I am a person, like many, that loves Pinterest. It’s great! I use it for all sorts of things. I make character boards, I pin writing advice and arts and crafts tutorials and funny memes. One thing I hadn’t thought to use it for, however, is writing prompts. Today, that changed. One simple search and I was inundated with wonderful, inspiring prompts. One of them caught my eye, however, and I knew I had to fill it.
Use the first line of a nursery rhyme as the first line of a dark narrative.
I love it! If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you probably know I like darkness and twists and I can be rather morbid. I know I’ve talked about putting twists on fairy tales before (I never did get around to that, by the way) but this spoke to me on another level. Many nursery rhymes, and many fairy tales, for that matter, have dark histories and deeper meanings, but I like putting my own spin on things.
Suddenly inspired, I looked up a few nursery rhymes before finding an old favourite, Jack Be Nimble. It’s short and sweet and holds so much potential! As soon as I saw it, I knew what I wanted to write. And so, here you go; my dark narrative, based upon a simple nursery rhyme.
Jack, be nimble!
Jack ran. He ran until his lungs felt fit to burst and he could think of nothing but the pain in his legs. And still, he continued to run. The sun had just set behind the horizon and darkness was sweeping across the land, blinding him, making him trip and stumble through the woods. He could hear them behind him, hear the dogs chasing him, their legs not tiring like his, their lungs not starved of oxygen.
Behind the dogs, the guards raced; Jack had to believe that they, too, were suffering as he was.
Jack, be quick!
He daren’t look behind him. Any moment of hesitation and the hounds would be upon him, ripping the flesh from his bones. He willed his legs to keep moving, sucking in as much air as he could. He was fighting an almighty stitch in his side. Everything was burning; every fibre of his being was telling him to give up. He wanted nothing more than to stop. To succumb. For it to all be over. But somehow, in the dredges of his mind, something pushed him forwards. His feet crunched through fallen twigs. He ran through low hanging branches, and they whipped him in the face, their spindly fingers catching on his torn shirt, tying to hold him back. The trees wanted to give him to the hounds, but he wouldn’t let them.
A burning arrow narrowly missed him. It whizzed by his left ear and lodged itself in a tree. The sudden light burned his retinas. A second later, the darkness swallowed him again. Another arrow was fired, and again, it missed. The dogs and their guards were gaining on him. Jack was slowing; he couldn’t help it. His body was screaming in pain.
He could almost feel the dogs’ breath on the back of his legs. He could hard the guards shouting, almost mocking him. Their arrows continued to fly, missing by a hair. Jack weaved between the trees, trying to make some ground up, but everything hurt. All Jack knew was pain. The air felt like sandpaper in his lungs.
And then an arrow hit him, and he fell. It burned. The pain inside him intensified tenfold. And then the darkness took him.
Jack, jump over the candle stick!
He awoke to crackling. Blearily, he opened his eyes. It was still dark, but he could see, by the guards’ torches, a large stake stuck in the ground. Guards were piling kindling around the bottom of it. With a sudden, overwhelming sense of dread, Jack knew what was coming. He struggled with all his might, but running had exhausted him. Nevertheless, he writhed and fought, but his hands and feet were tied, and three guards held him in place. He could not get away. He had exhausted himself for no reason. He wished, then, that he had let the hounds get him.
This candle stick, he thought, would not bring good luck. He could not clear it.
My own narrative is simple, but I’ve tried to capture Jack’s desperation. I could almost feel my heart racing whilst I writing, and I hope it evokes the same urgency in you.
Until next time!