Friday, 17 March 2017

If music be the food ... or someone else ...

One intriguing suggestion to come out of Tom Harper’s workshop on injecting horror at last weekend's Crime and Publishment was to use film music as background inspiration. What I do know is that I would hesitate before agreeing to share a meal with any of this week’s participants; Bill’s ‘Serving his shipmates’ being the most chillingly served.

What an excellent job of selecting personal winners you did last week – and how effectively did the final result – a tie between Patricia and AR – illustrate my weekly dilemma. Not that I’m complaining, because such variety of response to just three words is the especial delight of prompt writing.
Words for next week: belly kudos vacant

Entries by midnight Thursday 23rd March, words and winners posted on Friday 24th

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.

65 comments:

  1. ‘What comes next?’ [Threshold 156]

    Raven spoke first. ‘Cathra –’

    That single word, spoke with such portent, stove in my belly. A silver-studded maelstrom ricocheted a protest within my skull. Bile, bright with jealousy, surged, fanged and adder-like into my gullet.
    God knows I did not over-value myself but to hear he desired to fill that vacant place within his life with a hound

    ‘– All kudos to her for dealing with my grandmother, but –‘

    My gasps diverted his attention – a throat-clenching seizure having near-halted my breathing.

    He stared at me, then, swiftly, ‘I’m sorry. I’d no choice. I had to put her down.’

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    Replies
    1. What a powerful and revealing addition to the story.

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    2. Congrats to Bill on his fanciful use of leftovers.

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    3. Powerful is indeed the perfect description for this installment. I particularly liked, "Bile, bright with jealousy..." (and all that followed up to "gullet.") I could almost feel the same sensation, so vivid was the depiction. You never fail to amaze, that's for sure!

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  2. On the Side

    The hovel is vacant now, the last occupant liberated in spectacular fashion. It was a real show. You should’ve seen it.

    You didn’t, of course. They don’t splash those pictures on the evening news. If it bleeds it leads, my ass.

    Still, people are talking. Talking about me. About my work. Not kudos, mind you, but at least they know.

    Of course, The Mission doesn’t put food in my belly or a roof over my head. Mine isn’t an especially lucrative Calling. Not these days.

    So, I sigh and say what must be said.

    “You want fries with that?”

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    Replies
    1. Triple-read, for sheer enjoyment; the words the pacing and the punchline. Masterly.

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    2. Just because Manchester United scored a quick goal off the kick-off, doesn't mean it's over. Oh, just an FYI, a very good story.

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    3. This was quite masterful in its delivery and movement. A wonderful example of what can be accomplished in 100 words or less. Adore that final line.

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  3. Shore Leave

    Cici Pietra descended from a long line of female swineherds on the little Greek island of Antiparos. She was a gracious soul who always had vacant chairs at her supper table for sailors of the fleet docked at the nearby port. And if one or two missed muster prior to getting underway the following morning well, boys will be boys!

    Cici was a paragon of society, worthy of the kudos bestowed for her considerate treatment of the pot belly squealers in her charge and the pigs themselves were certainly utterly devoted to their charismatic mistress.

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    Replies
    1. And this, too, masterly, for its spelling out nothing but leaving the reader's mind stuffed with possibilities beyond description.
      And I didn't even think to look for the prompts!

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    2. More goals being scored this week. BTW, is Cici a cyclopes? An other very good story. I located the prompts after I'd read it a few times.

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    3. The character is taken from myth, so good call on that Jeffrey. However, Cici is not a cyclops.

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    4. clever story, as expected from Patricia, you've set standards... the rest of us will have to work very hard to keep up.

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  4. Change of focus [227]

    The post of mayor had remained vacant for the first twelvemonth of its creation. It brought no power, little in the way of kudos, and much potential grief, in the form of intimidation from several directions. ‘Independent’ as misleading as those adverts that promise overnight reduction of belly fat (although it had to be said, in Roger Bailiwick’s case, the post mortem had dealt with that effectively).
    Pettinger’s next question was ‘Who?’
    Who had nobbled him, stuffed him, betrayed him and then killed him? And for every question asked he could think of three or four potential answers. None good.

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    Replies
    1. this is visceral and visual and I loved it. Episode 227????

