Saturday, 20 April 2013

Dawn breaks on new horrors.

This has been a week of horrors, far too real, and too close.   And so, in typical perverse fashion, I find myself exited to be here this evening, about to announce winners and coax new words from the tome.

Why?

Because the horrors we concoct here are fictitious, and delicious, and to me, just plain fun.  And I love the way I can come here each week, and read what you all have brought, and have the real nightmares cleansed away a bit.  I know that may not make sense to some, but the community we're building here, provides a sense of stability and safety that the rest of the world has seriously lacked for me these last weeks.

And so...

Our winner this week is Matt Farr with Departure:  Matt!  Welcome back!  This story is just gorgeous and lush and ...I honestly don't even have words.  I can't even tell you why it effected me so deeply and I'm not sure I even care. The visuals here...just amazing.  This story made me happy.

Second place this week goes to Sandra Davies with Body of Evidence:  There is something about the flow of this...it's so smooth.  Truly a beautifully woven piece.


And now, on to words....

Intimate

Caustic

Avenge


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 EST on Thursday, April 25th, to get your entries in..  Winners will be announced and new words will be posted by 11:30 PM on Friday, April 26th.

Go now, my friends, and create new horrors for me to revel in!  The tome sleeps....


86 comments:

  1. Congratulations Matt and Sandra!

    Goes off now to ponder those three words ^_^

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  2. Wow...just re-read and realized I totally forgot to proof-read last night! Please forgive the spelling errors! And I call myself a writer....hmph!

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  3. Congratulations, Matt and Sandra, as usual, well deserved winners! Colleen, you've been through a lot, don't beat yourself up over a few typos. We all do that... Hope there is good news on the health scene soon. You seem tired out.

    Good words for the captain this week...

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  4. The Offering Part 7 - Conclusion


    Elspeth’s gods whispered, a murmur only she could hear. Their touch felt intimate. She closed her eyes.

    The dark cloud eddied around her. Ebony eyes, malevolent, glinted. A voice, caustic, burned her ears.

    “You’re my vessel to do as I may. Betrayer.”

    It hurtled towards Elspeth, a hazy snake, slithering in the cool air. It touched her skin. Her eyes flashed open. A light so bright billowed from her mouth: ethereal fingers capturing the deadly vapour, no escape, no mercy. Elspeth’s gods had been avenged.

    Elspeth took a deep breath and gazed at Jacob’s progeny. He groaned, and she smiled.

    The End

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    Replies
    1. Very, very well wrought little serial, Helen. With great big twists and cliffhangers belying its tiny size. Brought to a satisfying conclusion. =)

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    2. Thanks very much John I hoped the ending wouldn't disappoint. I'll be showing this episode also as my friday flash on my website - beneath it I'm showing the whole story (700 words) together in one go - it's interesting I found to read it as one piece and I'm amazed how well it hung together. ^_^

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    3. What a fantastic way to end! I am impressed by the amount of world building you did in 700 words, all worked in smoothly so the story took precedence.

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    4. Thanks RR it's the first time I've tried to do a serial in just 100 word episodes. I have plenty of serials on my website but none as short as this. Glad it worked for you. ^_^

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    5. Oh, oh, OH! Grand ending! All the bits fall together into a wonderful, twisty, tale. I must agree with RR and John. This is a complete-feeling world in a very brief 700 words. Thank you!

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    6. such a good story told in just 700 words. Really a lot of work in creating such a strange and wonderful world with all its twists and turns. Brilliant, Helen!

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    7. Took me a while to find the time to re-read all previous episodes so as to get the full impact of this - a whirling strange world indeed you have created. (And aren't serials addictive?)

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  5. Heaven's above Colleen - thank you indeed, especially as it fell a bit of a struggle last week. I'm visiting my daughter in Germany at the moment so less time to ponder, but have to say they look very promising words. And well done Matt, the bleak gravity of your piece was tangible.

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  6. Congratulations to Matt and Sandra! You never fail to ensnare me with your stories.

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  7. Just a thought if any of you would like to know me a little better Catherine Russell interviewed me about writing, publishing and my new novella over at her place earlier this week. - come on over and join us. http://www.ganymeder.com/writing-corner/author-interview-helen-a-howell

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  8. (rise)

    The pneumatic tube in the crab's arm tensed and caustic bile rose in Olivia's throat again. She thought she might vomit. She would die here, in the intimate embrace of the barons' machinery, and never find her father. No one would know; no one would avenge her death.

