Friday, 8 February 2013

It's Snowpocalypse.

Some of the local weather channels have named it NEMO, but the flatmates and I have renamed this storm Snowpocalypse.  As we still have power, I'm going to do my thing just a few minutes early. In truth, we're in no danger of losing power at this time.  I'm just terrifically excited about my first time judging!

I knew that I would have a hard time with this judging thing.  It's been great fun, but it's HARD!  Everyone who posts here is so incredibly talented and creative.  You made it very hard for me to choose.  

However choose I did.  And so, without further ado, this weeks winner is:

Steven Chapman with That warm fuzzy feeling inside.  Steven, I have to say again how much I loved this story. The sense you give, of  Mr. Oak's contentment and satisfaction with his solution to whatever poor neighbor Bill may have done to annoy him is just brilliant.  This is a nice, tightly written, piece.  And I have to admit, again, that it touched the revenge fantasy part of my wicked little mind, in all the right places.  

I also have a runner-up this week.  Though I hesitate to use that phrase really, because John Xero's (Rise) is a standout piece on its own.  John, I  love how you've captured, in so few words, the look and feel of Steampunk.  Alfred is brilliant!  I very much want to know more about these folks and what's happening with them.

They say that doing something new for the first time, is always the most difficult.  In all honesty, I sincerely hope that you all continue to make my judging duties just as difficult as you did this week.  I may have had a hard time, but I have loved how you've all challenged and entertained me this week.  

So!  Ready for the new words?  (Drum roll, please!)

Cantankerous
Oratory
Wobbly (wobble is acceptable)

The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. All variants and use of the words as stems are fine.

You have until 11:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time) Thursday, February 14 , to get your entries in.  Winners will be announced and new words will be posted by 3:00 PM on Friday, February 15.  Heh...just realized our deadline next week falls on Valentine's Day.  

All right, darlings.  Get to it and show me the love!  And remember, love isn't always...pleasant!

100 comments:

  1. Congratulations Steven, that had me wincing every time I thought about it. Also congratulations John, I love steam punk.

    An excellent judging job Colleen, and stay safe in all that snow, don't answering any tapping on the window, Jack frost can be mean, if you let him in the house ;).

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  2. Congratulations Steven and Kudos to John, as well! Both excellent stories.

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  3. Oooh, hello! I wasn't expecting to win! Wow, this is great news. Can I celebrate with booze?

    Thanks, for the comments William, RR :D

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  4. Payment

    Sybil’s was a house of oratory, a church of sorts. There, the cantankerous were gentled, the insecure bolstered, sinners shriven. Nate’s scream struck everyone silent.

    Shaken, I reached for my wallet.

    Sybil’s cool hand covered mine. “I’d rather barter.”

    I stood. “Dungeon?”

    “Enjoyable as I find that, my need lies elsewhere. I’ve two new employees with unusual appetites. Take one, Nate’s debt is paid. Take both, I’ll reward you accordingly.”

    “What are they?”

    “Succubus and Fury.”

    “Fuck.”

    She laughed. “That’ll do for one. The other’s feeding is more… creative.”

    Legs already wobbly, I agreed to pay the price for Nate’s salvation.

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    Replies
    1. and the saga continues... such precise dialogue here, saying so much!

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    2. Peeking through my fingers now, in fear and trembling and horrid anticipation. Yes, anticipation (hrrmph!) But yes, Rebecca, this is SUCH well-pointed and well-coloured dialogue - Antonia's 'precise' the perfect description.

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    3. Oh wow, this has taken an interesting turn and a half. Great stuff. =)

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    4. As always, fabulous stuff! It's always such fun to read your bits and see where you've taken our boys.

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    5. Oh my, Fury and Succubus! Their appereance will be interesting. Looking forward!

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    6. Well done. I could see and hear the conversation. You move forward so well. And it seems to be getting very interesting.

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  5. Congratulations, Steven and John, superb writing.
    Colleen, stay safe and warm. The snow we were supposed to have is now cold cold rain, endless grey skies and more rain.

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  6. Broken, The Devil's Chapel

    “I bet it was beautiful once,” Keller shouldered his backpack and smiled at the old priest. Stained glass crunched as he picked his wobbly way through the monastic ruins.

