Friday, 24 June 2011

Lily's Friday Prediction

I'm up early after a late night that had me swimming in and out of nightmares, waking every ten minutes with a shuddering heart and distorted vision. That's it - Pizza? You and me are through.

Despite that, the skies are blue and the birds are singing (except for the gulls, whose squawking somehow puts them out of the avian X-Factor league). Post-Solstice midsummer look like being a bright one. So mote it be.

Multiple congrats to Erin Cole for winning last week's Prediction Challenge with The Man with Blue in His Beard. Also to joint runners-up Angel Zapata for his poem Forgiveness and Phil Ambler with Evolution. Well done too to asuqi, who received an Honourable Mention for Void.

Words for 24 June 2011

Please note the challenge this week will close on Wednesday night (UK time) not Thursday.

Ooh, now here's a turn-up-for-the-books - as they still say in the quainter corners of England. The words for this week are:
  • Publisher
  • Drape
  • Petal


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 on Wednesday 29th June to enter.

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

Publisher, huh? Could be dangerous waters... Dare you dip your toes?


  1. Skinned Alive

    Esmeralda removed the heavy drape covering the publisher’s half naked body. His skin shivered in protest at the dungeon’s cool moisture. She observed his struggle against the chains that tied him from the ceiling with vengeful glee.
    “Dismiss my story, will you? To quote your rejection letter, ‘The antagonist’s means of torture is far-fetched and unbelievable’. Well sir, I plan to make you a believer.” She tightened the gag, watching his eyes dart back and forth. The candlelight flickered on the silver blade as she gingerly carved a petal-shaped symbol on his right breast.

  2. what a start! As a publisher I should beware my rejection letters...

  3. The Missing Page

    They pay me to explain the bizarre. Half of them users, the other half victims. She entered my office, her miniskirt draped over smooth legs and my eyes imagined the silky feel of them wrapped around me.

    "Jordan Crenshaw, P.I.?"

    "That's me. You need something?"

    "Got a job for you." Her eyes glossed over the office. "Looks like you could use the money. I work for a publisher..."

    Bug-eyed, she stared over my shoulder at my clock, a crouched woman on a petal-strewn bed. Blood dripped from the clock-woman's arms acting as hour-hands.

    I was going to enjoy being used.

  4. Where's the Fox?

    Detective Sellings kicked the cottage door open; the reek of decaying flesh and musky fox piss hit his nostrils. The smell caused his constable to surrender his breakfast to a convenient Rose bush, each petal draped in regurgitated porridge.
    “Bloody light weight!” Sellings chastised as he moved into the cottage.

    He looked at the victim’s eye floating in the middle of the cereal bowl “Snap Crackle and Plop” he mused to himself, as he noted the book pages rammed into every orifice of the victim, this was clearly the work of the serial killer the press had dubbed the publisher.

  5. Reloaded

    She leaves her words to a publisher,
    her visions on a screen.
    Wanting to
    pervade mankind´s consciousness.
    It´s never enough.

    She draws a construction,
    then strips it
    of all things unnecessary.
    Like petals pealed off,
    leaving only

    There is a barrier
    between her and them,
    between you and me,
    more effective than our skin.

    So she can´t reach through,
    her mind obscured,
    draped in layers of ego
    -- unobtainable.

    Finally she manages to wire
    her brain to the outside,
    passing, surpassing,
    all that is herself.

    Injecting everything,
    connecting completely with mankind.
    Megastructure reloaded.
    And what´s left of her

  6. Seems like most of us are on a similar wavelength...

    The Whitechapel Murderer

    The publisher had never printed anything so gutturally morbid: defaced woman lying in a bed of her own intestines, throat sliced the circumference of the neck, right thigh cut to bone, chest and abdominal cavity splayed, heart extracted…on it went, a defecation of madness.

    The drape soaked up Mary Jane Kelly’s life. The drawing of police showed them standing around in languid defeat—the city was aware of a monster afoot, one capable of filleting the body into petals of flesh, and whose shrewdness not only begged pity from his victims, but would also render him a legend.

    * Details collected from, "The Chronicle of Crime: The Most Infamous Crimes of Modern History," by Martin Fido. Just some good old-fashioned bedtime reading.

    Thanks again for the win and congrats to Angel, Phil, and Asuqi.

  7. Let me try a kinder tack:

    Master Class

    Celia knocked on the mahogany bedroom door.

    The publisher that Celia do exactly as asked, but this whole situation was just weird. Amanda Darling was a willing mentor, and a literary legend. Celia... was not.

    "Come in."

    Inside, the novelist lounged against velvet pillows, silk sheets draped across a body as infamous as her words. Celia felt horribly exposed and, distressingly, excited.

