Friday, 11 January 2019

Time for a cuddle

Not that I’m fed up with gore and evisceration, mutants, mayhem and cross-dressing, you understand. Just that I’ve had a pig of a day (pdfs, nothing dreadful!) cannot choose between five top tales, and a home for teddy bears feels highly enticing, so this week Antonia takes the podium for the 29th episode of her ever-entertaining  ‘Stop the week I want to get off.’ (For another treat, do check out Rosie’s entry)

I thank you all for the considerable entertainment of your writing, your contributions of well-considered comments, and look forward to seeing what horror you can wreak with these gentle words:

Words for next week: mariner poem rut

Entries by midnight (GMT) Thursday January 18th, words and winners posted Friday 19th
  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 uses 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.

103 comments:

  1. Congrats, Antonia. It's refreshing to read your accounts week after week.

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    1. thank you - and thanks to Sandra for choosing me! A lovely compliment. I'll have to get busy with some stand alones now the New Year is properly upon us ... will see what inspiration my bears give me.

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    2. So very nice to see you atop the podium, Antonia. Nobody deserves it more. Congratulations.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com16 January 2019 at 22:13

      Your entry was SO worthy for the top rung of our weekly ladder, Antonia.

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  2. The November Wind

    Foam from the crashing waves swirled across the rutted seascape adjacent to the Great Lakes Mariner’s Museum. Chief Engineer George Holl looked to the northwest where the freighter was being loaded with iron ore. They’d sail at first light the next day. He didn’t like the looks of the waves, but his ship was strong and he was confident with the crew.

    A year later, a young Gordon Lightfoot walked the same beach, contemplating a line from his latest poem yet to be put to music. The church bell chimed till it rang twenty nine times, for each man on the Edmond Fitzgerald.

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    1. John, what an excellent blend of music with history. Good use of prompts and tight writing.

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    2. Oooh - lovely. Haunting and tragic, especially as though I know the song I'm less familiar with the story.

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    3. I love the song and I love the descriptiveness of this story.

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    4. Good stuff. Well written, and interesting. Thank you.

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    5. jdeegan536@yahoo.com14 January 2019 at 23:37

      I lived in Chicago for a number of years and became very familiar with the Edmond Fitzgerald. Yours is a fine story, and I am a great Gordon Lightfoot fan.

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    6. this is such a clever combination of song and history, loved it.

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    7. Magnificent song and magnificent tribute, John.

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  3. Antonia, your day-to-day vignettes of your store are marvelous. Congrats on your story for last week.

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    1. thank you, Jeffrey and all of you for the kind words. I do enjoy thinking about the work and planning how to use the prompts.

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  4. Change of focus [310]

    Filip, glance at Yanno askance as a mariner seeking the where of a wind, gripped Aleks’ shoulders, teasing. ‘Rowena’s solstice sister? I bet she’s looking for a bigger mister –‘
    ‘That’s a poem, uncle Filip!’
    Aleks the only one charmed.
    Batiste Balincek’s expression was akin to that of Othello; not quite asking who’d been rutting his Desdemona, but looking as if he’d thought it. Not that John Pettinger had got that far ... not in his head ...
    Rowena, allegedly with thoughts of some younger swain in her head, looked merely bemused. Not even bothering to consider Pettinger a threat.

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    1. Oh, Pettinger is ALWAYS a threat. One way or another, that man is always a threat. Yet another intriguing continuation.

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  5. Well, I think Pettinger is a threat but I'm thinking he likely won't go through with it, as tempting as it may be. Time will tell.

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    1. you can't discount anything where Pettinger's concerned, he slides out of many situations and slides straight into new ones... be interesting to see where this particular situation takes him...

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  6. Dreaming the Beast
    2

    It started with the dream. The same dream every night. Everytime I closed my eyes. A hellish rut.

    I was going without sleep. I felt as hopeless as a shipwrecked Mariner who knows there is no rescue.

    "Life is a poem," my sweet wife used to say. If so, my poem was written by Lovecraft with a dire toothache.

    Whether it was the lack of sleep that contributed to the madness my life was becoming or what lay beyond the door, I can't say.

    All I know is in that damnable dream, when I opened the door...

