Posts Tagged ‘Richard Edenfield’

Hello again! As promised, here’s today’s second winner’s post! Thanks to everyone who wrote stories and to Steph Ellis for being more on top of judging than I was this past week. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

Oh dear. You all certainly made me work this week and on a Monday night too. I had to read and reread a few times before I could make up my mind – and even then I kept chopping and changing placings. There really wasn’t a lot in it, especially between the Winner and the 1st RU and the 2nd RU, and oh, did I mention the HMs and those who didn’t get placed but were great as well? But in the end my choices covered the range of elements that get me every time – some were dark, some were moving, some were written by poets. What more could I ask for?

Golden Daffodils

Great fun, wonderful names and the line “Read it, buffoon, or I will eat your slab and urinate on your coiling” is inspired.  And don’t forget the puns ‘a host of Golden Daffodils’ meaning a totally different thing in this case!

War Games

A slow dawning that these are not quite the war games I expected, a child’s perspective on the weekly shop with them making the most of any edible opportunities – as kids will. I’m glad those days are behind me. Standout line: “If I’m holding a wedge of cheddar, it’s safe. German salami? It’s over – save yourself.”

Marked

This intriguing story hints at things rather than coming straight out and telling you what’s going on so that you can put your own interpretation on it. The mark is a visible representation of whatever events had occurred the night before – sex, drugs, something supernatural – it is for the reader to decide. But whatever happened, it has happened to so many others, it’s normal, plenty of others were ‘Marked’ and Jess would deal with the consequences of it in her own, brave way.

Eyes

Eyes are the one thing I’ve found that adds an extra something to any piece of dark writing, they certainly have the ‘cringe’ factor. Her fetish whilst not yet being the death of her – “Your fetish with eyes is going to be the death of you, my dear,” – is certainly the death of others.

Captured

Poor man, wanting to live the life of a hermit and then getting captured. I think there was an element of pride coming before a fall here, he was a little too cocky ‘sauntering’ to the door, then falling over the tripwires which he had claimed to know all about.

Those Eyes

The eyes have it – or not, in the case of this couple they are hiding so much – the ‘story waiting to be told’, a future built on lies and deceit, liar’s eyes. I wonder how much their desire for fame is going to keep them together.

Camouflage

A dangerous woman here, manipulative, setting the scene for a perfect murder. Not someone to be crossed. A lot is conveyed in a very short story.

HM: A Sword in the Hand by Angelique Pacheco

Beautifully descriptive piece: phrases such as the sword was ‘heavy and burdened with many a tale,’ ‘when I was sixteen and the lotus began to bloom,’ ‘rain poured down in silver sheets,’ all set the scene and tone perfectly. I like the way that although it finishes with him waiting for his attackers, for me it implies – because this story is being told some years later and he still has his sword – the younger version of Grandfather had fought of his attackers and won.

HM: The Confusing Nature of Student Life by Ewan Smith

Entertaining story focusing on those rites of passage we all have to go through with parents. Showing them we’re adult enough to have a drink, a partner, they’re reaction as they have to let go of the child and accept the adult. This was done with great humour and warmth and it was a nice twist that the blacking was accidental rather than a particular fashion statement.

2nd RU: The Poet Brigade and the Elixir of Truth by Richard Edenfield 

Gorgeous language and turns of phrase in this story. A tale of hope and the aspiration to change things using words, ‘feathered bullets bleached with an unfettered pride’ as youth and Ms Williams takes on Trump. Wonderful that there are those who have such visions and dreams although I’m not quite sure what Trump’s reaction would be. I think perhaps something from Mother Goose might be more at his level!

1st RU: Garden Party by Sal Page 

A very grim but extremely well-written piece. The pacing was perfect, drawing the reader on as the would-be victim turns the tables on her assailant and comes out the victor. The first line draws you in right away “He’s supposed to be dead but he’s staring at me,” sign-posting a wonderfully dark story is on its way. Plus there are elements that are blackly humorous “His kilt is still up around his waist, the sporran skewiff. No idea where the orange wig and tartan cap are.”

And our Round 130 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

K.M. Zafari

with

“Homecoming”

This is such a sad, but uplifting, story. The initial feeling that perhaps there is an element of estrangement between the children and their father changes as they dig through old memories and put them in perspective. It is the difference in the eyes of the younger, carefree footballer compared to the eyes of the soldier that reveals the truth, the effect that war can have on a person and subsequently their loved ones. The eyes have given Jace the understanding he needs to try and bridge the gap with his father, despite the latter’s dementia. Moving.

Congratulations, K.M.! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s second HumpDay Quickie!

Thank you again everyone for contributing your time and talents, especially our judges. The Angry Hourglass truly could not exist without your efforts. Next weekend, Sal Page is back for another round of judging. Hope to see you all there.

