One Word – Jeopardy

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April’s prompt in the Talkback, One Word Challenge was Jeopardy. This was another well chosen, but difficult to write for word. The poets found it a struggle as shown by the number of entries, but enough flash fiction stories made it before the deadline to make it a worthy challenge.

Here is my entry.

* * *

THE LAST DANCE

“So! You insist on this folly. You force me to come down to this god-forsaken room, just because you refuse to tell the truth.” He pushed the steel door shut with a gentle, well oiled click. “I thought that just being here would be enough, but you have to make my suffering worse.”

The fluorescent tubes flickered into yellow life, chasing the shadows deep in the damp crevices of the room. He checked the tightness of the ropes around her wrists.

“We don’t have to continue with this little game, I’d rather be with my other friends in the ballroom.” He slid out of his tuxedo and hooked it on a nail protruding from the breeze block wall. In exchange he put on the heavy rubber apron and matching gloves.

“Now, my dear, tell me his name and we can both leave this awful place.” He paused. She said nothing. He stroked her cheek with the foul-smelling rubber glove. “We could be back in time for the last waltz.” Her spittle ran down his cheek. He sighed.

“Then it will have to be a fandango.” He brought the bare ends of the jump-leads together in a shower of yellow-blue sparks.

* * *

© 2016 KPatrick Moody

 

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Poetry?

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By way of a change I entered a poetry competition. It was the other half of the One Word Challenge in the Writers Online forum, Talkback.

Now those who know me will understand that I have certain views on what does, and what doesn’t constitute poetry. That free-verse stuff is, to me, just badly written, often incoherent prose. Lazy writing. Stuff that weird hippies and Bohemians jot down and pretend that is ‘deep and meaningful’. I do proper poetry.

‘If it don’t rhyme, it ain’t poetry’. I don’t know whose wise words they were, but they is deeper and meaningfuller than a bunch of rambling thoughts scribbled on the back of a ciggy packet.

Who said, ‘Philistine’? It’s OK for greetings cards!

Anyway, the one word prompt for March was ‘jam‘.

***

Wham! Bam! Thanks ma’am, that really was quite fun,
But now, it seems, you’re telling me, your oven is with bun!

It was soon accomplished, all done and dusted quick,
My gigolo-ing technique really is quite slick.

But now all I can think of is ‘if only’ and, ‘what if’.
Suppose I should have been prepared with French preservatifs.

Alas, I must accept my fate, and take it like a man,
But am I in a quandary, a pickle, or a jam?

***

© 2016. KPatrick Moody

Inspiration Monday – Sketchy Artist

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It’s been so long! But I have another story, inspired by Steph’s trusty Bekindrewrite site. Of the prompts available Sketchy Artist struck a chord …

***

“This is the life, Samuel.” Joshua Fortesque stood back from the easel and puffed contentedly on his bent briar. “The greens in spring are so fresh.”Monet

“Well you’ve certainly captured the essence of the scene.” Sam Smythe took a pace back from the billowing tobacco smoke. He considered carefully the colours and shapes daubed on the canvas. “Tell me, Joshua, how long have you painted abstracts?”

“Samuel, please. It is after Monet’s impressionist style,” he huffed. Sam considered it carefully for some moments before replying.

“Do people really like this stuff?” He dodged another cloud from the briar. “Would they sell if we could produce them ‘en masse’?”

“I’m sure they would, if I could paint fast enough.” Joshua chuckled at the thought. He watched Sam, deep in thought, wander back towards the workshop.

The late afternoon sun dipped behind the trees and Joshua packed away his paints and easel, and headed off to the workshop, trailing pipe smoke in his wake. He pushed open the door and peeked round the edge to see what Sam was up to.

“Just in time, old boy!” Sam’s brown dust coat was splattered in every colour available in Joshua’s pallet. “What do you think of this?”

On the bench was a wooden frame, and in it was what appeared to be a large stencil. It looked like an old silk shirt was stretched across it, too.

Joshua pocketed his pipe and went in.

The bench was scattered with jars and dishes of paints mixed to different consistencies, some almost like water, others like thick cream. Propped against the walls and cupboards were boards covered in paint; some colours fixed to the surface, others dribbled down and pooled on the floor.

“I’m nearly there! The theory is good!” As usual Sam’s enthusiasm for concocting machines to do man’s work blinded him to any impracticalities. “Out there you were dabbing on your colours here and there – bit of yellow, bit of blue – making a greeny colour.” He pointed to the canvas Joshua carried. “Not very efficient I thought.”

“It isn’t supposed to be efficient – it’s artistic – a pleasure, to be consumed slowly, and savoured.” Joshua assumed the haughty air of one who knows, unlike an engineer who just wouldn’t understand.

“Yes, yes. I know all that.” Sam waved the idea away. “With this machine I can replicate your art quicker, and more easily, by applying the individual colours one at a time to the whole picture in one swipe – look!”

He mixed paints, sloshed them into the frame, dragging a rubber blade across each time he changed colour. He swapped the stencils around, too. After ten minutes frenzied activity he held up a board for Joshua to see.

