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  1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.

    Current Contest Entries CLOSED for Contest #191 Theme: 'Acrostic'

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, May 16, 2016.

    Short Story Contest # 191
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Acrostic" courtesy of @Hubardo

    Submissions will be open for 2 weeks.


    To enter the contest, post the story here in this thread. It will show up as an anonymous author.

    The contest is open to all members, newbies and the established alike. At the deadline I will link to this thread from the voting thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. As always, the winner may PM me to request the theme of the subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Entries do not have to follow the themes explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.

    Word limit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Sunday the 29th of May, 2016 1600 (4:00 pm) US Pacific time.

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. Any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    If we reach 20 entries, the maximum number of stories for any one contest, I will consider splitting the contest into two. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permitted.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece basis to decide its legitimacy for the contest.

    A story entered into the contest may not be one that has been posted anywhere** on the internet, not just anywhere on this site. A story may not be posted for review until the contest ends, but authors may seek critiques after voting closes for the contest. Members may also not repost a story anywhere, or bring attention to the contest in any way, until the voting has closed.

    PLEASE use this title format for all stories: Title bolded [word count in brackets]

    If there are any questions, please send me a PM (Conversation). Don't post extra non-contest posts in the thread, they clutter it up a bit.

    After the voting ends, posting in the thread will re-open for comments.

    ***And thanks to the long hours put in by our very special mod/member @Wreybies, winners are now awarded with olympic style medals displayed under their avatars.

    Be sure to preview your entry before you hit 'reply'.
    Check italics and bolding as sometimes the end code for bold or italics doesn't copy/paste affecting large stretches of text.
    If you need to fix the formatting, hit 'control a' to 'select all' and clear all bold and italics code. Then re-add it back in using the board's font controls before you hit 'post reply'. Watch those extra line spaces. PLEASE delete them directly from the post before hitting 'post reply'.

    The point of consistent titles and line spacing is to avoid having those things influence votes, sometimes for worse.

    Thanks, and good luck!
  2. BruceA

    BruceA Senior Member Supporter

    Feb 7, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Hidden Spell (1485)

    The night sky was thick with clouds - no star or moon would betray her. Her head was hooded, her cloak darker than the shadows of the city walls she stood under. As one of the guards - thick with drink by the smell of him - tottered past, she slipped out behind him. Not until her knife cut his throat did he notice her - he made a gurgling sound as she lay him gently to the ground. Kneeling to the ground she wiped the blade upon his tunic before returning it to its sheath with one hand, her other taking the keys she found about his person.

    You will live forever in the next place - go swiftly,’ she said, her prayer barely louder than the sound of a leaf falling to mossy earth. Ordinarily, she would have waited for the soul to fully depart, but time was precious so she stood quickly. Under the cloud-quilted sky all was quiet.

    Her footsteps were light as she ran back to the walls and along to the small gate. Up on the wall above, she could hear two guards as they exchanged loud and jovial insults. Beyond the gate, she could see no one - she stood still, listening and looking with all her senses. At last she slipped the key into the lock. Rotating the key - she waited for the perfect moment in the guards conversation, when laughter was such that all other noise would be lost - the lock clicked open . Drawing her knife, she slipped through. Other than a rat - it brushed against her foot, as it ran away from her - the courtyard appeared empty.

    Feeling her way along the wall, she moved away from the gate, away from the guards, who gossiped and giggled like the very young, or the very old. Opening her mind, she probed around her gently - the city kept women like her, to protect itself from women like her. Removing her hood she cocked her head to one side, like an enquiring dog, but either there were no such women, or their influence was hidden from her.

    Seeing something shift out the the corner of her eye, she dropped to the ground. Ears, eyes and mind sought the source of the movement. The dog - one of the tamed beasts, used by the city to keep the city streets clean of human waste - looked up when her mind touched his. The influence told him to go about his business, and the dog’s attention returned to the excrement it was eating. In the dark, nothing else moved. No one was around. Gliding across the courtyard - as though floating on pockets of air - she slipped through the archway, towards the stronghold.

    There was something wrong. Her thought lightning-flashed in her mind. In the courtyard, there should have been at least two guards. Standing in the dark she waited.

