[POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge


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Post September 18, 2016, 10:04:22 PM

[POLL] Vote: September 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 create a science fiction tale told only in the form of letters.



The following entries were received:


Fumee D'opium at Night...



Dear Guillaume
(who is me)

This letter is a fourth attempt at reporting the strange experience I have been going through recently, and you’ll find it in the pocket of my gray jacket the next time, though I can’t tell you when this next time will actually occur…

I’m writing this because I don’t know how long I can still be myself, or how long I can master my mind before I lose consciousness again and everything changes. I can’t even imagine when my true self will be back again, so that I can write a new recount of what has happened.

The strange thing is that I don’t even know what I was doing before my mind came back to its senses, before I unexpectedly awakened again.

The room I am in now is the same room I was in the last time I can remember being awake. No window, only a bed in the center and no chair, no table; the wooden door is locked from the outside. I have at my disposal only an old pen and a few pieces of paper I can freely write my thoughts on - which is the text of this letter. I don’t know exactly where I am, nor how I was brought inside. Anyway, I feel that I am watched now, although the ones looking at me are unseen at the moment. But they are watching – I am certain of it!

Now carefully listen to me, who is also you. Somebody is keeping me here, against my will, and there is no way I can escape. So, bear in mind, next time that I am myself again, try your best to get out of here. Don’t forget, hurry up, I don’t know how long I can be in my right mind next time…


----------------------------

Dear Paul,
(the person who is me),

This is the eighth letter I have written, though unfortunately nothing has changed. I still keep writing my messages on this paper and I am provided with new pages every time I wake up in this place. I don’t know who gives me them or when he places the pages inside this room. But it is certain that, whoever he is, this person seems to be interested in what I think and write while I am being held within these walls. Maybe he is studying me, or maybe there is more than one person outside who is watching what I do. How can I find out the truth?


----------------------------

Dear Antoine,

Third letter written and nothing has changed. What the hell am I doing here? Why can’t I get outside? Who do these other letters belong to that I find in the pocket of my gray jacket and who are Guillame and Paul? I don’t even know these people! Pay attention, Antoine, next time you wake up you have to do something, or this will never end! I don’t want to die in here!

Yours Antoine


----------------------------

Dear Doctor Feng,

I’m Heng, the Chinese proprietor of the fumerie d’opium who is studying the forty-six-year-old subject on behalf of my superiors who rule over the mob in Hyères, France, who appointed You to this case. This is my thirteenth report. I don’t know if You have started reaching a conclusion about this matter.

To summarize the events so far, everything has begun when that middle-aged patron has walked into my premises some nights ago. Though there are other bigger venues like mine in town in these last years of the 1800s, that customer had made his own choice to try something different, probably.

After reclining in order to hold the long opium pipes over an oil lamp to heat the drug until it vaporized, allowing the fumeur to inhale, something has happened. When the blond-haired French customer awoke and stood up early in the morning, he didn’t seem to be himself anymore. He spoke differently, his voice was not the same and I thought he was another person. He really looked like another man, also his voice was different! After trying to calm him down, I have asked my henchmen to take the customer to a secluded room where he could calm down before being taken outside. The problem was that the man has never been himself again, at least not the person that he was when he first entered the fumerie the previous night.

I don’t know if the Frenchman’s disorientation had been caused by the drugs he smoked, or if it was due to something else. Anyway, this was the first time I sold this new mixture of unknown ingredients, and this was the only subject who had shown such unexpected behaviour.

I have been able to discover over the course of the following days - while keeping that strange patron locked inside the room - that every time the man was given the new drug he awoke as a different person, and wrote a letter to warn himself – or one of his many ‘personalities’ - about the dangers of his present situation. As requested from my superiors, I have allowed that patron to continue using the drug, as there was no way he could be released until he was in his right mind again. Perhaps the new drug mixture released all the other personalities already alive inside the man’s mind. Maybe he was one of those strange individuals with different selves, different persons in him, though unbeknownst to themselves, like those bloody killers You could read about in the newspapers…

As a humble owner of this fumerie d’opium I truly don’t know, but I would continue to keep the man locked up as my mob’s test subject. My superiors certainly don’t want a bad product to be widely released that could adversely affect other customers…which would be bad for their business.