    "Welcome, Celia." said Amanda. She held a rose in her hand. Perfect pink petals surrounded her.

    "How do you..."

    "You came to learn about romance, hmm?"

    "Yes... but"

    Smiling, Amanda put a finger to her lips.

    "Come. Learn."

  8. Having decided I could not do anything worthwhile with these words I come to see what others have done and am open-mouthed with admiration - Nina's petal carving, Aidan's unexpected twist and William's regurgitated porridge, while Asqui's 'petals peeled' poetry tantalises and Erin's 'defecation of madness' appals. Chris's kinder version is ... creepy (2nd sentence a bit obscure too?)

  9. I have the same feeling at the moment, Sandra, the words are not resonating at all, but given a few more days ...
    Aidan, leaving it wide open for a continuation, again...
    William, putting me off cereal again...
    Asuqi - pure horror in rhyme
    Erin, Martin Fido's book on the Bodysnatchers is required reading for someone fascinated by that subject. He is one strange man to delve into these subjects but I am glad he did!!!
    This is a creepy piece indeed.
    Chris, so much can be read into this short piece.

  10. Well done Erin, Angel, Phil and Asuqi.

    Interesting words this week.

    Six Letters

    Exquisite; gleaming like crimson tinted petals beneath a burnished sun; an expression of the tongue, she wrote six letters, one word, in succession, repeated over and over.

    Some were large, some small, some deep across his stretched canvas, in gaudy bloody patterns, like the stippled lines of a hard, pink cantaloupe. She had written them so that he would never forget.

    The marred memory draped across her senses like an impenetrable burgeoning mist; her violation, abuse.

    Now a publisher of truth, she had finally caught him.

    He lay bleeding her words, each one carved with meaning into his skin forever.

  11. Great entries this week already - will try and find time to comment this time round! Anyway, here's a light hearted offering from me:

    Type O negative

    Angharad cowered in the hut, tears tracing tracks down her grime smeared cheeks. She had tried to warn the elders that there was no reasoning with the Norsemen but they hadn’t listened. All that drove them was their love of gold and violence. She heard screams as the Vikings continued to drape and pillage....

    He looked up from his reading.

    “Drape and pillage? Drape and pillage! I never wrote that. They’re not putting up curtains! Sloppy, just sloppy. I should sack my publisher.”

    “I think you’ll find it’s the editor’s fault petal.”

    “Well that editor can suck my dock!”

  12. Nina - superb piece filled with menace of what is to come!
    Aidan - I have this wonderful image of the clock in my mind and wonder what else PI crenshaw has to tease us with
    William - feels like the start of a great serial killer story.
    Asuqi - getting so many tantalising possibilities with this piece
    Erin - 'filleting the body into petals of flesh' - such evocative description.
    Chris - erotic powerplay delivered so well in so few words
    AJ - powerful piece, should be read again and again to soak it up

  13. AJ, another intense and beautifully crafted piece.
    Phil, no week of Prediction is complete without your offbeat humour, I love this one!

    Please don't even begin to ask where this week's entry from me has come from - all the blood, gore and darkness I had in my head disappeared and this emerged instead:

    A Bee’s Life

    Messages written on petals by the pollen laden legs of bees are unintelligible. They never will be published, these messages of endless labour and devotion to the Queen. A short life and a work-laden one. Do you hear the bee complain? Does he gather up and publish the messages of tiredness and toil?
    When his brief life is done, what does he leave as a legacy? A comb draped in honey, a Queen fertile with new life, a memory of long hot summer days and the drone of his wings.
    Sleep on, worker bee, without you mankind would not eat.

  14. reposting: found two words in there I did not like, so here goes:
    A Bee’s Life

    Words written on petals by the pollen laden legs of bees are unintelligible. They never will be published, these messages of endless labour and devotion to the Queen. A short life and a work-laden one. Do you hear the bee complain? Does he gather up and publish the messages of tiredness and toil?
    When his brief life is done, what does he leave as a legacy? A comb draped in honey, a Queen fertile with new life, a memory of long hot summer days and the drone of his wings.
    Sleep on, worker bee, without you mankind would not eat.

    AJ, beautifully crafted dark piece as usual, great.
    Phil, it isn't the same when you don't post one of your offbeat humorous pieces, I love this!

  15. Heroine

    She’d never handled rejection well. One hundred and far too many letters later, she had not yet become immune to the form language.

    This time would be different.

    She’d watched the publisher’s CEO for weeks, learned his routine, his favorite haunts, his proclivities. The skirt barely hid her petals as he nosed his way upward, begging to serve. She draped one arm over the divan and let him taste persuasion. If the drug worked, he would turn the world upside down to see her book in print

    With a gasp, she determined to write a very long series.

