Friday, 4 September 2015

Starlings: Pointillist skywriting

And Orkney – indeed Scotland – seems to have more than its fair share of such invigorating aerobatics, sufficient to get me up in the middle of the night to jot down words which might otherwise be lost. Hence the lateness of this.
And invigorating were the entries this week, each and every one giving me a buzz of pleasure and excitement. So, hard as ever to choose one above the rest, but because I’ve known Michael aka MDJB’s writing for many years, and can see the ‘Prediction effect’ on the piece he submitted here this week, I’m selecting him.

Next week’s words are: evergreen, redundant and tilt

Entries by midnight Thursday September 10th, new words and winners posted on Friday 11th

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.

57 comments:

  1. Under the circumstances ... [Threshold 80]

    Stupidly, since maternal instinct now redundant, I felt my breasts heavy again with milk; heard the tiny, sucking pant, remembered finger-clenching contentment. Had to tilt my chin to prevent tears escaping.

    I waited until we were within the darkness of evergreens before asking – to save his feelings or my own? – ‘Was it you who smothered him?’
    ‘Yes.’
    ‘And did he –?’
    ‘Did he suffer? No. Not as much as I. I held him close against my heart –’
    ‘And your brother?’
    ‘Had his fingers on my throat.’
    Having seen the knuckle-crusted warty excrescences I shuddered. And, understanding, forgave Ravenscar everything.

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    1. Another good Ravenscar episode. Even when I miss a few each episode is thoroughly engaging. Good use of the prompts..

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    2. These installments are always so engaging but this is a particularly sensitive episode. How you have managed to keep the quality so high for so long will constantly remain an enigma.

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    3. it is a sensitive instalment, Patricia's right, moving the story ever onward in leaps and bounds and yet making us think.

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    4. This, already dark, tale is getting blacker. This is your forte, without a doubt. I fear for our safety at next HoW.

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  2. Change of focus [143]

    Autumn equinox, when the tilt of the earth caused days to shorten, nights become longer, allowing more time for crime, DI John Pettinger, making his way through a gaggle of new recruits – eyes shiny, optimism evergreen – felt every one of his forty-two years.
    Vanessa, addressing them – they’d soon become accustomed to the bizarreness of her dress! – and indicating him, ‘Never underestimate experience. You might think he’s due redundancy, but he – ‘
    ‘GET DOWN!’
    And, Pettinger being the first, Vanessa the second to do so, casualties from the hail of splintered glass, sharpened nails and gravel were limited to the young.

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    1. I like this story episode too. It moves around well and makes you want to read on. Need I say it, but great use of the prompts.

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    2. This had what I can only describe as "oomph." The flow was totally amazing and carried me along like a swiftly-moving stream. From whence comes the talent within your quill?

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    3. whoo what an ending! What's going down in Pettinger's life now?

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    4. Don't know how you're running through distinct stories with the same set of prompts, week after week and not repeating yourself. Both tales are dark, and interesting, and yet remain true to their separate paths.

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  3. Congratz to Micheal. A very sharp and well written piece. ;)


    The Immortal 7

    “I turned you into an immortal, Samuel, because you’re an evergreen of mischief. You went from one score to the next, betrayed your partners and charmed new ones into trusting you.”

    Death’s head tilted back and his bony hand stroked an invisible chin, hidden in the darkness of his hood.

    “You were an instrument of chaos that I could make use of. Bringing you back into the mortal realm may have seemed redundant. There were many wicked people on the earth above, but their work was inferior to yours. However, immortality had a price and now it’s time to pay.”

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    1. Good. Succinct and engaging with the character, Samuel. Interested to see how Samuel pays.

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    2. This serial has a powerful pull which is due to excellent writing and well-drawn characters - and a wonderful final line.

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    3. This is darkly entertaining, but dark nonetheless. The created atmosphere is lovely in its own right.

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    4. enjoying the interplay in this, curious to see where it's going.

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    5. Love the character of Death - so matter-of-fact, yet so firm in collecting his due.

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  4. Migration

    The axis shifted, plunging this hemisphere into perpetual darkness. The new tilt left the other half of the earth without night for most of the year.
    The poles shift soon, which will mean migration.
    I’d been warning family in the sunlight of the approaching peril. They scoffed, but I persisted, obnoxious in redundancy.
    I shone my torch into a stand of evergreens. They no longer surprised me. I dispatched them with a single thrust to the heart, just like in lore. Inhuman squeals deafened me. Never saw the other sucker.
    Soon I’ll visit family, heartened. They ignored me. I’ll feed.

