August 26 – September 15, 2021 Writing Prompt “Ouroboros”

Theme: Ouroboros

It doesn’t have to be a dragon or a snake specifically, it can be a worm or a person who is so self-absorbed that they are symbolically eating their own tail, etc.

The rest is up to the author.

Requirements:

  • none

Word Count: 1,200

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Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one, but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must stay within the word limit set for each contest.
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  • Stories must be posted no later than Wednesday morning at 6:00am PDT / 8:00am CST / 9:00am EST / 8:30pm IST / 2:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00pm CET/1:00am AEDT (Thursday)
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To be included in the “writing prompt roster”, you must have submitted two stories in the last sixty days. The roster is alphabetical and can be found here.

See How to Participate for complete rules and disclaimers.

The writing prompt for September 9, 2021, will be chosen by Ken Miles.

233 thoughts on “August 26 – September 15, 2021 Writing Prompt “Ouroboros”

  • August 26, 2021 at 11:45 am
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    Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked in this comment within a day or two, feel free to use the contact form to let Carrie know she somehow missed it.

    Meanwhile, please be patient, there is only one moderator, and she is not always online. We’ll get to it as soon as possible. Thank you.)

    Reply
      • August 26, 2021 at 3:07 pm
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        Yes. It can be a mobius strip or a klein bottle or a conveyor belt with a half-twist or even the human consciousness itself! I mean wait, I don’t know, what the heck is an ouroboros? It won’t even pull up in the autocorrect!

        Reply
        • August 26, 2021 at 3:50 pm
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          Ouroboros? From antiquity, it is a reptile giving itself a reality check by biting its, its, ah, tail.
          Also, a Mobius strip is a single-sided sheet of paper. Cutting a Mobius strip in half is interesting. Cutting it in half again is even more interesting. Try it!

          Reply
          • August 30, 2021 at 3:32 pm
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            I was obsessed with Mobius strips for 2 years straight and it annoyed everyone that knew me, but I don’t think it will ever help me in a practical way.

            I was going to reply to your comment with some pontification and it turned into half a story, so I deleted it, but thanks for the outlet!

            I spared you from some seriously amateur ranting about the 4th dimension… you should thank half of me for saving you from the other half of me!

            🙂

          • September 1, 2021 at 4:13 pm
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            I’m a bore (us)?

            No, ouroboros!

            That was probably worse than the Tom Petty thing… but I had to get it out or put it in a story, and we all know that any story containing such a gem would have an unfair advantage (tee hee).

    • September 7, 2021 at 11:00 pm
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      Ouroboros

      “The ouroboros symbolises eternity, the absorption of the other into the self, the assimilation of the opposite, the shadow.”

      I don’t remember a time before you. I learned myself from my reflection in your eyes. My words were rolled on your tongue before they became mine, my thoughts wore your expressions. You are my other, my mirror self, a promise of what I should try to be, a threat of what I might become, and I am all those things for you also. We are like each other’s echo. An hermetic circle, we are head and tail of the same creature. In the stories we read at bedtime the hero always leaves home to find himself. We leave home together, already found, shedding identical skins.

      There is a time when our paths run alongside one another like strands of the same melody, alto and soprano, each the echo of the other in a different key. The world turns, the barrel of a music box, our lives two sequences of pins vibrating a single metal comb.

      But dissonance creeps in, grows, sunders the strands of sound until we are dancing to different tunes. One morning I wake up half a world away from you. We are held together by the thinnest of leitmotifs now, phone-calls, emails, texts; clinging to invisible threads stretched across the surface of the earth.

      I think of you as you were when I left, unchanged and unchanging until I return, like our childhood bedroom, a freeze frame. Every visit home is a small puzzle designed to test me. What doesn’t belong? Those lines around your eyes, the grey in your hair. That new tiredness in your shoulders when you walk too far. The definition of too far that shrinks a little, each time.

      My mirror self is changing, morphing. I no longer see a true likeness when I look at you. It is my fault for leaving, I know. It is as if I threw a pebble into the smooth surface of a lake, and looked for your reflection in vain beneath the image I distorted. I can’t reach you when I travel back across time zones. I have left you somewhere back in time.

      It is my fault when the phone-call comes. Your body is become Ouroboros, devouring itself; each cell replicating monsters. It is as though it is trying to fill the absence I left.

      I thought there would always be time. There is so little time, now. I come back home, before it is gone.

      To begin with there is awkward conversation islanded with gaps and silences, but then the words come like a river in spate, sweeping us back to each other down the flood of memories. Together we dig up buried treasure, recollections we had wrapped up and put away for this rainy season. Now we exhume them from the silt of the years: touchstones, markers on the cartography of the past. We rub them bright; handled so often, they become jewelled versions of themselves, their surfaces worn smooth of detail.

      I try not to see how your surface is beginning to wear away. The bright edge of your thought is dulling, little by little. It comes and goes in waves, the lethargy, the weariness that sucks the colour from your skin and from your speech. Your voice is an echo now, ever dwindling. You are fading from me, no matter how firmly I grip your hand. I am scared I will bruise you, trying to hold on so tight.

      In dreams, more and more often, I search for you in vain. I have lost you at a train station, at a bus stop, on a busy street. I forget you for a moment, turn around and you are receding from me, your face a small smudge of colour in the crowd. The press of bodies like a sea tides me further and further away until you disappear and I am racing across town searching for you, my naked feet treading small, sharp diamonds of glass. I do not find you. I wake feeling hollow. I check you are still there. You are still there. For now.

      Nights are the worst. I nod in a chair beside you, afraid to close my eyes in case you slip away. Often I startle awake to wheezing, to laboured breath, only to find you are slumbering unaware of your own distress. I sneak onto your bed, snake my arms about you, protective in the darkness. Too late.

      In the sweet, newly-lifted turf, droplets of moisture twinkle like stars. A cloud crosses the weak, late October sun and my shadow vanishes into larger darkness. The turning of the year – you can almost feel the heave of gears, the slowing of Earth’s engine as the air cools, chills, as the sun’s vitality fades.

      We are ranged in dark wools, fleeces, some of us in cashmere, standing sentinel in the dying light. Your body disappears into the maw of earth. You: sister, double, other-I. Childhood, adulthood, all I knew of existence, held in a simple wooden box, fashioned and smoothed, sealed and hidden under the soil; earth’s entrails. Incense-like, a cloud of perfume wreathes the woman behind me – Samsara, a scent from three decades ago. I stifle in memory.

      A terrible time for a funeral – Hallowe’en. Like a poor joke. Later tonight children will throng darkening pavements draped in sheets, black shirts printed with glowing bones, their faces painted skulls. I see you in my mind, a child again, tripping into the darkness with a basket on your arm, diminutive Persephone. I always followed you, back then. Even into the darkest dark. How can I follow you now?

      There are presses upon the hand, arms about shoulders, muted voices soft with metered sympathy. The living must abide by the rules, after all. Sandwiches and warm beer at the club – economical to hire and they do a good spread, say the murmurs. People retell old stories like beads on a rosary: pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. D’you remember that time when? No, it wasn’t him, it was the other cousin. You’re thinking of the place in Devon, not Cornwall. That was the year before. Or after. Or some other year. Everything dissolves, fades into distance like shadows in twilight.

      People drift away as the evening falls, gold, then mauve, then cinereal. Tyres on asphalt, the small car park empties. Sounds sharpen on the dark air. I listen. I don’t know what I am listening for.

      Night falls.

      There is a quietness in the smallest hours of the night that is different to any other absence of sound. On a clear night the stars are a score, a muted symphony in braille. The sky turns on its vast axis like the barrel of a music box; clouds trail thin fingers across the uneven dimpling, tracing the melody. Bright notes against a black cloth of silence. You can almost hear eternity’s soft breath.

      I am listening for my echo. It does not come.

      1185 words

      Reply
      • September 8, 2021 at 12:03 pm
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        This made me cry about a third of the way in.

        Now I want to go home and hug my wife.

        I think this has to be reread a few times because the poetic sentences hold too much to take in all at once.

        You already had my vote because of the deep point about the hero’s journey and the ouroboros at the start, and then I read the story and realized that there was much more!

        I am surrounded by coughing and sneezing people with no masks at work right now and I don’t want to bring the virus home with me, it kind of stopped making me sad and frustrated and changed to something else, but I hope it doesn’t change to this story.

        Reply
        • September 8, 2021 at 1:34 pm
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          Oh wow, what a lovely response, thank you so much. I’m glad it managed to make sadness into something a bit more positive (not sure positive is the right word, but can’t find a better one!) – that was exactly the aim. Hugs to you and your wife! And stay safe.

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      • September 14, 2021 at 2:18 am
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        Fiona,

        As Rumples says, I may have to read this again to absorb all the intricate details. There’s a lot here. The writing is very poetic, lovely. Some amazing analogies(?) ‘On a clear night the stars are a score, a muted symphony in braille.’ That’s an amazing sentence. and just one of many beautiful phrases.
        I’ll reserve further comments until I’ve read it again, but the writing is powerful and beautiful.

        Reply
        • September 14, 2021 at 6:23 pm
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          Thank you so much. I really appreciate the positive feedback. I’ve just started writing for other people to read, and it’s really encouraging to know people do like what I’ve got to say.

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      • September 14, 2021 at 9:11 am
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        Hi Fiona,
        You have written a most wonderful piece of prose. It requires several readings to fully appreciate the beauty, the sadness of your words.
        It is, without doubt, a masterpiece that I think stands tall amongst the best I have seen ( or written) on this site.
        Well done.
        Kind regards,
        Ken Frape

        Reply
        • September 14, 2021 at 6:25 pm
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          This is so, so kind and lovely of you that I don’t know what to say. Except that I’m going to print this and take it out in those crippling moments of self doubt that I think (it’s not just me, right?) all writers get, and I know they’ll be absolute solid gold. Thank you.

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      • September 14, 2021 at 11:24 am
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        Fiona,

        The more I read your story, the more I like it. I feel pangs of envy and jealousy as I read your descriptive phrases (wishing I could write like this) that seem to come so effortlessly from you. I don’t know if you sit there and agonize over the words, or if they just flow from the tips of your fingertips as they dance across the keys of your computer – or whatever medium you use.

        Occasionally I am able to do it, but at a cost of time and sweat equity. I have to fight for each phrase.

        I still think you could have done more with less, but as I go back and reread the different lines, which would I take out? And there I am stumped. I guess this is an example of maybe too much:

        On a clear night the stars are a score, a muted symphony in braille. The sky turns on its vast axis like the barrel of a music box; clouds trail thin fingers across the uneven dimpling, tracing the melody. Bright notes against a black cloth of silence.

        I don’t think you need the two references regarding the stars in the first and third sentences. Both are equally good but only one is needed. They’re well written, however.

        I’m sure others may disagree completely with me regarding this issue, and feel free to take my words and let them go in one eye and out the other. Yes, I meant in one eye and out the other. Trying for a little humor there.

        Good effort and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see you on top of the winner’s list in the voting results.

        One point, however, I’m not sure D’you is a contraction. I don’t think it adds to the story. Just saying.

        Roy

        Reply
        • September 14, 2021 at 6:31 pm
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          Roy, your comments do the difficult thing of being supportive and helpfully critical at the same time. Thanks for pointing out where I can prune down, I know it’s a fault I have (over writing) but I can’t always see when I’m doing it! Having read your story I can’t believe you fight for phrases, you have a real gentle mastery of tone which I’m afraid is a dead giveaway of a craftsman in complete control of his medium. It’s nice to know we all suffer from envy of other writers though, and see cracks in our own work where others are blissfully unaware!
          A note on “D’you” – you got me, it’s definitely not a real, proper contraction. I was trying to capture the accent of people where I grew up – Shropshire in the UK. I’m not sure I cracked it on this occasion but I’ll keep trying.

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      • September 15, 2021 at 12:57 am
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        Fiona,
        Got me intrigued from the get go. I loved the descriptions and the history, the flashbacks, the all. I also at times over-describe and make up my own words or contractions, sometimes they are intentional to be what the character would use. I reread it several times, gaining more each time. I have not read your work before, as I am new-is here. I am from Australia, we have also have our own unique ways of saying and doing things when we communicate. As an outsider it may seem unusual but I can see that the words chosen were important and essential. I have no great critique but only praise, well done. Can’t wait to vote for you. Thank you.

        Reply
        • September 15, 2021 at 1:39 pm
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          Hi John (is that right?), thanks so much, what a lovely comment to wake up to! Definitely one to print off and keep in the “gloomy day mood lifter” file!
          I’m chuffed to meet another over-describer and accent-phile! We should maybe set up a mutual support group – we could aim to talk exclusively in words that sound a bit odd to most of the world 😉
          By the way, I love your descriptions too: “dazzling with colours , reminiscent of a gypsy in a child’s story” – this was so lush and gorgeous, I could see her instantly, and the subtle touch of getting the innocence in there to hint she was odd but benign – fab!

          Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 8:40 am
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        Fiona – absolutely exquisite writing. Poetry in prose form, really. You’ve found ways of describing things that I’m sure have never been used before, and you do it on just about every line. And it’s not just for show – it all adds layer upon layer of melancholy until the final, inevitable and irreversible truth. I’m (we’re, I imagine) in awe. Brava!

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        • September 15, 2021 at 1:45 pm
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          Hi Phil, oh wow, coming from a writer who can do humour and vivid, memorable images with such ease as you seem to this is so much appreciated. Thank you very much.
          This is pretty much the first time I’ve posted anything publicly on a “proper” writers’ site, and I can’t explain how brilliant it’s been to get such positivity and support back from everyone on here – all of whom are so talented themselves (argh – grammar breakdown! Hopefully the meaning’s clear.) I feel very lucky this is where I landed up for my first step into the “putting it out there” water.
          Huge, huge thanks to this amazing community.

          Reply
          • September 15, 2021 at 2:03 pm
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            Go forth and prosper, Fiona! (But also stick around here for future themes …)

  • August 26, 2021 at 1:57 pm
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    Oh, this is such a creepy prompt. So many ideas are beginning to form. Thanks, whoever did this. Now, I’ll be laying awake at night, wondering about this.

    Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 1:51 pm
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      Great story! Deep and eery. Well done. Got a vote from me!

      Reply
  • August 26, 2021 at 2:39 pm
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    Sounds like a good one!

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  • August 26, 2021 at 10:43 pm
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    Yep nice one. Feeling spoken to. Is that self absorption or what???

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  • August 30, 2021 at 1:42 pm
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    I have a nascent story that has more of a structure than last time, but it is emergent and I don’t have much control over it. (There are probably going to be two stories from me this time, but the second one will be just for fun/therapy and to make up for the first one.)

    On another note, has anyone ever been to Cumberland Island?

    There is a little-known connection between Cumberland Island and the ouroboros of legend, though some might say it has more to do with the “hoop snake” legend of the Appalachians than some kind of alchemical metaphor or symbol of undying renewal.

    I want to address this connection, but it always ends up sounding like some huge lamentation for what might have been when I try to put it into words, because I missed out on something when I was a child and I can’t stop obsessing over it.

    I have a bunch of pseudostories inside of me that are weird events that really happened to me, but they require polishing I think, at least to make them into something more than nostalgic and wishy-washy meanderings of thought.

    Reply
  • August 31, 2021 at 1:11 pm
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    DON’T look up ouroboros steak if you have a weak stomach.

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    • August 31, 2021 at 2:11 pm
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      Oh my, interesting. Reminiscent of Soylent Green. If you know what I mean.

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      • August 31, 2021 at 8:30 pm
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        I saw it when I was a kid and I didn’t know who Eddy G. Robinson was yet. Then I tried to watch it again as an adult who loves Eddy G. and it was too hard to keep going once I saw him – I must have been depressed because I really do want to see it again… I’m going to have to sneak it when everyone is asleep because of the weird schedule and logistics of my home during these pandemic years…

        Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 8:13 am
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      All,
      I have to extend the contest another week. I have contracted covid-19 and have been fighting severe pneumonia for 8 days now. Yes I’m vaccinated. No it has not made a difference.
      I am honestly too weak and sick to create the voting page and tally votes and such so I have to push it off a week.
      Sorry for any inconvenience.

      Reply
      • September 8, 2021 at 9:32 am
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        That is awful and I am freaking out for you! We understand and don’t spend another thought on this site until you are better – that is all that matters! A nightmare came true and I will pray for you.

        Reply
        • September 8, 2021 at 9:37 am
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          Thank you, yes I definitely would not wish this on my worst enemy. ❤️

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          • September 11, 2021 at 2:10 am
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            ‘ I definitely would not wish this on my worst enemy.’

            Thank You, Carrie. That means a lot to me. It really does. But now everyone knows who my secret ‘nemesis’ is. Way to go.

            I hope you feel better soon.

      • September 8, 2021 at 9:33 am
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        Everyone read the reply to my steak comment from Carrie!!! Scroll up!

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        • September 14, 2021 at 2:20 am
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          Rumple,
          I couldn’t find your steak comment or the reply. Should I be using a metal detector?

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          • September 14, 2021 at 7:25 am
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            The steak thing is really gross because it is ouroboros steak and the other thing was me just finding out about Carrie and freaking out! I hope she is feeling better! I know I feel like the walking dead but that is just the coffee deficiency and a bruised rib from a play wrestle with my 11 year old (he really packs a play punch), so I can’t imagine!

      • September 8, 2021 at 10:28 am
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        Dear Carrie,

        So sorry to hear about your illness. This effffing virus knows no bounds
        .
        Forget all about us and the prompts, that’s just not important now. YOU ARE!

        Get well soon,

        Ken Frape x

        Reply
      • September 8, 2021 at 10:49 am
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        Carrie, well that sucks. So sorry to hear you have Covid. The only good thing I can see is I get a chance to go over my story a bit more than hastily posting it to beat the deadline.

        Get better soon, and we’ll all be patiently waiting for you when we get back. In the meantime, maybe we can hustle up some more stories.

        Hoping the best for you, Carrie. Take your time coming back. Stories can wait. Take care of yourself.

        Roy

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      • September 8, 2021 at 5:51 pm
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        Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to hear you’re so poorly! Hoping you recover very soon and feel better.

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      • September 10, 2021 at 2:29 am
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        Big virtual hugs and well wishes for you. Keep well, and we can surely wait until you are back to your 100%.
        No inconvenience at all, maybe get another story done… LOL.

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  • September 1, 2021 at 12:48 am
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    Ouroborous 1,200 words.
    By John Filby.
    27-08-2021.

    ‘A circular symbol depicting a snake, or less commonly a dragon, swallowing its tail, as an emblem of wholeness or infinity’.

    Hannah started the day as usual, boring as hell. Same old, same old, the bus and life went on and on. The bus ride to the office was just the same as any other day. If she thought about it a bit, there were probably the same travellers. Even the bus driver was familiar but then a lot of people had a very generic look these days. No one really stands out from the crowd. Maybe she could pick out the regulars and where they get on and off, if she even cared.

    Hannah included herself in this group, she didn’t want to stick out, she preferred to be just hiding in the background, go about her life with no drama and not attract attention at all.

    She liked being invisible. Today was no exception, she boarded the bus after another person hailed it. She readied her bus pass and scanned it, taking a seat behind the driver, not a word said or an interaction with another soul.

    Looking directly ahead, she phased out, conscious but not aware of what was around her. The motion of the bus seemed to relax her, gentle sways to and fro and left to right as the journey continued.