  16. Nina: Vivid. I'm making a note to myself to never criticize torture scenes that show up in my writing group.

    William: nice punny entry. I love how you packed cereal/serial, rice krispies, and publishing references into this.

    Asuqi: I like the poetry structure. Touching piece where she too late realizes the importance of her veneer.

    Erin: filleting the body into petals of flesh gorgeous! Nice touch on Jack the Ripper.

    Chris: even though you mentioned a kinder tack, all the previous ones tricked me and I was expecting something less flowery. Nice job setting up and twisting expectations.

    AJ: lovely images, I particularly liked stippled cantaloupe.

    Phil: fun. I like the weft & weave of words with their own minds and when this twists, it's got a lot of fun. I like the way you used petal & dock.

    Antonia: nice dualities. All life is necessary and I like how you make the lowly bee into something special.

    Reba: I like the tinge the ending line leaves on this story. I like how sensual this is while leaving most of the images to the reader's imagination.

  17. Back from a camping weekend to find a real variety of entries - fascinating.

    Here's mine. It's untitled:

    Do you hear the weeping, Danny? Sat there at your desk, hair draped across your face in blackened sheets; cold of heart and bored of life. Are you wondering why they don’t talk to you anymore; why their eyes avert?

    He was right, your father. An internship with a major Publisher would be ideal for a moody, literary type. You even felt happy for a while – until they stopped giving you manuscripts, and instead left bouquets to rot in vases, shrunken petals dropping from dead heads.

    Here – something to read.

    “This is to certify...”

    Understand now?

    Come. Time to go.

  18. RR, deep sensuality amidst blackmail and mayhem, methinks. Loved it.
    Lily, a whole story in there!

  19. Nina – Nice descriptions. “Skin shivered in protest”. I do like the revenge against the publisher.

    Aiden – I like the way this hangs to tease the reader with more.

    William – You’ve created some great imagery, and with a touch of black humour.

    Asuqi – I like the exquisite poetry you create

    Erin – “Filleting the body into petals of flesh”. Wondrous and sublime.

    Chris – This teases the reader into wanting to know more; I had visions a la Cartland’s pinkness…

    Phil – Loved the word play in this; that last line made me chuckle.

    Antonia – I sensed the bee as a metaphor for life, work and death in a continual cycle; very thoughtful.

    Reba – sexy, sensual, devious. Loved it.

    Lily – “hair draped across your face in blackened sheets” is a lovely simile. This story is understated and bleak and subtle all in one.

  20. So, You Want Realism?

    “David, we’ve got a publisher. They want your novel.”

    “’s...not finished.”

    “Don’t worry, petal. They’ve given you some time.”

    “How long?”

    “Two months.”

    “What? I’m struggling with that scene, Joyce.”

    “Calm down. We’ve spoken about this. You know what to do.”


    “David? You still there?”


    “Look, it’s the gritty realism they love. You...”

    “Yes, I know.”

    * * *


    “Hi, Wendy, it’s David. Erm, is that offer to help me with that murder scene still open? Yes? That’s fantastic! Half an hour? Great!”

    I ended the call, closed the drapes and got my hunting knife.


  21. Nina - Nice! I especially liked the "darting eyes" bit. Well done.

    Aiden - Yes, I could read more of this. Great job.

    William - Fantastic, mate. So much story in so few words. Very well written!

    Asuqi - I enjoyed that.....I think. Poetry is still something I'm trying to get into. Well done.

    Erin - Fine words on an infamous character. Nice work!

    Chris - You had me with two female names! Realism for our craft.....our stories went the same way. Well done. (2nd sentence was a bit off?)

    AJ - Loved this. You get so much imagery and emotion into 100 words. Fantastic!

    Phil - Funny stuff, mate. I was thinking, "drape and pillage?" Well done. I literally have to pick my dock up, as I laughed it off at that last sentence! Great work! The Two Blokes would be proud!!

    Antonia - They are great and, dare I say, wise words. A bee is so important! You've gotta love a bee. Enjoyed that, maybe because some poor bloke didn't get snuffed out! :-)

    Reba - The casting couch becomes the writers couch. This is a sexy and sensual piece. Great line....."She draped one arm over the divan and let him taste persuasion." Very well done!

    Lily - The writing world is a harsh one and your story totally grasps that. Fine words!

    David - That was fucking rubbish. Can't believe you thought that had any realism in it at all. Woah.....what you doing with that knife. Now come on.....calm down. I was only joking. Please, God, I have a wife and childre................................