Happy Tuesday! Thanks to everyone who wrote and commented on stories this past weekend. Thanks also to Marie McKay for volunteering her time and judging. You’ll find her comments and to picks below.

Thanks, Rebecca, for allowing me to judge this week. I always feel unworthy of the task especially when the stories are all so fantastic. We had mystery, tragedy, humour, murder and the supernatural:

Three Mile Stretch

The narrator finds the story of ‘Old Man Redpath’ eerie but treats it with a good dose of scepticism. The real story lies in what the old man’s family are trying to hide in creating the ghost story in the first place. Intriguing, I really want to know what truth is buried beneath this ‘stench’ of lies.
I love the line: ‘Now it is fear that follows the course of the lake.’

The Hipsters and Mister Takada

This story outlines beautifully the details of how Mister Takada’s interest in photography has developed:
‘The youthful past-time became a teenage hobby that progressed into an adult profession…’
Mister Takada seems to have fallen prey to a scam. We’re not sure if ‘the hipsters’ are moved by conscience or by Mister Takada’s brilliance, but things are squared by the end

Five Friends At The Lake

This is a tragic tale that tapped into one of my worst fears. The reader is introduced to what seems like an idyllic setting. But as the first part ends, we are made aware of a tragic event, this event dominates the second part.
I like how this writer works with structure. This sentence makes ‘the deep pool’ a character in itself:
‘I made sure to catch the reflection of the deep pool against the rocks.’

Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken

This is a sinister story. The repetition of questions gives this story pace. The reader is not made fully aware of who the voice in the story belongs to, at first, but it is slowly revealed. I love how this one unfolds and the details that help provide great characterisation:
‘When Anna-Marie cut her hand in craft class. You were first there to help- tasting the coppery blood whilst others fussed with bandages.’
In the end, there is no reward for Satan’s work.

“At the Bank of Gallow’s River”

The ending of this story has stayed with me. We don’t know if the mobster is sparing the lives of the characters, or if he is just toying with them before they are executed, but the line:
‘”So this is what fear looks like,” he said, and he gazed out over the river, his head tilted to one side.’
is incredibly menacing.

Summer Afternoon

This is a beautiful piece of science fiction. We are given snippets of information about Earth, and we can perhaps assume that something has gone wrong there:
‘“A place like this would be protected by razor wire, guards.”’
On their journey to Earth 2, Riley, the main character simulates Iowa. The photograph that is taken of the characters is of their simulated experience, making this line very poignant:
‘Life becomes a dream of life, a summer afternoon with friends, just the way he remembers.’

Macbeth In The Park

The dialogue in this story is blended with Shakespeare’s text to great humorous effect. I love the idea of the river being the cauldron. But my favourite part of its being the cauldron is the dialogue:
‘”You can get the worst diarrhoea from it.”
“Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”’

Memories of generations

This story is reflective and beautiful. This is the last photograph the narrator will take as he/she appears to be nearing the end of their life. Looking on at his/her grandchildren, the narrator says of youth:
‘I remember having boundless energy which I wasted doing everything and nothing.’
And life brings us full circle:
‘I made all the mistakes that my son is currently making and my grandchildren will make in the future.’

Should Have Used the Flash

The title gives us some idea of what the conclusion is going to be, but it is the events leading up to that conclusion that are very entertaining. The three characters are truanting from work; yet, I can’t help but like them: the writer’s characterisation and depiction of their relationship make it hard not to. Therefore, when the photograph doesn’t turn out, it is rather a happy ending.

The 60-Watt Pulse and the Garden Wall

This story is brimming with stunning imagery:
‘The moment was caught and placed in a tiny zoo where is was kept and fed with just the proper amount of darkness and light…’
The extended metaphor of the embryonic nature of a photograph as it’s processed is used fabulously throughout the piece.
Also, the idea the main character is making a ‘noise’ by snatching a photograph off an unsuspecting photographer is wonderful.

Snap Harry

This story uses a clever play on words to create a terrifying plot. The narrator’s longing for a relationship with the girl in the story is made very clear, and once he employs the skills of Snap Harry, the results are horrific. The fate that befalls the narrator’s love rival will haunt me for a while! The final line is perfect:
‘The picture was of a young man, captured on a perfect summer’s day.’

Honourable Mention: Five Friends at the Lake by Alva Holland

Second runner up: Summer Afternoon by  Voima Oy

First runner up: The 60 Watt Pulse and the Garden Wall by Richard Edenfield

And our Round 128 FLASH MASTER is

FLASH MASTER

David Shakes

with

Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken

Congratulations, Shakes! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! And with that, February is a wrap. Tune in next weekend when Ewan Smith is back for another round of judging. Hope to see you all there.

