Friday, 22 February 2013

Just Breathe...

It has been one rough week around here, m'dears.  However!  Things are a bit brighter and the tome, which now rests on the huge, round, glass top coffee table in our living room, has brought forth some new words.  I think it may still be adjusting to being moved about so much in the last few weeks. It made something of a mess.

Also, I'm not certain it's entirely fond of my housemate's pet.  Said pet is a female tarantula, named Mofo, whose cage is in a corner of the living room.  The tome has been creeping to the edge of the coffee table and growling a bit, mostly at night. Mofo remains unimpressed, for the nonce. We shall see what comes of that!

And finally, I must apologize to all of you for not having gotten here to comment this week.  My internet connection in the new digs are still pretty skitchy, and I can access a connected computer only when the housemate isn't using it.  That and all the rest that's been happening...well...my sincerest apologies to all.  I have read every story and as always they are all brilliant, thought-provoking and pleasantly dark.

Anyway, let's get on with it, shall we?  Winners and Words!

First place goes to Sandra Davies with A Change of Focus(22):  Sandra, I loved this piece.  It's just beautifully woven, if that makes any sense.   The last line leaves me really, REALLY wanting to know what happens next!

Again this week, I have a runner-up.  J.O. Vaughn with Four-leaf Clover:  J.O.  So few words!  And yet, you tell a complete and intriguing story. You possess an amazing skill.   I'm thrilled you found your way here!

Finally, I hope it won't be considered a conflict of interest if I toss a public nod in the direction of my dear friend and writing partner RR Kovar for her clever use of this week's words in updating you all on the roller coaster ride I was taking this week.  It was a brilliant and creative way of passing along news!  Well done, my friend!

And now the tome is staring pointedly at me and snarling quietly.  Right. Words!

Carrion
Sleeve
Reticent



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 28, to get your entries in.  Winners will be announced and new words will be posted by 3:00 PM on Friday, March 1st..




94 comments:

  1. Colleen - I'm flabbergasted - thank you so much and congratulations to J O whose brief but crammed so full tale certainly won my admiration (as did everyone els's I'm bound to say) This week's words look ... promising.

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  2. Hi all

    It’s been a while but good to see The Prediction flourishing here, and I am so impressed you managed to move and judge Colleen – my hat off to you.

    And congrats to Sandra on a well deserved win plus kudos to J.O. for the runner-up spot. Great writing as always by Predictioneers!

    Anyway, here is my entry for you this week.
    Enjoy!

    Dare you

    Squawking carrion sang melodically to the squealing gallows, the body hanging by its neck; five days there now, maggots squirming in the flesh.

    “Five bucks is yours Peter. Just go touch him.”

    They shook a spit sanctioned pact, a solemn oath of fluids.

    Peter slunk forth, reticently clambering up the platform. Steeling himself, Peter grabbed the corpse’s coat, the fibres damp with morning dew as he jerked at the sleeve.

    “I done it, John,” he shouted elatedly, turning to his friend.

    John didn’t hear the words. He just stared at the convict’s head, at eyes that stared back at him.

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    1. Bodies hanging from the gallows always makes me shiver as I've thought about something similar happening. Not quite sure what's going to happen to Peter! I like the use of "squawking" and "squealing" in the first sentence. They seem to go together. And great final line.

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    2. Nightmare qualities - childhood dare and long-dead maggoty bodies - racked up by the final chilling line.

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    3. So much to this, the gross-out dares of boys, rotten flesh, a body abandoned on the gallows, and a quietly powerful final line. Some choice language really helps flavour this too.

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    4. I've never understood why people look at the gallows, much less dare to approach them. A fine comeuppance for the boys, though I wonder how it all ends. The last line made me jump!

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  3. Phil, I love this. That first line is killer. The first thing I thought upon finishing reading, is that I wish I'd come up with it! I'd love to write the next bit! I do hope you're planning on continuing this one. It's a fantastic hook!

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  4. congratulations, Sandra and J O! Sandra, that was a brilliant instalment. J O, more please!
    Phil, good to see you. More please...

