Friday, 14 September 2012

The Prediction - back into the swing of things

So, after several weeks and a multitude of time zones, I find myself back here at Phlambler's World judging the latest Prediction entries. In my travels I have stood atop volcanos, seen near extinct species flocking and watched mighty beasts breaching from the ocean, yet I am still amazed by the quality of writing and the diversity of imagination from amongst the Predictioneers.
 
It was great, and possibly worring for my exalted position, to see The Prediction continue to run so smoothly in my absence [even with some generous interpretations of the word swag into swagger along the way ;-) ] and I offer my thanks to my guest judges Matt, Rebecca and William for keeping this ship afloat.
 
Well, it's been a while since I've said this but my winner for this week is........
 
.....John Xero! John stunned me with the beautifully crafted Crepuscular. It painted a vividly bleak future for mankind. The way you created such a fully formed world and brought Carla to life within 100 words was amazing; a talent I am in awe of. Let me know when you have your first novel out there John as I will be straight to the head of the queue to buy it!
 
My runner-up this week is an absent friend returned to the fold of The Prediction. Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw brings us a manga-esque vision in her tale Under a Killing Moon. This was such a visual piece Veronica which I could easily see being turned into a graphic novel or live action animation. Superb writing and so glad that we were able to entice you back to our little game. As I said in my comments, there is only one thing to say; brava!
 
My congratulations to John and Veronica for their excellent entries and thanks to all of you for your brilliant flashes. I have missed reading your wonderful tales and it is a privilege to be able to experience them once again.
 
Now whilst I was away I hear tell that my tome has been causing havoc across the nation. So the hunt is on to find Tommy (a pet name, Tommy the Tome, forgive me please). I believe that I have his scent and capture may be on the cards. For now we just have the following places along the south coast in which he has been sighted to go upon:
  • Battle (Sussex)
  • Wool (Dorset)
  • Pennance (Cornwall) - ok, we'll use the word Penance but it's close enough
The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction. All variants and use of the words as stems are fine. Just have fun!

You have until 9pm (UK time) Thursday 20 September to get your entries in. New words will spill forth and winners will be announced 9am Friday 21 September. If you can, please tweet about your entry using the #fridayflash #100words or #flashfiction hashtags and blog if you feel like it. Please tell your friends and do give feedback to your fellow Predictioneers - everyone appreciates it!
 
Let battle commence!

81 comments:

  1. Congratulations, John! Crepuscular is magnificent!

    Phil, I am honoured to be chosen runner up this week. I really didn't think, when I asked you the words, that I would have time to do a story, but I was curious about the words. I'm glad I asked, because as soon as I saw them, a fourth word entered my brain... zombie!

    No promises, but I'll see what I can do with these new words. I should confess to everyone a particular, I don't know if 'fondness' is the right word, but it comes close, to the word 'penance'. We shall have to see what the 'little grey cells' can come up with.

    An now, I am off to 'tuck in' wifey... hehe!

    'Night, all! Sonhos doces!

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  2. Congrats John and Veronica. Sorry I did not comment this week but I did read. It is that back to school time for my kittens. Busy bees.

    Mr. Phil....thanks for checking out Alfiedog.com. I am not sure if it is appropriate to help publicize other good sites. I want to make sure my friends at The Prediction get cool info.

    Everyone stop by Static Movement as well. Dorothy Davies has a few anthologies she is working on.

    Mr. John Xero! She has an open call for stories regarding Aliens. Hop to it son! You know you can rock that.

    Mrs. Veronica, Dorothy has an anthology titled in vino veritas...maybe you should let a story flow her way. You strike me as a lady as fine as wine.

    Mr. Phil ? Let us know when to download your story on Alfiedog and How is your novel coming along?

    Whew...

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    1. Thank you, Marietta!

      I just 'drove' by Static Movement... looks like Dorothy's got quite a few anthologies. How do I know which are still open?

      I've just started a story for another anthology... Near to the Knuckle... but I will definitely check out Dorothy's anthologies.

      Thank you.

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    2. Veronica, all open anthologies are headlined looking for stories or whatever, those which are closed I headline closed and in editing. I try and keep up to date with that. I have nine open anthologies, two recently closed and are sent off for printing. There are good editors on S M and good anthologies, too. Be good to see you there.

