Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Too many leaks.

Sometimes the world just seems too big and all the "things" be they mental demons or mundane tasks, start to leak through the walls of a constructed life and go sluicing away.  And like the little boy who stuck his finger in the dyke, you can stop one or maybe two of those leaks, but if anything else cracks, you're pretty much screwed.  So you stand there, unable to move to do anything to fix the leak you've got a finger jammed into, and pray nothing else breaks. That feeling of being both overwhelmed and unable to act is potent beyond measure.  It is fear, helplessness, hopelessness, fight or flight, frustration, and finally, resignation. It can lead a person to some pretty interesting places...and actions.  

I could not decide this week, between two of your tales, and so we have a tie.

First is David Barber with Chunky:  There is so much unspoken here, all perfectly conveyed by so very few words. The sense of defeat and frustration, combined with a final act, both desperate and defiant, is so strong here. This story made me want to cry with the intensity of personal memories brought to the forefront.  This is, in fact, a total compliment.  To me, good horror is supposed to do that on some levels and you've done it perfectly.  Thank you.

Also far too good not to be in first place is Antonia Woodville's Infinity 71:  "...perhaps I be casting too many spells or taking too much on these old shoulders. " is my favorite line here.  Again, here is a piece that conveys so much.  The Captain's voice has always been a very quiet one, in my head.  Here it remains so, but feels as if it has also taken on a desperate quality in his impatience. I hear a soft growling in my head now, as he speaks.  Thank you.

The Tome has also grown impatient and has grudgingly spat out some new words.

Pebble
Cord
Bittersweet

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, .Oct 10th.

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.

40 comments:

  1. Congratulations, David, a worthy winner! Thanks, Colleen, the Captain continues to entertain, which is brilliant.
    Good words... let's see what everyone does with them this time!

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  3. Abandon

    Shielding her eyes from the unrelenting sun, Recka rolled the pebble around her mouth and dreamed of water. The cord that’d bound her skirts tight for decency now wound through her hair, freeing her neck for the breeze that came rarely. Sweat sprang from her pores and dried instantly into salty gems across her sun-blushed skin.

    Freedom, it seemed, was bittersweet. Jay could not find her here, could not drag her back. But she’d traded his fists for the sun’s cruel eye, and the harsh touch of the burning sand beneath her feet.

    Perhaps life was not hers to keep.

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    1. The heat and dryness well-evoked, and I especially liked the skirts tied for decency and the 'salty gems'.

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    2. this is delicious, in that it carries a multitude of pictures swiftly brought to mind. Loved it.

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    3. This evoked some strong imagery and made me wonder in the end if she had escaped her violent partner or whether it was just a temporary escape, very well written.

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    4. SUCH strong impact on all the senses here. I love it. "The cord that’d bound her skirts tight for decency now wound through her hair, freeing her neck for the breeze that came rarely. " This is a gorgeous sentence. Thank you!

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  4. Congrats David & Antonia! :)

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  5. Idiot that I am I read my written 'cord' as 'card' and struggled to fit it in - apologies, and thanks for posting early enough Zaiure to save me further embarrassment..
    And congratulations to David and Antonia.

    A change of focus 103

    Despite his cordless phone, Pettinger was rooted to the spot as they told him; detached police reaction impossible when the crime was personal. More personal than he’d imagined it could be. Sick fear lodged, pebble-like, in the hollow of his throat, as he tried to make sense of what was being said – stuff about a shredded bible and a wingless bird.
    ‘Laid at her head. There were other objects – bones and ribbons, baby shoes. We got your name from what was written on her back –‘
    ‘Written –?’
    ‘With a scalpel –‘
    Brickwood’s being right was bittersweet.
    Charity’s revenge long-held.

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    1. Nasty and intriguing. I liked the remnants left around the body, they piqued my interest, and the line 'sick fear lodged, pebble-like, in the hollow of his throat'.

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    2. oh yes, echoing Zaiure's favourite line in this, it was mine too! Very nasty and very interesting. Where does this go next??

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    3. Great use of the words given and if the collected tale so far is available I would be very curious to read it, morbid noir is always of interest to me, but an enjoyable 'chapter' nonetheless

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  6. Congrats. Good reads, both.

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  7. Gates are closed (which you probably figured out), and I will have winners and words up shortly.

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    1. Wha-a-a-t? Says the 10th above - I'm still polishing!!

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    2. Oh! Shows what I know. Can't even read. Well, the gates are back open! I'm glad, because I'd like to play, but this week was an explosion of chaos.

      Thanks for being sharper than me today!

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  8. Thanks for unlocking the gates again, Rebecca - I was struggling to bring this episode to a conclusion.

    Return to Threshold

    Palms and fingertips so scarred and calloused it felt like he was steering me with thorns and pebbles.
    Rising moon made cardboard cut-outs of the trees behind his head.
    Once in the water a desperation borne of several months of celibacy led me to shamelessly pursue, more swiftly than he anticipated or wanted. As I brushed along the black length of his body, I felt the bracing of corded muscles in his arms as he thrust me away.
    ‘Remember what I said when we first met?’
    Bittersweet and brazenly, I lied. ‘No.’
    ‘”Don’t flatter yourself.” That’s just as true today.’

