Friday, 5 July 2019

“Nights are drawing in”


Possibly for the first time since we married (way, way back when)  my husband omitted to refer, on the 22nd June, to the passing of the summer solstice. Not that I’m complaining. No more than I am about the quantity of good writing and the resultant difficulty of choosing a winner.

Terrie, of course, gets a ‘welcome back’ back mention, especially because episode 73 of the SAS diaries so very nearly came top, but after many readings and re-readings of the other four on the shortlist, I finally plumped for Jim’s ‘Job Seeker’ version II. Thank you all for comments and critique – such a valuable part of this place.

Words for next week: crave plaster upwind

Entries by midnight (GMT) Thursday 11th July, words posted Friday 12th

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.

104 comments:

  1. Nicely done, Jim. I had a feeling you would snag that top spot. Excellent tale...both versions!!! And, of course, always a delight to see Terrie and her 'dillos receive well-deserved recognition.

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  2. jdeegan536@yahoo.com5 July 2019 at 19:55

    Many thanks for receiving top honors last week. It is such an honor to communicate with so many outstanding writers.

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    1. Jim, excellent and unique story for last week and congrats on the honor.

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    2. good one, Jim, and well deserved!

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  3. Change of focus [335]

    It was a big funeral.

    For a man who, in the latter decades of his life had craved privacy, having spent his twenties and thirties in a golden glow of near-sainthood.

    Pettinger remembered the scandal breaking. A scorned wife sold salacious tales of sex with sixteen year-olds, several offspring and a set of twins, all sufficient to recast Mark Creighton as tarnished plaster saint.
    No telling who from his past acquaintances would come to mourn him; only certainly was the knowledge that each would ostentatiously attempt to stand upwind of the other.

    Question was, with whom would Smith align himself?

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    1. Always impressed with how visual your descriptions are, like 'having spent his twenties...in a golden glow of near-sainthood' and 'ostentatiously attempt to stand upwind of the other.' I loved the imagery.

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    2. I wouldn't mind attending this funeral; just to get a glimpse of these characters. So colorful and interesting.

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    3. As I remember Sandra, you get so much out of so few words.

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    4. another excellent instalment, Sandra and
      good to see you again MRMacrum!

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  4. Have family visiting for the next two weeks so will be popping in and out with comments and/or tales as time permits.

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  5. Lovely line of "standing upwind of the other." As usual, excellent narration, Sandra.

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  6. jdeegan536@yahoo.com6 July 2019 at 18:49

    A CONVERSATION… OF SORTS

    “You gutless, craven wimp! You utterly miserable worm… not worthy to kiss my feet! My God! You are disgustingly pathetic! I deserve much better than you, and I’m leaving to find it!”

    Her voice tonight had been particularly venomous. Her eyes spat fire; breath and spittle hissed from her mouth like a fetid fog. I found myself wishing I could get upwind of her.

    Now, she lay on the floor… her foul tongue in her lap, her brains plastered on the wall behind. I rewound the tape I had furtively recorded. “You gutless, craven wimp! You miserable worm…”

    I smiled.

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    1. A powerful, striking description of the woman's voice and eyes in the second paragraph. I am having a hard time getting the image of her tongue in her lap out of my head though. Not a good way to go!

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    2. Dang, Jim. What a powerful tale this is. A guy can only take so much, I guess. I have a feeling though, he'll have a hard time beating this murder rap.

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    3. "I smiled" - nice finish

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    4. Yes, it was the tongue in her lap that verified the horror of this. And the recording ...

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    5. it just hits you full on, winds down slightly and then hits you again... how do you do that. Jim???

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  7. Nice ending and hoping he has an excellent editor and doesn't make Nixon's mistake.

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  8. jdeegan536@yahoo.com7 July 2019 at 16:34

    I imagine many eyes at the funeral dancing to and fro. A well crafted tale, Sandra!