    “Beautiful? Pah! T’was terrible as the Beast his’self, ya ignorant bastard,” the cantankerous demon snorted at Keller’s comment as he swept rock dust from the broken altar stone. “Ya should’a seen it when th’ Oratory of San Diablo was here. Fires in every brazier, an’ a font overflowing wit’ innocent blood. Ya never heard such screams, son… Such glorious screams.”

    “And then the angels came?”

    “Aye, they did…”

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    Replies
    1. I like everything about this - the broken church, the history revealed, and the delightful twist at the end. Also, I'm a sucker for angels as a destructive force, so this hit my sweet spot.

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    2. Glorious in its entirety - scene setting, dialogue (and accents), use of prompts and the tale itself. Nice, very.

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    3. me too, as far as destructive forces go, this is goooooood

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    4. Yeah, this hits the spot. In interesting partnership conjured in two paragraphs of text, and the sting in tail delivered in just two more tiny lines!

      I like it. A lot.

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    5. Ahhhh...a depiction of angels as they really are...warriors. It is difficult indeed, to convey an accent in typing, without it becoming difficult to actually read. You've a great skill for that. Very enjoyable read. Thank you!

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    6. Great imagery and voice! Awesome stuff!

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    7. This is the beginning of an epic tale.set up perfectly.i love how well the dialogue works and the feelings you create. Love it.

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  7. Well done Steven and John. I know I didn't comment (busy, busy) but both your stories were worthy of a win. Well done everyone else, it was a great week of reading.

    Hatred.

    I hated him when he was drunk. He was a cantankerous old sod but with alcohol he was horrible.

    “You know,” he slurred, on wobbly legs, “you’ve been a disappointment to me. My own son a dirty...”

    “Dad, not now!”

    “You’re a disgrace.” His oratory always cut to the bone.

    “Stop,” I said, biting my lip. “I’ve run you a bath. Now get yourself cleaned up and go to bed.”

    * * *

    The thrashing and splashing didn’t last long. He’d caught me on the cheek with his fist, but it was nothing a layer of make-up wouldn’t hide.

    ~End~

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    Replies
    1. The father's addiction and horrible attitude toward his son are balanced by the subtle reveal of why. I wholeheartedly approve of drowning the old coot. I hope there was a night of celebration following.

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    2. Unwillingly heard the voice of Harold Steptoe here, so was very happy to have him drowned, and so effectively.

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    3. that word again, precise, it was precise dialogue that conveyed all the emotion here.

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    4. Is there more to be read into the unfinished accusation and the ready application of make up? Either way, full of tension and emotion, all wrapped up with a deadly bow.

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    5. David, I debated admitting here how very difficult this piece is for me to read, my own father being quite similar to the one depicted. However, the fact that it IS so hard for me to read it, is blatant acknowledgement of the fact that you have captured, precisely (there's that word again) what it is to be the child of an emotionally abusive alcoholic. And yes, I have considered such a solution as a pleasant day dream. This is a brutally fine bit of writing.

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    6. An emotive piece that strikes to the bone.

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    7. A difficult short to read in some ways. a great read in all. Te dialogue forced me to feel the anger that the child did not feel for him or her. Self. I know how I want his one to end but I wonder where your writing will take his. Such great emotion. Subtle

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  8. Trying to be a bit earlier this time: writing up a bit of RPG fic from a recent game, but the words seemed to fit that more than anything else this week...

    Bring Me The Head Of Shoichi Baisotei...

    Ame slammed against the wall, dazed and wobbly from the Stunbolt; an air elemental then manifested above and crackled menacingly.

    No time for oratory with cantankerous teammates; she knew she had to overclock her retort, otherwise the camouflaged blood-mage would get another shot and eliminate them all.

    "Defend me!" Her Ringu-spirit appeared, screaming into the elemental with maddened relish; she then mortgaged her life-force into one devastating Acid Bomb, launching it across the basement.

    A hemisphere of liquid destruction scoured the ceiling and half of the ritual, just missing 'Nina'; the infiltrator coolly dispatched the psychotic as he plummeted.

