I apologise again for not commenting until now - might be that way for a few weeks yet I'm afraid, but I do read every entry - often many times over!
So - this is going to be a long night - I'd better get scribbling.
- Nina, welcome to The Feardom. A terrifying torture trip you've led us on in this untitled piece. The pain of knees on sea salt crystals made me wince - salt in the wounds. A well-written and disturbing vignette of lost hope.
- Sandra, the emulsion of colours in Body Art rages and pales - so vividly described. "...its slight greasiness delaying momentarily their coalescence" is so exact I can perfectly visualise what you mean. I love the creative juxtaposition of frenzy and boredom in so few words.
- Thomas, I've read and reread She Knew How to Choose Them, Too and came up with a different interpretation each time; I want to know more. I like the suggested mystery to this and its stark, Noir feel that resonates with every audible hiss and shush.
- William, "...tsunami of the soul" - a maelstrom of meaning in this phrase. Khyam's Box feels exotic and ancient, humming with heat and incense; I felt almost nauseous with the final ebb and flow. An interesting glimpse into a wider tale?
- Steven, firstly let me say 'Bloat' is a killer title. This a horrid slice of Chapman, served up with a seasoning of gore and repulsion. I love how the second body is "perfect" - for gutting presumably? And then what? Excellent.
- St Force, isn't there always something about Buried Treasure that's too good to be true? Lovely pace in this; I was desperate to know what was in the box and then... bang. I knew it was coming but it still took me by surprise.
- Oh Angel, this is why I love your poetry. Forgiveness lifts and lulls, flitting through emotions and senses like fingers nearly touching... nearly. Beautifully written - I loved and want to quote every word.
- Asuqi, your waters are enticing - I couldn't fail to want to dive in to the Void. I fell with you, the pool drawing me down to rest at the nadir. And the eyes - are they yours? Gorgeous - and your inimitable style.
- Chris, a ha, so THAT was What Was in the Cage? A terrifying and powerful beast indeed, brought to its knees by its own chosen profession - wasn't the "glazed, hypnotized stare" there before it was captured? You're getting a serial reputation, Mr Allinotte. Well acclaimed.
- Aidan, an immediate impact of spam at your selection of characters and phrases in Steganography - aaargh! And that was before I started to read! You had us working away in a geek office scene then before we could heed the hashed warning you flipped it around to bizarro pulp. So clever - as always.
- Phil. Wonderful first line. Evolution is a godly myth, a mystical scientific journey that carries us along. I hum with the space-song, throb with the creation and destruction. I have a personal love of duality formed from a single being, to equate three. Beautiful.
- Antonia, Man Overboard plucks at our sympathy strings, but I question if all is as it seems? Despite the seering pain, the pity he has for himself feels misplaced and I wonder if his demise has come about through his greed and unwillingness to share. Great ending - I wasn't expecting that. Was his name Bob?
- AJ, Hackett the psychopath is back, glorifying in his handiwork. Palette reveals his tools, his craft, his self-congratulatory arrogance. The scene is set, dust motes and smoke to caress the red velvet of Hackett's peeled victim. Pulsing. Pulsing. Perfect.
- David, deadly dialogue and classic Barber. Under the Influence could almost be the Two Blokes from beyond the grave. It's a real talent to be able to tell a complete story through conversation alone, to evoke the scene and the amosphere through spoken words. Clever.
- Erin, I would immediately read anything entitled The Man with Blue in His Beard. Enticing storytelling that teases; wrapping itself around our hearts it squeezes the life out of our emotions even as the black lotus grows. "...the light of a deformed moon", hell, I wish I'd written that. Gorgeous and darkly evocative.
- Zaiure, greetings. "Bloody ribbons, glistening wetly" is blissful writing, in my opinion. There is a tenderness to The Ballerina, a pale dance of words that feels so delicate I feel both dancer and atmosphere are about to shatter. Whilst I think you meant Marquis rather than Marquee, I enjoyed this very much. ;)
- John, Bad Science and Pig's Ear are two versions of the same story, separated by time and by myth. I felt both Cameron and Paul's nausea with the stirring and the gulping of lumps. But principally I regaled in the darkness of the female character in each tale; priestess, shaman, augur, witch. Circe - queen of them all; we speak often. Well met, John.
- My tale of the death of an alchemical parfumier Up In Smoke: Absolution speaks of possession - children trapped by unspoken cruelty and abuse; rich women trapped by greed. I enjoyed planting the spark that started the fire which blew up the lab that...
- Reba, powerful and beguiling power in Independence. Grace is the centrepiece, weaving her own spell by virtue of her sexuality but the narrator is the true magician, observant and contriving. A fascinating read.
This is impossible.
And so - a first. I have chosen a winner, joint runners-up - and an honourable mention.
The winner with her deviant black lotus that swells with promise and with death - is Erin Cole; The Man with Blue in His Beard. Congratulations Erin - I could have drowned in this - and I'm waiting for the rest of the story.
Joint runners-up are Angel Zapata for the spellbinding poem Forgiveness - literary lace. And Phil Ambler who took us on an exquisite chaos journey of mythical creation with Evolution.
The Honourable Mention goes to asuqi, for the eddying waters of Void. Dangerously inviting.
I could go on... There is so little between the entries, all are sublime. I'll give someone else a chance to judge in a couple of weeks time.
Thanks for taking part - I'll post the next Prediction challenge in the (UK) morning. Take your dreams and weft them sweetly... Goodnight.