[POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge


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Post October 16, 2016, 10:04:36 PM

[POLL] Vote October 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 was to write a "ghost" story in the spirit of the weird & unusual or spooky. The stories did not have to contain an actual ghost, but had to be written as if it was being told around a campfire on a dark, fall evening.



The following entries were received:



Catwalk to the Fire



Girls, come over here by the fire. I have a story to tell.

Comfy? Good.

Now, this could have happened anywhere, but it didn't. It was only about twenty miles from here. That chilly, dark October night was just like this one. No moon. The wind whispered through the trees, just like it's doing right now.

You girls hear those leaves rustling over there?

Better pay attention.

There was this girl named Sally. Sally wanted more than anything to be pretty.

Now, Sally wasn't ugly, but she wasn't good looking, either. She was just plain, normal in every respect, except Sally desperately wanted to be pretty. Well, you know how it is with girls, some of the mean ones figured out where she was vulnerable and never let her forget how plain they thought she was.

They laughed at her.

Sally was outside one night in her backyard and lit a campfire. She was hoping the couple of acquaintances she did have would come over, but they couldn't. So, she sat, watching the flames flicker and wishing she could be more than she was. The wind picked up a little, and she could feel the chill getting to her.

Then she heard a voice.

"Hello," it said, but in one of the best voices Sally had ever heard. Clear. Melodious. Like something you'd hear on tv or radio.

The wind died and Sally looked. At the edge of the trees was a gorgeous, dark-haired woman wearing an outfit like the ones Sally saw in those fashion magazines, complete with a stylish, faux-fur wrap.

The woman said, "I was out for a walk and saw you there. May I warm myself by your fire?"

Sally was so struck by the woman's voice and clothes that she couldn't answer, so she just nodded.

The woman came over to the fire, but she didn't just walk. She glided, swinging her hips like those runway models do. Sally saw the woman's face as she came close. She had alabaster features, perfect skin, and full, red lips.

"May I sit?" the woman asked.

Sally nodded again. The woman perched herself on a chair by the crackling fire and crossed her legs.

Sally asked, "Are those suede boots?"

The woman smiled. "They're from Jeffrey's new collection. He let me keep the pair I wore in his New York show. He's such a doll. I'm Lauren. I just moved in a little ways away."

"I'm Sally."

The two shook hands.

"Oh!" Sally said. "Your hands are cold like ice."

Lauren smiled a winning smile. "That's why I needed to sit by your fire. Fashion is fabulous, but it's not always warm."

Sally asked, "You're a fashion model?"

"And designer, yes," Lauren replied.

Sally looked around. "Why would you want to be here?"

Lauren explained, "My designs haven't hit it big. A pattern cutter friend of mine said if I ever wanted to go to a quiet place where nothing happened to work on them, this was it."

Sally laughed. "You got that right."

Well, the two talked until the fire burned low. Sally was fascinated about her guest, and Lauren seemed very interested in Sally and her quest to look pretty.

Finally, Lauren said, "Well, I must be on my way back now."

Sally asked, "Will I see you again?"

Lauren replied, "Light another fire tomorrow night, and we'll see."

Then she glided back through the rustling leaves. Once she reached the woods, she disappeared into the dark in a blink of an eye.

The next night, Sally lit another fire and Lauren appeared again, this time in a shimmering black dress with a green-feathered neck corset and belt. Once again, the wind stopped just as she arrived. Lauren brought a makeup kit and showed Sally how to do up her face.

The following night, Lauren showed Sally some of her designs and how Sally could mix and match the clothes she already owned for more impact.

To say that these two were hitting it off would be an understatement. Sally couldn't wait for nightfall each night, and with every fire, Lauren magically appeared, dressed even lovelier than the last time. Sally benefited from their exchanges, and with her improving looks, she started getting friendly talk from those mean girls.

Well, one very cold night, they were talking near a big bonfire when Sally noticed that the sash Lauren was wearing still had a tag on it. A tag from...

Something inside Sally snapped.

"Walmart!" Sally grabbed the sash. "This is from Walmart. You said all the clothes you have were from big-name designers."

Lauren replied, "No, I didn't say that. I know a lot of designers, and they gave me clothes from their shows, but you still have to accessorize, you silly girl."

"No!" Sally saw red. "You're just like those other girls, making fun of me! I bet those other clothes were fake, too!"

In her mind, all Sally could hear were those mean girls, calling her plain and ugly, over and over. "They put you up to this! Are they in the shadows, watching us? Laughing at me again?"

Lauren said, "What? No!"

Sally tried to throw the sash into the fire but Lauren grabbed her.

They struggled.

Lauren fell backwards into the bonfire.

Her high-fashion getup burned hot.

She screamed and screamed, but couldn't get out of the fire.

Sally just watched, smiling.


When there was nothing left of Lauren, Sally buried the bones.

It wasn't enough.

The next night, Sally invited one of those mean girls over, and burned her the same way. The following night, and every night thereafter, Sally went out looking for more of those girls, determined that mean girls wouldn't pick on anyone again.

So, you remember that rustling out in the woods before?

You might think that's the ghost of Lauren, warning us, but it's not.

