Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Road to Hell

is often littered with distractions, as is my life of late. The most recent thing that kept me from my judging duties was not burdensome in the least; my husband's first batch of home-brewed beer occasioned a party for the tasting, and it took far more time to prepare the house and victuals than I had expected. The beer was a delight, as was the company, and so I arrive here late but only slightly repentant.

As usual, the stories last week were varied and interesting. I would love to find a wider audience for all of your delightful tales, whether stand-alone or serials, as I think we have an astounding collection of talent here.

The winner of last week's challenge is Sandra Davies with A Change of Focus [71]. As others noted, the brilliant use of sound filled out an already intense interaction. It's difficult to keep a serial fresh, but Sandra keeps finding ways to do so.

The Tome has belched forth words, which makes me suspect it got into the pantry and had a bit of the mister's homebrew. Ah, well. We can spare it. He's already made more.  See what you can do with these little delights:


Discord
Inhabit
Cumbersome

The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum (excluding 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 and stems are fine. You have until Friday evening.


Hey, look at that! We just passed 25,000 hits on the new home of The Prediction. Let's see if we can break 100K by the end of the year.  Please feel free to pimp your stories on Twitter or Facebook, and, as always, new friends and old are welcome to stop by and play.

65 comments:

  1. Thank you Rebecca! And I agree about the dearth of contributors - am hoping a Femme Fatale or two might pay a visit.

    I'm away to Glasgow later this week and need to get these posted ASAP, so while Pettinger's still proving, here's the latest from the other serial

    Question of identification

    Stiff and cumbersome I struggled to a kneeling position but could not rise. Seeing this he reached for me, pulling me upright, only to be distracted by external sounds of discord. Conscious of the strength in the massive hand which grasped me I studied his broke-nosed, bull-headed profile as he in turn observed an argument between Julian and Burk.
    ‘Leader?’
    ‘Burk... the fair-haired one...’
    ‘He inhabits big house? Rich?’
    I nodded, explaining, ‘His parents...’
    ‘Other?’
    ‘Julian?’ A nod. ‘He’s tried...’
    ‘To keep you from me?’
    ‘Um... Yes... He didn’t know...’
    ‘What you are to be used for.’
    ‘No.’
    ‘Do you?’

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. rushed, she says, and it's amazingly good! Congratulations! this is a lesson in how to write a back story without writing a backstory info dump

      Delete
    2. So he's more than a mindless brute. I'm curious to see his role expand.

      Delete
    3. I admire the way your serials change in a moment to reveal something unexpected. I hope Burk gets what-for and that our narrator gets away safely.

      Delete
    4. I love the rhythm of this. And I agree with Antonia. Great way to write backstory! Skillfully done. I can't wait to read more.

      Delete
    5. As always, your dialogue is superb, capturing the suspense perfectly and when you use it for backstory... BRAVA, Sandra!

      Delete
  2. Apologies - this is a bit rushed ...

    A change of focus [72]

    That their cumbersome arrangements to extradite Cherriman had been successful mitigated, to some extent, Vanessa’s self-inflicted blindness at witnessing Jack Divine’s shooting of Vic Allington.
    Their return journey had been discordant, especially when Pettinger learnt Vanessa’s son had been conceived at a time when Divine was supposedly inhabiting one of Her Majesty Government’s places of detention.
    ‘Holy fuck, Vanessa – you certainly believe in living dangerously – presumably it was after that he slipped his restraints and made his great escape?’
    She’d laughed, ruefully. ‘Yes, I had a month’s compassionate leave... In Sardinia.’
    ‘With him?’
    ‘Yes. Then he escaped again. To Dolly.’

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. likewise, a bit rushed... sustaining the pace and the tension and the sharp dialogue we know and look for!

      Delete
    2. Smooth use of the prompts and builds back story without, as Antonia says, losing any tension.

      Delete
    3. It's official. Vanessa is a red-hot mess. How the heck has she managed to dodge her dodgy past?? I hope we find out.

