DEADLINE EXTENDED!! July 16 – August 5, 2020 Writing Prompt “Revenge”

Theme: Revenge

The line “you ruined me, I plan on returning the favor” must appear somewhere in the story itself.

Word Count: 1,200





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Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must stay within the word limit set for each contest.

Voting starts Wednesday morning at 10:00am PDT / 1:00pm EST / 11:30pm IST / 6:00pm WET/GMT/ 5:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 5:00am AEDT (Friday).

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The writing prompt for August 6, 2020 will be chosen by Roy York.




54 thoughts on “DEADLINE EXTENDED!! July 16 – August 5, 2020 Writing Prompt “Revenge”

  • July 19, 2020 at 4:44 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 us know we somehow missed it.

    Meanwhile, please be patient, moderators are not always online. We’ll get to it as soon as possible. Thank you.)

    Reply
    • July 26, 2020 at 1:34 pm
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      Hi everyone!
      Looking forward to this prompt now that everything is squared away on the home front!

      Reply
  • July 19, 2020 at 4:59 pm
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    Signing in for comments.

    Reply
  • July 19, 2020 at 8:19 pm
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    Signing in

    Roy

    Reply
  • July 20, 2020 at 5:52 am
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    Greetings from me. Right now I can’t take part in the contest, but I’ll return as soon as possible. I promise!

    Reply
  • July 20, 2020 at 8:51 am
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    Signing in

    Reply
  • July 20, 2020 at 10:30 am
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    Hey I love entering these but unfortunately I rarely get the motivation, or inspiration, to start writing. Anyone got any handy tips for me relating to creating and developing ideas?

    Reply
    • July 20, 2020 at 11:58 am
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      Read the prompt. Think about it. Then forget all about it. Then something comes. Usually from nowhere. I’ve been doing that for a full year now. Most times I’d say, I’ve got nothing for this one. I’ll skip. Then something comes. Not sure if it works for everyone.

      Reply
      • July 20, 2020 at 12:18 pm
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        Well I’m welcoming all advice, so if one doesn’t work a few times in a row, I’m happy to try others. Thanks for your contribution, it seems I can empathise a lot with the sort of confusing, randomised approach (those adjectives don’t exactly fit with your idea but I couldn’t think of the right words for it), so I’m hopeful.

        Reply
      • July 24, 2020 at 6:07 pm
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        Saw this quote on Twitter today, Ken, which absolutely backs you up:

        “You never know when ideas are going to hit you. You can get ideas just from sitting in a room daydreaming, just feeling the air. I think people are like radios. They pick up signals.”

        David Lynch

        Reply
        • July 25, 2020 at 10:49 am
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          True, Phil – and like radio, the less the noise, the better the signal, i.e. the best ideas come to us when we’re relaxed and not working hard at them.

          I call them “Newton’s apples” – the big idea occurred to Newton while he was relaxing in the park (or so the legend goes) and not while working in his lab. But he had to be tuned in to the science of gravity, in the first place (he had “read the prompt”!) or else most of us would have simply reserved some colourful words to an apple falling on our head on a park bench!

          (More there for you to chew on, Peter!)

          Incidentally, David Lynch is very much involved in the Transcendental Meditation movement, which is something I’ve been practicing for a long time and which also frees up the mind to allow for more creativity…

          Ken

          Reply
    • July 23, 2020 at 9:00 am
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      Hi, Peter

      It varies from person to person, but I can tell you what works for me: read the prompt, open your mind (I do it without chemical assistance! 😉 ), take the first idea that comes into your head, grab hold of it (don’t let it go!), make that the core of your story (or at least something tangible that you can hang everything on), build the circumstances that surround or lead up to that idea, change direction if necessary as you write – even dump the original idea if something better comes along. One thing you shouldn’t do is expect the whole story to come into your head fully-formed right from the word ‘go’ – if you wait for that to happen, you may be waiting a long time.

      I hope that helps.

      Cheers!

      Reply
      • July 23, 2020 at 2:25 pm
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        That’s very helpful, thanks Phil 🙂

        Reply
  • July 20, 2020 at 6:12 pm
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    signing in for comments and to post a story hopefully. I have a file full of half finished stories from the last couple of weeks. 🙁

    Reply
  • July 23, 2020 at 8:57 am
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    Hi there!

    First time entering this competition, so here’s my entry!

    Speech! Speech!

    “Okay, okay, fine…you all know how much I hate these speeches—but hey, something needs to be said for thirty years. Thirty wonderful years, and it’s fantastic to have you all here to celebrate with us, we love every one of you.
    “Don’t worry I won’t say anything that’s going to make you feel like throwing up. I think the smell coming off the cheese and onion rolls that Paul bought is making everyone nauseous enough as it is. I would say that it’s further proof of his terrible taste in everything, but then again, he married me, so he must get it right from time to time.
    “I’m joking though. You all know how much I love this man- he might not be the most refined gentleman in the world but Jesus, who wants all that? I’d always much rather go for somewhere for chicken in a basket than a chicken terrine, whatever a terrine might be.
    “And of course, that’s where it all started. For those who don’t know, we actually met in the Ken’s Fried Chicken in town, 3am. I’d spotted him in Nero’s, snogging the face off some short skirt in the corner. She was long gone by the time we met. I remember him sidling up to me at the counter.
    “Paul, I tried to ignore you, god knows I tried, but you were so charming and surprisingly respectful, despite the reputation you had when we met…but, I had no chance. As soon as you were down on one knee on the sticky floor, putting an onion ring over my finger, I knew you were the one for me. Ha look, he’s blushing! You don’t need to Paul honestly, look at how much joy it’s led to.
    “Oh, while I think of it, can we just get a round of applause for our beautiful daughters? Come on girls, wave at every one, there they are. They gave us the idea for tonight and put it all together—save for the sausage rolls—and haven’t they done a wonderful job. Can I call for a toast? They look beautiful, don’t they? They might have gotten my nose, but they didn’t get their Dad’s taste in clothes, so I guess that’s something.
    “Ha, Paul I’m sorry but it’s so easy! You make it so easy! I do love you though, and actually you did get me something, remember that stunning necklace you bought me on our 25th? I loved it, and would be wearing it right now if I hadn’t lost it. So, I might make fun of your taste, but without you I’m not sure I’d get my head on straight, so you trump me there.
    “Amy’s just caught my eye, Paul’s second wife as I call her, who does such a good job of looking after him during work hours and actually, if any of you wonder what my necklace looked like, it was a little something like that. You know what, it’s very similar, isn’t it?
    “Let me just take a closer look…yes it’s almost identical, funny that.
    “Oh Amy.
    “Amy, Amy, Amy.
    “You probably would have gotten away with it too if you hadn’t dressed in that with the plunging neck, using it to draw attention to those stuck on your chest, especially after I saw you wearing it in the Facebook photos from your Christmas party. What Paul?
    “Actually, no Paul, you don’t get to interrupt me for once. You’ve spent three decades stifling me, making sure I gave up everything for this family, and what did you give up? You couldn’t even stop getting it out your pants at every chance. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Paul is having an affair, and it’s not the first one, and he thinks I don’t know about any of them. How stupid do you think I am? Well I clearly am for putting up with it for so long.
    “I’ll just take that back Amy, and hey, it’s still got that chip in the green gem. I mean when I knocked it the value dropped, but it’s pretty bloody worthless to me now isn’t it?
    “Now, some of you might say that I’m making a spectacle of myself, you might even think I’m drunk. Well, this is alcohol-free beer in my glass and I think I’ve been humiliated enough already, wouldn’t you all say? Why not give a little back on a night like this, eh?
    “Paul: you ruined me, I plan on returning the favour.
    “And the rest of you: please, now you’ve eaten all my food and drunk all my wine, let’s have a toast. To marriage!
    “Now, get the fuck out of my house.”

    Reply
    • July 23, 2020 at 1:08 pm
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      Welcome Andrew! Glad to have you join our group. My name is Alice and I am one of the moderators of the writers group.

      Reply
      • July 29, 2020 at 11:31 am
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        Ahh thanks Alice, very happy to be here!

