Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Prediction - the end of the world as we know it?

If you believe the stories being bandied around on the internet and in the tabloids, the world is due to end on Friday 21 December as foretold (or not) by the Mayans. So, will the impending apocalypse inspire you or send you screaming to the hills? Well, I guess we shall have to see.

In the meantime, you have a fortnight to get your entries in as I have a social engagement on Thursday next week so will be unable to judge. Therefore I will close The Prediction on Thursday 27 December so you have a bit more time to fit writing around last minute Christmas shopping (or world destroying meteor showers, whichever comes first).

If you want a chance to write over both weeks then don't forget to check out Hunted, our collaborative chain story. Sandra added another piece this week. Do go and check it out and write the next installment if you are so inclined.

Now on to the winner for this week. Tough, tough decision this week (isn't it always though) and I've thought long and hard about this one. My winner, after much deliberation is.....

.....Lily Childs with Cellular. Lily - back for one week and you rock in with this bleak, dark offering. This is a piece which challenges the reader, dares them to read it again, as the first time wrenches at your perceptions and sensibilities. Stunning imagery and, to paraphrase Sandra, no-one quite writes horror like you.

And a very close runner-up is John Xero with Vivisection and Insomnia. John - both pieces were so good in their own way and undoubtedly would have won in another week. Vivisection shows us the breaking point of a sentient universe which oozes with righteous indignation whilst Insomnia plunges us into the insane state of a sleep deprived lunatic. Both excellent and showing the versatility of your imagination.

I must give a mention to RR and Colleen though. Their tales of Nate and Seth are so good and the way they maintain the tension and develop the characters and plot each week is outstanding. I sincerely hope that this will be turned into a novel next year.

Congratulations to Lily and John plus my usual admiration for everyone's scribing. The quality of the writing is what brings me back to judge week after week after week.

If the world does end then I strongly suspect that my tome will manage to survive the zombie apocalypse with ease. Let's see what words he wants to divulge this week:
  • Crown
  • Orphan
  • Sterile
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 27 December to get your entries in. New words will spill forth and winners will be announced by 9am Friday 28 December. 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!
Normally I throw in a pithy comment linked to the week's words but, this week, I would like to wish all the Predictioneers a Merry Christmas. May you get to spend it with loved ones.

68 comments:

  1. Wonderful job Phil. I agree on all choices. Lily is a forceful talent and I am so pleased we are privy to her thoughts. Well some of her thoughts. :-) John Xero's writing and ideas are awesome.RR and Colleen should definitely get that novel going. Excellent work all.

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  2. Wowee - thank you so much Phil! I really appreciate it - I'm not writing nearly as often as I'd like at the moment due to day-job time constraints and it's made me start to lose confidence, so this has given me a huge boost. xx

    Well done John, RR and Colleen and every entrant; so sorry I was unable to comment on your wonderful dark words as I'd hoped to. I really must do better.

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  3. Congratulations to Lily and John, both incredible talents. You make me want to write better. Actually, all the Predictioneers make me a better writer, so thank you all. I appreciate the shout out for our serial. Colleen and I are having way too much fun writing it.

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  4. Congratulations John and Lily! Wonderful stories from both of you! I agree with RR. You all make me want to keep writing, and be better at it. I'm honored to be writing with RR. I have never considered myself a "writer" and that she thinks me talented enough to collaborate with me still amazes me! That we are being told our story is good enough to be a novel...well, there just aren't any words to describe how wonderful that feels. Thank you all so much!

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  5. Merry Christmas everyone.

    Sometimes the Old Ways are Best

    Every year the orphans of the city that are that strange age between childhood and adulthood come to the palace and stand before the king. They present themselves before him, with dance and song, and displays of martial prowess, for they know that any acknowledgement from the crown would be a passage to glory and riches of which the low-born and abandoned can normally only dream.

    For one day in each year the sterile and solemn halls ring to the laughter and hope of the young, and even in the darkest of times the city remembers that it can smile.

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    1. another sparkling Christmassy piece... not ... there is so much in this, Matt, love it.

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    2. This has an old-fashioned weight of wisdom to it, fabled and excellent.

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    3. I agree with Sandra, there is a wise and fabled feel to it, and an uplifting end I wasn't expecting. Great piece. =)

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    4. I agree with Sandra and John, this definitely has a fabled feel to it. There is a sadness to the piece, some darkness that lies over the city and I'm left wondering what it is. Will perhaps one of the youth break the curse? :)

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    5. A more mystical version of Britain's Got Talent but I suspect the drudgery that those who are unsuccessful return to may not be so pleasant.

