Friday, 3 February 2017

Cynicism, fatalism and moral ambiguity ...

... is the OED definition of noir, which claims it to be ‘a genre of crime fiction or film characterised by’ such. I checked this in order to assure members of one of my crime novel Facebook groups that their contributions would be both within the rules and welcome. I’ve queried it before, uncertain whether or not John Pettinger fitted the definition, and was then pleased by the ‘So long as it entertains’ verdict.

The ‘verdict’ as to this week’s winner was harder to come by, but undoubtedly Patricia wins a medal for persistence in posting. I could invent any number of categories but this week, for the best of last-minute kicks, top place is shared by Bill and Wondra. Thank you all for your wonderful contributions , and even more for the feedback – vital for the healthy continuance of this site.

Words for next week:  lone, sanguine, splay

Entries by midnight Thursday 9th February, new words posted on Friday 10th

Usual rules: 100 words maximum (excluding title) of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. Serialised fiction is, as always, welcome. All variants and use of the words and stems are fine. Feel free to post links to your stories on Twitter or Facebook or whichever social media.

89 comments:

  1. Congratulation to both Bill and Wondra for sharing the top of the podium. And to Wondra, might I add what an impressive debut. Look forward to seeing much more. Bill, of course, is always magnificent. Great choices for winners, but it must have been difficult given the high quality of writing.

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    1. congratulations, Patricia, Bill and Wondra. I shall be badgering her to take part more often!
      Writing very brief comments tonight, the electricity has gone off four times altogether, despite the electricity company assuring me it wouldn't go off again... lies, all lies!!

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    2. Thanks!

      I'll definitely be taking part as often as possible.

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  2. rhapsody

    He was sanguine, even as sirens sounded in the distance. They were a pack of rabid dogs on the hunt, but he didn’t care. He just smiled, depositing his tools on the table and taking off the heavy butcher’s apron.

    His work was splayed across the room. “Rhapsody In Red” played on a lone speaker. “Love to feel it flood down to my soul…,” Garcia sang.

    His soul felt light, sanctified by the sacrifice.

    They would come, ready to dissect his masterpiece. But it didn’t matter.

    He would simply wrap himself in the comfort of the memory of those screams.

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    1. A most succinct story, I'll say. though it might be an oxymoron, this is politely gruesome. Well done.

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    2. Thank you, Jeffery. That's very kind of you.

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    3. So disturbingly visual and yet so beautifully crafted at the same time. That last line is like the ending of a poem. Excellent blending of the prompts. So much so, that they virtually disappear. A "masterpiece" indeed!

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    4. Patricia said it well - horribly vivid, but beautiful at the same time. Liked the touch of the song. I felt a shudder thinking about what the words mean to this disturbed character.

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    5. Thank you, Patricia and Zaiure. It really kind of makes my day to hear that people enjoyed this.

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  3. Heavens, this is very accomplished. Superb use of the prompts and thoroughly chilling - well done AR Martin - and a sincere welcome. I hope you'll stay around.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. I pop up from time to time. I post fiction weekly, but it's not always prompt based. However, I really like the way using a prompt pushes me, so I always come back to them.

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    2. Writing to prompts is what pushes me most, but I also find the 100 word limit effective in tightening my writing.

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    3. Oh, I agree with you, there. Limiting the word count is a huge growth opportunity. You have to make every single word worth it.

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    4. Very complete feeling about this.

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    5. My congratulations to Patricia, Bill and Wondra for their very excellent stories.

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    6. AR, superb horror writing. I edit horror anthologies, I appreciate good horror writing when I see it!

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    7. Thank you, Antonia. I take that as a very high compliment!

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  4. Open water. The childhood words nagged at him. He waved the scum aside with his paddle, watching the line loose over the gunnels. He’d seen a splash yesterday, a lone fish perhaps, against all odds. He knew the risk such exposure brought. Eyes in the woods. But this sanguine mist should last until midmorning. The idea of fresh food and a break from the haven had made his mind up. He was predator and prey now - even his thoughts were silent. He would give it another hour.

    Then he heard it.- the sound of water splayed by another prow...

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    1. Welcome again Mashie, and this a portentous piece with lovely-used prompts.

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    2. It's unusual to hunt and know you'll be hunted at the same time. A well done story that begs more questions. Very enjoyable.

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    3. A fascinating and thrilling story. Loved the imagery of a 'sanguine mist' and openness of this piece, prompting all kinds of fun questions and ideas about this world.

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    4. Absolutely fascinating. Loved the prey/predator aspect. Leaves me wondering as to what type of world created such a scenario. And how cliff-hanger is that last line?

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    5. cleverly done, leading us to that final line.
      Tis good to see you again, Mashie!

