Friday, 10 December 2010

Lily's Friday Prediction

Eighteen entries from thirteen writers proved a true judging challenge last week! So much so that after selecting Erin Cole's incredible Bare the Bones as the winner I was totally unable to choose a runner-up. So I left it up to you and by a majority vote it's AJ Humpage's profoundly disturbing Mea Culpa. Well done AJ!

And now for today's words, if you please:

  • Spring (noun or verb, any tense - aren't I kind)
  • Chain
  • Melt


The rules are: 100 words max flash fiction or poetry using all of the words above. Please add your entries in the Comments box below. You have all week until 9pm UK time Thursday 16 December to enter.

Winner will be announced next Thursday or Friday. If you can, please tweet about your entry, using the #fridayflash hashtag, and blog if you feel like it.

I'll be twiddling my thumbs in anticipation...


  1. Diamonds - Part 3 - Stand and Deliver

    No thought Diana, not now. Her horse snorted and reared slightly. Two men blocked her path. The first, in a tattered yellow jerkin, held a clumsy, deadly looking pistol. On his side, the second man held a rapier, and a length of chain.

    Curran's men were catching up- her lead was melting away.

    Diana raised her arms in surrender, then overbalanced- falling off the horse. The pistol went off; Diana heard the shot carom off the road.

    She sprang to her feet, dagger in hand, and snarled,"Come now, you bastards. Take your prize or die trying."

  2. متشابكة الجن

    Ghūl huddled in the rafters while the medium herded her flock -- human sheep. He held a crystal cone with sprung chains, remorse flavored with a hint of blood-whipped backs. The medium knew his weakness.

    Salt-rivers perspired from the fools. Open receptacles.

    Smokeless flames coalesced into Eblis. The demonlord pressed claws into Ghūl's chest. The iron-linked scoop splashed against a beam to melt.

    "Mine!" Hissed Ghūl.

    "Mistaken." Eblis's tail raked the ghoul's skin. "My seed."

    "Yes, father." The words torn from Ghūl.

    Eblis cavorted in the séance's circle. His blood stained their horror-filled visages to impregnate their souls. Burnt roots.

  3. Yet further proof that I am a twisted fuck:

    Fastened to a basement pipe by a heavy chain and a set of handcuffs, I awaited someone to miss my presence in the outside world, come to check on me, and spring me.

    This was an unlikely scenario, as I was a self-employed loner. Chances were I would die of thirst in my own excrement. What a dignified ending.

    As I awaited my doom, my captor returned. For the briefest second, I entertained the hope that he would release me… until I saw him lift the bucket and felt the acid as it started to melt my flesh away….

  4. AidanF - this is a vivid tour of hell. The descriptions are lush and the brief dialogue is filled with menace. Nice to know even demons have family issues...

    Mimi- what fascinates me is the detachment of the narrator - as if he/she's become so much of a loner that they are completely removed from humanity, even here in extremis. Chilling.

  5. I sat at the red light opening me mail. I crushed the poorly worded chain letter and threw it on the floor. The lot are rubbish, for the superstitious and weak kneed.

    I accelerated upon the green and was hitting fourth gear when the bloke in front stopped short. No time to react, me breaks gave way at the most awkward moment, melting metal against metal with me and my weight SUV climbing right over the back of the young laddies car.

    I peered into the front carriage and saw enough blood and bits of cranial matter to know the lad had seen his last spring.

    Waiting for the cops, the scent of death in my nostrils, I peered at the wadded up chain letter.

    I knew ten others I could forward it to I guessed.

  6. The Dark in Deed and Mind

    ”You´re back,” said the Toad mockingly.

    The Princess shrugged and knelt by the spring.

    ”Do it,” she said stonily. The Toad sneered and her gown melted away.

    His tongue slowly caressed her, snaked around her nipples. She remained perfectly still.

    ”I do love licking a Princess,” he whispered, ”but the price for wisdom is higher.”

    She tensed and he allowed his tongue to lengthen, slid it around her like a chain of flesh.

    He held her captivated as he tore out her left eye.

    The Princess fell into the spring, feeding it with her blood as she drank its wisdom.