      A nice tale Matt which brings a sense of hope to many in what feels a desolate world for the poor.

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  6. Give and Take

    I tried to keep my blood from hitting the circle, knew when it did, hated (loved) what came next. Aching from crown to heel, mouth filled with hot copper – such familiar comfort – I tugged on the thread connecting us and commanded Nate to sleep, the first offensive spell I’d learned.

    His eyes filled with murder before he slumped to the floor. For wounds inflicted, I did not catch him.

    I cleansed the circle, crying, same as I had the night I’d been orphaned. The lab wasn’t sterile when I left, Nate over my shoulder, but it would have to do.

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    1. It's still that "For wounds inflicted, I did not catch him" that hits me for six - so good.

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    2. Sandra picked out the best line, loved it. :) Lots of good imagery and emotion here.

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    3. Agree - that line about not catching him is great. Subtle piece of writing to capture the essence of their fractured relationship. Now I feel for Colleen as she has to follow that!

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  7. his eyes filled with murder ... what a stunning line! good one, Rebecca.

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  8. now the real bit, congratulations Lily and John! I just spent my teatime adding comments to all I had read but not gotten around to commenting on (New Year resolution, Must Do Better) whilst thinking how my zombie is going to accommodate the new words.
    He does not think the world is going to end on the 21st (nor does my Mayan guide, as it happens...) and hopes he is right as he has quite a few adventures ahead of him, one way and three others.
    Merry Christmas, everyone, enjoy whilst thinking of the darker theme behind everything we do in this magical light filled festival.
    For every action there is a re-action...
    Those Aussie DJs found that out...

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  9. first instalment - then I had a 'visitor' a spirit called by, one I had not met before, so I didn't get to write another instalment. Going out now for lunch and shopping, see what I can do later.


    Now tell me, what do I look like? And tell me, how long have I been underground and what is the ratio of decomposition to time spent buried… questions no one is around to answer.
    Now I tell you what the world looks like. Overbright. Everything wears a crown of light that hurts. Colours that shriek. Noises that bang on the ears. Wind that blows the dangling bits which have not fallen off me – yet.
    Tears. I realize I am orphaned. Who will want to know me?
    I smell. The earth is not sterile.
    I need a bath.

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    1. The tone of this chap - so well-maintained and individual - and well-keeping his wits about him.

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    2. I like this, "Overbright," and everything in its crowns of light... The dangling bits made me laugh too. =)

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    3. I loved your descriptions of the world through his eyes - the brightness and the way the colors have noise. He is also experiencing a vulnerability and sadness, which makes him feel very much alive.

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    4. I love the way you continually are able to weave a sprinkling of humour throughout these pieces Antonia week after week. And then this week you bring us to melancholy, evoking a sympathy from me which I would never have thought to have for a zombie.

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  10. These words are hard and part two of a tale begun last week:

    Departing Rhodes

    Mast crowned with France’s fleur-de-lis promised safer passage than the star and crescent Ottoman while he, full-grown, possessed of all his limbs, offered better than the orphaned dockside dross touting themselves as crew.

    Speed a consideration: if she should come accusing he wanted not to prove infidelity by citing his sterility; needed only to change his stated nationality from Turk to Portuguese until safe arrived in France.

    Anchor weighed, middle watch, an almost-silent footfall then a slender blade against his throat.
    ‘Tao? That price still on your head?’
    ‘No, he died, no money.’
    ‘No-one to continue?’
    ‘No-one.’ A necessary lie.

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    Replies
    1. Intriguing. =) You do know how to tie a good hook, Sandra. If that's not mixing my metaphors... ;)

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    2. Great dialogue at the end! I agree with John, I'm left wondering what's going to happen next. About time someone comes after him. :) It has a feel like a scene from a historical novel.

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    3. definitely part of a greater whole! more please.

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    4. Hmmmm, intrigued to see where this will go. Will our cad from last week survive? From the previous tale I hope he meets some justice along the way.

