Friday, 8 June 2018

Is expiration the opposite of inspiration?


Breathing life into a short story ... or not. It will come, but not, apparently, this week. (And on the subject of short, please do take a look at Rosie's entry, for a master class.) 

And so I came to re-read this week’s several inspirations, thrown up by three not entirely simple words. As ever, the breadth of response is breathtaking, but this week’s joint winners both delivered something a little bit extra. R J Wayne’s ‘The Books Of Immortality 1.1’ grew more powerful with every subsequent reading . and Rob Evangelista wrote something heavyweight and sad. I trust they’ll manage to cling together on top of the podium. 

Words for next week: apparatus deduct  jazz

Entries by midnight Thursday 14th June, words and winners posted Friday 15th June

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.

65 comments:

  1. R.J. and Rob;

    Kudos for your great stories and sharing the top spot last week. Everyone else did some very good writing, so thanks for all the enjoyable reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was me, Jeffrey. At work and Google isn’t being user friendly.

      Delete
  2. Nice going, RJ and Rob, for two marvelous stories. Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  3. huge congrats to both RJ and Rob, quite outstanding stories. You're pushing me to work at stand alones again... just to try and compete with you both!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both entries worthy of top spot. Masterfully done both of you.

      Delete
  4. The Secret Armadillo Soldier (SAS) Diaries - entry 8 - Going Home

    Deducting several hours from mission time, Armi returned home, where his only sibling ran the family business.
    On the trail, he met Nigel nine-banded, struggling back to base-burrow after an undercover Op at the Pangolin-Palace. He was dragging some strange apparatus behind him. They gave the secret sign, exchanged nods and, to use Armi’s often-quoted colloquialism, passed each other like ‘shadders on a shit-house wall’.
    Later, as Armi wriggled through undergrowth to the secret entrance of home-den, he heard sounds of jazz music filtering down from open windows above.
    Home-den housed the lucrative whoremadillohouse he secretly owned with Pink-Fairy Armadillo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terrie;
      Another very good installment, loved 'shadders on a shit-house-wall.'
      Smooth and flowing with nice prompt use.

      Delete
    2. Yes, the ‘shadders on a shit-house wall’ was vivid, as is becoming, week on week, the world you are so expertly building.

      Delete
    3. Your writing is rife with powerful images, Terri. You make the reader's job very easy. Nicely done!

      Delete
    4. I think Pink-Fairy will be an excellent character. I like the idea of Armi being part owner of a whoremadillohouse.

      Delete
    5. an instalment that opens up a few more avenues for Armi, good one!

      Delete
  5. A Jazzy Gizmo

    Cyrus stood at the bus stop carefully cradling his latest invention in both arms. Standing behind and to the left of Cyrus, a street person fidgeted and mumbled unintelligibly.

    Street Guy shuffled around and faced Cyrus. “What’s with the jazzy gizmo bub?”

    Cyrus’ face contorted as he stepped back. “Sir, this is a carefully constructed scientific apparatus. Deduct forethought and purpose and what you end up with is something created by accident and happy mishap. That would be your jazzy gizmo.”

    “I guess there’s no point small talking is there?” Street Guy pulled a knife out. “Give me your wallet.”
    _________________

    I staged this one at a bus stop. I have more than a few 100 word flash pieces that include bus stops. Maybe I will try to include this one with the series, although it is using an entirely new character.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very good use of the prompts, MR. Enjoyable dialog and a good last line.

      PS;
      I think having the bus stop as the connecting element would make a very intriguing series.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. When I left it, I felt the end seemed hurried. Now that I read it again, uh, still not happy with it. That's the rub with word limited Flash.

      And yeah, I think I could expand on the Bus series. I have maybe 15 20 pieces of flash with a bus stop a focal point.

      Delete
    3. Especially love the vivid and well-chosen verbs you use here - ;shuffled' and 'contorted'. A bus stop series sounds promises a wealth of tales.

      Delete
    4. How nice of the crook to so affably chat with his victim. That led to a great twist at the end, MR. Well done!

      Delete
    5. Sandra Davies - Thanks for the heads up regarding the verbs. I did not consciously try to add them. They just happened. Or should I say they seemed to fit without me over thinking them. Anyway, a small bulb may have lit up.

      J.E.Deegan - I was robbed once at gunpoint behind a Burger King in Manhattan many years ago. Fortunately, the gunman, while not super friendly, he was at least affable. I use that experience quite often in my fiction.

      Delete
    6. I really liked this story and your writing style. When Cyrus' face contorted, I immediately started routing for Street Guy. Nicely done.

      Delete
    7. typical Street Guy, don't tell me about it, just gimme the money. Great!

      Delete
  6. The View From Down Here

    Smoke signal words
    rising to the sky,
    music in our ears
    allusion for our eyes.

    Solitary mesa and shamanistic chants.
    One-thousand miles…minus one.
    Roads less traveled,
    completed and with fun.

    Quill, ink and scroll
    the apparatuses of change
    images deducted from my mind.
    A New Orleans jazz parade
    for my funeral.

