Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Prediction - getting the chills

It's starting to get a bit cold outside, I'm having to scrape frost off the car of a morning and there are definitely a few more layers going on before I step out. And yet the weather doesn't chill me half as much as the tales which you lay at my door every week.

Speaking of tales, a while back I started up a collaborative chain story on here called Hunted. With the site design it rapidly fell down the pages until a brainwave hit me! I have now put a permanent link to the story on the right hand menu. Take a look and add to the story as you see fit. Marietta has added another twist to the tale just this week. Really want to see where you all take us with it.

Now on to this week's judging. As always the entires were of the finest quality yet one still managed to shine out to me above the rest.

My winner this week is Zaiuregrey with Stolen Youth. Zaiure - this was a masterclass in description. Some excellent turns of phrase which painted such a vivid picture for the reader. Coupled with that was the menace and imagination of the tale. My favourite line was "Iron fingers pinched his ruined jaw, then drew back to rouge her milk-white cheeks." I would encourage everyone to read this piece and also to visit Zaiure's blog for more of her writing; very talented.
My runner-up this week is Dex with Magpie Blood.  Dex - where Zaiure shows us the art of description, you show us how to present fully formed characters using dialogue and a couple of reactions. I was able to jump straight into their world, a world of magic and death it feels like to me, and instantly wanted to read more after that final sentence. Great writing and I hope we get to see the final product of your NaNoWriMo endeavours in bookshops some day.

Finally, an honourable mention to Zoe Farr who presented us with a delightful, humourous tale with the wonderful creation of the Elebatbirdthing in The Sunday Comet: Letters to the Editor.

So congratulations to Zaiure, Dex and Zoe plus warm applause, on these frosty days, to the rest of you talented lot. I do hope you will play again this week.

Now, on to this week's words. A mince pie in hand, think meat not fruity, I approach my tome in the hope that he will offer me up something interesting to play with. And it is not long before he utters:
  • Seam (will allow seamstress) 
  • Etiquette 
  • Weary
Hmmm, wonder what you will do with those this week.
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 13 December to get your entries in. New words will spill forth and winners will be announced by 9am Friday 14 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!

Hopefully you'll have everything sewn up in double quick time this week!

137 comments:

  1. Thanks, and congrats to the other winners. Nicely done. Clearly, I'm going to have to let those 100 words grow into something more...

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    1. Those who encouraged me to continue this story ("magpie blood") might be interested to know I'm developing it into a series. You can read the second part here.

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    2. Had a little sneak peek at what you've done with the story and like it a lot Dex. Hope that it expands into something bigger.

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  2. Wow, thanks so much! Writing for the Prediction is so much fun! :) I think I'm going to have to write a longer story out of mine as well.

    Congrats to Dex and Zoe!

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  3. Congratulations to zaiuregrey for a well-deserved win. Kudos as well to Dex and Zoe Farr. Fabulous tales, all.

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  4. Malignant

    Universities are plagued with lax security, side doors left unlatched by weary graduate students heading for beer, bed, or both. The lab was ours.

    Nate stumbled as though drunk.

    Blood in a needle from my own kit.
    Blood on a cold glass slide.
    Black seams like stained glass.
    Revelation.

    “It’s a virulent strain of Pump.”

    No reply.

    I looked up. Nate stood, fists and jaw clenched.

    There was no etiquette to guide me. I plunged ahead, blind. “There’s a way to track the practitioner, using your blood, but I need your permission. And your help. Please.” Before it’s too late.

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    1. I've merely the first line in my head for this weeks words and already am trumped by this smooth use of them - well done Rebecca, and also to Zaiure (for once I'd guessed right who would be the winner)and Dez and Zoe.
      And thanks Phil, for the encouragement to us all.

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    2. Talk about painting poor Nate into a corner! I now have to make him consider not only trusting in magic, but participating in it as well! You are a wicked woman. I adore you. Such a grand challenge!

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    3. I love the fragmented sentences in this piece. It makes me think of a progression of flashing snapshots like you might see in a film, leading up to a revelation's unveiling.