That's Sally.

She's been listening to you, deciding if you're mean or not.

Be careful by that fire, girls.

Good night!


The End



A Brotherly Bond



Urban legends always have some truth to them. This one is no different. Two men weaved their way through the forest in an attempt to end one.

The men stopped and surveyed their surroundings. Flashlights revealed decaying wood, pieces of glass, broken bricks, and a number of beer cans around their proximity. The amount of building material, a rusted pick-up truck, a standing wall, and an empty square opening hinted at the past residential nature of the plot.

“Is this it, Bill?” Trevor asked.

Bill paused. He inhaled the crisp midnight air and cleared his throat. He glanced at Bill and nodded.

“This is it. This is the old Webber house.” Bill said

“I can feel the evil surrounding this place.” Trevor said. “It’s all around us.”

Bill walked over to Trevor’s side.

“Nordonia Heights gets all sorts of paranormal weirdoes running all over the forest.” Bill said. “They disrupt our personal lives to further their ‘careers.’ But you were the first one who seemed concerned about the town’s well-being.”

Trevor smiled and patted Bill on the shoulder.

“We need to construct a fire to banish this abomination and free your town of its curse.” Trevor said.

The two men gathered nearby studs, old floor boards, and fallen tree branches. The two managed to build a massive teepee of wood.

Bill turned to Trevor.

“Have you heard the legend, Trevor?” Bill asked.

Trevor shook his head.

###

To the residents of Nordonia Heights, Theo, Elaine, and William, the couple’s son, seemed like a normal family. Except the Webber’s harbored a dark secret; William had a twin brother. A creature created from an ancient pact.

One day, the windows of the Webber house began to rattle as if a train was passing by. There was no train in sight. The couple stopped and stared at each other.

A loud crash came from the second floor. The couple jumped. Something hit the floor hard.

“Did you feed it, Elaine?” Theo asked.

“Did I feed him, Theo? Yes, I feed him last night.” Elaine responded.

Elaine walked towards the stairs. A growl echoed through the house. An experienced tracker would tell the family to make noise to scare away the bear.

The house started shaking. Pictures fell off the walls, glass shattered, studs creaked, and the ceiling cracked.

“Theo, where is the doll?” Elaine shouted.

Theo shrugged.

“I haven’t seen the damn doll.” Theo replied.

Theo and Elaine made their way up the stairs. They balanced themselves against the wall to the closed door at the end of the hallway.

Elaine looked at Theo.

“Do something!” Elaine pleaded.

Theo looked around and noticed a broken table. He picked up two broken legs. Theo took three more steps towards the door. Theo jerked the door handle, opening the door. He created a cross shape with the two broken pieces.

“I command you to stop this tantrum at once!” Theo shouted.

A thick mass that resembled a python with no head coiled around Theo’s calf. Theo clubbed the mass. The strike had no effect. The mass tugged with considerable force, knocking Theo off his feet. Theo clawed at the floor but couldn't move. The mass pulled Theo into the room but he caught the door frame. Theo kicked at the mass with his free foot.

“Help me, Elaine!” Theo shouted.

The shaking knocked Elaine off her feet. She crawled over to Theo. Elaine grabbed Theo’s wrist and pulled. Theo didn’t budge. He was losing grip on the door frame.

Elaine looked into Theo’s eyes and shook her head.

“I’m so sorry, Theo.” Elaine shouted.

Elaine reached out and grabbed the door handle and slammed the door shut. There was a loud snap from Theo’s fingers.

Theo’s screams only lasted a few moments. The shaking subsided.

Elaine wanted to cry. Instead, she dusted herself off and stood up.

“Willie, sweetie, are you OK?” Elaine shouted.

The basement door opened and little shoes tapped all the way up the stairs.

Willie rushed to Elaine, clutching a cloth doll. Elaine grabbed the cloth doll from Willie’s arms and slapped his cheek

“This is your brother’s doll. Do you understand that, Willie?” Elaine said.

“Brother gave it to me, Mommy.” Willie replied.

Elaine gave the cloth doll back to Willie.

“We need to leave now, Sweetie. Do you want to go for a truck ride?” Elaine asked.

Willie nodded.

Elaine walked to the stairs and turned back to locate Willie. “Follow mommy, swe…”

The door at the end of the hallway was open.

Elaine couldn’t hold back her tears any longer. She fell to her knees and sobbed. “Willie…”

A thick mass slithered out from the doorway. Elaine looked up and shot to her feet. The mass wrapped around Elaine’s waist and pulled her back towards the end of the hallway. Elaine screamed until her head hit the door frame.

###

“Dear God, that’s terrible.” Trevor said, covering his mouth with his hand.

Bill walked a few feet away from Trevor.

“Where did I put it?” Bill said himself.

Bill looked around and kicked a piece of wood.

“Found it!” Bill shouted.

Bill crouched down and picked up a cloth doll. He dusted the doll off.

Trevor looked at Bill and noticed the doll.

“Good find!” Trevor said. “That’s the doll the family used as a charm to keep the creature under control. Quickly, we need to burn it to banish the creature and avenge the three souls lost that day.”

“Two souls.” Bill corrected.

