Friday, 19 October 2018

Stepping Into The Breach


And so, while Sandra is on walkabout, I have been appointed (for good or for worse) as her substitute....her stand-in...her understudy. I must admit, the thought of choosing a winner among the magnificent entries that are submitted week after week is both exciting and intimidating. Let's hope the power doesn't go to my head! I consulted with the random word generator oracle to come up with this week's prompts and will probably continue to do so during the course of my brief reign. I would like to bookmark a week while Sandra is gone where everyone gets a chance to vote for their favourite tale. It's always nice to have a say in who will clamber to the top of the podium and it takes some of the pressure off me, which can only be a good thing, right? Thoughts on that?

Anyway, now to the task over which I have been given jurisdiction...selection of this week's winner. As always, I do not envy Sandra the job of doing this every time. The decision is always difficult I'm sure and this week was certainly no exception. That having been said, the double offering provided by RJ ("Cold") and David W's continuation was nothing short of inspirational. Easy to see that they have worked together on this type of tale before and John's "Narrow Minds" with its imaginative and brilliant interpretation of the prompts (to say nothing of that trademark sense of humour) was a definite front runner. However, I cannot pass up this opportunity to award top honours this week to Sandra for "Considering The Nature Of An Ambush" and its ever-fascinating characterization of Raven, an episode made even more incredible by the fact that it is the 224th installment of the "Threshold" serialization.

Words for next week (selected via a random word generator):
trick  inhale  sadden
 
Entries by Midnight (GMT) Thursday 25th October
Words and Winners posted by Noon (GMT) Friday 26th

If the formatting or presentation of this post appears to be out of whack, please bear with me. I am a inept novice when it comes to Blogger and still striving to master the intricacies of appearance.

Usual rules: 100 words maximum (excluding title) of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. Serialised fiction is, as always, welcome. All variants and use of the words and stems are fine. Feel free to post links to your stories on Twitter or Facebook or whichever social media you prefer.
  

101 comments:

  1. Well, thank you indeed for that Patricia, particularly as this was one that came easy. And yes, I confess I was glad not to have to judge this week - well done to RJ, David W and John as well.

    Far from sure I'll be contributing at all in the next few weeks, though I do intend to read when possible.

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    Replies
    1. Congrats Sandra! And well done RJ, David W & John.

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    2. I agree, most deserved top spot Sandra, and congratulations to RJ, David W and John for those honourable mentions.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com22 October 2018 at 17:43

      Way to go, Sandra. You certainly deserved top honors!

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    4. overdue... but you won't grant yourself top spot, Sandra, and you should!

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  2. Hurrah, SANDRA! Wonderful tale, and great to see you getting much deserved accolades!

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  3. Jeffrey here and a well deserved congrats to Sandra for not only the top spot but for 224 installments! RJ, David W., and John huzah for making honorable mention.

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  4. COLD
    1.3

    Lily didn’t speak (think?) for the next few miles. The cadence of horse’s hooves on pavement resounded in the desolate landscape.

    “The world did end, didn’t it?” Lily’s defeated question saddened him.

    Rowan considered the wandering dead. Glancing back, He thought he saw a smile on Lily’s lips.

    A trick of his eyes, perhaps?

    Dead was one thing.

    Coming back as one of Them...

    “It’ll be just fine, Lily. Once we get there.”

    “How much longer?”

    A good question. At this rate, in a horse-drawn wagon, it’d take days.

    Did they even have days?

    Lily inhaled sharply.



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    1. You had me hooked from the outset, Jerry. What a wonderfully lilting image, and sense of sound 'the cadence of horses hooves on pavement resounded'.
      I loved the back and forth between the characters and what a brilliant last sentence. I actually inhaled with Lily as I read it.

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    2. A well done installment. Being dead was one thing, coming back as one of Them, very good line.

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    3. Rowan merely tightened his grip on the reigns. He had no fear of Lilly.


      They continued on, North.


      Lilly, faster than a thought, sat straight up.


      “Rowan, I’m confused. You said I was dead”


      Desperately saddened, he continued.


      “Lilly, my sweet love, you are. The sickness has you. It’s not a trick.”


