Monday, 7 July 2014

I'm late...I'm late...

Good afternoon, all.

As I am emulating Alice's White Rabbit, I shall get right to winners and words without further ado.

This week's winner is Rich with Hard Lesson:  There is nothing I don't love about this story.  The phrasing is fantastic and the timing is quick and crisp.  Really nice writing.  Thank you.

Second place goes to RR Kovar with Outskirts:  No idea why, but I see these two as quite young when they make their break for it, and that makes it all the more interesting.  I'd definitely like to read more of their adventures.

The Tome has brought forth new words and gone back to sit in the patch of sun on my work desk.


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 Friday evening, July 11.

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.

The Gates Are Open!


  1. Antonia jumps up and down with excitement, Rich has won! Tons of congratulations and an equal amount of 'I told you so...' as well... cos I did!
    and RR, many congrats on a fine entry.
    Good words, the Captain likes them. We will see what he conjures this week.

  2. Rich - SO well deserved! And Rebecca - I've yet to read (am on holiday in Sligo at the moment, short of time, but can't miss Prediction!)

    A change of focus [92]

    ‘Question is, would it take a believer or a heretic to use a bible to murder someone? A bible of a size to need two hands to heft it; its brass-protected corner sharp enough to shatter an age-brittle skull. Your father seated, unaware of aught but daughter standing near.’

    ‘Question is, which daughter?’ Across the breakfast table, Faith, fingered a scar high on her cheekbone, ‘Both my sisters are violent plaster saints. Hope’s cod-psychology blamed Pa for her upbringing, or he might’ve challenged Charity once too often.’

    Pettinger smiled, ‘Your verdict?’

    ‘Whose fingerprints on the bible?’


    ‘Then she’s guilty.’

    1. Bible as murder weapon. I love that! Sandra, you have an incredible skill for making dialogue feel natural. I have loved this story from chapter one. I am hooked anew, with every new chapter. Thank you!

    2. I'd never have thought of the bible that way... very clever and again, sharply defined dialogue.

    3. Love the feel of this. A "bible" story with sisters instead of brothers, and a decidedly noir twist. Excellent.

    4. Question is, would it take a believer or a heretic to use a bible to murder someone? - I *love* this - brilliant !

    5. "sharp enough to shatter an age-brittle skull."

      Something about that phrase delights me, and "aught but daughter" too.

  3. Wow. Thanks folks - that means a lot to me :-) Well done RR - Outskirts is a great piece and one I really enjoyed reading.


    The freshly sewn scar on my left wrist itches as if insects burrow and feed within.

    I refuse to be distracted and continue working at the growing hole in the plaster wall under my bed.

    I scrape gently, using the plastic spoon pocketed during my latest one-to-one with Doctor Brooks. If the orderlies catch me it will mean another session of electroshock therapy and I can’t allow that.

    I must get out. The staff here label me insane and call me heretic, but the voices tell me the truth. My rightful place awaits, for I am the King of Carcosa.

    1. Disturbing indeed. The very idea of electroshock therapy has always terrified me. I do hope there's going to be more of this! I want to know how the King wound up in this place! Thank you so much for joining us!

    2. yes please, more of this, you've captured insanity and desperation in equal proportions here.

    3. Very lucid insanity here. Love the name, "King of Carcosa." Agreed - this should continue!

    4. Writing yourself into the King in Yellow mythology? =) (I confess to looking that up, the book remains unread on my shelf...)

      But this is subtly dark, that horror of the mind that is so disturbing because, to its sufferer, it is inescapable.

  4. Parley

    Bold-eyed, he stood powerful, challenging the stallion-mounted leader, ‘Son of Helvin the Heretic.’
    The boy nodded. ‘Ravenscar.’
    First time I’d heard his name. ‘Your father?’
    Grave-faced acknowledgement.
    Deputies growled, muttered. Helvinsson nodded. A foot-soldier came to investigate the contents of the cart: ever-crying infant, buttocks plastered with egg-yolk-coloured shit – and me, barely blanket-covered.
    Recoiling, a snigger, ‘God’s bollocks! Your woman stinks!’
    So swift as to be invisible, Ravenscar’s hand whipped out, causing the speaker to bite off a triangle of his tongue.
    The deputies advanced, either side.
    Helvinsson: ‘You will attend my father’s burial.’
    Ravenscar nodded, ‘After?’
    ‘We talk.’

    1. I like Ravenscar already. I fear I shouldn't. But I do. There's a good pace to this. It moves the story along nicely, but it's interesting on its own. "We talk" strikes just the right ominous note.

    2. menace abounds in this sharply defined piece. Brilliant as always.

    3. Very descriptive, and really liking "Ravenscar"!

    4. Yep, love the name 'Ravenscar', and loving his attitude.

    5. I agree with Colleen, for a seemingly innocuous phrase, "we talk" is rendered ominous by context.

  5. Well done Rich and Rebecca!


    ‘Do you suppose she will confess?’

    The cardinal, ablaze in scarlet robes, looked to the Bishop. ‘Her defiance plasters every wall, every ceiling and every floor. We shall not shrink from the illiterate daughter of a farmer. She’s still a heretic.’

    The Bishop’s voice echoed around the musty walls. ‘She’s like a scar. It might hurt sometimes, yet it can never be removed.’

    ‘Oh, but it can.’ Cardinal Winchester stared at the woman dressed in a military tunic, pious eyes cast towards corpuscular rays slithering through the cell bars. ‘Because tomorrow, this Maiden, Jeanne d'Arc, will burn at the stake.’