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    4. I agree with Zaiure, the fragments - the blood, the blood, and the black - are a very effective way of pushing those moments forward, it works really well.

      The set-up, and the tension between the two characters is paying dividends, still going strong, getting stronger. =)

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    5. Rebecca you've chilled my own blood. "Blood on a cold glass slide. Black seams like stained glass." are beautiful lines packed with threat and wonder.

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    6. You are advancing the story with such energy. Great job; building excitement and character. Well done.

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    7. Like Lily, I thought that 'Black seams like stained glass' was a standout line, so elegantly put. I really don't know which way this will go. Either Nate is going to attack Seth or he will acquiesce but I'm not sure which is the scarier. Good work at leaving this so finely balanced.

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  5. congratulations to Zaure and Dez, brilliant writing, great one,Zoe, loved the humour in that.
    And thanks to all of you for the good reads every week! I will endeavour to keep the zombie moving. At the moment I have no idea where he's going. Isn't it fun...

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  6. Wow! Didn't expect that... (I hope everyone enjoyed my little Cthulhu Mythos homage...)

    This week's attempt is probably a bit darker... just popped into my head as well (which is from a skewed point of view...)

    Red Hill

    This was our playground, once.

    We scampered over pristine ivory towers,
    burrowed the seams to make our homes;
    food was plentiful, and we left devastation in our wake.

    Then the Rot set in.

    One by one, the towers fell;
    some crumbled into ruin,
    others disappeared along with their tenants.

    Food became scarce.
    Etiquette demanded the strongest indulged first,
    but they were swept away by Scourge and Flood as we huddled in crevices.

    Finally, the last edifice was plucked;
    bone weary, we emerged and regarded the gaping hole filled with putrid fluid.

    This was our playground; now it is our tomb.

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    1. This creates its own ghastly soundtrack - really atmospheric, Zoe.

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    2. I love how this reads poetically and your repetition with the first line at the end. It's one of my favorite ways to conclude a poem. Also some lovely word pairings like "burrowed the seams".

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    3. An incredible landscape you've conjured here Zoe, and an epic in terms of character and near-apocalypse - in so few words. I love the poetic delivery too.

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    4. An oral history of the Endtimes...? Fantastic final line really pulls it all together.

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    5. Ermm, a different kind of "oral"... ;)

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    6. Lovely and yet desolate; so well done. There are stories before and after this one. Wonderful.

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    7. I really like the way you have laid this out before us on the page Zoe. You could so easily have had it placed in three solid paragraphs but this gives us a different rhythm to the piece. I love the way you take us from hope and happiness then descend into despair and destruction (almost a commentary on the economic collapse - oh forgive my pretentious nature!). As others have said, that final line is so powerful.

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    8. Ha ha! My 'oral' was a pun unintended then; I tried to work out if it was referring to somewhere in particular, but didn't spot it. I like it even more now. Reminds me of when one of my own ivory towers was plucked... ouch...

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    9. I love the rhythm and flow of this. It could be anything, but finding out (after I'd read and reread, thankfully) where it's set makes it that much better.

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    10. Ah, ok, now I understand where this was set *doh*

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    11. Hmmm...there isn't much that I can say here that hasn't already been said. I loved the visuals this inspired. Took me a while to figure out the setting as well. It flows beautifully.

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  7. wonderful imagery, Zoe, really liked this and that stunning last line too!

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  8. here goes, 2 entries, this story is pushing me.

    Crawling, crawling, see me go. Time to get hustling out of here before my bones get weary and decide I have to stop. It’s hard work, the damned earth is worse than a coal seam to get through, having only a bone to dig with.
    The thought that the world awaits me is enough to keep me going.
    Pause for – breath? Do I then breathe? How strange! How very odd, how nonsensical… I think it is my imagination, I think myself alive when I know well I am dead.
    What etiquette is there for a clapped out zombie, I wonder…


    And then I ask, am I indeed a clapped out zombie and if I am, what is one of them?
    I would suggest, skullface, you stop bitching and wondering and get digging. Now!
    I will, I will… could I stitch my flesh back together? Seams down my face and body? Frankenstein and all?
    And while I think nonsensical thoughts, the better to dig without being weary, I ask, what etiquette is there for meeting living beings when you are half rotted and half bone…
    Hey look, I see daylight! Hallelujah! How long have I been underground?
    Too long, it seems…

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    1. For a bizarre moment,the answer to "what etiquette is there for meeting living beings" was, without doubt, "a dating agency"
      You seem to be trapping me into your world here, and the pull is getting stronger with each episode.