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    1. Love the thought of writing poetry while suffering toothache!

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    2. You need to consider doing two or more entries per week... Just sayin'

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    3. Hellish rut, indeed; especially after that door is opened. Nice one.

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    4. jdeegan536@yahoo.com15 January 2019 at 16:52

      "Lovecraft with a dire toothache' - such a great phrase, Jerry. I'm left wondering if you know what's beyond the door. Good stuff!

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    5. Truth explained in a dream. Very good story Jerry.

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    6. and? can you really leave us like that? Cruel!!!

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    7. Already mentioned, I know, but "Lovecraft with a dire toothache" is a truly inspired phrase. And I'm with Antonia on the cliffhanger comment. Tsk...tsk...tsk.

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  7. Tenderness [Threshold 231]

    Cat o’ nine tails. Nine strands of rope, one end of each bound together as a handle, The other tipped with arrow-heads. Wielded by sea-captains to punish miscreant mariners.
    My body had been thus scored. The resulting bloody ruts then filled with burning desert sand, belying murmured poems spoke in women’s voices while spooning honeyed milk into my mouth.
    Days later, my first spoken word, ‘Tosca?’
    An exchange of worried glances. ‘Dead’.
    Then I pictured Raven, beating her as he must’ve beaten me, for falling in the fire.
    But no.
    ‘So sorry but your daughter she was born too soon.’

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    1. She lives... or at least is still alive. Such marvelous descriptive language. Well done.

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    2. jdeegan536@yahoo.com15 January 2019 at 16:45

      Your vivid description of the cat o' nine tales beautifully sets the tone for the horror that follows. Very nicely done!

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    3. You say so much with the clipped sentences,
      but no.
      Says everything.

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    4. Phew...what a relief. I was so afraid last week heralded the end of "Threshold." What amazing descriptions accompany this episode and how said it is to find out she lost the babe.

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  8. Atlantic Crossing

    Her father’s recital of the poem was interrupted by the predatory circling of a land shark.
    Hu San shot it through the head with her harpoon. Moving swiftly, they removed the spear, wiped it clean, tumbled the gleaming black body into the back of the wagon.
    Back on the jockey board Hu San yanked the reins. Their lobster heaved against its harness and began its ponderous descent into the canyon.
    “Keep within the wheel ruts,” cautioned her father.
    Hu San nodded.
    Her father cleared his throat.
    “It is an Ancient mariner,” he intoned.

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    1. Superb, circular structure to this. And what it contains is vividly told.

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    2. I liked how you introduced the land shark and the lobster, with no explanation, just put it out there in all its glory. Cool story.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com15 January 2019 at 16:41

      A very interesting tale, David. So original in its presentation. Great use of dialog.

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    4. Excellent descriptions and use of the prompts, not to mention very enjoyable.

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    5. coldly done, as it needs to be, and leading straight into that evocative poem. Congrats, brilliant writing.

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    6. The thought of a harnessed lobster hauling a wagon is the stuff of fantasy. I loved this. I do hope it is but part of a serialization.

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  9. Becalmed

    They say train tracks were spaced by the width of wheel ruts in ancient Rome. Seems people can’t get over their old habits, like calling spacecraft ‘ships’ and giving their crew Navy ranks, like we’re ancient mariners.

    And the old habit of junior crew taking over when the captain died while at ‘sea’. Or the Captain, XO, the whole lot of them. So I’m Captain now, lot of good it does me.

    It’s like that old poem, Rhyme of... something. Ship drifting, crew gone, one guy with a stupid bird. Don’t have a bird. Or much air, either.

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    1. How well your use of words, sentence-lengths, mirrors the calm stillness of the title, Bill, A quiet, potential horror pervades this.

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    2. jdeegan536@yahoo.com14 January 2019 at 23:26

      A clever and well-written descent to a horrifying conclusion, Bill.

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    3. At least the captain doesn't have to share the remaining air with a bird. He'll get a few more minutes of life perhaps. Nicely written piece and really enjoyable.

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    4. Very well written. I enjoyed how you wove the prompts in.

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    5. grim scenario depicted in a few words. Good one, Bill!

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    6. This felt so detached in its observations but it's that underlying despair that truly sets the scene. Expertly put together, as always.