    1. I have always wondered what such conversations might sound like. Also, my biggest fear. Burning to death. The stuff of nightmares. Thank you!

    2. it's the seeming indifference when they condemn someone to death like that which always chills. Great.

    3. Always love it when the legends of history live and breathe anew, making it possible to touch the humanity - even the evil parts.

    4. Her defiance plasters every wall, every ceiling and every floor. - I really like this - wonderfully written.

    5. There's so much great metaphor (and simile) in this. And I love the irony in the Cardinal suggesting you can burn out a scar with fire.

      (also, bonus points for historical name accuracy) =)

  6. Apostate

    Stitches for the bigger lines
    vining pink now that the blossoms
    have been washed off,
    running brown down the drain to disappear
    in streams of crusted lifesblood,
    promising scars much deeper
    than a knife could go.

    Plasters over nicks and scrapes,
    mere reminders of the feel –
    his hands on my nape, hers on my back
    where welts now fade
    to mottled yellow with a purple center,
    another flower for the flower of my youth
    crushed callously under heel
    because I would not.

    They call me heretic
    when my only sin
    was hearing the voice
    of a god not their own.

    1. cold and dark and yet impassioned, superb read.

    2. cold and yet impassioned, superb read.

    3. There's a mediaeval penitence to this (if you see what I mean) but so vividly described as to be a stained glass window, knelt before.

    4. Really great use of the language here. Took me a second to catch the double meaning of "plasters". Good one!

    5. Wow. This is really powerful. Some fantastic phrasing here. I especially like:
      promising scars much deeper
      than a knife could go

    6. The flower imagery running through this contrasts so well with the reality, deepening the impact, and the final verse brings the whole into such dark focus.

  7. I'm late too, the Captain was delayed in coming this week, busy with his plans and schemes, no doubt, whilst I was busy resorting a flash fiction anthology to ensure the authors (each one can contribute up to five stories) are widely separated to make a good balance. Just finished.
    Here is instalment 61 of Infinity!
    They said the land was heretical, I did wonder if they knew what it meant. Perhaps they sensed the shadows there, who can tell with this bunch of renegades? I do wonder why I took them on. One wears a plaster, surely been in a fight. Another wears a new scar, I dare not ask.
    The shadows stand on the quarterdeck and smirk. I see no faces but I know it’s there, by all that’s sacred do I know it. I been preparing… they shadows are in for a shock. This captain don’t take kindly to his ship being invaded.

    1. As ever, the Captain's voice so strong, the weight of his responsibilities so well-depicted.

    2. Oh, they are going to GET it now. Enjoyed this a lot!

    3. Great stuff - I am really enjoying the continued story of the captain, and I am intrigued by the shadows... who are they? what does their presence mean?

    4. It's seemed an almost symbiotic relationship between the Captain and the shadows before, but things look to be getting stormy aboard the Infinity once more.

  8. I've been away and now I'm late! It's difficult getting your head back in this game. I'll be back to comment later. =)

    (cosmic discord)

    Harriet swung the Silent Symphony through a long corkscrewing curl.

    “We are outcasts,” she said, “heretics. We must decide what to do with ourselves.”

    “Escape?” Doc suggested. “Discourse on any species of future beyond the next few seconds might prove unduly optimistic.”

    “You have no vision, Doc. You’re only saying that because you’re afraid.”

    “I am undoubtedly afeared.”

    He wasn’t the only one.

    “But one of those beams strikes us true and we’re liable to need more than a plaster. We get into your wife’s clutches and the punishment will scar. Let us talk of freedom when we are free.”

    1. "You have no vision ..." A great retort in fine space captain style. I like the tone of this piece so much.

    2. Harriet such a strong character. and this comes with so much back story implied - more please, however hard you are finding it!

    3. This really grabbed me - I want to know what happens next, and I want to know more about their situation !

  9. I may not know art

    "How much," asked McCullough, dragging a scarred finger over the plaster swell of Mary's bosom.

    "Well," said Dromeo, trying not to gag at the gangster's treatment of the Sacred Heart, "you have to appreciate how rare this piece is."

    "Someone made a Mary with great tits, kid," said McCullough. He lit a black cigarillo, which only added to the overwhelming stink of the man's body odor. "I want it. Dollars."

    "It couldn't be less than fifty thousand," said Dromeo, even now feeling the word "Heretic" burning itself into his soul.

    McCullough choked out smoky laughter. "It could if it was twenty-five," he said.

    "That's insulting," said Dromeo. "Nothing of this quality or rarity has ever come up before." He sighed. The money was going back to McCullough's "family" anyway. He cursed the banks and his own weakness. "Forty."

    "Thirty, and you don't have to watch me whack off to this thing in front of you," said McCullough.

    "Jesus Christ."

    "You got one of those, too?"

    "Oh, Lord ... just take it. Thirty. God have mercy on you."

    "He already has, kid."

    1. Oh yes - this has an originality and a totally believable dialogue, creating bustling market-place background. Good to see you here Chris.

    2. Fantastic. The dialogue is so well written and the characters intriguing - I really want to know the backstory here !

    3. This is awesome, McCullough is such a filthy gangster. I pity Dromeo.

      Great title for it, too. =)

  10. The Gates are closed, m'dears. So glad to see that more of you got in to play this week, unlike your second admin. Ahhh and words tomorrow, dears.