Friday, 2 August 2019

A less than blissful ignorance


An impressive amount of Biblical knowledge revealed this week, amidst a variety and richness of settings; for which Patricia’s ‘Deuteronomy 32:35’ gets an honourable mention. Winner, however, somewhat self-indulgently for the memories it evoked for me, is David’s ‘Moses and the Devil’ - so many lovely phrases.   Thank you all, as ever, for posts, comments and your continuing presence.

Words for next week: alphabet hopeless ribbon

Entries by midnight (GMT) Thursday 8th August, words posted Friday 9th

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.

96 comments:

  1. Congrats David, I suspected your story would do well.

    And Patricia, not bad for a net girl who claims to have had a bad writing week.

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    1. jdeegan536@yahoo.com2 August 2019 at 23:40

      A great entry last week, David! Kudos to you!

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    2. David's tale last week was definitely the one to beat...which nobody did. No surprise! Thank you for the honorable mention, Sandra.

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    3. brilliant story, David, class writing as always, Many congrats on being top dog.

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  2. To eruct, or not to eruct

    Dimitri’s claim to fame was his ability to burp the Greek alphabet… which he did relentlessly.

    “You don’t even know what you’re saying,” Dawn said, her eyes ribboned with fatigue. “You’re hopeless.”

    “But Mom, listen to this.” Dimitri burped the Phoenician alphabet, backwards.

    Dawn raised her eyebrows.

    Six months later, Dawn sat in the new pool house sipping tea with Dimitri’s agent. Dimitri floated on an oversize swan raft, slathered with sunscreen, burping.

    “If he could just learn the English alphabet,” the agent said. “We’d be on Easy Street.”

    Dawn shook her head. Even phenoms had their drawbacks.

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    1. I love the imagery of 'her eyes ribboned with fatigue.' Beautiful phrase! This was a fun, creative piece. :)

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    2. Dawn and Dmitri sipping tea together both grounds and makes more surreal this piece - wonderfully imaginative.

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    3. As Sandra pointed out, this was so amazingly imaginative. But I've really come to expect no less from your talented pen, John. Your tales certainly are unique and no mistake.

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    4. jdeegan536@yahoo.com7 August 2019 at 23:42

      I don't believe I'd look this gift horse in the mouth, John. Yet another extremely novel use of the prompts!

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    5. very clever story, John, as usual!! you set very high standards...

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  3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com2 August 2019 at 16:35

    An A++ for this entry, John! How novel, and creative, and ingenious, and all those other good words.

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  4. Déjà Vu

    They bring alphabet soup. Don't like pasta!

    I demand to be closer to the window. If they don't comply, I will throw a tantrum.

    In the garden, little girl sits under a tree. Pup scrambles into her lap. That's how it starts...with giggles and tiny yelps. Hear that?

    As always, hand snakes around the trunk. Captures the blond ponytail. Blue ribbon flutters in the breeze. See that? Little dog protects. It's too small. Situation hopeless...again!

    Neck at unnatural angle, pup lies on the ground. Little girl gone. Where?

    Alphabet soup is removed.

    Told them I don't like pasta!

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    1. A chilling glimpse into a killer's mind. Somehow it felt even more horrible with the contrast of alphabet soup and tantrums with the scene by the tree.

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    2. It's intriguing the killer doesn't seem to know what happened to the little girl and the puppy, but he plays it over and over in his mind. Chillingly horrific story, Patricia.

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    3. Several shades nastier than naughty, in a very uncomfortable way.

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    4. twisty nasty story, which I always appreciate...

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  5. jdeegan536@yahoo.com2 August 2019 at 20:12

    COLD SOUP

    My wife’s cooking would never win a blue ribbon, but, honestly, who else but me would make such a nonsensical stink over a bowl of cold alphabet soup? Was her lack of cooking skills really sufficient justification for my reaction?

    Of course not!

    Granted, she was hopeless when it came to concocting a meal fit for consumption, but upon diligent thought, I realized she had many qualities that superseded her culinary shortcomings. Further thought confirmed that I had indeed overreacted.

    I should apologize, but what’s done is done.