Time Ghost

by Richard Edenfield
____________

The disease of time slowly started to take over his body. It started at his wrist where a pulse kicked like a Swiss watch handcrafted by battling Gods. It began to spread to every part of his being. And every place time went it took something with it: memories, health—a suitcase of hope. As he stood on a forgotten street, time whistled in the main thoroughfare like a killer waiting for a willing victim. Each part of his body started to break off. A piece at a time. Soon all that remained was a ghost of smoke circling snake-like rising from a blown out wish. He moved through life. Passed into solid structures. Was not seen. Eyes paused at his hollow presence and then returned to a pleasant neutrality. And everyone had become an apparition spinning through dreams and work and alcohol and the mechanical rhythm of star-studded sequined defeat. He had cast his spell on the world. A measuring stick to wrap around the sun and strangle the light from its bulging vein. But then he returned to his cage. The body he had left—on the ground—rising in its burial suit. The headstone neatly affixed with sturdy numbers and neat lines chiseled on humanity that created the original wall between people that ticked ticked ticked ticked tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick… who was paying for that?

_______________________

Happy Tuesday, writers! Thanks to everybody who wrote and/or commented on stories this weekend. Thanks also to AV Laidlaw for reading and judging. You’ll find his top picks below.

So, while I was enjoying myself down at the Icebreaker Festival in Southsea, it seems you lot were busy writing. A bumper crop of stories this week. Alas, time is short and I can’t comment on every one but I enjoyed them all. Sometimes it’s a gut feeling why I might pick one story over another, just something in the story that intrigues me, moves me, or makes me laugh.

HM – A Boring Picture by Richard Edenfield

It’s true, I’m a sucker for meta-fiction. A story based on a photograph that is about writing a story about that photograph… And all done in dialog that gives a great sense of the two people and their relationship. Of course, sometimes stories are a bit more real than you expect.

HM – Uncle Charlie by Frank Key

A nicely drawn character sketch of Uncle Charlie here, and written with a good strong voice that gives a real sense of these people and the world they live in. And Suzy Peek is a great character name.

HM and Best Title Award – Four Hail Mary’s and a Packet of Crisps by Stella Turner

A straightforward encounter between a policeman and a woman. What makes it a story is the tension between the surface actions and the thoughts of the narrator. We don’t know exactly what has happened to Peter John Clay but that doesn’t matter. The important thing is the emotion and the loyalty of the relationship between father and daughter.

2nd Runner Up – Health Kick by Steph Ellis

Oh, that January health kick when we realise that we’ve had one too many guests for Christmas dinner. I’ve always loved the comedy in taking an absurd premise – a jogging vampire – and playing it out logically. The character of Drac is so well portrayed by his thoughts and his actions that I feel sorry for the poor old soul (or non-soul) as his wife and children gang up on him.

1st Runner Up – The Letter by A.J. Walker

A convincing depiction of grief, not the immediate shock but the hollowness and anger that lingers on for years afterwards. The writing is uncomplicated, it doesn’t stretch for effect, but every beat hits an emotional truth.

And your Round 124 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Richard Edenfield

with Time Ghost

The shortest piece here but just packed so full of images and strangeness. I really don’t have much to say about it; it stands on its own perfectly.

Congratulations, Richard! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie.

And on that note we bid the first month of 2017 farewell! I hope you’ll all join the fun next weekend with judge Mark A. King.

Reading an Avalanche

by Richard Edenfield
______________________

On the soft white page there are tracks that speak a language of discovery and bloodshed. Your eyes follow me like a hunter across descriptions of streams, the poetry of a mountain—the trail of a wounded heart. I am an injured animal. Ice cracks like bone as I cross a waterway that carries a faint pulse underneath. I am breathing heavily. The mist from my breathing carves a rifles discharge around my head. I don’t dare look back. I know you are on my heals. I can only write so quickly. But I cannot lose you. If I place a metaphor in your way it will only alert you to my location. I start to run. I fall and get back up with ice forming around my knees. Coldness numbs the back of my throat. Extremities start to become unknown to themselves. My legs are heavy. The heart plays catch with itself as I hear a gunshot break apart the silence of a descending evening.

Through the heavy snow I continue. A flat white ahead is all I see. Desert of ice. A cool desolation. If I write badly maybe that will stop you. Or you will just continue till the end. Till all the blood drains from my body across the pale stark blanket. I can hear your breathing. Like a steady prayer knocking against my chest. The first moonlight gets lost on the ground like a lover in a collage of memory.

