Friday, 17 December 2010

Lily's Friday Prediction

Here flies Madame Time again, so I shall be brief. As always a stimulating and inspiring round of entries last week. Congratulations to AJ Humpage for her winning tale, Fell, the Breath and to runners-up RS Bohn for Unseen and William Davoll for First Harvest.

It occurred to me that some of you go on to expand your entries into full pieces. Do tell us - even if it's six months later, we'd love to hear about it.

And so, my encyclopaedic dictionary has thrown out three simple words this week - but you don't have to make it easy for me:

  • Waif
  • Lie
  • Inanimate


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 23 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.

Twist my fancy with your words; I'm waiting...


  1. Boy, did I have to chistle THIS one down!


    He told the waif that he was a sculptor, which was a lie. He said that he wanted to capture her beauty in marble, in return giving food and shelter.

    As she wandered amidst his multitude of inanimate yet vivid statues, he handed her a cup of tea. "Drink it while it's hot." She did. And yet… she seemed to be growing colder… her legs… she could not move her legs! As the cup dropped from her rapidly whitening hand and shattered on the floor, she suddenly realized why all the statues wore the same shocked, betrayed expression.

  2. whoo hoo, Mimi - what a good one to start the new challenge! love the 'rapidly whitening hand' conjures all sorts of images.

  3. The Artist’s Model

    She was waif-like, homeless, desperate, starving, with eyes said ‘feed me.’ Out of the goodness of my heart I did just that.
    ‘Thanks, Mister! I needed that!’ Replete with food and tea, she smiled at me with a promise that was only half a lie.
    ‘Come home with me for the night.’ A command, not an invitation. She did not hesitate, just grabbed her pathetic bag and headed for the door. I followed, wondering how I had got so lucky so fast.
    Artists have needs. I need inanimate objects. She looked good, displayed - and dead.

  4. Odd, I just realised I had followed Mimi's 'artist' theme - sorry, Mimi! Will try to come up with something else to enter in the competition. The one I just posted came from the author who works with me, he saw the words that way.

  5. Antonia -- It's not like I have a copyright on the artist theme, after all, LOL! I, in turn, was heavily influenced by an episode of Doctor Who that I had just seen the previous night.

  6. thanks! I didn't want you to think I was copying your storyline ... and I really do want to come up with another one this week, if I can. All else has gone stale on me, WIP is not working ...

  7. Mimi - I love it! Excellent twist, I didn't see it coming.

    Antonia - Very creepy, sad she didn't hesitate.

    Two great tales, I enjoyed the artist slant.

    Here's mine.

    A Teaching

    Gaunt cheeks, vacant eyes, grey skin pulled taut over bone, a robust man turned waif slumps unwashed and unfed against a stone wall. The cellar is cold and dark as tepid mid-winter light trickles from a small window. The air is stale and dampness pervades.

    He is inanimate save for his shivering and for a moment she wonders if she’s gone too far.

    Then sensing her behind the peep-hole, his shoulders tighten and he jerks against his restraints. Expletives stream forth and so she bends down, whispering as her lips brush the door.
    “But I warned you not to lie.”

  8. Mimi - this had a Narnia-like quality as the victims turn from flesh and blood to cold stone! Loved it!

    Antonia - creepy! I like the premeditation as the artist 'selects' his next blank canvas!

    Susan - a cautionary tale, a woman scorned and all that!

    Herewith - this week's words from Lily brought to mind the buskers/beggars I'm ashamed to say I ignored on the Underground today and conjured up this tale:

    In the Bleak Midwinter

    When I found her, the waif lay inanimate, curled into foetal form. Her cold flesh was grey and pallid, stretched across her bones; testament to poor diet and precious little care.

    A short hard life extinguished by the bitter cold as surely as a snuffed-out candle flame.

    The snow laid a gentle shroud across her as the world passed by on the other side, unseeing; or choosing not to see, preferring to lie to their consciences.

    The horror sobered me from self-induced inebriation, acknowledging my own guilt.

    Is 'civilisation' so far gone that we ignore the death at our door?

  9. Barbie was just a doll-like waif of a girl. He'd treated her like an inanimate object, having his way with her and then tossing her on the workshop bed.

    His wife, blissfully ignorant, was making cookies in the kitchen, while the big man, pulled up his red drawers and put on his boots.

    barbie remained shivering, freezing cold with a Munch-like silent scream pursed on her lips. She watched as he flicked at his snowy white beard and began to sob uncontrollably.

