Sunday, 9 March 2014

The doors, they open...and close.

Good evening.
As you know, RR and I have finally finished the Seth and Nate series.  It is so bittersweet for me.  This series has been such an amazing challenge and writing it has taught me so much.  I am both saddened and excited by its end.  I cannot wait to take all the new skills I've learned, and the new found confidence your support has given me, and write new things.  But I will miss those boys.  RR and I agree that at this time, we both would like them to come back, but not for awhile.  We put them through hell and they deserve some rest.

In the meantime, let's get on with winners and words.

Our winner this week is AJ Humpage with Sliced:  This is such a deeply frightening story.  So much feeling and back story in so few words.  The sense of quiet acceptance of both the act and the time to be spent in jail, is a quiet terror all its own.  Thank you.

In second place is Olivia Arieti with The Poem:  As I mentioned, I shared this young one's struggle with the restricting nature of iambic pentameter.  I love the boy's rebellion and your use of the prompts was lovely.  Thank you.

And finally, I hope no one will mind if give Honorable Mention to RR Kovar for Last Supper:  Not only is just damned fine writing, but it is also a simply perfect closing to this series. Thank you again, m'dear.

And now the Tome has had a bit of bacon and has given us new words.

Honey
Bonus
Rumor

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.

The gates are open!

88 comments:

  1. Congratulations AJ and Olivia, fine writing, as is RR's contribution at the end. I feel we have all come a long way since the Prediction started, which is why I am throwing out the invitation to check out my open call anthologies at Horrified Press. I am looking for this level of top class writing to match the incredible level of artwork being done for the covers, like you would not believe...

    I know I have learned a lot from working with the words each week, and keep encouraging others to join in. Apart from anything else, it's the joy of reading the pieces others create.

    I like the words this week, will see what the Captain makes of them...

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  2. Congratulations to AJ and Olivia! And thank you for the HM, Colleen.

    I'm diving right in:

    Investment

    “Bette earned her bonus the old fashioned way.” The girls in the typing pool giggle, having heard the rumors.

    Pouty pink lips purse at my approach. They turn away, presenting a neat row of honey-blonde ponytails and tight French twists, pretending to be scandalized, wanting to peek but afraid of reprimand from the herd. Not one will look me in the eye, some instinct warning against it.

    I am everything they fear, all curves and mounds encased in black, balanced comfortably in obscenely expensive shoes, and I did earn my promotion the old fashioned way. I purchased the right spell.

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    Replies
    1. Perfect delineation of characters. Enchanted by the last line.

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    2. I loved the tone and humor in the first paragraph and the description of the typing pool women. I was pleasantly surprised with the final line. :)

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    3. Well-observed office politics and teasing, pleasing ending.

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    4. been there a few times in the past, nice one! Beautifully portrayed office politics!

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    5. Humorously and well-described scene. I was wondering what the twist would be, and was satisfied when it was delivered. =)

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    6. This is a great story! I liked the twist at the end, and the way you capture the atmosphere of the office.

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  3. My first thought here was Betty Page. LOL. Had to chuckle at the end. Honestly didn't see that coming. The last paragraph is killer. Fun reading! Thank you!

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  4. Congratulations, AJ and RR and thanks a lot for the second place. The challenge is hard with such wonderful writers and the stories are always so great!

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  5. Congrats AJ, Olivia and Rebecca!

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  6. Archive

    The archivist was a bonus. Rumored to hold Astranaiya’s entire history in her small shaved head, the honey-eyed woman was worth more than two Itharakian freighters combined. Ships could be built, of scrap or new forged metal, but archivists had to be bred.

    Cheeks splitting unnaturally to show a full set of sharp, purple-hued teeth, Dragas Pano smiled at his captive. “Tell me of the Star Lords,” he said.

    The archivist licked her lips and looked away from Dragas’ purposeful stare. “We know nothing beyond their betrayal.”

    Her voice lacked the scent of truth.

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    1. Yeah!! Archivists 'had to be bred' - wonderful truth, and I loved the final sentence.

