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 Calling all writers of Eater!

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Poll :: Winner for April 29 - May 6

MrMystery314
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Yastreb
50%
 50%  [ 3 ]
sparky905
16%
 16%  [ 1 ]
Asena
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
bikeatl77
33%
 33%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 6


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MrMystery314
Djinn and Tonic


Joined: 13 Dec 2014
Posts: 2059
Location: Herding penguins


PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:43 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Inspired by some of the shenanigans in the PWT thread, I thought it'd be nice for me to take the initiative and actually make a thread for the writing contest. The rules:
1. Every week, me or the winner of the last week's contest will suggest a short writing prompt (e.g. on a spaceship or a horror story involving a goat). Feel free to be creative as you want within that prompt.
2. People will respond with a writing piece of let's say 250 words at minimum, no maximum besides using common sense (if people get a bit verbose we could cap it at maybe 2500 words).
3. At the end of each week, I'll make a poll for people to vote on the winner.
4. If this gains enough traction we could talk about prizes, although I'm envisioning this as more for a way for us to have some fun and try something new during quarantine.

Prompt 1 (graciously provided by OP): "A hole in a moccasin"

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"ALL THE SAME NOT AN UNGRATEFUL BITCH"-Mr. Humphere
"Bro i have seen hell"-Mr. Humphere
"Also i know how inquisitive all this press can be, i hope the picture of the goat fucking me is not on news or news paper"-Mr. Humphere
"GO TO HELL JUSTIN for having played with me all these while, what the fuck is wrong with you you are such as an asshole"-Charles J Colocino JR
"I will tell you I'm a computer illiterate I know more than you" - Eric Marshall
Hello! ~Kitty Wink

Last edited by MrMystery314 on Wed May 06, 2020 10:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Yastreb
Common Street Thawth Vergabon


Joined: 04 Apr 2006
Posts: 17378
Location: Leading my wolf pack


PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:55 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Challenge accepted!

A HOLE IN A MOCCASIN

When I asked Sandy Dunning why his Lockheed Hudson was called Moccasin, he just grinned and tapped his nose. It was Jeff Wilson who explained it in the end.
“He worked in Boots the chemist before the war, old boy.”
Laugh? I nearly started.

There were four of us in Hudson 40-29587 Moccasin – Pilot Officer Matthew “Sandy” Dunning (pilot), Flight Sergeants Jeff Wilson and Carl Peterson (co-pilot and navigator), and me, Leading Aircraftsman Roscoe White, inevitably dubbed “Blanco,” as air-gunner, the lone Aussie with the three Poms. But we were a good crew, mates all, which was good to be when you’re cooped up in a small aircraft for hours on end on anti-submarine patrol. Sandy, Jeff and Carl were grouped up front, leaving me in the turret stuck near the tail – in Botany Bay, as Sandy called it. They watched the sea, looking for U-boats; I was the one watching the sky, looking for German intruders such as their Fw-200 Condors.
It was 1630 on 12 August 1941, our fifteenth patrol mission, and the news hadn’t been good – the Germans were seemingly crushing Russian armies wherever they went and the Desert War was going badly for us – but we stuck at it; what else could we do?
We’d been airborne five hours, and starting our home leg after yet another flight with nothing to report, when I started another rotation of the turret and stopped dead when I saw the shape ahead of us, black against a cloud bank.
“Skipper, ten o’clock low, Condor!”
“Roger that!” Sandy sounded pleased, though the intercom wasn’t exactly clear. “He’s heading home too.”
“Doesn’t look like he’s seen us,” said Jeff.
I glanced back. “We’re in the sun.”
There was a moment’s silence before Sandy said, “We’re going to take that bastard down. Blanco, I’m giving you the chance, dive on him, break right, you just rake him, tail to nose.”
“I’m ready, Skipper.”
I swung the turret to face portside, and took a deep breath. This was action at last.
The Condors were a menace. They spotted convoys for U-boats, and bombed ships when they could. For us in Coastal Command, they were the enemy as much as the U-boats. But in taking one on, we were going up against an aircraft twice our size, four engines to our two, nearly as fast, and probably better armed. We probably had one pass only to make good.
Sandy opened the throttles and the engines roared as we began our dive. I wasn’t watching the Condor as we closed; I was looking along the barrels of the twin Browning machine-guns that were the reason I was in that turret, waiting for the moment when the Condor would be in my sights.
To my surprise, Sandy didn’t use the forward guns. He was leaving the job to me.
Moccasin broke right, perfectly judged, and I saw the swastika on the Condor’s tall tail fin, a white outline against dark green, and I squeezed the triggers in short bursts, aiming just forward of the tail, swinging the turret slowly to do as Sandy had said; rake the Condor tail to nose.
I saw the bright flashes as bullets struck, and fragments were tearing off, dropping away like leaves. It lurched to port, and there was a sudden glare from its inner starboard engine, and flame blossomed from the wing, streaming like a comet’s tail as the port wing dropped and the Condor nosed down steeply.
Suddenly there was a loud bang, and a thump, and I realised that something had hit me in the inner thigh, just as Jeff cried out, “He’s done for! Good shooting!” and we banked right, circling down as the Condor plunged towards the ocean below.
“One chute out... two... three...” Jeff intoned. “That’s it.”
“Call it in, Skipper?” Carl queried.
“Certainly!” Sandy replied cheerfully. “Great work, Blanco!”
“Uh, Skipper? I think they hit me.”

One of the Condor’s gunners had got off a last burst, probably from one of their beam guns, and a single bullet had struck just below the turret mount and nicked my inner thigh; enough to draw quite a bit of blood, and close enough to have been, as Jeff put it, The Unkindest Cut Of All.
Laugh? We all did... well, I did join in, eventually.
But in the end, we’d done our bit, shot down an enemy aircraft, and leaving aside my slight wound, the only damage to our side was a hole in the Moccasin.

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May you never se the end of the year, May you sick and die in JESUS NAME AMEN.
MARK MY WORD, YOU SHALL FALL SICK, IF YOU DONT PLEASE WITH ME, YOU SHALL DIE OF THE SICKNESS, THIS IS MY FINAL WORD TO YOU
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YOU SHALL CRY AND BEG FOR FORGIVENESS OR YOU DIE

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sparky905
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:00 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

It was true, the moccasins were a bit old, a bit tattered, but were more comfortable than any other footwear I had. For years I had been bothered by foot issues, and finding something comfortable was a challenge, and expensive.

Things changed for the better that Christmas morning several years ago when I opened up the shoe box sized package. Inside was a pair of pristine moccasins, lined for extra comfort, and a tag attached guaranteeing my comfort. Dubious about such claims, for I had been fooled several times, I tried them on. It was an epiphany of footwear comfort for me. The tag said they were 100% genuine leather, hand made, hand sewn etc etc. But these moccasins were greater than the sum of all their advertised parts. They were magical. It was as though they were infused with magic powers which gently pulsed and massaged my aching feet. Perhaps it was just in my mind, but even if that was so, my feet felt great and I was walking tall and proud again, strutting around the house in my new moccasins, the lord of the manor. My wife and children had to good grace to smile politely and to nod at the appropriate moments as my moccasin testimonials flowed endlessly, and to some, needlessly.
That was a Christmas gift to remember, and though it was several years ago, the magical moccasins and I continued to share quality foot time each and every day. Like me, they started to show their age, but since we were growing old together, none of that mattered. We had bonded.