      “Rowan, the sickness... people kill each other. But I’m not like that!”


      “Lilly, I put some medicine in your mouth and nose while you were asleep. When, if, you awoke, you would inhale it, and for a while, be as you were, the woman I have always loved.”

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    4. I like that you are continuing the action of 'COLD' David. Cleverly done. I loved the line
      'Lilly,faster than a thought, sat straight up.'
      and such a heart-wrenching and telling final line.

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    5. Oh, Dave, you have truly given me something to ponder for next week.

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    6. Jeffrey here. I missed this when checking, sorry I did. The ending was well done, expressive of his live and devotion. Good use of the prompts.

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    7. jdeegan536@yahoo.com22 October 2018 at 19:38

      Hmm... could a Monkey's-Paw" type ending be in the works. This has really grabbed my attention, David.

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    8. Nice, Jerry. I like the cadence of this, with the detached thoughts and conversations. The wandering dead reference and the slight smile seems ominous, which works well with where you're going with this. The destination should prove satisfying.

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    9. precise words to generate a vivid image. This is so good.

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    10. Terrie called out my favorite lines as well. They really set the tone of the piece, and sound lovely.

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    11. jdeegan536@yahoo.com24 October 2018 at 22:36

      A moribund mood is so nicely maintained throughout this entry.

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    12. Wonderful continuation. This is really beginning to take on something of a gothic atmosphere in my opinion. Perhaps it's the mention of a horse-drawn vehicle. It's easy to visualize a desolate landscape with the shadow of a wagon moving along a darkened road.

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    13. I totally missed David's addendum first time around. So glad I went back and caught it. You two are quite a pair...!!!

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    14. Thank you all

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  5. The Secret Armadillo Soldier (SAS) Diaries - entry 26 - Back Into The Light

    Scratching and scraping, the missing parts squeezed into the tunnels space. The stench magnified as Tosca’s oddly shaped form shuffled into the shadow-light behind.
    Relief rippled through the platoon, followed by sharp inhalations of breath.
    ‘The smell’s gettin’ to me too.’ Nigel wheezed through clenched teeth, ‘Let’s get the damn fings out in the open.’
    They backed out of the tunnel: Things were going easier than they had expected.
    As the parts slid out into the Palace back room, the platoon stood back, gasping, but alert for any trickiness from Tosca.
    They were all saddened by what they saw.

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    1. So, so good. i can visualize these awesome armadillo's ambling around. I do hope this will get assembled into boom form someday.

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    2. The last line is a good foreboding hook.

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    3. Book is underway Gerry.... almost into ch 3.

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    4. The growing stench of the parts suggests an organic contraption, which leaves a the door ajar for just about anything. Looking forward to more reveals.

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    5. Love the 'dillos

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    6. Absolutely dying to know what it was they saw. Great continuation of a most fascinating adventure featuring such endearing characters.

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    7. I heartily agree with all the comments. This is a special, captivating story. I'm utterly hooked by that final line too.

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  6. A Home spun Tale: A Short Fictional Autobiography-2


    Mrs. Tosca didn’t flinch at the sudden appearance of feet on her desk.
    “What do you want, Mr. Skellington.”
    “Such an evolved trick, his emotions are a tasty treat.”
    “What the hell do you mean?”
    “He’s the only one in that class who hasn’t been anointed.”
    “He hasn’t performed well enough.”
    “Liar’s justification, sour but enjoyable; Winners need losers. If he’s that bad, send him home. If not, then grade on a curve, all teachers do that. Either way I’ll enjoy inhaling the ambiance of his agonizing sadness. It’s Halloween until I give him the truth as a Christmas present.”

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    1. I like this. very visual. I can really get a sense of Skellington.

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    2. Nice natural flowing dialog. Nothing forced. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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    3. getting better, more flow to this, Jeffrey, you're improving.

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    4. jdeegan536@yahoo.com24 October 2018 at 22:42

      Splendid final paragraph, Jeffrey. The rest is super, too.

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    5. I absolutely agree with Antonia on this, Jeffrey. You are truly growing as a writer and improving by leaps and bounds. Nicely done.

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    6. I enjoyed Mr. Skellington's way of speaking, and the tone set by the first sentence and his appearance.