A growl broke the night’s silence. Trees crashed to the ground off in the distance.

Trevor gasped.

“Why help me?” Trevor asked.

“You might not understand this, Trevor, but brothers stick together. And I was building a signal fire, I’m not sure what you were building.” Bill replied.

Bill whispered to the doll. The pile of wood ignited into flames.

Trevor ran. He didn’t make it far.

Don’t come looking for us!


The End



Just be Nice Sometimes



In hills and mountains of Western Pennsylvania, a bigfoot family nestles themselves around a small campfire that the father made. The secluded area and vast forests, provide a secure site in which the humans will not venture into tonight. As the full moon looks down and smiles on the forest, the father bigfoot, Gormant, speaks.

“I was young at the time. Yes, younger than you my son-- when standing before me was a human! She didn’t have any odor about her and I didn’t smell her as she approached. You’ll get to know the odor of Right Guard and other scents they use----that’s one of the reason they never see us first. Remember, train you nose above all else.

“I looked at her and she looked at me. We just stared. Then, and I’ll never forget the sweet voice she had and the friendly manner in which she asked the question: ‘Are you a Bigfoot?’

“Her innocence shocked me. This young human who I could easily crush compelled me to say:’What do you thing I am? Some retarded black bear? Of course I’m a bigfoot!’

‘Oh,’ she said. Then she pulled out one of those cameras and, believe me I’ll never forget this one, she said, ‘I just have to take you picture! Judy and Kyra will never believe me when I tell them I saw a bigfoot and my dad and brothers will just laugh at me and the teacher at school will call me silly and things like that, but you’re real. Oh, my name is Candice. You are, aren’t you. If you’re Billy Thomas dressed up like a bigfoot—I’m going to kill you! You are real aren’t you? I just live over there—you can see my house if you look. I was just out looking for blackberries when I seen you just standing there and....”

‘Okay, Okay,’ I said. ‘Give me a break, will you. You know I’m not supposed to talk to humans or ever let them see me. My father will kill me if he knew that I talked to a human!’

‘Well what do you think my dad would do? Huh? Give me a break, will you. He would send me to one of those head doctors and make me take pills and talk to me about why you aren’t real. You think I want to do that? If you do then you are not a nice creature. No you are not!’ Candice said.

“I didn’t know what a head doctor was but I remember my grandfather telling me about medicine men that the Indians used to have and conclude that many she was right about some things,” Gomant said at he campfire.

‘Please Oh please let me take a picture of you—I’ll be you friend for life. I’ll give you things----food and stuff like that. Oh, please! Pretty, pretty please!” Candice said.

“What could I do? I took a liking to her---- don’t know why because most human smell so yucky----but in her case I said, ‘Okay’ What he hell--- they would think that I was somebody in a costume anyway. You know, these humans and their Halloween and stuff.”

“So I got up, placed my right paw behind my head, titled my head up, leaned back against a tree and smiled,”

‘No, no, no, not like that! Will you growl and show your fangs—look mean and wild,’ Candice said.

‘I’m not mean and I’m not really wild! I’m a nice creature. All us bigfoots are nice and even civilized by your standards,’ I said.

‘I can see that, but please, please look mean for me, please,’ Chandice said.

“I said Okay and put on a mean face, growled a little and raised up my paws and tried to look like some werewolf.”

‘Oh, that’s wonderful,’ she said.

“She must have took ten picture. Then she said, ‘Thank you, Oh thank you so much! I’ll never forget what you did. I think we can become good friends and things like that. I’ll never tell them were I found you—I’ll say my uncle Billy shot these picture out West, you know. He used to hunt there all the time. I’m going to leave you things down by the big rock at the creek, you know the one, I’m sure you do. Just look there the last Friday of the month and I’ll have Goodies for you and thanks again and again,’ this Candice said”

“Dad, that’s one very scary story—coming face to face with a human. They have guns you know!” Possium said, Gomant eldest son.

“The humans have passed laws saying that they are not allowed to hunt us, but be careful anyway,” Gomant said.

“Did she every leave you anything by that rock?” Toadfrog said, Goment’s daughter.

“Oh, yea all the time now. In fact I started to leave her things like Indian arrowheads, tomahawk heads and colorful rock and sometime flowers in the summer and all kinds of things that I thought a human would like,” Gomant said..

“What did she leave you?” Toadfrog asked.

“Like those potato chips Toadforg? How about those Doritos, Possium? Like them? And that pizza we get once a month now, like it? It comes from Dominos they say. And how about that nice-warm blanket Honey. And those candy bars and those....”


The End



Saba's Baby



"Have you ever?" I asked loudly over the crackle of the campfire and the chatter of my extended family.

"Woot! Woot!" my cousin Marian shouted. "Talbart's going to tell a story."

People quieted and a few clapped in excitement.

"Thank you," I acknowledged the tribute. "Have you ever heard the story of Saba's baby?"

There were negative murmurs and shaking of heads and I smiled triumphantly. Across the fire, my brother Colton frowned. His miscalculated bet would cost him.

"We all know of Saba, the first Empress of the Old Empire, but did you know that she was not the Emperor Havika's first wife?"