I see a town up ahead buried from the bright storm. Rooftops peek like nests through a pile of sunlight. The glare from the image blinds me… and hopefully you as well. I make it to the small area. I walk boldly down Main Street knowing that you won’t follow me here. My home is close. Inside will be a fire and safety and comfort. I make my way to my door that slowly opens as I approach. And you are standing there with a book. I can feel the pressure from your hand. My fever warms your touch. You invite me in as a gunshot starts an avalanche on the page.

Happy Tuesday, writers! Thanks to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend, and thanks also to Steph Ellis for judging. Her comments and top picks (with a surprise award!) are below.

Well you certainly didn’t disappoint this week (not that you ever do I might add) with twelve stories of an exceptionally high standard and as expected I found it extremely difficult to chose between them. I truly enjoyed reading these flashes on the day which has been dubbed the ‘most depressing day’ of 2017. So, thank you for the respite from the greyness and misery that is currently Southampton and now here are my thoughts on your entries (you can all gossip about my judging prowess – or lack of it later!):

A Blanket of No

Weather getting in the way of true love. The snow says no and it’s all the fault of the new President Elect. The sense of her impatience comes through so strongly that you are there with her in the kitchen as she looks at the watch, at her phone, considers coffee. Eighteen calls though points to a certain neediness that might not bode well for the future. Hope the snow clears.

The Snow Wand

The power of the imagination … and belief. Took me right back to the years I had to spend walking home along country lanes in the middle of nowhere in weather like this; wish I’d had a snow wand then to make it disappear. At least the wand worked and allowed the guinea pig to survive.

Wouldn’t That Be Something

Oh dear, sounds as though Mel has failed as a weather witch. A difficulty with some poor human male has resulted in his death and now Mel has to live with the consequences, but ‘it’s just not easy, getting things right’. The niggling and arguing between the siblings as a result of this is spot on.

Snowed Under

I’m hoping that perhaps this young adventurer has mistaken not caring for caring too much and that his family may have moved on because they didn’t want to be reminded of their ‘loss’. This story is a good example of showing how it’s always that ‘split-second decision’ that can send your life on a different path, in this case literally.

Snow Country

The perils of jumping headlong into something without preparation. The consequences in this instance appear to be almost certain death, a sacrifice of some sort. The Festival is made to sound sinister and menacing rather than having the usual inferences of fun and excitement. Perhaps the ‘cold and bitter’ herb tea was poisoned, perhaps he may be killed in some other way; either way he definitely won’t be enjoying the event.

Six Inch Marzipan Man

A different take on death by chocolate. Beware all those who cheat – you can’t always have your cake and eat it – you’ll probably be clobbered to death with it instead. The one-sided dialogue flowed perfectly and Caroline sounds like a right old gossip with an eye for the main chance. Very Midsomer Murders.

And to the results:

Firstly, a special award here

The Trump Award for Fantastical Fiction and Taking Liberties goes to

Two Extraordinary Women And A Modest (But Handsome In A Rugged Way) Young Man by Ewan Smith

A real puzzle as to who wrote this piece! Obviously they don’t realise that I cannot be bribed – although offering me some freebie books (print not digital)  may weaken my resolve somewhat. Alcohol doesn’t work either, I just fall asleep … can’t answer for Lady Hazmat though. Great fun and just to boost the unknown author’s self-esteem, I declare them the winner of this week’s Trump Award for Fantastical Fiction and Taking Liberties.

HMs

I am a Practising Eccentric by Stephen Lodge

Wonderful nonsense that nearly lost me with the Hawaiian shirt (loathe them) but pulled me back in with mention of a shrubbery (can never hear that word without thinking of Monty Python). The names were a particular delight: Cliff Hanger, Jobby & Squalid Dobbs, and of course the flora and fauna. And yes, I googled some of them just to make sure! I’ve a feeling that perhaps the art collector was pretty gullible in his dealings with the Dobbs brothers but he seems happy enough.

Neighbourhood Watch by Alva Holland

Snow, the great leveller of genteel suburbia, covers all that the residents take pride in, all are the same. I love the little descriptions of the house owners’ petty jealousies and their competitiveness. I dread to think what will happen when they try to keep up with their newest neighbours, the Jones’s.

Second Runner Up

The Fox and Two Sisters by A.V. Laidlaw

A story told in the manner of a traditional tale and which would not seem out of place in early mythological collections, having the feel of a story that has been around and accepted for centuries. The narrative is perfectly paced and beautifully descriptive with the silver-tongued Fox craftily getting his own way as he switches between the two sisters  so causing the change in seasons; a sly old dog indeed.

First Runner Up

The Visitor by Marie McKay

Small but perfectly formed. The atmosphere is tense, the fear strong. The personification of the buildings show how even the inanimate are affected by the presence of the bogeyman. He disturbs buildings, prayers and dreams. His presence is all-pervasive, dark and grey, pressing down on them as his feet ‘thud, thud, thud on their roofs’. But he is just ‘toying’, enjoying the torment he creates as he passes through the town and when he leaves, the colour doesn’t rush back in, instead he leaves a ‘grey nothingness’ behind. Wonderfully dark writing.

