July 15 – July 28, 2021 Writing Prompt “Stalker”

Theme: Stalker

Required Elements:

  • must be from the perspective of the one being stalked, unwanted attention/advances etc.
  • or must be from the perspective of the stalker; desperate and unwanted attention/advances pushed upon someone
  • can be from either, or both, but must be from at least one of the two perspectives. i.e. not a story about a wife’s stalker told from the husband’s perspective.

*Note: it doesn’t have to have a negative connotation either. Maybe the stalker ends up the winner in the end, or maybe it’s someone who makes up a stalker for attention.

Word Count: 1,200

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95 thoughts on “July 15 – July 28, 2021 Writing Prompt “Stalker”

  • July 15, 2021 at 10:16 pm
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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
    • July 18, 2021 at 5:30 am
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      Ken Frape, I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I hope your mother got to enjoy your writing talent. Now the her stories live on in you, to celebrate and carry forward.

      Reply
  • July 17, 2021 at 11:09 am
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    Roy, et. al. re: ‘Get you shit together…’

    Really? This from a guy who can’t even figure out how to write on an envelope in the dark? Jeez.

    Truth is, I’ve been traveling for three weeks, been in eight different motels and cottages, 14 states, a dilapidated shack in Maine for four days, a stately bed and breakfast built in 1830 in Virginia, (grandma’s room), the top of Mt. Washington, (there was nothing up there but clouds, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re afraid of heights,) and frankly, the last few prompts aren’t doing much for me. “Why?” “Guilty Secrets?” Didn’t we do a guilt prompt just a few months ago? Are we recycling prompts now too?

    I appreciate the good-natured ‘grilling’ but I get to pick and choose too, just like all the other Kens.

    I’ve been writing up our experiences on this trip, (Kim and I) from memory, before I forget them. We’ve travelled over 3900 miles by car in the last month, never really leaving the east coast of the U.S. I’ve made a lot of observations about this country and us, as a people. No conclusions, just observations. The pandemic and economic fall-out has changed this country drastically in one year, in ways that no one could have imagined. Did it change us? Yeah. This is what I want to write about right now, the places we saw and the people we met.

    This country is like riding in the backseat of grandpa’s Ford Falcon right now. But it isn’t regulations that is holding it back, its stupidity, apathy and greed. Guilt, by contrast, is practically harmless and seems so much less important a topic.

    I read the ‘why’ stories but didn’t have time to vote, and haven’t even read the ‘Guilty Secrets’ stories yet. And only now have I had a chance to download them to read them later.

    Along the way I’ve lost my favorite masks, my wireless mouse and my favorite reading lamp. If that seems like I don’t have my shit together, so be it.

    I (oddly enough) already have an idea for this prompt, came up with it a week or so back, but the travelogue is my top priority right now. I think it’ll be interesting. We’ll see.

    I’ll keep you posted.

    Ken

    Glad to see that Miles posted a story again. I’m looking forward to all of the guilt stories, but his most of all. He just dashed it out, spontaneously.
    (It doesn’t hurt that he dedicated it to me either.)

    Reply
    • July 17, 2021 at 5:10 pm
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      See, my prodding helped. We got some Ken ‘stuff’ straight from the heart. I hope we get to read the “American Chronicles As I See It” or is it “Travels with Kim”? Be looking for it all.

      Roy.

      Reply
      • July 19, 2021 at 5:25 pm
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        Ahhh, Ken Cart the sando
        Do I love yoour mental meanderings, what? You will will love my prompt. It’s gunna be right up your alley, my friend.
        Wait for it. I can post it to you for a head start but that is like giving Usain Bolt a fifty meter start in the 200meter dash, so you are going to have to wait for it….
        Sounds like you are a nomadic tribesman without the camels wandering the plains, hills and valleys of greater America. I am reading Greig Beck. Good writer but his third Primodia novel I have to take him to task on. The ending was shyte – pure and unadultered wankery.

        Reply
        • July 21, 2021 at 11:07 am
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          Ilana,

          When you turn your wit to humor, the slice is so neat, one hardly knows they’ve been cut. Or how deeply. You wouldn’t believe what I’m reading right now… or trying to. I can’t even remember the name. I’ll go get it. ‘Tools Teach: An American Iconography (hold on. I should have brought the fucking book with me. I had it wrong too, anyway.) Tools Teach: An Iconography of American Hand Tools. *Selections from the Collections of the Davistown Museum and Liberty Tool Company. Hand Tools in History series. Volume 13; by H. G. Brack

          It’s about as exciting as one of Roy’s comments, but much much longer.
          It has pictures though. Very sexy pictures of awls, planes, tongs and – well, tools.

          Tallyho.

          ps. I have a much more exciting comment to make, but Kim is making me go and do some work on something that involves water and damp rid. ??? Will I need a snorkel? I hope not. It’s about a book that’s I came across at one of my stays.

          Reply
        • July 22, 2021 at 9:19 am
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          Ilana,

          I read some reviews on that Primordia series. too many reviews maybe as I know far too much about the plot and how the first two books ended. Sounds like an incredible series though. Like you, many reviewers seemed disappointed by the third book. I’ve already got a slew of books on my plate and as much as I like (to read about) dinosaurs, I don’t like plots with holes in them. Or, as you say, ‘unadulterated wankery.’ I might try one of his other books and see if I like it though. He seems like an author that writes a lot of action into his stories. So thanks for the tip.

          So… what’s your prompt going to be on? Whataya want? Money? Gold? Kim’s phone number? A sharper shearing knife? And… What, exactly, would you consider ‘up my alley”? ‘Slyest fiction’? ‘Inaction adventure’? ‘Period (.) pieces’? (Screeds against the misuse of commas.)

          You have aroused my curiosity.
          Again.

          Reply
          • July 22, 2021 at 9:27 am
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            You look at his Seed of Evil and tell me that my Silence prompt story (Burn After Reading, If You Read, Just Kidding, You Won’t) wasn’t just a huge parody of it, though much shorter.

      • July 21, 2021 at 10:50 am
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        Roy,
        Not sure that was my heart speaking. I think it came from my gut. Not sure, definitely one of my organs though.

        Reply
        • July 21, 2021 at 5:53 pm
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          Roy, Now that I’ve insulted you I feel comfortable taking you into my confidence. I’m thinking of calling this travelogue, ‘Chronicles of a Chronic Chronicler.’ What do you think? Catchy? Or too many ‘C’s? Too much chronic? How about ‘More Bore-bitity.’ Sort of a nod to the pandemical and the boring. That’s all I got right now. But I welcome your suggestions. Feel free to take a crack at it. A name for a travelogue. “From Here, To There, and Back. On twelve tanks of gas.’ The Libertine Lobster Digest.’
          I don’t know. I got nothing right now.

          Reply
          • July 28, 2021 at 3:08 pm
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            Ken, As you know, I too have been seeing the USA in my Chevrolet … umm … make that a Honda – with the Missus – or should that be Mrs. – and I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home to ponder your travelogue naming ideas. I don’t now either, there are so many; such as The Ups and Downs of Mountain Travel Through the Eyes of a Flatlander, or Happy House, Happy Spouse – How I Saved My Relationship by Leaving Home. I’m really leaning toward the latter, as I think if that happened all across America it would be a better country to live in.

            But, it’s your travelogue and you’re gonna have to come up with something. You rename all of our stories, you got this.

            Roy

  • July 17, 2021 at 11:45 pm
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    FOLLOWING

    You’re looking good this morning. What am I saying?! You always look good. But I especially like it when you put your hair up. You can see those bits of fuzzy hair on the back of your neck. I used to love to stroke them and twirl them around my finger. And there are some strands that are loose – kind of studied carelessness really: you loosened them yourself as you stood in front of the bathroom mirror, just like you’ve always done when you put your hair up. I like how it’s become fairer with the sun.

    And your skin; you’ve never been one to overdo it at the beach, like some of those women who take it to burnt-ochre levels. They’ll regret it later in life. Your skin, though … a perfect tan. Let’s face it: you’re perfect.

    Let me just get in front of you. The face of an angel. I don’t need to look really – I have it memorized for all time. But I like to see it because each day it’s slightly different, depending on your mood. Today I can tell that you’re happy, and that makes me happy. What is it? Work? Maybe Sean? I know he’s invited you out. I should be jealous, but you have to move on.

    Whatever it is, it’s made your face glow. Your lovely green eyes … there’s a kind of crinkle at the corners, like you’re about to smile. And that mouth – your full, satin-soft lips, also just this side of a smile. Let me see your teeth. There they are! That little chip off the front one. Others would say that makes you not-perfect, but when you take the whole … well, for me you still are. Because the chip has that story behind it – the sled accident in Aspen. And that’s part of your lovely history.

    Your nose, too. A little too big for your face? Not in my eyes. You’re self-conscious about it, I know – that on-line search for clinics. I do hope you don’t go down the rhinoplasty route, though. For one thing, you can’t afford it. I’ve seen your statements: you’re just a couple of pay-checks away from the red. But also, it suits you! If only I could convince you.

    I like your trouser suit – the same you wore last Tuesday. That shade of grey gives you a professional air but also goes very well with your hair and eyes. The white blouse is just right, three buttons opened, giving just the subtlest suggestion of … yes, go on. Lean over to stroke the lady’s puppy. Wonderful! Another thing you were always self-conscious about: the size of your breasts. You don’t need to worry on that score. Let me get behind you again. Yes, that trouser suit. You fill it out so well. The high-heels help, of course.

    Here it is. Let the others on first, as always; you’re so kind and polite. And … up you go. Force your way to the back – there’s more room there. That guy’s putting himself in front of you just to feel you brush past him. Dirty bastard. I’d like to … no, I can’t, I know.

    Full this morning, the bus. Putting your earbuds in, eh? I wonder what you’re listening to? Wish I could hear it, share it. I will share your magazine, though: “Nice guys or bad – which to go for?” Ha! That’s funny. What was I, do you reckon? It doesn’t matter. I don’t think I was really ‘The One’, was I? I would like to have been. Maybe Sean? Yes, I AM jealous, I can’t help it. But there’s not much I can do about it now.