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    2. thank you! considering the power of your serials, that is some compliment! I am absorbed with this zombie, his thinking, his inane chatter to keep himself going, his half formed ideas as to what he is like - intriguing me.
      The overall story which this will become is

      The Unwritten Diary of a Zombie
      (Not everyone who comes alive again has mush for a brain…)
      and I hope justifies my Horror Writers Association membership!!!!!

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    3. My favorite part would have to be when the zombie starts arguing with himself, very humorous. Funny how "mindless" tasks are often when we think the most, letting our minds wander to all sorts of places. :) Can't wait to see what he does aboveground!

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    4. Antonia, such a wicked character. I love how he blithely struggles to make sense of his 'situation', almost as though his body is separate from his brain. I'd really like to read more of this.

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    5. Very much enjoying ol' skullface's rambling autolalia. And his slightly optimistic belief that he may have a chance at some kind of conversation with living beings, who will either scream and flee, or, possibly, try to 'destroy the head or sever the spinal column.' ;)

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    6. CONGRATULATIONS on HWAmembership...well deserved as this story shows us. He is a charismatic character. I can't wait to read more. When he is finally out I am sure adventures will begin.

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    7. This is nicely played Antionia. Whilst we have frustration in the first piece tinged with enquiry, we then step change to humour followed by such an ominous closing line. Just how much has the world changed in the time old skullface has been below ground? I fear an apocalypse myself.

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    8. This is such a compelling tale. I have found myself thinking about it whilst walking. A thinking zombie is ever so interesting.

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    9. Hee hee! Each new installment has me giggling with slightly maniacal glee. I love this! I cannot wait to see what happens if/when he encounters that first person, above ground!

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  9. I have a feeling I'm going to regret this one ...

    Change of focus [8]

    The conflicting etiquettes required to deal with death or those deceived, the bereaved and those cuckolded, not to mention those who are about to shoot one, caused Pettinger to feel exceeding weary, plus the barrel of the gun had trapped the button on the label sewn into the side seam of his shirt against his ribs, causing him to wonder whether a button could stop a bullet at point blank?
    Concentrate!
    ‘Er... Mr Cherriman, I’d advise you not to shoot me here, the blokes downstairs’ll have you inside two minutes.’
    Laughter.
    Laughter?
    ‘I’m not stupid. And my name isn’t Cherriman.’

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    1. Antonia, I'm hoping this'll teach me a thing or two - NaNo2011's novel was meant to be a sort of detective novel, but its cast of thousands (I exaggerate, but only a little) meant it was an unwieldy mess which I am still straightening out.
      You've no doubt spotted that Pettinger just stepped sideways rather than escaped, unfortnately, the problem remains.

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    2. Oooh, another twist! interesting reversal of emotion from the non-Cherriman, seemingly grief-stricken to now confident with laughter? Do tell more! :)

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    3. If not Cherriman, then who? More twisty turns. Wish I could 'turn the page' quicker on this. =)

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    4. I too love your twists. So clever and well played. You got me again. This is a great story.

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    5. Oh my! I love the quick turns this story takes. Who is the man with the gun? Where is the real Cherriman? What's the connection! This is the best sort of mystery. I can't wait for the next installment!

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    6. And yet another twist to keep us gripped with the tale of Pettinger and the trap that he has made for himself. So who is the non-Cherriman? Tell me, tell me now!!!

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  10. I have been listening to a radio serial on CD in the car. Every time we got to the cliff hanger end of an episode, George (spirit companion) would go: 'Ooo-er, what happens next?' and I say the same thing here, Pettinger is in a bit of a predicament here and has just put a foot (if not two) right in it...