    "Hush now child," he said, "Santa has no time for foolishness, not tonight. You were very naughty, and that my dear was very nice indeed."

  10. Mimi - a marvellously chilling - literally - tale of deceit and magical poisoning. Dark comic strip.

    Antonia - dispassionate and disturbing, I like how this plays on the theme of her hunger, then his.

    Susan - I love how this twists from believing we are are observing a man's tragic descent into the realms of the down-and-out, only to realise that in fact he is trapped; a victim. Very clever - I want to know more.

    Sue, there are so many, aren't there? In the Bleak Midwinter saddens me more than I can say. You've perfectly touched our weakness, our ignorance with your hard-hitting yet beautiful words.

    Michael - you are the naughty one! Barbie can get stuffed (Ken - where are you?) but Santa is precious. Seriously, a terribly mean twist - but so well played out. :)

  11. A poem this time, if that's OK.

    Wasted Matchstick Girl

    “I am blistered by passion,”

    the waif, she did say.

    “I lie within lies, an inanimate wraith,

    ‘neath their knees and fat thighs.

    And whilst I’m street-wise...”

    Her head hung; tears they fell,

    “I’m a sucker for love, can’t you tell?

    They can duff my face up, call me names,

    spend their shame in my arms

    ‘til they weep for their mothers

    and others whose love they can’t claim.”

    She picks scabs from this place and

    that place where they all like to visit,

    which rots inside out. Sends them home

    to their wives.

    Her syphilis thrives.

  12. Mörkt Alven

    Ondaklo savors winter's nights, flitting in candlelight shadows outside restaurants along the Queensway. Devils breath cuts from the Baltic Sea, its teeth needling the scarf-clad folks. The fae spies his victim.

    Ondaklo's blue-gray skin blends with the waif's grime-stained coat, cold leaving her inanimate. Her eyes, near frozen, miss the black cloud of hate Ondaklo breeds. Wispy lights glow in her hair, a damned version of Sankte Lucia's crown. She guides the crowds.

    The man's black heart, calling for Ondaklo, hungers for the lie. The fae balances on his cloak hiding the suicide belt. The man trudges towards the waif.

  13. Michael -- I always knew that Santa was working SOME kind of angle there! He wants SOMETHING for all those toys besides milk and cookies! I'm glad that the truth has finally been told!

  14. Aidan, that knocked the breath out of me. I always look forward to your exquisitely-named characters and your dancing descriptions. I don't know what Mörkt Alven means but this urban fantasy truly hit the mark. Suicide belt? - fantastic.

  15. oh oh oh ... Aidan that was unbelievable.
    Michael, nasty twist there but one we should have expected from you!
    Sue, hitting home with words we should take notice of.
    Susan, exquisite story this time.
    Lily, love the poem. Wish I could write poetry.
    I'm amazed at the ongoing standards which are SO high!

  16. the words have been driving me mad, I knew I wanted to do a 'soldier' story with them, don't know why.

    So, here's In The War Zone.
    It went like this: soldier comes stumbling out of the mist, waif-like, tattered, shrieking. Enemy. We knew he was ‘enemy’ but we wanted to be magnanimous. He fell down, we picked him up, an inanimate object, more dead than alive. Took him into the camp, fed him food and lies, thought to send him back with false information.
    Turns out he wasn’t able to walk any more and we weren’t gonna carry him across enemy line. That made him a deserter. Likely to be shot by his own.
    Wish we’d thought to search him.
    The bomb was a nasty surprise.

  17. Lily, Mörkt Alven roughly translates as The Dark Elf (I've probably "conjugated" slightly incorrectly; I can never remember the gender of my nouns). I made up these creatures (i.e. co-opted swedish variants of fae) for a dark Christmas tale; and they seemed appropriate with this tale spawned by current events.

  18. Aidan: great tale! Very interesting, I like how you used Sankta Lucia. "The Dark Elf" would translate as "Den Mörka Alven", if you want to lose "Den" you could use "Mörk Alv" which is "Dark Elf". Hope you don´t mind! Is there anywhere I could read the Christmas tale?

  19. Vulcan Rising

    A deathly darkness descended.

