[Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge


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Post June 23, 2013, 10:06:07 PM

[Poll] Vote: May-June '13 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 was to be inspired by or to take an unfinished story idea from a previous challenge, change the requirement that kept the story from being realized, and finish the piece.



The following entries were received:



Twins



Inspired by Oct. 2011 Murder Should Be Personal

The Schamb twins had always seemed a bit odd to those living in their small community. Even when they were young, townspeople considered the pair eccentric. Now that the sisters were in their sixties, those who knew them thought them downright weird.

“I’ll be leaving you behind soon,” Mabel Schamb threatened her sister over breakfast.

“I doubt it,” replied Camilla with a raised eyebrow.

“No, I mean it. I had a dream a few nights ago that my life is going to change for the better.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re psychic, I know. You’ve been telling me you can tell the future for sixty years now.”

“I am psychic,” screamed Mabel, pounding her fist on the table.

“Well if you’re so psychic – why ain’t you rich?”

“You say you can move objects with your mind, Camilla – so why ain’t YOU rich?”

"Okay, Mabel, I'll bite. What was your dream about?"

“I dreamed I was watching the 10:00 news and I saw the Lotto numbers fall.”

“Really,” huffed Camilla.

“Really! I even wrote the numbers down when I woke up.” She took a slip of paper from a large pocket on her flowered dress.

Camilla unfolded the paper, looked at it, and rolled her eyes. "25, 26, 27, 28 and 29? And the Lottoball is 30?" She handed the paper back to her sister. "This will never happen, they'll never fall like this."

"Yes they will - tomorrow night - you'll see."

"No they won't."

"Yes they will."

"No they..." The twins were shouting at each when the table started shaking, rising briefly off the floor. Both ladies stopped screaming for a moment. The table fell back to the floor.
"I did that," said Camilla crossing her arms. "I made the table rise with the power of my mind!"

"No you didn't. It was just a coincidence.” They looked at each other quietly for a moment, the clairvoyant and the telekinetic.

"I'll prove I’m psychic, once and for all, tomorrow night, Camilla. Just you wait and see." There was a knock at the side door and Mabel got up to answer it. "That's probably the man from Sears. I ordered a freezer."

"You did what? We don't need a freezer and we sure don't have the money," said Camilla.

"I'll have plenty of money when I win the Lotto," said Mabel with a sneer.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The Schamb twins sat on their avocado green couch peering into their 19 inch TV.

"I have the winning ticket right here," announced Mable the physic, reaching into a pocket on her faded blue bathrobe.

"No, dear sister, I - in fact - have the winning ticket right here!" Camilla took a lotto ticket from her faded yellow bathrobe and flashed it briefly in front of her twin's eyes.

"Here it comes," whispered the sisters in unison.

"And now the Lucky Lotto numbers are..." The ping-pong balls began to drop, one by one. "25...26...27...28...and 29." The host of the show seemed incredulous. "This is a first! This is amazing! And now, for the winning Super Lotto Ball..."

There was a close-up of fifty red ping-pong balls shooting around inside the large plastic container. One ball fell into the transparent tube. It was the #30, halfway down the tube by now. Suddenly the #30 ball seemed to be sucked back up into the swarm of balls inside the container and the #31 ball dropped into place at the bottom of the TV screen beside the other winning numbers.

"Ah, too bad, Mabel," sneered Camilla, waving her ticket under the physic's nose. "I happen to have ALL those numbers right here, on this ticket - the winning ticket - MY ticket!"

"You did that! You made my ball go back up so you could get the money! You've never let me win anything!"

"It's like I've always told you, my dear sister, I'm able to move things with the power of my mind..."

Mabel grabbed Camilla by the throat. Her eyes got huge as she squeaked out a plea to her twin. "They have a surveillance camera at the Quik Stop, Mabel. You'll never be able to cash in that ticket. They'll know I bought the winner."

But the intuitive's hands only tightened around her sister's throat. "This is the first time in my life when I'm actually happy we were born identical twins."

^^^^^^^
The ad in the newspaper seemed a bit bizarre, but since a Schamb twin had penned it, the clerk at the Times Tribune figured it was par for the course.

'House-sitter Wanted: Need lazy person to live in my home for free. Liberal allowance will cover food costs and auto expenses. Must be able to make a ten-year commitment.'

Mabel and the first person to answer the ad were standing now in the garage of the cozy Schamb home.

"So you'll be traveling, Ms. Schamb?”

