Friday, 26 August 2011

Lily's Friday Prediction

I've finally got online after four hours of erratic internet access, so will be brief in case the connection goes again.

Firstly, you'll be getting a whole two weeks to send in your Prediction entries! I am taking some time out to concentrate on writing as I've achieved zilch these last few months. I'll be keeping off the internet too - maybe popping in here and there to look at the Prediction and at Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers - but that'll be it. Going for a Twitter detox too.

Normal (?) service will be resumed around 5th September. I hope you understand.

Congratulations go to Pixie for winning last week's Prediction challenge with Butterflies and Wolves, also to Erin Cole and Jenny Dreadful as runners-up with The Palm Tree and Jenny's untitled piece. Well done all.

Words for 26 August 2011

So, two weeks to wrap your pens around these new words:

  • Pharaoh
  • Fair
  • Sweep


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 two weeks until 9pm UK time on Thursday 8th September to enter.

Winner will be announced next Thursday 8th or Friday 9th September. If you can, please tweet about your entry, using the #fridayflash hashtag, and blog if you feel like it.

Now I must open a virgin Moleskine and sully its lined pages with words of darkness. Forgive me...


  1. The Arsonist

    The Arsonist had set seventy-two fires at his Pharaoh’s command. Punishments all, for crimes small and large: robbery, laziness, fornication. It was not for the Arsonist to decide if such penalty was fair or not; it was only his to soak the sacred rags in oil and eucalyptus, to light the rushes, to feel the flames sweeping his face as the condemned screamed within their houses, shackled to the ground with iron spikes.

    The Arsonist set the seventy-third fire and lay in his bed. He wondered if his screams would reach the pyramid, or, like smoke, disappear into the sky.

  2. Time Traveler's Fair

    Hey lady. Taste the fair's best booth, King Tut's Bliss. You get three of Tut's balls. Score a clean sweep and take home any Pharaoh you want.

    Lady, don't walk away. Ain't you heard how them Egyptians thought they was gods. Had to please a whole harem. You could use all that magic on yourself. Party hard.

    Now lady, you got the wrong idea about our merchandise. We send the best time-skippers to do the bodyswap while the flesh is warm. Our nanodocs make that flesh like brand-new. It's not necrophiliac; it's aphrodisiac. You'll orgasm good. Whatta you gotta lose?

  3. Now there's a concept, Aidan. I might give that a whirl, if I was her...

  4. Rebecca: intriguing, my second reading of this is that the arsonist is protesting. That creates a very powerful turn of this tale.

  5. Rebecca, lovely twist, could be read either way.
    Aidan, good one!

    Here goes with my entry for the fortnight - can we wait that long is the question...

    The Cleaner’s Blues

    Someone replaced the head on Anubis with a real one. The boss’s head. Blood all over the place, running down the body, on the floor and I’ve got to sweep up. Tisn’t fair, a cleaning lady has to work. This means police all over Pharaoh’s and questions and everything. Very inconvenient of them, whoever it was. No thought for others. I mean, look, hands stuffed in the till, feet in the men’s loos ... it’ll take me ‘til Sunday to get it cleaned up.
    I’d better go find the rest of him. Next stop, kitchen.

  6. I've been away for far too long, I miss you guys. =)

    Rebecca, the executioner's lament... Did the guilt get the better of him, or did the Pharaoh find some fault to command he punish himself for, murder maybe? Great ending.

    Aidan, flavoursome, the voice feels like a fairground hawker, and what a fairground that must be.

    Antonia, Ha! It's a hard life... those murderers never think about who has to clean up after them... =D

    Some great pieces already. I'm determined to get something written myself this week. =)

  7. thanks for comments! I am starting to explore this particular murder in a story called Maybe Tomorrow. I now know who is writing it with me, so perhaps it will move a bit quicker. (Only been waiting all day... is all)

  8. Nice, Antonia -- quite humorous and great voice. The humor in horror always gets me.

  9. Well done Pixiepants for winning. And Erin and Jenny too.

    The Colossi of Memnon

    The giants watched in silence as the throng approached.

    A swathe of people urged towards the statues, the hint of fair sunrise an infant hue just below the horizon.

    A warm breeze coiled across the arid landscape, greeted them.

    The giants had seen much over the millennia. Now they had become idols of curiosity - people came from Greece, even Rome, to worship and revere the Pharaoh’s colossi, to listen to one of them sing to the morning; favour from the gods.

