[POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge


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Post August 21, 2016, 10:07:57 PM

[POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

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


The challenge this month was to tell a tale of two friends in a fantasy setting. For extra difficulty, stories had to include the ocean, an onion, and a catapult.



The following entries were received:


From Seconds to Centuries



"Driving by all these luxury apartments with an ocean view, knowing I could buy them if I wanted," Reverend Billy Joe Johnston ruminated over his success to his long time friend and business manager, "Why, I remember when I couldn't even afford a burger with a slice of raw onion."

The man sitting beside Billy Joe in the limousine was his friend and long time business partner Don, who oversaw the financial side of the reverend's ministry. After Don was released from the federal pen, he couldn't get a job hocking old dilapidated vehicles on a used car lot. For a long time, they were inseparable.

Billy Joe had black hair and eyes and a slight Cajun accent as most who were from Louisiana. He enjoyed having people do what he wanted them to do. Don was paunchy, mostly meek and very compliant to Billy Joe.

"You're awful quiet Don, is anything wrong?"

Don had been suspicious of Billy Joe dating other men and was more than indignant of his pretense of affection. "Well, I have a bit of a headache Billy Joe."

There was silence for the rest of the ride. Billy Joe was rehearsing his message, looking forward to the night that would follow. One thing about male prostitutes, they don't know who you are in the dark.

The coliseum parking in every direction was jammed packed. It was reported that 100,000 tickets were sold. Many of the vendors were sold out of merchandise. They push marketed personal advertising products with Billy Joe's name and image imprinted on them. One item was a toy catapult, which didn’t sale well.

Don wistfully remembered how their friendship began. They had confided in each other over every detail of their lives. But as Billy Joe became more famous, with his face on billboards, in religious magazines and other trappings of fame, he began pulling away from Don.

The limousine pulled into the parking garage at the coliseum.

"Listen, Don, I won't be needing you after the sermon so why don't you head back to the hotel and get some shut eye. I'll get with you sometime tomorrow."

"I can be on stand by Billy Joe in case you need..."

"No, I got it, I'll see you tomorrow."

Don looked dejected. "I'll pray for you, I really will," Don said teary eyed.

Without looking over his shoulder he replied, "Sure thing brother."

As the reverend walked away from the limousine fading into the shadows, Don sobbed.

***

Inside the arena, the audience was loud and chanting Billy Joe’s name.

Accompanied by bodyguards on either side, he was escorted onto the stage as the crowd stood to their feet with thunderous applause. Billy Joe thought to himself that he had finally made it, from grifter to God's spokesman.

The announcer stepped to the podium. "Are you people of God revved up tonight?" The audience erupted in loud cheering laced with Amens. "Let's give God a big round of applause. Can I hear an Amen?" The crowd shouted Amen. " Do you love God's messenger for the hour we're living in?" The crowd yelled, “Yes."

Reverend Billy Joe Johnston took the mic from the announcer's hand and continued. "Can you say Hal-le-lu-jah? The crowd shouted it back to him. "Well praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Hallelujah people you can all sit down." After a few minutes, everyone was seated and waiting for Reverend Billy Joe to speak.

He looked out across the sea of people, his coal black eyes reflecting the faces of his believers back at them.

"How many of you have your prayer cloths with you? If you don't, raise your hand and one of the attendants in the aisles will gladly give you one, for a thirty-dollar love offering. I've laid my hands personally on each and every one and have anointed them with oil.

He paused and continued.

Another way you can bring your prayers closer to God is by making a seed gift of faith to our ministry. When you give to God's servants, you are actually giving to God. After all, we are His hands and feet." He smiled and chuckled to himself.

Suddenly there was commotion in the aisle in front of the pulpit. "You son of a bitch, I know you are going out tonight with other men! How could you do this to me? I've loved and have been faithful to you for twenty years, how can you just shove me aside?" Don stepped to the front of the stage having walked down the aisle during the selling of the prayer cloths.

Reverend Billy Joe tried to recover. "I believe the devil himself has entered our midst my brothers and sisters. This man needs deliverance from this foul demon." The manager, who was shaking and crying, pulled out a gun and fired a round into the air. "I'll send you to God 'without' a prayer cloth!" Don fired four shots into Billy Joe's chest and abdomen before shooting himself in the head.

***

Time in the spirit realm moves seconds to centuries. The soul once known as Billy Joe Johnston was seeing the evolution of time as his body fell backwards unto the stage. In the time it took for his body to hit the floor, he had seen a millennia pass, until the time the sun went super nova and the earth was in flames.

A messenger of light appeared beside him, radiance pulsating as he spoke. Picking up the soul of Billy Joe, he held it outstretched for a time and a season. The soul begged the question, "Why have I died so soon?"

The messenger of light spoke to him saying, "He never gave you permission to use His Name."

Dark spirits full of foulness like ravaging beasts came up from below and gnawed on him as they dragged him to the underworld.


The End



Kit and Kaboodle



Over the grassy meadows and wood lawn wild was a pair of good doodling squirrels, who loved adventure and challenged evil at every turn. Kit was a voluptuous femme fatale, always a charmer with the boys. Her thick brown eyelashes, which gave her an exotic mystique along with her luxurious fluffy bottom, caused everyone to say she was bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Kaboodle was the mastermind; skillful and inventive, smart and crafty as squirrels go.

Late one night, Kaboodle noticed three strange men roaming around the house where his human family lived. He and Kit lived on a high-rise apartment tree branch, overlooking a grove of nut trees. Along with their buried stash of food, by any squirrel standards, they were living the good life.

Squirrels are by nature curious and most cautious. Kaboodle watched the three men sneak around the house. He was protective of his human pets.

Kit nestled next to Kaboodle, "What are you going to do, baby doll?" She used a little shoulder action when she spoke.

"We're going to need help," Kaboodle said intently.

Hootey flew over and sat beside Kaboodle as they watched the events below. He was the resident owl and intelligent observer.

"Whooo do you think they are?”

"Up to no good. Have you noticed what they're driving?"

Hootey nodded toward the car parked across the street.

"Recruit the leader of the pack and don't take no for an answer," Kaboodle said to Hootey.

"I don't like wolves. They’re always hungry.”

Kaboodle turned to Kit, "We need Grizzly."

"There is only so much charm I can muster." Kit looked up from under her beautiful eyelashes.