        Reply
    • July 23, 2020 at 2:36 pm
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      Good evening Andrew (or whenever you might be reading this), I’m Peter. I don’t write here a lot but it’s groovy to see a new face, loved your story. I think it escalated rather quickly, but that might have been what you were going for, so I can’t say anything. I should’ve seen the twist coming, given the time and place the story was set, but your dialogue completely swept me up and that made it all the more shocking.

      Reply
    • July 23, 2020 at 2:50 pm
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      Hi Andrew,

      Welcome from one of the Ken’s, Ken Frape this time.

      This is such a great start. I loved the way the joshing turned to coshing ( I just made that up, might use it sometime in a story) and the final line is a killer. When someone is telling a story, yours would be the one people remember and keep telling as good news doesn’t really cut it, whereas this kind of awful event does.

      Not sure about your use of speech marks here, opening them at the beginning of each paragraph when it is the same person speaking all the way through. I could be wrong here but others will point the way if I am and it’s just a nit pick.

      Good writing, good language and dialogue.

      Looking forward to your future work.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
      • July 29, 2020 at 11:33 am
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        Hi Ken,

        Yep that’s a fair point. I originally wrote this from a prompt to write a story using only dialogue, but you’re right. I will remove the speech marks in future, so thanks for the feedback

        Reply
  • July 23, 2020 at 3:05 pm
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    Revenge of the Angrels

    by Ken Frape 1196 words

    July 2020

    Having just been suddenly and unfairly dismissed from his employment after nearly thirty years of dedicated service, Bob Evans arrived at the railway station considerably earlier than usual, carrying the box containing his office possessions, that worldwide symbol that screamed, “I have just been sacked!” He found a vacant seat and enjoyed a rare treat as seats were like gold dust during peak hours. He jammed the box under the seat and then he just sat there, looking for all the world as if someone had painted his picture and inserted it into a movie so that everything moved except him. He watched the 16.17 and then the 17.17 come and go. At 18.07 he saw his ex – boss, Martin Ashton, arrive at the now crowded station as he mingled with other commuters, all hustle and bustle, aglow with evening plans, meals to cook, love to make, wine to drink, dogs to walk.

    As the 18.17 approached the platform, Bob’s seat was now vacant. Then, a piercing scream came from the far end of the platform as Bob Evans, single, 57, living alone and suddenly unemployed, stepped off the platform and under the wheels of the 18.17 to Reading. Bob always caught this train. He never missed it and today was no exception.

    Martin Ashton had no idea that the longtime employee that he had just sacked had just committed suicide as a direct consequence of his dismissal. Bob’s final thought as he stepped off the edge of the platform was that whilst Ashton would be irritated by the delay and missing his Pub Quiz evening, ( every Thursday, Red Lion, 8pm.) that would be nothing compared to how he’d feel tomorrow when he found out who the suicide victim was and why.

    The next day, a Friday, was an interesting one for Bob. It was the first time he had ever been dead on a Friday. The exact moment of Bob’s death was excrutiatingly painful. Then he seemed to move seamlessly from being fully alive to pretty much dead. Pretty much dead did seem a rather indeterminate state to be in but Bob sensed that he wasn’t quite there yet. He felt that he was in a kind of in- between place and he was gratified to learn that a twilight zone where ghosts or spirits were allowed to roam free did actually exist. He was there!

    But, God help us all, he thought, this place is horrendous. All the people around him seemed to be dressed as they were at the moment of their death and some, for that same reason, were naked. Some were dressed in blood-soaked garments, one with a carving knife protruding from his neck, others were burnt to a crisp, some had limbs missing and several were even headless. It was truly the most horrific scene that any film maker could have ever imagined but now, it was real.

    Bob looked down at himself. He was still wearing his old shiny business suit but he was unable to see much more as one of his eyes was dangling by its optic nerve and his head had a huge dent where he used to have a forehead. It should have been painful but then it suddenly dawned on Bob that nothing actually hurt. There was no pain.

    Almost before he knew it, Bob rode the no pain wave and found himself in a huge and crowded room. It was like a cocktail party of horror mixed with a buzz of chatter and bursts of laughter as chunks of skin, fingers or singed hair dropped onto the floor. Bob was a tad disappointed that he couldn’t see any Angels but he felt quite happy to be there. Almost euphoric.

    Perhaps being dead was OK after all. He was rather relieved as he had been worried that suicide may be frowned upon in the place you go to after death. So far so good, anyway.

    After mingling with the crowd for a few minutes Bob was eventually approached by a shooting victim, a small hole in his forehead and the back of his head missing, carrying a clipboard. His identity badge said Zakary.

    “Bob Evans?” Bob nodded, surprised.

    “Hi, look just a quick question for our records, OK? Now, how do you feel about your death, Bob?” Zakary enquired. He made it sound like an everyday kind of question, like chips or mash?

    Bob had to consider this for a moment. Well, he was single and there was no one to mourn him. That didn’t bother him but being sacked? That really hurt. In the end he said, truthfully, “No, I’m not happy! I’m bloody furious!”

    “Sounds to me like you should apply to become an Angrel then, Bob.” Zak told him.

    “Angrel?” Bob queried.

    “Yes, you see, lots of people arrive here, 27% are suicides by the way, with unresolved issues from their lives, “ Zakary explained.

    “They are often upset, confused, angry. If you choose to become an Angrel it means that you get to go back to your former life, not in human form, of course, to get your revenge. Angrel, Angry Angel, get it?”

    “Oh yes, right, “said Bob unimpressed, “very clever wordplay.”

    Zakary went on, “You need to get your own back before you can move on. “

    “Move on? How do you mean? I thought this was it,” Bob queried, looking around.

    “Oh no, there’s lots more. I’ll tell you later. So, you go back to where you used to work and make Ashton’s life a misery until you aren’t angry any more. If you were there now what would you say to him, eh?”

    “I’d say, “You ruined me, I’m planning to return the favour,” or something like that. “

    “That should do it,” Zak smirked. For the first time, Bob noticed his sharp, pointed teeth.

    “ So if I become an Angrel I can’t be seen or heard?”

    “That’s right, invisibility and silence are guaranteed.”

    “So what would I actually do all day then?” asked Bob. “It sounds a bit boring, if you ask me.”

    “Oh, you’d be surprised,” said Zakary with a twinkle.

    “What do you mean?” said Bob.

    “Well, there are lots of tricks I can teach you to really irritate living people. And,” he leaned towards Bob in a conspiratorial manner, “ you can see and hear what the living are getting up to………..even though they can’t hear or see you………” his voice trailed off leaving Bob to complete the mental picture.

    “Is that allowed?” Bob asked, wide-eyed with surprise.

    Zakary laughed again. “Well, you don’t have to look, do you? Depends how angry you are. And you’re no angel, are you? Not yet.”

    The following day, Martin Ashton spent a great deal of time rubbing his eye to remove a really irritating but invisible eyelash that nearly drove him mad. His car keys dropped into the waste bin, his paper cup tipped coffee all over his paper-strewn desk and that really important invoice seemed to slide down the back of the filing cabinet propelled by an almost invisible waft of air….

    Ken Frape

    July 2020

    Reply
  • July 24, 2020 at 10:25 am
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    Hey everyone, in case you haven’t heard, after intense negotiations, bribery, indemnity, ransom… the ‘Beneath The Sea” prompt did not close yesterday and will still be accepting story submissions for another week, till 29th July.

    Actually, I asked Carrie, and she kindly accepted 🙂

    Reply
  • July 25, 2020 at 11:02 am
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    HIS EYES
    by Ken Miles
    (1,200 words)

    As I walk away from the execution room, I’m tormented by a haunting feeling.
     
    Like I killed that young woman.
     
    Like I should have certified her insane, no matter what I really thought.
     
    “I’m not crazy, Doctor, I know very well what I did!” Those were her first words to me. I couldn’t help thinking, she must have once been pretty. Very pretty.
     
