Friday, 26 June 2015

Too spicy?

A drop in entries this week – ‘turmeric’ a challenge too far for some, perchance? –  but no less difficult to choose one above the rest.  In the end I could not separate Zaiure and Newbie so have to declare them joint winners for this week - congratulations to you both - and Fergus, for his second entry, which used the word so cleverly, runner up.  

Next week’s words are  arch,  piano,  vegetate
Entries by midnight Thursday 2nd July, new words and winners posted on Friday 3rd


Usual rules: 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.

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.


78 comments:

  1. Ruben Paraskevitsious was born in Lithuania, refugee at four years-old, parents dead at six, ends up in New York City penniless at seven.
    Maestro Jacob Horowitz was passing through the arches of the Metropolitan Opera on his way to the his rehearsal. A voice echoed above. Tears welled up in his eyes. He found Ruben standing in a corner.
    Ruben sang in Horowitz’s concert with the Maestro at the piano.
    Two days after the concert Ruben was hit by a tram and was left to vegetate in hospital.
    Horowitz found a new protege the very next day.

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    1. Ouch, this tugs in a very precise and painful way, and the opening line an object lesson in brevity. And so quick a response!

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    2. I read the stories from the bottom up this week - so I just connected this piece with your last one - which makes a lot more sense! This has the makings of a really interesting short story.

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    3. There is such a coldness to this recitation of facts that makes the tragedy stand out in relief, especially hard on the heels of a moment of triumph.

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    4. Rebecca pretty much summed it up. :) Tragic in its direct delivery and Horowitz' movement on.

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    5. we are told show don't tell but this breaks that rule - and it works.

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  2. Congratulations to Zaiure and Newbie. Great work!

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    1. Thanks Ferg, I've only just logged onto this site again, so apologise for not acknowledging before now.

      Newbie

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    2. Meant to say congratulations to you and Zaiure too. Well done. x
      Newbie

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  3. The Break (4)

    Next morning I told dad the fire was my fault, and about the dead people, who I called the Pianists and the Droners because of their voices.

    “Meredith, not that again.”

    “But it's TRUE!!!” I shouted, “They want me to do something for them. I KNOW it. More bad stuff will happen if I don't.”

    “That's silly. The counsellor -”

    “ - said I was saying it because mum died. Well that's true. Mum talked to me AFTER she died.”

    Dad went very still.

    “She's opened something in me, dad.”

    I ran out, and down some steep vegetation to this amazing rock arch.

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    Replies
    1. "Pianists and the Droners because of their voices" - what a brilliant concept! So much promise in this.

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    2. I can feel the unspoken reactions here between the lines. Nice!

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    3. The difficulty of explaining to a parent how you're different is hard enough, but Meredith has a tougher time of it because no one wants to believe in ghosts. I love the tension in this and that sense of freedom - however temporary - at the end.

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    4. Loved the way she's described the dead who speak to her; creates a beautiful visual and sound.

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    5. getting more intriguing as it goes.
      Busy comparing it with the way I speak with the 'dead', not bad so far... (LOL)

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  4. A change of focus [133]

    To an ever-repeating CD of discordant piano Vladlina emptied the last of the Khakbethian vodka into John Pettinger’s glass. He, heavy-eyed and remembering the sandpaper scourge of her heels either side of the arch of his spine, shook his head. ‘No more...’
    Gloating, she smiled. ‘You said that before. Said that a sin such as we had committed would see us punished. Cast into hell to vegetate there ever more. Didn’t happen then and certainly won’t do so now. Incest is –‘
    ‘Ah but it wasn’t. Isn’t. Raptor was never my father.’
    ‘Who told you that?
    ‘Raptor.’
    ‘He lied.’

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    1. Nice dialogue - esp. the ending.

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    2. Poor Petinger can't ever catch a break with his crazy family. What an ending!

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    3. Loved the description of Vladlina's heels - 'sandpaper scourge of her heels either side of the arch of his spine', and great gut-punch with the final line. Poor Pettinger!

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  5. Hit Between The Eyes

    I glared at Seth, then at the webpage. An image of a stone loom, glowing with blue symbols, sitting under a wooden arch was both cool and supremely disturbing. Soothing yet weird and ugly piano music began issuing from the laptop’s speakers. Seth either didn't hear or notice, but I felt it drain me like a leech, intellect and will slipping away.

    "Nate, what's wrong with you?"

    I figured I had half a minute before slipping into a vegetative state. I slid to my knees.

    "You can't feel that? Lucky you, bro. Must be your magic. That thing's active."
    Then...nothing.