  22. Flowers on a Guillotine

    Sam draped the headless body before him with the white sheet. “What was his name?”
    “Steven Daniels.” Charlie answered “It was a clean cut. He didn’t feel a thing.”
    “God. How many is it now?”
    “Twelve children beheaded and three still missing.”
    “Did Daniel have a hand full of flower petals like the others?”
    “Yes. What sort of sick calling card is that?”
    “and why keep the heads?” Neither man could answer.
    “The worst part is books are already being written about him.” Charlie said. “The publishers are still thinking of a title.”
    “I’ve got one. Flowers on a guillotine.”

    I hope that's good enough.

    St Force

  23. That's more than good enough, St Force. Well done.

  24. Nina - I thought for a moment the publisher had implied Esmeralda's writing was a means of torture... ;) I wonder how many publishers she might get through before she finds a believer...

    Aidan - Intriguing noir opening, plenty of hooks and you don't even get to the mystery of the missing page!

    William - The victim an overly harsh critic, perhaps? An interesting serial killer, I'm imagining whichever book is chosen for each victim holds great significance...

    Ah, Asuqi - I could read that a hundred times and love it in a hundred different ways.

    Erin - Some great turns of phrase amongst your catalogue of grisliness. Great job. =)

    Chris - so very sensual, especially in counter-play to all the murdering going on around here. Wonderfully built for the word count.

    AJ - a dark revenge, a fitting punishment.

    Phil - genius. Might not be able to get the Vikings putting up curtains image out of my head all day. =D

    Antonia - requiem for a worker... different and thoughtful, worthy.

    Heh, Reba - great conclusion, sexy with a twist of humour.

    Lily - that is gorgeous. With all the dark subtlety of a traditional ghost story. Masterful.

    David - ain't no punchline like murder... ;) Your own comment was a nice flourish too. =)

    St Force - why keep the heads, indeed? Seems like a good seed for a greater story.

  25. Poet

    Youth is fleeting beauty, rose petals on the wind.

    He says he is a poet. He publishes verses of bliss across their skin with deft finger strokes: here teasing, almost touching, just a tingle, then gone; there lingering, languishing softly in luxurious anticipation; now rushing roughly, sacrificing subtlety, cradling her as her cries crescendo, and letting the final line drift away, draped like wrinkled bed sheets at the end of the bed, the bottom of the page. The shape of a memory.

    He never stays to watch the petals wilt. He leaves them with poetry, and not with pain.

  26. He draped the sheet over her body. Blood spotted the fabric, rose petals on snow.
    He left the pistol, but pocketed the first edition she'd signed. Part of his fee.
    In the park, he ditched the glasses, fake mustache, and anorak before making the call.

    The publisher called an emergency board meeting. The suit's voice cut through the buzz.
    "This is terrible, everyone. The most popular author of the decade murdered by a deranged fan." He glanced at the floor with practiced solemnity. "But she won't be self publishing the electronic editions now. Those revert to us."

    David: I like it. Write what you know :)
    John Xero: quite poetic, actually!
    St Force: chilling and compelling.
    Lily: lovely. colder than some of these murderous ones!
    Antonia: truly imaginative. loved it.
    RR Kovar: I'd heard of killer lipstick, but not this. now that's ambition!
    Phil: that was a good laugh, I love wordplay.
    William: chilling. eat their words...
    Aidan: truly evocative, great visuals.
    asuqi: lovely images that form a concise whole. excellent.
    Nina: I think a lot of us can identify with this... hopefully not too much :)
    AJ: ouch, delicious revenge. well done.
    Erin: We love old Saucy Jack...
    Chris: an enjoyable change of pace that worked quite well. That's good exercise that I might follow. Been writing too dark lately!

  27. Nina, I loved this line: “Well sir, I plan to make you a believer.” Excellent and to the point.

    AidanF, I’ve never had quite a visual like a woman bent into a clock. Fantastic imagery.

    William, love that ‘killer’ piece, and the exploitive act of publishing.

    Asuqi, I enjoyed this a lot and felt that pull of struggle and desire. Perfect finish and a good reminder too.

    Chris, now that’s one way to learn how to write. Good thing Celia is learning romance instead of horror.

    AJ, this piece is a poetic gem, every line, every word. Love it.

    Phil, so brilliant and creative! I laughed my oss off!

    Antonia, this piece is a touching reflection of what really matters, though often overlooked. Excellent.

    RR, seductive and manipulative, and an ending that’s fabulous!

    Lily, the misery and anguish of choices unfulfilled. Poetic, clever, and always chilling in that smooth voice of yours.

