Sunday, 2 February 2014

Ain't That a Kick?

We are having quite the Winter (one must capitalize it when the weather is this serious), and it has played merry hell with my internet connection. I started this post hours ago. I hope it lets me connect this time.

Last week you gave me a bountiful bouquet of stories, each one a treasure. It never ceases to amaze me how this little group of people is able to consistently turn out excellent pieces. I should start passing the judging baton around, so you all can see how difficult it is to choose winners each week. Not that I am complaining! I wouldn't have it any other way.

The winner this week is Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw with FEED ME. This story haunted my dreams. Literally. Very close second is Hangman by AJ Humpage. There is so much going on in this story and the last line is perfect. Ladies, we welcome you back whenever you want to share your work with us.

The tome is grumbling, and although the only words it gives are spat out, I get the sense it doesn't approve of vortexes, polar or otherwise.


Elicit
Instrument
Capricious

I note, with suspicion, that those words could describe the tome itself.  Let's see what we can conjure up with them!

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.

69 comments:

  1. many congratulations Veronica and AJ! superb writing.

    I mass mailed all my authors this morning, not sure how many there are but there are a LOT, suggesting they come and play. One person has already said she will check it out, she loves writing flash fiction. I am hoping more come to play.

    I will be back in the week with the Captain and my comments on all the sparkling stuff I know you are all going to post here in the next few days... I am closing anthologies left right and centre and it's good. The workload is clearing, just enough to let Henry VII come in to ask for his story to be told. I Will Watch The Ashes starts next week... he said six weeks tops, we will see...
    My partner had a seriously bad fall Friday night in the rain, dislocated his shoulder among other things. We run a second hand shop,. Methinks I am going to be short staffed this week...

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  2. Wow! Really? Thank you so much! I think I have found the secret to good 100 word flash... write it only once every six months... lol!!

    Congratulations, AJ... Hangman gave me the shivers... goosebumpies all over. Your stories have some of the best last lines I've ever read. Brava!

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  3. Sorry about the haunting, Rebecca... okay, not really... well, maybe a little... lol!

    You have such a talented lot here... I really have to dial it up, My second best isn't going to cut it. I like that, though. The people here push me to do better. :)

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  4. I've left comments on everyone's stories for last week. What truly, magnificent, dark minds you all have. I am privileged to write with you all.

    No promises for this week, although... the words do intrigue!

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  5. Well done Veronica and AJ - absence elsewhere has delayed my comments on last week's stories, but while I go read them, here's one for this week:

    Looking to the future

    Whatever tune Burk had intended to be played on me I doubted he was any longer in control. This man would re-fashion any instrument for his use alone.
    Far too late to pretend coyness and, in the light of his continuing capriciousness – from dumb-threat brute to one who declined to suffer fools (and abhorred my swollen pregnancy) – a waste of energy. Would admission of my ignorance elicit information or his scorn?
    He turned, studied my face, ‘Which one would you have me leave?’
    ‘One?’
    ‘As a favour to you.’
    ‘The rest?’
    ‘I destroy.’
    ‘...Favour to me?’
    ‘Til the child arrives.’

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    1. There's a kind of complicit horror in asking to choose who is saved and who, by omission, is destroyed...

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    2. you're doing it again, all that sharp dialogue which carries the story through to the shock horror ending. Brilliant.

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    3. So cold in delivery; sometimes what we don't always see is more unnerving. Great last line to drive home such tenacious fear.

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    4. Fantastic dialogue. What a horrible choice to have to make. Considering what she might say, and more likely, what I might FEEL in such a situation, will likely distract me for days!

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    5. I like the complicity here... and of course, the dialogue... says so much in just a handful of words.

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  6. Ah well ... she's more to say ...

    And questioning it

    The child.
    Not wanted. Not by me. Its father ignorant, uncaring – merely the ill-tuned instrument of my condition.
    My will to live had ever been capricious – I’d settle for its ending but for the child to be the plaything of...
    ...Well, what is he? Is he to be trusted? Not to harm?
    Do I care? If pain is his intention? Experiment?
    Attempting to elicit, I stare into his eyes, but see only glittering of storm-washed stone.
    Impatient, he repeated, ‘Who? Who to leave? Or none?’
    Sulky, disliking playing any sort of deity, I mutter, ‘Julian.’
    Only to hear him laugh.

