Friday, 30 March 2012

Lily's Friday Prediction

Apologies for the tardy posting. It's been a long day, lovely day, sad day, fun day... and a slightly poorly day (damn the common cold!) A friend and long-term colleague has retired to a life of scrabbling around graveyards - as is only right (for whatever reason). I'll miss her.

But back to unreality...

Winner of Last Week's Prediction Challenge

A challenge indeed. But you weren't stumped.

The winner of last week's Prediction Challenge is our wandering Aidan Fritz with Cupid's Arrow. I braved billowing clouds to trail this meandering myth, laughed and loved with its characters and fell hard with Monday's rebirth. Congratulations Aidan, you've left me wistful and yearning.

Runner-up, with a tale that evoked the same emotions as Aidan's but with an awe inspired by nature itself, is Pernicious Petals by Alfred Taitague. Well done Al! This beautifully-entitled/written piece puts me in mind of Crazy Town's exquisite Butterly video.

Words for 30 March 2012

Firstly - you have two weeks to enter this challenge so the pressure's off. Here's what you've got to play with:

  • Amsterdam
  • Hammer
  • Personal


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 until 9pm UK time on Thursday 12th April 2012 to enter.

The winner will be announced on Friday 13th April (Any Paraskevidekatriaphobics/Triskaidekaphobics out there?) If you can, please tweet about your entry, using the #fridayflash hashtag, and blog if you feel like it. Do give feedback to your fellow Predictioneers - we all appreciate it.

May Ostara's leaping hare bring you fertility where you need it this Easter. And if that means putting lead in your writing pencil, so be it...


  1. congratulations, Aiden and Alfred! Brilliant writing. Tough choices, Lily!
    Good words to conjure with for two weeks. I am deeply involved in an extremely surreal story, two weeks will be good for me, I need to finish and shake off this serial killer's mind before I can move on.

    BTW, I finally got myself fit enough to leave a review on Amazon for Cabaret.

  2. Congratulations Aiden and Alfred. Such luscious writing for the delights of all.

    Antonia - great to hear that you are on the mend.

    Lily - good to see the positive feedback you're getting for Cabaret of Dread; have to pick myself up a copy!

    By chance the words this week fitted a concept that has been flitting round in my head for a few months now, eager to be set free.

    For hire

    Amsterdam's backstreets cater to all manner of depravation, delivering sin for a fee, celebrating the delights of the erotic. Tourists eagerly feast on the attractions of the red light district, relaxing their personal inhibitions, but few see the real darkness hidden in the city's bowels.

    Water flowed hypnotically down the windows as the heavens hammered down from above. Naked bodies gyrated behind the streaked panes, blurred images teasing the watching deviants. The running rivulets ran red as blood flecked the inner windows, illuminated from behind, as the prostitutes flayed their flesh, teasing the perverts of what was yet to come.

    1. Phil - this has been in your head for months?? Have you told your lovely wife about it? ;-)

      Ouch, this is a terrifying vignette of extreme self-assault for sick voyeurs. Or... you don't say "flayed their own flesh" - are the prostitutes getting revenge?

      Great atmospheric writing that plays with our senses as you evoke the filth and sleaze of this desperate lifestyle. Now your concept is out there, it needs to spread.

    2. I cannot get the image of 'water flowing hypnotically' out of my head - never before, it seems, did rain act so depraved.

    3. powerful imagery here, coupled with powerful writing.

    4. A depraved, real street scene, with a dark Feardom twist to finish it off. I can't (or won't) imagine what is to come if this is only the opening act, Phil!

    5. I've only been to Amsterdam for... erm 34 times and this brings back memories.

      Nicely done Phil, reminds me of Clive Barker's Hellraiser.

    6. This story feels like a painting. Lovely words draw us in for something horrible. Well done.

    7. Where does this happen? ;) Disturbing imagery Phil, nicely woven.

    8. Some nice sibilance, like ‘running rivulets’, and lots of atmosphere. I’ve been to this city countless times, and you capture the taste of it well.

  3. Amber/Al - gremlins indeed. I have received all your posts by email but they're patently not displaying on here. Reckon Blogger thinks it's funny to play April Fools jokes, but I don't.

