Friday, 11 November 2016

Some praise at morning

It struck me this week that for words such as ‘nasty’, ‘gruesome’ and ‘eerie; to be used as praise something ... well, something dark is going on.  And what an excellent variety of darkness there is this week.

Much of it serialised, and I know I am guilty of failing to make each piece also stand alone, which must make it hard for newcomers to quickly feel at ease. But what a treat to see a long-ago fellow T10 participant MRMacrum here, leaping in with ‘A Cicatricial Reminder’, which is this week’s runner-up. Antonia’s ‘Infinity 172’ takes first place for its brilliant use of this week’s prompts (and I confess I found unquiet far harder to place than cicatrice).

Words for next week:  bake, feather tough

Entries by midnight Thursday 17th November, new words posted on Friday 18th

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. Serialised 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.

68 comments:

  1. Congratulations Antonia for a deeply dark episode this week, and welcome and congratulations to MRMacrum , I really enjoyed that piece and looking forward to more.

    Struggled a bit to get my comments in yesterday, I was (and still am to a degree) suffering from a Migraine Aura without pain, although today have a light headache to accompany the light show. Hopefully it will go away.

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    1. As ever, William, your comments are much appreciated; without such feedback this site becomes the poorer.
      And those aural interruptions to sight - I get clumps of them occasionally, but rarely do they last for more than twenty minutes.

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    2. No surprise that Antonia reached the highest high last week. Magnificent installment. Also, congratulations to MRMacrum for such a wonderful debut. Hope to hear much more. This week's words seem tailor-made for "Cripplegate Junction" in many ways, but I bet I don't find it anywhere near as easy as I'm anticipating!

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  2. ‘RIP Beloved’ [Threshold 139]

    Without sexual intent I would have knelt and kissed the grave inscription so inappropriately placed. Instead I retraced it, finger feather-light on letters raised like nuts baked on the surface of a cake, before becoming snagged in pubic hairs which, unlike ivy’s tough-stemmed adherence, failed to obscure the permanent reminder that he only lived because his grandfather died.
    ‘How old were you when –?’
    ‘Thirteen.’
    ‘Who did she get to –?’
    ‘Herself. She did it herself –’
    His voice cracked with memory. I could well imagine the glee with which she did so, bird-boned fingers scarlet around a shiny blade.

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    1. That final phrasing was certainly the icing on the cake. What a vivid image this installment does conjure. I do believe it counts up there among my favourite episodes.

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    2. As Patricia stated very vivid, disturbing, loved the nuts, that gave me an exquisite titter.

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    3. Ow. Painful in so many ways!

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    4. Very vivid and disturbing. Loved the phrasing of her 'bird-boned fingers'.

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  3. Gave me the creeps. Which is to say, I liked it. You painted a disturbing image in my head. Especially the last line.

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    1. a truly scary episode this time, I loved 'his voice cracked with memory.' I'm re-reading Wuthering Heights right now, that's full of people with memories and it breaking them, so this resonated with me.

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    2. Oh and the by the way, thanks for the thumb's up on my post. Maybe there's some creativity left in me after all.

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  4. Change of focus [209]

    Two years ago, having been seduced by his then-wife (subsequently murdered) Pettinger stowed the fox-faced Cherriman onto a Khakbethian-bound boat.
    He now sought revenge.

    Filip collected them from the airport. Reassured, ‘Bug is tracking, not microphone. I’ll bake it in a cake, feed it to my donkeys.’
    Which make Aleks laugh until Pettinger asked, ‘The baby?’ meaning Cherriman’s son, forced upon Aleks‘ mother.
    ‘Three days overdue.’
    Valdeta was – had learned to be – tough, and although Cherriman had the means to keep her in feather-bedded luxury Pettinger feared for her safety.

    Filip’s wife met them at the door. ‘It’s a girl.’

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    1. Meant to say, my blog is lines of communications and the current post indicates where, if desired, earlier episodes of Prediction-inspired serials can be read.

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    2. this again is a class instalment ending with a more than class last line. Now where does the story go...

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    3. Beautifully composed and moved the storyline along without a ripple in the fabric of the flow. Love the idea of feeding the tracking device to the donkeys. Now, let's see where THAT takes them!

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    4. a gripping installment, feeding the tracker to the donkeys interesting idea.

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    5. An engaging piece. Loved the imagery inspired by 'feather-bedded luxury'.

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  5. Broth Of Oblivion

    Hell wasn't so tough. Brimstone stank more of burnt feathers than sulfur and threat of personal torment...cockroaches in her case...proved unfounded.

    A demon distributed potage to souls awaiting reincarnation. She was surprised to be chosen so quickly.

    "I know about Persephone," she told the imp. "No tricking me out of a second chance!"

    "Erasure of all previous human memory," he insisted.

    She declined. Did they think her half-baked?

    She awoke surrounded by countless leather-like bodies, flattened and shiny in the semi-darkness. Long feelers twitched a welcome.

