Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Prediction - opportunity knocks

Gosh, it's getting closer with every day now. In two weeks time I shall be switching off the lights for The Prediction at Phlambler's World before passing the baton to Colleen Foley over at http://predictionfiction.blogspot.co.uk/ from 1 February. If you've not visited or favourited her site yet then do so (but not until you've seen who the winners are this week). Before we do that though, a couple of opportunities to plug.

Kobo are holding a competition to win free enrolment to a Curtis Brown online novel course. The Jeffrey Archer Short Story competition requires entry of a 100 word piece (hmmm, sound like something you guys can manage). More details here and thanks to Chris Allinotte for flagging it to me. Do take note of the eligibility criteria as it is restricted to certain countries.

Secondly, check out the post below this one for details of how to submit to Siren's Call Publishing for their female horror writer's month in their monthly publication. A possible substitute for February Femme Fatale maybe if Lily doesn't run it this year? Men can enter pieces in April. 

So, this week's winner and runner-up. Who will it be from the delicious entries this week?

My winner is.....well, I'm trying to decide between three pieces and I just can't make up my mind so have made up a larger winner's platform instead.

In first place is Helen Howell with A Misunderstanding. Helen - I really loved the malice and threat seeping through this piece. At first we thought our protagonist the victim but I suspect he will be the one sitting pretty at the end of it. One of those pieces that deserves to be expanded upon.

In first place is Matt Farr with There is always a reason that we do what we do. Matt - a cold, calculating piece with the feel of a ticking clock. At first it felt like a narrative on the human condition and then it became something much more sinister. Very good sir.

And in first place is John Xero with Rise. John - this just grabbed my imagination with it's steel plated crabs crawling across the rooftops. A wonderful piece of sci-fi that had me picturing far of planets ravaged by war waiting for a saviour to come. Excellent stuff.

So, my congratulations to this week's winners and my gratitude to everyone else for sharing your wonderful tales with us for another week.

Now, onto this week's words. My tome has stopped his gorging, for which I am grateful as he was eyeing me up funnily earlier in the week, and seems to have some light covering of gossamer. Hmmm, I wonder... But enough pondering, let us see what words he will share us this week. And we have....
  • History
  • Oak
  • Eccentric
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 24 January to get your entries in. New words will spill forth for the final time at Phlambler's World and winners will be announced by 9am Friday 25 January. 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!

I am looking forward to reading your works. Let's make history together!

169 comments:

  1. Thank you very much - it's the first time I've won prediction and I am honoured to share the spot with two other excellent pieces done by wonderful writers.

    Congratulations John and Matt ¸.✶*¨`*.¸.• ☆‿↗

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  2. congratulations, Helen, Matt and John!
    Now to go catch up with my feedback. Snowbound today, a chance to get on with work.

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  3. Congratulations to Helen, Matt, and John. All well-deserved wins!

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  4. Recall

    I could recount the history of every dive bar and seedy motel Nate and I have visited. Eidetic memory: another curse, if less eccentric than most that plague me, but in this case a blessing. I didn’t know what Nate’s violator was, but I knew the ritual to stop her – mostly. My mother died before completing the incantation. I’d have to wing the ending.

    Just as soon as I removed Nate’s hands, oak-strong and insistent, from my throat. By sheer will, I transferred the first sigil onto his skin. He howled to wake the dead, and the gruesome bitch complied.

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    1. Every new bit you write gives me more excuses for Nate to continue acting like a complete ass, even if he can't quite help himself. I love it! You've presented me with another challenge, gorgeously intricate. This will definitely require multiple posts this week! Thank you!

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    2. Powerful and vivid! Love your word usage in the second paragraph - "oak-strong and insistent" and great final line, it's a story in itself. :)

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    3. Very nicely composed piece this, pulling lots of background in whilst keeping the current situation pulsating. I know we say this so often on these pages but that last line was a doozy.

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    4. Layering in the history opened the story up even more. I have a better picture and I have a vested interest because I know them well. Great job.

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    5. It's difficult to judge pacing when the story is chopped up into little bits, but I think the downbeat into retrospection before rising back into the action works really well here, great job. =)

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    6. That last sentence is brilliant! I rush to read more in the other entries.

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  5. 'eidetic' - another new word, thank you. This is such a tight-writ piece that it's power is doubled, as is concern for the outcome.
    And inspirational, to try and match for quality.

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    1. clever, very clever use of the words this week, Rebecca! really good instalment.

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  6. the calm before
    The history of the hallowed ground of Vaalserberg went back for centuries. Dozens of nations and tribes recognized its mystical powers, this little mountain whose devotees were a more eclectic congregation than any other such spot on earth could boast. The Christians had worshiped here, as had the druids before them and the víkingr before them. Even the eccentric disciples of Baal were said to have sent an envoy to offer blood sacrifices under the oak trees.