    I'll post this to see if it displays... If it does, give it a few hours then try again. If not - I guess we'll all have to wait for Blogger to sort itself out :( Here goes >>>>>>>

    1. Lily, have you checked blogger's spam filter? I had a couple of comments on my blog, from a regular commenter, which I was emailed about but they didn't appear on the blog. Later found them, inexplicably, in the spam filter.

  4. Alfred M. Taitague Jr1 April 2012 at 21:52

    *Amber here: Thanks Lily. Sorry for bothering you with repeating posts. I will try again.*

    I want to thank the Academy for this award. You like me. You really really like me!

    Three stories for your perusal, I hope you enjoy.

    Pestiferous Pursuit

    The Queen’s monstrously bloated larval-like body shuddered as it sensed the abrupt termination of its distant child. Her reaction was not at the loss but rather at the cause. Her personal attendants relayed the signals that would prepare this batch of eggs to produce her successor. The Queen’s pheromonal signals hammered through the collective transmitting as a whole and specifically what each sister must do. From a bog in North Carolina to their current hive in Amsterdam, the successive generations of queen-brood-mothers instinctively knew to flee; each sacrificing herself for the Collective.


    Stalwart Choices

    Hero, heart heavy, felt more than heard Kristan hammer away at him concerning the school fight. He tried not to take personal offense as she berated him on being a hoodlum and for dishonoring his father’s memory, but when she lamented on having a bully for a son; Hero, trembling violently, raged internally at the injustice yet was ashamed at her

    However, the sight of the two older boys taunting and pushing the new kid from Amsterdam caused some switch in him to close and…

    Hero, hearing his mother catch her second wind, sighed and daydreamed of carousels.

    The Verdict

    The facts were evident to all but them: The Mastermind and his henchman, Penn and Teller, Jeff Dunham and Melvin; my two oldest boys.

    They denied… they argued… they denied… they impugned… they denied… they beseeched… they pled the Fifth and finally they just glared daggers in an obvious attempt at intimidation.

    The victim, looking like a monk from Amsterdam with a freshly shaved bald pate, identifies his attackers with righteous personal outrage at their effrontery. Phoenix’s tear-stained, red-faced, snot-bubbled visage takes on an almost noble expression as he hammers out his wishes for my sentencing.

    “Kill them, Mama!”

    1. Alfred, a trio of tiny, tasty tales. Good job! =)

      I like the feel of the hive mentality of the bees, cleverly tying it to current affairs too. But is it a tactical withdrawal? To regroup and strike back, a new brand of bee?

      Hero feels a little older here, or is that just me? It seems he has something of a hero in him, but the final line makes me wonder if there isn't a little madness too.

      And the verdict's in! I don't hold out much hope for their future...

    2. Alfred - on a roll this week! Lots going on in all of these pieces and needs a few readings to really pull out the subtleties of each one. My favourite of the trio is Hero's where our main character is berated for coming to the victim's rescue; harsh world we live in.

    3. Dear Al,
      Your writing has a way of stirring maternal emotions. I imagine myself as a sister knowing what must be done. I feel the threat and I want to strike out. Good job Alfred.

      Hero is breaking my heart. I want to make him hot chocolate and say all will be well but he seems too real for that.

      Please please continue with these stories because I am indeed caught up in all three.

    4. Alfred, I can't add much to what has already been said, except to say, I am addicted to your stories.

    5. All three stories creep beneath the skin, which is exactly what they are designed to do. You come up with some imaginative titles, too.

  5. Congratulations to Aiden and Alfred

    Red Eye Nightmare

    I flowed from De Kuil’s monged in a white widow funk, Ice, ice baby. My feet mashed the pavements of Amsterdam after dark, a stranger deserted by fair weather friends, nothing personal, yeah right.

    I drifted parallel to soupy canal fringes, barrelled against a tide of stranger’s speaking in tongues, lost in the aftermath of a coffee shop glow.

    I shrunk into an alleyway looking for respite; I slouched along, ahead of me the darkness divided filled and formed.