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  5. After the event [Threshold 150]

    An Irish wolfhound bitch, sanguineously sated from the scarlet puddle around the head of her recent and, it is to be hoped, lone human victim (a victim, also to be hoped, only accidentally dead; Saskia, although intelligent even among her species, lacking the ability to calculate weight-to-weight discrepancy or appreciate the frailty of old age) will likely go in search of water, finding the metallic after-taste too cloying.

    But Saskia skirted Raven’s bled-out grandmother, eschewed the now-cold scented bathwater and came in search of Raven; seeking praise. Leaping onto the bed, she wet-nosed between our not-yet consummation, then settled, heavy-splayed.

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    1. The more I use all my senses when reading these stories, the more I perceive. I think someone is jealous. An unexpected twist. Loved the line sanguineously sated. Very nicely done.

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    2. All of your pieces are a treat to the senses. Loved the phrasing of the final line, and the frustration that likely followed.

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    3. So easy to follow this with the imagination. A picture painted in words, so to speak. And what a magnificent use of "sanguine." The "not-yet consummation" reminded me of the line from "You Better You Bet" by The Who -- "your dog keeps licking my nose" -- also set in a very similar intimate moment.

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    4. a very good instalment, moving it on just a little but pausing to give us a set of very intimate images - carefully done too.

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    5. Whoops - just realised I mis-named the bitch - Cathra, of course!

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  6. Congrats Bill and Wondra!

    I've had family visiting from overseas, so haven't been around my computer much recently. Hope to return this week!

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  7. NOTE: I made a mistake in last week’s story. The order options are Past, Present and Chary. So, Jamie’s order should have been Alphonse Francois, the Past and Chary; the same with Mike’s order.

    Torch Wood Dinner: Jamie’s Meal

    I appeared in a room, three young women, possibly teenagers, nude, save for an eye mask, each bound to a small couch, legs splayed open, crying. There was an older man, and a lady, also naked, having sexual relations the girls. Is this a porno set?
    The man turned to me, spoke French, but I understood him.
    “Constance, your friend is awake. Please this middle one is for you. Select your pleasure.” He gestured at a table, were I saw whips, a lone large feather and various sanguine knives.
    “Alphonse made the chocolate glazed partridge himself and its excellent.”

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    1. More than a touch of nightmare to this!

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    2. A chilling piece, even more so by the nonchalance of the mention of glazed partridge at the end.

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    3. Very visual and very well done. What a choice: "whips" or "large feather" or "sanguine knives." Do we find out which is the ultimate selection?

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    4. vivid images here, Jeffrey, is there to be more?

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  8. Realism

    When we were together her post-coital drawings were executed large, in charcoal; on whatever paper was already on the easel. Fast because she’d then return to bed, splaying grimy fingerprints across my chest.

    Now she uses pastels, paper-wrapped to keep her fingers clean. Renders you in earth colours: burnt sienna, raw umber, sanguine. I doubt you’d let her lay so much as a lone finger on those expensive linen sheets.

    Worry no more. Having dealt with you, having newly-patterned your sheets, I’ll shred those tender drawings to better replicate the scene before me.

    Then I’ll go in search of her.

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    1. This is a visually delicious piece. "...splaying grimy fingerprints..." along with your use of colors.

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    2. I love this story. Wonderful use of language. It feels lived in.

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    3. An exquisite rendering of color and horror - 'newly-patterned' takes on multiple meanings in my deconstruction. I absolutely loved the beginning description of charcoal drawings, and the descriptions of earth colors was truly beautiful. Always love stories of artists. :)

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    4. Subtle horror and inferred maleficence. This was sharp and cutting and so thoroughly enjoyable. Artistic in thought and execution.

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    5. possibly one of your most colourful and vivid contributions. It's redolent with colour which are almost rendered into smells, it lingers in the mind, too.

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  9. NOTE: Same mistake from last week. Mike's order should've been Margarita Cansino, the past and chary. My apologies for these two mistakes.


    Torch Wood Dinner: Mike’s Meal

    I’m in a suite, at least forty people here. All are richly dressed. One of the best looking women I’d ever seen was shaking my arm.
    “Dear, come with me. I’ll introduce you.”
    She’s wearing a partial see through dress, sequins splayed throughout. This lady is very familiar. She brings me to a separate table.
    “Aly, this is the man who named that drink for my lonesome self. Dear, this is my fiance, Prince Aly Khan. This lady with the least sanguine eyes, which are undressing you, is Pamela Harriman.”
    “A pleasure sir, could you make a drink for me?”

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    1. I like the 'sequins splayed'

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    2. The historical/factual references throughout are very unique in nature and put together very well. It had me thinking of a masquerade ball.

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    3. interesting, is there to be more of this?

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    4. Sandra called out my favorite line, and there was a feel of a masquerade to this!