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    1. As always, a sigh of contentment at the sensuality of your writing, not a word wasted, Impossible to pick out one phrase above another, although " drain me like a leech" is especially superb. Thank you, Colleen.

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    2. Astonishing. Chilling.

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    3. The power of the internets! If magic IS out there, it may be that it's a function of people's natural thought processes - and if that were true, then why shouldn't it exist in the place where we tend to store all those thoughts these days?

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    4. Loved the webpage! There's quite a few I've seen that have sucked at my soul. ;) Very evocative and lush descriptions.

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    5. another superb instalment. How do you do that?????

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  6. Thanks! :) And congrats Newbie and Fergus.

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  7. Popinjay sacrifice [Threshold 70]

    The smell forewarned us, throat-violating stench of vegetating flesh.
    Instinctively I moved closer, not that he welcomed, nor reassured.
    Long-dead first. Excarnated rib-bones, arch-warped ivory piano keys. Ebony the earth beneath.
    Smell getting stronger, he produced scraps of cloth from within his cloak. ‘Camphor. Helps with smell.’
    ‘Who –?’
    ‘Did it? Someone pretending to be me.’ He pointed. In the distance, fluttered a great black bird, hammered roughly to a pole.
    ‘It’s still alive!’
    ‘More worried about dead birds than people?’
    ‘No.’ I wasn’t, but,‘Who are the people?’
    ‘I’d guess those who sent Maria.’
    ‘Who you killed.’
    ‘Punished. Yes.’

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    1. He is such an interesting mix of terrible and considerate, and has been from the start. No wonder she finds him compelling. Excarnated rib-bones, arch-warped ivory piano keys. is simply gorgeous.

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    2. Horrible and brilliant first line, and I agree with Rebecca that there is gorgeous descriptions throughout. Loved the rib bones description.

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  8. 'Fortissimo!' screamed Horowitz.
    'But it says, piano, Maestro,' the second violinist, pleaded humbly.
    'That's why you are still only second violin and I am the Maestro! You can’t even understand when Mozart makes mistakes!'
    The violinist looked at his shoes. Horowitz reached a crescendo.
    'You're all fools! Your blind adherence to rules is your own arch enemy! You don't deserve to be called musicians. You don't deserve to live. You're not living, you just vegetate!'
    The second violinist pulled out a revolver and shot Horowitz.
    'Now let's see who's living.'
    The orchestra smiled for the first time that week.

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    Replies
    1. Decades since I read it, but this reminds me of Jilly Cooper - so glad you used piano this way.

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    2. This piece is wonderfully scherzando!

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    3. This is playing out like a short film, and I am absolutely hooked.

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    4. Fun to see this continue. Loved the final line.

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  9. In the bed next to Horowitz in the Washington Memorial Hospital lay the diminutive figure of a young boy. Tubes ran in and out of the boy's body and his limbs were entirely encased in plaster. The Maestro found it hard to move, but he did manage to arch his back enough to see the boy's face. It wasn't Ruben. 

    'Can you sing?' he asked the boy.'
    The boy said nothing.

    'He was hit by a tram and now they let him vegetate on this stupid life support system. Didn’t you use to play the piano?' The boy’s mother said.

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    1. Such a poignant exchange - lovely phrases.

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    2. Interesting - seems like this one could be going somewhere.

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    3. The way you brought this back to the first piece is fantastic. I love a circular (or spiraling) story.

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    4. I agree with Rebecca about circular stories, love when they come back around.

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  10. I've had my formating swallowed up a few times. That's why there are some deleted posts. Sorry.

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    1. No worries - I tidied up the deletions.

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  11. #secondcoming

    I am the son of God, come to Earth, to save mankind. When I spoke of compassion and love, my voice was lost in the babble of self-help gurus. I spoke against the banking system and the rape of the Garden of Eden, of the many sins, but I couldn't master the medium, the blogs and tweets. My voice was painfully quiet, pianissimo. Then I understood. Men knew full well that they were sinning. They had simply given up. And so did I. You'll find me now sleeping rough in the vegetation underneath the arches, shooting heroin, waiting for the end.

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    Replies
    1. You have an enviable variety of voices Mashie, And a believable philosophy ;-).

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    2. I've always said if he came back, no one would be able to hear him. You give that belief a heartbreaking timbre.

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    3. there's a lot here to think on, if you give yourself time.

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    4. Sad and beautiful. Loved your use of 'pianissimo'.

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  12. Human Robots

    “Okay, Neo, the Dark One. What did you make of him?”

    “One word. E. V. I. L.”

    “So, how’s he managed to build a power station in this atomically blasted wasteland?”

    “Human slaves. Some sort of mind control. I huddled beside a reactor. He entered the dome, strode up to a podium then he flashed a smile reminiscent of a Steinway. The place went dumb. Total vegetate.”

