In today's story, Yikes on Bikes, An online name generator offers crazy results
Today's prompt came from my friend and fellow writer, Jonny Lupsha. Jonny is the author of several books, including the Fogworld series, which is set in a future where poisonous fog has blanketed the earth and survivors have built cities on the backs of massive creatures that emerged from the ocean. The first book in the series is called Wandering City Blues, and you can pick up a copy here. Thanks for the prompt, Jonny!
More about Susan Quilty
Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society. Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.
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Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 52 of Freely Written, a podcast by author Susan Quilty:
Welcome to Freely Written where a simple prompt leads to a little unplanned fiction.
[Light piano music]
Hi, friends! I’m Susan Quilty and today’s prompt is Yikes on Bikes
If you’re new to Freely Written, here’s how it works: I write a bit of fiction from a simple prompt, with no planning and very little editing, then I share the story with you.
Today’s prompt is from my friend and fellow writer, Jonny Luphsa. Jonny is a marketing and current events writer for The Great Courses. He’s also written some fabulous books, including his very cool and creepy Fogworld series, which is set in a future where poisonous fog has blanketed the earth and survivors have built cities on the backs of massive creatures that emerged from the ocean. The first book is called Wandering City Blues, and it is amazing. Brilliant world building and a gripping mystery. I’ll add a link to the book in the show notes so you can check it out, too.
This prompt suggestion came up organically in a conversation with Jonny, which is always a fun way to stumble on a writing prompt.
Now let’s see where it took me:
Yikes on Bikes
Jenny peered at her glowing computer screen with an amused grin. She’s stumbled onto the name generating site after her sister asked the family for baby name suggestions and didn’t realize she’d spent more than twenty minutes fiddling with settings and hitting the refresh button over and over.
This was a little more than your typical name generator. It had multiple settings, including an option to include a randomly generated life story with each name. With the life story option on, the results came back with a birth date, a current age, a death date, and the cause of death.
Other settings let you choose a nationality and gender. There were even options for switching to fantasy names, like ones you might use for witches, fairies or dragons.
“Are you still playing with that thing?” Jenny’s roommate, Kayden, who was not as impressed by the site, had gone to pick up their pizza and thought Jenny was going to make a salad while she was out.
“Uh, yeah,” Jenny laughed. “You got back fast.”
“Not really,” Kayden sighed while setting the pizza on the counter and checking the fridge for a bag of salad mix.
“So, I got a witch named Pollywog Cobblepot who dies from a faulty spell at the age of 107 and an ogre named Slimetoe Gorgonbreath who’s poisoned when he’s only 72.”
Kayden dumped a bag of cherry tomatoes into the salad bowl and squinted toward Jenny’s computer.
“Are you taking screenshots of your results?”
“Only the funny ones,” Jenny answered defensively.
Kayden rolled her eyes, hoping Jenny was about done so they can start the movie. Jenny bit her lip, finally realizing how long she’d been at it and that she’d neglected to make the salad.
“Okay, just let me switch back to the normal names and get two more girl and boy names.”
“Don’t you have enough by now?” Jenny asked, trying not to be annoyed as she brought two bowls of salad to the coffee table.
“Uh, well, I have a lot of, like, joke names, but I should probably give Wendy a couple of normal suggestions, too.”
Kayden didn’t respond. She simply opened a bottle of wine and set two wine glasses on the counter. She liked having Jenny as a roommate, she told herself. They’d lived together all through college and had gotten along really well. But now that they’d graduated, there were times when she wished Jenny would grow up a little… though she felt a little guilty at the thought.
“Yikes on bikes!”
Jenny’s exclamation startled Kayden, causing her hand to slip and wine to spill across the counter.
“Damn it!” Kayden shouted, grabbing for a towel to dab the red spatters now splashed across her white shirt.
“Oh, sorry,” Jenny apologized, rushing over to help with the mess. She pulled a long row of paper towels off the roll and mopped up the wine, nearly knocking over a glass in the process.
“Give me that!” Kayden took the wad of paper towels and shooed Jenny away as she finished cleaning the spill. After a moment, she settled down and asked, “What did you say? Yikes and what?”
“Huh?” Jenny tilted her head, replaying the last few moments. “Oh! Yikes on bikes. It’s an expression. You won’t believe what I found!”
“Yikes on bikes?” Kayden interrupted, carrying the wine glasses over to the coffee table. “What kind of expression is that?”
“Uh, you know…?” Jenny carried over the wine bottle and shrugged, still thinking about her search results. “Like when something is super crazy. Like unbelievable crazy.”
“Okay,” Kayden sighed. She sat on the edge of the couch and took a large sip of wine. There was a clear look of annoyance on her face.
“What?” Jenny frowned.
“Nothing,” Kayden insisted. She straightened the pizza box, which was centered on the coffee table between the salads and wine glasses, then straightened the TV remote beside it.
“It’s not nothing,” Jenny persisted. “Are you mad about the wine? I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“No, it’s fine,” Kayden snapped, then took a deep breath. “It’s just… I don’t know. It’s just the kind of thing you would say.”
“What is?” Jenny asked. “Yikes on bikes? I didn’t make that up, you know. It’s a thing. People say it.”
“Okay,” Kayden dismissed, not wanting to get into it.
“They do!” Jenny insisted. “I hear it, like, all the time.”
“Fine,” Kayden agreed, setting down her glass and smoothing her hair over her shoulders. “So, what’s this yikes on bikes thing you saw online?”
“Uh, it’s not really used like that…” Jenny began, then held up her hands to wave it away. “Never mind, doesn’t matter. Um… I found… hold on!”
Jenny rushed over to unplug her laptop and bring it back to the couch.
“Look at this!”
Kayden looked. It was another result from the name generator. Jennifer Marie Roberts.
“It’s your first and middle names,” Kayden said, conceding that it was kind of weird.
“Keep reading!” Jenny pointed to the result. “It’s my birthday, too! Same year and everything. And look! I’m going to be murdered! In two years!”
Kayden read the screen again and felt a chill run down her spine.
“But that’s…” She stopped and they stared at the screen in silence.
“It’s not your last name,” Kayden pointed out sensibly.
“Yeah, but…” Jenny paled as she took a quick gulp from her own wine glass. “That guy I met at work… the cute one…?”
“No!” Kayden interrupted, shaking her head decisively.
“Yes,” Jenny said with wide eyes. “Benjamin Roberts.”
Kayden stood up, backing away from the laptop.
“Well… you’re never going out with him!” she insisted emphatically.
“Definitely not,” Jenny agreed.
“And maybe look for a new job…” Kayden suggested.
“Definitely!” Jenny agreed.
“And turn that thing off!” Kayden shook her hands at the laptop nervously.
Jenny hastily closed the browser tab. Then the browser. Then the laptop, setting it on the floor beside them.
Kayden returned to the couch cautiously and they each took another drink of wine.
“Movie?” Jenny asked after a tense moment.
“Movie,” Kayden agreed.
She picked up the remote and queued up the movie as Jenny opened the pizza box. They each grabbed a slice and settled into the couch, staring at the TV mindlessly.
“Yikes on bikes,” Kayden sighed in disbelief.
“Yikes on frigging bikes,” Jenny agreed.
Thanks for joining me today! If you enjoyed this story, please share it with your friends or let me know through the Freely Written Facebook page. You can also get in touch or learn about my novels and other projects on my website, SusanQuilty.com or support my writing through Patreon.com/SusanQuilty.
Until next time, try a little free writing of your own. Let go of any planning and see where your imagination takes you.
[Light piano music]