There were disbelieving mumblings. The love between Havika and Saba was legendary. How could she not have been his first, his only, wife?

"No, it's true," I continued. "In the folly of youth, Havika married the shrewish Mica. She was cold and vain and thought herself irreplaceable, but she would not have his children."

I accompanied my brother in his travels across the galaxy. He prospected investments that would grow our family's already considerable fortune and influence; I collected fables and legends; stories and myths. This made me a big hit at family gatherings such as this one where I could take my flair for storytelling and entertain our people. On our home planet Tuvane, in the Southern Hemisphere, the weather was turning cold and the leaves were falling. We, all of us from my grandmother Talbart—for whom I was named—through the most far flung second cousins, gathered at the family estate for a week to celebrate our success and make sacrifices and offer pledges of fidelity to our Goddess who had blessed us.

_When Havika saw Saba taking a bath that fateful night on the rooftop, he divorced Mica. Mica, clever and scheming sent up a great cry, pleading that she would be outcast and homeless, and the soft-hearted Havika gave her a wing of the palace to live in.

"In due time, of course, Saba became pregnant. Mica was a fury in her jealous rage; and, when the baby was born, Mica conspired to poison the child, slowly, repeatedly, until the child was dead."

There were several gasps as I made this pronouncement. Though in other pockets of the galaxy this story and even the history were well-preserved, so much was lost across the millennia and the light-years. We were simply too far away.

"No one knew about the poison. Mica lived a retired life, seldom leaving her quarters. No one even suspected."

"You mean no one caught her?" my five-cade-old nephew asked.

"No." I shook my head. "No one caught her.

"But," I said with a dramatic pause, "Saba suspected.

"The grieving Empress said nothing and told no one. When it came time to bury the child, the mother switched the body for a bag of corn meal. She took her dead child's body to the catacombs beneath Mica's wing of the palace, and she laid her child to rest in a type of makeshift crypt.

"She didn't tell anyone about this either. Several months passed uneventfully. But rumors began to spread that Mica wasn't sleeping; that Mica wasn't well.

"Doing her queenly duty, Saba went to visit Mica.

"'Saba!' Mica cried. 'Lift the curse! I beg of you! Anything! I will do anything!'

"'Why, whatever do you mean, Lady Mica?' the Empress asked slyly.

"'The child! Your dead child weeps! He cries every night. He will not let me sleep!'

"'And why do you think that is, my lady,' Saba asked.

"But Mica's heart hardened and she would not confess, 'Because you hate me and you have cursed me.'

"This saddened Saba for she knew, in part, that it was true. Even if Mica had caused the death of her child, she in return had cursed the wretched woman. Shortly after her visit, Empress Saba went back down to the catacombs and she took the body of her precious baby boy away. Secretly, she gave him a proper burial.

"But the weeping did not cease, and Mica grew wilder and madder and one night, at the new moon, she threw herself from a balcony to her death.

"To this day, even in the decimated ruins in which the palace presently exists, a soul can hear the baby cry. Except at the new moon. When the new moon rises, the baby laughs."


The End



That Sensation Again



Campgrounds always offer a characteristic blend of action and pleasant moments. Featuring lots of free time for having fun, a person can practice canoeing or sailing, for example, or just rest, play sports, swim and sunbathe –for most of the day. However, it is when the night comes, while the campfire is blazing and the branches in the flames make a crisp snapping sound, that the real enjoyment begins for many. People get together near their tents to make small talk and tell stories- some horrific tales that fill the darkness in those moments.

On one such night, five figures slowly approached the reddish fire on the ground and sat around it. There was a strange silence at the beginning, and then I started speaking. My voice was low and feeble at first, before I became more comfortable with the place and the time. “I can tell you something incredible tonight, if you’d like to hear my scary story.”

“Yes, we have nothing else to do, and we are tired of wandering around, at least I am…” the oldest one in the company said, putting his right hand on his receding hairline.

The other three nodded in agreement. So, I took it as an invitation to go on.

“This is a story about a very strange experience I underwent a few days ago, and I still feel shaky because of it.”

“What happened?” the long-haired female of the group, tall and very slender, asked me immediately.

“I lay on a stone altar, situated above the ground. There was a lamp, some candles, walls around me and a strange wind coming from outside. At least, that is what I remember. Then I heard the words of a young man quoting from a blasphemous tome written in French that outlined a number of ghastly ceremonies to call down the souls of the deceased. You know, I never believed in such things, and I never would, of course, if only…” I paused for a while before continuing. “But I was there, and I couldn’t escape. Then the words ceased and I opened my eyes. That was when I felt something unbelievable…”

“What did you feel?” it was a fat graying fellow who asked me.

“I once again felt a sensation I never thought I would ever experience again... There was an impression of a strange warmth in my body, seeing the world through my pupils, touching the objects around me, walking on my feet and standing tall.”

And breathing…?” one of the few ones present dared to ask me.

“No, actually you can’t breathe anymore when you are brought back like a zombie.” I made that point very clear. “I thought I had become undead, actually, at that moment…”

“I see…” said the woman.

