[POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge


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Post June 19, 2016, 10:20:19 PM

[POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

To vote, rate these stories on the form in the post following this one and send it to me via PM:


This 1st-person challenge was to tell the story of a person who would change into an unpleasant were-creature later tonight.



The following entries were received:



Coup Garou? Nah, Rougarou!



“Dad! I don’t want to stay at Grandma’s!” She was still cute when she was being annoying. It was hard to take a nine year old who dressed like she mugged a clown seriously, no matter how mad she got.

Some days I wondered which is harder being a single Dad or therianthrope . The kid was going to have to deal with it, always, every month for the past six years. It was the only way.

“Kiddo, I have my retreat tonight. Please don’t make me go through this again. It is unavoidable. If you go along without any baloney then I will take you to the fun park on Saturday.”

“Fine.” She said it, but her expression said the negotiation wasn’t quite closed.

I grabbed her bag and mine and went toward the door. She hung back petting the cat for a minute in her typical show of minor defiance which could always be quickly turned to a mea culpa if accused of disobedience. Eventually she followed to the truck. My mom’s house was just twenty miles away so we had plenty of time. The old lady was just happy to spend some time with her grandchild.

We pulled up and I gave the horn a honk. No time to get caught up in any prolonged conversation. I had plenty of time but staying on schedule was tantamount to avoiding disaster. I noticed that another truck had stopped down the street when I pulled over. Suspicious, but plausibly a coincidence, the spot where he stopped was popular with bird watchers . It was near a field where hawks congregated to hunt.

The pipsqueak leaned into the front and gave me a kiss, then grabbed her bag and darted out of the car. She got to the door just as Mom opened it up. I gave them a wave and drove off.

The other truck was obviously following me. It was preferable that he was following me. I certainly didn’t want him lurking back around my mother and daughter. Chances were great that whoever he was that he wouldn’t be a threat to me.

The road that lead to my “rural” property wasn’t easy to find. It was completely over grown except for my passing this way once a month nothing disturbed the foliage. It was easy to miss, so I sped up hoping to go down it before he saw me turn. I was pretty sure I gave him the slip. There was little fear about him doubling back and bothering Mom and the kid so I continued on.

I had just finished grabbing my bag and unlocking the entrance when he pulled up. He was holding a pistol but didn’t seem to familiar with it.

“Marvin Griggs?” he said.

“Yeah that’s me. Do we have business friend?”

“We aren’t friends. Me and my boys, this is going to be our territory now. You go on down the stairs there and don’t try anything.”

“You want to go down there? With me?”

“Ayup.”

“Out of a sense of fair play I feel like I should tell you that you don’t want to do this.”

He snorted. “I’ll worry about that.”

So I went. I don’t know if he understood that the gun was all but useless, but hey whatever. We got to the end of the stairs and he pressed the gun into my back and pushed me forward into the subterranean room. I put down my bag and it clinked loudly.

“Listen whoever you are, would you like a drink? I have several bottles of whiskey here. I usually like to get blotto before I have to deal with these nights.”

He was paying attention to me when the door slammed and the auto-lock engaged.

“What the he..”

Apprently whatever information he had about me didn’t include what happened down here.

“That isn’t opening till nine in the morning pal. You and your gun are stuck in here with me and my whiskey.”

His face looked angry then it seemed he thought better of it.

“So this is where you hold out on the full moon. Bet you think you are so clever. Well Mr. Griggs you aren’t the only werewolf in town anymore. I am going to shoot you with these silver bullets, drink your whiskey, holdout in your lair, then tomorrow take everything you got.”

“Is that so?”

“Yup. And my boys are going to change right outside your kin’s house and take care of them tonight. And you can’t stop it.”

“Hmm. Interesting.”

“I figured you would take it worse.”

This had gone on quite long enough.

“Well before you start shooting I should tell you a few things so you understand the situation.”

“Really? This should be good I reckon!” He waved the gun encouraging me to speak.

“I am not here to keep from killing my daughter and mother. They can and will change tonight too. I am here to prevent from mating with them. While I certainly maintain enough control to not kill them when I change, I hate to have any weirdness between us and they are the only others around since my wife passed. Cancer for fifty years eventually won.”

“That is sick.”

“Hey I agree. That is why I am locked up while I am still in my right mind before each change Sucks to be the Alpha.”

“My three boys will still wipe the floor with an old female and a pup.” He seemed so confident. I hated to ruin his moment.

“The other problem is wolf ego. You know that there are other changers than werewolves right?”

He seemed to start to realize as both our muscles began to twitch under our skin.

“I’m not a wolf. Your boys are as good as dead. The silver in that gun is useless. And you my friend are in for a world of hurt. There are worse things than wolves.”

His howls wouldn’t be very wolf like.


The End
___________________________________________


For the Love I Have for You



The rondavel lies in the middle of nothing. Round in shape and made with materials that can be found locally, the walls of the simple house are partly constructed from stones. The floor is finished with a dung mixture to make it hard and smooth, but there is nothing to suggest that this house is anything more than a worn-out, meager abode. This is all that I, Ludvonga, can afford, and in an area as wild as this one, between South Africa and Swaziland, anyone would agree that I am lucky just to have any place to live.

It’s only me and my son, Darshana, living here. There is no one else with us.

It’s late evening and the sun is already going down outside, leaving the dusty dry plain bereft of its rays before the oncoming night. I stop cleaning my swarthy hands in the kitchen, which also serves as a sitting-room and bedroom, and I walk to the wing of the small house where my 1-year-old son sleeps.

I look at him, towering over his small body in all of my 6-feet-tall height, and he looks back at me.

“You’re my son, you’re my pride, and I…” I say. Then I can’t continue any further.

