Story A Day Challenge – Day 7 – Practice Makes Perfect

I’m sure you’ll all be surprised to hear this, but I struggled with today’s prompt. A lot. I thought it was hard every day last week but those days were easy compared to this one. I don’t normally do this but I’m going to show the prompt first.

Write a Mystery or suspense story with this plot line:

“A killer is on the loose, having broken into the home of a wealthy woman and left her for dead. He absconded with a few items, then left the initials, ‘M.A.’”

To mix things up a bit, create a sleuth who is not such a good guy/gal, and a villain who has some amiable traits.  Maybe your detective is a womanizer or is mean to her Mother, and your criminal stoops down to pet puppies.

First of all, I like writing suspense but mystery isn’t really for me. Second, the prompt is to detailed. What if I wanted the home to belong to a poor guy or the killer have the initials A.H. Saying the woman is left for dead implies she’s not, but that would be the big bad isn’t really a killer. It asks that the detective type be a jerk and the bad guy to be not so bad, ugh. It’s too many demands. That is someone else’s story. As I tried to come up with something I kept picturing my poor muse closed up in a too-small cage with bars she couldn’t see through. (I should have written that story!)

Every idea that came out of me was exactly what the prompt said. So I’m throwing it out and doing my own thing.

Practice Makes Perfect

“You may call me First,” the tall distinguished man informed Mills.

“Will you ever tell me your real name?” he asked.


“Can I be called second?” He nervously twisted his hat in his hands

“No. If you must have a number it will be zero.”

“Because I’m a loser?” Mills hung his balding head.

“On the contrary, it’s because you’re necessary.”

Mills cocked his head. “I don’t get it.”

“I know, but it is unimportant now.”

Confused as ever Mills nodded and followed his new boss deeper into the old factory. The other man paused before a large sliding metal door and turned to face him.

“I believe you will enjoy your new home. I have left you plenty of girls to practice on. I’ll leave you to it.” He walked back down the hallway.

Mills noted the distaste on the First’s face but anticipation over took any negative reaction he might have had. Grabbing the handle he slid the door open. He gasped as he entered the room. It was an enormous storage area but the size wasn’t what caught his attention. There were mannequins everywhere. They were placed in rows four deep along the side walls. The raised galleries above were also filled. Mr. First was right, there were more than enough girls to hone his skills on. The middle of the room was filled with furniture – sofas, chairs, tables, etc.

He made his way past the living area when he noticed a series of old offices covering the back wall. Opening the first door he found a fully furnished bedroom. Another office had been converted to a bathroom. The third and final room held a full-sized bed with metal head and foot boards. On a dresser to the side lay each of the items he’d requested and some he hadn’t thought of. Handcuffs, silk scarves, duct tape, rope – on and on it went. A box of cigars sat on the nightstand. Perfect. He was going to love this job.

It’s more of a scene than a story but it’s what I came up with. It started with a bad odor. I imagined I could smell burning plastic. Then I pictured Mills burning a mannequin with a cigar, for practice. As for the prompt, well Mills starts with an M and he is potentially a killer, and First…well we’ll see what he is. Close enough for me! Creepy spoke to me more than mystery. I know the title is terrible but I couldn’t think of anything else.

Rough draft 335 words


  1. I hear you. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to write for this one. I’ve created 4 characters for it, but I’m struggling to piece together the actual plot. I have a feeling that it’s going to go the same way my previous ones have, with there being some supernatural force at hand.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ll admit, I’m kind of glad I didn’t have time to write yesterday. If I’m going to skip a prompt instead of playing “catch up”, I would rather it be this one.

    I am intrigued by your story today. Definitely feels like you’re setting up to tell more than a short story.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Same here. Don’t let the prompt have too much of your head space. You can always take a piece or two of it, or none and write something. Or flip it to the rich lady’s perspective or something. Maybe just expand on something you’ve already written this week.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. That prompt does seem rather precise, down to the initials. Ugh, lots of things to work around and to have to fall into place. I might participate, as you’ve done, just to subvert the original prompt. I abhor delivering the expected or “tried and true.” I don’t think anyone wants an author to do that. My 2 cents’ worth. That said, I love the genesis of your story and the absurdity/weirdness of practicing on mannequins. It’s a great seed for something wicked in a character or two.


  4. I’m actually quite surprised to see that so many people have struggled with this prompt. I really, really enjoyed it!

    While there were a lot of details, I just saw them as pieces of a puzzle that I had to put together. Overall, I don’t think my story is a 100% match for the prompt, but I covered the major details and came up with some fun characters along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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