Friday, 10 August 2018

Pricking of more than thumbs


A somewhat uncomfortable week, seeing what each of you managed to do with a cactus and some gin! 
Even being ultra-picky this week my short-list went out of control again, but for once two tales by the same author kept rising to the top and I nominate Terrie as the winner for her double helping of the SAS Diaries, numbers 15 and 16.

This weekly experience of reading both posts and comments is never-endingly pleasurable – thank you all for contributing so generously to it..

Words for next week: fork quagmire unborn

Entries by midnight Thursday 16th August, words and winners posted Friday 17th

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.

126 comments:

  1. I never envy you having to choose a weekly winner as all the entries are always expertly crafted and thought provoking so thank you for awarding my ‘dillos top slot this week Sandra. I really am enjoying creating situations to keep their tale moving forward. The 100-word limit is helping me tighten up my writing style too.

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    1. Terrie, what a well-deserved win! Thank you for wonderful and entertaining stories!

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    2. fantastic win, Terrie, congratulations! Keep it going!

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    3. Thank you both.

      Dave - I have added the 'dillos to my blog Inking The Page under flash fiction (Sandra has it in the other places we like section ) so you can read it there in order if you like.

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    4. You had a splendid entry last week, Terrie. You certainly earned the top spot.

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  2. Terrie; Jeffrey here.Congrats on a well deserved top spot. Doing a weekly series is hard enough but you managed two excellent stories last week.
    The rest of the stories last week were all very enjoyable.

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    1. Thanks Jeffrey. I seem to have branched out and have two strands of the story going at the same time so it seems natural to post separate helpings for each strand.

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  3. Swampland Blues

    We chose the wrong fork in the road.

    Our horses became stuck in the quagmire. They struggled to exhaustion. We shot them out of mercy, followed the Outlaw on our bellies, dragging Three Crows Cawing on her back. Her unborn child kicked up holy hell in her swollen belly.

    She gave birth beneath the vines and creepers. Like her father the child cast no shadow.

    We heard Coyote howling as he circled in. Three Crows hugged her baby. O’Brien shouldered his Winchester.

    The Outlaw loaded his six guns with silver bullets.

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    1. Man oh man, I love it, David! Thank you.

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    2. David, a very enjoyable story. Good imagery and tight writing and nice use of the prompts.

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    3. such a sense of evil going on here, more please.

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    4. Oh man. "Cast no shadow" that hooks me, that really hooks me.

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    5. This was beautifully put together. Without the necessity for an over abundance of description, the scene is still vivid and so easy to imagine. I simply love the name "Three Crows Cawing." How very nicely done, David. I do hope the tale will continue.

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    6. A stunningly effective piece, David, so many silver phrases to match the Outlaw's bullets.

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    7. A splendid entry, David. You've introduced so much in so few words. Lots of places to go with this.

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  4. What a brilliant action packed continuation to the outlaw's tale David. I loved the line 'like her father the child cast no shadow'.... it suggests lots more intrigue to come.

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  5. Many accolades, Terrie. What a well-deserved win. My applause goes out to you and your luverly band of 'dillos...!!!

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  6. "Greater than the sum"
    I was at the fork in the road, but the road is my life, and the quagmire that I stand in will be my undoing, or my salvation. The child, yet unborn, and truthfully, barely a child at all, waited. The girl also waited, tears streaming down her beautiful face, her own life hinging on my choice. I reached out, took her shaking hands in mine, and ducked my head down so that I could look her in her eyes. “Yes” I said. A simple, single word, and lifetime compressed into three letters. The silence absolute, we are a family.

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    1. Emotionally loaded and beautifully written this is wonderful Dave.

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    2. Touching, especially the one word-"Yes." Tightly written and some good reading.

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    3. so much to read into this. Great writing.

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    4. Thank you, Antonia and Jeffrey. I'm happy to do work that people are enjoying.

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    5. This has such an epic feel and simply cries out for a continuation. I agree with Terrie in that the emotion is paramount. Beautiful piece.

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    6. 'Yes' was the key that unlocked an original and beautiful tale, Dave.

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    7. The power here is in the simplicity of the words - a masterclass in such.