"We need a hitter," Kaboodle said insistently. She sighed and scurried down the tree.
_ _ _ _ _

In the tallest of the trees, considered penthouse apartments, a flock of blue jays were snoozing with full bellies from emptying the neighborhood's bird feeders. ‘Nice humans’ they thought as they slept.

"Wake up, I've got a job for you!" Kaboodle knew that blue jays are known to attack first and never ask questions later. They were getting plenty of rest for their spring flight to the west coast for their ocean vacation.

"Hey jive squirrel, what do you think you're doing?" The flock leader originally lived down town and sported a different accent than the rest of the neighborhood blue jays.

"I need help..."

"You need help, you need help! And how is that my problem?"

"The humans in that house below, they're being robbed."

"So?"

"They are the ones giving you food."

The blue jay leader looked down and then said, "How can we help?"

"I need noise makers. Perch on the window seals and make loud noises."

"Is that it? We'd do that for fun." Kaboodle scurried down the tree.

One of the thieves went to get their car to load the loot. As he made his way to the driver's side, a wolf moved around the back end and faced him. The man slowly walked backwards turning his head to see another wolf stalking him from his rear. The wolves were intent on enjoying some gracious living at the man's expense.
_ _ _ _ _

The blue jays started a party on the windowsills, screeching and laughing loudly. Kit supplied them with party nuts and was an elegant host. A ground squirrel, pint size really, invented a make shift catapult out of a two-by-four and a medium sized rock and slung garbage towards the window including onions and watermelon rinds. The robbers heard the ruckus and were becoming anxious.

"I'll quiet them down" said a thief as he grabbed a broom and walked towards the back door. As he opened it with a start...he saw an eight-foot grizzly bear standing in front of him. The bear growled; the man froze with fear. Seconds later, he closed the door and ran towards the kitchen.

Suddenly, the door was torn off its hinges and the bear galloped into the house chasing the robbers.

They yelled and ran into the bedroom, locking the door behind them.
_ _ _ _ _

A police car was passing by and slowed down in front of the house. A herd of deer was standing in front of the driveway, unwilling to move. The police flashed their lights and gave a burst from their siren, to no avail. So they pulled into the driveway to turn around and the deer followed behind them.

The officers got out of the squad car and were greeted by a buck, which herded them towards the backdoor. Once around the back, they could see signs of a robbery in progress and entered the house. Hearing cries for help, they walked down the hall and into the bedroom to see two men on the bed with a giant bear sitting on top of them. It's a little known fact, that bears can open doors by turning doorknobs with their teeth.

The bear jumped off the bed and climbed out the open window. The men were handcuffed and arrested and lead out to the squad car. The birds let out one more hoop and dispersed.

Shortly there after, the police found the thieves abandoned car across the street with the third robber up a tree...visibly shaken.

The bear smiled as he passed Kit on his way home. Kaboodle asked, "How did you get him to play his part?"

"Believe me, it was not cheap." She turned her head and smiled.

"After the commotion was over," Kit flittering her eyelashes and asked, "You wanna go back home and share your nuts with me."

Kaboodle thought to himself, 'What in the world could she possibly mean by that?'

As they were back at their branch apartment, Kaboodle looked at his lifelong friend and love and said with a satisfied smile, "I love it when a plan comes together."


The End



How Do You Like Them Apples?



The fluorescent garden of paradise was translucent through the pure light that encompassed its boundaries. There was a deep blue ocean surrounding the circumference of this thousand-mile island. Every animal was at peace in this tranquil place of breath taking beauty. Serenity was present for there were no conflict or evil intentions, not even in thought. It was indeed heaven on Earth.

And then one day, there was a man, who by appointment, oversaw this ethereal vacation spot and all was wonderfully fine until....

...a woman appeared, fair and beautiful to tantalize the eyes of every man in this garden bliss - ah - well - one man in particular. She didn't escape his attention. He knew what elephants looked like, he knew what zebras looked like, and he was quiet familiar with every other animal for he took inventory of them for the boss.

He knew one thing though, her name must be jelly, cause jam don’t shake like that!

She was aware of him too with his muscular body and the beautiful dumb animal like expression on his face.

"Wow," she said, "Look at you!" "You're certainly a big boy. Are you dating anyone special?"

"Well," he coughed nervously. "Ah, I'm what you call a confirmed bachelor. I'm a career guy with a lot of responsibilities for the animals and the plants and...ah...things. Also, you're the first woman I've ever seen."

"You mean the most beautiful woman you've ever seen?"

Recovering nicely, for a man. "Yes, that's exactly what I mean."

"So you're big around here."

"Sure, I invent things in my spare time...which is all the time. See those two trees with that branch fastened to the back of those animal skins. That’s a catapult for knocking fruit out of the trees so I don't have to climb them." They both looked at each other confused. "I'm not all that tech savvy.”

Curious he asked, “Tell me, why are you here?"

"I'm just here for a side of ribs." She began stretching real slow. He watched...intently.

"You got anything to drink?" She was thirsty for a woman who only had been alive for fifteen minutes.

"We got...water!"

"You got anything harder?" She was checking him out wishing he were as smart as he was good looking.

"I got rocks! There harder."

She pretended not to hear that.

They continued talking, looking, interested in what the night would bring.

The days passed quickly, turning into years.


[Three years later]


The couple was hard at it.

"You never take me anywhere!" She was not happy...again.

"Take you out, we're in freakin' paradise!"

"All I do is cook...," she said.

"We have no fire..."

"Clean and do laundry..." she said complaining.

"We live outdoors and well, we're naked."

"All we do is talk and make love. Oh yeah, and take care of animals. Why can't they just take care of themselves?

"Because, they don't have a maid."

"The hell they don't, I do everything but powder their little behinds."

The man once again was at his breaking point, sort of. "Do you know how much you complain?

"Oh," she said with sarcasm, "What will the neighbors think?"

"If you're talking about the monkeys, they’re discussing by passing evolution, to avoid turning into...well you."

"They may throw doodee, but at least they have better sex."

"Oh fine, knock my manhood. Are you saying I can't satisfy you anymore?"

"You're not the same person I knew three years ago. Your seed bearers are not what they use to be."

"Oh, let me tell you, if they've shrunk, it's because of your nagging!"

Her voice became solemn. "I hate to tell you this, but I've found someone else."

He didn't believe her. "Right, a mystery date? Does he have a name?"

"His name is Mr. Slither. He approached me underneath the apple trees."

He became concerned. "You mean the two apple trees with the no trespassing sign."

"How would I know what the sign said? It’s not like I’ve been to school."

The man began trying to size up his competition. "What does he do for a living?"

