Monday, 5 May 2014

Like a Needle to the Brain

That could describe the headache I've battled since last night, but also the way a story can slide into your head and stay there, a growing presence that requires you to go back and read it again and again. That's what makes a winning entry, at least for me - the sort of story that grabs me and won't let go, so I find myself thinking about it when I'm driving or working in the garden.

This week, there wasn't a single story I didn't think about more than once. Since I have to pick, I'm going with Misdirection by Sandra Davies. That gut-wrenching piece haunted me, not least because it echoes every parent's nightmare of their child being lost or stolen.

Second runner up goes to Noah Heinrich for The Sales Pitch. Very convincing, indeed.

I must give honorable mention to Michael B. Fletcher, whose first ever entry, Fat Chance, was not only delightful, but used all three prompts AND gave us a whole story in just 31 words. I can't wait to see what you do with the full contingent!

And now, the Tome has nudged me so hard I've almost fallen off my chair, and offers us these words.

Silk
Ruthless
Convey

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.

56 comments:

  1. Thank you indeed Rebecca - and congratulations to Noah whose tale instantly transported me to an all-too-brief similar experience ...

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  2. congratulations!!! Sandra, write me something soon, your work is always outstanding. Noah, keep that strange story going, there's a lot there!
    Michael, write more please, to the full 100 words!!!!

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    1. Thanks Antonia, but as for 'more' I'm currently juggling three almost-there novels and two short stories ...

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  3. Congrats Sandra, Noah & Michael! I'm hoping I get to play this week. Life has been rather crazy! :)

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    1. I hope you can play! We've missed you.

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    2. Me too - always enjoy your writing.

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  4. The Mulberry Girl

    Rosin filled her nostrils as she prayed. It reminded her of the violins at the Kraków Philharmonic the night she watched her father play. She wanted to dazzle audiences when she grew up she said.

    She twisted toward the roof. Conveying all her grace under the canvas and lights. She was a Silk, an acrobat. She looked down at the soldiers. Ruthless men, skulls on their caps.

    She sliced the catgut over her wrists, across her throat, twisted the ribbon around her neck and fell. The flag of Poland unfurled as her blood turned the grey soldiers red.

    She dazzled.

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    1. Teasing and tormenting, such vivid imagery, setting one's imagination on high speed. Good to see you here Tony

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    2. good to see you playing again, Tony, this is incredibly vivid, full on on nasty imagery here. Excellent stuff.

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    3. Thank you both Sandra and Antonia. It's been a while for both the Prediction and writing. So honing down to the hundred was a great exercise. Think I'll have to keep coming back to keep myself on my toes. Thanks.

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    4. This is gorgeous! Full of amazing visuals and a deep glimpse into Rosin's psyche. Lovely job.

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    5. Terrifying intent and purpose in this, Tony. Grotesque and beautiful.

      Great to see you writing again. =)

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    6. Thank you so much. You all probably don't know how much that means to me. But I was giving up with writing and due to Phil and Sandra I pushed through. Though you people scare me with your talent. For that I hate you all :)

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  5. Thoughts of insanity

    Hormones conveying double-arrowed messages of lust and lactation laid down a path for me to follow to the coast, the ruthlessness of which prevented me thinking about what I might find.
    About what I wanted to find.

    I never wanted this misbegotten child; had believed its bloody expulsion would herald my release, but his insistence that I feed and nurture it had become a bonding. The agony of my swollen breasts equalled the ache to hold it in my arms.
    Equalled my wondering why he’d taken it; abandoned me.
    Equalled my need to have him slide, ebony silk, within me.

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    1. the continuation is even better than last week's and that's saying something...

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    2. Beautifully poetic. Some great techniques fitted into the 100 words is an impressive achievement. Love the last line.

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    3. Wow, this is amazing. Incredibly visceral in the best possible ways. Well done!

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    4. Thank you all - this is a prime example of how Prediction writing forces one to tighten one's prose and thereby improve - couldn't have done it before.
      Your comments are much appreciated.

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    5. It's almost torture to read this. You convey those needs, so conflicting, perfectly. Beautifully woven, Sandra. Thank you.

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    6. Poetic is the right word. The juxtapositions and turns of phrase come together wonderfully and buoy up the agitated, reflective narrative.