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    3. Hi Marietta

      No problem at all with promoting other sites. I do it now and again on here and would encourage others to do similar. I very much see this as a site for people to come have some fun, provide each other with support and to let people know about writing opportunities that are out there.

      My story is not with AlfieDog yet (life and work in the way at the moment) and the novel has taken a slight backburner (again, life and work). Word count on right of my site needs updating but it's not much higher than the 9003 stated! However, hope to rectify both soon AlfieDog and novel stalling soon :-)

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    4. Thanks, Antonia. Be nice to 'spread my wings' a bit.

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  3. congratulations John and Veronica, worthy winners! The words defeated me last week, along with work. Always the work. As the UK Executive Officer of the Richard III Foundation Inc, this week has been particularly fraught with masses of emails. Now preparing a mailout in the fight to have the remains (should they be finally decreed to be those of the last English king) interred in York Minster, his favourite place, his favourite city.

    I will go ponder these words...

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  4. Here goes...


    He said it was a penance but he always did; he who sought to pull the wool over her eyes. The battle was to stay sane in the cellar, the dank walls as enclosing and the marauding spiders as malevolent as ever.
    Each time she thought would be her last, each time she prayed it was; the alternative, enduring this when she broke a ‘rule’ was too much.
    He was heading for a fall, though. He had not broken her spirit, only her sense of right and wrong.
    His day would come. The knife she had concealed told her that.

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    1. A dark hand can drag even the brightest heart down... Disturbing words, Antonia.


      (although I like the idea of marauding spiders. ;) )

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    2. Marauding spiders would finish me, never mind anything alse, but I especially liked "He had not broken her spirit, only her sense of right and wrong." Nice.

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    3. Oh! That wasn't a little shriek that just escaped my lips as I read of the 'closing walls and marauding spiders'... okay, it was... I just have this thing about cellars and basements... that sent chills down me!

      "He had not broken her spirit, only her sense of right and wrong."

      Wow! Dark and powerful! The human mind can only be pushed so far.

      Nicely done, Antonia... very nicely done!

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    4. thanks for the good words! I worked long on that one.

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    5. A dark, unpleasant atmosphere you paint here Antonia. I think that the way you have focused on her mental state really gives this piece its strength. The ending brings a sense of perverted hope amongst the bleakness but I fear that she is 'lost' to us forever whether she escapes or not.

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    6. I must agree with the others. "Marauding spiders" chilled me thoroughly. For some reason, the phrase almost made me feel that they were consciously taunting her, instead of simply following instinct, and that made it all the more squicky to me! I also love the dark, rich, feel of her mental state. Lots going on behind that for me. Lovely bit of writing!

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    7. This is a tone-perfect description of an abusive relationship. The basement would exist in her mind, even were she not menaced by spiders. In light of the horrific situation, find the last line strangely uplifting.

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    8. Yay Madame Antonia.i love the way you build atmosphere. Madness. I am also a big big big fan of "sticking" it to the bad guy. Spiders give me the willies but abusers piss me off. This reminds me a bit of my favorite...Ramsey Campbell. Though nothing compares to you my lady.

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  5. This barely qualifies as fantasy (well, the genre, anyway), but it wouldn't leave me alone.

    Turnabout

    The wool was too soft. The priest desired roughness for a skin he can’t escape. Hardly my fault he chose this path.

    Inevitably, my skill with a spindle and loom means I’m the sinner. Never mind the way he looks at me when I’m with the flock. Mayhap he craves them. Some curls to house his lust.

    Pity his calling asks him to battle his true nature. He’s a fine man.

    “Do the penance,” Da said.

    I’ll not apologize for my gifts. Instead, I’ll turn to the Mother, and the priest will kneel for me. Then, we’ll both be unshriven.

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    1. There's a sense of an unapologetic tease in here, RR, and a great punchline. =)

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    2. I like John's comment - all I could think was 'follow that?' Really quite wicked and reminds me of a line from an early 'Blackadder' episode.

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    3. A dark, wicked tease indeed!

      I was trying for something with a spindle and loom as well... couldn't make it work, so I... well, we will just have to wait and see.