    It clung to walls and peppered the streets, stifled the sun. A strange scent lingered as though to tease with acidic disdain. Cadmium tinted columns of smoke coiled into the air as though the forge of Vulcan had scorched the earth.

    The stinging breath of a monster filled the passageways, sucked up the air. Inanimate, waif-like shapes huddled together in disparate clusters, crowding the cellars and storehouses. One had gone to lie down in bed, but had burned beneath the coalescing detritus.

    Flesh sizzled and slithered from bones.

    The mountain rumbled. Vesuvius had awakened once more.

  20. First I'd like to apologise for not getting round to reading last weeks entries, and secondly thanks to everyone for their well wishes to my dad. I passed them on and news is he's coming on really well. Thanks!!

    OK, this piece was inspired by seeing Cher on a chatshow last night. Hope you enjoy...

    The Business

    The face that stares back at me is horrific, its features totally inanimate. Nothing moves. My eyelids struggle to meet when I close my eyes. My eyebrows don’t move, although I feel like I’m moving them.

    My body is scrawny, waif-like compared to what it was years ago. I was firm. I had a firm ass and great breasts, but now they hang from my chest like pool balls in old socks.

    “Keep that great face, Chantelle, and you’ll be part of this business forever.”

    What a lie.

    Two Oscars and five face-lifts don’t mean shit in Hollywood.


  21. Mimi - I loved this. A tiny, perfect, horrible fairy tale.

    Antonia - Evil indeed. The Predator as artist. Intriguing to say the least.

    Susan - At first, I thought this was showing us a homeless man, but oh - did it get dark in a hurry. What must he have said to deserve that??

    Sue H - and HERE's where I thought Susan was going. Touching, and an important lesson to us all - especially this time of year, when so much plenty is tossed about.

    Michael - that was totally dark. At one moment, with her "frozen expression", I thought she was going to literally be a toy, but then you refused to let us off the hook - devilish!

    Lily - too many of these untold stories. Wonderful. And the syphilis that she sends 'em off with - perfect.

    Aidan - You can't possibly end there. This is the opening paragraph to something big (and I like it!)

    Antonia - another tale where the sympathies flip on a dime. Wonderful stuff, that goes out on a bang. (Couldn't resist.)

    AJ - great descriptions. I loved the slow reveal, and the natural horror revealed. Nicely done.

    David - Ain't it the damned truth? I just read that Demi Moore spends $104,000 / year to look that good. She can do whatever the hell she likes, but it makes me appreciate the beauty of women like Julianne Moore and Joan Allen, that still look stunning, but have retained their humanity.

  22. Here's the continuing adventure of Diana. I've decided the rest of her tale will be told in a longer story somewhere else.

    Diamonds - Double Trouble

    The one with the gun first, Diana thought.

    While the lanky highwayman hurried to reload, she lunged out from behind the horse and drove her blade deep into his hip. As he began to scream, she stabbed him again in the heart. He dropped to the road and lay like an inanimate thing.

    His partner had been distracted by Diana's waif-like appearance - or her sudden violence. Recovering, he swung the chain at her legs. Diana dove forward. Pain flared in her side as he flailed with his sword.

    One last thrust, and he was finished.

    Now, home. Quickly.

  23. Mimi: Lies work so much easier when mixed with truth. Like how they switch and the realization and horror that dawns on the sculptures.

    Antonia: (1) liked the feed-me eyes; (2) this transported me to memories of reading All Quiet on the Western Front (I read it young enough that it mostly gives me chills about war); I like the confused honor and twisted moralities playing out.

    Susan: She reminds me of some friends I know... although they usually just hold grudges forever. I really liked your opening description and the way you made the waif male.

    Sue: nice, counterpoint; I liked the image of snow as a shroud.

    Michael: dark, I like how this perverts the wholesome image of santa and the surreal treatment of the waif/barbie.

    Lily: I like how this builds a character that becomes sympathetic. Even with the syphilis end.

    AJ: I've walked through an ash cloud before, "stinging breath of a monster" is a great description of that experience. Enjoyed this very demonic taking on the scene.

    David: Nice humor. Pool balls in old socks creates a very vivid image. Now I want to unburn that from my eyes. :)

    Chris: Nice pacing. For some reason the rhythm reminded me of Twas the Night Before Christmas. Let me know when you finish this tale elsewhere; I'm intrigued by Diana.