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  10. Uxbex 7

    “Imperator, Master Garibaldi; in health as good as station do I find you?”
    “Uxbex, why are you here, this is a graduation test.”
    “Uxbex, my good friend, what does bring you to a graduation exam?”
    “Same as bring Imperator. Lying profession, Imperator never take up should have.”
    “Since smart so Uxbex is, inform reason of visit must he.”
    “Garibaldi, ventriloquist skilled not; never I see Imperators mouth move. Zubroc and Tyroc murderers are.
    “Those are ancient Velusian myths.”
    “Point is Garibaldi trying to make? Where body is that lone sanguine splay on wall is from? Not here body see .”

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    1. Uxbex as tricky-tongued as ever.

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    2. It is fun to unravel Uxbex's unique way of speaking. Loved the phrase 'lone sanguine splay'.

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    3. Dialogue-driven pieces are always a delight. Uxbex is undoubtedly fascinating.

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    4. at last... Blogger is up to many tricks tonight, one being I don't get a box to write in.
      This is fascinating, Uxbex is a contradictory contrary being and it shows.

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  11. Change of focus [221]

    While capable of remaining sanguine about Valdeta’s admitting murder, Pettinger was far less so about her doing so in front of Aleks. Feared she may have done the deed before him too. That happy interlude with her was beginning to look like a lone and loving beacon amidst a tumult of violence.

    He made a final effort. Listed all the positives he could think of to persuade her to accompany him. Splayed them, a choice of aces; she only had to choose.

    But in truth he was beginning to wonder how to leave her behind. Take just Aleks with him.

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    1. You do manage to keep us guessing! Loved the phrasing 'beginning to look like a lone and loving beacon amidst a tumult of violence'.

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    2. Love the image of a splayed "choice of aces." Pettinger's mind is always working. He constantly seems to be at least one step ahead of the situation. How you manage to keep these serializations moving so smoothly is beyond me.

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    3. the one thing I've learned over the years is never to anticipate a serial instalment, the prompts send us off in many different directions. Pettinger never fails to entertain, this is the same.

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  12. I have an unfortunate tendency to anticipate the future of stories that interest me. I this case my anticipation didn't come to fruition, and made this piece oh so enjoyable.

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  13. Bleak

    She kneels, a lone figure at a splayed casement, and yearns for the lover she is destined to never meet again.

    She is despondent that their infatuation destroyed Arcadia but will never regret the romance or their shared passion.

    She witnesses a landscape that is no longer sanguine and accepts her role in the hapless downfall.

    She dons her wimple of repentance and, with bowed head, hearkens to the whispers carried on the raging winds from Joyous Gard.


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    1. So coolly, sparingly, visual, evoking more than it actually says.

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    2. I enjoyed the format of this piece, as we witness a series of her actions. It is a sad, fascinating story. Loved the final line.

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    3. the starkness of the scene adds so much to the final line here, it's a perfect piece.

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  14. Jeffrey here;

    To me this is a requim for her love of an individual and her country but not her choice of experiacing true love. This is a wonderful piece.

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  15. Caution [6]

    Shoulder to thigh in a shadowed doorway, Jaen and Callon watched a huddle of uniformed police officers walk down the brownstone’s stairs with faces more gray than the storm-dampened sky overhead. A lone woman stepped out onto the landing, presumably a plainclothes detective, and stared with hard eyes at the small crowd splayed along the fringe of caution tape.

    Callon flared his nostrils, eyes grim, as he stared at the open door beyond the detective. “I smell blood,” he said. He could imagine the sanguine mess that Sirius had left inside.

    “He’s getting careless.”

    “No. He’s making a point.”

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    1. Magnificent final line. Some beautifully crafted phrases here but I think Sandra has already zoned-in on the best.

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    2. very nicely drawn characterisation and situation, wonderfully descriptive words, too.

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    3. I love it. It doesn't feel rushed at all, which is hard to pull off in 100 words. Very nicely done.

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  16. "faces more gray than the storm-dampened sky" is perfect, as is the laconic of Callon's final remark.

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  17. For me the combination of getting careless and Making a point could be one in the same.

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  18. ONCE AGAIN PATRICIA IS HAVING TROUBLE POSTING : THIS IS HER ENTRY

    Cripplegate Junction/Part 82-Faux Pas

    At a desk in the corner of the Waiting Room, Alice practiced penmanship beneath the watchful eye of Miss Constance, who was far from sanguine at the little girl's potential proficiency.

    Sloshing her pen into the inkwell, Alice turned to an unblemished page in her composition book and immediately dripped purplish blots. She grimaced and, pressing too hard, promptly splayed the nib and tore the paper.