      I like this very much, Rebecca. There is just a whiff of humour... oh, I hope that isn't just my twisted little mind imagining... that 'softens' the debauchery -

      "Some curls to house his lust."

      Excellent little tale! Brava!

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    4. liked this a lot, spiked darkness and subtle points that hit home. Good one!

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    5. A piece to amuse us here as part of The Prediction (I do hope that flock is of the four legged variety otherwise that second paragraph has a much darker meaning!).

      Our poor priest is trapped in a world, battling his inner demons and failing miserably. I think that this gives a subtle depth to the piece which needs to be re-read again and again.

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    6. I can picture this girl (assuming of course). I like her quite a bit. Looks as though she will test this priest and perhaps many more. Really tense piece. Like Phil I will enjoy reading this many times over.

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  6. Farmboy

    Gobbets of meat liberally adorned the beast's barbed hide, like wool tufts on a horrific hedgerow.

    Harwen was on his knees. A crude sword hung limply from his hand where a week ago had been a crook. Around him lay villagers and friends, armoured up and cut down.

    The soldiers were gone to war. And battle had come to Little Daleberry regardless, because Harwen had let his flock stray too near the hills.

    The troll-thing, its rage sated, was shambling away.

    Harwen tightened his grip, clenched his jaw and stood. He owed penance. He yelled and the beast turned back.

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    1. As with so much of your work, a rich back story conveyed in so few words - both the last line and "where a week ago had been a crook." were exciting.

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    2. Love how you weave the backstory in here so effortlessly.

      Conjures up dark images of some druidic creature... a 'Rawhead Rex' with an appetite to match his rage.

      Wonder... which feeds which?

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    3. it is the art of weaving in the back story that is the hallmark of your work, John, loved this one.

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    4. like wool tufts on a horrific hedgerow is incredibly evocative. I have read this one multiple times, and there is always another facet that I want to explore, to trace back to before this scene - or, should Harwen survive - perhaps to follow after.

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    5. Poor Harwen! I must agree with the others, the completely detailed back story related in so few words is wonderful. A finely crafted tiny tale!

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    6. Nice bit of fantasy here John and it's so rare that anyone writes about the ones left behind when the battle starts. Maybe they would if the tales were this strong. How apt that Harwen, who called the troll to town, is the last man standing but I feel he will be another 'tuft of wool' very soon. As the others have said, lots of story woven within 100 words.

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    7. What a strongly conveyed story. With the rich backstory and a character that begs us to learn more you have sucked us in. Please tell us if you post a longer tale for this could be epic.

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  8. Well-deserved win by John, and congratulations to Veronica. Surprisingly hard, the words this week, and already the bar is set high; herewith my contribution:

    The blacksmith's wife [part 38]

    By dark Gabriel’s forgiving sweetness had turned sour.

    His hands around my throat, not quite in jest, jeopardised my breathing: ‘There’s penance to be paid for your promiscuity.’

    He’d forgot that he had likewise sinned, also that I fought dirty, and, hand-slipped, I did.

    ‘And what of yours?’ I squeezed, then told him of my condition.

    ‘You’ve lied before, why should I believe you now?’

    He yelped again and smacked me; our bed became a battleground, the loose-weave wool that covered us a sweat-reeked coat of arms – Thor rampant, wife couchant.

    By morning status quo had been queasily restored.

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    Replies
    1. Ahhh... the mercurial Gabriel. Looks as if the penance is shared 'twixt the two.

      I love that bit... "Thor rampant, wife couchant."

      Your 'delightful' duo do stir up some dark and wicked imagery, Sandra. The 'bed is a battle ground'... I quite like that! I can actually picture that quite vividly... oh, wait... that's my own bed... haha!

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    2. Quite the tempestuous relationship those two share, isn't it? This episode does a good job of summing up their oscillating passions... as it were... ;)

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    3. excellent instalment, Sandra, I agree with Veronica, that that is one exciting phrase there!

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    4. I may be falling in love with the Blacksmith's Wife! You have made her a woman I would both fear, and be inexplicably drawn to. I love the details my imagination fills in at phrases like "the loose-weave wool that covered us a sweat-reeked coat of arms." Just fabulous!

