Tuesday, August 20, 2013

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #7



Welcome back to another week of super fun stories! I'm so excited to see what you all come up with! If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

Rules:
1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted


Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Nick Johns also known as @nickjohns999. Go check out his blog here. Read his winning tale from last week here!

Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #7 is:


[She] was the most beautiful [woman] I had never met.


 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:


Include the words:
Academy
clandestine
nebulous


 AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!

45 comments:

  1. "Eye of the Beholder"
    by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
    [500 words, special challenge accepted, in one sentence. Word!]

    She was the most beautiful woman I had never met. It sickened me to think that somewhere a model had lost income because a painter had ( I retched) used his imagination. However, the idea of the Academy of Art being the clandestine home of Impressionism was nebulous at best. A long shot admittedly, but years as a police artist had taught me to leave no stone un-Turnered.

    It had been bad enough rooting out the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood from the Academy, but the PRB were nothing to the militancy of the Impressionists. Their militant wing, the Post-Impressionists, or Poster Boys as they were known, didn't even use real colours in their daubed protests. Thank the Gods for digital media and the return to Realism.

    The porter greeted me with the usual disdain, but my aesthetically heightened senses raised the alarm. He had Rose Madder under a fingernail. I nonchalantly turned my back, preparing for him to attack, drawing a pallet knife from my boot. When the porter jumped me I wasn't as ready as I thought. He was heavier than he looked, and I had to smash his fist three times before he dropped his weapon. He sank to the floor panting, while I picked up the pencil he had tried to stab me with.

    "This is a 2H! You sick bastard…" I couldn't resist a swift kick to his ribs before my partner cuffed him. It was pleasing to see her roughly shove him into the waiting police car.

    I took a look behind the reception desk. There it was. All lines and smears of oil paint. It was only the man's strong cologne that had masked the Linseed smell. That had been close. I grabbed the canvas and headed for the vehicle.

    "What IS this?" I spat, "You call this 'Art' do you?"

    He sneered across at me. "It's in the eye of the beholder. I've done nothing wrong. I've got artistic licence." Forgetting he was cuffed to the seat, the porter tried to reach for his breast pocket. Trying must have hurt, as he winced when the chain snapped taut. He must have broken a rib. I made a note to make sure I recorded his 'fall' in the arrest record.

    As I reached to retrieve what was I his shirt, I made sure to lean on his bruised chest. He whimpered. "Who are you working for, Sam?" The man started in surprise, forgetting he had a name badge on his jacket. "You're not PRB, and far too weak to be a Poster Boy."

    " I am not telling you a thing, you sellout. Since you went 'commercial' you wouldn't understand."

    I opened Sam's battered Identification Card gingerly. "This is a Poetic Licence, and that…" I shook the painting. "…ain't no prose."

    "Isn't… That ISN'T prose. A 'double negative' Detective? I trust your papers are in order?"

    I had to admit, he had me there. I sighed. "It's worse than I thought, boys. He's a writer!"

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Typo: "I his shirt" should be "in his shirt"

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    2. Once again, that last line got me. Well done!

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    3. I love this perspective of the Academy of Art fighting off the Pre-Raphaelites and the Impressionists.

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    4. Mike
      I loved the humour in this piece, particularly the puns & word play ‘...no stone un-Turnered’. The war between the artistic styles lit the tale up. The final line ties the story up beautifully. Using the challenge prompts in one sentence is just showing off! :-)

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    5. Trying to imagine all the challenge words in one sentence was what inspired the whole story. I've done that a couple of times, not to show off per se, but to get ideas flowing.

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  2. Rachel was the most beautiful woman I had never met. To hear Adam tell it, she outshone the stars in the sky and transcended time and space. But the three days we’d spent in the waters of the south Pacific after our boat had been torpedoed ruined it, and now it was just a mess of light and shadow in a vaguely humanoid shape. I envied Adam, having someone waiting back at home. I didn’t. My mom had died when I was born, and my dad didn’t care about me any more than I cared about him, and just as soon as the cops wouldn’t hassle either of us, I was gone. And then the war, and the draft, and the Navy.

    Adam talked endlessly about Rachel. They’d grown up together in Brooklyn, and he had thousands of tales. For the days we spent in the water, and then the weeks we spent on that rock someone probably laughingly called an island, he built their world for me, spinning a reality I could never have imagined, and which he never asked about. I could see his mother’s kitchen, could smell the kreplach cooking on the stove. I could hear her father’s workshop, and feel the strength in his hands as he welcomed visitors to his home. But most of all, I could see Rachel. The photograph was nothing but a vague memory, but through his stories, she came alive to me – the third person on our rock.