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    1. Wow, this moves around in such a short piece. Nice feel of despair and horror.

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    2. Welcome Kerry, and I loudly echo Michael's "Wow" - a superb fanfare of a start. Very much look forward to reading more.

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    3. Well, what can I say that hasn't already been expressed? I do hope there's more....please don't leave it there.

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    4. They may have ignored her/him in the past, but I doubt they will once the feeding begins. This brief, yet reverberating vignette resonates with the metallic odor of blood.

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  5. The Last

    The tilt of its head caused the dragon’s eye to gleam redly through the forest of evergreens carpeting the mountain-side. The knight spurred his horse on as he caught sight of beast, determined to be the one to destroy the last of this redundant species.

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    1. Love the image which this fresh-told, oldest of tales tells. Thank you Michael.

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    2. so much said in such a short space - and writers keep telling me it can't be done...

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    3. It's not easy to infuse an oft-told tale with a creative twist, but this was achieved to perfection. I am always amazed when a totally self-contained composition can be mastered in so few words. Beautifully done!

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    4. The knight's intentions may be clear, but I doubt the Last will burn out without a fight. A lot said in a small passage.

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  6. I hope to return shortly with more tales from Cripplegate Junction, together with a link for those who would like to read what went before I took my hiatus. In the meantime, it may take me a while to get back into full creative mode, but I trust this offering is not too much of a bad restart.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Colonnade
    (95 Words)

    Life was evergreen and unchanging in Colonnade. The province was self-sufficient and outside influences largely redundant. The inhabitants found comfort in the periodic rumblings from beyond the walls and worshipped the magnificent illuminations that surrounded them, particularly those which radiated from the wonder of the Great Wall.

    But there were tales of fearful times, both in the past and yet to come, when the reassuring reverberations would abruptly cease; when the mystical melodies, so constant and soothing, would be replaced by jarring sirens and the Great Wall would flash its blinding prophecy of doom -- TILT!



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    1. Welcome back Patricia - you've been much missed. The continuation of your Cripplegate Junction tale - and its impressively 1950s voice - is very eagerly awaited. Colonnade is a fascinating restart.

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    2. Looking forward to more Cripplegate Junction, meantime, this is excellent writing.

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    3. This is so lyrical with its portents and promises. I like it, as it feels refreshing and dark at the same time.

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  7. Hi, all! Sorry it's been such a long time since my last participation. Do I need a note? Ha ha!
    Anyway, stand by for my latest offering...

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  8. Retribution

    Frank knew he didn’t fit in from day one. He was analogue and they were all digital. He was deciduous in an office of evergreens.
    And now Frank was drunk. Actually, Frank was hammered. After the years he’d given them, they’d suddenly decided to make him redundant that morning. He swallowed his beer and staggered out of the bar.
    It felt as if the pavement was being tilted as he weaved along it and headed home.
    He was going to get the gun that was hidden in his bedroom. And his address book.

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    1. Welcome back Tim - and what creative use of the prompts in this - thoroughly enjoyable.

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    2. What a punch in that final line. Vengeance in full swing here. Beautifully employed prompts. They blended so seamlessly that it takes a second read and a deliberate search to even find them.

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    3. revenge, I do believe, is the strongest motive for murder there is and this is a classic and finely wrought example of why!

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    4. Uh-oh, there is mayhem and payback coming down the pike. Redundancy is a terrible situation for most, but, well, so long as you've kept all the addresses...

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  9. The Grand Illusion
    (100 Words)

    Beware the tilting floor which challenges the laws of balance. Be cautious when treading the path through the evergreen fronds that confuse and bewilder. But I say too much already. To reveal more would be to spoil the experience. However, note that that logic and rationale are redundant here. Best rely upon instinct and intuition.

    Can you navigate this disorienting maze? Will you reach the turnstile at the end of this confounding labyrinth? Admission is free so what do you have to lose?

    I extend an invitation to accept this challenge.

    Bon voyage and welcome to my House of Fun.

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    1. Oh - how enviably well you've evoked creepy here, and excellent use of the prompts.

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    2. very creepy, this, really like it!

