Sunday, 30 March 2014

Out Like a Lamb

In our case, a lamb to the slaughter, what with snow to start the week and a prediction of nearly 70 degrees for tomorrow. It's been a great mess.  And yet, I've seen the first flower bloom just today, so my spirits are greatly lifted.

As usual, the stories last week were varied and excellent. You all make this a challenge to judge!

The winner this week is AJ Humpage with Split Second. The realism in this was a gut punch.

The other stories were all so good, I can't decide on a runner up. You may call me coward, and I will accept that judgment.

I enlisted help wrangling words from the tome, and the quality of my assistant brought forth these rich delights:

Scandal
Iron
Sanguine

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

38 comments:

  1. MANY CONGRATULATIONS, AJ!!!! startling story as always. I have been pushing the Prediction Challenge at my authors again, one has responded saying he will take a look. Hope so...

    Today has been simply glorious. I am about to write a piece on daffodils as an example of life for my magazine, the island is smothered in them and it's fantastic, after all the endless flooding and rain we endured.

    Good words for the Captain this week.

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    1. Lots of congratulations, AJ, a wonderful story and great use of the words!

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  2. Congrats AJ! That was an amazing story to read. I can't wait to read more of your stuff.
    Here is the third part of my ongoing series. Hope y'all enjoy it!

    Dare You (Part 3)
    Her breath was hot and hungry on his neck. Every touch, every movement shot sparks across his skin. She had been on him for five minutes yet it felt like a lifetime.
    He could hardly believed it when she approached him at the bar, wearing a sanguineous red dress cut scandalously low. Her gaze was hungry and sensual. He couldn’t remember when he last felt so needed, like air or water.
    In his room, she kissed him—no, devoured him. He couldn’t even scream when her nails changed to iron in his back, and she whispered, “Your wife says hello.”

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    1. Oh my, how to tantalise, Noah... can't wait for the next instalment!

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    2. Oh, this is wicked. I love that last twist.

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  3. Congratulations AJ - I've been away from home and without internet for several days, only now catching up.

    In search of cleanliness

    Burk intended my sacrifice, for which he gave his life.
    I only sure of retaining mine by escaping; He had implied the child just as acceptable.
    Painfully I rolled, pulled myself to sitting. Pushed back the covers releasing a sanguineous post-birth stink. Revealed an unrecognisable porridge of flabby flesh which reluctantly obeyed my instruction to get out of bed, to stand – scandalously precarious – to walk, clutching the bedstead, door-frame, wall along the hallway to a bathroom.
    No shower. Just an ancient claw-foot cast-iron bath. Taps too stiff to turn.
    He> returned to find me exhausted and unwashed, upon the floor.

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    1. I could feel the agony of that walk to the bathroom... tough writing there, tough to read, too Sandra, such realism.

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    2. an unrecognisable porridge of flabby flesh is exactly how it feels. This entire thing is incredibly uncomfortable and yet rings so true. Such an amazing tale you're weaving, and I've no idea how it will end.

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  4. It's Gonna Be A Great Show (2)

    Eric Romanov. Lead singer of Broken Mind. Kid looks like a goddamned gypsy Viking. He’s young, beautiful, and utterly sanguine about their cd and the concert. He bounces around my office in the small gatehouse, thanking me.

    He’s brought copies of the cd, simply titled Iron. The first single is Quiet Scandal. He kisses my cheek and bounds out the door. Seconds later the tiny rubber duck on my desk begins to move in small circles.

    Emily is the only one who can get as far as the gatehouse. She was seven when they killed her.

    “…like him. He’s pretty.”

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    1. You're becoming quite the mistress of that final, chilling, assumption-spinning line.

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    2. scary last line, scary implications going on here, loved it

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    3. The final line conveys a scary and disturbing sadness perhaps anticipated by the image of the rubber duck moving in circles...

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    4. Creepy child ghost! You know I approve. I look forward to finding out where this goes.

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  5. A change of focus [81]

    ‘Who’s holding Mildred?’
    ‘You don’t want to know –‘
    John’s hand iron-gripped her wrist. ‘Vanessa. What have you –‘
    ‘Look, that bitch was ready to manufacture whatever scandal she could to get me suspended, as you well know!’
    ‘So?’
    ‘So I asked Danny to help –‘
    ‘Danny?’
    She had the grace to blush, even as she blustered, ‘Danny Divine... Jack’s brother. I was sanguine of his co-operation –‘
    ‘Sanguine? The only sanguine he knows is what fills his –‘
    ‘Evidently! Undiscerning enough to get it up for –’
    ‘So will his wife shoot to kill?’
    Vanessa shrugged, ‘Probably. Or maim.’

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    1. and so the saga continues with more cliff hangers than anyone's entitled to keep creating. Now what? where do these 'nice' people head to next, I wonder...

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    2. Powerful dialogue and strong final reply. The saga gets more and more "sanguine".