    She pictured her father's earnest face.

    We do not always get that which we want, Child. But hope should never be fully extinguished.

    A fat cylinder wrapped in brown paper bounced off the crab's leg and landed on its carapace. At one end a length of dark twine sparked and hissed angrily.

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    Replies
    1. I live by the phrase "there's always Hope. To see it expressed here, in Olivia's dangerous and frightening world, is wonderful. I am so hooked on this story, John. Still digging the steampunk feel of this, and now I'm positively desperate to know who threw that bomb. Thank you!

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    2. I swear I see each of these episodes as if it were projected in front of me. The emotional investment in Olivia brings everything else into sharp focus and heightens the tension.

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    3. Ooh I have to know what happens next!

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    4. I'm with Rebecca - these episodes are so very visual, and Olivia's vulnerability tangible and adding tension.

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    5. Olivia is a very absorbing MC, looking forward to reading more of her trials with these horrid things.

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  9. (alpha)

    Jigsaw is easily agitated.

    Adam wants to comfort her. And he wants to shake her and demand more details. But he knows not to touch her.

    She flinches away from contact or intimacy as if they are caustic. When she came to them with her gift she told them she wanted to avenge her family, but she would say no more, and they have never pressed her.

    Her room is bare, spotless, white. She listens to simple, ambient music generated by the Keep itself, although no one knows how she made it do that. The music swells and she calms.

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    Replies
    1. Jigsaw becomes more complex and interesting as we move along. You've managed a huge amount of character development here within the 100 word limit. I definitely want to know more about her, and about the Keep itself. Again, I say thank you!

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    2. Fantastic imagery that, like the Keep, resonates on its own. I like this glimpse into Jigsaw and the threads of her intricate story.

      I must note that I rarely enjoy reading stories written in the present tense, but you manage to craft it so that I barely notice, and it never takes me out of the story. That's a rare talent, indeed.

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    3. "Her room is bare, spotless, white" - sums up the precision of your words and their ability to conjure character.

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    4. Jigsaw is a complex character indeed, delineated in a few words. Takes some doing, that does!

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    5. I wouldn't usually write in present tense, RR, and not just because I usually find I have to go back and fix all the bits where I subconsciously slipped into past. I chose present for Alpha as a way of differentiating in my head between Alpha and Rise while I'm writing the two concurrently. =)

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  10. Rebelations

    Ezra was ill-suited to righting wrongs, preferring prevention. Alas, humanity had been designed to falter, flail, fail. He could not save them all, so he studiously ignored the masses.

    But Sarah had called out, old words in a new tongue, screamed in desperation, her curse compelling him to action.

    The thug spat caustic threats to intimidate, useless against the already fallen. Ezra took joy in removing the villain’s soul, an intimate act of ultimate violation.

    No one was meant to see, but half-dead Sarah watched intently. “Momma always said beware avenging angels.”

    He held out his hand.

    She took it.

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    Replies
    1. Love the title, and every read brings added depths, interpretations. Can't choose a favourite phrase because every one is so good.

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    2. This is really great. So much to like in the detail, and, taken as a whole, a well-formed story, with character, tension and a fantastic ending. =)

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    3. Heh...I love that I can read this, and not have to scramble for a good response! Actually, it's a great story, I dig Ezra anyway, and any reference to an "avenging angel" makes me wary, and curious!

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  11. Oh sounds like Sarah was the lucky one - but is she? This line adds the punch ' “Momma always said beware avenging angels.”

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    Replies
    1. sharp, almost as caustic as the trigger word this week, the imagery leaps from the screen.

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  12. Frittering the truth once more

    Light from begrimed window candle-supplemented, Cotterdale examined Tao’s ransomed letters.
    ‘The seal depicts a butterfly...’
    ‘My mother.’
    She’d been old enough, had she whelped at thirteen or thereabouts. From the conscience-caustic vehemence with which she’d cursed him, believed it so, intimacy allowing sight of the three-piece jigsaw of a butterfly ‘neath his left arm.
    To avenge he’d let her believe it, knowing his to be not birthmark but tattoo, copied, for confusion, from that of his brother Gabriel.
    Alleged brother.
    Cotterdale’s mouth sour-twitched acknowledgement of his extra years.
    ‘Ah, Vanessa - lovely painted lady.’
    Snigger: ‘Could be you’re my father!’