  24. @asuqi, I don't mind at all. In fact, it is great to learn something about the grammar rules, since my colleagues usually laugh at my poor swedish, but won't correct me.

    It's unpublished. The story is one of my older stories, and it's got a number of weaknesses. Your welcome to read it, but I warned you up front. Send me email, if you still want to read it. (First/last name separated by a '.' at gmail). Or contact me on Twitter.

  25. Overnight activity - I love it! It's like pressies. Thanks for comments on my poem.

    Thanks for the translation Aidan, and the additional comments on that, asuqi. Great to learn something new. And what a thing to learn! Love it. I'm supposing Mörk must be the origin of the English word, murk.

    Antonia - a rapid, breathy narration in In The War Zone. Tragic, and highly probable.

    AJ - I read this a second time once I realised we were talking volcanoes and not sci-fi. A great telling of disaster, with glorious and sensuous description, as always.

    David - I am captivated in horror as I watch some of Hollywood's 'finest' turn themselves into petrified ghouls. You've captured that perfectly in The Business - and I'm with Aidan in his comment about pool balls in old socks.

    Chris - love that vision of a lanky highwayman! A wonderfully frantic escape for Diana. Where is home? If you're stealing her away from us you absolutely must let us know where she turns up lest we feel bereft. :)

  26. thanks for comments, everyone.
    AJ tremendous story with tragic overtones.
    David, perfect description of obsession with 'beauty'
    Chris, loved it!

  27. I've tried a follow-up to my Undead series.

    The Indead, Part 3.

    …..I emptied the contents of the small bottle into the glasses, popped the cork and topped them up.

    The black clad waif stared as I approached; her dark eyes penetrating. The man sat completely still, totally inanimate like he was made of stone.

    As I placed the tray on their table the man suddenly moved.

    “Now, run along and leave us alone,” he said, laughing.

    Laugh away, I thought as I heard their glasses clink together.

    First there was a choking sound, then a screech, followed by a wet popping sound.

    But only one. I’d been told a lie.

    To Be Continued…..

  28. oooohhhh .... want to read more, David, please!

  29. Mimi – ‘Rapidly whitening hand’ really says it all; this vividly captures her shock. Chilling.

    Antonia No 1 – I love the cold oozing from the narrator, such bad intentions so casually delivered, and that’s what makes this unsettling.

    Susan – Lovely descriptions build this into a dark, creepy tale. ‘Tepid mid winter light…’ Great imagery.

    Sue – Astute observations here. The truth is very apparent in your words. Makes us think.

    Michael – I love the way you’ve turned something so adored by children into something that could abuse others. Nice twist, and quite creepy.

    Lily – Incredibly evocative, beautiful lines that thrust imagery at you, and that last line is so effective, almost strops you in your tracks.

    Aiden – You deftly capture a dark fantasy world with some lovely descriptions and silky narrative; it’s very easy on the eyes.

    Antonia No 2 – There’s a hint of sadness in this piece, and what a fantastic last line…

    David – ‘Pool balls in old socks’. Brilliant description! This story isn’t far removed from the truth.

    Chris – This reminds me of the old black and white serials and their cliffhangers – always leaves you wanting more.

    David No 2 – Another one here that keeps us hooked for the next instalment!

  30. ...sooooooo many entries this week - and all so good! Lily - a good choice of words for the challenge this session!

    Well done everyone! (so glad I don't have to pick a winner.....)

  31. mimianderly: Aha, now she knows how Lot's wife felt..

    antonia: nasty girl and she was so willing too..

    susan: a regular gepeto..wasn't he?

    sue h: i feel a chill..

    lily: eeww!

    aidan: impending doom here..

    aj: your very own greek tragedy playing out or was Vesuvius Italy??

    david: you've captured the essence of LA in this tiny piece

    chris; how come i can never find a good sword when i need one??

  32. David I can't bear to wait until next week!!!!

  33. The truth will out

    The waif huddled in the lee of the milestone at the rain-lashed crossroads. She watched over her mother's corpse; inanimate save for the maggots writhing in the festering wounds.
    There she would stay, for ever if necessary, her enquiring stare burning into each passer-by, waiting to avenge her father's lie. Under her sodden wrap her hand gripped the handle of the rusting dagger, ready to plunge it into his blackened heart. The day he returns he, too, will die.