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    8. This is wonderful, Dave. So enjoyable and so powerful. Well done.

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    9. As I've always told you, David, you are talented.

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  7. The Fall


    Bone-thin, molten-skinned, hackle-hunched and shackled
    All gnawing after truth, and a place to rest,
    They search the skies.
    Eyes, cleft, yellow-red, and rolling inward
    As white -wings descend from heaven and hide reality
    in a snowstorm of purity and light against the dark.

    Talons, marked by angel’s blood, scatter feathers
    And eager tongues, split by lies, taste misted-memories
    rising in forked wisps
    from the ancient quagmire of unborn hopes and dreams
    spawned by daemons after the fall.

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    1. I did have a 'Paradise Lost' kind of image in mind as it came together, Jeffrey.

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    2. "Paradise Lost" is indeed echoed here. Well thought out choice of words that enhance the overall atmospheric feel. You have quite the wide creative range, Terrie. Who would have thought this could have come from the same plume as the adorable 'dillos.

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    3. Beautiful, beautiful phrases, making a strong and effective whole.

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    4. There are so many magnificent lines in this, I could just re-write the whole thing in my response and say, I liked this, this and this. But what I really liked was the first line: so rhythmic and tone setting.

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  8. Really enjoyed the imagery you have here. Bone-thin, molten-skinned. This was very easy to visualize. Miltonesque would be a good description.

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  9. Pirate Doctor-6

    “Yes Moblick?”
    “Your plan has been enacted.”
    “The Dark Sun and our new doctor will take the blame. The Red Bloods will see what they want to.”
    “Rethic, I don’t understand.”
    “Moblick, an idea is an unborn action, waiting for imaginations spark, or in this case, bits, pieces, and crumbs all packed into three life boats.”
    * *
    “You’ve stuck a fork in it Uhlan,” Darza said.
    “How?” I brush her red hair off her face..
    “Medical is organized and no longer a quagmire, people get better here.”
    “That’s supposed to happen.”
    “Which is the problem, you’re showing your capabilities.”

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    1. You move the story along with such well written dialogue Jeffrey. there are questions, answers, a little moment of intimacy and hints of things to come. Brilliant.
      The line that caught me was 'an idea is an unborn action, waiting for imaginations spark..'

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    2. As always, your strength is in the manipulation of dialogue that you accomplish so well.

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    3. I'm with Terrie. That line - an idea is an unborn action - is very clever, and what follows it fits in so perfectly.

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    4. Very nice, Jeffrey. I like how the doctor's skills are becoming problematic. It moves this along nicely and gives you fodder for future stories.

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  10. Best Of Three Resurrection

    My brother requests a rematch. I agree. He is, after all, my brother and I do enjoy a challenge.

    This time, the choice location is the forked quagmire where the Path of Righteousness converges with the Path of Good Intentions. But what will be the name of the game?

    I suggest "Risk." He finds it too one-sided, given my flair for militarism.

    He suggests "Life." Too simplistic, counting and reading being the only necessary skills.

    We decide on Chess.

    He summons his Host of Unborn while I summon my Horde of Undead.

    His pieces are, of course, white.

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    Replies
    1. of course they are... what else after such a vivid depiction of a battle between good and evil?

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    2. I hope she doesn't surprise him with a game of Battle Chess. Life is too simplistic, nice!. Good writing and prompt use.

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    3. The element of balance between the protagonists so cleverly mirrors the actions 'I suggest.... he suggests host of unborn... horde of undead' and what a reveal in the last line . Without outright disclosure we get a real sense of the situation between them..... and well interpreted prompt words too. Excellent writing as always Patricia.

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    4. Strongly depicted confrontation - prompts used so smoothly.

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    5. The forked quagmire... wonderful.
      What an interesting concept of good and evil (at least that's how I see it) being brothers. This is very enjoyable and so easy to read.

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    6. Oh this is good such visual cues here.

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    7. The conflict in this piece is beautifully constructed, Patricia.