The baby replies, or so I think, by using his infant-like sounds, those dark eyes now wide open and staring at me. “Uh-huh…dada…me…Uh-huh…”

“I don’t want this to happen to you…I love you, my son…” I insist, though I am uncertain if Darshana will ever understand what I’m trying to tell him - just as I can’t figure out what his funny little noises and sounds truly mean.

People usually say that even if your child can’t talk yet, he does have a language of his own. Babies tend to cry a lot and my son is typical in this regard. After all, it is the only way he can communicate with me at present. Decoding baby talk is not an easy task…

The fact remains that whenever one of my kind - or better of my peculiar were-kind… - transforms himself into a were-leopard, he just loses control and his mind is not human anymore. While in this state his beastly urges and the call of blood rule over him, and he behaves wildly and violently: any other member of his species, whether a child or an adult, is perceived of as a dangerous opponent. They become a rival for food, competitors for survival in the wilderness that stretches nearby.

The region has been experiencing a terrible dry year, killing off most of the prey in the surroundings, so there is no way to find anything eatable to fill my stomach. I can try to leave my baby hidden somewhere, putting him in a secluded place where he might be safe when I turn into the were-leopard I truly am and go hunting. Perhaps he can stay there until I can regain my humanity, until I have hold of my mind again, when the transformation is over.

Usually when the time comes, it’s the mother who takes the baby away from the arms of the were-father who is no more capable of controlling himself. After all, among were-leopards, it’s the father that is the true predator, and being fierce and unruly is what he needs to be in order to prevail against others, to secure his own survival.

But in my case things are very different, unfortunately. My wife is dead. She was a were-leopard like me and she lived with me here, far away from other humans who might be afraid of our kind. But she passed away because she was assaulted by another were-beast some months ago. And now the duty to look after my son is all up to me…

At times, leopards - and were-leopards…- kill their own cubs when there is scarcity of food. It’s a law of nature, and I am a wild were-best, though unwillingly.

While the desire for meat grows inside me, as soon as darkness fills the plain outside and wraps the whole sky in it, and I know that I’m starting to turn into a were-leopard, I also know what I have to do. Not that I have not considered my next actions in depth, anyway.

It is time! I reach for the largest knife in my kitchen, grabbing it securely. Then, with both my hands, I put it under my chin, and painfully start cutting my skin, letting my blood flow out, quickly dropping to the ground. It only takes a moment before my life begins moving away from me, and I feel confused and faint.

I do this so that my were-beast side won’t come out and attack my baby Darshana, killing him and eating him to ensure my survival - as usually happens in such desperate cases under the Moon, when there is no other prey nearby, and the beastly hunger moves you.

In my last thoughts, a clear image is before my eyes: the image of my baby whose young senses have awakened. Even if Darshana is a baby, it’s known that his young were-mind will be stimulated at once, and his sense of smell will be attracted to the tasty blood that comes out of my body. He will be capable of slowly getting up from his pallet, crawling over to my corpse, and eagerly feeding on it.

This is how my son will survive, and might have a chance for the future, until the rain comes - and any prey that comes with it arrives.

So, be it as I say, my son. Feed on what is left of me, and grow stronger, much stronger, before I can unwillingly feed on you, and regret forever for what I had to do to stay alive for one more day...


The End
___________________________________________


Do Astronomers Dream of Electric Octopi?



Now I've done it.

Papers are scattered. The telescope is still in the same position and the dome shutter is wide open. It must have happened around 00:14 when the moon was at the so-called zenith.

And my clothes smell slightly burnt. At least my chair is warmed up, not to mention the two slices of pizza on the desk.

The computer is still functioning and the screen is on. The moon is now setting and the time is 05:16. Thank God I was the only one here. Better clean up.

Actually, before that, need to check the recordings…

Good, the observations are all there. Now I better clean up before somebody sees it.

"Hey, what happened?"

Oh look, it's Ted. With a suspicious glare.

"Nothing, I slipped and swept the folder off the desk."



"My social media has been hacked!"

Don't know what's going on but the office is practically screaming. Last month, it was their downloaded MP3s getting wiped and now it's their social media. Seriously, don't they have any work? Just as well I don't use it.

Gotta get coffee.

Of course, Ted eyes me from his cubicle. He has probably reported me already. I know he wants my position. I have to work out what's going on with me.

Last month, it happened at home. Actually, it was the night before the full moon. I was watching TV when I glanced at the moon through the window. I felt a tingle followed by a surge. Then it was as if I saw every television program between then and the morning news. Man, it was boring. Woke up on a very warm sofa with singed pajamas. Of course, it happened again on the full moon and the night after that.

But this month, I didn't look at the moon. I'd made sure.

Ted is still eyeing me. How should I handle him? Ah, I know.

"You alright, Ted?" I say. "Wanna ask me out on a date or something?"

His eyes dart away. Ha! Nothing quite like rumors of a married man asking out another man. Oh wait. How do I know he's married? I don't talk to him nor care. But I somehow know his wife's face.



It's official. I don't need to look directly at the full moon. A HD-quality live image does it. That was what happened at the observatory and that was the night before the full moon. I tried it at home last night with a live feed of the full moon on my laptop. And it happened.

I remember a bit more of it now. It was like I had tentacles spreading through the web via each major hub. I saw connections across cyberspace to home computers, phones and infrastructure…

I'm trying it again tonight, after I get home from the office. It'll be the last opportunity for this month given it's the night after the full moon. This time, I'll get a live feed from another timezone.

The boss waves me into his office and tells me that I have been uncharacteristically messy at the observatory.

"Really?" I answer. "Even if that's true, I clean up at the end of every shift."

He smiles. "I understand but I can't be negligent about the health of other employees. Just thought I mention it."

