Sunday, 3 August 2014

Cool and collected

We've been treated to the effects of repetitive "polar vortexes," making for a very cool summer. This has been great for my family and the utility bill, but my poor vegetables are a bit confused. They, like me, expected a blazing July. I won't complain, but it makes me a tad worried about what that promises for winter. And they say there's no climate change. Perhaps it's magic at work, and wouldn't that be a fun place to start a tale?

This week, we had two entries, both all too believable horror, that really struck me. The winner this week is AJ Humpage with Coda. War produces so many terrible possibilities.  Runner up is Olivia Arieti with the chilling Haunts, which leaves us with an aftermath rich with implications of what came before.

The Tome has been chilling out, quite literally, and so gave forth these words with hardly any coaxing necessary:


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, August 8.

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.

I cannot wait to read your stories!


  1. We've been baking for a few weeks, looks like we got your sunshine, sorry! You're welcome to it, way too hot for many of us.
    Congratulations AJ and Olivia, absolutely stunning writing from both of you.
    The Captain likes the words this week... whether that means we get our entry in earlier is anyone's guess...

  2. Thank you and lots of congratulations to AJ.

  3. Congratulations AJ and Olivia. I've been startled by how fast the week has gone so herewith my first offering:

    Found unwanting

    I didn’t believe Ravenscar planned to abandon me. True, he’d never shown any sign of finding me attractive – had run away at my first intimation – but I was sure he intended taking me with him.
    And Helvinsson, by his youth, wanted little more than fuck’n’go – not anything of substance. Pity was my body had decided it belonged to one man only, so I fought him.
    He’d started gentle – laid the babe down safe, set the dogs to guard it – before meeting my resistance with reciprocal force, unused to unwilling.
    What halted him was noise of fighting from across the river.

    1. There is something horrible about the phrase 'unused to unwilling'. Some brutal notions woven into this episode.

    2. totally agree with John, that is one chilling horrid phrase right in there, making the whole a piece loaded with menace.

  4. A change of focus [96]

    Charity Cherrystone visiting her decade-dead mother was unlikely to be daughterly still-mourning.
    DC Brickwood, from where he was concealed, ‘She did have flowers. I assumed there was some substance –‘
    ‘Flowers concealing what? She’ll have something planned. My bet it’s to do with her father’s imminent interment.’
    ‘You think she’s burying something?’
    ‘Or digging up –‘
    ‘Surely not her mother!’
    ‘Have to ask why – but whatever, you need to arrest her.’
    ‘On what grounds?’
    Pettinger’s eyes – an attractive unusually pale, opaque grey-green – lit up. ‘I’ll think of something.’
    ‘Better be quick, boss – she’s –‘
    Then Ben Brickwood’s phone went dead.

    1. I've said it before, I'm sure, and will doubtless say it again, but you do cliffhangers so well. Love Pettinger's eyes lighting up at the prospect of finding something to charge her with.

    2. Pettinger up to his tricks again, it seems!! and brilliantly done, too.

  5. Congratulations AJ and Olivia. =)

    (Cosmic Discord) #16

    “An impassioned speech, Doc. Inspiring, even. So let us win free. But thereupon we require a plan. Something beyond flee, hide, flee, hide, etcetera, etcetera.”

    “But for now: flee?”

    “Yes. For now: flee.”

    It seemed to me their jousting lacked substance, empty smoke drifting in lazy circles, though in truth there was little else to do as we dashed in-system for the nearest planetary mass. We needed the gravity well to drop us into downspace.

    I suspected Cameron and Blake were also quarrelling below decks. A far less attractive prospect than the cabin’s benign banter. There were probably knives involved.

    1. You create very strong place and character (I've said this before too!) andI especially enjoyed the 'flee, hide'.

    2. Cosmic Discord continues to command attention, this is a very strong instalment, with a good cliff hanger ending, too!

  6. Infinity 66

    The thing appears to have no substance, tis hard to believe at times it’s really a living force but it is and it has its own plan. Do I find its thoughts attractive? Sometimes they beguile, that be a fact, other times it be dark and dangerous and only the knowledge this here captain possesses keeps it secure in its quarters. What would happen if I let it out… well, this world would know havoc like no one could begin to imagine. And the power be mine.
    Tis hard to remember at times I be one powerful pirate.

    1. And long may he stay powerful ...

    2. I don't get the impression he wants to rule the world though, just sail the high seas, an eternal pirate captain on the black ship Infinity. He is such a compelling character.

  7. nothing's co operating tonight. I couldn't highlight email addresses when I needed to, Linkedin is stalled, Blogger threw my photo out when I posted my entry this week... but it's raining so perhaps everything will cool down and we can get some respite from the endless humidity and heat. It was so heavy today that it actually interfered with my partner's breathing test, the nurse couldn't decide how much he was being influenced by the weather. So he has an inhaler and will go back in six weeks for another check.
    My friend told me tonight the Island has the highest incidence of asthma in the UK but no one knows why. Looks like he's got it now. Oh well, something else for him to go on about... (LOL)
    Things might settle shortly, says she with her fingers xxd.
    see you all again soon.

  8. (rise) #38

    The brothers disappeared into the yawning depths of the basement, leaving Olivia alone. The surrounding dark became an ominous substance, a looming hungry ink barely held at bay by the wavering torchlight.

    The faintest scent of machine oil provided some comfort, evoking memories of the workshop, of papa.

    Every so often distant mechanical noises rattled overhead.

    She had no idea where George was. Didn’t even know where she was. She had no plan, but any move at all seemed more attractive than standing still slowly sinking into her own mind.

    She took the torch, a timid firefly in the night.

    1. Olivia is such a brilliant heroine - 'looming hungry ink' perfect.

  9. Fallen

    A river of poppies, beneath his feet
    Always yearning for the sun
    Their silken petals stretched wide and full
    And swollen with the heat.

    A river of poppies, not found on any plan
    Attractive in gauzy golden light
    Their outlines huddled together, tight
    On ground where it all began.

    A river of poppies, made red with blood
    Covering scattered bones
    Their substance receded and gone
    Forgotten names in the mud.

    A river of poppies that continue to grow
    Yet each one fading with time;
    A child among the ghosts
    Enclosed by soldiers he’ll never know.

    1. Can't believe you've turned this out in only a few days. Powerful writing, and particularly poignant in the centenary year of the Great War.

  10. Hey gang! I'm leaving the Gates open overnight! If you haven't had time to write anything this week, but wanted to, you have a few extra hours. I'll close it up tomorrow morning by 11:00 EST and you'll have winners and words by 6:00 PM or so!

  11. FINALLY broke my writer's block! Not my greatest, I think, but at least I'm writing again!

    It’s Gonna Be A Great Show (7)

    Journal 5/18

    One of the guys from the cleaning crew found a very unattractive substance clinging to the hem of the new stage curtain. They’re all very excited in spite of having to clean it again. They are now formulating a plan to do a live investigation on the night of the show. A thing Adam is not going to be happy about, which is precisely why I’ve decided not to tell him.

    Emily came back yesterday. She’s being very quiet. She’s begun moving the little rubber duck around my desk. This morning it was on John Baldwin’s patient card.

  12. Great news, Colleen - and what a hugely unsettling piece this is. Uncomfortable and insidious but at the same time compelling. Long may it last.