  7. Chris: great action scene!

    Aidan: ”His blood stained their horror-filled visages to impregnate their souls.” Am I in awe over this sentence? Well, maybe just a teeny-weeny bit…

    Mimi: psychopath warning! I get a feeling he/she kind of wants it…

    Michael: shit! I will not let this get to me. This really couldn´t happen, I´m sure! Well written =)

  8. Chris: interesting combination of rapier and chain; like the cross-pollination of a historically aristocratic european weapon with the mundane chain that makes me think he'll use it in a martial arts style. Enjoyed how Diana struggles to decide how she is going to approach this.

    Mimi: I find it interesting that the protagonist seems more concerned about the undignifiedness of dying this way than that they are going to die.

    Michael: the chain letter probably threatened all kinds of bad things if not forwarded. His ambivalence is captured well.

    Asuqi: really powerful and dark piece; I think the twisting of the fairy-tale like setting makes this more powerful. Really liked the use of tongue and snaking. I'd used forked tongue and snaking in my piece but cut to get a hundred words.

  9. here we go again, an exceptional set of entries already, no chance for the rest of us ...
    Aidan, so much gore, so much sharp imagery.
    Mimi, losing the will to live in the most dismal of ways beautifully pictured.
    Michael, whoo, watch out for those chain letters!
    Asuqi, as dark as ever and as wonderful as ever.

    No chance, as I said, no chance ...
    I discarded five entries yesterday as useless. Still trying.

  10. OK.

    The chains clank on the stairs. He laughs. “You don’t fool me, Mark! You couldn’t escape from the cellar!”
    No response. Just the dull clanking. He gets up, walks over to the door and peers out. Nothing.
    “Think you can spring a surprise on me, do you?” Now a tinge of apprehension. “Mark?”
    Nothing but the sound of the chains, as mournful as a foghorn.
    He retreats into the room, shuts the door and pushes a chair under the door knob.
    Mark walks through the door and stands, flesh appearing to melt under the chains.
    There is no escape.

  11. Fell, the Breath.

    A mere touch, supple like the haze of Spring and yet so cherished with colour like pale pigmented blossom, I finally broke through her concrete defences to reach in and grab the block of cold quartz where her heart should have been.

    I opened the bedroom door; hand gestures and soft smiles unwrapped the delicate ribbons of trust. I watched her defences melt.

    First contact of hands to silken skin; the chain that had for so long kept me at a distance finally dissolved. A captivated breath fell from my lips; the rush of love.

    I was her first girl.

  12. Whoo hoo AJ, you did it again, took my breath away with the imagery here! 'soft smiles unwrapped the delicate ribbons of trust.' Powerful line.

  13. Corkers once more. Do forgive me, I have barely been at the keyboard for the last 2 days. I'll be back to comment and submit very, very soon...

  14. What a lovey surprise to be picked as runner up for last week! Thank you everyone for voting.

    Glad you enjoyed the new story, Antonia.

    I shall get pen and paper out and comment on these fab entries later!

  15. Unseen

    She sat before the mirror, spreading herself carefully. Dark purple, deflated: is this what he saw? Is this why he refused…?

    She let a hand drop, covering herself, a chain of memories melting into one another: knickers on the floor, his odd look, lights being turned off, the warm firmness at her open lips, the bed’s silent shaking. A kiss on the forehead before he left again.

    Summer months crawling by. Now autumn’s dried leaves on the pavement outside, curved and brown, whispering her self-doubt. She closed her eyes, imagining green shoots bursting forth from the dark earth, deep underground.

  16. Chris: I love Diana! Very exciting, and I echo Antonia: More!

    Aidan: Delicious use of language, and you gave us everything we needed in such a short space. Like this: The words torn from Ghūl. We know exactly the relationship, maybe even identify… Honestly, I’d like to see more of this, but I think you’ve given us just what you wanted to.

    Mimi: I did not need further proof, actually! LOL! And ye gods, woman, this is horrifying! For some reason, pouring it over the head makes it worse. Acid in eyeballs, I guess. Freaked me out.

    Michael: I guess your narrator won’t be able to send it to the young laddie. I’m not positive, but I believe there are chain letters in Hell. Along with brussel sprouts and liver.

