Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Prediction - it's all a big con

This weekend I am off to brush shoulders with some of the great genre writers of our time at FantasyCon in Brighton. I shall also get to meet the wonderful Lily Childs in person for the first time. I shall be sure to send her love and warm feelings from The Prediction gang.
 
Now, how the hell do I judge last week's offerings? Each one would normally have been a winner in its own right on any other week but it seems that the changing of the seasons has inspired you all into even higher levels of literary excellence. So a winner there must be and that winner is....
 
....MuckieDuckie with Riven. MD - you tugged on my heartstrings here to great effect. So much heartache throughout this piece, touching pieces of sentimentality littered throughout that work so well, and that final line just had me welling up. I will hug my son hard tonight. A well deserved win for an intense tale.
 
And my runner-up is, well I have two. Firstly Antonia Woodville with Twilight Thoughts. Antonia - I thought this was a beautifully depicted piece. Amazing imagery runs through this poetic piece and the end just leaves the reader wrought with despair. A marvellously crafted flash.
 
My other runner-up is Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw with Feeding Mother. Veronica - visual, visceral and veritably brilliant. A wonderful use of language brings the bloody nature of this scene to life. Excellent stuff
  
So congratulations to MuckieDuckie, Antonia and Veronica. High praise to be winners and runners-up amongst this week's superb collection of stories. Everyone just keeps raising the bar week on week.
 
Before the words are revealed I have to forewarn you that this will be a two week submission period. I have a funeral to attend later in the week and I won't be able to judge or lay new words this week. I hope you understand.
 
And now my tome is back at home, safely under lock and key where he can do less harm save for the occassional paper cut. He seems docile tonight so let me see what I can coax from within him. And the words are:
  • Hip (hippy allowed)
  • Owl
  • Burst
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 11 October to get your entries in. New words will spill forth and winners will be announced 9am Friday 12 October. 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!
 
Now go and show me your groovy moves! (And don't forget you have two weeks this time)

91 comments:

  1. Congratulations, MuckieDuckie and Antonia! Two breathtaking and inspiring pieces... most worthy of our accolades!

    Brava! Brava!

    Thank you, Phil! I am honoured once again!

    Oh, I am more than a bit envious! You are meeting Lily Childs? Oh, you must give her a big hug for me! Please! I know she is incredibly busy, but it would be wonderful if she could pop in some time.

    And yes, please ... our love and well wishes to Miss Lily! Safe trip, Phil and I hope you have a wonderful time!

    This is an interesting trio of words. I think I'll jot them down on a piece of paper and sleep on them.

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  2. Congratulations, MuckieDuckie, Antonia and Veronica. Really great entries this week. The bar was raised higher than a giants limbo competition.

    Have a great time at FCon Phil and pass on our love to Lily.

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  3. thank you, Phil! I sent the piece to my partner (opposite me in a summerhouse but emails are easier) and he said 'and THAT was a runner up? What was the winner like?' 'outstanding' I said and it was. MD, congratulations, Veronica, congratulations!
    Thanks for two weeks this time, Phil, going to need every day of it to come up with something worthwhile with this kind of competition!!!!
    Enjoy Fantasycon, say Hi to Lily for me and tell her that the Prediction Challenge is alive, well and flourishing!!!!

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  4. Enjoy your weekend Phil, say 'hi' to Lily from me too. and all congratulations to MuckieDuckie, Veronica and Antonia - a stonkingly good entry last week. (And I am trying to avoid my blacksmith's wife giving birth in the next two weeks, but it won't be easy, given the words)

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  5. Take a photo of Mistress Lily and yourself and post it soon. What a great way to start off a most excellent Halloween season.

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  6. Waking at 5 a.m. with words such as these in my head I had no choice but to get up and wrestle them into shape.

    The blacksmith's wife [part 40]

    Village harvest festival, marrows big as three-year-olds, piglets with two heads, jams and hams, ale and rose-hip wine drunk to excess by red-faced farmers and their wives.
    I, disguised, occupied the fortune-teller’s booth; promised death or love or money as desired to successive gullibles.
    But I was the bigger fool, Mathias the final customer.
    He knocked me down, played Punch to my Judy and, while Gabriel wrestled with a farmer’s son, kicked life from my belly, leaving me in hopeless lonely labour.
    With a screech ‘twixt owl and vixen I expelled bloody pulp, then a second lifeless babe burst forth.

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    1. I can't comment as that last line knocked the wind out of me and drew a tear to my eye

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    2. Oh God! Horrific. Wonderfully, horribly, nightmarish. I agree with William. Last line is heart wrenching indeed.