    Kenna watched one of those oaks now, its boughs swaying in the breeze.

    Arawn Darksword lifted his eyes and drew breath to speak.

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    1. Whoo, so much story here, Dex, you have to write it in full!

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    2. Hugely atmospheric and what implication in the final sentence.

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    3. This is so richly visual! I'm honestly filled with a quiet, yet fearful anticipation of Arawn's speech. Please, please, do some more with this!

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    4. You set up the beginning of this story very nicely! So much history, I'm very curious what will happen once Arawn's ritual begins. Something mystical perhaps? Definitely write more!

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    5. Good to see you this week Dex. Hope the novel is coming on well.

      I sense you are testing the waters of a larger piece here Dex. Excellent piece of worldbuilding here as we explore the mythology/history of the place. I love you and hate you for posting this as I find myself desperate for the next few chapters at the very least following that introduction!

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    6. I see this epic perfectly. You build the atmosphere so well. I am prepared for an even greater story.

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    7. I do so hope this is the opening of a larger piece. The imagery is rich and the story already layered. I'd gladly read more.

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    8. The calm before... Will we get the storm itself? Very deep feel to this, can't help but be drawn in and intrigued by the final line.

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    9. Aye, I echo the above - this needs be written in full! It's just so much in it.

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  7. Three firsts indeed - congratulations to Helen, Matt and John. And the first of what might well be three post from me, since Pettinger is more talkative this week:

    A change of focus [15]

    The hand that clutched the biro was white-knuckled, scoring repeated circles, eccentric and deep-driven, on the sheet of A4 paper, damaging the oak beneath.

    ‘Pettinger, your recent history is one of utter fuck-up. Hopgood’s death, and her parents’, are still unsolved, Jake Cherriman has disappeared again, and now you say you’ve let go a man who would’ve shot you!’

    ‘Also, ma’am, I’ve been accused of rape, and,’ nodding towards the now-ringing phone, ‘that’ll likely be another, of harassment.’
    He’d not mention the tapes Goren had believed were blank, even though they didn’t show what he had feared they might.

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    1. holding my breath for the next instalment!

      The zombie is stirring, he way well give me this thoughts shortly.

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    2. Poor Pettinger! I can't wait to find out what happens next! By the way, what is a "biro"? I'm not familiar with the term and I fear I'm missing something important for the not knowing! *grin*

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    3. Colleen - 'biro' is a pen, presumably originally a brand name (like hoover) plastic, ink-filled, roller-ball, cheap as chips and responsible for the death of fountain pens, at least among all under-fifties.

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    4. Thank you! I feel enlightened now!

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    5. Pettinger seems to be showing a calm front! Great job showing emotion through action in this piece. Love the first line.

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    6. Love the casual way he throws in the other charges against him of which his superior is unaware. Good change of tempo to give us a nice bridge to build onto the next part of the tale.

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    7. A funny fella...offering up his other mistakes. What a great, charismatic character. You smack with mystery at the end. Well done.

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    8. Oh, this is so rich. I love his sardonic additions to his list of professional sins. I could feel the frustration of his superior even before his admissions.

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    9. Like Phil, I liked his brazen 'also, ma'am'. The 'unsolveds' are certainly stacking up, and plenty of things falling in the way of getting them solved.

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    10. Great voice to this. I am looking forward to Pettinger's "adventures" in society and such.

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  8. Congratulations to Helen, Matt, and John! These were wonderful stories. Good job, all!

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  9. Not titled this one yet. All previous instalments have their titles. The overall one is "The Unwritten Diary of a Zombie" so each one has a heading rather than a date. He doesn't know what the date is anyway... should have a fascinating story when he finally gets to the end, whatever that is. I have no idea right now!

    A night leaning against an oak has done wonders for my vitality. Not. No one bothered me; perhaps they think ‘what’s another eccentric in the park’, that is, if people think. I do. It continues to puzzle me. I do not fit the accepted definitions of a zombie. But then, history is never entirely accurate, is it? I like being the odd one out, the zombie anomaly. There are worse things to be – a politician, for example, or a banker.
    Skullface, let’s get moving. All this chat won’t get him - and her - dead and gone, will it?

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    1. Antonia, each episode is more vivid than the last - 'zombie anomaly' so poetic, and he sounds perfectly civilised, until that final sentence. Fascinating, as you rightly say.

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    2. What a joy to read each new installment! This is such a fresh take on zombie culture! I would LOVE to see it become a book. Skullface brings intelligence and emotion to zombies, which makes the whole notion even more horrific. Such fun!