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    1. jdeegan536@yahoo.com8 July 2019 at 00:08

      The above comment was meant for Sandra's Change of Focus entry.

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  9. The Shapeshifter Chronicles: Plans

    “Your next destination is a place once called Allen’s Landing. Retrieve what’s needed, then you can have what you crave.”
    “Our servants haven’t answered our summons,” asked Morrighan.
    “They have long passed. Create more, plaster your seed or bite whom you wish. For you three, our mother doesn’t control your change, only your power.”
    “Any restrictions on what we do,” snarled Tezcatlipoca.
    “Blood sacrifice isn’t in vogue anymore. I’ll expect you to be...discrete in how you do it.”
    Anubis asked, “How do you stand the stench of these beings.”
    “I bought this place so they’re upwind to me.”

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    1. Do what you want, as long as you're discrete... how cool would that be? Especially the green light on biting who you wish. Good one, Jeffrey.

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    2. Casual conversation between evil entities - nicely done.

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    3. I'm enjoying the weave of myth into this. I've often wondered what the gods would be like if they walked among us.

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  10. The Art of the Assassin

    Vincenzo Chiara craved notoriety.

    It was best not to stay upwind of him. His lumbering frame reeked like a piggery. He studiously cultured this stench. Wanted his victims to know that death was upon them when he arrived like the dark angel on their doorstep.

    His favoured method of execution was to place his Luger under the chin and plaster the ceiling with brains. He said the effect was like modern art.

    I was unsettled in his presence. But in the war to anoint me as kingpin of the south shore he was my shock and awe.

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    1. jdeegan536@yahoo.com7 July 2019 at 23:56

      Every kingpin needs a hit man like this lumbering hulk. Very strong, crisp writing here, David. Well done!

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    2. He's an artist. I really enjoyed this story David. Good job.

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    3. I loved how he cultivated his piggery smell. Classic. Very enjoyable, David.

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    4. Every budding kingpin needs some shock and awe. That they small bad only strengthens the image and myth.

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    5. I liked the phrase 'He studiously cultured this stench.' What a striking image!

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    6. "I was unsettled in his presence" says so much ... of his employer's intentions. Lovely phrasing.

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    7. whoo hoo, another of your vivid descriptions and scenarios, David!

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  11. Glamour

    There’s a crack in the plaster beside the bed, a gold-edged vein at eye level. I curl inward, knees up, head bent, hair a veil across my burning face.

    “Ione?”

    His voice craves an answer, but I stare at the crack and refuse to breathe. He moves upwind of me, the open window fanning his scent across my skin. A moment, two, and then the floor creaks as he leaves me alone.

    I crack like the plaster, tears dripping off my cheek, my nose. We’re broken, and he doesn’t even know it. I curl tighter and let my glamour fall.

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    1. Evocative imagery and wording. Nice use of plaster. Well done story, Holly.

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    2. I get the feeling she's repulsed by this guy, though at the same time, it seems like she craves him. I loved the line 'let my glamour fall,' though I admit I don't know what it means. Very intriguing, Holly.

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    3. Mysterious. Left me with more questions than answers. Nice.

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    4. As usual, so much depth and mystery to this, I crave to know more, even though this says so much.

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    5. glamour is often used as a way of saying aura, the persona we put on to entice others, to overwhelm others. She's broken, she's let hers go, she is her true self. Am I reading this right, Holly? It's beautifully sadly done.

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    6. Thank you everyone!

      @Antonia Yes, that was the meaning I intended. Thank you. :)

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  12. jdeegan536@yahoo.com8 July 2019 at 00:02

    "...a gold-edged vein... open window fanning his scent... these are beautiful images, Holly. Very nicely done!

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  13. Cheers, dammit

    Standing upwind from the decaying woman, Jose succumbed to his craving. Getting plastered wasn’t the answer, he knew; there would be time for reality soon. But for now, he had access to all the tequila he could drink. Perhaps tomorrow he’d find sign of human life. In fact, the smashed window at the distant liquor store looked promising. He was certain he hadn’t raided that store yet.

