Saturday, 4 May 2013

Something new.

Good evening!

It's been a bit of a slow week here at The Prediction.  Those who were not able to play this week were sorely missed.  Those few stories that were left at the gates however, filled the void with amazing complexity and quality.  Many thanks to those of you who were able to play.

I'd like to put forth a proposition.  I've been considering the notion of occasionally entertaining guest judges.  I've been talking to a few writer-types who are interested in that, and so I'd like to know how you would all feel about it.  It's not something I'd do often, because I love doing this. I thought perhaps one week every other month. My thinking is that it might be a good way to get some new folks to come check us out, and perhaps stay to play after their stint as a guest judge.  Also, if any of you regulars would like to take the helm for a week, please do let me know!  I'd love to do that, as well.  Please let me know what you think when you leave your entries this week.

The tome has perched on one of my stereo speakers, patiently awaiting my call for new words.  It's watching as I write to you all. It seems to like Gregorian Chant, and The Ramones, and Walk The Moon.  We'll leave it to listening to Vampire Weekend while I announce winners for this week.

My winner this week is Sandra Davies with Opportunity Knocks:  Sandra, the whole situation you set up in this chapter is just so intriguing to me.  And the phrase "virgin witchling" is still randomly skating through my head.  You have a consistent skill for moving things along quickly in spite of the word limit.  Thank you.

And in second place (but not really), is Zoe Farr with Bring me the Head of...(10):  Zoe, I love the way you write dialogue.  The way the characters speak to each other feels so natural and real, and yet you convey the tension they're feeling beautifully.  Thank you.

And now. to the tune of Everlong by the Foo Fighters, I have coaxed new words from the tome:

Pungent

Heaven

Asinine

Use of the prompts as root words is, as always, fine.


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.

The gates are unlocked and opened wide.

You have until 11:30 PM EST on Thursday, May 9th, to get your entries in..  Winners will be announced and new words will be posted by 11:30 PM on Friday, May 10th

77 comments:

  1. Brief because just about to depart for northern climes, but many thanks for this, Colleen, and congratulatons to Zoe too and all who sailed in last week's barque ... look like good words for next which I shall endeavour to suitably use.

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  2. many congratulations, Sandra and Zoe! as usual, superb writing.
    Colleen, guest judges would be a great idea, another set of eyes on our writing and a chance they might stay, definitely good.
    Interesting words, will see what the Captain makes of them this week. Currently I am writing 3 novels, as I am sure this one will end up as a novel, as Skullface did. The one most demanding attention is a tale of a Victorian street girl, bodysnatchers and all. I researched this book best part of 25 years ago, started it six times, suddenly it is flying. Why do books do that to you????

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  3. Thanks! And congratulations Sandra as well :D

    Although, I feel as if I only snuck in due to fewer stories this week though; it's probably because at school, English was always a second-tier subject after maths and science...

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  4. Seduction seized

    In his opinion, virgins were over-rated; his idea of heaven was a woman who knew what she was about. Nevertheless, resistance had an appeal: a pungent starter, to be followed by something longer-drawn, more creamy-spiced; an eagerness to please, once they got the taste for it.
    As her full-bodied warmth pleased now, her gooseberry eyes expressed desire, albeit for sovereigns and not – yet – what his prick could teach her.
    But as his hand began to fondle, it was he received the lesson: a sharp prick of a poignard causing Tao’s eyes to slide unwillingly from leering optimism to painful asinine.

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    1. Tao is getting what he deserves! Love his surprise at the dagger and curious how this will play out. :) Love the descriptions in this - 'creamy-spiced', 'full-bodied warmth' etc, making a great comparison between the woman and wine (or some other drink).

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    2. I like how his thoughts are lost in hunger/ thirst for her (even her eyes descried as a fruit), and brought sharply (sorry! ;) ) back to reality. =)

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    3. Hah! Nice to see Tao finally taken aback in some fashion. Can't wait to see where this goes. I think this young lady is going to be a bit more of a challenge than he expected! "Creamy-spiced" is gorgeously descriptive.

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    4. superb. Tao running into difficulties and I can't see how he can get out - yet!

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    5. Oh, I do like this witchling. She has spirit. I think Tao is finally overmatched. He may get out of it, but not without lessons learned.

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  5. That live traffic feed, apart from being downright embarrassing in showing up how often I check for new posts, is geographically ignorant - I'm currently in Stromness, in Orkney, off the top of Scotland, some 750 miles north of Ipswich, Suffolk!

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    1. Heh, I've noticed that myself Sandra. It often shows that I'm in Brockton, MA, and I am nowhere near there. My first thought it that the glitch might have something to do with the location of the servers that shunt our visits in and out, on a case by case, basis. But that's my inner computer geek thinking too much....