“But I didn’t have the time to savor it for as long as I would have liked…Probably that young sorcerer wasn’t experienced enough in the dark arts. So the effect was temporary,” I regretfully admitted looking down. “Even the name of the magical activity he was attempting to put into action, and its true origin, creates problems because ‘Voodoo’ is an Anglicized name. It is also called voudon, voodun, vudoun, or voodoux. From what I’ve been told, that slave religion was adapted to the new conditions among people who were brought here long ago to the Caribbean, possibly from the West Africa coast, by European slavers. At times, someone tries to revive such practices…I wish that the man who tried the ritual had been more capable so as to keep me in the world of the living beings again for a while longer…”

“You must not feel sorry for yourself, my dear.” It was the female who spoke. “You went through something none of us have undergone and perhaps never will. Being alive again! At least, you were allowed to go back to earth and walk over the ground once more, escaping - though for a short time - our pale existence as dead men and women…”

And children!” a small hairy figure at the right corner cried out.

“Yes, and children, too,” she conceded.

“Anyway, the sensation I felt was very pleasant…although I wasn’t entirely capable of controlling my will and thinking as clearly as I used to do before dying. It was like I was young and vigorous again. You know what I mean, don’t you?”

“We all know about that...” the slender female figure nodded in a dejected tone, sadly.

“We all know, indeed…” another young fellow added, two empty spaces where his eyes were once positioned.

There was the sudden noise of steps on the sand, near the foreshore.

“We need to get out of here. The living humans who own these tents are coming back to this part of the campground. It is time for us to go back into the darkness…” the soul of the graying man warned.

"We should go, for sure...” the others agreed. And so all of us stood up and moved away from the campfire, going back to the dark trees that stood around like silent shapes that only the night winds - that rose from time to time - seemed to be capable of shaking, giving those a sort of unearthly personality.

As I followed them, leaving the fire of the living beings behind me, I noticed how the flames highlighted the colors of the objects in the camp which reminded me of the vividness of the world of humans who still had their whole life ahead of them.

I took the chance to give a quick look back at the tourists who were coming out of the ocean, laughing after their midnight swim, and heading back for their tents on the beach. From the expressions I saw on their faces, I was sure they, too, were readying to meet-up near the campfire soon and tell scary tales before going to bed after they dried off.


The End



The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure



“There are thirteen of you tonight. Tomorrow, when you wake up, one will be gone.” I paused and panned the open-eyed faces of the boys sitting around the campfire cross-legged, Indian style. “Thanks to Camp Halloween Adventure’s resident ghost.”

“Sure,” the chubbiest one said. “Like there’s such a thing as ghosts.” He snorted in disdain.

“It’s true,” another one said. “My friend told me about it. He was here last year.”

“So I guess you didn’t believe him. . .since you’re here,” chubby said.

I know I’m not supposed to use words like chubby, but if I didn’t one would assume I like kids. I don’t. I like their parents’ money.

“It’s my mother who doesn’t believe in ghosts,” the boy said, wiping sweaty palms on his jeans.

“Well,” I interjected. “We’ll all find out in the morning—won’t we?” They looked at each other, most unsure what to think. “It’s too bad, too, since tomorrow is the day you get to go rafting and zip lining, and maybe rock-wall climbing, if you’re not too tired.”

“But it’ll be cold.” Guess who. “And we’re not strong enough or old enough to go rafting.” Chubby looked at the others, all like him. “We’re only ten.” He paused again to survey his fellow campers’ faces. “And we could drown,” he said, looking at me.

The others nodded and made various sounds of agreement.

I held up my hand, as if taking an oath. “We’ve been running this camp for years.” I smiled reassuringly. At least, it was meant to be reassuring. “We know what we’re doing.” The boys glanced at each other, their necks on ball bearing swivels.

“Anyway, you have to worry about our ghost first. He’s in one of you right now.” They gasped in unison. “That’s right. He always inhabits one camper’s body.” I looked at Chubby. “Usually the one who complains the most.”

Chubby peered at me across the campfire, his eyes two slits, the rising heat augmenting their meaning. “You’re full of sh—.”

“Ah, ah.” I wagged a finger. “Remember, only nice words at Camp Halloween Adventure. You read the rules with your parents like instructed, didn’t you?

Chubby closed his mouth.

“Anyway, our ghost reads the inhabited camper’s mind to find out which one of the others he likes the least.” I scanned the group, pausing to look each one in the eyes. “That’s the one who turns up missing in the morning.”

Chubby said, “You’re so full of it.” He pushed himself off the ground and walked away.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait until morning to find out.” I stood. “Of course, the ghost can only take one of you away if you’re all asleep.”

The remaining campers huddled together, whispering to each other, while I went to get rid of Chubby. Little did he know he’d picked himself to be sent home early. No harm would come to him. He’d simply stop being a pain in my ass.