    Silently screaming, she scuttled into the drywall on six spindly legs covered with bristles.

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    1. Oh. Ugh. TOTAL nightmare, and wickedly cruel.

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    2. yes, total nightmare! But how cleverly done!

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    3. That has creep d me out well and truly bravo

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    4. Eww the worst creatures ever! I would definitely be screaming. Clever piece!

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  6. Cripplegate Junction/Part 71-Stationed

    "Tough as your army boots, old chap," the Station Master had assured.

    George was skeptical.

    The inception of his commission to patrol the Sanitarium's perimeter seemed weeks past. He hadn't been relieved of his post since then. The aroma of steak and kidney pies baking in the galley sharpened George's hunger.

    With each march by the gated entrance into the garden from the platform, the solider believed he observed a figure lurking just beyond the threshold and from a second storey window, the image of a pale individual slowly waved a black feather.

    George wondered if he might be hallucinating.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/cripplegate.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. And this, while haunting in a different way, so sad for George, is of an entirely different calibre. Clever of you to tap into either with such ease.

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    2. This episode went in an entirely different direction than I'd originally anticipated. Sometimes, things just seem to lend themselves to the more "fantastical" side.

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    3. tis the way of this serial, a very clever and enticing instalment.

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    4. I can't wait to discover the mystery of what is just out of sight. Thoughts of enticement of steak and kidney pie, I could almost taste it.

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    5. Love the description of the mysterious lurking figure and what it might mean for the story.

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  7. Kursaal (Episode Forty Six) -- "The Amorous Affairs Of Arbuthnot Jester/Part One"

    When Arbuthnot Jester's efforts to end his liaison with local spinster, Hilda Jane Pickett, fell on stony ground, he procured a "Humperdinck Release Me Potion" from elixirologist, Primrose Lee.

    During a candlelit supper of steak (tough), mashed potatoes (lumpy) and Baked Alaska (gloppy meringue) prepared by a smitten Hilda, the diminutive Arby slipped the draught into his lady-love's Beaujolais.

    "Aphrodisiac," he whispered.

    With a girlish giggle and flirtatious flip of her feather boa, Hilda drained the glass.

    She was sleeping when he left. He hoped she would take the hint.

    He really didn't want to resort to more drastic measures.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale, please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/kursaal.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. Stomach-turning supper description - and now I have to re-read to spot the prompts because I didn't see them first time round!

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    2. such shenanigans going on here, leaving me wondering what drastic measures he could be dreaming up...

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    3. A deceptive jester he be, I wonder what's in store for part two. No one should ever suffer tough steak.

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    4. Poor Hilda, I hope the hangover isn't too bad. Though I also hope the potion works...

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    5. An amusing, clever piece that hopefully won't turn sinister for poor Hilda. Loved the description of how he got her to drink the potion.

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  8. Congrats Antonia and MRMacrum!

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  9. Infinity 173.
    That damn moon be seemingly low enough for Infinity to sail into. Methinks my ship is tough enough to do that, barge its way through the dust and end up in one of the craters, there to bake in the reflected sunlight. Ah, such foolish thoughts does this cap’n indulge in this night, as the moonbeams rests featherlight on the all but flat and silent sea. Would that there were such peaceful times on board, the cook be stirring up trouble and that on its own is enough to give me a headache. I think he walks soon.

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    1. The tone of this so cleverly depicts flat, solitary contemplation, and the moon so vivid an image that this has immense impact.

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    2. This came complete with a certain mood that is difficult to define, but so very intriguing. The Captain continues to be reflective and the moon is playing such a vital part in this installment. Absolutely captivating descriptions, so easy to visualize.

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    3. A great insight into the troubles of our captain, there was something quite hypnotic and almost surreal about this weeks instalment as if Juno herself was on the horizon

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    4. A captivating and whimsical daydream by the Captain. Love his cleverness.

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  10. This theme suggested itself so strongly that I had to find a story around it...

    Sing a Song

    Not four and twenty, one will do nicely. They're quite dear, and tough to find. Of all the ingredients what cannot be substituted is the blackbird.

    Yes, love, keep that feather, I've plenty. Guard it well 'til tomorrow eve, while its mates do our quiet work. Now into the oven, bake for the birthday feast.

    At dawn they found the Old King, face a rictus of agony, barbed shafts poking from his watery skin. Nothing they saw would ever pass beyond his bedroom door, so the true story went untold, but I remembered. And sometimes stroked that silky black feather.

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    1. Oh lord, yes!! I can see why it would take hold of you. And now it's in my mind's eyes too. Unfortunately.

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    2. I edited an anthology of Grim Fairy Tales a while back, one writer sent me an incredibly vivid version of The Emperor's New Clothes, which has stayed with me. I know this one will remain with me, too.

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    3. A well written unsettling piece Bill, I dopf my Cap.

