Friday, 1 June 2018

‘When all candles be out, all cats be grey’


From John Heywood's book of proverbs (1546), the word ‘grey’ sought because that’s been the colour of the sky in the North East of England much of the past week – dishcloth and dreary. Which meant this week’s offerings  – ranging from lizards and armadillos via a sociopath, the devil, female genital mutilation and a fairground attraction;  a dodgy mirror to a salivating diplomat – felt all the more colourful.
But to judge, to rank, to choose a winner – SO very hard. In the somewhat desperate end I decided on John’s ‘Close Shave’, as much for the perfection of the title as my involuntary shock of laughter at the end. Thank you all, for contributions and comments.  

Words for next week: excise tumultuous verify

Entries by midnight Thursday 7th June, words and winners posted Friday 8th 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.

68 comments:

  1. The entries each week are always so expertly crafted, I don’t envy you the ‘choosing a winner’ task at all Sandra.
    A worthy win John .
    I am currently writing more instalments for my bit of flash fiction … and the plots afoot…. heh heh.
    I have also been visiting the previous instalments of Cripplegate and Kursaal. Brilliant stuff .

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  2. The Secret Armadillo Soldier (SAS) Diaries - Entry 7 - Praying For Success
    Screaming –Hairy verified the evening missions.
    Armi’s task, if he accepted, would excise him from base-burrow duty for weeks.
    She knew he would take the job; he always did. He was her best operative for risky missions.
    Her respect for the rule flouting, three-banded little ‘dillo was unvoiced.
    He would be unbearable if he knew, and he’d better replace his missing kit items to stay in favour.
    Watching from the shadows as her soldiers streamed, tumultuously, out of base-burrow she knew some would not return.
    She prayed to the war goddess, Nikedillo, for success..
    She would need a back-up plan.

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    1. Really nice, Terrie. I love how Screaming-Hairy has this little secret thing for Armi. It really adds depth to the series. This episode takes on a more serious note, with some soldiers likely not returning. Well done.

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    2. A well-deserved "Congrats" to you, John. Your tale (or is that tail?) was excellent.

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    3. If this doesn't become a book or a graphic novel, we will be missing out.

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    4. As always, Terri, a wonderfully crafted scene. Keep this series going!

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    5. Terrie, an excellent job at humanizing the characters and very good use of the prompts.

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    6. I totally agree with R J - this cries out for illustration, not because your words fail to make the scene vivid but because they make us want much more.

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    7. definitely an illustrated book. It's not easy to make non human creatures seem human and gain our sympathy and attention but you've done it here.

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  3. Jeffrey here. Excellent stoy John and congrats for grabbing the laural for last week. A very good job done by all for their entries.

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  4. Thank you Sandra, for choosing my story. I'm really honored. And thank you all for your comments. They fuel me. It's so nice to see that people read your work and take the time to respond.

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  5. Close Shave II

    Samantha limped to the vanity mirror and verified her clitoris truly had been excised. She dabbed at the seeping wound with a tissue and cried. As her husband watched soccer and reveled with his compadres downstairs, she carefully applied an antiseptic ointment.

    Samantha returned from her outing and walked by the guys. Her brother-in-law, Manny laughed and swatted her behind. She gave her husband’s shoulder a playful squeeze and purred into his ear. Outside, she checked the charges under the house. As she drove away, she depressed the button and the sky in her rear view mirror turned a tumultuous orange.

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    1. Unexpected but rewarding finish.

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    2. Their ceremony did have the line, till Death do you part. Excellent on her getting comeuppance.

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    3. Brilliantly inserted prompt words - I had to read three times to find them. And I sincerely hope Samantha finds some healing.

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    4. terrific - brilliant way of wreaking revenge! Congrats on the win last week and on this great follow up.

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  6. Brilliant addition to last weeks entry John. How easily you get the reader to gain empathy for Samantha. I even said a silent 'Hah!' as Samantha pressed the button and the sky changed colour.

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  7. Marvelous win, John, and so well-deserved. It definitely had your "unique stamp" all over it. I am taking a little trip for the next couple of weeks. To clear the head somewhat over recent happenings (passing of my 13-year old pooch and another attack of vertigo, likely brought on by stress). So, will not be contributing and likely not commenting, although I will read all submissions either while I'm gone or upon my return. I hope to be back in full force for the prompt words of June 15th. In the meantime, keep the plume waving and the inkpot full.

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    1. Jeffrey here Patricia. Relax and enjoy your trip. We’ll be anxiously awaiting your teturn.

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    2. All best to you Patricia and hoping this trio brings what you need.