    Hannah’s lank hair, wet from the shower, jangled and obscured her peripheral vision. The noise of the commuters and such sheltered her from having to chat. She did not enjoy the small talk and always seemed to attract the looneys wherever she went.

    A weight plonked onto the seat beside her and a gush of wind swept over her. She knew that maybe someone would want the seat, but hoping she would be closer to her disembarkment than here.

    She turned her face about ninety degrees to see what or who was seated. She was hoping not to make eye contact for she would then feel obliged to say something. A woman of unknown age, dazzling with colours , reminiscent of a gypsy in a child’s story was adjusting her belongings on her lap.

    Glassy, almost mirrored eyes stared back and said, ‘Thanks Doll’. Hannah chose not to respond, but the voice continued anyway.

    “Guess that you are in your own world, I understand that, rebirth and regrowth. Self-care for you today”, she whispered.
    Hannah heard it all but did not want to chat or acknowledge the fact that this woman was spot on. She needs this daily commute in self-meditation or mindfulness to ground and move on through her day.

    Her neighbour continued, “I call myself Amethyst, you don’t need to talk, I will just channel your thoughts.

    Hannah looked stunned, hoping that she was not so shallow that a stranger could see through her and read her mind. She was after all invisible, a no one. Not wanting an analysis without her knowledge, she began a conversation.

    “I am Hannah, I prefer to be left alone, inconspicuous. But if you are going to read me, I would prefer to give my consent”.

    Amethyst, not aware that her words had been intrusive at all continued.
    “I see my dear. Let me seek your guidance and consent for my intrusion”.

    Hannah nodded. Amethyst reached for Hannah’s hand and retreated slightly as she did not enjoy encroachment into her personal space, and the sensation of another person touching her so intimately.

    Amethyst, held the hand but loosened the grip somewhat, needing the connection. Hannah, flinched but remained held in Amethyst’s palm. This warmth was a sensation she did enjoy but it was not one she had felt this way before.

    Amethyst spoke in a voice, soothing and comforting. Using words that most people would avoid, Hannah also, because although she did not want to stick out, she did write and dream and overthink so had a varied vocabulary.

    “I sense so much and cannot keep up with what is being offered to me, our words and speech of this world are slower and clunkier than theirs”, Amethyst offered.

    Hannah had been to a Psychic reader a few years ago, but did not feel that it was real. The information was very general and the predictions were not even close, she recalled. As a boarder, a few students from her all girls Catholic School St. Brigids, decided to challenge the scriptures and talk to the other world. They organise a ouija board seance behind Sr Bernadette’s back, she was the boarding school house mother.

    Again Hannah was not convinced but she did feel that maybe some of the responses were real and not forced by the girls. The spirit they had called was not a poltergeist but was a bit playful, Hannah was sure that the girls all played a part in that one as the antics were very childlike.

    Today with Amethyst, she was wondering if she should let her guards down and try once more. She did.

    Amethyst spoke next, “We feel you are not exactly open to the other place, but would be keen to try again. The experience at St Brigids was not as staged as you imagine”.

    Hannah spun to meet her gaze. How did she know that? I didn’t speak it out loud? Did I? How could she read my mind? I was thinking about the seance, but that was it.

    Amethyst continued, “The girls all had fears and doubts so they were not able to manipulate the board as one. The visitor was there”.

    Hannah was speechless, how could she know this.

    “The visitor was one known to you only, she says she is your guide, and with you all the time, sheltering and guiding yo”’, the words spoken were in whisper too, “:She is here right now”.

    Hannah still had not spoken a word, in awe of this revelation. She tried to speak but spluttered, “Why? How? Who?”. Too many questions and not really understanding it all right now.

    Amethyst gently reached for her hands in a warm grasp and massaged the palms. “Everyone has a guide, not everyone believes or accepts them. She says that when you knew her she was called Cecily”.

    Hannah pondered this information, she always knew she was not alone, and had an inner voice telling her what was good or safe or needed. Was this Cecily? The only person she knew who had been called Cecily was her mother’s mother who had died when Hannah was still a toddler. It couldn’t be.

    ‘It is, your grandmother”, Amethyst continued.

    Hannah had not said those thoughts out loud but Amethyst knew, was she really reading her or channelling the other place?

    She knows me, my thoughts, my past and this spooks me, Hannah’s head was busy processing all that was happening.

    Amethyst’s next words would truly blow Hannah’s mind.

    “They call me Amethyst, they call you Hannah, life continues, a cycle, a circle, we are the same soul, on and on it goes. We are connected, I came to help you see that, I am a visitor from your future, I am you”.

    Hannah did not know what to say, she bowed her head and clutched her head in both heads. When she next looked up, the seat was empty, had she been dreaming, she expelled, and the bus had reached her stop.

    Reply
    • September 1, 2021 at 8:52 am
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      Great story John. Your description of Amethyst drew such a convincing picture in my head it made the story come alive. Your words created a story that gave me a dream like sense of calm… I liked it. On the slight negative, I found your dialogue might have crackled more if it were tweaked to sound more natural- simpler phrasings and shorter words perhaps? But overall terrific job!

      Reply
      • September 10, 2021 at 2:32 am
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        thank you. Rearding the dialogue, I was attempting, but obviously failing to show that they were the same person but in different times. My idea was that despite be a young woman and an older woman, they would share similar vocabulary, mannerisms etc that could pass through the soul. oops.

        Reply
    • September 2, 2021 at 5:12 pm
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      SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!!!!!

      Good job misleading me! I don’t know where I thought this was going, but it ended up on firm and comfortable ground for me. Would you believe that I am always on the look out for my future self, just in case he tries to slip a visit to his past in?

      It would be easy to just don a disguise and drive or walk past me, but any conversation would be too risky.

      And I guess every conversation in a dream is with yourself, which is something that is hard to remember when you are lucid dreaming. You can turn any dream object or character into anything you want, but you can’t give them personalities that are not fragments of your own!

      So the lady was her Great Mother dream archetype? That rings true, because I had a conversation with a wise old captain of a wooden ship that was totally me in Father Archetype form and I never forgot that dream!

      I’m using those terms loosely, but I hope someone knows what I mean.

      And one time my grandma appeared and talked me down from a really bad nightmare, like how people say Jim Morrison shows up in acid trips to play shaman/spirit guide!

      Good work – you made me think harder and pleasantly surprised me!

      SPOILERS ABOVE!!!!!!!

      Reply
      • September 2, 2021 at 5:14 pm
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        My story is a disaster so far, but it is at least 1,200 words long.

        Reply
      • September 10, 2021 at 2:34 am
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        Thank you. A writer always wishes that the reader can get something unique from the work. even if that is different than the intended or writer’s idea. Thanks.

        Reply
        • September 10, 2021 at 8:03 am
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          I totally thought it was her in the future until she woke up, and then I took that to mean that it was all a dream, but you meant that she could only meet and talk to her future self when she is in the dream world?

          Because I only took it to be a dream archetype because of the very end.

          And if you didn’t say anything about the future, I would have thought that she was really a guardian angel, because I read a ton of stuff about them in the 90’s around the same time as “Touched By An Angel” (I was young and really religious so I ate up anything with angels).

          And if you hadn’t said anything about protectors or guides, then I would have thought that she was a psychic/medium or just a crystal-healing type.

          And there is tons of crossover with doppelgangers and guardian angels… have you ever seen, heard, or read something about a mysterious stranger that looks just like you and they stop you from getting hit by a speeding bus… then you turn and they are gone?

          So I got tons of different takes on this, but they only kept changing because you kept making it seem like my theories were wrong by developing the story along with new material… which I thought you were trying to do, it all seemed deliberate and not accidental at all.

          I think what really happened for me and my thought process was the end made it seem like nothing supernatural or weird happened, but maybe you could have inserted some clue at the very very end that made it seem like it wasn’t fake, like she looks in her pocket and there is an amethyst or something…. I don’t know but you get the point.

          The Wizard of Oz (movie) ruined the supernatural stuff with the dream bit and so did Alice In Wonderland, but other stories have some thing that hints that it was real the whole time, something that couldn’t be explained away with logic.

          Reply
          • September 10, 2021 at 9:32 am
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            Sorry about that! It makes no sense that she would tell her that it was her grandmother if it wasn’t, what was I thinking?

        • September 10, 2021 at 9:25 am
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          Oops. I see what I did there. She has a guardian that is her grandmother and Amethyst is her in the future, but only tangible in dreams, right?

          I think I got confused and blended Amethyst and Cecily together!

          Reply
    • September 4, 2021 at 7:05 am
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      Good story John. what is happening. I did wonder about the last paragraph though. ” clutched her head in both heads”. That was an interesting turn of words. Sorry to nit pick. You can have a good ole nit pick at my story. I will have to do a story tomorrow. Just so you can bother yourself by doing that.

      Sorry I am a woman of few words,(NOT) dealing with my first vaccination jab. The first one until my second one in November. Lots of vomiting, body aches, fatigue and splitting headache for two days since Wednesday. Left the vaccination centre after my first AZ jab, thinking “Now, that ain’t half bad. I feel ok. Arm a bit sore. I’ll be fine.” Thought I would be too. One of my friends has had a reaction, but several workmates were fine. Also an older couple I am friends with – fellow goat breeders – also had the jabs with only minor effects. It hit me for six at around 3 am in the morning. I started to throw up around 2 pm on the first day and until about 10 pm and just the tiredness and nausea was bad, but I am glad I am jabbed. Better than getting covid and will probably have had 2 x AZ and 1 X Pfitzner by this time next year. Better than getting covid -19 and getting my son vaccinated despite his care worker Brenda G being in tears at my kitchen table, crying because we are vaccinated and going to die in 3 years and that’s what ‘doctors” (I want to see and review their bloody medical degrees) and “lawyers” ( a breed I do not trust and there must be a buck or two in it somewhere for them – like flies on a dead carcass) who are not under the control of the big billionaire conspiracy operation Genocide Program (love it. These people should all write fiction.) Well I am 67 and maybe there are a few more years left in me and maybe not. I know I will not live as long as my mother bless her soul which departed just before she turned 96, but I believe I have at least five to six years more work left in me and I will enjoy a year or two in Tassie when I finally retire to do some consultancy work to keep the wolf from the door and breed a few good dairy goats. It is kind of uncomfortable when people are expecting or wanting you to die. I have learnt to deal with it over the years along with the fantasies that have been built up about how I am supposed to be living my life. I am glad I do not live their imaginings. I probably would be dead. LOL The reality is so much quieter and gently boringly calm. Just what I need and strive to maintain.
      I am glad I am vaccinated and everybody should be. The Chinese government must feel very flattered that people think this whole corona virus pandemic is one of their major plots to get people injected with nanobots and some substance called grafine oxide or some such thing that will have 80 % of the world’s population dead within three years???
      Some of the silliest and most absurd things I have heard in my life have been in the last few weeks. People are being irrational and downright stupid. Their stupidity is going to kill them. Get vaccinated or go and live in the hills.
      Honestly … I have been sick and I cannot cope with stupidity any more.

      Reply
      • September 6, 2021 at 11:17 am
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        Ilana, how are you feeling now? Hope the action to the shot is over. Let us know. Sorry to hear you had a reaction. Mine went as smooth as silk. Following the first jab, I barely knew it, and I didn’t even feel the second one a month later. No reaction at all of any kind. I feel for ya.

        Hope your feeling better.

        Roy

        Reply
      • September 9, 2021 at 2:59 pm
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        Sorry to hear that! Sounds like really bad luck about the reaction. And you made me think that maybe I should just start writing conspiracy theories for anti-vaxxers… people laugh at the kinds of things that I believe in, but they think that we have nanobots inside of us and that there are snake people taking over like the body snatchers?!?

        Ever hear about the whole “Paul is dead” conspiracy theory for the Beatles? Some dj came up with it and then admitted that it was a hoax, but people still came to him and asked for more!

        If we can’t beat stupidity, maybe we can use it somehow?

        (I can’t imagine how, besides selling lies to idiots)

        Reply
      • September 10, 2021 at 2:37 am
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        Thanks, Ilana. Hope you are feeling better now.
        The dialogue and choice of phrases was intentional, I guess it failed to give the idea that I meant to give. Will try better next time. Cheers.

        Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 6:04 am
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      Hi John,

      I am trying to get back into some kind of routine and respond to every story. You are first in line.

      I liked the notion of someone being able to communicate without actually saying the words out loud. It’s quite a scary thought too. The thought police, is that 1984 by George Orwell? Anyway, it’s a whole line of thought all in its own right, worthy of further discussion. If our thoughts were out there, we would probably all be in trouble. There was a film I think in which the man could read women’s minds and another where the man could not tell a lie. Fascinating concepts.

      The dialogue is a bit clunky but you actually make reference to it by using the word “clunkier” so can’t criticise you for that as it was intentional. Therefore, this sentence is “clunky” par excellence,

      “Hannah, also, because although she did not want to stick out, she did write and dream and overthink so she had a varied vocabulary.”
      I think Trish makes a similar comment.

      I would have liked a more meaningful message from £the other side.” I’m not sure what Hannah can do with this one apart from receive it and ruminate over its meaning.

      It seems that this story has only a brush with the prompt as in , life continues, a cycle, a circle etc. Is that a fair point?

      Last sentence, “she expelled?”

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • September 9, 2021 at 8:31 am
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        Ken,

        Check out the bonus site for Pink Martini. Would love to see how you handle it.

        Roy

        Reply
      • September 10, 2021 at 2:40 am
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        Thanks Ken. I always have struggled with dialogue and also writing 3rd POV which is not a male of 50+ years. LOL. Anyway, thanks for the critique. I take on board everything said as I am continually learning the craft. Cheers.

        Reply
        • September 10, 2021 at 6:26 pm
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          I am pretty scared of writing women because I think I suck at it, but you did a good job.

          Reply
    • September 12, 2021 at 11:30 pm
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      Filby,

      I enjoyed the ride but wasn’t quite sure what exactly your character was experiencing, even at the end of the first read. The story was well constructed but it all depended on that one defining phrase and I wasn’t sure whether it was an error or not until you provided a brief explanation in one of your comments.

      Then it all came together. And of course, seems pretty obvious now. (No. No it isn’t.)

      I had a precise picture of your character in my mind, (correctly or not), and the concept of presenting the experience on a bus is brilliant.

      (On a second and more thorough reading, this story really started to piss me off. Last week I gave everyone a story with Alexander the Great, a café, a martini, chariots, time-travel, hookers, and multi-dimensional-species bouncers, and you give us three confusing spirits on a bus? It’s not fair. My brain is on over drive coming up with this shit and you’re not even taking it seriously. If it wasn’t for Finklebuster & Roy, I wouldn’t even write a story for this prompt.)

      That was a joke, Fil. I was just joking there. That’s like a bonus feature of this writing site. My humor. So, back to your story. (A lot of people tell me I should take my writing to a humor site, but I prefer the current arrangement.)

      Hannah can feel and hear Amethyst sit down next to her. When Amethyst touches Hannah’s hand, she can feel the warmth. So she’s presented to me (the reader) as real. She delivers a pointless message and then disappears and Hannah doesn’t even know what happened. (So how could I?) So far, that’s kind of realistic.

      So her future-self came to tell her that her future-relative was her future-spirit-guide. Okay, so far so good, but here is what confuses me.

      Amethyst is presented to us as a material (corporeal?) being, then she isn’t. She disap Oh, (!!) it’s time travel. (!) Duh. Oy, this is so clever I almost didn’t get it. (I’m just going to leave all of that epic brilliance there for you to savor, Mr. Filby. To give you an idea of what you’re dealing with here. And I’m one of the smart ones.) Seriously. (Seriously.) I almost didn’t get it.

      Look, you’re an excellent writer, and I don’t exactly excel at divining subtle allusions in, well, anything, so, I’m reluctant to discount a story just because I don’t ‘quite, fully, get it.’ (Frankly, there are a lot of things I don’t get and I’m a little sensitive about how dumb I am.)

      (See how dumb I am? I typed that before I figured it out. Sometimes I’m amazed at my own stupidity. Read on for some ‘enhanced’ insights.)

      But I think your intent is evident enough, (to people of average intellect) once I (they) understood that the phrase, ‘she held both heads in her head.’ … was intentional. That phrase is the keystone (that fell out and hit me in the head) so I would isolate that line. Give it its own paragraph. (Maybe.) Then the reader knows, that that is exactly what you meant. (Unless the reader is me and you see me wobbling down the street with a keystone on my head, then you’ll probably want to pretend like you don’t know me. It’s the best thing you can do.)

      I enjoy your writing style. It’s lean and clean but still very descriptive.

      Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 9:16 am
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      John,

      A nicely told tale, even if a bit cliched, you did it nicely. However, even though Hanna visited herself from the future and said she was there to help, she didn’t help. What’s up with that? It kind of bummed me out. I wanted a more satisfying ending. And, you didn’t give any clue as to whether or not she would ever be back. In the past I’ve mentioned more than once my general dislike about what I call dream stories, on which yours bordered without crossing, although it’s leaning over the edge.

      There are a few minor grammar bits that need cleaned up and at least one typo I saw, but they don’t really detract from the story except ‘she expelled’. For me this is a writer trying to be different, to be avant grade, perhaps. Look here folks, I can use words that mean several things. Don’t let me bore you with using a common everyday word you understand and that works perfectly well.

      We had a writer on this site long ago who used to write ‘red juice’ for ‘blood’ on a constant basis. Several of us pointed this out as probably not the best descriptive word he could use. He basically told us we were all a bunch of prima donnas and he would continue to set the literary world on fire with his ambitious and trend setting use of the English language.

      Expelled means forcing out something, especially from the body, or sent out on purpose, such as a classroom. Neither of those things being true in this case. And, you wrote, Hannah expelled. My first reaction was – what did she expell – then I realized what you meant. Took me out of the story for a second. I suggest, gently of course – my advice is free, take it as you will – that in the future you refrain from using your thesaurus quite as much, when good, ordinary words will work. I’m a Hemingway proponent to use as few words as possible and always use the one that makes the sentence true. Expell doesn’t pass that test in this case.

      All in all, I like the way you write. I hope you take these crits as they’re meant. To make you think about your writing and to make you a better writer. While I often have heated discussions with my main beta reader over my use of words and phrases, I always know she has my back. When I calm down after she’s told me what I just wrote was crap, I can usually see where she’s coming from. I don’t always listen to her advice. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes someone on this site will point out what I didn’t change as she suggested and I find myself wishing at that point that I’d taken her advice.

      Your story flows well and I like how you build your characters. Your descriptions and phrases are well done in most instances and you move the story slowly enough to build tension without plodding along.

      Stay safe,

      Roy

      Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 9:46 pm
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      Hi, John

      An interesting story, this. I like very much the beginning – where Hannah just wants to be left alone and Amethyst’s arrival kind of disrupts that wish. Then from a mere physical presence, Amethyst begins to intervene in Hannah’s day and we get snippets of information that lead us to believe she has a power (or does she? – Hannah herself wonders if she hasn’t just spoken aloud and let Amethyst know her secrets). But then, yes, we (and Hannah) find that she does have powers – the remembered séance. But Hannah was in such a Zen-like state at the beginning that maybe it was a dream all along? The doubt is quite nicely established. As others have said, perhaps there could have been a more eventful ending, but I suppose that with the new informationa that Hannah has, her life from now on (beyond the story) will be different. And tnat’s the ending.

      Reply
  • September 3, 2021 at 8:36 am
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    I want to post the bad story and start on a new one, which might end up being better, but I should probably find a beta reader first, just in case it is worse than I thought?