    “Steinway?”

    “Piano. Ancient musical instrument. Heard of ‘em? Ebony and Ivory keyboard like looking at black and white teeth.”

    “ Of course. And?”

    “Phasor. Atomize. Poof! Should’ve seen his back arch.”

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    Replies
    1. Come over to the dark side...

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    2. Title sets this up to be terrifying, and the rest underlines it..

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    3. Like the Steinway reference. Esp. on second read.

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    4. There's a certain joy in a well-earned boast. This was deeply satisfying.

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  13. Oh, well done too. Zaiure and Newbie.

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  14. Dischord

    The arch of her sparse, pierced eyebrow was answer enough.

    "It doesn't have to be tonight. Come sit." I patted the couch. "We'll pop popcorn and vegetate to Netflix until our eyes fall out."

    Trina was unmoved. "There's the paperwork, Simon. It’s not a living will.”

    An hour later, I stood over her comatose brother’s bed with a syringe.

    It had been three months since we'd last spoken. He'd helped us move, 'in lieu of payment.'

    He said that last bit a lot, especially when we took the piano up four flights.

    All I'd said in reply was "whoops."

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    Replies
    1. Which has sparked a myriad of fascinated questions ... and a brilliant title too.

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    2. Lovely understatement! I like very much that you make the reader do some leg work with your last line. Great twist.

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    3. Oh, that was a wicked little tale. The ending was especially sharp.

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    4. very dark indeed, with a killer last line.

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  15. Tug of War

    Nate arched, then slumped. I glanced at the loom – a dull outline, white background – before checking his pulse. Slow but steady, like the times he’d vegetate after a bender, eyes half-closed, mouth half-open.

    “Forgive my trespass,” I murmured, squeezing one of many scrapes for the barest drop of his blood, so I could see what he had.

    And hear it. Not piano, cheap organ. The spell pulled at me. I pulled back. Hard. The image faded, too late for the caster.

    I snapped Nate’s tether, waking him.

    “Time to go find out who’s got a hard on for killing us.”

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    1. Seth strong and arrogantly effective as ever. Love the use of piano, and the final line.

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  16. I've left it until the eleventh hour this week! Anyway, here's Brethren...

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    1. He sits in the chair by the window and looks at me, unaware that I am there.
      I still hate him, even though he’s in a vegetative state now.
      The accident didn’t change everything though. He still gets more attention than I do, so I suppose he wins again.
      The nurse just wiped some drool from the corner of his mouth - his mouth, full of stupid teeth that look like piano keys.
      I hate him, but I love him too.
      He’s still my brother, still my arch enemy.

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    2. I've cut it fine too, but taken time out to read the entries, ending with this one, which is so good.

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    3. Thanks. I love this competition and seeing which direction everyone takes with the three words.

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    4. There is heavyweight matter-of-factness in this which emphasises the dreadful daily weight of the horror.

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    5. Thanks. I love this competition and seeing which direction everyone takes with the three words.

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  17. it's been a bad week. Just when I think I've conquered one load of work... I added in 3 major migraines too, that doesn't help. So here I am with way too brief comments, apologies, and a further episode from the Captain, then back to what I am doing, listing endless items on Islebuy in an effort to boost the trade. Been bad...

    Infinity 103.
    We rested. Cabin boy called it vegetating but then he be the type who would play piano instead of learning to sail the high seas under the arch of the Lord’s sky. There be no accounting for crew members, that be for sure.
    I can relax for a while. The Creature will not be satisfied for long and there be just so many islands we can call at and deliver the whole damn lot of them into its ever open maw.
    Meantime I plan to sell the turmeric. Then the crew can celebrate. That be better than ‘vegetating’ any day.

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    1. A blessed pause in the Captain's frenetic dailyness, Antonia, if not in yours - thank you for both contribution and comment.

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  18. The Arch

    The sun dripped, honey-gold, into the waves, as Bess wrapped her arms around her knees, and turned her face away from the city's light.

    "You should use it," her boyfriend's ghost said. His hand passed ineffectually through the old, fish-shaped key in the sand.

    Bess ignored him, and the crumbling arch behind.

    "Aren't you at least curious?"

    “I’m a concert pianist, Luke, not a tripper.” She eyed him meaningfully. “Besides, you came back a vegetable.”

    Remembered pleasures flashed through his hyaline eyes. “But Bess,” he said, “the worlds…”

    The sun winked out, and the arch began to glow.

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    1. Ooh - "hyaline" had me reaching for my dictionary: what a useful word! - and used in the creation of a scene with so very much behind it.

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