Friday, 15 June 2018

Black trees against a sunrise sky


I don’t always say, but ought to acknowledge how much your comments validate my pieces. Primarily for me Prediction is valuable for  keeping writing muscles in trim, needless to say your input is a very  pleasurable bonus. 

And bonus points this week, following a lot of shuffling and changing of my mind, go to Terrie for ‘Going Home’. This series goes from strength to strength, plus the title reminded me of Mark Knopfler’s version, theme tune for ‘Local Hero’. 

Words for next week: floss history sketch
Entries by midnight Thursday 21st June, words and winners posted Friday 22nd

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.


120 comments:

  1. Thank you for choosing my instalment for this week Sandra. I would never have guessed I would be writing about armadillos with such enthusiasm, its amazing how 3 little prompt words can stimulate the imaginative juices, The word limit helps weed out the waffle temptation too.

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    1. Three of my current novels were kick-started by prompt-word challenges. What I find interesting is that the effect of weeding out the waffle is to create, when read sequentially, a near-indigestible whole, confirming novels need breathing spaces.
      (And come to think of it, I never imagined myself picking a story about an armadillo as winner!)

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    2. Jeffrey here on break. Congrats on receiving the laurel wreath for last week, Terrie.
      I had a little mini-series here awhile back that started with the prompts. I them strung them together and posted it as a short story on another site.
      Well thought of comments so it’s onto corrections, revisions and further comments.

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    3. Congrats, Terrie. It's good to see Armi and company get some notoriety.

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    4. many congratulations! Go with the thoughts. My zombie novel began in the Prediction Challenge.

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  2. Dress Code

    Wearing a yellow butt floss bikini bottom and a Grateful Dead tee shirt, Kevin strolled down Santa Monica Boulevard. Would-be artists sketched away and dowdy au pairs leading their charges blushed as he walked through the park. At the entrance to St. Verde Academy for Girls, the headmistress blocked the way with arms akimbo.

    “You know the rules, Kevin. Our History professors are required to wear appropriate clothing.”

    Kevin removed a Pink Floyd tee shirt from his bag and made the switch. The headmistress nodded and allowed passage. She glanced furtively at his tanned cheeks before turning away.

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    1. Love the 'yellow butt floss bikini bottom' brilliant use of the prompt words John.

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    2. How dare he! A Grateful Dead Tee shirt with that butt floss bottom, how gauche! The story is quite the opposite.

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    3. Back in ~1985, at Gloucester railway station, I watched a tanned and polished-bodied, briefcase-carrying, Michael Stype lookalike stroll past clad in only a pair of bright yellow Speedos.
      Cheered me up as much as this vignette did.

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    4. Great use of the prompt words,John. Unfortunately, it is a vision I will carry with me forever. Now, a Led Zepplin tee....

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    5. What an image! Don't know if it will ever fade now and I'm probably stuck with it forever...not necessarily a bad thing. This is so wonderfully typical of your creative humour. What a talent you do possess.

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    6. this is so clever. I'm fresh in from a grocery trip, I needed something like this to offset the trauma...

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  3. The comment in last week's exercise about my being robbed at gunpoint behind a Manhattan fast-food joint is not mine. I'm wondering why someone would write that and attribute it to me.

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  4. I'm on a bit of a break as I'm working on a novella for an upcoming book right now. Love the stories, guys!

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    1. Good luck with the novella, RJ. Look forward to your return.

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  5. The Secret Armadillo Soldier (SAS) Diaries - entry 9 - Relocated Things

    Only Pink-Fairy and Armi knew the history of the whoremadillohouse and its secret basement cavern. It was their business safe-spot or, as Pink-Fairy called it, a “treasury of relocated things”.
    Armi located a rucksack and syringe in the hoard and joined Pink -Fairy having a pamper pedicure upstairs.
    Always present, Big Brenda was sketching the scene.
    ‘It’s no great loss, you did right ditching the stalk-dust Armi; don’t risk the wrath of the Thorny Devil Gang. That Moloch’s a lunatic lizard.’ Pink-Fairy rummaged in his handbag and twirled out a black, flossy-plumed, boa. ‘Goes with my ‘tache, don’t you think?’

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    1. Now this would be a full-page illustration, evert inch packed with delicious detail. Wonderful stuff.

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    2. Your stories just get better each week. Whoremadillo house? Wonderful, Terrie.

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    3. I enjoyed the reveal of Pink-Fairy being Armi's brother and not his sister as I envisioned. Another good installment, Terrie. Enjoyable as always.