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    2. Wonderful description of the archivist. Her reply is so suggestive, a perfect anticipation of the powerful final line.

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    3. I definitely want to know more! Great use of the prompts. I must agree with the others. The final line is brilliant.

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    4. Your ability to build worlds in few words is beyond brilliant. I was completely sucked in and longing for more.

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    5. so much going on here, such carefully delineated characters (something I keep telling people to do, not over describe) punctuated with sharp dialogue. Wonderful stuff.

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    6. Gorgeous descriptions and expansive evocation of another otherworld. I could read a whole book of this. =)

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  7. Well done A J and Olivia, and sad but heartfelt congratulations to Rebecca and Colleen for their wonderful saga of Seth and Nate and thanks for not allowing it to be The End. (Though in my experience such characters wouldn't allow it anyway)

    Labour-intensive

    ‘Baseborn’ the fifteenth-century word for babes born out of wedlock. ‘Misbegotten’ better-described this unwanted bonus of the honey-rippled ecstasy delivered by a narrow-buttocked boy whose rumoured capable-of-delivery cock turned out to be bigger than his brain.

    Throughout the morning I paced the seven-bedroom length of the upstairs landing; he providing food and drink while forbidding me to go downstairs.

    Midday the pain became fierce, frequent: he steered me to a narrow bed. Shaded window, knotted towel brought Melanie Wilkes’ ordeal to mind.
    But mine was no Civil War.
    No civility at all.
    I screamed. Tore.
    Bore down.
    Again.
    Delivered.
    ‘Boy.’

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    1. Fierce and distressing, this is well written. I loved the setup in the beginning and it's transition to short, curt statements befitting the scene. I'm very curious what will happen next for the mother and her baseborn child.

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    2. The final lines have the strength of poetry. Loved the image of the "unwanted bonus of the honey-rippled ecstasy", so sadly dramatic.

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    3. The lines in the first part mirror the pacing beautifully, and the second half captures the fragmented nature of childbirth. I am terribly afraid for that baby boy, however ill-conceived he may have been.

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    4. there will be more, yes? there had better be more... you can't leave it (and us)in limbo like that forever!!

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    5. Starting of with broad strokes of avoidance, and then bringing us sharply into the moment with the harshly pared prose of the delivery itself.

      Zaiure described it perfectly... "Fierce and distressing."

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    6. I agree with Antonia...please give us more! The description of the birthing process...really spot on. Thank you!

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  8. Dare You

    In the center of the room was a circle, and in the center of the circle was… a different shape. When it spoke, its voice sounded like honey poured over a razor blade.
    “I heard rumors of a new warlock in town. Come closer. Let me see your face.”
    For just a second the woman found herself stepping forward. The voice sounded so sweet and rich. Then she remembered her training, and her purpose. “I’m not going anywhere near you.”
    “Oh please,” drawled the voice. “You don’t just want power. That’s only a bonus. You’re here for the excitement, yes?.”

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    Replies
    1. Oh, wow - 'honey poured over a razor blade' - I was trying to come up with something like this but never in a month of Sundays would I have thought of this. Excellent stuff, and good to see a new face here

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    2. I agree with Sandra, loved the description 'honey poured over a razor blade'. Very creative. I like the reference to her 'training and purpose', as it makes me want to learn more about her reason for being there. Final line also gives us a tantalizing hook for more.

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    3. "Honey poured over a razor blade" is such a terrifying and strong image. I loved it too!

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    4. This makes a great hook for a serial! You've woven the prompts in beautifully. Please do stick around!

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    5. Welcome, and thank you for sharing your story!

      I like that she's a warlock, not a witch, and savvy enough in her trade not to fall at the first temptation, but I get the feeling that the presence in the middle of the circle is quite good at getting those who call to slip up. Very well done.

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    6. So good to have a new voice and so good to find such an exciting story, too! Loved this. More, much more, please

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    7. The best thing about summoning circles in fiction is the tug of war between summoner and summonee, captured brilliantly here.