    Hands to cold stone, prayers coaxed the sun, its light sweeping across the guardians.

    They listened. And hoped.

  10. AJ,evocative piece that seems to be a myth all of its own somehow.
    Rebecca, I have the feeling this new story spinning out of that will have that overtone, if the beginning is anything to go by! It could change, you know how stories tend to do that.

  11. AJ, I agree with Antonia, that has the weight and feel of myth to it, very evocative. Nicely done. =)

    And my own...


    See our fair prince entering the Pharaoh’s tomb. He has delusions of heroism: rescue the princess, triumph over evil.

    Pitiful, really. Heroism is such an irrelevant concept, like good or evil. Time is what matters: erosion, evolution.

    There are traps down there, but they are momentary, tripped, ineffective, and then done; like you. A good curse though...

    The hero wins, of course. What did you expect? The princess is saved. They have many children, a great dynasty is born.

    But they never suspect my kiss in their DNA. I live on, insidious as decay, sweeping through the centuries.

  12. AJ--Such imagery, so ancient and colossal. Yes, I used that word! This manages to evoke a feeling in a reader, where we are all so small.

    John--The myth and fairy tale twisted by science. In a hundred words. LOVE IT.

  13. Dipping in, chilling out, loving your words - buggering off again...


  14. John, another myth in the making. Gorgeous.

    Update, I have a (close on) 1500 word story out of this week's Prediction. Pretty good it is too, or so the author tells me. I think it's macabre and off-beat funny, which will do.

  15. I guess a few months of mild depression is good for the horror-writing soul. Hope no one minds me slipping back after so long. But..I do come bearing gifts!

    Dreaming The Blood.

    Accursed animal. He'd fallen asleep with his nose on her boot again. She smiled indulgently, her elongated canine teeth glinting in the azure darkness. It really wasn't fair, how beautiful he was. She watched, fascinated, as his breath rhythmically wafted clouds of mist across the bright chrome buckle. The leather of her jacket creaked softly as she reached down to slide the tips of her fingers along one twitching ear.

    “Pharaoh, it's time to hunt.”

    He woke, all bright amber eyes and wolfish grin. He stood quickly, kissed her deeply, and padded silently into the night behind his Mistress.

  16. more than welcome, ravenways, more than welcome and sorry to hear about the depression, mild or otherwise, it is not much fun to cope with. This is great, a vividly described scene which drips blood from virtually every word, just what I like to read!

    Carrying on the news of my short story, it ended up being called 'I Ain't Got No Body' (from the head on the Anubis statue mostly) and is very dark and offbeat. Not sure where it's going yet.

    Lily, hope you're using the time off to full advantage and turning out more of your gory priceless prose!!!!

  17. Rebecca: Oh God! Reading this first thing, with barely a first sip of coffee to cushion the blow. Horrifying. Fabulous twist. I am horribly afraid of dying by fire. I'm still twitching. Bloody good read.

    Aidan: Hysterically gruesome! I think I met that guy at a carnival once.

    Antonia: I can just see this poor old, futsy woman, puttering about some gore encrusted nightclub in her scuffie slippers! Love this.

    AJ: What beautiful imagery!

    John: I like the quiet, matter of fact way this reads. Makes me wonder just what the curse is, how it works, and how it effects eternity.

  18. Crap! Just reread and realized I'd missed a prompt! Don't know how to, or if I even could delete my own post, so...fixed and reposted! So Sorry!

    Dreaming The Blood.

    Accursed animal. He'd fallen asleep with his nose on her boot again. She smiled indulgently, her elongated canine teeth glinting in the azure darkness. It really wasn't fair, how beautiful he was. She watched, fascinated, as his breath rhythmically wafted clouds of mist across the bright chrome buckle. The leather of her jacket creaked softly as she reached down to sweep the tips of her fingers along one twitching ear.

    “Pharaoh, it's time to hunt.”

    He woke, all bright amber eyes and wolfish grin. He stood quickly, kissed her deeply, and padded silently into the night behind his Mistress.

  19. Thank goodness for a two week deadline otherwise would have missed this one!

    Rameses XIII

    Fair old London town, full of chimney sweeps, nannies and cherubic children. That’s what Disney tells us.

    My London is somewhat different.

    I control the infamous Egyptian quarter, the Pharaoh’s Paradise as the great unwashed call it, and
    my London crawls with reprobates, psychopaths and cultists.

    People constantly disappear in my London. Everyone knows where they go but no-one tells. They fear me too much to open their mouths.