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    3. be easy with yourself. No pressures. There is no time limit on grief, if it comes back and hits you again, don't think you've done something wrong. It's been rough, it's a task to come back, but you can do it, one step and one day at a time.

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  8. The Books Of Immortality
    1.1.

    She knew his name was Romo. She knew he was a god-like being known as an Immortal. That much the Elders had verified.

    Before...

    She knew he was very powerful. Dreadfully so. She had watched him speak her home world out of existence as if he played some cosmic and tumultuous game of chess, sparing only her.

    He had offered her eternity.

    She said yes.

    But it felt as if her soul had been excised from her body.

    Inside, she could see stars.

    And a terrible power trembling in her fingertips...

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    1. A very deep story, what would anyone give up for that much power? Very nicely used prompts, RJ.

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    2. So much atmosphere is so few words - power trembling in her fingertips - it felt as if her soul had been excised from her body great writing .

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    3. "speak her home world out of existence" - what a powerful phrase this is. Looking forward to more.

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    4. Immortality realized, and then reality sets in. I can see how it might not be all it's cracked up to be. Very nice.

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    5. An utterly grand example of good, solid writing. Beautifully crafted, RJ!

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    6. very different, creating its own deep impression.

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  9. Not all the Rats

    They met at the edge of town.
    “Master Mayor, I’ve excised the vermin from your city, and it’s been verified.”
    “Yes to both, Master Kit of Tsune’.”
    “You’ve only paid me half. Tumultuous times never end, they just change.”
    That night, Kit played his flute. Reports said that some children began the Dancing Plague. They left town together, the eldest child of the mayor and each city council family. Outside of the city, in a copse of woods, Kit spoke to the seven kids.
    “Welcome to your new family, our skulk is now your skulk.”

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    1. This just goes to show, you need to pay the piper. I enjoyed this very much. I liked how they met at the edge of town... a very good first line.

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    2. That last line stays with me. Such good writing. I love when a turn of phrase lingers long after reading it.

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    3. Anyone who enjoys great, engaging writing will love this. Nicely done, Jeffrey!

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  10. Brilliant use of the prompt words and I especially liked the last six words.
    'our skulk is now your skulk' deliciously sinister ....

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  11. As I followed the reading my mind began to wander, but I always caught the mistakes.
    “Not exercise honey, excise.”
    After a pause he corrected and continued, I followed as my thoughts turned dark and I wished I didn't need to do this every day.
    “It's pronounced tuh-mole-chew-us, tumultous, have another go honey.”
    I wished even harder his suicide attempt had killed him, tears rolled down my cheeks but the anger was resonant deep below any verifiable sadness. A grown man reduced to the intelligence of a child was a hard reality to live with.

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    1. Bitter and heavyweight, this.

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    2. Jeffrey here on lunch. With a father-in-law who died of alzheimer’s and two children in the autism spectrum, I felt every emotion and word you penned, so very well.

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    3. A tough reality to deal with. We all hope it never comes to this. Powerful writing.

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    4. This took a couple of reads as the weight settled on me. This is stark and hard hitting. Wow

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    5. Too many of us have loved ones who suffer with this curse. Your tale made me remember. Thank you.

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    6. emotive writing. Very well done.

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  12. Change of focus [284]

    Three emotive words: naked, tattooed, pregnant brought phone-calls by the hundreds, from cranks and Christians claiming to be keepers of the moral compass.
    Inevitably, a press conference.
    DI John Pettinger hated them.
    Not because of reading the prepared statement. Nor facing the invariably tumultuous baying of assembled newspapermen seeking facts to further verify whichever lurid approach they had decided upon.
    None of these.
    His dislike was because he could never excise the memory of his first one, during which a woman unknown to him stood up and claimed he was the father of her green-eyed child.
    Nor could the press.


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    1. You keep throwing these interesting little lobs that kind of float there, creating intrigue and doubt and that tension that's so important. Well done.

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    2. Nicely done and makes me want to find out more.

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    3. tumultuous baying of assembled newspapermen, one very good and truthful line. Well written and as always, enjoyable.

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    4. great instalment, small reveals to keep us interested.

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  13. Reminder of the status quo [Threshold 212]

    Invariably, the reminder of Raven’s cruelly tumultuous upbringing brought my forgiveness.
    He’d survived a grandmother who, when he was thirteen, carved a cicatriced RIP into his belly lest, after her death, he excise the knowledge that, upon his birth, his grandfather died and his mother went mad, recognising that his ebony skin verified his father’s hitherto-denied genetic inheritance.
    Everything the wicked woman did was suspect. Malicious in intent. Arranging Raven’s marriage to Carlotta never for his good.
    That I might be otherwise, perceived by both of them. She with hatred, he with fear.
    Both viewed as cure my permanent banishment.

