Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Prediction - giving thanks

As my friends across the pond celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought it only right to offer a word of thanks to each and everyone of you, irrespective of nationality, that visits my humble blog each week for The Prediction. I stalk follow a number of you on social media outlets and often see comments about how the community here has spurred people on in their writing endeavours when those voices of doubt about writing ability have crept into people's heads. Do give yourselves a pat on the back and take my thanks for coming by each week to read, write and comment.

Speaking of social media, Cindy Vaskova is celebrating the 1 year anniversary of her blog. As a one off special, she is inviting people to drop by before Sunday and offer three words for her to write a 100 word flash. She will write a flash for EACH set of prompts given. I urge you to go visit as I am sure the resulting tales will be amazing.

One more quick plug and then the winners, 99fiction (where my flash Screamless is) are holding  their latest 99 word flash fiction competition. More info here and comp closes 9 December. Do drop in an entry and I believe a bottle of wine is on offer.

Now the winners this week. Well there were a lot of stand out entries but, with the weather turning distinctly dark today as the wind howls outside my window, I decided to go for what I can only describe as pure horror.

Congratulations Marietta Miles with your second entry The Island. Marietta, you left me with a total sense of desolation. To command such a feeling within 100 words shows the power of the piece. Even now I am haunted by the image of Marie, violated by the men of the island, living an eternal death in the bottom of that well. I would urge others to re-read this and just dwell on the image we are left with.

And my runner-up this week goes to Matt Farr with The Empty Space in the Soul. Matt, similarly to Marietta you scored a direct hit with my emotions. The phrase 'last week I smiled and the guilt nearly overwhelmed me' was so powerful and knocked me for six in just ten words. The Empty Space in the Soul is such a sad tale and one which I fear too many people have experienced first hand. Strong stuff indeed.

So, on a slightly downbeat, congratulations to Marietta and Matt and bravo to the rest of you. There were a number of stories I was considering for first and second place which could easily have won on another week.

Now on to this week's words. My tome is starting to nest at the moment as the cold nights are drawing in. A bed of feathers and fur seem to be his wont but what's that secreted just beneath his spine, something pink and thin with a sticky end. Oh dear God, has anyone misplaced a finger.....well, whilst you all count your digits, here are our three prompts:
  • Invisible
  • Touch
  • Gall
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 29 November to get your entries in. New words will spill forth and winners will be announced by 9am Friday 30 November. 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's see what you can do to my senses this week!

64 comments:

  1. First off, thanks right back to you, Phil, for providing this amazing site. The talent around here knocks my socks off. Congratulations guys.

    Marietta, The Island hit me in places in my mind I didn't know existed and conjured scenes I know I won't forget. Though I'll try hard to erase them I won't be able to. Excellent!

    Matt, The Empty Space In The Soul left a huge hole in my heart and one of the most helpless, desolate moods I've experienced. You just can't fix what happens in your story, can't do anything but live with it -- or not.
    "Life is shades of grey and I have no right to smile" is right up there with a Harlan Ellison's words, "I have no mouth and I must scream."

    Overwhelming is a very good word for both of these pieces. Congrats again.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. I hope I am getting better at this writing thing. Having "The Prediction" as a place to read and write is a lovely stroke of luck. Congratulations Matt. Your writing was emotional and moving. You painted a pained picture. I will be back in a bit to comment...the children need Nutella ASAP. So do I :-)

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  2. congratulations Marietta and Matt. Two very very fine pieces of writing indeed, echoing in the mind long after they are read.
    I agree with AJ, the talent around here is amazing. (I don't wear socks...)
    It's been a bad week, culminating with an email tonight to let me know a friend's cancer is officially terminal, although they give her no estimate - which means it could be sooner rather than later, or they would surely say, right? She's younger than me, it seems unfair somehow.

    So, The Dilemma continues its darkness, with me feeling sorrowful at losing another friend to that dread disease.

    The Dilemma, part 3
    The mole is no more.
    The bones are crushed and splintered, the skin cast aside, the blood, rich and thick, is in my veins. I need to push myself out of this mole hole. Time for the invisible to become visible, to emerge into the world.
    Do I have the gall to expose myself to the living? It would be fun to try and touch them, see them run… but first I have to get out.
    Logic says I am too large for a mole hole. He burrowed into my grave.
    I retrieved the skin. I might need a mask.