"Oh yes, dear," answered the sweet old lady. “Just keep the grass cut - and make sure the electricity stays on. You can always reach me on my cell if you have any problems with the house." The old woman handed a ring of keys to the house-sitter.

"Is the key to the freezer on here," asked the girl, nodding towards the newly installed appliance in the corner. One very formidable lock had been welded into its white frame. "In case I want to buy some meat and cook it."

"Don't be silly, dear heart. Order a pizza or go out! Enjoy your life. Don't concern yourself with that freezer," said Mabel smiling. "It holds the top layer of my wedding cake and a few other useless memories. I'm leaving them all behind - starting now."

"Thanks," shouted the girl from the open door connecting the garage to the rest of the house.

"You are more than welcome," sung Mabel, stepping into the cab that would carry her into the world.


The End



A Distillate of Exceptional Flavor…



Inspired by June 2009 Steampunk

The huge metaplane was soaring across the sky as if an incredible magic was driving it. It couldn’t be classified as a common airship, like the few that currently flew over the cold lands of the Empire of Sweden in 1879, because it was very different by all means. The extraordinary vehicle used static lift generated by a pocket filled with lighter-than-air gas, and was characterized by a lowered weight center due to its long wings. Such a design allowed the plane to obtain absolute stability. Additionally, the lowered position of the propulsion system made the direct control of its energy much easier and offered high maneuverability.

The airship had been named the Lindegren 1 by its proprietor, Mrs. Lindegren. She had ordered it to be built and be ready for duty within one year, as the sixty-year-old woman clearly wanted to profit from it immediately, in order to pay off the many debts she had incurred.

Such an innovative air vehicle was able to perform low cost aerial captures, silently and safely, and in fact two more units had already been ordered by the military of the Empire. Her purpose, however, was mainly to use it for air tours for wealthy people who could afford its high cost, so they could see from above the southern coasts of Sweden and its surrounding scenery.

Lindegren 1 had a wide copper structure attached to the upper part that accommodated up to 15 passengers, night or day. Furthermore, the workers had equipped it with some refined furnishings and expensive tableware, along with gold-trimmed tea-sets to satisfy the needs of the important individuals on board.

While walking across the hardwood floor, Mrs. Lindegren -- dressed in a grey evening gown with wide sleeves, her long golden hair secured in a low bun at the back -- went on slowly, looking at the tasteful customers who were admiring the wondrous scenery below from the circular windows that completely encircled the structure. Things were going very well and everyone aboard appeared satisfied and enraptured by such a luxurious trip. This wasn’t a slice of life that commoners could currently experience, sure thing…

After waving to her guests during her stroll, the woman headed for the rear of the structure and then disappeared out of sight. As she reached the last copper bulkhead, Mrs. Lindegren went down the stairs in order to reach the lower level that was a forbidden area to everyone but her. Down there you could find the kitchen and, beyond that, the secret distillery where her faithful servant Axel was at work. The time for aperitifs was approaching upstairs and she had to know if today’s bottles were ready.

As she opened the metallic door with a key, she could see a graying man who was collecting liquid coming out of a cruet dangling from a wooden plate above. As she looked to the right, Mrs. Lindegren was able to see the long brass piping which connected the glassy cruet to the rest of a huge steamy machine, where a clear duct came out and entered the chest of an individual tied to a sort of operating table. As the gray color of the skin and the overall features immediately indicated, that was not a common person, resembling a strange creature more than a man. He was no taller than a child, but his bulbous eyes revealed that he wasn’t human at all.

“Well then, Axel, it’s almost time. Are the bottles for today’s aperitifs already prepared? Our guests are waiting…”

“I’m extracting the last drops of liquid from the body of the alien in order to add it to the final bottle.”

“Alright,” she stated. “But hurry up! You know how much I care about this moment. I like to make a favorable impression on my customers.”

The servant bowed and acted accordingly, maneuvering a hose to quicken the process. He happened to notice a jolt in the creature’s chest but it didn’t matter. The only important thing was to please the owner of the air vehicle, the person who had saved him from poverty, raising him up from being a simple servant by showing interest him and the incredible, futuristic devices he invented.

The ingredient he was siphoning off was an unusual one: part of the blood of the space creature imprisoned aboard. Six years ago Mrs. Lindegren had happened upon a strange vehicle that turned out to be, incredibly, a crashed spaceship with a short alien inside, and everything had changed. The woman was already rich, but the new technologies she discovered had been put to use thanks to her servant’s abilities - even though many of those devices from another world were still incomprehensible to him as well. Those discoveries had made the construction of a metaplane possible, one that was much more advanced than other airships of the time.