    I often visit the missing down in the catacombs, standing for hours amongst the rows of innocents with their vitals preserved in formaldehyde filled jars; my faithful retainers in the afterlife.

  20. Raven: I'm so sorry, but I had to laugh. I have also posted here without using all the prompt words. Now, as to your story: Gorgeous, gorgeous imagery! A moment in time, in darkness, in stillness before the hunt begins. You always seem to do darkly romantic so beautifully.

    Phil: Every now and then, one of these entries stands out because, clearly, its author imagined an entire world and encapsulated it in a hundred words. This is one of those. I confess, I'm intrigued...

  21. Hall of Truth

    I sweep the steps of Pharaoh’s Pleasure Palace. You stumble in, drunk on cheap wine and looking to warm your cockles. When I was fair, I turned away your kind. My ruination did not add to your appeal.

    Yesterday, you kicked a boy for failing to service you. I bandaged him up in the alley. His mum gave me bricks for the fire. Same ones I set, glowing warm, under the seat in your carriage. There’ll be enough time to unhitch the horses, but no cabman will think to save you from burning.

    I hope Amenti eats your wasted heart.

  22. The Plague

    Looking out over the valley of kings... the young Pharaoh's eyes crawled across the throngs of workers below.... His man walked slowly through the pitiful horde of human flesh...stopping here and there near a fair maid that he thought might tempt his master.... Finally arriving at a feisty young minx.. threatening ruffians with a sweep of her broom..

    With one slight nod, her fate was sealed...

    Watching her wrestle with his man.. sweet shivers crept along his spine..exciting his spirit... Anticipation rising.. he headed for his chambers.. The night would be long.. and he so enjoyed a fighter...

    ~ I have never tried this before and hope I have done things right.. I enjoyed reading everyone elses Posts! Have a great day..

  23. How lovely - the Return of the Predictioneers and the arrival of newsomes. (Welcome Pblacksaw!)

    There are some gorgeous reads here - as always.

    I am nearly back to normal (twitch) after my little retreat and hope to comment/contribute Tues/Weds evening. Thanks for keeping each other going, as it were.


  24. Rebecca - love the self-contained nature of this, and the businesslike demeanor of the arsonist

    Aidan - the perfect tone of the huckster brings the rest to lush, seductive life. Nice one!

    Antonia - great angle on this. I've got to wonder what else she's seen that this gory spectacle is an annoyance!

    AJ - the ending adds a new layer to this piece - for some reason, I was picturing Barker's "In the Hills, the Cities" - great imagery

    John - super intriguing here - and a wonderful POV - from the crypt itself?

    ravenways- excellent and atmospheric. When the dog/wolf "kissed her deeply" things got ratcheted up a notch, and made the whole thing a little ... wild.

    Phil- Springheel Jack with an Egyptian twist, huh? Love it.

    RR - I want to read more of this - it's got gritty intrigue, and ancient beauty all at once.

    Pblacksaw - Welcome! Really enjoyed this one, and it captures the casual cruelty that was such a part of these bygone times.

  25. Antonia: love the voice of this cleaning woman and how she's more concerned about how this affects her than the grossness or horror of it. Good luck with your longer evocation of this tale.

    AJ: gorgeous tableau and such sweet words to sing the sun up. The depiction of "infant hue" is perfect.

    John: a clever little villain. True villains know that patience is most important.

    Ravenways: strong images. I like the calm before the hunt that you capture lovingly here.

    Phil: you've got a strong twisted lead here; I like his version of London.

    Reba: revenge is sweet when it is deserved. You evoke the place and characters well.

    PBlacksaw: the pharaoh's inner monologue makes this story sing. I like the interplay with the title.

  26. Phil, a lovely sideways look at London.
    Reba, wonderful images.
    PBlacksaw, welcome and what a lovely contribution! very nicely done.

    Quick note: one of the pieces Lily featured in her February Femme Fatales, Comes the Sweet Autumn, has just been accepted (together with two other offbeat pieces of flash fiction) for Pill Hill's Daily Frights for 2012. I've just written and submitted my fourth entry. If you've not done this, go look, Pill Hill Press are taking up to 4 stories under 500 words from each author for the 366 days of next year (leap year) with a contest that the best ones will be chosen to get the full professional pay rate. I know one of my pieces has been shortlisted for this already. You need to submit before the end of September, check the guidelines, as the anthology goes to press in November. There's been some wonderful entries here that would stand being sent in to Pill Hill. Lily, where are you... send some of yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Oh, what a lovely bunch of stories for Friday reading! I have posted mine below. I have also tweeted at #fridayflash and put on my blogs -

    Will share on Facebook too! Thank you, Lily for a perfectly smashing word list!!

