Friday, 9 September 2011

Lily's Friday Prediction

Sometimes you wake up with the feeling that things are going to change. Often, circumstances make change inevitable, other times you feel control has been taken out of your hands and something higher or lower has taken the reigns.

That's how it is for me at the moment; it's a giddying stage of my life - and although I should be worried, I'm not. Can't explain it but it feels positive change is waiting for me to grasp it - if I could only interpret the signs correctly.

My mind, my heart, my will is open (albeit within a protective shell). Open my eyes. I'm waiting.

The Prediction

I cheekily gave you a fortnight, and it was as though the entries were doubly-powerful. No such luck this week - you'll only get the usual seven days (that goes for me too).

Congratulations to John Xero for winning with both Aeon and Souvenirs; outstanding writing, bowling over with extremes. Well done too to Ravenways as runner-up with Dreaming the Blood; what a beautiful come-back.

Words for 09 September 2011

Flipping the book open now; finger poised...

  • Valley
  • Mission
  • Record

OK. Bit tough maybe. Hmmnn...


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 the whole week until 9pm UK time on Thursday 15th September to enter.

Winner will be announced next Thursday 15th or Friday 16th September. If you can, please tweet about your entry, using the #fridayflash hashtag, and blog if you feel like it.

As the forecast for the next week is torrential rain, floods, gales and storms - looks like I'll be staying at home = writing time. Oh yes...


  1. Hello all, it's been awhile since I made an offering. Hope I'm not too rusty. It's certainly fun to be back! ;0)

    Our Queen

    With blood shot eyes and jittery hands we travel in silence, ears pricked, every sense heightened. Arid night air blows through the Jeep as we drive towards the Valley of the Queens. Dust clings to our skin, Egypt lingers in our nostrils. A squeak from the backseat and the rustle of canvas makes us smile. No-one would ever suspect us. Archaeologists, we are here to study, to record. But at night we have our own mission. As we reach our destination the squeak turns into a moan. A spade quickly silences the problem; our queen is still.

  2. Haint's Fishing

    I whacked the haint with a broken-off board. It had my husband's leer. The head flew over the floodwaters. Skeletal fingers climbed the bureau's body, my makeshift raft.

    Record rains all my fault, the preacher said who had appeared on the Mission's steps. Why me? My lying husband had rolled with my best friend. Not my fault the valley's weather caught my grief.

    Avoiding my blows, the headless haint plucked me from the boat, drowning my tears. Death welcomed me. The haint filled me with hate. Catch and release. I waded towards my husband's hotel, lightning flickering from my fingertips.

  3. Duty Calls

    Logan bowed his head as the tolling began.. The withered priest tugged the ropes.. ringing the mission bell over and over.. echoing despair across the valley.. They had found her along the tracks.. another soul devoured.. Records would show her to be the seventy seventh victim but he knew the number was much higher..

    Sliding his treasure box back into the hearth's secret and replacing the bricks.. he picked up his badge and holstered his revolver.. He would have liked a nap.. but patting his belly.. he headed for the door.. Sometimes you had to make sacrifices when duty called..

  4. Susan May, back in style! killer last line!
    Aidan, love 'haints, and the whole feel of this piece. Very dark.
    pblacksaw, another one with a killer last line and a lot going on in a few words.
    Still working on mine...

  5. Susan, if I may call you that - Intriguing work. The details make it seem real and make me want to know more.

    Aidan - Antonia is right on the money with this, very dark story with a nice flow and phrases that just get stuck in your head.

    Pblacksaw - Wow. That last bit was a shock and I had to read it more that once to fully appreciate Duty Calls. A pleasure to read this story.

  6. Echoes of September

    I sit in the sun content watching the gracefulness of the butterflies. The beauty of the Valley of Death is surprising – maybe the record from the Good Book is wrong.

    Maybe not, I feel tension building in me; September must be close. A decade here and the shadows can only touch me once a year.