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  11. Backfire

    Steam hissed from the ruptured seam, scalding his fingers, as Jaran pulled free the mangled corset.

    “Highly…improper,” Samelie said halfheartedly. Her usual ardor for etiquette and high-neck modesty had wilted somewhat, along with her hair, the venerated curls dusted black with ash and bits of organic matter best not to think about.

    “So this is why you’ve refused to sleep with me,” Jaran said. An interested brow arched as he stared at her mangled breast and the gears whirling beneath.

    Samelie slumped wearily against the blast-pocked wall and pursed her lips. ”Next time, don’t shoot the guy with the grenade.”

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    1. Well, only you could trump last week's visually strong and entertaining costumed piece! I read and re-read the first and second paragraphs of this three times just for the pleasure of them before moving on to the superb ending.

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    2. Thanks, Sandra. :) It was fun to write.

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    3. It moves gracefully and with excitement. The characters are interesting. You have excellent storytelling skills. Can't wait for another.

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    4. Aah! Missed this somehow. Really like the natural feeling steampunk, the characters have dimensions, and it ends on a great punchline. Love it, Zaiure. =)

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    5. You have a real gift for description, quite the talent in 100 words. I immediately want to know what happens, both before and after.

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    6. A nice bit of steampunk to grace our humble pages. As always there are some great bits of description and your imagination is working overtime yet again. Nice play between the characters too. You have a definite talent Zaiure.

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    7. Oh! Fun, fun, fun! I could almost hear the gears clicking and whirring! I heard weary resignation in her "Highly...improper." It was grand!

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  12. Hi everyone! Long time no post. I'll carry on commenting this evening, but in the meantime - here's mine (simply couldn't let this week's words lie).

    CELLULAR

    The hell of it. Child after child after child; I’m so fucking weary. Blessingham can’t find much more of my flesh to rent apart nor failing foetuses to force through these pores, through these holes.

    I have seams in my tender epidermis, polka dot piercings made with the doctor’s sizzling needles from sewing me up. You’d expect her to have more compassion. She has a thousand children of her own, spawned in perpetual filth.

    We’re throbbing buboid baby machines.

    There’s no etiquette. No rules until...

    Now.

    I’m all used up.

    Empty.

    Evacuated. Voided of life.

    Secreted to death.

    Disposable.


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    1. No-one does this particular brand of visceral nastiness like you do Lily, what exhaustion in the opening lines.

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    2. Such a bleak, horrifying experience; I feel chilled. Each line has it's own potency, bringing images to mind with just a few words. Masterful. :)

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    3. Ah, that is... masterfully unpleasant. I normally re-read the entries a few times in the process of commenting, but my mind recoils at the idea. I start, but am repelled as I recall the words to come. I mean this in the most complimentary way, of course.

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    4. What brutal and lovely images. The story was atmospheric and delicious to read, over and over. No one does Lily like Lily does...Thanks for sharing this, it made me feel hollow.Good job.

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    5. This is brilliantly uncomfortable to read, but I have done so several times. For all the creepy imagery, it's a subtle horror, taking up room in my head and not leaving.

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    6. No one quite does 'dark' as well as you Lily. As others have said, a disturbing read which makes you look ever closer even as you tell yourself not to peek. Such a stark ending, no revenge, no escape, just utter despair and acceptance of fate. By the way, love the phrase throbbing buboid baby machines.

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    7. Ew! And Wow! Such visceral reactions I have reading, and rereading this! It's horribly, amazingly, good stuff! I love it when a story makes me queasy and stays in my head long after I've stopped reading. Thank you, Lily!

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    8. Thank you so much for your comments everyone - coming from such talented writers it means a great deal. xx

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    9. so dark! so very very dark and visual, lingering long after the words are read.
      How do you do that??????????????

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  13. What a task it is to follow on from the extremely talented Lily Childs but that is just the way the dice roll here. My humble offering to you all is below. Just make sure you wipe your feet and hang up your coat properly before entering...

    Ignore them at your peril

    Delicate layers of dust coated the half eaten food sprawled across the table. Greeny-grey fungus clung to the viscous surface of the sauce boats as creamy wax slouched langourously from the candelabras.