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    3. Holy crap Sandra - wasn't expecting that ending! Beautifully described scenes of the village festival with a nice touch of the weird (two headed piglets no less), led into another one of our lady's scams and then wham! Excellent writing and left me feeling a little out of kilter there.

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    4. Left me in shock. Wow what a powerful story. Must have been hard to write. Wow

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    5. Such an awful, heartbreaking episode made worse by how beautifully it was wrought. I'm wrecked.

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    6. Clever,clever writing Sandra, deliciously twisted.

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  7. o-er ... nasty one! like, really nasty! This just gets better. Sandra!

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  8. Revelation

    Disaster thwarted, I set the book before Uncle Jim. He swooped, an owl snatching up knowledge-prey. “Language?”

    “Romanian cipher. I’ll provide the key.”

    He pointed to a sunburst symbol. “Ain’t seen that before.”

    I unzipped, revealing it’s like, magic-branded on my hip. “It represents me, the First of Many.”

    Jim whistled. “Fuck.”

    “Probably a bad idea,” I drawled.

    “Explain.” Nate had traded gun for scowl.

    “Prophecy says my great-grandson will ‘break the world’.”

    “Then don’t breed.”

    I didn’t need Nate’s warning, but he needed mine. “We’re already being hunted.”

    “We?”

    “Unless you’ve forsaken me.”

    Silence.

    Magic built, awaiting his answer.

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    1. I do like the idea of 'magic-branded' and love the staccato dialoge of these three. Awaiting his answer too ...

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    2. Magic-branded! You come up with the BEST phrases. Keeping up with you is a wonderful challenge.

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    3. Great phrases indeed. I loved 'knowledge-prey'.

      Lovely use of dialogue to drive this latest piece along and some excellent building of the mythos behind our magical hero. So, is Nate going to stand by his brother?!??!

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    4. very nicely done, dialogue spot on, leading us on and then leaving us with questions.

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    5. Magic-branded, knowledge prey...what excellent turn of phrases. Well written and I love the dialogue.

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    6. I agree with all the comments and want to know more.

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  9. Apologies I've not been around much lately, I've had my head down with work, and finalising my poetry collection for Kindle. As it's been way too long an absence I thought I'd throw this drabble in the pot.

    HOXTON

    We burst through the door of the Stag, Mikey at my hip. The publican didn’t lookup from gazing at his newspaper crossword, all learned like an Owl.
    “8 Across; Condom Tennis, ten and five.” He said flicking a quick glance at us.
    “Protection Racket” Mikey offered, as a shot rang out from behind the Newspaper, scattering Mikey’s grey matter across the saloon floor.
    Another shot rang out winging me, the ricochet clipping my ear.
    “Go tell your governor, there’s a new team in town, and this is our manor”
    As I staggered away; I knew this was just the beginning.

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    Replies
    1. Dammit, and I didn't even get time to solve the clue myself! Superb pace to this one, William.

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    2. Brilliant! I find myself hoping there might be more of this. I want to know what happens next! Poor Mikey never saw it coming.

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    3. And welcome back William, so lovely to see you and your writing again. Do tell us where we can buy your poetry once it is available for purchase.

      You totally blindsided me here. There I was amusing myself with the cryptic crossword and then poor Mikey's brain are blown out across the bar moving us to a wonderfully threatening character. As Colleen says, more, more, more.

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    4. nastiness galore going on here and I do so like that!

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    5. Whoa. What a great twist. Unexpected. Great writing. I hope there is more to come.

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    6. This piece moves fast, start to finish, leaving me a little breathless. There's so much going on off-stage, but the picture stands on its own. Well done.

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    7. Hi William :-)

      I enjoyed this ruthless gangland scene being played out. I certainly want to read on.

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  10. Good morning! For those who may not have noticed the name switch as of yet, I have been posting under ravenways until now. The new name matches a new blog I'm setting up as a place to store and display all of my scribbles.

    Door #2

    I looked from Jim to Seth and back again, angry and trying to process.

    I could still see that thing on Seth’s now-covered hip. It would become one of those things you can never un-see. Like a train wreck.

    Deciding felt like a balloon of resigned determination bursting in my gut.

    I still wanted to shoot them both. But I knew now that I couldn’t. Shit.

    I downed the shot, slammed the glass onto the table, and looked hard at my brother.

    Jim looked up, a startled owl, alert to danger.

    “Where’s the key? And what’s hunting us?”

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    1. Aggrieved and disgruntled, that's Nate for sure - and the 'train-wreck' is good. Nice one Colleen.

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    2. Thank you, Sandra! Disgruntled is right! Nate spends a lot of time stomping around in my head muttering to himself in frustration.