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    4. So glad you decided to continue this as a series. Hard to believe we're already at "Entry 9." So unique and so creative. Isn't it amazing how a trio of initial prompt words can inspire such incredible storytelling?

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  6. Always enjoyable with very well used prompts.

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  7. The Truth be Told

    “It’s time for some mental floss, as I sketch out several historical inaccuracies you’ve been taught. The Dark Ages, are you kidding me? My friend Petrarch came up with that when talking about the literary cesspit of late Latin writing, might be appropriate for today to. Those witch trials you Americans had? Most were left hanging in the wind. Cleopatra VII Philopator was Greek, not Egyptian. Ptolemy, one of Alexanders Generals, was her great ancestor. This Flat Earth bit. Our scientists knew the Earth was round and its circumference. Copernicus proved the sun was what we revolved around.”

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    1. I liked how you managed the prompt words in the first sentence. Well written and enjoyable. Petrarch seemed wise, but maybe a little stuffy. Good character.

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    2. Nicely done, Jeffrey. Wonderful use of the prompts, and a well executed story.

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    3. As always, your stories come with their own unique voice. This one was informative as well as entertaining. Nicely done, Jeffrey.

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    4. interesting ideas here, Jeffrey.

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  8. Hi, All,

    Really glad to be back. Had the arthritis attack from hell and have been out of commission. Well, the injections seem to be working, and my not so sexy cyborg knee braces help, so let's give it a whirl.


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    1. Glad to hear you're doing better, Joe. And don't tease us with that sexy cyborg knee brace vision, you bad boy!

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  9. Correcting a Bad Mistake

    “Do you know your history, Brannon?”
    Brannon turned, dental floss still between teeth and nodded.
    “Good, because I don’t have the time to sketch this out for you. Our job is to kill him, before history repeats itself.”
    Brannon spit, gargled. “He’s well protected.”
    “Doesn’t matter. We’re expendable. Those idiots. They could have cloned Einstein, Lincoln, Ghandi. And instead, they do the unthinkable. Thought they could control him. Instead, he’ll kill millions. His followers are insane.”
    Brannon slipped into the flak jacket, picked up the sniper rifle. “Right. Doesn’t matter. Let’s go save the world. Let’s go kill Hitler.”

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    1. Joe, glad your arthritis is better. That's a nice story you've written, cloning an d perhaps time travel.

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    2. If only it were that easy. Glad to hear injections work - long may they continue to o so..

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    3. Interesting concept. It made me sit up and think of the horrors if this were possible. I liked the matter-of-fact way they discussed being expendable.

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    4. Now this was interesting. I've heard that such cloning may not be so futuristic or unbelievable as we might think. I'd like to believe that a second Hitler would be delegated to the bottom of the totem pole, but somehow I doubt it. In any event, wonderfully inventive tale.

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    5. some interesting theories being tested here and I like where they just might go.

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  10. Pointless

    Sketch pad, but no pencils? Worthless!
    Embroidery floss, but no needles? Useless!
    And the list? Endless!

    I'm not provided sharp objects...given my history.

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    1. Brilliant execution of the prompt words Patricia. Welcome back.

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    2. Great things in small packages with a killer last line.

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    3. That short break has continued to sharpen your writing.

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    4. Really good, Patricia. Good use of 'floss.' Never thought of that. You weave the tale so well of someone being in a loony bin without saying so.

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    5. Loved it. Wonderful last line. Very well written

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  11. Many congratulations on the past couple of weeks' winners. Some truly magnificent entries there with enviable uses of the prompts. Kind of glad I took a hiatus now...doubt I could have measured up.

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  12. Ungrateful wretches

    Who wouldn’t want me? I mean, look at me! I’m beautiful! My hair is golden floss. My body is curvy and healthy. Strangers always beg to paint and sketch me on their artist’s pads. In the history of the world, no one has ever been as attractive or lovely as me. So you will have to excuse my confusion as to why I find myself tied to a stake (how medieval!), waiting to be set a-fire. All I can assume is jealousy on the part of the uglier people of my little village. Oh well, their loss…

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    1. Oh dear - sounds like a classic case of you can't have both beauty and brains.

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    2. Yes, the medievalness of it all... Perhaps her attitude was so unbearable, they burned her to shut her up. Really enjoyable, Dave.

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    3. I enjoyed her sanctimonious speech... which just could be true. Very good prompt use.

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    4. Narcissism gone bad. Wonderful. Very enjoyable read.

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    5. Now if you gotta go, this is the way to do it with style. Interesting in-depth probe into the mind of a dyed-in-the-wool egotist, even in the face of annihilation...and a supremely painful one at that. Nonetheless, I admire her flair.