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    1. Love the description of his eyes, for both its literal and figurative implications of character. I wonder about the true motives of her 'saviour' too...

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    2. lovely descriptions, dark dark hints in the background. Good one.

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    3. Agree with John, great description of his eyes. That one sentence is as powerful as a whole paragraph.

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    4. Ahhh well, I didn't have to wait long, did I? I must agree with the others. The description of his eyes is brilliant. For some reason, the single word "experiment", chilled me utterly.

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    5. ".... disliking playing any sort of deity."

      Wow! That says it all, right there! Brava!

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  7. A change of focus [73]

    A month of tranquility.
    DCI Vanessa Quintain, confident she’d kept the extent of her capricious behaviour from her superiors, extended similar trust to her long-suffering DI.
    Neither were aware, when she arrived, that DS Mildred Jones’ willingness to work undercover had been instrumental in her appointment, nor that her first task was to elicit sufficient information whereby Vanessa could be ignominiously sacked and Pettinger relocated, preferably to the other end of the country.
    Vanessa got wind first.
    ‘A snake in the grass, John.’
    ‘Ma’am?’
    ‘Mamba, more like!’
    ‘You, Ma’am?’
    ‘Mawworm Mildred!’
    ‘Ah...’
    ‘She’s getting over-close... Suggestions?’
    ‘Behave yourself from now?’

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    1. The final line made me laugh. =)
      And 'mawworm' is a new one to me, implying both hypocrite and parasitic worm, a good word to know!

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    2. me too! laughing over that last line. And you're inventing a new language, yes?

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    3. 'Mawworm' I got from Philip Howard's 'Lost Words' Used by George Eliot in Middlemarch (1872), it means 'a hypocrite with pretensions of sanctity' - but I like the idea of a parasitic worm too.

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    4. You learn something new every day. Now I know what mawworm means. Come to think of it, it sounds quite creepy...

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    5. "Mawworm"...lovely word! I like it! I also love how completely unrepentant Vanessa seems for the shenanigans that got her and Pettinger into this mess.

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    6. Mawworm... I like that word...

      Somehow, I don't think Vanessa is going to behave. Love the humour here

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  8. Sandra... you make it seem so effortless. I'll be back to post comments later. Meanwhile, my entry for this week....

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  9. Oops! Let's try that again....

    IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU

    By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

    ****

    Selene stood across from Charrlote, gloved and gowned. The instrument in her hand glinted from the light above.

    "You think me capricious?"

    "I didn't say that... I just... you do seem to have..."

    "Had a lot of partners?"

    "No, it's not that."

    "Can't make up my mind... straight... bi... gay...?"

    "You do elicit a certain curiosity. How do you do it? Emotionally, I mean..."

    "Honey... emotion has nothing to do with fucking them."

    "Why then... I don't..."

    "For this dear..."

    With a final slice of the scalpel, she lifted the dripping heart free and held it out.

    "First bite, love?"

    ***

    ~ finis ~

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    1. Oh, well tricked! You had me thinking it was a cello she was clutching, until the bloody ending.

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    2. I can see the police at the press conference... "Our hearts go out to the victim's family. I mean... Ah..."
      ;)
      My heartfelt apologies... ;)

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    3. The most telling line of the edgy piece is 'emotion has nothing to do with fucking them'. Says it so succinctly, as fiction should do. I understood the whole thing completely, just from those eight words.

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    4. Thank you all, for your critiques... always oh, so helpful!

      Sandra... the deceit was unintentional. I see though, looking back, how one could interpret an entirely different setting from an autopsy table and mischief afoot. I am very pleased, though, at the misdirection. I do tend to do that in my noir, but thought my horror was a bit more 'honest'... I may be 'leaking' between genres.