    Asuqi: Now that is a twist. That’s a grim fairy tale (haha). But kind of sensual. Don’t tell anyone I said that. (the eye part, not sexy though, not in the least, and I hope the wisdom was worth it)

    Antonia: This reads like one of my real nightmares. “No escape” can mean many things, and your interpretation here is chilling.

    AJ: Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. And it’s that last line that does me in.

    Thanks everyone who has submitted so far; these are some fab reads. And sorry my comments are so lame. My brain has died a miserable death. Alone.

  17. Chris - Diana's confidence is dropping and her desperation is glimmering. I'm intrigued to see what she does and who she trusts.

    Aidan - your horrific battle in متشابكة الجن is just terrifying. It feels ancient and contemporary in the same breath.

    Mimi - hohoho. I loved this troubling end to a life less ordinary and particularly enjoyed " I was a self-employed loner."

    Michael, this made me tremble in fear in discovering what was coming next. His indifference was worst.

    Asuqi - The Dark in Deed and Mind is gloriously confusing. I loved the literary contraption of Grimm versus modern urban fantasy. (But I would lose the word 'mockingly' - sorry, hope you don't mind.)

    Antonia, Mark truly freaks me out. As you say, "There's no escape." Terrifying.

    AJ - I am seduced. Fell, the Breath is an exquisite lure, astonishing yet subtly inevitable. Beautiful - reminds me of the glorious Sarah Waters.

    Rebecca (RS) - another erotic tease, though this time peppered with doubt - despite self-appreciation. Pretty, blissful, tragic. I loved it.

  18. Once again, some outstanding pieces...

    Chris, this Diana lady is somebody I would love to see in a longer story; her zeal and fervor, mixed with diamonds and pistols, fabulous!

    AidenF, this is so gothic, a flash from something epic and dark in history? Great stuff.

    Mimi, a trip down modern reads with an intensity of real life horror; wrong place at the wrong time!

    Michael! A+ for sinister penning! It's a good thing I hate chain letters. Great finish, brought a smile to me face.

    Asuqi, I really enjoy this! Your imagination, pacing, delivery, all excellent - sexy, but wicked too. Fine penning.

    Antonia What are you talking about no chance? This is great. Your details are perfect, just the right amount and the right words, and I love the ending, the barricaded door that Marks walks through, in his grotesque, ghostly form. Perfect.

    AJ Humpage A lilting piece of prose, excellent language, and this caught me: First contact of hands to silken skin; the chain that had for so long kept me at a distance finally dissolved. That says it all.

    R.S. Bohn This is a beautiful piece; I love subtle sex scenes, especially when they string towards deeper truths and feelings of the heart and soul, regrets, all that juiciness! Great job.

    Really good writing - good luck Lily!

  19. Antonia: Your flash typifies my idea of horror, the idea that something bad will happen but you don't know exactly what or from where. (Although, I was reminded of Scrooge... but the melted flesh gives this a darker cast.)

    AJ: like the unexpectedness of cherishing the pale flower. It forces me to recast the flash and see how the absence of a trait can make the little bit of that trait more powerful. Thought provoking. I like that about fiction.

    RS: nice sexual tension undercurrent you create here. I enjoyed the images, deflated purple with it's double-meanings and the tragic need/desire that is left unsatisfied.

  20. thanks for the kind words - I really didn't think my entry stood up to the class that is going on here! Erin, wonderful stuff. Melted brain, perhaps????
    RS, masterful touch here! Loved it.
    There is some amazingly powerful stuff appearing here weekly, I look forward to every entry.

  21. I meant, Erin, your comment re: comments, melted brain perhaps???
    my catchpa word was
    coesoni which sounds vaguely Italian somehow. A specialised dish of innards, spiked with blood sauce, perhaps?
    Which reminds me ... I am a medium and work and live with spirit companions. One, Earl Rivers, is fascinated by dinosaurs. We were watching an episode of Morse when the detective went to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (ethnological museum) and there was a dinosaur skeleton. 'what's that?' Rivers asked in his 'I am all innocence' voice which I recognise as being a wind up.) Me, not thinking, said 'dinosaur.'
    'Really?' I got back. 'how did he keep his innards in?'