      Delete
    4. There is always SO much going on in your stories. I marvel at how you manage to impart so much in so few words. And yes, Vanessa is a hot mess. That makes her very interesting, indeed.

      Delete
    5. Vanessa reminds me of someone from my past *squirming uncomfortably*. My heart says this is too well done not to be real.

      Delete
  3. and there is news...
    just today I heard from Horrified Press that The Skullface Chronicles is - to quote him - a goer and the contract will be with you later.
    I have since heard that we are going for a Spring launch with promotion before that, ads, Goodreads, cover is to be commissioned... he said that he read it whilst reading and proofing another book and Skullface kept calling him.. I am so so so pleased. And grateful. Every Predictioneer who has been there since Skullface emerged from his grave is listed at the back of the book. I cannot think of an occasion where the thanks are better earned.

    OK, I have mailing lists set up now for my 16 anthologies and a main 'authors' mailing list too, when I want to email the whole lot. I plan on writing to them all this weekend with the Skullface news (best start the promotion early!) and telling them where and how it began and inviting them all to come and play. I am sure some will.

    AJ says she has been snowed under with work but will be back!

    Again, THANK YOU all for the encouragement to keep Skullface going.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations! That is great news and I cannot wait to see the book launched. I am so very happy for you.

      Delete
    2. Fantastic news Antonia - REALLY, really exciting and all credit to you for persisting. Definitely a case of 'watch this space'

      Delete
    3. Excellent news! Well done. =)

      Delete
    4. thank you! it feels good. It's been a week of news... I don't want you to think my sister and I are not close but she just told me my niece has but six weeks to go and she never told me she was pregnant in the first place... and I received a book today from a friend, he has launched his own small publishing company and I have a copy of California Twist, the first in a detective series he has created. It just gets better as the week goes on! (along with a superb week in the shop, in what is traditionally a 'dead' period for second hand dealers!

      Delete
    5. Oh, that is excellent news, Antonia! So happy for you!

      Delete
    6. What fantastic news all the way about! Congratulations on all!

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Still slogging through the detritus of my life. But I did find time to write!

    Eureka

    I grinned, shaking my head as I watched him rise.

    “Dude. Floating? Isn’t that kinda grandiose?”

    Seth looked sharply at me as the thing chuckled softly.

    “You will learn respect. Mother and son will be together again, her soul inhabiting his body. Their talents, hers tainted by what she did, his so pure, will struggle against each other. That perfect discord will create such power as you have never seen. It will be mine to control and this time I will not be stopped.”

    In that instant, I understood everything.

    “All this talk has become cumbersome. Give me the jar.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a little chuckle there too. =)

      I like the idea of the contrast in powers, the friction between them, creating something greater.

      Delete
    2. friction, discord on this level, is always intriguing and this is beautifully crafted.

      Delete
    3. Okay, Seth is officially creeped out. As if he didn't already have enough mommy issues. As always, you give me amazing stories to build off of and counter.

      Delete
    4. Wonderful use of the prompt! Yes, Seth does have issues; I should not like to cross paths with him.

      The not-so subtle humour makes this even more chilling... well done indeed, Colleen!

      Delete
    5. 'kinda grandiose' set me alight ... lovely opposition here.

      Delete
  6. (Cosmic Discord)

    "This is an assuredly malign circumstance," Blake said.

    I joined the others around the chart table.

    "Discord to our Symphony," Doc agreed.

    The holo-display illuminated our faces green. It showed the system we were hid in, the glamorously dubbed TZ771: bloated red sun; dust-blown planetoid with no atmosphere; asteroid belt, with flashing cursor to illuminate the damned rock we currently inhabited; cumbersome five-ringed gas giant; and furthest out, our nemesis, mighty Dismal Outlook, harbinger of futures unpleasant.

    Three tiny pinpoints slid past the gas giant, trajectories tracing back to the capital ship.

    "Missiles?" Cameron asked.