  28. Veronica Marie's ` RETRIBUTION

    Consciousness slowly returns to the man… his limbs immobile…

    Face hot and sticky… eyelids slowly separate…gluey residue….

    Tries to sweep his vision across the room… realization dawns…

    Laid out in a cold, grey container… horrified recognition…

    Bound head to toe…soft wrapping…

    A sarcophagus…

    A face hovers into view… Mr. Ammon…

    “You stole from Pharaoh… what is fair punishment…?”

    Rhetorical question… the man knows the answer… stares helplessly upward…

    An itching in his abdomen… ‘neath the wrappings…

    Jaws prised open… object glides down his throat…

    Overpowering scent of spices and essence oils fills the room…

    Mr. Ammon smiles down…

    “Sleep well…”

  29. (Apologies to Phil - my mind wouldn't leave this angle on the words - albeit from a different direction.)

    A Classical Killer

    Milton fingered the manilla folder. "I don't like it, John."

    Blackwood stubbed out his cigarillo, exhaling the last of the smoke out the window. "What's to like? The guy's a savage."

    "Who's this?" asked Milton, pointing to a photo.

    "Some kid they picked up in a drug sweep."

    "But..." prompted Milton.

    "He had one of the canopic jars we keep finding at the scene."

    "Fairly incriminating," grunted Milton, "Full?"

    "No. He was delivering."

    "Which leads us..." Milton looked at the tenement.

    Blackwood nodded. "Not quite a pyramid, though."

    Milton readied his Glock. "Let's go see if the Pharoah's at home."

  30. Veronica Marie - that is devilish - I'm itching to know what the itching is - scarabs? You definitely brought the fear to this one.

  31. Pray forgive my indulgence

    False Idol

    She raises me on pedestals like a pharaoh, or a king.
    Nothing ever touches me; I’m her hero, my praise she’ll sing.
    She thinks I stride my chosen path to sweep all fears away, and will not ever suffer strife; I’ll scare the demons away.
    In truth I’m just a man, a fraud, no god like powers. I work hard to remain her idol, by putting in the hours.
    Fair faith such as hers makes the cynic in me glad, her surging spirit carries me, and makes me proud that I’m her Dad.

  32. RS - chilling tale of legalised murder. The 73rd death conscience or ordered?

    Aidan - what a fantastic concept! Love the premise and how this was told.

    Antonia - grinned whilst reading this. Picturing an old dear complaining about her aching bones at the end of a long day cleaning up entrails.

    AJ - as said by others, what grand imagery! I'd love to wonder in the realms of your imagination one day.

    John - loved the ending to this. The idea of existing through the aeons conveyed so well.

    Ravenways - nice build up, teasing us all the way. Now what happens on the hunt?!?!?

    RR - revenge is often best served cold but this toasty slice is wonderful retribution.

    PBlacksaw - welcome and great first entry. Such a shame that with power comes such a lack of humanity. Look forward to more entries in the future!

    Veronica - chilling. The slow reveals of the story give this a perfect pace.

    Chris - tsk, tsk, pure plagurism ;-) Loved it - waiting to see what they will find when they do a full raid.

    William - nice piece there William. As a parent I have this crushing fear of when my boy discovers I am just a simple man too.

  33. One word comments (or so) - full adoration tomorrow at sum up (and yes, I know I haven't entered yet - I've discarded three; seem to have a twee head on at the moment - wha??)

    Rebecca, 8 x 9 = 72. One more digit breaks the numerical beauty which is a clever castration of tradition.

    Aidan, slime ball (not you, Aidan - obviously). "Lady" - a coiling, curling voice that fondles ankles and steals at skirts.

    Antonia, feet in the men's loos are a tragedy for a cleaner. Anubis, now he's going to be cross.

    AJ, giants always have the warmest hearts; it's the tiny worshippers dancing out their adoration that should be watched.

    John, blood, ah the blood. It weaves and twists in that helix - insidious only as they would interpret it.

    ravenways, (Blessed Be, my dear. Depression weighs heavy over many x). Oh! A canine lover, a glorious shape-shifter, all-embracing, all-protecting.