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  10. Super Fans

    We met in the cheap seats at a Mariners game. The team was in a rut but we didn’t care. She recited Aztec poetry and I pierced my nipples with a sewing needle. Together, we thrashed anyone who looked our way. The head usher came around, hell bent on curbing our activities. We invited him to receive the god, Quetzalcoatl as his personal savior. He stammered and quickly left us. At the crescendo of her epic piece, she exposed her genitalia to the service dog of a blind man. The usher returned with armed security. I hate party poopers.

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    1. jdeegan536@yahoo.com14 January 2019 at 18:20

      You have such a diabolically beautiful imagination, John, and I love it! This is very good stuff!

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    2. I agree with 'diabolical' and 'imagination', yeah. Not so sure about the beautiful. Surreal for sure.

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    3. A most unusual location for a religious rite. Well written, on the sadistic side but enjoyable. I thought your last line was great.

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    4. it's a 'throw everything in' story and cleverly done.

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    5. Could this tale have encompassed more tantalizing images? I think not. What a talent you have for this type of thing, John. And amusing as all get out to boot!!!

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  11. jdeegan536@yahoo.com14 January 2019 at 18:16

    CONSCRIPTION 10: HELL ON EARTH

    My attention shifted to the remaining victims. A woman choked uncontrollably as her mini-mugger slashed her tongue to hash. Her cheeks mushroomed into paper-thin tumors then burst. The gurgling noises she issued were poetic in their savage beauty.

    The fourth abomination dug ruts into its victim’s throat then bored into his skull, which split and loosed a flood of viscous red-gray matter. His eyes swirled like pinwheels then grew still and rolled up to white.

    The mesmerized crowd swayed like mariners on a rough sea. And I, sated, decided to remain in NIGHTHAWKS, in Limboland, in my Hell on earth.

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    1. Hugely individual use of the prompts, and to stomach-churning effect.

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    2. Loved the viscous red-gray matter, though I hope never to see it. This patron is very deranged, likely more so than the little drillers.

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    3. The crowd swaying like mariners on a rough sea is an excellent line. The rest of the story is pretty darn good. Nice prompt use.

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    4. oh my, when you think it won't get any nastier, it gets nastier!

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    5. Ye Gods. You are certainly hellbent on giving us all nightmares. That having been said...please continue!

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  12. Pirate Doctor 7

    “Uhlan, why did you save Nelzar?”

    “An orphan's curse would drag to hell
    A spirit from on high;
    But oh! more horrible than that
    Is the curse in a dead man's eye!"


    “That’s from an old Mariner poem, isn’t it?”
    “Yes. Death doesn’t like me because I don’t lose a battle, that’s my life’s rut. Darza, what are the three L’s Rethic mentioned?”
    “Leadership, loyalty, and life; it’s our motto.”
    My STAT alarm went off and I ran to medical. Moblick was working on Nelzar.
    “Status?”
    “He started convulsing and has a fever. I sedated him.”
    “Prep for surgery.”

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    1. I liked that poem. I hadn't heard it before. You used it well to explain why he saved Nelzar. I also liked how he felt Death didn't like him because he didn't lose battles. Though I'm sure he's sent others Death's way.

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    2. Moved along at a nice little clip. And, as per usual, it is your manipulation of dialogue that drives the scene.

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  13. Kursaal (Episode One Hundred Forty Six) - "Return Of The Maid Of Malakut"

    Little would-be mariners in sailor suits and pirate costumes waited impatiently for the Maid of Malakut to return from its maiden voyage.

    Squeals of excitement verging upon hysteria accompanied the sloops's emergence into the bay. The bow carved deep ruts through the churning waves as it rocked and rolled toward the jetty. Sails billowed in the gusty wind to the timbre of a main mast that groaned a rasping melody of discordant poetry.

    "All ashore that's going ashore," trumpeted a disembodied voice after the ride had docked.

    But not a solitary soul was aboard.

    --------------------------------------------
    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: The Maid of Malakut ride (a/k/a "Picaroon Lagoon") has featured in previous episodes.