    I’m tired of blaming the quality of my stories on the fact that I have no beta reader (if it was good enough, then I wouldn’t need a beta reader for anything other than simple mistakes and tweaking).

    And my monologue stories always end up being emotional rants, like some of my comments! It is like my characters want to blabber so much that they cut into the plot, but maybe the plot IS the blabber, if you know what I mean.

    Reply
  • September 3, 2021 at 8:40 am
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    Y’all should check out the bonus prompt if you have not already. The tales from Roy and Ken are SO worth it, and we need some more stories in there!

    Reply
    • September 6, 2021 at 11:20 am
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      John, how nice of you. Don’t be so modest, your story is worth it, too. I’m just hoping we have some more interest in the story sites soon. I’m finally feeling better and able to write and I don’t see much competition. Maybe Phil is going to enter one, since he’s got one on this site and the other runs until the 15th. Let’s go Pink Martini people.

      Roy

      Reply
  • September 3, 2021 at 1:57 pm
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    I’m going to post the bad story and it will have to count as my “real” story, but I am still going to try for a second one.

    If the second one turns out to be a better read, too bad, the first one still counts as the “real” story.

    Sorry guys! I can already tell that there is something undercooked, but you don’t have to eat it, just take a nibble and sniff at it like my children at dinner!

    Reply
  • September 3, 2021 at 2:16 pm
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    “Aurified”
    By Rumplefinkies
    Word Count: 1,199 (1,200 with the title)

    Pull up one of those posh, nanofiber hoverchairs and listen to this ancient mariner’s tale. What’s that? They were sailors, lad. People that traversed the oceans of Terra? Do they even bother with literature and history anymore, or do they just launch straight into Terraformation 101?

    Never mind. Try this: I am going to tell you a story with my mouth. I shall impart a narrative using my oral cavity, and you shall listen. No more of this question-and-answer nonsense. Comprehend?
    
    Good.
    
    I didn’t pay much attention to the oddly symmetric mountain range on my way down to the surface. It looked picturesque and everything, but I was too distracted with the prospect of finding multicellular life in the huge lake of liquid water that we spied from orbit. We all were. 
    
    Besides, treacherous mountain ranges that stretch to the heavens were a dime a dozen – it’s a kind of currency that Terrans used at the dawn of the Anthropocene epoch– sheesh, okay currency is like how you purchase… CURSES. This is going to be way more complicated if I MUST keep pausing to explain things… lets circle back to it, alright?
    
    Damn education system finally got the funding and look at the stuff we still don’t teach. Our ancestors are probably rolling in their coffins, or have you also never heard of burial and decomposition? Don’t look at me like I need another psychological evaluation and just LISTEN!
    
    So… I had seen a lot of desolate and jagged mountain ranges since I signed up and I wasn’t impressed by nonsentient minerals anymore. Been there and done that. But later, when the others… left me and I was marooned, er, isolated on this planet… that is when I saw the mountains as distant beacons of hope. 
    
    I know that you want me to elaborate on the demise of my friends, but it is hard for me, as I am not an unfeeling automaton like you. How long was I out? Where are the others? What year is it even?
    
    Crickets, eh? We will circle back to it.
    
    SO. Like I already told you guys. My team all vanished immediately after they probed the surface of the lake. I stood back to monitor from a safe distance, per protocol, but the others forgot standard operating procedure in their eagerness and crowded near the water’s edge. When my back was turned, something percussed loudly behind me. The force of the thing sprayed little droplets everywhere and scared me out of my wits, but it must have done even more to my colleagues.
    
    When I turned, they were gone. I won’t elaborate anymore, because I didn’t see much, because what I did see confounds me, and because I am still of use to your silent friends back there as long as I have untapped knowledge in this here noggin’. 
    
    I insist on this “archaic and colorful jargon” because MY generation was taught that preserving our past cultures was a vital part of retaining HUMANITY! Of knowing ourselves before we attempt to go conquering the Universe. I see now that my teachers and their ilk were right, though they apparently failed to make any lasting difference. I don’t think you guys would even recognize the “original” humans if you came across them, and vice versa! Put on your listening ears and shut the hell up!
    
    So, there I am. No way to reach orbit and no team, but I still had the scout unit and provisions to last me years, especially since the others were all aurified, er, dead. What a lovely little thought, one that didn’t comfort me as I prepped the vehicle for a long trip to the mountains.
    
    I began to scan those peaks for resources and shelter with my diagnostics and study their jade silhouettes with my eyes. I suppose that I prayed for a cavern that could provide protection from the wind and cold… should anything happen to my suit or vehicle.
    
    If I could just cross the azure sands of the vast desert between the lake and the mountains, I could transmit a radio signal from one of those summits, or so I figured, and the Auxiliary Team could pinpoint my location and extract me!
    

    Then maybe we could salvage the lander and drones and deliver news of the… anomaly to HQ. They would know what to do, and they probably wouldn’t eradicate the witnesses.

    It was the only shot that I had.

    I clung tenaciously to thoughts of escaping my planetary prison and tried not to think about the condition of my friends. I wondered if I should provide a report of ALL that transpired, or omit the details that could ruin my career?
    
    You know the kinds of details to which I refer. This ain’t your first rodeo, er, this isn’t your first interrogation. The kinds of details that will make you check all the wrong boxes and get me sent to some awful “rehabilitation center” in a godless corner of dead space where no one will find me, not that I have any friends or family after such a long trip at FTL speed…
    
    You’re going to have to deal with the smell. I need to smoke my cigarette, if you want to extract ALL the traumatizing data from me. Is nothing sacred anymore? Can’t we filter out every pollutant from this air anyways? Hell, can’t we just replace everyone’s lungs if we feel like it? I am going to need you to focus, or I am going to request that a synthetic inquisitor finish the job for you!
    
    Now that I have my fix of hydroponic tobacco, I’ll just come right out with it about my friends. They were turned into gold before my eyes, alright? Transmogrified from carbon and water straight into statues of pure gold! All of them. 
    
    They must have triggered a trap? You figure it out. But we both know that elements can’t just be switched around like that without ENORMOUS amounts of energy being released…
    
    And those mountains? The other team extracted me before I made it that far, but we all got a good look at them from orbit.  They encircled the whole planet like a giant bow. No, more like a giant boa, because they were CONSTRUCTED in the form of a colossal snake chasing its own tail!
    
    I can see that you know what gold is, of course you do, because greed is still the creed. But do you have any concept of Terran reptiles or the retired field of alchemy?
    
     It was a fledgling form of chemistry – your ignorance of anything biotic is appalling! It was an EARLY form of chemistry that was banned by religious zealots. The alchemists wanted a lot of things, but turning common elements like lead into gold was one of their major focuses, and the snake chasing its tail? That was one of their trademark symbols.
    
    Sounds like they caught the tail a long time ago, huh?
    
    Why are you smiling like that?
    
    You’re not from HQ, are you?
    
    This was all a test!
    
    I suspected it all along, but you played dumb so well!
    
    Did I pass, alchemist?
    


    Reply
    • September 4, 2021 at 10:59 pm
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      I liked the confusion and mayhem it created in my head as I read. I didn’t know what genre to expect but pleasantly surprised.
      cheers 🙂

      Reply
      • September 7, 2021 at 9:15 am
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        I guess I was inspired by the Aliens movies and how they are all so far in the future, but they still know who John Denver or Zager and Evans are (I barely know who they are and my kids certainly don’t give a crap, so why would those astronauts and colonists know so much about pop culture from the 20th century…. it isn’t Plato or Euclid, just good music).

        Even their robots are cultured and educated in the Humanities for some reason!

        But I guess “Country Roads” is eternal, even when there are no roads (or country sometimes).

        And aurified isn’t a word that is actually used by humans, so I thought it would be a fun mystery to solve (or not solve, but then the title and the little slip are meaningless, if the reader gets that far or cares).

        Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 6:20 am
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      Hey Rumples,

      What are you on? Can I have some? Please. I really feel the need to get away from this planet sometimes, increasingly so. You world seems as good a place as any. Okay, it’s not without its dangers and trials but if the seerpent is going to start eating its own tail, your place is as good as any for self ingestion.

      Not quite sure what it was all about but I enjoyed the ride.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • September 10, 2021 at 1:58 pm
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        I WISH I was on something when I wrote this!

        Want a summary?

        A guy wakes up from “sleeping” on his ship that is adrift in space.

        He gets interrogated by a bunch of other guys who want to know what happened.

        They turn out to be space alchemists that are screwing with him the whole time, because they are going to kill anyone who fails to meet their high standards of humanity. Or maybe they just turn them into bubbles or something? They are really old and wise – but prone to harsh judgements from so many times of being burned.

        It is supposed to be like when Yoda was toying with Luke to test him, or when the fairy from “Beauty and the Beast” tested the Beast on his doorstep, or anytime any fairy tests a mortal, or anytime any god from any mythology tests a mortal.

        A lot of those fairy tales and pieces of stories were cautionary tales or moralistic tales that tried to tell people to be nice to everyone, just in case they were really a powerful being that was going to mess you up bad. In this case, the alchemists wanted someone who was in touch with their deeper side/mythology/symbolism/philosophy/history, because they are all about trippy and weird stuff like that.

        There was a giant chain of buildings in the shape of a snake that covered the entire equator of a planet, which was me trying to show that the “aliens” had superior technology.

        The rest of the landing crew was killed by an “alien” booby trap… one that turned them into gold (not something that can be easily done in the real world).

        The snake and the transmutation into gold were the only clues about the alchemy, and the prompt itself I guess, and the stupid title, but those last two don’t count, and the snake was a bad clue because it happened at the end.

        There was supposed to be a contrast between the narrator and his interrogator, because of the generation gap, but then you find out that the interrogator is from an ancient generation, not a future generation.

        It is the Rip Van Winkle effect, which is done a lot in sci-fi (Ripley from Aliens awakening from deep freeze and finding that she is out of touch), but the twist was that the frozen guy is still from the future as far as his interrogator cares, even though he may have been frozen for a long time.

        And alchemists also wanted to live forever. So it is implied that they had figured this out and they were still alive after hundreds or thousands of years.

        The song I mentioned really does sum my thinking up, minus the space wizards.

        If I had more words, I could explain it better, but then the story would just be more grueling and annoying.

        I am never going to find a market for anything like this, so lesson learned!

        Reply
      • September 10, 2021 at 6:21 pm
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        Oh dang “seerpent” is a cool name for an oracular snake!

        “Beware the Idesssssss of March!”

        😉

        I’m dead serious about the first sentence.

        Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 6:48 pm
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      Whoah! There I was just luxuriating in the narrative voice, and smiling smugly each time I noticed a hidden reference, and then you hit me with the twist at the end! Now I’m going to have to go back and read it over – was that an intentional ouroboros effect too?

      Reply
      • September 8, 2021 at 9:25 pm
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        Thank you for the comment!

        I tried to put two ouroboroi in: the mountain range and old humanity and new humanity meeting… but it is confusing… which one is the head?

        And I was thinking about this song, which also is a kind of ouroboros:

        https://youtu.be/zKQfxi8V5FA

        Reply
        • September 11, 2021 at 1:31 pm
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          Haven’t heard that for a while! I’d forgotten how cool it is! The video at the link is fab too.

          Reply
        • September 12, 2021 at 1:21 am
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          Hey Rosencrantz, (John.)

          In the ear, 2525. Eh? All right, so the last word in the verse is ‘circle?’ I never knew that. I always thought they were singing ‘…maybe it’s only a ‘store drain’. Which, didn’t make sense. So, it’s all clear to me now.

          Here’s a song for you. I’m sure you’ve heard it and seen the movie it was featured in… but this song is best enjoyed with the eyes closed. The guitar work is soulful. Just let it roll over you. Like ‘Song of the Wind,’ by Santana. (But different.)

          You’re welcome.

          Reply
          • September 13, 2021 at 3:43 pm
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            That guitar solo is amazing.

            And used in the soundtrack to a certain movie with a certain scene I forgot about! So you HAVE seen it.

            Now I remember why my wife never wants to watch it ever….

      • September 10, 2021 at 1:27 pm
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        I was trying to imply that some ancient alchemists had figured out how to live forever and transmute elements with ease. Then space travel, terraforming, and all kinds of other technologies ensued… since they had all the time in the world and they were no longer limited by resources either (they can make food from dirt and gold from dirt and anything can be transformed into anything, I wanted to mention fusion technology too…but I didn’t have the room).
        The writing wasn’t that good and the concept was confusing to people who have never thought about space alchemists (so everyone).

        Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 1:45 am
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      (Avast your ballasts, Finklestein. And come about.)

      I got your story, first time through. I didn’t pick up on the title. I did feel like the rest of the crew were killed because they were CLEARLY unworthy, somehow. Leaving the main character with a false sense of hope. He was trying to send a message to his own planet, a homing beacon, or coordinates, in the end, wasn’t he? And then he’s rescued and being debriefed, or so we’re led to believe. A cold debriefing. But in the end, he realizes he’s still on the Alchemist’s planet. And we’re all left wondering whether he passed the test.

      I like the premise and the story. I suppose I was confused as to whom the mc was making his remarks to, when I should have been more clearly misled. I think. I’m no genius, but maybe you should give us some scenery. (A featureless white room, metal table, panic button/intercom on wall.) Something to anchor us to. You still have to be brief, but bringing us there is the name of the game. Making us feel like we’re there, I mean.

      You waste a lot of words on the crew, and what happened to them, more than a paragraph, but the narrator doesn’t really know. And yet, I think we both realize it’s the most relevant event concerning the nature of his location. And so, it behooves you to describe in greater detail what happened to the crew and how it happened. It’s all too convenient, and foolish of you to think you can simply have the narrator tell us that an entire crew of men was transmogrified, and he somehow missed it, but was frightened anyway. (Hint: Macho space explorers don’t get frightened. They get scared shitless. Or not. Nothing in between.) Getting turned to gold is an event that begged to be described, in YOUR way. It could have been scarier, or funnier. But you gave us practically nothing. I won’t have it. (Hasten back to the word-mill you scurvy dog, and bring me back SOME REAL WRITING, or I’ll soak yer crumpets in bilge water. Belay that. Stand fast. Be at ease.)

      Since the story is in the first person, there could’ve been thoughts, a clear explanation of what happened, and dialogue describing a different, rather skewed version. Would you agree?

      I think what you did is you tried to make the fact that the planet was ruled by alchemists the reveal, as well as the fact that he was still on their planet. (You got greedy, Finkles. You went for the double-eagle, the whole kit and caboodle, the Spanish doubloon, YOU WENT FOR THE GOLD. And you missed. But you can’t blame a guy for trying. You get a point just for that.)

      I think the story needed a better ending. I read it three times now. It’s a good story, a fabulous plot, but it deserves a better ending. I would definitely put the mc in a room, no matter how bare, (which could probably play a part in the reveal) and either utilize the flaming crewmembers to further your literary ambitions, (for God’s sake) or dispatch them with alacrity.

      (You may go whenever it suits you. And wherever.) Of course. We’re not really on a ship, I just got caught up in the spirit of the thing. You know how it is.

      Cheers.

      Reply
      • September 13, 2021 at 2:36 pm
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        Lol – thank you!!!

        You called it – no description of the setting in the room itself OR the scene with the Midas touch!

        I should have cleaned it up or started over with restructuring, but I fell in love with my own rants!

        Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 2:01 pm
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      Your Rumpleness,

      I went all Jeykill and Hyde with this story. Part of me loved it and then, suddenly, part of me totally went – well, where the Hell is he going with that bit? Talking out of my oral cavity now just struck me a bit odd. Especially after you told us you are using your mouth. Really? I get it, I get it, I really do. Just found it odd.

      I guess that’s author propriety. It’s your story to do with as you please. If you are like me, you tell yourself you are writing for you, and no one else. If they like it great. If they don’t that’s great, too.

      I tell myself that all the time. If I was truly writing for me, I wouldn’t post anything on this site. I’d just write it, look at it and admire it for awhile and then put it in a drawer to store for someone to find and toss out when they are going through my things after I’m among the Dearly Departed. Yes, I do admire my work that I save. Otherwise, it goes into the oversized file 13 that I have next to my desk and is scrubbed from my computer, never to be seen again.

      Then, mercifully, I finally got to the end, and found it was just another dream story, I got all bent again. A twist of a dream story into – You’re not really who you seem to be, are you? – instead of – I woke up and discovered it was a dream.

      I actually kind of liked what you were doing and then wouldn’t. I kept going back to words like this:

      I was distracted while we were going down to that huge lake of liquid water.

      Well, while I know that not all lakes on planets are water, however, I do know that all water is liquid, otherwise it’s called ‘ice’ or ‘vapor’. That’s what I mean by liking and then not liking. Stuff like that.

      Still, there is something appealing about your story and the first person characterization you so distractedly wrote. Almost stream of consciousness. Then, I see you wrote too much and had to go back and trim it. It always shows up when phrases are missing. Maybe that’s what’s distracting me. I recognize it because I do it.

      Personally, I thought this a strange prompt, but you managed to make it even stranger. Congratulations for that. I take things too literally, and seldom write in the style you use a lot. There are times I wish I had that ability. I don’t. Stream of conscious for me would be boring as Hell for most.

      Anyway, glad you submitted something to help keep this site alive and well. I look forward to how you treat the prompts. I know I can always count on you to be on the quirky side. Well, usually.

      By the way, there is always a space before using an ellipse … like that, not like this…

      Yes, in answer to that thought you may have even said out loud, I AM the ellipse police on this site.

      Roy

      Reply
      • September 14, 2021 at 10:20 pm
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        I’m aurified that you feel that way!

        But I hated the story too, Mr. Hyde.

        “Mercifully ended” was mean, but everything else was constructive criticism.

        If you wanted to be a bully, good job. If you didn’t, consider this feedback so you can improve your bedside manner, Dr. Jerkyll.

        Reply
        • September 15, 2021 at 8:31 am
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          Rumple,

          I didn’t quite mean that ‘mercifully ended’ to be taken as acerbic as it was. I truly am not a bully, so I apologize. I shall be more considerate in the future. But, I loved your retort. Well done, and I hope no more blood is spilled. Still chuckling over Dr. Jerkyll.

          And, I didn’t hate your story. I just think you have the ability to write and write well. It just didn’t show up for me in this story.

          Roy

          Reply
          • September 17, 2021 at 8:44 am
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            I’m so sorry about that – I got too upset and retaliated disproportionately, which is something I have always done since I was on the playground or in the locker room getting heckled in a friendly way.

            You didn’t deserve that.

            I was reading all the comments yesterday as the sun went down and I got this feeling of inner peace because everyone else was so positive on the site. I felt inspired to write some better things and I felt like there was going to be a rainbow after this storm, but then I felt really bad about my reply, well, worse because it has been nagging me since I posted it.

            I couldn’t move forward without saying sorry, it didn’t feel right to be happy and leave that negativity just sitting there on your heart.

            I typed and deleted 8 different (and long) responses when I got upset, and part of me thought that you wanted me to be hurt and would get a kick from my obvious pain, but the other part said that I was being mean and you were oblivious to my sensitivity.

            Then, after I posted it, I felt kind of good in some kind of testosterone-filled and primal way, and also when you congratulated my retort, like we had just exchanged blows and I had stood up for myself and we were bonding in some kind of ancient male ritual that was instinctive and violent and therapeutic, but that is just stupid.

            You are cool, you are an excellent writer, I value you knowledgeable feedback, and I am really sorry about blowing up like that!