    Influence touched her - there was someone looking for her - but her mind was shielded and it slipped past. No, the absence of guards was no error. They were waiting for her. Eyes closed she stood, still and quiet. Revealing herself, was an option - if they knew she was coming, there was no surprise left. End it now. Stand up and show yourself - challenge the other to do likewise. These were not her thoughts. Influence washed over her - targeting her with thoughts of doubt. Not the work of a master of the art, it was clumsy - though perhaps deliberately so, there was a certain familiarity about it. Gripping her knife, tightly in her fist, she moved once more.

    Crying loudly a swordsman swept down from above. Her knife left her hand, finding its target in the man’s throat. As the sword fell from his hand she moved and caught it before it clattered to the ground. Leaving her knife in the body - no time to pray properly - she moved away towards the walls. Lights appeared from around the courtyard. Even as she counted them - seven - she moved among them. Necks were severed, as she danced. Glass shattered as lamps crashed to the floor. Ending her dance in a crouch she waited, sword ready.

    Another touch of influence. No movement, however. Darkness and stillness surrounded her.

    The influence was weak, but she was able to trace it. Her mind opened enough to allow this, but not enough that would have given advantage to the other. As she followed the other with her mind, she pulled her knife from the neck of the swordsman. No point in praying now. Kneeling beside him she saw his soul had already gone.

    You must submit - the instruction was laughable - she pulled it into her mind, amplified it and threw it back. Order me, and you’d better be sure you can win, she thought. Unfortunate mistake, little one - although once more a feeling of familiarity nagged at her.

    Groping around her, in the dark, she located fallen weapons - some she pocketed, others she broke in two and left. Interested in locating the source of the influence - as well as what she came for - she entered the building. Night was left outside as she walked through lamp-lit corridors . Gold threaded tapestries adorned the walls. Even in these corridors, wealth was evident. Richness for those within these walls, even as the poor starved without. Climbing the stone steps of the large tower - with care not to betray herself through sound or influence - she held the sword before her. Openings, to her right, were checked, with her eyes and her mind. For a guard, or other danger. Finding nothing, she proceeded upwards. Ever nearer the source of the influence, she climbed. Ever nearer her goal too.

    For a brief moment, he was hidden from her. Out of a doorway she had just passed, he appeared behind her. Ripping her cloak, the sword scraped against her chain mail, but failed to pierce her side.

    Round she turned, her stolen sword meeting his as he raised it. Unnerved, she fought, swords clashed as she forced him down. Not able to watch his step he stumbled, and she drove the blade into his chest. No time to urge his soul to the right place she said a silent prayer, and moved on. In the distance - from below - she heard shouting. No matter - if they tried to corner her - she would get what she came for and that would change everything. Gaining the top of the tower, she found a door blocked her path.

    The oak door was heavy, and strong - if she needed to break it down, it would take hours. However, something told her it would not be locked. Easing the handle down, she heard a click. She pushed the door wide, on its creaking hinges. “Enter,” a voice said.

    Come in, and put down your weapons.” Obeying - there was no influence used, it was a polite request - she lay the sword on the floor and entered. “My dear,” the old woman said, from her bed. “Please, close and bolt the door - they will not trust me alone with you for long. Ending here, with you, is how it needs to be. They have imprisoned me, tortured me and weakened my influence - although not as much as they thought. I was able to fool them. They thought me broken. I was hardly even bent. Open that box - that which you seek is within.” Not wanting to be offend the old woman - her old teacher - by hesitation, she opened the box. She took out the papers from within.

    You will find the spell within those pages,” the old woman said. “Oh, they have looked, and thought it just a collection of words - just a story they said. Unfortunately for them, they did not look closely - they did not see what is obvious to those who know what to look for.”

    As she listened to her old teacher, she looked through the pages. Reading them - at least at first glance - one would not see the hidden incantation. Even if the word “spell” gave them the clue they needed.

    As she mentally blocked out all letters on the page - all but the first one of each sentence - the spell became visible to her. Page after page, she absorbed the spell. Preparing to pronounce the first word, she heard footsteps on the stone stairs - many of them. Reclining in the bed, the old woman smiled and prepared her influence. Each had their part to play in this ending. Crashing noises were heard as the influence turned guard against guard. Ignoring the carnage, outside, she began speaking the words . A cloud formed around her. The cloud began to swirl, and a noise - sounding like like so many chuckling children - began to build in intensity. Each word increased the power in the room, and she knew that neither of them would survive. Dying, to save a people - to save the world - was a small price to pay.
  3. dbesim

    dbesim Contributing Member

    Mar 28, 2014
    Likes Received:
    London, UK
    The Paper (1, 176)

    "And what is your name, madam?"