Then, one day she happened to taste some drops of the alien’s blood, that was trapped and concealed in a hidden reinforced shed. During an interrogation to discover more about how the spaceship functioned, blood had spurted into her mouth. If only it had never happened! Since then, the woman had told him to add the incredibly tasty liquid to the wine sold in her shops, as she was sure it would turn it into a very valuable product. Mrs. Lindegren had a real nose for business, and she was correct: the resulting wine was the most exquisite in the country!

And so, from time to time, when the Lindegren I was on duty, the servant attached the machine to the alien they took along in order to extract the distillate he needed to improve the wine.

He himself had tasted a drop of it once and could confirm that the taste was incredible! So, as the rich guests upstairs were used to saying before drinking, the man looked at the alien tied up nearby and simply exclaimed, “To your health!”


The End



Retirement Planning



Inspired by April 2012 Seeking Redemption

Ben drummed his fingers on the table at lunch at MarsBase Retirement Home, nicknamed the Dino Zoo. In was formerly a luxury facility for Valuable Professionals - medical researchers, geophysical mine engineers, solar flare techs, etc. But MarsBase related Politics back on Earth, called PlanetSide, had swung again towards Local-ism in the Twenty Second Century. Now the Dino Zoo was as creaky as its residents. Ben couldn't get a decent kelp curry in under an hour, let alone the roasts they served back in the Old Days.

But then his placid day screeched to a halt with the blaring of the emergency klaxon and the building's Chief Administrator over the loudspeaker!

"Attention: Emergency! This is not a drill! Will Pilot First Class Benjamin Macklin please report to the Administration Office. Ben, get here now!"

Ben stared at the remains of his vegetarian curry in utter disbelief. No one had used his old formal title in over a decade! He muttered, "Give them credit for one thing in this rot zone, they don't cry wolf. Not like this. This isn't PlanetSide where the President gets a bruise and they call it an emergency. So this is bad. Because the one thing we never do here anymore is hurry!"

He walked to the Chief Administration office slowly because of his bad knees. Chief Administrator Don Marsden was his head in his hands.

"It just can't be like this, Ben. It just can't." His voice was soft. In the Space Service, screaming cost lives.

"What's going on Don? And what's with getting all fancy with my old title?"

"Plague Outbreak on MoonBase."

"Yeah? Bad news for them, but what are we supposed to do about it? And what's the story from PlanetSide?"

"Because early word on this is foul play, of the worst kind. Let's assume it is. Whoever let this buggie loose also sabotaged all four quarantine zones on MoonBase. The MoonBasers can't go Planetside because the gravity will kill them. Ours is close enough - they're sick already and the modest difference in gravity will make them feel like zombies, but they can live here. We're supposed to do a full scale evac of MoonBase."

"With what? Planetside took our SuperFreighter back home under some typical Politico lie like they always do. We only have twelve SuperHoppers and two are in the shop... oh God no!"

Chief Administrator Don Marsden sank his head back into his hands. "Yep. They want us to use MoonBase's old Mitsu Freighter. And remember the sabotage angle. That cuts out a lot of the easy options. Scramble time, population evac size, and so on. And because of typical Politico stupidity PlanetSide, they don't have anything Deep Space rated the right size down there. Just the beat-to-hell Mitsu' freighter on MoonBase. But has it hit you yet? The real problem?"

And then it did. Ben almost completely lost control over his already bad nerves. "No, no, no, no, no! We're talking about the hell spawned Blackburn Engine aren't we? The one everyone said was named by its nature and not the inventor."

"Yep. The Black Death, the Black Hole, all the old names. Wait for it... you're the only one left alive on either base who knows how to fly that Devil-in-a-can. And the only other pilot 'certed to fly it under "Hostile Conditions" like this sabotage situation is under intensive medical care somewhere down on Planetside. "

"Don, that ninety ton piece of junk is a safety hazard on a good day. Sure, that cauldron of hell is faster than a girl running off with your alimony, but just about as bitchy too. They stopped making them because five percent of flights ended up in explosive disasters that killed part of the crews. And I'm supposed to fly one that is already old and out of shape, and somehow fix some bastard's sneaky tricks on it? Ten percent faster than rated speeds before the MoonBasers die of the plague?"

"Yep. Okay, time for us to go back into Space Dog mode, the old way! Someone yelled at the Politicos down on PlanetSide so we get to use a couple of their best 'Dogs. They do have a couple of really good ones that we'll need. I'll make the calls in the morning after I go over all the stuff we have so far on our side."

