Monday, 28 July 2014

Brain fog.

It's been a bit hot and humid here for the last few days.  Such periods of time tend to make my brain feel as damp and foggy as the weather.  I've admittedly been suffering from a bit of writer's block as well the last couple of weeks.  In spite of my own difficulties, I'm thrilled each week to read your stories.

And so, one hopes that posting winners and words will help break my own block.

Our winner this week is Antonia Woodville with Infinity (63):  The Captain never ceases to entertain and intrigue!  As ever, the tone and cadence of his voice rings through your writing, Antonia.  Thank you!

The Tome has been, like myself, a bit cranky with the heat, poor dear.  Its fur has gotten a bit knotty with the humidity and I have discovered it does not appreciate being brushed.  However, I've managed to coax it out from under the bed to give us some new words.

Cruel
Fossil
Muzzle

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. Serialized fiction is, as always, welcome. All variants and use of the words and stems are fine. You have until 11 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time) Friday, Augst 1st.

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.

All right darlings,
The Gates Are Open!

37 comments:

  1. thanks, Colleen!! always a thrill to be chosen.
    The captain is puzzled by the words, we will see what he comes up with..

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  2. Congratulations, Antonia. Always great!

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  3. Well done Antonia - the Captain always deserving of praise.

    Hide and seek

    Wet noses muzzled beneath my skirt. Helvinsson’s hounds, docile now but easy roused to kill should he say the word. He called them back, looking briefly to what they’d revealed, his soft youth contrasting, in the sunlight, almost cruelly with the sometimes fossil cragginess of Ravenscar.
    But Helvinsson’s blue eyes expressed an avidness I’d prefer to see in black, to counter which I asked, ‘Where has he gone?’
    ‘Across the water.’
    ‘Will he be safe, away from your protection?’
    ‘Do you need him to be? He told me you are nothing to him.’
    Suddenly bereft of nipple, the baby cried.

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    1. saying so much in this limited word space, 100 doesn't give much room but you're still painting the story as vividly as if you had 500 words to work with!

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    2. There's a lot here, Sandra, told and untold. As Antonia says, telling more story than the word count. You create such complexity of character in a few deceptively simple strokes.

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    3. A subtle dramatic pathos pervades the narration; it becomes more incisive in the final lines that make you want to read more.

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  4. Haunts

    Helen had buried the weapon with the hope it would become an undiscovered fossil embedded in eternity; she couldn’t do likewise with the memory of her horrid deed by now a spectral haunt.
    Especially at night time her partner’s cruel face appeared like the muzzle of a wild dog with eyes spitting fire and jaws smeared with hellish froth.
    “I’ll catch up with you, bitch,” was the promise that echoed in the darkness.
    The voice kept hollering even after the knife had been pulled out, determined to leave the last breath, the last rattle snaking on her bed.

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    1. Perfect title, excellent last sentence.

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    2. tremendous build up of nastiness and horror going on here, Olivia. I particularly liked 'the promise that echoed in the darkness.'
      Nice one.

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    3. I really like the visceral degree of the haunting... the "jaws smeared with hellish froth."

      Dark deeds do not go gentle into that good night...

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  5. A change of focus [95]

    Edward Cherrystone’s wife would’ve fossilized his cock had she been able; a desire echoed by his youngest daughters. Only first-born Faith lived life hot-blooded, Cherrystone ever-ruing his inability to muzzle his wife and prevent the eviscerating voicing of her opinions.

    John Pettinger, unwillingly observing the pitilessly illuminated cadaver at his post-mortem, was struck anew at the cruelty of a death likely dealt by one of these two daughters.
    Had Charity struck the fatal blow? Or Hope?

    Vibrating notification of a text from DC Brickwood: CHARITY WITH MOTHER which made no sense at all -– the bitch’d died ten years ago.

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    1. sometimes Blogger is a real nasty piece of work. No, mostly Blogger is a nasty piece of work. I write my comment, choose my reply as bit, it goes to an empty box, so I repeat the posting, it switches the captcha just as I decide what it is and just now, froze solid. OK, so I like this instalment of Change of Focus, which is just as well as it kept me looking at it for what felt like ages!
      And it is an excellent instalment!

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    2. Once you're on the slab cosmetic lighting is rarely the prime consideration... ;)

      And yet another twist? You are so good at them. =)

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  6. the week has been overly hot, overly tiring, there have been demands on the brain which doesn't cope well with lack of sleep but somehow the Captain came through. He's honoured and pleased we were chosen last week, he said we have to keep the standards going, for sure we do, but oh it's tough when you're hot and tired!
    Whatever, here goes
    Infinity 64.
    Tis cruel of me not to tell the crew why we passed by the harbor they so wanted to visit. But they don’t be knowing of the creature muzzled and bound in my cabin, the one they don’t see. They think it be a fossil what come up in the nets one time when we fished, but it baint such a thing at all. It be a living dangerous thing and I be the one controlling it. Black arts? Perhaps it be so but I been sailing for hundreds of years, I be knowing what they don’t. They’re safe – just.