  34. Scratch, what dark images you have conjured here! Brilliant.

  35. Not managed to read any other entries yet been a busy week I'll do my best to do so later and comment.

    Here's mine for the week.

    The Lie
    Air raid sirens screamed their arrival, there’s terror in the skies.
    All waifs and strays herded from the street to their subterranean demise.

    Jammed in like pebbles in a jar, locked in behind solid doors; the inanimate gas pipes came to life hissing their fury with convulsive Jaws.

    Souls clung to souls for protection and to utter their last goodbye, now’s the time to ask forgiveness for every single lie.

    Beyond their passing came silence and a grey light tinged with red, a well dressed presence drifted forth and took the souls of all those dead.

  36. William, this is powerful stuff. Very emotive. Like it a lot.

  37. scratchypen - what a vivid image you have cast here. It's nasty, it's visceral, it's packed with anger. I am soaked. Very well written.

    William - this tragic piece is all the more powerful for the mixing of tense; a dying drift between conscious thought and bare fact. Really loved the line "a well dressed presence drifted forth..."

  38. David: I like the removed tone of the protagonist and the twist with the lie at the end. Interested to see where this goes.

    ScratchyPen: the maggots is a nice touch; vividly revolting but also succinctly says how long she's been waiting. Nice word choices that match her anger.

    William: I like the voice's rhythm in this piece; liked the image of jamming pebbles in the jar.

  39. MIMI I love how your piece gently led the reader in the same way the sculptor led his victim.
    Antonia What a cool predator
    Susan Lush descriptions put a chill on me
    Sue H Perfectly captured the sadness and guilt
    Michael You've got me blocking up the chimney, absolutely chilling
    Lily I always enjoy your poems, I enjoyed the phrase "spend their shame in my arms"
    AidanF I love so many of the descriptive phrases in this piece
    AJ I've always been fascinated by Pompeii I particularly Love the phrase "Flesh sizzled and slithered from bones"
    David The Business captures the lie of the world showbiz perfectly. The Undead Part 3 Love it and I want more
    Chris What Character Diana is, at least a couple novels in her life I reckon.
    ScratchyPEN I love how you use the descriptions of the orpse and the dagger to set the time frame. Brilliant

  40. Wehey....instead of being fashionable late, I'm fashionably early for me. Go no college! :)

    I've got out my dictionary and this is what it has spat sort of tie in with Christmas...well...kind of...


    ‘You’re just a waif,’ he whispers to me, in his harsh Yorkshire tone. ‘You’ll never belong here in our world.’

    I shudder outside in the cold, icicles forming under my nose, my eyebrows. My insides tremble; silver snowflakes settling onto my ashy blue flesh.

    ‘You’re inanimate,’ she hissed to me. ‘Just like your bitch of a mother.’

    I dare not cry...the icicles are too much for me to bare, their sharpness piecing my skin.

    I blink away the snow and pain, a fiery butterfly emerging – my friend.

    Why do they lie to me? My mother is always here...

  41. Pix, this tore at my heartstrings. Who is she? What is she doing there and why? A beautifully written little tease.

  42. Mimi - A finely sculpted tale.

    Antonia - Nice, with a great little end.

    Susan - A woman scorned indeed. Excellent.

    Sue H - Very touching. similar to you thought on one of your recent posts. Loved it!

    Michael - You lil' old devil. Santa Porn!! Nice write.

    Lily - STD's in verse. Love it. You are slowly converting me into a poetry lover!

    Aiden - Brilliant and dark. Great 100 words.

    Antonia - What a blast! (sorry) Great story with an even better last line.

    AJ - Really descriptive piece. Thoroughly enjoyed that!

    Chris - Dianna's a lady I'd like to meet. She'd be great in a pub fight! :-) Great piece of writing again, mate.

    Scratchypen - An atmospheric piece that I'd like to read more of. Well done.

    William - Powerful stuff there that was a great read.

    Pixie - I had the vile faces of the Moors Murderers in my mind as I read this. Very well done indeed.

  43. Pixie, stunning piece of writing. You could read so much into this from so many angles, it really is good.

  44. Thanks everyone for their comments.

    Pix I loved your piece, it's voice is really stong. I could imagine Kenneth Cranham reading the part of the yorkshireman.

  45. My dears, The Prediction is now closed for business - at least for tonight. No more entries please. I have my Judge's monocle on and can't see a thing, but I'll be back later...


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.