    The two officers waiting outside my clinic insisted she’d remain handcuffed for the entire visit. They’d checked that all my windows were secured and handed me an emergency buzzer before they left her alone with me. After all, a woman who’s killed her baby is capable of anything. My job was to either declare her criminally insane, and she’d spend the rest of her days inside a mental institution popping pills that will do her no good. Or declare her mentally fit, and pass the ball back to the Judge who sent her over to me.
     
    The cops, the Judge, the lawyers, the men and women in the jury, the news-reporters waiting outside had all asked her every possible question on what she had done. If she’d plead guilty to having tied her eight-month old baby to a railway-track and waited for the train to arrive and crush him. They wanted to know what she tied him with. Where she’d bought that cord from. All the whats, and whens and wheres, and the harrowing hows. I had a different question for her.
    Why.
     
    “Because of his eyes,” she told me.
     
    “The baby’s eyes? Ok. Go on.” A baby’s eyes should bring the greatest joy to a mother’s untiring gaze. But that’s what I thought. And what I thought didn’t matter.
     
    “I hated those eyes. I hated the way he leered back at me. I waited eagerly for that train to get closer and closer, and finally slice through his body.”
     
    I gasped. But I am paid to listen to such stories. So I nodded and with a little wave of my hand encouraged her to continue with her story.
     
    “He still ogled me with those hateful eyes after I’d tied him to that railway-track. What did he ever want from me? Look here, Doctor…”
     
    She stood up. My hand instinctively moved to the buzzer, to get the cops’ attention in case she became aggressive. But instead, with great difficulty, because of the handcuffs, she took out a breast, and then the other one.
     
    “You see the bites, Doctor?” Indeed, her breasts, especially the nipples and areolas were massacred. “He did that!”
     
    I had to help her put her breasts back in as that was next to impossible for her to do alone.
     
    “He ruined me. I planned on returning the favor!”
     
    I glimpsed at her insanity certificate on my desk, my official psychiatrist’s rubber-stamp standing there next to it, like a chess-piece that decides people’s fates. Usually, it was easy. Those sent over to me were obviously bonkers, criminally-insane. With this woman I had my doubts. I could’ve stamped her certificate, based on what I’d heard so far. But I was curious to hear more. Perhaps I shouldn’t have.
     
    “The baby ruined you?” She hadn’t said that much at the trial. It was all about the technicalities there: if anyone else was involved, if she’d taken any drugs, if she’d had a happy childhood herself, those kinds of things.
     
    “Both of them!”
     
    “Both of them?”
     
    “I let him ravage me, the first time, what else could I do? He was stronger than me. He bit savagely at my breasts and slapped my face hard, that’s when I vowed I’d kill him. He fucked me like I was a rag. I was still a virgin! I was the nicest girl you’d ever met! There were people in the park. No-one stopped to help me. They hastened their pace like scared rats, no-one lifted a finger…”
     
    I resisted the temptation to talk, to suggest anything. That’s the most important thing one learns in becoming a psychiatrist. Just let them talk, you only listen. It takes five years of hard studying to learn that. I leaned forward a little, now very interested in what else she had to say.
     
    “When he was ready, he punched me hard in my stomach. And then spat on me. He smelled of sweat and bad milk. Yes, he spat on me after he’d taken everything I had. My grannies used to take me to that park and that’s where I played with my friends, where I kissed the first time. My life happened there. He didn’t just rape me, he wasted all my memories, everything I’d been.”
     
    “And you got pregnant from him?” You’re allowed to ask the obvious, when you’re listening to patients, just to keep the narration going, never to alter its course.
     
    “Yes. My weapon of revenge! He’d taken everything from me, but I had his flesh inside of me. I didn’t want to abort. I wanted to see him again, I wanted to see those eyes. That insolent look. Those teeth that tore into my nipples. I was the stronger one then. It was my turn to destroy him!”
     
    “So you bore his child to kill him?”
     
    “First, to meet him again. To look into those eyes and ask why. But there was nothing to understand.”
     
    I knew, of course, about this phenomenon when victims, even criminals, return to the scene of the crime, to come to terms with their torments. But this took that phenomenon one step further. The tip of my finger caressed the chess-piece in front of me, as I wondered whether I’d stop the session here. She read my mind.
     
    “I’m not crazy, Doctor!” she said again, “Why did they even send me to you? I’m not crazy. I did what I really had to do!” They all say they’re not crazy, of course – that in and of itself might be a symptom of insanity.
     
    “Did you even try to love your son?”
     
    “He wasn’t my son! I only took a walk in the park that day. He came out the same way he’d gone in. He’d bite my nipples when I breastfed him, I’d smell his sweat again, that sour-milk bad breath, see those same bushy eyebrows wiggling. The hatred in his eyes, satiated with my pain…”  
     
    “So you think that the man who raped you and the baby are the same person?”
     
    “Of course not! Why do you keep thinking I’m insane? Trust me, Doctor, you’d’ve done the very same thing in my place!”
     
    How dare she say that? I felt a kick inside my belly, then a rising bout of morning sickness. I caressed my distended abdomen, and whispered, ‘it’s ok Shane, it’s gonna be ok.’
     
    She got up, shaking my desk in trying to maintain her balance, and I got scared. Especially because she may have been right. Maybe I would have. That thought sent a shiver down my spine. I just didn’t want to think too deeply about it. ‘It’s gonna be ok, Shane. Don’t worry a thing, darling.’
     
    I reached for her certificate and stamped it. Then circled “mentally fit” and slammed my hand down on that buzzer.

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 6:26 am
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      I think I have an improvement for this critical paragraph in my story, so that it will be more in keeping with the overall theme and feed further into it. I’m not going to ask for a repost as I like the work-in-progress aspect of the stories posted here. The word-count remains unaffected.

      The original paragraph:

      “I hated those eyes. I hated the way he leered back at me. I waited eagerly for that train to get closer and closer, and finally slice through his body.”

      The new version:

      “I hated his eyes. I hated the way he leered at me. I waited so eagerly for that train to slice through his body. To finally shut those eyes forever.”

      Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 7:01 pm
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      Ken M, you are going for quite the horror stories these past few rounds. I love your story, as it draws me in, and it so terrifying, yet so realistic. It reminds me of this news story I once read, about this woman, who, sadly, strapped her two 5 and 6 year olds kids in the car, and drove them into a lake. When she was found guilty, the reason was that she felt threatened by her children, cause they kept looking at her “hostility”. This woman was most likely insane, but it shocked me to the core, much like your story did.

      You did a very good job of captivating me at those first 3-4 lines. Immediately when I read “I killed that young woman” I was instantly hooked.

      It took me a while, to figure out that the girl had actually been assaulted, but I only had to re-read a line once to figure it out.

      This story was terrifying realistic, and great writing that drew in, so double thumbs up to you! (I would give you friple(four thumbs up) thumbs up, but alas I only have to thumbs, not four

      Reply
    • August 2, 2020 at 6:14 am
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      Hi Ken M,

      A great use of the prompt. A very scary prospect in a number of ways.

      First, the victim herself and what she had to endure. Doesn’t bear thinking about but we all know it happens.

      Secondly, for the child born out of rape. There is a religious concept of “original sin” not that I know much about this being pretty much a non religious person. Thus, a child can be born sinful and it would be perfectly possible for this woman to see evil in her child. To want to kill it, takes things to the next level.

      Thirdly, the dilemma facing the doctor / psychiatrist. What a decision to have to make.

      As Alyssa has said, you do seem to be going for the horror element in your past few stories. You do it very well too.

      Keep up the good work,

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
  • July 28, 2020 at 11:32 am
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    One Hell of A Price
    Written by Alyssa Daxson
    Word count- 1200(not including title)
    8-18-1990
    12:10 am
    Location- Axle Industries-second floor

    The pen scratched against the paper, meticulously forming each letter. A man was bent over the table, his eyes squinting from behind his rimmed glasses.
    “Still at it Hanson?” A voice inquired, as a hand clapped down on a bony shoulder.
    Hanson jumper at the unexpected contact, a short gasp leaving his mouth.