"Sure, see you tomorrow Don for the briefing."


Back in his quarters, Pilot First Class Ben Macklin heaved a deep breath while gazing into his holo photo of MoonBase. But when he tried to sleep, the nightmares came! Ben had been the pilot on that last flight before they mothballed the Blackburn Drive. The tolerances were just too tight. He had missed the hourly calibration setting adjustments required for that engine. But before he could fix it, they had to dodge an asteroid that had somehow eluded the scanners! He couldn't switch all the settings over in time, and the engine had shorted out! That led to a fire in the notoriously bad wiring, and the engine room had caught fire! Someone making a sleazy buck had registered more passengers than the lifepods could handle! They held a vote and then a drawing of straws, and twenty men gave their lives to go down with the ship.


They officially Condemned the Blackburn Engine after that. There were other pilots who could fly the newer engines. Ben wound up in the Dino Zoo, something nearly extinct. But now this damned plague had happened, and the only ship was the old Mitsu Freighter, as broken down as he was. But the time for laments was over, now. It was time for him to show them how it was done in the old days. It was time to save MoonBase.


The End



The Descendants



Inspired by Jan. 2013 What If

“Can we pull over at the next gas station?” Rod asked Kristin as they crested the next hill.

“You gotta go potty?” she teased him before flipping the turn signal to move into the exit lane.

Three different options lay before them in the valley ahead, all brightly lit with fluorescent signs proclaiming their brand names, a wide swath of unnatural blues and reds and yellows stabbing the dusky Arizona skyline.

“One too many cervezas back at that Mexican restaurant.”

“Just one?” Kristin slowed the ’09 Accord down and pointed it towards the closest of the three convenience stores, turning in by the row of gasoline pumps positioned alongside the painted cement building. “We should probably fill up while we’re here. It’s a long way back to Flagstaff.”

Rod sidled out of the car and started the fuel, positioning the nozzle in the tank, setting the stopper and then hurrying towards the Men’s Room door on the far side of the gas station. Kristin made her way inside the store, cruising down the candy aisle, looking for a chocolate bar and a diet soda. Drumming her fingertips against her lips, she eventually found a combination she liked, paid the attendant and headed back out.

“Let’s cut across the back roads,” Rod said on returning to the car. “I don’t want to get back after midnight. It’s just too depressing.”

Kristin had moved to the passenger seat and sat there nibbling her candy, the soft drink cradled between her thighs.

“I don’t know. It’s dark and…”

“But Flagstaff is just over that way,” he interrupted her and pointed in a southwesterly direction. “191 goes all the way down to I-40 before cutting over. We could head across at an angle and be there much quicker with the satellite navigation thing in your car.”

“We don’t even know what’s over there,” she motioned with a nod towards the long expanse of rolling hills and scrubby brush outside the passenger window. “Those roads might not even take us back to Flagstaff.”

“Of course they connect,” Rod dismissed her. “It’s the only real town between here and Phoenix.”

She gave him a look that expressed her doubts in a succinct and direct manner, but at the same time, it showed how tired she was, revealing her shrinking resolve even more clearly than the long sigh she added to it.

“Come on,” Rod assured her, “It’ll be fine, and we’ll be home in an hour instead of two.”

# # # #

The best Rod could tell, he lost control of the car when the front tire on the passenger side hit an uneven spot on the shoulder of the road. By simple reflex, he jerked the wheel in the opposite direction. However, it was not hard enough to pull the car back onto the pavement. The rear tire followed the front and the entire vehicle careened down a steep embankment, hitting an outcropping of rock and rolling over into a ditch.

“Kristin,” he mumbled, “Kristin, honey I think I dozed off, and now…”

He reached out with his right hand and felt the sticky blob of blonde hair, mixed with warm blood beside him.

“Kristin,” tears welled in his eyes as he patted the dry side of her face. A long section of the guard rail stretched through the shattered front windshield, skewering the plastic soda bottle and carving its way through the side of Kristin’s rib cage.

“Honey,” he said again. “Honey, I can’t feel my legs.”

# # # #

Rod fought his way back to consciousness. There was a light, and at first, he thought it was a good light. Then there was a voice, and he heard scattered fragments of the conversation taking place around him.

“Must have cracked the steering column,” the first person said as they shuffled around in the dirt beside the driver side window.

“Probably would have been paralyzed from the waist down,” the second agreed.