"He's a produce salesman. Here's a sample, Try it."

The man hesitated, but eventually bit into it. He savored it for a moment.

The woman started laughing, "Do you feel any different? Are you becoming any wiser?"

After a few moments, the man made a face and spit out what he had eaten. "This is an onion. This is a damn onion! How am I going to get the bad taste out of my mouth?"

The woman laughed until she doubled over in hysterics.

He walked toward her and said, "I'm going to get even with you."

When he got to where she was laying, he turned her over and began tickling her. She cried out, "Stop, stop" and when he wouldn't, she began pulling him closer until he was lying on top of her. She started making those eyes at him, those alluring eyes that confused him.

They began kissing and making out as they always did this time of day. With the built up frustration released, they were close once again.

She stopped kissing him for a moment and pulled out a shining piece of fruit. "No joke, Mr. Slither gave me this to try. Let's both bite into it at the same time." Slowly, they leaned forward with open mouths and...


The End



Hearts of Stone



A frothy, low wave slowly rolled in, lapping gently against a pair of stones piled halfway up the long, white, ocean beach. Blue sky poured from the heavens with such intensity, clouds dared not appear.

Seagulls called to each other as they circled a black, empty, galley ship tilted on its side against the sand. Its sails were tattered, dark, and dirty. A tangled, fraying rope plunged from the ship to a rough-hewn hole through the center of the larger, blood-red and gray speckled stone.

Beside the gulls and the waves, there were no sounds across the cove until the smooth, black stone complained, "Would you stop touching me?! Half a mile's worth of empty beach, and you have to lay right on me?"

Tucked partially beneath the rough anchor stone, Natalie had had enough.

Angelo, resting mostly to her side, replied in a soothing, thickly-accented tone, "Señorita, I am only barely touching you. The sailors who put me here are to blame, not I, but why dwell on negatives? It is a beautiful day in a beautiful world. The sun is bright, and high in the sky. It feels so warm on my back. Ah! Do you hear? The birds are happy, telling jokes to each other."

"I wouldn't know. You're blocking my view and my sunlight." Natalie asked, "You can understand the birds?"

Angelo paused only for a moment. "No, but I believe if I were a bird, I would be telling jokes, so what's the difference?" He chuckled in a friendly tone. "On a day such as today, anything is possible... Although, are you sure you are feeling all right?"

"Yes. Why?"

"You are sounding a little gravelly." He hooted with laughter.

"Oh, brother." Rock humor.

Angelo asked, "You have a brother? Is he near?"

"No, it's just me on this beach, or at least it was for the last thousand years since the ice pushed me here. It was nice. Quiet."

"Oh," Angelo replied, "not to worry, then. I am here to keep you company now. Really, for a thousand years, you have been sitting on this beach, all alone?"

"Yes. It's fine." Will he ever stop talking?

"What do you do with all that time?"

"I watch the world. I know the lapping of ocean waves, the blades of grass there at the edge of the sand. There is a human fort out of sight, past the grass. Sometimes the humans come down to the sea, and I watch them. Mostly, I enjoy the quiet."

Angelo chucked. "Not me. Ever since I was pulled from the ground in Ciudad Real, I have traveled the world. I have seen wonders you have never dreamed of, my dear."

"Really." Natalie tried her best to make her tone as disinterested as she could.

"Believe it or not, my journey started because I am soft. I am made of mostly red cinnabar, unlike you with your hard, basalt body. That's why they wanted me. It was easy to carve the hole through me for the anchor rope."

He paused. "That was quite painful, but I bore it heroically, and did not crack."

Natalie wished she had eyes to roll.

"It was worth it to see the crimson sunsets over yellow-flowered trees in Nihon Koko. To see divers pull beautiful, white pearls from the green sea in Parsa, to see the spires rising over Ganarajya, or the pillars of the Giant's Causeway lifting out of the ocean in frigid Albion... but there was no one to talk to."

For a week straight, Angelo spoke about the things he'd seen. In spite of herself, Natalie began to be interested. It kept her mind off the rising noise from the direction of the humans. Noise of battle.

A half-eaten onion splashed into the thin wash of water behind Natalie, surprising them both. It dropped from the hand of a particularly dim-looking orc.

A squad of squat, leather-clad soldiers armed with swords stood around the stones.

"You!" the leader shouted. "Take that red stone and bash through the gate of the fortress!"

Onion Orc cut the rope, grabbed Angelo, and started running.

Natalie thought about Angelo gone. She would be alone again. Finally, blessed peace and quiet was hers, and...


She didn't want it.


"No!" She shouted to the orcs, but they didn't hear her. "He's too soft--he'll break!"

"You!" The leader ordered, "take the other one and put it in the catapult!"

Strong hands grabbed her and put her in an already-wound, lowered catapult. From her vantage point, Natalie could see Onion Orc sprinting toward the human's gate through a hail of arrows, Angelo held high over its head. It would reach the gate in a few seconds. Angelo would be gone, forever.

She rocketed into the air toward the fort. She screamed.

She struck the wooden gate. She heard a deafening crack. Splinters exploded everywhere as the door ripped loose from stone and pounded inward to the ground. Natalie rebounded into the dirt, in front of Onion Orc.

Every part of Natalie howled in pain. A long crack was open across her back.

The orc paused, as if disappointed. It dropped Angelo, then drew its sword and ran into the fort. Dozens of other orcs followed it. Angelo rolled to a stop alongside Natalie.

"What happened?" Angelo asked.

"In the air, I begged the walls to let go of the wooden door. Loudly."

"Why did you do that?"

"So it would fall down and the orc wouldn't need you. I couldn't let you be smashed to bits."

Angelo was speechless for a moment. "But look what it did to you. The crack runs almost all the way through you."

She made her voice sound as much like his as she could. "But I bore it heroically." She chuckled. "That's what friends do for each other."

If anyone in the whirl of battle had been looking at Angelo and Natalie, they would have seen tears coming from stones.

Tears of joy.


The End



Blood, Sweat and Tears



The pirate ship was sailing along the Ocean Coast in search of its next target, be it a small sea village or a lonely unprotected outpost. The crewmen aboard were content with their life as outlaws and were well aware that they did possess a powerful weapon to aid them during their plundering: a weapon that most ships did not have.

The vast majority of catapults that military vessels this size held on deck were the double-armed type, exactly like the one they had. They had such a powerful warship because their captain once stole it in a daring move, when a huge pirate fleet had surprisingly attacked a port of the Empire and the escaping soldiers had left it behind while fleeing for their own lives.