Though my moccasins and I were happy together, those around me started to work on separating us. Each birthday or Christmas I was asked if I wanted "new moccasins". I said no thank you. At first that worked. Then, unsolicited moccasins would arrive in the mail at birthday time, from senders unknown. One Christmas I purposely left a shoe box sized package unopened because I knew it was an attempt to force me to wear new moccasins. My wife opened the package "mistakenly" and looked at me innocently "Oh honey, I think these were meant for you." I muttered thanks and put them aside. It was all so transparent.

One day I put on the moccasins and found a tiny hole up near the big toe of the left moccasin. I took it off and examined it. It was tiny. Surely it would not affect the comfort level. But people noticed. And they noticed with glee in their voices. It started as whispers in the corners of the room. As the hole grew larger, the voices grew louder in direct proportion to the hole.

Giggling children said "There's a hole in your moccasin." My wife would echo "There IS a hole in the moccasin", and she would smile suspiciously. I examined it. Had they done this on purpose? Was this all a plot to force me into moccasin replacement? I made a determined effort to wear them despite their comments.

Soon the comments were re-phrased slightly "That hole in the moccasin" they would say. "There's that hole in the moccasin" As the hole grew and my toe poked through, I continued to ignore them........but it was getting more and more difficult.

Finally, the hole was large enough for two toes to poke through and the comments got louder. "the hole in moccasin" become "a hole in the moccasin". When the other moccasin developed a hole too, I knew the end was near. As I walked carefully through the house I heard what I'd suspected for a while, the words they were using had nothing to do with the void in the moccasin, it was a comment directed at me. What I'd dismissed as comments about footwear were actually all about me. I heard it clearly "Here comes the A hole in the moccasins"

I discarded them that very night , went to the closet, and blew the dust off an unopened box of new moccasins that had been sitting patiently, waiting for this day.

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Asena
Elite Baiter


Joined: 26 Jan 2010
Posts: 1380
Location: Turn Left at Orion


PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:08 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

"Should I have realised then?" The question that Ruth had asked herself countless times before, during and since the trial, echoed in her mind as she stared out over the river. Sitting on the balcony of her riverside apartment, Ruth saw not the wide expanse of the Thames in front of her, coloured grey in the unrelenting drizzle of a late September evening, but the narrower width of the River Cam glinting in the summer sun of almost a quarter of a century ago. Twenty five years! Had it really been that long since she had last seen her cousin - then in his first year of studying law at Cambridge University; a degree in which he eventually achieved a first. Yes, it had, and were it not for the coincidence of having a mutual friend whose wedding they had both attended separately, earlier that summer and been utterly amazed to have realised, whilst chatting at the reception, that they were cousins who had not seen each other childhood, then Ruth would not have been sitting on the banks of the River Cam with her cousin Sebastian looking at the glinting river that she could see so clearly in her mind now.

Sebastian. Brilliant, charming, witty, wonderful Sebastian, who had insisted that she accept his invitation to spend a weekend as his guest in Cambridge "It will be fun! We'll do all the touristy things; punting on the Cam, climb the tower of St Mary's, visit King's College Chapel and drink ourselves silly in the evening"

Brilliant, charming, witty, wonderful Sebastian, who had recently stood trial for the murder of 9 random people - strangers who would forever more be connected through the fate of having been victims of a warped, twisted, evil mass murderer - found guilty and sentenced to Life. Brilliant, charming, witty, wonderful Sebastian.

The shock and disconnect when the identity of the man the tabloids had dubbed 'The Shoe Slaughterer' was made public following his arrest, had sent Ruth into a spiral of uncomprehending disbelief. Seeing his face on the news, and hearing details of the absolute awfulness of his heinous crimes reported daily throughout the trial had haunted her waking hours and invaded her restless sleep, creating nightmares which tortured her thoughts and, throughout it all, she had known that she would never ever be able to unknow the horror he had inflicted. All of the victims had been strangled. Their naked bodies had been mutilated, disfigured with slashes carved into their backs. And, wedged into the buttocks of each victim was a moccasin. It was this detail that haunted Ruth the most; imprinted itself onto her mind as though it had been branded there.

As she drank from her glass of white wine, sitting on the balcony of her riverside apartment overlooking the Thames, Ruth saw the glinting Cam and heard the memory of herself saying to Sebastian sitting beside her on the bank "penny for your thoughts"

And she could hear his voice so clearly as he answered " I was just musing on which shape hole I would cut into the moccasin"

"What?!"

Sebastian had burst out laughing "My calling card, Ruth! I have decided that when I embark upon my career as a mass murderer I am going to leave a moccasin as my calling card!"

And she had laughed. Assumed he was joking! Joined in with the bizarreness and even thought about what her own calling card would be. Ribbon. She had settled on a ribbon. A bright orange ribbon tied on the thumb of each victim. For when she too became a mass murderer. "Murderess, Ruth!" Sebastian had interjected. "And I have decided. It will be a diamond shaped hole!"

Ruth couldn't hear the laughter anymore. All she could hear was the question she asked herself constantly "Should I have realised then?"

And all she could see was the diamond shaped hole that she knew Sebastian had cut into every single one of the nine moccasins.

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bikeatl77
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Joined: 17 Nov 2018
Posts: 975
Location: Emptying one of my dehumidifiers...somewhere


PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2020 4:45 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Charlie: The Existential African Pygmy Field Mouse

Charlie stood erect on his hind legs nibbling on a small piece of brie that managed to spill off Agnes' plate last night as she stumbled through the maze between the study and her bedroom. Although grateful that the soft morsel keeps him from having to venture outside to scavenge, it is particularly pungent if not borderline unpleasant. "Don't get me wrong...I will always love the French. I know full well that I probably wouldn't exist if the mysterious couple from Paris hadn't moved here to oversee the rubber plantation. But my GOD it is amazing at some of the things those people try to pass off as cheese!" he thinks to himself. The tiny African pygmy mouse finishes his breakfast but is in no real hurry to move. In earlier times he would be tempting fate by standing halfway between the closet door and the chair that Agnes is currently passed out in. The house was basically a mine field back then for several years. Agnes and Henri had three children and a countless string of various pets: cats, dogs, gerbils, parrots, and even a miniature pig one year. Avoiding those mouth breathers meant that he and his family had to navigate the dark corridors in between the walls. In the beginning there were a lot of dead ends but over time they chewed enough holes in the walls to let them travel between any two points in the home without having to scurry across a room risking exposure. For most of his life Charlie was never the type to aimlessly ponder about the nuances of day to day life. In fact, he reveled in his no nonsense approach to dealing with situations. His wife and children did not share the same enthusiasm whatsoever. He blames Agnes and Henri for that but he holds no ill will. All those poetry readings, book club discussions and philosophy themed parties they hosted rubbed off a little on some of his kids. So what? Most of his 50-60 children turned out fine from what he could tell. Life in the French Congo can be Hell at times and he takes pride in knowing that he was able to bring so many pygmies into the world in relative safety. These days he has become uncharacteristically pensive. It probably started when Henri died. Charlie was mostly indifferent when it came to assessing his feelings about Henri. He smoke and drank too much, had a sailor's mouth, and cheated on Agnes countless times. He lied a lot and simply wasn't a very good man. However, he did do several things over the years that greatly benefited Charlie and his family. Agnes was deathly afraid of mice and other "pests". Sure, it was completely acceptable to let pigs and birds crap all over everything but the possible existence of mice crossed a line...hypocrite. Henri's wife asked him to fumigate the home countless times but he wasn't having it. He refused to expose his family to such toxins. Ironic coming from a man whos rubber producing empire polluted the Earth with noxious chemicals so that rich people could drive their Renault's in relative comfort. Henri would only allow common mouse traps to be scattered among the home which needed to be replaced every so often to be effective. Fortunately he was also very lazy. When Agnes reminded him that it was time to refresh the traps Charlie watched Henri cheat by picking up the old traps and simply move them to another spot in the room to make it look like he completed the chore. Many of Charlie's children were probably saved by Henri's sloth.