    Skullface is getting darker and darker by the day, I cannot believe how much of a monster he really is. It's still funny but very very dark as he goes back, as memory returns. I cannot thank all of you enough for starting me off on this incredible journey.

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  5. I am honored to be runner~up and especially to Sandra since if she hadn't mentioned it I would never have found this site. Kind of poetic to follow the one who brought me here. Can't wait until I get home tonight so I can start my entry.

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  6. Nose to the Grindstone

    Took a while to get used to the carrion smell, but work was scarce and honest work scarcer. The clan was growing – good for protection, but hard on food resources. At thirty credits per, light thievery and freelance bot repair wasn’t enough, so Mica went to The Factory.

    Some workers chatted, but Mica was naturally reticent, more so since Canan’s casual words had sent their parents to The Camp.

    A scream rent the air. “I know what this is! Who it is…”

    A tattooed arm hit the ground.

    Mica kept stuffing meat into membrane-thin sleeves, glad the clan were vegetarians.

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    1. I admit, I'm quite happy to be a vegetarian myself at the moment! This made me shiver, the idea that whomever eats what comes out of The Factory might not know the meat source... or perhaps they do. Way to horrify and intrigue! Really curious about the clan and this world you've introduced. :)

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    2. Insidiously chilling in nightmare ways, and what feels like the beginning of a saga of evil. At the very least I hope to learn what 'freelance bot repair' involves.

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    3. Dude! Ew! LOL. This is great! I meant horrible. And really, if I think too much about it, it IS horrible. And great! Nice job, chica.

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    4. Very appropriate, the next logical step after horse? "Ikea meatballs are people!" ;)

      I wonder how much of The Camp ends up in The Factory's grinders...

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    5. "Legal loophole allows banned mechanical meat in UK sausages" - BBC News.

      ... and so it begins...

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  7. Harvest

    “Mind your sleeves, dear.” Lady Follier inclined her head towards the carrion about to soil Dorothea’s gown.

    “Oh,” Dorothea said, lifting her arm. The corpses had already leaked something green and repugnant onto her shoe, and she was grateful she’d followed Lady Follier’s advice to invest in a sturdy pair of boots. Though rather unfashionable, they were a necessity when traversing the viscid floors within the Ward.

    Lady Follier withdrew several capped syringes from her apron. “Now, be assiduous while lancing the pustules. We need a full vial for each Sister.”

    Dorothea hid a yawn. It would be a long night.

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    1. Oops, just realized I only used two of the words haha. Going to have to do another entry that actually counts! :)

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    2. LOL. I do things like that all the time! Still and all, this is a great piece and I surely wouldn't mind knowing more about these ladies and what they're up to!

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    3. Thanks :) There is definitely something peculiar going on with these two, isn't there. :)

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    4. I'm glad you didn't delete it, great little piece regardless, fills my head full of bigger ideas. And I love the use of 'viscid'.

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    5. Thanks! Yes, I think I've used that word in more than one story. ;)

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    6. I, too, am glad you left this up, because it's quite rich. Who are the Sisters that they need such fluids, and why were the corpses there in the first place? There's so much to explore in this piece.

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    7. ready to turn this into a full story? deserves to be!

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  8. Flight

    We’re naught but carrion; food for the dead.

    Felicia clutches at my sleeve, whimpers as her bloodied fingers slip. Her nose is running; she hides her face against my back and I feel wetness soaking through. I’m already reticent as I lead us through the hushed and blackened street; but fear grows like mold, and it weakens from within.

    Leaves crunch beneath my feet, brittle bones, and Felicia steps upon my heel.

    There are four, come to claim us.

    “Strength,” I whisper.

    The grenade is sharp against my hand.

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    1. It is impressive how saga-sized all of your tales appear, and always with one or two delicious phrases, of which 'fear grows like mold' is but one.

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    2. Thanks, love to hear your thoughts. :)

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    3. "Leaves crunch beneath my feet, brittle bones..."

      This is also fantastic. Dark, evocative (in many ways), and with such a bleakly defiant ending.