    Your hands as you turn the page. I’ll never tire of them. Those long fingers, elegant, fluttering like butterflies, or floating like rare, luminescent creatures from the bottom of the sea, delicate and exquisite. If I had to choose one of your features, it might be them. But it would actually be impossible to choose just one thing. Luckily, I’ll never have to.

    Your stop. Eyes fixed on you as you get off, and not just mine. They have good taste. The walk to the office – one of my favorite moments. How smoothly you move, the high-heels no impediment. There’s a glide in your walk, confident. But here’s the thing: there’s no arrogance there. You could be conceited, what with your beauty and all. But no. You’re modest to a fault. Maybe you could be doing better in life if you were a bit more of a go-getter. But that’s you. You don’t want to get ahead, and it’s a choice. Contentment. I think that’s what you would call it.

    Stop for the newspaper. Those fingers again, caressing the coins before handing them over. Lucky coins. This guy gives you the eye too. No one is oblivious to your beauty, except you.

    Glide on. Those strands of hair, dancing in the breeze. I imagine your perfume – your scent, rather, the mixture of perfume and you – is flowing behind you.

    I wish I could smell you. I wish I could touch you again. I wish I could speak to you. I wish I could really be with you.

    The best I can do is follow. I worry that you’d be angry or offended if you knew, but I’m glad you never will.

    .

    Reply
    • July 21, 2021 at 2:10 pm
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      Creepy and convincing. Where was this guy the whole time? I thought that he was getting on the bus and then riding it with her, but she would recognize him. Then I thought he was a ghost, with his ability to see so many details and remain unseen, but that would be a sharp turn. So he has to be viewing from afar (through binoculars maybe) in a car with tinted windows while he drives back and forth at strategically timed moments, right?

      Reply
      • July 22, 2021 at 7:34 am
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        Thanks, John.

        Well, I can tell you that … one of your theories is right. (There are clues.)

        Reply
    • July 23, 2021 at 10:55 am
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      Phil,

      I see another winner in the dialogue category again. (Why should I even try to write dialogue when you can win it without any?)

      I think what’s creepy about your story is the ‘proximity of the stalker/admirer to his victim.’

      I have more impressions on this story, some of which make me feel that the story is even smarter than I first realized, but in order to avoid spoiling it for others, I’ll reserve my comments until the end of the contest. Wonderful writing, though. I can say that, for sure.

      BTW Phil. Your, ‘The world was our lobster,’ comment had me giggling like an idiot for five minutes last night. That is absolutely brilliant humor.

      Reply
      • July 23, 2021 at 2:38 pm
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        Thanks, KenC. If it’s smarter than you first thought, then I’m probably missing something! 😉

        (The ‘lobster’ thing isn’t mine, sadly. But glad it tickled you … with its antennae.)

        Reply
        • July 27, 2021 at 2:37 am
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          Hi Phil,

          When I said I thought your story was smarter, what I should have said was ‘further.’ Your story goes further than I originally thought, if I understand the nature of the narrator.

          Which must be a ghost or a spirit, (I cannot imagine what else he could be), in which case, this guy is suffering from the worst crush in human or animal history which results in the most severe case of stalking there ever was. It’s kind of poetic justice with a light-hearted touch. I mean, the guy comes across as creepy, but powerless. Still, it’s an extreme take on the prompt and the description of the woman is very pleasing and very visual, which is, you know, a proper achievement.

          (Was it a ghost? I have to know. Could’ve been a dog, a giant ghost dog with invisible fleas. I suppose.) That’s too complicated. Why would you – come up with that? Are you crazy? Giant invisible dog fleas! Christ Phil, what’ve you been drinking?

          It’s also possible, is it not, that the narrator could be a pencil, a levitating pencil I’m guessing. I need help on this one Phil. Still like it though. Turning a pencil into a monster is a good trick, and you didn’t even mention the word ‘flea’ one time. So, kind of gotta hand it to you, Phil. For the girl though, not for the ghost.

          Still not sure about the ghost.

          I’m just messin’ with you. It’s an excellent story.

          Reply
          • July 31, 2021 at 7:56 am
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            Thanks again, KenC.

            Yes, ghost … or spirit of the woman’s ex. Clues: the stalker is always very close but she never sees him (and he’s glad she “never will”); he knows everything about her (the hair, the bank statements); he’s powerless to do anything to the (other) creep on the bus; he can’t smell her perfume, or touch her, or “really be with” her again.

  • July 18, 2021 at 8:14 am
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    Phil, this is so perfectly written, I don’t have anything to say that would help. I don’t know how you do it fortnight after fortnight, pumping out these excellent stories.

    Maybe it’s the way you cock your head, looking slightly upward, as you’re trying to think of exactly the right word? Or, how you scroll up, rereading, sometimes from the very beginning, to get exactly the right flow? I wonder if the way you lean back and stretch helps? I wish I could get inside your head.

    Whatever it is, I’ll keep watching … and learning … from the master.

    Reply
  • July 19, 2021 at 10:35 am
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    You’re much too kind, Roy (much!), but thanks.

    (I think you’re already inside my head because what you describe is exactly what happened. Or you’ve hacked the camera on my pc… 😉 )

    Reply
  • July 19, 2021 at 5:20 pm
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    You should be getting the Ransomware instructions any minute now. Bitcoin only, no Dogecoin.

    Reply
  • July 20, 2021 at 10:36 am
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    I have some ideas, but it will be hard to force them into words that normal human beings can appreciate!

    Reply
      • July 21, 2021 at 11:02 am
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        I’m so far gone that everyone looks about the same level of normal, except for the occasional Florida man in the headlines, so I can’t tell.

        Reply
      • July 21, 2021 at 2:16 pm
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        I almost wrote you into this story as the guy travelling the country because I was brainstorming when you mentioned your trip.

        Reply
        • July 22, 2021 at 10:21 am
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          John,

          I had a feeling you were channeling from my trip as I read your story. Glad I could help. By the way, I thought the title was excellent ‘too.’ I hope you don’t mind if I sidestep the discussion to point out that I’m frequently tempted to offer up headlines from one of the magazines I subscribe to called ‘Science News.’
          Last issue had an article on Zombie Fires.

          Some samples of the current issues headlines:
          1. Tardigrades’ Speed Limit. (Well sure, otherwise they would burn up on re-entry.)
          2.Whorls and Other Oddities Show Up in a New Map Of Human Brain Cells. (Nobody’s mapping MY brain.)
          3. Wolves help reduce vehicle collisions by scaring deer from roads. (The deer could not be reached for comment.)
          4. A telescope spots galaxies lining up in a giant arc. (If they start doing the ‘hokey pokey’ we’re in deep shit.)
          5. Ancient scales hint at a shark extinction event 19 million years ago. (An incomplete shark extinction it would seem.)
          6. Rabbit bones place humans in Mexico surprisingly early. (Who knew rabbits were so influential? And travel thru time.)
          7. Space radiation seems to be no big deal for mouse sperm. (Stop the presses.)
          8. Building a particle collider on the moon is worth considering, physicists say. (Well, they would, wouldn’t they.)

          In case you’re wondering, I never get ideas from this magazine. It’s science, man.

          Reply
          • July 22, 2021 at 1:41 pm
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            Every one of these topics is very interesting to me and I am jealous of your subscription!

            Zombie fires AND fire breathing dragon clouds are BOTH a thing?

  • July 21, 2021 at 9:38 am
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    And Your Little Dog, Too
    By John Mansfield
    Word Count: 1,090

    Like dogs? Have I got a story for you! Drinks are on me, to keep you interested, but a warning: this isn’t one of those touching stories about the faithful pet that gets separated from their master. You know, where they go on a huge trek across a vast distance and get reunited with their family in the end? A heartwarming tale about the devotion of a stalwart companion and the child that wouldn’t give up on him?

    But there is a dog embarking on a journey. I wouldn’t characterize it as incredible, and the hound isn’t exactly homeward bound. Nevertheless, the damn thing is trying even harder than those cinematic canines to reunite with me. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think that there will be a crescendo of uplifting orchestral music or a joyous dash through a field of flowers when it finds me.

    Why? Never mind that for now and look at my phone. See that little red dot? That’s the Big Bad Wolf himself, on his way down I-85 to my motel room as we speak. Don’t ask me how he knows which room, or which exit, or even which road. Just believe me when I say he can navigate! By smell, hearing, sixth sense, magnetoreception… or a combination of all the above? It beats the hell out of me… but he gets it done.

    Mind if I smoke?

    Yeah. Magnetoreception. That is what I said.

    Seriously! Haven’t you heard about dogs and magnetism? They always poop facing North… something to do with little crystals in their noses that respond to magnetic fields. I guess it makes their noses tingle when they face the right way… built-in biofeedback and all that. Don’t you ever wonder why they keep spinning in circles like a tricky combination lock when it is time to go? Just watch any video under the search “dogs poop facing North”. Pull it up on your phone right now if you still don’t believe me… I’ll wait.

    Crazy right? It isn’t the kind of news that you stop the press for, but it is kind of a cool scientific discovery when you think about it. I have. A lot. But only just recently. It could be related to the ENORMOUS HELL HOUND THAT IS STALKING ME ACROSS THE COUNTRY!

    Oh hi! Two Manhattans please.

    Sorry about that ma’am, I will try to use my inside voice from now on.

    Where was I?

    Oh yes, he won’t stop until he finds me. I could outlive him if I could outrun him, because dog years are much shorter than human years, but I don’t think that I can keep this up much longer.

    It’s not the funds. I am almost out of savings, but I could always find a job with lots of travel. Something that keeps me on the road. A new town every two to three days should do it. Keep him off the trail, buy some time so he never catches up. Trouble is, the nightmares and paranoia are a real bummer, you know, and I keep thinking about how to get closure.

    Just one night of sleep without dreaming about my throat being torn out would be just peachy.

    Could the answer be as simple as a beartrap or a nice steak with a few pellets of poison on the side? Should I just hire a professional? Would that even work?

    Or maybe explosives are necessary?

    Everyone knows that dogs can sometimes find their way back home across long distances, but this is different. A different motive, for one. Also, this mutt has been at it for a year now, and I don’t think that he will stop unless his heart does first (and even then, I have my doubts). Fifty-two hotels and counting, and nothing can throw him from the trail.