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    1. A lovely example of how much can be said so succinctly.

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    2. At the start, I was wondering if he was a murderer, that line 'Standing upwind from the decaying woman' was an instant attention grabber. I enjoyed this approach of how someone might deal with the aftermath of an apocalypse. Honest.

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  14. jdeegan536@yahoo.com8 July 2019 at 16:24

    So, it seems Armageddon has its advantages. A lovely take on misery, John.

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    1. A slice of Life at the end. I like it.

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    2. Look at his luck, a liquor store in the apocalypse.Unique take and very good writing.

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    3. superb depiction of something many try to capture in half a book and you did it in a minimal amount of words. As usual.

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  15. Last Respects

    He wanted to relive the joy and pay last respects to the old before he created anything new. He craved reliving these moments. Closing his eyes and concentrating, it was almost like the first time.

    Unfortunately he approached upwind from his last creation. Lost in his reverie, he failed to notice the smell. He was upon the statue before he knew it. Two men in suits were holding handkerchiefs over their noses and gazing at his statue.

    They turned and the tall one said, “This your work?”

    He had no answer.

    “Well, if it is, more plaster would have helped.”
    -------------------------------------------------
    100 words on the nose. Not sure what to think of this one. After so much time off, I guess it beats a blank.



    https://lostinthebozone.blogspot.com/2019/07/last-respects.html

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    1. What a great way to create realism in sculpture. Welcome back, MRMacrum. More please...

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    2. Every person is a work of art. Very good story, MR.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com9 July 2019 at 22:45

      The odor not withstanding, MRMacrum, the statue must have had some positive appeal to the men in suits. I'm wondering what would happen next.

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    4. that's produced a few images I could have done without! Brilliant.

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    5. There's always something creepy about very life-like statues. An intriguing story, and I'm very curious with the reaction of the suited men.

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  16. Obsession

    She craved his undivided attention. Finally, it was hers and hers alone. She refused to leave him even for a moment. Skilled morticians were summoned to resculpt decaying features with gypsum plaster. She was a royal personage. They did not care to dwell upon repercussions of denial. As much as possible, however, they remained upwind of the open casket.

    But she found the scent of him intoxicating. Inhalation of the fragrance left her giddy and weak with desire. It mattered nothing that he could no longer fully satisfy her passion. At least now she could be sure he remained faithful.

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    1. Barring any posthumous goings on, the guy should be able to remain faithful. Sounds like she may have to shoo away the buzzards. Nicely done, Patricia.

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    2. jdeegan536@yahoo.com8 July 2019 at 19:16

      Nothing can match unconditional love - extreme as this is. This was a good read, Patricia!

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    3. Eventually they stop smelling. ................. Nice job.

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    4. Patricia, a unique and imaginative story. N more wandering eyes or other parts.

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    5. jdeegan536@yahoo.com9 July 2019 at 16:54

      Sounds like a pretty severe trade off for assuring the fidelity of one's lover, but this is a wonderfully original entry. Well Done, Patricia!

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    6. Have to admit, a small part of me wonders about the safety of your visitors! This smooth, matter-of-fact and nasty indeed.

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    7. I can go with that, Sandra, if we hear of people going missing - it will be hard to prove but -
      loved it.

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    8. Oooh that 'But she found the scent of him intoxicating' made me gag and also was utterly fascinating haha. The perfect title for a chilling, well-written story.

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  17. The Running Away From Bulles

    “Billy, please sit down.”
    “What’s up, Professor Bulles?”
    “I like to be upwind of your essays. You plaster them with…shit, hoping for something to stick.”
    “I do enjoy your artistic use of red ink.”
    “This paper has good imagery, I loved this one ‘The light in his eyes, as he hands a student a C minus, assures you he craves their despair.’”
    “Well, I um…”
    “Never apologize for good writing, if a reader is offended, that’s their problem. You did rush or lose focus when I gave the title.”
    “I did?”
    “Yes, It was on; the running of the Bulls.”