          • September 17, 2021 at 11:37 am
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            Rumple, for whatever reason, I can’t reply directly below your comment regarding the above note of mine.

            In any event, thanks for your comments, yes, I did feel bad, but I’m considering it all water under the bridge.

            Try putting a little of that anger you had into your writing. It worked with your reply, which I truly thought was funny, and, on reflection, accurate, and very well done.

            I respect you as a writer, and I enjoy reading your comments. Truly. Are we square, now?

            Roy

          • September 17, 2021 at 12:41 pm
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            We are definitely square, but I might get that recommended cigarette after all lol.

            I won’t explode again!

        • September 16, 2021 at 9:01 pm
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          If I may interject, pretty funny comment, John. We might have to start calling you the pun-master. But Roy’s no bully, if he insults you it’s an accident. Now, if I insult you … it’s brilliant!

          Even though Roy is actually my TRUE nemesis, I’ve known him for quite a long time and he’s actually very positive, (in a slightly passive-aggressive way.) Certainly not a bully. His bedside manner is usually pretty warm and cuddly, and when he is critical, it’s generally technical. (Like how to situate my ellipsises the other day. ) I’m sure he’s mortified that you think he would actually insult you or your writing. Especially since it’s pretty obvious to all of us that you’re a talented writer and a knowledgeable guy. A nice addition to the group. And I LIKED that story. It was a very complex plot and a novel delivery. It had that old-time hard science-fiction feel to it. I thought it could’ve been improved, but I liked it pretty well as it was.

          So, take a deep breath. and then let it out. That’s alI you have to do, over and over again. I think you need a cigarette. I just quit about 3 years and 17 days ago, and I don’t miss it a bit.

          Reply
          • September 17, 2021 at 8:47 am
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            Thanks man.

            You are a good influence on me and too kind.

          • September 17, 2021 at 12:14 pm
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            Thanks Ken, I’ve got your back, too. And, as a former smoker, saying I don’t miss it at all, would be inaccurate, because there are times I’d really like to enjoy a cigarette the way I used to. But, intellectually, I know that’s impossible. And my lungs are much happier.

            Roy

    • September 14, 2021 at 10:03 pm
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      Hi, Rf

      Very nicely strange – the world and the people. At the start, it felt like an old man talking to a youngster (“lad”), then later we find why there’s a disconnect between his knowledge and language and that of his interlocutor. As KenF suggests, it feels a bit acidy – one to let flow over you. (The font did my eyes in, though.)

      Reply
  • September 4, 2021 at 1:01 pm
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    Ouroboros.

    By Ken Frape

    Arthur Tomlinson was a lovely man. In fact, he was born that way and just grew into the adult version of himself. It wasn’t his looks for he was just a regular looking guy, neither a magnet for the girls nor a challenge to the more self-conscious boys. He had a knack of saying the right thing at the right time and defusing situations that could have escalated into youthful unpleasantness. Arty was effortlessly popular wherever he went, calm, kind and thoughtful and much admired by his peers.

    Arty’s first job was in a stationery store in town where he quickly became a trusted and popular employee. Prompt, polite and efficient, he was diligent and obedient without being seen as obsequious. His more senior colleagues found themselves relying on Arty and his quiet, small acts of kindness were duly noted. The coffee machine never ran dry, dirty cups were washed, the photocopier always had paper and those irritating misfeeds were always cleared.

    When Mary Dobson, 59 and single, got the call to say her widowed mother was at death’s door, she left in an emotional whirl, not only due to her anticipated loss but also because she hated to leave work unfinished. When Mary returned, saddened and tearful, she was astonished to see that her desk was clear. She turned to Arty with a quizzical look,

    “How……why….who…?” she stuttered.

    “Must have been the work fairies,” Arty quipped, turning away to deflect further praise. He missed Mary’s glistening cheeks and the kiss she blew in his direction but he didn’t need thanking. He was just Arty being himself. Mary Dobson’s experience was not unique as many others could testify.

    Arty was married at 21 to his high school sweetheart, Maggie. She was lovely too, a really beautiful young woman but also kind and thoughtful with a sharp wit and a love of the written word that she planned to pass onto high school students. They really were a perfect match, everyone said.

    During his interview for the position of Junior Manager of the stationery store, Arty was questioned about the role he was undoubtedly about to be offered.

    “I see my role as supporting the company to supply our customers with the best possible stationery goods at a reasonable price.”

    The Divisional Manager and the Store Manager nodded their heads in unison. The Company Chairman probed further,
    “What are your thoughts regarding company profits then, Mr. Tomlinson? You know, the bottom line, the balance sheet?”

    Arty nodded, eager to answer.

    “I see a virtuous circle here, sir. You see, if we provide great service then our customers will come back. But first and foremost, if we look after our staff here in the store, then they will be happy and productive and the bottom line, as you say, will be taken care of.” The Company Chairman nodded, satisfied.

    Arty got the job and five years later at the age of 26 he became the youngest Store Manager in the company. The staff were delighted for Arty took an interest in each and every one of them, knowing the names of their family, their concerns and even their birthdays.

    Profits increased and with Maggie teaching High School English, life was rosy.

    Life may well have continued in the same way if there hadn’t been a worldwide recession. Manufacturing prices rose sharply and sales plummeted. It was no longer a virtuous circle. It was now a perfect storm. At home, Maggie found Arty to be distracted, even sullen. Subtly, almost by stealth, she saw unwelcome changes in her husband.

    “Is everything ok with you, Arty?” Maggie asked one night as she lay in bed beside him. For months he had been coming home later and going out earlier in the mornings and it was ages since they had been intimate. Maggie was worried.

    “Sure, why wouldn’t it be?” Arty replied rather peevishly. She looked up at his face in surprise.

    “I know business hasn’t been good….” She started to say.

    “How do you know that?” Arty turned quickly towards Maggie. “I haven’t told you, have I?”

    “Oh, I saw Mary Dobson in town the other day. She said that she had been let go by the company. By you.”

    Arty couldn’t look at her as he said,

    “Well, it was for the best. She wasn’t pulling her weight any more.”

    Maggie was aghast.

    “But Arty, that job meant the world to her, especially since her Mum died.”

    “Look Maggie, I simply can’t carry passengers when the business is struggling. It was best she went…”

    “Best! Best for who?” Maggie found her voice was sharp and critical. “Certainly not for Mary. I chatted to her at last year’s Christmas party. That job was her lifeline now she is on her own.”

    “Well there won’t be a party this year. “

    “What?”

    “I’ve cancelled it. I can’t justify spending that kind of money when business is poor.”

    “I can’t believe I’m hearing this, Arty, from you of all people. What’s happening to you?”

    “I have a responsibility to the company. Times are tough, you know.”
    “But Arty, you‘re the one person who put people first but you’ve changed and now it’s profit first.”

    “But if there’s no profit then there’s no company, no money, no jobs, no people!” He shouted.

    “See, you’ve just proved my point. You said profit, company, money and last of all you said people. It was always people first. The money is eating you up, Arty. “

    She paused, considering her words.

    “ I’m not sure I can live with someone like that.”

    Arty turned away furiously. Maggie got out of bed.

    “You know something else?” she said, pointing her finger for emphasis, “Greed and profit is consuming you. I’m afraid that soon there will nothing left of the old Arty. The Arty I married. The Arty I love. Loved.”

    That single word, loved, past tense, hit home like a bullet.

    Maggie left their bedroom and minutes later Arty could hear her sobs through the party wall. He lay there wide-eyed and sleepless, replaying what Maggie had said. As he thought about her words, the company balance sheet appeared in his head, crowding out Maggie’s image. He shook his head but the image remained.

    He went and tapped gently on the door of the spare bedroom. There was no answer, so he let himself in.

    Maggie was sitting up in the bed with her knees drawn up.

    She looked up, red-eyed.

    “You didn’t use to be like this,” she sobbed. “ Now, it’s like there are two of you. On the one hand there is the kind and gentle old Arty, always thinking about others……,” she paused.

    “And on the other?” Arty followed up.

    “A man I barely recognize, motivated only by profit margins. I’ve tried to tell you. The two parts of you are having a battle, like a snake eating itself, and I can’t stand by watching the old you losing the battle, being devoured. Not anymore.”

    Maggie turned and left the room.

    By the time Arty awoke in the morning, there was no sign of Maggie.

    The battle was over.

    Ken Frape 04/09/2021 1199 words

    Reply
    • September 4, 2021 at 11:08 pm
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      Loved it, I could really see the characters as people, real people. I enjoyed how the change in Arty occurred and human traits (negative ones too), took him over. The description of two people competing together but the new one winning was wonderful. I could feel empathy for those in his employ and his life. Arty became real too, although a little too real at times for my liking.
      Wonderful. Welcome back 🙂

      Reply
      • September 8, 2021 at 6:30 am
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        Hi John,

        Thanks for your kind words.

        I feel a bit rusty and almost think you have been too kind. The people are fairly realistic caricatures but I wonder if they aren’t just a bit boring. There’s not enough colour, I feel. I think it might be because I tend to use lots of quite florid descriptions in my story writing but in this one I deliberately pared back on the adjectives.

        It will be interesting to see what others say.

        Thanks John,

        Kind regards,

        Ken Frape

        Reply
    • September 9, 2021 at 9:28 am
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      Excellent writing and creative use of the prompt! This reminded me of two James Stewart movies… I think because Arty was so sweet and likeable and calm. The movies are “The Shop Around The Corner” (which evolved into “You’ve Got Mail”), and “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

      Obviously yours had a much different ending and Arty wasn’t such a shining and perfect man, like so many of Jimmy’s characters!

      Reply
    • September 10, 2021 at 9:30 am
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      You had two ouroboroi it seems: the economic feedback loop that he mentioned in the interview where the customers come back because of how they are treated (a virtuous circle) and Arty consuming himself with greed and negativity.

      Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 2:08 pm
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      Ken, good to see you strapping on the writing boots again. Nice, straightforward story. Great use of the prompt and I really liked the different ending. I thought you were going to tie everything up with Maggie somehow convincing Arty the error of his ways, and instead you surprised me.

      Of course, chapter two could have them back together in a future story with a different prompt, you did leave an opening.

      Anyway, I liked your story and it will be interesting how the votes shake out with all the different prompt uses this time around. Very few are as straightforward as yours and mine. Even Phil’s was whimsical.

      Good dialogue, great characterization and while I think you could have had a more bang up ending line or two, I still liked what you did.

      Roy

      Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 10:21 pm
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      Hi, KenF

      Welcome back!

      A well established personality for Arty, and he’s so perfect that we know something is going to go wrong … as it does. A cautionary tale, I suppose – preoccupation with profit will destroy us! The split with Maggie feels inevitable but a little sudden – the first time the subject of the change in Arty is broached (at least that’s what it feels like) she high-tails it? I think it would have been good to see Arty reflecting on his own changes, and how they’ve impacted on his life. We don’t know if he just goes on living his corporate life as always or if Maggie’s leaving becomes a lesson for him to change back to the old Arty. I guess we can speculate for ourselves. Nice, clean writing.

      Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 11:58 pm
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      Near perfect dialogue, Ken.

      Ken, I could wax poetic about your story for the next seven minutes, but why take the chance that one of us will fall asleep again?

      Your story reminds us that a person could live a decent life, plan well, make all the right decisions, and then God or nature, or a virus, or the stock market, could come along and destroy everything they owned and worked for anyway.

      This is the kind of story that makes me wonder, if an asteroid hit Miami, the government isn’t going to do much for Florida, is it? Maybe put up 600 miles of yellow police tape so Georgia don’t step in it. If aliens invaded Brazil… well they’d never survive, but if they landed in Omaha, say, might be a different story.

      But I’m getting off track.

      Your story asserts that huge, global, can’t-get-your-head-around-problems, have granular, individual sized consequences. There’s a great message here, Ken. Great message. Global problems are NOT just local, they’re personal. That’s what you were saying here. And it’s true.

      Reply
  • September 4, 2021 at 1:16 pm
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    Hi Carrie et al,

    Sorry that I have been out of touch for so long. Hopefully, I have my mojo back to write some half decent stuff.

    By the way ( and I am looking over my shoulder as I say this and whispering) is that Cartisano chap still around? He is? Damn! I mean, great. Goodness me, I have missed him, only a bit to be honest but that’s better than not at all, almost like toothache or banging your head against a wall, it’s great when you stop. You miss the pain, you see and you don’t want to experience it again but you are ready for it. Come on Cartisano, I’m ready and waiting for you!

    PS Carrie, I know I have been away but wasn’t there an edit function when you post your story? Is there? Have I missed it?
    I need to make two adjustments in my story.
    Ken F

    Reply
  • September 4, 2021 at 6:59 pm
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    SAVED BY SAPPHIRES

    One upon a time, in the distant land of Soroboruo, there lived a princess, though she didn’t know it yet.

    Ysiad lived with her parents on a small farm in the countryside. They were poor people, but only in terms of wealth; they were millionaires as far as positive spirit went, and it went very far in those times – meals of mud and hay, a result of an ongoing famine, would have broken less optimistic folk, and did, often.

    Ysiad’s father, Caasi, had always called his only child “Princess”. Ysiad asked him one day with a smile: “Papa, why do you call me that name when I am but a poor wretch in rags?”

    Caasi touched her heart and said: “Because this is made of gold, little one, and this …” – touching her head – “… is made of pearls, and these …” – pointing to her eyes – “… are like little sapphires.”

    His daughter skipped away, doubly happy now to know her real worth.

    Soroboruo was ruled by an evil queen. She was called Adlezirg – an ugly name for an ugly person. But she didn’t think she was ugly – oh no. She thought herself the most beautiful lady in the land. And she had a magic mirror to prove it.

    It was like the mirror that appears in another tale – you know, the “Mirror, mirror, on the wall” one. But this mirror had another function, too (activated by a switch on the side): it would make any food you put in front of it appetizing. This was a very useful function because Queen Adlezirg had found a way round the famine; instead of mud and hay, she feasted on … her own subjects, who she had captured, killed and cooked. But the actual thought of eating bits of humans didn’t delight her in the least.

    So, when her chef put a plate of cooked subject in front of her, Adlezirg only had to switch on the mirror’s ‘appetizing’ function and point it first at her own face, then at the dish for it to be transformed in her mind into the most succulent food imaginable – she’d eat the human flesh as if it were roast pheasant, and lick her lips afterwards.

    The Queen’s husband (the King, obvs.) had died years before in a brief war with a neighbouring country called Ruobhgien. Before he went, he gave his wife (the Queen, obvs.) the gift of a child – a lovely boy, which was a miracle, given his unlovely parents.

    When Egroeg (for that was the boy’s name) was approaching his 18th birthday, he asked his mother if she could find him a wife; he’d spent 18 years with the evil old bat, and the kindness of his heart was stretched almost to breaking point. Needless to say, he refused to join her in her cannibalistic dining; mud and hay it was for him.

    Adlezirg was very fond of Egroeg and was loath to lose him to another, so she figured out a way to satisfy his wishes while making sure (or so she thought) that he’d never find Miss Right.

    She ordered her advisers to comb the land and find half a dozen of the poorest peasants of marrying age they could. It didn’t take much combing because just about everyone was the poorest peasant in the land.

    Anyway, one of the peasants they brought to the court was … yes, Ysiad! The advisers had found her helping her father to harvest mud, and so she was covered from head to foot in the stuff – an awful sight to behold.

    The young girls were brought before the Queen and Egroeg. The boy’s heart dropped; never had he seen such a sorry collection of rags and bones. He was about to dismiss the whole group when something happened: Ysiad managed to un-cake her eyes, and those little sapphires shone out, capturing Egroeg’s heart.

    “I’ll take this one!” he cried.

    His mother was furious but smiled the devious smile of one who is already plotting something. She dismissed the five peasant girls who hadn’t been chosen, whispering to an adviser what to do with them.

    An hour or so later, dinner was served. Ysiad – who had taken a bath and looked resplendent in a robe her future mother-in-law had lent her – had never seen such a spread and felt her mouth watering. But Egroeg knew what the food was and held Ysiad’s hand back as it lifted a lump of meat to her mouth. He’d had enough of his mother’s wickedness.

    In a flash, Egroeg grabbed the magic mirror, which his mother had just used with the “Mirror, mirror, on the wall” function to show that she was more beautiful than Ysiad (though anyone with eyes in their head would have known this not to be true).

    He flipped the switch on the mirror, held it up to his mother’s face, then pointed it at her feet.

    Well, you can imagine what happened next. Queen Adlezirg saw two delicious hams on the ends of her legs and attacked them with knife and fork; she was a large woman, and when she got a hunger on, there was no stopping her. Ysiad was horrified and pleaded with Egroeg to stop her, but the prince knew that this horror show was for the common good.

    By the time the Queen got to her calves, she’d lost enough blood to pass out, and she soon passed on.

    Ysiad, being the kind soul that she was, was very upset, but one or two warm embraces from the prince were enough to calm her, and other things.

    The royal constabulary was called upon to investigate the horrible death, and it was found that it had all been a terrible accident, caused by a faulty magic mirror – which was promptly destroyed.

    Within months, the new King of Soroboruo had made a trade pact with the King of Ruobhgien – they had food but needed mud for building, Soroboruo had mud to spare – and Soroboruo folk were soon eating proper food (though some had got a taste for mud and hay and continued to eat it of a Sunday).

    Ysiad brought her father and mother to court. They were there to help her with her first baby when it arrived: a little girl named Epoh.

    And – as is usually the case with stories like this – they all lived happily ever after.

    .

    Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 6:39 am
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      Hi Phil,

      Ha, such a great take on the prompt and I love the way you unashamedly squeeze various story themes ( mirror, mirror being the prime example) into your story.

      Having read the story, I cannot think of a more fitting end for the Queen, eating her own feet. It is shudderingly descriptive regarding the blood loss.

      I will be very surprised if any of us find a better way to meet this prompt. If anyone does, then it will have to be a fantastic story. This will be hard to beat, Phil.

      Great stuff,

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • September 14, 2021 at 11:11 pm
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        Thanks, KenF! (But I think we have a winner elsewhere…)

        Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 6:41 pm
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      The light touch humour here is so well done, I was chuckling all the way through. A very sweet story for one so gory as well!

      Reply
      • September 14, 2021 at 11:14 pm
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        Thanks, Fiona!

        Reply
    • September 9, 2021 at 9:44 am
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      You guys noticed the names, right?

      Reply
      • September 14, 2021 at 6:43 pm
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        I read “The Reluctant Vampire” by Eric Morecambe when I was a kid. All the names were something backwards, including the villain, who was “Ronnoco Sed”. Morecambe was a comedian, and his long time gag was taking the pee out of a singer called Des O’Connor. So I’ve been primed for this ever since, and I love it every time I see it!

        Reply
        • September 14, 2021 at 11:14 pm
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          I didn’t know Eric Morecambe wrote a book! I absolutely loved his and Ernie’s shows – Eric was the genius of the two, of course. And I remember well their teasing of Des O’C.

          Reply
    • September 9, 2021 at 10:25 am
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      Hi Phil,
      It took me a while but I got the names in the end. Another point to you.
      Ken F

      Reply
      • September 10, 2021 at 6:04 pm
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        Great Story Phil. Really like the macabre humour of the evil queen eating herself. It’s a wonder she did not feel the pain or perhaps she was diabetic and had no feeling in her feet. LOL

        Reply
        • September 14, 2021 at 11:16 pm
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          Thanks, Ilana. You’re right about the pain, of course, but it IS a fairy tale, and “when she got a hunger on, there was no stopping her.” 😉

          Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 2:20 pm
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      Like all good fairy tales that are placed in the land of the Ouroboros spelled backwards, Soroboruo, your story was well done and clever. Especially with Hope, I mean Epoh. And, I almost forgot, George and Grizelda … uh Egroeg and Adlezirg. In doing this little exercise I discovered how truly difficult that is to do all those and spelling them backwards. I just reminded myself not to try that in the future, unless it’s simple like Bob … that is … Bob. No, I didn’t forget Ysiad.