    I even started peeing in a bottle instead of stopping at gas stations and restaurants, because I read that they can track you that way, but it was no use. Sure, he walked around in a meandering circle for three days and I really thought that I shook him. But the morning of the fourth day, the filthy beast trotted right up to my car at the rest stop and scared the hell out of me, like he was giving me one free pass in the spirit of sport, then he turned and vanished into the underbrush.

    It is like I am the one with a chip embedded in me, the way he finds me no matter what I do. This is bordering on the supernatural. Dogs don’t do this. Hell, wolves don’t even do this. They can’t do this.

    What’s that?

    I don’t know why they need to poop facing North! The point was that they can navigate using magnetism. You know, to find that well that Little Timmy fell into or to make it home… or to exact revenge, or whatever. It is part of their skill set, one of the tools that they use, you dig? You’re focusing on the wrong parts of my story, guy, and I don’t much appreciate you derailing of my train of thought!

    Here comes our drinks.

    Oh, wow that was fast! Thank you so much and keep the change!

    ‘Bout time, you were beginning to lose interest. Bottoms up!

    Ahh, that is the ambrosia of the gods right there!

    Did I show you pictures? I don’t know what breed, German shepherd mix I believe, but isn’t he massive? And the red fur around the mouth makes it look like he is fresh from the kill, don’t you think?

    Oh damn you reek! How many drinks did you have before I showed up, anyway? All the better, I guess...

    I could really use your help, mister. It knows what I did to her, it saw through the blinds. That chain was longer than I thought, and he must have strained and tugged and pulled himself close enough to the window to see her final moments.

    Sure, I heard him barking out there. But he was just a dog to me then. He couldn’t call the cops, right? So, I just laughed and doused the place in kerosene, dropping my cigarette on the way out.

    But now I need to finish the job. How does $500 dollars sound to you? I saw that gun on your belt and you look mighty tough, what do you say, mister…

    Say, I didn’t catch your name.

    Oh.

    Howdy Officer Williams.

    One more for the road?

    Reply
    • July 21, 2021 at 11:01 am
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      Typo spotted, but that can wait.

      I had to go ahead and send it before I lost my nerve.

      Reply
    • July 21, 2021 at 12:31 pm
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      John great story. I enjoyed the twists and turns and the ending made me chuckle. I really enjoyed your story as it felt like I was right there in the middle of the conversation. Thanks for sharing such a fun read.

      Reply
      • July 22, 2021 at 8:21 am
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        🙂

        My agraphia is pretty bad, if that is even what you call it.

        There are so many comments that I delete before I post, so many things that I stifle before I speak, and so many stories that I don’t even bother trying to write.

        There is no point in expressing something that won’t be understood or even heard.

        And no point trying to explain something to the unwilling.

        Most of this for me is really about yelling your pain out any how, not being heard and having someone answer your call of distress.

        That is why typing stuff and then deleting it still works for me, even though there is no visible output or progress.

        It is like when I talk to people who have stopped listening a few minutes ago… why do I do that?

        Couldn’t I just say it all to an empty room and feel just as good?

        Or how about type it all up and submit it, or even better, just delete it?

        Or maybe just not share it with the world at all, not even a word document that doesn’t even get saved?

        I wish I could write poetry, because I feel that my melancholia would fit that world better than prose.

        Reply
        • July 25, 2021 at 1:45 pm
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          You are actually fortunate, John. (And I think this comment will prove it.)

          I suffer from agravatia. A rare, but not unique condition, that compels thee uh, ‘sufferator’? The ‘invected’? (Me, I’m talking about me, okay?) It causes me, the patient! That’s it, the patient, to post too many things. To post what he or she is actually THINKING. It often causes the patient’s friends, colleagues, adversaries and even pets, to gaze at them in wonder and to frequently deliberate on the question of, not whether the patient is an asshole, but exactly which KIND of asshole. A perfect asshole? A dumb asshole? A royal asshole? The biggest asshole; colossal asshole, inconsiderate asshole… (the list goes on and on). And sadly, or happily, depending on your most recent interactions with the patient, (me), the symptoms and the descriptions fluctuate. This means I could be a flaming asshole on Monday, get up out of bed the next day and find out I’m just a frigging dipshit asshole.

          And let me tell you John, here’s the amazing part. I delete 90 percent of what I write too! At least! Can you imagine that? The sheer megalo-monument-titannical size of the cavity that all of my deleted ‘words’ could fill?

          Don’t think about it. Don’t do it. Don’t try to contemplate a ‘mound’ of work that big, John. (It’s not worth it. It’d be like looking directly at a pile of incandescent poop. It’s not the blindness, it’s the after-image.)
          So,
          The point is, (and what’s a good comment if it doesn’t have a point?) the point is…

          not only do you fail to get my sympathy, John, instead you’ve earned my envy. Imagine, a condition that acts like a cork in my face. I was kind of figuring I’d spend eternity that way, no matter which way I go.

          All kidding aside now John, I think, I believe (even though there is probably strong evidence to the contrary-which Philip will soon provide,) that poetry was a way to remember things before there was a written word or anything to write with. To me, poetry evokes emotions which is interesting sometimes, but as a means of communicating anything else, generally speaking, I think it sucks. I’m sure that most scholars would laugh at my opinion. (Assuming my brilliance hasn’t already induced convulsions.)

          And I admit that I’m prejudiced. I don’t really care for poetry
          My favorite poem is by William Blake. The Tyger. It pulls no punches and describes (but does not solve) the riddle of creation. Why would a benevolent God create such horrible things?

          Some ‘experts’ debate his intent on the use of the word ‘symmetry’ to rhyme with ‘eye’. (Well of course it’s meant to rhyme with eye.) That debate seems silly because his intent on its pronunciation is in the spelling of the title. ‘Tyger.’ And I think it was equally his intent to ask why ‘symmetry’ doesn’t rhyme with eye, even while he was describing the mystery of creation.

          See? Agravatia. (It’s life threatening, but in and of itself, not terminal.)

          Reply
          • July 26, 2021 at 10:09 am
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            That is exactly what I needed to hear and not aggravating at all.

            And I like that poem because it gets the job done and it kind of has fun, but it is not pretentious.

            There are references to Greek mythology and deep things in there, but Percy Shelley or Lovecraft would have name dropped about ten different things that would have made me feel dumb until I looked them up, and then I would just feel dumb AND like a poser AND annoyed at the useless flowery language. I guess it is esoteric elitism or something that makes me dislike so much poetry (and the rest is probably just my bad taste).

        • July 28, 2021 at 3:25 pm
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          Agraphia sounds right, although I didn’t know there was a name for the inability to write. I think it really means the inability to write physically due to a brain impairment, not writer’s block, which is where I think you were going. It’s a physical thing, pen to paper, that sort of thing, not being able to think of the right phrasing or words.

          We all have that from time to time, even those of us that are wanna-be-writers. Maybe I’ve got something similar to you, because there are times I wonder why I do this. Then, I remember. I love writing, Even if it’s only for me. Willie Nelson once said, “I sing songs that I want to sing. If you want to listen, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s OK, too. I ain’t singing it for you.” That’s kind of how I feel about writing. Of course, I do like validation. Hence, the time I spend on this site, submitting stories, and somehow hoping to best every single excellent writer that submits a story. If I don’t, that’s OK, too. I ain’t doing it for you. I’m doing it for me.

          Here’s my advice John, for what it’s worth. Do it for you, and no one else. You’ll be a lot happier.

          Roy

          Reply
    • July 22, 2021 at 9:43 am
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      John,

      This is an excellent story John. A wonderfully scripted tale. And really, it’s the order and sequence of the reveals that makes this story so much fun. It’s reminiscent of ‘Poe’s’ The Tell-tale Heart. But so much better because your story blends different genres into something even more diabolical. And, you did it all in under 1200 words. This is a really neat and nifty story, John.

      My only complaint, is that I can’t find anything to complain about. I couldn’t find your typo either, but I admit, when a story is as entertaining and well written as this, my error detection system goes on stand-by.

      Reply
    • July 22, 2021 at 10:29 am
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      John,

      Why is the type so small? Was that your doing or another glitch in the site? It’s noticeably smaller than the typeface in Phil’s story. At my age, and failing eyesight, bigger is better. If you diddled with the type or the fonts, the result is a smaller type font in the body of the story.

      As our former President would so glibly say, ‘Not good. Not good.”

      Reply
      • July 22, 2021 at 1:23 pm
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        You are so right and I am sorry about that – I think I started with Times New Roman in size 12 and never changed it.

        Thank y’all for the praise! – I think I might paint it up and submit it to Dog Fancy to see what they think?

        😉

        Or maybe Cat Fancy would like it better?

        Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 5:12 am
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      What were you on about, John? Your story is brilliant! It’s easily my favourite. (Perhaps it means that there aren’t any “normal” people in this group. :))

      Reply
  • July 22, 2021 at 2:48 pm
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    If you hold ctrl and mash – or +, it should zoom in or out (if you have the right browser and you are on a computer in the first place).

    Very annoying thing of me to say I know and sorry (I can’t figure out how to change font size here at all or I wouldn’t bring it up, I should have learned html).

    But….

    If you hold ctrl and alt at the same time and mash one of the directional arrows, it makes the entire screen rotate!

    (Holding ctrl and alt and up at the same time should fix it back to normal).

    DON’T do this to yourself.

    But DO memorize how to do this to someone that really deserves it, then come back at the right time to see if they are giving themselves taco neck or if they actually just googled it on their phone!

    Reply
  • July 22, 2021 at 2:58 pm
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    Testing font size.

    Reply
  • July 25, 2021 at 12:29 am
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    In the Flesh. (Revised.)
    WC (975.)
    ©7-23-21 K. Cartisano

    In the business I’m in, nineteenth floor corner offices are not coveted for the view, but for the status they bestow on the occupant. As such, I was content to gaze at whatever the view afforded me. Still, I have to confess a moment of disappointment when I realized my only view of the Delaware River was in the reflection of the towering glass edifice next door.

    Under the circumstances, it was not surprising that she escaped my attention at first. After all, she was little more than a remote stranger in another building, visible because of the glass walls and the close proximity of our two respective offices.

    From my vantage point, one floor up and fifty feet away, it was impossible to see much detail, let alone her features, just the general impression of a successful, well-dressed woman. I had much on my schedule to occupy me over the next few weeks, but at the end of each day, my attention always returned to the woman in the next building, and she was usually there, often alone, always working.