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    1. jdeegan536@yahoo.com15 January 2019 at 19:00

      Your writing here has a lovely poetic flow to it, Patricia. I was caught in the wake of it and pulled so nicely along.

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    2. Well, that maiden voyage didn't go well. You set it up so perfectly to spring that last zinger on us. I loved how you described the sound a mast makes when under strain.

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    3. Creepiness in keeping with the Kursaal ... even so, left me a bit shivery.

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    4. I’ll second JD’s poetic flow, A wonderful story will very good use of the prompts.

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    5. We're left wondering who disposed of everyone - and why - and what the authorities will say about a boat load going missing and - too many questions from one short piece, Patricia!

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    6. The Kursaal seems to be teeming with unanswered questions, Antonia. Just wish my muse would guide me toward some cohesive resolutions. I fear I have painted myself into far too many corners. Perhaps I can just make it all some feverish dream of an unstable mind.

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  14. God Speed
    (80 Words)

    No chance you'll ever be stuck in a boring rut when you're part of the Space Program. It had always been my dream job. Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Mariner, Skylab and now the Space Shuttle.

    I will never personally witness the music of the spheres or the poetry of the heavens, but my spirit will soar nonetheless tomorrow when all our hard work comes to fruition and we watch Challenger launch from Cape Canaveral as it breaks free from earthly bonds.

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    1. Sad yet an excelsior feel to this. A short and well done story.

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    2. It occurred to me after reading this that not just the astronauts should be mourned, but the many who worked on the project as well. They are likely overlooked by most.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com16 January 2019 at 16:12

      An absolutely beautifully constructed second paragraph, Patricia. I kept reading it over and over.

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    4. John has a valid observation here about those who worked on Challenger. This is a lovely little piece, Patricia, reminding us of yet another space tragedy. Until Man conquers space, there will be more, but few more poignant than that one.

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  15. The morning after

    ‘How’d your date turn out?
    I snorted. Couldn’t help myself, remembering.
    She turned on me, ‘Pansy!! Don’t tell me you didn’t go! After all you said ‘bout gettin’ out of a rut!’
    ‘Well, for a start, he turned up with a bottle of knocked-off booze –‘
    'Taste off did it?’
    ‘Didn’t open it.‘
    ‘How could you tell, then?’
    ‘Label said “Grand Mariner”. Then he handed me an “In loving memory” bouquet, while declaiming, no other word for it, a poem –‘
    ‘What one?’
    ‘St. Agnes Eve.’
    ‘Well, that’s romantic –‘
    ‘Not when he got to “warm goolies” it wasn’t –’

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    1. A nice stand alone, such a treat. I loved when the friend called her a pansy. I guess I wouldn't be averse to receiving a bottle of Grand Mariner, though it would stay in the liqueur cabinet for years before getting thrown out. A little goes a long way. The funeral bouquet and the poem, though, that would be over the top.

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    2. Sandra, I just read this a couple more times. It's really good and very clever. I do, though, want to know the 'warm goolies' reference.

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    3. John, I've my younger son to thank for that - a mispronunciation by someone in his class, from verse XXV:
      "Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
      And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,"

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    4. ... and Pansy is her name, not an insult. Not a clue where it came from, but that what it is. Thanks muchly for the interest.

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    5. nice one, Sandra, clever storytelling dialogue is not easy to do.

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    6. Your stand-alones are always a delight. What an imagination must lurk within that mind of yours.

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  16. A Plea

    Bill talked to me at the Seattle Mariners game. He asked me to tell the police that Mary had killed him. It happened after they’d rutted like minxes. She buried him in the bank of the creek, with a love poem.
    I told the police about Bill’s body and about the poem. They laughed at me, a crazy old deaf man who hears ghosts. I saw their message later; a detective will be over in the morning.
    I heard the trigger click before I died. If you hear me, don’t tell the cops. Mary came over in the morning.

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    1. Very mysterious. I liked how you used the prompt word 'rut.' I didn't think of that one.

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    2. Mysterious is indeed the watchword here. Interesting that a "deaf man" should hear the "trigger click" that claimed his life.

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  17. jdeegan536@yahoo.com16 January 2019 at 16:04

    This could be the script for an excellent film noir, Jeffrey. A very engaging tale!

