A ball of wires held in someone's hands/ Loscotoff 2022, short story of paranoia
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White Coats | A Short Story

It was a Saturday when I set the explosives.

That damn office.  I couldn’t bear the screams.

I can not write buried in screams.

The men in the white coats, they’ve been watching me.  Watching me while I watch them.  Watch them go in and out of that office.  

White coats.  From the government.  They are listening to my thoughts.

I hid in the alleyway with the wires beneath my coat.  Watching for the men who are listening to my thoughts, who are telling me to mind my own business.

But I can’t.  I must save the children.  Save the children from their screams. 

I hid the bombs from my mind, so they couldn’t sneak in and find me out. 

It’s all a front, you know, that office.  The hearts on the doors, the palm trees lining the walk. 

I try to write, but the screams.  The screams.  They echo through my brain as if the children were in this room. 

I see them, the mothers, lattes in hand, as they lead their children through the door.  The door with the rainbow and the hearts. 

They should be carrying cacti, their hearts are sharp.  Leading their children who have no idea.  The mothers are in on it.  Leading their children to the screams.

I try to write, but the faces of the children.

They are watching me, the adults who trick their children into eating beets.  Tricking their children into this unsafe world. The men from the government. The men in the white coats.  They watch me while the children scream.

They took my teeth and replaced them with radio wire.  Radios to hear my thoughts.  Radios to tell me what to do.

But I was smarter.  I took my teeth and buried them beneath the trees.

Now I try to write. 

Try to keep my thoughts from the government, listening to me through the TV.  Listening to me through the radio. Listening to me through the windmills that cause cancer.

I threw the TV out the window.  The radio is dead in the tub. The windmills will be gone in the morning. Gone with the wires.

They see me watching from the window, trying to write.  They usher their children into the office as they see my eyes.  I know they are watching me.  I hear them whispering in my ears as the children scream. 

There will be an explosion.  An explosion.  I will save them.  I will save the children from the man who steals their teeth.  Tried to put radios in their teeth. Steals their souls, to sample them to the highest bidder.  

The horizon will be different tomorrow. Through the smoke.  

They call him dentist.  But I know better. 

I will save the children from their screams. 

An image of a child's teeth/ Loscotoff 2022
Save the children from the man who steals their teeth / Loscotoff 2022

This Week’s Prompt – White Coats

Week 15. A writer with noisy neighbors

Include: dentist, rainbow, explosion, horizon, cactus, palm, Saturday, latte, beets, sample

Read Bridgette’s Tale here


You’ll notice we changed the format this week. If you are new here, we (my writing partner and I) generally put the prompt and a link to our writing partner’s work at the very top. Sometimes the prompt and the words give the story away. If you read “dentist” before reading the story, you might have had a hint of where I was headed. In an effort to make the story the important focus, we are moving our prompts and our partner’s link below the story. I hope this will give a sense of mystery as you wonder which are the required words and what was the inspiration. (Note: I have gone back and changed all stories before this one.)

I hadn’t given my story much thought, it was spring break and I went to visit my parents, planning my trip around accompanying them to doctor appointments. As we sat in the doctor’s office, my dad asked me what the prompt was this week. I told him what I remembered (a writer with noisy neighbors) and that the only word I could remember was “dentist”.

My dad is apparently a random idea generator just like my daughter is. He immediately responded, “the writer lives next to the dentist and he can’t handle the screams.” That is where this story was born. I thought the idea was brilliant and decided to play with it. I wanted to build on the idea of conspiracy theorists and mental health.

This story is short, but it came quickly and reminds me of my week 5 story, “Drink the Kool-Aid“. I loved that story because it told the story in so few words. I feel the same about this one. They feel like they belong in the same collection.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s story. If you did, please share. I send out a newsletter every Friday with new blogs from the week. You can sign up here.

Photograph close up of teeth/ Loscotoff 2022.  The men in the white coats take the teeth.
They took my teeth and replaced them with radio wire/ Loscotoff 2022

Next Week’s Prompt

Week 16. Newlyweds on their honeymoon

Include: cockpit, selfie, kayak, thought bubble, picnic table, wander, propose, shiatsu, motherhood, temple


My Writing Partner, Bridgette

Bridgette’s Week 15 story

My 52 Weeks So Far…

What is the 52 Week Short Story Challenge?

Week 1 – Avalon

Week 2 – The Rifle

Week 3 – The Cardboard Prince

Week 4 – Rapture in Reverse

Week 5 – Drink the Kool-Aid

Week 6 – The Hitchhiker

Week 7 – The Flame

Week 8 – The Community

Week 9 – The Cult of Cait

Week 10 – The Tango

Week 11 – The Imperfect Self

Week 12 – A Murder of Crows

Week 13 – The Cufflinks

Week 14 – Andromeda’s Lament

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  1. You’ve done a perfect job taking us into the mind of madness, and the twist at the end pays off. It makes me think of the Chief in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” the radios in the teeth and the capturing of souls. It’s interesting how madness often disguises itself behind some kind of righteous belief.

    1. I think writing about madness can be so intriguing, especially recognizing the trap it becomes for the person living it, and how while in the trap you don’t see the trap. Thank you always for your thoughts!

  2. Thank you! As short as this is, I love how it can still give the feel of the character and his story. And thank you for saying it reminds you of Cuckoo nest. I love the feel of the unreliable narrator. I’m not sure what I could do with it on a longer scale, but it always adds something unique when you don’t really know the truth.

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