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    1. A zombie in a moleskin mask... that's a horrifying thought. Really looking forward to the eventual emergence. =)

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    2. thanks, John, this is getting good. I am thinking of two entries per week, another one is coming close even as I write this. It's something about the mask, but more than that, this thinking rationalising zombie has got to me.

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    3. "I retrieved the skin. I might need a mask" - how much this tolls in my mind.
      And certainly if the zombie demands you write, twice or thrice, then needs must. Go to.

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    4. I'm quiet enjoying our new friend's endeavours so far but how sad to see the mole have to take one for the team; Wind in the Willows this is not! Love the descriptives and intrigued as to what our friend is going to do with a mole's mask (hints of Leatherface here?). More please.

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    5. This series is compelling, a quiet horror and yet such a delightful sense of discovery.

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  3. Okay AW. Now there a pair of phrases running around the hamster wheel in my head: "The game's afoot" and "I might need a mask." Both suck the reader in like a riptide. Let's go!

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    1. definitely let's go, another episode is getting closer, thanks, AJ!

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  4. Congratulations Marietta, and Matt. Two different kinds of horror, but both touching fears deep inside all of us.

    Mine this week started off as fantasy, and as I pared it down I realised all the fantasy bits were extraneous, so it lost it's worg-riding gablins and fleeing soldiers and became... this...


    Wildwood

    The dawn mist hung low and tattered through Shawton Wood. The gnarled hawthorn trees were riddled with bulbous galls and their split bark oozed dark sap.

    To drunken Toby there were invisible enemies hiding behind every trunk. He jumped as a low branch touched his shoulder, then took a deep breath.

    The branch wrapped around his arm. He grabbed at it but more branches wound tight about him, pulling against each other, straining until his body could take no more and he came apart in a torrent of blood.

    The forest creaked like the fog-dampened screams of a dying man.

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    1. I have always found woods deeply scary, even without a drunken Toby to draw their attention, and given yesterday's weather, which led me to wonder if the world had just ended and nobody told me, 'fog-dampened screams' just makes it worse.

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    2. What a wonderful opening paragraph John. It set the scene so beautifully. This is old school horror, tales told by our forebears, "Don't go into the woods today, there's evil about!" Perfect from first word to last.

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    3. I'm the opposite of Sandra - dark woods are comforting places to leave the world behind. This, on the other hand, is wonderfully macabre. The last line is fabulously understated.

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  5. one of my forthcoming anthology ideas is Wildwood. And this is why, dreadful things happen in wildwoods, not the tame stuff of copses and tamed woodlands, but this, where the trees turn and the hapless are consumed. Loved it, John!

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  6. the episode pushed too hard. I am out to lunch today, wanted to post this before I left home.
    There could be more... if Phil doesn't mind. We are having so much fun writing this...

    Dilemma part 3
    I can’t dig with one hand. Don’t want to let go of the moleskin.
    I wish I knew how long I’ve been dead. I mean, how much of me is rotted, how much clings to my bones, how much strength I have, can I stand? Walk? Reach out and touch? I might need to hold on…
    The person who put me in the grave has the answers. He may think himself invisible, no, impenetrable, no… Forget it. Too much else to think about.
    I’ll wish him gallstones, that’ll do for now.
    My revenge will come later. Time to plan. Ha!

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    1. And please let us know what he plans ...

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    2. Ah intriguing, our undead friend has revenge on the brain and I dare say he may achieve it. Nice piece of story development here, teasing us as the reader with clues as to where the story may go to keep our already heightened interest up.

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    3. Heh, I like the 'beginners' curse. Gallstones upon thee! =D

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    4. I love that her brain stutters in an attempt to find the right word, then settles for a curse until her vocabulary recovers.

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  8. Congratulations to Marietta and Matt - raising the standards yet again. I think I have shot myself in the foot by killing off my Blacksmith's wife, because Pettinger so resolutely resists descending into noir ... hopefully things will eventually get better (or do I mean worse?) - and deletion was not so much typos but a substitution of a far better word.

    A change of focus [5]

    The SOCOs. Professional, efficient, dealing with death every day. Not everyday death.
    Seeking invisible traces, places he touched without knowing, tale of the carnage he wrought.
    Here little to go on, stabbed with a knife yet unfound, so fast that she could not retaliate, no scrapings or rakings of skin beneath nails. Only pattern of splatter to tell how she spun how she fell how she bled.
    Now the swabs...
    Oh god, the swabs will show semen and as far as he knows he’s the last to have been there: gall rises as swift as memory says he did then.