    A red-eyed nightmare stepped up. From calloused hands, he conjured dice and beckoned me to play. My heart became a hammer.

    Author's note: Black Matthew is said to haunt the city. A 13th century highwayman, magician, and thief, Matthew gambled his way through the city using his knowledge of dark magic to ensure he would come out on top each time until he ran afoul of the devil. Now his tortured soul wanders the narrow streets and canals hoping for a bit of luck.

    I have never been to Amsterdam and do not smoke anything green.

    1. great stuff and what a superb horror legend that is!

    2. Oh, great voice and atmosphere, and like so many good ghost stories, it ends with a real chill. A couple of grammatical errors, but otherwise pretty close to perfection for me. =)

    3. Each step of this piece had an ephemeral quality to it as we drifted with our drug addled hero and then we are dragged into the here and now or is it all in his mind?!?? Great stuff.

    4. Bad friends and bad choices...seems to lead to bad places. I am hoping there are plenty of chapters to come soon. I need to know what becomes of our anti-hero in the lovely city of Amsterdam.
      Btw SK, I have been to Amsterdam and your descriptions are perfect. I also believe I may have dated one if not both of your characters. Yikes.

    5. Another one full of atmosphere – with every bright light that glows in Amsterdam, an unspoken darkness also lingers. It’s just one of those places.

  6. Oh, this is lovely, perfect opening sentence and though my dictionary doesn't have 'monged' I can invent and understand regardless. I get the feeling you have trumped us all already with this.

  7. Congratulations to Aidan and Alfred – very well-deserved.

    The blacksmith’s wife [part 5]

    Shamed by my menses and the lie I’d told, aware now of the ache low-hammering within my belly, I asked for rag that I might clean myself.

    He brought the dress I’d worn to wed him, the colour of old cheese from Amsterdam, already ripped from the impassioned urgency of our sweat-saturated marriage bed, and further tore it into strips.
    Ignoring my request to be untied – where would I run to in my soot-smeared nakedness? – he undertook the personal task with calloused gentleness, threw the bloody cloths onto the fire, refused to cover me but sought to ease my pain.

    Earlier episodes of The Blacksmith’s wife can be found at

    1. This is such a complex and deep relationship you're building, Sandra. Despite everything there is still tenderness towards her within him.

  8. Apologies, a second instalment was insistent.

    The blacksmith’s wife [part 6]

    ‘Jenever,’ he said, ‘from sloes not Amsterdam. You’re not enough a mother to be ruined.’
    He tipped the glass, watched me drink, sloe-eyed himself, inscrutable, all personal emotion hidden, yet knowledge of the hurt I’d dealt caused blood to hammer in my head, tears to flow for what I’d lost.

    Not the child, that never had existed, but his belief in me.

    Another touch upon my back, forewarning. ‘Charcoal, to mark the placing of the letters.’
    But gin-loosed tongue took me past sanity; contemptuously ‘Can you spell?’
    His face hardened. ‘Trollop, wanton, Jezebel, jade – there’s space to write them all.’

    Author’s note: In searching for a way to use ‘Amsterdam’ I learnt there was a painting ‘Weeping Woman in a Blacksmith’s shop’ by Amsterdam artist Gabriel Metsu – no image was to be found, however it's given me a name for my blacksmith.

    1. just got to read more of this!

    2. And then we cycle back to the bitterness. But sometimes that's the reality, isn't it? Tenderness seems to surface and then a 'smart' comment sets you back ten steps...

    3. These stories keep gaining in strength each week. I hope you are planning to pull this into a novella at the least.

    4. Sexy anger, bold and intelligent heroine, momentary marital kindness. You keep rocking the house with this story. Can forgiveness be found, will they touch again the way they did before. Argh what is next please.

    5. Sandra,
      two installments, both powerful and compelling.
      Lily's Prediction is the place to be right now.

    6. There is something dark and subversive about this relationship as it builds; it intrigues and repels, it too, creeps beneath the surface, and is rather addictive.

  9. Seeds

    Explosions wake me. I rollover, convincing myself it's thunder.

    Louisa pinches hard. "Your job."