    It’s nearly time to die again, and my mission is not to scream this time.

    With a last look at my eternity, I know my peace will return for another year, so I close my eyes and prepare to burn.

  7. MD, that is gentle and soothing and then slam! great one. What a gorgeous title, too!

    here goes with my entry:

    Midnight Party

    Locals call this area Death Valley. It isn’t that bad, it’s reasonably well maintained in some places.
    It’s not them I’m bothered about; it’s the midnight callers, whose mission seems to be to get us all together for a party, food, records and all. My neighbours are nice enough people; we talk from time to time but a party? That’s something else, getting drunk, making a fool of myself... worries me a bit.
    What do I have to lose, apart from a bit of face if it goes wrong?
    The problem is, getting out of this damn coffin.

  8. Apologies for my absence. Been putting a lot of time into my novel of late, on top of family, work and TFFO. Will try harder.

    Anyway, a couple of my mates return.

    The Two Blokes.

    Into the valley…


    “You should wipe properly.”

    “The song, it was a record by The Skids.”

    “Oh, sorry. I heard it on the radio this morning. Been stuck in my head all day.”

    “It’ll have been lonely then, eh?”


    “Never mind. What’s wrong with old Ted today? He don’t look too happy”

    “Dunno. I heard him mumble something about a mission to find a prostitute for gardening.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Yes. Barry asked how he was and he said he needed a hoe for his garden.”

    “Oh, you daft sod! It’s a garden tool. Two more beers, please.”


  9. A sudden flash of inspiration hit me while I was working on this week's contribution for Flash Fiction Friday, so... I had to take a little detour and scratch that little itch Lily's word lists always give. I have tweeted this to #fridayflash and posted to both of my blogs - here is Blogger's link -

    And... without further ado...

    By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

    Let’s set the record straight… shall we?

    I’m a frightener. I’m not one of those quaint names parents make up to scare their offspring into behaving at bedtime.

    I’m not the bogeyman… not the Sack Man… not Baba Yaga. I’m a frightner… pure and simple. Don’t color me pretty… I’m dark!

    My mission… my raison d’etre… is to frighten children. I lurk in the shadows… under beds… in closets… waiting.

    As the innocents slide down into the valley of sleep… I’ll drag a scabrous nail o’er the floorboards.

    What was that sound? Under the bed…? Closet…?

    “Hush, child!”

    “But… Mama!”

  10. The other day I was tweeting about desires and Lily commented be careful what you wish for. Maybe someone should have told that to the sisterhood.....


    The sun beat down on the valley, the white, flaking walls of the Mission del Ghaaranto shimmering in the heat. Behind its walls the Sisters of the Glorious Salvation made the final preparations for His return.

    For centuries they had waited for the Great One to lead the world into the Fourth Age of Rapture. As His chosen handmaidens they would record His coming for future generations and bear host to His progeny.

    The air crackled as He stepped through into their world, standing proudly in His majesty, looking at the loyal sisterhood with one thought on His mind.


  11. Thank you Antonia. I have to say, I love your quirky stories, they always bring a smile to my face. Midnight Party sounded like a normal person complaining and then the end had me laughing.

    David, The Two Blokes had a wonderful flow to it. The clueless speaker was endearing.

    Veronica, what can I say. The ability you have to combine the everyday with the supernatural and make it so realistic is great. I've enjoyed every story of yours I've read.

    Phil, you continue to amaze and intimidate me. The poor Sisters got a bit of false advertisement there didn't they? The details you provide in the first sentence alone help with the experience my hyperactive imagination creates.

  12. Oh my... the day has slipped away, and I have not commented on these delicious little treats yet...

    MuckieDuckie - What delightful prose... your words carry me along... I'm in a sunlight field... warm breeze on my face... sigh of contentment... and then... you hit me with that ending... BAM!!! "so I close my eyes and prepare to burn." Does the phrase 'killer last line' come to mind? Smashing read, MD... your little slices of delight and horror never cease to bring a 'smile' to this mischievous little heart! Brava!