    We survived on raw fish and seaweed – if the damned Japanese could do it, so could we – but we didn’t do very well. I was weak; Adam was sick. Something was eating him from the inside out, and the only thing sustaining him was Rachel. As ill as he got, he never stopped smiling when he talked about her.

    I didn’t fall in love with her – that would have been unthinkable, like falling in love with your brother’s wife. But I sure loved her. The strength which he drew from her, half a world away, was a connection to a human I didn’t know was possible.

    From the day he had gotten sick, it was inevitable that he wouldn’t make it without rescue. There were no last-minute gasping declarations, like you see in the movies. He was just gone when I woke up one morning. I put her faded picture in his hands and rolled him off to the deepest part of the water around our rock.

    I thought about looking her up when I got back to the states, but she wasn’t my girl. The Navy would have delivered the telegram, and she would have grieved. I didn’t need to mess with that. But she was with me when I met Carol, supported me when I doubted that I could love. And she’s with me now as I slip into my own deep water. I love my wife, but Rachel truly outshone the stars.

    492 words
    @drmagoo

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    1. The third sentence should read:
      "But the three days we’d spent in the waters of the south Pacific after our boat had been torpedoed ruined the picture he'd kept in his breast pocket, and now it was just a mess of light and shadow in a vaguely humanoid shape."

      499 words

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    2. Reminiscent of Tom Hanks' "Cast Away"

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    3. This is a powerful, moving, poignant ‘slice of life’ flash fiction. All elements of the story are strong. Plot, character, location, conflict, resolution and a sense of change are all present in abundance. You truly made the unseen girl a very real presence – a character in the story. The final paragraph not only resolves the tale brilliantly, but it takes it to a different place and adds real resonance and depth.

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  3. The Invisible Someone
    Emelden was the most beautiful woman Riduen would never see. Why the villains had turned against her, were seeking her out to destroy her, was beyond him. Whatever the reason, the Academy had charged him and two other heroes with the task of guarding her. Before they could do that, they had to find her.
    Emelden existed on Earth's realm as an ethereal entity, nebulous at best. They called her the Invisible Woman. Riduen's sight had dimmed as his ability as a seer had grown. Now fully grown, he was blind, but his new vision would enable him to see the Invisible Woman. He only needed to be close enough. Isur and Idanu, elven brothers with uncanny tracking abilities, would bring him to her.
    The Academy had given them her last known coordinates, a secluded island with an active volcano. The heroes had no way of knowing what powers the clandestine group of villains possessed. Riduen worried that the villains would get to her before they did. One way or another, the three heroes were in for an adventure. Once again, Riduen wondered why the Academy would bother saving one villain from the rest.
    Over the noise of the helicopter, Riduen could hear the volcano, feel waves of heat radiating from it. He saw a vision of molten lava escaping into the sky and running down the sides. “Isur, circle the perimeter of the island. She'll no doubt be as close to the water as possible, if not in it. Idanu, come on this side, by me. Search the water's edge. Let me know the second you have her.”
    The chopper began it's circuit on the western side of the island, with the sun on the other side of the enraged volcano. Almost immediately, Idanu gripped his arm, sharing a vision of a spot in the water just off the shore, “There!”
    “Isur, get me closer to her, over the water.” Isur brought the chopper around so Riduen could dive in. Flying fifty feet above the water's surface, the blades hit something invisible, but solid until rent. Blood sprayed through the air, the chopper was sent into a spin.
    The three heroes dove into the water and swam for the shore. Lava was no longer flowing freely from the volcano. That which had reached the now pitching sea was hardening in the crimson waters. The volcanic eruption was the least of their worries. The heroes had injured what they were sent to protect.
    A violet voice that sounded like a thousand souls moaning sang out far above them, above the drops of blood that were raining down around them. “Heroes of the Eurus Academy of Nobility, I am Emelden, daughter of the Amazonian Titan Asteria.” Her voice changed to a silvery amused tone, “I gather you were uninformed of my size?”
    The three heroes stood staring at what could not be clearly seen. Riduen found his manners, and made a semblance of a bow in the water before her.

    @West1Jess
    Word Count: 499
    Special Challenge: Accepted

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    1. Giving credit where credit is due, I'd like to mention that the idea of experiencing a voice as a color came from my good friend Rachael Spellman. Synesthesia is an actual condition where sensory perceptions are combined to define the world around synesthetes. A real life super power, if you ask me. :D

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    2. I like the idea of invisible beauty.