      Seriously, Phil, I thought it was a nice, neat little story tucked in among all the gloom and doom stories, with a happy ending until Adelzirf eats herself. Damn, that must have hurt.

      Enjoyed it.

      Roy

      Reply
      • September 14, 2021 at 11:35 pm
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        Thanks, Roy! Actually, just yesterday I caught a video on YouTube of one Senga Niprut (search for the show ‘I’ve Got a Secret 12/7/60’).

        Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 12:17 am
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      Good story Pilihp,

      A simple funky-fatale fairy tale. I loved the names, especially of the two towns. Grizelda jumped out at me. It was easier to read it backwards than read what it spelled forwards. The writing pulled me into the story straight-away and bounced me quickly through the plot without even spilling my wine.

      I was troubled, however, yes troubled by the puzzles you left in plain sight. Whenever a clue-master leaves puzzles in plain sight, he usually leaves a few in fancy sight, too. I didn’t see any of those, but I’m still looking.

      This is a funny, gruesome story that salutes the prompt in multiple ways.

      Reply
  • September 4, 2021 at 11:18 pm
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    I enjoyed it, reminded me a little of ‘Fractured Fairytales’ from my youth, not sure if you saw it, but can google them. The storytelling reminded me of how a parent would tell the story, using the real words of the book, and adding their own flavour as well as ‘stating the obvious’. I have attempted to reinterpret children’s stories to no avail, so used to the original plots, morals and happy endings I guess.
    Wonderfully done 🙂

    Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 11:30 pm
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      Hi, John, and thanks! I didn’t know ‘Fractured Fairy Tales’ but I’ve just had a look at one (‘Cinderella’ – great fun) and you’re right – very similar in style. Thanks for that – will explore further.

      Reply
  • September 8, 2021 at 6:24 am
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    Fiona, not quite sure what happened to your story, but I can’t find it in the thread. I really, really like it. Your writing is very descriptive and poetic, even if a bit repetitive. I felt I was at the funeral and thought how real it was. While this story is excellent, it could have said so much more with less.

    I hope it gets reposted and welcome to the site.

    Roy

    Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 9:36 am
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      Yeah I went looking for this one too because I woke up and read the notification summary of it when I was half awake.

      I immediately liked it and your obvious understanding of arcane symbolism (or a damn good job of faking it). It was poetic and I wanted to see where it was going, but I only read a very small portion of it, will read it now, but you need to read the message from Carrie up above!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
      • September 8, 2021 at 12:04 pm
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        I left another glowing praise but it ate itself!

        Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 9:38 am
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      It somehow got marked as spam but I have cleared it now so it should be there.

      Reply
      • September 9, 2021 at 4:17 pm
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        Carrie
        Sorry to hear that you are so sick and vaccinated too. I am still getting my second and possibly third shot before the end of the year. Suxes that it did not protect you from a vicious dose of that stinking virus. We have people doing the wrong thing all over our state and NSW. Then there are those who say it is a government conspiracy and they are the biggest idiots of all until one of their loved ones or friends gets it.

        One of the staff at a school was discovered encouraging people not to vaccinate their children which put cold shivers up my spine. How stupid can you be? All that science to discover polio and tetanus vaccinations and more. Diseases are eradicated and someone believes the diseases never existed in the first place because she is young, arrogant and stupid. So she actively encourages young mothers not to vaccinate???? Until a child then dies??

        Please take your time and get better soon. Your health should be paramount now. If we wait a week or a fortnight for the next vote and prompt, that is ok. I hope you have a loved one or partner who cares around you and who is supportive. We will survive and still write stories we can shove in a box some where or store on a flash drive for later. I worry about everyone on this site if they don’t appear and if like Alice or Adrianne they appear on FB I breathe a sigh of relief. It is like checking up on Family members when you have no family except a son and even he does not care whether you live or die, so you trundle on in life alone but in G-D’s hands and pray. I hope that is not your lot and you are surrounded by people who care that you will recover and go from strength to strength. G-D bless and keep you and set you on the path of good health.
        If you ever need to hear an Aussie voice and touch base I will send you an email with my phone number, but you probably don’t need it. However, you never know …..
        My late brother Chris used to believe in Bundaberg rum lime and water for keeping people healthy daily dose I believe. However a warning, he died at 63 years of age and my father died at 74 of lung cancer. Dad also smoked. It did not protect him from cancer or other ills.
        I believe in a good life of loving and contributing to the welfare of others. Avoid noxious people who make fun of others and are self interested and contribute nothing to society except to criticize. The keyboard warriors and those arm chair critics who find fault in all except themselves and have no answer for you when you point out relevant flaws in their logic, but will continue to squash and destroy others with bully tactics because that is the only way they can feel vindicated and big about themselves.
        Be positive and watch some comedy. Michael McIntyre is great and so is Sabastin Maniscalco https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aibn29AUjY0

        I’ve said enough. Probably too much.

        Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 1:35 pm
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      Thank you! I might have messed things up as I tried to edit it to add word count (1185) and it went a bit weird – sorry if it’s my fault!

      Reply
    • September 8, 2021 at 1:37 pm
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      Thanks Roy, I’m really grateful for the constructive criticism – the repetition and trying to pitch it right so it feels like echoes but not like rereading is definitely a work in progress for me.

      Reply
  • September 10, 2021 at 6:37 pm
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    Anyone figure out what the picture in the bottom right corner is yet?

    Reply
    • September 11, 2021 at 1:24 pm
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      I’m going to guess it’s some sort of insect life cycle but honestly, the first thing it reminded me of was the Galapagos islands and the way they’re constantly re-emerging and drifting. I guess, with all that and the Komodo dragons etc that would have been quite a fruitful place to look for inspiration for the prompt, with hindsight!

      Reply
      • September 12, 2021 at 4:27 pm
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        https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/figure?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0017746.g001

        This thing rolls like Sonic the Hedgehog by biting the tail and catching the wind like a sailboat.

        We called them “camel worms” and it is a whole thing, but this one was discovered on the beaches of Cumberland Island. I found it first when I was 9 or 10, but I thought it was accidentally caught in the wind.

        Komodo dragons are perfect… I wonder what would happen if they bit their own tail? All those germs and the anticoagulant saliva….

        Reply
  • September 11, 2021 at 8:14 pm
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    Does anyone know how Carrie is? I hope she is ok and getting over the Covid-19. Dreadful thing to have. We have a rise in cases here that has been phenomenal. Hopefully everyone will be getting vaxxed.

    Reply
  • September 12, 2021 at 9:30 am
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    Devoured
    By RM York
    1145 words

    At first glance I thought he was in his mid fifties with his rugged look. I sat on one end of the bench trying to not encroach on his area. Hands in his pockets, his newsboy cap pulled tight, he sat hunched, his jacket collar sticking up around the back of his neck warding off the chill wind coming across the lake .

    The longer I looked, trying not to stare – but fascinated by his appearance, I realized he was older. Much older. I don’t know why I thought he was younger when I first sat down. I looked away and blinked, then looked back. My revised estimate was he was somewhere in his late eighties. He hadn’t moved, his eyes gazed steadily toward the lake. Weather worn creases in a ruddy complexion and a scruffy beard completed the look. Maybe an old sailor, I thought, but who knows.

    Chance had led me to this spot in the park. All the other benches were full of people, or had an open spot that looked undesirable. Perhaps whiling away their lunch hour, meeting an old friend perhaps, or just enjoying a bit of time away from the grind of everyday living – like me.

    I had come to the park to escape my cramped apartment, the pandemic forcing me to stay at home more than usual. Being a writer, I found the park a useful tool to recharge my batteries, clear my head and look for stories.

    As I walked through the park, I noticed the old man absorbed in his thoughts. Perfect, I’ll sit at one end if he wants to talk, I’ll know soon enough.

    I decided I had been staring too long, so I focused on the small sailboat on the lake, tossing around in the stiff breeze like a kid’s sailboat in an active bathtub. I wondered how long it would take them before they headed in. “Looks like they might be in a bit of trouble,” he said.

    I glanced over at the old man. “What makes you think that?” I asked.

    “They’re pulling the jib the wrong way.”

    “You a sailor?”

    “Nope,” he said. “A physicist. You think common sense tells you to pull it one way, but you really need to pull it the other. It’s like backing up a car with a trailer on it.”

    “Oh,” I said. “When you say it that way, I see what you mean.”

    “I’m sure they’ll figure it out. When they discover they’re moving in the wrong direction, by trial and error, they’ll make the adjustment and bring it home.”

    “What brings you out here,” I asked.

    “Just trying to make sense of the way things are going on in this world of ours. Physics sure won’t fix the problem. The laws of physics are unbreakable. Once the universe passes a law, those that break it are punished in one way or the other.”

    “I don’t know about that. We break the laws of gravity all the time. Take airplanes for instance. They weigh thousands of pounds and they don’t fall out of the sky.”

    He looked at me like I had something growing from my forehead. “That’s because they use other laws of physics to counter the one law of gravity. The universe allows you to use other laws to counteract its various laws, all working in harmony.”

    “Isn’t that sort of what the government does? Use one set of laws to offset the others?”

    “Not really. Take Afghanistan for example.”

    “You take it,” I said. “We shouldn’t have been there in the first place. What does that have to do with laws?”

    “You a lawyer?”

    “No, A writer.”

    “We’ve spent the last twenty years in Afghanistan thinking we could take a culture that has existed for thousands of years – without our help, mind you – and bring them around to our way of life. And now look. We’ve left with our tails between our legs.”

    “Wait a minute,” I said. “We went there to root out Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, whom they were hiding.”

    “You believe that? Then why did we kill him in Pakistan?”

    I had to admit the old man posed a difficult question. “What do you think we should have done?”

    “Anything but spend 4.5 trillion US dollars trying to defeat an army that doesn’t fight the way our military thinks it should. How old are you?” he asked. “Maybe late thirties?”

    “Close enough,” I said, even though I had just turned 40. “Born in 1981.”

    “Then you don’t know about Viet Nam?”

    “Just what I read and hear about in the news.”

    “They said if Viet Nam fell to the forces trying to force communism, then there would be a domino effect and all the surrounding countries would also fall. We left there in 1974, defeated, and look at the country today. Thriving, with their capitol renamed Ho Chi Min City. I didn’t see any dominoes fall.”

    “You make a fair point, but Afghanistan is different.”

    “You’re too young to understand, and I don’t have the time nor the patience to try and convince you otherwise.” The old man stood up, slowly and carefully, indicating our conversation would soon end. “Maybe I’ll see you again sometime. Maybe not. Time waits for no man.”

    “Wait,” I said. “You can’t leave me hanging like this.”

    “You say you’re a writer?”

    “Yes.”

    “Then when you get home, look up the word ouroboros. O-u-r-o-b-o-r-o-s,” he spelled out. Maybe then you will understand what America is doing. We’ve been doing it since the Korean War, through Viet Nam and now Afghanistan. And, I’m sure there are a few more places we will probably think we can change. Who knows where we will go next. And,” he said,” we will go somewhere. It’s our nature.” Then he turned and slowly walked away.

    I was going to sit for a while longer in the park but I couldn’t stop thinking about the word he mentioned. I didn’t have my phone, so I swiftly walked back to my apartment, sat at my computer and looked up the word he gave me.

    Ouroboros: In some cultures, the symbol of ‘ouroboros’ – a snake eating its own tail – depicts the cycle of life and death, or beginning and ending.

    That night, while watching some mindless show before I went to bed, it was interrupted with a breaking news bulletin announcing that the president was sending weapons, support material, and 25,000 American troops to Ukraine, to assist them in their ongoing conflict with Russia.

    Then, the depiction of the ouroboros – the snake eating its tail – filled my mind and I truly understood what the old man was trying to tell me. Trails of morning light were just beginning to fill my bedroom when I finally fell asleep.

    Reply
    • September 12, 2021 at 12:10 pm
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      Wow. This story was profound and I’m still pondering it. Well done for staring some of those issues in the face, and the tale they’re embedded in is done with such a deft, light touch.

      Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 8:36 am
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        Thanks, Fiona. It’s a very complex problem, and I only touched lightly on the surface. There isn’t enough space in 1,200,000 words, let alone 1200 words to write about America’s successes and yes, resounding defeats, regarding these issues.

        Appreciate your comments.

        Roy

        Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 12:48 pm
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      Roy,

      I was against the war in Vietnam, and Iraq. I was like Bernie, one of those whacko anti-war, pinko-commie peaceniks. Even members of my own family fell for that ‘WMD, ‘yellow-cake’, mobile bio-lab bullshit. I ain’t no weapons expert, but I could see the ‘bullshit’ in the faces of those who were.

      I was 100 percent opposed to the war in Afghanistan. What’s frustrating, is that the experts were opposed too. Since the end of WWII, American foreign policy has been one military blunder after another, despite the warnings from Generals and statesmen in every single case.

      Anyway, it’s a nice topical story with excellent writing and dialogue.

      Don’t know if I’ll get a story in this week. I wrote something that would qualify, but it’s pretty bland. (Like KenF’s story. LOL)

      The one I wrote has an interesting quality in that it’s all true, with just a touch mystery, if I could use that as a foundation for a more compelling story, invent a few elements that sound true, but aren’t. I’d have something worth posting. As it is. It’s just a story I would tell at the dinner table. (Until everyone was bored and picking their teeth, then I would get up, go into the living room and watch football.)

      I also have one that’s simmering on my brain’s backburner, more along the lines of where Filby and John were going, Hard Sci-Fi, but what could I do in two days? I may have to pass on this contest altogether. Plus, I think there’s another vacation looming. The lot of you will get a welcome respite from my ‘tyrannisaurical’ tirades. (Yes, I made that word up. I think. Or did I just alter the usage?)

      Which reminds me, thanks for the grammatical pointers on my last story. I knew what I was doing was incorrect but didn’t know how to do it correctly and didn’t want to take the time to look it up. I wasn’t sure about the whole idea of inserting a sentence into another sentence. I think there must have been a better way to do all that. But I was not trying to re-invent the rules of grammar.

      I think it’s unfair to say I disregard the prompts, though. You had a pink martini and a pixie in a bar. I had a martini, a cafe/bistro, a moon, receipts, nuts? (Okay, technically there were no nuts.) But the prompt requirements were very loose, none of those elements were even required. I think it said, ‘use as many or as few of the visual cues as you want.’ A pink martini was the only required element. It didn’t say the story had to be ABOUT a pink martini.

      Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 8:48 am
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        Ken C.,

        Actually, I didn’t say you disregarded the prompt. You fulfilled it. I just didn’t think it had enough of an impact on the story. I’d like to think my story incorporated the pink martini throughout.But it will not preclude my vote for your story, as I base that on the story itself, not whether or not it fulfilled the prompt requirements, which yours did, anyway.

        And, I agree with you on your take of how we are handling our foreign policy since WWII. Remember, we still have troops in Germany and South Korea, and, I think in Japan, flashing our military might. One day that may end badly, too.
        Not that I’m an isolationist, I’m not. I just think there are better ways to handle this nowadays with our ability to move from one place to another in hours rather than days, weeks, or months. Those drones we used in Afghanistan were probably piloted by someone at Creech AFB, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

        Roy

        Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 2:31 pm
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      I liked the subtle and powerful sailboat comments most of all. A present day “O Captain My Captain” with a good analogy involving the troubles of steering. Can’t think of a better way to do that!

      The war stuff is a minefield I don’t want to tread in lol, but I will say that I was 15 or so at the time and I told my friend that Desert Storm 2 was going to happen and it would be fast because we had drones and even better tech. He got really mad at me and said that I was an idiot and he thought it was going to be more like Vietnam.

      Because our troops would have great difficulty determining who was the enemy and we would be doing a lot of harm and fighting civilians with IEDs and that kind of thing, like horror stories from Vietnam where children had bombs attached or we just bombed the whole village.

      I was so wrong. And a stupid kid with zero concept of war or politics, just some hippie ideology and macho bs fighting it out in my head.

      (the hippie stuff won)

      Good job and you are braver than me! I hope you are wrong too (about Russia).

      Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 9:38 am
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        Thanks, Rumplefinkies. Appreciate your comments. I hope I am wrong about Russia, too. I could have used a spate of countries for that last sentence. Ukraine just seemed the most logical in today’s climate. In fact, when I write stuff like this, I hope I am wrong about a lot of my story predictions.

        What we did wrong in DS2 was stayed after we won militarily and tried to get their political climate to resemble ours without involving the Taliban, because we thought we knew better. We don’t and we didn’t listen to anyone else regarding that. Several different regimes over hundreds of years have tried to turn Afghanistan into something that it cannot be turned into until it is willing as a country to change itself, by its own people. Not outsiders.

        Thanks again for your comments regarding the sailboat analogy. It just made sense to me, having tried to back a trailer in my life, and once being on a sailboat with a guy who didn’t know what he was doing. Fortunately, someone with us did, and took us in safely. A couple of lessons I’ve never forgotten.

        Roy

        Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 10:41 pm
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      Hi, Roy

      Very good story. The conversation with the old man is great – as Rf says, the sailboat becomes an excellent analogy for US foreign policy: the more they push, the less they control things. If influence is what the US wants (I’m not saying it’s a desirable goal), then they might take a leaf out of China’s book: that country has grown its influence around the world with ne’er a shot fired. But then there’s the military-industrial complex pushing from behind … something like the Ukraine scenario in your story is probably inevitable. Very good writing.

      Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 9:39 am
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        Thanks, Phil. you helped make my day.

        Roy

        Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 12:26 am
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      Hey RM,
      I like the characters and how similar and dissimilar they were but found common ground and feeling. The young and the old, past and present intertwined. Great dialogue and interaction, along with description and actions of the men. I could relate to both mean, I am not from the USA (but Australia), we have / had troops there too, every war and conflict, whether we wanted to or believed in the cause. War is so unnecessary and especially being involved in someone else’s conflict and culture. I enjoyed the ride. Thank you.

      Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 9:45 am
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        Thank you, ozjohn. Didn’t put the Oz part together until I learned you were from Australia. Love your country. I spent five weeks there back in the early nineties and still have a couple of very good mates who live there. They live in Young, NSW. Spent a lot of time in the new South Wales country, a bit in Queensland, up by Cairns and the Gold Coast, a bit in Sidney and then some time in Newcastle. Thoroughly enjoyed the country, and the people.

        Appreciate your comments.

        Roy

        Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 6:52 am
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      Hi Roy,

      I enjoyed reading your story for several main reasons.

      Firstly, it is, at its. most basic level, about an older man giving away his opinions to a younger person. I suspect we both have done it and may continue to do so. It is one of the perks of being older.

      Secondly and with deeper meaning, is the idea of countries and the people in them, wanting power and influence. It used to be resources, gold, silver, diamonds, the Silk Road, and the like. As a British man, I cannot get into the blame game regarding US military actions as British foreign policy is littered with the bodies of millions of innocent people who made the mistake of standing between us and something we wanted eg India. Then we left India to a bloodbath. We gave China opium to create addicts and boost demand in exchange for tea, etc etc.