I smile back. "Well, as long as they're not negligent about my health. After all, I have the shortest turnaround for assignments and we wouldn't want that to change. Just thought I mention it."

I then walk out.

That Ted bastard.



I scoff down two microwaved lasagnas and call up the live feed from another timezone. It seems I'm out for up to five hours when it happens so if this works, I can still get enough sleep afterwards. And I can schedule and optimize future trips with—

Yes.

So much trash but so much goodies. Bank accounts, classified government stuff and oh, it's Ted's social media account.

Seems like I misread him. Yes, he's got a wife. Must have seen her in one of my previous trips. Ah, his mother-in-law is sick and is in need of cash. That explains his desperation for my position and pay.

But he's still a rat bastard.

Fine. I'll take a few cents from various bank accounts across the country, including my own to avoid suspicion, and transfer it to Ted's wife.
Now, time to hack into his social media and add a few colorful comments about our employer. That'll get rid of him without putting his family onto the street.

—Astrea is the most poorly managed research centre ever!
—They can't even format their servers properly.
—And the coffee tastes like month-old sandwiches.

Time to open a separate bank account for myself and—

Can't. Move.

I spread my limbs but it's like firewalls or something clamping down on me and obscuring my view to the web.

Hang on, the architecture looks familiar… That's right, Military Cyber-Def Project #193. "A search-and-destroy active barrier," I say to myself.

"That is correct," a voice states. "And you are an asset."

My tentacles throughout cyberspace are chopped one by one, faster than I can thrash new ones out. Still, I hack through the barrier lattice while scanning for any helpful details… Project #295.

"Now you see," says a voice, "how focused radiation through your television last month combined with ionospheric augmentation and lunar gravitation has given you abilities beyond our initial estimates. And we want you contained."

I keep reading.

Ted. Ted. Ted.

"And Ted set it up?!" It wasn't a real question. Ted is an operative. I'm the unknowing subject.

I peek around the closing barrier: Ted is online at home, trying to delete my comments. I whip at the lattice one last time, piercing it in several spots.

"How?" says the voice incredulously.

Probably the microwaved food but I don't care. Now that I know how to make one of me, I'm taking Ted with me.


The End
___________________________________________


Love Lost’s Price



It is said that revenge is a meal best eaten cold. But who is the diner?



‘No stop, please! You can’t do this!’ she screamed, struggling futilely against the chains that held her fast, ‘Please!’

I leant closer to her, to that face once a thing of beauty now repulsed, to the body once cherished now hated, to her, my only, my beloved now polluted, never to be. My tears scorching fell on her, my laboured breath shifting the dark strands of hair caressing her cheeks.

‘I can and I will,’ I pushed through clenched teeth, ‘and for the rest of your life you will remember, you will feel my pain, my suffering, my heartbreak. Forever you will know how you destroyed me.’

‘Please, oh god forgive me, I’m sorry, I’ve told you I’m sorry, it was nothing to me, I was weak, it was just once and he …’

‘And that is enough!’ I screamed, pulling away from the arms seeking to hold me, back, back and away. Eyes burning, vision blurred, with my heart pounding to escape my chest I flung my head back and howled in primal rage to the darkened sky above. ‘Everything I gave you, all of me, solely, totally, you were my dream, my fulfilment, my all and you throw it away on him?!?!’

I lifted my arm from inside my coat pocket, the menacing form of the syringe glinting in the first wan touch of moonlight. I stepped closer again, bearing the syringe above my head on outstretched arm as a banner, a totem of hate and pain.

‘And this, this is my response. All that is evil, all that is deformed, vile, repulsive and hated lives within to twist and burn the human form to the degenerate! All that is needed is the moon and the flesh!’ I leered viscously at her, shaking, still shaking with rage.

‘Don’t do this, I don’t deserve this, I still love you, I do, I still do! We can still be together, forgive me, please. It’s not right to do this to me, to make me …’

‘Shut up!’ I screamed, ‘You?! Oh no, oh no, not so easy, not so simple.’ with which I sent the syringe lancing down into my neck, thrusting burning pain as I hammered it home, the seminal genetic bearer coursing through my veins. ‘This, this is for me, and for you to know and see and feel and suffer as I will, through me. Love me? Love me!?! Then love what you have made!’ with which I threw the key to her chains at her feet even as I felt the first shattering impact run through me.

She lay crumpled against the tree, held up by one chained arm, crushed. ‘What have you done? What have you done to yourself, to us?’

I tried to laugh but the pain arcing through my arms changed it to a whine, a piteous animal whimper. My arms tore out of my shirt and coat not through muscle but in a distended, twisted, wizened tangle curling back on each other, knuckles huge and torpid with pain, fingers clenched inwards as arthritic claws drawing blood as yellowed nails sunk deep into palms.

‘Each full moon, each time I will be transformed to this, to a thing that shows the ugliness, the pain you bought me, a remin …’ I screamed anew, falling in a crumpled heap to the ground. My face slid down to lie loosely hanging on the frame of my skull, a green folded flaccid sack of putrefied flesh punctured only by huge cracked teeth piercing lips, ‘… always, always.’

She had her chains off and was now beside me, holding me as I lay there. ‘No, no, no you can change it, fix it, tell me you can fix it’ shaking me, crying, ‘tell me you can fix it, tell me!’

‘Never, no, it cannot be undone.’ I managed to mumble, waves of nausea making their way through me. My spine twisted and compressed with a crack that seemed to reach the mocking moon above, shattering the night. My legs bowed, buckled, the left shortening even as the right twisted through ninety degrees, its curve matched only by the bowing of my back. A final crack, a final nightmare blaze of pain and my neck shrunk, dropping my head to my shoulders, my skin changing to a bloody mess of open scabs and coarse hairs. It was done. I pulled myself painfully to all fours, unable now to stand let alone walk, vomiting as my stench reached my nostrils. I turned to see her face, whitened, uncomprehending, revolted beside me.