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    6. Thank you all for your kind words! I myself wasn't too impressed with it, and almost passed on sending it. I'll try to do a better piece next time. Also, my work computer won't allow me to replay on here! Hmmm....

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    7. Dave, my work computer won't let me reply either, so I have to wait for home. Jeffrey gets round it by saying 'Jeffrey here' I haven't tried that yet.
      Like this little piece because, whatever you think of it, you've got into her head very well. It's a skill. Work at it!

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  13. Communication

    Phone-call. Voice scared and young enough to be sexless. Details sketchy but ‘big building with a lot of broken windows’ had to be Murgatroyd’s.
    In my grandmother’s time the clack of looms necessitated women communicate by lip-reading. Nowadays, on the wasteland between mill and river, teenage lips communicated other things.
    In the yard-high grass and brambles, among the detritus of sharps and condoms, beneath the floss of Old Man’s Beard I found you. A jagged-edge bottle ended your communication. Ended our future. We’d shared only days of secret history but my number on your phone had communicated us to him.

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    1. Heavens to Murgatroyd...
      Loved the description of the scene, the wasteland. The tone was set perfectly for the topic of suicide.

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    2. An excellent description of a no-mans-land with good placemen of the prompts.

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    3. Wow! A very powerful piece. Great visuals. Very sad. Well written

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    4. Powerful stuff indeed, but it leaves a myriad of questions unanswered. There are so many directions this story could take that part of its charm is the fact that we know so little of the circumstances. As always, totally brilliant in concept and execution.

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    5. seems like a nasty murder here in a wasteland very well depicted.

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    6. This piece is rife with splendid words and phrases. I had no trouble staying hooked to this tale. Beautifully done.

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  14. Change of focus [286]

    Tamara Pretty’s knicker drawers evidenced a dual life-style: one the multi-coloured floss of Agent Provocateur, as befit her night-time occupation, the other everyday white cotton M&S. Beneath those, a plastic bag from Khakbethia’s equivalent of Lidl, giving the Yanno Pettinger had once been a twinge of nostalgia.
    Short-lived, because within it –
    Moth watched him turn the pages. ‘Sketch book?’
    ‘More than. A visual history. An identity parade of every man who had her. Dating back –‘ Pettinger flipped to the first page, ‘Five years. Five’.
    Moth too had done the calculation. ‘She was just fourteen. Her drawing’s improved since then.’

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    1. I like how Moth waited, watching Pettinger as he turned the pages. Really effective.

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    2. Entertaining with a very good last and memorable last line.

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    3. Moth is the perfect foil for Pettinger. Love many of the references in this piece. What could possibly be more respectable than white cotton undies from Marks & Spencers? Great use of the prompts...virtually hidden until searched for.

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    4. I agree with Patricia, the prompts needed to be searched out, it all fitted together so well. Moth continues to entertain!

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  15. Color me Blue

    It just may be the greatest Saturday Night Live sketch in the history of the show. Alec Baldwin, as Trump, hanging himself with dental floss. But wait… there’s Baldwin over there. Who’s the swinging man with orange hair and a bluish complexion?

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    1. Now all I have to do is watch the video and se eif the book was better. A good short John, nice prompt use.

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    2. And a double-scooped treat this week from your talented plume, John. I'd know this to be one of yours even if your name had not appeared. However..."man with orange hair." Now who on earth could that possibly be?

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    3. Such a skillfully written tale in just a few words, John. Great job!

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  16. Question time [Threshold 214]

    ‘How old were you, when you marred Carlotta?’
    ‘Seventeen –‘
    And oh god the thought of him at seventeen sliced from groin to throat like floss through melted butter.
    ‘– she was thirty-seven.’
    ‘But, you said, unconsummated?’ Desperate to erase the involuntary mind sketch, charcoal and chalk, of him with – within – her which, given my own history, was hypocrisy beyond reason. ‘When did she think you dead and buried?’
    ‘Ten years ago.’
    ‘So you were married to her for ten years? Faithfully?’
    He laughed. ‘Of course not! But, to kill her you need to find her first –‘
    I? Or we?’

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    1. This is possibly the most intriguing installment to date. I love the ridiculous thought of Raven being faithful...and continue to wait for our protagonist to reveal her name!

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    2. in what appears like banter is a whole history of nastiness.

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    3. It keeps getting better and better. Pretty soon that other guy I don't like, I forget his name at the moment, will be here to complicate things even further.

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    4. Raven... faithful? Surely you jest!