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    3. I know it may sound strange but the use of the italics for brother was the strongest thing in here for me. The way that one word is displayed shows, for me, the anger, confusion and sense of betrayal that Nate is feeling. Really good piece as always.

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    4. sharply observed, which I like. Natural dialogue is not easy to do. You do it well.

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    5. Deciding felt like a balloon...what great wording. Great. I like the dialogue. So strong.

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    6. I'm with Marietta: a balloon of resigned determination says so much about Nate and his discomfort. And yet, when the chips were down, he stayed true. Good stuff.

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    7. Good strong writing with excellent dialogue.Look forward to more.

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  11. I've been bad and missed a couple of weeks. Sorry Phil, please don't be too mean to me!

    Anyway...

    In the Midst of Death...

    We danced through the rain as the clouds finally burst over the burning city as the soldiers departed. I waved my arms in wild abandon and she swung her hips wantonly as the survivors gazed at us, tear rimmed eyes as wide as owls and mouths crusted with soot and grief. Their cries and wails were our choral musical accompaniment, the crackling of wood aflame a staccato counterpoint.

    We danced all day and made love in the ashes once the night fell, caked in mud and blood and tasting of suffering and death, conceiving devils anew.

    Hell is War.

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    1. This is just grand! What a rich and visceral picture you paint with your words.

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    2. Missing in action for two weeks Farr! That's it, get down and give me 20!

      Great to have you back and you've been honing your skills I see. This is one of those pieces that needs a couple of readings (and I mean that in a good way) to give your mind a proper go at it.

      Really good imagery and some emotionally charged stuff in there. I love the concept that the devil's playground is the war ravaged plains of Earth rather than some subterranean cavern deep below.

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    3. wonderful descriptions painting horrific pictures. What more could you ask?

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    4. Great idea. Epic and and horrifying story. Randy devils wrecking havoc and making babies. Wow

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    5. The lyricism of your words create a fabulous accompaniment to the devils' revelry, with the despair of the masses a sharp counterpoint. The last line is perfection.

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    6. This piece conjures some fascinating imagery, very macabre.

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  12. Congratulations to MukieDuckie, Antonia and Veronica.

    When Phil wrote (Hippy Allowed) I remembered a story from a friend who lived in the West-Wight at the time of the 1970 Pop Festival and how hippies stole their garden gate. The rest is fiction.

    Confession

    I killed a man. I was young. Now I’m grey inside and out. I’ll be worm food inside of six months. I need a cigarette. I can’t scrape the stain from my lungs but I can get this off my chest.

    Six hundred thousand hairy bastards, they stole my gate for firewood. One, high on pot, burst into our kitchen to steal food.

    I put a rope around his neck, dragged him into the night. He trod air for twenty minutes, disturbing the Barn owl, one dead hippy hanging in the woods.

    Find his bones, its time he went home.

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    1. Dammit, Shaun, now I've got 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in my head all day, accompanied by hippy bones. Nice this.

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    2. Initially I thought this was an act of anger and almost felt sorry for our narrator (ok, he's a murderer so not that sorry). And then I re-read the 'he trod air for twenty minutes'. That is dark and viscious and adds a whole new element to the tale. A man in want of redemption now his mortal days are closing who I hope never finds the solace his heart so clearly seeks here.

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    3. there's a sense of satisfaction and savagery here at the same time, hard to capture in so few words. Brilliant!

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    4. Love it love it love it...great stuff. Damn hippies. :-) boy pot gets a bad wrap. Ha

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    5. The narrator seems less repentant than resigned. He held that secret to the very end, but I'm not convinced he was plagued with any real guilt. It's chilling in its matter-of-factness.

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  13. Hi all

    I had a great time at FantasyCon and it was wonderful to meet the amazing Lily Childs. A full write up and photo of Lily and I too follow at some point soon.

    Now on to this week's entry from me. Quite dark this week, be warned, and not quite sure what it says about my state of mind but for your reading pleasure....

    Perceptions of reality

    Everything was strobing. Off, on, off, on, off, on. Was it the light or my drifting mind?

    I glimpsed him through the gloom, crouched facing the corner of that grimy basement; emptiness between us His shabby clothing matched his greasy, hippy hair. I imagined what his face was like. Sallow, covered in patchy stubble, blistered spots spread across his oily skin.

    Flash.

    His head had turned a quarter inch to face me.

    Flash.

    In profile now, his beaky nose silhouetted against the peeling wall.

    Flash.

    Facing me owl-like, his body still unmoved.

    Flash.

    And then his head burst open.