As Charlie continued to watch Agnes sleep in a contorted position in her chair he couldn't help but feel sorry for her. He also reflected upon how curious it was that his life became better as her life got progressively worse. These were the types of thoughts that he actively avoided having when he was younger but are harder to ignore as he ages. Two of the human's children were sent off to Paris boarding schools and another one unfortunately died from a lethal snake bite while playing in the creek on the western edge of the plantation. All those house pets were only here for the sake of the children so as each pet died after all the children were gone they were not replaced. Over time the house was free from those predators. When Henri died she was too old to give a shit about fumigating the place. She didn't even bother to match Henri's half-assed approach with the mouse traps. She hasn't so much as even looked at one since his passing. For all intents and purposes she has given up on life. Her days consist of waking up each morning in pain due to the twisted positions that she sits in before expiring in her chair. She used to shower and change clothing before walking to the study to spend the rest of her day but Charlie hasn't seen her so much as wash her hands in at least a year. Why she chooses to sit on the couch and stare blankly out the window for hours in a room filled with some of the world's best books is a mystery. Like clockwork she slowly makes her way into the kitchen to fill a plate with bread and cheese and takes it to her room around 9pm. That has been her routine for well over a year at this point...without fail.

In the beginning Charlie didn't pay Agnes much attention. He had other things going on and she really wasn't that interesting to be honest. Now he feels an obligation to at least keep an eye on her. Obviously, if something bad happened he would be powerless in terms of being able to help but at least she won't be alone. He doesn't necessarily believe in religion and even though he knows that Agnes is unaware of his presence he truly believes that his being there does provide her some solace. He can't explain why but just knows.

Charlie wakes himself from his trance when he realizes that he's been staring at the old woman for the better of two hours. She probably won't wake up for at least another three or four so it's probably best to head into the closet to take a short nap before following her to the study later in the day. Charlie used to sleep in a toy chest filled with stuffed animals in the room of the middle child that died from the snake bite. The parents refused to change anything in that room out of grief so it became the safest spot in the house to seek refuge. He relocated to Agnes' closet a few months after Henri died when she began her pattern of hopeless desperation in which she's still entrapped. There was never any reason to go into her room before so Charlie hadn't really explored it until he took an interest in watching over her. The first time he entered her closet brought a vivid flashback from a scary event that occurred maybe six months or so after the family moved in. This house is significantly nicer than any other for at least a 100 miles. Tensions between the Franco aristocracy that ran the show and the destitute local laborers were extremely high back then. Paranoia on both sides spread like wildfire. Henri had three children and a wife to protect so he bought a gun. Unfortunately, the man wasn't really very good at anything except for partaking in the vices mentioned before. He was clumsy by nature and the alcohol obviously didn’t help. He was also collosally stubborn. On one fateful morning he decided to do a little target practice. He could never figure out how to turn off the safety so it took a lot of maneuvering for him to get it right. Well, on this day the Mensa super star had the barrel pointed down towards the ground while he fiddled with what he thought was the safety switch with one hand. For whatever reason his other hand was caressing the handle with a finger on the trigger. The second he successfully disabled the safety his other hand flinched and the idiot shot himself in his foot.

Everyone panicked of course. Agnes boiled over into a pile of foam because she never wanted guns on the property in the first place. To make matters worse she didn't know how to drive a car. If your definition of a hospital is anything better than a Red Cross tent filled with penicillin then you had to travel no less than 50 miles to find one. Fortunately, this happened during the dry season because there's a decent chance you'd be shit out of luck because the roads were washed out any other time of year. The curious looking Peugeot they owned burned oil like nobody's business. Agnes made a mess of it trying to get that rust bucket to move without stalling. By the time she managed to get it out of the car port the entire house was enveloped in a thick cloud of smoke. Apparently, she did manage to get Henri to a doctor. So when Charlie entered Agnes' closet that she used to share with Henri before he passed he was shocked to see the moccasins Henri wore the day he shot himself. The bullet from the gun bore a hole in the left moccasin towards the front of the shoe at the toes. Henri actually did have to have his big toe amputated that fateful day. The moccasins still have a very faint smell of diesel smoke that is pleasantly nostalgic. In the winter Charlie sleeps in the right shoe to keep warm. In the summer months he switches to the left moccasin with the hole because it allows for more ventilation. Why Henri kept them while he was still alive and why Agnes didn’t toss them out when he passed is a mystery. Charlie knows that asking questions that will never be answered is a fool's game so he crawled into the old shoe to slumber for tomorrow is another day.
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MrMystery314
Djinn and Tonic


Joined: 13 Dec 2014
Posts: 2059
Location: Herding penguins


PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2020 10:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

A poll for this week's winner has been added.

_________________
Jack Boot pony Goat Penguin Penguin 🍆 🦎 🍰 🍰 🍰 Closed lad accounts Vcamera Sand Timer The Church of the Old Gods Santa Golden Pith Safari x26

"ALL THE SAME NOT AN UNGRATEFUL BITCH"-Mr. Humphere
"Bro i have seen hell"-Mr. Humphere
"Also i know how inquisitive all this press can be, i hope the picture of the goat fucking me is not on news or news paper"-Mr. Humphere
"GO TO HELL JUSTIN for having played with me all these while, what the fuck is wrong with you you are such as an asshole"-Charles J Colocino JR
"I will tell you I'm a computer illiterate I know more than you" - Eric Marshall
Hello! ~Kitty Wink
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Asena
Elite Baiter


Joined: 26 Jan 2010
Posts: 1380
Location: Turn Left at Orion


PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2020 9:41 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
In the winter Charlie sleeps in the right shoe to keep warm. In the summer months he switches to the left moccasin with the hole because it allows for more ventilation.


Laughing Laughing Still.

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Asena

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MrMystery314
Djinn and Tonic


Joined: 13 Dec 2014
Posts: 2059
Location: Herding penguins


PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 2:47 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Yastreb has won this week's contest. Please post a prompt by the end of the weekend.

_________________
Jack Boot pony Goat Penguin Penguin 🍆 🦎 🍰 🍰 🍰 Closed lad accounts Vcamera Sand Timer The Church of the Old Gods Santa Golden Pith Safari x26

"ALL THE SAME NOT AN UNGRATEFUL BITCH"-Mr. Humphere
"Bro i have seen hell"-Mr. Humphere
"Also i know how inquisitive all this press can be, i hope the picture of the goat fucking me is not on news or news paper"-Mr. Humphere
"GO TO HELL JUSTIN for having played with me all these while, what the fuck is wrong with you you are such as an asshole"-Charles J Colocino JR
"I will tell you I'm a computer illiterate I know more than you" - Eric Marshall
Hello! ~Kitty Wink
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Yastreb
Common Street Thawth Vergabon


Joined: 04 Apr 2006
Posts: 17378
Location: Leading my wolf pack


PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 3:59 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Thank you everyone! And to Asena, bikeatl77, and Sparky 905, I liked all of your stories. Would you mind if I shared them with my Muse and her friends?