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    1. I have to wonder what the shadows make of this creature, and what the captain plans to do with it. Great episode. =)

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    2. Loved the image of the fossil in the net. The last words somehow quieten the fearful evocations... till when?

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  7. Oh, wow! The Captain has seized the prompts this week and brandished them most gloriously - and that final 'just' sends a shiver.

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  8. Wrote one for last week, then time and memory slipped a little and the deadline was gone...


    (rise) #37

    Olivia tried to understand what had happened. Ruth had wanted her gone, had said cruel things, but Olivia couldn’t help feeling responsible for making Ruth and George fight. She was the outsider here.

    “Ah,” she said. The brothers looked at her. “Shouldn’t we do something?”

    “Yeah,” Harry nodded, “yeah. Don’t guess Ruth’d be too chuffed to see you though. We’ll go after her.”

    “Oh good,” Charlie looked uneasy, “and here I forgot to bring a muzzle.”

    “She ain’t gonna bite.” Harry swatted him on the shoulder. “Probably. Let’s just bury our smart tongues. Real deep. Like, fossils and coal deep.”

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    Replies
    1. Vivid scene-building as ever. Enjoyed 'chuffed' and 'swatting'.

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    2. The normal-seeming dialogue carries undertones of menace throughout, not easy to do. Good instalment.

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  9. (alpha) #31

    “The bubble continues below London,” Quake says. “Also, it is impregnable. I cannot pass.”

    Quake moves through and disturbs solid matter. He travels underground, amongst deep roots, fossils, and buried history.

    This is his home turf. His parents, Russian emigrants, wanted a life of finance for him, of old school ties and a political future. They named him Quentin, cruel fuel for public school bullies. He renamed himself Quake.

    “So,” Alpha takes stock, “it’s resistant to physical strength, to phasing and to teleportation.”

    “Effectively muzzling us,” Thunder says. “Alien tech?”

    “Like none we’ve encountered. We’re in England. I’m guessing magic.”

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    1. Wonderfully human and superb final line. Actually, superb all lines. Much enjoyed this.

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    2. A most impressive description; Quake 's underground journey is dramatically vivid and deep. I cannot but agree with Sandra, the last line is superb.

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    3. A most impressive description; Quake 's underground journey is dramatically vivid and deep. I cannot but agree with Sandra, the last line is superb.

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    4. liked the sharp observations in this, the comment that Quentin was a gift to bullies, that kind of thing makes the dialogue ring true. And it is true, actually!

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  10. Well done indeed Antonia!

    Coda

    He came with a trusting face.

    Lithe spectres, shaded by toxic black clouds that blocked out the sun, tip-toed from broken doorways, afraid of the silence. The blackened remnants of buildings lay scattered like strewn fossils ripped open by explosions. The smoke parted.

    Another survivor, we thought, to join the sickly sack of bones that cowered in the shade; people who remained muzzled by the shrill hiss of bombs and the stutter of gunfire.

    He came with a trusting face - beautiful big eyes that hid cruel sentimentality. And a bomb strapped to his chest.

    He was just a child.

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    1. Ow!! Simple horror, all too real and easy perpetrated.

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    2. Stunningly brutal. Absolutely gorgeous descriptions in the second and third paragraphs. Great structure with the repetition and a real gut punch of a reveal. Excellent.

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  11. Poignant and horrifying. Sadly, too realistic.

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    1. absolutely. Olivia has nailed it. Terrifying visions which are all too real.

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  12. Deadeye

    Waiting, Joshua took stock: two score bits of round metal, tinted goggles, six pieces of real paper, numerous blades, pouch holding precious black grains. And the heavy weight of a muzzle-loading pistol, fossil of an ancient era, no plastic or tech. People would kill for it now. Some tried.

    Three men approached, the leader wielding swords and cruel smile. “Son, we’ve come for that gun.”

    “Paper’s worth more.”

    “Gun.”

    Fluent, Joshua stood, shot. Forehead, dead center.

    Shocked whisper, “Gun mage.”

    Strangled reply, “Apparently.”

    “Bury our father deep. You don’t want him raised.” Joshua moved off, certain his brothers wouldn’t follow.

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    1. Yeah, so that should read:

      Fluid, Joshua stood...

      *headdesk*

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    2. It's clever that you read 'son' at first as a figure of speech, but a re-read deepens the meaning. A great little post-apocalyptic scene.

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  13. Heavens, this is so much bigger than the number of words it took to tell it, and what a wicked twist. Clever and intriguing.
    [Have to wonder - you do brothers so well, do you have several of them?]

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    1. Thank you. I have only one brother, but I spent years and years hanging out or living platonically with groups of men. One gets a feel for how they interact.

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    2. sharp dialogue here too, it seems to be a theme with Prediction writers, they handle dialogue superbly.
      Excellent read.

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  14. I am closing up the gates. I will be back tomorrow to comment and post winners and words. Thank you all for coming to play this week.

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