    “Uh yeah, still at it,” he replied, hastily regaining his composure. His long time friend, Edward stared down at him, concern shadowing his hazel eyes. “It’s midnight… you might wanna call it a day,” he suggested lightly, the hidden meaning implied. Hanson looked at him suspiciously, his mouth quirking into a pout. “Midnight exactly?” He asked, lifting a bushy red eyebrow.
    Edward rolled his eyes, a exasperated sigh leaving his mouth. “It’s 12:10,” he admitted ruefully.
    Hanson smirked, “12:10 isn’t midnight,” he said.

    Biting back a remark, Edward settled for another sigh. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s midnight, and you’re still working. What could be so important that you’d stay up all night for it?!” He asked, throwing up his hands in confusion.
    Hanson looked strangely calm in the face of Edward’s outburst, and at his last words, a smile broke out across his haggard face.
    “I’ve been working on this for months,” he said, shoving the paper he was writing on towards Edward.

    With a grunt, Edward picked it up, his eyes scanning the mathematical equations and theories scribbled down. At each sentence, his eyes grew wider and wider, and his fingers trembled slightly.
    “My god…” he breathed out, looking at Hanson, eyes bugging. “You think will actually work?”
    Hanson shrugged. “Why not? Cloning is relatively simple when you think about. All you’ve got to do is find the right combination.”

    Edward nodded, a glint appearing in his eyes. “Hanson this is remarkable,” he said, clapping the younger man on the shoulder.
    “Together, with this, we can change the future.”


    One year later

    “Cloning is relatively simple. All you gotta do is find the right combination.”
    Hanson stared, fixated on the tv screen behind the store display, watching as his once best friend talked about his work-his stolen work.
    Scrubbing a hand across his stubbles face, Hanson growled, the fiery anger that had laid slumbering in his stomach since Edward had taken his work away, claiming as his own, flaring up.
    “You bastard,” he snarled at the tv, before whipping around, stumbling down the small sidewalk.

    He reeked of sweat and body odor. Ever since Edward had fired him, Hanson’s life has spiraled down a dark pit of despair, while his friend rose higher into the heavens of fame.
    Every speech Edward gave was a mockery, a slap in the face all over again.
    Noises of crackly applause burst from the tv behind him, and Hanson turned and watched as Edward displayed a cloning machine, it’s sleek, metal body looking just like Hanson had envisioned a year ago.
    “Success is not a thing. It is a feeling, meant to be shared among all of us. You all made this possible!” Edward shouted, his arms raised wide.

    Hanson, already drunk and fired up, snapped.
    “That was my work you bastard! I was meant to be up there!” He screamed at the tv, shaking his fists, tears pouring down his grimy face. The urge to pound the glass was overwhelming. “You took my work and left me in the dust!”
    Several people nearby gave the screaming man a wide berth, pulling out their phones and dialing 911.
    Hanson saw the raised phones, and took a shuddering breath, forcibly calming himself down. It would do no good being arrested.
    Stumbling away, Hanson collapsed into a nearby alleyway, the sobs wracking his body.
    His hands groped blindingly at the ground, and he was surprised when fingers brushed a hard book cover.

    Cracking open his puffy eyes, Hanson stared down at the large, black book before him, a red pentagram stitched on the front.
    Taking the book in his trembling hands, Hanson flipped through the first pages, his eyes scanning quickly over the arcane text.
    At each word, his eyes brightened with a hope that had long since died out.
    Maybe, just maybe, he could get his revenge…


    Two Days Later

    Hanson stood at the crossroads before his, clutching a tiny box, full of his possessions, in his hands.
    Kneeling down, Hanson dig a small hole, placing the small box in it. He quickly covered it up, and scrambled to his feet, head whipping around, searching for a unknown identity.
    “You called?” A smooth, feminine voice drawled.
    Whipping around, Hanson stared at the tall, brown skinned woman before him.
    His mouth gaped uselessly like as fish, and no sound but panting gasps left him.
    “Yeah, okay. Obviously if you’ve gotten this far, you know the drill.
    I’m a demon.
    You’re a human. Make a deal.” The demon’s voice was tight and clipped, practically oozing impatience.

    The brusque words startled Hanson out of his gaze, and he sucked in air noisily. “I want you to kill my friend,” Hanson said, his voice hardening at the word ‘friend’.
    The demon raised one thin, dark eyebrow.
    “That’s a new one,” she sighed, her hands planting on her narrow hips. There appeared to be a moment of consideration, before a glimmer, of what Hanson would define as malice, flashed across her face.
    “How about this,” she said, striding forward until they were nose to nose. “You get to kill this friend, and then I get to keep you.”

    Hanson tilted his head, eyes crossing as he stared at the woman-or what he thought she was- before him. “Isn’t that how it works? I sell my soul, ten years later you take it.”
    The demon shrugged. “Sometimes. But right now, I’m gonna spice up the deal. You get to see your friend suffer, deal the killing blow, and after that you come with me. No prison, no punishment.”

    Hanson considered it for a second. That sounded nice. He wouldn’t have to live in the cruel world anymore. “Sure,” he said, sticking out a dirty hand.
    The demon glared at the outstretched hand as if it had personally offended her.
    “Uh no honey, we’re doing this the old fashioned way,” she said, turning towards him and pursing her red lips.
    Hanson hesitated for a second, before kissing her.
    It lasted for a couple seconds, before the demon pulled away, her eyes shining with satisfaction. “Well then! I’ll deliver you to your little date, and when you wanna give the death blow, just snap your fingers.”

    Hanson just had split second to register, before two fingers touched his forehead, and he suddenly found himself standing right in the middle of a conference. Edward’s conference.

    Gasps sounded from all around him, but Hanson had a one track mind, his steel gaze focused on the figure, standing on a raised platform.
    “You ruined me. I plan on returning the favor.” That was the only words that came out Hanson’s mouth, before he raised a finger, and snapped.

    As Edward collapsed to the ground, a scream tearing from his throat, Hanson felt a hand drop onto his shoulder.
    “Enjoy your new home,” a voice said, before everything went red, and the screams of the tormented and heat of hellfire assaulted him for all of eternity.

    Reply
    • August 2, 2020 at 6:23 am
      Permalink

      Hi Alyssa,

      A really cohesive, well paced story. It isa good read and I like the notion of getting revenge but only at some personal cost.

      There must be many, many examples of people working together on a special project and then, one of the team takes the credit for the whole thing. Didn’t this happen with the Facebook chaps? I think there was a court case and a film.

      The story works really well and I cannot see anything that needs further comment or critique. It’s a really good piece of writing, Alyssa.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
  • July 28, 2020 at 1:29 pm
    Permalink

    Hey Writers, we only have 4 stories now and the contest ends tomorrow. So we’re going to extend the contest another week in the hopes that more people can get ideas together and submit a story. So now the contest ends August 6th.

    Reply
  • July 29, 2020 at 11:33 am
    Permalink


    Static.
    By Trish.

    “(Static)”

    “Dammit, I can’t believe nobody else survived. There’s gotta be somebody else out there,” Fred thought to himself as he fiddled with his ham radio set. There had to be somebody else. He was starved for conversation and company, despite the presence of his loving wife of thirty years. It was surprising, really. If anyone had asked him what his main concerns might be in an apocalypse situation, he would have said food and power. At least he would have said that before this all happened. But it turned out he could provide for their food needs by foraging, and they didn’t need power more than what their woodpile could provide, so he was left with utter boredom as his primary demon. And boy was he bored. It wasn’t that he didn’t love Millie, because he did, its just that without outside distractions, well, he discovered he had nothing to say. That’s not to say he didn’t try his best…

    “Millie, You done fixin up those greens I found in the woods yesterday?” Fred hollered to his wife.

    Millie came round the corner to face Fred. “Yes dear, dinner’s ready. I take it you didn’t hear anyone else.”

    “I just don’t believe it, Millie. How can we be the only ones to survive this thing? We drove around to all the other houses we know of in these parts, and we didn’t see a soul.”

    “Yes, and I told you it was a waste of precious gas. Now we have to walk if we’re gonna get anywhere.”