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    3. thank you! Colleen, I have decided to try and make it a book, so have begun elaborating the early instalments. Sometimes I have to savagely cut back what I have written to fit the 100 words, so it is easy to extend it. I also think Skullface night be a better title. Working on that one. What I do know, having started work on the first 100 words, is he doesn't know his name.
      Let's twist the zombie culture around. Time someone did something different with the living dead!!

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    4. I definitely love the character you've created here and great job sticking with him for so long. :) Best of luck with the book! He's turning into quite the philosopher. Not sure if I missed an installment but I really am curious who "she" is!

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    5. thank you!
      he is so intriguing it is a pleasure to write each instalment, I want to write another tonight (after my tarot readings are done, that is) and will see where he is going.

      I have no idea who 'she' is.
      I am writing this with a spirit (horror) writer who is having such a fun with it you would not believe! I don't think he knows who 'she' is either, but we know the zombie needs to get revenge on her and him, whoever they are. I have a massive 'happening' coming up very soon. Not sure when, again, it depends on the horror writer. I asked him what adventures the zombie was going to have next and he said 'no idea, ask me in the morning.' So I did, got my answer and drove to work falling about laughing - this is a regular occurrence and I have to hope it is not illegal...

      For a change, this is a true collaboration, I am not just taking dictation as I usually am. We are both flying with this, depending on the words the tome sets up. And we are loving it.

      The revisions are showing up even more humour than is already there, along with that sense of insanity and menace that peeks through from time to time. It is quite something, this. Few things have dominated my thoughts quite so much as this story.

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    6. And now Skullface gets satirical, laying into the scorned professions of our times (and many other times too). Nice piece of casual menace as he cajoles himself into action to take up arms (maybe a spare one of his) against 'she'.

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    7. This is what we have been missing in zombie lore over the past several years. A zombie with intent; actually wanting to use his grotesque zombie "powers". I love it. It would seem that he could smack you across the face in a show of arrogant ire and then eat your face. EXCELLENT.What a great character. Go Go Go Go write more please.

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    8. The sarcastic humor adds so much to this tale. Zombie anomaly indeed! I am glad you are expanding it. It is so very entertaining.

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    9. Remains funny and interesting to read, Antonia. What drove Skullface back from the grave...? =)

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    10. Revenge.
      He was doing fine until the mole woke him, he says, don't believe a word of that. It's revenge and that alone which woke him, the mole was incidental to his awakening.

      The serial-turned-book is funnier than these instalments, there is room for us to expand. Example, the tweed jacket section is now called
      Full Tweed Jacket
      and he says 'excuse me, it seemed a fun thing to say.' (if I remember rightly...)

      I have 3 other writers reading the book as it goes, the first 4000 words are out there and so far, accolades. Rich (the author) will be pleased, he's doing a fine job with this story.

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    11. Definitely a cheerfully grim tale! I am really loving Skullface and his inner voice. Keep the installments coming!

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  10. Missed last week but here's my effort.

    God's Work.

    He was the town’s eccentric. Throughout the history of my life there, he’d always looked the same. Like an old oak tree, his shape and the deep lines on his face never changed.

    Now, 34 years on, I’ve returned to my home town. There he is, taking the same walk in the same clothes. He must be well over 130 years old.

    Approaching him, my cane holding me steady, I ask, “What’s your secret?”

    He looks at me with pained eyes. ”There’s no secret, son. This is God’s work. I couldn’t watch my wife in pain any longer.”

    ~End

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    1. My heart aches for that man. Your first paragraph set a perfect tone for the rest.

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    2. ... and the final lines evoke an aching sadness.

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    3. there is such sadness in this, and such beauty at the same time, the image is so clear. wonderful writing, David.

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    4. Thank you, ladies. I always worry that I've not explained myself in a story enough as I do have to do that when some folk read some of my stories. I also forget that fellow writers do read between the lines.

      This is actually a very condensed version of a longer story I have on the go. The week's words were perfect for it.

      Thanks again.

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    5. Beautiful, sad piece. You are definitely skilled with creating intriguing characters and stories with only a few, well-chosen words. Love the 2nd sentence.

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    6. Ack, damn you Dave, it's just a bit of dust in my eye ok. Anyone got a tissue?

      What an incredible piece, so much going on in 100 words and a sadness wonderfully captured in the last 25. What a penance to pay to save his wife's suffering. A cruel, cruel God.

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    7. Pass me the tissues Phil. Damn you Dave. This is so lovely. Shhh. I think men are more romantic than women. In a manly, hairy, stinky sort of way of course. There is such emotion to this story.This story makes me want to know about the life of the old man and the woman he loved. I hope that this is the longer story you speak of? Tell us more NOW!!!!

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    8. WOW!! Thanks, guys. Your words are totally encouraging and very much appreciated.

      Yes, it's a story I've been playing with for a while and based (very loosely) on an old guy I remember from my childhood back in Manchester.