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    Replies
    1. Ah, but Cotterdale's not a man to be toyed with, is he? Nice recovery on the tattoo/ birthmark btw, inspired! =)

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    2. mouth sour-twitched acknowledgement of his extra years this is fantastic, not least because I'm sure I've done the same. I am now wondering if there is anything authentic about Tao at all, or if he simply becomes whatever he must to survive his encounters and tweak those with whom he does business.

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    3. Tao has got to be the best "chameleon" character I have ever run across. I am constantly guessing! I love this. And yes, "mouth sour-twitched acknowledgement of his extra years" is brilliant. And like RR, I KNOW I have done this!

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  13. It's all a deception isn't it. Interested to see where this may go.

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  14. Infinity (4)
    The secret journal is where I can be caustic about the crew and they don’t know. After all, they done elected me captain – again – so I don’t want or need to give them reason to renege on that and avenge themselves for imagined slights. Here I can write intimate detailed comments on all and they – with luck – will never know.
    Infinity sails on. The waters have subsided, our stomachs are at rest. Soon the cook will have us all to eat what we can, what he has managed to do during the rough passage out. There, the summons. At last, food!

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    1. Such a smooth passage, prompts absorbed, tale moved tidily on.

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    2. I hope he keeps that journal hidden! I wonder where the captain is taking his ship too? I'll be here next week to find out more.

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    3. Infinity is a fantastic name for a ship that sails beyond, crewed by sailors past their own lifetime. Sail on, captain, I look forward to where the tides of story will wash us. =)

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    4. I like that he's careful but also takes delight in being able to say what he thinks of his crew on paper so he doesn't feel the need to do it in person. He's a sharp one, your captain.

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    5. Hah! The captain makes me smile. I too, have such a journal, not so secret now, but private nonetheless, and I keep it for pretty much the same reason. I love this story so far. It's full of beautiful visuals.

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  15. A change of focus [37]

    Caustic, Yanno Petzincek addressed his father. ‘You didn’t ask why Cherriman’s arrested...’
    ‘Avenging Hopgood’s death?’
    Unexpected, memory returned him to that sex-sheet-tangled hotel bed, before he’d come to know their intimacy counterfeit. ‘If he was her husband...’
    ‘...he assuredly had the right.’
    ‘You’re claiming Cherriman gutted my brother for her murder? Not admitting it was on your behalf, for family revenge?’
    Hooded eyes blinked. ‘Yanno, it pains me when you distrust me.’
    ‘On the contrary – I trust that you’ll behave exactly as you please.’
    ‘You think I’m wrong?’
    Steady-eyed, steadfast self-belief. ‘Yes, when arrogance leads you to ignore the rules.’

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    1. I wonder, even after all this plays out, if Yanno will ever be entirely sure of the truth. A story riddled with deception, bravo for keeping it all in hand, Sandra, with references back to earlier events keeping the whole thing feeling part of one grand twisted knot. Great dialogue too, as usual. =)

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    2. Hooded eyes blinked. ‘Yanno, it pains me when you distrust me.’ I don't know if I was supposed to laugh at that moment of feigned sincerity, but I did. the last line is a wonderful reassertion of the Pettinger who was before all this knowledge cracked his world.

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  16. Congratulations all again :D

    Here's my two-penneth (although I seem to be ending up with more back-story than story at the mo...)

    Flashback(10)
    --------------------

    Blindfolded?

    Voices floated in and out of hearing. Thick English accents intimated foreigners; she could barely understand them. Where
    was her avenging demon of a half-brother?

    "Idiot! She is
    Wed'ma," The least guttural voice. "How many times? No touching merchandise, huh?" A slap; a man's grunt. "Grenade nearly lost us big paycheck, parshiviy-"

    There was a murmuring groan from somewhere a long way off.

    "
    Derr’mo, she’s... restrain her now: put in container with other girls."

    She felt coldness against her bare neck; a choker, a torc?
    Jade...! It burned with astral causticity, enough to shock her back into torpor.