So, this new crew had made the ship their new home, turning it into their pirate vessel which was equipped with a device no other such sea-craft had at that time, at least not among the common sea thieves of the long Ocean Coast.

While they were sailing across that expanse in search of possible prey, Jalmk, the tall dark-haired thirty-year-old sailor considered that they were faster than many military ships, and their weapon made them a difficult opponent to anyone else. Why should they fear any enemies?

However, there was something that all seamen were afraid of: the fabled Vampire Pirates of the Ocean Coast. In fact, though ghost vessels made crewmembers fear the unknown seas elsewhere, here sightings of an ancient ship that was full of undead warriors had made many seamen cautious when approaching other sea-craft to be plundered. Some said it was a cursed vessel whose crew had to endlessly cross that stretch of the ocean and prey upon evil pirates. Others thought the crewmen had drunk human blood to quench their thirsts - which had turned them into the peculiar undead creatures they were now. Their need for blood made them constantly sail the sea – not only at night.

Desperation appeared on the men’s faces that morning when a black ship was spotted behind them, and their eyes filled with fear as the unusual sea-craft moved towards them. They wished it were a ghost-ship or a sea monster! But it wasn’t, and that meant they had stumbled into the worst possible enemy any pirate vessel might encounter in the middle of that ocean…

They tried their best to outdistance the ship but it was soon clear that their sails were not big enough to match the other’s black sails. So they began being busy rushing about, grabbing the arms and shields they had aboard, and getting ready to battle to the death instead of surrendering to those bloodsucking monsters. Some considered jumping over the sides of their ship but most couldn’t swim. So, it was a matter of simply making a stand in the end.

Then, Lrektl, a blond-haired friend of Jalmk who rarely lost his ability to think clearly, came up with a better way to deal with those creatures. He approached his friend and told him: “I know how we can stop them. Let’s go to the storage room and get all the onions we can find. Then we’ll fill up our catapult with them and fire it.”

What? Onions? Why should we use them instead of boulders?” Jalmk asked his friend.

“Their ship is cursed so there is no way our weapon can destroy it…but vampires are afraid of onions.”

“Where did you hear of such a way to get rid of those cursed creatures?”

“It was one of the many things I learned while rolling a whore in a tavern in a southern port. When you say that nothing good can came out of spending time with women of ill repute, I’d have to disagree!” the other cried out.

“So, what now?”

“I am going to warn the captain. In the meantime take all the onions we have aboard…” Lrektl uttered.

Jalmk didn’t know if it was desperation or just given the faith he had in his crewman, but the captain allowed them to proceed with their strange plan. The catapult worked by pulling back on the rope which connected the two arms. While sweating cause of the warm climate, they just waited for exactly the moment and when the arms were bent back against the tensile material, the rope was released and the arms snapped back into place, propelling the projectiles forwards towards its target at sea.

Throwing onions instead of other materials against your enemies! Truly, Jalmk would never have believed it if he hadn’t seen it for himself…

After the first launch, and the others that followed, nothing seemed to happen. The cursed ship was still after them, and you could still see the undead crewmen walking its deck. So, why was that?

It was at a certain moment that Lrektl made a face, paused for a breath and emitted a whimpering voice. “Thinking about it again, it was not onions…” he said in a dejected tone. “It was garlic that harms vampires! If I just hadn’t always been drunk while bedding those women I would have known better…”

Looking at Lrektl, an astonished Jalmk told himself that he had always been a very good friend, and he had saved him many times in battle previously, protecting him with his shield or healing his wounds. If only his memory had been as good as his great courage! As tears filled his eyes, the man considered that it was bad enough that they would soon become prey to those monsters, but at least he would have liked to have faced his death with purpose and resolve.

Though, with all the onions they had touched while preparing their huge catapult, and all the tears that presently filled his face, it was obvious that Jalmk would not die in the respectable, manly way that he wished he could…


The End



The Onion Field



“I’ll make you cry!” Littejoe screamed. He was one of the village idiots, and he just pitched an onion at Dracona.

Dracona looked at the onion sailing toward him and sneered at the prospect of a village idiot telling him what and what not he could do and pitching an onion at him. The very idea of a village idiot messing with a vampire!

“Keep you distance,” Deadman said. The last time you got a stomach ache and you couldn’t swallow blood for a week. . . keep clear of that onion field.”

“I know, I know. We better do something about them. They’ve been planting those damned onions closer and closer to the castle every year now. They’re too close for comfort!” Dracona said.

Both vampires turned their heads and looked at the ocean behind Castle Montery, their home. Over the years, more entrance doors and glass windows and open archways were added, since the castle served no defensive purposes anymore. The waves slapped against the shore, and the wind often whistled about the battlements and sometimes screamed, it seemed, when a violent storm approached. Deadmand and Dracona were two vampire buddies that lived in the castle, and they decided to check out the field of onions which was encroaching on castle Montery’s grounds.

“I’m telling you there’s garlic in there somewhere. I can feel it. Don’t you?” Dracona said.

“Hey, vamps. We’re agona get you. Yes we are. Just stay in your castle and we’ll get you,” Holbe another villagers screamed!

“Why the insolence of that idiot. Threatening me! The most powerful one of the all!” Deadman said.

“We want your castle! And we’ll get it! Yes we will! You’ll have to move!” Holbe screamed,

The full moon beamed down on the onion field, and Deadman and Dracona looked and examined every detail that showed itself under the moonish rays of light. But what confuse them, was the large wooden object the was slowing moving toward the castle. It was pushed by a group of village idiots. What was it? What was the purpose of it. Why? It didn’t make sense.

“I’m telling you, I don’t like the looks of that thing—whatever it is,” Dracona said. “I smell garlic. Smell it!”

“Yeah, it’s coming from behind that thing.” Deadman said. “Well I sure as hell don’t want to fly over and take a look. Remember the last time we flew over that village of idiots? They had the nerve to shoot at us with garlic in their sling shots!”

“Oh, man----that one villager had a good aim too. Those idiots never listened to their elders about us, did they,” Dracona said. “I know the elders tell them to stay away from the castle.”

“No they don’t! Young people don’t respect anything anymore!” Deadman said.

“What is that thing?” Dracona said.

The wooden thing slowly moved toward the castle, and the odor of garlic also permeated the air. This upset Deadman and Dracona.

Redfen! Redfen! Get over here!” Deadman screamed toward the castle.

Redfen came stumbling out of the castle and said, “Yes master.”

