Fourth Fiction: Round Three

The round three challenge, inspired by the departure of Fido from the competition, is to incorporate the death of a dog into the narrative in less than 400 words.

This follows on from my first sentence and first paragraph.  These 397 words were far less sweated over than the previous rounds.I could see the story emerging in my head across the day. The challenge was getting it all into 400 words or less.

All comments welcomed and appreciated.

Sylvie let the words sink in, thick with betrayal. She struggled to her feet, squaring off with the crone who stood framed in the warped door way.

“How? Our network is secure. I wouldn’t be standing here if it could be breached.”

“The fact you stand there girl is testament to it being broken.”

The animosity stretched between them like frozen tundra.

“Why me?” The enormity of the situation fell about Sylvie with the first snow flakes of the evening.

“We wanted Maia, but she refused to come.”

“So her apprentice was the next best thing.” Her anger rippled out in shock waves. “You tricked me you bitch.”

“Get yourself cleaned up before you come back in. You reek of fear and there is enough of that in this house.”

Sylvie hurled the PDA at the crone as she vanished inside.

Why me? Why now? Why here?

“What the fuck is this place?” She wanted answers and she wanted them now. The adrenalin was kicking in again, but with the clarity of mind to question for the first time what was actually happening.

Who were the monsters – materialising out of the urban desolation, straight from stories told by parents to scare their children’s wanderlust and curiosity into submission. Freaks descending on her car like a human plague, heavy feet buckling the roof and the bonnet. Inhuman faces frenzied and desperate; pressed against the dirty glass, bare hands trying to smash their way.

“The dead zone. Come, I’ll get you some water.” Sylvie hesitated, as he unbolted a section of wall. “It is safe.”

“Because of your dog?”

Sylvie fell in step beside the dog, remembering the terrified looks on the creatures’ faces as they backed away from her car and the dog beside it, growling and baring their pointed teeth from a safe distance, moments before the black Mustang and the man materialised.

“Mutt here is good as a shock tactic. But only once.” He scratched the dog’s head. “Until today, they’ve only ever heard of dogs.”

“Never seen a dog?”

“No dog here for two generations.”

“Why?”

The snow fell heavier the further they walked, tiny white dancers in the onyx sky.

“The dogs died after the Government released the virus here and it mutated. Mans best friend attacked the infected and were killed. The rest were shot to stop them eating the corpses.”

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[Fiction] Friday: Gargoyles Revenge

fiction friday

[Fiction] Friday Challenge for August 21st, 2009:

Start your story with a game of hide and seek.

“Like a moth to a flame burnt by the fire. My love it blind can’t you see my desire.” ~ Janet Jackson

“Josh I’m not playing hide and seek.” There was no answer.

I shuddered and tried not to look up at the gargoyles, their jowls ravenous and unforgiving. I knew they were leering down at me. From where I sheltered I could hear the base bleeding up the hill through the bitter midnight air and I wished I’d made a better decision. Stayed down there in the night club and lost myself on the dance floor to Shaggy or Janet Jackson rather than up here.

“Josh c’mon,” I yelled, rubbing my freezing arms and pressing myself further into the alcove created by the wall and a stone column of some description to avoid the wind. “How long does it take to piss? ”

I had been comfortable down the hill in Hot Gossip, which had once been Chapter House – owned by the Catholic Church. Up here among the other Church buildings still owned by the Dioceses the good will trip to the autoteller with my best friend’s boyfriend seemed a bad idea. She was imagining two plus one was something it could never be. Not in this circumstance

“I’m not coming looking for you. Josh?”

It was cold – probably edging somewhere towards zero and I gave a fuck about it. There wasn’t enough alcohol in me to voluntarily wander up the street scantily clad with him. There had been no mention of a pitstop when we left, despite the fact the deal was brokered outside the toilet in the foyer.

I didn’t want to be up here with Josh. But I couldn’t leave. I was scared of the dark but at 18 it was no longer acceptable to admit to fearing dark places. I didn’t want to admit I was terrified. Thoughts of dares to go down into the convent from the music room at high school were darting through my head now. All the nefarious things which lurk in the places we don’t want to go. Next thing Freddie Kruger would step out of the shadows – to slice and dice me. He’d already made short work of Josh and that’s why he wouldn’t call back.

Heart thundering I stepped out of the alcove, staring hard into the darkness and wishing the street lighting penetrated further than the foot path. I kept a hand on the stone wall.

“Josh? If you don’t come out I’m going back down to the hill. I don’t care if I don’t have any more money.” There was a definite hysterical pitch to my voice now.

The wind howled and I felt the needle prick of goosebumps break out over my bare arms. The base transitioned into faster rhythm like the DJ had pressed the throttle forward. I knew the base line – it was Lenny Kravitz, are you gonna go my way?

I inched forward into the nothingness between the two buildings in the direction Josh had gone to relieve himself. A moment of bravery, inspired by the beat.

“Josh?”

I stumbled back a few steps when his body knocked into me. He came from nowhere and his lips were crushing mine as my back hit the wall my hand had been tracing seconds earlier. His hands were on either side of my head, sandwiching me bewteen the heat of his body and the frigidness of the stone.

My first thought was to push him away and slap him. Remind him he was my best friend’s boyfriend. Remind myself. But he had been mine before he had been hers. And it was all to familiar. His aftershave. The shape of his body. The way he kissed. My mouth melded and moved with his.

“I thought you hated me,” I gasped when he finally pulled away from me.

“You think too much,” he said, moving back in close.

“No. Not here.” I gathered myself. The chasm between the right thing and the right thing for me was rapidly closing.  “Come back to my place.”