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    3. Jessica, I found this story’s central device, of transmuting the perception and senses of characters, really interesting. There is a good sense of backstory that gives the tale a feeling of a world behind it. The end didn’t quite feel like a full resolution to me, but it certainly left me wanting to find out what would happen next.

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    4. Thanks for taking the time to offer constructive criticism. It's encouraging and extremely helpful. Thanks for reading, Beth, and for your reply.

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  4. Penname24@gmail.com - 444 words.

    Woman

    She was the most beautiful woman I had never met. A dazzling display of deliberate elegance, her grandeur literally levitated her above the pavement as she stood in the square.

    Her altitude marked her as one of the yren, a physical embodiment of a higher consciousness. The most intelligent of us have been experimenting with genetic creation and modification for centuries and the yren stand at the pinnacle of their efforts. Higher virtues and vices were thought before to be mere ideas, but have now been discovered to have form, albeit of a transitory nature. The triberat, a human council with genetically engineered minds, sought the genesis of the yren as a ying to their highly scientific and logical yang rule.

    Though the yren could be incarnated into cloned physicality, their nature prohibited them from being confined to the triberat's marbled pyramids as display pieces or curiosities to be shown off at their deluxe galas. They enclosed their first successful yren iteration in their largest bioscience structure and allowed her free access within, but bared her from the populace. Honesty spent three weeks searching for a way out and died of undetermined causes. It was the same with all their subsequent yren until they let them free. The attributes' universality required their free reign and when the triberat released them, the yren flourished.

    This one was a marvel. She glistened and shone in the midday heat and her very presence radiated some sort of comfort or humble gentleness or acceptance that appealed to me. It was hard to tell the feelings that yren conjured in humans. It was different for each.

    Her delicate feet in well-worn sandals hovered about two feet off the sandy cobblestones and she called out to the young to come and listen, “How long will you revel in lies? How long will you love simplicity and shun me? Come and call me your sister and you will be my brother, for with me are prudence and council and judgement.”

    I almost knew her. Then I turned aside and walked away.

    As twilight crept over the city, I turned a corner and another yren stepped out. She was also beautiful though very different. Her hair was brown and fell upon her shoulders alluringly, and her eyes caught mine in one full look that promised the world and the next beyond that. With a swish of her turquoise dress she caught my hand and I tumbled along the road with her.

    “Come with me,” she whisped, “for I have searched for you long and within my grand hall is no folly.”

    Her practiced words tilted my feet more purposefully and I followed.

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    1. I found myself being drawn into this tale, with its mysterious, ethereal inhabitants. I also loved that your original vocabulary flowed and worked well in context – particularly that the protagonist’s siren ‘whisped’ to him.

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  5. "whisped" is not a typo.

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  6. "The Ruin of AX520"
    Beth Avery @violetgrendel
    Word Count: 500
    Special challenge accepted

    She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, but at the Academy she was called “The Beast.” You’d think a name like that would be tacked on to someone with a nasty temper, but that’s not how it started at all. It started when she discovered that the AX520 was dangerous.

    The AX520 was the big money maker. The University had been receiving substantial grants for the mutated gene for two decades. While the geneticists were always a bit vague on what AX520 was supposed to do, Dr. Kern was very good at convincing donors that it was going to do something spectacular. It wouldn’t cure cancer, but it might just end world hunger…or something like that. His brilliance was so reknowned that anyone who accused his data of being nebulous and poorly documented was scathingly dismissed as either too dense or too jealous to acknowledge the great man’s success. He was untouchable for two decades.

    The Beast(she doesn’t get called by her real name anymore because everyone refuses to see her as human now) was the one who broke the rules. She ran the tests that Dr. Kern had stalled. He was constantly claiming that the gene was still being studied and wasn’t ready yet. What was being studied wasn’t clearly stated. The University left him be because the man could charm 6 million dollars out of his marks in just a few clandestine luncheons. The University didn’t want to know what went on in those meetings. No one questioned the man who got the Kern Laboratory Complex built.

    The Beast didn’t care about that, and apparently she didn’t care about ruining her career either. She created a shadow identity for her study until she was sure. When it was clear that AX520 was a monster, she released her data in the one journal that would run it. Only a few geneticists were willing to stand by her until competitors from the Academy smelled blood. Within a year, the University was facing a lawsuit. Dr. Kern talked his way through the scandal, but AX520 and its grants were finished. The Beast had ruined it all.