      Watch this space.

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    9. Not only is this beautifully wrought and heartbreaking, but the things hinted at underneath beg for a deeper look. Add my voice to the chorus of "more please!"

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    10. A cruel God indeed, and a story worth thinking about. Gut punch of a final line.

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    11. Sadness and sorrow flowing through this. God's a mocker.

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  11. Buried

    The mirror shattered beneath her pitch-dark gaze, shards of nacreous glass reflecting cerise lips and oaken flesh. “Seven years,” Cedrelis said. “Seven years deep cover, useless.” History, it seemed, would forever repeat itself.

    Birch was weeping pitch, her gnarled fingers tearing the fragile emerald leaves that’d once crowned her bent head. “Dead,” she whimpered. Her umber eyes oozed black.

    “No, Birch,” Cedrelis said. “Reborn. There is no death for the Wildwood.” She hid the lie with a gentle hand on the girl’s shoulder. Let her compassion seem eccentric, Birch would never know she’d sent him to die.

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    1. whoo, now that is the basis for some heavy fantasy writing indeed! Love the images you have conjured here!

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    2. 'shards of nacreous glass' - what an image that presents!

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    3. What an intresting world you have created in so few words. WOW.I am intrigued by the species. I want to know more about the one Cedrelis has sent to die. Lovely use of words to; poetic.

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    4. Caution: Intense fantasy writing going on here. Such delicious phrases to feast on throughout - my favourite being "Her umber eyes oozed black". Lots to take in here and I fear for the Wildwood. Gorgeous.

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    5. I love every single well-chosen word of this. It instantly drew me into a strange and troubled world. Just amazingly crafted.

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    6. Did I get carried away with my Googling or does this have anything to do with longhorn beetles?

      Either way, layered, rich and terrible. Fantastic writing, Zaiure.

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    7. This has an elvish feel to it. More, more!

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  12. Relentless

    She’d played my symptoms with a will hard as oak. Rage and pain held at bay, eagerness and need rampant beyond measure. She’d ripped the history of my memories of every woman I’d ever been with from my head, glamouring herself into an amalgam of all of them.

    I’d been close, painfully so, when Seth blew her across the room with some spell. Seeing her reality, eccentric and horrible, I rolled to my side, vomiting and finding release simultaneously.

    I had enough good grace to feel disgust and shame seconds before her control vanished, and I went for Seth’s throat.

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    1. This is everything I hoped but hadn't yet imagined, and that final sentence twisting and warping and leaving me gagging for more (Oh god - what does that sound like!!)
      Well done, Colleen.

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    2. Wow, Colleen! What a potent, horrible (but wonderful) scene. Great word choice. You definitely know how to write the perfect final line. :)

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    3. Goodness. I need to gather myself. Sweating like a sinner in church. Excellent action scene that also moves the story forward. Not easily done. Boy these guys cannot get along. I am fascinated by the larger epic but I want to know about these two brothers as well.

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    4. You've captured Nate's arousal, shame and disgust so well here, using all those feelings to fuel a misguided attack on Seth. Such good writing.

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    5. "She's played my symptoms..." is a great phrase, as well as verbifying glamour. It all feels so dirty, physical, and real.

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    6. "Seeing her reality, eccentric and horrible..." oh I can only imagine how horrid her reality is.

      This is a piece of mixed emotions. Well done.

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  13. Thank you, ladies. Sandra, your comments literally give me the guts to take new risks with the more graphic aspects of my writing, every week! I cannot thank you enough.

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    1. Colleen - I am currently trying to bring Tao's activities up to your standard!

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  14. Emancipation

    Wrists grasped firmly, I pushed Nate against the cavern wall, leaving my back exposed. I’d die before letting him be taken again. He scratched at me – all the better for my plans. Blood mingled, I chanted, fast and low:

    Golden oak to ward and hold
    Raven waken mind and soul
    Stones for history shared in faith
    Cross recall all promises made
    Swords to sever bindings new
    Woven five between us two


    Eccentric symbols passed from me to him, overlaid, inlaid, setting him free.

    The creature’s scream severed our connection, as I had hers. Fury unbound, I turned to face her.

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    1. Epic ... poetic
      'Blood mingled, I chanted, fast and low:' just one of many so-perfectly evocative lines. Well done Rebecca - you've surpassed yourself.

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    2. Way to go Seth. Take that you bi@&h. Ha. Okay. Roll girl. Where is the next one? When the inspiration is hot you better fry an egg!!!

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    3. What a perfectly pitched spell in the middle of all the carnage. Expertly done and now it feels like we are heading to the final showdown with yon woman (or whatever she/it is) and I bet it's going to be epic!