The End
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Post October 16, 2016, 10:05:33 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 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:
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2) How good was the Characterization?
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Catwalk to the Fire
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A Brotherly Bond
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Just Be Nice Sometimes
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Saba's Baby
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That Sensation Again
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The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure
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Post October 17, 2016, 11:55:45 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

After the first day of voting, the current leader is

Jim!
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Post October 18, 2016, 11:53:44 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Passing Jim to the inside and jumping out to a big early lead is

Kate!
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Post October 19, 2016, 08:03:55 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

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

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Post October 19, 2016, 09:23:29 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Well got my votes in!
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Post October 20, 2016, 12:46:36 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

With another day of voting in, Kate is holding onto her lead! Will she tire before the finish line?

Closest to her are Sergio and George.
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Post October 20, 2016, 03:19:58 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

I loved the big animal story! I wish I knew them...if they were real.
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Post October 20, 2016, 06:01:40 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Stories by Kandi wrote:I loved the big animal story! I wish I knew them...if they were real.

I would ask that you don't comment about any particular story until after the vote concludes, please. You may inadvertently effect the outcome.

If someone wants to discuss the challenge in general, I think that would be ok. Just not about the entries until after Sunday night.
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Post October 20, 2016, 06:22:28 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

kailhofer wrote:
Stories by Kandi wrote:I loved the big animal story! I wish I knew them...if they were real.

I would ask that you don't comment about any particular story until after the vote concludes, please. You may inadvertently effect the outcome.

If someone wants to discuss the challenge in general, I think that would be ok. Just not about the entries until after Sunday night.

Uh, there are no rules posted that state what you have just asked. If there is, will you please provide a link for me.
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Post October 20, 2016, 07:40:07 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

There is no such rule. If it was a rule violation, I would have removed your post as a system administrator, but I didn't do that.

Instead, I asked that you please refrain from doing so.

It is a common courtesy practice we have followed for most of the last ten years, and for some good reasons.

Look at this way. Last month, if someone posted a 'I really hated that princess story' message, would it have bothered you? It would have been reasonable for you to be upset about it. Any author would be. Do you think a post like that might have influenced the scores it received? Likewise, how should the other authors from this month feel here now? Would they view your comments as a kind of campaigning for that story over theirs?

I can't say for certain if they would or not, but I can say posts like this were viewed that way in the past. This caused some very upset feelings, which is why I started asking people to not post comments about the stories until after the vote concluded. Some authors can have very fragile egos, and I would prefer their (and your) experience be positive ones.

I don't want to curb your enthusiasm. Quite the contrary, I am very glad that you so liked one of the entries. I very much want the stories to be read.

So, no offense was meant by my request. The practice has kept the peace and helped make it a nurturing atmosphere for scores of authors to try their hand at it, and this is why I asked it.
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Post October 21, 2016, 12:15:16 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Throughout today, Kate has kept running on a steady pace. Sergio and George are still hanging in there, but haven't gained any.

The rest of us... well, let's just say so far we have a long distance to go.

However, there's a lot of time before the vote closes. I have seen turnarounds this big before--it could happen again.

So, if you haven't voted here yet, please do. Your challenge vote could make a very important difference.

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Post October 22, 2016, 11:04:00 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

kailhofer wrote:There is no such rule. If it was a rule violation, I would have removed your post as a system administrator, but I didn't do that.

Oh, what a guy!

If you had it written down in the rules, then there wouldn't be any question for current and future newcomers, who can't read your mind or don't know what the unspoken, unwritten guidelines were in the past.

She was right in making the post and you were wrong in reprimanding her for a rule she had no way of knowing.

So, write it down in the rules.

Also, I was called on making comment by the other challenge coordinator Daniel last month, who said I should make comments about other people's stories by PM. You could have shown some tact by writing her in a PM instead of pulling rank in open forum.

The consequences can be the loss of writers willing to be in these challenges. What did you have last month, 2 participants other than yourself? That should give you pause.

kailhofer wrote:If someone wants to discuss the challenge in general, I think that would be ok. Just not about the entries until after Sunday night.

Okay, since you asked.

Your rules are too controlling and overstated.

You've got a couple of convoluted paragraphs about original characters and settings. Why don't you write it like this;

"Everything in these challenge entries should be original, including characters, settings and products. Nothing preexisting will be allowed."

Bam, there you've got it!
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Post October 22, 2016, 01:00:38 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Jim Statton wrote:I was called on making comment by the other challenge coordinator Daniel last month

Daniel is not a challenge coordinator. I run the challenges. Daniel is a regular user, just like you. He just happens to like the challenges and the stories it produces. I am grateful for the messages he sends out, entirely on his own, reminding people to vote. It's very nice of him.

You are entitled to your opinion, and to state it.

The challenges have been run this exact same way all the last ten years, and have no shortage of people who have entered. To date, 67 different authors have entered the challenges (I counted), producing over 500 stories to read. Many of them are outstanding. All provided for free, and on a volunteer basis.

I think we're doing something right.

The rules are restrictive, but they have evolved that way to keep the peace here in the forum. Practically every rule we have is because there was a problem and the rule was put in place to keep it from happening again. I am sorry they bother you so much.

I would like to say thank you for suggesting a way to revise the character and setting rule. Not many people make suggestions.