They hope to be discovering more and more about that man’s different selves over the course of the next days. Or months, whatever it takes…


The End



The American Prince



06-04-06

Dear Mr. Elderidge,

I really enjoyed your book. I couldn't put it down. I got your e-mail address from your publisher I hope you don't mind. I saw your photo on the back of your book jacket. You’re really cute. I am twelve years old too. Please respond.

Sincerely,

Princess Miranda Heddington
_ _ _


06-05-06

Hello Miranda,

I'm surprised to hear from you. I'm glad you like my book. We’re the same age.


Do you really think I’m cute? I’m glad you think so.

Signed

Bradford Elderidge

***

5 months later


11-26-06


Brad,

I’ve enjoyed writing you these past five months. We're settling in for Thanksgiving. We're having cranberry relish and stuffing, I know you enjoy that. I'll be thinking of you.

Will you miss me, I hope?

Your fan,

Miranda
_ _ _

11-26-06


Miranda,

I just played with my food. I'm sad, you being far away.

Your friend,

Brad

***

4 months later


03-02-07


Brad,

My tutors are teaching me quantum physics. It's so boring. I'm doing well in French, but not in other languages. Next they will tutor me in Canadian. Ha Ha!

When will your next book be available?

Yours,

Miranda
_ _ _

03-03-07


Miranda,

I check my e-mail over and over cause it's hard waiting for your messages.

I will be finished with my next book soon and will send you a copy. Thank you for your portrait photo. I framed and hung it above my bed. I say goodnight to you every night before I sleep.

Forever your friend,

Brad

***

14 months later


06-02-08

Brad

You are dear to me. I can't believe your turning fourteen. Send me pictures of your birthday. There is a package on its way. I hope you like my gift.

There is so much I've never done. I really don't have much freedom as you know. Being the only heir is lonely. You're the only one I think who understands.

My father is still sick.

Yours Truly

Miranda
_ _ _

06-02-08

Miranda,

I'm setting an empty chair at the table for you. Thank you for writing me faithfully for the last two years.

My third book is being released and I now have enough money to come visit you this summer. I only wished your mom wasn't against you seeing me. I just sit and think about you.

Brad

***

15 months later


10-07-09

Brad,

My father is in intensive care. He's been there for days. No one is telling me how he's doing, but I know he is not well. My country is so accustomed to having a king.

How does it feel to be a freshman? Do you like your high school? Send me pictures; I see your life through them. You are always in my thoughts.

Miranda
_ _ _

10-07-09

Miranda,

Please ask your mom again if I can come see you. I want to be with you.

My freshman prom is being planned. I won't go.

Tell me more about your father’s health.

Love,

Brad

***

4 months later


02-08-10

Brad,

The funeral is today. The minister of protocol has refused to allow you to attend. I'm so sorry. I pleaded to no avail. I hope you are not offended.

Miranda
_ _ _

02-08-10

Miranda,

This is so hard not being there. I will watch the funeral on television in hopes I'll catch a glimpse of you. I did not know your father, but I grieve for you.

Brad

***

15 months later


05-17-11

Brad,

Your daily messages give me hope.

There is an official function next week and it is expected of me to escort the Duke’s son about our city and there will be a dinner later. I am expected to do this so please don't think anything of it.

Warm wishes to you,

Miranda
_ _ _

05-17-11

Miranda,

I'm scared of losing you.

I am jealous. Will you let him kiss you?

Waiting,

Brad
_ _ _

05-18-11

Sweetheart,

I only have room in my heart for one.

Miranda

***

13 months later


06-02-12

Brad,

My mom is pressuring me to wed the Duke's son. I do not love him.

Ever yours,

Miranda
_ _ _

06-04-12

Miranda

I've talked my publisher into letting me do a book tour in your country starting a few miles from the palace. I leave tomorrow. There's nothing more important to me than seeing you.