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    5. Ah, you never fail to entertain or inspire! There is such a great sense of movement - the fight brought to us, if you will. Their battle takes place on so many fronts, and yet, they are quite well matched. I am, as ever, in awe of your phrasing.

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    6. Love the phrase 'Thor rampant, wife couchant'. Wonderful way that the power play swings back and forth yet again here. Very clever the way you do this to keep the reader engaged with these characters for so long. Tres bien.

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    7. Sandra. Funny how I always blush when I read about dear wifey. She is a character that demands attention. Your words are picture perfect. I do wonder, however, what is status quo for these two.

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  9. Well, I've finished mine... finished it Sunday, actually... but a title eludes me... sigh...

    As I did last week,I will be using one of my own images on the blog post. I do like the idea of using my own photos with my stories... not always possible.

    Anyway... I will try and get mine posted tomorrow.

    Ta!

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  10. Now, see what you went and did, Phil? You named me runner-up last week and now I'm like a little puppy, back begging for more! Lol!!

    Excellent words this week, which for some reason conjured up a little sin. No zombies this week, but I do have a wretched soul who has something to 'get off her chest', as it were.

    I've posted this over on my blog - http://veronicathepajamathief.blogspot.com/2012/09/phils-friday-prediction-for-september_18.html, along with another of my own photographs. Without further ado...


    ALONE IN A ROOM
    By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

    ~~**~~

    She sits alone in a room.

    On the table… a single candle flickers.

    Needle pierces naked flesh… drawing the crimson thread through her shriveled skin… each wrinkle testimony to her battle with age… the rough wool sews the tale of her adultery across her bare torso.

    Sharpened steel flashes in the candlelight… tiny rivulets of blood crust on her pale flesh.

    ~*~

    She stands in the square… unclothed body defenseless… her sin revealed.

    The crowd gathers.

    The first stone misses its mark.

    She smiles.

    A second stone… sharp… draws blood on once proud breast… then another.

    Her smile falters.

    Penance.

    Pain.


    ~ finis ~

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    1. Stitched and stoned... The smile shows her unrepentant, but I think she may be regretting it by the end... well drawn, Veronica. =)

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    2. Last three sentences say it all. Broad sweep of a tale this Veronica.

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    3. images, always the images, and these are both terrifying and haunting. Brilliant!

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    4. Veronica! Reading this both took my breath and made me literally made me feel sick! Those are compliments, by the way! You have touched upon one of my deepest fears here. The idea of being stoned has terrified me to my core since I was a child and your description brilliantly echoes my imaginings of what that might be like.

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    5. This one has haunted me since first reading, and yet I keep coming back. There is a sense of resignation here that borders on peace but won't ever find it. Start to finish, this one gave me chills.

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    6. Thank you, John, Sandra, Antonia, ravenways and Rebecca! I am honoured by your words for my little tale.

      This one scared me a bit too, I must confess, when I'd finished and seen what I had written. What is it about being stoned that chills us to the very core, ravenways? Beyond the shame that stoning connotates, leaving one completely revealed in a way that disrobement cannot.

      I think it must be that by stoning, death... inevitable death... is drawn out and our suffering made the worse. Bullet, blade... even rope... seems almost merciful by comparison.

      Stitched... stoned... shamed.

      Yes, I will take a bullet and a blindfold, please! Oh, and a last cigaret... a last defiance.

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    7. I think it is the calmness with which she mutilates herself initially that disturbed me most. Yet it was told so beautifully. I could see that flame flickering against her naked flesh as the needle pierced her. And then into that stoning scene. A delicious, dark tale that will, no doubt, stay in the minds of each reader for weeks to come.

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    8. You are spot on with stoning. There is something primal about stoning. Awful stuff but your atmosphere is still gorgeous. A knife wrapped in black lace. Aghast. The thought of carnal joy resulting in such suffering. A lady deserves a little affair. I hope she comes back and hunts them all.

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    9. Thank you, Phil and Marietta!

      While the words were still simmering in my brain, I envisioned this in two scenes, Phil... the calm, and then the storm. I wanted that 'serenity'... to heighten the coming horror.