‘To remind you’ I spat out slowly from crippled lungs and deformed larynx in croaking, rasping speech, ‘of my pain, the pain you bought me, how cheaply you threw it away. Once the moon has left I will change back, but each full moon this’ with which I tried to laugh, ‘will return.’

She looked at me, broken, silent. My pain was now hers, and would always be. And that pain doubled as I returned from creature to human, human to creature, always with the pain, the torment, for the rest of my life. I still loved her, I knew I always would. ‘I love you’ I whispered gently, crawling towards the edge of the woods, ‘that is my real pain.’

She sat staring after me. ‘And Kathy I will always love you.’


The End
___________________________________________


Mr. Grump



“Hey there Jose’ – I didn’t see you standing there,” Mr. Grump shouts at me. The 73 year old man is standing in the middle of an over-the-top suite on the top floor of a skyscraper in an American city. He is sitting at a wooden table piled high with legal documents, with another man, younger than he is. “Did you bring the tacos?”

“Of course, Mr. Grump. My name is Eddie, sir, and I’m happy to serve you.”

The old man looks at me, a waiter, quizzically. “Dark hair, black eyes, dark skin…”

“Yes, sir. I am of Hispanic descent, but my name is Eddie, Sir, not Jose’.”

Mr. Grump takes out a twenty dollar bill, folds it in half and stuffs it into my front pocket. “From now on your name is Jose’ – okay, Jose’?” He takes the platter of tacos and plops them on top of the piles of paper on the table. “Was there something else, Jose’?”

Although quietly fuming, I am able to motion to a bottle of champagne also on the cart. “Where shall I put the champagne, Mr. Grump?”

A tall blonde woman wearing a satin lounging suit steps out of one of the bedrooms. “In here, please.”

While pushing the cart into the bedroom, I can hear the two men talking. The younger man says: “Now this lawsuit – with the family who installed the carpeting in your building – wouldn’t it be easier to just pay them what you owe them, than to have them take you to court about it?”

Mr. Grump takes a bite of a taco before answering. “Sure it would be easier – but they disrespected me, the Grumpster! How dare they ask for their money when the job was done? I would have paid them eventually – I have Billions and Billions of dollars. They should have just let me pay them when I got around to it. Now they’ll have to wait for a decade while it goes through the courts. Eventually they’ll give up or die – either way I win and they are taught some humility.”

The woman inside the bedroom whispers in a heavy Eastern-European accent, “Don’t mind him. He means no harm, really. He’s just old.” She takes the bottle from the silver cask and pours herself a glass, all the while looking me up and down. “Champagne my dear?” she says, holding out a second glass.

“No thanks,” I tell her as politely as I can. It is only my first week on the job and I don’t want to tarnish my reputation by dallying with the patrons – although the offer is enticing. I decide to take another look at the naked pictures of her online, at my leisure.

Suddenly a man’s voice breaks in, the Grumpster himself. “Don’t mind her, Jose’. She’s bleeding out of her whatever – she can’t do anything right now anyway. Empty promises if you know what I mean.” He lets out a bloodcurdling laugh, knowing he has humiliated this woman. “Just leave the cart.”

I back out of the bedroom and notice the clock on a wall in the foyer. It’s already 5 PM: time for my shift to be over, only a short time now before nightfall, before the full moon rises.

“Now what shall we do about Pocahontas…” I hear Mr. Grump say as I close the door behind me.

I walk down the hall to the freight elevator where I push the button to the lobby floor. As I am whirling downwards I can hear my friends running through the pipes in the wall. My hearing and smell is becoming hypersensitive. It won’t be long now.

I re-enter the world of humans as I walk into the kitchen.

“How was your first adventure with Mr. Grump,” Marta, one of the female prep-cooks asks me as I walk past. “And Mrs. Grump?” She grins at me with a mocking expression.

“I delivered what they wanted…” I tell her, joking with her. “Well, mostly…”

I take off my apron and go to the timeclock where I am getting ready to punch out when Marta comes over as well.

She takes off her hairnet, and I can tell she has amazing red hair although it is pinned up close to her head. Her hazel colored eyes pierce through me. “It’s time for my break. We can go up on the roof if you want.”

I check the time on the clock. It is an hour before the sun sets at 6:07. We punch out and get on the employee elevator together, going up to the roof. The evening is clear and crisp, perfect for sitting and talking on an autumn day.

We’re having a cola together, looking out over the city when Marta begins to confide in me. “A couple of years ago, while I was running food to the rooms, Mr. Grump made a pass at me. Most of the rich guys do, but he was very aggressive. I wish I could build a huge wall between me and rich men around here.”

“A great wall, a strong wall…” I say to her. We start laughing together, but I can feel the hate for this man burning inside me.

“Time for me to get back, Eddie. But thanks for listening,” Marta tells me as she kisses me on the cheek and I know what I have to do.

I sit for a while, watching the sun go down and then one by one the stars come out and then there is a sky full of stars. The moon peaks over the buildings on the East shore. I feel myself changing as my friends show up, jumping out of the pipes and holes in the walls – hundreds of them squeaking with their tiny furry feet scraping against the concrete on the roof. My whiskers twitch happily, knowing that we will soon feel Mr. Grump’s warm blood flowing down our furry throats.


The End
___________________________________________


Mickey's Dream



I slid the thin slices of russet potato into what used to be my grandmother's cast iron pan over a flickering, blue propane flame. In no time, the smell of simmering onions, garlic, salt, and pepper wafted up from the old Sears stove in the middle of our simple, mobile home. The smell seemed strangely fitting with the old wood paneling lining the kitchen around me. It was simple, yet still homey, and off the grid.