    The host sagged wearily in his chair, absent-mindedly swirling the aged Oloroso del Puerto he held, glowering at his guests.

    All he had asked was for some manners, a soupcon of etiquette, simple respect for the rules of his house. He looked at them, seated so quietly and still, as they had been for days, their hands tethered, their lips stitched, thin seams of despair across their faces.


    I may extend this at a later date as it was crying out to me to turn this into a proper short as I wrote it!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Wow, truly a feast for my imagination! It begins like a glance into a past long dead, so I was rather shocked to stumble upon Oloroso and his captive guests. Brilliant wordplay. My favorite lines are "...as creamy wax slouched languorously" and "...thin seams of despair across their faces".

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    3. Oh, Zaiure nabbed one of my favourite lines, the languorously slouching wax. =) Starts out softly, (dare I say, 'languorously?' ;) ) but shifts rapidly up through gears in that last paragraph. Marvellous. =)

      Could the host become another of the Prediction's regular serial killers?

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    4. I mean the host in the story, not the Prediction's host. Obviously. Wouldn't want to suggest there were other serial killers lurking amongst the authors, either. Um...

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    5. OK so, red-faced, I didn't properly read the rules and have removed my first comment to save my further embarrassment. Nevertheless, I reiterate, this sounds like the place to dine for Zaiure's Jaran and Samelie, so sensual in its description. A piece to feast upon indeed.

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    6. Oh I do like this arrogant fellow. Need to know more. Might he be supernatural? Or simply cruel and bored? What other tricks might be up his sleeves. Great story.

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    7. Now this is truly disturbing, most especially because his guests appear to be yet living. The whole thing makes my skin crawl. Proof that proper manners can be very important, indeed.

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    8. dangerously addictive, this, wanting to know more. Please.

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  14. Vivisection

    Time is coming unstuck. The stars are like jellyfish, bobbing gently; you could reach out and touch them, but the sting would be killer.

    Mankind has been picking at the seams of the universe for too long. Pushing physics to breaking point, picking, picking, picking, free energy, limitless resources, got to be in there somewhere, pick, pick, pick.

    WHERE ARE YOUR GOLDEN EGGS?

    I grow weary of this ridiculous charade. Fuck etiquette. This is my body, my innards, my soul you have your grubby hands in, and I say: Get out.

    Get out. Get out. Get out.

    Vermin.

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    1. Such a strong sentence: "I grow weary of this ridiculous charade. Fuck etiquette. This is my body, my innards, my soul you have your grubby hands in, and I say: Get out." and at the risk of repeating myself ad bloody nauseum, your imagination is second to none.

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    2. Nature is waiting...to strike back. I love this. Very visual and emotional. Thank you for sharing. Please follow this up or expand this. The voice is very feminine in a way.

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    3. Wow. A sentient universe, tired of our mucking about. I like the building anger, capped with the heavy disdain in the last line. Simply fantastic.

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    4. I love how you compared the stars to jellyfish. Not something I would naturally think of so the imagery is incredibly vivid in my mind. I see the universe as a vast, pulsing, angry organism who's had enough and is about to make something change. Makes me wonder what's going to happen to the minuscule humans caught inside. :)

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    5. John, normally I would eulogise about your writing and just how good it is but I have one word for you today. Powerful!

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    6. very powerful writing and imagery here.

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  15. I think the season must be getting to me... Another cheery one. (Did I mention I work in retail... ;) )


    Insomnia

    Calvin's grin was like a shard of broken plate: cracked and jagged. The back of his curved knife was unevenly saw-toothed, and in the light of the moon the stained, wicked blade was a mirror of his crooked grin.

    "Haven't slept for two years. Two years. Haven't slept."

    It could have been the truth. He looked weary, mind and body coming apart at the seams. His breathing was quick and uneven.

    "Sleep."

    He couldn't remember the etiquette, so he just started cutting.

    "Give it to me. Need sleep." He grew increasingly frantic, frenzied. He cut deeper. "Where is it? Where?"

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    1. Work in retail eh? That explains a LOT, and this is insanely vicious.

