Sunday, 16 February 2014

Cabin Fever Redux


Winter continues to be a challenge this year, no matter where you live. We've all had harsh weather, and the rough stretch that is February seems a bit rougher this year. I'm more than ready for this season to be over, not least because going anywhere is more than a little problematic in the cold and snow and wet muck.  Luckily, we have this space in which to escape from time to time and visit the twisted worlds we each create and share.

Excellent work from all last week, making the choice difficult.  I give the win to Antonia Woodville for Infinity 43. Sustaining emotional resonance in a long series is such a challenge, and she knocked it out of the park this week.

The Tome is also restless and a bit cranky, so it was a challenge to pull the words from it this week. And yet, I have full faith you will all create excellent work with these:

Crown
Judge
Vulgar

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.

Feel free to post links to your stories on Twitter or Facebook or whichever social media best pleases you and, if you like, remind your friends that we are open to new and returning writers.

45 comments:

  1. Oh!! Bless you, dear Tome, for 'judge' - and well done Antonia, the Captain keeps us all on tenterhooks.

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  2. Congratulations, Antonia. Very suggestive images and powerful ending.

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  3. Proof of Deed

    Accompanied only by a stout bulldog and a curious little man with a rolling gait, the crowned Countess swept grandly into Madam’s foyer and tossed a silken bag onto her writing desk. “Vulgar!” she announced, her voice pitching like a storm-caught ship.

    Madam leaned back in her chair, seemingly without concern at the abrupt interruption, and steepled her fingers. Ava, the maid, was fluttering nervously behind the unannounced guests, her face white in anticipation of Madam’s judgement.

    “Your vengeance has been carried out, as per our agreement,” Madam said.

    The Countess’ mouth worked furiously. “It’s a…hand!”

    “Proof of deed.”

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    1. Quite an entourage! And a gruesome form of payment. I don't imagine the conversation continues that amicably either.

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    2. The characters are so well delineated and imposing!

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    3. This is so incredibly visual, and the story implies a rich backstory while setting up an even longer tale. All that, yet it's self-contained. Very well done.

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  4. THANK YOU! I just got here, through a flood of submissions and contracts for my open anthologies. I'm looking for more, Check out Thirteen Press on the Horrified Press site: (horrifiedpress.wordpress.com)
    Thanks so much, Rebecca, the Captain continues to be a challenge, one I relish every week. It's nearly as much of a challenge as taking both window displays out, relocating the stock which hasn't sold, finding two new displays, whilst dealing with two men...and dealing with customers who come strolling in to ask 'have you thought of putting your stuff on Wightbay or ebay?' I very politely say, 'Oh, I use Wightbay a lot, last time I looked I had 118 items there... it's free, Ebay isn't.'
    Wwhy do they do that????

    Good words for the Captain this week.

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  5. Ducks to the slaughter

    Swift-liquid, he propelled me backwards, picked up the bar and its loop of chain – flail lacking spike-balled crown – and turned to face his would-be assassins.
    Burk’s eyes regretted spear-heading the attack: last expression they held.
    Next to him, nervous-fingered, fired too soon to prevent the hard-swiped barrel delivering a fusillade of shot into the chests of two of his companions, one of which was Julian. His hesitation lost him life on the rebound, near-decapitation. The remaining two, transfixed by the vulgarity of real live death, stood just long enough to receive theirs.
    He turned.
    ‘Do you now judge me guilty?’

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    1. Oh wow!!!!! blood guts and gore in 100 words! Sandra, that's stunning!

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    2. Always such excellent wordplay. Loved the dangerous flow of 'flail lacking spike-balled crown' and the line '...transfixed by the vulgarity of real live death, stood just long enough to receive theirs'. Bloody poetic. :)

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    3. Sharp and bloody. Really enjoyed it!

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    4. Whoa! That is a superb action scene. Satisfying to see Burk and company get theirs. Shame about Julian, but he chose his friends poorly. I agree with Zaiure about the lines that jumped out at me.

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  6. A change of focus [75]

    Gunita Dubnovaski: sometime undercover chambermaid, more lucratively high class whore.
    Goren: twin brother. Sometime lover, sometime pimp, more regularly chastiser.
    Neither as dead as had once been rumoured.
    Whatever form of misbehaviour DS Mildred Jones thought she sought, she’d definitely discover something.
    Though how she’d justify arresting an erect and bollock-naked judge, any one of half a dozen upright members of Her Majesty’s High Crown Court, found handing over two thousand quid in well-used twenties for services ranging from a vulgar missionary position (bible provided) to a brass-studded leather-belted spanking, goodness only knows.
    ‘Character-building,’ grinned Vanessa, wickedly. ‘An initiative test.’

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    1. I agree with Antonia. Brilliant final line. :) Enjoyed the descriptions of the two characters at the beginning.

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    2. Perfect description of a police hazing ritual. I may have guffawed at (bible provided).

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    3. 'hazing' - a new word for me RR, and a very useful one - thanks!