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  7. The Box of Delights

    “Do you have to inhale like that?”
    “Like what?”
    “The trick is to breathe through your nose.”
    “I can’t. Sinus issues.”
    “Three days! Trapped in the darkness with your endless wheezing. I feel like strangling you.”
    “It saddens me to hear that.”
    “Why do you do that?”
    “What?”
    “Talk all pretentious like that?”
    “You're in a mood. Let's try the lid again.”
    “You try the fucking lid again.”
    “You sulk in the corner and moan then.”
    “For Christ sake, could you just inhale properly.”
    “What are you doing? Get off me!”
    “Sinuses. I'll cure your fucking sinuses…”


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    1. jdeegan536@yahoo.com22 October 2018 at 17:49

      Somebody is getting pissed...really pissed. You skillfully built to the climax, David.

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    2. I love dialogue tales and this is great. You can just see these characters.

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    3. Very well done dialogue to drive this story. Good job David.

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    4. It's easy to picture this scene, two people trapped somewhere, getting on each other's nerves. I liked the pretentious talk line. But really, how many times do you think they tried the lid again? I'd keep trying even though I know it won't budge.

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    5. a very visual piece of dialogue, which is excellently done.

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    6. Marvellous and totally composed in dialogue. Not easy to do while maintaining the thread of the tale. I absolutely loved this and that final line was a complete knockout!

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    7. Excellent job using only dialogue to convey the scene, and I love the title.

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  8. Curtain Call

    Crowds gathered before dawn. Anticipation ran high. The exhibit never before available for viewing by the general populace.

    Many believed the whole affair to be a trick, although speculation as to the reason for such was dubious. There had been nothing to gain and even now, admission was free. The reveal was less than exciting. The specimen, while grotesque in appearance, was pathetic.

    The chest moved laboriously. Inhale. Exhale.

    The limbs convulsed. Twitch. Tremble.

    The rheumy eyes looked upon them with a saddened expression through the transparent screen which bore a sign reading:

    "Death Of The Last Living Human"

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    Replies
    1. I want to know who created the exhibit. Hell of a last line for a great story.

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    2. Oh, wow. This was a goody. Great story, Patricia. Like a well played chess game.

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    3. this carried such tension the last line was almost a relief but a shock as well.

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    4. jdeegan536@yahoo.com24 October 2018 at 22:45

      Such a beautiful path of language led us to a great finish, Patricia.

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    5. You've written this scene beautifully (as usual), with a stunning final line that sets my imagination on fire. I loved the surprise, and how it completely twists the story and has me rethinking it from the beginning. Well done!

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  9. jdeegan536@yahoo.com22 October 2018 at 17:05

    MAKING AMENDS

    Trepidation mounted as I approached our home. This wouldn’t be easy. I inhaled deeply and was saddened recalling why I had to return.

    The day before, I left in a huff after yet another violent argument with my wife. That made returning particularly tricky, as more than just ugly words were thrown about. The bloody gash on my forehead, courtesy of the iron she threw, was a constant reminder.

    That was then.

    Now it was time to make amends.

    She was on the couch, and I approached nervously.

    “Honey… I’m sorry,” I said before pulling the knife from her chest.

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    Replies
    1. Another very good last line. The story leading up to it was pretty good as well.

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    2. It seems he won the argument, so his trepidation on the return was understandable. I like how he still acts as if he hasn't done wrong, at least not completely wrong.

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    3. wow, another killer last line, in every sense!

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    4. Nicely suspenseful leading to...for me at least...a most unexpected ending. I love it when last lines take me by surprise!

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    5. Suspenseful and surprising.

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  10. The Rainbow Warrior-5

    “Blood red mixed with dirt gray saddens me so much. Is it gods gift, curse, or a genetic trick?”
    Valen inhaled deeply, the spring scents of the ‘Sacro Bosco’
    “I did so enjoy the children’s joy when they saw the feathers in their rainbow glory.”
    The demon’s trail had faded but the path led to a grotesque stone mouth, wide open.
    The plaque read: The Mouth of Orcus.
    “What’s that inscribed on it’s upper lip?”
    He walked half-way up the stairs, “ogni pensiero vola-every thought flies”
    “Is that an altar or a table and what are those things on it?”