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    4. Beautiful spell, it flowed perfectly. I also really like the imagery of the the sentence involving the symbols - "...symbols passed from me to him, overlaid, inlaid..."

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    5. Sandra said it exactly, "Epic... poetic." Excellent. Powerful.

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    6. This enchanting spell I will remember and it will haunt me. Excellent indeed.

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  15. Bare necessity

    She’d asked for it.

    Twenty minutes down the road he’d halted in a grove of Spanish oak to remove the eccentric clothes of aristocracy and return to quasi-humble sailor.

    In pursuit, and though she’d never seen his face she recognised his naked back as she rode past, she offered – needed – him to repeat the night’s amours.

    Which, nothing loth, he took her up on, despite his time and tide constraints. Afterwards she took it as granted they’d continue forth together, threatened to inform when he refused.

    Given his history, it was a mistake; his justification was she’d asked for it.

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    1. there is so much back story here it's untrue and the images are magic! and that last line says it all.

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    2. Sandra! Talk about great last lines! I'm still loving the tone of this character. He's just so business-like about it all as he does these awful things.

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    3. Damn. He is quite the rogue. To be fair...she did ask for it. Love this character. Keep writing dahling, keep writing.

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    4. I love how you changed the tone to something sinister with clever wordplay in the last line. Definitely a rogue!

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    5. He's rotten tip to toe, so why do I want to keep reading about his terrible exploits? I think perhaps it's because even his indifference to assault and murder has a tinge of joy to it.

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    6. A lot packed into the tiny space, ultimately leading to the same old sorry excuse...

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    7. And the more I read this tale the more I dislike the men within it. I sincerely hope he gets what's coming to him!

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  16. Defiance

    I came to naked, screaming, and pinned against a wall with Seth’s hands on my wrists like oaken shackles. My left forearm burned as though it were being etched with acid.

    She screamed too, a rising howl of pain, frustration, and fury.

    Pain and screaming stopped as Seth released me and faced her. I pulled my jeans on, snarling as recent history revealed itself. Still barefoot, I strode past my brother, ignoring his eccentric gesturing and chant.

    Reaching her, still on her knees, I let what she had unleashed, and lost control of, take over.

    I started to beat her.

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    1. Hell's bloody bells Colleen, this is racking up the tension with a vengeance ...
      As Antonia says, now what??

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    2. I am blushing and mad. Can't say that has happened recently. Oh wait...yes it has. You two should keep on jumping and taking risks. This is clearly an exciting serial. Jump Jump Jump

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    3. I agree with Marietta! You two have a brilliant partnership. Favorite word combo = oaken shackles. :)

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    4. Magic in its place, but sometimes it's fists that do the job... So long as he can come back to himself.

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    5. This is such a raw piece of writing, capturing the anger boiling up within Nate. The 'etched in acid' captures so well the transfer of sigils described earlier by RR.

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  17. more zombie
    Ha! Where have I been all this time? It is autumn, I am covered in oak leaves! Now, does that give me an idea of how long I have been buried and communing with the earth? About six months, I guess.
    Hey, walk straight, Skullface, don’t want to draw attention to yourself by an eccentric walk. As if that matters right now the way you look, but still… History is full of ‘accidents’ like that, people who were stopped before they could do what they wanted to do. And we know well what you want to do, don’t we?

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    1. Uh-oh ... more scary stuff in the offing.

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    2. I still can't help giggling when he has to remind himself of things like "walk straight, Skullface." He's SUCH a great character.

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    3. Tell us more Antonia. He is wicked excellent (as they say way up north). I cannot wait to read the reaction to his visit with "she".

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    4. Oooh, really intrigued by the final line! Who is this "we" that he is referring to when talking about himself in the third person? :)

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    5. I cannot wait to find out who is the target of his revenge. This is such a delightful series.

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    6. 'we' is because this guy is pretty well divided, talking to himself as if he is really two . people. In a lot of ways he is.
      I know the last line, the author gave it to me. I know who the target is and when. But, before then we have about 60,000 words of story to get through ... including the biggie given to me in the car the other morning, causing hysterics (in me, he stays calm for a few minutes and then gives this huge booming laugh...not sure which of us is having the most fun with this storyline!)

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    7. I can hear him descending into his quiet sinister Gollum voice at the end there...

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    8. Hmmm, wonder if you're hinting about accidents stopping people doing what they wanted to do and a connection to our dear friend prior to his non-living embodiment. Guess we shall just have to wait and see.

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  18. My penultimate offering as host. Wonder how it will feel to be the one being 'judged' come February. Do be gentle with me Colleen ;-)

    Curiosity killed the tomcat

    Curiosity is a powerful master, creeping inside your skull and whispering incessantly until you crack.

