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May 23: Story Challenge in 99-words

It’s my birthday weekend and I’m far away, four miles down the road, camped at the edge of Lady Superior. The well’s gone dry as a bone. It’s time to replenish.

When I was a kid, my parents had an 8-track collection that included Mike Cross. It was among my favorites, a rollicking blue-grass style with deep pains and outrageous humor. My gift to you is a sample of that 8-track, including the song, Old Paint Peeling, with the line, “…well’s gone dry as a bone…” It’s time to get out of town, reconnect, and

The next song is western and has always lit my imagination. Who was the criminal in this story and who was the bounty hunter? We never learn what brought the two together but this story haunts my imagination even today.

This is one of my favorite “jokes” to tell. Have you ever made a joke out of a song?

This last one was a song I used to wish I could listen to in a full gallop (alas, pre-walkman days).

I hope you enjoy the little trot down memory lane and get inspired by the variety of styles found within a single musical artist. May we all fill our creative wells.

May 23, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase “well’s gone dry.” Is it a real well or a metaphorical well? Why is it dry? What is the consequence and to whom? Go where the prompt leads!

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

  1. Submit by May 28, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts in social media.


  1. Hi Charli, I hope you had a wonderful birthday. Enjoy your recharge week.

  2. Sadje says:

    Happy birthday Charli! Many happy returns of the day!

  3. Miss Judy says:

    Happy Birthday! It sounds like those creative juices are already filling your well. Enjoy!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Miss Judy. I started reading Beauty by John O’Donohue, and that helped me get back into a creative groove, too.

  4. “Kid, thet’s my kinda music!”
    “Yep. That’s why I put it inta the jukebox at the Saddle Up Saloon.”
    “Yer purty perky t’day Kid.”
    “Yep, an why not? I don’t know where I’ve been, but I sure know where I’m at. Good ol Carrot Ranch! An’ Shorty give us a prompt I kin relate ta. Sure hope she gits her pump primed.”
    “Don’t worry Kid, Shorty’ll freshen her creative springs. Thinkin she’s been so busy fillin an other’s mug she’s feelin a might wilted.”
    “Well, I won’t be a pain in her glass. This prompt’s gonna lead ta water!”
    “Whoa. Kid, I don’t know what ta think. Yer not complainin bout yer well run dry? Whut’d ya, give up whinin?”
    “Sure did Pal. Beer an whiskey too.”
    “Kid’s gone dry? Whut about cider, ya give thet up?”
    “Ain’t yet decidered. Tellin ya though Pal, water’s the best drink goin. Water is life.”
    “Huh. Fer the life a me, didn’t figger on this. But Kid, ain’tcha wastin anuther valu’ble fluid jist now?”
    “What d’ya mean?”
    “Ink. Comments ain’t the collection. Ya yack here, ya still gotta draw 99 words fer the collection.”
    “This’s where I fill ma well, Pal.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Kid and Pal, I’ve missed you fellars! You are both pump primers and wise as you are witty. Good to have you back!

      • 🤠 🤠

      • Welcome back Kid and Pal. I don’t suppose any of y’all have heard anything about the Cowsino?

      • “As a matter a fact we have, Michael! Sorry it’s taken a while ta git our shift t’gether, but we’re on trail now. We’ll be innerducin the Cowsino ever first Friday a the month, so look fer thet fun writin prompt at the Saddle Up Saloon commencin June 3rd.”

        “Thet’s right. The Saloon is openin up this Friday as a special guest takes the stage. Each an ever Friday the Saddle Up Saloon will have someone ennertainin or educatin from the stage.”

        “Pal an me, we’ll definitely be at the Cowsino. I even got them arm gaiters an a green visor.”

        “Why, Kid? We ain’t dealin cards, it’s a story spine promptin slot machine.”

        “Why not, Pal? It’s a good look.”

        “No it ain’t, an I hope I don’t have ta tell ya agin thet ya still gotta wear yer pants an shirt along with thet visor an them arm gaiters.”


        “Sorry, Michael. But we’re glad yer excited bout the Cowsino too.”

  5. Simon says:

    Happy Birthday Charli 🥳🥳🥳

  6. TanGental says:

    Have a jolly time, Charli

  7. Jules says:

    Charli – I hope to come back and listen to the music. I’ve got ‘Grand-duty’ this afternoon.
    Your linky thing is giving me timed-out grief again. I submitted twice, hopefully you only get one.

    Happy Birthday weekend!!!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Sometimes we have to sit with our grief, Jules. It’ll be okay. Technology and life. Enjoy the best duty of all! Thank you!

  8. Norah says:

    Hi Charli,
    I hope your well is replenished. All the music was new to me. I enjoyed the Scottish joke, and that last piece would be fabulous to ride to. I can just imagine you doing so, red hair streaming.
    I hope your birthday was wonderful and now holds many beautiful memories for you.
    Take care of you.

  9. I hope you had a nice birthday and that your time away was refreshing. And thanks for the links to Mike Cross songs! I’ve never heard of him before and I liked those songs and his songwriting enough to go and look for more. And may every guy be so fortunate as to win a similar blue ribbon!

  10. suespitulnik says:

    Belated Happy Birthday Charli. If you were camping, I know you were in your happy place. I trust the magic happened for you.
    The music you shared here was inspiring. I imagine Micael’s band being as diversified. I was familiar with the blue ribbon. It’s a great song for audience participation in a full pub just before closing time.

  11. Liz H says:

    Because we could all stand to take a moment to refill our creative wells…thanks God for prompts and length constraints to keep the trickle flowing and finding new channels for release. Flash submitted and posted on my blog site.
    Hope your birthday was a refreshing flow of cool, renewing water. Lady Lake will be there later in summer, when it’s time to make like a seal and surf those waves…

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