    I stumble down the stairs, taking it personally, hating the bitterness between us since Janice's birth, but this silliness of checking downstairs is pointless. We no longer live in Amsterdam's De Wallen. The suburbs are safe.

    A click pings against teak flooring. Something skitters. A bug? It flies through my hand. Pain blossoms. It's torn my plam, exposing bone.

    The flesh throbs with a sunflower seed wedged within. It pops, roots uncurling.

    I grab a meat tenderizer and hammer until it pops.

    Seeds ping the window.

    1. The image of the seed taking root, uncurling into his flesh, is a nasty one (to take a cue from previous commenters). And his reaction, probably saved him, but still... youch. There is horror within the small scale of the story, and hints of a horror at a greater scale out in the world.

    2. Aidan - I always love the way you conjure the extraordinary in your pieces. This piece starts small but builds into what could be a science fiction/horror masterpiece. Day of the Triffids for a new generation?

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. My first response too long...this was a great story. I love that you gave him a history so that I develop an affinity for the character. Question, is this reality or psycho-reality? That is the fun part. What else will this bedraggled father/husband do on this night? First his hand and then...(I vote for the alarm clock).

    5. Aidan,

      Aliens? genetic engineering gone haywire? My imagination ran wild on this one. Yes, yes, I agree with Phil...a new day of the Triffids :-)

    6. There is a hint of Triffid within this story that makes it very, very creepy.

  10. A Screw Loose
    I have a screw loose.
    Today is the first anniversary – she will be here later with flowers and lies. Here she comes. Tulips from Amsterdam, no less. Do I see a tear? No.
    Is that it? Is that all I meant to her? That gives me more incentive to sort out these screws.
    One down, five to go and the lid comes off, no problem. Shame I don’t have a hammer. It would be quicker. All I have to do is get through the 6ft of earth…
    It’s personal. It was all about my death - next it’s hers.

    1. Something tells me that 6ft of soil isn't going to be much of a problem to our corpse! Good work.

    2. Madam Antonia,
      Yeah you are feeling better and writing. Good for us. I have a weak spot for revenge. The "bad" guy captures my heart and then rips hers out. Thank you for posting this beauty. May we learn about the real villain and her deeds soon!!!

    3. Great double meaning to the opening line, which then goes on to give us a vengeful zombie. I want to know more.

    4. It's taken a year to get one screw loose... by the time the rest is done that resentment and anger is going to be on full boil, and she's going to feel it!

    5. There is a dark sense of humour to this piece Antonia which I love. I guess the dead have all the time in the world to get their revenge.

  11. And more power to your ... umm, elbow! For invoking Max B, apart from anything else.

  12. ha ha ha! wondered if anyone would pick up the reference, Sandra, thanks for that!

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. I am enjoying the stories everyone. I will be back later to comment. Below is my attempt:


    Fifteen years passed since news of mother's torture, death was told. Under red lights of Amsterdam she made money for her girls; Gran, me and little Mary. She brushed away memories of men for we were her life. We cleansed her with every breath, with every kiss.

    Though she lies in dirt she lives on in me. Now this way is personal. I clean the window and curl my hair with care. My light glows in twilight, the men come to stare. Inside my velvet purse is a precious secret. Tonight, a heavy headed hammer will swing, break like justice.

    1. Vengeance is indiscriminate in its judgements. I fear that the wrong people, though guilty in other ways, will die for the sins of the torturers but our narrator will feel justice has been served. Dark in so many ways; well evoked.

    2. More vengeance – the blokes are getting a tough deal this week. I rather think that ‘velvet purse’ is a metaphor for the vagina - did you mean it that way? If it is, it's a clever one.

    3. You got it Ms. Humpage!!!! Thanks for that. I have been moved by your historical stories. "Last HidingPlace" was touching. Your words reminded me of the first time I learned about Anne Frank. We need to always remember the personal stories of the mass abuses.

    4. There's a certain lyricism to this, it sings along sadly and then crunch, the sudden hammer blow percussion of the final line. Great writing. =)

    5. So dark Marietta is it me or do writers of horror favor the humble hammer as a weapon.

  15. Just like a hammer - solid, simple and very satisfying.

    1. there's a sadness and inevitability about this which is heartrending. Beautifully done.