    I should dispose of her. First, however, I will heat my soup.

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    1. The calm killers are the scariest ones. I liked the flow of the narrator's train of thought following "I had indeed overreacted."

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    2. Indeed, yes, a bit of overreaction, though almost any quality would surpass the inability to heat canned soup. Nice one, Jim.

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    3. What a monster! So matter-of-fact arrived at.

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    4. I should have seen that demise coming, but somehow I didn't, which made the revelation all the more entertaining. I like the detailed composure of heating the soup before any disposition could take place. First things first, after all!

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    5. yes, it's this coldness that makes some killers quite outstanding. this is one good story.

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  6. Jai Guru Deva, Om

    Out here in the ribbons there’s an endless alphabet of stars. It might take a beyond a lifetime to name each one.

    I am integrated to my pod. He begins where I end. He ends where I begin. We are the mythical snake devouring its tail. I am Eve. He is Adam. We tumble and drift in the obsidian darkness, spun on solar winds. Our Eden.

    Suns flare. Suns die. Yin counters Yang. Yang counters Yin. All is not hopeless. Humanity did not end. We are the seed. We are the egg. The chip to launch a thousand species.

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    1. I loved the imagination and poetry in this piece. There was a beautiful movement to the words, especially with "We tumble and drift in the obsidian darkness."

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    2. Wow, David, across the universe and beyond. They had better quit counting stars and get busy restoring humanity.

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    3. Stumbled, a bit, over egg so close to chip, but magnificent in scale.

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    4. An inventive fusion of human and machine. At least, that's how I read this. Lovely comparisons which reminded me very much of Asimov's works. The use of "chip" in place of "ship" in terms of launching was inspirational.

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    5. jdeegan536@yahoo.com7 August 2019 at 16:10

      I, too, saw the poetry in this, David. Your words flow into each other beautifully.

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    6. definitely poetic, with its own message, too. How good is that??

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  7. DEATH’S HANDMAIDEN

    Between shade-shadowed hills, ribbons of light coil with heated hisses and strike hopelessly at the lip of the lake.

    A dark-cloaked rider appears in the gloom-light and dismounts.

    Water glimmers as she unsheathes her black-bladed sword revealing runic alphabet sigils glowing darkly on its hilt. Blood crusts its cutting edge.
    She dips the blade into the lake watching the liberated souls fly from the sigils and swirl into a shrouded waterspout that wisps into vapour upon the water where Death keeps tally.

    She acknowledges him with a nod, wipes her hands upon her cloak, and climbs back into the saddle.

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    1. jdeegan536@yahoo.com4 August 2019 at 16:25

      As always, Terrie, you create such vivid, powerful images. Your scenes just burst into life.

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    2. Oooh I loved the imagery of this piece (especially 'ribbons of light coil with heated hisses & strike hopelessly...' and the liberated souls flying from the sword). It's a fascinating scene and I'd love to hear more about Death's Handmaiden!

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    3. This is some sword. The wielder is so intriguing, giving death a little nod before moving on. If one wants to avoid death, align with him. Very well done, Terrie.

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    4. Darkly rich in its imagery, and the final line anchored it to another dimension.

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    5. Mythical. Epic-like. Fantastical. None of those words do this justice but were the best I could come up with. I do hope we hear more of this handmaiden in the service of Death.

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    6. I listen to a lot of emotional mood music when writing. (Youtube is wonderful for that) - this is like some of the music in word form. I would have said that was impossible, but it's there. For me to read a few times more...

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  8. jdeegan536@yahoo.com4 August 2019 at 01:33

    BEYOND THE PALE

    I readily admit my cooking wouldn’t win a blue ribbon, but for my dirtbag husband to label me hopeless then profess that I’m incapable of preparing a meal fit for human consumption is beyond the pale!

    Okay… I’m not Julia Child in the kitchen, but – not that lardass ever noticed - I do have qualities that override my culinary shortcomings!

    His contrived gripe this time concerned a lukewarm bowl of alphabet soup.

    IT WASN’T WARM ENOUGH!? SOUP?? REALLY!!