    Thomas snuck in. Everything was deserted save for old man Williams, shackled to the bed as he had been for five years now. Eccentric, sure, but dangerous? How could an eighty-three year old schizophrenic be dangerous, even with a history of violence? Hell, his left leg was oaken, crafted from the hanging tree rumour said.

    “Do the dead really talk to you?” asked Thomas

    “Son,” said Williams, ignoring the question. “Could you? Can’t scratch my nose, see, with these bracelets.” He chuckled.

    Thomas leant over...

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    1. Poor Thomas. No worries here, Phil. I love this. I think "crafted from the hanging tree rumor said" is my favorite phrase here. It just adds so much character to Williams.

      And really, the one thing I'm most nervous about is judging. I don't know how you pick winners every week. Everyone here is so talented that I'm quite afraid I'll have trouble choosing!

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    2. Building, building and then whomp. Oh damn that doubting Thomas. Okay so this crazy guy sounds really interesting.More please. You tempted us with the hanging tree item. What is that. Come on. Write more.

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    3. As Marietta says, building the scene then hitting us over the head, maybe with an oaken, hanging tree leg. Great tale, Phil.

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    4. yes, much to enjoy, thanks for this one, Phil!

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    5. I love your chosen title for this piece! Reading the first line after the title made me think of curiosity as a cat slinking around the inside of a skull. Loved the immediate mental image!

      I agree with Sandra, fave line would have to be the oaken leg. Such a small detail but it drags in so many interesting questions.

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    6. There is such a chilling exuberance about this piece. I suspect old man Williams thought whatever landed him in shackles was a rollicking good time. Really great foreshadowing with the leg, too.

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    7. Oh dearie, dearie me... Poor Thomas. Great work building it up and then leaving us the fun bit of what comes next! Thank you. ;D

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    8. Oh no! Why do I invision everything so vividly... Very chilling piece Phil. I do like the dark roots it brings on, a past of dreadful events. Gripping.

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  19. Digging Deep

    Delving is like diving into the swampy history of a person’s life. She wasn’t an individual, but part of a collective, a large branch on an ancient oak focused solely on eradicating humanity. She’d been pruned to believe I was at the center, but pushing past the tangle of her purpose, I found the true roots. Someday, I would have to sever them.

    She snapped her focus away from Nate to cast me out.

    His breathing was eccentric, hands bloody, anger bubbling over like a cauldron of hate. I fed him energy to continue, having no more need of her.

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    Replies
    1. The challenging, collaborative nature of Nate and Seth's story is part of its appeal, I think, but the ever-higher standards each of you set, in turn, is literally breath-taking. Final sentence leaving me all agog and a-quiver. Again.

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    2. I loved the imagery conjured by the comparison of the woman to a tree. So many good "nature" words - swampy, branch on an ancient oak, pruned, and roots.

      And the final line is definitely a potent one!

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    3. such precise use of 100 words - really captivating, this instalment.

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    4. Really great, hard-working metaphor of a first paragraph. Building the story and then feeding it into the action, into Nate's violence.

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    5. Really like the reveal about the back history to our she-creature. So much more that you can play with here and, whilst I know you two were talking about bringing this to a close, maybe a sniff of a sequel in Seth's promise to sever the roots someday.

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  20. Bare-faced necessity

    Lisbon tavern, beetled oak awash with straw and vomit, midden-layered history and today’s news.

    Tao learnt the ship he’d disembarked from had not yet sailed. Should milord hear of his sister’s fate life could get short: he’d shaved his beard, walnut-dyed his skin (smelt eccentric but convinced) and changed his clothes, again.

    A man Tao had arranged to meet, claiming to have letters bound for England slipped into the shadows, hard-tacked as he, tobacco-breathed a long-discarded name.
    ‘There’s a warrant out against your life.’
    ‘Not me.’
    Cold steel against his ribs suggested Tao’s word was not believed.

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    Replies
    1. First line reads like a reporter's notebook, setting the scene. :) I loved your use of joined words in this piece - midden-layered, walnut-dyed, hard-tacked and tobacco-breathed. Conjures great imagery and I enjoyed the style repetition.

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    2. Wow, this just gets better and better! He careens from crime to capture, escape to crime. I have no doubt he'll find his way out of this, but I've no idea how. Talk about keeping me on the hook!

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    3. Like Zaiure, I like the way you set the scene in this installment - some great descriptions going on. Maybe this is the point that Tao gets his comeuppance but, like RR, I suspect that he will escape yet again.

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    4. The first line does a good concise job of scene-setting, then we get Tao's disguise and all finished off with a nice whack of story and a great final line. =)

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  21. HEADLINE, THIS IS NOT PART OF THE PREDICTION!
    but ... I am busy expanding the Zombie diary into a full length book, it's at close on 4000 words now. His overnight 'sleep' produced morbid and interesting thoughts on the pros and cons of being dead, for a start.