      Therefore, I think you have created a super piece of writing on several levels and, judging by the comments that have followed, you have sparked debate..

      Cheers mate,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • September 16, 2021 at 7:11 am
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        Ken F., I guess there was more in that story than I originally intended. I liked how you perceived it, as I have really reached the “Get off my damn lawn” stage in life. I really didn’t give both sides of the debate, just two visions from essentially the same side. I don’t think I have it in me to do both a protagonist and an antagonist on the same issue. I can’t fight for good reasons to go there, go there, stay there.

        You’re right, you know. The British Empire left a long trail behind them of lost conflicts trying to convince other cultures that theirs (Britain’s) was the correct path. Civilized living and all that. America still thinks its way is the best way. I’m not so sure, even though I benefit greatly from the perks of living in this country.

        Thank you for your nice comments, it’s something you and I can chew over when we chat one day over a beer and crisps somewhere, in reality, one of our emails. Preferably, an authentic pub setting would be my choice.

        Pubs were one of the things I remember most fondly on my trip to England in 2000. Loved England. I’ve been to Italy, England, Japan and Australia and I tell you I could live in any of them, although Japan would take some getting used to.

        I went to England with Rotary International and stayed in the homes of ordinary citizens. When asked as I was leaving what I thought about their country, I replied, “I came here thinking I would be treated like royalty and instead was treated like family.” I still keep in touch with a few, but those are dwindling as time and the grim reaper dwindle my remaining pen pals.

        Thanks again,

        Roy

        Reply
  • September 12, 2021 at 9:32 am
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    Does anyone else see Fiona’s story on the site? It doesn’t show up when I go to the site. Am I missing something?

    Roy

    Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 6:35 am
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      Roy profound. And if the USA had not gone in, thousands of women and their men would not have been given hope of a better way of life.

      I teach afghani kids in a coaching college and their stories are sad. I must disagree that I think the worst thing was the way they handled the whole pull out. Leaving USA citizens – throwing them to the wolves and monsters that are Taliban. These fighters are not communists. Their idealogy is far more vicious and what they do to their own people is horrifying. The addresses and whereabouts of many who had supported the USA were left at the embassy as the Taliban fighters rode into Kabul taking USA equipment and weapons as there as none stood before them, their president fleeing the country. A tragedy and the Afghanis are very angry, hurt and disappointed and betrayed. This is not Vietnam.
      You wait and see. That is all I will say on the matter. I pray and hope to God I am wrong, but the Taliban are not the North Vietnamese. I have taught many Vietnamese immigrants and they are very different.
      I cannot watch anything about Afghanistan without wanting to weep for the people who are Muslim but not the Taliban brand of extremist Muslim ideology.
      Sorry, just my thoughts. But not sorry.

      Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 9:54 am
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        Ilana,

        I agree we mishandled the Afghanistan withdrawal, but I don’t think we should have been there at all. And, you are right, the women in Afghanistan are losing a better way of life, to my way of thinking. But then, that kind of thinking, that we know better what’s good for the Afghan people is what got us in trouble in the first place. America doesn’t need to stick its nose into other countries’ affairs. OR their religions. Monotheistic countries are not ruled by politicians but by religious leaders. And that is a recipe for disaster eventually. It always has been and I don’t see any changes in the future.

        I weep for the people of Afghanistan, also, but we don’t belong there and I am glad we are out. And yes we could have handled it differently. No argument there. The vast majority of Afghanis do not want us in their country. I think we should honor that.

        Roy

        Reply
      • September 13, 2021 at 10:58 am
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        I received it as an email, like all other comments. That’s how I know about it. It’s a very good story. Now that I think Carrie is feeling better, I’ll drop her a note and let her know it never got on the site. Just in various emails. I know Rumple got it. It’s worthy of a listing and a vote, IMHO.

        If I don’t hear from Carrie today, I’ll post it with an explanation at the top indicating whose story it really is tomorrow.

        Roy

        Reply
        • September 13, 2021 at 12:54 pm
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          It’s at the top of the thread, for those who haven’t read it.

          Reply
      • September 13, 2021 at 1:31 pm
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        Hi Ken,
        I think I caught her story briefly and now it seems to have disappeared. I skimmed it first time and was bowled over by it.Really need to read it again.
        Ken F

        Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 11:14 am
      Permalink

      Hi, thanks to everyone who’s wondered, I didn’t take it down. I checked Saturday morning and it showed towards the start of the thread for me – I just checked and it’s still there. Dunno what’s going on with the web gremlins!

      Reply
      • September 13, 2021 at 5:00 pm
        Permalink

        It was in accounts pending for awhile, but is up. Glad for you Fiona, it’s worth reading.

        Roy

        Reply
          • September 15, 2021 at 9:56 am
            Permalink

            Carrie fixed it, Fiona. I just reminded her it didn’t get out of her spam account and make it to the site.

            R

  • September 13, 2021 at 6:18 am
    Permalink


    The Ouroboros Women
    Lien woke on a grassy hill, blasted by a whining wind that whipped the branches of short stubby trees with shining reddish dark leaves. Confused, he staggered to his feet.
    “Where the fuck am I?” he thought dismally, shivering in the icy wind that sounded like a person moaning in pain. He looked down into a valley with strange vegetation and even stranger animals, some of them bearing a familiarity to animals long extinct.
    Shaking his head, he ran his tongue over chapped lips and gunky teeth.
    “Christ almighty!” he swore loudly, frightening an evil looking bird that had been perched on a swaying branch of a nearby tree and making it take wing to land on another branch further from this strange biped creature that it had hoped would be a delicious meal if it was dying. He had to find some water, and where the hell was he?
    He thought he saw water glistening on a far away cliff and decided to make his way there through a couple of kilometers of strange foliaged trees and grasslands. The grass was a pinkish blue and he thought then he must have been hallucinating.
    As he trudged through the strange landscape, he tried to recollect his disordered thoughts. He felt like he knew there was something he must remember. Like who was he? Where was he? He could not even remember his own name.
    He reached a field of yellow flowers that bordered a pool of crystal-clear water fed by a waterfall that poured down from the tall cliff towering above. The roar of the water was deafening, and he felt engulfed by the sound as he approached.
    Reaching the water, he bent on one knee and drank deeply, from the water cupped in both hands. It tasted strangely sweet. He felt better.
    Then, he remembered the woman. Her long flame-coloured tresses had fallen over a heart shaped face and grey green eyes which had peered up at him; her lips were blood red. When she smiled coyly at him, he felt his gut coil with emotion. He remembered looking at her hands. Nothing on the left, so she wasn’t taken. However, he had caught sight of the strange, intricate ring she had on the middle finger of her right hand. He noted the two snakes one was gold and the other silver intwined and eating their tails. The eyes of the silver snake were jade, and those of the gold snake ruby red.
    “It’s a family heirloom.” She told him when he questioned her.
    He sat by the edge of the pool and tried to remember. He was tired and feeling raw hunger, but he did not have a hangover. More like he was drugged and still trying to grasp exactly where he was, and what was he doing here? He was trying to remember who he was and that was somehow difficult. Why couldn’t he remember?
    He was in some sort of alien valley, but how did he get here, there was the mystery. Food he thought, must find something to eat. There were some yellowish looking berries on a tree he had passed on the way down to the waterfall. He hoped they were not poisonous. Making his way back to the tree, he grabbed at a branch laden with the berries and examined several of them. They looked like yellow dates only smaller.
    “Oh well,” he thought, “here goes!” and shoved several of them into his mouth and chewed. They were chewy and tasted funnily enough, like waxy dates. He masticated them to a pulp and swallowed tentatively and waited.
    “Stomach-ache?” he thought apprehensively. But there was nothing, just a rather pleasing sensation in his gut, and so he ate more of them. The sweetness was incredibly satisfying, and it also made him tired. He sat down under the trees and decided to have another nap.
    Then he remembered part of the previous night and jolted into full awareness.
    That’s right! Last night was Friday night. He’d decided to stop at the bar at the end of town on the way home from work. What was it called again? Enchanted Dahlila’s Bar. The sign above the entrance door had a picture of an elfish looking woman peering out at the world, both hands clasped around a brandy balloon half-filled with the liquor. She had creamy brown well-shaped decolletage that was shown to its best advantage by the plunging neckline of her emerald, green silk dress.
    He was trying to think what his job was. The woman’s face kept swimming into his line of vision. Maybe he was a talent scout? Somehow that did not fit. Journalist? No, not that either. Something to do with investigations, however. He could not remember. Why?
    Was he a detective on the police force? And if so, with what department?
    Images of the woman kept floating through his mind as he struggled to remember what happened. He remembered the ring. How it glowed and his fingers tingled with they had caressed the hand with it on.
    Then, it came rushing back to him. She had been the bartender. The place was nearly deserted except for a couple of older men who were playing cards at a table in the far corner. There was another woman, almost identical to the woman behind the bar, except that she had silvery blonde hair, who was preparing some tables set up for dining.
    He had remarked on their resemblance to Dalia – for that was her name.
    “Oh, she’s, my sister Lili. We’re fraternal twins. We were born on the 2nd of November.” Her laughter tinkled and he felt a ripple of unease.
    “So, Scorpios then?”
    “Oh,” she laughed. “You’re into that too? Yes. Scorpio moon and Scorpio rising. Both of us.”
    Then she leaned over the bar giving him a great view.
    “What’ll your poison be tonight?”
    “Beer. Give me a Goat beer.” He had caught sight of a bottle of that same brew in the cabinet behind her.
    Somehow, he had stayed till closing, and she had taken him to her house. He remembered Lili being in the car too. He remembered the sweetness of her full lips on his and the warmth of her naked body pressed to his. Then nothing. And then, he remembered the rings. They both had them.
    When they had taken them off and placed them on the long wooden table in the kitchen of their house, the women had changed. They had become old. So very old, ancient, wizened versions of the women in the bar.
    They had laughed a cackling sound like thunder. Then he had found himself in this place of dreams or nightmares. He did not know yet.
    The green blue sun rose high in a vivid yellow sky streaked with fluorescent purplish clouds that swirled and tumbled crazily across the landscape.
    “I want to go home.” He thought. “Wherever home is.”
    After some hours stumbling through a strange forest, he saw a bent old man in the distance leaning on a stick as if waiting for him.
    “Hello and welcome.” The man greeted him. “I see you have met my sisters. The Ouroboros women.”

    Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 2:11 pm
      Permalink

      This was both really good writing and right up my alley! An urban fantasy but it also felt like a solid sci-fi. No point in trying to figure out the difference in a story like this… explaining magic with science or science with magic? The prehistoric mammals were a perfect touch and a good example of what I mean… the “fairy” world having divergent evolution and species that were never wiped out by humans is something I think about a bunch, but you were the first to write it and have me read it!

      And you are not supposed to eat or drink of elf/fairy food….

      I also enjoyed the ouroboros rings and your vivid descriptions of… well, everything.

      Baked to perfection!

      Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 5:42 pm
      Permalink

      Oh this set off so many ripples for me – the Belle Dame Sans Mercy, Gawain, the Lotus Eaters – so nicely woven! And the beauty and the threat mingled so subtly.

      Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 10:52 pm
      Permalink

      Hi, Ilana

      A great take on the theme. The descriptions are very good – it’s a strange world indeed (but I don’t think you needed to use that word so much!) I like how the details of the previous evening come back to him in dribs and drabs – just like a misty memory that we try to grab hold of. Very nicely done.

      Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 12:34 am
      Permalink

      Ilana,
      Interesting take, I was interested from the start. Again with other stories submitted here, I was unsure of the genre or what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. Liked the amnesia, the fraternal twins / wizened ladies and their brother. Where to now? Thanks.

      Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 10:09 am
      Permalink

      I liked your story, but I had trouble reconciling the colors of the sky, sun, clouds and grass not coinciding with the colors of the women’s hair and eyes. It’s the science nerd in me, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the descriptions, I just thought maybe the women should have green /blue skin or hair, or purple eyes and so on as did the flora. Otherwise, your usual competence in writing a story showed up.

      What is it with you women authors who think that men get all goofy when we look down a woman’s neckline? It’s true, of course, but there are two stories in this collection alone that point that out. There are some of us who are able to overcome those lusty thoughts … umm … most of the time.

      Good flow on the story that leads to an inevitable conclusion. Don’t drink with strangers, including beautiful women, especially those who offer you special drinks. Nothing good can come from it.

      Roy

      Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 7:14 am
      Permalink

      Hi Ilana,

      A really well written story that makes the most of the prompt. Love the way you make the two sisters the two ends of the self-eating serpent. Loved some of the other comments about the way men seem to lose all sense at the sight of a shapely female bust.

      Excellent descriptive writing and I loved the final line too.

      I followed the debate regarding the withdrawal of US and UK troops. Desperately sad situation for those left behind. My Dad who would have been just over 100 years old now, always said to me, we should stay out of Afganistan. There was a very good TV programme on the BBC by a chap called Rory Stewart which told the history of foreign attempts to rule the country and I think my Dad was right.

      Nice writing, Ilana.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
  • September 13, 2021 at 11:11 am
    Permalink

    Amazing descriptive tale, Ilana. Wonderful story, wonderful writing, wonderful ending. “The Ouroboros women.”

    Reply
  • September 14, 2021 at 3:43 pm
    Permalink

    My Blue Period.
    Ken Cartisano (1170.)
    © 9-14-2021

    I found a pipe in the street, while riding my bicycle home from work one day: An ordinary smoking pipe, undamaged, burled wooden bowl, ebony stem, reusable filter. I stopped, picked it up, looked around, took it home and set it on the kitchen counter.

    The next day I cleaned it, boiled the stem, dried it out, put a new filter in it, and stuffed it full of freshly purchased pipe tobacco.

    I nudged open the front door of my trailer and sat down on my porch steps, took a deep breath, struck a match and lit that thing up. Puffing furiously, I produced a cloud of blue-gray smoke.

    I inhaled…

    And was filled with an immediate sense of satisfaction, appreciation, and something else. The emotions I felt were for the pipe, not me, not the tobacco, not life. It felt good in my hands, as if the pipe was meant to be there. I had the strongest and clearest impression that the previous owner had possessed the pipe for a long time, and had, in fact, cherished it.

    I cupped the pipe by the bowl and as the tobacco smoldered, I had the uncanny feeling that I was connecting with a complete stranger. That I was exchanging my molecules with the pipe, which contained similar particles of its former owner. That he had held the bowl so many times, that his affection for the thing permeated the pipe and that’s what I was experiencing. His feelings about the pipe, on a molecular level.

    Now before you tell me that that’s just crazy, and I would agree—I even felt like I knew who the owner was.

    And could probably find out, because, even though I was never sure about the distance involved, I was certain about the route I took and the time it took to ride it. Though my trek through the sprawling suburban metropolis might have seemed arduous, the terrain was flat and the bike had ten-speeds. From an infinite number of possible routes, I had winnowed them down to one or two unique and invisible trails.

    Down a certain alley, across the main street, through a group of linked parking lots, skirting a quiet neighborhood, then back out onto the main road, past the strip-malls, churches, bars and convenience stores, follow the next main road, then up onto the sidewalk, under the Turnpike, and into another relatively traffic-free neighborhood street.

    And along the way there were neighborhoods with no through-streets, a few rare and undeveloped fields and trails that skirted ponds, or stands of trees that had somehow escaped the bulldozer and were isolated from the constant thrum of human commerce. Like an ‘anti-oasis’, little deserts of respite from the sensory abundance.

    That’s where I saw this guy. At one of these places, a service road behind a run-down little bar in what used to be the boondocks.

    I can’t say that I met him, but he became a regular feature in my daily commute. I only saw him in the early morning, when I was going home.

    He appeared to be in his mid-forties; slim; clean white-shirt; black slacks and shoes. He had a good tan too, salt and pepper hair. In fact, he looked like Gary Cooper, with striking blue eyes.

    He was building a fence along the lake, along the street behind the bar.

    I imagined he was some kind of ex-con, working as a dishwasher while trying to rebuild his life, and putting up a fence for the owner of the bar, for a little side money. Maybe it was ironic.

    After a few trips down that road, we made eye-contact. He acknowledged me as a fellow human being. Nothing more or less. He was more interested in the fence. Obsessive even, and yet haphazard with its construction. It was a crazy fence, obviously made of scrap wood, but he had a good hammer, and nails, and time, and it grew longer and scrappier each day.

    I looked forward to seeing it every morning, I yearned to see it. It gave me something to think about beforehand: And after? It wasn’t that far from home. Once I saw the fence, and the crazy progress he’d made, it gave me something to ponder, and before I knew it, I was home.

    That’s because it was no ordinary fence, for all that scrap wood, or maybe because of it, it was becoming pretty impressive. More abstract. One day I stopped to appreciate it. I found myself wondering: If Pablo Picasso were reincarnated as a dishwashing ex-con, what would one of his fences look like? It had a lot of blue in it.

    That’s about where I found the pipe, sitting upright, undisturbed in the middle of the road. I’d never seen him smoking a pipe, and the thought that it might belong to him never occurred to me, until I put that pipe in my mouth and lit it. I instantly thought of him, and the fact that I hadn’t seen him for two or three days.

    Now, before I continue, I confess without shame, despite my tender years, that I’ve smoked many a pipe both before and since, none ever made me feel anything so peculiar as this pipe did.

    I’ve smoked through glass, clay, briarwood, meerschaum and corncob, and the trouble with pipes is that they’re cumbersome. (I even owned a pipe that was something of a celebrity. It had a name, Killer, and everybody knew it. It was made of metal, had a huge bowl, and if you didn’t handle it properly it would burn you!) The point is, I wasn’t all that well-disposed toward pipes to begin with, so my instant appreciation and fondness for this pipe was a little unusual. Almost unsettling.

    Since I had no need of it, I intended to return it to the Gary Cooper look-alike. If, in fact, it was his, but I never saw him again. A week later the fence was removed. A week after that I happened to ride by while one of the cooks was out back having a cigarette. I slowed down and asked him if he smoked a pipe.

    He waved the cigarette at me and shook his head. He didn’t even speak, so I didn’t stop, I just rode around in slow, lazy figure-eights. I asked him about ‘Gary Cooper’ and his Picasso fence, and he spit on the ground and said, “That, that son-of-a-bitch? I don’t know. That guy was just—crazy.”

    That’s all I got out of him.

    “What happened to the fence?”

    He shot me a look of disgust, flicked his cigarette toward the dumpster and went back in the kitchen, the screen door slammed behind him.

    Pieces of it were in the dumpster.

    ########

    Some people ask me if I still have the pipe. And I tell them the truth.

    No. I abandoned it at a bus station after my fifth and final fence. No more fences for me. Or pipes, for that matter.

    Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 3:51 pm
      Permalink

      If you get a minute, could you delete the first copy of this story, please? Thanks.

      Reply
    • September 14, 2021 at 6:55 pm
      Permalink

      Wow, this is a real yarn. You had me utterly absorbed all the way through, and I did not see the ending coming, and then I thought I should’ve because you set it up all along when I looked back.
      I could smell the pipe smoke, and I was riding that bike route with you. Also, I could hear the narrative voice in my head, and I could read a whole collection of stories from him.
      I just wish Trump hadn’t ruined the idea of fences for me!

      Reply
      • September 14, 2021 at 10:02 pm
        Permalink

        Ha ha, Thanks Fiona. Like my character said, ‘No more fences…’

        Reply
  • September 14, 2021 at 3:50 pm
    Permalink

    My Blue Period. (Revised.)
    Ken Cartisano (1175.)
    © 9-14-2021

    I found a pipe in the street, while riding my bicycle home from work one day: An ordinary smoking pipe, undamaged, burled wooden bowl, ebony stem, reusable filter. I stopped, picked it up, looked around, took it home and set it on the kitchen counter.