Prompt 2; a story beginning with the sentence "Do you like macaroni?" and ending with the sentence "You bloody fool, you killed the wrong man!"

_________________
Son of a bitch!!! Your dead!!! Everything about your stinking poor life is dead!!! Get off my way you son of a bitch mother ....a man without father bastard....your dead Ok

May you never se the end of the year, May you sick and die in JESUS NAME AMEN.
MARK MY WORD, YOU SHALL FALL SICK, IF YOU DONT PLEASE WITH ME, YOU SHALL DIE OF THE SICKNESS, THIS IS MY FINAL WORD TO YOU
I HAVE PLACED YOU UNDER MY ORACLE GODS,
YOU SHALL CRY AND BEG FOR FORGIVENESS OR YOU DIE

United Kingdom x5 Spain New Zealand Senegal Ghana x2 Benin Closed lad accounts x 244
Safari x 5 - Oyenka Chidinma Lagos-Cotonou; Dickyboi Lagos-Accra; Femmy Lagos-Porto Novo; "Woody" Accra-Singapore; Henry Philip Abuja-Natitingou w/MG & DSW
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bikeatl77
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Joined: 17 Nov 2018
Posts: 975
Location: Emptying one of my dehumidifiers...somewhere


PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 9:13 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ I don't mind if you share mine Yastreb. Congrats! Interesting choice of prompts. There's nothing quite like a good murder and macaroni story Laughing
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sparky905
Baiting Guru


Joined: 25 Jul 2017
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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 12:43 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

We bow to writing champion!
My mind draws a blank for this prompt.....need to think about this one.

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" I can sue anybody for deformation of character" scammer Fred Unuobia losing his patience with endless questions
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MrMystery314
Djinn and Tonic


Joined: 13 Dec 2014
Posts: 2059
Location: Herding penguins


PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 4:35 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

"Do you like macaroni?"
It had been only ten minutes, and already Jim's first date wasn't going well. After exhausting such banal topics as sports and weather, he had discovered that he really had nothing in common with his date. They sat together at the bar, idly swirling their drinks with their straws and thinking of anything at all they could possibly share. After a discussion comparing the merits of multiple national flags revealed irreconcilable differences, pasta was the current topic; Cynthia regarded Jim's question with a thin smile:

"Uhh..." she said while feigning some deep thought, "I'm really not sure."

"Well then, how about spaghetti? Surely everyone likes spaghetti?" Jim continued, oblivious to Cynthia's disinterest. Jim loved spaghetti with a nice tomato sauce, tomatoes fresh off the vine, sun-kissed basil, and luscious cloves of garlic; it was an easy recipe he could cook in his tiny apartment and delude himself into thinking he was a chef.

Fortunately for Cynthia, a distraction soon arose. Out of the corner of her eye, as Jim was probably telling yet another boring story, she noticed two somber suited men with faces that meant business. Probably some sort of mafia, or at the very least men who could be instigated to start a fistfight or otherwise save her from the dullest date of her life. Mumbling an excuse to Jim, she walked toward them, adding a sashay to her step and desperately trying to recall what people said in gangster movies before the cool shoot-out scenes.

"Hey, did you get the message from Tony?" She ventured. The two men looked at each other with a vague expression of alarm, as Tony did happen to be the name of their boss, and he was the sort who believed clear communication was best punctuated with threats to break people's kneecaps if they misunderstood. Who was this lady though? They had never seen her before in their life. Best to play it cool.

"No, madame. What's he saying?"

This was certainly a surprise. Perhaps they were testing her, seeing if she was the real deal. The last thing she wanted was to be found out and end up crumpled in a ditch somewhere. She had to continue, but what would be the best way for her to liven up what was proving to be a very boring evening? Ah yes, Jim, who seemed to be staring straight into space without a care in the world, occasionally looking down at his drink as if he had never seen anything like it before.

"You see that guy at the bar there? He owes the boss and he hasn't paid up. Remind him not to do it again," she said with a wink, hoping real mafiosi did in fact talk like that. The man on the right, who was slightly taller and bulkier than the other, gave a sharp nod. "Understood?"

She then walked jauntily toward the restroom, waiting for them to lose eye contact on her before letting her heart pound and her head throb. What had she done? She looked behind her and waited for action to begin.

Jim was just about to wonder why Cynthia was taking so long in the restroom (although he knew it was really none of his business) when two scarred men with fedoras and steely glares approached; they must be some of Cynthia's friends stopping to say hello. He had wondered if Cynthia had set him up; how did they know he owed money to Tony? Yes, in an unfortunate coincidence, poor Jim happened to have some gambling debts, and as much as he had hoped Tony would be forgiving, he knew that eventually death would come knocking on his door. Or in this case, two looming figures with no sense of geniality and who he suspected wouldn't hesitate to give him a pummeling right there and then. He had to act first.

Before the goons could go into their pre-rehearsed script about the many things that would happen to his fingers and toes, Jim leaned over to his neighbor and grabbed his beer bottle, and in a wild swing aimed at the big guy's temple. A beer bottle, when swung with sufficient velocity, even by someone untrained will do some damage, and Alonzo fell backward instantly, catching a tablecloth on the way down and pulling a bowl of tomato gazpacho off the table and onto his face. Michael, not expecting that level of resistance, immediately lunged forward to try and pin Jim against the bar, but Jim kicked a stool toward him and he was pushed off course into the bar, cracking his forehead against the mahogany. Jim looked around wildly, seeing if more men would barge in. He had just won against two mafiosi, and despite this normally being an impressive feat to be celebrated, the patrons staring at him aghast certainly disagreed.

Unfortunately for Jim, in a corner booth sat Luca, one of Tony's rising stars who was eager to impress. New Jersey being a concealed carry state, Luca had his handgun tucked in his jacket pocket, and just as he was about to take a bite of his Caesar salad the sounds of the scuffle behind him forced him to do something. Gun in his hand, he turned around aiming for Jim, and just as he was about to "clean up the mess," as Tony always said, Jim tripped on the spilled gazpacho and also fell to the ground.

The bullet raced right past where Jim's head was a moment ago and into the bartender's head, and he too fell to the ground. As Jim pulled himself up, he heard more screaming. That was strange, he thought, what could have happened? As he looked around he saw Cynthia standing by the restrooms with a terrified expression, clutching her purse and ready to vomit. Surely she must be innocent in this entire affair. As he walked toward her, ready to explain everything, Luca walked toward him, not trusting enough in his aim to try shooting Jim again, but certainly trusting in his fists. Jim then realized who fired that gun, the thin, pale man standing in front of him with eyes of murderous rage who was responsible for the dead bartender that all the other employees were rushing toward.

"You bloody fool, you killed the wrong man!"

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 8:41 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Congrats, Yastreb! I don't mind if you share my story - quite flattered actually Laughing I too enjoyed reading all of the stories.

@ MrMystery314 - love your take on the new prompt.