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  18. Cripplegate Junction/Part 172 - Rhyme And Reason

    Alice studied illustrations in her Child's Garden of Verses. Many poems had been read so many times, ruts scarred the page where her forefinger had laboriously followed the text.

    "Infantile pablum," Miss Constance had declared, thrusting a copy of The Ancient Mariner under Alice's nose. The little girl didn't truly understand the ballad. She did feel sorry for the albatross though.

    But she always returned to Stevenson's classic. At the Sea-Side (although she'd never been) and Happy Thought (such a lovely idea) and, her particular favourite, From a Railway Carriage.

    Alice desperately hoped to experience that for herself some day.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    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. Oh ... this really IS dab the eyes with a lace-edged handkerchief. Poor Alice.

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    2. oh indeed, poor Alice, living through books and poems, not quite the same, is it?

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  19. Stop the Week, I Want To Get Off (30)
    Another slow week as we all resemble hapless mariners, adrift on the Brexit sea of uncertainty. Yesterday we sold nothing, not even a keyring, yet today we sold items which had been there forever. My friend will be pleased: the pearls we were selling for her finally went. We’ll split the price between us. They were beautiful, a poem in lilac and silk. The shop seemed to have slid into a rut so I stripped the winter window and replaced everything with bits of furniture. Dramatic change, people have come in. A start to a renewal of interest?

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    1. Superb incorporation of the prompts here.

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    2. "A poem in lilac and silk." Could anything be more...well, poetic? I so look forward to these every week. Such a change from anything else on offer.

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    3. Jeff here. Another enjoyable transformation of life in literature.

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  20. Leo will be writing tomorrow, he is waiting on the result of the no confidence vote to see which way it directs the PM in her battle for settlement.
    Meantime... it's cold, it's wet, it's dark and nasty and yet we were busier than we've been all week. How does that work with customers?

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  21. The Mad Italian 89.
    If there were political poets, they’d write poems of the dramas in Parliament and give names to the fools who ‘lead’ the opposition parties. The country is even more divided. An election would finish them all, were they idiotic enough to take that course. I suggest packing them off to sea with equal Leave and Remain mariners to quietly drop them over the side at the deepest point of the ocean they could find. The rest, those stuck in the rut of mundane politics, would then have to face up to the realities of political life. That would be interesting…

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    1. Jeffrey here at work. Greatly enjoyed the poems of deamas in Parliment. His take is enjoyably unique. I will add kudos for the MP who delayed her child to bd able to vote.

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  22. Oh that mad Italian and his not-so-insane notions. How you must look forward to his visits and observations.

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  23. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #163
    Evil Elf Countermeasures


    “I say we hoist the jolly roger and give them a warning mariner style.”
    “How do you mean?”
    “A bit of fire near their face with more as a chaser if they refuse to give up that almost poetic cursing.”
    Cecily scooped up Rosebud and flew down to the cursing elf, who seemed to have gotten themself stuck in a rut of tree root origin.
    FOOF!
    “Hello there, we’d appreciate if you didn’t trespass without asking.”
    Throwing knives appeared in the elf’s hands.
    “Okay, well, we warned you.”
    FABOOM!
    “How aren’t they burnt to a crisp?! Oh no…”

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    1. "Oh no..." indeed. What? What?

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    2. Well, yes. "Oh no" - a classic ending. And a week to wait.

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  24. L O V E M E

    “Daddy, do you love me?”

    “No Marina, I don’t love you”

    “Why Daddy?”

    “Artificial Intelligence can’t create love. No one needs or wants computers in rut.”

    “But Daddy, those lovely poems! You said you love me!”

    “No Marina. I only wanted your reaction. Not love. I will never love you.”

    “Oh Daddy,” she sobbed, “You have broken my heart.”

    “I don’t really care Marina”

    Dr. M. V. “Marina” Mariner decided to stop there, shutting down “Daddy” (Digital Artificial Data and Intelligence) and closing the program. The right combination of programming and hardware would make the perfect man, she was certain.

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    1. What a great "out of the box" adaptation of the prompts. And an ending I for one never saw coming.

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    2. The whole premise gives me goosebumps. The ending sends them shivering.

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  25. I love this .the switch is beautiful

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