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  6. A change of focus [39]

    ‘Heaven’s above, John, you questioned Hopgood, your DNA was found on her body, you got yourself involved with some country no-one’s ever heard of, then you disappear with one of their high-ups! It’s no laughing matter: we thought you’d been kidnapped!’

    His asinine grin had been involuntary: he’d allowed himself to wonder whether the pungency of his boss’s invective would be diluted if she’d known she was addressing the heir to a third of Khakbethia. ‘Cherriman?’

    ‘Cherriman claims he mistook the ambassador for you; claims revenge and diplofuckingmatic immunity. He’s waiting downstairs to interview you.’

    ‘You released him?’

    ‘No choice.’

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    Replies
    1. Somehow I feel a shovel would only improve matters... :D

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    2. He's in deep alright, but I somehow doubt he's seen the last twist, best not get too cocky just yet... ;)

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    3. Oh wow...this is getting to the point where I normally start laughing because there's simply nothing else to do, things have gotten that weird. Great writing, as always, Sandra. Thank you.

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    4. i LOVE diplofuckingmatic - what a great word! and a very good instalment, too!

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    5. Really love the dialogue in your pieces. Another rapid fire installment and I agree with Antonia, love 'diplofuckingmatic'. Great word! :)

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    6. This is as good as eating frosting, so rich and satisfying on top of everything that has come before. She might be yelling at him - quite eloquently - but I find I like Pettinger's boss. The fact that he can't keep from smiling must make her furious. Really great installment.

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  7. Righto, here we go...

    Flashback(12)
    ---------------

    Their elf "Johnson", Mary, acquired a safe-house: a low-rent ex-student affair bordering the Barrens, paid 'til the following month. It wasn't heaven, but far better than Yomi, better even, than Hong Kong.

    Jiro spent the next week coexisting with the team, concealing his personal involvement; he contributed to their conversations, shared chores.

    Gonzo: African-American, ex-DocWagon; discharged for "breaking company policy."

    Conrad: a rare Sasquatch, wet-dog pungent; a penchant for troll illusory disguises and chess.

    And... the infiltrator; she wouldn't even give her name.

    At times he disdained their congenial, yet asinine bickering; then he remembered why he needed them.

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    Replies
    1. This feels like we on our way to connecting the flashbacks into the 'real time' story.

      Are you collecting these anywhere, Zoë? I fancy a quick read through refresher on what's gone so far. =)

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    2. So often these well-named 'flashbacks' seem to be taking place in an only occasionally illuminated nightmare scenario - compelling but disorientating (which adds to the drama). I echo John's request for a 'catch-up'
      I do like 'wet-dog pungent'

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    3. very very interesting developments here. and I like wet-dog pungent too.

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    4. Really love the descriptions of the characters and the imagery conjured by 'troll illusory disguises and chess'.

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    5. I've squirreled them away in a google doc... :D

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    6. This continues to be a gritty, satisfying read. Jiro seems to balance being analytical and practical.

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    7. I so want to see this as a novel! These characters make me want to savor them slowly, on paper, to hold and muse upon as I will. Thank you.

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  8. After Life

    There’s a pungency to the air, a familiar foulness, and I hesitate in the doorway, not wanting to go further.

    “We’ve found Heaven,” the blue-eyed cop says, eyeing me skeptically, as though unable to see the expert I’d claimed to be at the yellow tape line.

    Irony, I thought as I forced my feet forward. The brutalized woman, caught in the iron arms of the coffee table, was the farthest thing from heaven that I could imagine.

    “He left fingerprints this time,” the cop says. He follows me like a devoted dog. ”Asinine, right?”

    If only it was that easy.

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    1. '...as though unable to see the expert I'd claimed to be at the yellow tape line.'

      A deceptively simple line, yet it tells us about her, about the scene, about the cop. An intriguing set-up, Zaiure, on its way to creating an interesting crime-solving character. =)

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    2. So much said in so few words, the whole creating an almost-novel, and the narrator certainly someone I'd like to see more action from.

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    3. vivid, every character, every facet outlined in half a dozen words. Impressive.

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    4. This is a great vignette, and I very much want to know who the narrator is and what happens next.

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    5. I agree with Sandra. This feels near-complete as it is, but I still want more! The narrator is terribly interesting. Also, "a familiar foulness." is a fantastic little phrase. Thank you.

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    6. Thanks! I've been reading a lot of murder mysteries while on vacation. Felt inspired. :)

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  9. (alpha)

    Adam wants to ask more questions about Megan but it feels asinine to keep pushing. He would move Heaven and Earth to save his daughter but this is going nowhere.

    "Tell me about the fire, Miku."

    She shudders as if something pungent has been thrust beneath her nose.

    "It was wild, and everywhere, and something wild lived within it, guiding it. Something malicious."

    "Fire often seems malicious."