    "Misery," Harriet replied. "Assault ships."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh I like it, like the transition from missiles to misery in two lines. Very clever.

      Delete
    2. The tension just builds and builds, the hallmark of great space opera. I fear for them, and yet, I'm excited for the coming conflict.

      Delete
    3. John, this piece is brimming with phrases I just love! "Discord to our Symphony" is good, but "harbinger of futures unpleasant" is just brilliant!

      Delete
    4. Very cleverly done, John... love the last line!

      Delete
    5. Yes, the missiles to misery - wonderful indeed.

      Delete
  7. (alpha)

    It was like a schoolyard brawl. Adam and the other super grappled with their cumbersome foe as it thrashed and flailed.

    Eventually they pinned it face down. Adam sat on its shoulders, holding its hands tightly, while Black and Blue sat on its legs. It bucked and twitched beneath them, testing.

    Black and Blue said, "I'm Thom Thunder."

    "Alpha. Please tell me Thom isn't your real name. You sound like you ought to inhabit some fairytale."

    "Right. And you know your cape makes you look something from a comic book."

    Adam immediately regretted the discord. Knew it was his fault.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. good instalment! Seriously involved here in just what is going on with these characters.

      Delete
    2. Hah! Superhero introductory banter doesn't always go smoothly, although I think Adam can be forgiven, as he'd been in the battle for some time. Maybe his wits were jarred.

      Delete
    3. Hah! This reminds me of the first meeting between Capt America and Iron Man. LOL. Great cadence here, just enough snark. Still loving this story!

      Delete
    4. Schoolyard brawl at SuperHero Uni? Well done, John... two treats for the price of one.!

      Agree with Colleen... my mind flashed to that famous encounter.

      Bravo, John!

      Delete
    5. Adam always was a little lacking in sophistication - and he knows it, poor man!

      Delete
  8. Infinity 41.

    The merchantman was cumbersome in the water, as if it didn’t usually in habit such places. There was discord among the crew, fighting for the first chance to go aboard. I let them go, let them take the chance, said it may not be good but listen? No. They went and came back laden. First Mate looked at me and me at him. I gestured, he went, I stayed, holding Infinity steady. I saw the shadows gather, go aboard the merchantman, saw them hold back, knew all was not good. What sort of crew would I have after this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So the shadow people finally make a move, and to what end I can hardly guess. This bodes ill, for sure, but there's a sense that the crew earned whatever befalls them, not least for ignoring the advice of their captain.

      Delete
    2. SUCH a strong visual here for me. I could see the whole thing, like watching a movie. Evidently I'm all about rhythm and flow today, and this is smooth as silk. I love it.

      Delete
    3. Something foul is definitely afoot! And that first mate's not to be trusted...

      Delete
    4. The inference here creates an incredibly strong visual... candles shall be burning through the night here at Casa Veronique y Christina.

      LOTS of them!! Brava, Antonia!

      Delete
    5. A pensively passive Captain, for once accepting of what Fate will throw at him, but nowhere near beaten, a man who knows his own strength.

      Delete
  9. Hangman

    A laden sky full with discord rumbled in the distance. Moisture threatened the silent huddle and hung like a frozen breath.

    Myriad stares flashed through an approaching dusk; wan expressions inhabited much colder emotions.

    A shadow swung, as though pushed by the breeze, yet it remained a cumbersome burden pulling hard on a blood-drenched rope.

    Shadows danced in the flames. Will Hunt removed his hood and stared up at the young man dangling before him. He stared beyond the seamy crimson haze, beyond the dirt and dust and a darkened skin.

    He realised then; realised who the real slaves were.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This packs a real punch. I keep going back to the beginning and reading it through again, the feeling of dread and sorrow increasing but not dissuading me from starting over.

      Delete
    2. There are few things "horrific" that can actually make me feel sick in the very pit of my stomach as I read them. You have touched on one of them. It's beautifully written. Very evocative.

