Friday, 23 March 2018

Horror comes in many forms


From a group of 15 other attendees and a tutor I was the only one who’d neither read not seen ’Silence of the Lambs.’ So I bought an omnibus which also contained ‘Red Dragon’ which my son said I should read first. I have tried, but ...
So it was a pleasure to return to this week’s offerings here, and instead judge these for their nightmare qualities. It doesn’t need to be blood and gore: Jim Deegan’s  ‘Sweet Revenge’, in which my namesake (not that that was relevant!) ‘raggedly pieced herself together’, truly held the quality of nightmare.

Words for next week: fledgling prick transfer

Entries by midnight Thursday 29th March winners and words posted Friday 30th

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 you prefer.

101 comments:

  1. Appetiser

    Fear was fledgling; little more than a prickling in the hollow at the base of my skull.
    Only on opening my eyes did it transfer it itself to full-taloned raptor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really cool, Sandra. Fear can be a mighty thing.

      Delete
    2. Very visual. I like this.

      Delete
    3. Excellent. Wonderful description

      Delete
    4. Loved the description of fear to 'full-taloned raptor'. Strong imagery!

      Delete
    5. Magnificent. So much said in so few words. It never occurred to me to use "prickling," which is why you excel and I am pure mediocrity.

      Delete
    6. 'pure mediocrity' Patricia? - I doubt you'd find anyone to agree!!

      Delete
  2. Where’s the Booty?

    The invaders snickered covertly amongst the writhing and screaming town folk. The pillaging was just getting started and their fledgling commander was puking in the bushes. He’d transferred from the river region with consummate expectations of valor and malice, but what they got was a giant prick with a weak stomach. Who ever heard of sparing the women and children? How was a man to satisfy his carnal needs? Disgraceful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh - I love this in so very many ways! The 'puking in the bushes' will stay with me for a while. :-)

      Delete
    2. John ... you have a talent for choosing exquisite verbs. You make the reader's job very easy. Nicely done!

      Delete
    3. Great contrast between the invaders and their commander. The 'puking in the bushes' stuck with me, as well.

      Delete
    4. the horror is so casual here it adds layers to the story.

      Delete
    5. The words appear to be, at first glance, put together in something of a throwaway fashion and yet, nothing could be further from the truth. "A giant prick with a weak stomach"...I believe I've met a few of those in my time. Your tales always come with such an essential honesty in the telling.

      Delete
  3. congratulations, Jim! You earned the winning spot last week! Now to see what goodies there are for us this week...

    Sandra, I haven't read or seen Silence of the Lambs either... you're not alone. I consistently give up on what are bestselling books/authors with the comment 'I can't read this!'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very kind, Antonia.

      Delete
  4. I've seen "Silence of the Lambs" but not read the novel. One book I simply cannot get into...and I've tried more than once...is "Gone With The Wind." Don't think I've ever managed to venture beyond the first couple of pages. Haven't seen the film either. Congratulations on a very fine win, Jim. The competition around here increases by leaps and bounds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bought 'Gone with the wind'in 1962. Read it a dozen times in my teens, and ~4 years ago re-read it as I flew to Atlanta. Still loved it but what struck me was just how much of it - sentence structure and phraseology - had influenced my own writing. My copy is fragile now but I could never replace it. Only seen the the film once, and hated it.

      Delete
    2. Thank you much, Patricia!

      Delete
    3. Congratulations,J.E. that was excellent work

      Delete
  5. Change of focus [275]

    Showering, breakfasting on toast and grapefruit, John Pettinger felt clean enough for his Sunday Skype with Aleks.
    As ever, in the background, Valdeta’s baby, fledgling-mouthing at her mother’s breast (Valdeta deliberately distracting, transferring her from left to right, allowing a teasing glimpse.)
    As ever, Aleks reiterating his plea that he be allowed to come to England; a pricking of his conscience Pettinger bore resignedly, despite the pain.
    He’d not known of Aleks’ existence for the first nine years of his son’s life; promises to make up it had been fractured time and again.
    ‘Sorry Aleks –‘
    A sigh. ‘Another murder?’

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is drawing me in and making me want more.

      Delete
    2. Well done, Sandra. Intrigue, a little sexiness and murder.. a great combination.

      Delete
    3. Hmm...what can happen next in this compelling adventure? Nicely done, Sandra!

      Delete
    4. Nice job. Well put together. Very tight

      Delete
    5. I really loved the phrasing about how his promises to Aleks 'fractured time and again'. And that first line had such a realness/familiarity to it.

      Delete
    6. by Thursday it gets hard to find something to say no one else has said... all summed up the brilliance of this instalment and it worked for me, too.