However, I feel there are too many possible loopholes in what was suggested for it to work. For example, the "Char-less Darween" mentioned in the current rule really happened in a story. It would be fictional and original, and would be allowed as you wrote it. No one I ever heard of was called "Char-less," or "Darween" for that matter. However, other authors in that challenge complained that it gave that entry more recognition because of it's obvious similarity to Charles Darwin and had an unfair advantage because of it.

It's not so easy to create a rule that works in all cases.

You do have a point when it comes to people who are not used to the etiquette of our forum. I will put a "Please do no post comments about the stories until the vote is completed" request at the bottom of the voting form from now on.

However, it won't be a rule, just as it is not a rule now.
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Post October 23, 2016, 01:52:17 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

My votes are on the way.
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Post October 23, 2016, 10:28:58 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Voting has closed.


Thank you to all the members who voted.

This month, Aphelion's own Kate Stuart ran away with it, thanks to her excellent story "Saba's Baby." Good work, Kate!



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


Catwalk to the Fire by N.J. Kailhofer
A Brotherly Bond by Justin Zimmerman
Just Be Nice Sometimes by George T. Philibin
Saba's Baby by Kate Stuart
That Sensation Again by Sergio Palumbo
The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure by Jim Harrington


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



Catwalk to the Fire: 509
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 4
# Perfect 10s: 6

A Brotherly Bond: 461
1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 6
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 2

Just Be Nice Sometimes: 603
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 7

Saba's Baby: 752
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 27

That Sensation Again: 605
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 5

The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure: 501
1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 6
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Post October 24, 2016, 01:32:00 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations, Kate!

It was nice to see a good turnout again.

Here are my scores, with some notes.


Catwalk to the Fire
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 9
6) Challenge: 10

total: 53


A Brotherly Bond
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 10

Total: 33


Just Be Nice Sometimes
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 10

total: 42

comment: I like the way you inverted the characterizations of the creatures, and their relationships.


Saba's Baby
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 9

total: 39

To me, this sounded less like a campfire story than a classical myth. The difference isn't much, and it could be fixed by putting in some setting of a baby's voice in the background and mentioning the moon phase.


That Sensation Again
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 10

total: 48

Very clever plot twist: campfire ghost stories being told by a ghost. Like it, but I felt you slowed things down a bit too much with the detailed historical explanation of zombies and voodoo.


The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 9
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 10
6) Challenge: 10

total: 55
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Post October 24, 2016, 04:04:12 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Many congratulations to the winner, indeed!!! :D

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Post October 24, 2016, 09:59:59 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations, Kate, and all the others who participated. It was my first time, and I enjoyed the challenge.
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Post October 24, 2016, 02:40:34 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

I will post comments on these stories as I have time incrementally.

Catwalk to the Fire - Nate, I never would have guessed this was your story. Where do I begin?

I really didn't like it. I've read all of your stories in the flash archives and this is by far the worst one. I have found you are usually consistent with plot and descriptions and I have been entertained by most of them. This one is a stand alone and I can't really understand why this one was so unlike your other stories.

A unattractive loner who despises the other girls her age for excluding her from their lives is visited by a fashion model apparition, who gives her a make over, tutors her and generally becomes her mentor. On one occasion the homely girl sees a Walmart tag on her ghost friend's clothes and goes ape shit. She murders her by pushing her into the campfire, which burns her only friend alive.Then she murders the other girls in the same way and laughs in the end.

On plot alone, a little thought could have improved the story considerable.

First, a campfire without some magic could not cause a spontaneously combustion and consume the ghost (can a ghost be consumed by fire) and especially not a human. The worst that could happen is the girls suffering some burns before rolling out of the fire.

The ugly girl's wrath should have been foretold better and not be abrupt.

The ghost was the only likable character. I would have like to have known the background of why the ghost chose this wretch of a person to care about.

I suppose it was good I didn't know this story was yours, cause I probably would not have voted rather than give you low scores for it.

Sorry.
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Post October 24, 2016, 05:09:20 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Saba's Baby - I would have paid to read this!

I love the author's style and imagination. She has a gift for storytelling. The story covers many scenes beautifully (normally very difficult for flash) with a seamless plot development.

I noted the inspiration for this tale being The Bible's "David and Bathsheba" and Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tale, Tale Heart". The author did an amazing job on weaving these influences into the storyline.

Professional. A Must Read.
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Post October 24, 2016, 06:19:11 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

That Sensation Again - Sergio, you're beginning to win me over to your style of writing. You really like a strong narrative. Even though that style is not en vogue, you remain steadfast with it and I'm proud of you for being willing to swim up stream.

This was my second favorite story by you to date.

I agree with Lester about your very clever plot twist with a ghost telling ghost stories. I would only suggest more description of characters and scenes so I can see it more clearly.

Good job!

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Post October 24, 2016, 06:46:31 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations Kate. Also I think you are doing a wonderful job as editor. All the stories were good.
As always it’s hard for me to judge the best. Each story had it’s own merits, and each story showed creativity.

Good job to all!
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Post October 24, 2016, 10:00:12 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Oh yes Kate, I want to compliment you on the excellent job you're doing as short story editor.

I especially like the way you comment on each of your submissions, inspiring them while carefully instructing them on ways to do better. There needs to be a caring hand when dealing with amateur writers, even more than professional ones, who are prepared for rejection.