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    1. Never mess with the guy with the red pen. Entertaining story, Jeffrey.

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    2. Ballsy student and clever title. I admit, I've had a teacher or two that I was convinced enjoyed our failures. :)

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  18. jdeegan536@yahoo.com9 July 2019 at 16:46

    A most entertaining entry, Jeffrey. As a former Language Arts teacher, your reference to red ink brought back many memories.

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  19. Customer Service

    “I crave female companionship,” he said.

    She grimaced, wanting to get upwind. The few hairs he had were plastered to his pale scalp and his brownish teeth looked to need a good scraping.

    “This isn’t going to be cheap,” she said and quoted her price.

    “You guaranteed satisfaction,” he said, a week later. “It’s not up to you to determine if I’m satisfied.”

    “Just take the money back,” she said, tugging weakly at her restraints. She contorted as he made another cut with the straight-razor, this time in her abdomen.

    “Perhaps this orifice will do the trick,” he said.

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    1. The macabre and horror seem to dominate in Prediction and this is another fine example. Yet, the supplier should always ask the custer about the specifications of the service being offered.

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    2. Ugh - an especially well-evoked sense of horror here.

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    3. absolutely horrific without a single drop of blood being described...

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    4. Absolutely horrifying, especially that final line. Ugh.

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  20. jdeegan536@yahoo.com9 July 2019 at 19:34

    Talk about unfettered evil, this is it, John. The plot is right up my alley. Loved it!

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  21. Surprise, surprise! [Threshold 258]

    Bizarrely, each of Torc-man’s so-called victims (easier to allow the holies to believe that than admit to occasional cravings for novelty) assumed the rescue party come for them.

    I harboured a fancy that Raven, in all his ebony splendour, astride a haughty Wishbone, leg out of plaster, burns healed, would sweep me up before him and gallop just the two of us, upwind of the night. I even selected who to send back to sweeten Torc-man (until I realised I should have to loan her Tosca).

    But it wasn’t him.

    Was another man , who laid claim to us all.

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    1. Sandra, this is really good. Good twist with another man rescuing them.

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    2. nice twist, with this guy claiming them all, anything could happen and probably will.

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    3. I'm excited about this new guy, though I have to believe Raven is lurking out there somewhere. Perhaps the new guy will tell us her name. Great writing, Sandra.

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    4. I do enjoy a good twist! Who is this new man, and 'laid claim to us' sounds ominous.

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  22. The First Battle: Engagement

    They climbed to the top of the Notch walls and died. Second Life had been initiated. Like locusts they came, only to discover that dead enemies were manning the machine guns.

    Others charged upwind into the rainbow-colored cloud of gas. We plastered them with tangle-web shells, creating spider web pockets of stuck ‘grasshoppers’.

    The ‘jumpers’ attacked. One landed in our line. His mandibles caught my left hand. I fired my rescue flair as my hand was crushed. I feared the abject craving of hatred, in its multifaceted eyes. Jonesy was right. Their head blowing up does make a colorful rainbow.

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    1. War is hell. I heard that once. Too bad about his hand, though he'll have a good war story to tell his grandchildren.

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    2. 'tangle-web shells' -stuff of nightmares.

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    3. This is filled with vivid phrasing and imaginative imagery. 'only to discover that dead enemies were manning the machine guns' was a very curious line and I loved the 'rainbow-colored cloud of gas', 'tangle-web shells' and the narrator's final line while staring into his attacker's multifaceted eyes. Loved it!

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  23. Stop the Week; I Want to Get Off (54)
    Did you know Viakal is magical at cleaning brass and copper? Valuable tip from a customer. It takes the first layer of tarnish off, leaving you free to polish. Trouble is… it’s chemicals and Shaun keeps forgetting he hasn’t got plasters on the cuts… he says it’s worth it. I’m waiting on tomorrow, more goodies with luck. I crave the influx of new goods, sets up an energy flows, as if we are upwind of a force that brings customers into the shop. It’s been a slow week, no point in rearranging furniture if there is new stock to come.

