Saturday, 11 January 2014

Things That Go Bump

In my case, on the stairs, and obscenely early in the morning, rather than in the night.  I appreciate you all bearing with me while I started my recovery from an epic slide down a Victorian staircase. Steep suckers, those. Woke the family and scared the hell out of them in the process. I was a bit afraid myself. Funny how I love to be frightened by stories, but find it quite unpleasant in real life. I suspect that is because stories rarely leave me bruised, even though they often have great impact.

What fantastic stories you all presented last week! I never cease to wonder at the talent in this group. It does, however, make the judging more difficult, for which I must thank you. An embarrassment of riches you give me. (See what happens when I'm on pain meds? I gush.)

For pure horror, the win goes to Zaiure for Aria. I'm still not sure if Elaine was having a psychotic break or really witnessing that awful scene.

Most honorable mention goes to John Xero for the ambitious start to his new serial Cosmic Discord, in which he used the words in all four entries. Very well played, and I hope to see more of this story.

Now for new words. The tome has been remarkably well behaved, perhaps sensing I could not wrestle with it this week. (Seriously, even taking the book from the shelf was difficult.) So it gently offers up these words for your contemplation and use:

Muscle
Fabricate (will take fabrication, etc.)
Sloppy

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 Thursday evening.

As always, we welcome newcomers and encourage you to invite friends over to our place to play.

45 comments:

  1. Turning the Key

    Nate is old school: music, mores, muscle car all terribly out of date. It comes off as charming, in certain company.

    The Houngan we hunted cared nothing for such quirks. He wanted Nate, or me, depending on who told the tale. Or perhaps he really had wanted my mother, enough to steal the remnants of her soul and fabricate a copy of her to house it.

    Someone willing to go to such lengths wouldn’t be sloppy enough to discount us. Which begged the question, who was playing whom?

    The engine roared as I headed down the road , seeking answers.

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    1. There's a nice kind of retrospective feel to this, Rebecca, reminding us where we are, gearing us up for what's to come.

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  2. Falling downstairs hasn't harmed your ability with word and imagery, Rebecca - hope you're less bruised now. And so, the question - who WAS playing whom? Lovely laconic tone to this, not entirely masking Seth's concern.
    And well done Zauire - ever impressive.

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  3. congratulations, Zauire, wonderful as always and to John for the superb new serial, which holds so much promise.
    Rebecca, hope the bruises fade soon. Real Life is no fun, as I found when I fell a few weeks ago. Still waiting on the claim from the people responsible for our pavements and roads...

    Seth and Nate are as brilliant as ever here, leaving us with the inevitable cliff hanger.
    I will go consult the Captain on the new words.

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    1. would you believe after all this time, Google has swapped my Antonia persona for Dorothy, my real persona.. in case anyone was wondering. What are they playing at???????

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    2. so I jumped into blogger and changed the profile...

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  4. Wow, thank you! It was fun to write. :) And congrats to John. Cosmic Discord promises to be another engaging serial. Can't wait to see where it goes!

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  5. Sorry John - more haste less whatever meant I forget to mention the four-fold feat of Cosmic Discord - well done!
    Herewith Pettinger:

    A change of focus [70]

    Behind the wheel, muscles in his jaw bunched with anger, Pettinger ditched diplomacy.
    ‘Vanessa, what the fuck are you playing at? What’s with you and Divine, apart from the fact that you’ve obviously slept with him?’
    ‘Obviously? On what grounds do you assume that?’
    ‘The way he treated you... Your sloppy policing...’
    ‘And what the hell do you mean by that?’
    ‘His wife... Dolly... No way was that suicide...’
    ‘Of course it was... Believe it or not, he loved the stupid cow...’
    ‘I don’t. And if you’re wanting me to fabricate some get-out clause...’
    ‘You’ll do it. Make no mistake.’

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    Replies
    1. Great power play, and almost entirely speech, yet you can totally see the looks on their faces.

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    2. Excellent tension, and as much is shown in what is not said as what is. Their dynamic keeps evolving.

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  6. Opening The Gate

    I'd explained as Seth drove. We were back at the cemetery, wending our way through rain-sloppy paths to Marie Laveau's grave. The storm started as we'd arrived, a fabrication of the priests, no doubt.

    Every muscle tensed, just enough, as I ticked off reasons, in my head, for destroying him. The bottle. The zombies. Seth's poor goddamned mother. The manipulation and murder of so many innocent people. That fucking dog. My...rape.

