for you.


I am sitting in my bedroom, staring at that old typewriter my grandpa got for me after I’d shown him the poetry book I had to put together for my senior English class. Some of it I had written, and to be honest, it was pretty terrible. I’d picked out some other poems, trying to avoid all the famous people but failed at that too, and slapped it all together into a three ring binder and called it a poetry book.

My teacher loved it and said she ‘could tell I’d put a lot of effort into it’, which I suppose is true. Maybe I enjoyed it a little more than a senior should admit. Which, let’s be real here, I never did.

Anyway, that typewriter. I put it in my room because it looked cool, but grandpa keeps asking me if I’ve written anything on it yet. I laugh and mumble some excuse about schoolwork. Well, school’s been out for two weeks and he’s started calling me a couple times a week to see what I’ve written. I’m tempted to block him from my phone, but I can’t really do that, so instead, I sit and I stare at the typewriter. I stare and stare.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

What the heck? I turn and look at my window and then jump and fall off my swivel desk chair, landing with a huge thud on the floor.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

I prop myself up on my arms, peeking over the seat of the chair and confirm I saw correctly the first time. There’s a bird at my window. Staring at me.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Crawling over the window and sitting on my knees, I open the window and look at the bird. It cocks its head a few times and I copy it. What the heck am I doing? I shake my head. I’m such an idiot.

“All is not as it appears,” the bird says in a mechanical, fake parrot voice.

“What?” I ask, surprised it talked.

“All is not as it appears,” the bird repeated.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“All is not as it appears.” Then the bird turned and jumped off my window. Kamikazee suicidal bird! I stick my head out and see it start walking away from my house and then into my neighbor’s bushes. I pull my head back inside and shake it. What in the world just happened?

I shut the window and crawl back over to my new typewriter.


I rub my eyes. When did I type a word? I don’t remember typing out a word. I set my fingers on home row and just as I reach up for the U, it basically types itself. Or maybe I just thought it did. I’m freaked out. I need a snack.

I close my door and roll into the kitchen. I open the freezer and pull out those nasty pizza rolls that I just love with all my heart. Thankfully mom always keeps them stocked. I dump a bunch on a plate, nuke them and head into the living room. I grab the remote and try to click on the TV, but it doesn’t work. Dang batteries.

I don’t feel like messing with it, so I head outside, balancing the plate on my hand, popping those little pizza rolls into my mouth, half of them burning my mouth and the other half still not hot. That has to be the best part of these little pizza rolls. They never cook evenly. It doesn’t matter what you do, by the time they’re all hot, half of them have charred.

I can’t get the words of that weird little bird out of my head. All is not as it appears.

Is it talking about the TV, too? Or is that just a case of batteries? I go to put another pizza roll in my mouth and they’re all gone. Taking a deep breath, I head inside, tossing the plate onto the counter and rummaging around our drawers for extra batteries. I find a few and search out the remote, changing them. The TV still doesn’t work. I look at the ceiling.

I walk slowly up the stairs, eyeing my door as I get up the steps.

Opening my door, I stare at that typewriter. I try to pick it up, but it’s stuck to the table.

All is not as it appears.

Did grandpa give me a haunted typewriter? Connected to some weird bird? I sit down on my floor, head in my hands.

Okay, so, if it types when I touch the letters, I just have to touch them and see what it says, right?

I stand up and sit at the haunted typewriter. My fingers hover over the keys, my heart pounding in my chest. This is so crazy. I slowly touch each of the keys.

Nothing happens.

What in the world?

I shoot out of my chair and pace around the room.

All is not as it appears.

“What is going on?” I shout at that stupid typewriter. “What is with you?”

I sit back down and think. Do I need to be thinking of a word?

Once U

Once upon? I think upon as hard as I can and touch the P. Nothing happens. I am seriously losing my mind. I run my hands through my hair. I grab the edges of the typewriter to move it back and it moves, just as I remember it didn’t move before, it slides half an inch. I jump out of the chair and yell.

I grab my phone to call grandpa and that’s not working either. I throw it against the wall and scream. And scream. And scream.

My eyes pop open, sweat pouring down my face. It’s completely dark. I flail around and find my phone and click it on. 2:12 am. I sigh and lay back in bed. Just a dream.

Tap. Tap. Tap.


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