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    2. Luverly stuff. Almost like a more down-to-earth and up-to-date Agatha Christie plot. (I'm a huge fan of Dame Agatha!) Are you going to provide us with answers or taunt us further?

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    3. Thank you both. As to answers - that depends on how and where the prompt words send me - I've no plan in mind!

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  5. I loved the line "...the post mortem had dealt with that effectively." Poor Pettinger and his investigation. Another very strong and well done submission.

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  6. UXBEX 11

    “Dearest Uxbex, why do tears stain your face?
    “Dress of Mating, for Tourmaline Uxbex created, gone. Stain of blood, perfection eliminates.”
    “Endearing mate tis my blood that stained the dress, and your heart.”
    “Uxbex saw ravagers, mutilated death created.”
    “Is the beast’s belly vacant, despite all it has consumed? Dress not important, hearts are important. Then your heart bled for me, now mine bleeds for you.”
    “Foolish is Uxbex, sees with eyes of vengeance-death only.”
    “Kudos for you Uxbex who I still accept as my mate.”
    “What now do Uxbex and Tourmaline?”
    “Vengeance desist with joining of two-become one.”

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    Replies
    1. And happy ever after? Fingers crossed.

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    2. if it's happy ever after, I will be very surprised...

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    3. I don't think there much in the way of "happily ever after" indicated here. As always, I love the use of total dialogue, and such unique dialogue at that.

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  7. CAN’T GET THE STAFF

    Mortimer had seen much death in the sub-continental campaign before being captured and transported to Yirwada.


    As reward for saving a vacant-eyed mystic from having his belly opened by an over-aggressive dungeon alpha he’d been taught the secret of transmuting ordinary spring water into the legendary elixir of immortality: tears of the sixth chakra ... the pineal gland. Then…

    ***

    Now, he paces the rendezvous spot.

    A shabby figure blunders from the bushes. “Bad luck, yer honour.”

    “Oh, kudos! Discovered?”

    “As yer honour knows, We can’t read. He,” the man hooks a finger at his companion, “picked three lady graves.”

    “Lady–?”

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    Replies
    1. You have successfully hauled me slowly up and up, wondering ... and then ;eft me dangling, intrigued! Clever use of the prompts.

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    2. A well presented story, immortality from the tears of the third eye. Enjoyable as well.

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    3. this week's entries are all ultra clever, liked this a lot. The Captain and I are quite intimidated...

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    4. And here I go, echoing what went before again! Clever is certainly the watchword here. I like the break in the story. That's something that doesn't happen much within the boundaries of a 100 word limitation. Nicely done.

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  8. Nicely done last week, Bill. I have to say, it was one of my favourites too.

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  9. Kursaal (Episode Sixty Two) -- "Terpsichorean Muse"

    Manasa learned belly dancing long before discovering a penchant for snake charming. A handsome albino Burmese python named Kudos (Greek for "fame") customarily partnered her during such performances, which were legendary. A ticket to these occasions was exorbitant but loyal devotees willingly paid any asking price for the privilege.

    Open-mouthed, expressions vacant and eyes lustful, Manasa's disciples evaporated after the theatricals, making their presence known once more, heavy cash box in hand, only when the consummate ecdysiast announced advance bookings to another provocative production.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    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. What an innovative and pleasantly and subtlety presented prompts. If my dance teacher had described it this way in gym, I'd have paid more attention.

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    2. 'ecdysiast'! Oh joy! And this as smooth and knowing as Manasa eyeing the lusting punters. Great use of 'vacant'

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    3. see what I mean? all clever stories, wonderful words that are rarely used, ones the Captain wouldn't find in Shipton...and a glorious invocation of snake charming...

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  10. With a belly full of rum and a head swimming with kudos from the condemned, Faith struck a match. She heard the patter of small feet filter down the staircase and she wondered what they did to deserve this; other than being related to the hangman.

    But he was just doing his job, she thought vacantly. Wasn’t it the judge who handed down the decrees? The lace curtains caught and flared. Thin smoke swirled and made her cough. Perhaps she’d pay the judge a visit as well.

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    Replies
    1. This is a really great piece of writing! So much said - description, character, plot -in so few words, then forcing the reader to do a final somersault to boot.

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    2. Another strong story about revenge and the orubus, with a dash of the nonchalant.

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    3. this is good, encapsulating so much in so few words. I can almost see those curtains going up in flames.