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    4. Four what? You have an amazing talent for creating scenes, with intriguing backgrounds implied, that make me long for more and more.

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    5. every one is a teaser for something longer! Go write.

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    6. Zaiure, you've conveyed exactly the kind of quiet determination and resignation one imagines one might feel in such a situation. I can't decide if Felicia is a child or not. Her actions take on new meanings, depending on how I think of her.

      Like RR, I want to know four what?

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  9. Tao thinks he may have been too hasty

    Kick a corpse to life and you’ll inevitably disturb carrion.
    Tao knew this but had believed those who abhorred the trappings of authority were like to have at least a minimal grasp of underworld allegiance.
    Nevertheless, introduced, with a tug at his sleeve by the fledging like-to-be-gallows-bird who’d brought him here, he questioned his own sanity in evoking the man whose name in desperation he’d used to instigate his rescue.
    A man whose gaze silently persuaded him to say he carried letters he’d be willing to sell on, while assuring, ‘No reason to be reticent here, Mathias, all is known.

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    1. I like your wordplay in the first sentence with "kick a corpse to life". Introduces a very interesting idea, doesn't it! Poor Tao, whether on the "good" or "bad" side, there does usually seem to be a certain level of loyalty. Curious to see where this goes. :)

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    2. Damning the child in a single sweeping statement: "fledgling like-to-be-gallows-bird."

      One day all this will catch up with Tao, perhaps... Or maybe he'll trick his way from Death's grip into hell, into hades, to perdition and onwards through the afterlives... ;)

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    3. How ironic that Tao can think of allegiances, underworld or otherwise, when he's twisted out of every bargain he's made thus far. In so few words, you've indicated the mysterious man is someone of consequence. Nicely done.

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    4. twists and turns of Tao's mind, ever fascinating. You know your character well.

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    5. Tao is rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters to read. Every new installment surprises me!

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  10. Well done everyone.... so here goes: the next bit of my 'thing'...

    Bring me the head of...

    'Nina' reappeared after casing the wrecked basement. "Deadline's a-waitin', victims are rousin'. We'd better get the proof and leave 'fore more guards come. They can clean up Baisotei's carrion-fest."

    ***Sure,*** Conrad waved absently; still ruminating about his semi-conscious teammate, he
    grabbed an acid-eaten stretcher and brought its jagged end down on the corpse's neck.
    ***Done. Bag it.*** His Sight also noticed some Foci, so he stowed those quickly.

    After doing what he could, Gonzo offered Ame a supporting arm. Reticent at first, her hand gripped his sleeve, feeling cold metal beneath; her brain struggled against curling into a pangolin-ball.

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    1. This sets my mind spinning off at all sorts of tangents - fascinating, and I especially like 'pangolin-ball'

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    2. I agree with Sandra, loved "pangolin-ball". I actually had to google it and the animal is really cool! Love the scales, and now the comparison makes perfect sense. :)

      This has the feeling of a world heavy with artificial intelligence/"mind-linking". Really curious how the Sight works. I think you created an interesting world that should be explored further. :)

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    3. This is so dense, each re-read offers up something new, layering up the image. Love pangolins, they don't get mentioned enough...! =D

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    4. And now I'm interested to find out what sort of Foci those were, what sort of tech Gonzo is sporting, and whether or not Ame is going to make it! More, please.

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    5. this is ready, as so much in this week's entries, to be expanded into something much bigger, there is so much richness here.

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    6. Zoe, this is great! You've definitely got me hooked! I too, Googled "pangolin". Fabulous word, that. And the phrase, "her brain struggled against curling into a pangolin-ball." is a perfect descriptor for her feelings.

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  11. Seth could only stay quiet so long...

    You Break It, You Buy It

    Kaia poured bourbon, sipped her own. “You taste like carrion.”

    I rolled up my sleeve, displaying scars matching Nate’s new tattoo. “I come with warning labels.”

    “On your hip. Sybil should’ve said.”