    The girl sits on the wooden stool - the only seat available - within the small, mystical room. Incense sticks burn as the girl turns her nose up at the exotic-smelling aroma, finding it a tad too strong for her liking. The psychic gypsy across her has her head tilted up expectantly; her wild, black hair cascading around her shoulders as her striking deep blue eyes stare back at the girl, still awaiting the reply.

    'Liz,' replies the girl.

    'Ah...' the psychic breathes. 'Wait a minute.' She stares at the crystal ball in front of her, waving her arms around it and her glare penetrates into it. 'I do see something... yes...'

    Liz licks her lips, 'What's that?'

    'Terrible! Something truly terrible.' Liz raises an eyebrow in bemusement, half believing the vision the psychic has just seen. 'What is it?'

    'Give me your palms too, my dear,' she says. 'We must be sure.' Liz thrusts forward her hands, her eyes darting back and forth between her palms and the psychic concentrating. 'Terrible! Just terrible' Cries the gypsy. She shakes her head, making her hooped earrings dart back and forth. 'However,' she says. She stares into Liz's slightly frightened eyes. 'Something can be done about this. Don't worry too much, I will do my best to protect you from this happening.'

    'What's happening?' asks Liz.

    The gypsy taps her nose, 'I'm sorry,' she says, 'I cannot tell you but you must have faith in my vision. This is what you must do..' She waves her palm over the crystal ball which suddenly opens up from the top and a gust of fresh smoke rises out of it. The gypsy puts her hand into it and takes out a scrap of paper. 'This..' she says, 'This is what will protect you!'


    'Listen dear, heed carefully these instructions. It is your only chance to safety. Now I give you this scrap of paper and you keep it somewhere safe. Never lose it. But you must not open and read the paper until 4pm tomorrow afternoon. Do you understand? 4pm tomorrow afternoon.'

    'Sure,' Liz says. 'I'll try not to.' She takes the paper from the gypsy's hand.

    Until 4pm tomorrow afternoon.

    'Ok, thank you.... for.... um... whatever this is.'

    The psychic waves her hand. 'Sure, no problem - Next please!'

    Liz leaves the room as another two girls enter the psychic's abode.

    'Hello, my dears. We only have one stool so the one who wants their reading done may take a seat.' A girl with chestnut coloured hair sits down and rolls her eyes at her friend.

    'And your name is, madam?'

    'Beth,' says the girl.

    'And that is short for Elizabeth?' 'Yes.' The gypsy gasps, 'Oh no...' She says. 'Is there a problem?' Asks Beth. The room is silent. Beth's friend rolls her eyes. 'Listen carefully,' says the gypsy. 'Something awful will happen to you today. You must follow these instructions in order to be safe.' The gypsy's crystal ball opens up letting out a puff of fresh smoke. She takes a paper out of it and gives it to Beth. 'You must not read the contents of this paper until precisely 4pm tomorrow afternoon, understand? Keep the paper safe until then. Now I'm done - ' With a commanding hand, she waves off the two girls, and they realise they are being instructed out of the room.

    'Is that it?' Asks Beth, putting the paper into her handbag. The gypsy responds with silence and the girls both reluctantly leave the woman and her strange little room.

    Liz strolls out into the city roads taking gulping breaths of air, glad to be rid of the aromatic incense smells that confined her to the psychic's room, very conscious of the crumpled piece of paper in her trouser pocket and curious of its contents, she taps her pocket. Gazing at the dresses by the window of the shops on the high street, she thinks about the psychic's instructions, battling her curiosity to stop her from opening the piece of paper before tomorrow at 4pm. She wants so much to pick out the piece of paper, forget about the orders and read it. Yet the psychic said it's supposed to protect her. Everything about it just didn't make sense. Was it something to do with her palms? The crystal ball? Or a reading of her name? Liz taps the paper in her pocket.

    As Beth and her friend come out of the psychic's room, Mel rolls her eyes about the hundredth time.

    'You don't seriously believe what she said, do you?'

    'She said something awful's gonna happen. This scrap of paper's supposed to protect me.'

    'She probably sells that sh*t to everyone.'

    'There's something about it.'


    The girls come across the kerb and wait for the oncoming cars to pass the street so that they can cross the road. The lights take a while to turn.