    One morning I arrived and saw her standing on a rare and exclusive balcony. A breeze was tousling her hair and ruffling her clothes and she seemed suddenly much more intriguing. I took the stairs one flight down for reasons no more complex than idle curiosity and found that there was a conference room and some vending machines for executives just like me. I took a seat by the window and observed the woman more closely.

    She was—strikingly unremarkable in her buttoned-down suit and beige shirt. Her dirty blond hair was pulled back into a shapeless bun. I don’t know what it was that made her unattractive, maybe it was the shape of her face, her pointy chin or strong nose, but she was not entirely unappealing. Perhaps her solitude enhanced her allure.

    As I watched, she glanced up, not at me, but to the floor above me, and in that supplicating pose, she seemed almost vulnerable, or so I imagined, and badly in need of something. Friendship? Solace? I don’t know what.

    I began making inquiries, about the building, its occupants, and her, all with the utmost discretion. I watched her with even keener interest from that point on, and couldn’t help but admire her work ethic and punctuality. But she looked worried sometimes, and I wondered how I could help her, and maybe even get to know her.

    I hired a private agent to find out where she lived, and I admit, I went there a few times and parked across the street. I didn’t actually watch her, as her house was built on a hill, and it simply couldn’t be seen from the street. I merely guarded her driveway and brooded over ways that I could be more useful to her. By this time, my admiration was so intense, it felt like passion.

    The background information I’d paid for was useful in that it allowed me to begin throwing small but intricate jobs her company’s way. It kept her in the office for longer hours, which suited me fine since I was working nights too. Coincidentally, she was even easier to watch at night, in the glow of the office lights, than in the daytime.

    It was on one of those evenings that I first saw her kick off her shoes. She rubbed her eyes, pushed her chair back, and flipped those heels, one at a time, halfway across her office. She had exquisite ankles and delicate feet, long and thin, each toe adorably painted with glossy pink toenail polish. I could see them clearly through the binoculars I’d purchased.

    I sent her flowers, anonymously, a few times. After the first bouquet, she started throwing them into the trash. I sent her notes, all charming and complimentary. She laughed at the first two, after that she just discarded them, unread. It was clear that her response to my anonymous attempts to fraternize in some way, appeared to be dismissal. The gambit was simply annoying her and she was not interested in anonymous praise. She probably wanted to meet me.

    So, I decided to present myself in the flesh.

    I was a secret admirer, a silent benefactor to a woman who, by now was practically my idol. I don’t want to say I was in love with her, or anything weird like that, but I had learned so much about her that I felt like I knew her, but I didn’t, really. Not yet.

    I wore my nicest suit that day, splashed my face with cologne, and combed my thinning hair. I took the express elevator downstairs, plucked a couple of flowers from the vase in the main lobby, walked to the next building and took the freight elevator up to her floor. I knocked on her door. I held the flowers behind my back and plastered a nervous smile on my face. There was a peephole in the door and a bright overhead light came on moments before the door opened. I looked down as I shuffled my feet self-consciously, and gasped when I looked up. A large, plastic weapon was pointed directly at my chest.

    I don’t remember the actual shock of the taser, or how she managed to drag me inside and duct tape me to the chair… but I could hear her on the phone with someone, and she was telling them she’d caught the stalker.

    The stalker?

    Thank God it’s just a misunderstanding, Once I get the chance to explain, I’m sure she’ll think this is as funny as I do. But first, I’ll have to get her to rip this tape off my mouth.

    Reply
    • July 26, 2021 at 9:54 am
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      Wow – you made me feel bad for this guy actually, though he really crossed the line a few miles back. It is the degree that makes it stalking and not just… the typical kind of “reconnaissance” that an admirer might do before approaching their crush. He obviously is kind of a creep with boundary issues, but there was a point at the start where he was just a guy with a weird kind of crush, before it got darker.

      And now I feel like a creep, so thanks for that.

      Reply
      • July 28, 2021 at 3:45 pm
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        It is weird and bear with me, but I actually think that I identified with your stalker more because he finally tried to break the creepy silence and made an attempt at approaching her like a potential suitor might. Plus, trying to slick back his hair and using a secondhand flower…. those little details at the end put him in my “underdog” category, despite his power and money, which is bad because I shouldn’t like this guy so much. He is sad and lonely and confused and bored and ultimately creepy and wrong, but it didn’t have to go this way… like maybe if he had a supportive friend that could talk some sense into him or if he had more confidence in the first place and then he would just feel like he could approach her without all the creepiness and scheming in the shadows.

        Were you trying to explore that kind of thinking, or am I feeling empathy for the wrong character again (I always thought that the Phantom was just misunderstood and that Christine was crazy for not picking him in the end, the other guy was boring and shallow).

        And sometimes I feel sorry for people that I am slaying in video games and just let them live, maybe it is more like that.

        Reply
        • July 30, 2021 at 10:40 am
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          John and Roy,

          I think the lack of any expressed ill intent by the narrator is his saving grace. It is a he-said, she said, story, told from just one POV. He fully believes in his own innocence, and he really is, because he doesn’t bring a single thing that could harm her.

          She, on the other hand, has all the weapons and is well-prepared for his appearance, and she doesn’t even wait until he’s inside to assault him. Roy is correct, he has every reason to sue her, if he lives. He was so self-involved that he was unaware that she had noticed him as easily as he had noticed her.

          I was not aware of much of the nuances in each characters point-of-view while I was writing the story. Now that it’s written, speaking as a reader or an editor, this story has so much more potential than it does in its current form. We know nothing about the female character, she’s practically a cardboard cut-out for all the description she gets. It worked for the story I wrote, but I could add her point-of-view and it would be a full and complete story. The reader still need not know until the end, whether she was preparing for the ‘stalker’ or luring him. That’s the missed opportunity in my story,

          In fact, the woman is the most intriguing character. My whole story is about a self-aggrandizing milquetoast and should have been about her. This would make a great prologue to Her story. we know she’s a hard worker, good dresser, very successful AND she has a corner office in the next building, on ‘a lower floor.’

          And what does she do with him? Does she kill him. Do they live happily ever after? Or rather something in between?

          Roy, As for the Tales from an Old Crank, still halfway through, I’m incorporating your language into the new title, ‘Cranky ‘Recollections’ of a Chronic Crank.’ What d’you think?

          Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 3:49 pm
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      John said everything that I wanted to say. Well, not everything, but he’s close. I too, felt that your character was just an admirer with a problem he didn’t recognize, but I’m slow at those things I guess.

      I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few years a while back, and we caught up. He told me he was since divorced and was seeing this woman in Florida and had been for quite some time. He said they really hit it off, until one day, he didn’t know why, she called it off. He tried to rekindle it. Me, like a friggin’ idiot, told him to show up at her door and not take no for an answer. With flowers, candy and so on. So he did. He got arrested for stalking. Of course, he could have told me about the restraining order.

      Ya know, now that I think about it, unless she’s got some kind of proof, such as photographs, or kept the hand written notes – which you said she didn’t keep, I think this guy’s got a good chance to sue her for kidnapping and assault.

      Anyway, I liked your story. Straight forward and a true stalker story, even though the guy seems to be a dimwit, but then again, how does he rate an office on the nineteenth floor if he’s not the sharpest pencil in the box? Boss’s son? That’s it.

      Couldn’t find any writing things that you screwed up, so I guess I’ll just mosey on down the line here and catch up with your remarks about my story.

      Roy

      Reply
  • July 25, 2021 at 4:06 pm
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    Invisible
    By Roy York
    1106 words

    For the most part, I’ve been invisible all my life. Not really invisible, like the guy in the movie, but people just don’t see me. It’s like I don’t exist. So, when she looked right at me, I knew she didn’t really ‘see’ me.

    I’ve been watching her for weeks now. I first saw her at the library, her mind deep in a book. As I walked by she looked up and I realized, at that moment, she was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. I also knew she didn’t see me. No one ever does. But I saw her – and she would never be long out of my sight again.

    I followed her home; casually, of course, using my ‘invisible man’ powers confident I wouldn’t be noticed. She lived in a nice apartment complex not far away, and a few days later, I was her new neighbor. That certainly simplified things. Following her was easy. It took me about threes days to figure out her schedule.

    I am independently wealthy, thanks to a sizable inheritance, which enabled me to rent a second apartment with windows looking directly into hers. Now, I don’t have to stand in the shadows to watch the woman I love. Since I don’t have to work, I can schedule my time to match hers. It’s pretty easy. I try to sleep a little while she sleeps and get in a few more hours while she works.

    I wanted to hook up cameras so I could watch her more closely, but that would make me a creep, I think, so I satisfy myself just staying close. That’s all about to change. My plan is to make her see me … to notice me. Then, I can introduce myself, and we can start dating.

    * * * * *

    He doesn’t think I see him, but I do. I didn’t notice him at first, it was just a sense of someone following me, but whenever I turned around, there was no one there. Last week though, I stopped and acted like I was just window shopping. Sure enough, I saw someone, standing on the other side of the road, so I continued on. Every time I stopped so did he. I didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.

    When I was closing my blinds one night, I thought I saw the same guy standing in the shadows. I turned off all the lights and waited, then peeked out. It was him, for sure. That’s when I started carrying the gun. I started taking different routes to work and have considered using Uber instead of walking, but my budget couldn’t take that kind of strain for very long. And a private detective is out of the question.

    I tried taking pictures using my phone, acting like I was taking a selfie, but they really didn’t show him well enough to use as evidence if I went to the police. If this doesn’t stop soon, that’s my next step, going to the police.

    I don’t know how I managed to forget to close the blinds that one night. I was getting ready for bed and was completely naked when I realized it. I must have looked silly, standing there, one arm across my breasts, and a hand over my pubic area, knees bent inward, hoping against hope ‘he’ wasn’t out there, when the open blinds realization sunk in.

    I saw a reflection in the window. Oh my God. It was a face. One I would recognize again, I think. I’m sure the short scream I heard was mine. I ran to the window, modesty forgotten. Well, I’m sure the creep got the shot he was looking for. After I closed the blinds I got the gun and dialed the police. I can’t face this alone any longer.