    “No, she shouldn’t. Neither should you. Forget tonight.”

    “Would that I could, son of the fallen.”

    “Should I ensure your reticence to spread rumors?”

    She blanched. “Unnecessary. I’m bound to you now.”

    “Come again?”

    “Didn’t the first time. Shame, that.”

    Regan emerged, shaken.

    “Or perhaps not.” Kaia slipped off the stool. “For my sin, Accords dictate I perform three tasks. Restoring her is one. Choose the others wisely.”

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    1. Welcome back Seth - you've been badly missed - and this reminds me of why I'm so addicted, such to-get-high-on phrases'

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    2. I always enjoy the dialogue in your pieces. Love Seth's line "I come with warning labels".

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    3. Some clever conversation here, with nice turnabouts and comebacks. Proves that you don't need action to keep a story interesting. =)

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    4. with some dialogue, that is all that's needed, it's a skill not everyone has. You do.

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    5. Nate is screaming for his turn. I've been neglectful of him lately and after reading this....besides, only way to find out what Seth does next is to write Nate's bit!

      It's funny, Kaia's comment of "you taste like carrion" didn't strike me as insult, but simple commentary.

      And I must agree with the others. You write kick butt dialogue!

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  12. Tao meets his match

    Even as Tao recalled the dagger concealed within his sleeve, the man produced and waved it: a death-dealing crucifix.
    ‘Think that again and ‘twill be you who die. So long as I’ve the letters you stole in Lisbon I’ll stay reticent about your many crimes. The Englishman in Dublin did not require them?’
    ‘He would not pay.’
    ‘Hmm, I heard he did. Certainly, I shall not.’
    Snake-smiling eyes watched Tao forge his features to neutrality, ‘Not, at least, until you’ve dealt with Carrion Jack.’
    ‘Dealt?’
    ’He has a thing of mine.’
    ‘You want it back?’
    ‘Not now she’s been used.’

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    1. Nasty, Tao will certainly rail against another man's reigns. Looking forward to meeting this Carrion Jack.

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    2. More delicious word pairings. Love "snake-smiling eyes".

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    3. Ah, so the little bird's tug on the sleeve relieved him of his dagger. Perhaps she's not gallows-bound after all, the clever child. Now, who is Carrion Jack, and what - or who - does he have? Compelling, as usual.

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    4. Carrion Jack sounds like a serious character building, along with the ongoing story. Good one - again!

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    5. Oh, I can't wait to meet this Carrion Jack character! I don't for one moment believe Tao has met his match just yet. I've complete faith that he'll suss out a way to turn this whole thing to his advantage. And if he doesn't, I'm sure his downfall will be interesting reading as well!

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  13. A second episode of Pettinger began bubbling at 4 a.m. so I'm putting the first down while the other cooks.

    A change of focus [23]

    Raptor. Hooded black and yellow predatorial eyes; time-streaked, shaggy feather-fingered mane reaching beyond shoulders.
    Appearance neither nephew had inherited.

    Pettinger began a courteous welcome in the language of his birth, was rudely interrupted by his brother spit-growling ‘Carrion’.
    Doubly startled he watched his uncle kneel to retrieve his knife, wiping the blade on the cleaner of the body’s sleeves.
    ‘Why kill him? He wasn’t important. Did no harm.’
    Reticent. ‘Then it does not matter that he’s dead.’
    ‘You cannot behave like that, not here!’
    ‘You proposing to stop me, little Yanno?’
    ‘Of course.’
    ‘Then you’ll have to become unimportant too.’

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    1. Meet the uncle! Interesting family, this...

      And what innocuous words to couch such a threat in...

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    2. Very intrigued by the uncle's intro and the "welcome in the language of his birth". Pettinger's world continues to expand and grow ever more layered!

      Also love the description at the beginning. Great imagery!

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    3. Oh, how very interesting uncle Raptor is - and deadly, too. I like his matter-of-fact pronouncements. One wonders how Pettinger became a police officer with such a family.

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    4. in defiance of the family, perhaps? Uncle Raptor is such an evocative title for someone - now to see if he lives up to it in its entirety...