      Thank you, Antonia.... flexing my dialogue 'muscle' again... I'll get there. :)

      Ahhh... that sly sense of humour, John. :)

      Wow! What a wonderful compliment, AJ! I am so please the piece spoke as such to you. I'd actually had a longer sentence, but was over the word count, so had to chop! I'm glad it worked out well.

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    5. LOVE the dialogue here. I could hear, as I read, the two different voices. And unintentional or not, I love the little twist. Your work is a joy to read. I'm so glad you came to play.

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  10. Kitchen Utensils
    By Olivia Arieti

    It would have been useless to elicit a confession. Harriet’s husband would never admit his latest affair. He had always been capricious and lewd but this time he had gone too far; besides igniting feelings of hatred he evoked the scent of blood.
    “The sausages are ready,” she cried as inviting as possible; then Harriet took off her apron to dignify her deed.
    The hoggish fellow was already curved on his meal when she took out her sharpest knife. Complacently she gazed at the blade; after all was it nothing but an instrument to chop meat.

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    1. Welcome Olivia - and another bloody deed, following a brilliant first line!

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    2. I thought the twist might be in the sausages... but it seems the slaughter is yet to come. Great scene, and I love the description of 'the hoggish fellow ... already curved on his meal...'

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    3. very nice - if I can say that - offering, Olivia. Do leave some comments for the others, yes?

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    4. Concur with John, well sculpted line about the hoggish fellow. Is that deliberate word play - i.e. a pig ready for slaughter? If so, very clever and subtle.

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    5. I love the word play here... hoggish, sausage... shivers me, thinking of him stuffing his face while she.....

      Good piece... evocative and darkly humourous. A nice warning to the unfaithful.

      Welcome to the Prediction, Olivia.

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    6. Thank you all for the warm welcome and comments. It's great to be with such talented writers.

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    7. Welcome, Olivia! I'm with all the rest. "Hoggish fellow" is brilliant, however, I must admit "evoked the scent of blood" is my personal favorite. Wonderfully dark and humorous work. Thank you.

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  11. Congratulations Veronica and AJ. =)


    (Cosmic Discord)

    Harriet slapped the table. The green projection shimmered, the instrument readings blurred, and the three incoming markers shivered before resuming their steadfast course: harpoons thrown true and strong.

    "To your stations, gentlemen," she commanded.

    I have mentioned she was not originally of our crew. Well, capricious fate (and exceptional misfortune) having divested us of our true captain, indeed of all officers, she had adopted the role. Not without eliciting contention, naturally, from Masters Cameron and Blake, each claiming themselves more eligible. But since Doc and I were inclined toward leadership both competent and rational, we had voted in Harriet's favour.

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    1. All characters amazingly come to life with such a few words. Really enjoyed it.

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    2. One wonders what 'fate' it was that lightened the crew's complement; capricious indeed, that it would only take the captain and officers.

      Well played, sir... well played!

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    3. "Capricious fate", indeed. I too, wonder what took the officers. I'm very curious to see what Harriet does next!

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  12. So much enjoyed the subtlety of the instrument readings - beautifully observed - and the last sentence is well cool. :-)

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    1. very nicely done, John, so much said in so few lines.

      The Captain is not here yet, possibly tomorrow, he tells me from the Infinity, somewhere out there...

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    2. Oh, you gave me visions of a certain female Star Trek captain - feisty and determined and not the least bit thrown by those around her. I like the way you deftly characterise her through the first person narrative, well done.

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  13. Release

    Her capricious tongue fell silent the day it snowed.

    Flake-filled memories frittered into the silence, drifting away from the haze and the cold and edging towards a peculiar darkness as though to elicit the shadows.

    Josh stood a few feet away from his mother, the gun still in his hand; a galvanised instrument of death. Everything seemed so bright, except for the scarlet garlands scattered around her head, the only splash of colour.

    She remained still, staring up at the swollen sky, eyes wide.

    He felt calm in his release.

    No more beatings. Today was a good day to live.

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    1. Such conflicting thoughts this raises. Beautiful imagery painting a dark, dark scene. And a final line to test us.
      Poignant. Excellent.

      (And I was happy with the 'frittered' too, a good word that I don't recall reading anywhere recently.) =)

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    2. I too have conflicting thoughts.