    Some, I suspect, will consider my reaction extreme.

    I don’t.

    I should dispose of him.

    First, however, I will finish the soup.

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    1. Clever showing both viewpoints. Alternate timelines perhaps? :)

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    2. It was more satisfying for lardass to get his in this version. Either way, though, their marital vows are complete. Clever continuation.

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    3. Sad to have a marriage upended by mere soup. That it is is the horror of this.

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    4. On yes...the other side of the coin. Not sure which interpretation I prefer. Brilliant to depict two versions.

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    5. I like this one a lot. Seems even colder than the other one!

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  9. Cripplegate Junction/Part 199 - Directions

    Parallel lengths of dull grey ribbon, train tracks that stretched to
    infinity beyond the Junction. At the end of the platform, a scramble of alphabetical symbols cavorted across crescents that formed the apex of Railway Arches. The stonework itself seemed alive.

    Eventually, words emerged from the hopeless jumble, signs that read the same as when Clive Bailey first arrived at Cripplegate:

    "Salvation Right"
    "Damnation Left"

    At the foot of the structure, Marmalade brandished his luxurious tail from side-to-side as though it were part of a signal indicating which direction to go.

    From a distance, a mechanical announcement of: "All aboard!"

    --------------------------------------------------------
    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. For some reason, formatting is off. Hope it's not too difficult to read.

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    2. I loved the imagery of the train tracks being compared to "dull grey ribbon" and the arches really came alive. Which way are we to go, I wonder? :)

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    3. I think I've said before, Cripplegate Junction would make a good Netflix series. So much could be scripted with the passengers, the staff and the train that never leaves... and Marmalade. As for salvation - I'd choose that way, but not quite yet.

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    4. More nightmarish scenarios for poor Clive.

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    5. jdeegan536@yahoo.com7 August 2019 at 15:57

      Eerily enticing, Patricia.

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    6. wonderful images here - especially right now, when I am at the point in The Dark Tower (*Stephen King's epic story) when the main characters are hiding in carriages on long disused railway lines, ready to dispense bullets. This is somewhat calmer, although I wouldn't trust Marmalade with any kind of weapon, I think he'd find a way to fire it... and poor Clive, the situations you write him into! Unfair!

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  10. Sides Of The Same Coin

    The twins were adorable. The boy with his polka dot necktie and the girl with her pigtail and plaid grosgrain ribbon. They were perfectly behaved. Never known to whine or demand. To find more exemplary children would have been a hopeless task.

    Everyone listened and smiled with delight when they trilled the Alphabet Song.

    "Now I know my ABCs.
    "Next time won't you sing with me?"


    It was somewhat less enchanting, however, when they turned their heads simultaneously after the last line, blinked as one and added with the same mechanical tone in unison:

    "Thank you. This is a recording."

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    1. The ABC song has remained my kids' bedtime song for a really long time. Thankfully they haven't learned how to mimic creepy robots yet. :) I enjoyed the atmosphere in this piece.

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    2. That's one way to obtain exemplary children. Cool story, Patricia.

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    3. Thank goodness I cannot remember an alphabet song!! Even so, this is highly disturbing.

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    4. Sandra, I'll sing the first bar to prompt your memory. a b c d e...

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    5. yet another killer last line! How magical is that for a mini horror story?

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  11. Four [Shepherdess Part 2]

    They watched her, their faces a mix of emotions, lined up like the letters of the alphabet. Baenar leered, his foot on the back of Elias, the innkeeper.

    Elias’ wife, Trina, hung from Caeradin’s muscled arms, a hopeless look on her tear-streaked face.

    “What is this, then?” Haera asked, sword resting casually on her shoulder.

    Moses, intensely eyeing Baernar, braced himself beside Haera’s leg.

    “You’re being conscripted,” Ashanai said.

    “I left that life,” Haera said. “I’m done.”

    Ashanai laughed and tossed four bloodied ribbons at her feet.

    Moses jumped back, bleating.

    “Faas, Ilain, Jaie, and Kallisto are dead.”