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    Replies
    1. Jeffrey, you have a way of creating that intellectual feel. Your characters come across as intelligent and cryptic. A good combination.

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    2. improving all the time, just watch the punctuation. You know that's my ongoing lecture for you, Jeffrey!

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    3. John honed in on the perfect description for this episode...cryptic. Nicely visual too. Even Antonia gave you a thumbs up...!!!

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    4. Cryptic is a good description for this, and the world continues to unfold beautifully. I'm intrigued by his question of whether it's an altar or table.

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    5. Thank you all for your comments about and for following this series.

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  11. Tosca [7 - Glimmer]

    “The trick to finding someone, is to stress them into fleeing,” Tosca said, eyes crinkling. She lifted tattooed fingers to the mask covering her nose and mouth, and inhaled. The blue smoke, rising from the lit cigarette in her hand, disappeared into the fine mesh of her mask with an unpleasant, rasping sound.

    “I’d expect this from you, but a priest?” Tosca gestured at Aella. “This saddens me.”

    “I was not running,” Glimmer said, eyes defiant. “I was going to Galborea to retrieve your payment.”

    Tosca’s brows lifted. “Curious. If you have ties to them, why borrow from me?”

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    Replies
    1. I'll admit, for someone who come's to this site when the realities of life permits, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the serial stories. But this one stood well by itself. I like the way Tosca speaks. Lucky you for having such a compelling character.

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    2. John's right, she is a compelling character with many attributes being brought out for us to see.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com25 October 2018 at 00:56

      I always love reading your entries, Zaiure. Your imagery and use of language are invariably marvelous.

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    4. Enjoyable and shadow-filled. Why indeed.The soft yet dramatic descriptions set the stage very well for this story,

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    5. I am being sadly lacking in my own comments this week, echoing the sentiments of those who went before, but again, this is certainly a compelling serialization and the character of Tosca is exotic, intriguing and enticing. Still, it's from the pen of Zaiure, so I would expect no less.

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    6. Thank you everyone! I always appreciate your comments. :)

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  12. Cripplegate Junction/Part 161 - Evacuations

    Inexplicably, Clive Bailey was saddened at the thought of leaving the Junction. It represented home now, although he couldn't remember how long he'd been there...or actually when he'd arrived, come to that. Memories and recollections often played tricks. He watched people board the train. None were familiar, save one.

    The woman on the gurney escorted by two white-coated orderlies, badges proclaiming them to be from Cripplegate Sanitarium, was frail. She briefly opened her eyes to look at Clive and gave him a little smile before turning her head.

    Clive found himself unable to move. He inhaled sharply.

    "Mother?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------
    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. I commented to Zaiure above that I sometimes have trouble following the serials, but this renews my faith.

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    2. Looks like the Junction doesn't want Clive to leave. Well written episode.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com25 October 2018 at 17:21

      The next-to-last line is a perfect set-up for the final line. Well done, Patricia!

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    4. Oh I do love that surprise! Clive's reaction prompts so many questions.

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  13. Snap Decision

    It’s easy to trick a lion. They watch with those saddened eyes and jump when coaxed with a long enough whip. I watched the trainer prod and ridicule, sticking his head in the poor beast’s mouth to the delight of the adoring crowd. Too bad they didn’t see behind the scenes like I did.

    With the trainer’s head between the powerful jaws, I inhaled and rammed my red clown nose up the lion’s ass. As I said, it’s easy to trick a lion.

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    1. Maybe this is wht some people don't like clowns? Very good story, John.

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    2. jdeegan536@yahoo.com25 October 2018 at 17:25

      Every circus lion should have a friend like you, John. This is good stuff!

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    3. Ah, there is your inimitable style again, John. I'd know this was yours even without the name at the top. And what a truly awesome title. 'Nuff said...!!!

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    4. Poor Lion! I thought the title was very fitting (I always struggle choosing one!), and there was some satisfaction at the end after that sad description at the beginning, though I do pity the surprised lion.