And our Round 122 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Richard Edenfield

with

Reading an Avalanche

Rich imagery takes your eyes away from the words on the page and into your own snow world. The cold seeps out as ‘ice cracks like bone’ and ‘mist from my breathing’ floats through air, numbness seeps in and limbs become heavy. The reader matches their pace with the injured creature. Is this a story or is it the author fearing ‘writer’s block’, the blood being the ink, the pale stark blanket, the empty page. Author, reader, subject – all interweave on the page, none exist without the other, viewpoints flit in and out so that this becomes the art of creation. Poetical and beautiful.

Congratulations, Richard. Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! This weekend A.J. Walker will be back to judge stories, I hope you’ll all be back to write them. Cheers!

Happy Tuesday, friends! Thank you to everyone who stopped by to write and comment this past weekend. Thanks also to David Shakes for judging and commenting on this week’s entries. You’ll find his thoughts and top picks below.

Hello folks.

Thank you Rebecca for inviting me to judge. 2016 has be a pivotal year. Interestingly, a couple of stories touch upon quantum mechanics and the multiverse. My own theory is that we’re now on the wrong timeline – hopefully The Enterprise, Time Cop, The Sliders or Dr Who will show up soon to make some adjustments without causing a temporal rift.

When we’re course corrected, I hope I still have my new job. The only downside is that it’s eating my time like there’s no tomorrow. I’m not writing. I’m still reading. (Always read – always!)

What a pleasure it was to read your stories for what I considered a great prompt. Think I detect some new (to me) voices too. I really loved everything you wrote. Glad to be back in the saddle.

May I just add one more thing? Thank goodness the Hourglass is back! We need this.

As always, judged blind and random order. I’ve made short notes for all and then it’s time for winners:

Thin Spaces, Shadow Places

One of my top three titles. Alluded to this in my introduction – Sci Fi with depth of emotion and some great philosophical moments. Making the here matter most – someone knows my own outlooks or just resonated?  Lovely writing.

From Fear to Modernity

Another of my top three titles. A familiar style – full marks (or Mark’s?!) for emotionally charged imagery. I connected with the character on a really deep level and the ‘caldera eyes of her gaunt doppelgänger…’ is fabulous imagery and heralds that ending. That single word at the end. That word. Sublime.

Of Quantum Ticketing and Squashed Ducks (and Don’t Even Mention the Dog)

Last of the top three titles, first of the laugh out loud tales this week. I first spat my coffee at the line:

‘…it’s not doing duck things anymore.’ and then didn’t stop laughing. The punchline was fabulous and grounding too. Great fun here. Northern humour through quality dialogue? It’s like a treasure hunt this!

LaVon King, Street Artist, Dies at 26

Brilliant in its blunt simplicity. A social commentary wrapped in a tragic story. The brevity of the descriptions of the artwork for the moving gallery still managed to conjure great pictures in my head and the juxtaposition of ‘…dark eyes peering from jungles’ and ‘angels weeping over expressways’ really worked – felt cinematic. Strong endings abound this week – this was one of the strongest.

Through Hell and Beyond

A ‘does what it says on the tin’ title here but a well handled story. Some of the side roads presented us with another type of social commentary and I kept thinking: The Wages of Sin (I suppose you can take the boy out of church…) I liked the last line very much – I suspected that reincarnation beckoned – a chance to be reborn?

Big-Boned

Second laugh out loud story of the week and just great. In the first paragraph and I guess eternity / maternity link and thought – this is the man – The Prince of Puns, Guardian of Grammar, doing his thing. In the second paragraph I didn’t see the ‘…back in two shakes’ and ‘David!’ coming – stories should, they say, connect on a personal level though!

Final paragraph and the set-up pays off – the punchline was brilliant. Well worth it.

A Choice to be Made

This gave me a coffin fit! No – I can’t do puns can I? I thought the white van man reference and the fact that we were delivering one side of the Mersey (mine or Zev’s?) made this a FlashDog tale (tail?) at least and I drew up a shortlist of suspects but can’t guess as well as in others. I found myself in the position of typing ‘Do they burn coffins in the UK?’ in to Google. Seems it’s an FAQ! This is the second example of a simple tale that works because it is what it is without pretense. We’ve had life after death and now life with death.

No Through Road

No parking, deep emotions.

The second story to do the life after death trip and the second one (in the order I read them at least) to feature the loss of children. There’s a focus on memory here, of memory being stripped away perhaps, but not before it’s recalled and reconciled whether our narrator wants to or not. What’s beyond the tunnel? No parking.