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    Replies
    1. Some astonishingly effective language here: 'overclock' just one of them.

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    2. First, I so want to game with you! Second, the action in this is gripping. I may have ducked when the Acid Bomb was lobbed.

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    3. oooh! action packed and exciting stuff, loved it!

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    4. It's always better-sounding in my head/on the page than rolling dice round a table...

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    5. Dropping us slap bang in the middle of the action here. Sounds like a pretty interesting game you've got going. =)

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    6. LOL! I don't even know where to start. This is so insanely great. It's tough to write fighting/action scenes effectively and you've done an amazing job with that. I love that we were simply dropped into the action! I agree with RR! Gaming with you would be very cool!

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    7. So much action in such a small piece! Neat!

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    8. The action was great. And you were able o make the core compelling. Loved the wy this rolled. I am horrible with action. I can learn fom you. Great.

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  9. Well done Stephen and John - well-deserved first time winners in the new place.

    And as you might expect, there's little love from Tao:

    Negotiations in the dark

    Voice as wobbly as you’d expect from a man who feels cold steel against his balls whilst astride a woman not his wife.
    Oratory unimpressive, somewhat soprano: ‘Wha-a-? Who? Aa-a-rgh!’
    Equally performance, judging by the contempt expressed, in the voice of a cantankerous crow: ‘Lord Comequickly yet again!’

    Tao’s laugh came out of the darkness.

    ‘No second coming either, since I’m offering a second chance to buy your letters. Price now trebled, unless...’ He paused to check the woman: hair raven, nose rook-hooked and legs as shaggy, shook his head, repeated ‘Trebled’ and delicately probed with poignard to underline intent.

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    Replies
    1. What a wicked man Tao is. The only consolation is that his world seems populated by equally base creatures. I like that he checked to see if it was worth lowering his price. Funny, if very wrong.

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    2. no, no love from Tao, but it would be out of character if there were! like it.

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    3. I agree with Rebecca, I had a chuckle at the dropped bargain too. This is a filthy, depraved world we're experiencing through Tao.

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    4. Nothing sweetened about Tao's character and the world he inhabits. That's why it's good.

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    5. Funny and horrible. Your writing is getting better and better. You are becoming a master storyteller.

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  10. Congratulations, Stephen, and thank you, Colleen! No pressure or high expectations for the following parts of Rise then... ;)

    I'll be back to comment tomorrow, but for now...


    (Rise)

    Olivia heard cantankerous jeers as her father opened the front door. From her hiding place she couldn't make out the words, and she was glad, the voices were ugly. Sophisticated oratory it most certainly was not.

    She held her breath as a great crashing wave of people washed up through the tower. The boards concealing her nook wobbled as booted feet stomped by, and there were sounds of splintering wood and shattering glass before the intruders sluiced away again, back onto the streets.

    Some time passed before Olivia dared shift the boards aside and climb out into her broken home.

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    Replies
    1. I do like 'intruders sluiced away'

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    2. I agree with Sandra - the wave imagery, both influx and outflow, is fantastic. There's such a sense of menace here that I held my breath a bit for young Olivia.

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    3. John, this is turning into something outstanding.

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    4. 'Steven', not 'Stephen'! Sorry, my brother's a 'ph', I'm normally more careful. =)

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    5. You are building several excellent characters. This is an energetic story as well. Olivia is turning into a favorite character of mine. Yay.

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  11. (Rise)

    Olivia's legs wobbled as, in a daze, she roamed the violated remains of her home.

    She came upon battered, broken brass and her hand flew to her mouth.

    "Alfred!"

    Clockwork spilled from his side and through the rent in his gut she could see his cracked boiler venting precious steam.

    His chest graunched, then clacked slowly over to show a spanner. Papa had often promised to install oratory valves, but somehow other matters had always been more pressing.

    "I'm sorry, Alfred. I can't..."

    A picture of an exclamation mark clacked over, then a skull. Cantankerous to the end.

    Olivia wept.

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    Replies
    1. Don't think I've ever seen 'graunched' written before. Olivia's loneliness well evoked.