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    1. A bloody crowd scene indeed. I enjoyed "Moses jumped back, bleating"

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    2. Nice, Holly. Such a vivid setting you create without really describing it. Just the actions, facial expressions and conversation. Well done.

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    3. This had an epic quality that intrigued from the beginning. I adore these types of tale. Nice to see it continues...hope it's just the beginning of the trend. Oh...and beautiful choice of names.

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    4. definitely brilliant names, for a start, and a good instalment, got enough in it to keep the reader(s) waiting and wanting more.

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  12. Change of focus [339]

    Marching off, Iris schooled her face to obedient, inwardly recalibrating the plans she had for John Pettinger.

    Not inwardly enough. Watching the bounce of scarlet ribbon which tied back hair of a blondeness John found himself wondering about its match elsewhere before deciding, if he wanted it, his case was not yet hopeless; he’d recovered from worse set-backs than this.

    The baby – still full-clothed – lay on a mattress covered in an alphabet-print cloth. As the four adults gazed down, its face contorted. Turned scarlet with an effort which, even if one had never seen a baby shit, was inescapably familiar.

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    1. Four adults, one dirty diaper. Who's going to change it? Loved that first line with Iris and her falsely obedient face.

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    2. Are they going to toss a coin to determine who changes that dirty nappy? I'll be willing to bet Pettinger will be the first out of the equation. As entertaining as ever. How you manage to keep up the momentum is enviable.

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    3. did you see, episode 339 no less, and as sharply observed and written as the other 338.

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    4. Not a dirty diaper! An entertaining and visually rich piece. I loved the imagery of 'Iris schooled her face to obedient' and 'Watching the bounce of scarlet ribbon.'

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  13. Power play [Threshold 262]

    Having done sweet FA so far Fourth girl spoke, eyes shifting between Front girl and me. She’d dismissed daffy Third girl as hopeless; hoped to browbeat us. Strident: ‘We need to elect a council. Essential we decide which one of us is in charge.’

    Fifth girl, gazing at the crows making ribbons of the road-stain, grinned with what I saw was a wicked glint of foreknowledge. Brooking no refusal, ‘We’ll do it alphabetically’.

    I watched Fourth girl’s face turned sour. ‘But ... but my name’s Zoe.’
    Fifth girl grinned. ‘Oh shame. I’m Abigail.’ She turned to me. ‘And you are?’

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    1. And you are? C'mon, spit it out...

      I don't trust fifth girl. I bet she lied about her name. A really nice installment, Sandra. Entertaining and another protagonist naming cliffhanger.

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    2. Yes...? Yes...? Is she going to finally reveal her name? I fear not. You are once again dangling that carrot in front of us, Sandra. Not sure I could say I loved the image of "crows making ribbons of the road-stain" but it was certainly accurately descriptive.

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    3. jdeegan536@yahoo.com7 August 2019 at 23:48

      It appears that fifth girl has elected herself the leader of the pack. And she no doubt is one to be wary of. Nicely done, Sandra!

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    4. I think all of them need watching, if Sandra has anything to do with it... this sets up a few more mysteries - which we have to wait to see revealed.

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    5. Abigail's personality stands out. I'm enjoying the play between the characters. Also I enjoyed your unique description of crows with 'gazing at the crows making ribbons of the road-stain', though my imagination is a bit too graphic for my liking. :)

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  14. Misguided Regard

    Her wrists and ankles bound with yellow silk ribbon, Penny cried and waited. When she heard the approaching familiar voice singing the alphabet, she abandoned her hopeless thoughts.

    He gave her food and water and held the bucket as she relieved herself. He smiled and she smiled back.

    “They’re going to release you soon,” he whispered close to her ear, cleaning her bottom. “Your father came through with the money.”

    Hours later, Penny heard footsteps and her heart raced with anticipation. Instead of alphabet boy though, a gruff man walked in, chambering a round.

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    1. Oh, cruel. Delicious but definitely cruel. Especially with the yellow silk ribbon.

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    2. Dare we hope this is the arrival of Penny's saviour? I somehow doubt it, but hope springs eternal. Only you could make defecation into a bucket sound intriguing.