    'Oh, come on, don't you want to know what the paper says?' There's a challenging twinkle in Mel's eyes. Beth digs into her bag and pulls out the paper. The traffic lights turn colour. She unfolds the paper and reads:

    Careful. Pay

    Attention. Be


    As she reads the paper she notices the traffic lights change colour and she subconsciously steps onto the road, failing to hear Mel call, 'Car!' Beth is still too distracted to hear the loud hooting of the car speeding at 70mph, which drives into her very suddenly and kills her instantly.

    Liz makes her way out of the city park, her curiosity still getting the better of her as she feels the crumpled paper that resides in her pocket.

    Until 4pm tomorrow.

    Liz waits at a kerb to cross the road. The lights turn colour and Liz thinks it's her queue to cross. However, someone from behind shouts, 'Car!' And only then does Liz notice the obstacle that has just crossed the light at red. Liz turns around hoping to thank the person behind her.

    'Don't worry about it,' he says. 'Keep safe.'

    Liz takes a leisurely stroll toward home and forgets about it all. It's been a long day. She makes herself a cup of coffee and opens the television. There's been a road accident not far from where she lives. Oh, how awful! She thinks about the crash she could have been a victim of and sighs. Phew.

    Liz gets ready for a shower and a good long soak in the tub. She lights the scented candles around the bath and inhales. After a satisfying soak she gets ready for bed. She awakens late in the afternoon the next day. She wears a new sweater and the same trousers she wore the day before, forgetting about the crumpled paper until after 4pm. She takes it out carefully. 'This was supposed to protect me,' she thinks, and reads:

    Careful. Pay

    Attention. Be


    'What a lot of b*llshit!' She throws the useless scrap of paper into the trash.
  4. Wayjor Frippery

    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

    Feb 24, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Tranquility Base
    Minghy and Moo and the Pleading Acrostic [1385 words]

    Minghy’s green little gnome fingers danced over the printing press. Words flowed like water from a broken dam, which was fine if you were thirsty but terrible if your house was in the valley.

    ‘I heard that!’ Minghy cried. ‘Keep your authorial voice out of this. I’m busy!’

    Fine, typed the author, but you won’t get far without me.

    Minghy ignored this and carried on setting letters on the press. She was enjoying herself. The sun was shining, the valley was lush, the words were good, and she secretly didn’t mind the author’s presence. Some of the other gnomes pretended the author didn’t exist, that all the words were their own, but Minghy didn’t. Really, she didn’t.

    Minghy raised an eyebrow, said nothing, fingers and type a blur.

    Moo, the foreman, lumbered into the story space. Sweat speckled his high green brow and fishy odours leaked from his armpits.

    Minghy mumbled, ‘Author, give me strength!’

    Now now, Minghy, none of that. Today you’ll work with Moo. You have clashing personalities. It’ll make good conflict. Trust me.

    Minghy pursed her lips and concentrated on the type. She took out an F and a U.

    Moo’s odour engulfed her.

    ‘’Ello Minghy, darlin’. How be you today?’ He didn’t wait for an answer. ‘There’s a new competition. Theme’s “Acrostic”. Sounds pretentious to me. Author’s gettin’ delusions of grandeur.’ He paused and looked at the sky. No thunderbolt came. Moo grinned open-mouthed. Smells of stale egg and bile mingled with the wafting fish.

    ‘Look it up in the dictionarium, eh, Minghy?’ Moo scratched his groin. ‘”Acrostic” Whatever next? It’s a writing forum not a bleedin’ university. Author’ll be tryin’ poetry next. Then where will we be? Eh?’

    Minghy thought poetry was nice. Some of it, anyway. She wasn’t sure about the existential stuff, but a good rhyme made her laugh.

    The dictionarium sat on its alter above the presses, vellum pages glossy from use. Minghy rifled the A’s until she found ‘Acrostic’.

    ‘It says an acrostic is a poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words.’

    ‘Well,’ said Moo. He scratched an armpit, smelled his fingers. ‘Best get on with it, s’pose.’

    ‘Structure?’ said Minghy, hopefully.

    ‘Same as always, Minghy girl. Author only knows one. That rubbish from Save the Cat – three acts, fifteen beats. It’s all we’ve got to work with, me darlin’’.

    Minghy wove her fingers together. Her fingertips were black with ink.

    ‘Opening image,’ said Moo, using his conference voice, ‘what’ll it be?’

    Minghy held her stubby hands above the letter cases, ready to feed the press.

    Ideas began form.

    (God, this is painful.)