    Millie was always harping on about something. Sometimes it was his wasteful use of their now gone gas. Sometimes it was about how he didn’t help enough with the cleaning. Sometimes he just didn’t even listen to her.

    “Enough about the gas. I want to eat by my radio gear, just in case I hear something. Somebody’s gotta be out there!”

    Fred took his plate from the kitchen and moved back to his armchair. Between bites he played with the radio set. Nothing but static.

    “(Static)…I know where you are…(static) I’m coming…”

    Fred was incredulous. After what seemed like an eternity of days of searching for some other sign of life, finally, he heard something on the radio…

    “Hello, Hello? Can you hear me? This is KNH453, can you hear me?” Fred was ecstatic as he pressed the speaker handset.

    “(Static)…You ruined me. I plan on returning the favor. (Static).”

    Fred pulled his thumb off the push-to-talk and sucked in air.

    “Oh god, Millie. They’s criminals!” Fred shouted. “And they’ve got my callsign!”

    “Maybe they didn’t hear you dear,” said Millie fretfully.

    Fred frantically twiddled his radio dials, hoping to fixate on the sounds he’d heard.

    “(Static)…I sent the boys over…(static)…they will find you, and you’ll get what you deserve.”

    Then more static.

    Fred felt more comfortable that somehow they hadn’t heard his shout-out, but now his curiosity was piqued. He had no idea how to triangulate their signal to see if he could find either party of this conversation on which he’d eavesdropped. He also didn’t know what on earth he would do even if he could figure out who and where these guys were. The authorities hadn’t answered any of the calls he and Millie had placed over the past few weeks, so he figured the police would be no help. Then…

    “BANG”

    Then footsteps.

    Then a door slam.

    Fred surmised that the guy he’d heard had “sent his boys” over to the second guy’s radio shack, and the second guy had fallen on his push to talk so his radio set had captured the ambient noise. He said as much to Millie, who demurred and said the whole thing sounded ridiculous and unlikely, perhaps the whole affair was a schoolchild prank.

    Childhood prank? How could she think that? There weren’t any children alive for miles around as far as he could tell. No, this was real. And it was about the most exciting thing that had happened to them in weeks. Fred couldn’t believe how little he cared about the life that had apparently just been lost. He seemed to have lost all sense of humanity. All he cared about was finding someone else to talk to. Even if they were a killer. He couldn’t imagine talking to Millie for the rest of their existence. And her latest gem…”schoolchild prank”… humph…didn’t even deserve a reply. This was something that stuck between them. And their quarrel, such as it was, could continue on forever as far as Fred was concerned. They had long ago run out of things to talk about. At least this staunched the boredom. And with that, Fred returned to his dials and began spinning, hearing nothing but static, but still in search of life.

    Reply
    • August 2, 2020 at 6:48 am
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      Hi Trish

      I can just picture the scene in a ruined world where there may be just a few people surviving. The amateur ham radio set-up would become perhaps one of the only links with other people, assuming there were any AND that they also had the radio equipment.

      This situation would certainly be a test of a marriage which would normally be mixed up with contacts with other people, outside interests and activities. This man has become quite obsessive about making contact with other people, even just one person. Having his water and food and fuel needs met, he then has time to worry about other things. Reminds me of stuff I was taught at college regarding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Basic needs, food, shelter, warmth and the like form the flat bottom of a triangle, and right at the top are the luxuries of life that can only be considered when all the other needs are met.

      Only minor criticism is with the final paragraph that left me feeling shortchanged. Schoolchild prank….childhood prank…..this was something that stuck between them….

      Clearly Millie and Fred still do have things to talk about. He is searching for life when he already has it right in front of him.
      Not really sure how I would have liked the ending to be but perhaps it would be to be with more static and then contact made although perhaps this is too obvious.

      In any case, why would you want / need to change the last paragraph just because I suggest it?

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
  • July 31, 2020 at 8:38 am
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    The Demons Within by Carrie Zylka
    © 2020

    Megan stood in front of the dressing door mirror, the woman staring back at her was stunning. Clunky matching bracelets covered the only flaws on her body. Scars she refused to have removed. Despite those, she was as perfect as she could be. She had a perfect hourglass figure, long wavy locks, full lips, high cheekbones, and not a wrinkle to be seen.

    A far cry from the fat, pimply 12-year-old she’d once been.

    She closed her eyes, gritting her perfectly veneered teeth and forced herself to relive those memories.

    Fat, unwanted, and lonely, she remembered how shy she was when Mark Stillman had asked her to a movie. He was an average looking guy who ended up becoming her very first boyfriend. Utterly smitten with him, she’d allowed him to take her virginity, and they’d dated for nearly a year.

    Until she caught the eye of a group of mean girls at school. Their ringleader – Molly was a beautiful blond cheerleader who delighted in torturing Megan. Throwing food at her, tripping her in the hallway, whispering to her as she walked past “you’re a fat cow” “your boyfriend only likes you because no one else will fuck him” “you should just kill yourself”.

    After several months of this she did just that. Or tried to at least. She couldn’t even get that right.

    She spent two weeks in a mental health facility for severe depression on a suicide watch. And when they finally let her out, she desperately fought back the demons. She’d tried texting and calling Mark while she was away without answer. And her first day back at school Molly was delighted to share that she had a new boyfriend. She loved parading him past a mortified Megan, Mark dumbly on her arm, him constantly wondering how on earth Molly of all people would want to date him but excited to be dating the prettiest girl in school.

    Unable to defend herself from her demons, Megan tried a second time.

    As far as anyone knew at school…Megan had succeeded.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Megan opened her eyes, fighting back tears and embraced the rage inside her.

    Over the years she’d made peace with her demons, they’d provided her with the motivation she’d needed to lose the weight, work hard at school, so she could get a well paying job that afforded her any sort of plastic surgery she ever wanted.

    She was happy and successful at life. She’d even managed to go to an alternative school that provided her a high school diploma from the very same school that had thrown her away.

    And yet the demons remained.

    And they’d fueled her desire for revenge with unabandoned glee.

    Her gaze settled on the photo next to her mirror. A bit older, a bit heavier, the blond Molly…now Molly Stillman, stared back at her.

    Smoothing an invisible wrinkle from her dress she heard the little notification sound on her phone. Picking it up she grinned at the message from Mark Stillman “can’t wait to see you tonight, maybe we can sneak off? The thought of my wife being in the next room while I ravish your body is very exciting to me!!”

    Megan’s lip curled in a combination of disgust and pleasure. She wanted to smash the phone, but the whispering in her ear soothed her…

    “Not yet, play the game, your time will come.”

    Instead of spitting at him, she responded as coyly as possible. “Oooooooo you’re so naughty baby!! I’m sure we can slip away! I have something special planned for you anyway, I can’t wait!”

    She turned off the notifications and put the phone in her purse.

    Standing once again in front of the mirror, she studied herself.

    She had to be perfect.

    And she was.

    She looked again at the picture of her old tormentor, the one who had caused her to spiral fifteen years ago and snarled: “Oh Molly, you ruined me, I plan on returning the favor.”

    Without another glance, Megan snatched up her purse and the projector sitting next to it.

    A projector filled with salacious photos of Megan and Mark Stillman’s adulterous affair.

    Her demons crowed in delight as she swept out the door and headed to her ten year high school reunion.

    Reply
    • August 2, 2020 at 7:10 am
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      Hi Carrie,

      Revenge is a dish best eaten cold, someone has said. This is certainly the case here. I wonder how many people carry around a grudge that is the result of an insult or a comment made at school that leads the victim to alter their life, as with Megan.

      Children and young people are so cruel to each other. I guess those of us who escape unharmed are truly fortunate. School reunions are such dangerous events, an opportunity to see who has been successful or not, who is married and who to and who has aged well or not. Dangerous.

      A perfect example of revenge,Carrie.

      * Unable to defend herself from her demons Molly tried a second time. Should this read, Megan tried a second time? *

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • August 2, 2020 at 10:02 am
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        Oops yes good catch!