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    Replies
    1. it says, like the rest of us, you prefer to walk the dark side, Phil. Nice one!

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    2. Dark and visual ... and the ending thoroughly so.

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    3. Wohooooo.. Nicely done. Head spinning and then exploding. Please come up with a what happens next. This was great. What kinda place was that...yikes.

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    4. Oh, this is delightfully hallucinatory. I can't help but wonder if his head really burst or if he was even there at all. Completely trippy.

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    5. That made me curious to know more Phil. It reminded me of a scene from Doom 3 with the flashing lights. Where those flashes in the narrators head, a kind of disconnect, is he the killer?

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  14. Toll

    ‘Do what? You’re having a laugh, aren’t you? Drip blood into the river?’
    ‘If you don’t, you’ll be sorry.’ Owl-like, he stared through horn rimmed glasses, stemming his wound with a dirty finger.
    ‘Forget it. That’s just some weird hippy shit. I’m just crossing this bridge, right?’
    ‘Wrong, but it’s your choice.’
    I burst out laughing and walked away.
    And found myself confronted by something from a nightmare, huge, black, roiling with anger, demanding –
    Sacrifice?
    I got the image – my drops of blood or my drop into the river.
    My choice, as the Owl said.
    I went back and cut.

    I saw someone pause on the bridge as I drove past, I didn't see what he was doing but the stupid story wouldn't go away. Perhaps it will now, and I can work at exorcising last night's dream in which my partner and I brought his dead wife back to life... I don't think I want to write that one.

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    1. You'll just have to hope Phil doesn't come up with unavoidable words then, but I really like this one Antonia, so totally ... normal.

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    2. Trolls and a bridge. Very cool. There is something so unnerving about crossing a bridge, this was great. Thank you Madam Antonia.

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    3. Oooh, nice twist on the cost for crossing the troll bridge. The question of whether or not the story was "real" for the man on the bridge the next day gives it an eternal mirror feel.

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    4. Always in life there are prices to pay! Nicely told Antonia. I must admit that there is a mischevious part of me that wanted to see him cross the bridge without paying the price. I wonder what would have crept up from the depths to greet him?

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    5. Hello Antonia, yep, got to say, like Phil, I wanted to see what happens when someone doesn't give blood willingly. :-)

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  15. The blacksmith's wife [part 41]

    ‘Who?’
    ‘Who is she?’
    ‘Who has done this?’
    ‘Who will tell her blacksmith man?’
    Owl, slow howling, insufficient strength to say his name.
    Me?
    Me.
    He?
    Bursts in, bruised, raven-shraak, scattering the what-who-whooed concern around me.
    ‘One dead? Two?
    Anguished acceptance, seeing blood-smeared thighs akimbo, fleshy shreds, grey-lilac limbs drowned in a crimson pool.
    ‘Gabriel’ barely-breathed.
    She lives!
    Kneels, lifts my hips to slow the scarlet trickle, wraps me to his heart, calloused hand caressing cold-sweat cheek.
    Eyes question mine, pledge overdue revenge, plead for my survival.
    Too late.
    Too much blood.
    Chorus: ‘She’ll surely not survive such loss!’
    No.

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    1. Please tell me we did not just lose the blacksmith's wife! This is such a tragic piece, the loss so raw. I don't know if I can bear it if this is how she meets her end.

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    2. What could possibly come next in this story. You must have a next!?

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    3. Is this an end to the series? Has our blacksmith's wife shuffled this mortal coil? Maybe the tome will throw the words 'miracle' 'recovery' 'saved' this week! Sandra - there's a real sense of tension here and I can feel the whole Prediction gang holding their breath as we wait to find out what happens next!

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  16. What a strange brew of words. I am looking for inspiration. Are you folks writing like hotcakes? Hope so. One glass of red and I will be back to comment on your lovely stories. Here is my go:

    Hungry

    Even with child the curve of her hip remained. She cast a rosy blush; nearly bursting with bloom. My tongue pushed between my teeth. I could sense the life beneath her skin and life drowsing in her belly. Sitting near her I felt warm liquid slither through me. My wanting eyes grew heavy.

    "My husband should be along soon," her voice mellow like an owl.

    "Pleasure to wait," I answered amiably. My lips parted. I could smell her. I could taste her.

    "Thank you Father," she smiled; discolored by the light of the stained glass window.

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    1. Such warm, weighty menace in this, almost without a single word which might be construed as such, so that the final sentence sinks in innocuously and then regurgitates with horror. Well done Marietta.

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    2. So so so creepy! I don't even know what the priest is, but he makes my skin crawl. The stained glass coloration added a great touch.