    Thank you very much for your wonderful compliments of my little bit of prose over on my Blogger page. Yes, F# is still alive and well. You can find us over at I would be absolutely delighted to see you over there! F3 and Lily's Friday Predictions are my little 'homes away from home'... I love them both! Everyone is so wonderful and supporting and encouraging of each other. Come by and visit us, sweetie!

  13. Susan - great imagery... I really love your prose... the flow is awesome. And, that last line... did it for me! Smashing read!

    Aidan - I do so LOVE a good tale of revenge, and yours left a very satisfying taste in my mouth! I am thinking this is, or could most definitely be, part of a bigger story?

    Pblacksaw - WOW! Loads of horror in less than 100 words! What ever happened to 'To protect and Serve"? Great read!!

    MuckieDuckie - I love the imagery create a nice little scene and then sneak up and club me on the head with that last line... it was the title that put me off my guard... very nicely done! Your words always thrill me!

    Antonia - Clever and quirky... I like! Sounded like a right nice little party... until that last line! Excellent writing!

    I think I missed the meo about 'killer last lines'... the offering this week is outstanding. I will finish these on the 'morrow... the eleventh hour approaches again... time for a little quality time!

    MuckieDuckie - Thank you for your wonderful comments! I am encouraged and inspired! :)

  14. Susan - Great! So much in a single paragraph, sets such a scene. =)

    Aidan - I had to look up 'haint', good word. Great job with the different layers to the story.

    PBlackshaw - so much in what isn't said. Wicked little piece. =)

    MuckieDuckie - intriguing, a little tease of a tale. =)

    Antonia - social awkwardness for the undead... great punchline. =D

    David - some cracking lines in there. Nice one. =)

    Veronica - love it, old school terror in the night that refuses clear definition. Very well written.

    Phil - shades of prophecy and an awesome twist of a punchline.

  15. For some reason I couldn't help going a little silly this week... ;)


    It was Audrey Deluxe’s last day on Earth, her final mission. She had a little over 14 hours to stop her nemesis, Audrey Impossible, from launching the labotopopmabot.

    The faded wasteland of Death Valley span below her as she dropped. Somewhere beneath that inscrutable, cracked ground was Impossible’s super-secret, hidden hideout. Audrey’s parachute unfurled behind her like a flower.

    The labotopopmabot looked like a teenage boy. It had the voice of an angel and a recording contract. Prolonged exposure would destroy the prefrontal cortex of the listener. It would turn a generation of young girls into mindless idiots.

  16. If anyone's emailed me today - can you try again please as I won't have received it; my mailbox was blocked by a huge attachment - ouch. All clear now.

    Hi Susan, great to see you back! Egypt's still lingering after last week's Pharaoh extravaganza. I like this trip into the desert, and as I currently have an eye infection totally relate to the sensation of blood shot eyes. These certainly are intrepid archaeologists; most of archaeologists I know wouldn't say boo to a goose!

    Aidan, I love it when you teach me a new word. How is it possible I had never heard of a haint? What a perfectly marvelous ghoul. And this tale of yours, oh my - such an electric atmosphere, such battling darkness and blame. I loved this.

    Patsy, Duty Calls has a bleak Reformation air to it, desolation and destruction as a population is slowly wiped out. So when we discover Logan is (am I right?) a bloodthirsty killer, cannibal even it adds a far more macabre edge; extremely enjoyable and I would like to see this expanded.

    MD, wow, Echoes of September is beautiful. I could be reading about the death of a sunflower, of a Christ-figure or the whispering wheat about to be cropped in late summer harvest. Gorgeous imagery to your words, it has left a very welcome sparkle in my mind.