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  7. Irreverence

    Nobody could conceal the embarrassment; like the skinniest model shrouded in nudity the silhouette paraded along the catwalk.
    Was she vulgar? Barren is never profane.
    A deep silence presided until the eyelids dropped obliquely and the purple lips disclosed.
    “Look at me,” she demanded defiantly.
    The command made all hearts leap with horrified amazement.
    After a moment of disconcert the ravished participants applauded and exulted as the judge with sly irreverence placed the pointed crown on the skull.
    The macabre has always been alluringly provocative.


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    1. There's a poised, paused sort of horrific tension to this; teasing. All encapsulated in that final, wonderful line.

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    2. this imagery, this precision, is addictive. More please!

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    3. There is something insidious about this, and terribly disturbing. I kept going back to the beginning to read again, and each time both the dread and my appreciation grew.

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    4. Definitely had a sense of dread reading this, and the final line wrapped it up perfectly. Loved the phrase 'sly irreverence'.

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  9. Victor and victim

    ‘Judge? Who am I to judge?’
    ‘You were their would-be victim; a prime and fecund example of grossly vulgar female...’
    ‘And you?’
    ‘My role was that of Beast, initially to a Beauty, until you appeared -‘
    ‘Oh, thanks!’
    ‘Their words, not mine. Pregnant, you offered double value, your sacrifice the crowning of their spurious summer solstice rites. As Beast, instead of fucking Beauty, the suggestion was that I kill you and eat the baby...’
    ‘So... how come they managed to catch you in the first place?’
    ‘I wanted to be caught.’
    ‘And now?’
    ‘Now I’m free – and free to choose.’

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    1. Oh my, how much story can you cram into 100 words...

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    2. He's such an erudite demon, politely menacing, especially the casual way he discusses both her possible fates. I wonder now what she faces.

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    3. Your pieces always flow so beautifully and quick. I agree with Rebecca, loved the casualness of the demon's replies.

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  10. it was with a sense of relief and happiness I welcomed the Captain back tonight. He is down to earth, unlike his counterpart who has just begun his life story - His Grace King Henry VII is proving to be full of surprises, I am not sure all of them are going to be pleasant but the role of a channeller is to take dictation, not cast aspersions or alter the work in any way. It is proving to be interesting and we only did the dedication and the first few paragraphs. More as it happens...

    So, here be Infinity 44
    44.
    The words that come from the blank faced mouths are vulgar, are crude in the extreme. These are not the men I sailed with from Engeland, as God be my judge. To crown it all, there are fractious winds and capricious breezes, they are not the same, they play havoc with the sails, the currents, the tides, be damned if they say the moon plays its part! Tis right here on this earth that the tides are dominated by the winds.
    And I be right helpless to influence any of it, any more than I can influence my eventual future.

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    1. So many lovely phrases in this - ' fractious winds and capricious breezes,' just one, and such smoothly-included prompt words. Superb episode this one.

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    2. I could feel the breezes rocking the ship - and the captain along with it. I fear for him!

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    3. The strength of the sea images beautifully bring forth the final feeling of helplessness.

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    4. I agree with Olivia, definitely felt the Captain's mood with the description of the ocean. Also loved 'fractious winds and capricious breezes'.

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  11. The Man Who Would be King

    He gazed from a vantage point near the hill. A strange silence fingered his thoughts, despite the noise around him.

    He saw the broken, blemished crown atop the bloodied head of a half-naked man, sweating droplets that streamed down grimy pale skin.

    A vulgar chorus rang loud in his ears; men and women who had come to judge.

    Polonius craned to get a better look.

    Someone pushed forward. ‘Who is that?’

    Polonius tried to push away the memories of that morning, of seeing the man’s flesh ripped open by flails. ‘Some kind of King.’

    ‘Who?’

    ‘Him. They call him Jesus.’

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    1. Lovely, spare prose this, like exposed bones.

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    2. superb, AJ, absolutely superb. Capturing so much with so few words.
      Astonishing.

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    3. Breathtaking in every sense of the word. It's so dreadful from his point of view, not least because we know it will get more dreadful still.

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    4. So many wonderfully worded phrases. Loved 'a strange silence fingered his thoughts'. The simple dialogue was powerful and perfection.

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  12. Danse Macabre

    The dead child gained no entry, the only tattoo for which I’d paid finally proving its worth. Frustrated, he reached for Nate. I reached for salt, and the boy dissolved with petulant cries. Other spirits approached. I could not dispatch them all.

    Marie’s child thrashed in a vulgar parody of dance, beat set by throbbing bead. Madame Laveau had been crowned Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, and the queen judged her son unworthy.

    I wondered if my mother, spirit loosed from glass, would find me wanting. Compelled, I lunged for the wretched jar, seeking salvation or damnation. Either would do.

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    1. Salt and stoic bitterness in this - liked the sentence "I reached for salt ..." and the final paragraph.

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    2. Beautiful images and tension especially in the final lines.

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    3. there's a sense of desperation in this even though we know they can take good care of themselves, these two...

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    4. Powerful, well-worded lines in this. Loved the beginning of the piece 'the dead child gained no entry' and the horror of the description 'the boy dissolved with petulant cries'.

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  13. All right, my loves. The gates are closed. Please feel free to continue commenting at will. Winners and words on the morrow!

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