    * * * * *

    She’s started taking a different route, to work lately. What’s up with that? I have been extremely careful not to get too close, but then, it can’t be that she’s seen me, can it? That doesn’t happen. When I went to my father’s funeral, the funeral director, with whom I personally made the arrangements, actually said, “Are you family, or a friend?” It’s the story of my life.

    So, I’ve been even extra careful, staying back farther, watching from the apartment that can see into hers. That night recently when she left her blinds open was an eye opener. I couldn’t believe my luck. Then something must have spooked her, because she quickly tried to hide her nudity with her hands and arms. Suddenly, she screamed and ran to the window. I will never get that vision out of my mind as she stood there in all her glory trying to close the blinds.

    It was time to start my plan. First things first. I started out slow. I acted like I needed to borrow something. She’ll probably only remember it’s the guy across the hall, and I’ll bet she couldn’t pick me out of a lineup if I was the only one in it.

    Maybe not, though. For the first time, I was sure I was getting more than a disinterested glance. It was like she really saw me, Maybe my plan will work after all.

    * * * * *

    The police were very nice. I knew I couldn’t give them much, but they promised they would have someone watch me for a few days. I think one of the policemen would have volunteered, the way he was looking at me. I’m so tired of being stared at by men, all playing the same porn video in their head, with me as the actress and them the male lead. Friggin’ perverts.

    I was told to use the same route for the next few days, so they could have stakeouts in place, whatever that means. It was the third day, when shortly after leaving my apartment, I heard a loud voice yell, “Stop. Police! Raise your hands.” I turned around and there was a man with his hands up. Some body shouted, “Gun,” Two shots rang out and the man crumpled to the ground. A policeman came out of nowhere and said, “We’ve got him.”

    Then they took me to over to the man who lay there. There was no gun I could see, just a silver cell phone. One of the policemen rolled the man on his back. “Recognize him?”

    A sadness settled over me as I looked at the man who, strangely, looked like he was sleeping. I looked at the cop and stumbled over my words. “This isn’t the man who looked in my window. This is my new neighbor.”

    Reply
    • July 27, 2021 at 9:01 am
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      You could really go a lot further with this if it wasn’t for the word count! I don’t know of any stories that have this kind of double-stalking. It is like a good neighbor/bad stalker thing that he has set up for himself, and just by getting the extra apartment.

      Reply
      • July 27, 2021 at 11:33 am
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        John, thanks for your comments. Yes, it was a case of a double stalker, which Ken C., didn’t see, but that was my intention. It’s interesting how a simple phrase that I debated gave Ken C., doubt. I originally did not have the line in about the “I think.” following I would recognize the face, because at the time I wrote it, in my mind, I didn’t want it that strong for her to be able to describe the stalker to the police, because their eventual shooting of the wrong man wouldn’t have worked. Yeah, being on vacation and working from an iPad wasn’t ideal for writing, but I stuck with it.

        Again, thanks for the comments. Feel free to add anything you think may have helped me write a better story. I’m all for constructive criticism.

        Roy

        Reply
  • July 27, 2021 at 9:26 am
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    Taking the selfies to see the stalker was a nice touch too.

    Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 8:32 am
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      Great story Roy. I love your understated style. This is probably one of your really good ones.

      Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 4:28 pm
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      Thanks, John. I liked that myself when I thought of it. I’m sure it was a subliminal thing I picked up from watching TV.

      Roy

      Reply
  • July 27, 2021 at 9:38 am
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    Roy,

    After my first read, I assumed that I understood the story, a simple, straightforward tale of unintended consequences. But John’s comment left me wondering. What aspect of the story leads John (Mansfield) to say this is a double-stalking, and is that true? Does he know something that isn’t in the story?

    I assumed the narrative source was the two people involved, but a third narrator is not impossible or out of the question. I just don’t see any overt evidence to indicate as much. At one point the woman says, ‘I saw a reflection in the window. Oh my God. It was a face. One I would recognize again, I think.’ The words, ‘I think’, do not help clarify the issue but diffuse it further. The woman’s claim that the dead man was not her stalker, but a neighbor fits the plot either way since the original stalker is also her neighbor now.

    At the end of the story, I was not sure how many characters their were, which seems key to full comprehension.

    This is either a straightforward stalker story, or a micro-horror story that doesn’t end with the final sentence of the story. But I’m not sure which.

    Reply
    • July 27, 2021 at 11:39 am
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      Ken C.,

      Thanks for your comments. Read my comments to Rumple (John) in which I explained the line about recognizing the face in the window.

      Otherwise, I thought it was pretty straightforward. I wanted to leave a little doubt in the reader’s mind, but not confusion. And, you are right, I almost added another line, in which she looks down, says they killed the wrong man, then says to herself. “This isn’t over.” But, that’s already water under the dam.

      It was, however, the story I wanted to write, so I am happy with that. I wanted to make it a 2nd person from both sides, but on reflection, thought I would drive every reader crazy, but that’s not out of the question in a future story. Besides, I wrote this while on vacation visiting family from South Dakota and into Minnesota and Wisconsin, which didn’t allow me the luxury of my computer at home, and the time I needed to sit and write much at a time. It was piecemeal, and I kept losing my train of thought.

      That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      Roy

      Reply
      • July 28, 2021 at 2:00 am
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        Hey Roy,

        That’s sounds totally plausible. (Your story about being on vacation in places like South Dakota.) Did you drive the Needles highway?

        I was just sitting here with the TV on pause, testing my memory, got to thinking about your story, I considered doing a similar ‘thing’ myself. (A point-counter-point of view?) But my plot idea sucked.

        Yours, on the other hand, is quite good. A very good plot. Sort of a Bait, and Switch and Kill. Very clever, and you wrote the story on an I-pad. (That must have been difficult.) Honestly, I don’t know how you could do it.

        So I re-read your story to try and figure out what John saw that I missed and wasn’t able to figure that out, but I’m convinced that you write better than this. Not that this is bad, the plot is excellent. But the writing is not up to your usual level of excellence.

        The ‘invisibility’ is the coolest thing about this story, not the girl. It’s like a magic McGuffin. And you use it well.

        The first paragraph is fabulous. It intrigues, creates sympathy, and sets the tone all in one fell swoop. (If only half of my sentences could be so efficient.) But then, you ease the natural tension by admitting to ‘following her for weeks…’.

        No reasonable person would expect to get noticed by someone they would describe as ‘deep in a book.’ And if the woman’s mind really was ‘deep in a book,’ she wouldn’t look up as someone walked by. It’s not natural.

        The second and third paragraphs in your story are inefficient or counter-productive. I would delete several lines and phrases right from the get-go. Not because they’re bad writing, but they defuse the natural tension you’re creating with the first paragraph and the developing plot.

        I would delete: ‘I’ve been watching her for weeks now.’;
        ‘ – and she would never be long out of my sight again.’
        ‘casually’
        ‘independently wealthy’

        I would re-write the entire third (and fourth) paragraph.

        And I did. Just to see if I could improve them. And I could.

        I followed her home in broad daylight, confident in my anonymity, my infallible invisibility, (my quantum nothingness? Etcetera.) Trust me, I could and did re-write several paragraphs of this story and was easily able to make it shorter and clearer.

        …More importantly, I didn’t defuse the inherent tension in the plot. The guy is following her, has money, moves in next door, can see into her apartment, doesn’t work…

        Thanks to a sizeable inheritance, I’m able to do things like rent an adjoining apartment with windows looking directly into hers. I can arrange my schedule, like a glove, around hers.

        After that things smooth out, back to your normal writing. Your normal writing is very streamlined. It’s lean and polished, Nothing to pick at or peel, no matter what.

        To offer a comparison, you take Ken F.’s writing. (Sir F., as I like to call him, starting now.) His writing is more like one of those old-fashioned doilies. Still high quality, very high quality, don’t get me wrong, but not polished. (Who polishes doilies?) Intricate though. That’s how I’d describe Sir F.’s writing. His prose is like one of those old steam locomotives, belching smoke and making all that noise. Ornate and fascinating.

        Your writing is more like a bullet train. A MagLev even. It goes 281 miles an hour and there are no protrusions. Nothing stickin’ out anywhere. You feel the power when it blasts by, knocking your hat off your head. So, this may be good, but it’s not your normal high-quality writing. I can’t usually take any of your paragraphs apart, let alone three. This reads more like you wrote it on an I-pad while on vacation. (What are you trying to pull here? Are you a part of this conspiracy too?)

        But hey, look, don’t feel bad. I’m still trying to figure out if if Phil’s character is animal, vegetable or mineral. (Yet.) And I read it three times already.

        Reply
        • July 28, 2021 at 4:37 pm
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          Ken, First thanks for taking so much time to write a lengthy critique on my piece. It is truly appreciated. And, you are 100% correct. After you wrote ‘how would someone deep in a book suddenly look up?’ I slapped my forehead. Of course that’s not possible. Jeez, what was I thinking. And I was really patting my self on the back for the ‘deep in a book’ line as being so descriptive.

          You point out several things I did that could be better. It helps. I take all these things in consideration when I write. I like it better when I throw in a lot of dialogue, then I don’t make the kinds of mistakes you were so correct to point out.

          Thanks for you compliments and I’ll try to be more lean and polished in the future and keep that train of mine on a straight and narrow track. Clean and crisp, like Hemingway. Don’t write any more words than necessary.

          Thanks again, my friend, and I’m still looking for the first draft of ‘Musings of a cranky old man’.

          Roy

          Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 5:05 am
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    THE BIGGER PREDATOR

    The girl turns around to face me briefly, before plunging into the dancing crowd. I think she’s noticed me following her. What, you’re avoiding me when I obviously want to meet you? That’s just rude, sweetheart.

    There she is again: brown hair in a ponytail, denim shorts showing off her legs, yellow crop top. The shades don’t let me see the colour of her eyes; no worries, I’ll find out soon. She’s pretty enough. Don’t worry baby, you’ll be a lot more beautiful by the time I’m done with you. A true work of art.

    People in this town love their street parties, bless ’em. But it’s way too noisy and crowded, don’t you think? Why do you always go where the crowd is densest? How about we go to one of the side streets – it’s quieter, we can have some alone time, get to know each other …

    Where do you think you’re going? Ah, towards the train station. Don’t waste your time, baby. Even if you get there, you’ll have to wait half an hour for the next train. Sundays, you know. Chances are, there will be no-one else at the station, anyway. So how about we go this way instead?