    Cold, comfortable rage knifed into my gut. I let it in, let it bloom, and kept it contained, let it anticipate its release.

    It was time to end this.

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    1. This racks up the tension - title and all - from Rebecca's piece. That second para is just ... breathtaking in an awful sort of way. Tremendous ... and the final sentence, 'bloom', oh so wonderful, Colleen.

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    2. Oh yeah, the perfect partner to Rebecca's, this. A visceral kind of retrospection that amps the anticipation excellently.

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    3. It kills me that he finds the dog more offensive than his own assault. If he'd go, I'd send him straight-away to a therapist.

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  7. Rules of engagement

    His ankles were no longer chained; a sloppiness which smacked of sabotage because this hut had been fabricated from railway-sleepers to a strength which should have held him.
    Now his strength pinioned me. One muscled calf pressed tight against my back, as I sprawled sideways on the earthen floor; the other prevented my turning.
    In the doorway, uselessly chivalrous, Julian psyched himself to challenge.
    I wanted to tell him no but before I could draw breath he was seized from behind. Pulled away.
    Berk’s voice, semi-joking: ‘Don’t spoil the fun, Jules, else we’ll have to offer you as sacrifice instead.’

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    1. Real sense of violence and helplessness, and a final line that stops you cold.

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    2. The action is described in a way that relates the fear, though there's no expression of it. I'm not sure how you do that, but it's fantastic. And here's to hoping Berk meets a messy and painful end.

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  8. and another one ...

    Pause for thought

    Sacrifice? My guts turned liquid, sloppy with the knowledge that Berk referred to me. Defined the role as mine.
    But sacrifice how? To whom? Or...
    What was this man? Whose was the fantasy?
    Had Berk fabricated some epic, self-enhancing, gang-banging demonstration of his prowess as leader? Some to-be-horror play?
    And – I had to ask – was he as strong as he himself believed?
    I was far from certain this black-muscled Titan would let himself be dictated to by an over-educated, moneyed fop.
    And far from certain of his stance re women.
    Far from certain of his stance ...
    Oh God ...

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    1. I want to know but... I don't want to know! One of those hiding your eyes moments, and then peeking out...

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    2. And there's the payoff! All the emotion, still moving the story forward and developing character. The dread in this is palpable.

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  9. (alpha)

    Adam cursed himself for getting sloppy and letting the thing blindside him. He halted, hovered in the air and looked back. The newcomer was like him: another super.

    There were so few of them, the public was only just beginning to believe they were anything more than a fabrication, not just special effects and rumour milling by the media.

    Like Adam, he was well-built, though from the way he was pounding the creature and the deep sonic explosions with every punch there was much more to his strength than pure muscle power.

    Adam launched himself back into the mêlée.

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    1. Strong sense of Adam regrouping, panting slightly , weighing up the odds before plunging back in. I sense he's wondering about suggesting they work together, if he ever gets out of the current fight.

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    2. The fight has been dragging on a bit, hasn't it? I'm trying to get him out, but the other guy doesn't want to let go!

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    3. John! - no way was I suggesting that the fight was going on a bit - wouldn't dream of it when its taken me six episodes to et someone to walk through a door! But I don't know just what the bloke is after.

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    4. Don't worry, Sandra, I didn't think you were having a dig! =)

      I personally feel like the fight's been dragging on. Word count wise, it's less than a page, but it's been over a month in real time. That's the strange thing about serials I suppose... Time flow in fiction space is interesting anyway, but when you add in the additional complication that it's revealed in snippets a week apart, judging pacing becomes super complex!

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    5. I don't feel it's dragged on. Rather, I have been waiting like a child for... well, the next issue of a comic book, so I can see how the fight is going. There are connections being made that, as we have seen in the future version of these characters, are very important. But I do know what you mean about the difficulty in pacing when writing weekly serials. I think that's why I put the Nate & Seth page up, so *I* could figure out how much time had passed (not much, really; we are cruel gods). It's an interesting exercise, though, and I think it will impact how I deal with pacing in my longer works.

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  10. (Cosmic Discord)

    "Doubtless the same way she always finds us."

    Harriet narrowed her eyes. "Don't you look at me like that Mister Cameron. If your brain weren't entirely the most undeveloped muscle in your body you would realise what a sloppy supposition that was. Why would I abscond, only to leap straight back into her lap?"