  22. Antonia: well written and chilling. A true horror-story.

    AJ: such a poetic piece. Wonderful!

    RS: a very rich story in so few words. Emotional worlds pour out of your instant descriptions – I love it!

  23. Lily: no! I don´t mind at all, I´m grateful! I spend my time stumbling through dark and deceitful linguistic labyrinths, so any help is vastly appreciated =) I did not know ´mockingly´ had the wrong flavour for this piece. Too prosaic? Too mundane?

  24. Hi Lily, my first contribution:

    The long wait

    He was last seen walking along the tow path, just after the heavy snow. It was spring when they found him.

    The melt water running off the hills stirred the canal, and the chain attaching him to the concrete block pulled though his decomposing flesh. His heavy top coat was holding the rest of him together when they found him draped, like a rag doll, over the weir .

    Lucky for me the eels and fish had picked away at his neck wounds, the police said it was suicide. Shame he missed out on the Christmas party.

  25. Scratchypen (what a great name!) good one! Lovely chilling last para ... didn't see that coming at all.

  26. Hi Lily. I had some bad news on Friday and had to drive to Manchester. My dad had a major stroke. My head is where it shouldn't be at the moment but I needed to write this. I'll get round to reading the others as and when.

    For My Father

    I needed to be with you. The family reassured me but I felt useless being so far away. I made the journey. Luckily the snow had begun to melt, making the drive less dangerous.

    During the drive I thought about the great times we’d had together. I remembered I still have the gold chain you bought me for my twenty-first birthday.

    Just to see you this weekend made me feel proud to be your son. I know you will be better soon, you are a fighter, and I’m looking forward to walking with you in the Spring.

    I love you.

  27. fingers got tangled.
    Captcha, not catchpa. Either way it's a crazy word to type.

  28. asuqi - 'mockingly' just jarred as an adverb for me. I think changing the dialogue slightly -

    "”You´re back then,” said the Toad"

    would indicate the Toad's attitude rather than actually telling us he was mocking the Princess.

    Is that OK? :) I loved the whole piece!

  29. Welcome to The Feardom scratchypen!

    The Long Wait is an intriguing write. Is the narrator a lover, a vampire...? I really enjoyed your description of the victim being held together by grace of his heavy top coat. Well done.

  30. David I am so sorry to hear about your father's stroke. I'm sure we all wish him a safe recovery, and our thoughts are with you.

    Your message from a loving son to his father is beautifully written; sincere and full of hope. I had to wipe away a tear. Take care, Barber family.

  31. David, commiserations. Yours is the second 'stroke' news I have seen in a week, it is always sad but if the person is strong, they can fight through.
    Loved your words. Went away to think about them, they mean a lot and I think we should remember to say that to our loved ones often. Thanks for posting them.

  32. A Greater Mystery

    Snows melted at Persephone’s touch. Her tears of release spilled upon virgin soil to form springs of sustenance as she broke the chains of winter.

    New leaves on trees fluttered in frantic conversation. Their shimmering voices dropped to a whisper, afraid to utter the Dread Queen’s name aloud.

    “She comes.”


    In the Goddess’s wake, pale daughter Macaria smiled from porcelain skin. Collecting the dead and the broken she gathered her load, blessing lost souls and white bones. A harvest of gifts to offer her father when they returned to Hades - the dark man, misunderstood. Competition for her mother’s love.

  33. Right, I just came to have a quick look. (Will have to come back to comment later in the week!)
    I didn't think I'd have time to play but when I read the three words this just sprang to mind so...

    It was the middle of winter when I went missing and he was done with me by early spring. Finding someone new, the bastard put one end of a chain around my leg, the other end around a barren apple tree, and left me for dead. I didn’t die though, I licked snow and as I felt it melt on my tongue I sustained myself with hope and thoughts of my previous life. I cannot recall how long it was before a hunter found me, delirious and half frozen.
    Now, in hospital, I wait for my family to arrive.

  34. I'm glad we drew you in Susan. This is a stark vision, almost an abduction - yet we feel the narrator was willing at the outset. The chaining of her (?) leg to the barren apple tree, is scarily cold and disturbing. A chilling read.