    ‘Opening image,’ said Minghy, eyes squeezed shut. Her fingers began to fly. ‘It’s a man. A man reading a newspaper.’

    Moo belched. ‘Acrostic! Not crossword, girl!’ He wiped away the spittle with the back of his hand.

    ‘But the man is thinking about acrostics. He’s going to write one. Write one for… for… for his wife!’

    ‘Like it. Go on. Theme stated and set-up next, then catalyst.’

    ‘Theme is… lost love! Set-up is man alone, wife estranged. Catalyst is his idea to write to her, inspired by the crossword.’ Minghy bounced with happiness.


    ‘Can he do it… write it? Does he have it in him? Where will he put the hidden message?’

    Moo scowled. Deep thought ensued, and more smelling of fingers.

    ‘At the end,’ he said. ‘Last lines, first letter of each line. Keep it simple. Don’t want to stretch the author too much. Author’s got things to do beside write, you know?’

    ‘Things that aren’t writing?’ Minghy felt a tingle down her spine. ‘That doesn’t sound nice. How does it work?’

    ‘Never mind. I’ve got no idea. What’s next?’

    ‘Break into Two. Umm… the man looks at a photo of his wife. His feelings can’t be denied.’

    ‘Like it. Like it’

    ‘B Story…’



    Moo scraped something yellow from a molar at the back of his mouth, interrogated it under his fingernail. ‘That’s right, Minghy girl, a man and his cupcakes. You can’t beat a good love story.’

    Minghy let her eyebrows settle back from where they had fled. ‘Fine. Cupcakes. We’ll work on the B Story after.’

    Moo nodded his approval.

    ‘Fun and Games now,’ said Minghy.

    ‘Well, that’s easy, that is. Fun and Games is Mr Man making up the acrostic. Like I said, it should go at the end. Last fifteen lines sounds about right to me, first letter of each line. Can’t go wrong with the last fifteen lines, mark my words.’

    ‘You didn’t know what an acrostic was two minutes ago.’

    ‘What was that?’

    Minghy concentrated on the type. Ink was running down the backs of her hands. It felt good.

    ‘Nothing,’ she said, shyly. ‘Midpoint?’

    ‘Yeah. Midpoint next. We’re nailin’ this, my girl.’

    ‘False victory?’

    ‘Yeah. We don’t want to tax the author too much.’

    I heard that.

    Moo ducked and covered his head with calloused hands. Oddly, no thunderbolt came.

    Minghy stifled a giggle.

    ‘What happens next?’ she asked.

    Moo relaxed, let his hands fall onto the crest of his belly. ‘We ought to think about the cupcakes.’

    ‘Maybe,’ said Minghy, ‘or the man’s wife. We should give her a story too.’

    ‘Yeah. Probably should.’

    Minghy stopped moving the type. She stared at the glistening ink. ‘Oh no. We’ve got a problem, Moo. We’ve made a mistake.’

    ‘What problem?’

    Minghy put an inky finger to her lips and spoke against it: ‘The man is on his own. There’s no conflict. We need another character in the room with him.’

    Moo screwed up his face. ‘Ah, but that’ll mean all kinds of extra work.’

    ‘But we’ll have no story otherwise.’

    Moo folded his arms across his undulant chest. His green nipples, darker than his skin, stuck out like siege cannons ready to assault Minghy’s walls.

    ‘Bah! I give up. I’m goin’ for a cuppa. You finish up, Minghy. You’re good at this kind of thing.’

    Minghy watched Moo leave. Then she walked away from her press and sat on the grass. The sun was warm against her neck and the air was cheeky. She played with the grass, let it weave between her fingers, let the ink stain it black.

    ‘Author? You don’t know where you’re going with this, do you?’


    ‘Come on. You can tell me.’

    All right then. No, I don’t. I have no idea. What are you supposed to do with ‘Acrostic’?

    Minghy thought about this for a while.

    The author waited. Quietly. In a place where the sun wasn’t shining.

    ‘If I think of something,’ said Minghy, at length, ‘will you let me write more things. On my own, I mean?’

    Yes, if you like. It would certainly give me more time. For housework and things.

    ‘Shake on it?’


    The sky split open and Minghy glimpsed the beyond. The author’s hand reached down. Minghy shook the tip of one of its a fingers.

    ‘Right,’ she said and marched back to her press. ‘Moo! Come over here, Moo!’

    Moo came shuffling out of the tea shed, a biscuit-crumb plague on his chin.