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    1. This works well, I think, builds the scene very effectively with overheard dialogue and reveals something of the nature of her kidnappers.

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    2. So convincing, the drifting consciousness and the threat of her captors.

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    3. Oh, that's vivid and frightening. The reaction to jade was a lovely touch.

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    4. Lovely twist. I thought she'd found a hero. This is much more interesting, really. And this "Jade...! It burned with astral causticity", is beautiful! Nice touch! Thank you.

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  17. ... And the other one...

    Flashback(11)
    -------------------

    Mary poked her head out from the intimate tangle of bed-sheets and limbs, pressed the speaker-button on her 'link. "This'd better be good..." she grated, biting back a caustic quip.

    "You wanted to know when we acquired the shipping manifesto." The modulated tones of her hacker. "Destination's
    definitely Seattle, Tacoma docks; Vory controlled. Timing's vague from the circuitous route: anything between two and six weeks."

    "Arrange
    two flights, then. And a booth at Seattle's Inferno for tomorrow night."

    "Think this Oni's...
    dependable?"

    "If, for my patron Erzuli,
    I avenge a boatload of smuggled girls, I can't morally stop him..."

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    Replies
    1. (sorry if it seems I'm copying the sheets thing: I swear I wrote this at work this morning :D )

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    2. The tension grows in this piece.

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    3. A boatload of smuggled girls? I feel plotlines converging... ;)

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    4. Another well-set scene (and bed-sheets ARE pretty common, so no worries from me) and I look forward to the delivery, the boat's arrival.

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    5. I agree with John, this is a deft culmination of what I'd thought to be separate story lines. Very nicely done.

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    6. Well, color me surprised, as well! Beautiful bit of weaving with the two tales! Can't wait to see where this goes!

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  18. (alpha)

    "Megan was 'impressive'?" Adam finally asks.

    Jigsaw nods, "An avenging angel. The fire raged around her, yet she did not burn. Cities broke, yet she did not break. Civilisation fell, yet she would not fall."

    "That sounds dangerously religious."

    "We say 'superheroes'; do we not mean 'gods'? Are we ordinary mortals, to fly, punch through mountains, see the future?"

    Adam always thought such sentiment caustic, poisonous, setting themselves above everyday people.

    "You know I don't think that, Miku."

    She sighs, "I didn't mean to intimate such, Adam. I dream puzzle pieces and think in labyrinths. I cannot always speak straightforwardly."

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    1. 'I dream puzzle pieces and think in labyrinths' - lovely line and says much about Jigsaw.

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    2. Oh, now this is interesting. Perhaps Megan does not start the destruction, merely survives it. The rumination on the nature and traps of godlike powers feels like ominous foreshadowing.

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    3. Gorgeous phrasing all the way through! I'm with RR. I feel something dark and dangerous coming.

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  19. Games

    "Your caustic little games are played out, Jen. You have fucked with your last victim."

    "Christ, you're melodramatic, El. What victims?"

    "Davey, Brian, Pete, Billy, James. Holly."

    "Holly? Jesus, Eleanor. You know your problem? You're jealous. It was your intimacy issues that drove Holly my way."

    "I'm not jealous. I just... I see what you do to people. Someone has to avenge them."

    "What...? Avenge? You're psychotic, you know that?"

    "And you're a poisonous little bitch. Well, the punishment fits the perpetrator."

    "The fuck are you talking about?"

    "Nothing. I just... I'm sorry, Jen. Forget it. How was the tea?"

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    Replies
    1. Should maybe have called it Endgame, or Finishing Move...

      Sorry for the swears! ;)

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    2. Not sure I follow this but a creeping feeling, from the last line, that I probably do ... all too well.

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    3. Ha! A little bit of the "nice guy" in Eleanor, always bemoaning why someone else gets the... well, everyone. The flow of this was so realistic, and the last line gave us the almost-ending. My imagination took me the rest of the way.

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    4. That last line...I can hear El saying it. So casual but with just the tiniest bit of portent. Not something many people would notice, if it was said to them, but....

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  20. thank you Coleen, and congrats Sandra. Now, to this weeks offering.

    Beware Your Sins

    After they were done with me they left me for dead, ruined and bleeding, but my final prayers gave my soul to the Dark Gods of Wind and Fury, who would avenge me.

    The first died when the intimate cuts I gave him turned black and caustic, eating him away from within.