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  11. next instalment. comments tomorrow, life permitting!
    Damn, look at that! An essential bit of me is floating away downriver!
    Ah, such sadness, if it doesn’t find a companion, it is an orphaned appendage lost forever … worse than that, my crowning achievement is now denied me. I wanted to use it… I wouldn’t have impregnated anyone; ‘she’ accused me of being sterile and was no doubt right.
    It’s my fault for wanting that bath. The stream looked inviting and it was easier than breaking into a house and borrowing the bath. The bits of flesh I lost might clog up the drain.
    Oh well, move on…

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    1. Couldn't help but chuckle at the black humour here. Poor zombie! Losing more than just his looks... ;)

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    2. An 'orphaned appendage' capable of clogging a drain ... hmm ... for the first time in decades our drain blocked this lunch-time ... never thought of zombie bits.

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    3. I was wondering if he was going to end up in a bath! Poor zombie didn't fare to well from the submersion.

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    4. Crossing my legs as I read this one Antonia!

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  12. Congrats Lily & John! Well deserved win. :) Traveling out of the country the next few weeks so not sure if I'll have time to submit something, but looking forward to reading everyone's entries!

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  13. A change of focus [10]

    So, Orphan Annie – now aka Gunita – adds accusation of rape to that of murder?

    Gun sterile-wrapped for evidence, Goren’s mobile confiscated, Pettinger and her not-yet-apprehended brother arrived at the chambermaid’s too-upmarket house.
    Went silently upstairs to the bedroom, where her brother shouted foreign-worded warning, unaware that Pettinger understood, just as well as Goren comprehended English.
    Too late for her to climb off the man she straddled.
    Too late for him to hide his face.
    Too late for her to cover the tiny tattooed crown on her left buttock.
    None there aware Pettinger knew of its significance: he had one too.


    Omitted, earlier, to congratulate Lily and John - well done! - and add my exhortations to Phil's that RR and Colleen do produce a novel (but not too soon because I like the idea of a LOT more juicy episodes)
    And good wishes to all Predictioneers for a well-fed, well-read holiday.

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    1. Thanks John - your kind remarks especially appreciated because this one took a huge amount of sweating over (and I am concerned at the lack of horror).

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    2. Oh loved how you used repetition in the end with starting everything with "Too late...". So many little details/clues that I'm eager to have explained.

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    3. such precise writing conjuring such precise images!

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    4. Sandra - never worry about the lack of horror. I throw up the three genres as a guide but we have had a variety of tales in other styles/genres here; not sure I have the credentials to judge romance though if anyone throws one of those in! Sure I speak for everyone that we just want good stories to read and this definitely falls into that category. Keep them coming!

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  14. See what I mean about hooks? Add to those already existing in this serial - crown tattoo, two, at least; a face, not hidden in time; one house, too upmarket for a maid...

    I've said it before, and I'll no doubt say it again, but intrigue is something you do so well in these mini serials, Sandra. =)

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  15. King of the World


    William was King of the World.
    Undisputed, unrefuted,
    on his throne he curled.

    His was a world free from strife,
    undisturbed, no dissent heard,
    a kingdom free of life.

    William's crown was made of bone,
    scrimshawed. Grim lord,
    sat on a skeletal throne.

    He couldn't know his parents were to blame.
    A generation, venerated
    by the world they set to flame.

    They engineered a disease.
    Scarily viral, a downward spiral.
    The world doomed by a sneeze.

    Death to anyone mature,
    before puberty, mere sterility,
    and, of course, no cure.

    A world of orphans, grown,
    tired, expired,
    'til William remained, alone.

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    1. 'Scrimshawed' one of my favourite words, and 'Scarily viral, a downward spiral' is deceptively tripping.
      Part of me wonders if you have access to the crystal balls of royalty (unless that's a treasonable thought, in which case I didn't have it!) but I suspect not, knowing your vivid imagination is more than capable of rising above reality.

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    2. A chilling poem! Loved the third stanza (if that's the correct terminally) about William's bone crown and a grim lord sitting on a skeletal throne. Great transition from the light beginning towards the dire ending.

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    3. extremely chilling and enjoyable, this from someone who doesn't read much poetry.

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    4. Felt like a fantasy piece to start with John which you so deftly mixed with dystopian science fiction halfway through. What use is a king without subjects and here he waits for death having become overly familiar with our skull-faced assassin in the previous years. A chilling view of the future told with poetic panache.

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  16. Defile

    Blood splattered across the pristine white tiles as the guard’s khopesh arced through rose-scented air and bone. An invisible tether snapped. The orphan queen moved, perfumed feet suddenly atop her opaline throne, as the defiler crumpled to the sterile floor. Skirts bunching in tattooed fists, the orphan queen rolled wild, blackened eyes.