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    2. This whole piece creates a mood of brokenness that is terrible and absolutely right. Poor Olivia, what will she do now that she is alone? And poor Alfred. I have hopes he can be mended, even if it is beyond her skill.

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    3. and yet more of the spellbinding story

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    4. I could hear the cracking! Poor Alfred!

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  12. A change of focus [20]

    Features screwed under recurring flares of orchid-pain, Pettinger’s brother struggled upright, wobbled once before demonstrating inheritance of backbone as well as temperament from a cruelly-cantankerous father, a single howl of anguish echoing to the rafters of the once-upon-a-time oratory, now den of dubious diplomacy: ‘Hopgood’s parents spied for Dubnovaski...’
    ‘I thought the Dubnovaskis were all dead.’
    ‘So did I ‘til others started dying; it wasn’t us who killed them.’
    ‘Then who?’
    ‘We hoped Hopgood would tell us... when she targeted you it caused some... internal difficulties, since our rivalry is known.’
    ‘Targeted?’
    ‘Don’t be stupid, Yanno, it certainly wasn’t love!’

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    Replies
    1. orchid-pain is simply gorgeous. This moves us further along the plot while at the same time creating even more questions! The brother's palpable distaste for one another adds a fine spice to the mix.

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    2. creating more questions as you go is the hard part and you're doing it outstandingly well

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    3. Nice, expanding and tying things back into the beginning at the same time. =)

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  13. Bent, not Broken

    I’d stopped screaming for a moment, only because Sunitra had stopped feeding. We were both sweating and wobbly.

    “You humans are one cantankerous species. All you have to do is it let it go. I could do this without pain if…”

    “Sunitra. NO.”

    “Not one for oratory, are you? As you will it.”

    She shrugged dismissively and sank fangs into me again, where the tumor had been.

    It felt like having bits chewed out of my …everything, and the pieces left being forged into something that might, for me, resemble sanity.

    Then again, I was screaming too hard to Hope.

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    Replies
    1. Hmm ... I felt sweaty and not a little wobbly after reading this. It's the images your words put into my mind.

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    2. compete with that, Zombie of mine...

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    3. There's always been an intensity to this series, but this week I think even more so (I'll probably say the same next week too, you and Rebecca keep upping your game.) =)

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    4. I don't think I've ever read feeding this way. It's painful!

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  14. Taken

    I had my oratory all prepared, subtle spell included. With Regan’s touch, resistance fled.

    Kaia raked talons over scars, opening windows to the horror and pain that created them. Regan’s kisses swallowed tortured howls.

    Hours passed.
    Pain.
    Pleasure.
    Anguish.
    Euphoria.
    Dread.
    Anticipation.
    No release.

    Marks of a hard life disappeared from flesh. Memory remained.

    Kaia skirted magical motifs, then cut a fresh line. “Souvenir.”

    I hadn’t bled ‘til then.

    She licked the wound, fell back, wobbly. “You taste… wrong.”

    “Surprise.”

    Later, I found Nate drinking, cantankerous. Normal. “Seriously? I get mauled, and you have a threesome?”

    I almost laughed.

    Almost.

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    Replies
    1. Delicious, wickedly, guiltily, delicious.

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    2. Nicely done. Only a hundred words and yet you still manage to draw the moment out. Will there be repercussions to come...?

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    3. Better then what I imagined! Tis one dangerous hunger..

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  15. I've been trying to upload a profile pic, does it have to come from photobucket or somewhere? I reduced the size to 272 x 72

    I want to actually upload a picture of the man from whom I have taken my user name, Antony Woodville.

    And, the zombie moves on. You are a way behind me, but I have posted a fair chunk to bring the story on. Tonight I move into the dark with him, knowing now, having had a lengthy conference with my co-author, that we are working somewhere along the lines of the Richard Matheson classic, Born Of Man And Woman, a story that has haunted me ever since I read it how many years ago? and we have to filter the back story in just enough to keep the horror going and the humour working.

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  16. Hi Antonia,
    From what I can gather, the image also has to be less than 50K. You probably already checked here, but
    http://support.google.com/blogger/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=42093.

    If you continue to have trouble, let me know. In the meantime I'll see if I can find more information for you.