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  11. The Secret Armadillo Soldier (SAS) Diaries - entry 17 – The Trail To Undercover

    Armi’s unborn, unerring, sense of danger told he was being shadowed and, by the doggedness of the follower, he guessed by who.
    Company on this mission would‘ve been welcome but, whatever Sarg was planning; Armi never willingly involved affable Atlas in the quagmire of his ultra secret orders.
    That night he doubled back along the gulch, created several false trails forking out into the desert, retraced in his tracks, located the hidden tunnel, and disappeared into the undergrowth of the valley.
    Checking the map and expertly avoiding gerbil traps and snares as he went, Armi headed for Fat-Franks.

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    1. Somehow you make each instalment part of the story, rather than an outline of the story, it's so packed with information and background. Your 'dillos' are very much a part of you.

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    2. I fear that I am going to have to go back through the archives and find every installment of this story! I may even re-constitute them into a single treatise, so I can read it all at once!

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    3. Antonia has a very good point. Your installments are well thought out and written with a good flow and use of the prompts. I can' speak for others but I'm happy for your success and a bit jealous of it.

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    4. I can almost see Armi scurrying along creating "false trails" while going about accomplishment of the mission. I love that there is an "unborn, unerring, sense of danger." Reminds me of the infamous "spidey sense." Hmmm...."dillo detection" perhaps?

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    5. Like Patricia, I find that opening sentence entirely captivating. And agree with Antonia about the solidity of each episode.

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    6. This is really good, Terrie. I like the gerbil traps and snares. They remind us that the characters live is such a strange, wonderful world among us humans, who are the apparent setters of the traps. It makes me wonder if Armi and company will ever encounter a human.

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    7. I don't know how you do it but this begs to be a book. A great fantasy type if tale

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  12. Stop the week, I want to get off (8)

    Perhaps I should do this more often… poke something and mutter ‘I really want you gone.’ 5 to 1 (we close at 1, tired of walking the consumer quagmire by then) someone bought the expensive hefty circular saw…I left Shaun waiting for the money, customer had to cross the road where it forks between ferry terminal and floating bridge, to get cash from the ATM. I’ve spent the weekend hoping my as yet unborn plans come into fruition and I can actually see all the shop from my safe barricade of the glass counter. It would be nice…

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    1. I love the image of poking something and wishing it gone. I need to try that with the clutter in my house. I do hope it works ..
      Your snippets of everyday are so vivid and engaging Antonia, keep them coming.

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    2. It's one thing to give fiction life, it's another to transfer the life you see to a story.

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    3. now see what you've all started... I'm writing the book...

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    4. I for one want a copy of that book when it's published. What a delight that would be for the avid reader.

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    5. The Prediction has a history of spawning bigger things - good luck with this one Antonia!

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    6. Your curiosity shop is the perfect setting for these little slice-of-life tales. Loved your unborn plans.

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  13. Cripplegate Junction/Part 152 - Curiouser And Curiouser

    Clive Bailey's sensibilities were a quagmire of unborn conjecture and disintegrating supposition. Memory proved deceptive and perception unreliable.

    Instead of arriving at the Cripplegate platform, Clive found himself in the Sanitarium grounds where someone had been gardening. A spading fork, pruning shears and trowel lay in the grass near the Wendy House, which was shrinking by the second. Or maybe Clive was simply getting bigger. The scenario struck a note.

    Clive thought of Alice...not the little blonde from the Crossing Canteen but the girl in the Lewis Carroll story.

    Then again, perhaps they were really one and the same.

    -------------------------------------------------
    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. A quagmire of unborn conjecture, good line. You've good description and a nice last line.

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    2. this I like, it adds to the deep Cripplegate mystery - which seems to expand by the week.

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    3. As soon as I read'Clive Bailey' I know I'm in for another treat - he so much the unwitting victim.

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    4. What a great title, Patricia. And the rest ain't bad either.

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  14. Method In Madness

    Knives and forks are not permitted here in this quagmire of loonies, crackpots and fruitcakes. Nothing sharp. Nothing pointy. Not even for us. Anybody might think we were inmates instead of custodians.

    Protest against such treatment is futile and falls on deaf ears.

    Much like the wailings of the unborn who are ensconced safely down the hall.