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    3. Hah. That is one heck of a turn of events. I think this needs to be a radio play, or maybe a web series. The dialogue is just so good.

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  6. Infinity 50
    Tis pointless in this life to be sanguine about the other world, them’s as haunts us. What came up on that iron chain be beyond nightmare. It had teeth and eyes and tentacles and that be about all this Captain be able to say. The crew, God bless them, attacked it with all they had – one died. Seems it was sacrifice enough, the thing, whatever it were, disappeared with the body. Tis a scandal how many be buried beneath the waves of this planet.
    But my fear is gone. I know now I can trust these men on the Infinity.

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    1. Wow. Such a vivid scene in so few words. I love the resolution this brings.

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  7. Dour as ever, the Captain, pragmatic the perfect word for him.

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    1. The description of "the thing" is mysterious and horrifying and the following sacrifice seems the perfect consequence. The fact that there is no more fear and a sparkle of trust balances the tension delicately... poignantly.

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  8. Whoops - another episode:

    A change of focus [82]

    As John stared, scandalised, at his boss, her phone rang, a phrase from some Iron Maiden song.
    She connected, listened, smiled and disconnected. Replenished both glasses. ‘Guess what we forgot?’
    Raised eyebrows.
    ‘Danny Divine does porn. Forgot to switch the multi-angle cameras off. Mrs D made them repeat it. Several times. At gunpoint. Said if he misbehaves again, she’ll distribute under their Impure Blue label. If they don’t like it –’
    ‘She has a gun. And they’re rumoured to also supply the snuff market...’
    ‘Sanguine Stunts.’
    ‘Urban myth of course...’
    ‘Of course. And Mildred?’
    ’Won’t try to outwit us again!’

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    1. Oh my! I didn't see that coming at all. Neither, I'll bet, did Mildred.

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    2. it's this dialogue you do so well and that last line you do even better... this is a good instalment!

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  9. Thanks for all the congrats.

    I've been feeling a bit poorly this last week (throat/chest infection), plus I've been studying hard for upcoming exams for accreditation to be a First Aid teacher for the company I work for, so haven't even thought about this week's comp. I shall try to post a story before the doors close tonight, inspiration permitting!

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    1. The Adulteress

      “You have dishonoured me,” thundered the Reverend to his wife; the incandescent iron bar he was holding had already cast a gruesome shadow on her body still throbbing with desire.
      The woman’s pale face provided a sharp contrast to her husband’s sanguine one.
      “If you hurt me, the scandal will be greater,” she replied firmly and sneered, “Do you believe you can afford it?”
      Hypocrisy quickly replaced dignity and ambition triumphed once again in the Reverend’s unctuous soul; his wife’s stupidity wasn’t worth his glorious career.
      With a sly smile he let the weapon fall and walked out.


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    2. This is incredibly visual. There is something so honest about this scenario, if not its participants, which somehow makes it more horrible.

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    3. Olivia, ever since Jane Eyre (followed by Poldark) the appearance of a Reverend in a story has set the flesh a-creeping on the back of my neck. This is no exception.

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  10. Some Prediction regulars may remember one of my characters, Hackett, from previous encounters. I thought it was about time he came out to play again.


    Selina

    I knew how much the pain ripped at her; the way her lips pared back to reveal clenched teeth, shut like an iron-clad door. Yet somehow, in my mind, her pain sounded like the graze of dozens of tambourines against my ears.

    Selina was my first. From sultry, sanguine grace to fear and futility in just a few minutes, she made what would have been an unpleasant task all the more interesting.

    Butchered meat can look so plump and glorious, a haze of deepest red.

    The scandal is, I never made her suffer enough.

    My name is Hackett. Fear me

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    1. There is just something so chilling about his pride and confidence in his work. The line about butchered meat came close to making me ill. Well done.

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    2. Great use of the words. Visible horror supported by powerful and precise sentences.
      Loved reading it.

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    3. Oh my, Hackett's back, get ready for nightmares... he does it for me every time.

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  11. Cotillion

    I stood at the top of the stairs in a cold sweat. The rumble of genteel conversation below frightened me more than a pack of snapping dogs. Hounds I could quiet, but mine were secure behind an iron gate so as not to disturb the guests.

    Brightly bedecked girls flowed down the steps, sanguine despite the cacophonous swirl, or perhaps because of it. We had been plumped, plucked and primped. Taught to dance, play, flirt, we were admonished above all to avoid scandal.

    My sisters were too young to understand that this was not a party. It was a sale.

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    1. Superbly set up by the title - pretty but ominous,as made clear by that final line.

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    2. Loved the contrast between the genteel conversation and the snapping dogs and the description of the girls. The final line is so perfectly, sadly striking.

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    3. this is a theme you do so well, frighteningly well, it always brings a chill.

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  12. All right, m'dears. The Gates are closed. I shall return tomorrow with winners and words. As always, please feel free to continue commenting.

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