In his mind, in the most optimistic manner of wishful thinking, Rod assumed these were paramedics. He opened his mouth to speak, but found he couldn’t. He tried to raise his arm to grasp the thing that covered his mouth and realized that he was restrained.

That’s okay, he thought. I’m probably tied down for a reason. On a gurney or something like that. To keep me from doing any further damage to my spine or neck area.

The owner of the two voices had pried the car door open; he could see the sky from the angle his body was positioned. He saw the artificial light again, and realized it was a heavy duty flashlight, bobbing up and down as its bearer ambled back and forth across the inclined terrain.

Then Rod experienced a tingling sensation that seemed to be coming from somewhere in his lower extremities. He felt a tickle and then heard the sound of cutting, a jagged noise, something closer to a wet ripping sound, like a serrated blade sawing through tough skin and tendons.

“Now that’s the quad muscle,” the speaker paused. “That’ll make a good steak. Cook that on the grill with some onions. Mmm-hmm!”

There was another pause, and Rod strained his eyes to see the speaker’s face. He caught a glimpse of a shoulder, saw the repeated motion of an arm moving back and forth, an arm wearing a red and grey plaid shirt with the sleeve rolled up past the elbow.

“And the hamstring, that’s the best part,” the voice continued. “You’ll want to get that too.”

Rod rolled his eyes toward the soft grey light of the desert sky brightening just before dawn. He trembled once as he cried, while the blood ran out of his femoral artery and down onto the light brown upholstery.


The End



The Kiss of the Gill Fish



Inspired by April 2011 The Knowing

Iaera snaked in and out of the kelp bed, a flourish of curves and muscles. Even with all the aquatic gear, Lorcan struggled to keep up. He fired his water jet and shot forward like a brick, while she swam from side to side like an underwater butterfly. He marveled at her nearly naked body which he caught glimpses of through her train of long brown hair. Obviously, she wasn't affected by the cold the way he was. Lorcan couldn't help but wonder at the diversity of the human race.

"Watch there," she signed to him and pointed to one side of a large rock formation. He readied his camera as she swam off in the opposite direction around the hulking mass and disappeared into the darkness. As he waited listening to the mechanical click of the diaphragm in his rebreather, Lorcan felt a pang of claustrophobia. Moments later she flushed out her quarry, the rare Steller ursinus, or whale-bear. At first it bolted into the open, and Lorcan, surprised, thought he would miss his opportunity. But it wasn't completely spooked, and after a moment, lumbered to rest in the kelp. Sure enough, Lorcan could make out the symbiont covering the muzzle of the beast, an air bladder on either side of its neck. Lorcan almost forgot to record; the whole thing was much larger than the one attached to Iaera's face.

***

When Lorcan's branch of the human family tree discovered their cousins on Steller's Planet, they had already been there for 3000 years. The first immigrants left old Earth the same time Lorcan's people had, both fleeing an overpopulated and dying planet. They spread out into the galaxy, gambling everything on one-way generation ships looking for any habitable planet.

95% of Steller's Planet is covered by water. And it was inevitable that humans would take to the seas. They made what changes they could to prepare themselves for their new world, but what really secured their survival was a single stroke of luck, the discovery of the mammalian whale-bear and its symbiont, the gill fish.

***

Iaera ran her fingers through Lorcan's hair. He involuntarily winced, but then looked at her apologetically and smiled. It was good to be out of the wetsuit, breathing fresh air. The awkward sound of the exhaust of hydrogen from Iaera's gill fish reminded him that she wouldn't be able to stay long. He was seated at a console and bringing up the footage he had shot of the ursinus. As it started, she let out a muffled squeal of excitement.

"Will I see myself too?" she asked, speaking instead of signing. Lorcan had her repeat the question. As an anthropologist and a polyglot, he prided himself on being able to master a language quickly. But even after months he still struggled. The primitive ceremony of placing a young gill fish on the face of a newborn fascinated Lorcan. How could it be anything but traumatic? Over time the gill fish integrated itself into the human face. Human lips and the skin and cartilage of the nose atrophied. Bilabial and labiodental sounds like p and f which required lips to make were absent from Iaera's language.

"Yes. There," he said pointing at the screen. There she was in the background watching the ursinus with triumph in her eyes. Lorcan felt embarrassed as the ursinus fell out of frame and the camera auto-zoomed in on her.

Iaera's arms folded around his neck and she hugged him close with excitement. "Wonderful," he heard her say as the mouth of the gill fish opened near his ear.