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    1. I agree with Jeffrey. With under 60 words you have created a scenario to captivate and interest any reader with thoughts such as .. what is this place... what on earth is down the hall....and more importantly ... tell me more Patricia.

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    2. full of dark thoughts and mysteries!

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    3. This would be a great movie. The custodians living among the inmates, not entirely clear on who is who. Very clever.

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  15. Another short and to the point story. Very well done.

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  16. I

    The miserable, forked-tongued bastard! He never loved mother and me. He just fed her all that lovey-dovey, we’re-a-family crap to keep her off guard until he figured out what to do with us. But I knew better; I knew he blamed us for the quagmire of debt we were drowning in.

    Now he had decided. I heard mother’s agonized cries as he plunged the knife again and again into her chest. And then into her stomach.

    Mother’s heartbeat grew slower and fainter, as did mine. Then both stopped.

    Mother was dead, and I had become a member of the unborn.

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    1. You build the tension expertly J.E so the imagery and animosity almost jumps out at you . I could visualise the action as it unfolded stab by stab and heartbeat by failing heart beat. Great last line too

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    2. So strange and horrifying. Great touch with both heartbeats fading and stopping as one.

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    3. J.E. what a visceral ending and yet you reap as you sow, does come to mind. Nice use of the prompts.

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    4. Nicely put together with a great reveal and the prompts were seamless.

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    5. So clever and twisted an ending, quiet after the preceding violence.

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  17. Change of focus [294]

    A triple fork in the driveway to Batiste Balincek’s abode.
    Laconically, Filip commented, ‘Left goes round the back – stables, etcetera. To the right, what was quagmire is now ornamental lake. Mud dug out and dried provided soil enough to create a desert –‘
    ‘And he needs a desert?’
    ‘Filming. Westerns –‘
    Pettinger’s laugh, as a ten-year-old memory, hitherto unborn, emerged, was sour. ‘Valdeta always yearned to be a film star. Not that she could ride –‘
    ‘– And horror movies. She’s effective as undead –’
    Pettinger glanced. Filip’s expression far too avid for a friend. ‘And?’
    ‘A stunning porn star.’

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    1. We'd better keep Valdeta away from Trump. This was so interesting and humorous. Where did the third fork go?

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    2. That Valdeta!!! What a checkered character. Brilliantly drawn and executed as always. Love the idea of three forks. The word itself tends to make you think of only two.

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  18. Convalescence [Threshold 216]

    Within the month I knew gin as ineffective as the pennyroyal tea fork-tongued witches sold to too-soon expel the as-yet unborn.
    I knew better than to tell him.

    We continued to make love – although that a misnomer in what, as any thesaurus will tell you, is one of a quagmire of misleading words and phrases to describe what takes place ‘twixt man and woman.
    He continued to verbally deny belief in a future of mutual ease.
    I aimed to disabuse him. Make myself indispensable.
    Easy enough while lacerations delivered by Lant were healing.
    Then recovery revived his desire to kill.

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    1. Hmm, if the remedies to expel the unborn are so far ineffective, I wonder what lays in store concerning a future bundle of joy? This kid is going to need therapy right out of the womb.

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    2. If I'm not mistaken, isn't this the second pregnancy for our unnamed protagonist? The "indispensable" idea is a good one, although I have my doubts regarding how long and/or how high it could fly. The interaction between these two never fails to fascinate.

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    3. Well-remembered Patricia - she was ~8 months gone when she met Raven.

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  19. The Secret Armadillo Soldier (SAS) Diaries - entry 18 –
    Punch-up at Pangolin Palace

    Under the cover of flickering broken-light, Palace Patrons slid out of forked shadows and prudently exited as the argumentative ‘Vark and belligerent pangolin faced each other over empty cactus-gin jars and beetle-blood wine bowls.
    ‘Can’
    ‘Can’t’
    ‘Bloody can Aubrey ’
    ‘Feckin’ can’t Clancy’
    The unborn quagmire of animosity exploded in drunken furore. Aubrey leapt first but Clancy was ready. Grunting, squealing and farting intermingled with a variety of obscenities. The jars and bowls scattered as they cuffed, rolled, jumped, tail-chopped and bit.
    Sarg paused to observe their fighting expertise before incapacitating them both with a sharp whack on the head.