No Parking

or ‘To be Frank, He Gets What He Deserves’ – No, puns still not my thing at all. I do like a nice tables-turned story and the predatory Frank will eternally regret dating Ashley. I liked how she still had time to appreciate the well described view at Lover’s Cove and this was the first, subtle signs that she may not be as intimidated as we’d first imagined. Blowing him up may have been a tad too far though!

Composing a Sonnet

Most disarming title award. Psycho killer qu’est ce que c’est?

I really liked how this one played out, with the narrator’s voice taking us along with it, drawing us in to his thought patterns, his motivations. ‘My house is ETERNITY’ – a bold line with, I felt, layers of meaning – backed up with the finality of HERE for the boy’s fate. ‘There, there – all done.’ Chilling – especially ‘…although I must say crimson is a most becoming colour…’ A master of show not tell at work here.

Those Things Are Going To Kill You

Warning signs eh? Signs that give warning. This was great and, upon re-reading, the clues are there from the start – dry lips & breath tests; pins, needles and fast food wrappers. I wondered if the businessman who burned himself was our guy? A glimpse of the future or a past not remembered?  Certainly the repeated use of the word ‘burning’ gave hints, the air being too thick to breathe. Great last line, (haven’t they all been though?) loaded with meaning. Kind of thing I’d try to write to be honest.

A Heartbeat in THX Sound

We start and end with some Sci Fi. A future where the death of cinema and the rise of technology has reached its sad conclusion. I loved the question ‘Would you put The Grand Canyon in your pocket?’ – a fabulous summary of the point our author is making. The real horrors are hinted at in the one-liners – like kissing in person or believing the truth (topical!) being a thing of the past. This is the only entry to directly reference the film too. That last line is so loaded with imagery that I’m still unpicking it.

There are no special mentions as they were all special (and not in that ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ patronizing kind a way) – that’s why I mentioned them all. You’ve taken time to make thought into word and now something unique exists in the digital ether because of it. How cool is that?

Second Runner up is A Heartbeat in THX Sound by Richard Edenfield for premise and execution

First Runner up is Big-Boned by Geoff Holme for the humour and audacity

And our Round 117 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

AV Laidlaw

with

Those Things Are Going To Kill You

…because I enjoyed it the most

Congratulations, AV! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend we enter the magical month of December, and Brady Koch will be there to kick-off the judging.

We will be breaking for Christmas, but if I can find a volunteer to judge, The Angry Hourglass will ring in the New Year with Round 121!

Until next time!

Happy Tuesday, friends! Thanks to all the writers who submitted this past weekend, and thank you Steph Ellis for volunteering your time to judge and comment. You’ll find those comments and top picks below.

Welcome back to all those who either read or contributed a story to this week’s Flash Frenzy. As it’s November, I am aware that a number of you have been hard at work on your NaNoWriMo novels with the FlashDogs in particular racking up the word counts at a great rate of knots.  To those of you who managed to ‘flash’ as well as ‘nano’, you have gone above and beyond. Somehow I crawled across the finish line this weekend but not completed the novel so I haven’t ‘nanoed’ in the truest sense of the word – but it was a kick up the backside to get on with something I’d been procrastinating over for most of the year! And for me that was my November target. I hope you all meet yours.

And now back to the stories …

Is This The End? – Great setting and atmosphere. The silence of the missing crowds – or the dead – contrasts with the eerie sound of creaking cabins, swinging doors and the wind blowing sagebrush down the street.  The sense of abandonment and desertion, of death with the flies buzzing above a cadaver is strong and perfectly drawn. And then that switch, from a place of catastrophe to the mundane traffic and weather report, disaster dismissed and life goes on; very well done. Plus this week’s award for best town name goes to Loose Stools.

The Big Wheel – Those summer days with life literally spread out below you. The wheel turns, they kiss, the wheel turns, she is pregnant and now with major decisions to face, they look out at those below whose worries are all ‘so distant and small’ compared to their own. Beautifully done.

Steel Flower – ‘My mind turns with pockets of sunrise memories.’ What a beautiful opening line. There is a strong sense of the character’s separateness from those around him/her, a feeling of displacement, not quite part of the world which is carrying on in its own sweet way.  He has almost lost his sense of self, become just an ‘idea’, ‘vague notion’. Lovely, almost ethereal piece.

Wheels Within Wheels – It is the tattoos that speak in this story. Each character has, or desires a tattoo which brings with it hope of change, of knowledge and understanding. Lives not fully realised – a job as a janitor, a spell in prison – all point to a dead-end but the idea of the wheel brings back a memory to Snake, of another man with another tattoo ‘Live free or die’. A reminder perhaps that his ‘problem with authority’ might cause him trouble yet.