Your love (I hope),

Brad
_ _ _

06-04-12

My sweet man,

Please do not come. The palace guard protects the royal family and I can't guarantee your safety.

Brad, I love you too, but do not come.

Miranda
_ _ _

06-05-12

Brad,

Write me back. Please!

Miranda
_ _ _

06-05-12

Miranda,

I will be at the Newkirk Street bookstore on June the 7th from noon to 3 pm. I will then come to the palace and if they will not let me in, I will sit outside the palace walls and there I'll be.

My love,

Brad
_ _ _

06-05-12

Dear Brad,

It is my choice to betroth myself to him. Do not make this perilous journey. I still care for you, but these things are out of our hands.

Miranda
_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 11:56 am)

Miranda,

I'm standing inside the Newkirk bookstore. I'm about to begin my signing. I'm staying at the Royal Arms Sentry Hotel (it's a small flat). If something happens, take my things. There is a letter in my briefcase. It's for you.

My Love,

Brad
_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 2:59 pm)

Miranda,

This maybe my last message. I'm coming.

Brad
_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 2:59 pm)

You do not need to come to me. Just turn around. I'm standing behind you.


The End



Aryelle's Love



Aryelle, the Brethren slumber in their metal armor.

Until they awaken, I have nothing to do, save stare out the viewport. The stars remind me of yours.

I pass every day wishing I were back with you. We would lie like we did that day in the sand. So happy, so content, like this is the way we were meant to be. You were so beautiful.

We never saw the wave coming that drenched us. We laughed and laughed.

Later, by the fire, further back in the dunes, I lay down behind you. Your body melted against mine. Your hair smelled like wildflowers. Your skin was so smooth and soft, like nothing I had ever felt before. I ran my hand up your thigh, past the tight roundness of your belly and held you. In that moment, it felt like we were the only two people in the whole universe. We lay like that until slumber took us both. It was the happiest I'd ever felt.



I love this device, Haim. I think it, and the words appear on the screen. Are you sure it's safe to use? Can't it send more than one message a day? I hate waiting so long to hear from you.

It smells like rain is coming. Would you run in the rain and jump in the puddles with me?

I have the perfect outfit for it. Hint, hint.




Dearest Aryelle, if only I knew when I could come back. The Brethren require my service, so I must wait here, in their ship of war. I don't know our destination or when we will reach it but I am released after their assault, so may it come soon. I only know however long it will be, it feels an eternity without you.

The Brethren, the Brotherhood of Death, are the Imperial invasion force--more machine than flesh beings that spew their never-ending, burning hate onto unsuspecting worlds. I have searched many star systems, and because of that they value me enough to let me live.

It's how I found you, but don't worry, I never told them of your world. It's too precious. If we only send one message each day, the Brethren will never know.



It's lonely here, inside this old house in the woods. The power is out. Some kind of sun spot interference, or something. I lit the fireplace and I'm laying on the rug in front of it. There's room for you. I want you to know I miss you very much.

I'm going to town tomorrow to buy some groceries. One of my girlfriends, Melissa, is having a party, so I may go to that, too. Secretly, I think she's trying to set me up with someone. She doesn't know about you. I wish I could tell her.

What do you do all day besides miss the sexiest girl in this solar system?




I'm trying to figure out where the ship is going. Just about every instrument is locked out, but I think I can trick the sensors to give me a bearing to galactic center, and then I can read the stars I can see out the window and compute my general location. I am a scout. I'm used to finding my way without much equipment.

How was your get together? I wish I could be there with you, but I'm glad you can still find enjoyment without me.



It was really, really fun. Melissa introduced me to a guy named Joshua. He was very interesting, and it was nice to sit and talk to him. We saw a movie, too.

Was it ok that I visited with another?

When will you come back? I hate being alone. My pillow doesn't smell like you anymore. Did you know you smell like the sea?




Aryelle, we are very close to you. I fear they are coming for Earth. I believe they just flew past Earth, but they are going to use your sun to slow down and then be a plague on you all.

If I am right, I will sabotage the ship, even if it means my death.