Paul liked it that way. His old flannel shirt was warm around me, and reminded me of when he put his arms around me.

I missed that so much.

I heard the scratch and creak of the old, metal screen door. He's coming in and will want to eat. "It's almost ready," I said. "By the time you wash the mud off your feet, breakfast should be on your plate."

***

It started so simply--shavings tumbling up into the air as Paul turned the small piece of cherry wood mounted in his antique, foot-powered lathe. His strong leg pumped up and down on the long pedal, spinning the wood faster toward the point of his steel-tipped gouge on his every downward push. I liked how strong his legs were, how strong all of him was.

He had a row of short spindles he'd already finished set out next to him on his workbench.

"Whatcha making, hon?" I asked, slipping my arms around him from behind and holding him, my head leaned against his shoulder blade.

He was quiet for a moment. "They're for a crib."

"A crib? For who?"

He turned around and held me. "For us. I think it's time we needed one."

OhmygodOhmygodOhmygod. I practically bounced up and down. My eyes watered. "Do you mean it?"

"Mickey," he said, "I mean it. I love you."

I dream about one all the time. Our child. A little me or a little Paul.

***

Paul melted down some of Nana's old silver necklaces and added an inlay accent stripe around the outside of the crib. He did it for me, because Paul knew I loved silver. I also liked to think it would be a little like Nana was wrapping her love and protection around our sleeping child.

That crib glistened beautifully in the corner for two years.

Unused.

My housemate scarcely looked at me while he ate, and soon there was little for me to do except pick up the empty plate. How did it come to this? We were so happy.

The door banged behind him, leaving me alone to wait for the night. The relentless ticking of the clock on the wall was like a prison sentence, knowing the damned moonlight was coming, tonight. There was nothing I could do but wait for it.

***

Rain snarled on the skylight in our bedroom as we climbed into bed. I wore a camisole that was deliberately two sizes too small and my sexiest panties.

Paul sat at the edge of the bed, looking out the window. The rain was slowing down. I snuggled up to him and blew in his ear.

"Let's try again to make that baby," I said in a husky voice.

He looked at me, surprised. Men can be so unobservant.

I smiled and kissed him, but then he looked out the window again as if he'd heard something.

I put my hand to his bristly cheek. "Honey, whatever it is outside, it can't be as interesting as what we've got going on in here... or am I not looking good anymore?"

He smiled back and we tried again while the last of the rain pattered to a stop. I loved feeling his hands on me. So strong. So rugged.

When he reached his moment, he began to howl like I'd never heard him before. I opened my eyes to look at him in the broken moonlight--but it wasn't him!

It was something all hairy and vicious-looking, not my Paul.

I kicked and rolled, trying to get off the bed. It grabbed me from behind, and its teeth dug into my shoulder. I shrieked at the pain, nearly hyperventilating.

When it let go, it threw me toward the corner, smashing headfirst into the crib. Wood broke to pieces underneath me.

Blood ran down from my forehead into my eyes. I couldn't see.

It roared, moving in. It's going to kill me!

I grabbed one of the sharp pieces of the crib and stabbed blindly at it.

It made a weird gurgling noise.

I wiped my eyes and looked. The broken crib piece stuck out of its neck. I remember seeing its silver stripe glistening in the moonlight, dark red blood pouring down around it.

A few moments later, the inhuman thing fell in front of me and changed into Paul. Paul, not a monster.

He had no pulse.

"Oh, my God!" I screamed. I killed my husband! I killed him!

I started to sob, hysterical.

***

I shuddered with the memory of it, but memories were all I had.

I stared at our son nervously pacing at the edge of the woods, waiting, and I wished I had known more that night, like that since he was born with it, he would stay in that form until puberty. If nothing else, I would have screamed a lot less when he was born.

I dreamed last night about what he'll look like. Will he look like Paul? Will he have the same handsome glint in his eyes? Will he just be like an innocent boy?

If only that damned moon would hurry.

Until then, I cooked and cleaned when I wasn't working, and put plates of food out on the floor for him. He understood me, but that's as close as we got to being a regular family. My unique 'time of the month' was the only time I got to really spend with my son, running and hunting through the woods together.

A wolf pack of two.


The End
___________________________________________


When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City



'I'm lying here, waiting for Angel to come home. How am I going to tell her?' He sighed.

'Am I living a lie? We all have dark secrets hidden within...don't we? I've got to tell her, whether she believes me or not. I know she suspects something. I smell when I come home on the mornings after. She doesn't seem to mind.

How did I get to this place in my life?

We live on one of the many dingy streets in Manhattan. Pimps beating hookers outside our building - cop sirens - dogs baying at the moon.'

He wistfully looks out the window. 'It is only a few hours before nightfall. The dawn has always brought me a respite from the chaos that tears apart my anguished mind. Many mornings I've come home, weakened, my blood-drenched skin telling a story of a night without control and no remembrance of my actions. Only news reports the next day painting a picture of the beast, which leapt across rooftops, terrorizing people who in their own way were themselves human creatures of the night.'

He contemplated his fate.

Jack was ruggedly handsome with brown fur-like hair often shadowing his steely, piercing blue eyes, unusual for his dark skin and hair color.

'Our apartment is nasty, there are rain streaks down the pale green walls; brown splotches on the ceiling; roaches scurrying up the walls; rats mating underneath my clothes scattered across the floor. I'm too depressed and tired to get out of bed most of the day. I wait on Angel; she brings some happiness in my despair, which is palpable.'