    ‘What? What’s it about? What be you wantin’?’

    ‘The author’s given me freedom.’

    ‘Is that so, my girl?’

    ‘It is.’

    Minghy coughed. It sounded like ‘Acrostic.’

    Very well,’ said Moo. ‘You got a plan?’

    Oh, a plan? It was more of a thought, really.’

    Tell me.’

    Erm…’ said Minghy, absently, lost in the enormity of future possibilities.

    For heaven’s sake! Thought or plan or passin’ notion, you need somethin’. Tell me!’

    Okay, Moo, calm yourself. You’ll blow a nodule if you’re not careful.’

    Really? Now you’re giving me advice? A press girl to the foreman?’

    Me? No.You know me, Moo. I wouldn’t do that. But I think you’re not my boss, Moo, not any more.’

    Every time! I knew it! Author gets tired and emancipates a gnome. A press girl an’ all! Gawd help me!’

    Perhaps Minghy threw off the yoke.

    Later, perhaps, she wrote about love and loss and all the sweet things that so really matter – even acrostics.

    Endings are hard. All writers know that.

    And Minghy was nothing if not a writer.

    So it was happy ever after when she got to the finish.

    Ending her story in an ink-blur of type.
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  5. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 11, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Betty Baxter, and the Encounter (659)

    "We work fourteen hours, and what do they do?" Betty poked along the metal hallway, humming her favorite oldie, hands in her jumpsuit pockets. It had been a long day repairing space doors, but the whistle had finally blown, and the airlocks tightened. Time for some R&R.

    "Hello." The voice that cut the silence was normal. Eerily so. Betty turned to face the wall the voice had come from. She found herself looking at nothing but titanium plating and a few wires.

    "Er... Evening." She replied to the nothingness.

    "Ever find your mug?" The voice was to her left, behind her. Betty turned towards the voice. The hallway behind her was empty. She strained her eyes to look down the length of the hallway, realizing something as she squinted. The corridor was longer than it should have been, stretching far beyond the actual width of the ship.

    "Little mistakes-" At the sound of the voice, Betty spun around and engaged in an exaggerated martial arts stance. She found herself face to face with an ordinary man in a grey jumpsuit. "-...Are sometimes the most damaging..." He looked at her like she was crazy. "...Are you okay?"

    "Absolutely!" Betty blurted, not changing her stance. "Just hanging out... you know... heading to my room..." Betty slowly shifted out of her dramatic pose. She looked the stranger up and down. His sudden presence felt odd to her. Where did he come from?

    "Loitering before you visit your friend." The man said. "Thinking about what to say." The man smiled. "Getting ready."

    "Ready?" Betty shook her head. "What do you mean?"

    "Have you ever been afraid of him?"

    "Every day..." Betty felt her eyes widen at her odd response. "What?! No, I-" The man took a step towards Betty. Her hand shot out, and her heart fluttered. As she punched him, her hand disappeared into the fleshy goo that was his jumpsuit, body, and soul.

    "Don't come any closer!" Betty said, turning around and running the way she had come. The break room wasn't far.

    "Ask him if he wants to have you." The voice was right over her shoulder, the breath hot on her neck.

    "Oh no you don't!" Betty turned around to face this harasser, enraged and terrified at his presence. Her throat felt dry, her forehead moist. The hallway was empty again.

    "Stop running." At the sound of his voice behind her, she spun around and grabbed him. He melted in her hands, blood and gore sloughing off in her fingers, dripping and globing on the floor.

    "Obviously a prank!" She blabbed, laughing crazily at the pile of gore at her feet. "You're not real!"

    "Come with me." The puddle spoke, the pile warping and opening in a horrid mouth and tongue as it invited her to hell.

    "Mother lover!" Betty jerked around and sprinted down the hallway, but it was twisting. The right wall rose up above her, the left one settling slowly beneath her feet as she stumbled to keep her footing.

    "Open wide!" The voice had changed, as moist gore slapped against her back and neck

    "Even this feels real!" Betty fell on her hands and knees as the remains of the man shifted and twisted around her body, tangling with her hair, fingers, and ribs.

    "Man, it sure does." The voice was inside her now, vibrating her chest cavity as she spoke.

    "Don't break character, it takes me out of the-"

    "Epic, Betty!" The voice blabs stupidly. "I can feel your spleen!"