      Delete
    3. this is cold, despite flames, chillingly cold and precisely coldly portrayed too. Exciting entries this week, good to see you here, AJ!

      Delete
    4. A dark fable. Powerful descriptions throughout, but I particularly love the final two lines.

      Delete
    5. Dark words... heavy with dread... creating such images in my head.

      That may or may not have been a sob of despair that passed from these lips when I first read this.

      Whatever the sound, my inamorata cast a decidedly concerned look and suggested I put the reading away for awhile.

      Deliciously dark and cold, AJ. As always, your tales evoke such emotions... I know I shall toss and turn tonight.

      Excellently done!

      Delete
    6. Distressingly dark, yet the language is blackly gorgeous and so heavy it swings under its own weight.

      Delete
  10. If I read everyone else's entries before I post mine, I probably won't.... more than a little rusty at this 100 word bit. So, here goes and I'll be back tomorrow to read all the really good stuff.

    Tina read my little piece and gave me this really odd look... wonder what that was about? *shrugs*

    FEED ME
    by Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw


    Muffled cracking… bone splitting... cartilage ripping…. flesh tearing as the ripening symbiote birthed in to light.

    Sliding its cumbersome weight across the hardwood floor, the creature went in search of another host… something larger than the small pug lying lifeless in a puddle of its own blood… viscera strewn.

    Soft cooing sound… in discord to the creature’s primitive thoughts… attracted the symbiont’s attention.

    Slithering wetly down the darkened hall… toward the soft glow of the nursery.

    The smiling toddler watched, as with an almost human eagerness, the alien spirochete approached the crib… in its tiny brain, a single thought…

    “Inhabit.”


    ~ finis~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fantastically gross, start to finish - and what a dreadful finish it is. As much as this freaks me out, I am so, so glad you shared it with us.

      Delete
    2. Sitting here reading, thoughts a whirlwind of "Oh, dear GOD...no...don't let that happen....", and half hoping it would so I could READ it! I have no words. So very, very, GOOD. Thank you!

      Delete
    3. this is unbelievably creepy and so vividly portrayed it chills to the bone!

      Delete
    4. Successfully grotesque, plays very well on basic fears and instincts. Opening scene of a horror movie perhaps. Or closing scene, when they think the monster beaten...

      Delete
    5. Thank you all so much! You honour me with your words... thank you!

      Delete
    6. There really is only one word for this: a gutteral, bile-coloured "ugh".
      Glad you decided to play and hope this will continue.

      Delete
  11. And now for my (ineligible) entry, another in the Nate & Seth saga

    Feedback

    Everything tangled, fingers clumsy, movements sluggish, clothing cumbersome.

    “Get it together,” Nate hissed.

    I lurched to him. A burning sensation ran down my arm where it brushed his. He jumped back, cursing. Then he pulled his gun and shot the priest in the head.

    Discordant howling filled the graveyard, spirits crying out for bodies once inhabited.

    The Houngan, unharmed, touched down. “My turn now.”

    I leaned against Nate, using the shock loop to break the priest's spell. I relinquished the vile vial, then blinked the rain from my eyes. Nate’s tattoo was moving, color bleeding towards me, filling old scars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh this is good! So much to work with here! As always, beautifully wrought and really smooth use of the prompts!

      Delete
    2. intensely visual, I almost saw those spirits crying out for their bodies... scary thought, that. So much in this, it's brilliant.

      Delete
    3. Fantastic descriptions, especially that last image. Excellent instalment. =)

      Delete
    4. What Antonia says... intensely visual... my head spins... almost as if those spirits had crossed over and touched my brain.

      Loved the line with Nate's tattoo moving... trying not to contemplate what is happening.... *shivers*

      Brava, Rebecca!

      Delete
    5. It played out before me, left my eyes twitching and stinging - brilliantly done.

      Delete
  12. For once, my darlings, I am on time. The gates are closed. I will make the very difficult decision and post winners tomorrow, along with new words. Thank you so much for playing this week. You're all amazing.

    ReplyDelete