    Much better. Nice, quiet, not a soul in sight but the two of us. Who could’ve thought High Street is barely 200 metres away? But if you want to go back (and why would you?), you’ll have to go through me. Do you want to take a chance? That’s right, keep going. You know, prey animals often freeze before a predator? Forget rabbits – even larger ones like deer who could run or fight back, but they just sit there as if hypnotised, waiting to be eaten. Good cattle dogs work the same way. They can separate a cow from the herd and get it to go where they want – and all without barking or showing their teeth. They just have this presence. The cows sense who’s the bigger predator, and it’s nothing to do with size. I once saw a German shepherd come to a deer farm and face this red deer, an alpha buck, with horns this big. The dog just looked at him – and the buck backed off and went where the dog wanted. Do you like nature documentaries? Perhaps we can chat for a bit and find out …

    Why are you peering into every house? Forget it, sweetheart. No-one in these parts spends Sundays at home. You aren’t from around here, are you? Did you come for the street party? Well, just look at these so-called yards – the size of postage stamps, nowhere to have a barbie, even. So if the folks here aren’t at the street party, they still have better places to be.

    Funny, you didn’t even grab the phone in your hand, or the keys. I’ve seen girls with more presence of mind; but you’re just the classic rabbit in the headlights, aren’t you? You’re lucky I’m a friendly sort.

    Yes baby, now we’re out of the residential zone. It’s all factories and warehouses from here on, all closed on Sunday. Complete privacy, no-one to interrupt …

    “You’re a persistent one, aren’t you,” the girl flashes me a grin.

    Huh?

    She sashays towards me – then presses me against the rusty chain link fence with unexpected force. Well. I never thought you were the type. But if you’re up for a kiss and cuddle – sure, why not. Whatever you’re hoping to achieve by that. I’m all for a bit of foreplay before the real fun starts …

    Something pricks my lower belly, just above … What are you playing at, girl? You know I can snap you like a twig! I try to grab her arm … and discover I can’t move a muscle.

    The girl lets me down on the ground rather gently, and throws the syringe over the fence. She rummages through my duffel bag, and her smile grows wider. What? No fear, no disgust?

    “Ooh, you came prepared,” she crows.

    She lifts the claw hammer out of the bag, smacks it lightly against the palm of her hand.

    “We’re gonna have so much fun together!” She flashes me another big smile, teeth gleaming predatorily in the afternoon sun.

    … And then I find that I’m still able to scream.

    ###

    “Inspector Stanton? We’ve found another body. In Thornbury. The MO’s consistent with the Sunday Killer’s. Same pattern of mutilations. But you know what doesn’t fit? This time, the victim’s male.”

    Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 8:36 am
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      Vicki
      A really good stalker story with a twist. I like that the killer gets some of his own medicine. You could have a great back story here. Maybe the girl is a relative of one of his former victims.
      Absolute killer or a story.

      Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 4:04 pm
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      You’ve outdone yourself, Vicki, really and truly. And, maybe everyone else here. I haven’t read Ilana’s or Ken M.’s story yet, but my goodness. Some chilling lines … such as … “You’ll be a lot more beautiful when I’m done with you. A true work of art.” And then what I think should be the last line … and then I find that I’m still able to scream.

      I don’t think you need the last paragraph at all, personally, The only thing it does is end it with an explanation. And, for the story’s sake, I don’t think it needs an explanation.

      Well done. I think I’ll keep a night light on tonight. A truly, creepy story.

      Roy

      Reply
    • July 30, 2021 at 8:19 am
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      Quite satisfying! I was going with werewolf stuff again because I can’t help myself – but it was close enough in the end.

      That stuff about the dog leading the buck was cooler on the second read, because then you get the irony of his smug little musings and calling himself the bigger predator.

      The bit at the end made me curious about what her methodology would be if it was a different victim (she only did that stuff to him because of the tools that he brought with him and she thought it would be fun poetic justice to turn them against their master, right?)

      And I am REALLY curious about why she was looking into the windows…. was it making sure that there were no witnesses or was she actually looking for a victim (I sort of figured that she had already selected the narrator as her prey in the first paragraph).

      Good job again!

      Reply
    • July 30, 2021 at 12:29 pm
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      Vickie,

      Excellent story. Excellent writing. I like the last two lines, a kind of denouement that informs us that 1. This guy has been doing this for a while. 2. The events leading to his death were no accident, they were well thought out. 3. The use of his weapons to kill him is really brilliant, it confuses the police and/or sends a message, and adds an extra layer of design to that woman’s cunning. 4. She alone put an end to a long string of senseless murders. This is all contained in those last couple of sentences.

      They’re absolutely necessary to explain the story. They’re the icing on the cake, or the honey in the tea.
      So, I think they’re absolutely perfect.

      Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 8:20 am
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    Old School Stalker

    I have watched them for some time now. The children – they have come again. No longer primary school children with their fresh little faces, expectantly turned towards young women and men enthusiastically expounding the ABCs and times tables and drawing their stick figures which would cover the walls of the classrooms and hallways.
    For some years the walls had been stripped of colour, the myriad masterpieces of junior artists taken down, the charts of clocks and numbers and words and colours of the rainbow peeled off and placed elsewhere or if tattered, crumpled into wastebins. The chatter of children had fallen silent for some time. The corridors were emptied of sound and learning had been silenced.
    I grieved then. I was alone for some years there and then.

    Remembering my times, I wandered the long hallways, watching and waiting and hoping.
    I liked the chapel where I had spent some pleasant times after everyone had gone home of an evening. It gave me time for meditation and musings on the days past.
    We had the cane and the dreaded slipper in my day. Boys got out of line, six of the best pulled them in to tow. On the hand was not my favourite place for cuts. It meant the little devils would pretend that their hands were too sore to write. No, I liked to place the cuts on the lower back or upper thighs. The stinging pain would set them thinking. They could not complain their hands were sore and they could not write.
    “Sir, I’ve just been given six and my bottom is so sore. Please sir?”
    “Really, young man?” I would peer calmly over my half frames at the recalcitrant student. “If it hurts so bad, I should allow you to stand? Hummm?”
    “Oh, no sir. Not at all, sir.” Then the boy would sit gingerly, almost without exception, on his burning buttocks and concentrate on his work. My thick handlebar moustache hid my smirks well.
    The girls got the slipper. Ridiculous that we weren’t allowed to cane the young hussies. But then again, they had multiple petticoats to soften the blows. I suggested to one of our female teachers we should stick some lead in the sole of the slipper to give it some weight. We should make them feel the slipper more. It was too light a punishment.
    “Really? Mr Rumplebutte, we are educating them, are we not? We are teachers and not gaolers punishing them!”
    “Ah, but Miss Toldstory an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, don’t you think?”
    “I fail to understand how bashing young girls is going to improve their education in letters and numbers, Sir?”
    “Miss if we give them too much kindness, then they will take advantage. You’ll see.”
    The silly young thing did not. She ended up leaving the teaching profession because she married some young widower whose son was in her grade 4 class. I heard later she started her own school, and it was quite successful. Foolish. She probably spoilt the students rotten. She had this silly idea that the brats worked better if you praised them and rewarded them for good work. I believe they work better with fear and punishments for not working well enough. Spare the rod and spoil the child was my motto. I never spared the rod nor the child.
    Five years ago, the children came back. Well not really children. Teenagers. We used to put these types to work in my day. No point educating the little bastards, I say.
    I watch them from all corners during the day. The clothes they wear are like underclothes. Ripped stockings or tights, no skirts and funny coloured hair, barely there tops and all of them smoking and swearing. Not like in my day. Where are the teachers, I say to myself?
    Dressed in jeans and just their tights on, no skirts and just impossible to look at them without some reaction. I am a man after all. Young hussies all of them. I would like to have my cane on them all.
    I glide through the corridors during the day and amuse myself by rippling my fingers through hair and plucking at tops and tipping over bags if I can. I have even caused some dissent and mayhem among staff and students.
    I wish they would come late at night. Then we could have some fun.
    I watch one young bloke with long hair. Now he looks like a pirate. All he needs is the eye patch. I wander through his room and some nights blow papers over the floor. I have made some marks in crayon over his walls. He thinks it is the students. I titter to myself, as he talks to another young woman who is meant to be a teacher. Not in my day. He discusses who it might be. I would whip the whole class. Six on the bottom. Whack, whack, whack, whack, whack and WHACK! I remember the thrill of anticipation it would give me to have to give a few students the cuts every day.
    Limber up those muscles, shrugging and rolling the ball joint to limber up. Now the little brats roll up different joints. So many of them on drugs and demon drink too.
    I watch them avidly. Longingly.
    Unfortunately, I am assigned for eternity to wander the corridors of this school as a wraith until it crumples to dust. I feed on fears and sorrows and grow strong for a while. Then I can do some mischief. Knock over a pot plant or two. Topple some papers or scatter some pens around, but not much I can do other than that. I can appear to those who are sensitive enough to see me behind them in the glass of the windows on doors or just windows to the darkness of the night outside. Just on dusk, I grow strong, but sunlight and laughter robs me of my power.
    I bring a chill to those who know the doors to other dimensions are paper thin. They catch glimpses of me as I haunt their steps through these old buildings. These children of those grandparents I once caned. I long to cane them, but alas, I am powerless. A floating wraith of malevolent energy. Unable to lift a twig let alone a cane, I can only stalk them silently throughout the day……

    Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 4:10 pm
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      What an original take on the prompt. And, as usual, good writing. Well done, Ilana.

      Roy

      Reply
    • July 30, 2021 at 9:31 am
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      Not the ghost that I would ever want to make contact with, especially if I was a teenage girl! Not really a charmer in life either. I like how you explored the thoughts of this spirit, letting us see all the perversions and prejudices and really allowing us to psychoanalyze.

      Reply
    • July 30, 2021 at 12:33 pm
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      Ilana,

      A bit overwritten I think, especially in the first two paragraphs. There is a lot of rich writing there, rich, excellent writing, but too much of it. You should trim back some of them thorny bushes. Won’t hurt ‘em. They’ll come right back. It’s hard to do, I know.