“Sneak into that onion field and find out what the hell they’re up to. And find out what that thing is!” Deadman said.

“M-Master I-I-I c-can’t. . .” Redfen started to say.

“Just do it!!” Deadman blasted.

“Y-Yes master.”

Redfen hobbled out and into the field. He kept himself low and crawled.

After a short time in which Deadman and Dracona waited for Redfen’s return, Deadman finally screamed: “What’s taking him so long! If he’s not sleeping under that table, he’s goofing off behind the garden, pretending to be trimming the grass. I tell you we should have hired that other one!”

“Well, we did get him cheap,” Dracona said.

“Cheap! Why he’s costing us plenty just to feed him!” Deadman blasted out.

After another few minute, Redfen came quickly hobbling out of the field breathing very heavily.
He hobbled up to Deadman but didn’t say anything because he was out of breath.

“Well, what’s out there!” Deadman screamed. He waited another second or two then repeated the question again. By this time Redfen caught some of his breath and could utter a few sentences.

“It’s–It’s –a catapult. Yes—a catapult!” Redfen said.

“What!” Deadman screamed.

Redfen now able to speak said, “It’s a big catapult and they have many baskets of garlic behind it. I heard one villager say, “This will drive them out.”

Before Dracona could say anything a clunk noise washed over the castle and all three looked toward the catapult. A basket of garlic came raining down on them—the garlic dispersing in flight, and when the garlic landed, the individual cubes covered an area the size of an average front lawn,

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. . .” Deadman and Dracona screamed in unison. Redfen just said, “Oh- my -God.”

Clunk! Another volley of garlic hit the castle, some entering open windows while others landed inside the courtyard. Others hit the battlements, and to their surprise, small crossed were also mixed in with the garlic.

A large group of villagers were now running toward the castle, and they were carrying a battering ram. The garlic kept raining down on the castle as the villagers neared the front door.

“Let’s get outta here!” Deadman screamed.

Out a back window facing the ocean both vampires flew.

“I wonder what enraged them so much?” Dracona said.

“I know what it was. And I told you not to do it that day we flew over their village when they were shooting at us!” Deadman said. “We always left the villagers alone, thinking they would let us alone. We never bit any of them!”

“Hey, they were shooting garlic at us. So what the hell, I figured. I’ll just relieve myself over them. I know I got one or two in the eye!” Dracona said.

Deadman just shook his head.


The End



The Wedding Feast



There is told a parable about a King who had a Son who was getting married. And the King was so excited, He sent out his servants to invite the noble people, all the senators, congressman, attorneys and physicians, all those who were cool in the kingdom.

But the big shots said, "No way, we're too busy to come to the King’s Sons wedding banquet." So when the servants told the King that the biggies wasn’t coming, the King got - - rooooar - - he got mad is what He did.

So the King told his servants, "Go to where the scunges hang out and tell anyone who wants to come, that they are invited to the wedding feast."

His servants asked, "Are you for real?"

And the King said, "You got it!"

And so the servants went back into the streets and welcomed anyone who wanted to come to the King's Sons wedding banquet.

Before the wedding feast, the Son moved freely amongst his people, bestowing gifts (some would say miracles), to those in need.

One day, He went into a synagogue (that's a Jewish church). The religious leaders stared at Him with suspicion, and conspired to entrap Him. So they handed Him the book of Isaiah and asked, "Why don't you read us something?

And so the Prince said those famous words, "That's cool" and began reading the part in the book of Isaiah saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach the good news and set the captives free."

And then He closed the book and handed it back to them.

And while everyone was looking around, the King's Son spoke and said, "Today, this scripture...is fulfilled in your ears."

Now the Sadducees and Pharisees, they were the religious leaders back then, instead of getting all excited and saying, "Far out, the King's Son is here! We don't have to die for being creeps! Let's invite our friends to the synagogue for a covered dish dinner and play some volleyball on the front lawn.”

Well, instead of doing that, they took Him outside of town and tried to push Him off a cliff.

Not cool!

But the Son just walked away from them cause He was the Prince. When you're the Prince you've got lots of options for getting out of trouble. He said, "I'll see you guys later," and He split.

So when the Son left the synagogue, He walked into the street and met a prostitute named Mary. She had a demonic spirit, in fact, seven of them, who spake to the Son and said, "We know who you are, will you torture us before our time?"

And He spoke to the demons saying, "Leave her now." And immediately they did.

The Son continued to meet people as He walked, once passing an old catapult displayed as a monument in the town square. There he met a man named Matthew, who was cheating people while collecting taxes.

Later that day he walked down to the ocean. Saw a fisherman named Peter casting out his net.

That evening he met a man with a fuzzy face, singing a song in the street. David, yes that is my name. Getting loaded being weird, that was my game.

When He had gathered them together, the Son said to them all, "Come follow me. I love you and My Father loves you too.

And we said, "Sir, you don't know how bad we are."

But the Son said, "Yes I do. My Father prepared a feast for the noblemen. But they were all, too busy too come. Now the door is open to everyone. Why don't you come with Me? Come on, come follow Me."

By this time we were all running down the road. You should have seen Mary; a smile came over her face. She ran down the road, skipping, jumping and laughing saying, "Wait for Me, I'm coming too."

Matthew was throwing money on the ground while eating an onion. Peter was so funny; he was flipping fish into the air, there were fish scales everywhere...tripping over his net. I was throwing up my guitar, screamin' and yellin'. A bunch of writers joined us, throwing their keyboards into the air, “Hey, wait for me”

We're all running down the road after the King's Son and people are looking around saying, "What are you guys so excited about?"

And we said, "What are we excited about? Hey, the King's Son is getting married and we've been invited to the wedding feast, that's what we are excited about."

They looked at us and said, "You mean the King - wants you people - at His Son's wedding feast?"

And we said, "That's right! He invited all the biggies to come but they said they were too busy. He turned to us and asked, "Do you guys want to come? We said wow, are you kidding, hey we'll come."

And then a member of the crowd stepped out and said, "We would like to come also to the King's Son wedding feast, but we ain't got much El Denero, Supremo La Grande, that's Taco Bell talk for not much money. We ain't got much money, what does it cost to come to the King's Son wedding feast?

And we look at each other and we said, "What's it cost? You want to know what it costs? It cost NOTHING! You see the guy up front. That's the Son of the King. He's picked up the tab for all the meals you can come for free!

They go, alright!