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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 5:22 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Nikita the Prankster Assassin - (Probably NSFW)

"Do you like macaroni? On weekends I volunteer my time to read porn to the blind" Nikita recited to the large man with an eyepatch standing on the other side of the door. At this point she suspects that her CIA handlers pick these nonsensical passphrases just to mess with her. Mr. Eyepatch opened the large heavy door and let her into the safe house. Nikita is a trained assassin hired to do the dirty work that government agencies don't want to do themselves. She'll work with just about anyone if the price is right but the American intelligence community has kept her busy enough to not need to advertise her services. Two nights ago she recieved the order to fly to Valletta Malta for a debriefing about her last mark and to recieve a new assignment. The weather is a bit overcast and droll but she'll take it any day compared to some of the more dangerous locales they tend to send her. Seducing and poisoning that arms dealer in Nairobi a few months ago could have completely gone pear shaped had the jackass not been a massive coke head. She was supposed to have been long gone but the helicopter extraction had to be aborted when the surveillance bugs in the compound picked up that a new shipment of surface-to-air missiles from Russia had arrived the day before. There was no easy way to sneak out of the fortress and the slow but effective poison had already been administered. The warlord had a heart attack in the sauna. He complained of feeling a little under the weather that morning and wanted to "sweat out" the toxins. "Good luck with that cupcake but your still doomed as f*ck" she thought to herself desperately trying not to crack a smile. She doesn't neccessarily derive pleasure from murdering people but this Kenyan idiot was a complete monster. He kept two tractors on the massive property just to dig new pits to throw bodies into from all the executions. When he finished using a prostitute he was known to order them to pleasure his 13 year old son. Definitely father of the year material. So anyway the lard ass died of a heart attack naked in the sauna and was in there for a good 3-4 hours. Fortunately for her he had been suffering from periodic heart palpitations for quite some time so the death wasn't considered suspicious. As word quickly spread about the demise of their dear great leader you could almost feel the power vacuum growing. The gang decided to order all non-members off the property until they figured out what a new regime structure would look like. One of the more senior members told Nikita that she would be paid double the fee for her "escort" services as long as she promised to keep her mouth shut. He personally drove her to the airport and apologized for all the chaos. She was pretty confident that he didn't suspect her whatsoever but had a feeling that he would have thanked her for doing the job. It was pretty clear that this member may have ended up with the keys to the castle. If so maybe she'll be asked to off him too someday. Maybe something a little more elaborate like an auto erotic effixiation mishap in the shower or accidental alcohol poisoning from butt chugging vodka; apparently that's a thing now. Over the years she's noticed that people take longer to suspect foul play if they do at all if the victim's corpse is found completely naked in compromising positions. They tend to want to quickly clean up the embarrassing nature of the scene and forget about it. Some of her most successful jobs involved dressing the body in women's lingerie and makeup or as a baby complete with diapers a pacifier and bib. Those jobs are immediately swept under a rug and life simply moves on.

Nikita walks though a narrow hall and reaches a staircase which she climbs up to the third floor. The first two floors look like they could be in any of the large ancient homes in Valletta. Well, except for the giant pirate bouncer that mans the door. The third floor contains several sealed and secured safe rooms where debriefings and new orders are given. Bobby is there to lead her into one of those rooms and starts the meeting. He has been one of her handlers for 6-7 years at that point. He lives and works at the HQ in Langley but seems to have a little more pull than the others given that he often meets in person for these things. Of course he tends to only meet up at the decent locations. Tokyo, Auckland, Barcelona? Oh yeah, he'll be there with bells on. Boise Idaho, former C.I.S states, Windhoek Namibia? Nothing but crickets from his side. Expect some other patsy to be there in his place. She really likes Bobby though and he is thorough. It helps that he is pretty easy on the eyes and a good listener. She rarely has to repeat things back to him and he doesn’t ask stupid questions. Most of her kills can be pretty gruesome and would prefer to regale those tales as few times as possible. He also has no issue letting her stage the bodies in silly embarrassing poses. Some of the other handlers have questioned the need to dress the bodies of full grown men as RuPaul in a bathroom littered with extremely bizarre sex toys. Bobby doesn’t seem to mind though and what he says goes.

Their meeting lasted just under two hours. The new gig is to snuff out a Russian oligarch named Andro who resides on a massive super yaught in the Birgu section of the city next to beautiful Fort St. Angelo. A 24-36 hour window of opportunity has opened up where staff levels on the ship will be minimal. Most of them were granted temporary shore leave to rest up before hosting a big soiree on the boat in a couple of days. Then it will sail off to the Amalfi Coast so if the job is going to happen it needs happen either tomorrow or the next day. Various subterfuge techniques were engaged to get Andro to request Nikita's "professional services" for two or three nights. She was asked to pack accordingly. The first half of the reservation would be to spend alone time with the victim and the rest to let him show her off at the party. She filled her LV suitcases with several gowns and appropriate jewelry along with a nice little surprise for her new Russian friend. The next morning was particularly beautiful so she instructed the driver to drop her off at the ferry terminal and to take the luggage to the Birgu marina alone. The ferry only takes about 10 minutes or so but the views of the old fortified city are quite amazing. Malta really is an overlooked gem of a destination. She reminds herself to try to visit again before the influx of tax shelter money and people seeking relatively cheap EU citizenship ruin the tiny island with gaudy highrise condos and tacky international retail and food chains. There is nothing more disappointing than wandering through the narrow and hilly cobblestone streets of Valetta and passing at least two or three McDonald's restaurants and a Hard Rock Cafe in the span of 20 minutes.

Nikita knew that it would take the driver between 30-40 minutes to bring her luggage. Valetta is comprised of three peninsulas that jut into The Grand Harbour. The largest and most populous is Valletta to the north. On the south side of the harbour are Senglea and Birgu. You have to drive around the entire harbour to get from one side to the other. She found a quaint cafe to sip on a cappuccino and ordered a scone as one does at such places even though she wasn't terribly hungry. She smirked wryly while thinking about what she had planned for her new little tsar friend. It was rather inventive even for her. If the police end up getting involved the crime scene photographers should have a field day. Just as she was about to burst into laughter her luggage arrived. The driver helped with her bags as they walked to Andro's yaught which was one of the largest that she's ever seen. Does one really need two helipads? She learned later that Andro often kept his private whirly bird parked on one of them and the other was for guests. How considerate of him.

She called her contact on the ship and two porters came down to grab her things and show her to her quarters. She memorized her path and noted all potential escape routes and areas to steer clear of. The schematics of the vessel were given to her yesterday and she had already studied it. But if she's learned anything from this occupation it's that rich people will do massive renovations on a whim. It's not uncommon that people rip out walls or create a layout that hides a secret room used to store the most valuable of possessions. She got burned by just that very thing trying to flee the home of a wealthy heiress to a prominent aerospace conglomerate. She was destined to soon take control of the business when her terminally sick father passed on. If that happened she planned to wind down several programs that the US military wanted to keep alive. She also wanted to dramatically fund think tanks and lobbying groups that promoted extreme reductions in weapons and troop counts. The CIA had enough so Nikita was sent to pose as lawyer that wanted to sue the DOD for covering up the real numbers of nuclear warheads in its arsenal. The Agency was well aware of her penchant for adding comic relief to her assassinations so they offered their own suggestion. Unbeknownst to the heiress the CIA managed to register multiple guns in her name and gave those weapons to Nikita. In the end Nikita staged a fake suicide, dressed her up in full cammo fatigues, scattered the weapons around her room, and placed a few well worn books about combat strategies on her desk. It was nice of the CIA to offer help but her tactics tend to be more devious. Anyway, she had an escape route memorized based on outdated blue prints but the woman obviously had completely gutted the house and rebuilt it as a maze. Eventually she gave up and ended up climbing out of a window on the second floor. That crazy bitch caused her to get a huge run in her panty hose and probably gave the gardeners a nice little show.