    David, nothing like putting into action what you can’t write! Great dialogue too.

    St.Force, another great murder mystery, with a killer searching for that perfect face. Nice touch with the petals.

    John, wow, each line is so beautiful and your analogies in love and writing are stunning. Nice work.

    Thomas, what wicked delight, and I had to smile at that ending. I loved your description of petals on snow with the blood soaked sheet. Excellent.

  28. I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough

    Lisher tried desperately to fit his key inside the stubborn and swaying lock.

    It was no good; the damn thing wouldn’t stay still.

    The world shifted and Lisher thought he was falling. He soon realised it was the door opening.

    Uh oh, he thought, I’m in trouble now.

    "You've been to the pub Lisher, haven't you?"

    “Sorry petal,” a hiccup, “…make it up to you.”

    He draped himself on the doorframe trying desperately to keep it from moving under his grip.

    “Make it up to your wife, she’s next door.”

    Lisher backed up and squinted at the house number.


  29. On forbidden love

    She loves me, she loves she not.
    Her chiding words draped me in sorrow.
    Her smiling chastisement “there's always tomorrow.”
    My gift of Flowers strewn, and left to decay, like my hope for her forbidden love.
    Together on her silken bale, I found them locked a grotesque entanglement of betrayal.
    An end to their love, as they put an end to mine, through shattered vase and flowers, for my courtships wasted hours.
    The crimson spray of their demise illuminating cream linen, with splaying lines,
    A tear for every Petal fallen, I am the Publisher of my passionate crime.

  30. Twist

    The manuscript was white against her creamy, cocoa skin. Blood dripped, splattered across her rounded hip, as the Publisher lifted the blood-soaked pages from her caved stomach.

    "You've done it now, my darling," he said. He peeled her wet black hair off her cheek where it had adhered to the mottled skin. "This is your best ever."

    Saliva dripped from her parted lips, pink and wet.

    "I love the twist at the end, where the main character dies? Brilliant." The Publisher grinned and fingered the sheer drape twisted about her throat. "My little artist. My little Petal."

    Petal didn't smile.

  31. ok ... how are you going to choose a winner this week, Lily ... such stunning stories!
    Forgive lack of follow up comments, I have spent all evening printing and preparing letters to go out to patrons of the Richard III Foundation, deadly stuff but needed to be done, patrons ignored the first letter about their dues, so we had to do it again ... of course.
    I wanted to wind down and read your stunning work. I have and it is.

  32. Thomas - Nice! Topical -and- funny. =D

    Steven - Ha ha, inventive use of the word, and funny twist. ;)

    William - dark, with a real sense of the emotions beneath it.

    Zaiure - nice, prices always rocket after the artist's death... ;)

  33. Well, I am what is known in the UK as 'a dirty stop out'. I went out after work yesterday for just one drink, but several glasses of wine later came home and went straight to bed. As such, Prediction judging went by the wayside and will happen tonight - as usual.

    Catch y'all later...

  34. Been out of the loop for awhile with no access - so I'll have to be brief in my comments (sorry!)

    Nina - that's one way to reassert the realism

    Aidan - call this "cracked" hard-boiled fic. Great take

    William - answers the statement "I'll show you where you can stick those bloody pages..." Liked it.

    asuqi - "draped in layers of ego" - brilliant

    Erin - "You're a mean one... Saucy Jack." Way to bring the viscera back to historical horror

    AJ - "Bleeding her words" - awesome image - reminds me of Barker

    more later..

  35. Phil - Nicely turned phrasing - good fun.

    Antonia - this has a wistfulness that's light and melancholy at once.

    RR - her initials weren't "S.M." were they??

    Lily - this is cool, elegant and moving- and not a strip of flayed flesh to be seen- excellent!

    David - he'll finish that book if it kills her, eh? Dialogue-only's turning into a specialty for you.

    (BTW - you read true on mine - I cut up the second sentence for word count and missed patching it back together.) FYI... The publisher insisted

    St. Force - chilling imagery - and creativity with the methods...

    John - wonderful, prose that reads just as poetic as you no doubt intend. Really strong images that linger.

    Thomas - excellent twist, and not too farfetched!

    Stephen - if I had a cup of ale for every time... *hic*

    William - there's a shade of Poe in this. That is exceptionally difficult to achieve, imo. Hats off.

    Zaiure- twisted and lovely

    ... that's all of ya - great pieces this week!

  36. John - Poetic, indeed. Nice writing.

    Tommy - Fine words, my friend. Well done!

    Steven - Something different that caused me to LMAO!! Been there, done that! Ha!

    William - Dark and very well done!

    Zaiure - Great write. Twist...ed.


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.