As we walked to the palace, I looked at the Son and said, thank you for being my friend today. And He spoke to me saying, “I’ve always been your friend…all of your life…since the moment you were in your mother’s womb, I knew you.

Right then, I knew who He was.


The End
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Post August 21, 2016, 10:08:52 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 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.




From Seconds to Centuries
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Kit and Kaboodle
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

How Do You Like Them Apples?
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Hearts of Stone
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Blood, Sweat and Tears
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

The Onion Field
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

The Wedding Feast
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:
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Post August 22, 2016, 06:57:02 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

My votes are already in... :D

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Post August 22, 2016, 07:34:15 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Nice to see a good crop of stories.
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Post August 24, 2016, 10:43:27 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

The votes are surprisingly sparse so far, but the current leader is George!
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Post August 25, 2016, 01:31:15 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Is anyone having trouble voting?

It is extremely unusual to have so few votes in. So far, I have only mine and Sergio's.
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Post August 26, 2016, 09:53:10 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Okay, so it turns out a new, well-intentioned spam-defense effort actually blocked a large number of users from being able to Private Message (PM). That's been dialed back, and PMing works again.

So, if you tried to vote before but couldn't, please try again.
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Post August 26, 2016, 09:46:58 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Now, this is more like it.

The new leader is Kandi!
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Post August 26, 2016, 11:04:44 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

I managed to get my votes in on time for a change.
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Post August 27, 2016, 08:31:49 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! Are you kidding me? I'm in first place! Wow!

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Post August 27, 2016, 08:33:52 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Good show, kandi.
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Post August 27, 2016, 08:36:48 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Megawatts wrote:Good show, kandi.

Oh thank you, thank you! Wait til' my mom sees this!
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Post August 28, 2016, 10:09:38 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Voting has closed.


Thank you to all the members who voted.

The winning story was "How Do You Like Them Apples," by Genna Watson. Congratulations, Genna. This was a well-earned victory against excellent competition.

This was only the second time in almost ten years of these challenges that any stories have broken the 1,000-point barrier. Also notable, this month's challenge featured stories by four new entrants. Welcome aboard!




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

From Seconds to Centuries by The Fisher of Men
Kit and Kaboodle by Kandi Tims
How Do You Like Them Apples? by Genna Watson
Hearts of Stone by N.J. Kailhofer
Blood, Sweat and Tears by Sergio Palumbo
The Onion Field by George T. Philibin
The Wedding Feast by David King


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



From Seconds to Centuries: 992
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 14

Kit and Kaboodle: 1,072
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge:
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 26

How Do You Like Them Apples? : 1,088
1) Overall: 9
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 9
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 29

Hearts of Stone : 933
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 17

Blood, Sweat and Tears: 852
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 4

The Onion Field: 798
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 2

The Wedding Feast : 816
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 10
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Post August 28, 2016, 11:19:30 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Congrats, Genna,and welcome!

Looks like we must have had a lot of people voting this time; I'm really happy to see the participation.

Following are my scores, with a few short comments.

***********
From Seconds to Centuries
1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 10

score: 41

Kit and Kaboodle
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 10

score: 44

comments: Not a criticism, but this came off as sort of like a children's story.

How Do You Like Them Apples?
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 9
6) Challenge: 10

score: 40

comments: A plus for all the funny one-liners. I didn't care much for the sexist insults.


Hearts of Stone
1) Overall: 10
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 10
5) Dialog: 9
6) Challenge: 10

score: 47

Blood, Sweat and Tears
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 4
6) Challenge: 10

score: 39

The Onion Field
1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 4
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 3
6) Challenge: 10

score: 34

The Wedding Feast
1) Overall: 3
2) Characterization: 4
3) Plot: 3
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 4
6) Challenge: 10

score: 29

comments: A Sunday-school lesson with modern slang for dialog. I would have liked more originality.
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Post August 29, 2016, 05:30:15 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations to the winner, indeed!!! :D

My preferred one was The onion field entry this month...

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Post August 29, 2016, 08:06:49 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Good job Gemma, and welcome! Keep the good writing up.
My preference this month was “Kit and Kaboodle” but I did like all stories.
The flash fiction is getting harder and harder to judge because of all the new talent entering, and I hope this trend continues!
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Post August 29, 2016, 12:52:41 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Megawatts wrote:Good job Gemma, and welcome! Keep the good writing up.
My preference this month was “Kit and Kaboodle” but I did like all stories.
The flash fiction is getting harder and harder to judge because of all the new talent entering, and I hope this trend continues!

1,072 votes, for me. That made me cry. My mother couldn't believe it. She held me while we read it. Oh wow!

When I was little, I read all the Dr. Doolittle books and when I was in high school, I read James Herriot's books. I love animal stories.

We have squirrel feeders in the back yard and a bowl of water for them. They have so much personality.

This is so wonderful. Thank you for accepting my story for the contest and thank you Mr. Megawatts for liking it and saying so.
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Post August 29, 2016, 02:28:00 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

This was a fun experience and I'm glad there is a place like this that will accept non writers like myself to join in. The only thing I've written are sermons, but I enjoyed writing this story based on one of them.

I was saved during the Jesus movement back in the late sixties in Costa Mesa, California. My first church was outdoor attended by hippies like myself. We would sit under a large tree in a park or a wooded area, I would play my guitar and harmonica and we would all sing Maranatha songs. Covered dish, pot luck meals afterward and we grew a lot in our faith. There were a lot of good people who came to God during this time.

My approach to the ministry has always been non traditional.

Well thank you all very much for accepting me into your group.

God bless you,

David
I am a minister. If you are burdened or in despair, send me a private message and we'll pray together.
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Post August 29, 2016, 04:53:31 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Hello everyone, I haven't been absent from the site, I just haven't posted. I've been reading the flash story archive, thoroughly enjoying myself. This challenge was captivating. I liked all of the stories, I think some of them were professional.

Here are my comments.

From Seconds to Centuries - A dark brooding tale of religious hypocrisy, homoerotic relationships and murder. I would have liked this story to have been around 10,000 words, this was a shell really of a much larger story, maybe even novel length. It's the details that draw me in and this was just too quickly told.

I liked the religious conman gimmicks used to sheer the flock. I liked the televangelist evil character, but I want to know things like, where was he from, what did his facial features look like, how tall was he, what kind of accent did he have and like that. So, if the author wants to develop this and submit it to the short story section, I would love to read it.

By the way, the new short story editor really knows her stuff. I've read her post commentary on stories in the main section and she has talent and a great view of what's important in a story.