The porters told Nikita that Andro was on the main deck by the infinity pool so she changed into a bathing suit, wrapped a Hermès sarong around her and sought off to meet the man. He was a typical Russian billionare used to getting whatever he wants. He was loud, arrogant, obnoxious, extremely hairy, and reeked of cognac and Cuban cigars. This one she will not miss when he's gone The boat really was barren of staffers. Aside from the two porters she saw a handful of engineers walk off the boat with their lunch pales and backpacks. It was obvious that they were done for the day. If the deed is too be done now was the time to do it. It took no effort at all to convince him to move the party into the bedroom. When he wasn't looking she slipped a very powerful tranquilizer into his cocktail and it worked its magic within 30-60 seconds. She went back to her quarters to fetch the suitcase with the props and brought it back to Andro's bedroom. She needed to "set the scene" before she killed him to reduce the chance that he'd lose control of bodily functions. It only took about 15 minutes to finish and she wished she could take pictures but doing so is against the rules. The theme for this job is Little Bo Peep. She dressed him up in a Bo Peep costume complete with a pink bonnet and a wig with long locks of wavy blond hair. She jammed the stick end of the walking cane up his rear and wrapped his hand around the curved handle. His other hand was jammed up the tush of a stuffed animal sheep. Then she jammed a big old timey swirled lollipop in that filthy mouth of his. It was portrait worthy. Lastly, she injected him with a serum that would take about 10 minutes to stop his heart and breathing.

Seeing an opportunity to escape she quietly walked off the ship and slipped into a waiting cab that the Agency had sent there. Later she would learn that mistakes were made. Andro had to take his copter to attend a cartel meeting in nearby Sicily. He let his twin brother Augustus or "Aggy" as he prefers to be called stay behind on the boat to enjoy the prostitute. Aggy was merely posing as Andro. The situation became problematic for the CIA because Andro beefed up his security and started blood feuds with other powerful Russian crime syndicates of which many had informal arrangements with the US to provide counter intelligence. Andro didn’t find humor in the Little Bo Peep theme for some reason. All he wanted was revenge. But on the night of the murder Nikita knew nothing about any of that. As she sat in a plane on the tarmac waiting for a clearance to takeoff she recieved a single text from Bobby that said "You bloody fool, you killed the wrong man!".
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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 9:04 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

"Do you like Macaroni?"
Orzo the soup pasta rolled his eyes at Farfalle in response to her question.
"No, really, I want to know. Do you like Macaroni?"
"Why, Farfalle? Why do you want to know?"
"Because..." Farfalle's voice trailed away.
"Because what, Farfalle?" Orzo barely managed to suppress the irritation that he was starting to feel.
"Nothing. It doesn't matter."
"Farfalle! I am not doing this! If you have something you want to say about Macaroni then stop beating about the bush and just say it!"
Taken aback by Orzo's outburst, Farfalle threw him a glare and then turned her back on him in a huff, which suited Orzo just fine because prior to her interruption, he had been busy watching what was happening lower down on the opposite shelves of the pantry.

In pantry folklore, what actually happened that day became known as The War of The Herbs and Spices That Ended Very Badly, and it all started when the continual low grade bickering between feisty Cayenne and pungent Ginger escalated into a full scale slanging match. This was in The Year Before The Year of The Great Lockdown, and matters weren't helped by the fact that it was a few days before Easter and tensions had been imperceptibly rising in the pantry due to the temporary presence of the Simnel cake.

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?" warbled the cake ever so often "Ohh sometimes it causes me to tremble. Tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" oblivious to the effect it was having on the rest of the pantry occupants who were heartily sick of the hymn, having heard it ever so many times, but collectively thought it would be churlish to tell the Simnel cake to shut up what with it being her time to shine.

So, Cayenne and Ginger were trading insults and as often happens with these things, the surrounding herbs and spices had been drawn in until all manner of petty squabbles were being aired.

From his vantage point on the opposite side of the pantry, Orzo was enjoying the spectacle with some relish, although he could only actually hear fragments of the arguments thanks to the warbling of the Simnel cake.

Why the mango decided to join in Orzo didn't know, and neither did he hear what the mango said, but he knew which mango from the bowl of mangos had called out and he saw the effect that it had on Cayenne. And what happened next happened so quickly that no one could have prevented it.

Cayenne launched a tub of arrowroot at the mango; it missed and hit the tea caddy on the shelf above the bowl of mangos which lurched sideways onto the biscuit tin which fell from the shelf and clipped the edge of the bowl of mangos sending one of the other mangos tumbling to the floor where it burst upon impact.

Caught up in all the drama Orzo lost his balance on the pasta shelf and fell to ground knocking himself out. As he fell, he yelled out to Cayenne "You bloody fool, you killed the wrong man-!"

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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 3:06 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Until I'm able to figure out how to remove the old poll and add a new one, please PM me with your candidate for favorite story this week; I will tally the votes in 24 hours:
-MrMystery314
-bikeatl77
-Asena

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"Bro i have seen hell"-Mr. Humphere
"Also i know how inquisitive all this press can be, i hope the picture of the goat fucking me is not on news or news paper"-Mr. Humphere
"GO TO HELL JUSTIN for having played with me all these while, what the fuck is wrong with you you are such as an asshole"-Charles J Colocino JR
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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2020 2:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

The votes are as follows:
MrMystery314 - 2
Asena - 1

The prompt for this/next week: a story in the horror genre

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"ALL THE SAME NOT AN UNGRATEFUL BITCH"-Mr. Humphere
"Bro i have seen hell"-Mr. Humphere
"Also i know how inquisitive all this press can be, i hope the picture of the goat fucking me is not on news or news paper"-Mr. Humphere
"GO TO HELL JUSTIN for having played with me all these while, what the fuck is wrong with you you are such as an asshole"-Charles J Colocino JR
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Yastreb
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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 10:50 am Reply with quoteBack to top

For the horror challenge story. I've drawn on a concept based in the setting for a projected Steampunk novel.

THE EXILE

A scholar versed in esoteric matters could have told the creature why it was in such pain, but even were it able to understand, it would not care. The scholar could have gone further in description, dividing its suffering into the moulding of flesh that defied nature, the shock of transition between realities, and the fact of its alien nature, but to no avail. The creature's agony blotted out every thought but one; the need to destroy. Only the act of destruction would give it relief, albeit briefly. It had relieved some of its pain soon after it entered the strange waters, ramming the thing on the surface and savaging the figures struggling to swim. That was familiar prey, but it needed more. Swimming awkwardly, still not accustomed to its changed form, it headed for the sounds that promised it the chance of solace.