“I get the idea.” A faint wisp of smoke rose from his pocket. “The blending of the primary colours is producing the secondaries. I’m sure this can work, I’m warming to it.”

“Will you work with me on developing it, Joshua?” Sam paused and sniffed. “I’ll need your arty advice to get the colours just right – what’s that smell? Something burning?”

The pocket on Joshua’s jacket now had a black patch, just beginning to glow red. Joshua flapped his hand at it, but before it became a conflagration Sam grabbed a pot of water, with paint brushes still propped up in it, and drenched the seat of the fire.

“It’s best you only bring your pipe when we are working ‘en pleine air ‘methinks.” Sam covered his mouth in a failed effort to subdue his laugh.

Joshua turned and left the workshop, “My favourite tweed, y’know … and I suppose that’s my shirt in your infernal machine.”

***

© K Patrick Moody, 2016

Inspiration Monday – Inorganic life

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Steph, the name behind InMon and the Bekindrewite site has, due to seasonal befuddlement, extended the deadline for the current submissions. This can only be a good thing for me, as I’m always too late to make a contribution. But now, with an extra week …

Here is my contribution. I’ve used the prompt, Inorganic life, and my old steampunk intrepids have come to join in.

***

“Joshua!” The Bunsen burner flickered, alone at the end of the bench, “Joshua! Where are you?”

Samuel Smythe slammed the door and marched back to the main house. With perfect timing, the front door opened on his approach. The butler took a pace backwards to give the flapping overcoat enough space.

“James, have you seen Fortescue? I said I’d meet him in the workshop so he could explain the stuff in the jar.”

“Mr Fortescue left a note, sir.”

A white glove indicated a sealed envelope on the hall stand. Sam picked it up, on the reverse a single cursive F flowed across the seal.

Sam,

Sorry, old chap, bit of a problem – not sure what’s in the jar – thought it was inorganic – not so sure now – have taken it to family crypt – bring heavy gauntlets

Best

F”

“James, I need …” The butler held out Sam’s motorcycling gloves, and a pair of heavy boots. “… er, thanks.”

As Sam was tying the laces on the boots James coughed, Sam looked up and James handed him a lantern.

Suitably armed for a situation he knew nothing about, Sam strode off, in the direction of the crypt. (He refused to run, that was a sure sign of panic, and not becoming of a gentleman.)

The crypt door was ajar. The amber glow of a candle flickered on the sandstone walls. How many shadows wavered there? Sam pushed his way through the gap.

“Joshua?” His voice sounded tiny, lost in the dark corners.

“Sam! Thank the gods you are here!” He turned to face his friend. Joshua’s face was a mass of blood and green pus; it took all Sam’s effort not to turn and abandon Joshua to his fate – whatever it was. “Please – get it off me!”

As Sam looked closer, he saw that the oozing mess was not Joshua’s face, but some life form spreading over it. He took the candle from the lantern.

“Hold still, and close your eyes, this may hurt.” He raised the flame to Joshua’s face. He paused, “Oh, you’ll probably have to re-grow your moustache, too.”

The green slime sizzled and steamed as Sam worked his way around Joshua’s face. After only a few minutes of careful treatment, just a crisp crust remained. Joshua sat on the sarcophagus and picked it off.tashwax

“Damned shame about the old whiskers, Sam.” He fingered his naked top lip, “Just got ‘em
comfortable.”

“I’ll treat you to a new tin of wax for Christmas. You should need it by then.”

They headed back to the house.

“Pity we’ll never find out what that stuff was,” said Sam.

“Don’t think we’ve seen the last of it.” said Joshua, picking a lingering flake from his shrivelled sideburn.

***

(c) 2015, K Patrick Moody

 

A little success

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OK, so I didn’t do Nano. I ran out of steam and never caught up. But I have had another article published in Twist & Go magazine (The home of two-wheeled commuting – Mortons Media Group – out 16 December).tw and go

The full-page piece is a review/comment/opinion on my experiences riding my Honda NC750X over the past year and a half.

Honda_NC750X

So that has to be better than a 50,000 word pile that will never see the published page – surely. I think so. What about you?

Nano no-no

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I started well with a couple of thousand words on the first day. Then came day two … nothing. And so on. Now, more than two weeks into Nano and I am officially retiring.

My story fizzled out, faded, flumped. I ran out of steam(punk), and I just ain’t got enough hours in my day to get it all going again. So I’ll put it all on hold until November 2016, when I’ll try again. I managed to complete the challenge in 2008 and 2009, so I know it can be done. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to judge the One Word Challenge for November, so may be I’m saving myself … or is that kidding myself.

Good luck to all those Nano-ers still banging away (at keyboards!). Keep those words flowing!

And, in the words of the Terminator, I’ll be back.

One Word Challenge – The Tunnel

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The prompt for the October challenge was trouble. It was another tricky one. I decided to go ‘steampunk’ and introduce one of my regular characters to the Writers Online event.