    Kern’s supporters couldn’t keep her from talking, and the University couldn’t outright dismiss her, so they did the next best thing: they made her into the Beast, a bumbling, ugly-minded creature who callously destroyed the best thing the University had going for it. She was the traitor in the lab, and no one would work with her. They cut off her access to the labs and invented classes like Scientific Inventory Practices for her to teach. Students took her class simply to harass her for trying to bring down the great man.

    When I was writing my doctorate, I stumbled across her study. It was more than science. It was art. It was sublime and perfect and honest. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Everyone else deliberately blinded themselves to avoid looking at her.

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    1. Beth, this tale of academic back-biting, jealousy and competition has a number of real world morals. The sense of ends justifying the means, the impression of the fickleness of success and the perils of even being in the right has truth in it and play out well in a short piece. Well Done. However, you misread the prompt sentence and transposing ‘never’ for ‘ever’ means that I can’t include you in the potential honorifics.

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    2. I realized that I had the prompt wrong after I posted it, and I was kicking myself because the actual prompt worked better for the story. Thanks for your feedback. :-)

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  7. Laura @lejamez
    Word Count 253
    Title : Destiny


    She was the most beautiful woman he had never met. Yet standing holding her photo in his hands he felt closer to her than everyone else in his life. Her eyes, one green, one blue, stared into his very soul from beneath the glass, if only he had name to go with the vision before him.

    Tony dropped to the floor as the flash of headlights lit up the room he was in, the picture skittering across the floor to land under the couch. He didn't mind loosing the picture as soon she would be with him, in flesh & blood not just an image. Hearing a key turn in the lock, Tony moved to crouch behind the door, waiting for just the right moment.

    The click of the front door was followed by steady footsteps heading upstairs, confirming what he already new about this wonderful creature. Safe at home her only destination had been bed, to sleep and dream of a better life. Tony was there to ensure that her better life started with a bang not a whimper.

    He could hear her moving around upstairs, performing all those little pre bed rituals that woman do before they can finally let sleep take them. When silence descended once more Tony stood, picked up his bag and moved to the stairs. He didn't know her name, maybe before the night was over it would be revealed, her gift to him as he helped her leave the world to follow her dream, her destiny.

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    1. Creepy Laura! The economy of this piece is lovely. The gradual sense of growing menace that the reader experiences is difficult to achieve and is well realised here. You have gone inside the bad guy’s mind and shown us the vital element – that no-one is a bad guy when viewed from their own perspective.

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  8. George Leonard @gwyned42
    "She Will Be Mine"
    Word Count: 500
    Challenge accepted!

    She was the most beautiful woman I had never met. Each night her alluring features lit up the vidscreen. I don't remember the last time I listened to the words of her broadcast. I am a man obsessed with this one singular goal. Ever since my days at the Academy, I had been intrigued by her beauty. Tonight, she would be mine.

    My colleagues in the lab probably thought I was delusional. It had taken months of clandestine meetings in the unfinished tubes to finally gain access. Amazing what security breaches these fools would overlook for a few luxury chits! Given what I had exchanged for its alterations, the nanoplastic card was probably the most valuable possession on the planet. But a small price to pay for the object of my desire.

    The clock turned over the hour, and the lights in the residence dimmed, preserving the meager available power. I slipped the keycard into my pocket and walked out through the hallway and into the tubes. Few were about in the dim corridor, and what little traffic there was had vanished entirely by the time I arrived at the Central Hub. During the day, police were stationed here, but it was a thankless job, with too few recruits to staff it after hours. Besides, the Council probably considered it unnecessary. The security protocols were fail-proof. Without the proper access, no one could breach the inner sanctum of the colony. Until now.

    I glanced around, then wiped the sweat from my palms and retrieved the keycard. My heart began to beat faster as I inserted it. It slid in awkwardly, sticking out partially of the slot. I delicately flicked the dipswitches on its surface, carefully marking the sequence. Then, with a heart-wrenching whoosh, the doors slid open.

    "Cease, citizen, and keep your arms where I can see them." A uniformed guard stepped out of the shadows, phaser extended. "Just what do you think you are doing?"

    A trickle of sweat dripped down my back. I took one long glance at the phaser, then smiled.

    "Maker! You scared me purple, Rogers."

    "Keep your hands where I can see them, Alex."

    "Look, put the phaser down. You're making me nervous."

    "You have it then?"