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  6. A change of focus [85]

    ‘You knew his daughter? Biblically?’
    Pettinger’s spike-sharp glance effectively conveyed to his new DC that relinquishing the formality of ‘Sir’ didn’t grant permission for over-familiarity. ‘Cherrystone’s daughter lived by the bible, but I guarantee no-one has ever know her so.’
    Uncertainly flowed like watered silk across the young man’s face: ‘She’s a... nun?’
    Pettinger snorted. ‘More High Priestess, by her reckoning.’
    ‘The seventeen bibles... was she responsible for her father’s death?’
    ‘She’d not’ve needed to bash him over the head – a single lash of her tongue’d be ruthless enough to’ve flayed the poor bugger... Question is, where is she now?’

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    1. Pettinger's story is as sharp as ever, along with his dialogue!

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    2. Sandra, you have such a talent for dialogue! You, and Pettinger never cease to leave me wanting more. Thank you.

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    3. Ha! Love the 'lash of her tongue' line. =)
      Great dialogue, as has already been said. =)

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  7. Thank you all! I have so much fun writing with you guys.

    Lashes
    The rain lashes the windshield with ruthless abandon. Maybe the world is punishing us for traveling to this particular destination. He grips the wheel like it might fly away from him, and talks endlessly.
    “No, what I’m trying to convey to you is that god is just a great explosion beneath the ground, a shockwave that’s shaking us for a million million years and frankly I’ve had enough of it. I don’t know about you. I really don’t.”
    His hair is raw silk and he grins like an addict ten months past his fix. “This car wont last too long.”

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    1. You have the gift - ability - to create such delicious heroes, put them in such enticing situations, that I'm always left me wanting a novel to follow.

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    2. I am completely hooked. "His hair is raw silk and he grins like an addict ten months past his fix." is my favorite! You have a great talent for conveying personality through physical action. Thank you!

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    3. There is so much character in this, Noah. What a ride.

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    4. and ... did the car last out ... and did the driver find another ride and...want more!!

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  9. Well done Sandra, Noah and Michael.

    Dead Perfect

    Her leaf-green eyes accentuated her skin; pale and without blemish, and her hair, dark copper, shimmered beneath the light like strands of silk.

    A beautiful vision in his eyes, a snapshot - a moment of her life caught in wonderful, delicate colour - swirled like the fine filaments of a sunbeam as he gazed at her with ruthless detail.

    She was perfect for him, with fine bone structure that conveyed her willowy frame, but he knew their time together was limited, precious.

    His cold breath feathered her face. Cold, to preserve her.

    Because he liked it when they were dead.

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    1. This is so wrong it's fabulous. That's a compliment, by the way! So full of beautiful, horrifying visuals. I find myself wishing there was more. Thank you.

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    2. Got so lost in the great descriptions that I didn't see the final twist until I was there, despite expecting a twist, and the title! =)

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    3. John, me too! completely forgot it was a 100 word story, so much detail, so much going on it seems much larger!

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  10. Excellent imagery, really puts a picture in your head. And then that last line really makes you read it a second time, and feel creeped out. Good job!

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  11. Elegant prose with a stunning conclusion. Beautifully macabre.

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  12. It’s Gonna Be A Great Show (5)

    Journal: 5/10

    Adam visited this morning, checking on the work. He stood there in his purple silk tie, glad-handing the cleaning crew and lecturing them about safety. He knows damned well the “accidents” are nothing of the sort. Ruthless shit.

    Emily doesn’t like him. I think he scares her. She conveyed her displeasure by blowing dust all over his three hundred dollar shoes. He told me to have the windows fixed and left in a storm of indignation.

    A small, frowny face appeared in the dust and was quickly blown away.

    “He shouldn’t come here. They want him to stay.”

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    1. This promises so much, sets the scene efficiently and with purpose. Love the 'small frowny face.'

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    2. I like the fact the spirits, or Emily at least, have more personality than just evil ghosties. Really enjoying this, Colleen.

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    3. this gets better all the time, the characters are really getting to me. I want to know more.

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    4. A great next chapter! You have a gift for telling us a lot about characters with just a few words, and leave us wanting to learn more.

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  13. Congratulations Sandra, Noah. =)
    And Michael, a great start! =)


    (alpha)

    “His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

    Its voice is like silk: smooth, soft, with shimmering depths. It tucks the bible somewhere within its absent existence.