    Antonia, Ah ha ha ha - cracking last line. I really wondered where you were going with this urban monologue of social mores, and then you upped and completely took me by suprise. Brilliant. :-)

    David!!!, you pipped me to the post on The Skids! Serves me right for slacking. Always look forward to The Two Blokes and they've not let us down this time. I was really in the mood for a giggle this evening, and this hit the nail on the head - thank you! What's the beer they drink, out of interest?

    Veronica, excuse the inarticulate expletive but this was 'effin superb! I just love the concept of 'a frightener' and its stroppy attitude. Some wonderful lines here "Don’t color me pretty… I’m dark!" and " I’ll drag a scabrous nail o’er the floorboards." All this goes into my Happy pie.

    Phil, I feel the heat reflecting off the walls of the Mission del Ghaaranto as you set the scene for this resurrection. The blind adoration of the fair sisters is a disaster waiting to happen, and oh - with that final line - it arrives with majestic malice! Great writing Phil, as always.

    John, Blown... My... Mind. Fab choice of name with Audreys (wispy tendril memories of Little Shop of Horrors and Twin Peaks). I haven't read a Robert Rankin for a while but this feels like I've just stepped right into one of his brilliant worlds. "The labotopopmabot looked like a teenage boy. It had the voice of an angel and a recording contract" - I have no more to say, except - outstanding.

  17. whoo hoo, got some catching up to do, it seems!
    David, been wondering when the Two Blokes would appear again, they always make me laugh.
    Veronica, so very very dark and don't we know the frightener really does exist...
    Phil, not a killer last line, a killer last word! Brilliant.
    John, great one. I associate Audrey with the Little Shop of Horrors too but this was something else!
    Chris, a great sense of loneliness here.
    Wonderful entries!

  18. My favourite sociopath returns...


    She gazed at him, glazed.

    He traced the valley between her breasts, glided down to her navel, felt each ridge and ruffle; an intimate record of her life.

    She shuddered beneath his touch; a reaction from deep with her lungs gurgled up her throat and resonated through the silence.

    He’d completed his mission brief; a work of art laid bare to human nature, almost complete. Now he just needed her to die.

    The slight upturn of Hackett’s mouth betrayed his cool, copper tinted expression. Her glistening ruddy reflection craved him.

    How strangely beautiful. She looked so different without her skin.

  19. My anthology, Comes The Night, has an excerpt from AJ's startling story, Watched, on the back cover. I wonder how much of that prompted Ellen Datlow to ask for a copy of the anthology for Best Horror 4 ...I mean, would you just look at the craftsmanship of that piece of writing up there - I wonder why I even begin to try and compete!

  20. In complete contrast to the beautiful prose that precedes my entry, here's a little piece of bizarro for you...


    "Mz Valley? Room 27. Sign here."

    My client burned the receptionist's chewing-gum in her mouth. I took a skip and a jump over to the desk as the girl squealed.

    "I theenk you will find - if you check your records - that Madamoiselle Missionette Vallayuh is in the Mastèrrrrre Suite.”

    The bimbette wiped steaming dribble away and spat out the gum into one hand. With the other she reached for a key and slammed it down in front of us.

    “Gino,” she called to the slumbering porter. “Freaks for the Bleak Room,”

    Gino took our bags. We ate him for supper.

  21. Ok - as promised!

    Susan - love the modern, macabre twist of this one.

    Aidan - This taps into a much more ancient, sinister definition of ghosts - and it works so damned well. "Catch and release" was a great line.

    Pblacksaw Nicely done - can't beat a good/bad priest/demon tale.

    Muckie Powerful imagery here, and wonderful phoenix allusions.

    Antonia The perfectly rational cares of a perfectly irrational character. Wonderful stuff.

    David Welcome back to the Two Blokes- and a fitting return it is. Nice one.

    Veronica Marie I really enjoyed the no-nonsense, almost businesslike attitude of your "frightner"- like "what? I scare kids. Big deal." Ha!

    Phil I have to echo the above - you set this up perfectly, and then crush us with that last line.