    "Of course. May I?" He nodded, and I reached into my pocket and held out my last luxury chit. He grinned, holstered the weapon, and took it. Then he bit it, just like in the old Earth vids.

    "You've got five minutes. Go see your lady." And with that, he walked off.

    I entered the compound and waited for the doors to snap close. One glance, and I immediately recognized her. Her nebulous smile lit up the viewscreen situated above the black sphere. I sat down at the terminal, and at last my fingers traced her delicate surface. One last passcode, and she was all mine.

    Within moments, alarms began to sound throughout the colony. The fate of humanity's project in space was sealed. All thanks to her.

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    1. George, this tale has a powerful, almost tangible location. I could feel myself entering the tubes with Alex; sharing his anticipation and nervousness. In the end, however, despite repeated re-readings, I remained unclear about what was happening. It is something sometimes said to me by readers of some of my short fiction – I know what everything I wrote means, but, sometimes in the edit to bring it within word count, something vital for the reader disappears. It did leave me wanting to read more!

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  9. The Most Beautiful Woman

    Helda was the most beautiful woman I had never met. She had a wart on her nose and feet the size of a baby elephant’s, yet reliable sources swore to me she was the most stunning creature on the far side of the Lake.

    Her face paled before mine.

    Of the women I *had* met, Thella (Northtown) and Marti-Rose (Seaside) usually swapped turns as the most beautiful, depending on which had quarreled with their husband that morning (scowls work wonders on uglifying a visage—smiles too, if applied too liberally or too often; this is why I have always made a point of conveying expressions with my eyebrows, which has worked its own wonders on building my forehead muscles).

    Thella and Marti-Rose looked like toads next to me.

    Before you ask—yes, for a short period I (reluctantly) scouted for potential at the Beauty Academy graduation ceremonies (until the year their incompetent security team banned me in a clandestine but humiliating trial on nebulous—spurious, really—charges). Eventually, however, I realized the so-called Academy honored graduates based not on the students’ complexions but on the size of their fathers’ wallets, and even had I not been banned, I would have quit attending. Plain girls and boys, all. Revolting.

    Aside from my reliable sources and the ill-named Academy, these days I identify most of my candidates at regional balls and harvest festivals. Obviously this is not an ideal situation. Balls are grueling and tedious, on top of which I have had to spend a large percentage of my inheritance on gowns and accessories to complement my alabaster skin and dark eyes which (I have been told countless times) glow like midnight fires. Not to mention I can hardly manage above three events in an evening without killing a horse or two, which grows costly.

    You will see, therefore, that while I do not shrink from hard work, this undertaking simply demands much more effort than I can physically afford, which is why I am now writing to you. It has come to my attention that you are developing a glass into which one may look and be instantly presented with the face of the fairest person in the world. I laud your frantic attempts at secrecy, but surely you did not expect your noble invention could escape my notice. Have no fear; I am fully prepared to pay you what I judge your glass and labors are worth.

    Kindly convey your glass to me via my messenger. Do not be alarmed by his towering stature and rugged mace; rest assured he is fully competent to speak and act in my stead.

    Your prompt compliance will be greatly appreciated. I have just been informed that a princess was born this night. Skin like snow, they say, with hair of ebony and lips red as blood. Though no doubt this is exaggerated royal nonsense, it would ease my heart to look into your glass and see my own face shining.

    Yours, etc.

    *******

    499 words, including the challenge
    @postupak

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    1. Rebekah, a wonderful, whimsical tale that leaves the reader wondering up which particular garden path they are being led; before depositing them deftly on solid, familiar, but unexpected ground with a smile on their face. A sharp sense of character that both uses the reader’s background assumptions to good effect, and provides additional personality and depth. Good use of the challenge prompts (again all in one sentence!)

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  10. A Joy Forever

    She was the most beautiful woman I had never met. Her skin had that transparent alabaster paleness women the world over spend far too much money aspiring to. It was, for her, a birthright and not cosmetic alteration. Though I cannot, in all fairness, say with any certainty it was a face that had never known a blemish or bruise. Skin that pristine is such a rarity it, more often than not, detracts rather than compliments the whole. In her, this was not the case.

    Her nose had the patrician form the great masters of sculpture spent their lives perfecting the look of in the lasting mediums of marble and bronze. Her cheekbones, in accompaniment with her eyes, lent her an exotic air not attributable to any definitive racial or ethnic heritage. Those eyes…those eyes were pools of ebon wonder, containing the unmistakable sparks of life, bemusement and intellect swirling and ever-changing and yet lending an overall feeling of constancy and permanence to her.