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  14. Wounded

    She drifts on a sea of sorrow; her stomach clenches with each swell, her lips taste of saltwater.

    With reticence, she wipes her face on the sleeve of her shirt; the action breaks her on the reefs of reality, when all she wants is to drown.

    She chokes back a moan. All she wants is to sink down, down, but her grief is like carrion in the water. The sharks sense it from miles away and they slink closer. They slip through the water to offer false comfort, smiles full of teeth as they take chunks from her soul.

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    1. I don't know how but there is an instant evocation of wave movement from the first, and grief 'like carrion in the water' a wonderful phrase.

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    2. I love how you turn emotional metaphors into beautiful, intriguing worlds, leaving us with two stories/scenes - "reality" as viewed through a poetic lens, and a rich, fantastical world! Theme was carried all the way through. Dare I hope she evades the sharks?

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    3. You create the sense of melancholy in such beautiful and lyrical terms, the ocean the perfect vehicle for her distress. I've felt this way - at my sister's funeral, having to be polite to people who had denounced her when she was alive.

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    4. poetic and moving and the sharks, offering false comfort, oh yes!

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    5. Beautiful piece of writing, John! I imagine most everyone has heard the phrase "drowning in a sea of sorrow", but you have captured the absolute essence of that feeling here. Likening those come to give false comfort with sharks is brilliant. More so because this is a feeling every, single, person on the planet has experienced at some time. Reading this instantly brought that feeling back to mind. Really nice work here.

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  15. A change of focus [24]

    A good detective learns the art of reticence, of turning the other cheek, of lying to deceive the carrion he daily deals with. Keeps secrets up his sleeve as well as tricks.
    Thus Pettinger deflected questions from his superior.
    ‘You pacified the ambassador?’
    Near-throttled, he could not complain. ‘Ma’am.’
    ‘The staff there are peaceable?’
    Dead men say nothing. ‘Ma’am.’
    ‘Their people competent?’
    Market-trader, petty thief and whore... ‘Yes, Ma’am.’
    ‘Civilised?’
    ‘Ma’am.’

    Superiors have bigger sleeves. Quieter voices. Fiercer eyes.
    'Then perhaps you can explain why a senior diplomat of theirs has shot five people within the past forty-five minutes?’
    Raptor.

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    1. I loved Pettinger's unspoken thoughts, which are in sharp contrast to his actual reply. Great dialogue (or thoughts) in this! I also loved the idea of "secrets up his sleeve" and how superiors have "bigger sleeves". Great descriptions!

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    2. Oh dear. He's been caught out, and all the while thinking himself clever. I don't envy him what comes next, either at work or with his twisted kin.

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    3. I can't help but think of Pettinger as the naughty boy brought in front of the headmistress here... ;D

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    4. simple description, the bigger sleeves, says enough for an entire paragraph all on its own. That's the beauty and discipline of the Prediction. This fits well.

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  16. Don't know how, but there's more...

    (Flashback)

    "Victims..."

    "Carrion..."

    The words reverberated in her skull; she knew she was retreating through the hospital, with the combat medic almost carrying her, but the physical kept fading in and out...

    She'd snuck out of their shack again, only this time Sako's hut felt... odd. She picked up the shredded sleeve, then noticed the gnawed bones.

    Human bones.

    Wendigo...

    She turned reticently, fearing the revelation; the Infected sprang, then dropped as its body bifurcated.

    “Jiro!”

    "I'm never letting you out of my sight again," her half-brother promised; the shock caught
    up with her and she felt the bile rise...

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    1. Another visit, glimpse into an alien world and 'the physical kept fading in and out...' a simple but very apt description. What happens next?

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    2. A very nicely wrought flashback. Nasty things, wendigo, and was the Infected one of those or something else entirely?

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    3. Ooo this is a good one to read several times! When I first read about the infected's body bifurcating I was thinking it was morphing into something else (one too many Resident Evil movies?)... but now I'm guessing it was due to Jiro's arrival. :) My interest is piqued!