Gill fish was a misnomer. In its symbiosis with the ursinus the gill fish evolved the ability to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. Much like the mechanical rebreather that Lorcan used, the gill fish scrubbed the air exhaled by the ursinus of carbon dioxide, and replaced oxygen. And since the ursinus had to pass its prey through the mouth of the gill fish to reach its own, they shared food as well.

"You should go back." he said with concern, pulling her arms from around his neck. There was some danger of the gill fish drying out in the air-conditioned base. She pressed her lithe body against his and ran her finger along his upper lip. Instinctually his hands encircled her waist and he pressed his forehead against hers.

"Come with me," she signed. There was a pleading look in her eyes and then something seductive. He knew she meant forever. He heard the mouth of the gill fish gasping and gently he pushed her away.

"I have work," he said, still shaken by her closeness.

***

Lying in his sterile bed, Lorcan plugged in, dropped into REM sleep and awoke in a virtual dream. There he stood before the Temple to Camelopardalis and there Philomena waited in white robes, only her face exposed. They saluted. Long ago, in another corner of the galaxy, the real Philomena had been his mate. In a sterile laboratory, they had watched as their comingled DNA was programmed to produce a single perfect offspring. In all their time together their skin never touched. This was not her, only a virtual representation, programmed to give him comfort.

"Have you presented her with the proposal yet?" she asked.

"I don't know if she can understand the consequences." Lorcan allowed himself a moment of arrogance. "They are so primitive."

"But she will learn and see so much, maybe even old Earth. The exchange will benefit everyone."

He looked at Philomena's lips and wondered what they felt like.

***

"This is goodbye," Iaera signed. Disappointment was in her eyes; she never understood his rejection of her offer. She touched his forehead with hers and brushed his lips with the gill fish. Her village would send someone else to work with him now. She would return to her people under the sea, forever. Someday he would return to his people too, forever alone.


The End
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Post June 23, 2013, 10:06:51 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

To vote, rate these stories using the form below with scores of 0-10 (in whole numbers) and send it to me via PM: (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 must have posted at least one message before you can send a PM. Join in a discussion or just say hi in a thread before voting via PM. 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 will not be counted.




Twins
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

A Distillate of Exceptional Flavor…
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Retirement Planning
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

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

The Kiss of the Gill Fish
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:
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Post June 25, 2013, 08:41:33 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

I voted. Very eclectic group of stories this time. Good luck to all the entrants - but the best luck to ME (of course).
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.

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Post June 25, 2013, 11:52:58 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

I voted as well. Pretty good grouping overall this time. I'm impressed.

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Post June 25, 2013, 06:22:36 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

My votes are in!
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Post June 26, 2013, 07:07:15 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Just back from local holidays, and still a lot of things to do :roll: ...but I should be able to send my votes within tomorrow... :) :) :)

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Post June 26, 2013, 08:43:58 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Anyone want to discuss these at all?

The "Twins" story really unnerved me -- in a good way. I know it was only the two sisters, but for some reason, it reminded me of the three witches at the beginning of Macbeth. Good stuff.

And the "Gill Fish" story, well that one was my favorite. Very impressed with this one. Reminded me of Neil Gaiman for some reason (Can't wait to read his new book, btw.).

What about all of you other guys (and gals)? Anyone care to share your thoughts on the stories?
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Post June 26, 2013, 11:55:24 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Jay, in the regular monthly Flash challenge, it's customary to save comments until after the winner is announced, so as not to influence the voting. We do want lots of commentary, just after the win.
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Post June 26, 2013, 02:13:36 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Okay, will do.

(I still like that "Gill Fish" story tho! :-))
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Post June 26, 2013, 03:15:16 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Aaaaand, my votes are in the pipe.
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Post June 27, 2013, 08:48:25 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

My votes are in, too... :D
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Post June 30, 2013, 10:59:29 PM

Winner's Announcement

Michele Dutcher narrowly edged out the competition to take this challenge with her story, "Twins." Michele also wins the $20 cash prize from the anonymous donor.



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

Twins by Michele Dutcher
A Distillate of Exceptional Flavor by Sergio Palumbo
Retirement Planning by TaoPhoenix
The Descendants by Jay Hill
The Kiss of the Gill Fish by J. Davidson Hero



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




Twins : 272
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 2

A Distillate of Exceptional Flavor : 256
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 2

Retirement Planning : 246
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 3

The Descendants : 248
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 5

The Kiss of the Gill Fish : 270
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 3

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Post June 30, 2013, 11:01:37 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Congrats to Michelle! Well done! And a nice story to boot.
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Post June 30, 2013, 11:46:01 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Congratulations, Michele! You did a good job on this.