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  14. Stop the Week, I want to get off (19)
    By some trickery and ‘dillo subterfuge, the commander of the army arrived in the shop today, most welcome! It saddened me to see her go, but others had a greater demand on her time than the shop.
    Which is stupidly busy. Table and chairs went, gave me a space, pushed furniture into it, re-arranged some other things, trying not to inhale the black dust left from brass cleaning… then plans were thrown out by the arrival of load of diecast cars… all needing pricing, naming and listing, as well as a place in the cabinet, which needed to be created…

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    1. Die-cast cars? Themed or mixed? Somehow I'd say mixed, as varied, unique and enjoyable as your writing.

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    2. Was this a nod to Terrie's fascinating character? I do hope so since it greatly enhances an already fascinating continuation of life In Antonia's Little Shop of Timeless Curiosities.

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    3. Die-cast cars piques my interest too. I love the visuals created by this piece, and I'm very curious about the intro of the commander.

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  15. The Mad Italian 78
    Can one inhale the scent of centuries in the parliament chamber, I wonder? My loss of the sense of smell saddens me but there are compensations, the ability to go where I wish when I wish and none can stop me. This coming week I will use that ability to avoid the trick-or-treat nonsense inherited from the Americans, to our distinct disadvantage. That festival, that time, is given to the ‘celebration’ of the death of Guy Fawkes. My wish is he had managed to blow up parliament without damaging the people. Was that too much to ask?

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    1. He does have an enjoyable sense of humor. Well writen story.

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    2. jdeegan536@yahoo.com25 October 2018 at 17:33

      There is something to be said for not having the sense of smell. This was quite entertaining, Antonia.

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    3. I had almost forgotten that the good old Gunpowder Plot is celebrated this coming week. Many thanks to Leonardo for the reminder...and for the memory of standing on the corner, one of a raggle-taggle group surrounding an even more raggle-taggle figure and requesting a "penny for the guy." How perceptive is our Mad Italian.

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    4. I really love the phrasing of the first line - 'Can one inhale the scent of centuries in the parliament chamber, I wonder'.

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  16. Kursaal (Episode One Hundred Thirty Five) - "It's A Family Affair"

    Pinheaded Cinders (a/k/a Convivial Clown), oldest Merry-Andrew sibling and most intelligent, found the lifeless body of her youngest brother, Capers. The discovery saddened her. Despite his psychopathic tendencies, Capers was the baby she once carted from venue to venue.

    Crow, her brother, morose and brooding whose appearance often caused sudden inhalations of breath, vowed vengeance. But her sister, Cobbles, a guileless and gentle soul, was predisposed to forgive and forget.

    When Cinders spotted Lulu the Pup carrying Mr. Punch with Libby Pepperdyne in pursuit, Cinders recognized it as the scheme of a devious trickster.

    She believed she knew who.

    ---------------------------------------------
    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: Cinders, Capers, Crow, Cobbles, Lulu the Pup and Libby Pepperdyne have all featured in previous episodes.

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    1. It was Crow, in the garden, with a garrote. Wrong! Never was good at that game but I know a good story.

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    2. Clever names, and an utterly intriguing episode. I don't know how you manage creating such magical & suspenseful Kursaal scenes week after week, but this world fascinates me!

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  17. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #152
    Friends and Problems


    “I’ve just remembered the trick to not inhale my own fire. It’s a bit like whistling the same note continuously. I really am sorry about the trees.”
    “Wait a minute! The whole time you were ‘dead’ you actually were stuck in a cave?”
    “Yeah, there was a nice tiger in the next one over, but then everyone left.”
    “Hello again.”
    “Hi Roxie! This is such a small world.”
    “You know each other?”
    “Yep!”
    “I’m so glad you’re alive! I was sad for weeks after they told me.”
    “Who told you?”
    “The councillors.”
    “They’re the ones who trapped me!”

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    1. And yet another wonderful rendition told purely via dialogue. We have had several this week, each as entertaining as the others. I do enjoy the adventures of Rosebud and hope they continue for a long time to come.

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    2. I loved the dragon's description of how she tries to avoid inhaling her own fire. It also seems some trouble will be coming for the councillors after this discussion. :)

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    3. Very good dialogue to drive the story.

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