Gone – As soon as you finish the first line you know what’s coming, an irritating child, a younger sibling, the one we’ve all had to care for at sometime when we’d rather have been elsewhere. And you just know something bad is going to happen.

Despite the clear hero worship of Cody by Emily, when she ‘beamed as though I had given her the world’, he ‘barely acknowledged her’. He wanted to be checking out video games, not babysitting his little sister. Obediently though, he follows his parents’ orders, after a fashion, until you get to one of those ‘it won’t hurt’ moments and the narrator sits his sister on the ferris wheel next to ‘an older lady so I knew she’d be okay’, and he goes to look at video games. In the end he is disappointed by what is on offer but when he returns she is gone. The consequences of his selfish action, although only minutes, becomes a never-ending moment of horrific realization and freezes the blood in his veins. Fluid story-telling at its best.

Full Moon Rising – Not what you’d expect on an innocent ride on the Ferris Wheel, a moment of fun becoming a living horror story. Graphic description of the werewolf, ‘drool hanging from his half-open mouth’ and strong sense of claustrophobia and tension with words like ‘clamped’, ‘muffled’, ‘suffocation’, ‘intensity’. She cannot escape him and in the end raises a family with him but then it is her turn to become the killer as she watches her children ‘at birth for signs and smothered the hairy ones and the one born with a tooth’. A mother’s lot is not a happy one.

 

Special Mention

Full Moon Rising by Stella Turner – for conjuring up a werewolf horror on a Ferris Wheel.

Honourable Mentions

The Big Wheel by AV Laidlaw – for the repetition mirroring the turning wheel and events unfolding at each turn.

Wheels Within Wheels by Voima Oy – for the way in which tattoos are used to provide the framework and the message in the story.

 

 

2nd Runner Up – Steel Flower by Richard Edenfield. A piece of writing that reminds me of a dandelion clock, ready to break apart and just float away.

1st Runner Up  – Is this the End? by Stephen Lodge For the way in which a horrific event is dismissed in order to report on the mundane.

And your Round 116 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

 Angelique Pacheco

with Gone

A tragic story that serves as a reminder to us all not to look away, even for just a few minutes.

Congratulations, Angelique! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Thank you again, Steph for judging this weekend’s stories. Next weekend we embrace the first official Christmas shopping weekend of the year. I wish everyone who ventures out a safe and kind shopping experience, and I hope you’ll still have the energy to pop by and write some flash for Judge David Shakes. See you then.

Happy Tuesday! Thank you to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend, and thanks much to Voima Oy for judging and commenting. You’ll find them below:

Welcome, everyone. It’s so good to be here, in this place. These uncertain times need stories more than ever. We need all kinds of stories–funny, sad, warnings, courage, hope. This photo by Ashwin Rao is wonderful, even iconic. Where would it take you? You have risen to the challenge brilliantly. Thank you for sharing your stories with me.

On to the comments—

The Last Fires of the Fall–I love the voice in this one, so down-to earth in the bleak landscape–“I’m an old man and Sonny is my last dog.” This is a post-apocalyptic world without much hope, a virus has devastated the earth. But the smile on the boy’s face as he pets the dog Sonny is a sign of life. There is a moment of beauty and grace, even here.

Mabel and Ron, Stella and Roger–The characters and details really make the story, here. This an everyday tragedy, a harsh reality–the judgements, the separateness of people. The dog, Roger, is a reminder of our shared humanity. Very sad story, and beautifully done.

The Big Move–Let’s hear it for the power of brevity! This says it all in those few words–six if you count the title. Perfect with that photo. My sentiments exactly.

Byron & John Keats on the Road–In this traveling library through a post-apocalyptic landscape are spirits of Whitman and Kerouac (On the Road) and Ray Bradbury (“I sing the body electric,” and Fahrenheit 451) too. This is a powerful story of hope. The last paragraph is marvelous, pure poetry.

A Dog’s Life–I can picture these dogs on the road–what great characters they are. I love the point of view. There’s wonderful humor here “stop using our wee-mail!” — and such a free spirit. What a delightful story!

Ragnarok–It’s not the end of the world–yet–but the sense of impending doom is so strong in this story I can feel it. I can see the Norse gods among the rusted trucks and dreadlocked potheads. I love Loki as the dog and Odin on the roof of his van turning his eye to the sun. Great stuff!

Wag this Tale Off–This is truly the dog’s tale–I love the voice in this, the spelling and the language, how it conveys the energy, the enthusiasm and loyalty–the bond with the you-man. Truly dogs are in a state of grace. They do have a buddha nature, living in the moment. Just beautiful.