        Reply
  • July 31, 2020 at 9:56 pm
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    BLOOD FOR BLOOD

    He heard me. He’s awake, and he’ll be out here soon. If I could only reason with him – if I could be opposite him at the table and lay out my urges, my motivations, he might understand. But you don’t reason with a man who’s as angry as that; he’s shouting and I know he’s after me, unforgiving, potentially deadly.

    He’s still in there, looking in the cupboards, under the bed. That gives me a little time to figure out a plan. The window’s out, the front door, too – both closed. The bathroom’s just here, but not so good for hiding – everything’s so exposed, and the light’s very strong. The kitchen’s over there – I could hide in the kitchen, but to get there I’d have to cross the room, and there’s a chance that he’ll come in here at any moment.

    It was last night that did it. A similar night to this one – hot, humid. I stayed out of his way until I thought he was asleep, but when I got close he woke up and I had to skedaddle out of there. I returned later and he looked like he’d gone back to sleep, so I got close again but he wasn’t sleeping this time and lashed out at me – missing, fortunately (they always do, in fact, unless they get lucky).

    The rest of the night went more or less the same way until finally, when the first birds were singing outside, I caught him when he’d dropped off. And that was that.

    So this evening I was in a corner of the living room, out of sight, when he called what I think was his best friend (I could only hear his side of the conversation, of course).

    “A disaster! … Yeah, terrible … Well, they wanted two, and there were five of us … The others? … I was chatting to them beforehand, and man, I tell you – a bunch of losers. I was WAY more qualified than them, not to blow my own trumpet or anything. I mean you know me, right? You know my work? … Sorry, yeah, so, I was the third one in and I should have fucking breezed that interview … Why not? I’ll tell you why not. I didn’t get hardly a wink of sleep last night, that’s why not! … Go on, guess … That’s right! Got it in one! Do you have the same problem? … No, I’ve tried that … Yeah, so I go in the interview, right, as confident as you like, and there’s a panel – three interviewers. And at the very first question, my mind goes completely blank! Like I’m staring at a whitewashed wall! … I know! I’m usually as sharp as a tack! Anyway, it just went downhill from there. My confidence was shot. And I felt weary, man. Weary like a bloody pensioner or something … I know. There’s hardly anything about in my area of work, and I needed that job like I need my own blood … Haha – you’re right! So now I don’t know what I’m going to do. The rent’s two months in arrears. I’ve got the payments on the car. I’ve got nothing in the fridge. So I was wondering, man, could you see your way to– … Oh, no, sure, I understand … Of course. No, don’t worry, I’ll sort something out … Yeah, maybe I’ll try him … Sure, you too, take care! Bye. — Shit!”

    He got a bottle of whisky – he could afford that! – and flopped down on the sofa. After a couple of glasses he just started crying, or weeping really. And half a bottle later he staggered off to the bedroom. That’s when I tried to do the business again, thinking that he’d be out like a light. But no! The first time I got near him he whipped off the bedclothes and started waving his arms about, grabbing air and shouting.

    “You ruined me, you little fucker! And I plan on returning the favour!”

    He’s still in there, turning the room upside down. But he’ll soon figure out I’ve escaped and he’ll be out here next.

    An eye for an eye. That’s what they say, don’t they? A tooth for a tooth. And blood for blood?

    Yep. He’ll have my blood for sure. If he manages to find me. And get me … with that swatter thing of his. They work quite well, unfortunately for us.

    So maybe I’ll lie low tonight. Hmmm … Under the sofa? Yes, that should do it.

    .

    Reply
    • August 2, 2020 at 7:14 am
      Permalink

      Hi Phil,

      Great story and no spoilers from me.

      I might write more when there are other comment in as I really don’t want to spoil the surprise. There were a number of clues in the story but i onlt realised what you had done at the end and with a reread. That’s a compliment, by the way. I didn’t get it in one!

      Great stuff, Phil.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 12:12 am
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    Phil,
    You wrote: ‘That’s it. Got it in one. Do you have the same problem?’

    Got it in one? I don’t get the syntax there. This is one of those weird ways of wording that you English misuse.

    The story’s great though. I was absolutely mystified until the next to the last sentence. And then of course, it all makes sense. Very clever.

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 11:43 am
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      Thanks, Ken!

      ‘Got it in one’ isn’t really a syntactical problem, I don’t think – it’s just an idiomatic expression that’s (apparently) unfamiliar to US English speakers (it means: ‘you got the answer in one attempt’).

      Reply
      • August 1, 2020 at 12:14 pm
        Permalink

        Phil,

        Thank you. For the translation. I’ll know that next time I see it. Over here we would say something like, ‘You got it at once.’ Or, more likely, ‘That’s it. You’re no fool. Do you have the same problem?’ I’m trying to think of other expressions that would mean the same thing. ‘That’s it. You’re a quick study. Got the same problem?’ Which is just as weird and probably just as obscure. I’m fascinated by these innocuous sayings that are like grammatical ‘tells’ of a writers origins or linguistic background.

        It didn’t take me out of the story. (But I wouldn’t use it if I were you.) Now that I know what it means I hope to see it again. But let me repeat that the goddamned story was brilliant. Like a word riddle. Some readers may want to stop before the reveal and try to figure it out. (As I did, but I gave up, I could not figure out what it was, even though you gave me more than enough clues.) This is a very creative take on the prompt, Phil. (I still intend to win, though.)

        Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 12:45 pm
    Permalink


    A Man’s Best Friend.
    By Ken Cartisano.

    A scribbled threat on a crumpled piece of paper, that’s all I had to go on. ‘You ruined me. I plan on returning the favor.’ But it was enough to lead me to this rustic cabin, nestled in the woods between Hurricane Ridge and a small, babbling mountain brook. The view included a small strip of valuable homesteads at the center of a long, picturesque valley.

    Jodie was the realtor who first showed me the property. Jodie Masters. She had the kind of presence you don’t easily forget, long dark hair, luscious legs. She was single as well.

    I began work on the cabin. Sealing cracks, replacing old wood. Reframing the doors and windows. Then I started on the property, cleaning up debris, bush-hogging the fields. Planting fences.

    I refused to contact Jodie, despite her invitation. ‘Call me when you’re settled in,’ she told me with a wink. But that’s just something people say, it doesn’t mean you should actually do it. Then again, after digging fifty-one holes for forty-seven posts, I began to question my math, my judgement, and my decision to drink while planting posts. “What do you think,” I asked the current post. It had two knots that looked like crooked eyes. “Should I call that sweet little realtor from across the mountain?”

    Jodie was an outsider, like me. She arrived in a big white Cadillac a few days later, and parked in the only spot that blocked the view. Hard to believe she was desperate enough to accept my invitation.

    She brought a crate of wine as a housewarming present.

    I served fresh trout. We sat on the porch until late in the evening, watching the fireflies and distant lightning, discussing the history of the mountains and the philosophy of fences. I was enchanted. She was a versatile and ingenious woman.

    She was also a little tipsy. We were laughing about genetically crossing mosquitos with fireflies when she said, “Shit, they’d have about as much chance of survival as you do.”

    When I insisted that she elaborate, she chose to leave.

    An hour later, the storm arrived. Near gale-force winds howled through the pines as they whipped the trees back and forth, but no rain. Then a huge, black dog showed up, with yellow eyes and a twitch in his lip, like he was cursed to snarl, no matter what. He was utterly silent, very intimidating. His supernatural aura was belied by an all too practical orange collar. We simply stood there, staring at one another, with the wind buffeting everything around us until I retreated into the cabin. A minute later it began to hail. I went back outside to look for the dog, but he was gone.

    Without waiting for an invitation, the realtor, Jodie, returned late one afternoon. She apologized for her abrupt departure a few nights earlier, and offered to cook me dinner with whatever I had in the fridge.

    The dinner was epicurean; her demeanor was warm and gracious, as if she was auditioning for a relationship. We ended up on the back porch again, with snifters of Brandy and a hand-rolled joint of something she called, Chernobyl, which she was willing to share, but I declined. She cleared her throat and began to explain: “You weren’t supposed to buy this property, Paul.”

    “Not supposed to buy it?’ What are you saying? You SOLD it to me.”