      It's been snowing here the last two days. I've always loved the snow... so beautiful and peaceful... evoking memories of mine and Tina's first winter together.

      I shan't ever look at snow the same way again, AJ... this is brilliant and powerfully evocative... and that last line?

      Made me cry...

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    3. I find myself wondering how old Josh is. And what mixed emotions you inspire here. There's an element here that makes this a difficult piece to read, emotionally, and yet I can't stop re-reading it! Thank you.

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  14. Very much like 'galvanised instrument of death', and 'scarlet garlands' bring a chilly and reluctant beauty to the scene.

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    1. cold as the snow which is falling on this tragic scene, so vividly described. Good one, AJ!

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  15. Maestro

    I palmed the vial, taking care that the Houngan not see. Seth seemed a bit more stable as my marks bled…into him?

    Now I needed to elicit a chain of particular responses, one instrument at a time, building, becoming a symphony, or this was all going to go to hell.

    “Why drag us back here? You could have finished this at the house. I know you were there.”

    He smiled indulgently.

    “So that capricious whore could see the end, of course. Because she denied me.”

    An outraged shriek pierced the sounds of wind and driving rain.

    She was coming.

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    1. Title and symphonic reference - and that sentence - superb. And ending with another problem which Seth might not be capable of dealing with.

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    2. oh yes, and what hell is going to break loose when she arrives???????????

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    3. This does evoke that movie music crescendo, where everything is building and coming together and with each layer the excitement builds and builds. =)

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    4. Wow! I don't want to be anywhere near when she arrives... I swear, I just heard a shriek!!

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  16. 42.

    Capricious winds are playing with the sails and my thoughts. All crew members seem sane and normal. Tis hard to elicit words from such dullards, I shall not bother. If they be contaminated, so be it. They be the instruments of their doom if they did not listen to the shadows, which surely spoke to their minds. I know greed overcomes all, even such thoughts. I saw the shadows shake their heads. It was not good.
    I set sail the moment the merchantman sank below the waves. There are lands beyond the Indees, I would be seeing them for myself.

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    1. I think the Captain might take to the seas without any men if the shadows could crew a ship themselves. He seems to have dulled the mutinous thoughts, for now at least...

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    2. Not for the first time, I find myself wondering if the Captain is insane. However, I like the idea much more, that he is the only one that sees the truth of things.

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  17. Once again I am saddened by the loneliness of the Captain. God speed to him.

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  18. So melancholy... one feels the Captain's loneliness and foreboding.

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  19. RR KovarFebruary 7, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Seth was a bit distracted, but he's finally come to play.

    Calling the Tune

    It’s a measure of how far gone we were that neither moving magic ink nor the dead queen of the undead elicited even a squeak from Nate. In the back of my head, that worried me. In the front, I was frantically trying to disengage before my wards returned to their maker.

    Fate, a capricious bitch in the best of times, was having none of that.

    Magic surged through me, words from my mother’s book coming fast from my tongue. I had always been her instrument. Fire rose around the tainted priest. He laughed, moved forward, and was held fast, burning.

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    1. [Is it only me or is everyone finding clicking 'paste comment here' sends them to the top of the page?]

      A really smooth, rich episode this, like the wickedest of whisky-laced chocolate, Especially loved the 'back of head ... front of head' bit, but it was all gorgeous.

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    2. agree with that description, smooth and rich sums it up well!

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    3. Ahhh... you tease, m'lady! What of the magic moving ink?

      I LOVE this line.... "Fate, a capricious bitch in the best of times, was having none of that." Fate is that... and much more!

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    4. The last paragraph is great, I really like 'words from my mother's book coming fast from my tongue,' moving into another tense cliffhanger.

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    5. Oh, lovely! That first line said it all for Nate. He has not decide yet, whether or not Seth should be concerned. As to the rest...Good, Lord you keep me on my toes! This is gorgeously wrought and punchy as hell. I love it. Thank you, as ever, for giving me so much to work with!

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  20. And now, my delightful writer friends, the gates are closed. Winners and new words tomorrow. Please feel free to continue commenting, as I will on the morrow.

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