Kit and Kaboodle - This is a pro story as is, but I'd like to see more characterization of the animal task force and more nuances on their attack planning. I can see this as an animated movie from Pixar. Highly entertaining and yes, feels like a children story that adults can enjoy with their kids.

How Do You Like Them Apples? - Okay, this could use some better structuring but, it was highly entertaining and the dialogue was so completely believable and naturally powerful, that I felt it rather than just heard it in my mind's ear.

I got an ironic message from this. A couple in the "Garden of Eden" and yet these humans still bicker their years away...in paradise.

I don't know that it needs more room to develop, just better structuring.

Hearts of Stone - The third pro story in this challenge. The crafted literary structure is this story's strength as well as a kind of a sad, unrequited love by two innocent bystanders (two stones in love), who are caught up in a war not of their making. True to life for people counterparts.

I would like to have cared more for the stones and their feelings, it seemed, well...stone like and maybe that was intended. But I'd like to have been drawn in and care for their well being more. Nevertheless, great storytelling.

Blood, Sweat and Tears - I did not know that Sergio wrote this. Hey, this was great! It is the best I've read from this author and I've read every story he has submitted in the flash challenges. Much more development of plot and scenery, I could see it well and I love the literary feel to it. I would liked more characterization for the characters and more lively, meaningful dialogue.

But considering everything, good job!

The Onion Field - I knew this was written by Megawatts cause I liked his story of the same plot in the last challenge. Bottomdweller described it best when she said they were more like Count Chochula vampires and so they were less threatening which worked for this story. Maybe the author could write a series of these stories.

The Wedding Feast - Alright, this story, although not structured really at all (understandable for a non writer), was extremely funny and I enjoyed every minute of it. I've never read a religious story that left me with such a good feeling. And the hippie lingo was great!!

Lines like:

"And then a member of the crowd stepped out and said, "We would like to come also to the King's Son wedding feast, but we ain't got much El Denero, Supremo La Grande, that's Taco Bell talk for not much money."

"Now the Sadducees and Pharisees, they were the religious leaders back then, instead of getting all excited and saying, "Far out, the King's Son is here! We don't have to die for being creeps! Let's invite our friends to the synagogue for a covered dish dinner and play some volleyball on the front lawn.”"

Just fun!
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Post August 29, 2016, 11:09:25 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

I'm honored - and speechless. Didn't expect to win, was just having fun. Thank you David for inviting me and also to the flash challenge moderator for letting me be involved.

Kit and Kaboodle was precious and I believed more well written than mine. Hearts of Stone was also well written and moving. The Wedding Feast was a refreshing remembrance of the song you wrote David and touching. Blood, Sweat and Tears reminded me of the type of story on the old TV show, "The Outer Limits" and I loved it. The Onion Field was a nice sequel type story to the one if the previous challenge by the same author and Seconds to Centuries was a dark drama that had me wanting more.

Thank you so much for the experience and I'd like to do this again.

Genna

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Post August 30, 2016, 07:48:40 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

The misrepresentation of God has been going on even before Jesus drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple with a whip for selling religious merchandise saying, "My Father's house is a house of prayer, but you've made it a den of thieves".

I wondered what if the fall of many of the wicked, self serving televangelist was due to Divine retribution.

The other stories were great and I was pleased to have my story in amongst them.

It was really a blessing.
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Post August 30, 2016, 10:12:53 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Stories by Kandi wrote:1,072 votes, for me. That made me cry. My mother couldn't believe it. She held me while we read it. Oh wow!

This is so wonderful. Thank you for accepting my story for the contest

You're welcome. Seldom in the last ten years of doing this have I seen a participant made quite so happy. It made me proud, too.

(BTW, that's 1,072 "points," not "votes." Heaven help me if I had to enter 1,072 voters x 6 categories x 7 stories on my spreadsheet. I'd still be typing in numbers today.)
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Post August 30, 2016, 11:11:46 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Genna Watson wrote:Thank you David for inviting me and also to the flash challenge moderator for letting me be involved.

You are also quite welcome, and you can call me Nate.
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Post August 30, 2016, 11:12:55 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

My thoughts about the stories (These are just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.):

I felt there were several that strayed from the goal of a 'tale of friendship.'

From Seconds to Centuries--A good read, but I thought the characterization could be a little stronger. We know the friend is bothered, we know the minister isn't a great guy, but we don't find out they friends were lovers until the end. At least, I didn't get that. I felt that needed more foreshadowing. Plus, we don't see the minister do anything slimy enough that most people would want him dead for it. I suppose we know he was seeing other people, but that wouldn't make most readers ok with four to the chest. He'd have to be pretty evil for people to want that when reading. On the other hand, people don't like televangelists. After reading Fisher's comments, I realize this was the goal, but I thought the name without permission ruined the flow the story had built up. His best friend murdered him. Until that moment, this was all a character-driven story, and I liked it a lot to that point. After that, it didn't seem like a tale of friendship to me, which was the goal of the exercise, and instead became a punishment story.

Kit and Kaboodle--This was a strong story. I think it could have used a little more character development and less of them gathering the animals, but it's good. The two are clearly friends.

How About Them Apples--When I received this submission, I wrote a friend, "This writer has chops." It was more focused than mine, and I told my friend that this one could win, and I was not wrong. It showed a lot of wordsmithing skill. On the down side, it's not a ton about friendship, as I saw it. To me it was more of a "couple" story, not "friends." The male character had the immediate hots for the female (because women can have that effect on men), but spent the rest of his time bickering back. I never saw the friendship. I think it worked so well for the audience because of the one-liners and the ability to lean on everyone's knowledge of the Adam and Eve tale.

Blood, Sweat and Tears--Sergio, old friend, I'd like to steer you toward see something that wasn't so much inspired from a movie, like Pirates of the Caribbean, in this case. We all find inspiration in different places, and lately movies seem to be yours. You have skills and boundless energy, and have been professionally published far more times than I probably ever will be, but I'd like to see you push yourself even more toward creating great character development and not so much world building. Few of us can build a world like you can, but please keep pushing it when it comes to creating original, gripping characters.

The Onion Field--George, I think that since you did so well last time, you tried to copy the formula, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Two vamps in a situation, then one of them does something dumb, and both of them have to hightail it out of there. It's clearly a buddy story, but I felt it needed more of the extra character development that last time's had in order for this story to work, and that word count was taken up by the descriptions of the village idiot and the onion fields, which didn't really add to the story that much. The story has appeal, but I felt that appeal was mostly based on the situational reveal at the end, and I think it's pretty shaky for that to be the foundation of its appeal. Also, bodily functions turn off a crowd of readers--PG-13 ones anyway--unless it's spit in a sloppy kiss. The vamps are likable up to that point, and then it turned me off.