  16. I'm going to break protocol and use a single entry to comment on the other entries. I hope this isn't too uncouth, but it is much easier for me to comment in this manner.

    I'm glad y'all enjoyed Cupid's Arrow and thanks for the well-wishes. Congratulations Alfred. I'm always pleased by what interesting variety of pieces can be found from the prompting words.

    Phil: a vivid scene you paint here; it's got a touch of noir feeling that haunts me.

    Alfred: nice timely pests, clever Hero may have made the right choice this time, and I like the grandeur that the verdict acquires.

    SK: intriguing myth; I wonder what he loses every time the dice roll wrong.

    Sandra: some lovely descriptions, particularly the color of old cheese from Amsterdam and charcoal letterings create a strong image and provides some emotional color. These wounds run deep.

    Antonia: flowers and lies is a fun line; I like how this captures the zombie wanting revenge.

    Marietta: one of the greatest horrors I see is the vicious circle that haunts us, drives us, hammers at us. I enjoyed the way you captured this.

  17. Well done Aiden and Alfred.

    Moi petite offering...

    Last Hiding Place

    Wood creaked, straining like old leather.

    Dust sprinkled the umbra.

    They’d heard the thunderous hammer-like sounds of gunfire around the city, blighting its people and bringing a cold, fearful silence to the rubble-strewn streets of Amsterdam.

    Another creak.

    Anne clutched the red and white chequered bound notebook to her chest - containing her innermost, personal thoughts - as she lay next to her sister, mother and father, and listened to the sound of footsteps around them.

    Not even a breath parted the strained atmosphere.

    But betrayal hung heavy in the air; the Germans had found the Achterhuis.

    Their darkness descended.

    1. A vivid reminder that Life is capable of offering much more terror than fiction. 'Red and white chequered' a nice detail.

    2. I agree with Sandra and Antonia, you pick out a moment in time and bring it to life with poignant detail.

    3. How did I miss this!? A very rich evocation of such a terrible moment. An excellent piece of writing, AJ.

  18. AJ, one of your perfect 'time capsule' moments from history, very meaningful and sad.

  19. could I borrow a space to tell Predictioneers about my anthology:
    Writing as Dorothy Davies, my latest book, I Bid You Welcome, is available from
    it's a collection of dark/horror stories. It's also available from Amazon, if you want it on kindle. Some of my most favourite stories in there!

  20. One more from me.

    Jealous Lover

    I found the personal truth I sought in the kitchen, spelled out in the congealed leftovers of her alphabetti spaghetti.

    One word, Amsterdam, I felt the hurt like a hammer blow. Strange how a single choice can save us or damn us to oblivion.

    I took the carving knife from the drawer, climbed the stairs two at a time, avoiding the ones that creak, the habit of a suspicious mind. It was a mistake to believe she was over him.

    I lay on the bed in the cold depression left by her. Praying the blade would take my grief away.

    1. Now there's tenterhooks. I do like 'felt the hurt like a hammer blow' and the spaghetti clue ... but - do I have to wait until next week to find out?

    2. Starts out almost like a joke, but twists the knife so painfully in the end, S.K.

      Clever in the way it shimmies from truth to truth.

  21. It's been such a busy fortnight - I'm glad to be back roaming through The Feardom's halls in search of Prediction challenge perfection.

    I'll be adding my comments before closing the doors tomorrow night. In the meantime, here's my humble offering...


    Roach sat smoking. A dog-eared Camus peeked from his back pocket; Brel sang “Dans le port d'Amsterdam, y a des marins qui chantent...” in his ear.

    “You want some, honey?”

    Blue flesh shimmered in the rain; Africa at her darkest. The woman writhed into view – hips wide, breasts indulgent. Every twist of her threw sparks into the night. Roach didn’t respond.

    The beauty leaned forward and hammered her fingertips upon Roach’s chest.

    “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you like the ladies?”

    “Don’t take this personally,” Roach said, and blew the demon’s head off with an unmarked silver bullet.