    Luckily, Miss Constance failed to notice the blunder. Through the window, she was watching an indiscreet Marmalade saunter along the platform with a lone yellow tail feather tucked jauntily behind one ear.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/cripplegate.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. Thanks again to Sandra for stepping in. Have no idea why this is happening. My stand-alone "stuck" just fine, as my reply comments seem to do. As John Lennon once said, "Most peculiar, mama." Fingers crossed my "Kursaal" installment will present less of a problem (once I've got it written).

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    2. Once again, spot-on and interesting wordery - 'sloshing' of pen and splaying of nib - creating another high-coloured tale of Marmalade's wickedness.

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    3. I love this, all innocence going on with the writing while Marmalade is busy with non innocence and brightly coloured feathers...

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  19. Marmalade's is bring out the Secret Service to what she's doing. With that feather, a Robin Hood feel was brought to the story.

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  20. Kursaal (Episode Fifty Seven) -- "Lenny The Loner"

    Lenny, middle Jester Brother, specialized in knife-throwing. Apart from one incident early on (Lenny was blameless but it led to Arbuthnot losing two fingers), his competency was above reproach. Being splay-footed, however, Lenny never participated in acrobatic stunts.

    With sanguine complexion, thinning hair and pale gooseberry eyes, Lenny (a/k/a The Loner), failed to achieve intimate conquests enjoyed by his brothers. The dwarven Arby fascinated ladies and handsome Benny had a retinue of adoring gentlemen.

    Lenny spent his solitary spare time chronicling the comings-and-goings of the Kursaal's performers and visitors. He stockpiled many journals.

    One day, such information might prove beneficial.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale, please visit: http://www.novareinna.com/kursaal.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. Aha!!If I didn't know how near impossible it is to plan these tales ahead, I'd suspect Lenny of having a forthcoming starring role as chief witness. How well you've brought him to life.

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    2. absolutely agree, I can almost see this creature!

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    3. Jeffrey checking in;

      Truely a lovely piece. I see Quasimodo looking for his Esmerelda.

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  21. I love how all these serializations have to undergo a rethink every week in order to incorporate the prompts and yet remain true to the plot as much as possible. I still chuckle remembering how one of Cripplegate's chief (and apparently one of the most popular) characters was born out of the word prompt "marmalade" in the second week of its inception.

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  22. Thanks for letting me share top place last week! :)

    This week's challenge really kicked my butt. Two horrid attempts later, I think I have something passable:

    The Sacrifice

    The church was empty, but for a lone figure at the altar. Well, on the altar, really.

    Rope had been wound around her wrists and ankles to splay her limbs, and keep them that way, no matter how she struggled.

    As if there was any point.

    Her virginal gown was marred by a sanguine streak across the chest. A dagger on the floor nearby was covered in the same sticky substance. It was a brutal scene. The priest would just die when he saw it.

    But Nina wished they’d set it up later. Being a sacrifice was boring.

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    1. Ah - this a reverse kick of a piece, necessitating a re-read to extract the whole of it. So glad you returned Wondra.

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    2. Jeffrey here;

      She thinks she has something passable. Just a hint, no need to think about it, you do.
      The begging question is why? Very nice descriptions.

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    3. I must agree with Sandra on this. It takes more than one read to fully appreciate the substance. The fact that the subject finds sacrifice (albeit her own) to be "boring" is executed (no pun intended) with such a delightful ho-hum attitude. I knew you were going to fit in!

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  23. Bloody-minded

    It's ironic that pain makes some people splay their fingers, since that makes it much easier to choose one to remove. Our friend was down to two on the left, a lone pinky on the right. Lew made the usual jokes about a lost piano career, difficulty hitch-hiking, and needing to hire someone to pick his nose. It's also ironic that someone can be sanguine when there's so much actual blood.

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    1. Jeffrey here;

      Oh, the hilarity. I realy liked this. Hire someone to pick his nose. Very nicely done.

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    2. Oh my! Witty and magnificent as always. And with such a minimum of words this time around. I tip my hat to you, sir!

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    3. Lord above, Bill, this is bloody good, and so well executed!

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  24. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #63
    The Element of Surprise


    Natasha tapped Rosebud upside the head.
    “What is it?”
    Natasha spun them into the wind, pointing her bowsprit at a lone sanguine flag fluttering atop the battlements of Stonesthorn Castle.
    “I think we still ought to visit, but let’s go the long way ‘round.”
    Natasha’s wings splayed out as she shot upward into the clouds while spinning towards the forest.
    “Who are we at war with now, I wonder?”

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    1. Jeffrey checking in;

      The description of sailing through the clouds and who are we at war with now. They are such a contrast yet compliment each other. Very enjoyable.

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    2. I'm not going to comment much since I can find nothing to say that I haven't already given voice to and I'm starting to sound like a broken record. ("Who are we at war with now," indeed!)

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    3. Your title encapsulates everything you so delightfully deliver week after week -this, of course, no exception.

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