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  17. A Collector of Faces

    ...and this one? He had a wobbly chin, which wibbled and wobbled, like so, when he talked. It was so funny, I just had to have him.

    This lady had such fine eyebrows, they arch up to meet in the middle like Tower Bridge. Lovely, and such a conversation piece.

    Oh, which reminds me of this chap! Such oratory, such soaring use of language. You can’t store that in a jar can you? Never mind, I’m always reminded of it whenever I visit him.

    And you, with your wonderfully cantankerous features, all frowns and grumpy cheeks, you can go here.

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    Replies
    1. He couldn't just collect stamps, could he? ;D

      Grim without the gore. Great opening line and good descriptions throughout. =)

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    2. totally agree, grim but no gore and images that linger. superb writing.

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    3. I think the creepiest thing about this is the utter delight with which the narrator catalogs his collection. Brilliant approach.

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    4. You put me right beside him as we walk along the row of exhibits, him reminiscing (with delight, as Rebecca says) me a little critical and totally unsuspecting until ...

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    5. Agree, there is such delight in the voice that it makes me tremble. Fantastic!

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  18. The problem with starting a character sat at a bar, is the difficulty getting him out of that bar and into action when you only have 100 word chunks to do it in...


    (Alpha)

    Whisper puts her hand on Adam's arm, "We will find a way to beat this."

    But Adam is in a rare, cantankerous mood and ready to argue. "How, Wendy? Do I gather Thunder, Quake, Angel? Bring the Guardians to my house to take down a powerless girl? Throw Megan in prison for atrocities she hasn't committed?"

    "If I didn't know better, I would say you were drunk, Adam. Oratory is definitely not one of your superpowers."

    "Wendy," Adam's voice wobbles.

    His phone interrupts with a chime. A very particular chime.

    "Go," Whisper says, "hit things. I think you need it."

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    Replies
    1. Now, there's a good friend. I really feel how torn Adam is. The list of his allies broadens the world, and the reminder that the villain in question is yet a child narrows that world significantly. All in a short span. Bravo.

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    2. John - have you all these gathered somewhere? - this is another addictive serial. The final two lines send this soaring to new heights.

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    3. Adam's wretchedness is perfectly delivered through this piece. I also like the addition of other super beings.

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  19. got it down to 30k and nothing, the link unfortunately told me the information was not available. so I am trying again at a much reduced level...

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  20. My goodness, this site incites depravity - I never used to write like this!!

    Some bargains better not struck

    Threads of blood mapped the slither of the Englishman across the sheets, red contours fit for oratory; like all men he removed his courage with his clothes and now could not seek sovereigns fast enough.

    ‘Twas pity, Tao thought, the doxy didn’t feel the same.

    She’d heaved herself to sitting, instantly obliterating comparisons with birds. Better pachyderms: flesh wobbly in the guttering candle-light, tits suet-pudding pendulous, stomach snail-trailed, sex goose-grease glistened.

    Pseudo-seductive whine: ‘You’d do worse than spend some of his sovereigns on me.’

    Cantankerous, his prick agreed, but Tao talked it down.
    ‘I’d sooner fuck my grandmother than you.’

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    Replies
    1. Depravity and horror go hand in hand! This is a wicked little snippet, so sordid it made me want to wash up afterward. Giving us someone so vile even Tao won't go there was terribly clever.

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  21. Bound to Happen

    “You aren’t finished.” Sybil slid me a shot.

    “Yes, I am.” Hand wobbly, I drank.

    “Cantankerous boy. I’ll not loose you upon the world in this state. Go downstairs.”

    I nodded, recognizing wisdom.

    Nate’s brow furrowed as if he’d intervene, but one look from Sybil and he went back to drinking.

    The cool dark welcomed me. I knelt, mouthing familiar prayer.

    Regan interrupted oratory. “Thought you I would not sate? I am not so cruel.”

    She needed no chains, nor whip to mar now-smooth flesh. I was as defenseless as she was hungry.

    On cold stone, she set me free.

    _____________________
    For a rather expanded version of this encounter, see Push Comes to Shove

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    Replies
    1. This a delicious and tempting hors d'oevre for the longer piece - thank you.