    "I don't know. Why would you marry the royal bitch?"

    "Firstly, the only person aboard permitted to call her that is me. And secondly," she shrugged, "touché."

    Doc interrupted, "As interesting as fabricating explanations and doling out accusations is, mayhap we should concentrate on our escape?"

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    1. Nicely complex confrontation, excellent characterisation, as ever. Especially enjoyed the hint of further discord in 'Touché' (put this in the wrong place before)

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    2. This made me laugh, despite the tense situation. I love the voice in this new serial and want more, more, more.

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  12. Masterclass

    ‘Sloppy…so sloppy.’ His voice, hushed like a soft breeze skimming through trees, veiled a sliver of disappointment as the flesh opened up.

    Caleb looked up at Dreyfus. ‘I did it the way you said.’

    Muscle bulged through the slit Caleb had made; dark red and full with blood, and still twitching.

    The thin steel blade hovered over slack skin.

    Dreyfus guided the blade in Caleb’s hand to the exposed dermis. ‘Firm; not too much pressure. This is real, remember, not a fabrication. Now finish cutting.’

    Caleb hesitated with the scalpel.

    Dreyfus stared. ‘This is what a surgeon is all about…’

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    1. Grotesquely visceral, as ever. Excellent subtleties to the imagery in the first line too.

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    2. This is so taut and clean, and I love that it's not horror (except it is), but an everyday occurrence.

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  13. (rise)

    The chase began to feel unreal to Olivia, a horrible dream, worse than any nightmare her brain might have fabricated. They had been running forever, pursued by nebulous bestial men who were unimaginably terrible and always just out of sight.

    Their shrieks and howls seemed louder now, but over the roaring in her ears she couldn't be sure. She knew she couldn't go much further; her thigh and calf muscles were stubborn turncoats, somehow both sloppy and stiff, as if she was wading through honey.

    If it weren't for George she would have given up and lain down right then.

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    1. 'nebulous bestial' - how vividly horrible. Excellently smooth use of the prompts.

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    2. Now this is beautifully paced, both the larger story and this piece of it. The moment when a chase becomes surreal is difficult to capture, yet you make it seem effortless. Love the way her bond with George is solidifying.

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  14. Seth isn't willing to wait for new words.

    Throwing the Gauntlet

    I hate cemeteries. Funny, right? It’s not ghosts that bug me but the lingering memory of standing in rain – just like this – a too-tight suit, muscles quivering as they lowered my mother’s coffin, my face sloppy with tears and snot. Maybe if I killed the sons of bitches who had a hand in her death, I’d get over it. Maybe.

    His voice, everywhere, “You know the prophecy is fabrication, yes? We created legend, made you in her to fulfill empty promises.”

    Deep breath, steady. Magic ready, raging. “Not so empty now. Come and see.”

    Like the moon, he rose, shining.

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    1. Ever reliable, Seth ... except he isn't of course. Except to be wholly unreliable. Fabulous final line. Is Nate so importunate?

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    2. This is gonna be good! Genuinely excited and can't wait for the next few parts. And I agree with Sandra, that last line is delicious. =)

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  15. I will be back tomorrow to comment, this week has been h e l l with the work on the 12 or so anthologies I want to relaunch, getting contracts, permissions, answering questions, you name it...
    but the Captain is here:
    Infinity no 39
    They tried to muscle in, those creepy nasty fabricated things I calls shadow people. Sloppy, though, no chance they could knot a rope and not send someone over the side nevermore to be seen. Not that it’s a bad thing when there’s people on board you could be wishing had never signed up.
    So they followed me on deck, so they did, stood around like the shadows they be, got their hands on this and that and made a mess of it. The crew stood and stared. Time they had some surprises. That’ll stop them messing around with my mind.

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    1. I've a nasty creeping feeling the Captain is, ever-so-slightly losing his marbles - do very much hope not, because it wouldn't take much for the crew to mutiny.

      [and hope things improve on the work front for you Antonia]

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    2. Oh yes, I guess we'll be finding out just how real, or unreal, the shadow people are. Either way, the crew aren't going to be pleased at the display...

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    3. Oh, my! There's a disconnected feel to the captain's narrative that does make me wonder if his mind is slipping, or if the shadow people are creating that effect, and what he plans for his crew, and... this is good stuff, is what I'm saying.

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  16. *slips in quietly, closes the gates* Winners and words soon. Feel free to continue commenting!

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