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    3. What have we to lose, indeed! Sounds like an interesting place to visit, but I don't think I'd want to live there - FOREVER! Creepy, it sounds, but well-written.

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  10. Infinity 113.
    We be heading for an uncharted unnamed island which is evergreen, some kind of plant grows there what stays green all the time. I did hear of a tricksty man being there, got to get my luck tilting in the right direction, that I have. I do so want to make this damn Creature redundant.
    Crew be settling down under the new First Mate who be doing a fine job. Would that I could be sure we all survive this, we could have a damn good ship with good raiding of they unobservant unguarded merchantmen… oh what fun that be!

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    1. Why do I feel It Can't Last - and tremble for what is still to befall the Captain?

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    2. Now this is an outstanding addition. There's is something a little different in the writing here that is subtle but underlying nonetheless. I can't quite put my finger on it and that makes it all the more intriguing. Again, I am constantly in awe of how you manage to keep this moving with every installment and how nothing ever appears to be stale.

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    3. Yes, yes, yes. A very solid, tightly written episode. You've upped the stakes here, for both the reader and the writer. Fingers crossed your muse inspires you to maintain this level.

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  11. Congrats, Michael, fine writing. Good to see you back, Patricia and Tim... to our band of eager scribes.
    I keep wanting to get the Captain's saga in here earlier and every time something stops me but at least I am posting a couple of hours before the deadline!

    Sandra, you're doing a superb job with the Challenge. Thanks!

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  12. I most certainly echo Antonia's sentiment. You are doing a magnificent job Sandra. I am so glad that Antonia gave me a gentle little shove in this direction when I asked her about the project. To post and read here is always such a joy.

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    1. Thank you both - you cannot have failed to notice my regular participation - I'd suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms should Prediction disappear - and am hugely grateful not only for contributions in the form of posts but also the supportive comments that are such a strong feature of this site.

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  13. "Evergreen Base, this is Evergreen Seven requesting immediate extraction."

    "Evergreen Seven, report."

    "Lost Stevens and Wood when the tilt-rotor crashed. Everyone wounded, six critical. Can't hold this position."

    "Imperative that you hold."

    "There's no goddamn way we can hold! Send a chopper before they wipe us out!"

    "We are building reinforcements. ETA nine hours."

    "Can't wait, send a gravtank or a hovercarrier."

    "Negative, hold and await orders."

    Dammit lieutenant, they're gonna leave us here. Didja
    hear what he said about building reinforcements?

    Yeah. They'll be the new models.

    They're gonna leave us here until...

    ...until we're redundant.

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    1. Oops, looks like I may be in a different time zone than the Prediction and it's already Friday there ;) It's been a long time since I drifted away, have to get into the swing of things again...

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    2. Drifting, drifting, into redundancy, what an eerie, captivating little tale. Lost is one thing, but being there and realizing no one is coming for you sounds like one of the most frightening situations possible. And there's just enough jargon to make it plausible and authentic.

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    3. This was a unique piece with an intriguing voice. Nicely done. It has a distinct robotic flavour and if that last line doesn't smack of "impending doom," then I don't know what would.

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  14. DECIDUOUS AND MAUNDERING
    Dec sat staring at the evergreen outside his office. The odor of pine wafting through disturbed his concentration as he riffled through the Chronicle seeking news of Charlie’s murder, but only found notice of his being among the missing. Redundant, really. Apparently, the police hadn’t found the chopped corpse. Or were keeping their discovery on the QT. Or, more likely, they weren’t even looking for him. Dec knew of at least four suspects who were happy for the nonce, but the pinball machine in his mind resounded with a loud clang, and a TILT sign. Something definitely was not kosher.

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    1. As so many seem to be enjoying (and writing) series, I went back to June when Sandra first took the helm here, and I worked the missing prompts (the prompts I had missed) and tied them in with prior entries to concoct a whodunit.
      If anyone has time and is interested, the ongoing tale (in 100 word spurts) can be found at http://mudstones.tumblr.com/
      Sorry, for once again passing midnight over there, but didn't like to miss out completely. A week's a long time to wait.

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    2. Well, I for one am happy that you didn't "miss out completely." I adore the mystery of the classic "whodunnit" and this has something of a period feel to it. I shall make a note of the link provided and scoot on over at the first opportunity to indulge myself further.

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