Friday, 2 December 2016

December dawns dark

I spent much of this week dovetailing actions, lies and misdirections to fit around a murder. At one point I had murderer and body-to-be standing side by side, contemplating the [beautifully-described] view from a second-floor flat. Then I checked and found the sun would long have set and it would be pitch dark.

And what a week of dark offerings it has been here! Kai’s welcome  return plunged me straight into nightmare, closely followed by Patricia touching on amnesia and  Jeff’s  non-meeting of minds. I touched on the perils of prostitution and William the collapse of a good guy and Bill the aftermath of indoctrination. Only Rosie’s was imbued with innocence. But, as so often, Zaiure’s light touch of fantasy floated her piece to the top. Thank you all for your participation, both posts and comments.

Words for next week:  live inappropriate target

Entries by midnight Thursday 8th December, new words posted on Friday 9th

Usual rules: 100 words maximum (excluding title) of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. Serialised fiction is, as always, welcome. All variants and use of the words and stems are fine. Feel free to post links to your stories on Twitter or Facebook or whichever social media.

87 comments:

  1. Congratulations Zaiure, a well deserved win

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  2. everyone was good, Zaiure outstanding as always... congratulations to all. Interesting words, will see what I can do with them this week.

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    1. Thank you. :) Looking forward to your piece!

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  3. Antonia - I inadvertently missed you off the list, when I had intended to include your haunting - so very sorry!

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    1. no worries, no problem!

      OK, work this one out. My bay window looks out onto the busiest road on the Isle of Wight, the traffic is never ending. We have secondary double glazing, none of your fixed 2-3 pane stuff. We were talking, cat wanted to get behind the huge curtains, Anna lifted one up and said 'what's all the flashing lights?' looked out to see a major accident, fire engines, ambulance, police, a mini being cut into bits by the fire service, and we heard nothing... no crash, no sirens, we weren't even aware the traffic had stopped!!!! I think after a while you develop a deaf ear to all noises outside. Or something.

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    2. Jeffrey Yorio:
      Zaiure, a great story and congrats for rising to the top.

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  4. Thank you! I enjoyed everyone's stories last week. :) Just came up with what was supposed to be a standalone, but may end up being another serial. Oops.

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  5. Hunting in the Park

    Fingers raking through sun-lightened curls, Callon eyed the woman leaning casually against the side of his world-weary Airstream. Her hair was cropped as short as Callon’s own, and slicked back from sharp green eyes with a mix of rainwater and attitude. She looked about as friendly as the feral cat that’d taken up residence beneath his trailer.

    “Rather inappropriate for hunting,” she said, cocking a finger at the plastic Target bag hanging heavy from his arm.

    Callon grinned, hefting the hidden crossbow. “Less conspicuous. So…you found where I live.”

    “I just looked for the shittiest trailer park.”

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    1. Oh oh, serial alert, this HAS to be continued! Everyone's gonna say this, but 'sharp green eyes with a mix of rainwater and attitude' is just an amazing line.

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    2. Very nice and direct. I thought this line was great;"...as friendly as a feral cat."

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    3. For me too, it was "a mix of rainwater and attitude", and already I'm holding my breath for more.

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    4. This was most entertaining. Loved the interaction and definitely screams "continuation." Would be a crime to leave it there. How very nicely done.

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    5. I'd say that is an excellent beginning - so many possibilities.

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    6. The "world weary airstream" really set the scene, and the cat reference lent a feline air to the woman. I really liked this piece.

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  6. Jeffrey Yorio: Okay, as mentioned I've not written much poetry, though I find it an immensely powerful medium. This poem uses my favorite style, symmetrical Alliteration and free style. Not sure if it will copy over as written but the odd number lines are bold and the SA, the even number lines are italics and FS


    COSMOS

    Clear night sky permits secret nefarious ciphers.
    Stolen light winks back, reflected by astral bodies lofty stations.

    Overhead canopy for dark Elysian Fields, where feelings explode directing fingers callously onward.
    Powerful symphony targets our senses; yet are we still blind, deaf and dumb?