He considered it for a moment and agreed.

And between the confessions was we walked and the two hours shared between the front of the gas heater and beneath my doona I unknowingly descended to a place I could never escape intact from. I was forever playing hide and seek with the truth. No one would win.

The rumours of Josh’s infidelity had inevitably found their way back to my best friend well before that evening.  She’d pressed me to sure up his position. Josh loved her didn’t he? He wouldn’t do that to her? It was easy to hide the truth from her but much harder for me to seek peace with the revenge which had played me straight into his well laid web of lies.

Fourth Fiction: First Paragraph

This has got to be the most sweated over 270 words in my writing career. Well worth the cathartic experience of being lost in another world this afternoon, while I tried to get lost in it amidst the screams and excited laughter of dozens of children in at an indoor playground.

Sorry in advance for the formatting – as someone who can’t help but insert dialogue – I lumped it in (against all style guidelines) into the single paragraph.

You can reacquaint yourself with my opening sentence before reading on. Comments welcome!

Round 2 Challenge: Write the opening paragraph of your novella. It should be no more than 300 words, not including your opening sentence, and should be about interactions that take place over the web.

The crone at the head of the pregnant woman pressed a finger to her thin lips and hissed through the gap where her front teeth had been. Sylvie’s cheeks burned. Placing the pinnard back in her kit, she rubbed her hands together to warm them, wishing them to stop shaking before she touched the woman. She palpitated the distended stomach to identify the position of the two babies, sitting back on her heels when the womb beneath stirred. The labouring woman was helped onto all fours, groaning and swinging her hips as the contraction crested then crashed through her. A final moan choked into a sob as she surrendered into a mountain of cushions. “There is only meant to be one,” Sylvie heard as she snatched her kit and ran from the room. Her throat burnt as she sucked in huge gulps of the frigid air. The icy bricks bit into her back as she slumped against the fortified wall of the Birthing House. She took the PDA out of the canvas bag, relieved it was fully charged. The blank screen was a dim glow in the opaque night. “It doesn’t work here either,” he said stepping out of the shadows for the second time that night as panic threatened to overwhelm her. “Just like your GPS and car. They don’t call this the Dead Zone for nothing.” “No! She would never have sent me here. Not alone.” Sylvie jabbed at the buttons defiantly, willing the device to connect to the internet. “She didn’t,” said a voice from the doorway. “We sent the message.”

Leo New Moon Creative Space

Writing SpaceEvery dark moon I try hard to get my creative space clean, cleared, smudged and made beautiful again.  While I’m still working on curtains for this space (which I began in January 2008 – nothing like getting things done in a hurry!) and dying to put my up my fairy lights (which can’t go up until the curtains are done) I did finally managed to shift the Mt Everest sized piles of horizontal filing which have been accumulating on my desk for – I don’t know how long.

When Dave was job hunting he sort of unofficially took over my desk and I moved to the end of the kitchen table.  While I’m generally not too fussy about where I work – there is something inspiring and grounding about having a clear, visually (but not too) appealing space in which to work and create.Writing Altar

So as I trudge off to bed – I’m glad I can see my desk top again.  Glad I have another gorgeous writing altar (you will notice Mabel has made a descent from higher up on the book shelves to the altar – she wanted to be there and anyone who knows the story of Mabel – knows that Mabel gets what she wants!). Glad to notice my bamboo has lovel new green shoots on it.

Fourth Fiction Update: Round One

4th-Night-Logo3_BLUE_2_webLast week saw Fourth Fiction followers eliminate the first of the contestants, on the world’s first blog based reality TV show, where readers vote off writers.

In a shock result Fido found himself barking up the wrong tree and narrowly avoiding elimination from the contest after he polled an equal portion of votes with the New Age goddess Isis. Host Constantine Markides, based his decision to send Isis home on a comparison of positive comments posted on both contestants first sentence – with Fido coming out on top. It is a decision not every Fourth Fiction follower is happy about though.

The voting anomaly may be a result of an influx of Brazilian readers who flocked to the site after Fourth Fiction appeared in a national paper. Continue reading

Weekly Writing Goals


goal-smGoals for this week:

1. Write my breastfeeding article. (Monday)

2. Resign from breastfeeding position.  undecided still on this course of action.

3. Book sessions for Brisbane Writers Festival.

4. Join Linked In.

5. Join Australian Writers Market Online.

6. Set up the official Chinese Whisperings emails and links

7. Post all the introductions blog posts for the next nine days. waiting for two more but all the rest done.

8. Critique two stories for crit group. (Monday) They have both been read but critiques pending.

9. Clean desk before the new Moon (Thursday)

10. Finish True Story of Butterfish

11. Re-write Light Years.

12. Write Fourth Fiction article

13. Write Fourth Fiction opening paragraph (Thursday)

14. Write Write Anything column (Sunday)

15. Set up new email address and email everyone. What a pain in the bum!

16. Get this blog hosted on my domain. though I have now discovered I have to rejig the template – argh!

17. Read and make comments on Jason’s story.

18. Look over and comment on Benjamin’s story. (newly added Thursday)

19. Read and comments for Edwina’s Spirituality Chapter. (newly added Thursday) Continue reading

Writing Exercises: Ten Prompts for Ten Lines

This short snippet of a story was created in my critiquing class on Thursday.  It was an exercise borrowed by our tutor Kate Eltham from author Simon Higgins (who had also borrowed it from someone – but I didn’t write it down.)

The premise is two family members  who have been estranged are coming together for the first time.  The story is based on ten prompts to create the story. I was quite impressed with what I scribbled out. Continue reading