    John This is a fully built world here, and you play in it with glee. Love the ending.

    AJ I'd say I want more of Hackett - but I don't think I could take it. Your chilling images always seem to burst forth in these 100 words. Well done.

    Lily Such fun! I love the detail with the boiling bubble-gum.

  22. Chris - absolutely love it. A cyber-inspired fable. Modern jargon, near-future tech, the truth of 'social' networks...

    AJ - you make psychopathy so disturbingly erotic... killer last line.

    Lily - Ha ha, I like it. ^_^ Snappy lines that build and twist, that pop with a pulpy sense of fun. (I couldn't help but read the accent in an Inspector Clouseau style, don't know if that was what was intended, but it greatly amused me... "Do you have a... rrrum?" ;D )

  23. Not been around much this week as that demon work is overspilling into "me time".
    Had trouble with the last two lines.

    A final Mission

    He’s riding through Death’s valley, on a mission heading south.
    In another world above his bed, a sign says “Nil by mouth”
    He’s catatonic, and a cowboy riding right up to Death’s door.
    He’s gonna kick him up the arsehole, and give that shit what for.
    He’s an angry desperado, who’s going to set the record straight,
    He’s much too young and vibrant to breast them pearly Gates.
    Sadly Death can never lose if a fight is to the Death
    So bear that thought in mind when you draw your final breath.

  24. Susan May: valley of the queens indeed. These archeologists lead lives I want to know more about.

    Pblacksaw: this priest is a little to knowing for me to believe he's entirely innocent. Nicely sinister.

    MuckieDuckie: lovely evocation of the end of summer. I like the creepiness and terror with Summer's underlying determination not to scream.

    Antonia: world-weary vamps, I love this way of envisioning them.

    David: the blokes dialogue is stellar with their misunderstandings and indirections.

    Veronica: nice title and I like the feel this creates with her almost pleading desire to be scary. Imagination is the best fright of all.

    Phil: enjoyed the sense of end-times and cult mixed in here. Blind faith is rewarded but not necessarily the way one wants.

    John: Perfect little glimmer of superheros here. With just a tad of the bizarre achieves a great pitch. Have you heard Aliya Whiteley's Go Beep it goes along well with your drabble.

    Chris: lovely touch of androids and the uncanny valley; enjoyed Simon's voice.

    AJ: nice ending turn, colors his loving caresses earlier with an entirely different sense.

    Lily: we ate him for supper love the undertoned way this is related and the contrast with the over-the-top bimbette.

    William: those trouble-causing last lines are quite the finish for this poem. A lovely trip of death.



  25. Lily, great stuff!
    William, lot of meaning in there.
    What a week for brilliant entries! Writing this in between working on another flash piece for Pill Hill, the idea has been bothering me all day...

  26. Skidding in by the skin of my teeth to shut this whorehouse down and render ye powerless. Ya haaaargh!!!!!

    Will comment on the final entries in a mo, then will return a little later with the results. This time I'll be putting the results as Comments here without a summary I'm afraid, as I've literally just walked through the door after a long day up in Londinium and am right knackered!

  27. Chris, a tale of tragedy. How sad to long for touch with such desperation, but of course this is not uncommon, not now, not ever. The Mission of the Uncanny Valley must provide a particularly special service. This suggests a glimpse of something else perhaps?

    AJ, I actually believe Hackett is all of our favourite sociopath. Loved the poetic play on gaze and glaze and how you so lovingly describe the journey of his fingers. Most chilling is "completed his mission brief..." - has someone asked Hackett for this skinning? Just who he is working for/with? Fascinating.

    William, may your work treat you more tenderly. I can't help but experience the rancour behind A Final Mission, a bitter anger yet an acceptance of our lot; though here is an adventure against Death, whether Death wins or not. Great rhythm to this poem, it dances off the tongue.

    I shall return...