    Mindmap bounces into Alpha’s brain.

    SINGULARITY IS EN ROUTE.

    Singularity’s already here, Mindy. Quoting scripture.

    OH. OKAY. SAY HI.


    Singularity is immune to psychic powers. Sometimes Alpha envies that.

    QUAKE IS UNDERNEATH YOU. RIGHT NOW. CAN I SAY IT? CAN I? CAN I?

    Her enthusiasm is ruthless. Alpha catches Thunder’s eye, his look conveys everything.

    Go ahead, Mindy.

    GUARDIANS ARE GO!


    Alpha, Thunder, Quake, Singularity. They are heroes, champions, protectors. They are the Guardians.

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    1. this comes to life with a vividness that again outweighs the 100 word limit, every single time we have an instalment. That takes some doing!

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    2. Mindy made me laugh! Antonia has the right of it. There is so much here, every time. I loved the last few lines. Thank you.

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  15. (rise)

    George stormed away, disappearing into the dark basement.

    The wavering illumination of the torches reflected glassily from Ruth’s eyes. Her hands – held to her sides – had the slightest tremor. She, too, turned and fled, though in a different direction.

    Olivia felt stunned, unable to move. Thoughts slipped away from her like sunlight on silk.

    People are complex, more than any machine.

    Her father had tried to convey such things to her many times. She was only just beginning to understand.

    “Well,” Charlie said, “I’ve never felt so–”

    “Don’t.” Harry interrupted.

    “What?”

    “You were going to say ‘Ruthless.’”

    “No ... Maybe.”

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  16. I wasn't going to add more, just make a note for the next episode, but then it just happened, and the words fell into place...


    (rise)

    Harry shook his head, “that doesn’t even make sense.”

    “’Ruthless,’” Charlie spread his hands, as if it was obvious, “without Ruth.”

    “No. I get it. But a pun has to work both ways, dunnit? And you are the least ruthless person I know.”

    “Exactly.”

    Harry made a strangled noise, “It doesn’t work. What you’re trying to convey in this situation–”

    “I was just trying to break the tension,” Charlie looked crestfallen, “I’m sorry.”

    “No,” Harry relented, “I’m sorry, Charlie. You was trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and I went and made it worse.”

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    1. it feels perfect, it feels like you spent ages writing these two, rather than the words just falling into place, but I know that feeling well and love it!
      This carries the story ever onward beautifully, loads of drama.

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    2. Mmmm...loved having the bonus chapter come up this week. Beautiful flow from one to the other. Thank you.

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  17. Infinity 54.
    This here captain be ruthless enough to take on the pirate ship I saw out there. The call come down from the crow’s nest and there it were, a’sailing right for us. Be damned if it didn’t carry a cargo of silk. Such riches! ‘Convey my regards to your Maker’ I told the captain ere I threw him overboard.
    The crew be happy, bounty on board to divide when we next dock and trade the stuff for what we really need, gold.
    Be I happy? The shadows be banished for a while but I be damned sure they’ll be back.

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    1. Poor captain! I always feel a bit sad for him. I do love the sound of his voice in my head as I read. One of the most difficult things I find to write is accent or dialect. You do it beautifully.

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    2. Ah, the first need is for gold, over sustenance and all else. The hoard is what matters. I'd pity the pirate life, if we were not all struck by the same affliction...

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  18. Anniversary

    Falling in layers, falling apart, rotting silk conveys in scent the enormity of what I’ve lost. One day. One happy day. Maybe a week. Two? Not a whole month. Never a year.

    He loved me. I remember that. It was his undoing.

    She was ruthless, his ex. Never laid a hand on us. Never showed her face. Just systematically destroyed his reputation, his credit, his faith. Then he started looking sideways at me.

    Watery sunlight strikes remnants of a gown that was to herald a new chapter. It did that, if not as intended. He hanged himself with my veil.

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    1. Reads beautifully, making the shock of the blunt final sentence all the more striking.

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  19. This is so sadly beautiful. Full of wonderfully decayed visuals that I just love. The poignancy of the final line sticks me every time I read it. Thank you.

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  20. And that's the game, my loves. Thank you all so much for playing! I'm going to have a very difficult time choosing this week! As always, please feel free to continue commenting as you will. The gates are closed!

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