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  17. Kursaal (Episode One Hundred Nineteen) - "Artistic License"

    Sketches of the amusement park and its personnel made by Dottie Randall (found on the seat of "The Orbiter" after her mysterious disappearance from the ride) were incredibly detailed but contained questionable discrepancies. For example, some attractions were duplicated in more than one location and others conspicuous by their exclusion altogether.

    Of particular note, aerial charts penciled from atop the big wheel featured connecting thoroughfares indiscernible at ground level.

    Perhaps most puzzling was the drawing of a candy floss concession stand and its fresh-faced proprietor. In the Kursaal's history, this spun sugar confection had never been available to the public.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    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: Dottie Randall has featured in previous episodes.

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    1. Oh - candyfloss - how like you to pick the perfect use for it and for Kursaal. And what a wonderful mystery. I like the conjunction of 'questionable discrepancies'.

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    2. an overall sketch of the Kursaal, raising more questions than I thought possible, considering the many instalments so far.

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    3. Oh, what a strange and wonderful place this is. So very enjoyable and packed with intrigue.

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  18. A very nicely done mystery, this brought to mind a story "He Walked Around the Horses" by H.B. Piper and just as well written.

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  19. The Gleaning of Dorman #4

    “Lethurna, how did a drunk half-orc give you a black eye?”
    Lethurna hefted her club.
    “I’ll use this to floss your ass, Ilthana half-elf. Is your other half... orc?”
    Ilthana began the sketchy hand motions of a spell, when a man wearing a blazoned surcoat spoke.
    “Dorman said he’ll leave us behind if we fight among ourselves. History supports that.”
    They looked at him, Lethurna responded,
    “Okay, Bardon, but I ain’t kissing and making up.”
    “I hope it isn’t because I don’t have a beard,” replied Ilthana.
    Lethurna scowled at him and walked away.
    “Thanks, Bardon.”
    “Please describe what happened.”

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    1. Difficult to compose a piece containing so much dialogue, but you interspersed it nicely with description and managed to achieve a very pleasing balance.

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    2. The lack of dialogue tags is very effective in tightening the piece.

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    3. Loved 'floss your ass.' An effective threat if there ever was one. There was some enjoyable light hearted dialog that was well done.

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    4. Based on this tale, I'd say the seedy area of town is more entertaining than the posh area. This was a very interesting read.

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    5. Sorry... my reply under Jeffrey's THE GLEANING OF DORMAN #4 was meant for Patricia's CHEAP AND NASTY.

      Jeffrey's tale was loaded with good, crisp dialog, which he always does well.

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  20. Cheap And Nasty

    Arnold often visited the historical district of town. Not the posh area with its refurbished theaters, rebuilt storefronts and renovated restaurants, but the rundown section of seedy doss-houses, dubious greasy spoons and sketchy street vendors peddling even sketchier wares.

    He was ecstatic with his latest acquisition (which had cost next-to-nothing) and removed it from the plain brown paper bag with trembling fingers. The hand-printed title read: "101 Erotic Uses For Dental Floss."

    Arnold was positive he could put it to excellent use.

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    1. How deceptively lovely. The title of the book came out of left field. Great use of prompts.

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    2. How skilfully you set my mind running in unwanted directions with that final line! And the description of the seedier end of town so vivid.

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    3. I'm reading a crime thriller at the moment and do believe the writer has visited the local dive, aka The Marine - my daughter agrees. You've captured a whole area where this guy pinned down one pub!

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    4. I can only imagine the other sketchy items Arnold has in his collection, and I'm quite sure he has a collection. Very nice description of the dive section of town.

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  21. Cripplegate Junction/Part 145 - Water Under The (Railway) Bridge

    Dumbfounded, Clive Bailey found himself back in the Wendy House. Last he remembered, he'd been outside in the privet hedge.

    "Ever read Mill on the Floss, old boy?" asked the Station Master.

    A copy lay open on the table where Constance and George had played Snakes and Ladders. They weren't there now. Neither was the game.

    Clive thought maybe, but details were sketchy.

    "Something about siblings and drowning?"

    "There was once a lake beneath the railway bridge just before the Junction," said the Station Master, expression forlorn as he regarded the vacant chairs.

    "Sad how history so often repeats itself."

    -------------------------------------------------
    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. This satisfied on so very many levels, not least the book title which elicited a cheer of delight. The reference to Constance and George took me back to the (deceptively innocent) beginning so many episodes ago.

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    2. You may recognize this comment: Oh, what a strange and wonderful place this is. So very enjoyable and packed with intrigue.