      Delete
    7. A perfectly captured snapshot of a repentant father who so desires to do better, made even more poignant by the fact that the father was unaware of the son's existence for so long. As always, I find Pettinger totally fascinating.

      Delete
  6. "Fledgling is a weird name for a rat."
    "He's not a rat. He's a guinea pig."
    "He's a rat and you're a prick."
    "Maybe but rules are rules."
    "Prick."
    "For the transfer to be complete, you must..."
    "I know! I bloody well know!"
    "...sign your name here."
    "Does it really have to be in blood?"
    "It does."
    "Can't believe I'm making a deal with the freaking devil. You don't even look like him. You look like a fat, short, weasely accountant."
    "Do you look like the picture in your license?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Discombobulating' my first reaction. A good one: I find more value in something which takes a little work on my part to understand, plus this feels it would be worthwhile. And I always enjoy good dialogue.

      Delete
    2. Kind of a strange one, but I like it. Good dialog.

      Delete
    3. Excellent dialogue...nice to see some of that. A quick, interesting read. Well done, RJ.

      Delete
    4. Good read. Nice interplay. Loved the ending

      Delete
    5. Quick, fun dialogue. I laughed aloud at the final line.

      Delete
    6. I too laughed at the last line, very clever. I like the obvious tension between these two.

      Delete
    7. Clever and ingenious and an absolute joy to read. As I've mentioned many tines before, tales told via nothing but dialogue are to be admired if they are executed correctly. This one was perfection.

      Delete
  7. First date

    Seems daft to say when he was just a toddler but from the first I read her son as fledgling killer – and I’m not talking baby birds!

    First actual meeting, after emails and Skype. She hot and bothered, answering the door. He astride her hip, part-pyjamaed, periwinkle eyes and prawn-like little prick lying across her freckled arm. In the kitchen I handed over flowers for her and a beautifully crafted wooden truck for him. She turned to lay the flowers down, before looking for a vase. He transferred the truck to his left hand and threw it at my head.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A psychopath in the making. Really enjoyable. This is the first time I've heard a whatchamacallit described as prawn-like. That alone could possibly cause a man to act out.

      Delete
    2. Uncomfortably chilling, Sandra. Nice job!

      Delete
    3. A sharp description of the woman and child at the door. Clever use of words, to be sure, and I loved the final line.

      Delete
    4. cleverly done description of a strange child. It comes over well.

      Delete
    5. I found this to be quite haunting and will likely ponder on the ramifications for some time to come. The conjured visuals were immensely strong.

      Delete
  8. Good. I find it challenging to keep it at it under a 100 words (I tend to scribble out around 200 then furiously edit) but this one reads complete which is hard to do well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had such a lot of practice that it's not unusual for first drafts to come out at 100. This got to ~120 before I hauled it back. I'm eternally thankful that the skill of precis was practised in primary school; none of my children did it formally.

      Delete
    2. I'd totally forgotten having to practice precis. Wish I could remember more about the skill.

      Delete
  9. Taking Flight

    I readily admit I’m a fledging at this – never tried it before. I’ve heard, however, that most who try it get only one shot at succeeding. This is mine.

    “Okay, you prick with ears,” I said aloud, “get on with it!”

    Yeah, I hated myself.

    I took a deep breath and stepped forward, eliminating my last chance to transfer to perhaps a more appealing flight.

    Damn! I thought, This is taking longer than I imagined.

    I believed it would be quick. Instead I feel like a feather floating on a gentle breeze. Still, my destination has to be …

    SPLAT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dang, he didn't make it. He squandered his one shot. I picture a hang glider or a guy in one of those wing suits. Great piece.

      Delete
    2. Fun and abrupt ending lol. You had me wondering where you were going here.

      Delete
    3. There's a lot of ugliness in this - not the writing, but the mindset and the deed. Uncomfortable.

      Delete
    4. yes, there is, Sandra, it hit me as I was reading it. Clever writing.

      Delete
    5. Jarring and thought-provoking. I'm left wondering why the reason behind his plunge.

      Delete
    6. Weirdly wonderful. The "feather floating" reference called to mind that photograph of the "Falling Man" taken on 9/11. Serene in some ways and yet so horrific in others, knowing the eventual conclusion.

      Delete
  10. Hot air [Threshold 203]

    But the promise of Raven’s gesture empty as a nest after fledglings have flown, leaving me hollow and deflated as a pricked balloon. And as a balloon emits rucked and squawking air, whilst whirling without control or direction, so did I.
    ‘I’ll not allow you to command me more than any man! Thus far I’ve done it for... for –‘
    ‘For love of me. I know. And will continue to do so –‘
    ‘Until I choose to transfer it –‘
    ‘Which you’ll do to satisfy your baser needs, of which you’ve a surfeit –‘
    ‘And which you so sadly lack.’