I will say that judging the "Challenge" category was a little tricky for me. I couldn't be certain exactly what was wanted. I could (and did) go back and look at the originals, but it could not be known what the author may have wanted changed about it. I just did the best I could. Here are my comments.
********************

Twins
Pretty good, but it has a glaring plot hole: Why didn't Camilla telekinetically stop Mabel from choking her to death?
Oops. Sorry, I wasn't supposed to notice that.

Off-topic and just FYI -- a frontal choke-hold is VERY easy to break. Just put your hands together in front of your chest and thrust upward.
Score: 51

A Distillate of Exceptional Flavor…
Well, if there are any aliens living on Earth and reading this -- consider yourselves warned.
Score: 43

Retirement Planning
Ninety tons?! That's not much of a freighter.
Best line in the story: " . . . faster than a girl running off with your alimony, but just about as bitchy too."
And what's a Space Dog?
Score: 34

The Descendants
Grisly!
Not sure how this related to the original challenge at all; there was nothing here about meeting parents or going on a picnic. Oh well. It's pretty good on its own merits.
Score: 52

The Kiss of the Gill Fish
It took me a little while to absorb what was going on with Lorcan, but then I kind of felt bad for him.
The dream-communication presented an incomplete hint of something to do with Iaera, and I wished to know a little more.
Score: 50
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Post July 01, 2013, 02:56:06 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Congratulations, Michele, well done, indeed!!! :D :D :D

I gave you 7 in each category, but I must also confess that I gave one point more (8) to The Descendants...but you won, anyway, and your story was really extraordinary, for sure!!! :D :D :D
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Post July 01, 2013, 09:16:19 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Hooray for Bottomdweller. - I think I'll just let the winning money ride for next month. Let's see, I gave Sergio's story 44 points - I liked the setting very much and the plot was good as well. I gave Tao Phoenix 42 points - I thought he met the challenge precisely so I gave him a 9 on that. I just didn't care for The Descendants - with all the gore and all: I didn't see what it had to do with the original challenge - 26 (Jay will get into the hang of things pretty quick I'm sure!) I gave Jay a 9 for dialog that was spot on! I gave Hero a 41 - with 9 for the Setting. Of course I gave Twins 642 points (yeah, right!)
I always enjoy this challenge! Much fun indeed. Can't wait for July's challenge - should be interesting.
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.

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Post July 01, 2013, 10:11:48 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

bottomdweller wrote:Hooray for Bottomdweller. - I think I'll just let the winning money ride for next month. Let's see, I gave Sergio's story 44 points - I liked the setting very much and the plot was good as well. I gave Tao Phoenix 42 points - I thought he met the challenge precisely so I gave him a 9 on that. I just didn't care for The Descendants - with all the gore and all: I didn't see what it had to do with the original challenge - 26 (Jay will get into the hang of things pretty quick I'm sure!) I gave Jay a 9 for dialog that was spot on! I gave Hero a 41 - with 9 for the Setting. Of course I gave Twins 642 points (yeah, right!)
I always enjoy this challenge! Much fun indeed. Can't wait for July's challenge - should be interesting.


"Fascinating" - Spock.

So at least you gave me decent scores, meaning that I wasn't totally out in space! Hooray for meeting the challenge! Unfortunately the rest of my delivery met with looks of indifferent dismay! I had a couple of copy-edit errors I was a bit grumpy at, but they mostly slid through.

Lester was right that I goofed on my mass unit measurements - at one point I think I was thinking specifically of the engine - "the 'antagonist' of the story". So maybe 40 car-masses isn't so bad for that, but then yes, the outer actual ship is of course off by a magnitude. Also I hadn't really thought about just how heavy vessels become.

But it was nice to submit *something*, because I've been jammed up for a long while now.

But y'all, to score *dead last*, what did I tank horribly on, enough to sink through the floor?

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Post July 01, 2013, 11:10:28 AM

Writing types

TaoPhoenix wrote:...But y'all, to score *dead last*, what did I tank horribly on, enough to sink through the floor?

It was the lack of interesting plot. You are more of a technical writer, which is why you excel at non fictional, "how to" type (operating instructions, college journals etc.) of writing. You ought to partner up and cowrite something with someone good at plot development, who can benefit from your technical expertise.

Maybe Lester comes to mind with a collaboration for the next challenge (if you can take his beating you to a pulp with his sharp wit).