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    1. That's a very clever opening of 'dealing with death every day. Not everyday death.' How much you manage to tell us about the brutality of the crime within those eight words. This is an incredibly effective scene as you take us through the process of a crime scene in a way that grabs our attention and leave us with Pettinger's worries. Will he get caught? I hope not but I do want to see him squirm.

      And I think you managed to hit a bullseye rather than shoot yourself in the foot. Do continue as this feels like a strong piece of work already and we're only five scenes in.

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    2. Thanks Phil, in part my regret for the demise of the blacksmith's wife was because I had just finished reading Louise Welsh's 'Tamburlaine must die' which is couched in wonderfully evocative sixteenth century language. But I will persist, as far as I am able, with Pettinger.

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    3. really like this, so much captured in so few words.

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    4. That second paragraph has some great language, quite lyrical in places. I think it's a great set-up, Sandra, keep going! =)

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    5. I agree with John: that is wonderful poetic prose and gives the entire thing a surreal cast, which seems to reflect Pettinger's state of mind quite well. Even if it doesn't go far, it has already gone interesting places (but do let it go far if you are so inclined!).

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  9. Gosh I've been serious the last few weeks. Here's something lighter.

    Lullaby

    They think we are gone from the world but we are merely invisible to their dulled senses and addled wits. We still dance the old dances of the forests and the heaths, and new dances of the roads and rubble. We world changes, and so do we, without gall or rancor, and so as they touch our world in so many places then so, in secret, special ways we touch theirs, taking what we can, and leaving what we will.

    So, sleep my little one, in your new bed, as we take what was theirs, and leave what was ours.

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    1. That was lighter? On the surface maybe, initially, but its impact is as insidiously sticky as cobwebbed fingers, and the stain it leaves is dark and deep. Beautifully told.

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    2. OK, well, lighter than last weeks! ;-)

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    3. Light or dark, I can't tell. Depends on who is the storyteller. For the light I have the fairies, already purchasers of teeth 'taking what we can, and leaving what we will'. For the dark I have fearful shades come to suck souls and leave only death and heartache behind. Interesting piece Matt, very interesting.

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    4. lighter, but dark, much could be read into the words, Matt!

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    5. I like this, Matt, such a concise and clever modernisation of the old changeling tale. =)

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    6. As a mother, changeling stories are always a fist wrapped around my heart. On the other hand, I have always loved urban fantasy wherein worlds exist side by side, but not everyone can see both sides. This sounds like the opening of something larger.

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  10. "Witch" Finder General

    Thirteen arrests; executions. A poetic fiery justice, given their insistence upon the archaic honorific; his own personal touch.

    He bridled at the sheer gall of it; flaunting ersatz enchantments under their very noses, not once exposed by her clientele.

    It took days of data-sifting (collated from the screams of the condemned), information others dismissed as invisible; non-existent. Still, he had a few loyal followers; they approached the threshold of her lair.

    He brandished his Book of Dawkins: "Out, Foul Pretender! Confess your fakery to the True Science!"

    WHAAAMMMMMMMMMMMM!

    The two terrified Novices exchanged glances, retreated nonchalently from the smoking grease-spot.

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    1. I oved the 'Book of Dawkins; and the ' information others dismissed as invisible; non-existent' was dark, but the final line really caught me. Great stuff.

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    2. Great stuff Zoe and, whether intentional or not, you made me chuckle at the end with that image of our novices retreating nonchalently from the smoking grease spot (I have them whistling innocuously in my head as they do so). A really enjoyable tale with the right blend of darkness and knowing looks.

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    3. Fun. =) Nice mash up of styles and lexicon with a wicked vein of black humour running through it. =)

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    4. I do so love a good revenge tale. Fanatics should all meet such just ends. collated from the screams of the condemned was a stroke of genius, a slash of real darkness hidden in a humorous piece.

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  11. Thank you for the plug in Phil! Will return with a story, but for now - You've been nominated! For more details see this post http://wp.me/p218fu-8h ! ^^

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  12. A quiet week so far, hopefully we will see a deluge of offerings before the party closes tomorrow night at 9pm.

    In the meantime, below is my humble morsel for your delectation. Enjoy!

    Gall-ling

    The doctor had described it as a 'beast', the largest he had seen, its circumference almost touched the sides of the bell jar it rested in.

    Brian put it in pride of place on his mantelpiece, the yellowish spheroid mounted in its glass casing; a gallstone of distinction!