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So much emotion, so much anguish... and yet a glimpse of that elusive underlying love. Really well done.

      Delete
    2. this is biting dialogue, eloquently portrayed.

      Delete
    3. I loved the imagery of the balloon's lack of control. It painted a strong picture in my head of the character's emotions, as she argues with Raven. Their swirling relationship hits me hard, week after week.

      Delete
    4. Some needling banter going on here. What a complex relationship these two share. I always imagine Raven being somewhat older that the protagonist and often view him as something of a mentor at time....and then comes an episode such as this!

      Delete
  11. Cripplegate Junction/Part 138 - To Fly The Coop

    "Always a sad day when a fledgling decides to leaves the nest," said the Station Master with a heavy sigh...and equally heavy hand on Poppy's shoulder.

    He made a mournful face at Marmalade, whose nose snuffled the bottom of an empty Kit-E-Kat tin.

    "Wouldn't you agree, mein kleiner katze?"

    Marmalade's pricked ears twitched as he regarded Poppy with a gold twinkle in his green eyes. She thought she saw him wink.

    "Be sure this is what you truly want before you board," cautioned the Station Master. "Once the journey begins, there will be no opportunity for transfer."

    --------------------------------------------------------
    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.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heavy hands and 'pricked ears twitched' render this a delightful, if faintly menacing, read.

      Delete
    2. definitely menacing, where to and why isn't anyone allowed to leave...

      Delete
    3. The Station Master's words definitely speak to something sinister. I loved Marmalade's reactions, as ever.

      Delete
  12. Deliverance

    I am fond of all my novitiates and teach them how to spread their wings. They arrive as innocent fledglings...unworldly, naive and artless.

    I nurture, encourage and support. Under my watchful eye the transference of ugly duckling to incomparable swan is absolute and total.

    Loyal to a fault, they obey without question. They return when expected, bringing with them what is expected, and wait patiently for the exquisite pinprick that pierces the vein.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patricia, there are times when what you post delivers such a jolt of cool and simple nastiness that I find myself thinking "On no account arrange to meet this woman alone and after dark"

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Sandra. I will take that as a compliment!

      Delete
    3. I think it's good we don't share the same land mass, actually! what darkness lies in this small piece!

      Delete
    4. A cool and driven character, to be sure. It made me think of a female group of sophisticated and poised vampires.

      Delete
  13. Bad Luck

    “You’re going to feel a small prick. It won’t hurt. “
    “Does it matter? “
    “I know you never thought this would happen, but the transfer came through, and you’re stuck with it.”
    “Stuck with a fledgling. An amateur. What did you give me? I’m floating.”
    “Something to calm you. This will be over in just a minute or two, and you’ll never know it.”
    “Feeling good. Really stoned.”
    “Good. Now, we’ll help you up the stairs. Then place the noose around your neck. Don’t worry about the new hangman. Everyone has to learn sometime.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, god - I'm sorry but that shout of shocked laughter was truly involuntary!!
      (But how clever of you to have prompted it)

      Delete
    2. As Sandra said, Joe - very clever! I was totally caught off guard by the ending. Well done!

      Delete
    3. my first laugh of the day, thanks, Joe!

      Delete
    4. Never expected that ending. This was exceptional in its final delivery. One can only hope for the sake of the condemned that the new hangman had a Pierrepoint for his instructor.

      Delete
    5. Truly bad luck! I admit I laughed aloud as well, despite the unfortunate circumstances. I wasn't sure quite where we were headed. Very clever final line.

      Delete
  14. Finishing School

    Unfortunately, most princesses are gormless creatures, which is why they are sent here. We refine the article and iron out the wrinkles. Sow's ear to silk purse, so to speak.

    However, a select few seem unable to transfer from totally lacking in social graces and suitable domestic skills to a fully-fledged version of eleganza and competence. Regretfully, they are beyond what even we can achieve.

    Case in point (and assuredly our most dismal failure), a certain clumsy sleepyhead. Lovely girl but, despite our best efforts, she remained all thumbs...except for the fingers that she constantly pricked on a spindle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your rewrites of fairy tales! this one is no exception.

      Delete
    2. Isn't 'gormless' a delicious word? - this is so matter-of-fact and smooth.

      Delete
    3. I completely agree with Antonia and Sandra! I love your fantastic twists of classic fairy tales - they're always so rich and new. And 'gormless' is such an interesting word.