He sadly looks about. 'We barely have money for rent so we can't afford luxuries like electricity and running water. She borrows water from the neighbors for us to drink and occasionally washes our clothes in the sink. She uses the bathroom at work and then waits until her next shift or when she's out and about. The janitor lets me use his down the hall.

Our furniture is in disrepair. Second-hand stores have turned down accepting them when I've tried to pawn them.

I haven't bathed in days - or shaved.' He laughs to himself. 'Shaved,' surprising himself at the irony, 'like it's going to matter in a few hours.'

The lock unlatches, the sound of keys dangling and the door swings open.

"Hey baby, you still asleep?" She sees his naked body stretched out on the bed; half turned toward the wall. She likes seeing his bare butt, especially when he walks through the apartment or as he gets out of bed. "I got some decent tips today. I bought us some spaghetti and sauce. Couldn't afford the meat, it has gone up. Better than beans, right?"

Angel looked worn in the face from living a life of necessity, but there was still a lot about her to arouse a man. Dark hair, worn with bangs across her forehead and the deepest black eyes that a man could stare into forever. Her body, beautiful to caress; time refusing to fade her pleasing countenance. And there was that joy that lit the hearts of those for whom she smiled.

Jack leans up on one elbow. "I got to talk to you."

She continued. "You told me first of the year I wouldn't have to strip at the club, that you'd get me out of there by summer. Baby, we can do better."

"Yeah," Jack said despondent, feeling he was no-good.

"I'm not pushing you, but I'm afraid something's going to happen. Too many drug deals. The manager is forcing some of the girls to turn tricks. I've been lucky."

Jack said angrily. "I'm no good! You see if your mother will take you back. I'll get the money to get you home." He lowered his head. "I'm afraid too."

Angel rushed to the bed and lay beside him, gripping him, silently sobbing. "I won't leave you, Jack."

They lay together - motionless as they drifted off to sleep.

***

Suddenly, Jack awoke violently. He felt his skin growing tight, like electricity was coursing through his body. He jumped out of bed stumbling onto the floor.

"God no!" He clawed towards the window leaving gouge marks on the floor. It had turned night and it was beckoning him. He had been asleep during the remaining hours before dusk. He couldn't see the full moon...but he felt it.

His mind was metamorphosing into a wholly carnal beast, instinctively craving sex and violence; not being able to distinguish between the two.

"What's happening?" Angel awoke with a start.

Jack punched through the glass window climbing out onto the ledge as Angel ran to him, placing her arms about his waist. He retained enough of his rational mind not to strike her, but his grasp of sanity was slipping.

"You don't understand, I got to get out of here!" He tried to push her away. She held him tighter.

"I'll keep stripping baby, you don't have to do anything, just stay with me."

The transformation was rapidly morphing his body into an animal; his ears and fangs now protruding, his claws like long serrated knives. "I...am...a werewolf!!! Stay back!"

Increasingly aroused, she stared at him with a wide-eyed gaze as the beast within surfaced through the man she thought she knew. "I need to get away," the man wolf growled. "I don't want to hurt you!"

As his clothes shredded and fell unto the floor, she saw his body grow in size; muscular; covered in fur like hair. She glanced directly between his legs, her eyes widened, breathlessly she screamed, "All...right ba-by...come to mama."


The End
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Post June 19, 2016, 10:21:11 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

To vote, rate these stories using the long form below with scores of 0-10 (in whole numbers) and send it to me via Private Massage (PM): (when logged in, copy it into memory, click the 'PM' button below my avatar (or depending on your board style, mouse over the green username by my avatar and a menu will pop up with an option to send a private message), paste the form in, & then fill in your scores.)

Categories:
1) What overall score would you give the story?
2) How good was the Characterization?
3) How effective (or original) was the plot?
4) How clear was the setting to you?
5) How good was the use of dialog?
6) How well did the story meet or address the challenge as it was given?

NOTE: you may need to have posted at least one message before you can send a PM. If the system won't let you, all you have to do is join in a discussion or just say hi in a thread before voting via PM. We'll be glad to meet you. If I suspect a voter of being a false identity (i.e. a troll), I won't count their vote.

Author scores for their own entry in the long form will not be counted.




Coup Garou? Nah, Rougarou!
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

For the Love I Have for You
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Do Astronomers Dream of Electric Octopi?
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Love Lost's Price
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Mr. Grump
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Mickey's Dream
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:
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Post June 20, 2016, 06:45:29 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

My votes are in...eh,eh
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Post June 20, 2016, 11:24:13 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

After the first day of voting, Michele and Eddie are tied for the lead.
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Post June 22, 2016, 12:33:16 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

After Day 2, Joey is in the lead.
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Post June 26, 2016, 10:23:34 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Voting has now closed.

I want to thank everybody who participated and voted. There was an all-time record for number of voters.

I wrote "Mickey's Dream." It was first across the finish line with an astounding number of perfect 10s. Truly, I didn't think it was possible for that many of you to be so taken with any story, let alone one of mine.

I am humbled by all the time everyone took to read all the stories and to vote--that voting form can take a while. I hope all the authors really take in how big the sample size was on this one, and how more voices equals more feedback for them to use to grow and improve as they write.



For the record, these were the authors of the entries for this month:

Coup Garou? Nah, Rougarou! by Eddie Sullivan
For the Love I have for You by Sergio Palumbo
Do Astronomers Dream of Electric Octopi by Joey To
Love Lost's Price by Modelling Mushi
Mr. Grump by Michele Dutcher
Mickey's Dream by N.J. Kailhofer
When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City by The Dark Angel


SCORES: (Overall next to the story title, then the average score next to each question #.)