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    4. I will fill in a bit of world background here for those not familiar with Shadowrun... (as getting this into a story would be difficult)

      The "Infected" is a term for all the different sub-species of homo sapiens (and a couple of other sentient species) that have been mutated by several Awakened retro-viruses, resulting in names given that reflect old supernatural creatures, Vampires, Banshees, Ghouls, Loup-Garou, Bandersnatch etc...

      Wendigo is the Orc version of a the same virus that turns humans into vampires and elves into banshee. Although it expresses slightly differently in that Wendigo are furry shamanic flesh eaters rather than haemovores...

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    5. This works well, building back story by retreating briefly from the main storyline.

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    6. Thought I was tasting a bit of Shadowrun in this! What a great little story! Nice bit of action tossed in there and I'm giving you kudos here and now for "bifurcated". SUCH a glorious word. Nice, nice, work here.

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    7. Thanks for the backstory! Very interesting. :)

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  17. Off the Grid

    She cut her hair with Diego's blade, neither reticent nor careful as she sawed through each filthy braid. Blue eyes, mad, defiant, tracked the charcoal strands as they fell across her feet and the carrion beetles crushed beneath. They'd eaten his face before she could stop them, before she could bury him.

    Gotta run, girl. She could still hear him in her mind. Don't get caught. Don't get seen.

    The contacts burned as they fused with her eyes, and she wiped away pained tears with her sleeve.

    Remove all traces. Leave no trail.

    She brought the knife to her cheek.

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    1. Hugely apt title, compulsive opening line and crushed carrion beetles further setting the scene. Loved this.

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    2. Wow. If this was the front-piece of a book, I would buy it in a heartbeat. I want to know who she is, who Diego was to her, why the bugs were so many and/or so fast, what was on her check - or not on it - that made her cut... If there's more, I'm already dying to read it.

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    3. Oh wow, thank you! Unfortunately there's not more as of yet, but perhaps this is one I can continue for next week's challenge. :)

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    4. I feel as if she's going to cut some sort of tattoo or brand off...

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    5. As always, Zaiure, full of intrigue. A lot of threads looking to be plaited together. =)

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    6. yes and more yes, as in, more please!

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    7. Zaiure, I really do hope you decide to do a bit more with this! I am completely fascinated already. I have no idea why but there's something deeply satisfying about the phrase "...neither reticent nor careful "

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  18. no entry this week, will post more Skullface later, 4 beta readers how all all loving it and Skullface himself demanding we write has excluded all else, outside of a tarot reading, that is.

    Just heard, this lunch time, one of my entries for the Prediction (from way back) Riders On The Storm, has been accepted by Cruentus Press for a flash fiction anthology, Another 100 Words. The editor said he loved it.

    DON'T DELETE ANY OF YOUR ENTRIES! who knows when they might come in handy?

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  19. I missed a week last week, and bring you the twisted product of my guilt!

    Just Hanging Around.

    I only kicked the witches cat because of a drunken bet, after a long night of ales, but still she cursed me to hang here for the carrion birds to gnaw at.

    No-one dares approach me, reticent to share my fate, and as I guard the fields, swaying as the wind catches my outstretched sleeves, and pulls at my long coat. The crows – who are not scared of me – perch on my hat to yell their own corvid curses as the seasons pass.

    Still, could be worse, eh? You should see what she did to the guy who bet me!

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    1. Brilliant! Horribly, humorously, brilliant! Describing the feeling of being cursed into a scarecrow, from the inside! This is just plain fun! Thank you, Matt. So glad you made it back!

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    2. Now I know why scarecrows always feel creepy! :) Definitely don't mess with witches. I like the imagery of the crows "yelling corvid curses". :)

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  20. OK everyone, the gates are closed. Please feel free to come back and comment as much as you wish. As I'll be in training tomorrow at the time appointed for winners and words, RR has kindly agreed to copy and paste my choices for me, at the appropriate moment.

    Thank you all so much, for coming to play this week! I have a tough choice ahead of me this evening.

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