    Phil, I feel it is unfair of you to have revealed my whereabouts in the capital's bowels. You may have to suffer gorgeous reprisal.

    Reba, ruination trembles at our doors. They have no respect, those immortalists - death by underburning will teach them the truth.

    Pblacksaw, The Plague of the upper classes over 'their' workers is demonstrated so clearly here; has society changed much?

    Veronica, a 100-word parade. Extraordinary delivery, as if glimpses of memories and fleeting torture. I throw your Brava back to face you, my dear.

    Chris, innards a-plenty waiting for Milton and Blackwood. Is it true Pharaohs could reincarnate at will - into a 21st century tenement?

    William, False Idol not at all. What good man is not his daughter's God? And rightly so, she is a lucky child.

    And now midnight rages in my face - I must slumber, lest tomorrow reveals me as what I truly am...


  34. Ravenways - an interesting pair, these two. I wonder what their prey is...

    Phil - I love a glimpse at parallel worlds. With so many retainers, is he planning a war with the afterlife?

    Reba - bitterness and rough justice, but she still thought to save the horses. The character's depth really resonates beyond the few words.

    PBlackshaw - captures the tyranny and cruelty of the 'entitled' lord well.

    Veronica - a feverish, desperate feel to this that works well with the subject matter.

    Chris - Egypto-London Noir? Sandpunk? ;) Loving the genre mash-up (reminds me a little of Young Sherlock Holmes) and would happily read more. =)

    William - Indulgent maybe, but nothing to forgive, great piece. =)

  35. Reba—I do love a good “comeuppance” story, and the image of a burning cab, sans horses, is a beautiful one.

    Pblacksaw—I hope that she’s far more of a fighter than he expects. Would serve him right.

    Veronica Marie—Well-paced tale that made this reader itch as well.

    Chris—I like the modernity of the story, and that you didn’t tell us too much; I really want to know what, exactly, is going on.

    William—Awww! I don’t even know what else to say! (and who knew you had such a soft side?)

    Lily—72!!!!!!!!!! I say no more.

  36. Here's mine... again. Realised I accidentally stole one of Aidan's key words, so I've replaced it (and deleted my original).


    Bound and torn of my heart I cannot crumble within these dread ribbons. Damn them their magic. There is no afterlife.

    I hear the chants as they lay me to rest. Only Bishnar, my fair and dutiful servant remains, committed to sweeping my chambers clean until she too fades away. She will madden first.

    The doors slide shut. Eternity has captured my soul.


    What is this?

    Unnatural light shudders through my corpse. With no eyes I see Bishnar hover above me - a Priestess of a magic unknown to this man.

    She sucks my empty mouth.

    She tastes of salvation.

  37. such stunning reads this time! thanks for giving me such good entertainment, people!
    Sorry, another shameless plug but honestly this week has been something else ..
    Ellen Datlow has emailed Static Movement and ASKED for a copy of my anthology Comes The Night to cover in her Best Horror 4. Our own AJ is in it and featured on the back cover, too ... fame and fortune beckons ... well, perhaps not but it's pretty damn good!

  38. Antonia, such wonderful news from you lately!

    1. It Ain't Got No Body springing up out of the current Prediction Challenge.

    2. Comes the Sweet Autumn and others hitting Pill Hill's Daily Frights. A great call for subs too!

    3. Ellen Datlow - ELLEN DATLOW!!!!! Wow - huge congrats on that, and to AJ too. I think Mark Crittenden was putting Their Dark Masters forward for her Best Horror 4 but haven't heard any more on that.

    This is what I call a triple whammy. Wonderful to hear such good news, all well-deserved - you work so hard.


  39. Lily - who is Bishnar... really? Death and eternity, damnation and salvation all wrapped in ribbons of mystery. Love it.

    And I couldn't help but have another bash at a curse, a more traditional take this time round... ;)


    Hamilton pressed his back to the sandy wall. Scarab beetles scuttled up his bare legs. He grabbed them. Shovelled them into his mouth. Crunched down to a burst of viscous, rank ooze. Shards of chitin in a musty soup. Swallowing growing harder and harder.

    He woke sweating, heaving, his stomach convulsing. Every night since Egypt. No pharaoh’s treasure was worth this torment.

    He swept the lank, wet hair from his forehead. His hands were trembling, they were thinner, he was sure. His fair skin looked unhealthy, translucent; something black crawled beneath it.

    He grabbed for the letter opener.


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.