    “I was compelled to list it Paul, but you weren’t meant to buy it. I did a little research and you didn’t have the money, or the credit.”

    “That’s why you showed it to me?”

    She nodded.

    “Because you didn’t think I could buy it.”

    “Exactly.”

    “Then why put it on the market? Property changes hands all the time without realtors getting involved.”

    That’s when she told me about the scheme she was involved in, illegal land speculation, filching of state highway funds, I’ll skip the details. Suffice it to say, the transactions have to have appraisals, contracts, public sales. “That’s my job,” she said, “to make sure that no serious buyers even hear about these tracts until certain interested parties already have their teeth into ‘em. Unfortunately,” she patiently explained, “in this case, the lawyer was sidelined with an ailment of some kind. Your offer was submitted and accidentally approved by an associate who was ‘out of the loop.’ The deal went through, and a lot of people are not too happy about it.”

    “Tough shit,” I said. “I like this place, and I’ve already put a lot of work into it.”

    “I know,” she said. “I know. I’m not asking you to move, I’m just telling you, they don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Only then did she mention the murders, and the shallow graves.

    “On THIS property?”

    “They’re everywhere.”

    “That’s not what I asked.”

    She shrugged. “There’s a couple.”

    After a brief and strained silence, I said, “How did you get involved in all this… with these kinds of people? What kind of investment scheme involves murdering people?”

    She brightened visibly. “It can be quite lucrative, actually,” as if she was talking about sporting equipment. I almost laughed.

    “No.” I wagged my finger at her. “That doesn’t explain how you got involved.”

    “My ex,” she said, and then took a hit off the joint and held her breath.

    “So your ex-husband got you involved, and then he left, and now…”

    She exhaled. “No, he’s dead. He’s buried in one of your fields,” she said, looking out into the darkness. “Which is where you’re gonna wind up if you don’t cooperate.”

    “You don’t care if I cooperate,” I stated.

    That startled her. “What do you mean?”

    “I mean your intention here tonight is to kill me, not convince me.”

    She checked her watch, (how’s that for a reaction?) …as if she was expecting someone, or something. She avoided looking at me, but was so rattled, she forgot or didn’t’ bother to deny the accusation.

    I had hidden cameras, and held up my phone to show her a video of her pouring a powder into one of two large clear glasses, with tinted bases, each base was a different color. The powder went into the green glass, I was drinking from the red one. Her dossier indicated she was color-blind.

    Amateurs.

    I’m not sure it was clear to her. She stood up to leave, and the drug that was meant for me must have kicked in, because she sat back down and said, “Oh.” Her face turned pale.

    “Does the name Tim, mean anything to you, Mrs. Sutton? Me and your ‘ex’ served two tours together. We were best friends. When I heard he got married, I couldn’t believe I wasn’t invited to the wedding. And then he disappears: Very suspicious.”

    She looked anguished, then suddenly ill.

    A chunk of ice could not have been less animated as I watched her cough, and choke on her last few words. “That was so, so…”

    “Long ago?” I offered.

    Turns out the dog’s name is Max. It’s written on his collar. He likes cookies, but he’ll eat just about anything.

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 1:55 pm
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      Ken, loved the story but I don’t understand the dog part. What does a dog named Max have to do anything? And why will he eat anything? Did the narrator feed him poison too?

      Reply
      • August 1, 2020 at 5:19 pm
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        Hey Carrie, for me, and I’m not sure if I’m right, but Max is the dog that he saw on the moor, with the orange collar. I think Ken is implying that he fed Jodie to Max.

        Ken, did I crack the code?😉

        Reply
        • August 1, 2020 at 5:25 pm
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          Ohhhhhhhh I didn’t make the connection to feeding her to the dog!

          Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 5:28 pm
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      Ken, this story is-and this is the only way to describe it- MAGNIFICENT! I loved it very so much. There were quite a few twists in my opinion, and loved every single one of them. I liked how Paul anticipated everything, and the clever way he foiled Jodie.

      The part at the end gave me a laugh. I was actually reading this in the car with my mom, and I laughed out loud. She gave me a weird look, and then I read her the story, and also laughed too.

      So you got both my mom and I’s approval. Very good story Ken C, I applaud you

      Reply
      • August 2, 2020 at 10:01 am
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        Alyssa,
        Yes, you have cracked the code. I’m happy to hear that not one, but two people in one car got a laugh out of the last line. It’s always great to hear that someone has read or recounted my story to someone else. I read other people’s stories to my mom or girlfriend all the time.

        To reinforce a couple of your observations: Yes, Paul anticipated everything because he knew all about her from the get go, (even her color-blindness) who she was and what she was up to before he ever bought the property. (The Prompt after all, is Revenge.)

        In your comment to Carrie you also hit the nail on the head. ‘Ken is implying that he fed Jodie to Max.’ (I never actually said it.)

        Thank you for your ‘magnificent’ comment. I really appreciate it.

        Reply
    • August 2, 2020 at 7:46 am
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      Hi Ken,

      Another great piece of writing. A very well worded story with very realistic and natural dialogue.

      I loved several of your phrases;
      A chunk of ice could not have been less animated
      the dinner was epicurian
      as if she was auditioning for a relationship
      parked in the only spot that blocked the view….to name but a few

      One or two things I don’t get;

      The note in the first sentence ( the prompt) baffles me. Who wrote it? Where does it come from? Am I missing something I should have got?

      The dog, Max? As has been suggested, he will eat anything, and, by implication, Jodie. But, if she has just been poisoned, won’t that also kill the dog then?

      Also a slight confusion in my mind about Jodie’s surname and her ex. Was he the same one who served together in the military with the narrator? Did Jodie divorce him, then get remarried or did she kill him and get remarried? He is referred to as the “ex” which suggests a separation or divorce. Was he the one who got Jodie involved?

      In spite of the above paragraphs, highlighting my slight confusion, you have, as ever, written a really good story full of your usual guile and cunning.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • August 2, 2020 at 11:07 am
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        Ken (F.),

        Thanks for you positive feedback and your comments. You state that there are one or two issues.

        The note, which represents the prompt, is largely irrelevant.
        The dog, Max. As you noted, I merely implied that he consumed Jodie. The last line could be my way of saying that ‘not everything that looks threatening’, like a big black silent dog in a storm, ‘is threatening.’ While seemingly harmless things like sexy realtors with great legs, like Jodie, can be dangerous if not downright fatal.
        (Also, I never named the drug. Could be a toxin, could be a powerful overdose of sedative.) This is fiction, so I sometimes expect a small leap of faith, or (in this case) latitude in not explaining every detail because of the word limits.

        You also asked about ‘The bit about the surname and the ex:
        Slight confusion about Jodie’s surname and her ex. Was he the same one who served together in the military with the narrator? Did Jodie divorce him, then get remarried or did she kill him and get remarried?

        “…, Mrs. Sutton? Me and your ‘ex’ served two tours together. We were best friends. When I heard he got married, I couldn’t believe I wasn’t invited…”

        (Jodie Masters is a fictitious name. She is Mrs. Sutton, a woman who engineered a quick marriage to his friend. (A ‘black widow type.’)

        “So your ex-husband got you involved, and then he left, and now…”
        She exhaled, “No, he’s dead. He’s buried in one of your fields.”
        One must assume that if she didn’t kill her husband herself, she certainly knows who did. Otherwise, why would he be buried in someone else’s field? This is alluded to earlier by the ‘mention of murders and shallow graves.’

        She certainly would not have made this confession if she wasn’t already planning to kill the narrator, assuming he’d already ingested the drug. (not specified.)

        I hope that answers your questions, Ken. I’m pretty sure everything’s already in the story. (I used a shoe horn and some bacon grease, okay, okay, and a rubber mallet.)

        Cheers

        Reply
        • August 2, 2020 at 12:17 pm
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          Hi Ken,
          Thanks for the inside info. All clear now and, as you say, it is all in the story. An ingenious plot.
          Ken F

          Reply
          • August 2, 2020 at 11:34 pm
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            Ken F.