Glad you are here.
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Post October 25, 2016, 04:02:30 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

For Lester Curtis and Daniel Johnson:

I'm really glad you liked my entry, of course...eh,eh :D

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Post October 25, 2016, 09:46:55 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

I decided to post my votes. Strange, after re-reading the stories again, my votes would have changed! I don’t know how others judge stories, but with myself, my mood at the time of reading, seems to have an impact on me. An hour later when my mood changes, I find that I liked another story better! Then after some external stimulus like a bad phone call or a fight with a bank about surcharges, my likes will change again.


Catwalk to the Fire
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 10

A Brotherly Bond
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 10

Just Be Nice Sometimes
Mine

Saba's Baby
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 10

That Sensation Again
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 76) Challenge:10

The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge:10

Maybe I should say that the story that got my attention was Sergio's. But each story I liked at least in some sense.
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Post October 25, 2016, 10:58:17 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Okay, here are my votes.

I liked "Saba's Baby" the best, a top shelf story! I also liked "Just Be Nice Sometimes" a great deal.

Catwalk to the Fire
1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 2
3) Plot: 2
4) Setting: 4
5) Dialog: 3
6) Challenge: 5

A Brotherly Bond
1) Overall: 4
2) Characterization: 4
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 4
5) Dialog: 4
6) Challenge: 5

Just Be Nice Sometimes
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 9
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 8

Saba's Baby
1) Overall: 10
2) Characterization: 10
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 9
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 10

That Sensation Again
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 8

The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure
1) Overall: 4
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 4
4) Setting: 4
5) Dialog: 4
6) Challenge: 6
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Post October 26, 2016, 02:35:22 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Thank you all so much for all the compliments and votes! (And the suggestions!) I had so much fun writing this story and I'm so glad you all enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, I didn't save my final votes; I'm always tweaking everything until I'm hit the send button and can't tweak any more, but generally:

Catwalk to the Fire by N.J. Kailhofer -- I thought this really nailed the ghost campfire story; but Sally was so mean! It made me like her less.

A Brotherly Bond by Justin Zimmerman -- I liked this one though it didn't feel like it was a story being told around a campfire; and it started off with a reference to urban legends that I would have liked to have seen come around again; it did have a strong haunted element to it that I thought fit in with the season

Just Be Nice Sometimes by George T. Philibin -- I just loved this one; the characters were great and the twist at the end was fun

Saba's Baby by Kate Stuart

That Sensation Again by Sergio Palumbo -- this also had a great twist, but I thought the middle was a little confused. The narrator was brought back as a zombie and then I was left trying to figure out if he was still a zombie or if he was fully dead again. I don't know; I got hung up on it . I loved the atmosphere though; the forest and the trees; the campfire and the lake and then the campers coming out of the lake at the end was great.

The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure by Jim Harrington -- the ending was cute and it made me laugh; the narrator was so snarky and totally sounded like some spoiled bored teen/early twenties who was working as a camp guide sort of involuntarily and just wanted to scare the snot out of the kids. I did think it could have used some more fleshing out; I didn't feel like there was enough plot and I would have loved to have seen the snotty kid wake up the next morning with one of the other kids missing. I mean if anyone deserved to be scared it was that kid. :-)
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Post October 26, 2016, 02:36:45 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Daniel Johnson wrote:Oh yes Kate, I want to compliment you on the excellent job you're doing as short story editor.

I especially like the way you comment on each of your submissions, inspiring them while carefully instructing them on ways to do better. There needs to be a caring hand when dealing with amateur writers, even more than professional ones, who are prepared for rejection.

Glad you are here.


Thanks, Daniel!

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Post October 26, 2016, 08:59:54 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote October 2016 Flash Challenge

Daniel is not a challenge coordinator. I run the challenges. Daniel is a regular user, just like you.
That's a surprise! His comments have an editorial feel.

You are entitled to your opinion, and to state it.
Good.

The challenges have been run this exact same way all the last ten years, and have no shortage of people who have entered. To date, 67 different authors have entered the challenges (I counted), producing over 500 stories to read. Many of them are outstanding. All provided for free, and on a volunteer basis.

I think we're doing something right.
Maintaining an activity the same way for ten years doesn't mean it can't become stagnant. Have you've given thought to all the newcomers who submit a story and don't come back? There's been a lot of those lately. Refreshing the activity wouldn't hurt and may hang on to new writers for more than a month.

I am sorry they bother you so much.
Thanks.

I would like to say thank you for suggesting a way to revise the character and setting rule. Not many people make suggestions.
Great! I'm going to keep at it.

How about this.

"The purpose of this activity is to inspire writers to create entirely original stories. Characters, settings, products and all facets of the challenge entries must include original elements (without varying previous elements of fiction or anything preexisting in real life through a play on words)."

Does this plug the holes?

You do have a point when it comes to people who are not used to the etiquette of our forum. I will put a "Please do no post comments about the stories until the vote is completed" request at the bottom of the voting form from now on.

However, it won't be a rule, just as it is not a rule now.
If it's not a rule, you won't have editorial powers to delete posts that don't follow that request.
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