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    3. just plain all out nasty, get the money, kill the kid. Makes perfect sense. No clues for the police. Just the kind of horror/crime story I like.

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    4. Patricia, I was thinking the same thing about the bucket haha. Cruel and skillfully written.

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  15. jdeegan536@yahoo.com6 August 2019 at 16:28

    Did the man lie to Penny? Did the dad default with the money? Did the gruff man not get the message about Penny's impending release? Lots of enticing possibilities here, John.

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  16. Hidden Talent

    She taught them the alphabet. All save one caught on in no time and those who were quick off the mark received a blue ribbon for their efforts.

    Still, there was more to life than ABCs and despite the appropriateness of his name when it came to an aptitude for learning, Dopey excelled at being the best little lover in the bunch.

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    1. Haha I laughed out loud at the ending. I love your fairy tale reimaginings and how they're just subtle enough that they stand apart as their own stories.

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  17. jdeegan536@yahoo.com7 August 2019 at 15:51

    And I bet Dopey was the envy of the other dwarfs, Patricia. Very cute!

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  18. Stop The Week; I Want To Get Off (58)
    Customers, on the whole, are hopeless and there goes my chance of sharing this with them every week, they couldn’t stand the honesty! (I did think about it…) some I believe can’t even cope with the alphabet…
    ‘Do you get many people come in?’
    ‘Yes’
    ‘That’s good, isn’t it?’
    Really??? Some I could tie up with yards of ribbon, normally used for decoration, to keep them from interfering with items on display which they never ever put back in the same place. It’s all right, I’ll see to it all when you leave, empty handed… (not a good week)

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    1. jdeegan536@yahoo.com8 August 2019 at 19:46

      The untoward vagaries of owning and running a business are cited here, I hope next week is better, Antonia.

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    2. Dealing with the general public is a skill I've never possessed, and therefore admire it all the more in others.

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    3. I know retail is most difficult. I worked in retail for a very brief period of time when first arriving in the United States and before that, as a Saturday Girl at Woolworths (in my home town of London). The latter wasn't so bad since we were all so terribly young and it was something of a lark for extra money, but that brief period later in life was far different. Amount of money earned was often dependent upon commission and I've never been good at persuading anyone to purchase something they don't really want. All in all, not for me...but I sympathize totally with this week's submission from Tales of the Little Shop on the Isle of Wight.

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    4. I could use a few of those ribbons for my wild kids. :) Hopefully your visitors are better next week.

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  19. The Mad Italian 117
    The new PM acts as if the alphabet is a strange thing to him but be aware, behind the buffoon face and hair there is a sharp mind that sees all things, especially obstacles. It suits him to be seen as slightly hopeless, it distracts from the work he is doing to ensure everything goes the way he wants it to. There will be a ribbon of honour for him when his term of office ends. Meantime… why does the clown think he can visit the scenes of death and injury and be unaffected by his people’s opinion of him?

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    1. And again, I am totally ignorant of the current political situation in most instances, but sounds like this new PM across the pond might be slightly more acceptable than originally thought?

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    2. I just watched a John Oliver episode where he was talking about exactly that, the calculation behind how the PM acts. Hopefully something good comes of it, though I wish our political figures would simply be honest and stop being shady.

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  20. Kursaal (Episode One Hundred Seventy Four) - "Complete Change"

    Kat Shelton, Kursaal party planner supreme, occasionally catered specifically to itty-bitty female patrons. From a portable pavilion, Kat provided charming costumes fashioned from ribbons, lace, chiffon and the like to wear while visiting and offered delightful face-painting to enhance the fantasy illusion.

    Little girls selected ensembles from Cicely Mary Barker's "Fairies Alphabet Book" (featuring sprites symbolizing everything from Acorns to Zinnias) and Kat transformed them accordingly.

    To identify the metamorphic child once she emerged from the pavilion was a hopeless task, even for parents.

    It didn't help that more little girls appeared to come out than ever went in.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    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: Kat Shelton has featured in previous episodes.

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    1. So sweet, so pleasing ... until (as ever) that final line.

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    2. Oooh the mystery and magic of the final line is perfection!

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