    Secure our Nirvana immersed minds that mortality infects, noxious omnipotent senses!
    Ambient bodies dancing on ethereal stage; all to see, yet who understands?

    Man’s desire to live forever, creates falsely labeled tokens; destinies manipulated?
    Calming wisdom is benevolent and serene, yet lies beyond desires chasm?

    Orb filled darkness, covered by cyan drapes, cries billowed clouds, drawing forth odes.
    Eternal loom weaving, does lonely weaver dreams inappropriately?

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    1. Jeffrey, you have to re-apply all the html code when you post; for reasons unknown to me, they don't copy and paste.
      I could imagine lying flat on my back with this one, gazing up into the night sky.

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    2. Jeffrey Yorio

      Okay, I'm not a computer person but by HTML codes do you mean the internet address?

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    3. By html, I mean you need to type < then b then > before a word or phrase you want in bold, then < then /b then > at the end. For italic you substitute i for b.

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    4. A rich, moving piece brimming with exquisite phrasing. I especially loved the imagery created by the final 2 lines.

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    5. intense imagery in this poem, Jeffrey, keep writing poems, you've an imagination and mind for them that surpasses your stories.

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    6. Beautifully crafted images that spark the imagination. This had such a surreal atmospheric feeling. Amazing piece.

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    7. Well composed, and a fine set of questions to think about some dark, clear night.

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    8. "Man’s desire to live forever, creates falsely labeled tokens" is going to roll around in my head all day. This was complex and thought-provoking. Excellent.

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  7. Most well-deserved top honour, Zaiure. Congratulations. And as for a possible new serial from your talented "plume," I like it...!!! But more on that later.

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  8. Change of focus [212]

    Filip’s friends had been chosen for brains as well as brawn. Two made for the doors and one seized Teodor. The fourth awaited Yanno Petzincek’s instructions.
    Pettinger crouched. Tears, apology, declarations of love all inappropriate; he didn’t see how anyone so flat and crumpled could live. Tenderly he pulled her shawl aside, revealing purple-swollen damage. Pulse, yes, but faint as mist on skin.
    Without turning, quietly urgent, scrabbling for the correct Khakbethian words, ‘Doctor. Hospital –‘
    ‘Is done – five minutes –‘
    Her lips parted. Painfully, ‘My daughter. Jake took –‘
    Aghast, ‘Cherriman has her?’
    Valdeta flinched. ‘He said... target practice.’

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    1. I loved the phrase 'faint as mist on skin' and that last line was killer.

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    2. Me too, that's a perfect phrase and your last line leaves people in peril and no way of knowing if they're going to get out - until the next instalment which is not fair!

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    3. Really loved the way the dialogue went back and forth, imparting everything we needed to know. I have to be honest and say that I had trouble ferreting out the prompt words even after a second reading. I agree with Kai on that final line being a total killer.

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    4. Obviously, I need to catch up on this serial, but your deft touch dropped me right into the scene, and I was mesmerized.

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    5. Rebecca! How good to see you here? And how are Seth and Nathan? Both much missed, as are you.

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    6. Kai called out my favorite line and I love 'scrabbling for the correct...words'. A tense, riveting piece.

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  9. Cripplegate Junction/Part 74-Destination

    "Inappropriate to lurk much longer in the shadows." The Station Master advised Clive Bailey. "Our Georgie-Boy will use you for target practice if you don't make a move soon. Diligent soldier. Lives only to guard his post!"

    He consulted his pocket watch. "Stopped!" He gave a genial smile. "Let you into a little secret," he whispered. "It never did run!"

    Ahead, in the garden, chess pieces from an overturned board tumbled to the ground.

    Behind, in the canteen, sultana tea cakes baked in the oven.

    Becoming impatient, the Station Master sighed. "Time and tide, old chap. Time and tide..."

    --------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/cripplegate.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. I really love the reference to the tumbled chess pieces; you've written this so as to subtly deliver an image of other actions appearing to surround it.