            Well, I don’t know if it’s clear, but it’s all in there. Generally, when people miss something obvious in a story, often it’s because something else has taken them out of the story. Like ‘Chenobyl, or fireflies. (Could also be that the reader was hungry or tired.) (Or drunk, but I, well, I’m sure you weren’t drunk.) It’s no great achievement to write a story that people have to read twice to understand. So, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if anyone else has some thoughts on it.

            Believe me Ken, I worried about the confusion around her identity and whether I had made it clear enough. I wanted to add a subtle hint earlier on in the story, but all of my attempts were clumsy and would have given everything away. (I thought.) And there’s the word count of course. That pesky word count. (I should’ve consulted Andy.)

            I’ve read all the other stories and they’re all really imaginative. So much so that mine seems boring by comparison.

            You know Ken, I don’t know why I continue to rename other people’s stories. They don’t like it. I guess I just enjoy it more than other people hate it. (Or hate me for it.) Now your story Ken. Angrels. I don’t think I could come up with anything better than that. When a writer invents a word for the title of their story, shit, it’s pretty much impossible to improve on that. (I could satirize it, maybe, but that’s a different thing.) I hope you believe me when I say I’m sincere about that. It’s a very inventive story, so it deserves a new word.

            I was really confident when I posted this story, but now, I don’t know.

            It’s really windy out.

            Cheers.

            p.s. I was sitting in the living room tonight, watching some idiotic three hour movie about comic book characters that I never heard of, and I looked out the window, and everything looked orange. Like I was looking at the world with sunglasses on. Me and Kim went outside, and it was orange. The clouds, the sky, the beige and yellow houses. Everything that was white or yellow, or blue, looked orange. A couple of other people came outside at the same time and commented on it. We get a lot of pink sunsets around here, but orange is pretty rare. I hope it’s not a sign of something. Maybe Trump fired the sun. ‘All you do, is go around and round. In circles. You’re not doing anything new, or original. Yer, fired.’

  • August 2, 2020 at 10:37 pm
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    Ruined

    By: Amy Lynn Raines
    (1196 Words)

    So, here I am, in front of God and everybody.
    I should have spoke up sooner, I know, but I am ready and willing to tell the truth about what happened at the Conner’s home.
    First off, the media and the newspapers got it all wrong. They based their words on lies. No matter, I am ready to set the record straight, so listen up. I have very little time to say what needs to be said.
    My husband Joe, myself, and our four beautiful children have walked through Hell as we faced life on Earth.
    The hovel we lived in was an extraordinary example of what true poverty is. It was nothing more than a one room, run down shack full of cracks and crannies, broken windows, and unsealed doors.
    Most of the windows were missing, and we couldn’t afford to buy plastic to put over them to keep the cold winter wind out. We did, however, tape some boxes together along the flap edges. I pinned them up over the worst of the breaks and cracks. Of course, that only does so much.
    None of our rooms had doors. We had old blankets that had worn to thin to keep us warm tacked up over every single door-case. What was supposed to be the front door was a bunch of crisscrossed planks of wood nailed together, with nothing between them to keep the air out. The only real door in the place was the one on the back stoop that served as our entrance and exit. Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture.
    Joe worked long hours for very meager pay. The factory he worked at only paid him when an order was full, and some of the orders were huge. When one is paid very little, the pay date makes no difference as to how the money is spent.
    Naturally, we paid rent and electricity first so we could keep our pitiful little roof over our heads. Then we paid the electricity so we could try to maintain some warmth in the winter and cook our tiny meals. No matter how much I tried to save back, it never seemed to tide us over long enough. Some nights, we didn’t even have enough leftover crumbs to call a meal. Either way, we were happy because we had each other.
    With the kids finally old enough to go to school, I began looking for work. Because of my work history, or the lack there of I should say, no one wanted to hire me.
    After a week of searching, I was finally hired by an elderly couple, Cole and Emily Conner. They were getting on in years, but not quite ready to retire. They needed someone who would clean their house, start dinner, and watch their little Yorkie while they worked in the mornings.
    I kept their place spotless and cooked their meals exactly as they liked. Milo, their Yorkie, was a pure joy to tend to. Over the course of time I became quite fond of them as you can imagine, and they of me.
    Naturally, with more money coming in the house, things were a bit less tight. I was able to get a car to drive, and have phone line put in our house for emergencies. Then, I began saving money in hopes of finding a better place for our family.
    Joe never took the car, he chose to walk back and forth to work. Not that it made sense for him to drive anyway, he never had a license. That was the one thing I maintained through the years, regardless of our funds. I always held out hope for a brighter day, and by this time, things were looking a lot less glum.
    After more than three years of working, my husband announced that the landlord wanted to sell the house to us, as is. That meant we didn’t have to move after-all. I didn’t think it was a good idea. Sure, we were used to the place, but the place I had found had three bedrooms instead of one. Our girls could share a room and so could our two boys. Joe and I would not have to sleep on the floor in the living room anymore, we could have privacy at last in our own room with an actual door.
    Joe knew that it was better to leave our little hovel rather than buying it. For no reason at all, he got angry with me, he kept telling me that I could never understand how hard moving would be for him.
    I told him it was too late, I had already put a down payment on the house but hadn’t told him because I wanted it to be a surprise. Joe flew into a rage, it was the first time he had ever hit me. He yelled, “How could you do something so stupid, Lexi? You ruined me, I plan on returning the favor.” Then he grabbed the keys and took off in the car.
    I had no idea where he had gone to, but hoped he would return so we could discuss things like adults should. I still loved Joe, and could forgive him raising his voice and his hand if her were truly sorry. What I hated most about that night was how he yelled in front of the children, that should never be done. However, I could forgive him that, too.
    The next morning, he had still not come home. I was desperately worried but went to work anyway after the kids had gone to school. I had to walk, so I was a bit late, which I have to admit made me a bit more irritated with Joe even though I was still worried about him.
    When I got to the Conner’s home to do my work, nothing looked any different. I parked next to the garage so they could back out like any other day and went inside the house to begin my chores.
    There were no breakfast dishes to do so I went to the master bedroom to check on Milo, change the sheets and make the bed before starting the soup the Conner’s liked on cool evenings.
    I opened the bedroom door to the most gruesome scene I had ever seen! There was blood everywhere. It was obvious that the Conner’s were dead and so was precious Milo. Beside the bed there was a wedding ring, it was Joe’s. I scooped it up, placed it on my right hand and called the police.
    The police quickly arrived and took control of the situation. I gave my statements, never speaking about Joe’s ring. The next thing I knew, I was being arrested for their murder. No one could find my husband or my car, so my kids were taken away from me.
    Even now, with this noose around my neck, I could have forgiven him for everything he had done. What I can’t forgive is that smug look on his face while he holds the child he created with our neighbor’s wife. Her husband is in her back yard, by the way.

    Reply
    • August 3, 2020 at 12:06 am
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      So THAT’s why he didn’t want to move. (Or is it?) That Lexi sure is a forgiving kind of woman. Of course, we can assume she doesn’t know the whole truth until the very end. Cool story. Super effective writing. (Noice.) This is like Alice’s writing. It has an irresistible pull. (I didn’t say I liked Alice’s writing. Did I say that? No I didn’t. Everyone likes Alice’s writing. It doesn’t matter what I think. (Assuming that I’m thinking.) I love Alice’s writing. (But I’ll never admit it out loud.)

      I could visualize the house so clearly from your description. The blankets on the doors had color, that’s how vivid the images were. The criss-crossed planks of wood.

      I like your writing. (I’ve read all your books–but they were pretty inexpensive.) I would wish for a better ending though, for dear Lexi. What do you think about a different ending? Does that interest you? I want her to get revenge.
      That ring, that wedding band, that’s a nice little touch. That’s something that you could use. I don’t think you’re taking advantage of it, I think.
      Wait a minute. Where was the REVENGE in this story?
      Plus, she had no motive, and no opportunity. Husband had the car.
      Something doesn’t add up here. This is kind of like my octopus story. (minus the water.) Which, I thought was pretty good, so, whatever you do, DON’T LISTEN TO ME.

      Reply

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