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    1. Such joy in reading this - from "forked shadows" to "sharp whack". Thank you Terrie.

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    2. Dang, Terrie, they keep getting better and better. I consider myself privileged to read these on the ground floor. Cactus gin and beetle-blood wine sure do pack an apparent whallup.

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    3. How you stuff so much potent, entertaining language into your writings never ceases to amaze me, Terrie. Beautifully done!

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    4. As usual nicely written with good descriptions and a nice ending.

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    5. This provides the double dose of entertainment we have come to expect from your 'dillos, Terrie. I had to chuckle at the use of "punch-up." Been so long since I heard that phrase...but how apt it is in this installment. We can certainly trust Sarg to skillfully diffuse any situation.

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  20. The Beginning

    The antichrist, unborn in his mother’s womb, decided it was time to emerge. The woman shrieked until her throat bled as a team of priests prayed over her writhing, convulsing body. The antichrist tore through the quagmire of fluids and placenta while the exorcist performed his final act of attempting to abort the fetus with a fork.

    When the law arrived, it was difficult to sort through the scotched flesh and gore, but it soon became apparent that all was not well. The sudden, distant screams furthered their suspicions.

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    1. "quagmire of fluids and placenta" the icing on the cake (if you'll forgive the resulant image) for this so well-crafted and imaginative piece.

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    2. Horror at its finest, John! Your description of the anti-Christ emerging is bloody wonderful (excuse the pun)!

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    3. Nicely descriptive and with a good morbid streak. Good writing John.

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    4. What a deliciously horrific description of the birthing process. I think it's safe to assume that the trusty fork failed to accomplish its task. Given the title, I'm hoping this will come with many continuations.

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  21. Kursaal (Episode One Hundred Twenty Six) - "Crime Scenes"

    Archon often visited the quagmire of sodden undergrowth north of the Kursaal. Upon arrival, he'd taken his first sojourn here. Snickering children had been torturing rodents. Wrongdoers who soon learned the error of their ways.

    Nearby, little Lucy Pepperydyne's body had been found, but a more elegant presence lingered. Alexis Champagne, Maximillian Corviday's now-missing assistant whose disappearance left a cornucopia of concepts to remain unborn.

    From the road, Manasa summoned Archon to her side. For many reasons, this was an unsafe area. The snake responded immediately, forked tongue caressing the air rich with the scent of his adored mistress.

    -------------------------------------------------------
    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: Archon (The Asp), Manasa (The Snake-Charmer), Alexis Champagne and Lucy Pepperdyne have all featured in previous episodes.

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    1. I'm in awe how you find so many facets to this place, and keep us royally entertained week after week.

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    2. Sandra is right, Patricia. I too am in awe and invariably look forward to your episodes. This reads like a series of vivid pictures. I don't have to think - just enjoy.

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    3. You do all this with narration, not easily done. Softly dropped prompt use and a new annex for your story.

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  22. Can't seem to stop the plume waving this week...!!!
    ----------------------------------------------------

    Devil In The Details

    The painted image is far from flattering. Forked tail. Wicked horns. Knee deep in a quagmire of suffering souls. And skin an impeccable shade of red. Or crimson? Scarlet? Totally inaccurate, of course, but can't deny the artist has talent.

    The girl is a beauty. I sense she is a virgin who will bear many children as yet unborn. Have to take care of that.

    "Think that's how he really looks?" I ask.

    She blushes and lowers her eyes, glances at me from between bewitching lashes. She is quite the coquette.

    "I think he probably looks just like you!"





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    1. I've notived that some weeks the prompt word inspire so many ideas that you cant get them all into one offering ...that when you cant stop. a




      This is such a good piece Patricia, mind you all your offerings are. It's a tight, well crafted, snippet of a moment in time that is richly woven with the feel of each character. You can easily imaging them both.



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    2. Sounds like this is going to get better and better. The description of the painted image is a gem!

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    3. Lovely story and a hook of a last line. Be nice if you do write more of this.

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    4. This is so precisely and eloquently poised on the tip of horror, and we are left to wonder which way it will fall. .