    The fact is, I have been driven half out of my mind today by a perfectly obnoxious little man who thinks he is God's gift to the IT world and my business and everything. We have clashed many times in the past, I had hoped he had vanished but he has resurfaced and is trying to get back in. Like 'we need to transfer the broadband to the provider he is with, no consultation. I said no, forget it and he would argue... I could go on but decided I would kill him off instead to make me feel better. I can cope now, I think, so let me know whether this works... no key words in it, just me writing out my angst with the help of Rich, my co writer.

    “Hey!”
    Who the hell’s that? Looks like a gnome, little bald man with glasses and round body. Only needs a pointy hat and fishing rod and hey presto, a living gnome for your garden pond. Madam would love him. If I could make him rigid and lifeless, of course. Let me work on that…
    “Hey!”
    Now that is one irritating person. He has that tone in his voice that says “I am important and you will take notice of me.”
    No, I won’t. But I will be polite. And stop. And wait. And think food…
    “You, what are you doing in that jacket?”
    I can’t speak. Damn.
    “My friend lost that a few days ago, now, give it back!”
    My stomach is shrieking loud enough for him to hear, for sure it is.
    “I said…”
    You cannot speak without a face. He has no face.
    I feel better now.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds good ... took a couple of readings in the middle to work out who says what, but the end is well-deserved retribution.

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    2. Glad you could use your writing to work your frustrations out Antonia. If only others in life would resort to the pen rather than the sword and the world might be a better place.

      Hope all is good with you now.

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  22. Savage

    Soft fox pelt beneath my fingers, against her throat. Pale lips stretched in that divine smile, flecked red, painted with motes of heart-blood. Never mind the wet gush across my chest, my useless legs. My history is ever hers, was always hers.

    She laps at my throat, split tongue across my savaged brow, across my ear where the oak has receded. Her breath summons euphoria to lope across my cheeks. There is bliss in this forging coldness.

    “Sweet, guileless Neal. Had to do something eccentric, unexpected.” Her ruby eyes enthrall mine. “Forced my hand.”

    I smell regret. It burns.

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    Replies
    1. Such wonderful and smoothly top-class use of words in this - the opening five, instantly alerting to the rest - 'motes', 'gush', 'euphoria' and 'guileless'. And the rest.
      And the final lines - a total tale in 100 words.

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    2. At first I thought that she was the victim but I should know by now that your tales are never so transparent Zaiure. A heady tale full of anguish and, dare I say, lust. What has she done to this poor fool to make him giddy like this?

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    3. Very tangible language that is fun to roll around the tongue, so much said with the italics too. =)

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  23. And another one ...

    A change of focus [16]

    Pettinger’s boss, today’s eccentricity a thigh-length skirt patterned with oak and ash leaves: auditioning for Maid Marian instead of sheriff; he Little John, uncertain deputy, from the expression in her eyes as she put down the phone.

    ‘Harassment, yes, high-level – how come you’ve sparked a diplomatic incident? Become embroiled in the politics of some country no-one’s ever heard of? Insulted members of it’s – allegedly – ‘royal’ family, thereby allowing them to insist on your immediate arrest?’

    Shit – they’d realised he had Goren’s tapes and thereby history and explanation for what had happened.

    Pettinger veiled his eyes. ‘Ma’am, I can explain.’

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    Replies
    1. ha! can he? and get away with it????

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    2. Oh, I do want to see how Pettinger explains his way out of this one, I really do! This guy should get a job as a gardener, the amount of holes he manages to dig for himself.

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    3. Heh... this should be good... ;D

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  24. Tradition Dictates Discretion

    They say that only the poor are insane, and the rich only eccentric.

    Certainly he has the wealth to buy ignorance and silence from those with the flexibility required to turn away, and the wealth to destroy and drive off those who find themselves unable to ignore the history of the lost and disappeared. So many profit, both directly and indirectly, from the grand estate, that many times so little attention is required to keep the waters smooth.

    In the middle of the estate the Great Oak rises ever higher, its roots deeper, bathed in the blood of the damned.

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    Replies
    1. oh my, this is so good! are we going to hear any more about this Great Oak? It holds a lot of back story.

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    2. There is always an implacability to your writing, a seriousness of intent and this sounds like the beginning of a Victorian family saga.

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    3. How often a blind eye is turned when there is a profit to be made. A dark tale to greet us with this week and I strongly suspect that Great Oak will add a few more branches over the years due to the complicitness of the locals.

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    4. That is wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Once again, a seemingly ordinary tale, focussed on corruption, twisted at the end into something greater, stranger and darker than anything I imagined was coming.

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  25. (Rise)


    "What is love, papa?"