    Her smile was a wonder unto itself and its like I had never seen before and, I daresay, may never see again. Straight, dazzling-white teeth framed by full, pouting lips were the medium by which her joy, her humor, her sadness or her stubbornness could in a moment be summoned forth and portrayed in the most captivating of ways.

    Her hair? Flowing…silken…falling to the middle of her back and possessed of an effulgence words will never adequately have the power to convey. Worn loose, braided, or beguiled into an exotic style that would draw attention at the most high of society or social gatherings she still, somehow, managed to incorporate it as but another individual aspect intrinsic to a balanced whole.

    Of her physical form…the specifics of such…I have naught to say. Such was not a part of our all-too-brief encounter. Her face was the focus of all of my attention…was the entirety of my world for the time necessary to place a single full-metal-jacketed chome molybdenum .308 caliber slug into it. I am a master of my craft and the placement of that shot required an exquisite accuracy that would, not only, satisfy my contractual obligations but that would, also, ensure absolutely no trace of what had once been remained. Such a thing of beauty, if it must, must be destroyed so...entirely…so completely…that simply no trace of what it had once been remains.

    I admit I have no earthly idea why anyone would wish such a woman to be…neutralized and I do not, in any event, really care. The life…the career of a contract killer does not lend itself well to introspection or reflection. The unavoidable fact is that an email is received, details are furnished, a price is negotiated and, in the fullness of time, a contract is fulfilled.

    In all fairness, the precision…the skill of a fatal headshot from a distance in excess of 1500 meters is, in and of itself, every bit as much a thing of beauty as she had been.

    500 words @klingorengi

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    1. Wow Jeff! This one takes the reader on a journey. Exquisite description, so real I felt that I could reach out and touch her. But then you make the sharp left turn into a sudden ‘car crash’ of a denouement; beautiful as much for its abruptness as for its execution. The sense of closure in the protagonist’s reflective comments about the technical aspects of his trade, tie up the beauty theme in a neat package. Good stuff!

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  11. X

    He was the most beautiful creature I never met. Nathanial X, the leader of the resistance, kept his comings and goings clandestine.

    I first heard of Nathanial when I was just 10 years old. Back then, I was just an angry orphan girl working the streets for petty change. My parents were both engineers working on a more efficient steam engine for commercial air ships. When rumors of a small rebel faction emerged, the empire took action by causing an explosion at their place of work. Of course, the empire made it out to seem like a very convenient accident and even held a memorial service for those who died. We all knew the truth, though.

    Nathaniel’s name popped up while I was scoping out a rich man’s wallet. I overheard him talking to a few other men about a young student at the Carson-Berman Academy for Innovative Gentlemen who was suspected to have caused a disturbance at Duke Wellington’s estate during a cotillion. They didn’t know who he was, only that there was a calling card with the name “Nathanial X” on it. That was the beginning of the resistance and the 9 year love affair I had with a man I had never met.

    I stuffed the brass revolver I made in my guarder, tucked a small knife in my boot, and kissed the “X” propaganda poster on my wall. I had been a member of the resistance ever since I overheard that fated conversation when I was ten and I would die a member of the resistance. The empire was built on the backs of its people and it was time that high society shared the load.

    Just before I left my poor excuse for an efficiency apartment, I took a look at myself in my fractured mirror. I adjusted my miniature top hat and ran my fingers through my thick, auburn ringlets. I had learned long ago that my knack for engineering was not my only asset to the resistance.

    I grabbed one of my parcels and headed out the door and into the dirty, crowded streets of Dierten. Most women dressed as I was would have been afraid to walk unescorted in that section of the city. Most women also didn’t carry up to twelve concealed weapons.

    I met up with my partner in the backroom of the Devil’s Lady pub. I had worked with Nathaniel a few times. He came from a wealthy family and therefore had all the connections we needed to board The Nebulous. He was in his late twenties or early thirties and was very educated.

    “Good to see you, Anastasia.” He said. “Are you ready?”
    I nodded, nervously.

    “May I ask you something? Why did you volunteer for this mission?”

    “To meet Nathaniel X.” I blurted. My face turned scarlet.

    He was taken aback and chuckled. “You must feel strongly to risk death to meet him.”

    “He’s a great man.” I said.

    “Thank you.” He said.