    The next day I cleaned it, boiled the stem, dried it out, put a new filter in it, and stuffed it full of freshly purchased pipe tobacco.

    I nudged open the front door of my trailer and sat down on my porch steps, took a deep breath, struck a match and lit that thing up. Puffing furiously, I produced a cloud of blue-gray smoke.

    I inhaled…

    And was filled with an immediate sense of satisfaction, appreciation, and something else. The emotions I felt were for the pipe, not me, not the tobacco, not life. It felt good in my hands, as if the pipe was meant to be there. I had the strongest and clearest impression that the previous owner had possessed the pipe for a long time, and had, in fact, cherished it.

    I cupped the pipe by the bowl and as the tobacco smoldered, I had the uncanny feeling that I was connecting with a complete stranger. That I was exchanging my molecules with the pipe, which contained similar particles of its former owner. That he had held the bowl so many times, that his affection for the thing permeated the pipe and that’s what I was experiencing. His feelings about the pipe, on a molecular level.

    Now before you tell me that that’s just crazy, and I would agree—I even felt like I knew who the owner was.

    And could probably find out, because, even though I was never sure about the distance involved, I was certain about the route I took on my daily commute to and from work. Though my trek through the sprawling suburban metropolis might have seemed arduous, the terrain was flat and the bike had ten-speeds, and from an infinite number of possible routes, I had winnowed them down to one or two unique and invisible trails that I always followed.

    Down a certain alley, across the main street, through a group of linked parking lots, skirting a quiet neighborhood, then back out onto the main road, past the strip-malls, churches, bars and convenience stores, follow the next main road, then up onto the sidewalk, under the Turnpike, and into another relatively traffic-free neighborhood street.

    And along the way there were neighborhoods with no through-streets, a few rare and undeveloped fields and trails that skirted ponds, or stands of trees that had somehow escaped the bulldozer and were isolated from the constant thrum of human commerce. Like an ‘anti-oasis’, little deserts of respite from the sensory abundance.

    That’s where I saw this guy. At one of these places, a service road behind a run-down little bar in what used to be the boondocks.

    I can’t say that I met him, but he became a regular feature in my daily commute. I only saw him in the early morning, when I was going home.

    He appeared to be in his mid-forties; slim; clean white-shirt; black slacks and shoes. He had a good tan too, salt and pepper hair. In fact, he looked like Gary Cooper, with striking blue eyes.

    He was building a fence along the lake, along the street behind the bar.

    I imagined he was some kind of ex-con, working as a dishwasher while trying to rebuild his life, and putting up a fence for the owner of the bar, for a little side money. Maybe it was ironic.

    After a few trips down that road, we made eye-contact. He acknowledged me as a fellow human being. Nothing more or less. He was more interested in the fence. Obsessive even, and yet haphazard with its construction. It was a crazy fence, obviously made of scrap wood, but he had a good hammer, and nails, and time, and it grew longer and scrappier each day.

    I looked forward to seeing it every morning, I yearned to see it. It gave me something to think about beforehand: And after? It wasn’t that far from home. Once I saw the fence, and the crazy progress he’d made, it gave me something to ponder, and before I knew it, I was home.

    That’s because it was no ordinary fence, for all that scrap wood, or maybe because of it, it was becoming pretty impressive. More abstract. One day I stopped to appreciate it. I found myself wondering: If Pablo Picasso were reincarnated as a dishwashing ex-con, what would one of his fences look like? It had a lot of blue in it.

    That’s about where I found the pipe, sitting upright, undisturbed in the middle of the road. I’d never seen him smoking a pipe, and the thought that it might belong to him never occurred to me, until I put that pipe in my mouth and lit it. I instantly thought of him, and the fact that I hadn’t seen him for two or three days.

    Now, before I continue, I confess without shame, despite my tender years, that I’ve smoked many a pipe both before and since, none ever made me feel anything so peculiar as this pipe did.

    I’ve smoked through glass, clay, briarwood, meerschaum and corncob, and the trouble with pipes is that they’re cumbersome. (I even owned a pipe that was something of a celebrity. It had a name, Killer, and everybody knew it. It was made of metal, had a huge bowl, and if you didn’t handle it properly it would burn you!) The point is, I wasn’t all that well-disposed toward pipes to begin with, so my instant appreciation and fondness for this pipe was a little unusual. Almost unsettling.

    Since I had no need of it, I intended to return it to the Gary Cooper look-alike. If, in fact, it was his, but I never saw him again. A week later the fence was removed. A week after that I happened to ride by while one of the cooks was out back having a cigarette. I slowed down and asked him if he smoked a pipe.

    He waved the cigarette at me and shook his head. He didn’t even speak, so I didn’t stop, I just rode around in slow, lazy figure-eights. I asked him about ‘Gary Cooper’ and his Picasso fence, and he spit on the ground and said, “That, that son-of-a-bitch? I don’t know. That guy was just—crazy.”

    That’s all I got out of him.

    “What happened to the fence?”

    He shot me a look of disgust, flicked his cigarette toward the dumpster and went back in the kitchen, the screen door slammed behind him.

    Pieces of it were in the dumpster.

    ########

    Some people ask me if I still have the pipe. And I tell them the truth.

    No. I abandoned it at a bus station after my fifth and final fence. No more fences for me. Or pipes, for that matter.

    Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 12:42 am
      Permalink

      Hey Ken,
      Wow, love it. The flow, the characters, the ‘looking on yourself’ perspective was a surprise. I do enjoy when main characters of a story are not people or alive, but inanimate, like the pipe, the fence, and believable and relatable. Again, I did not know what to expect or the genre, but of course a wonderful surprise. Keep it up. Wow.

      Reply
      • September 16, 2021 at 6:03 pm
        Permalink

        Glad you liked the story, John. Many thanks. Your story just about blew my mind.

        Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 10:17 am
      Permalink

      What a great, strange ride. Interesting story, Ken C., very interesting. Also, if I may point out, strange. Very strange. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. A bit of a get-a-way. You kept me interested. Now, I’m wondering about the fifth and final fence. I only remember the one. And there’s four more? I get to fill in the blanks on those? Am I right?

      I think Phil used the right word. Intrigued.

      Roy

      Reply
      • September 16, 2021 at 3:33 pm
        Permalink

        Roy,

        Yeah, damn. Well at least you’re being honest about your confusion. That would be my fault. Kim didn’t get it either, but she was sick and too weak to convince me. (“Here Kim, let me see you lift this iron skillet, go ahead, come on, lift it. Can’t do it? Then you can’t convince me the last line is bad. Sorry, I’m not gonna listen to a woman who can’t pick up an iron skillet. That’s just the way it is. You get to swinging that skillet again, I reckon I’ll be a lot more mindful of your opinion. Until then, this story stays the way it is.”) I already know I’m a horrible person. BTW

        What I was trying to convey in the fewest possible words was this:
        The narrator finds a pipe in the road, senses who the owner is when he holds it, so it has at least that mystical property, he found the pipe near the crazy fence. When he tries to return it, the fence and the former owner are gone. End of story.

        When sometimes asked if he still has the pipe, the narrator says, “No,” but admits, obliquely, that after copping it from the last ‘crazy guy’ he was forced to build five fences before he could figure out how to foist the damned thing off on someone else. ‘I abandoned it in a bus terminal.” Since then he had sworn off building fences and owning pipes of any kind.

        Especially, one would imagine, a pipe with a curse on it.

        I realize this isn’t clear in the story, but I thought it would get figured out.

        Reply
        • September 16, 2021 at 6:07 pm
          Permalink

          I read the bit about the skillet while waiting outside school to pick my kids up and I want to officially complain that you made me laugh like a lunatic and now the other parents think I’m weird 😉

          Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 7:35 am
      Permalink

      Hi Ken,

      I finally got around to putting together a few words about your story.

      It kept me interested from start to finish. It’s a weird and wonderful tale, beautifully told but I would expect nothing less from you.

      It’s a great idea to give centre stage to a pipe and to imbue it with history and character. I guess pipe-smoking is a much less common activity these days but I always remember my childhood family doctor, Dr. Morrissey because everything about him reeked of pipe tobacco . If we left the surgery with a prescription, it smelled of tobacco. He was a much revered local man too and all my neighbours went to him.

      Now, building a fence with odds and ends is a strange activity, even for a Gary Cooper, lookalike. This really intrigues me and, I must say, baffles me too. I have read all the other comments so that perhaps someone would give me a clue but no, they didn’t. The Gary Cooper, Picasso references are great. I can really see that in my head.

      I’m still baffled about the other four fences, Ken.

      Help me out here
      .
      Please.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 3:43 pm
      Permalink

      Excellent!

      This rated high for me.

      It felt very real and dreamlike at the same time. I could smell and see the landscape (for me it smelled like hot pavement and dirt and plants that are exotic to me) and it made me want to be that free (I have been cooped up too long and the only exercise I get is work itself, plus the roads are so damn congested around here and Gwinnett drivers are not fun to share the road with in a car OR bicycle, and I don’t even own a bicycle anymore). The narrator was going back home from work, but it still felt free and detached for some reason, maybe because of the musing way he daydreamed about the fence builder?

      I am still craving tobacco after “quitting” (8 black and milds in 13 months, but who is counting?), so this made me want to smoke in the beginning AND the end!

      I read it too fast the first time and missed that the narrator was much younger until the second reading, but it still worked because I knew that “Gary Cooper” was relatively older. I guess I thought the narrator was just really healthy and active for his age, like Bill Nye the Science Guy? So I thought that there was maybe a decade difference. But the bicycle should have clued me in.

      However, I still am wondering if it really was the narrator in the future or just like a contagious, chain-letter kind of thing. No. Now that I typed it out, the bus stop is an entirely different location for the pipe, and the narrator would recognize his own handsomeness, so it must be that some new individual will find the pipe and, perhaps, develop a sudden urge to put up fences?

      But there is an air of mystery AND loneliness or melancholy or something, I can’t quite describe it. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and I would just walk around for the sake of it and get lost in my thoughts, or when I was even younger and I would look for insects in peoples yards or random fields and patches of woods. Or on camping trips when I would stray too far into the forest and get in trouble. You get sort of in this rapture of the wild mode, but it is meditative too.

      Gary Cooper was trying to fence in the places that should be protected from development, wasn’t he? He was trying to stop urban sprawl from taking the last oasis in the area, and he probably had been doing it for a little while, right? But the narrator, he already had the right value system in place, he was just missing the pipe and he hadn’t witnessed the glory of a makeshift fence yet. So it caught on.

      But how about the next guy or gal at the bus stop? What will they do with the pipe? Do they know what to do with it, or will it come to them when they light up that tasty thing?

      Oh man I used to fill my living room up with smoke that would rise to the ceiling and form these lenticular clouds that snaked all around. And I would drink red wine and watch TCM until 3 in the morning. Those were the days. But it was killing me, so I had to stop.

      This should be in a magazine for smokers, if they could appreciate it, the philistines.

      Reply
      • September 16, 2021 at 5:05 pm
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        You got it Mansfield.

        Very funny comment too.
        But yeah, you hit it with, ‘…some new individual will find the pipe and perhaps, develop a sudden urge to put up fences.’

        I thought there was enough clues for a reader, a brilliant, exceptional reader like yourself, John, to connect the dots, and I was right. But I also wanted the troops to know what we were fighting for, otherwise, you know, they’ll just give up and go home.

        So I guess it needs a rewrite. A revisal. I’m hoping Roy might give me an idea of how to connect the two things more substantially. For now it is what it is.

        Reply
        • September 16, 2021 at 5:23 pm
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          You know I didn’t even think of it as a curse until you used that word in your comment!

          I thought of it as an enchantment and a good thing, because I want to smoke from it and the feelings it created sounded fun. Plus, building fences isn’t that bad, but it would drive my wife nuts and I would probably get fired after too long, so I see what you mean!

          Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 3:51 pm
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      That is what it reminded me of!

      “The Road Virus Heads North” short story by Stephen King!

      He didn’t explain that curse either, but it was still haunting.

      This is better as a mystery, trying to explain it can’t be done in 1,200 words. Or it could be done, but that would be a waste of a good feeling that you could stretch out. Like walking or riding a bike when you could just drive and be there in 5 minutes (boo).

      Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 3:53 pm
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      And I read your explanation after the first comment but before the second one about Stephen King, so I didn’t cheat and I gave you my honest opinion of what happened in this messy brain. Was that close to the desired effect?

      Well, it was good writing and I liked it, even if I am way off!

      Reply
  • September 14, 2021 at 11:09 pm
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    Hi, KenC

    A smashing opening line to a very beautiful story. A bit mind-blowing, really. “I just rode around in slow, lazy figure-eights.” Terrific stuff! (I wonder if “Pieces of it were in the dumpster” might not have been a more thought-provoking, poetic final line? We woudn’t be as clear about the story, but we might be even more intrigued? Don’t know – I may be talking rot.)

    Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 12:45 am
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      Hi Phil,
      Wow.
      ‘Smashing’, ‘beautiful’, mind-blowing’ (a bit). ‘Terrific.’ ! (Exclamation point is mine.)

      You never talk rot. You’re supposed to drink it, I believe. You’re probably right. I’ll try moving that ‘dumpster’ line to the end of the story. Intrigue sounds good. Who needs clarity when you’ve got intrigue? (Where’d she go, anyway?)

      ‘Pieces of it were in the dumpster’ was the last line I added to that story. So, there you go, maybe it belongs on the end.
      Thanks for the compliments Phil, I really enjoyed them. And the advice.

      Reply
  • September 15, 2021 at 2:29 am
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    Blown away by your turn of phrases and as others have said an intriguing story full of poetry.

    Reply
  • September 15, 2021 at 8:37 am
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    All – I’m alive!
    I still feel like I could sleep 20 hours a day, But I’m ready to get these voting pages created!

    In that vein, the time period for submitting stories is now up.
    I’ll be posting the voting page in just a few hours.

    Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 10:11 am
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      It is so good to hear that you have recovered!
      Don’t go scaring us like that again!

      Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 10:18 am
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      Awesome. The part about you being OK, that is.

      Roy

      Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 12:50 pm
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      Hi Carrie,
      So glad to hear you are on the mend.
      I have posted a general message somewhere below,
      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • September 15, 2021 at 1:27 pm
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      Hurrah! So glad you’re ok! And now you’re double-immune, right? (There has to be an upside to having suffered through it!)

      Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 2:10 am
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      Carrie
      So glad that you are ok. Take it easy and do not over tax yourself. Covid 19 takes a lot out of you. Your lungs in bad cases fill with pus pockets and it does have some long term effects. Vaccination is preferable to getting this virus. You will not have quite the ill effects that the unvaxxed are in for. Hope you are well on the way to recovery and up fighting fit by thanksgiving.

      Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 3:50 pm
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      Carrie,
      How are you?
      How do we know it’s really you? You could be an impostor.
      Are you still ravenously beautiful? Any new tattoos? Come to think of it, who’s Rosemeck? Is she the imposter? This is turning into an Agatha Christie novel. I can’t keep up with all the twists.

      Reply
      • September 17, 2021 at 4:14 pm
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        Ken – I always appreciate your humor.
        I am going to Hawaii for my birthday in October. I’ve been to the islands several times and I’m excited to go back. I need some heart/health healing and Kauai is the best place to do it!

        I have an appointment to get two tattoos while I’m there. A sea turtle on the inside of my right wrist with a hibiscus flower and the word Ohana. A sea turtle on the inside of my left wrist with a palm tree and the word Aloha.

        I will have to share a photo when I get them!!

        Reply
  • September 15, 2021 at 12:48 pm
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    To my fellow writers,

    I have been away from home since last Thursday until just now in beautiful North Wales. However, the Wi Fi is awful. For example, I tried to read one of the stories last night, it wouldn’t let me in but by this morning I had 55 messages, comments and stories.
    Thus, I am a bit behind. I will try to comment on any stories that I may have missed and will vote in due course.
    Kind regards,

    Ken Frape

    Reply
  • September 15, 2021 at 6:51 pm
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    Everyone thinks that guardian angels were sent from heaven. What if they weren’t. What if they were sent from another planet. The planet I’m from is called Draconis. Us dragons are born white. We get a unique color once we complete our propositum. Our propositum is the goal everyone wants to achieve. And that goal is to save one human life. Right from the second we are born we start training. We’re thrown into physical and mental training for all situations. At about fifteen years old you are allowed to begin your propositum. I am fourteen, almost fifteen. Once you complete a final test they let you go. The test is just a psychological test. It is mostly problems that could happen and how you would get your human out of that problem. You can’t really prepare for the test because nobody gets the same one. On earth there are many different situations that could result in a human death. They can’t put all of them into one test. So you never know what you are going to get. If you don’t pass the test you have to keep training for five more years. The training gets harder and harder every time you fail the test. I’m not worried though. All my teachers have told me I’m very intelligent and could get through any situation I get myself into.
    I took the test last week. Our test scores come in a fireball. I wasn’t home when mine came but my Mom was. I am almost too scared to ask what my test scores are. It’s okay though because my Mom would have said something if I failed right? I finally decided to suck it up and go ask her. “Hey Mom,” I said.
    “Hey. Want to know your score?” My Mom looked really excited. When she’s excited her bright teal color seems to grow brighter.
    “Yes?” I answered.
    “Why do you sound so nervous?” My Mom laughed. “You got a 95!” I was stunned the highest score ever recorded was a 94. Immediately I was nervous. Once the word got around all the dragons would be expecting me to do something great. Like saving hundreds of people from a bomb. Or something else that was nearly impossible. My mom could clearly see that so she said, “Don’t look so nervous. Just do your best. Nobody will judge.” I knew they would though. No matter what my mother said.
    A fireball came a few days later from the Princeps. They are the group that makes everything run smoothly. The fireball read “We received news of your test scores and are looking forward to what you will offer the human world.” It was official. I was freaking out. And I had to leave in less than two weeks! I decided the best thing to do was just pretend I was a normal fledgling (a fledgling is a teenage dragon) with a normal test score.
    The day came that I had to leave. There were about a million dragons going at the same time as me. The trip was supposed to take about a week. For that week we mostly just had sem (which is pretty much salad). During the trip I got lots of comments about how impressed they were with my score. And they did not forget to mention how excited they were to see how many incredible human lives I save. Everyone was clearly expecting great things from me. Personally I just think of myself as a regular fledging. But when people brought up my score my mind distanced from that mindset and the enormous pressure came back to me.
    When we arrived after what seemed like an eternity, the organizer laid out the only two rules we had:
    No revealing yourself to any human
    No interfering with any human being’s personal life
    These rules were generally easy to follow unless you were intentionally trying to break them. After the organizer told us these rules, we were turned loose. Slowly we started to disperse in different directions.
    It’s pretty nerve racking when you think that someone can see you. What you have to realize though is that you are invisible and the humans are just looking ahead of them. I think that I was in Nevada, USA. But I wasn’t sure. It was so busy I didn’t see half the people that I was going through. All of a sudden I heard what sounded like blasts of gunshots behind me. I dodged through all the humans as fast as I could. Finally I saw the source of the gunshots. It was a tall man dressed in all black with his hood up. I thought “This could be it. This could be the hundreds of people I could save!” Right as soon as I had that thought one of the civilians in a blue uniform tackled the man. The shots stopped immediately after and big wailing vans started to arrive. After waiting a half hour or so I decided everyone was safe and left.
    I wondered where that man in the blue uniform had come from. This surely was covered in the many, many hours of training I had gone through. It came to me! They were something called police officers. There had to be more and they clearly knew where the crime was. Maybe I could find one of their headquarters. Which would lead me to many instances I could help out at.
    The nearest police station was only a couple miles away. I went through the doors when someone left to avoid anybody seeing something weird. Once I was inside, I went straight to the responding room. Every second the phone was ringing and nothing really stood out to me until one particular call. The receiver turned white. She hurried and grabbed the speaker phone and announced, “There is a reported bomb on The Strip.” This could be it! This could be the big propstium that all the dragons expect me to have!
    As fast as I possibly could, I arrived at The Strip. All around me was confusion. There were people dressed up as strange things. One of the humans was in a very tight stripy red, white, and blue suit. He had what looked like a long legged black thing on his chest. I thought that was pretty weird. Before I knew what I was doing, I had picked up this man and turned him upside down to see if anything fell out of his pockets. Everyone around stared staring in confusion and I realized what I had just done. I had just revealed myself to not only one human being but to hundreds of human beings. We had been taught what happens when a dragon reveals itself. In approximately three minutes the Princeps would take me from Earth back to Draconis. My brain was mush. For the first time my brain was at a loss! Then suddenly one thought came to my mind. I had to find the man with the bomb before the Princeps arrived! Trying to make sense of what was going on around me, I spotted something. A human in a striped jumpsuit twitching in a corner with a tiny device in his hand. The man looked insane. I decided this was the best bet I had. Within a second I was over by the man. Then I heard it. The sound of the Princeps. Everything else seemed to go in slow motion. I jumped toward him, and reached for the device. As soon as I was about to grab the remote, I was lifted up. The princeps had got me before I got to the remote.
    As we were being lifted from Earth I saw the explosion. And that was it for me. I was done.