      You've given me an idea, Marietta. I have a character I am working on for one of my various 'works-in-progress', and going through several ideas for her back story. This woman here could be my character's back story! Oh, this would tie in so well... I am very excited now... must go dash off some notes!

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  11. Caution

    I called Uncle Jim. He didn’t answer.

    The hunter’s car was fully stocked, not as well as ours – Nate’s now – but good enough for the battle I hoped to avoid. Reason had worked previously, but Nate’s eyes were covered by rage-colored wool. I’d seen him kill more calmly. He’s every monster’s nightmare.

    So am I.

    My palm itched, magic returning, pressing, eager. I resisted. If I used spellcraft against Nate, my penance would be a bullet. He’d take the head shot.

    I parked before the bend in the drive and, heavily armed, crept forward.

    No sound came from the house.

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    1. Couldn't resist rushing on to ravenways follow up - the two of you are so complementary - and this has all the hard-edged inner dialogue you are so good at. I can't wait to find out how much Seth resists using magic when he hears the shot.

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    2. another one with a tantalising back story!

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    3. Hah! I find myself wondering, as well, what Seth will do when he hears Nate's shot! Half the fun of writing with you is not knowing what Seth is going to do from moment to moment. Nate's reactions to him come organically, and it is my job, simply to write them. "Rage-colored wool." Brilliant! As always, thank you, sister mine.

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    4. "... every monster’s nightmare." Wow! Those three words conjure up such quiet horror.

      And the tease of the backstory... perfect!

      Brilliantly done, Rebecca! I love how the story slowly reveals itself... to that last sentence... ominous!

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    5. This was a tense piece. Great images of Seth sneaking forward, trying to figure out what's going on, oblivious to what's going on in the house. I almost found myself cocking an ear just to hear what was happening inside. Very good writing which just draws you into the world of the characters.

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  12. Impasse


    I knew Jimmy had a cocked shotgun aimed at me under the table. I had no intention of shooting him. But he was going to pay penance for his sin of omission.

    “What now, boy? Battle of wills? Mexican standoff, hunter style?”

    Neither of us moved.

    “Answer me, Jimmy. How long you been pullin’ the wool over my eyes about Seth? How long have you known my brother’s a damned witch?”

    He glanced out the kitchen window, sighed, and whispered, “From the get go.”

    My shot rang thunder through the tiny kitchen. On the counter, his favorite cookie jar exploded.

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    1. And I jumped in shock.
      Jim is an intriguing character, counter-balancing Seth and Nate.

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    2. good one, really good. So much going on in so few words, leaves you wanting more, as all good stories do.

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    3. Hah! You've backed me into a corner (for which I thank you, as it's a fun challenge to write my way out of it). Nate is far more complex than he lets on - or wishes to be. You make writing this series an addiction, for which I also thank you.

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    4. There better not have been cookies in that jar! Just sayin'... that would be an unforgivable sin!

      *wink*

      Breathtaking tale... so much going on here. My mind floods with the imagery created by your words.


      Why do I picture this taking place in a 50's style kitchen... white glass-fronted cabinets... red formica-topped table... black and while linoleum-tiled floor.

      Interesting note here. I am currently working on a little noir piece for upcoming anthology. It isn't finished yet, but I've already written the closing scene... which involves a shotgun strapped under a desk... the two protagonists squared off against each other. This is a little tableau that always plays well... in any genre!

      Very well done!

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    5. And from one tense scene to another. This style fits so well with Rebecca's but is still unique. I can picture both characters so well in my head, the way they talk, the way they move, without any description of either. A real skill and credit to your writing. I await the next installments with relish.

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  13. Evening everyone,
    Argh. This is always so scary. Here is my attempt. I will read and comment as well for it is a duty and an honor. :-)

    Forgiveness

    Beyond this lattice they ask forgiveness. I gently offer penance. In this oratory they whisper guilt. I allow reconciliation. But when the purple night awakens I serve only myself. I do not battle with regret. My hunger is alive. It worms through me. And those that have sinned need not fear Hell. For I will pull back the woolen blankets of sleep and swallow their dirty little lives.

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    1. Oh so sly and wicked. And what a truly attention-grabbing, scene-setting opening too, to a compact tale of evil.