      As for the form of the story, I think you would have done better to describe the school, attach specific events that the narrator recalls, to specific locations, (especially easy since he’s a spirit and can float anywhere he likes.)

      Just my idle, ill-informed opinion. But food for thought.

      Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 8:30 am
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    RULE OF THUMB
    by Ken Miles
    (1,200 words)

    She didn’t think she’d sleep that night. So, when she opened her eyes, she was surprised she had.

    The moon, between the rare gaps in the thick foliage, was near where she’d left it. So she hadn’t napped for long, just enough to dream she was an eagle, not an ape, flying above the vast jungle home they called “The Garden”, forever free, not having to worry she was to be stoned in the morning.

    She shifted herself slightly, easing her back from the tree they’d tied her to. By daybreak, as it was customary with executions, the others, in descending order of age, will each throw stones at her, until she was dead.

    The mother she never knew had gone the same way. And for the very same reason – she too could oppose her thumb to the forefinger. The leaders were very afraid of that. That’s something no other creature could do, certainly a sign of evil.

    To avoid her mom’s fate, she managed to hide her anomaly for all those years. But, alas, when she picked that fruit – and with such ease! – she’d thought no-one was looking.

    She shut her eyes, hoping to sleep again. That’s when she became aware that the reeds that held her to the tree didn’t hurt anymore like before she’d dozed off. They’d spent half-a-day tying her, with excruciating difficulty. If only they had thumbs like hers!

    The reeds around her forearms now hung loose. She shook them and they fell off. The other reeds, around her belly, legs and neck, came off just as easily. She stood up, taking in the fact that she was free.

    Thinking no more, she set off, quietly at first not to wake up the others in the colony, but then as fast as she could once she was in the clear. At times, she thought she was being followed, but it could’ve been anything from her imagination to some animal.

    Reaching a good distance, she finally stopped to catch her breath. Had the reeds been that hopelessly tied? she wondered. Or did someone untie her during her sleep? She couldn’t comprehend why anyone would put themselves at risk to rescue the oddball that she was…

    Someone, something was stalking her!

    She heard a swift rustling of leaves. Then nothing. Then again. Each time she looked behind, the rustling stopped. It wasn’t a small animal like a fox, nor one as big as a mammoth. Sounds don’t lie – it must be an ape! It’s just that kind of rustling. A male ape too, she could confidently tell. Female apes had a slightly lighter gait, made a different sound.

    She started running again, away from her stalker. But the rustling sound of heavy footsteps closed in behind her. Eventually, she stopped – had to – she was beyond exhaustion.

    “Just who are you?” she screamed out. Not exactly in those very words, of course, but in that kind of clever gibber – only recently cultivated by these apes – that somehow gave meaning to physical sounds. “What d’you want from me?”

    Nothing came back.

    She threaded cautiously in the direction of her pursuer’s hiding place, tearing off a branch from a dead tree along the way, not an easy feat for a regular ape, but a piece of cake for hands like hers.

    “Dare make a step further!” she menaced her follower slicing the air with her weapon.

    Still nothing. Then a little crackle, but just that.

    “Get out, coward! You may all think I’m deformed or something, don’t you! But I’m better off for it. See how I can hold this branch! Dare get closer!” she yelled again threatening the darkness. “I never meant anyone any harm… I… am just like this… I was born like this…” Without warning she dissolved into tears.

    “I freed you…” a young male sprung in sight. She knew him, he was from one litter just before hers, but she’d never gibbered with him. Less so did she grasp why he’d bothered to save her.

    He too tore a branch off a tree, quite thicker than hers.

    She retracted for a moment. “You wanna fight?”

    “No, no… this’s just to show you that… I’m like you…! Look: I’m holding this branch just like you’re holding yours! I untied your reeds in the bat of an eye…”

    They dropped down their branches in unison and paced towards each other.

    She took his hand in hers, and bent his thumb toward the forefinger. Thumb and forefinger met perfectly.

    “So I’m not a freak!” she shouted.

    “You’re not. We both are!” he laughed.

    He picked up a pointed stone and etched a line with it on a large rock.

    “Why would you do that?”

    “It’s to mark the place we met. So it won’t be forgotten,” he said.

    She smiled as she studied that simple scratch. “It’s like you took the thoughts out of your head and put them on the rock, so everyone can read them forever…,” she then observed with amazement.

    He took her hand and ran his fingers on it. “With hands like these we can do many such incredible things,” he then said.

    “So will you tell them that you saw me?”

    “I’m not going back. I’m staying with you.”

    “Are you sure? I mean… I don’t know where I’m going…”

    The first rays of the ice-age sun came early, and warned the two that they needed to get away or would soon be found. They instinctively took off together and ran further afield, discovering they could quite comfortably hold each other’s hands.

    They finally got out of The Garden. It was barren out there, and a biting cold wind lashed their faces. They looked funny too in that bright light the ice reflected upon their bodies. They grabbed some large leaves from the last bits of vegetation and covered themselves as they crossed the frozen steppe.

    “I want you to be the mother of my children,” he said to her, when they finally got to a rocky outcrop and took refuge in a massive cave, feeling safe enough from any perceived pursuers.

    “Would their thumbs be special, like ours?” was her reply.

    “They’ll be like us in every way! They’ll be able to do the things no creature has ever been able to…”

    She beamed, but then her face saddened. “But they’ll be condemned to a miserable life like this, in a cave. They’ll never be able to return to The Garden,” she lamented, tears forming in her eyes.

    “They won’t go back to The Garden. But they’ll find better places that this cave,” he picked up a stone and placed it atop another, and then he put yet another on top of them. “They will build their own abodes, stone upon stone, all the way up till they scrape the sky!” he said, his thumbs up, “With thumbs like these they’ll rule the world!”

    “I suppose they will. But they’ll always know something is wrong. What we’ve done will follow them forever like a dark shadow…”

    She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and looked on at him still piling up stones…

    The rest is history. All of it.

    Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 4:23 pm
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      Ken M., Another clever take on the prompt. This isn’t a criticism, but an observation. I knew that the ‘someone’ who untied her was a male and he was going to show up in a few paragraphs. You telegraphed that like a quick fingered Morse code operator. What I didn’t see coming was the first book of the Miles Bible. Nice take on the Adam and Eve thing, and you’ve explained in terms easy to understand how one of their children, Cain, was able to go the land of Nod and seek a wife. Obviously, they would not have been the only ones with opposing thumbs to seek a new life. Nice readable story and quite fantastical, if a little predictable. 1200 words again, huh. But this time, it was hard to detect. I had to go back and look.

      The language and writing thing which probably took thousands and thousands of years, was cleverly jammed together in a few hours, so you might have wanted to point out they also had a better brain, somehow.

      Good job, Ken, you kept me interested.

      Roy

      Reply
    • July 30, 2021 at 9:42 am
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      I liked the plot and the biblical setting and theme, but I couldn’t get over the thumb thing because I thought that monkeys and apes were already adept at climbing and swinging and grabbing with thumbs before our ancestors were forced down from the trees completely.

      This reminds me of a dream I once had where I discovered the Tree of Life and realized that I couldn’t climb it because I was human and outcast from Paradise (and I didn’t have the right body to scale the damn thing). Then I heard a noise and felt a rumbling and a horde of thousands of monkeys descended all at once and spread out across the landscape like the egg sac of a spider bursting open. It was inspired by a painting of the Tree of Life that I saw in a book and a mural or something from ancient Egypt that depicted baboons being created before humans (pretty smart understanding of evolution considering the time).

      Reply
    • July 30, 2021 at 12:39 pm
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      Ken,

      This felt like a wild ride through the theme park of your brain. A fun story with an exciting start, she’s tied to a tree, for her thumbs. But, as noted by John, opposable thumbs were an improvement engineered by extraterrestrials, not evolution. The whole idea that they evolved over the weekend is a bit farfetched. Why, it took almost a month for the scars to heal.

      I thought the dialogue was a bit clumsy. Too many ‘then’s.
      ‘She then observed with amazement.’
      ‘He then said.’

      I’m just not sure about this story Ken. This is not your best story or your best writing. There’s some good stuff, but the writing does not have your level of refinement.

      Personally? I think it’s very possible that you’re pulling our ascots, Ken.

      Reply
  • July 29, 2021 at 6:03 am
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    Where is our lovely moderator? Are we voting on this batch of stories? I certainly hope so. Got my cards close to my chest and reading to rock and roll on them.

    Reply
  • July 29, 2021 at 8:28 am
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    Well crap.
    I got a new phone about a week ago, and totally forgot to set up my voting reminders on my calendar LOL

    Boy, sometimes I really rely too much on technology! I’ll have the voting page up shortly!

    Reply
    • July 29, 2021 at 8:32 am
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      I’m also very annoyed with myself, I had a great idea for a story and literally thought I had an extra week to write it. I need to get back in the game!!

      Reply
  • July 29, 2021 at 9:25 am
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    Ok writers the time for this prompt is (a little late) up!

    Here is the voting link:
    https://fictionwritersgroup.com/voting-stalker-2021/

    Voting will end tomorrow at 10:00am PDT / 1:00pm EST / 11:30pm IST / 6:00pm WET/GMT/ 8:00pm CET/5:00am AEDT.

    I have a pretty stacked day so will post the winners at some point tomorrow afternoon.

    Good luck!!

    Reply
  • July 29, 2021 at 9:32 am
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    OK then, so, can we get a head start on the new prompt and you can post the page when you’re ready? No pressure!

    Roy

    Reply
    • July 29, 2021 at 10:07 am
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      Posting it soon. 🙂

      Reply
  • July 30, 2021 at 11:21 am
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    Carrie,
    I hope I still have time to vote. I have to make a list, and then look at the stories all at one time. Printed out. (I’m a visual person) then I set them on fire and soak them in Hawthorne Tea, then I drink the tea and drop the cup, the configuration of the thorns in the bottom of the cup forms a message. It shouldn’t be but (Umm, that is so good.) just another few minutes. Thanks.

    Reply
    • July 30, 2021 at 11:57 am
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      Hi Ken (and anyone else who needs some time), take your time. I won’t be able to tally votes for another two hours or so.