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  10. Honey's Cooking Tonight

    She’d been sitting at the bar for maybe five minutes before the first one approached and brazenly slid his hand down her back.

    “What’s your name, gorgeous?”

    Her lips quirked in amusement.

    “Honey Bonus.”

    “Well, Honey Bonus, that sounds like a hooker name.”

    “False rumor…stripper name.”

    She glanced at me as I tapped a beer and slid it down the bar. I nodded, just once.”

    Moments later he was out the door. Honey grabbed her purse, leaning over the bar as I approached. She kissed me fiercely, sliding a hand down to squeeze my breast.

    “Flank steaks for dinner, babe.”

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    Replies
    1. Nasty. Very nasty. And nastier with each succeeding read.

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    2. Definitely a nasty surprise at the end with a killer final line.

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    3. A fabulously wicked final line. Very dynamic dialogue.

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    4. I hope you understand the deep compliment implied in my first reaction: You are so *wrong!* This is delightfully macabre.

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    5. definitely delightfully macabre, couldn't have phrased it better. Killer line there, Colleen, your 'nasty' imagination is showing through big time!

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    6. Fresh meat, locally sourced. Very community minded... ;)

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    7. I love this one! I had to read it a few times, and it got better each time as I saw through the entendres.

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  11. Repressed

    It was the prudish unattractive lady’s first bonus and despite the disturbing rumours concerning the prize she resolved not to renounce to what had always tickled her most morbid fantasies.
    Her girlfriends’ sly whispers and sneers would come to an end; at last she, too, would have her taste of honey.

    The place was obscure and two bare-chested guys in black trousers and spike gloves stood by the entrance where a sign in Gothic font read, “The Dungeon.”
    The lady showed the card, smiled alluringly and entered.
    After exchanging a disconsolate glance the studs followed and locked the door.



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    1. Oh God this is SO awful-ly sad!! And thus horrific for what is not said but thought. And horribly insightful.
      But very well written!!

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    2. Sadness, embarrassment and fear. Those are the three things I feel for this woman, each time I read this. The strength of those feelings is a testament to your skill. This is a perfectly crafted piece of writing. Thank you!

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    3. At first, I was with the others in feeling a bit sad, but then I realized how strong she was in her determination, and how it didn't matter at all what the studs thought of her. She had the ticket, and for once, it was all about her.

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    4. Clever writing, Olivia, this has layers and you need to re-read to find the layers. Good one.

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    5. Definitely a multi-layered piece. I agree with Rebecca that her determination does come through, though I'm curious if she'll find her way out at the end.

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    6. An adult golden ticket... with a grown up mix of emotions. Well done. =)

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  12. A change of focus [78]

    Since all subtle intimations of disinterest sunk like honey into toast, DI John Pettinger sought stronger deterrents for Mildred Jones, preferably without incurring wrath. Bonus points if it also absolved Vanessa.
    ‘Mildred, you heard how fluently I spoke Khakbethian? May have heard the rumours?’
    ‘No?’
    He glanced round, faux-fearful of eavesdroppers. ‘Truth is, I’m third in line there... and DCI Quintain –’
    Mildred’s expression turned disdainful, ‘Is corrupt.’
    ‘No! She might sometimes appear... compromised, because she has a dual role, as my... undercover bodyguard –’
    ‘Purely professional?’
    ‘Of course! But highly secret.’
    ‘In that case... I could be your princess!’

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    Replies
    1. Ha! I am sorry to say that I love how far John is in this particular hole, and how all attempts to extract himself wind up with him digging it deeper. This made me cackle.

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    2. Pettinger's pit... will he climb out of it, we ask ourselves... and if so... how?
      Brilliant instalment, Sandra!

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    3. Several great lines in this, as usual. Loved 'subtle intimations of disinterest sunk like honey into toast' and 'faux-fearful of eavesdroppers'. Final line made me laugh! :)

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    4. Ha ha! Tables turned, and turned again. =D

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    5. The poor man can't win for losing! I'm starting to feel quite sorry for him. But I can't help chuckling as well. Thank you!