    I rip off the Omnisensor Sensory helmet and glare at Jethro, the big doof floating in the corner of our room, his mouth open and his hands out like a dork.

    "Don't use my name." I gripe at him. "It ruins the immersion!"

    "I am a flesh being..." Jethro is still in the trance, his own helmet still wrapped around his head. "... Sloughing and slogging through your skin."

    The End
  6. Adam Jump

    Adam Jump Member

    May 17, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Ellipsis (1,043 words)

    reary eyed and in-cased in rust, his knees, hips and ankles shatter and stagger down the urine stained stairwell; his bloody knuckles scraping against the unapologetic concrete walls as he misses the handrail. Of course, it is well past midday and Eli is well overdue a shower as the wretched stench of piss which reigns in the tower block is usurped by the even pissier, more odorous stink of his unwashed body and clothes. Tempted out of his own cesspool only as the shattered shards of his last bottle of vodka sink to the bottom of a slimy kitchen basin; cider cans strewn around the floor like leaves which autumn left behind.

    Deserted in the corner of the room he has left behind, a dog collar hangs with only an absent sense of sorrow as a companion alongside it, the only companionship left since the collar lost its wearer and Eli lost his dearest friend. Out in the daylight now, escaping the shadow of the of the tower block, Eli shuffles his way into the precinct without his usual walking mate; a grimacing perimeter of empty space follows him as the gazes and noses of passers-by give a wide berth. Two paths confront him as he reaches the centre of town; it is not the crossroad which momentarily breaks Eli from his dazed oblivion but a boisterous black dog which comes closer than any human dare to go, sniffing the air and releasing a choked bark.

    Dragging his feet together and steadying himself, Eli pauses. Only the dog doesn’t retreat from Eli; a familiar gaze drew him into the canine’s eternally glossy black eyes, as if they had a connection absent from Eli and other humans. Timidly, it is Eli who makes the next move.

    “What’s his name?” he croaks; his yellowy eyes widening as he extends a hand toward the muzzle; but the dog is tugged away and silence falls around Eli once again.

    Derailed from his journey, the dilemma of which route to take now faces him; the betting shop gnarls aloud to his left whilst to his right the grocery store stands silently with a judgmental gaze. Only two quid in shrapnel and a screwed up fiver squirm around in the pocket of his stained jogging bottoms. Two quid in shrapnel could soon be four, and four quid can buy a pack of strong lager, Eli thinks to himself.

    Dry mouthed with a pounding head, the thought of a drink breaks Eli out in salivation, a hangdog look takes over his face. Only the rumbling of his shriveled stomach leaves cause for deliberation. Twisting to the left Eli tangles his feet and trips heavily toward the floor.

    Desperately flailing, like a salmon splashing and spinning away from the jaws of a grizzly bear, Eli thrashes around until he is on his knees staring at the betting shop; his jogging bottoms now torn enough to release a plume of more pungent pong. Oblong bricks scuffed with his knee blood guide the way; a blurry figure beckons him from the doorway. The strength in his legs is barely enough to allow Eli to haul himself from the rubble pile of his collapsed body; straggling his way precariously toward the door, the figure vociferously guides him in.

    ‘Back again Eli? Where the fuck have you been? I was getting worried you lazy bastard, you almost missed 2:30 race. Get your arse in gear and get your money down lad!’ Comes the rusty, swollen throated voice of a heavily bearded bloke; Eli doesn’t speak a word in reply, just proffers a defeated, sorrowing glance as he enters with his seven quid in cash.

    Dragging the door open is harder work on the way out of the betting shop than it was on the way in for Eli. Obvious to everyone but Eli only 20 minutes earlier, the shrapnel in his pocket is now gone; the fiver no longer crumpled and filled with quiet hope but replaced with a one pound coin and a fifty pence piece. Two quid would have been enough for two lagers, now Eli must contemplate his next move.

    Desperate and sobering by the minute, he heads back in the direction he came; a smug sense of self-righteous snobbery bellowing out of the betting shop, now five pounds and fifty pence richer. On his way Eli stops in a not so quiet corner to vomit, his head now throbbing uncontrollably. Tracing his steps back, the Off-License is in view now, only a dozen paces away.

    Drink of any kind will nurse his head, and relieve his stomach of cramp. One more effort from his skeletal legs and Eli is at the door, not nimble enough to chance a smash and grab raid of the Off-License he ponders his strategy; perhaps concealing a small vodka bottle under his shirt is a wiser move? Trembling and terrified he reaches for the door.