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Post July 01, 2013, 12:17:31 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Good job Michele!

"Twins"
I liked Michele's story the best. Of the entries this time it just seemed to be the most complete and satisfying from setup to conclusion. Lester has a good point about the telekinetic sister not using her power to defend herself, but it didn't occur to me when I read the story. Maybe Camilla was just caught by surprise and wasn't able to act. Maybe she can move a ping pong ball from a great distance, but doesn't have the strength to push her sister off her. Of course then you'd have to take out the table moving earlier in the story. Maybe Camilla has to see what she is using her telekinesis on and Mabel could choke her from behind and stay out of view. Anyway, I'm sure there are easy ways to close the plot hole if you wanted to revise the story a little.

"A Distillate of Exceptional Flavor…"
I liked the setup in Sergio's story. The description of the ship is very good. Revealing the alien shows us the level of cruelty Mrs. Lindegren and her henchman have gone to. This actually made me think of the evil henchman challenge more than the steampunk challenge. I guess I felt the story could have used a little action or conflict. Maybe show some consequence to their evil actions.

"Retirement Planning"
Characterization and dialogue were the strong elements of Tao's story for me. I wouldn't say you tanked at all Tao. I thought your story was interesting and I enjoyed reading it. Looking back I rated all the stories within a few points of each other. I thought your plot was interesting. In fact, I think you were trying too hard to create this perfect storm scenario where Ben is forced to use the ship that destroyed his career. For me it just became a little too contrived. But I still thought it was a well written and creative story. ;)

"The Descendants"
Jay has a polished writing style that is enjoyable to read. I thought he handled the horror elements at the end of the story really well. The description of the gory details of the accident and Rod's slow realization of his situation are done with good control that builds a sense of horror in the reader. Plot was pretty simple: the couple takes a short cut and they get into an accident. However, I was left wondering who or what is cutting Rod up. The only clue I could find was the line: "The owner of the two voices had pried the car door open..." Does this mean this character has two heads, some mutant, or is he just talking to himself in different voices? This left me wanting just a little bit more reveal on the nature of this character to feel satisfied with the ending of the story.

"The Kiss of the Gill Fish"
I thought I needed another scene before the end of this story between Lorcan and Iaera where he actually decides whether to offer her the opportunity to leave her planet, but I ran into the word limit and so jumped to the end scene and just showed the result instead. The pacing at the end suffers and it feels like the story ends too abruptly. I also spent too much time trying to explain how the gill fish functioned, but that was too much fun and I didn't want to cut it out. This is part of the reason I abandoned this story in the original challenge.

I really wasn't sure how to score the Challenge category in this one since the only real requirement was that the story be inspired by a previous challenge. It's pretty hard to judge how well a story was inspired so I gave 10s to all the stories in that category.

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Post July 01, 2013, 09:08:49 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

Well Tao, I wouldn't get too upset... you only beat my 2 pts. sir! :-)

Lester, John, thank you for the kind words.

The "tie in" with the theme was supposed to be that the couple was returning from visiting her parents. Guess I didn't make that clear enough. My apologies.
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Post July 02, 2013, 02:14:17 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

For Davidsonhero:

Maybe show some consequence to their evil actions.



Well, for the villains I think I just took inspiration from most of the Italian politicians, as they (almost...) never pay for their many evil actions, unfortunately, nor do they feel regret in a way... :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Post July 02, 2013, 09:56:15 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

ente per ente wrote:Well, for the villains I think I just took inspiration from most of the Italian politicians, as they (almost...) never pay for their many evil actions, unfortunately, nor do they feel regret in a way... :lol: :lol: :lol:


I don't think it was necessary to narrow it down to Italian politicians, my friend. Any politician from anywhere in the world would have probably been equally inspiring. :lol:
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Post July 02, 2013, 10:35:57 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

davidsonhero wrote:
ente per ente wrote:Well, for the villains I think I just took inspiration from most of the Italian politicians, as they (almost...) never pay for their many evil actions, unfortunately, nor do they feel regret in a way... :lol: :lol: :lol:


I don't think it was necessary to narrow it down to Italian politicians, my friend. Any politician from anywhere in the world would have probably been equally inspiring. :lol:

Got that . . . and the saddest part is that we actually PAY the bastards!
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Post July 03, 2013, 03:10:42 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: May-June '13 Flash Challenge

I think that a famous quote will sufice:


Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.

By Henry A. Kissinger

Isn't it good enough?

:lol: :!:

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