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    2. Oh, this is classic horror, and sleep deprivation is my true weakness. The lack of rest can drive perfectly normal people to do terrible things. My three-day headache based on this very thing is now worrying me. Well done.

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    3. Oh this gave me nasty chills. Like RR said, lack of sleep really can drive people to terrible things. Is sleep all that stands between us an insanity? Chilling thought. :) Very well done with the dialogue, the terse fragments created his sense of urgency. And love the descriptions as always - "... grin was like a shard of broken plate: cracked and jagged".

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    4. By use of your words I could picture how mad sleepiness can make you. I can relate and still wonder what drove this fella over the edge. What or who is cutting? Eww and what is he going to pull out? Another excellent story dear. Kudos.

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    5. I have a strong suspicion about what he is cutting into and that makes the tale ever the more chilling. You build the sense of insanity here so well John and the incidental descriptions just add to the piece. Very good indeed.

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    6. Ahhhh, a tale after my own head. As a confirmed, sometimes serious and long-term insomniac, I know how this poor bloke feels. This story will sit in my head tonight, when I wake up for the fifth time, unable to return to slumber, and sit in the dark...

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    7. another piece of exciting visual writing, John

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  16. Bleh. I always run out of time for everything. Jeesh. I feel like this is edited poorly. Sorry. Here is my attempt. Forgive the laziness. I will be back to comment later. Off to help mom.

    Dinner with Alice


    Etiquette served no purpose, particularly when the guest in question was already bursting at the seams; fat man in the eye of a needle. Alice giggled, her hand over her mouth, though truly she turned weary. "Come on, finish your dinner," now she sounded like a perturbed older sister. "When you are done you get to join her," the man sobbed through his teeth and pulled at the wire around his wrists. "I tried a bite earlier," pushing his plate forward, "quite tasty." Alice stared into his hopeless eyes and cocked her head. "Your wife was really rather tender."

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    1. 'fat man in the eye of a needle' - what a multitude of images that conjures up.

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    2. What a nasty piece of business, start to finish. The giggle is what really got me. This one will give me nightmares.

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    3. Insane, cannibalistic Alice is really giving me the creeps, well done! I can't imagine the torture of being offered up a loved one. Horrifying. I agree with Sandra, "fat man in the eye of a needle" really is a great line.

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    4. Another dining room scene to disturb us, this week. She's the type who likes to play with her food, then? ;)

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    5. A disturbing story throughout but I think the piece that freaked me out the most was the line "When you are done you get to join her" - Alice is the epitome of a psychopath and this defintely isn't Wonderland.

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    6. the sort of story you can wander in and find all sorts of creepy images emerging!

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  17. Meanwhile, in Rhodes

    Pleading pregnancy, with a child he could not possibly have fathered she’d again refused him, which justified his stripping from the seam of her discarded shift the coins she had secreted there, leaving her, garlic-greased, asleep and unsuspecting, and heading for the docks to find a vessel to ship him home.
    He was weary of misunderstanding foreign etiquette, had weeks ago decided to return, certain by now his misdeeds would be forgot as thoroughly as his guilt.
    Indeed, he was now a better man, else the child of that promiscuous bitch would have gone the way his brother’s woman’s had.

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    1. What a chillingly calm villain. I am relieved for the pregnant woman - however destitute he may have left her - that he's decided to move on. Not so much for whomever awaits when he returns home.

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    2. Oh my, I was almost feeling sorry for the man at the beginning until I read about his "misdeeds". The final line makes me think he did something truly horrible. I like the word "garlic-greased" for some reason, as it makes me think of a warm, friendly woman who loves to cook... either that or she has odd bedroom habits. :)

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    3. Whew...a close one. This fella is chilly bad. What poor sod will he visit. Although the why is so scary as well.

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    4. Complex and interesting, Sandra. There's a see-sawing back and forth of support for him or her as you read from line to line.

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    5. I think the polite word is cad. A nasty example of humanity which you present to us so well here Sandra. With no more nookie on the table he slouches off to his homeland where I hope his past deeds catch up with him.