Sparrowditch. The Beginning.— I love how this story unfolds, such subtlety. The voice is just a little bit creepy at first, but it becomes more and more sinister. Scary stuff!

Idiosyncracies– I’m reading this as a vampire tale, and humans are the prey. It could also be an allegory of the wealthy elite. The voice here speaks of clans, entitlement, and a rejection of that society–“I left behind the comfortable life they had created.” and a need to “feed my soul,” embracing a life of uncertainty, the thrill of the hunt. Really chilling.

931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway–This pilgrimage to the last piece of America rings true. So many great lines–“show what this country blows up for..there was America in those eyes…we were ready to take back our country..” The appearance of Jefferson, and the violet of forgiveness is breathtaking.

Nature versus Nurture –What a great opening! This is flash at its finest–not a word wasted, and the details are so vivid. The story gets darker and darker. It has a medieval feel, or post-apocalyptic. The last paragraph is a terrifying twist. The God of Greed is Mammon–I looked online and pictures look frighteningly familiar. Amazing piece.

He looks like the Dog’s B*ll*cks in the Light of the Super-moon—I had to look up the reference to the Dog’s B*ll*cks, but it means the best there is. This is a tale of personal apocalypse, a story of survival and hope. It is harrowing, heartbreaking, beautiful.

Well-done, everyone!  I love all these stories, and every one of you.  Here are my choices–

Special Mention

The Big Move by Bart van Gothem–power of brevity!

A dog’s Life by Angelique Pacheco–great characters and humor

Honorable Mention

Last Fires of the Fall by AV Laidlaw–sad and hopeful–a moment of beauty

Wag This Tale Off by Sal Page –Beautiful writing of a state of grace

2nd runner up

Ragnarok by Steph Ellis –Feeling of doom, and Odin in the sun

1st runner up

Nature and Nurture by Stella Turner –subtle and horrifying.

And our Round 115 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Richard Edenfield

with Byron & John Keats on the Road

Powerful spirit–epic and hopeful

Congratulations, Richard! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s Hump Day Quickie! Thanks again, Voima, for volunteering your time. Next weekend Steph Ellis is acting judge. Hope to see you all there.

Welcome back! Thanks to everybody who wrote for last week’s challenge. I had a great time in Vegas, and there’s a chance you may see a photo prompt or two in the near future derived from my adventures at StokerCon. In the meantime, Marie McKay has chosen her favorite stories from last week’s prompt. You’ll find her comments below.

Thank you, Rebecca for the opportunity to judge this week’s entries. I loved the prompt. You all took it in quite different directions, and all the stories were a pleasure to read.

Seamist Bay

A dark tale with a great twist.

Looking for Love

31 words long. Not one wasted.

‘vacant, like his eyes’ is a very powerful line.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

The innocent sounding title sets this dark tale up beautifully. The horrendous action is juxtaposed with snippets of domestic life: children’s bedtime stories, songs and birthday cakes are nestled within a very grim storyline. This structure worked exceptionally well.

Fair e_lights

This is another short tale. It is haunting and these lines broke my heart:

‘Her girl waits downstairs—mouldy sandwiches in Pepper Pig lunch box,

Ambulance-lights colour Happy Meal toys, as paramedics smash well-worn locks.’

365 Mirrors

‘My father made a photo book called ‘365 days a year,’ … It was like a calendar of absence.’

Very profound with some staggering lines.

Coffin Convertables Hanging

‘Light dropped like candles from corners of the night…’ fabulous opening line and intriguing title.

Solitary Pleasure

The theme of feeling the outsider is dealt with here.

‘Some things had changed, he felt out of place, a visitor from another age.’

There is a note of nostalgia, but the story itself is not a sad one. I loved this story’s off-beat ending.

Inferno

This line is fantastic: ‘Smoke rising to the ceiling, where baroque cherubs cleaned the air.’

A weird and wonderful tale that reminded me of programmes like ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ (and Kojak, of course!)

I guess I need to get on with the business of picking winners, now. Here goes:

Runner Up: 365 Mirrors by Richard Edenfield

A profound story that is full of melancholy and built on a tremendous premise. I think probably the fact I have recently read and loved the novel, ‘The Girl Who wasn’t There,’ drew me to this one. Loved the tone throughout.

And our Round 107 Flash Master is…

FLASH MASTER

Steph Ellis

with Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

I do like dark tales, and I just loved how this one built towards its revelation. (I also liked the little, cheeky nod to Hannibal Lecter.) Ironically, the innocent songs, games etc are what make this story so incredibly chilling. Clever and brilliantly enjoyable.

Congratulations, Steph! Your story will be featured as this week’s Hump Day Quickie! I hope you’ll all join us next weekend as Mark King returns for another round as Flash Frenzy judge. See you then!