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  23. A busy week here and so I didn't think I'd enter a story this week but this formed in my brain and wouldn't leave me alone.

    Dust

    The signs were there. The gray skin, the sunken eyes. It was only hours. I set the fork down. He was finished. I listened to the endless rain that had turned the yard into a quagmire.

    This virus decayed their bodies rapidly, spreading without discrimination. Not even the unborn were immune. My hand almost went to my belly before I caught myself.

    My husband stared with eyes that were no longer there. Empty holes. As empty as I felt.

    "Rachelle..." his tongue withered with my name. As he turned to dust, my tears came hot and angry

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    1. "his tongue withered with my name." What a powerful image within a powerful piece!

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    2. What a story, you start in the middle creating many questions. Good prompt use and I was caught by the line eyes thet were no longer there.

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    3. stunning way to describe a terminal virus, really stunning.

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    4. I'm with J.E. A tongue withering with the speaking of a name is one powerful image. How lucky we are that you actually found the time to pop on over and deliver such a wonderful treat.

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    5. Utterly horrific, which is credit to your writing of it. So many hard-hitting phrases of which 'his tongue withered with my name' is but one.
      (I hope the act of writing it got it out of your head.)

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  24. So glad you did contribute this week RJ. This is so good. Thank you.

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  25. Stop the week; I want to get off (9)

    Odd how things just – start rolling. We were making plans, a foolish thing to do, they usually remain unborn, when a van arrived with more goodies. Buying is a quagmire for second hand dealers, got to be sharp but not put people off, equally not forking out loads of money. The goodies were good, very pleasing. Loads of work but good. So Shaun took a sideways step, pictures came down, wall needed painting, he worked to 2 AM to do it and we had the first set of shelves in place today. Stunning. Now to work on the rest…

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    1. I easily envision you and Shaun, in your store doing what you describe. Smooth, simple and tightly written.

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    2. These little pieces are essentially charming and so readable. Do please keep 'em coming Antonia. They would be sorely missed.

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    3. I echo Patricia and am so pleased your weekly activities so well lend themselves to this - wish onky that you'd started six years ago.

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  26. Domus Pel II

    “Was that an earthquake,” Merlin asked.
    “Yes, is everyone okay?”
    “We’re fine,” assured Nunzio.
    “New York doesn’t get earthquakes,” Adalet remarked.
    “There’s a fault line nearby that forks all over this area.”
    “Your house is like the Romulan ship in the first Star Trek and well built,” said Kyrie.
    The lights flickered; darkness engulfed us. Thirty seconds later the quagmire was banished.
    “That was the transformer. The generator will run for a week and there’s food for three. I have an idea. Remember the movie Gothic? How about some unborn storytelling? We ten can create a new Decameron or Usher.”

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    1. Most interesting. I'm sure there were references that probably went over my head, not being the most avid fan of the science fiction genre, but totally entertaining for all that.

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  27. The Mad Italian 68.
    This week the leader of one of the political parties stepped into a quagmire of gossip. He may think it’s over but there’s a load of unborn problems waiting to hit his leadership. It would be better for the party to fork out compensation and send him to the back benches, but sadly, it is unlikely that will happen. Party members tend to venerate their leader right or wrong. It’s a shame they are more often wrong than right.
    The problem is a simple one, the moment a man achieves high office, he thinks he can do as he wishes.

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    1. I have just about run out of new ways to express how on-point these observations and comments are. I truly admire these pieces. Way beyond my expertise...even with the intense cooperation of a "Mad Italian."

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  28. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #142
    To Cecily’s


    “Henry came by with a map from Georgiana. She noted a few new quagmires on our route and a shortcut at that one fork we always miss. She’s hoping we’ll be along after her, but just in case she’s drawn in the poison heads. We should be alright.”
    Oh I hope we don’t see any of those unborn minions. I hate them!”
    “Don’t worry Elle, we fire-bombed them all.”
    We finished crating the car and Natasha jumped into the air.

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    1. Whimsical. Fantastical. And all comments related to same. I truly view this as a weekly picture book of magical moments.

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    2. Oh - I so want to see Georgiana's map! Such joyous writing.

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