    This week I seem to be courting the absurd and bizarre. I shan't analyse that; t'would be too revealing I fear.

    I adored the Prediction entries this week; thank you. I hope my comments were sufficient to take the place of a summary.

    My winner is Veronica with the gorgeously wicked Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. You absolutely have to do something with this, V. - it's a fabulous concept. Excuse me everyone, but I have to say this "Brava! Veronica, Brava!"

    Runners-up are Aidan with the relentless Haint's Fishing and John with the beautifully odd Audreys; just sublime and superbly written.

    I also have a special mention for MuckieDuckie's Echoes of September because it touched me so much - and I'm desperate to understand the meaning.

    Well done everyone. Let's get together again tomorrow. Mwah x.

  29. Congratulations to Veronica, Aidan and John. Great stories here - I don't know how you manage every week Lily. See you all next week!

    Since your desperate Lily, I guess I'll let you know what Echos of September is about, I just hope it's not a let down. The story is my take on the afterlife. The catch is that the dead must relive the way they died when they died each year. The person telling the story was a victim of 9/11.

  30. OMG!!! I won! Just a moment... I have to do my 'happy dance'....

  31. Thank you so much, Lily!! Wow... what a perfect ending to my day!! Oh... I cannot wait to tell Tina... this is totally AWESOME!!

    Thank you everyone for your wonder comments! I see there are a lot more stories posted since I read through the other day... I better get busy! Haha!

  32. David Barber - Oh yummy... another bit of the two blokes... charming lads, these! I love the 'repartee' between them... sharp and witty... I wouldn't stand to close when those two are throwing lines! Wonderful bit, David!

    Phil Ambler - Great opening line... fantastic visual... I can almost feel the heat on my back. Very intriguing tale... 'the Fourth Rapture'... 'loyal sisterhood'... one wonders what sustenance they are to provide the Great One? Love this one, Phil!!

    John Xero - Now, there is a mouthful... 'labotopopmabot'? Looks like a teenage boy and "prolonged exposure will destroy the prefontal cortex of the listener"? Did you just describe Justin Bieber? Lol!!! Apologies to any JB fans here!

    What a fun little tale... I really like the concept of the Audreys... a little 'flavor' of The Terminator... very nice indeed!

  33. Chris A - Wow! The desolation vibrates right through... bringing an awful sadness... "It's empty, like me!" I love how it builds... the sense of longing... turning to a last hope.

    AJ - OMG!! I won't sleep at all tonight! "She looked so different without her skin." If it were only a shiver down my spine that quickened my heart...

    I love the touch of eroticism... too often eroticism in a non-erotica piece comes off as gratuitous, but you weave it in your story as an essential element... the tale incomplete without it.

    This is a tale crafted as meticulously and flawlessly as a Harry Winston creation... Brava, AJ... Brava!

    Lily - Oh, you are so very clever! Starts out with a touch of humor... a bit of the 'odd', and then your words grab the reader and drag them to the horrifying conclusion... 'We ate him for supper."

    On the "Veronica Marie Scale of Terror", this is a '7'... and my scale only goes to '5'! They ate the bellboy? I'm breathless!

    Superb little 'slice' of bizarre, Lily! Brava!!

    William Davoli - Poetic death... angered resignation to the hooded boatman.

    I love the pacing and rhythm here... your words flow like honey over a warm biscuit!

  34. CONGRATULATIONS TO AIDAN, JOHN, AND MUCKIEDUCKIE... Haints, Audreys, and the afterlife... Smashing reads, all!

    MuckieDuckie, John, Lily, Antonia, Chris, Aidan... Thank you all for your wonderful comments! Even a frightener has needs... desires; I am thrilled that you found her to your liking! Yes, I think this one goes in the 'for further development' folder.

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful stories... my nightlight will be working overtime this weekend!


    stunning stories last week.

    Lily, when you began this challenge, did you ever dream it would get this big, this good and this entertaining??????????????


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.