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    2. there's a lot going on here, from the watch that never did go to the falling chess pieces, we can imagine so much around these small items, which are really much much larger than written.

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    3. Thank you for the link! I will definitely catch up, as I love this story and your gorgeous imagery that always leaves me a bit unsettled. This installment has that in spades.

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    4. Sandra summed it up nicely - subtle actions being delivered through images like the fallen chess pieces. Love all the little hints sprinkled throughout the piece.

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  10. Steamy scene-setting [Threshold 142]

    I woke more rested than I’d thought possible. Alone in both bed and room. The bathroom – free-standing bath – was warm. I began to fill it before examining the variety of shampoos, oils and unguents, selecting the least inappropriately masculine and using it sparingly.

    I was modestly covered with bubbles when he returned, his cheekbones a target for the sun which entered the high point-arched windows. His eyes knew the answer before he put his question into words. ‘You’re ready to live again?’

    ‘I am. And you? You’ve come to do your grandmother’s bidding?’

    He smiled. Unapologetic. ‘I told you, tomorrow.’

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    1. It's always tomorrow isn't it? ;)

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    2. where men are concerned, yes it is always tomorrow... lovely instalment, Sandra!

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    3. Exquisite wording is scattered throughout this installment from beginning to end. I particularly liked the "cheekbones" being a "target for the sun." That is such a visual!

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    4. Loved the phrase about his cheekbones. A visually rich piece.

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  11. Duality

    An inappropriate war.
    Is there any other kind?
    Two soldiers, separated from their squadrons, stood fast across a meadow of wasted lives.
    Each now the other's target.
    A green-eyed blond.
    A green-eyed redhead.
    Opposite sides of the coin.
    But, another time and place, they might have been brothers.
    Duty versus compassion.
    Obvious risk versus dubious guarantee.
    One rifle raised.
    One rifle lowered.
    A single shot broke the silence
    And two young men prayed God would have mercy on their souls.

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    1. Ah yes. How much greater the impact when war gets personal. And how exciting to see you move so confidently into what I read as a prose poem with very effective use of rhythm. Well done Patricia.

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    2. Wow. I had to do a double take on that last line, but when I reread the raising of one rifle and the lowering of the other its meaning sunk in. Great piece, Patricia.

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    3. darkly sinister in its intent, sad in its inevitable ending. Beautiful poem.

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    4. This is taut and tragic and moving. I read it again and again.

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    5. Beautifully sad. Exquisite phrasing with 'across the meadow of wasted lives'.

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  12. Predator

    "Do you want to live, little girl?"
    His breath was putrid, teeth yellow and gums bleeding.
    "Do as I say and you won't get hurt... much."
    His lips twisted into a grin. Within seconds he had her arm behind her back, putting pressure on it to lead her deeper into the darkness of the alley.
    She had been told that it would be inappropriate to be out alone at night.
    Pressing her against the wall, he scrabbled with his belt buckle.
    Inappropriate - yes! But she had to find her targets somehow. A hint of steel slipped from her sleeve.

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    1. Neat - and very nasty - twist, Kai, on several levels.

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    2. very neat and very nasty, and so carefully done with no more than a hint of steel. Clever.

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    3. Oooohhhh....shades of Ellen Page in "Hard Candy." You truly led us down the garden path with this and then ended with an amazing twist. To echo Antonia, this was indeed "clever."

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    4. That is dedication to one's craft - both your story and her luring her targets. This one made me smile.

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    5. Love the twist where supposed prey is unmasked as the hunter! A favorite tool of mine. :) Loved the deadly imagery of the final line.

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  13. Kursaal (Episode Forty Nine) -- "The Amorous Affairs Of Arbuthnot Jester/Part Two"

    Arbuthnot Jester remained the target of Hilda Jane Pickett's undying affections. Dressed inappropriately (short skirt, fishnets, stiletto heels) for a spinster of mature years, she hounded him constantly.

    "I cannot live without you, my Arby!"