***

“Cease fire!” Sergeant Morgan’s bellow echoed across the dark waters, and the harsh voice of the Marsden cut off abruptly.
In the sudden silence, cries of pain and panic rang out from the water’s edge. Alex Pritchard peered down the barrel of the Marsden, trying to blink away the dazzle of the muzzle flash as he tugged the magazine free.
“Reloading,” he said curtly, and drew a fresh magazine out of his webbing pouch.
“You shot ‘em up bad,” Ted Rogers enthused. “I only got four shots away.”
It had all happened suddenly; a simple beach patrol, two NCOs and ten other ranks, watching for Raemian raiders that were apparently expected at any time. One moment the night had been quiet, and then something out in the bay, a flash in the night maybe, had drawn the sergeant’s attention, and he had ordered the patrol to cover. Then the boat had come from out of the night towards the beach, paddling hard, and grounded heavily. Seconds later, the order was given, and within a minute, maybe not even half that, it was over.
Pritchard slotted in a fresh magazine and chambered a round, ready to resume fire, just as the Sergeant shouted, “Too shoss! Prederay! Manilee suss!
Meelah! Azhuta!” a frantic cry, almost a sob, sounded faintly from the shallows,.
“The Sarge can voker Romany?” Rogers queried
“Only the useful bits,” Pritchard offered. “I think he’s saying to surrender.”
The Sergeant called out, “Dixon, Larrabee, double time to the CP, report to Captain Atwood, beach contact, under control, expect prisoners, no casualties own side. All others, on me, let’s get a count. Galloway, check any wounded. Pritchard, Rogers, McIntyre, Mikhailov, flank right, and keep watch, stay sharp.”
Pritchard slowly rose to his feet and slipped the Marsden’s carrying strap over his shoulder before heading carefully down the dunes towards the beach with Rogers at his side. The night was clear and the moon was bright, and he could see the shape of the boat, and figures sprawled near it and over it, and two apparently kneeling. In extended line the patrol headed carefully towards the boat. As they drew nearer, Pritchard and his three edged off to one side about twenty yards away and made ready. Soon any prisoners would be under their guard.
Pritchard remembered the gibes made against him back in Zantria when he had announced his intention of joining the Colonial Corps, sneering at him for enlisting in the Boys’ Brigade, the Lotus Eaters, the Sand Suckers; something he had never understood, given that the only military action between Zantria and Raemia for many years had been in the Colony Islands. They had trained well and prepared for action, and now it was paying off.
One of the figures lying beside the boat lurched to its feet, and cried out weakly, “Rekin, un rechin maray! Cu tentaculay! Tentaculay marayi!
Tarchee!” Morgan barked. “Wilson, pat him down, and send him over there.”
There was a spray of foam, silvery in the moonlight, and it was flashing through the water, closing in on the boat.
“Get down!” Pritchard shouted, and hurled himself flat. Why would they fire a torpedo at us?
But there was no explosion. There was a crash as the Raemian assault boat was crushed flat, and screams of terror from a dozen throats as something hurtled up into the shallows, and bodies were sent flying by its impact.
Pritchard stared in disbelief as bile rose in his throat. Whatever it was, it was bigger than a horse, gleaming silver-grey, the shape of a shark, but no shark had tentacles flailing around like whips, lashing into the soldiers around it, and its huge mouth opened wide to engulf one of them...
Pritchard half-rose, bringing the Marsden to his shoulder, bracing on one knee, and opened fire, somehow managing to keep wits enough to fire short bursts. He saw the monster’s skin torn open by the bullets, dark blood spraying, and then it was swinging round, lurching towards him across the sand...
The Marsden stopped firing. Pritchard grabbed for the cocking handle to clear the jam as the monster’s jaws opened, and then he threw the machine-gun aside, reaching for his belt and the grenade pouch there, seizing out a Number 36 and tearing out the pin, no time to cook the grenade, he threw it into the gaping chasm and hurled himself back from it.
The explosion was a muffled roar, but he rarely heard it over the scream that tore at his ears like claws and sent agony lancing through his skull, and he fell into darkness...

... He was lying in the sand. His ears were ringing. What...
The creature was lying in the shallows, its body sundered, shreds of flesh strewn over the bodies sprawled around it. Some were moving, but many were not.

***

Far away, somewhere in the ocean depths, where worlds had collided, reality shuddered and convulsed, then went still as the vortex slowly closed.

And further away still...
“I don’t understand what could have gone wrong.”
“We have to try again.”

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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 9:08 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Congrats, MrMystery314! I have an idea re the horror challenge; however, the 'flow' isn't there, so as it would be torturous rather than fun to transcribe the story in my mind, I'm going to give it a pass. I'm sure the literary world will be none the poorer for my non-participation. Neutral

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 8:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Damn, you guys and gals are as talented as I remember, and then some!

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MrMystery314
Djinn and Tonic


Joined: 13 Dec 2014
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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2020 4:25 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

By default, Yastreb is the winner and gets to choose the next prompt.

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"Bro i have seen hell"-Mr. Humphere
"Also i know how inquisitive all this press can be, i hope the picture of the goat fucking me is not on news or news paper"-Mr. Humphere
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Yastreb
Common Street Thawth Vergabon


Joined: 04 Apr 2006
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Location: Leading my wolf pack


PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 12:07 am Reply with quoteBack to top

This prompt is a title – The Case Of The Gun And The Missing Bullet.

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MrMystery314
Djinn and Tonic


Joined: 13 Dec 2014
Posts: 2059
Location: Herding penguins


PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 4:42 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

The Case Of The Gun And The Missing Bullet

"Holmes?"
He looked up from his computer screen and turned toward Watson, who was sitting in his armchair contemplating his cup of tea.

"Yes, Watson?"

"Tell me about another of your unsolved cases. Let's close another one."

It was an early morning in London, and through the fog nobody stirred except somber men in suits frantically hurrying toward their offices and aloof youngsters playing Pokemon Go. A booked consultation with the Swedish ambassador was cancelled unexpectedly, and so the dynamic duo were left to their own devices. By the time Watson woke up and exited his room, Holmes was already furiously clacking away on his keyboard, undoubtedly conducting reconnaissance or simply sowing mischief (Holmes had recently discovered Reddit, and he took great delight in correcting newbies on topics pertaining to his interests).

"Shall we work on The Case Of The Gun And The Missing Bullet? That's a tricky one, one that undermined much of my confidence in my own abilities."

Before Watson could respond affirmatively, Holmes immediately began explaining the mystery in a somewhat mumbling, yet seemingly rehearsed monologue:

"This was one of the cases I worked on while you were on that cruise to the Bahamas. You should never go on cruises in the future, by the way—people eat too much and make the most uncouth noises at the dinner table. I received an email from one of the senior executives at Deloitte insisting that there was a break-in at his house. No signs of forced entry, he said, although I insisted on verifying this assertion myself. He lives in an apartment similar to our apartment, except more nicely furnished and in better real estate. Right by his office, in fact, allegedly to minimize his commute, although my first assumption would be that whichever infernal contract he signed to hand his soul to the devil included some clause of always being within arm's reach. My first thought as he was eagerly escorting me from the lobby to his apartment was how crowded the floors were; for eight o'clock on a Monday, far too many were entering and leaving."

"Why did you find that significant, Holmes? This is 2020, the era of flexible work schedules. Is it really our business to question those who—"

"He immediately led me to his nightstand and pointed out the now-empty glass case where he had kept a bullet."

"Was this a special bullet? Gold, a war memento, anything?"

"No, he said. He said it was simply a reminder that there was war and conflict in the world, and that peace could not come sooner."

"Fairly ominous, if I say so myself. Where did he find this bullet?" Watson ventured, hoping for some detail he could latch onto.