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    3. Oooh, I feel all grimy after reading this. You transported us so effectively into the mind of this letch. And I think it made it even worse to find that it was a man in a position of trust and authority. Excellent writing.

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    4. That made my skin crawl Marietta. Very well done.

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  17. Crossing the Line

    Baron croons my name like a death-omen owl, like destiny, fate. If I go, he’ll talk sweet, hands roaming – neck, elbow, hip, thigh – the cycle of lust and damnation. My heart pounds, and I know it’s in time with his.

    “Go away,” I pray.

    Not gonna happen, sugar. He’s inside my head, in heated blood swirling low, insistent.

    “I can’t.”

    Already did, then did again. You mine.

    Denial bursts loud from my lips.

    Momma looks up. “No what, honey?”

    “Nothing. I’m confused.”

    “A walk might help. Go on now.”

    I close the door behind me and step out into forever.

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    1. Crikey Moses this is so very good on so many, levels: the language, the lust, the evil and the inevitable. So very teenage.

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    2. Oh boy. Many turns to be taken. Interesting questions are raised.

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    3. A tense internal struggle here but just what has gotten inside of her? Luscious, intriguing and definitely disturbing. Love the last line of this.

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    4. That was pretty intense,I wanted to keep reading.

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  18. One more, I couldn't resist.

    Scapegoat

    Pumpkins burst like rotten skulls as I blundered through the night.
    Henbane sought me out, her scything shadow circling under a bloated moon.

    My headlong charge ended as my foot caught in a furrow. I heard the snap within my hip as I fell, then the piercing cry of the shriek Owl calling my name.

    The squelching footfalls closing in and the scrape of rusty blades echoed my doom as Henbane preened, indifferent upon a scarecrows shoulder.

    “You traitorous bird, I raised you from an egg.”

    I croaked my last words into the mud as the scarecrow raised its weapon.

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    1. Great descriptions throughout Shaun and a wonderful sense of the chase (or being hunted should I say). I really enjoyed this and could see this being turned into a longer piece (maybe for Thrillers, Killers n Chillers Halloween competition?).

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    2. Ooooohhhh great idea Mr. Phil. We should all travel to Thrillers Killers and CHillers to see what trouble we can get into. Mwuhahaha

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    3. 'scything shadow' and scarecrows with weapons - scary stuff indeed, Shaun.

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    4. From the very first phrase to the very last, this is deeply creepy. I read it over and over, like watching a favorite scene from a movie.

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  19. This is what happens when I lie for several hours in the pitch darkness of an Inverness B&B, unable to get up and turn my laptop on.

    Hooray, Henrietta

    We’d tumbled from the settee before he finally fumbled his way into me - a full grown man lacking the manual dexterity of a fifteen-month-old when it came to solving floor puzzles.
    And, eventually, ‘hip-bloody-hooray’ I thought, as he came, triumphant gasp bursting from him, the expression on his face one which strongly reminded me of a badly-stitched – and inadequately-stuffed – owl my sister had once had.
    I was his heroine, having enabled him finally - at the age of twenty-four - to be relieved of his virginity.
    Clearly no-one else had thought to check his bank balance before now.

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    1. Oh, I love this! It's such a rich description of a comically uncomfortable situation. The last line made me laugh. In the office. Oops.

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    2. I am kinda facinated to know what you where doing in a dark B&B in Inverness and what was preventing you from getting up.

      There is the real story Sandra. :-)

      What? Oh, okay, yes.

      Poor guy, poor rich guy. :-)

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  20. Something about these words has Seth all excited.

    What Passes for Normal

    I hip-checked Nate just to watch him flinch. “A cipher key is mental.”

    “Like you.” His retort felt right, familiar.

    Jim hooted like a drunken owl. “There’s the brothers I know.”

    “My father must have left word for the Priests, in case he met with a bad end.”

    “Is that what you are?” Nate asked.

    I shrugged. “You’ve banked on that for years.”

    “Now it’s painted a target on my back.”

    Jim snorted. “You fight like old women. I’ll tell the Priests you’re not what they heard.”

    “But I am.”

    “For once in your life, Seth, shut the hell up.”

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    1. Title says it all - I can see them standing facing each other, familiar but not. Great dialogue as ever.

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    2. I've realized that in editing, I removed the word 'burst', so this does not qualify as a real entry.

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    3. Real entry or not RR I'm beginning to get very interested in it, do you have the whole story online anywhere?

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    4. Yes, indeed! If you go here: http://pushcomestoshove.blogspot.com/p/nate-and-seth-series.html there is a link to each part of the story, in order. :)

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