      Reply
  • July 30, 2021 at 12:49 pm
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    Lasting Impressions:

    Following. Phil Town – Mystery narrator, ghost stalking.
    And Your Little Dog, Too. John Mansfield. – Serial Killer ready to die.
    (The Bigger Predator.) Shadowland. Vickie Chvatal – Woman turns tables on man.
    In the Flesh. Ken Cartisano – Man falls into woman’s trap.
    Invisible. Roy York – Police kill wrong man.
    Lessons Learned. – Ilana Leeds. – The recollections of a sadist schoolmaster.
    Polecat in a Tree. – Ken Miles. – Frozen meets Adam at Noah’s 24 hour laundromat, where they invent solar power and the necessary battery technology as well while doing their laundry. (A couple of slips, some tights, a cumberbund.)

    Predictions:

    The bigger Predator. Vickie Chvatal. Blue Ribbon. Wrong name. I re-christen it, ‘Shadowland.’
    And Your Little Dog, Too. John Mansfield. Runner Up. This guy is just trying to scare himself with his fonts.
    Invisible. Roy York. – Should have named it ‘See Through.’
    Following. Phil Town – A mystery within a riddle, wrapped up in a Taco. Which I ate.
    Rule of Thumb. Ken Miles. – Dial E, for Evolution, Miles style. And other stuff in a nutshell.
    Old School Stalker. Ilana Leeds. – Old school, haunted by stalker. Never saw it coming, or going.
    In the Flesh. – K. Cartisano. – Dumbest stalker ever. Should have named it, ‘Corrugated Crush.’

    Reply
  • July 30, 2021 at 2:26 pm
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    Ok peeps!
    Without further Ado here are your winners!!

    1st Place: The Bigger Predator by Vicki Chvatal
    2nd Place: And Your Little Dog, Too by John Mansfield
    3rd Place: In the Flesh by Ken Cartisano
    4th Place: Following by Phil Town
    5th Place: Old School Stalker by Ilana Leeds
    6th Place: Invisible by Roy York
    7th Place: Rule of Thumb by Ken Miles

    Story with Favorite Character: The girl in The Bigger Predator by Vicki Chvatal

    Story with Best Use of Dialogue: Old School Stalker by Ilana Leeds

    Congrats all!!

    Reply
    • July 31, 2021 at 5:11 pm
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      Wow. Thanks, everyone! Just as I saw the quality of other entries and despaired of my chances … had a last-minute idea … and people liked it. (!)

      Congratulations to John, Ken C. and Ilana.

      I’m sorry I haven’t responded to comments in this round, and (almost) haven’t commented on others’ stories.

      I’m leaving the girl’s motivation (and thus all related questions) open to interpretation. 🙂 The point is, THE BASTARD GOT HIS JUST DESSERTS.

      John, I never picked the werewolf connection in your story. I was reminded more of Poe’s The Black Cat, where a mentally disturbed narrator with a guilty conscience attributes supernatural behaviour to an animal, and there’s a big question mark over how much is real and how much is in his head. Alas, your werewolf never went into space. 🙁 Or maybe he/she will, once the revenge is complete?

      On a (somewhat) unrelated subject, I got an idea for a story about werecattle. I can’t imagine how I’d shoehorn it into the new prompt, but the story begs to be told …

      Reply
      • July 31, 2021 at 7:11 pm
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        I meant that I thought your girl was really a werewolf hunting a serial killer and she was going to transform at the end and devour him – my dog was totally inspired by Poe and also King because he had a story about an evil cat in one of his collections that I know contributed when I think about it … but I can’t remember why it wanted blood so badly. Kudos!

        Reply
      • July 31, 2021 at 11:30 pm
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        I’m going to go out on a limb here Vickie, and suggest that she didn’t need any motivation. Perhaps she was simply The Bigger Predator.

        Reply
  • July 30, 2021 at 3:36 pm
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    A take my hat off to you Vicki!

    But then I quickly put it back on because I am balding!

    Congratulations to you and Ken and everyone for staying creative and polished!

    Reply
  • July 30, 2021 at 9:52 pm
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    Hi all, I wrote one for this prompt, went on vacation, and came back to find I had forgotten to push “post comment.” Would be much obliged…

    Breaking a Colt

    There’s something majestic about a Colt 1911 chambered in .45 caliber, especially the Government model, but majestic is the wrong word, isn’t it? It’s all of America in that blue steel, all of what makes America America, all the history leading up to it in 1911, and all the history since then. When foreigners ask me why I love America, I show them a jpeg of the one I used to have, and I describe to them how it felt in my hand, its perfect balance, the feel of the handgrip safety, the satisfying click of the thumb safety, and the strength of the slide being racked to load the chamber. It’s glorious. That’s the word: glorious.

    So, when she pointed hers in my face and told me to get lost, I was lost in love. “Look, baby,” I said, “I just want to lubricate that slide action for you, maybe inspect the barrel for pitting and grime.”

    Her eyes narrowed for a second. Then she lowered the pistol and racked it, pointing it at my face again. “I mean it, dirtbag! Get lost!”

    “I can take a hint,” I said. “All right?” I took one step back and pointed all my fingers up, palms facing her. I caught a perfectly blue eye gazing into mine, her pupil lined up exactly with the front sight. My heart began to race. “You’re so beautiful,” I said. “You have such beautiful eyes.”

    “Go!”

    “The slack on that trigger is amazing, isn’t it?” I said, turning my body while keeping my eye on hers. I walked to my car and opened the door. “I’ll see you later, then,” I shouted to her. I drove away to my favorite spot by the creek, and opened up a cold Molson Canadian. Once I was settled at the picnic table, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the schematics for the 1911 I had printed out from the Midway USA site, unfolded it, and flattened it on the table. It wasn’t the same thing as a real 1911, but it was like a soldier gazing at a folded up picture of his girlfriend. Come to think of it, more like a wife.

    “The ejector,” I sang, sipping on my Canadian, “ejector pin, extraaaactor! Firing pin! Firing pin spring! Firing pin stop!” And here, I finished the Canadian and had to go back to the car to fetch another one. I sang all the parts, trying to memorize them (I always have trouble at recoil parts). I practiced them over and over again, laughing every time I missed “recoil spring plug.” I always sang it “recoil spring rod,” but that’s supposed to be the one before it, the “recoil spring guide rod.” I don’t know why I keep making that mistake.

    A little girl came rushing into the clearing, and she stopped short when she saw me. Her mother came in behind her. She didn’t have a 1911. “I’m just rehearsing,” I said. “You’re not going to bother me.” The mother quickly grabbed her daughter and made to leave. “You don’t have to go!” I shouted after. “Oh, well.” I continued practicing.

    A while later, a representative of the county sheriff came by to talk. He inquired first after the beer cans. I told him the truth, that I drank them all. He asked me how I was going to get home, and I told him the truth again, that I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Finally, he asked me about the singing, and I showed him the schematics. “Are you armed?” he asked.

    “No sir,” I said. “I do not possess a firearm, not on my person, not in my automobile, nor in any property under my auspices or visitation.” The sheriff’s deputy cocked his head.

    “Visitation?” he asked.

    “Places I might sleep that aren’t mine,” I answered.

    “You can’t sleep here.”

    “I’m well aware of that, sir,” I said.

    He tipped his hat back a bit. “Well, see here,” he began. “I have a problem. You’re here, doing nothing wrong, but you’re here alone, which means you can’t get home, not as I reckon, by those several cans of Canadian.”

    “I ain’t drunk, Sheriff’s Deputy.”

    “I suppose you’re not,” he said. “But you can’t drive.”

    I looked at the sheriff’s deputy and thought about what he was saying. “No one wants to stay within the boundaries of the law more than I do,” I said. “Do you have a suggestion for me?”

    “I can call you a taxi,” he said.

    “I don’t got no money.”

    “The county will pay for it.”

    “They will?” I said. “That’s mighty nice of them. I think I’ll do that. Will my car be safe here tonight?”

    “I can’t guarantee it, but I’m sure it will be fine. I’ll log it for you.”

    And that’s just what he did. It was well past dark when the taxi dropped me off. As soon as I got home, I kissed my framed picture of the Colt .45 1911 Government model I used to have goodnight, hugged it real tight, and then tucked myself into bed. I couldn’t sleep. “Time to get up,” I said.

    I took a walk to her house and tried the door. It was locked. With a quick jerk and yank, I worked my tools into the lock and let myself in. “Hello?” I said. “I’m here! Hello?” I went over to the staircase and shouted up that direction. I heard movement. “I’m coming up!” I said.

    When I got to the bedroom door, she presented herself to me once again. I felt my eyes go soft when I saw hers with tears in them. “Oh, now, don’t you look as beautiful—” She pointed the 1911 at my face, framing her eye in the sights again. Her pupil was wide and deep and dark, like all the love in the ocean.

    “I get sprung,” I said, “when I think about your recoil spring.”

    She pulled the trigger.

    “Oh, come on, baby!” I said, clutching my right shoulder. “Look at me! I’m a real man. It don’t hurt me none! Think of that! I don’t think nothing of it except that I want to be your recoil spring guide rod.”

    She pulled the trigger again. For some reason, I fell down in a heap, and darkness started to creep in. I heard her call 911.

    “You love me,” I said. “You really love me! Just add a 1 at the beginning and I’ll know you’ll always be true”

    The judge was real kind to me. He put me in this place where there’s medicine for my condition, as the expert witness said. They took everything away from me, but I immediately drew the schematic of my 1911 from memory, and this time I remembered to sing “recoil spring plug.”

    Reply
    • July 31, 2021 at 7:51 pm
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      Really good and genuinely creepy! This reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock show and it felt kind of like a noir with a disturbing side. Too bad about the vacation because you would have been up there on my list.

      Reply
  • July 30, 2021 at 11:55 pm
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    That’s a very, very well written story Mr. Duke. A pleasure to read.

    Reply
  • July 31, 2021 at 9:54 am
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    John, welcome. Look forward to more stories that are as good as this. Nicely done.

    Reply
  • July 31, 2021 at 9:56 am
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    Great job everyone, specially Vicki, John and Ken C.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2021 at 6:48 am
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    Excellent Story Vicki and I picked it too. 🙂 Congrats to all place getters. And surprised that the stream of consciousness got the dialogue prize, but thank you those who voted. Good stories all around.

    Reply

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