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    6. Yes, definitely a cad, a truly nasty one too! lovely writing.

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  18. Hardened


    I remember little after Seth stuck me. Razor sharp flashes of half formed thoughts searing behind eyes that wouldn’t close. Etiquette demanding that I not beat him bloody, I clenched my fists and tried to think. My mind was already weary with struggling to maintain.

    I felt as if someone had poured adrenaline straight into all my major organs; every part of me was hard…eager. Restraint unraveling seam by seam…

    “your blood…permission. And your help. Please.”

    Seth stepped back as I growled. I shook my head hard. Tried again and managed to spit out one word, hoping he’d understand.

    “GO.”

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    1. The way you and Rebecca bat this tale between you, each episode more powerful than the last, is awe-inspiring. Such a well-wrought insight into Nate's addled confusion, told by 'I felt as if someone had poured adrenaline straight into all my major organs; every part of me was hard…eager. Restraint unraveling seam by seam…'
      Marvellous.

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    2. Okay. Need another installment now. Don't leave us like this what happens next?

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    3. It's been said before, but it's great seeing this from both sides, layering up the story, building both characters, and stretching the tension till it hums. =)

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    4. I definitely feel the struggle he is going through to maintain control, from the way he can't close his eyes or really control his mind and body. Great visual images in this piece. My favorite part is the line Sandra mentioned - "I felt as if someone had poured adrenaline straight into all my major organs..."

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    5. So, you've returned the favor by painting me into the corner. I cannot tell you how much this delights me. There is something so desperate about Nate's need to keep control over himself that I could feel myself tensing up as I read this.

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    6. Really good counter to Rebecca's opener this week. I agree with Zaiure about being able to feel that struggle in Nate's head and that is because of the skill of your writing. And the power of that final word as Nate tries to control himself and save his brother. Great stuff.

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  19. Another Day at the Office

    He arrives as his desk the same time every day, already weary from the commute. He greats his co-workers with the same tired etiquette, takes his coffee in the same mug and sits at his screen to compile the morning reports. It’s a decent job, secure and well paid, compiling reports on productivity and efficiency, output against resource, and return on investment. He leaves on time every day content with the soft glow of a job well done.

    Underneath his office window the trains rattle past towards the seam, bringing fresh slaves in, and ore and corpses out.

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    1. That final line so cleverly telling us that he has every reason NOT to be content but is either too brainwashed, apathetic or heartless to care.

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    2. I could tell there was a sting coming in the final paragraph, but very quickly turned around and built up into something bigger than I expected. Great job. =)

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    3. One of Matt's favorite themes: the banality of evil :D

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    4. Excellent surprise with the last line; there are definitely people on the "evil" side who to them, are just doing a day's work. The beginning is so relatable, which makes the end so much more shocking. :)

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    5. I couldn't help but wonder where the horror was (save for the slow death of bureaucracy), but I was still not prepared for the last paragraph. So simple while saying so very much.

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    6. Interesting piece Matt. At first I thought that you'd had a hard day at the office and this was a bit of stress release for as a bit of commentary on society. And then you go and throw that final line in there to give the whole piece a different complexion. Clever stuff and well delivered.

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  20. Conception

    She was pure centerfold, a buxom, green-eyed Frankenstein. Not one for proper etiquette, Jude laid a hand on the heated flesh of her shoulder and slid his fingers the length of her arm, marveling as supple skin transitioned to silken steel.

    “Admiring your work?” his Frankenstein said. Velvety rosebud lips parted; he hadn’t gotten around to her teeth yet.

    “One look at you, darling, and they’ll be dying to have me at the convention.” He pried at one of her unfastened seams, poked absently at the seep of heated oil.

    She sighed, human, weary. “Is the self-destruct button absolutely necessary?”

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    1. The perfection of this 'Conception' has me speechless - the opening line, that throwaway 'he hadn’t gotten around to her teeth yet' and then the final line. Wow.

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    2. I am constantly amazed by your ability to bring to life entire worlds and imbue characters with distinct traits in such short spans. Please tell me there is a steampunk novel in the works, so I can read more of your words at once.