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    1. another one loaded with images! You do it so well.

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    2. Lots of lovely descriptions in this. Loved the imagery of the first two lines, as well as "brushed along the black length of his body" further in the piece.

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    3. This story gave a sense of eroticism mixed with a strong depth of humanity both in description and how the characters spoke, surprised it was only 100 words as it seemingly conveyed more, enjoyed reading your work.

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  9. New to the page and great to read some intriguing work with such compact requirements, thought I'd give it a go so hope it isn't too dodgy...

    Less than Humane

    Irritation from too many cigarettes leaves a lump in my palate like a pebble caught in my shoe; the doctor told me I didn’t have long but worry left long ago.
    Now a bittersweet anger fuels me like a killer choosing the electric cord instead of a gun; I want this to be personal, I want them to feel it.
    There was never time for regret, and now in this moment I look around one last time as the throng carries on oblivious; a man over the edge about to destroy so many lives. The ticking inside my jacket beckons.

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    1. Welcome Rob - and what a solidly horrifying debut - nothing dodgy about it at all. And how smoothly you've used the prompts! Hope you'll stick around.

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    2. this is excellent, Rob! Told you that you could do it!
      (Rob's here at my insistence...)

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    3. Chilling and intriguing. Loved the line 'I want this to be personal, I want them to feel it' and the final line was perfect.

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    4. Thank you all, the positive feedback is appreciated and look forward to taking part again.

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    5. Rob - feedback is well-deserved, and extra thanks to you for commenting - too many folk fail to do so which dilutes the value of sites such as this.
      And thank you for your comments on my writing - http://sandra-linesofcommunication.blogspot.co.uk/ will take you to my blog, and 'Change of focus' and 'Threshold' can be accessed from the bar at the top; the current Pettinger story begins at episode 84. Being a serial serialiser I have had enormous fun in putting these together week after week, trying to incorporate the prompts, and the exercise has improved my writing no end..

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    6. Will have to try and get some reading done along with writing this weekend, Antonia has linked me to her serial work so along with other plans should make for a busy weekend.

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  10. Infinity 72
    Ah, the Captain got his way, the food got better! And damn right too. Else there would be a cord round the cook’s neck and he be overboard like a thrown pebble before you can say ‘sorry Cap’n.’
    Tonight the memories ride bittersweet over my mind. Tis a bad thing, it makes me sentimental and pirate captains do not, I say again do not become sentimental when there are merchantmen to raid and mutinous crews to watch for. Tis all work and no play, so it is but what other life is there which comes close to pure satisfaction?

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    1. Definitely a spine-stiffened episode! And cord around the neck the best possible way to use this prompt. Well done Antona.

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    2. Definitely a great and natural use of the challenge words. Loved the line 'tonight the memories ride bittersweet over my mind'.

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  12. Seedy contemplation

    Gave pebble-dash a whole new meaning. (In Scotland they add a concrete skim and call it harling. Likely hurts no less but the blood-spots not so well-defined.)
    Gave my back what looked like a nasty case of measles (except where the cord wound round me, tying arms to torso, added stripes.)
    My old man.
    Don’t need to tell me the drugs don’t work; old before his time with his never-ending quest to tame the butterfly he’d caught.
    My mum.
    Who’d said one day he weren’t my Dad, turning the soundtrack of his love, his life to the blackest, bittersweetest symphony.

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    1. Love the line about the ceaseless quest to tame the butterfly he'd caught, great description.

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    2. I agree with Rob, loved the description of 'taming the butterfly' and the final line. Bittersweet and dark and lovely.

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  13. Verve, brilliant album... beautifully woven into this piece, Sandra!

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  14. Dangling

    The cord strained my arms, back, legs. Even the boulder bracing me groaned as I pulled. Don’t let go. Don’t let go.

    “Let go,” a bittersweet plea. Liam had never believed in my strength. Even now, he doubted my resolve.

    I tugged harder. He scrabbled for purchase, hindered by slick stone, ice forming in crevices, pebbling on my skin, turning fingers brittle.

    The rope slipped. Liam’s gasp echoed off the canyon wall. Woven length wrapped around my hand, cutting off feeling, I turned around and heaved.

    He scrambled over the top, tears frozen.

    “Next time, wear the goddamned safety harness.”

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    1. Amazing word usage to describe the scene in depth, helped bring it to life, and the final words made me laugh, great piece.

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    2. THIS is why I'd never do climbing or anything so stupid!!
      So well described and a brilliant example of high-tension misdirection.

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    3. Definitely a thrilling piece. Loved the description of the ice pebbling on the skin and the final line wraps it up nicely, turning the nail-biting into relieved humor. :)

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  15. And the gates are closed! Many thanks to all who wrote this week. I shall return with winners and words on the morrow.

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