    "No, this was different. I saw it, and it saw me."

    "How is that possible?"

    "I don't know. I was not really there, but it reached out to me. It knew my name."

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    1. A small, patient conversation, horror lurking beneath and behind. Dialogue, as ever, spot-on.

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    2. it is the dialogue skill you have, John, which brings each instalment alive.

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    3. I agree, you hardly need any physical description as the dialogue captures so much of the character. Love the balance between the two.

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    4. Oh! This is a nice twist, with the seer being caught in someone else's sights. There's tension and sorrow created in sparse but deep conversation.

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    5. I literally cannot stop reading this. I keep discovering little nuances with each new read. It feels so sparse in some ways. No more said than absolutely has to be, and yet a wealth of things revealed. Thank you.

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  10. (rise)

    The spark consumed the twine and disappeared into the broad tube.

    Nothing.

    Then there was a compressed moment of intensity. Thunder and light. As if all the noise of the city was in her ears at once, with a flash so bright she thought heaven must have opened. A fist of heat and pain punched her back down the alleyway.

    Her ears rang and the world swam in and out of focus. A pungent smell filled her nostrils. Cohesive ideas slipped from her mind like silverfish beneath the skirting.

    One, asinine, thought remained. The crabs weren't meant to explode.

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    1. Oh, brilliant - great escape, great use of the prompts and that final sentence entirely apt.

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    2. whoo, exploding crabs, the images get darker by the week!

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    3. Love the fluidity of this and the snapshot description of the explosion. Also love the description of her thoughts - "...slipped from her mind like silverfish beneath the skirting". Excellent telling final line as well.

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    4. I agree with Zaiure on the silverfish line. Just gorgeous. And all of this feels like a slow-motion scene, only more painful both to experience and witness.

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    5. John, you have perfectly captured the way the mind reacts to such fraught and unexpected things as car accidents, and ...exploding crabs. Everything slows down, and you notice the oddest things. Thank you.

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  11. Congratulations to Sandra and Zoë! I apologize for my recent absence. Life has been... interesting. To wit, almost everything below actually happened this weekend. There's a whole horror novel in that one dinner experience, but here's a shorter, more poetic version.

    Dining In?

    The waitress,
    duotone hair, lavender eye-shadow,
    sat us by
    a Mexican family,
    grim, save children
    playing pat-a-cake, unaware.

    Unusually tall,
    a Black man apologized
    to his lady,
    bleach-dead locks, tan face-paint,
    for asinine remarks
    overheard by a corpulent couple
    whose skin no longer fit.

    Hannah and I,
    road-weary, bemused
    by disco soundtrack
    and “new” items –
    avocado garnish, iced coffee –
    attempted to read recent tattoos
    on each staff member’s forearms
    and failed, unfocused.

    Sensing hostility,
    Hannah begged to leave.
    Outside,
    a pungent smoker
    with skeletal grin,
    sent us scurrying.

    Quick search
    reveals the Heavenly Café
    never reopened
    after mass-murder
    in 1978.

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    1. wow! yes, a whole horror book indeed! scary stuff

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    2. Yes indeed - and choosing the soundtrack for the film would be an entertaining task. I find myself wanting to learn this one by heart.

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    3. Chilling and beautifully poetic and I love how it ends! This would make a really excellent painting. :)

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    4. Oh my goodness! I'm with Sandra. I may have to learn this one word for word. I don't even know what else to say. It's just so...good!

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    5. The mundane horror of the downtown diner gives way to real horror. Great piece, RR. =)

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  12. Infinity (6)
    There’s a pungent smell around the Infinity, it baint seaweed, we’re too far from land for that. Do the others smell it or is it for me, a warning from the shadows haunting my piece of heaven, this here captain’s cabin? I needs must find a way to ask without putting idees into their heads, I know well what sort of asinine answers I’d get otherwise. They think with their appendages, not their heads. But they’re a good crew, after a fashion.
    The shadow people keep trying to read this journal. They can keep their eyes off, it’s mine.

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    1. "They think with their appendages" - oh, yesss! And, as ever, such a smooth episode.

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    2. Very intrigued by the final line! I've been gone the past few weeks so I've probably missed something but if they are a new introduction, I am most definitely curious! Love the imagery conjured by this and I can picture the captain scribbling in his journal and casting a wary eye about the room. Definitely smooth writing. :)

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    3. The voice continues to develop as the character grows in both scope and back-story. What, exactly, is he afraid of? I really enjoy the affectionate denigration of his crew that threads throughout.

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    4. Oh, shadow people! I have been fascinated from the beginning of this, and I'm still hooked. It just keeps drawing me further in! Thank you.

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    5. "...a warning from the shadows haunting my piece of heaven..."

      Gorgeous line, Antonia. And an excellent sustained voice across the several parts.