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    4. This is one of those stories that comes across as immaculate in both composition and pacing. The final line is not to be sneezed at either. So many good choices this week, I don't envy Sandra one little bit.

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  11. Cripplegate Junction/Part 88-Presumption Of Guilt

    Mewling miserably, Marmalade slunk through the door into the Crossing Canteen. Alice knew immediately what was wrong but aware of Miss Constance's aversion to the use of "belly" and thus, "bellyache," the concerned little girl remarked, "I think he's eaten something that upset his tummy."

    The waitress dished out no kudos for that assumption. Looking forlornly at the vacant cage where her dear little mute Farthing used to hop merrily from perch to perch, Violet hoped the despicable moggie's ailment got much worse before getting any better.

    Outside the window, a small lemon-breasted canary burst into song.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    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. I probably shouldn't have, but this made me smile. Isn't 'forlorn' a good word!

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    2. I love "forlorn" and have a constant struggle not to over use it. As well as being magnificently descriptive, it also conjures a very vivid image. However, maybe Violet's sorrow and subsequent rancor is not totally justified after all? One can never tell.

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    3. I'm making connections with older issues of this and two things came to mind. First, normally it's the with that looks for a familiar, not a familiar who's looking for a witch. Second, and thank you Monty Python, would Marmalade float? A very beautiful story.

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    4. last week daughter and I bought extra large Dreamies by mistake. Both cats ate them, one cat got stomach ache and threw up. We tried an experiment to see who chewed the things and who swallowed them whole - they both did... so like poor Marmalade, my commiserations on his stomach ache.

      ('we all float down here' said Pennywise.)

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  12. The pitter patter argument of a tiny conscience

    Had he been a different sort of guy he could have done the deed – no hardship there! – accepted the kudos along with the cash then done a runner, leaving her with her belly full and eight months to wait until it was vacant and she could get on with her own life.
    Unless.
    Unless they decided to use her again.
    In which case ... in which case, sorry love, life’s too short.

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    Replies
    1. You've done an excellent job of using narration to describe the ebb and flow of human morality. "Life's too short." wonderful line.

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    2. agree with Jeffrey, the narration is sharply written and conveys the topic almost too well.

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    3. Echoing comments again (with a resigned sigh). This was sharp as the proverbial tack. Magnificently put together in (if my calculation is correct) under 75 words. I think I said this last week, but it's worthy of repetition: your last line punches get more effective all the time.

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  13. Messenger in the Night

    The diminutive visitor, and the enchanted shutters, both shuddered, as it squezzed through them and the protective magic, in to the vacant room. A light in the back attracted his attention. Sitting at a table was whom he sought. Landing on his shoulder surprised the man so much, that man and chair fell backwards, knocking the neatly stacked coins and wine bottles over.
    “Kudos, Drack, old habits haven’t changed, I see. You still fill your belly with wine and pockets with gold,”said the bat.
    “Papa, if you’re here, that means...”
    “Would you like a cigar, while you answer my question?”

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    Replies
    1. there's something evil brewing here, for sure. Just watch those dangling participles, two in two sentences which could have been written out (sitting/landing) damn things leap out at me. It's one of my bugbears on Legendfire, you may have realised...

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    2. Ha, Antonia- 'dangling participles'. I had to look them up because I'm aware I over-use e.g. 'Listening' when He listened is far more energetic so I'm trying to wean myself off, but do they only dangle when mis-applied?

      Jeffrey, interesting confrontation.

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    3. Another unique take on the prompts. You certainly have a knack for thinking outside the box. And a thanks to Antonia for the lesson on "dangling participles." I will have to watch that faux pas myself.

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  14. Hungry for Life


    The Beast growls for many reasons.
    A famished hunger,
    a gnawing pain,
    a love that’s lost
    a passion that’s gained.

    Kudos, insults, snarks and back pats.
    Light bulbs, okays, congrats and setbacks,
    All driven by perceptions vacant belly
    Ravenous consumer, destroyer extraordinaire,
    Are they placed at or originate from vanity’s pedestal?

    Why should I care about the sty in my eye?
    Just because we hear, doesn’t mean we aren’t impaired.
    Is the fear we smell out own,
    There are those we touch but do we feel?
    The growling beast grows louder, soon to be sated,
    It approaches deaths bed.