    Reply
    • September 16, 2021 at 1:36 pm
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      I loved the fusion of sci-fi and religion, sort of like the work of Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time, Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, etc.). My family listened to the first one on tape for road trips and then I read the others.

      It also reminded me of the one sci-fi book that I read from C.S. Lewis: Out of the Silent Planet. It also had Christian overtones like the Narnia books, but it was set on a Mars filled with plants and animals!

      Did you read my comment about the guardian angels? Or were you just thinking about them already? I used to be obsessed with them when I was a kid.

      I was drawn in to this one and I honestly liked it. You were original and made up your own world and complex government for the people of Draconis, though they are kind of mysterious the way they value human life more than we do (lol). Plus, they study us hard and try to understand everything, but we are still just weird and confusing to them it seems.

      Too bad that it was late, because I know it would have definitely ranked higher than mine will!

      Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 1:00 am
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      Elyssa,

      Wonderfully creative story and a brilliant idea. As a man who sees dragons everywhere, this story finally explains to me why, and what they’re doing. I only see the mature ones so I’ve never seen a white one. I’ve been to Vegas and I wondered why there were so many of them. They seemed to be just loitering, but then you see one or two leap into action, so it was as if they were waiting for their cue. So I’m guessing that they come to Vegas because there was probably a lot of human trouble and misery there. So now that makes sense too.

      I know a practically famous writer who likes to invent words. (And I’m not talking about L. Ron Hubbard. He would invent a word when he couldn’t remember the right one. You and I invent words because we can. Period.)

      On a more serious note, while there is nothing specifically wrong with your first paragraph that I care to point out, I think it could stand a little more buffing, and I would break it in half too, or into three pieces. It’s too long. Unless you really think it’s all about one thing.

      All in all this is a fun story, with a very creative plot and I would’ve considered this a contender for one of my votes if only it qualified.

      Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 5:42 am
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      Hi Elissa,
      I haven’t read your work before so I guess you are a newcomer. If I am right then welcome to this excellent group of writers.
      You will receive really useful advice from experienced writers. Sometimes it will surprise or disappoint you but it’s always worth taking notice of it before deciding if you feel it is right.

      There are some great ideas in your story. The notion of guardian angels is by no means new but your take on that theme is certainly a new one to me.
      The training and the test are intriguing too with the aim of helping to save a human life or more than one. What did we humans ever do to deserve such a service?
      This story deserves greater exposure especially to people (like us in this group) who will give you honest feedback. We all need that, however experienced we are.
      One or two queries from me:
      If you walked through so many people in Las Vegas and they can’t see you, could you not walk straight into the police station instead of having to wait for someone to exit?
      I guess you created the word “propositum” but the spelling wasn’t consistent. Great word though.
      It’s a shame you missed this deadline but I really hope you can stick with us as your ideas suggest that you have a great deal to offer in the future.
      Kind regards,
      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 9:28 am
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      Oh man something Ken said made me realize that you have a secret society of reptilians that live beside us, though we are not aware of it. That is a popular conspiracy theory in America right now, and probably the world? They surveyed a few years ago and 15 million people believed that lizard people are controlling our government, music, entertainment, and everything from behind the scenes! Did you intend this? Because it is almost like you have a benevolent version of that going on! Ironic and comical that those people are right and wrong at the same time!

      I guess they think that there are tons of Scooby-Doo masks circulating that they use to disguise themselves? Or holograms? You have a lot of the things that I am interested in all rolled up into a ball.

      Reply
  • September 16, 2021 at 11:35 am
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    Elissa, I’m going to do my best to give a fair critique. I think your story has possibilities, but needs definition. It ended abruptly, too abruptly for me. I’m not sure I understand the last line, but if I think back, it was because you broke the rules. By you, I mean your 1st person voice. So, I have to assume that all those innocent people near the bomb man all died. I think you could have a better ending. You can still blow the place up, that’s your right as an author. Perhaps something along the lines of: As we were being lifted from Earth, I saw the explosion. ‘It’s all over for them,’ I thought, ‘and now It’s over for me.’

    Here’s my biggest problem with your story. It is virtually all tell and no show. I can point out several instances, but let’s just go with these two: First, ‘Trying to make sense of what was going on around me, I spotted something. A human in a striped jumpsuit twitching in a corner with a tiny device in his hand. The man looked insane.’ That’s telling and it’s all tell. A way around that is like this. Trying to make sense of what was going on around me, I spotted something. In the corner, a man holding something in his hand. His maniacal look gave him away and his body jerked spasmodically, as if he wasn’t in control. It’s more words, I know, but you have to give a reason, I think, for your protagonist to think the man looked insane. Now all your readers know WHY you think he was insane as well.

    Here’s another: The nearest police station was only a couple miles away. I went through the doors when someone left to avoid anybody seeing something weird. Here’s a different approach. After reaching the nearest police station, (nobody cares how far away it is, unless it has more to do with the story) I waited until someone left so I could enter. Doors don’t open by themselves and I didn’t want to attract attention.

    By the way, having lived in Las Vegas from 1976 until 2017, I am very familiar with The Strip, and the buskers. (All those weirdly dressed characters hoping to pose for pictures with tourists). I once dressed as Papa Smurf for Halloween and was told I could make a ton of money on The Strip being a busker. I passed. Your readers, however, may not know about buskers and The Strip, and that probably needed an explanation somewhere in your story.

    I’m willing to bet you are young and new at this, or at least new at this. I want you to consider what I’m saying and take those things in consideration. Your imagination of good and I love it when people write what they see in their mind. You just need to learn how to channel it.

    By the way, your story didn’t make it in time for the vote, so try to be on time for your next one. I’d like to read it.

    Roy

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 10:42 am
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    All – my apologies for the delay, I am working on the voting results and the next prompt.

    Here is the next prompt, I’ll have it up soon. 🙂

    Prompt Title: Dominoes
    Description: A story in which cause and effect are quite central to the plot. Perhaps something bad ends up leading to a good outcome after all. Or the opposite. Or to something surprising. There may be a case of “the butterfly effect” too, where the slightest of things causes disproportional consequences. One of the characters buying a pizza from Domino’s doesn’t count.
    Requirement: Somewhere in the text there should be the phrase: “One thing leads to another, and…”

    Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 11:21 am
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      I don’t know Carrie very well but I get the impression she’s a tad hard on herself! Has full-on Covid and then apologises for the delay while most of us would still be lying in bed drinking hot chocolate and wallowing in self pity (well I know I would!)
      Take your time and get better properly! Waiting a bit won’t do us any harm.

      Reply
      • September 17, 2021 at 4:15 pm
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        Fiona – you are too kind! I love these writers and this site so much I’d probably tally votes on my death bed!

        Reply
        • September 17, 2021 at 6:18 pm
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          Lol! I can see why though. They’re a pretty good bunch, huh?

          Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 2:33 pm
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    Snakes bite their own tail when they get overheated, apparently (I am no herpetologist).

    That is what is happening in the top right picture.

    It makes them confused and messes their metabolism up so they are hungry and can’t tell that their tail is attached, especially when they are confined in a small cage and they are all bunched up on themselves.

    (Feel free to read into this and my choice of ouroboros for this challenge during lockdowns and quarantines, in my case self-imposed).

    Sometimes you can’t tell who is who, even if it is yourself that you are looking at.

    Like Wile E. Coyote shooting himself in the butt during those bizarre scenes where he spies himself around the corner.

    Or when you lash out at a friend when you get too hot.

    😉

    The bottom right picture is a “worm” that bites itself in the tail, but in a good way.

    It rolls at high speeds down the beach like this, catching the wind, and evades wasps that have nefarious plans.

    It is a very important thing to me, this stupid worm, because my Dad taught me how to catch them when I returned to America from Japan at the age of 6, and because it should have been me that discovered that the kind on Cumberland Island can roll (long and boring story there).

    You have to be patient and use a piece of grass to fish them out, but you have to drop it in and then retreat first, because they can feel your footsteps (like that Kevin Bacon movie “Tremors”).

    It is easier if you are a small kid with light steps and sharp eyes. But after they think you have left for good, you can see the piece of grass trembling and rising out of the hole, because it is super annoying to them that someone stuffed a piece of vegetation in their burrow, and they have huge jaws to grasp it firmly.

    If you are fast and quiet, you can run up and snatch the piece of grass before they let go, and they will be dangling from the other end.

    People all over America have different names for ’em: “camel worm”, “chicken choker”, and “doodlebug” are some that I have heard. Don’t confuse it with the “real” doodle bug, which is an antlion (not the mythological creature or the alien from that video game).

    Like the roly poly, you can probably tell where someone was raised just by what they call it.

    If you have children, I suggest you show them this trick, because there is probably some lesson about patience or something there, but also it stirs the imagination. They hide and hunt like a trapdoor spider, their flat heads flush with the ground and their camel hump holding them in place. And they move so fast when they strike that I have never seen it, except for a video online that is in slow motion. It is like the creepiest jack-in-the-box you have ever seen. But they don’t hurt people until they metamorphose into tiger beetles, and then you should probably watch out.

    Look for a hole that looks like someone stabbed a pencil into the ground.

    Hope someone reads this and sees something special in it.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 4:05 pm
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    ok people – here are your winners:

    1st Place: Ouroboros by Fiona Kamal!!!

    2nd Place: My Blue Period by Ken Cartisano
    3rd Place: Saved by Sapphires by Phil Town
    4th Place: The Ouroboros Women by Ilana Leeds
    5th Place: Aurified by Rumplefinkies
    6th Place: Ouroborous by John Filby
    7th Place: Devoured by RM York
    8th Place: Ouroboros by Ken Frape

    The story with the favorite character is “Gary Cooper” in My Blue Period by Ken Cartisano
    And the story with the best dialogue is Devoured by RM York

    Congrats to all!!

    Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 4:42 pm
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      Well done Fiona. I think we all guessed this was a winner when we first saw it.Great work.
      Well done to everyone some great writing
      Roy and Ken at the bottom of the heap ( well Ken at the bottom with Roy slightly higher)
      Not like old times, eh Roy?
      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • September 18, 2021 at 12:23 pm
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        Thanks Ken – when do I qualify for the gentle teasing? I guess I’ll stick around til I’ve earned it 😉

        Reply
        • September 19, 2021 at 10:54 am
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          Oh, just wait, princess. It’s coming.

          Roy

          Reply
          • September 19, 2021 at 12:21 pm
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            I read this and the next comment together and you made me snort tea up my nose. I’m trying humour next story so I’m very much waiting to be taken to school.

      • September 19, 2021 at 10:53 am
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        Ken F.,

        I’ve been a bridesmaid so many times recently I’m looking at dresses. Then, this … well, back to the drawing board. I’m sure I’ve got a number 1 running around in that crowded writer’s brain of mine. Still wondering how I dazzled everyone with my dialogue and then placed 7th. I’ll take it, however. Beats 8th. Umm … that was just mean. And here I am trying to turn over a new leaf and be kind and gentle. I thought your story (and voted accordingly) deserved higher. But, there were some pretty far out stories this week. Gotta hand it to everyone.

        Roy

        Reply
        • September 19, 2021 at 11:34 am
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          Hi Roy,
          I always try to give credit to every result just as when I finish on
          or near the top. I kinda guessed that my story this time was mediocre and commented to that effect. Thing is though, I just haven’t been able to get it together for a while or since July anyway.
          In the time I have been on this site I think the accolades have been spread around and I have had my fair share of successes. I was blown away by the prose in the winning story and I think we were all chasing the remaining spots on the podium.
          So it’s onwards and it can only be upwards. My Dad used to say that if you sit in a circle the first sits next to the last.
          Kind regards,
          Ken F

          Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 6:27 pm
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      Congratulations to all the winners, love reading these wonderful works of art. I missed the voting with the time difference in Australia, I don’t think it would have made a difference though. I tended to agree with all the votes and praising comments along the way.
      Thank you, love being part of this supportive group. Bring on the next challenge.
      P.S. due to the time differences can I place my votes earlier than the announced time?

      Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 7:49 pm
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      Many congratulations, Fiona. If you’ve “just started writing for other people to read”, then don’t you dare stop! You have a talent. And very good that you say you’ll stick around. Also congratulations to KenC for a very lovely story. And, as always … congrats to everyone for all the creativity!

      Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 4:30 pm
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    Congratulations Fiona and everyone!

    Fiona, don’t make a habit of it. 😀

    You really did some cool and diverse stuff with the theme. Like a rainbow! Did I say that last time? Who cares? It is still true this time, maybe even more so.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 4:40 pm
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    Congrats Fiona and all. Love this site. Fiona, stick around for awhile, I’d like to see more of your work.

    Roy

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 4:45 pm
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    Congrats on your win, Fiona. A fine finish for an awesome story And congrats to all the writers this time around.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 5:20 pm
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    Congratulations Fiona great story. Well done and good stories by many people.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 6:08 pm
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    Hello all and thanks so much for the kind congratulations. I’m so very chuffed and touched that you guys liked the story. It’s the first thing I’ve ever won for writing, so it’s huge to me.
    If you don’t mind having me I’ll absolutely stick around for a while – this is such an awesome community of writers and I loved reading everyone’s stories. I only discovered the bonus prompt ones last night, so that was a little treat with a hot choc after dinner. Can’t wait to see what everyone does with Dominoes. Wasn’t there a Bond villain called that?

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 6:17 pm
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    Just so I’m clear, is it ok for me to put a version of my story on Wattpad too? I think I saw that this site doesn’t mind about exclusivity?

    Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 7:54 pm
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      I’m not an admin, Fiona, but as far as I know there are no rules for posting your story elsewhere. The only problem might be if you want to use the story for other submissions/competitions; it may be considered ‘already published’ … though if you get to argue your case, you can call this site ‘a workshop’, as indeed it is in effect; we post stories and our peers, with their comments, help us improve future drafts.

      Reply
      • September 17, 2021 at 10:50 pm
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        Looks like you’re right, but thanks, I had no idea about this sort of thing and now I’m better informed. There was a pretty cool thing on Rumples’ site about podcasts and they’re less picky on the publication thing so I’ll have a poke about there. Hadn’t even really thought about trying to enter it anywhere else, but it’s a nice idea, especially if they’ll pay me enough for it to sit in a coffee shop and watch the rain 🙂

        Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 8:10 pm
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      Yeah, what Phil said. I am no admin and I don’t know.

      But.

      I find competitions and magazines that accept “reprints” but you have to cite where and when it was posted.

      Then there are places that say it can’t be published previously and they don’t elaborate about their definition of published, like no details at all.

      Then there are the ones that say the same but specify that it can’t have seen the light of day at all, not even like a message board or personal blog, nothing.

      I count anything here as published, so that means only the “reprints accepted” places get stories of mine from here, and I haven’t gotten any good results so far lol, but that don’t stop this little engine that thought he could!

      But now I am wondering if my grasp on things is firm?

      “Multiple submissions” I understand though lol.

      Check with a responsible adult first, I am a grown child.

      Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 8:15 pm
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      Again, this is a Carrie thing for sure, but:

      https://rejectomancy-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/rejectomancy.com/2018/01/29/reprint-submissions-old-stories-new-markets/amp/?amp_js_v=a6&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQKKAFQArABIIACAw%3D%3D#aoh=16319275723884&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Frejectomancy.com%2F2018%2F01%2F29%2Freprint-submissions-old-stories-new-markets%2F

      Maybe it will be helpful?

      Not a link to the dark web I swear, but a possible explanation.

      Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 8:45 pm
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      I peruse this site when I have delusions of grandeur and I am not boring you guys lol.

      https://publishedtodeath.blogspot.com/?m=1

      It has lots of examples of what I am talking about, and it is a good reality check, like for testing the waters and seeing what is out there in the scary ocean away from this lovely lagoon. I’m done now, sorry!

      Reply
      • September 17, 2021 at 10:47 pm
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        This is so helpful thanks! Apparently, looking at the lists on there, if one wishes to be paid for writing one should write horror, so there’s a thought! A lot of them work nicely as writing prompts even if you just want to pootle a bit so that’s very handy too! I’d never seen this blog before, so I’m very grateful. Does look like a lot of them are in the “never seen the light of day before” bracket, but I’ll keep looking through. Thank you!

        Reply
        • September 17, 2021 at 11:13 pm
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          N E Time

          Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 9:09 pm
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      I do hope you do post more stories here Fiona. Well done and let it be the first of many such successes!! 😊👍🏻

      Reply
      • September 17, 2021 at 10:50 pm
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        Thank you, and I’ll be back to read more of your stories Ilana!

        Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 6:25 pm
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    I have already hit the button under my desk that activates the silent alarm and the literature police are on their way now. You won’t get away with this.

    ( I could have done better than that, but I felt under pressure to respond before someone gives you a serious answer)

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 8:16 pm
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    Braaaaiinnss.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 8:30 pm
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    Stuck in my car. Ugh.

    I have been having nightmares every single night, and remembering each one. Sometimes it is two or three distinct plots, other times one with breaks (NREM sleep). I literally dreamed about lions, tigers, bears, my killer dog from a prompt or two back, an alligator trying to eat a baby, zombies, catching Covid (a common nightmare now), a horde of starving children, an abusive father, two different floods, and lastly going insane because I didn’t realize that I was dreaming (I “woke up” driving my car and wondered who I had run over while I was out, then blacked out again and awoke at home, then almost committed myself before I truly woke up this morning).

    That was the past FIVE nights, though there was a guilty conscience dream that I forgot to remember in time and now it is gone, but it was boring.

    I could almost use these as inspiration for stories, but I would have to really pull it together.

    Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 10:51 pm
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      I did think this was a story when I started reading it, so yup! Go for it!

      Reply

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