I will not let them have you.



That isn't funny. Why would you joke like that? Why would you try to scare me?



They will be upon you in two days. I planted charges from the Brethren's munitions, and when we pass your sun again, all the lander engines will ignite, pushing us into the fire.

I cannot escape, but I choose this for you, in exchange for your life, with full knowledge the Brethren will kill me before we burn. You must live. I cannot bear the thought of what they would do to you and your planet.

The image of your sweet face, my Aryelle, is all that I can see when I close my eyes. I weep and curse the fates that brought us together. I am on a ship of cruelty, but did not understand how cruel it truly was.

Tomorrow, I will die for you, my love.



Haim, NO! You can’t leave me here without you. Please, if you are gone, then I won’t go on without you. I’ll step in front of a bus or drink lye. Please, please, don’t leave me!



Aryelle, the charges will fire in a few minutes. By the time you see this, I will be dead. I gave my life for yours.

Don’t let my death be for nothing. Live on.

Farewell, my love.



I saw the flash, and knew what it meant. I can’t stop crying. I have the pills to end it. I need only swallow them to join you.

When we meet in the afterlife, will you hate me for following so soon after? We’ll be together. Or I could throw them away and live, but I’d be alone. No one here could match your love.

The pills are in my hand.

Help me pick, Haim.

A breeze!

It smells like the sea.


...I chose.



The End
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Post September 18, 2016, 10:05:18 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 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.




Fumee D'opium ...at night
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

The American Prince
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Aryelle's Love
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:
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Post September 19, 2016, 04:31:32 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

My votes are already in...eh,eh :D

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Post September 19, 2016, 11:30:25 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

I must have read the due date wrong. Sorry about that!
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Post September 21, 2016, 11:41:55 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

With only 3 votes in so far, the current leader is

Kandi!
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Post September 23, 2016, 12:15:48 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

The votes have really started to roll in now, and I can confidently say that I am in last place by more than 40 points. :(

Sergio and Kandi, however, are both doing extremely well!

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Post September 23, 2016, 02:30:47 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

DISQUALIFICATIONS/REFUSALS: Should a story be initially accepted and posted in the challenge, but then later judged by me to be in violation, the story may be disqualified and removed from contention at any time before contest end. Authors who feel a story may be in violation should send me a PM and state their case.

I didn't see a science fiction element in the story, "The American Prince". The science fiction requirement looked like it was a hard and fast rule.

We're going to step away from our usual prose comfort zone and tell a science fiction story entirely through letters exchanged between two or more individuals. This is known as an epistolary story.

Here's the deal: I challenge you to tell a science fiction flash story through the exchange of letters between two or more individuals.

REQUIREMENTS: (1) Your science fiction story must be told in the form of letters exchanged between two or more individuals, progressing the plot of your story;

Does this mean the story should be disqualified?
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Post September 23, 2016, 04:19:17 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Jim Statton wrote:
DISQUALIFICATIONS/REFUSALS: Should a story be initially accepted and posted in the challenge, but then later judged by me to be in violation, the story may be disqualified and removed from contention at any time before contest end. Authors who feel a story may be in violation should send me a PM and state their case.

I didn't see a science fiction element in the story, "The American Prince". The science fiction requirement looked like it was a hard and fast rule.

We're going to step away from our usual prose comfort zone and tell a science fiction story entirely through letters exchanged between two or more individuals. This is known as an epistolary story.

Here's the deal: I challenge you to tell a science fiction flash story through the exchange of letters between two or more individuals.

REQUIREMENTS: (1) Your science fiction story must be told in the form of letters exchanged between two or more individuals, progressing the plot of your story;

Does this mean the story should be disqualified?

Jim, the rules say you're suppose to make inquires by PM. Placing your inquiry in the challenge topic is irresponsible and hurtful to the author.

To the author in question, until there is a ruling, I wouldn't be unnecessarily worried.
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Post September 23, 2016, 04:29:00 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Not to worry. The SF element is there, and was approved by me.