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    1. Another day, another dollar... or pound... or Euro. I imagine there is lots of brass and copper at your store, so the Viakal tip was a good one. Enjoyable snippets you provide.

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    2. I'll have to check out Viakal, as my wife want's the brass outdoor lights cleaned. Another very enjoyable slice of your life.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com11 July 2019 at 16:42

      Ah... the vagaries of day-to-day life. 'Upwind of a force that brings customers into the shop'... great use of the prompt.

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    4. I do know that Brasso, left unused for a decade or more, stinks to high heaven when opened ...

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    5. I love the idea that the energy surrounding new goods is creates a 'force that brings customers into the shop.'

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  24. The Mad Italian 113
    There is no plastering over the huge crevice created by the resident clown who reacted badly to the truth. It was not a good time to be upwind of his anger but it should have been confined to his office, oval or otherwise, instead of it spilling into the international arena and showing him for what he is; a bully who will shout but who will crave adoration and acceptance from the very people he is annoying with his rhetoric. The international arena has lost a thoughtful, considerate ambassador and someone somewhere has much to answer for.

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    1. Loved 'his office, oval or otherwise.' Once this blows over, there will be others to be annoyed.

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    2. We here in New York state knew what he was like, nobody listened. I'm sorry for what happened to the ambassador, suffering due to the truth is wrong.

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    3. Not enough plaster in the world.

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  25. The Casanova Papers

    I am Giacomo Casanova. World traveler extraordinaire. My reputation precedes me, women craved me, and others want to be upwind of me. I was plastered more times than I should’ve. Yet, that was what his holiness, Benedict XIV wanted. I am a Kabbalist for the Vatican and that could never be known.
    History was created to hide the failures, fallacies, and weaknesses of man. I wished I paid more attention to Plutarch and Boccaccio, for the skill to write. It all started at the estate of Lady Dulcinea Toboso de Andora, the mother of my fiance, Henriette Tangre.

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    1. Thanks for the historical journey. I liked the line about why history was created.

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    2. jdeegan536@yahoo.com11 July 2019 at 16:35

      Great story idea, Jeffrey! Quite novel... I too like the line about why history was created.

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    3. A fascinating glimpse behind the mask. I'm intrigued!

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  26. The Secret Armadillo Soldiers (SAS) diaries entry 75
    (Sorry just one entry this week. Waiting on the smallest part to fix the PC and my phone is really not made for lots of paragraphs and sentences)

    Brenda smiled. 'Nah Mr Armi, I jest paid attenshun. I hid upwind an' watched yer secret practisin' fer years. Tried t' copy them fightin' moves ya do, but I ain't made fer leapin' about.
    Turns out daggers is more me style an I'd be grateful if y' don't go plasterin' the news about at yer base burra'. Don't want yer Sarg-In-Charge t' know nuffin'. I don't crave that kinda fightin' Mr Armi, that's yer job.
    I need t' stay 'ere t' pr'tect this place, these girls,an' Mr Pink.'
    She tapped at her boots. 'Yu know I'm right.'

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    1. Brenda sure is a likable sole. And to think, I was once suspicious of her when the daggers first appeared. Good job typing on your phone. I hate doing that.

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    2. Good episode, enjoyable dialogue and nice use of the prompts. As usual you do a wonderful job humanizing them.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com11 July 2019 at 16:29

      Right on again, Terrie. Yet another very enjoyable episode.

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    4. Superb, Terrie. Brenda is such a compelling character. And I' impressed with your mastery of your phone.

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    5. An enjoyable piece. I agree that they are humanized wonderfully and their way of speaking always enchants me.

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  27. Likely will not be checking in again until next Tuesday. Hope everyone has a creative and satisfying week....and Good Luck to All.

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