    "An eccentricity of a bygone age, Olivia." He pulled her back from the window. "History was allowed such luxuries. We are not."

    "But why?"

    "We cannot afford it. And the Steam Barons forbid it."

    "You said the Barons outlaw the things they are afraid of, but-"

    "But pretend it is for our own good. Well remembered. Love, loyalty, passion... make men do foolish things."

    An explosion, near enough to roar, shook the tower. Dust sifted down from the ceiling, settling on the oak furniture.

    He put an arm around Olivia. "And foolish things rarely end well."

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    Replies
    1. and that is a truth, if ever there was one!
      Great writing, John.

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    2. A quieter, more human stretch of your imagination here, but one that is impressively deep. Excellent.

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    3. Are we seeing the beginnings of a serial here John as these are the same characters as last week unless I am very much mistaken. Hinted steam punk with talk of the barons is overridden by the well wrought conversation between this pair. I can hear the voices so well in my head. Top stuff.

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    4. Wow, John. This will have me thinking all day. The quiet resignation to such a brutal truth reminds me of the way my Grandmother used to talk about the Great Depression. Great piece.

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    5. E p i c! Enjoyed this so much John.

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  26. Last one this week...Nate's about done...for now.

    Meltdown
    My fists made eccentric patterns of bruise and blood on her body. I broke one bone for each remembered moment of our history.

    Each blow seemed to snuff her spell building like a candle. Screams became whimpers whenever she tried to cast. At first, it was like hitting oak. But each time, I felt a new surge of energy, God knows where from, to strike again.

    Fist in her hair, I yanked her to her feet in front of me and bit down on the side of her throat. Seth stood before us, still chanting. I didn’t care.

    “Nate! NO!”

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    Replies
    1. Lordy, lordy, what an impetuous pillock that Nate can be ... and what a well-writ scene. I shall be sorry to see the end of this epic.

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    2. I could feel each blow as they fell upon the creature. My heart cries out in sympathy for her and then my head reminds me what she was going to do in the first place.

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    3. God? Looking in the wrong direction, Nate...

      Brutal stuff, great writing.

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  27. Forgive me if I comment on the entries a little later this evening.

    My offering:

    Martyr

    In my dreams he is God’s son, embraced in the leafless branches of an oak tree, motionless and dim. His vessel hangs as if just born, ropes feeding of his sacred flesh. I stand beneath him lips parched in prayers of blessed history retold, kisses upon his cold feet, blood from his fresh wounds mingling with my saliva.

    But I am too eccentric in my beliefs; the crown of thorns bleeds my forehead. Stripping myself of earthly possessions, I rip through my bare chest till color, poisonous and ill pours.

    I slice until I’m clean. I repent until he commands.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A biblical tale full of hope, belief and ultimately sacrifice. That line about stripping himself of earthly possessions will haunt my dreams tonight.

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    2. What an opening image, what a powerful second paragraph, and what a cutting ending. (pun unintended) Brilliant.

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    3. Thank you all! I love puns John.

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  28. I know it's too late to submit but again I've had no time to edit until after 9pm... but I didn't want to not put it up (so, you don't have to mark it Phil)

    Everything is guaranteed to be 100% Pure

    "Well, Mr Krindler, you've found me out."

    Francine oozed languidly down the stairs, eyes boring into the reporter lashed to the lichen-covered tree-roots.

    Lichen striated with rust-like veins.

    "The Oakmoss," he breathed.

    "But I can't have you blabbing. You see," she purred in his ear as her acolytes stripped him of his clothing, "people are more forgiving nowadays of women with a few... eccentricities, than in history. Especially when they're in the business of Life... and yours will do nicely."

    She left the same way to the sounds of his bubbling screams, and anticipated the next dose of her Elixir.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you made it, Zoë, I'd looked for your post earlier, and liked the forgiving of women's few eccentricities and bubbling screams.

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    2. It seems that our reporter stuck his nose where it was not wanted and didn't like what he found. A darker version of She methinks but this lady has a totally different Fountain of Youth. The title plays so well with the final line.

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    3. Love the image of her oozing languidly down the stairs, makes me think of a slinky-dressed hollywood actress, sultry, predatory. Great story to fit in 100 words. =)

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  29. I always leave the doors ajar a little bit at the end for stragglers Zoe. Don't see why we should stop good tales going into the pot whilst I am still commenting on the tales above. Not read yours yet but will comment in due course and then shut the doors after that if anyone else has any last minute submissions. Reckon I'll be closing this party down in about 20 mins.

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  30. And so, for the penultimate time, I bring this party to a close. It will be a bit quieter round here in a couple of weeks I suspect but by then it will be all over to Colleen's place for a tale or two.

    Right, I'm off to judge so sit tight and I will kick start the next shindig shortly!

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    ReplyDelete