    Ladder rungs showing the way
    all etched with your names.
    Pages pour from your quills,
    I see you all soaring
    from my window sill.

    Johnathan Livingston leads my clan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thought provoking and interesting. There's the smoke in the sky and the jazzy funeral with seagulls soaring around as the ladder is ascended. Sounds like something Arlo Guthrie would sing about.

      Delete
    2. Wonderful imagery Jeffrey, the words roll off the tongue with ease.

      Delete
  7. Change of focus [285]

    Success from the media appeal.
    The photograph occasioned the inevitable ’scrubbed up well’ despite it being impossible for anyone who knew her not to deduce she wasn’t sleeping.
    We had a name: Tamara Pretty, both apt and close enough to Petzincek to convince. An address. Several suggestions of connection with a jazz club known as ‘The Painted Lily’, though whether customer or staff it was not clear.
    Her apartment smarter than anticipated, wherein was found apparatus of a sort to suggest Olympic athlete rather than pole dancer.
    Behind me DC Henry Moth, thinking wasted opportunity, failed to suppress a sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Smartly written, I had to write it because I loved your use of smarter. Engaging and intriguing.

      Delete
    2. What a great way to give the dead girl an identity. Really nicely done. I have one question about the last sentence. Who is me? Are you introducing a narrator? Or has there been one? I could go back and read more stories, but I'm lazy.

      Delete
    3. Well spotted John - a slip of the PoV - Should've been 'Pettinger' - apologies.

      Delete
    4. I am so taken with the Henry Moth character, he is the epitome of every person who wants to be better and higher up the ladder than they are and it shows!!

      Delete
  8. Heightened awareness

    As with a daylight visit to a nightclub, when the whispered, morning-after, melancholy echo of late-night jazz brings only sour emptiness and headache, the reality of spunk-starched sheets and stickiness, stale breath and stubble rash, rarely failed to deduct pleasure from the memory of the night.

    Not until my eyes alighted on the tawdry apparatus for the drugs we’d taken, until I heard the crackle of the plastic as I turned, saw your tethered wrists, your staring, sightless eyes, did I understand why the ecstasy of last night’s orgasm could be so vividly recalled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A long but awesome opening. As a matter of fact you did this in only two sentences. That's excellent writing. Thank you.

      Delete
    2. The phrase "sour emptiness and headache" really stuck with me. Had I experienced that feeling too often? Regardless, this is a fine example of solid, entertaining writing.

      Delete
    3. Talk about literary flash fiction... my, this was good. So vivid, so raw. You may have to vote for yourself this week.

      Delete
    4. cold and precise, as true flash fiction should be.

      Delete
  9. EUPHORIA

    While a “Lockjaw” Davis jazz tune played in the background, Woodrow Jennings maneuvered the levers of his intricate apparatus, a spider’s web of wires and pulleys. A screen on the opposite wall reflected a black, featureless, two-dimensional shape that nimbly shifted and swayed, twisted and turned, stretched and compressed in a scintillating dance that sent waves of euphoria racing through Woodrow’s being.

    He had connected the wires to the head and limbs of a man he had killed, a man whose death merely deducted another mendicant from the streets. He meant nothing to Woodrow.

    His shadow, however, was another matter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You bring to life this scene so vividly, and then drop the horror in with a precision that more than doubles it.

      Delete
    2. There's something about hooking up wires to a dead body that really exemplifies horror. It makes one read with baited breath. Well done.

      Delete
    3. nicely done. Macabre without too many words to create the image, it's all there.

      Delete
  10. What a lovely macabre story you weave, J.E..A killer last like and very good use of the prompts.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A vow [Threshold 213]

    So, Carlotta. Unconsummated paper wife who’d failed, despite the acquisition of permission and apparatus, to murder Raven.

    In the near two years I’d trailed behind him there’d been rumours of a wife. The green-eyed Cider-maker had claimed such. I’d believed him, as I had his kindness. Until hearing of the ransom to be paid for me (alive) necessitating my deducting his greed from my gratitude.

    All that marriage jazz – that ‘in sickness and in health’ – I’d done faithfully as any wife without benefit of ring. If death hadn’t yet parted him from Carlotta that need be my – our – next task.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good installment with sharply used prompts and unexpected self admission.

      Delete
    2. This narrator is a cryptic one. It's a good thing she has you to keep her in line. This new task should prove to be entertaining. Looking forward to more.

      Delete
    3. it's almost a pause in the story but one that fills in a lot of gaps. Nice one.

      Delete
  12. Song Sung Blue

    The singer fingered the packaging for the Auto-Tune device. One more piece of apparatus to bolster his aging vocal chords. He wondered if it was tax deductible. He shook his head and carried it to the checkout counter.

    “Aren’t you the jazz singer?” the clerk said. “My mom used to listen to your records.”

    The singer nodded and proffered his credit card.

    “Uh, there seems to be a problem with your card. You’ll have to pay cash.”

    The singer sat in the shade and tossed stale popcorn to the pigeons. Maybe it was time to switch to country music.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks John, I had Neil Diamond in my mid while reading your story. I enjoyed the melancholy, soft prompt use and excellent last line.