    @Chelle87Fox
    Word Count: 497
    Special Challenge accepted

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    1. Michelle, steampunk!  This tale has a whole world behind it, lifting it up and supporting it. That is no mean feat in 500 words! A couple of typos here (guarder for garter) One query – in the final prose paragraph, should the line read ‘HE had worked with Nathaniel a few times’? Otherwise the ‘reveal’ doesn’t work quite as well for me. I wanted more of this story. Only a whisker from honours this week. Thanks.
      One bonus point for ‘cotillion’!

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    2. Haha, that's what I get for writing tired (not that I would do much better with spelling/grammar awake). You are right, it would be more interesting to say "He" but sadly I wasn't that clever this week lol.

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  12. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever met. She could almost say the same thing about me, but never would. Only my GPA could surpass her, but no one cared about that at homecoming. Even worse, she didn’t buy my lies.
    “You would probably like him.” I replied, nodding energetically at the Junior across the circle.
    “Which means you didn’t like him.” Megan cut in frankly. I glared, wishing she would let my nebulous comments remain just that, at least in front of the clique. Her eyebrows shot up. She knew she was right, and had no qualms sharing with everyone, right here on the 50 yard line.
    I skirted around another gorgeous girl and grabbed Megan’s hand pulling her several paces away from the group. She gasped dramatically,
    “Is there a scandal I should know about?” I snorted at her suggestion.
    “Wait, You couldn’t get him to talk to you!” and she watched the color rise in my face. The look of triumph made her eyes sparkle.
    “He talked!” I retorted,
    She pretended to look convinced “Oh so it was something else? I’ll have to ask around, see what is really happening with you two.”
    I gave in, it was better just to tell her I had lost my one advantage than let her make something up. It was only an advantage during class anyway, not at the academy’s social events where the cute guys outnumbered the nerds ten-thousand to one. “Thank goodness nothing is happening, because I sounded like an idiot around him.” Even my sigh sounded frustrated.
    “Oh that’s ok.” She smiled sweetly “It’s not clandestine, boys like stupid girls.”
    I turned on my heel determined to walk away, I had taught her that word, when I saw the topic of our discussion approaching a cheerleader across the field. Leaning back to elbowing Megan I snickered
    “Look! Look he’s going for Bella.”
    Megan glanced at the couple, taking the moment to slip an arm through mine, trapping me with her. “Too bad for him, she isn’t on the honor roll like you. She will probably come across sounding sensible.” I glared again. “Oh you care do you? I thought you didn’t like him.”
    I turned, aiming the refreshment table, ignoring her statement. “Let’s get some sodas.”
    “No, I’d rather dance. Maybe you won’t be as tongue tied with these guys.” She said pulling me along towards a group of jocks that seemed to grow even cockier with our approach.

    430 words,
    Special Challenge

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    1. This story captures exactly the hothouse, febrile atmosphere of young people fumbling their way towards maturity. I liked the dialogue as it both read well and sounded real and contemporary. The football field mating rituals are well drawn and vivid. However, you misread the prompt sentence and transposing ‘never’ for ‘ever’ means that I can’t include you in the potential honorifics. Thanks for writing this week!

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  13. Mine would not post, I tried twice! I'm so disappointed I could cry! It was a good one too! :-(

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    1. Sorry to hear that. I've had some IT problems this week too. Send me a tweet (@nickjohns999) with a signpost to your blog post of it & I'll comment - if you are open to that - like I have on the other tales I judged this week.

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  14. @NadaNightStar
    97 words
    Special Challenge Accepted
     