  35. Susan, vivid imagery here! Loved it, all the thoughts of the abducted so clearly set out.
    Lily, love the twist on the myth.

  36. Hi, Scratchypen! Lucky for me the eels and fish had picked away at his neck wounds -- Hee! Good one. And lucky for us you came along to play. I like your vision.

    David, I commented on your blog, but just to let you know, I'm still thinking of you and your father. Big hugs. Please keep us updated.

    Lily -- I love mythology, and Persephone is a favorite of mine. Gorgeous, sexy little fic; I love it! "the dark man, misunderstood" -- chills. Chills!

    Susan -- I echo dorothy, such vivid imagery! Haunting and brief, and I wonder why she isn't harboring thoughts of revenge... As Lily says, perhaps the narrator was willing? Stockholm Syndrome, maybe? (is that what it's called? my mind is half-dead at the moment)

  37. Chris – Ooo this is better than any soap on the TV!

    Aiden - Lots of deft, descriptive touches. ‘Salt rivers’ and ‘open receptacles’ and ‘horror filled visages’ all bring colour to the heart of the horror, some great imagery here.

    Mimi - there is an underlying cold which hides behind this character’s fate. This detachment, almost acceptance, makes it a chilling piece.

    Michael - I liked the slight casual nature of the narrative, almost a slow motion capture of one man's ignorance and realisation.

    asuqi – Blimey! This piece turns the fairy tale on its head! But this is why it's a wicked tale. The metaphoric use of the tongue and the snaking gives it plenty of vision and symbolism.

    Antonia – ‘Mournful as a fog horn’ is simple and effective, all leading to a deliberate, effective pause at the end. ‘No escape’...from what?

    RS – ‘Spreading herself casually’. Lovely description. This whole piece screams simile and metaphor, and I especially like the line ‘warm firmness of her open lips’.

    Scratchypen - Love this piece. There are some great descriptions. ‘The chain...pulled through his decomposing flesh’. I like the cold satisfaction of the narrator. Great stuff.

    David – Wow, this is very moving and honest.

    Lily - a beautiful piece, full with lush descriptions and underscored with love and sadness. I love the Greek myths, having studied classics, and I do like the ‘dark man, misunderstood’. He certainly is. I like the way you’ve woven myth and fiction.

    Susan – Dark, stark and disturbing, especially when we are told ‘he was done with me by early spring’. That makes me shudder just thinking about it.

  38. Oh for heaven's sake. Is it really worth me entering this week? I cannot compete with this.

    Well, that last sentence is a lie. I'll try, but I cannot promise anything. At least most (Not all) of my college burdens are slowly OFF my shoulders, thank God.

    Should have a story soon, if my brain would like to spit one out for me.

  39. Lily: sorry to be so random about commenting and answering comments this week! RL is eating me. In answer to your comment: yes, absolutely OK, love getting feedback. Thanks!

    David: I´m so sorry! You are in my thoughts. I hope your father is OK and getting better! Your contribution this week breaks my heart.

  40. Thanks everyone for the great comments! I think I'm going to do my best to wind up Diana's "arc" in the next week or two, and save the rest of her exploits for a longer tale.(Which has been started)


    Michael - if that's what a chain letter can do, imagine what would have happened if he ignored the fantastic savings on Viagra??

    asuqi - loved this dark fairy tale. Sometimes toads were turned that way for a REASON.

    Antonia - love the contrast as cruelty gives way to fear. Top shelf ghost-work. :)

    AJ - What better to describe the sensual than through the senses - this was gorgeous, lush, and lusty!

    RS - I can taste the bitter tears. You always manage to go right to the heart of your characters' hurt. It's very powerful.

    scratchypen - Welcome! I read this as a noir-styled vampire tale - and really enjoyed it!

    David - This was a perfect piece for your Dad. Your heart's on your sleeve. Thank you for sharing it.

    Lily - I'll echo above - Persephone is a WONDERFUL character to be exploring, and, as I've gotten to know your style, I couldn't imagine a better fit. You. Must. Write. A. Longer. Story. About. Persephone.

    Susan - intense take from the helpless victim's perspective. It's totally chilling in that you've made it clear there's nothing coming by way of help. Awful to contemplate, but very captivating.