I’m pleased to say that I was chosen as the winner, with the prose judge commenting:
Brought back memories of the steam age. Clever use of alliteration to capture the train sounds. Good story with a hint of mystery and the last line comes as a shock. (and who, exactly, was Smythe?)

Of course, regular visitors will know Smythe, and his associate, Fortesque, from their adventures posted here for the Inspiration Monday challenge. But with no more ado, TheTunnel …

***The Tunnel

The train lurched as the brake blocks bound and squealed on the iron wheels. Chains and buffers clanked as the carriages cannoned into each other. The lights went out, then there was quiet. 

Farther along the tunnel Smythe could hear the steaming of the idling engine; waiting to be released.

He poked his head through the open window and peered through the darkness towards the front. There were three carriages between him and the engine, and he could make out the orange glow from the open firebox door. Behind, the only evidence of a way out was the distant, grey daylight reflecting on the damp, brick walls.

As the passengers got used to the dark and the stillness, they started a murmur of questioning conversations. Smythe turned the brass handle, pushed open the carriage door, and dropped on to the ballast.

His shoulder was level with the footplate, so he climbed the ladder and pulled himself into the heat of the driver’s cab. The fireman’s shovel leant against the coal piled in the tender, and an oily rag draped over the regulator. 

The engine hissed; impatient. In the distance another engine whistled as it entered the tunnel.

***

(c) 2015, K Patrick Moody

*The OWC is a monthly challenge for a piece of flash fiction, 200 words or less, prompted by one word.

French fancy

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September, and we were sampling the cuisine and, more importantly, the wines of the Loire Valley. The prompt for the One Word Challenge* was Fantasy; where on earth was I going to get my inspiration?

We toured through Tours, chuntered around Chenonceaux, and nipped up to Nantes; from bistro to bistro, bar to bar, bottle to bottle – and then …

Anyway, I managed runner-up with this entry, accompanied by great comments by the judge; thank you, Mike Olley:

“Oh, how cruel real life is, hence the need for fantasy. You built this illusion perfectly for a harsh shatter reveal. Great stuff.” And:

“… for the well-written “build ’em up, knock ’em down” structure; Scratch is runner up with ‘French Fancy’.”

(* Writers Online’s monthly flash fiction challenge – see previous posts for details)

***

FRENCH FANCY

He took his usual seat at a small table in the corner of the cafe, and picked up the menu. He knew its contents by heart, closed his eyes and drifted back to the bistro on Rue de Berthelot. His favourite waitress appeared at the counter, she noticed him, and headed over, her stilettos, taller than was appropriate, clicked on the stone floor. She smoothed her tight, black pencil skirt over her thighs, and, as she sidled between the tables, he was sure there was more swing in her hips than on his last visit. She leaned forward to take his order, and he was enthralled by the sight of her breasts vying for position in the open neck of her white satin blouse. Her lips parted, just enough to slide the end of her pen between them, as she prepared to note his every desire …

The empty chair opposite scraped on the floor, jarring him back to Ethel’s all-day-breakfast-includes-tea-and-toast cafe. She smiled at him, in the gap-tooth way only Ethel could. “The usual, mugga tea anna bacon sarnie, is it, luv?”

***

(c) 2015, K Patrick Moody

Watered down

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The One Word Challenge for August was, I thought, particularly difficult. On the forum that month, there had been discussions around the relevance of the submitted story to the prompt word. It was felt that sometimes the link was so tentative as to be just thrown in to qualify. With that in mind, I tried to make my story fit on all counts. It didn’t win, but I was pleased to be chosen as runner-up.

The contest is monthly, and the members of Talkback, Writers Online forum, are challenged to write a piece of flash fiction (in this case no more than 200 words, or a poem of 40 lines or less), in response to a single word prompt – the One Word Challenge.

The prompt was water. Here is my submission:

***

Watered down

It took me eighteen years to get this far. I was born and brought up in a small town on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. I enjoyed the all the good things in life that you can only get from nature; fresh air, open space, and clean, bubbling springs.

It wasn’t all fun though. The heat, and rough and tumble of the factory changes you. I endured the beating. I knew it was for the best, and it made me what I am. Over time, just waiting and mulling things over, quietly and alone, I have matured. I am no longer the wild, raw ingredients of youth. I’ve become more than the sum of my individual parts; I’ve gained a singular, individual character. I have my own strength, standing apart from others.

But look at them! Splashing water around as if there was no tomorrow. It’s not necessary, you know. The last thing I want is my personality to be diluted by a bunch of cheap boozers in a dingy downtown bar.

We single malts must take a stand; stay true to our heritage, and remain untainted by tap water … although a large ice cube is rather pleasant.

***

(c) 2015, K Patrick Moody

Look up!

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It’s amazing what you see when you change your perspective. I sat in the back garden and looked up at seagulls squabbling, and saw these clouds. They’ve probably got a technical name, and there may be some folk lore about the weather they portend, but I just thought they were worth sharing …

cloud5 cloud4 cloud3 cloud2 cloud1