"According to him, he ordered it on Amazon." Holmes retorted, seemingly unaware of Watson's tentative interest.

"And what of the gun?"

"Patience, Watson. I examined the case and discovered the edge where someone pried off the back piece and super-glued, very neatly I might add, it back together. Additionally, what my client had neglected to mention was that his apartment was connected to the fire escape; however, his security systems detected no disturbance, and even the camera footage revealed nothing."

"So your client had cameras in his bedroom? And he lived alone?"

"Yes, and he swore nobody else had access to the security footage. I speculate his penchant for security and anxiety about violence stems from childhood trauma. He appeared the sort who could still be driven at night to cower under his blankets thinking of all the terrors in the night, some for all he knew could smash his window, come in, and slit his throat."

"Remarkably vivid, Holmes. Perhaps you are the one who was put on edge by this case. And still, the gun?"

"After looking around his apartment, all I could conclude was that there certainly was a break-in. While the intruder did their best to clean up any traces, even as far as I could tell doing my client the favor of dusting his furniture, they did leave a calling card. A sunflower seed."

"And who is this the calling card of?"

"I have absolutely no idea, Watson. Before you ask me yet again about the gun, I will continue. I endeavored to look around the building a bit more, based on my previous noticing of the unusual level of activity. My client knew of no reason why there would be so many people, and indeed he had a vague notion it was unusual in some way; if he were not so preoccupied with what happened in his apartment perhaps he would have remarked on it earlier. Fitting with the fashion of many bourgeois buildings striving to inject some artistry into their denizens' boring lives, there were paintings on every floor, undoubtedly selected by some destitute art history major. I had time, so I went back to the first floor and started wandering the halls, admiring the artwork and searching for an explanation for the crowd."

So far, Watson was puzzled. His initial thought was that this would be a classic "the person who requested Holmes actually committed the crime" case, as was often de rigueur for these enigmas, but Holmes undoubtedly considered that theory and discarded it. There was a method somewhere in his madness, and if he thought the paintings held the solution, perhaps a secret code—Holmes loved secret codes by virtue of their frequent appearance—they most likely were.

"Every floor was similar in activity to my client's, all full of professionals returning with groceries, leaving with briefcases, sometimes perplexingly leaving with groceries and returning with briefcases. The paintings were an eclectic mix of still-lifes, characteristic of a brand with a vested interest in appearing quirky, but one in particular stood out. On the fourth floor, one still-life included a gun, a vase of marigolds, a calculator, and a hamster. But not any gun, Watson, one matching the type of bullet my client had stolen. It was not an antique, but I am of the belief that there are very few coincidences in life, and with this air of general mystery surrounding the building my interest was certainly piqued. I continued through all the floors, giving myself a workout and undoubtedly attracting some strange stares, but there was nothing I could find. Yes, the great Sherlock Holmes, wandering through the building like it was an art gallery."

"And just to be clear, none of these paintings revealed hidden compartments? None of the varied figures you observed gave shifty glances or darted away when observed?"

"A painting is a painting, Watson. And that is what made this case linger on my mind. In our business, we are conditioned by experience to consider every detail a clue, every abnormality something I resolve in a denouement while pacing back and forth and occasionally saying 'Aha!'. This outlook on the world is a fallible one. When there is a piece of evidence, for instance a sunflower seed, that seems inconsequential, a poor detective would ignore it if it did not fit an established theory. A smarter detective would assume it to hold some greater symbolic significance, just as pivotal as a streak of clay or the scratches on a wedding ring. An even smarter detective will consider any such incongruities purposeful distractions and characterize the perpetrator by their attempts at artifice. A madman will be indecisive, not wishing to discard what could prove to be important, yet not willing to fall down the rabbit hole and explore either. I am a madman, Watson. A detective is a madman. We could spend days untangling a deep web of what would most likely be insignificant digressions, the lives of every single denizen of that building and why the building attracted their frequent foot traffic. The sunflower seed may be hinting at a foe who anticipates this present chain of reasoning, understanding that to foil me one only need to inject sufficient chaos that I cannot possibly hope to unravel all the threads conclusively, or it may have simply fallen out of his pocket. Our thief is a fastidious one, but he may not be a hardened professional; I have known many who have snacked on the job. We have no way of knowing."

"But surely out of these possibilities there lies one that stands out among the rest for its clarity?"

"This is a bullet that I could buy on Amazon, just like my client, for less than my lunch cost that day. Undoubtedly there was a heist, done by someone who regardless of their eccentricities is accomplished enough, or perhaps simply lucky enough, to break in somewhere more secure than our apartment without being noticed. And all to steal a tiny hunk of metal."

"The theft could have been to put your client on edge in order to affect his performance at work."

"Excellent, my dear Watson, but surely this perpetrator's talents have been wasted then. A snide Facebook comment would have done the same."

"And what of the gun? You stated this was a case of a gun and a missing bullet, but the bullet seems far more prominent."

"I have viewed the gun as a mere symbol, as I stated earlier, of that thin line we walk as detectives specializing in our peculiar brand of inductive reasoning. I wished I could find some common thread unifying all the elements I observed on that morning walk, something which in permutation would reveal the same crystalline beauty we are all so accustomed to. That same beauty that drives me to monologue, Lestrade to reveal his true perspicacity he disguises under a gruff demeanor, and our clients to our door. I spent over an hour in that building, Watson, viewing what I encountered as merely a greater test of my abilities. There is no interpretation I could reach of the gun, the sunflower seed, the bullet, and the bustle that another great detective could not interpret differently. Our business is one of objective truth, not one of storytelling. Induction lends itself well to storytelling because it is not only accurate (when the evidence allows), but also gives our listeners something to sink their teeth into. As we lay out our reasoning, their minds race ahead of ours, trying to reach the inevitable conclusion before we do. But before we get to that point, we must reach those inevitable conclusions first—and what do we do when there are no inevitable conclusions? We doubt our own abilities as we are stuck in that feedback loop, knowing that if only we picked one theory and assumed it as more legitimate than the rest, we could stumble toward a conclusion. But our logic runs counter to that picking and choosing! We do not have the liberty of choosing our facts or picking our battles. Occasionally, just like today, I find myself circling back to that case, seeing if there is some conclusion I missed. Later I can show you the pictures of the paintings and the people, and you can take your own stab at it. I have an album of my client's apartment on that day he and I put together, a snapshot in time that's quite elusive these days. A rare snapshot of my defeat."

After that remarkable feat of exertion, Holmes slumped back in his chair and let out a sigh before turning back to his computer. He AirDropped the album to Watson's iPad and gestured meekly, and Watson began scrolling through the pictures.

_________________
Jack Boot pony Goat Penguin Penguin 🍆 🦎 🍰 🍰 🍰 Closed lad accounts Vcamera Sand Timer The Church of the Old Gods Santa Golden Pith Safari x26

"ALL THE SAME NOT AN UNGRATEFUL BITCH"-Mr. Humphere
"Bro i have seen hell"-Mr. Humphere
"Also i know how inquisitive all this press can be, i hope the picture of the goat fucking me is not on news or news paper"-Mr. Humphere
"GO TO HELL JUSTIN for having played with me all these while, what the fuck is wrong with you you are such as an asshole"-Charles J Colocino JR
"I will tell you I'm a computer illiterate I know more than you" - Eric Marshall
Hello! ~Kitty Wink
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