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  13. Glorious Madness

    The rumours were frightening; nobody would have ever entered the ghastly tower but the intrepid knight didn’t listen; certainly a sad damsel was locked up waiting to be rescued, a bonus sweeter than honey for the valiant heart.
    With quixotic ardour he dashed up the stairs, noble virtues and ideals his only weapons.

    A macabre figure in the garments of death opened the door and cried, “How dare you to pursue the glory of illusion, you fool?”
    Then with a horrifying sickle she cut off his head that tumbled down leaving a blood stained dream on each step.

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    1. there I was, thinking 'this is perfect knight-gallant-rescue-of-lady writing; when we reach that last line and wow! it's a shocker for all the fairy tale writing before leads you into thinking that way.

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    2. Set us up so beautifully and then knocked us down with a delicious final image.

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    3. Loved the shock of this, and turning the familiar damsel in distress tale on its head! You set the stage so well in the beginning with 'certainly a sad damsel was locked up waiting to be rescued'. :)

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    4. One of the great things about drabbles is that twists have to be turned around in such a short space and often end up all the more brutal for it. As here.

      The "blood stained dream on each step" is a real stroke of genius, and the icing on the cherry. =)

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    5. I do enjoy it when tropes are set on their sides. The knight was too innocent, and heedless of caution (as knights are wont to be). The ending was a shock, but a satisfying one.

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    6. I suppose it's my rather macabre sense of humor, but I was truly tickled and enchanted by the last line. And now I can't get ...his head that tumbled down leaving a blood stained dream on each step. What a vivid image! Thank you!

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  14. Infinity 47.
    The call went out for ‘land ahoy!’ and we set full sail to catch the wind rumoured to take many a ship to the ocean bed. We sailed into a sheltered bay on a tide running smooth as honey – after I called a bonus for them as got us there.
    Tis a fine place we are at, quiet too. That could change, very likely will, nothing ever stays as it is but we can rest the Infinity’s weary timbers. God willing, of course. Best not leave Him out of the equation. We might yet have to deal with His counterpart.

    Would you believe the Captain and I wrote this to the background sound of the foghorns off the shore, warning shipping on the Solent beware of rocks...We live with the sound of the sea, high and low tides, fog, seagulls, they become part of life until the foghorns start, so mournful, so sad, they bring the chill of evening with them. I hope they aren't going to be going all night...

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    1. Someone on FB mentioned foghorns in Southampton this morning ...
      And no wonder you are so tuned into the Captain's voice, turning your hand to smoothly encompass whatever prompts are thrown your way. Superb final line.

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    2. Foghorns always make me think of gray, damp, foggy mornings, so I felt transported to the evening with how this closed. :) Loved the description of 'tide running smooth as honey'.

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    3. I had to travel in the fog yesterday morning, couldn't see more than a couple of hundred metres from the train window and nothing more than silhouetted tree skeletons. I would not have been surprised to have emerged into some strange new world.

      A bit of a pause for the Captain, though those last few lines hint perhaps at troubles yet to come...

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    4. Foghorns are always so evocative and combined with the sounds of the ocean become sinisterly dramatic. Loved the image of the tide that anticipates the one of the "fine place".

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    5. The tension in the first line, followed by the humor of the bonus being more important than the risk to life, was so smoothly done. I breathed a sigh of relief that the captain gets a moment's rest, and think he's wise to give a nod to God but not discount the other fellow.

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    6. I LOVE the entire last paragraph of this. Could smell, see, and hear everything. I agree with RR. The Captain is wise to be thanking God, and to be wary of the other guy. Thank you!

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  15. Apologies for my absence, between computer woes and putting together the third issue of 101 Fiction, the Prediction kept slipping me by...

    I was in to read though. Couldn't miss Seth and Nate's conclusion - awesome stuff. =)

    I've an episode of Cosmic Discord in the works, but until then, a little fun...