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    2. I love to listen to your writing Sandra. Even your replies are lovely.:-)

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    3. Marrieta, I completely understand the "scary"! We are in the company of some wonderfully talented and skilled folks here. In my mind, you stand equally among them. This is a wonderful piece. My reaction was one of horror, but of a quiet and slow moving sort. I love the way your words flow and build to a razor sharp closing. Great fun to read!

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    4. Is it wrong that I found this piece comforting? There is such a sense of balance here, and I appreciate that the guilty don't get off with a few murmured words. Gives a whole new meaning to 'sin eater' though...

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    5. This story chills me on a personal level...

      I'm not Catholic... the only time I ever went to confession was when I attended St Elizabeth's... it was required.

      To think that another might have 'reveled' in my sin and shame (even though some of my 'confessions' were made up... I wasn't that bad! lol!) just seems so damn evil!! Oh... there goes that chill again!

      One word, Marietta.... Brava!

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    6. Wow! It's like a handle being cranked, slowly lifting a blade above our heads. Each sentence tightens the rope, ratchets up a notch and then that last line just hits you as you release. Bam!

      No idea why you'd be scared of putting something out there when you can write as well as this.

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  14. A late entry from me to grace this week's challenge. Think that wool took me off in a certain direction which somehow evolved into this.

    Out of body experience

    Cabbage. Over boiled, insipid cabbage. Its stench is everywhere. Down the corridors. In the day room. In my clothes.

    I fucking hate cabbage.

    Dennis wheels me out every morning, his uniform always crisp, and sits me down with the others, a woollen blanket draped across my lap.

    This is penance for my crimes. I escaped them in Rio, fled under cover of darkness in Istanbul and thought I'd evaded them in Cairo. That was my only mistake.

    Now I'm imprisoned in this old man's stroke addled body, battling to speak, as they feed me pale, nauseating cabbage.

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    1. Oh. My. God!!

      Wow, Phil... a little speechless here.

      Talk about penance for crimes committed! This is true justice... much better than the hangman's rope or sharpshooter's bullet.

      Brilliantly written, Phil! Poetic and evocative... great mood in these few words.

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    2. Oh the double horror of cabbage and old age - death would certainly be preferable here.

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  15. It's been a long while, so please be kind.

    I Feel Once More the Scars of the Old Flame

    Exiting, the theater-goers murmured, “That poor actor, the guillotine was real.”

    Unnoticed, a girl battles the press of bodies, gripping her wool skirt; blood-smeared face flushed in rage and arousal. At the moment of the actor’s death, with his blood dripping off her skin, her memories returned.

    A vindictive queen, stolen memories, lovers forced apart; a punishment made in a jealous rage. Before the mist comes again and make her forget, she must claim this life. No longer weak and ignorant, Marie Marchand’s penance was done.

    She would get back what was hers.

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    1. Hey sweetie! Long time! :)

      Oh, this is chilling indeed! I feel her hot rage and yet... vengeance exacted in such a cold and calculating fashion.

      What was his sin to deserve this?

      Hell hath no fury... 'tis true indeed.

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    2. Hey, welcome back MuckieDuckie! Great to see you here. :-)

      I always like a good beheading to start a scene. Let's us know we're in for something bold and daring.

      Lots of stuff going on here, great back story, Marie's awakening and what about our poor actor. It's like a wonderful buffet has been laid out before me and I just want to gorge on all of it. I do hope you develop this some more.

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    3. Welcome back MuckieDuckie! This is a lovely tale! I love the notion of mists claiming her memories, the urgency it implies. I can't wait to read more from you!

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    4. The opening line sets the scene so well - the press of the bodies rushing away, voices anxious while one swims against the tide.

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  16. What's that sound? Why yes, it's the sound of the doors closing as I bring this party to a close once more.

    I hope you've enjoyed the nibbles, go on and have another vol au vent before you go. Stay awhile and comment but no more entries.

    I'm off to do that very self same thing before I proclaim my winner for the week and provide new words.

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  17. Great stories this week. I don't envy you choosing only one, Phil.

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  18. tis good indeed to see Mucky Ducky back and to go back and read all your entries again to delight me this sunny afternoon. Marietta's cast a dark shadow for sure... wonderful writing from you all.

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