I did not see Jim's question as hurtful, but yes, a pm is the correct way to handle it.
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Post September 24, 2016, 09:44:33 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

My votes are on the way.
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Post September 25, 2016, 09:16:40 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

There will be a delay in posting the results. I had to take my mother to the Emergency Room. Don't know when I'll be back to my computer.
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Post September 26, 2016, 01:48:57 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Voting has closed.


Thank you to all the members who voted.

The winning story was "The American Prince" by Kandi Tims. Good job, Kandi!


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

Fumee D'Opium by Sergio Palumbo
The American Prince by Kandi Tims
Aryelle's Love by N.J. Kailhofer



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



Fumee D'Opium : 557
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 9

The American Prince : 692
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 9
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 9
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 22

Aryelle's Love : 552
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 3
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Post September 26, 2016, 06:28:53 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations to the winner, indeed!!! :D

I gave 7 to each category for the winner's entry in the voting this month... :D :D

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Post September 26, 2016, 09:10:31 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Sorry I missed this one. Too many things happened and I've been busy with rehearsals. I not sure If I can get one in next month because of rehearsals and our concert, but I'll try.
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Post September 26, 2016, 10:45:09 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Oh thank you. This means a lot to me.
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Post September 26, 2016, 12:13:28 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations, Kandi!

Here's the breakdown of my voting, with comments:

Fumee D'opium ...at night
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 10

total: 39

comments: The character(s) seem to write awfully coherently for being dosed up on opium all the time. I've never tried it, though, so I may be wrong about that.


The American Prince
1) Overall: 4
2) Characterization: 4
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 5

total: 28

comments: Princess celebrating Thanksgiving? That's a uniquely American holiday, but ... "Newkirk Street" shows up as a location (several) only in the US.

If this is the SF element (an alternate history/universe), you've done too good a job of hiding it.

I think the dialog could have had more substance to it.


Aryelle's Love
1) Overall: 9
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 10

total: 50

comments: There's an ambiguous passage here:

>> I planted charges from the Brethren's munitions, and when we pass your sun again, all the lander engines will ignite, pushing us into the fire. <<

This makes me think he's causing the engines to fire in normal fashion. Perhaps "explode" would be a better term.
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Post September 26, 2016, 12:55:28 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Here are my votes

Sergio, this is the best story I've read by you and I've read every story you submitted to the Flash Challenges (since I've finished reading the flash indexes). The plot was superb and I've rated you high in every category. Very impressed...indeed!

Fumee D'opium ...at night
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 9
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 9
5) Dialog: 10
6) Challenge: 9

Kandi, you had me in tears about a third of the way into it, which I could not shake throughout the reading. I was in suspense and wanted to know more after the ending, which is a good sign of a great story. Later the next day, I recalled the title and was relieved where the story was going.

The American Prince
1) Overall: 9
2) Characterization: 10
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 10
6) Challenge: 10

Nate, I loved the premise, but the storyline was a downer and needed more time to set up the heroics than a flash can afford. I think fleshing it out would smooth out the jolts. I do not like cliff hangers and that may have soured me on the overall feel.

Aryelle's Love
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 7
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Post September 26, 2016, 02:23:20 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

Here are my votes too. I like the first story best.

Fumee D'opium ...at night
1) Overall: 10
2) Characterization: 9
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 9
5) Dialog: 9
6) Challenge: 9

Aryelle's Love
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 9
6) Challenge: 8
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Post September 27, 2016, 07:07:22 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

For Daniel Johnson:

Thank you very much, glad you liked my entries...eh,eh :D :D

Though, the one I like most, among mine, is still The smell of Death about the very sad and unlucky dog...or maybe The Secret Door, a Flash Fiction on Quantum Muse about WWII in Poland...eh,eh :D
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Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post September 30, 2016, 12:24:54 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: September 2016 Flash Challenge

These stories have been added to the Flash Index, and next month's challenge is locked and loaded, ready for Sunday night!

Make sure you stop in then to check it out.
Hardcover, paperback, pdf, eBook, iBook, Nook, and now Kindle & Kobo!
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