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  22. Okay. Here we go. I will close my eyes and hit send. I always feel like I should...oh...hush and do it for Moses sake. I will be back to comment. There is some questionable terminology...sorry if I offend you. I wish to offend other people, not you guys :-)Colleen your site is gorgeous. Thanks again for taking up the torch.

    The Wolf

    “Beware the plundering wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Brother Jim yelled from the pulpit. Typically cantankerous during oratory, today he reached rage. Abruptly his head drooped to the side, his eyes grew cloudy and his mouth fell to grimacing. Stumbling down the oaken stairs Jim reached for the old man sitting near; pulling the pensioner to his wobbly feet. They stood as if embracing. With the whispery sound of tearing cloth Pastor Jim slipped to the floor.

    “Damn but you Jesus lovers taste good,” the black angel giggled, turning to the church. His mouth was broken glass, “Lord I am hungry.”

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    Replies
    1. Ah, how very ... satisfying. :)

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    2. No offense, merely great admiration for a well-wrought scene. His mouth was broken glass is such an evocative phrase. I quite like the demise of Pastor Jim.

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    3. Ahhhhh...Marietta! This is lovely! I've been in sort of a happily dark mood lately and this strikes a chord. Your black angel...predatory, evil, and happily unashamed at both. I may be falling in love.

      Oh, and thank you for your compliments on the site, however, 98% of the credit for the look and feel must go to RR, who was instrumental in helping me get set up here. She chose the design and colors. I think it looks fabulous, as well.

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    4. Pardon me, but this is bloody brilliant! I got goosbumps from that last line.

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  23. A change of focus [21]

    Stung, at imputation of ignorance, to cantankerousness of his own Pettinger threw a punch at his brother’s head.
    He ducked; caterpillar smile of triumph wobbled on then throttled fast away as his neck was grasped and squeezed almost to final gasp.
    ‘Forget the fancy oratory – why did Sally-Ann have to die?’
    ‘It was meant to be you.’
    ‘And you couldn’t tell us apart?’
    ‘No – she was supposed to murder you. Cherriman knew she’d fail...’
    ‘So it was love?’ Pettinger’s face refuted gullibility.
    ‘Stupidity, since it ended in her death...’

    Locked-eye stare was interrupted by the crashing open of the door.

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    Replies
    1. Now who's the master of the cliff-hanger ending?? There is so much forwarding of plot and character in this piece. And I'm dying to know who's coming through the door!

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    2. Count me in! I want to know too! Great stuff, as always, Sandra!

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  24. If you look at the top of the column on the right, you will see the emotive
    THE SKULLFACE CHRONICLES

    please go read, I need your feedback/guidance as this story twists and turns and gets ever darker!

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  25. I like the new Predictions home, Colleen! I wish it many wonderful writers and breathtaking stories.
    I join with a story of a suspicious reunion:

    Blood ties

    BANG!
    The bullet dug dirt next to Tom’s boot.
    “I only want to see my daughter.”
    With wobbly hands Clive aimed again. His countenance revealed fright.
    “You ain’t coming further boy. Take a hike or I’ll put you to sleep” growing cantankerous, his acrimonious oratory showed he means to kill.

    Tom sighed. He caressed his sapphire ring. The two gold lions supporting the gem became animated; their encrusted eyes turned to him with a predatory glimmer.

    “Step away old man.”
    Clive fired.
    But an illusory octagon entrapment caught him, his attack ricocheting, piercing his temple.

    Tom stepped over the body.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, Cindy, it might be my age, but that sounds like cheating to me ...

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    2. :( What did I do? Is there some similarity to another story? If there is, it's unintentionally.

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    3. Cindy - no!!! Sorry, not what I meant at all, just the bringing of a sapphire ring with lions to be animated against a poor old man with a gun ...

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    4. My apology Sandra! I didn't interpret your words correctly. I must be weary! Apologies again!
      And no, it's not fair to bring magic with lions, I agree!

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  26. All right, gang. Gates are closing on entries for this week. Feel free to stick around and comment though! I'll be around tomorrow with a winner and new words!

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