    1. I love the hyperrealism of this, the adrenalin rush sexuality and the no nonsense punchline. Will we see more of Roach? =)

    2. I guess I should have expected an ending like that Lily, but you caught me off guard. Lovely writing.

  22. Ay-ay-ayyy - highly visual, short and not in the slightest bit sweet.

  23. Struggled a little this week. I think I get tied up on the proper nouns...


    Amsterdam is burning.

    I drift over the city, gliding on thermals that may as well be souls pushing to heaven. Everyone is dead. I am too late. Again.

    The Hammer was murdered yesterday.

    I laughed at his name when I first met him, the first time we saved the world. It was so straight forward, so blunt, so honest. Just like him. He had no secrets, no guile. I loved him for that.

    Someone killed him with his own hammer. I stopped to mourn and this happened, Amsterdam died.

    Someone planned my delay. Someone made this personal.

    1. Doesn't read like a struggle, except for what is to come - and I sincerely hope we find out because this sounds like the beginning of an epic tale.

    2. I love the opening line John, superheros? Angels? The possibilities are fascinating with this glimpse.

  24. We are closed for the night, my velvet-fingered lovelies.

    I'm a bit late with my comments but they should be with you within the hour.

    Do excuse me as I creak the door shut; it's so heavy these days...

  25. Alfred, I am touched, and scared by Pestiferous Pursuit; the ultimate headline is one I have read too many times. I love bees, I truly believe their relationships transcend distance and you have demonstrated that so well here.

    Stalwart Choices throws up Hero's plethora of reactions and we wonder how long the older boys have been let off the hook for.

    The Verdict plays back and forth, side to side between attackers and victims, judge, jury and Mama. Great narration here.

    Shaun, Red Eye Nightmare and the myth of Black Matthew is absolutely delicious. I love how you've entered his addled mind and are travelling the streets within his madness. If anyone should reintroduce the world to this character, 'tis you. We need more please.

    I was really touched by the range of emotions playing through Jealous Lover - hurt, anger... "the cold depression left by her" has a clever double meaning. It left me sad and pensive. Well done.

    Sandra, this duo of dark delights leads us deeper into the incredibly volatile relationship of these two. One feels Jenever is 'touched' by her husband's tender cleansing but she can't leave him be and lashes at him. There is even more to this than already seems possible - and I remain desperate to find out exactly what that is. Consistently stunning writing.

    Aidan, terrifying to the core. I love how you lead us from this scenario of domestic difficulty... something that needs to be dealt with, but the final situation is something else. His methods for dealing with the botanic attack are extreme, but so is the the weird assault. Outstanding.

    Antonia, firstly - congratulations on Dorothy Davies's I Bid You Welcome! May you have great success.

    As for A Screw Loose, my goodness, I could almost hear his anger scraping at the coffin, his long-dead, skeletal fingers tearing at the wood as he attacks the screws. 'She' is going to get the shock of her life. Great fun.

    Marietta, so, so sad. How many women live their tragic lives on display like this across the world, at risk of assault and death by the minute? Millions more than any government would acknowledge. I like the generations of support in this tale, just as much as I like the upcoming revenge.

    AJ, I can always remember the first time I learned about Anne Frank at school; I went home and wept at the indignity, the humiliation and the bravery of this young girl and her family. Alhough her 'story' is now a familiar one, your words have brought those emotions spiralling back. That's how brilliant-a-writer you are.

    John, straight in to the middle of a disaster. I want to know who the narrator, and The Hammer are. How/why did they meet, what was their mission? An exciting read.

    1. Thanks for your 'consistently stunning' - has me beaming with pleasure - but for the record 'Jenever' is another name for gin, not her name, though I do feel it would suit her ... so far she has none.

  26. AJ: great images bring home the horror of the situation. The red-chequered notebook channels the topic well for me for some reason.

    SK: jealous, intrigued the way this toys with revenge vs. grief.

    Lily: I'd love to see more of this world. The mix of sexy demons spitting sparks and Africa's streets are enticing and I like the backdrop of this manic waltz.

    John: intriguing character and opening into this superhero world.


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.