The Wedding Feast--Not a bad effort for a first story. There's nothing wrong with telling a story to bring people closer to a higher power or to better themselves, but perhaps next time you should try to step away from that sermon framework. Go more simple. I'd suggest trying to help just one or two characters find their way in life, or out of a situation--even if it's just away from an abusive husband, or a little boy to figure out something he loves in life, for example. I think you'll wind up reaching more people and more strongly than one meant for a mass group, from a purely character-driven, human, fiction point of view. Heck, I wrote a story about a couple of rocks that became friends (and I hope that was enough to be inspirational or moving to a reader). I guess what I'm trying to say is you don't have to aim for the stars, as it were, to make people feel good, to find that higher power, or to want to be better to each other.
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Post August 30, 2016, 03:31:30 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Daniel Johnson wrote:How Do You Like Them Apples? - Okay, this could use some better structuring but, it was highly entertaining and the dialogue was so completely believable and naturally powerful, that I felt it rather than just heard it in my mind's ear.

I got an ironic message from this. A couple in the "Garden of Eden" and yet these humans still bicker their years away...in paradise.

I don't know that it needs more room to develop, just better structuring.

I'm so glad that people got the subtle message which I toned down considerably, which is "give us humans something pure and holy and we'll trash it every time".

I'll need to study how to structure a story. I'll use Nate's 6 voting categories as a template.

Thank you Daniel for reading and commenting.

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Post August 30, 2016, 03:41:20 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

kailhofer wrote:How About Them Apples--When I received this submission, I wrote a friend, "This writer has chops." It was more focused than mine, and I told my friend that this one could win, and I was not wrong. It showed a lot of wordsmithing skill. On the down side, it's not a ton about friendship, as I saw it. To me it was more of a "couple" story, not "friends." The male character had the immediate hots for the female (because women can have that effect on men), but spent the rest of his time bickering back. I never saw the friendship. I think it worked so well for the audience because of the one-liners and the ability to lean on everyone's knowledge of the Adam and Eve tale.

Well I'm flattered and honored for your comments Nate. Thank you.

Well, I suppose I didn't differentiate between being a couple and being friends. I think I was thinking that a couple is a step above friendship and that you have to go through friendship to be a couple. But I see from your comment that is not necessarily true so I appreciate you pointing that out.

I visualized the fighting amongst themselves days before I wrote the story and the petty bickering dialogue just seemed to flow (no indication of my married life to sweet Tim). Looking at it from your viewpoint, I focused the entire story on the dialogue. I'll work on plot and description on future stories in the second draft mode.

Thank you again Nate for taking the time to guide me.

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Post August 30, 2016, 05:56:57 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

Daniel Johnson wrote:From Seconds to Centuries - A dark brooding tale of religious hypocrisy, homoerotic relationships and murder. I would have liked this story to have been around 10,000 words, this was a shell really of a much larger story, maybe even novel length. It's the details that draw me in and this was just too quickly told.

I liked the religious conman gimmicks used to sheer the flock. I liked the televangelist evil character, but I want to know things like, where was he from, what did his facial features look like, how tall was he, what kind of accent did he have and like that. So, if the author wants to develop this and submit it to the short story section, I would love to read it.

You're right, it needed more background and I shouldn't have attempted this in a flash size story. Much of the depth was lost. Sometime, I'd like to rewrite it keeping the things that were interesting.

My inspiration for the story was a song by Phil Collins when he was with the band Genesis titled, "Jesus He Knows Me".
Last edited by The Fisher of Men on August 30, 2016, 07:12:51 PM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post August 30, 2016, 06:06:41 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

kailhofer wrote:From Seconds to Centuries--A good read, but I thought the characterization could be a little stronger. We know the friend is bothered, we know the minister isn't a great guy, but we don't find out they friends were lovers until the end. At least, I didn't get that. I felt that needed more foreshadowing. Plus, we don't see the minister do anything slimy enough that most people would want him dead for it. I suppose we know he was seeing other people, but that wouldn't make most readers ok with four to the chest. He'd have to be pretty evil for people to want that when reading. On the other hand, people don't like televangelists. After reading Fisher's comments, I realize this was the goal, but I thought the name without permission ruined the flow the story had built up. His best friend murdered him. Until that moment, this was all a character-driven story, and I liked it a lot to that point. After that, it didn't seem like a tale of friendship to me, which was the goal of the exercise, and instead became a punishment story.

Yeah, I'd like to build on that, it would have made the story a lot more interesting. I see what you mean by a story being character driven instead of being story driven.

About being evil enough to be killed, using the Lord's name in vain is a chief commandment and a major no no with God. But in addition, he was stealing money from innocent and gullible people for his own wealth and glory and misleading multitudes into believing that salvation can be bought (problem with lots of religious groups and organizations).

You're right, it was also a punishment story at the end, but throughout, it was about a user of people getting his comeuppance.

I never had anyone focus on my stories before and I thank you Nate for encouraging me by doing so.

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Post August 30, 2016, 08:04:20 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

I liked the story, "Hearts of Stone" the best. It was believable and that was a task within itself, personifying stones with human emotion and personalities. I didn't want to see the victimization of them probably no more than anyone else. Sad ending.

Nate, good job!!

I also liked Kit and Kaboodle and then The Wedding Feast, a hilarious adaptation.
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Post August 31, 2016, 10:30:01 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: August 2016 Flash Challenge

The Fisher of Men wrote:About being evil enough to be killed, using the Lord's name in vain is a chief commandment and a major no no with God. But in addition, he was stealing money from innocent and gullible people for his own wealth and glory and misleading multitudes into believing that salvation can be bought (problem with lots of religious groups and organizations).

These things may well be, but one has to consider one's audience. It can be a tactical error to expect the audience to mirror one's own views. Aphelion has readers of all faiths, all creeds, or lack of both. Also all ages. I always (and this is just my own view) aim for the middle, and try to project which views I think that middle will have, or accept. Also which expectations, which may change based on the kind of challenge presented.

Just food for thought.

I never had anyone focus on my stories before and I thank you Nate for encouraging me by doing so.

That's what we do here--help authors grow toward becoming the best writer they can be. That, and provide a home to one heck of a lot of good stories from authors making that journey.
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