    ‘Reverend? Revered Eli is that you?’ Murmurs a sweet, feminine voice. ‘I thought it was you Father, although I struggled to recognise you under all that hair and with you not wearing your dog collar; here take this,’ she continues, offering a pristine looking fiver. Eli snatches it and scrunches it into his pocket; only able to make out the blurry silhouette of a blonde haired woman, the voice may be familiar but he doesn’t seem sure. ‘I was sorry to hear about your wife passing, Father. She was a wonderful woman, and it may seem cruel that she died so suddenly at the hands of that car accident. God has a plan for her Father, she is with him now, it was her time,’ she continues.

    ‘God can go fuck himself.’ Says Eli.

    Dismissing the betting shop, the new five pound note, the pound coin and the fifty pence piece, Eli stumbles slowly back to his tower block. On the fifth floor he walks past his yellowish front door and continues up the piss stained stairwell; almost losing his footing as he sends an empty bottle of vodka shattering back down the concrete stairs. Trudging through the fire escape, he approaches the ledge of the roof void of apprehension; in the distance he can see a church spire.
  7. rem

    rem Member

    Jul 9, 2013
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    Shakespeare's Secret (632 words)

    If you're into acrostics, Herbert is your man. Last spring he bubbled with excitement because he'd found hidden clues in Shakespeare's plays. Clues that would lead us to a buried treasure. One thing led to another and there we were in the middle of the woods with two brand new metal detectors. We found nothing, but when I got home I found a fat bill in my mailbox. He had bought both detectors in my name.

    So when the phone rang this morning, I knew why.
    “Michael, you're my hero!”, he said.
    “I take it you got my letter?”, I said.
    “I memorized it and burned it”, he said.
    “So, what do you think?”, I said.
    “Forget about the treasure! We'll find Shakespeare's true identity before the week's over!”, he said.
    “A whole week? The buried chest is supposed to be in Warwickshire, I think the old documents will be in our hands right away”, I said.
    “I told my boss I broke my pelvis. Bring the detectors, we're going to the woods for a week!”, he said.
    And off we went.

    The sun burned and the mosquitos bit. We were out in the woods again.
    “Last time, that was much ado about nothing”, I said.
    “Just bad luck!”, Herbert said.
    “And it was bad luck I got the bill?”, I said.
    “Erhm, yeah!”, he said.
    “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none, Herbert”, I said.
    “Oh, shut your yap, Michael!”, he said.

    Herbert's bright ideas didn't come as single spies, but in battalions. But this time it was my turn to launch a counteroffensive.
    “Maybe this is futile, Herbert, maybe Shakespeare was just Shakespeare”, I said.
    “Not possible! A commoner couldn't have written such plays!”, he said.
    “Sure?”, I said.
    “He was a nobleman, and that nobleman was Francis Bacon. We just need proof!”, he said.
    “Yes, you're right, but if we find the documents alone, no-one would believe us?”, I said.
    “Good thinking, Michael, I'll call my girl at the newspaper. Give me your phone!”, he said.

    The hours passed, but Herbert was still giddy with excitement and moving his metal detector around like a lightsaber. All of the sudden the local journalist showed up. Herbert knew her very well.
    “So what are you up to, boys?”
    “Makin' history”, Herbert said.
    “So I haven't come in vain”, she said, and added “either way this is going online, I've brought my video camera and my boss was a hard bargain.”

    She put her camera on a tripod, laid a picnic blanket on the heather and sat down to watch. She'd eaten half her sandwich when Herbert's metal detector beeped for the first time. It beeped faster and faster and a minute later his shovel was in the ground. He found it. He found the chest I buried yesterday. Herbert was beaming; he gave himself a round of applause. He jumped up, slapped his hands together and whistled through his teeth. He looked like human fireworks.

    If it was one thing Herbert was good at, it was stealing credit for other people's work. So I knew I was in the clear as long as I kept out of view. The camera was rolling and Herbert was on fire. He wanted to stretch this moment. Before actually opening the chest, he bragged about his acrostic skills, how he had a pint of noble blood in his veins, and I guess the journalist wanted to cut to the chase when she interrupted and said “Tell us more about this chest.” “It's been buried for hundreds of years. In it lies sensational documents. In it lies definite proof that Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare. In it lies Shakespeare's secret.”

    Herbert got the chest open in no-time, held the document high and the journalist zoomed in.

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