    The next drank spent my money on bad wine, and cut his own throat in his madness.

    The third was seized by Organtakers, kept alive only so long as they could make use of his parts.

    The last remains, living a life in cold terror.

    And I rest.

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    Replies
    1. These sound like good gods to know! And revenge sounds bittersweet.

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    2. Now that is a classic tale of vengeance. Knowing that he got to watch it all play out makes it even sweeter.

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    3. Oh yes... vengeance is his. Classic idea, told evocatively. =)

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    4. Perfect vengeance. Just...brilliant. The second is my favorite. And part of me is curious to see what happens to the last...though letting him live in terror each day...pretty good on its own.

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  21. Never too late to learn

    Regret is useless caustic at my age when only looking back is possible, the future being, if not brief, most certainly lacking expectation of further achievement.

    Half a century of chastely cloven-coupledom, hobbled by my upbringing and expectations (to say nothing of the wedding vows, nowadays so casual made and easy dissipated as candy-floss in a tropic storm of porn-hyped sex-needy-and-right-now dampness, might seem a cause for celebration.

    But I, who accepted the one-to-one and only one of marriage, have only recently learnt you interpreted differently, multiplied that one by five, and now I needs must avenge myself in quintuplicate.

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    1. This is timely, as just last month my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary. We've often wondered how they managed not to kill each other, and you've just explained it all. I love the old-lady griping about marriage nowadays as she plots her revenge.

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    2. Isn't that interesting, yet again we have a sexless protagonist, whom I interpreted as male, yet I see RR had them pegged as female. Works both ways! ;)

      A rich voice, Sandra, and I love the overblown imagery of 'candy-floss in a tropic storm of porn-hyped sex-needy-and-right-now dampness'. =D

      And the final line seems so calculating it leaves me with a chill.

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    3. Ha! - well done John, it was deliberately made to appear skewed slightly to the male, as much as anything because, having recently celebrated fifty years since we met with my spouse, I didn't want this to read as non-fiction - I'd just enjoyed playing wth the words.

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    4. And played with them you did! Very well! I admit, I was completely undecided as to the gender of the speaker and was still wondering until just now!

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  22. Stage Five: Acceptance.

    Seated at Jimmy’s ancient kitchen table, I poured another shot, pondered Seth’s newest revelation, and tried not to scratch at my magically induced “ink”.

    Brother and uncle sat silently, watching warily, as if I might simply decide to shoot one or both. Didn’t blame them, really. My mood had been caustic at best lately.

    “OK, the marks are protecting me from a more “intimate” relationship with this hive. And thanks for that, by the way.”

    I poured three shots, passed them around.

    “So, if the hive’s all about YOU then why dog my ass, and can we avenge that
    Now?”

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    1. Watching Nate struggle to change his thinking and make small amends for making his family nervous is both slightly uncomfortable and highly entertaining. You give me such fun scenes.

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    2. The stillness of this round the table scene contrasts strongly with all the action that has gone before. Concentrates it, and I like Nate's introspection and attempt to instil a vague sense of famly unity - that second sentence says so much and the final one snaps us to attention.

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    3. I agree with Sandra. The scene works really well, and, of course, Nate can't sit still when there's ass-kicking to be done. ;)

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  23. Set ‘em up

    Whiskey slid down my throat, caustic, welcome. Another followed. If I kept drinking, I wouldn’t have to process Nate expressing gratitude for my magic. And I surely wouldn’t answer with a smile so big it would be like asking him to shoot me.

    “Aren’t we an intimate little group of killers.” Jim matched my alcohol intake, to little effect.

    Nate gave the smile I hid. “Doesn’t count if they aren’t human.”

    “Ever stop to think about the monsters who might seek to avenge those deaths?”

    “We have now.” I nodded to Nate. “And he’s the roadmap to take them out.”

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    1. Seth the manipulator, well-taught by uncle Jimmy but taking things further and setting in motion the next stage. Yippee.

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    2. I like a lot of things about this. The vengeance of monsters, the shifting of paradigms, and that line from Jim, "Aren't we an intimate little group of killers..."

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    3. Nate is positively howling with outrage at "“And he’s the roadmap to take them out.”. No idea, just now what I'm to do with this! LOL. Thank you for the challenge!

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