Coup Garou? Nah, Rougarou! : 289
1) Overall: 3
2) Characterization: 4
3) Plot: 4
4) Setting: 3
5) Dialog: 3
6) Challenge: 4
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 0

For the Love I have for You : 417
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 4
5) Dialog: 3
6) Challenge: 6
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 1

Do Astronomers Dream of Electric Octopi : 517
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 2

Love Lost's Price : 392
1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 4
5) Dialog: 4
6) Challenge: 5
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 1

Mr. Grump : 264
1) Overall: 3
2) Characterization: 3
3) Plot: 3
4) Setting: 3
5) Dialog: 3
6) Challenge: 4
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 0

Mickey's Dream : 719
1) Overall: 9
2) Characterization: 9
3) Plot: 9
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 37

When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City : 532
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 6
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 3
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Post June 27, 2016, 01:40:07 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations to Nate with a lot of nice details and a decent plot. I thought octoppi a was interesting as well with an electric were-creature.
My story was obviously political commentary. The possibility of our country being overtaken by a rightwing fascist is the only thing my circle of friends talks about so to write about anything else would be disingenuous.
37 10s wow!
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Post June 27, 2016, 01:42:45 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

In keeping with my motto: anyone want to vacation in Britain this year?
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Post June 27, 2016, 01:49:48 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Damn, Nate, you cleaned house. I guess you get to take the ice gnome trophy out of the freezer, thank it, and put it back in for next time.

Good job; congrats!

And I forgot to vote; my apologies. Anyway, it's good to see so many submissions.
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Post June 27, 2016, 01:57:05 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Oh, and I only had one comment on my vote sheet—sorry, Angel, but I was going to downgrade you on the Challenge score. The rules stated first-person POV, and you kinda strayed out of that.

That's all the further I got with this; again, sorry folks.
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Post June 27, 2016, 07:00:13 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Congrats Nate, was indeed a good story.

I see I received no ratings against anything ?? It was THAT bad ? :(
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Post June 27, 2016, 07:07:59 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Modelling_Mushi wrote:Congrats Nate, was indeed a good story.

I see I received no ratings against anything ?? It was THAT bad ? :(

Sorry, I was dealing with a lot of numbers last night. Your scores are there now in the post.

Here they are also:

Love Lost's Price : 392
1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 4
5) Dialog: 4
6) Challenge: 5
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 1
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Post June 27, 2016, 07:51:58 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Thanks, always looking for feedback.
Ciao
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Post June 27, 2016, 08:22:29 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations to the winner, indeed!!!

I voted (7 for each) for Coup Garou? Nah, Rougarou! by Eddie Sullivan and Mickey's Dream by N.J. Kailhofer in a tie... :D
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Post June 27, 2016, 08:58:32 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Here are my scores copied and pasted - just this once.
Coup Garou? Nah, Rougarou!
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 9

For the Love I Have for You
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 9
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 10

Do Astronomers Dream of Electric Octopi?
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 10

Love Lost's Price
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 10

Mr. Grump
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Mickey's Dream
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 8

When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 5
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Post June 27, 2016, 09:25:10 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Lester Curtis wrote:Oh, and I only had one comment on my vote sheet—sorry, Angel, but I was going to downgrade you on the Challenge score. The rules stated first-person POV, and you kinda strayed out of that.

I'm sorry.
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Post June 27, 2016, 10:53:19 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Angel, I have nothing but good things to say about your story. I read it over and over again and enjoyed every minute of it! The language and emotion had depth and I believe it is professional and publishable.

I gave you nines in every category except for plot and there I gave you a six. But now I think of it, you didn't need a complicated plot for this storyline, it stood alone as it was.

The intensity of the love your character Angel had for her man Jack, made me think how fortunate for someone to be loved that strongly. The descriptions of both of the character's appearance and personality left a strong image in my mind long after I read the story.

What really amazed me was the phrases that were interwoven throughout the story, which reminded me of the poetic style of the greats in literature.

Some excerpts are as follows:

"Her body, beautiful to caress; time refusing to fade her pleasing countenance. And there was that joy that lit the hearts of those for whom she smiled."

"He couldn't see the full moon...but he felt it."

"His mind was metamorphosing into a wholly carnal beast, instinctively craving sex and violence; not being able to distinguish between the two."

"Increasingly aroused, she stared at him with a wide-eyed gaze as the beast within surfaced through the man she thought she knew."


Also, no one has mentioned that you took second place this month and last month, which is impressive for a new writer.

It takes time and patience and a little support to be a good writer. You have that support here.

Daniel
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Post June 27, 2016, 11:07:01 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Sergio,

Nate is giving you good advice. I've read dozens of your stories in the archives and what stands out in all of them is you have a gift for plot development. However your stories are weak in character and scene development, which is what drives the story more than anything else.

Write the story in first draft form and put it away for a couple of days. When you come back to it, it will be fresh again, but the first work will be done. Then concentrate on the aesthetics and subtle nuances that brings out the rich flavor in a good read.

The only place where writing is plot driven is TV Guide.

Daniel
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Post June 27, 2016, 11:08:59 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Nate,

As they say in Mortal Kombat...flawless victory!
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Post June 27, 2016, 11:45:28 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

(Remember when critiquing, please always try to point out at least one positive, and you only speak for yourself, not the group, so own your comments. Also, critique the work, not the author.)

Here are some thoughts of mine on the stories:

Coup Garou? Nah, Rougarou! by Eddie Sullivan--Eddie, you have an energy in your stories. I don't know if you know that, but you do, and I like it. However, I think you need to spend some more time on the editing, specifically content editing. When your hero tells us he locks himself away to keep from performing incestuous acts, I'll give you credit that he says he doesn't want it to happen, but I felt just bringing that possibility up takes away all the sympathy and any like the audience had for him. It was fairy poo last time and incest this time. You might want to stay away from that taboo kind of stuff next time. Just saying.