    Almost Perfect Daydreams
     
    Erik was the most beautiful human-hybrid I had never met. He’d have been my dream-come-true.
    This whole ‘idea’ began when Anya, Marie and Chris started thinking about the perfect companion – which was never a good idea. Chris’ definition of adventure always involved sex – always. He never tired, whereas everyone else did. We stopped asking and let him wander off into a daydream.
    Anya was a beautiful woman, with one tiny flaw: whatever she touched turned into ice. So naturally, a slightly-altered version of the Human Torch would have been her ideal companion. Had Anya been into women, her Human Torch and soulmate would have been the same person: Marie.
    It was common knowledge what my preferences were, here at the Academy. I liked hybrids. I had a soft spot for werewolves, but they bored me. All this “We fear for you” and “Don’t approach us in our wolf form” irritated me. I had one clandestine encounter with a white wolf on the Wolf Grounds once. It was a BLAST! He – I think – was fun and adorable, a real hunter but a catch nonetheless. Suffice to say, I never saw him again. Bummer? Not really; I had gotten used to those.
    “Your turn, Mia! Who or what is the most beautiful ‘creature’ you’ve never met?”
    “Plenty, I hope.”
    “Pleeeeeeeaaaassseee.”
    “Alright then,” I said. “Erik would be the most beautiful human-hybrid I have never met.”
    “Erik? Who’s Erik?!” Chris had woken up.
    “Erik is this sexy guy with breath-taking blue eyes, who loves books and – ”
    “Sexy guy who loves books? Keep dreaming!”
    “Shut up Chris!” Anya said, “or else!” threatening him with a bare finger.
    He swallowed and remained silent.
    Changing her tone, she said “I like this Erik guy already!”
    “What does he turn into?” Marie, who couldn’t hold her question back much longer, asked.
    I smiled. “A dragon.”
    “Seriously?!”
    “Chris, what happened to your daydream? The world was enjoying itself in your sleep.”
    He crossed his eyebrows at Anya, but stayed silent. Chris may be one of the smartest people in the world, but girls were not his area and Anya’s abilities were to be feared and unchallenged on all occasions.
    “A dragon,” I started again, “We’d do all the things humans did, and more, but without worrying about my nebulous magical abilities.”
    The girls smiled. And I could have sworn Chris did too.
    It’s true I had come a long way since my magical powers unveiled themselves. Still, I always had to be in control; I could never be free. I controlled the elements, but Fire was favourite. Were I to lose myself to it for a minute, much of my surroundings would be toast, for Fire had a mind of its own. It was also my strongest element.
    “Aren’t you worried he’d be terrified of you?!”
    It was Chris again. Apparently, he had got some idea of my flashback.
    “Well, I haven’t thought of that. But since I’ve never met him, I’ll never know.”

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    1. This look at the prompt gave me a whole new perspective on it. I loved the lightness of the tone and the very real sense that these were people who knew each other well. In a good way this has the feeling of being part of a longer piece.

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    2. Thank you so much for the comment Nick.
      My previous attempts at Finish that Thought also seem to be part of longer pieces.
      Glad you liked it :)

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  15. Bewitched

    She was the most beautiful woman I had ever met. Her raven hair rested at her waist in haphazard ringlets, the curls cascading falls.

    And her eyes: steel, behind them something uncivilized, a wall blocking anyone from knowing what thrived underneath.

    I wanted to know her secrets.

    I had seen her on the way to the masquerade, a snapshot caught like the trick of the eyes. My suitemate Dominic and I were crossing campus, wasting time until the start of the gala and most certainly scouting out girls, even if such debauchery was forbidden.

    Rarely did we interact with the opposite sex. Duty always trumped any possibility of a relationship or a shared smile. All chances at romance were discreet: a clandestine soirée that had to be precisely planned to the tee, if you wanted to graduate from the Academy and, more importantly, avoid breaking such key Nightwarden doctrine.

    Our kind wasn’t permitted to swear to a companion until we’d reached our last year at the institute. To the Academy, it seemed, any possible interference would distract us from our essential studies. And, as the Elders claimed, “it was too much of a liability”. If we, for example, were too concerned about protecting someone we loved from an Undead other otherworldly being, our emotions may overpower and thus two Nightwardens would die instead of only one: the Nightwarden number was simply too few. Courtship was too risky.

    Once a year, however, even the Elders’ strict policies bent ever so slightly on All Hallow’s Eve: one last night to celebrate innocence before imminent battles ahead.

    Dominic and I entered the masquerade together, quickly going our separate ways. Dominic headed towards the refreshments. I began to cross the ballroom floor, casually looking at the décor. Then, I saw her: the same dark haired beauty I had seen on campus moments before. Slowly, her nebulous eyes met mine, slate shining almost silver in the dim light. At first, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, her eyes changing like that, but I disregarded the thought: it really didn’t matter—I had to meet her.

    Gently, she beckoned for me to follow. Entranced, I began to follow, a delicate fog consuming around me. The ballroom became a blur. She disappeared outside on of the hall’s back passages, and I felt myself quickly moving to catch up with her. This could be my only chance to speak to her. As I rounded the corner, I faced emptiness: there was nothing here.

    “Where have you been?” I heard a voice ask.

    An inhuman, guttural sound vibrated from the hall.

    “What in the name of—“

    From the passage’s depths, a humanoid creature appeared, its black hair cascading down its back. The being raised its head, two silver eyes meeting mine.
    “Shapeshifter!” I heard Dominic bellow. He raised a bow, the arrow piercing her heart. Green ooze spewed from her chest.

    She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

    @nXgWVteacher
    496 Words
    Accepted the Special Challenge

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