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    Replies
    1. your last line, which is good, needs an apostrophe, as fortunately there is only one death, the one we meet when we're through. Deep thoughts here.

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    2. I sometimes think, Jeffrey, that I'm not quite on the same page. This is another composition that is certainly well-composed and an easy read, but goes over my head I believe , by which I mean that there's much here that I seem to be able to fully appreciate. Fault of the reader and not the author. You certainly make me contemplate what's going on.

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    3. Jeffrey here;

      My thanks for you words and lightly touched suggestions. Poetry has always provided a conundrum. To what extent is the author to assist the reader on their journey through their poem?
      My word count was at its limit but if I had more time, I'm sure I could've cut something, but the word I wanted to lead the reader to would've been after 'bed': -envy

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  15. Infinity 191.
    The weak men are back on board, each holding their belly – or close enough to it anyway – and all with vacant looks on their faces. Kudos are due to the cap’n for accurately nailing the way they would be.
    I think I be growing tired of all this nonsense, this problem with crew members, with whatever be hidden in the other belly – Infinity’s holds, and home be calling. I think it’s time I turned the Infinity back in the direction of Shipton. God send us a sharp wind to take us there. If not, grant us another merchantman…

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    1. Ah ... I picked up on the wind-down hint before you posted the explanation. I'll be sorry to see him go, but just as eager to see who - or what - replaces him. And in the meantime, there's your standalones.

      And how much I enjoyed the preference of wind over merchantman.

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    2. I really liked this episode. I did look our famous captain up and he was born in Bristol. I was struck by the simplicity of "The weak men are back on board,..." well done.

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    3. The departure of the Captain (I have come to admire him so much) is something that makes me sad, but I understand the need to move onward to other things. As always, the descriptions are impeccable and the use of words to be envied. As sorry as I am to see the Infinity reach home port, I can only be excited to find out what you have in store for us in the future. I know it be good...!!!

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  16. I'll go comment shortly, but first... most of my spirit visitors let me know one way or another that they are there if I don't detect their vibration first. I normally know when the Captain is around, he is one powerful presence, but this morning he broke that pattern and came in singing 'what shall we do with the drunken sailor?' it had to be him, no other spirit companion would bring me that song! The message he brought was, he wants to bring the Infinity saga to an end, by about the 200th episode. He said that's long enough and I need to start a new serial and write some stand alones. So, the current offering is the first hint that we are winding down. I will miss his weekly visit but I don't think he will go far from me. Shipton, in spiritual terms, is just a thought away.

    On the subject of people introducing themselves with songs, on and off I get the MASH song about suicide being painless... I still don't know who it is. I am still waiting for them to tell me who they are. They don't sound particularly sorry to be a spirit, so there is no urgency in establishing a relationship, I would just like to know who it is. Sometimes spirits can be more aggravating than living people...

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  17. Thank you folks, much appreciated.

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  18. Sandra, dangling participles rarely work. I saw one in a posting on LegendFire, it had no need to be there. It's lazy writing. I find myself sliding when I'm tired or the migraines are excessively bad, then I go back and write them out.

    Jeffrey, the Captain is one emotive character in history and one powerful presence in spirit life. I've enjoyed working with him and know he will look in from time to time, as my other authors do, well, some of them. For some, once their book is done, they are released to move on in the spirit world, where we all progress after time spent there. Oh my, I've just been told the name of my next author, you're going to like this one... we have been in contact for a few years. He visits my publisher/friend regularly, too. No hints, sorry, his turn will come soon enough...

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  19. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #69
    Who Spies on the Spies?


    Some people become positively verbose once their bellies are full. It’s quite useful. I’ve picked out all the other spies and they’ve found me. Kudos to them, I wasn’t in their briefings. We’ve agreed to not assassinate anyone until the end of this party, despite their orders. We’ll all betray each other when we return home so it’s disguises all around. We’re mostly servants so we adopt a vacant expression and blend into the wallpaper. Natasha is of course the most ignored, even by the other spies. It’s lovely to learn just how little the others actually know about me.

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    1. Such beautiful little touches and such a nonchalant ambience to this piece. Perfect title too. As always, a pleasure.

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    2. This takes place on a larger stage than usual, with observation honed to perfection, as is Rosebud's intelligence.
      Also, all that Patricia says.

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