For the Love I have for You by Sergio Palumbo--My friend, I thought this was a more complex character than you usually show, and I applaud that. Character depth is good. However, I thought the plot was a tremendous downer because it wasn't tragic. Stories can end sadly and people will love still them, but it's much harder. If you had made it tragic, I think you would have had the audience much more behind you, but you needed to build more empathy and a bigger plight to pull that off, in my opinion. Please keep trying!

Do Astronomers Dream of Electric Octopi by Joey To--I feel if you had built more sympathy for the character, made him a little more likable, I think it would have really grabbed me more. The writing showed skill, in my opinion, but without the emotional connection, you lost me.

Love Lost's Price by Modelling Mushi--I think this story tried to be very complex, and I applaud the effort. I think it takes real courage to try this in a flash piece. However, I felt the emotional color pallet was too narrow. One character seemed to me to be almost all anger, and the other almost all regret. The emotions didn't build, ebb or flow--it just came right at me, raw. At least, that was how it felt. Without building an engaging character (one or both of the ones you had), when as a reader I was suddenly dropped into middle of this very tense situation, I don't feel it had the impact on me it could have.

Mr. Grump by Michele Dutcher--I gave highest marks on this story for character and for the overall score, both 8s. Where I felt it was lacking was plot and setting. Mr. Grump is such a dislikable piece of work... so clearly I thought you spent a lot of effort establishing his character, but then it was kind of a "he'll get his later" kind of ending, which left me flat. Your hero never had to struggle to choose between the good and evil because Grump was so bad, anyone would feel he just had to meet an untimely end. So, Eddie never had to come to a moral decision, which I would have interpreted as character growth, and Grump wasn't punished in the text of the story... so in the end, I felt not enough happened in the story.

When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City by The Dark Angel--First off, thanks for inviting your friends to come read. Secondly, I'm embarrassed I missed the third-person POV in your story, but I accept that it was not intentional.

In your story, liked how you spent a lot of effort building characters and establishing the setting. I liked there was a switch/reveal at the end that took the story in an unexpected turn, at least, I didn't expect that. Where I felt you could have done better was the Angel character. Jack shows worry to not hurt her, guilt at what he will become... His character had a lot of complexity to me. Angel, on the other hand, seemed to lack depth. I had no doubt Jack loved her from what I saw of his character... Angel's love seemed... perhaps born out of desperation instead of true love? That is, until the end, where she had other needs that might explain her staying with him. The bad part about the way it ended, to me, anyway, was that her desires made her seem more one-dimensional. Again, I liked being surprised, but it took away a lot of her depth to me. If there was a way to keep the emotional connection and do a surprise, I think that would have been the cat's meow.
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Post June 28, 2016, 12:25:09 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Daniel Johnson wrote:Nate,

As they say in Mortal Kombat...flawless victory!

Actually, I've never played it, but thanks. I appreciate the sentiment.

It's been around for more than long enough, but I just never got to it. Not unlike seeing "The Goonies" or "Gone With the Wind." One of these days, I'll get to it.
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Post June 28, 2016, 02:09:49 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Sergio,

Nate is giving you good advice. I've read dozens of your stories in the archives


Wow, this is something certainly :D ...so, somebody reads them...eh,eh :lol:

Reality is that I'm getting old, once a friend of mine asked me about a character he liked very much in one of my past stories in a book, but the problem was that I didn't even remember the title of the story itself, it was he who reminded me of that in the end...a very funny thing, undoubtedly, as I said I'm getting old, "Young Master Gandalf...", or my memory is like computer RAM that usually rewrites itself every time a restart (awakening early in the morning) is required...eh,eh :lol: :lol:
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Post June 28, 2016, 10:32:47 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

I was just thinking that Daniel's statements about the Angel character are a great example of why it's so important to get feedback from multiple sources.

Daniel really liked the Angel character, and I saw more things in Jack than Angel. Daniel is not wrong, and neither am I. Everyone starts from a different place in life with different life experiences, so no one sees a character precisely the same way as another person. Authors need to hear from as many people as they can to build an aggregate of the advice in their heads about their writing.

No one person's word should be taken as gospel, but no one's opinion should be dismissed, either. There are grains of truth in everyone's word, if the author can find it.

So please, give your own feedback on the stories, too.
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Post June 28, 2016, 11:58:38 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

To Nate,,

Great job with the crits! I don't know what that cost you, but for me it would have been a whole day's work if not two.

To everyone else who posted comments,

This is what we need here, from as many as can spare the time, energy, and thought. And, critiquing others' work helps you become a better writer, too.

Sergio,

If I'd written as many pieces as you have, I wouldn't be able to remember them all either—a small fraction, if I were lucky. :lol:
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Post June 28, 2016, 09:01:53 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Nate, thanks for the comments and critique, its really appreciated. As a 'starting out again' writer I'm really needing that honest appraisal of what I write.

I can only echo Lester's sentiments.

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Post June 29, 2016, 04:14:46 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Angel, why don't you send your story to other sites also? I bet there are a lot of places that would love to read your romance stories. Let me know if you do.

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Post June 30, 2016, 02:31:16 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: June 2016 Flash Challenge

Sorry I didn't get in this one, but I spilled wine on my computer before the deadline. I hated that Gateway anyhow, so the wine might have been a subconscious act. The computer did smoke then puff! It was gone for good.

I just bought a HP and am trying to set up everything! It's a hassle but gotta do it! My Wordperfect 6x will not load onto it because of windows 10. But I can already see that the HP is light-years better than a gateway!!

Guess I'll have to buy a later addition or go back to MS.

Gateway computers do not like wine!!
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