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  22. Nicely placed prompts, a well written and flowing story.

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  23. Pirate Doctor #3

    Rethic led me through the Shadow Panther’s sketchy and disheveled bowels. When we arrived, I was stunned. Oh crap! This is looks like a historical torture chamber.
    “This is Dr. Uhlan Karthis, our new doctor. Follow the three L's and all will be good,” turning to me “Follow.”
    We went into an O.R. A Kalvari was being tended on a table.
    “This is Captain Nelzar, your patient or if you prefer your sunctur fatanaz.”
    “I'd like to have some equipment and supplies from the Sagittarius.”
    “Make a list and don’t forget the dental floss. I'll be back,” as he left.

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    1. I love the phrase "sketchy and disheveled bowels", Jeffrey. It nicely sets the reader up for what follows.

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    2. Many unusual goings on in this one.

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    3. I believe I must have missed installment #1 and #2, which I will have to go back and unearth. That aside, this was quite fascinating and the reminder about "dental floss" directly out of left field.

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  24. THE KEEPER

    Bridget McGeagh, Earth’s current guardian, watched the roiling blood-red cloud approach. It was the avatar of unmitigated evil, and the Guardian’s history, though sketchy, told her this day would come. Her duty, however, was clear: Defeat the evil and imprison it another 500 years.

    A monstrous visage quickly formed within the cloud. Its eyes burned savagely, its red teeth glared within a cavernous black mouth, and waves of flossy filaments congealed into a crimson sword.

    Bridget gripped the Guardian’s sword as the sword in the cloud plunged toward her. She raised her blade.

    The swords met and the earth trembled.

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    1. Epic, with shades of Blake and thunderous music. And isn't 'roiling' a great word?

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    2. An epic encounter between good and evil. I have my money on Bridget McGeagh. I like that name, so unusual for a guardian of the earth.

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    3. Beautifully descriptive. You could almost visualize this as an episode in an animated adventure series. I would love to see it continued.

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  25. J.E. this has some excellent descriptions and i'm awfully curious about the history that's teased to the reader.

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    1. some outstanding phrases here which conjure the images for us.

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  26. The Mad Italian 60.
    I see the beginning of the movement to shame those in control into doing right: I cite the reversal of the law against child immigration… in an effort to floss away that caught between the teeth of society, some go too far.
    I see a resurgence of crime among people, man on man, rather than man on government. That needs to be reversed, what good does it do to kill another? Protest is far better and history proves this, the only way to force change.
    These weekly pieces are a sketch, to see the whole picture, study the news. Carefully.

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    1. I'm sure it's all in the news; if I could just get through it without gagging. So much is happening and Leo seems to be on top of it.

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    2. Leonardo surpasses even himself in terms of words of wisdom this week. The present populace of the world could learn much from this Mad Italian.

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  27. Do we tend to think of ourselves as, in general, the current apex of our civilization, because we fear admitting we're not?

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  28. Candy Floss

    Candy Floss was the only one who wouldn't sit still long enough for me to sketch her.
    She was hyper. A pink blur.
    I knew from the outset she had a chequered history.
    Her super power was the sugar rush, delivered by a knock out kiss. I know. I'm still reeling from the taste on my lips.
    The image in the gallery is from memory. It's nowhere near as accurate as the others depicted in the Heroes Hall of Fame.
    She’s a health hazard.
    Bad for my general wellbeing.
    But I crave her nonetheless.


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    1. REALLY like this - one of your trademark hooks of a first line; she needs to feature in a novel.

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    2. David, this is wonderful. Love that Candy Floss.

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    3. You are indeed smitten by this vixen Candy Floss, David, and that produced a great read!

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    4. Candy Floss is a magnificent name for a superhero and her special ability no less magnificent. I can fully understand how she would be unforgettable. This was exceptionally unique in its composition and delivery. And I love how she refuses to be still long enough to be captured via pen and ink.

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  29. Jeffrey here on lunch. Very tightly written story. The last line, using crave vs. love is great, implying a habit or desire.

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  30. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #134
    Not Debutantes


    The salivating delegate dealt with Georgiana and I meandered back to the banquet hall.
    “I suppose we ought to get back to our mission.”
    “Flirting, fishing for suspicious history, and killing mouth-breathers who don’t floss?”
    “Yep! Although I think as proper ‘diplomats’ we ought to at least sketch the current situations for Rosebud.”
    Georgiana sneakily lifted a map off a passing Lord and began doodling.
    “I like the little poison heads, but can they be green instead?”

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  31. This piece includes an ingenious use of the prompt words, Rosie!

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