      Delete
  15. Kursaal (Episode One Hundred Twelve) - "A Cat, A Macaw And A Crone"

    The squawks of O'Malley Macaw (name per the displayed plaque) was heard far beyond the yet-to-be-opened Pirate Exhibit. Another surprise addition, the bird preened and bobbed enthusiastically as she transferred weight from claw-to-claw.

    Nellie Hubbard, proprietress of the Playpen Creche for Toddlers, was the first to investigate the new arrival. The pair formed an instant bond. Fond of avians, the crone often rescued abandoned nestlings from the jaws of her one-eyed black cat.

    It pricked Nellie's conscience that not all fledglings could be saved.

    However, should O'Malley suffer the same fate, a certain little sooty head would roll.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    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.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    NOTE: Nellie Hubbard and her one-eyed black cat, as well as the Pirate Exhibit, have all featured in previous episodes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Odd woman, preferring macaws to cats ...

      Delete
    2. very odd, and a cold hearted instalment to go with it!

      Delete
    3. Had a lot of trouble formulating the prompt words into something that would "fit" a Kursaal installment. On reflection, I believe it might have been better to give this particular serial the proverbial "elbow" this week.

      Delete
    4. I enjoy seeing all these nuances to the Kursaal characters. They are truly a fascinating cast. O'Malley should be careful!

      Delete
  16. Good read. Nice prediksi interplay. Loved the ending.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Combust

    The men toppled like fallen trees, limbs twisting grotesquely, as Bristol’s magic ran wild across the battlefield. Her own scream heralded the sounds of the dying into the sky.

    Aledorain felt his eardrums pop, as he grabbed onto Bristol’s ankle. He tried to haul himself towards her, like a dying man to shore, grunting as thorns scaled her skin and pricked his palms. His shield shuddered, as more power exploded from her. A fledgling though she was, for a moment Aledorain felt his death.

    “Bristol, stop! Transfer it to me!”

    It was too late. She was already gone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This one of the smoothest and most convincing incorporations of the prompt words yet, and an epic scenario. Superb.

      Delete
    2. Excellent piece, Zaiure...so vivid and visual. I could easily picture the scene. Well Done!

      Delete
    3. As always, your submissions are powerful in message and beautifully worded. Incredible visuals, which I would enumerate but then I'd probably have to quote the entire thing!

      Delete
  18. I almost opted out of doing anything this week (the site of my operation in December has swollen up and is painful, being referred back to the surgeons by my GP, on antibiotics in the meantime,) added to a rotten cold but Leonardo bombarded me with his opening line, so I knew I had to at least write that for him.

    The Mad Italian 48
    By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…and the sad thing is, the transfers of power from this one to that can and no doubt will carry the same warning. The same leader in Russia, the clowns elsewhere, the trials for fraud and conspiracy and anything else politicians can dream up, I see little hope for your world’s so-called ‘democracy.’ All are ruled by the men in suits behind the leaders. It matters not that some of them may be fledglings at the diplomatic game, they are there and they are to be feared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you used that phrase - very potent.

      Delete
    2. Before I comment on your post, Antonia, let me say I'm sorry to hear that you need to go back to the doctor and also feeling "rotten" with a cold. Good luck. I too am off to the doctor next week. My blood pressure has been erratic to say the least recently, but I'm really not looking forward to having to take prescribed medications, which I'm sure will be the professional solution.

      Delete
    3. And now to the Mad Italian's musings. I love that he managed to incorporate the "pricking of my thumbs" into his observations this week. I was hoping that someone would use that saying (all my attempts turned out very contrived). Fledgling diplomats (with no true skill) seem to be the norm of late, unfortunately.

      Delete
    4. Sorry to hear about your troubles! Hopefully they will ease soon.

      The Italian is ever on point. More and more I wish I could just avoid all news, though that has its own troubles.

      Delete
  19. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #122
    Odd But Not Yet Worrisome


    Henry introduced me to Zehra when he was just a fledgling. He was carrying messages and dragged me and Natasha along. She was the newest bookkeeper then, still learning how to bind books without pricking her fingers. She wanted especially to transfer plays into her accounting texts. We’ve run away a bunch of times together. The Council can only yell at me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the prompt words have disappeared entirely into the whimsical scenario of Rosebud's world. These episodes are a true delight every week. I only wish they could show up a little earlier so more people could enjoy the talent.

      Delete
    2. ... and I can only echo Patricia's every word - so entertaining, as ever.

      Delete
    3. I love the line 'we've run away a bunch of times together', and all the additional stories that conjures inside my head. A fun piece!

      Delete