    Pheromones

    Henry sketched golden whorls in the gooey remnants of honey on Julie’s belly.

    “Well,” he licked his finger, “this was an unexpected bonus.”

    “Oh, god.” Julie groaned.

    “It was pretty good.”

    “Shut. Up.”

    “Enjoy the moment. I understand.”

    “How? Why?”

    “I know, bee demons. Weirdest yet.”

    “Pheromones in the hive, maybe.”

    “Pure animal attraction,” he replied.

    “Survival instinct. Near-death experience provoking urge to breed.”

    “Whoa. Slow down.”

    “Just. Stop. Talking. And don’t tell anyone.”

    “Wouldn’t want to start any rumours.”

    “Exactly.”

    “Just our little secret affair.”

    “Yes. No. No affair. Nothing happened.”

    “Well,” Henry hesitated, “this is a sticky situation.”

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    1. Laughed out loud at this! Loved the humor and the back and forth between Henry and Julie and how the story unraveled. First line is a definite attention grabber.

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    2. Great dialogue and greater final line! Loved the image of "bee demons" and the part of "Survival instinct..."

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    3. I'm with Zaiure. I laughed each time I read it. And every time, the back story and their relationship seemed to fill in. Beautifully done with only dialogue.

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    4. Three reads through and I'm still giggling. So very...awkward. Really well done, John. And I'm thrilled to see you back for a bit. Thank you!

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  16. Brought a smile to my face this ... and the sky outside my window is blushing pink.

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  17. Well done Olivia. I'm late to the party again, been way too busy with so much stuff. There doesn't seem enough hours in the day. Meh.

    Hunger Game

    It was said that she provided succour.

    Many had sought her fleshy, ample frame and what those succulent honey-dew lips could do; feasting on her sexual scents and salacious sentiments - at the right price. Rumour was, she was never short of clients.

    It didn’t matter to Selma that I was her first woman. Business was business; I needed more than just company. I needed relief and sustenance. It had been months since my last encounter.

    She pleased me.

    Provided for me. All that meat and marrow. An added bonus. She’ll feed me for months.

    She was worth every penny.

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    1. Delightfully horrifying! Loved the twist and double meaning of 'I needed relief and sustenance' followed by 'all that meat and marrow'. Didn't see that coming!

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    2. Nasty! And what a different movie this would have made... ;)

      Great prose, AJ.

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    3. Really enchanting! A sadly wicked and insightful description of one of Selma's clients.

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    4. The title should have given it away, but I was ensnared by the rhythm of the words. Fabulous description and a horrifying end.

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    5. Oh this is just brilliant! I LOVE it. Great twist at the end! Nasty indeed! Thank you!

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  18. Another from me, and back to finish commenting tomorrow. =)


    (Cosmic Discord)

    The Silent Symphony hummed to life; not in sound, but in sensation. She purred softly through our very souls, subtle as a rumour and twice as deadly.

    Masters Cameron and Blake disappeared below decks to the gunnery – a caution only, conflict having no part in our plans. The break from the pair’s constant squabbling was a pleasing bonus.

    Doc was on sensors and I on shields, though neither of us had anything but hasty training for such.

    “Well, honey,” Harriet stroked the command panel as it extended in a smooth arc around her, “ready to give them another run around?”

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    1. Smooth as silk this prose, especially liked "subtle as a rumour and twice as deadly".

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    2. So much delicious wordplay. Loved the second sentence, as well as the description of how the command panel extended around Harriet. Loved how organic the ship feels!

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    3. You make me want to read science fiction again, and it has been a long time since someone has capture my attention and held it on a space ship. The characters are so real to me. I would read a whole book of this.

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    4. A great set-up to what could be a great story. I like how you capture the essence and history of the characters and setting in so few words.

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    5. Second line is killer! Beautifully written piece. I'm hooked. Thank you!

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  19. And so another weekly challenge comes to an end. Amazing work, my friends. I am closing the gates, but they are always open for comments on the stories. Winners and words upon the morrow.

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