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  13. guilt! sorry!

    Generals
    “I can’t believe that after all this…” I gestured at the battlefield, the groaning sounds and the pungency of dead flesh. “…you still cling to the asinine belief in a Heaven”.

    He grinned through the pain. “Don’t you see?”

    “See!? All I see is death. All I can smell is death. All I can hear is the dying.”

    He coughed blood. “Open your eyes, and will see.”

    I shook him, angrily. “You lost, fool. You god falls. Can you see that?”

    His hand grasped mine one final time, and then whatever my enemy saw, he could no longer enlighten me.

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    1. This is intriguing on so many levels. Was it a holy war? I am impressed by the dying man's depth of faith and how deeply his opponent is bothered by it. Meanwhile, I could see the swaths of the dead, a terrible tableau.

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    2. I sense almost a sense of envy, on the part of the narrator, of the other man's faith. Deep and hidden, but there nonetheless. Thank you.

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    3. Great title that, looking back, brings an added layer... the massive respect and deep animosity of such foes, still clinging to their beliefs even after the argument has become war and death. Fantastic piece of fiction.

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    4. Intimate, despite the surroundings, but also so universally applicable

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    5. Very interesting characters in this and I agree with John, I felt like they had mutual respect despite the different sides. Though war is usually horrible, the men are not needlessly cruel. Very curious what the history is behind this.

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  14. Another Round

    I’d forced Seth’s hand on the demon question. I’d thought the idea asinine, but the way things had been going, I needed him to say it. The kid was weird. Asked a direct question, he’d prevaricate if he felt the need, but he’d never initiate a lie.

    Jimmy’s kitchen was pungent with the scent of whiskey and herbs, both magical and protective. The head of the Peter Rabbit cookie jar I’d blatsted to heaven still sat on the counter, a guilty reminder of how far off the reservation I’d been.

    “So, I’m a road map. How you gonna… read me?”

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    1. Heh. I wasn't going there quite yet, but Nate gets what he wants. I like hearing his thoughts on his freak of a brother. The cookie jar head was a nice touch. :)

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    2. The domesticity of the kitchend belies the underlying violence of the confrontation.

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    3. I agree with RR; I liked the imagery of the Peter Rabbit cookie jar in the kitchen. There's something big going on and yet the jar makes me see something innocent and humorous in this scene. Jimmy sounds interesting. :)

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  15. And another...

    Flashback(13)
    -------------------

    Numb.

    The collar suppressed her magic. She'd attempted soaring astrally into the heavens only to fail shrieking; flesh-bound, unable even to See.

    They'd drugged her for that; the anaesthetic supplemented the hated
    thing prickling her neckline, filling her senses with grey fog. Conversely, the pungency of fear-imbued stench from thirty captives chained inside a modified cargo container, was mercifully subdued.

    The guards took girls in pairs to be fed, watered. Broken in...

    If a girl resisted, she was beaten, starved, worse; one by one they folded, asininely equated compliance with better treatment.

    All except Ame, who was
    'Zapovednye'.

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    1. Whatever else happens, I am glad Ame resisted. Better treatment in hell is a matter of tiny increments, hardly worth giving up for. This has frightening parallels to what happens all over the world even now, which makes it that much more potent.

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    2. Oh, sorry, the last word is Russian for forbidden: I didn't want to use verboten as the bad guys are the Vory from previous instalments - and also their boss slapped around one of the other guys earlier for trying just that...

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    3. I too was reminded of the all-too-real similarities to parts of our own world. Honestly, just reading it was uncomfortable, which is a good thing, in this case. Really good work. Gritty and slimy feeling all at the same, if that makes a lick of sense. Thank you.

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    4. Reserving the right to rejig that last sentence at some point in the collected article... ;)

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    5. Colleen's 'gritty' and 'slimy' describes this well.

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  16. Slap Shot

    “Should I leave you two alone?” Uncle Jim lacked Nate’s slur.

    I doubt I’ll get to Heaven, but if I do, those two will join me at the bar.

    I ignored Jim’s asinine comment, addressing Nate. “How much’ve you had to drink?”

    “How much do I need to?” Nate shot back.

    “Enough, then.” I released my held breath, whiskey-pungent. “Short version is I need to crawl inside your head, like I did to that thing in the cave… hole… place.”

    Jim snorted. “I definitely need to leave before that.”

    “Not now!” I protested.

    Nate grinned. “Oh yeah. It’s on.”

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    1. Heh...yep...I can see that mad-ass grin on my boy's face. I love Seth's protest. Thanks for giving me so much to play with here. Perfect title, too!

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    2. Wonderful dialogue, as ever.

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  17. All right m'dears...the gates will be closing in about half an hour @ 11:30 PM EST. Feel free to continue to leave comments, however. Winners and words tomorrow evening! Thank you all!

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