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    1. I like the language of this. Proper, precise and leading with just enough to keep me turning the hypothetical pages.

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    2. You revealed some nice stuff in this one. I think you must keep some careful notes or maybe an outline you loosely follow each week. I believe you have an end game in mind for Raven and the narrator's fate. What I wouldn't give to see that outline.

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    3. Hah, John - you are so wrong. Having brought to an end the sequel to the worryingly long (at 41 episodes) The Blacksmith's Wife' I set down, at the beginning of December 2013, a stand alone, entitled 'Threshold.' That was It. Until the next week, when I saw a possible continuation. And so it's gone on, with not the slightest idea of where it will go next, dictated entirely by the prompts.
      I did try and finish it a year or so ago, but it wouldn't. Oddest of all is the narrator has never revealed her name to me, though O'Bedrun told it to Raven.

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    4. Excellent narration. No dialog or setting, that's hard, yet you held my interest over several readings. Very well written.

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    5. Sandra, I actually kind of thought this would be the case, but I thought I might get little rise out of you by insinuating there was an outline. Who knows, you might have blurted out her name or something in a fit of rage. :)

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    6. So much good stuff "stuffed" into this very entertaining piece. Nicely done, Sandra.

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    7. smooth and precise, the hallmark of an accomplished writer

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  14. Graveyard Shift #2

    Captain Ruby watched the security video for the umpteenth time. Something familiar here, beyond this being the third tumultuous murder.
    “Split screen of both murder scene videos.” The dead spouse comes back and kills their replacement and former spouse. “What was that? Freeze video, rewind...stop. IR filter. Something on #2. UV filter, something on #3. Superimpose both images on separate screen.”
    An image took shape, a skull or head.
    “Enhance image.”
    An attractive and distinguished face came into focus, if you didn’t mind small horns and a Thorn-apple crown. Ruby’s eyes showed fear that verified the image: “It’s Oberon!”

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    Replies
    1. Like a magnet, Jeffrey, your crisp, powerful use of language pulled me effortlessly though this entertaining tale. Well done!

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  15. SHORTCOMINGS

    Three of us were abducted from Earth and transported to Elamef, a planet populated by females. Just females because generations earlier, a massive volcanic eruption flooded the atmosphere with vapors lethal to males. Thereafter, unpropitious consequences resulted, but the women overcame all save one.

    Unrestrained cheering verified that my comrades were accepted. Now my turn, I entered the room wearing an awkward breathing apparatus. Otherwise I was naked, so the women could easily evaluate my attributes.

    Their tumultuous reaction did not bode well.

    “His shortcomings are plainly obvious!” the auctioneer shouted. “He is unfit for breeding and will be excised.”

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    1. An enjoyable story, J.E. A bit of reverse B.E.M. here with the mles as the objects of desire. I really liked your prompt use.

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    2. How very demoralising! (And, whoops, I never even thought to look for prompts so smoothly propelled through this)

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  16. The Gleaning of Dorman 2

    Darzak, felt something licking his face.
    “My head really hurts, stop that.”
    “Roid, to me,” a voice said.
    “You’re the merchant.”
    “I’m Dorman, the tongue belongs to Roidras or Roid, my Chow Chow.”
    “Why are you here and the cell door open?”
    “That was a great brawl, five chairs, two tables and one door.” Your door is open because you’re not under arrest.”
    “I’ll verify that, Dorzak. Now I’m off for lunch,” said the constable.
    “I’m in the excise business and you’ve had a tumultuous life. You wouldn’t have any demon’s you’d like a second chance at, would you?”

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  17. The Mad Italian 58
    Fortunately for the fox, the present incumbents of Parliament are too busy trying to verify the minute details of the Brexit fiasco to think of excising the hunting ban. These are tumultuous times, with news changing by the second, a crime wave, with murder and mayhem across the whole country and the Royal Wedding feelgood factor disappearing into the mire that is British politics. Is there a way out of this? It will take a considerable amount of goodwill between all parties to bring the country back to its eminent position in the world but it could be done.

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    1. He's has a point or maybe a direction. Very nice use the the prompt words and as usual, well written.

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  18. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #132
    Crypticism


    Before the Council I go, excised truths at the ready. With no one to verify me they must believe every word. This time I’ve titled my report ‘A Tumultuous Week on the Path of Adventure.’ I’ll be forced to summarize for the cretins of course, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be easy to understand.

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    1. Delightful and very, very skillful.

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  19. Short, sweet, and to the point. Nice prompt use and well written.

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