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    4. How magnificently delicious. I adore twisted takes on fairy tales, nursery rhymes, etc. This is one of the best.

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    5. Horrific but beautifully written. I agree with Antonia that it feels like one of the old fairy tales.

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  11. Would you look at this, a stand alone from me this week!
    The Challenge
    He stared at the white feather she’d handed him, felt the heat of the moment bake his face into a redness it would not normally reach. He thought himself the ultimate tough guy, had shouted how he would don uniform in a moment if he could and be out there. Had shouted it in the middle of the pub where the other not-so-tough guys were busy trying to get courage from a beer glass.
    The drink he had poured down his throat seemed like water in the face of the challenge.
    He was left with no choice but to go.

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    1. I'm currently reading Eoin McNamee's 'Resurrection Men' - such writing about fighting and man's attitude thereto. This is up there with it and I am delighted to be reading it.

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    2. This was an insightful read. You need to regale us with more stand alone tales, Antonia. Love the "no choice but to go" ending.

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    3. A very relatable piece to be sure. Fascinated with the white feather and what it might mean.

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    4. sorry, didn't occur to me others might not understand the white feather... they were given by women to men who didn't immediately enrol and go off to be killed in the first world war. It signifies cowardice. Men given a white feather had to go, no matter what their occupation, or be branded a coward for the rest of their lives. There's a wartime film which I think is called Four White Feathers, four young men forced into going to war. The prompts screamed at me to create that piece. Surprised me, I have to say!

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  12. A Harrowing tale of many a young man, bravado his undoing. I was knocking about a poem about a pacifist this week, but I'm running out of time so not sure I shall have it finished for this week. I have spent this week catching up on an Animation course that I'm studying with The National Film and Television School, through futurelearn. As you can Imagine it's quite absorbing.

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    1. Sounds like a fascinating course!

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  13. Not the poem I was originally writing, but this one tumbled out instead.

    Against your Conscience

    Soldiers boots, and sailors suits the boys are off to war.
    Stand up and fight you must do right and sign up for the corps.

    It may seem rough, but life is tough, no place for weakness here,
    If you remain you shall sustain a life that’s baked in fear

    Forced to the front against your will your conscience is forlorn
    because you refuse to hold a gun you will be shot at dawn

    Regardless if you chose to stay, they knew your life was not forever
    executed as a coward on your gravestone they placed a White Feather.

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    1. Oh my goodness. What a harrowing piece. It strikes home with a resonance when you go back and read that first line..."the boys are off to war." Made me think of Eddie Slovik. What tragedies war imposes on its victims.

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    2. And yet another reminder of the weight of compulsory warfare. Very near double rhymes in the first two verses, whose rhythms echo marching feet.

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    3. Beautifully rhythmic and haunting. The title is rich with meaning, perhaps for both sides.

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  14. Priest [8]

    His tough skin resisted the blade Olivare reflexively slashed across his throat, releasing a thin line of watery, wine-dark blood instead of the expected surge. The Tantarian priest grinned, his single eye burning feverishly, as he summoned black fire into one scarred hand. He was tall and gaunt, his naked body baked to a dull umber from a lifetime exposed to the harsh sun. Somehow he’d dropped Arshad to the ground without touching him.

    Olivare stepped defensively over Arshad’s motionless body and raised her feathered blade. “You shouldn’t have come,” she said. She summoned her own hell fire.

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    1. I can almost hear that "dun-da-dun-dun" that accompanies anticipated dangerous action in the offing. Some gorgeous word combinations here: "watery, wine-dark blood" and "body baked to a dull umber" to name only two. Nice to see you back with such a vengeance, Zaiure.

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    2. Patricia has mentioned my favourite lines - colours so evocative and this more so than many. Superb episode.

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    3. As already has been said some great words combinations here that evoke the mood of h piece.

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  15. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #51
    Anyone Can Bake Christmas Cookies


    I’m baking today, in the bakery by our cook’s house. It was her bakery until my mother hired her. She rents it out now, but she lets me play in it sometimes. Her name’s Anna, but we all call her Cookie. She bakes amazing chipotle-chocolate cookies. She also makes feather-light cakes that tower over all the other desserts. I don’t know how she does it. She’s tried to teach me, but my cakes always come out tough and floppy and then fall over. I can make Christmas cookies though! Today I’m baking peanut butter cookies and thumbprint cookies.

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    1. What a mouth-watering array of yummy consumables. This presented at a lovely visual...and you can also smell the baking aroma. Love that the cook is known as "Cookie."

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    2. A truly delicious antidote to some of the tougher fare we've been dished up this week, Rosie.

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    3. It's always a delight to read rosebud, and this week is no exception. I have a hankering for cake now although it's only breakfast time.

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    4. I agree, this piece is packed with mouthwatering treats and I'm finding myself hungry too! A fun, light-hearted piece.

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  16. I don't envy Sandra her job this week. How she's going to manage to choose a winner from this amazing selection is beyond me.

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