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    3. And what a conception you have presented to us here. Horror fused with steam punk with a dash of humour running throughout. Lovely touches throughout and that cheeky culmination. I echo RR's sentiment re: a steampunk novel, if you aren't writing one at the moment then go away and do so. I expect to see you in print within the next couple of years!

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    4. Thank you! Glad you guys are enjoying it. :) I actually have just started working on a steampunk story since I've had such good reception. Hoping I can stick with it and do something novel length. :)

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    5. it reads so elegantly, it almost disguises the horror underneath.

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  21. Well, heck. I guess we couldn't leave it alone, Seth and I. Have another.

    Desperate Measures

    I didn’t know if I should leave or start the ritual. Nate was quickly turning into something… not-Nate. No time to waiver.

    Circle scrawled in hasty charcoal, only the meeting of the seams precise. Sigils followed with words from my mother’s book, voice weary, spell accurate. No time to falter.

    Reaching for the needle, I looked too long on my brother, saw the animal in him rise. No time to avoid the punch.

    Brain rattled, I returned the favor, aim true. His blood free flowing, I shoved him into the circle, magic etiquette be damned. No time left at all.

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    1. Glorious. And thank you for the extra episode. Dare we hope that Nate will come back, yet again, this week?

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    2. Holy crap! It's all kicking off here. Punch ups, possession (possibly) and now into a magic circle and that never ends well! Lovely sense of urgency throughout this.

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  22. Unhinged

    I remember Seth punching me hard and shoving me into the circle. Blood poured from nose and mouth onto the sigils. I felt something rise in me, beast-like, spitting and growling.

    Then something else came. It burst through the fragile seams of mind and body, with one purpose:to go home.

    “Follow it. Find it. Hunt it!

    I did beat him then, hard and long. …so good to give up my weary attempts at holding onto etiquette and civility when what I wanted was an orgy of blood and bone and pain.

    His and mine, together.

    Like always.

    Like brothers.

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    1. Oh yay, and thrice yay! And gut-punchingly effective. Thank you Colleen. This is marvellous indeed.

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    2. Sandra, you are more than welcome! I love writing Nate, and your encouragement and enthusiasm for our story continually inspires me. Thank you so much!

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    3. 'All I wanted was an orgy of blood and bone and pain' - what a great line which captures so evocatively the frustration and agression running through Nate. Seeing you and Rebecca at work is like watching too champion boxers sparring together but without pulling any punches.

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    4. yes indeed, a magical horror line, that.

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  23. There's no doubt Prediction equates to addiction

    Change of focus [9]

    Not Cherriman?
    No need, therefore, for kid-glove etiquette.
    Raising falsely-panicked eyes to the lens above the door Pettinger felt a reciprocal shift in concentration, allowing him to grasp the hand which held the gun, apply pressure to strained tendon-seams and hence loosen fingers. Forearm fending, left hand u-bending windpipe, he kicked the now-floored gun away.
    ‘Then who?’
    Gurgled non-verbal.
    Pettinger transferred his grip.
    Hoarse, ‘I am Gunita’s brother.’
    ‘Gunita?’
    Weary scorn, ‘She works in the hotel.’
    The bloody chambermaid.
    ‘You did not even ask her name?’
    ‘Never needed to.’ Not quite true.
    ‘No need to name the girl you rape?’

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    1. And that's how you get yourself out of a fix. Hadn't expected Pettinger to come out slugging, metaphorically anyway, and it was great to see him get the upper hand. But what a punch to the gut that last line was. Did Pettinger rape Gunita or is there another twist to come? I strongly suspect so and I relish the thought of reading the next installment.

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    2. Wow. That was a heck of a twist. I can't help but wonder if it's a red herring or if Pettinger had his women mixed up - in which case was he drunk or drugged? There are a thousand (million) ways this could go, and I will eagerly follow any of them.

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  24. Just Sandra's latest entry to comment on and then I shall be off to judge. So, once again folks, I bring this party to a close for another week. Drink your drinks, pick up your coats and get ready to move on home. But don't despair as we're going to kick the next one off in about an hour!

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