    “What have you done?” she demanded, spittle painting her pierced lip.

    The guard raised pious amber eyes, and wiped clean the bloodied blade. His sword hissed into the scabbard at his belt. “He saw your face, milady.”

    Her golden, hooked crown rattled upon her curls. “My beautiful floor!”

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    1. Oh, you've done it again! Another beautifully illustratd fairytale for our delectation and delight. (I saw Miranda Richardson in the role of orphan queen but maybe I am out of date)
      And I love her perfumed feet ...

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    2. Thank you. :) Yes! I think Miranda would be a good fit. :)

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    3. there's a considerably longer story here, go for it!

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    4. Love the feel of motion in the action, and the sense of the queen's nature built through details... her rolling wild, blackened eyes, the spittle, and of course, the fantastic punchline. =)

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    5. Beautiful descriptions as always and our queen reminds me of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland - a nasty piece of work if ever there was one and one you have rivalled here.

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  17. ...

    Boarded up by decree of the Crown
    In the orphanage a ronin lay down
    He thought the place sterile
    Knew naught of his peril
    Till the onryō cursed him to drown.

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    1. Very cool. Good work, Zoe. =)

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    2. And our first limerick here under my watch of The Prediction. Vengeful spirits come to deal death from the afterlife in a tale which has so much going on in it. Why was the orphanage shut down, was it because of our vengeful onryō, what was the ronin doing there and was he an innocent victim or not? Love it Zoe!

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    3. Lovely! Short and yet you've captured a very interesting story here. I'm also very curious why the ronin was at the orphanage. Was he perhaps once an inhabitant of this place?

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  18. Hey there all, glad to see that we managed to survive the apocalypse (or this one at any rate). Mind you, here's how it could have gone down:

    Life finds a way

    Everywhere was sterile. No birds, no bees, no grass, no trees, no life.

    Seven minutes, four hundred and twenty seconds, was all it took to cleanse the planet. No orphans wept, no parents cried. Seven billion to zero just like that.

    The solar winds, heat drenched gusts of destruction, scoured everything, tearing across the Earth with no warning; from Everest's crown to the depths of the Mariana Trench.

    Silence held for ten thousand years, unbroken for millennia, desolate earth blanketed with ash beneath a hostile sky. Death ruled here, life a distant memory, all except for one tiny green shoot.

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    1. The one green shoot, the hope at the bottom of the jar. A bleak vision, fortunately we're a good few millennia away from being swallowed by the sun! *phew*

      Might buy up on sunscreen just in case though... ;D

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    2. There's an element of 'if you gotta go ...' but bleak indeed, and beautifully decribed.

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    3. There's a dark beauty to this bleak future, and I love how you closed it with the small reminder of hope/life. Though perhaps we would not continue, life would go on as it always does.

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  19. like it ... could almost wish we could be wiped out and start over again, the mess we are making of it at the moment.

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  20. Pageant

    Each year at Yule they gather ‘round,
    orphan girls to try the crown.
    Hands extend to see which one
    will take the power, come undone,
    be remade, another thing,
    twisted body lengthening
    grown large and full, ripe until
    she’s fit to be the perfect tool,
    a mate unto the Master made
    whom every demon, angel, shade
    shall fall before, fear, obey.

    To the world the Chosen One
    gives the morning and the sun –
    but not the son, oh no, not He,
    for ever shall she sterile be,
    this the bargain and the price,
    the child-bride, our sacrifice
    for fragile peace.

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    1. What is it about these words that's driving us to poetry? =)

      This is great, RR. Works well as a poem, and in the story it tells, the visions it conjures up. =)

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    2. That final line sends us back to re-read, and re-experience, ever more, the matter-of-factness of the horror of it.

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    3. An excellent bit of poetry with a mystical tale laid out before us. Love the way that you entice me to go back and read this again and again to glean further bits of the mythos within. So much for the reader to feast on here.

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    4. I love the imagery your words conjure up about the child-bride and her transformation. What is it she becomes I wonder, and very interesting about the Master "whom every demon, angel, shade" obey. This Master rules over both the dark and the light.

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  21. superb poem with intense and fascinating imagery. Something to think about.

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  22. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I lost track of the days with the yuletide festivities and thought today was Thursday not yesterday! Too much egg nog methinks.

    Doors are shut now, definitely shut. Judging to be done and new words to be presented. Oh do forgive this slightly addled judge this once.

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