      Delete
    2. That final sentence contains so much; not only punchline but takes the story to a differnt, though-provoking level.

      Delete
  13. A unique approach with the prompts, John. I loved "tossed stale popcorn to the pigeons." Very nicely done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. full of imagery, very sad imagery at that.

      Delete
  14. Pirate Doctor #2

    “Captain Nelzar is Kalvari, our doctor was deducted from our crew, Dr. Karthis.”
    “Since you’ve bound Captain Nalzar to me as suntcur fatanoz ‘sharers of fate’, I’ve a demand of honor.”
    Rethic's eye narrowed as he moved his snarling face up close to me.
    “The passengers must be able to reach safety.”
    Rethic's snarl disappeared, his head backed away. “That's all? You, good doctor, are so like that human music... jazz, pleasing to both ear and heart. Welcome to the Shadow Panther’s crew, Dr. Uhlan Karthis. Least I forget my manners, I’ll show you your medical facilities, apparatuses and patient.”

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Gleaning of Dorman #3

    “Who the hell doesn’t and I’d love to know yours. Get the fuck away from me, so I can enjoy my timely hangover.”
    “Time doesn’t measure life. It’s an apparatus to help us live our lives.”
    “What do you want?”
    “I’ve a place in the Kalnov Hills and I’m looking for some escorts, interested?”
    “A moving crew! That’s the nicest jazz I’ve ever heard.”
    Dorman tossed Dorzak a purse that clinked when he caught it.
    “Fifty Talvari Gold Stags, get attire suitable for an escort. Come to the Caravan Park. If you come, I’ll deduct it from your wages.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a sucker for great dialog, Jeffrey, and this has it. Nicely done!

      Delete
  16. "'Can I jazz her up a little?' Seriously?" I looked him dead in the eye trying to deduce another truth but he seemed all too serious, “She's dead Steve not about to perform on Dancing With The fucking Stars.”

    “Alright alright,” He could tell I was getting frustrated, “look the family said they wanted an open casket despite circumstances but, I mean come on,” he said as he gestured toward the apparatus protruding from the dead woman's chest, “this is ridiculous.”

    I nodded agreeably, “But the fuckin' thing is staying there. I'm not killing her again, goddamn vampires.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such lively, believable dialogue - superb voice in this.

      Delete
    2. the dialogue is refreshingly natural, Rob, a treat!

      Delete
    3. Great last line and I fully agree with Antonia about the dialog. Wonderful story.

      Delete
  17. Great finish to this tale, Rob, along with a splendid use of dialog.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Raw and Dirty

    The AI had been designed as an exact replicant of the legendary band leader Cab Calloway.

    “Jazz,” it explained, “Performed on synthesised apparatus. A flawless tribute.”

    The club owner sighed. “I don’t want flawless. I want something raw and dirty. I've a mind to deduct part of your fee.”

    The AI stroked its synthetic moustache. “A malfunction could be introduced. A hi-dee-hi confused with a ho-dee-ho.”

    The club owner shook his head in exasperation.

    The AI recalibrated.

    Up on the stage the band struck up the opening bars of Minnie the Moocher. Raw, dirty and totally contrived.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. loved this. I recently spoke with Cab Calloway who, unlike the others who came with messages, had a long sensible discussion on music and its effects on people. (he was contributing to a book called 'Voices', messages from everyone and anyone in music who wanted to come and talk. The current book is Politicians...)

      Delete
    2. This, the synthesising of what should be entirely natural (and it is the failing to appreciate why that is so very bad), has a particularly nightmarish quality.

      Delete
    3. I'm old enough to remember Cab Calloway, and I think he'd get a kick out this, David. He was ahead of his time. Nicely done!

      Delete
    4. I'm giving you a hi-dee-hi and a ho-dee-ho for this. Very well written.

      Delete
  19. The Mad Italian 59
    The apparatus of government is being undermined by walkouts, by rebellions, by any trick anyone can devise. It is as if they seek to deduct from the process anything which would accord with the will of the people, as shown in a fair and open referendum. Meantime the UK’s newest Duchess shows the politicians how to do it, with gentleness, open friendliness and genuine emotion. No ‘jazz hands’ here for the public. The new royals have their finger on the pulse of the needs of the country far better than any politician. It will be good to watch in future.

    ReplyDelete
  20. It's always an enjoyable read, when I reach the Mad Italian installment. This weeks is no exception.

    ReplyDelete
  21. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #133
    Model Car Chaos


    Teddy, Elle, and I got dropped off by the silent race track last night. This morning we woke to the sounds of jazz and engines. Hex and Roxie are competing in the first tournament of the season.
    Grumble. Growl. Zoom!
    They’re off!
    ---
    Oh no! The steering apparatus broke!
    Crash! Crunch! Foosh!
    I think the judges might, possible, deduct points for that...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Neat, in all senses of the word

      Delete
    2. Jeffrey here, a nicely written story with humor and good prompt use.

      Delete