Since writing my first piece for The Prompt, people have asked me why I would do such a thing when I have my own publication sorely in need of hilarious material on a more-or-less quarterly basis. Well, Wayne, I’m going to tell you.
It was a Friday morning, late summer. As I was leaving home for my day job—and when you’re a writer that isn’t named Rowling or Patterson, you have a day job—an ebony black, windowless van suddenly appeared, its only distinguishing feature a tiny Hello Kitty sticker on the rear bumper. I noticed the pink sticker as the rear doors opened and four black-van-ninjas emerged and tazed me, covered my head with a black silk bag, and tossed me in the back of the van. The ride was surprisingly quiet and smooth, and I soon dozed off.
When I awoke, I was bound in a wooden chair. My eyelids were held open with what I would later discover to be potato chip clips. There was a laptop open on a table in front of me. The browser was displaying a website called thepromptmag.com. A blond woman named Kelaine was periodically placing drops in my eyes to keep them drying out. The scenario felt somehow familiar.
“Is it safe?” she said, laughing. “I’ve always wanted to say that.”
For several days, I was forced to read, and sometimes reread, every piece written for The Prompt in the last year. When I initially refused, she had my pinky removed with a pair of small, but surprisingly durable, children’s scissors. She reminded me that it could get worse, introducing me to an associate named Elijah.
Once I got over the pain, I relented and began reading. I found some of the work to be quite entertaining. Other articles grew on me after repeated viewings.
Merriam-Webster defines Stockholm Syndrome as “The psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor.”
My brain soon began to associate the delicious lattes—my own liquid heroin—with the amusing and interesting prose flickering on the screen in front of me. Soon I found I had a desire to contribute, to be a part of this oddly alluring website.
Over time, the ropes were loosened and I was allowed access to Windows Notepad. I wrote a piece about a Spice Girl. It wasn’t my best work, but I was rewarded with my previously detached digit and a sewing kit.