  41. First Harvest

    I’m still not sure what caused reality to melt away that day. The voices said it was some kind of breakdown, a chain reaction to everything.

    It was spring and the grass was high, that’s where I found them, knotted together, those guilty lovers.

    Time for the first cut…

    They tried to stand when they saw me, tried to explain their trousers entwined, both raised proud among the reeds. Under the judgement of the scythe they fell easily like mown grass, my husband and his man.

  42. I've wrote a story about Persephone, Chris, but it's too long for the Feardom. It'll go on my blog in the new year.

    Here's my effort. Take from it what you want.


    I felt something tender stroke my stomach, aroused my conscious from the dark slumber; my eyes blinked open.

    The room was spinning, curling around me like a loose spring. Shapes blurred against me, they seemed to melt together, swirling into an ominous nightmare.

    There it was again, that gentle touch, a kiss. My larynx tightened, my throat parched. I pulled my hands, heard a metal clank of the chains around me.

    A pin prick, there, in my arm again. Or was it my neck? The room seemed to melt again.

    He’s smothering me...with kisses? Or is it with a pillow?

  43. I'm bit on the late side this week to comment, but just wanted to say I'm sorry to hear your news David, and your in my thoughts

  44. Great comments, thanks guys!
    The imagery of all these tales is amazing. So much from which to learn and be inspired.

  45. Scratchypen: this captures the protagonist nicely; his unemotional response that is more relief than fear/disgust at the discovery of the body and then the dark humor of the final sentence. Welcome!

    David: Sorry, to hear about your father and best wishes to you all. I like the hope and remembrance that you mix in your piece.

    Lily: I like the way the leaves shudder and shake at the queen's passing and the human element you add by looking at the daughter.

    Susan: like the specific details and how economical you are with the words; barren painting an image of the tree and the emotions of the scene.

    William: you really hooked me with the first line. I got a surreal image of the world literally melting; and then as I read it gradually changed to lock in place of her emotions/world melting away. I liked the effect.

  46. Pixie: sensuous; I like the way that you leave this open-ended and the specificity of the details that make it through her fogged senses. Particularly liked the image you used of the room spinning with like a loose spring.

  47. Last week's Prediction challenge is now closed.

    Rebecca, AJ and Chris - thanks for your comments, I might well write something longer. I love the parallel between Persephone and the Cretan Snake Goddess as aspects of the Great Mother. Very important to me.

    William, First Harvest has a dreamy, trance-like quality. It's a beautifully evocative piece of writing which, by mention of the word scythe feels ancient in the telling. I like this very much.

    Pixie - three minutes to go and you just snuck in there! With Kisses is truly chilling. You lull us into a feeling of warmth at the outset until we rapidly realise this blind seduction is one of fear, of unwilling submission. Finally, you leave us spellbound with questions. Very clever.

  48. I like sneaking in under the cloak of darkness Lily...that's what it is.

    I'm glad you all like With Kisses as I personally didn't think it was very strong. Shows how much I know...

  49. But it's never too late to comment! And I must:

    William -- My god! That is beautiful. Of course, in a horrifying, psychotic way. I LOVE IT on so many levels.

    Pixie -- Don't know how you did it, but I felt as if I was there with her. Descriptive abilities: check. You haz them like mad.

    Good luck, Lily!

  50. Scratchypen: Always love the discovery of a dead body. And the homicidal mystery in this one is a great topper…however, some Christmas parties are worth missing : )

    David: Strength and might to your father and family. A great tribute here, and that ending is fabulous.

    Lily: “the dark man, misunderstood”—love that, and the fact that there is some rivalry there, between the women. The rich psychological and mythological elements present complete the greater mystery here, absolutely!

    Susan: A nightmare that begs justice- This line, “I sustained myself with hope and thoughts of my previous life,” seems like a truth that holds experience behind it, for its value in many situations.

    William: First Harvest is a wicked delight, perfectly written in detail, and a revenge worth harvesting!

    Pixie: What a kiss, chained in a nightmare—the delirium in this piece sets the tone and mood perfectly.

    Well done, everyone.


Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.