    It sat there from spring to autumn, a conversation piece for Brian's soirées. It wasn't until winter, the first fire of the season, that the cracks started to appear. Invisible at first, the lines zig-zagged out over days until, one Sunday evening, the shell fell away as a gnarled, green claw thrust triumphantly upwards.

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    1. Well, that's a bit of a conversation stopper, isn't it? Loved 'gallstone of distinction'.

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    2. oh my, a sister just getting over the removal of her gallbladder, another friend about to go to the consultant to talk about the removal of his gallbladder and then I go read this... scary!

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    3. That's great, Phil. Love the 'movie classic' claw thrusting upwards. =D

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    4. This is fantastic! I flinched at the display of the jar, such a disgusting "trophy." Now I wonder if Brian had any idea what he was carrying.

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  13. First of all I must stress this is truly a work of fiction!

    It's not me, it's hymn

    I’m not immortal, only feel like I’m invisible and, God knows, not at all wise, none of which would normally make a blind bit of difference, but that article in the paper, the one about divorces amongst the over-sixties being on the rise really made me think.
    It’s galling to have been married for forty-plus years and realise that we never talk, never touch, never communicate in any meaningful way whatsoever. What happened to the dreams we had, the expectation that the fun, the laughter and the love would last as long as we did?
    They died? Or did he?

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    1. I thought we were heading into a poignant 'death of a marriage' ending here which would have been good in and of itself. What we end with is a perfectly weighted question that leaves us asking some many more. Is the husband dead, did she kill him and, most importantly in my head, has she been sitting in the same room with a corpse for the past forty years!!! Very, very good.

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    2. mysteries and intrigues and, on top of that, insight into long marriages that do not always yield what they should. Brilliant!

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    3. Quite depressing, until the final line flips it all on its head. I like Phil's interpretation, I like to imagine her sitting there, cup of tea (fine bone china, of course), thinking he's ignoring her, or gone deaf... ;)

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    4. Lovely little moments of sadness and truth about the difficulty of keeping love alive. Then, like the tap of a spoon on the rim of a cup, you get our attention and change the parameters entirely. Very clever.

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  14. Highway to Hell

    I had the gall to believe I could trick Nate. Most spells are invisible, protection runes notwithstanding. He shouldn’t have noticed a change. It wasn’t a cure, after all, just a quick trick to slow the rate of infection.

    “What did you do to me, you son of a bitch?”

    Dodge. “Took control. Get over it.”

    “When you touched me, you got that smile I only see when you think you’re being clever.”

    “I’m fucking brilliant, what’s your point?” Honest, vain, distracting.

    “You’re up to something.”

    “It’s called science. Hence, our destination.” We had a lot of road to cover.

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    1. Thrice read, love it, especially "“I’m fucking brilliant, what’s your point?” Honest, vain, distracting."

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    2. RR, whatever happens with these two come the end, you must promise us all that you and Colleen will turn Nate and Seth into a novel. Your characterisation is superb and the interaction between them every week is always first class. As always, more, more, more!

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    3. I love the snappiness, the spare prose that doesn't lose a thing for its leanness. Great instalment.

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  16. Hah! Made it!

    Creeping Death.

    Seth's spell galled me to no end. The fact that I could do nothing really pissed me off. But I felt like six layers of crap on an already ugly wall. Even Seth's touch had hurt.

    “What the hell kind of magic did this?”

    He glanced at me and shrugged.

    “Dunno, closest I can taste of it is Voodoo, but even that's not quite right.”

    “Ok, Emeril. So if you can't taste it, how do we figure out what it is? It's invisible, even to you.”

    “For starters.... blood test.”

    “Stop the car. Right now.”

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    1. Great title, and a cliff hanger that leaves me yearning for more. I like the idea of different magics having different tastes, too. =)

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    2. I love the way you throw me curve balls. I've no idea what's going to happen next, and that is an extraordinary gift.

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    3. I love reading the two different perspectives on these two. Seth gives us the impression that he is in control but Nate presents such a different picture. These tales are one of the highlights of my week!

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    4. This series continues to spiral upward, getting better episode upon episode, and the last two lines just set it up for next time. Such great voices.

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  17. Ok, ok, the doors are shut, this party is officially closed. Grab your hooch and scooch right on out of here (well only for a little bit) whilst I tidy up and judge the carnage that you have left for me :-)

    However, feel free to comment, just no more entries this week. New words will spring forth very shortly for you to tame.

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