    The diminutive performer paid a second visit to Primrose Lee.

    "That release potion? Ineffective," he told the elixirologist. "Most regretful."

    Sweeping a lock of chestnut hair from his forehead in Byronic fashion, Arbuthnot's dark eyes searched her own. Entreating. Compelling. Suggestive. He really was extraordinarily attractive.

    Primrose took his hand, the one missing two fingers, and squeezed.

    "I'll see what I can do."

    --------------------------------------------------------
    To read the earlier installments (a suggestion only) which led to this point in the tale, please visit:
    http://www.novareinna.com/kursaal.html
    A link to return to "The Prediction" can be found on the site. Thank you.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    1. so now I am agog wanting to know what she will do... nice one.

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    2. Well, well, Mr. Jester. Quite the babe magnet, he...

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    3. Have to assume Primrose has several possible solutions at her fingertips, but which ones will she use first?

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    4. Intrigued to know where this will lead & the reference to his missing fingers (not sure if I may have missed the significance in an earlier week).

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  14. Back with comments when I've written the Captain's story, meantime...
    Online Dating

    Surely it’s inappropriate to be used as a target, the sane mind argues. It also screams ‘get me out of here!’ but you can’t shout with a taped up mouth.
    It’s also hard to move when your hands and feet are taped up. Something went very wrong when He – I will not dignify him with a name – and I began talking on Facebook. He is not the person I expected to meet, live is very different from online. I wish I could warn everyone, but that’s impossible – damn tape. It seems the live target… may soon be a dead one.

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    1. Very chilling and a magnificent stand alone. This is so current and so very easily believable. There certainly is a nasty underbelly to be found when it comes to online dating.

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    2. Knife throwing? Crossbow practice? Regardless, a wicked twist to an innocent contact...

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    3. 'live is very different from online' - how true. And what an unhappy way to find out. Pertinent and pointed.

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    4. The plausibility of this scenario creates an even deeper horror. Well done.

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    5. Rebecca said it well with the possibility of this piece. Chilling and fascinating as I wonder about possible escape.

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  15. Infinity 176.
    To live we need to loot. Pirate logic. So we target the merchantmen that dare sail the high seas when the Infinity is about her business of piracy, not checking whether it was inappropriate to make their voyages at that time.
    We are strong and fit, thanks to the new cook and his meals. Methinks something goes below decks, for IT, whatever lurks in the darkest recesses of my ship’s hold, is not bothering us. Yet. It too must live, so this cannot last forever. And so, I spend nights with books of ancient lore looking for a way out.

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    1. The Captain becomes even more suspicious and thus, by association, so do I. I'd love to have a peek at his ancient lore collection. I bet it contains some true treasures.

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    2. Indeed, nothing lives forever, but for some a year might be but a blink... I think the Captain is right to look through his ancient books.

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    3. Love the 'pirate logic', but fear the cook might be in cahoots with IT. Glad the Captain isn't complacent.

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    4. I'd love a peek at his collection as well! The mention of books gave me such wonderful imagery when imagining his chamber. So intrigued to discover what he learns.

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  16. Meeting Quota

    The Voice spoke. "Agent, confirm indication."

    She sighed, making a little curl of smoke. "Scanner reads Live, Inappropriate Target. But it's almost..." Voice cut her off. "Live harvest is contraindicated."

    She closed her eye, frustration in her voice, "Target is terminal, will require rescheduling within this interval. Request waiver-" and the link dropped.

    Damn bureaucrats, they've no idea what field work is like. She paused, then extended a gently-glowing tentacle, wrapped it around the heart, exerted the smallest pressure. Seeing the flatlined EKG and the "FULL" indicator on her capsule, she rose through the ceiling just as the nurses arrived.

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    1. This had such a futuristic feel and yet, could have referenced just about any era in that the "field worker" appears to be timeless. If I read it correctly, the title indicates a certain number must be attained in a given time and another notch has just been put on the bedpost.

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    2. I love how the red-tape aspect of what should be a horror story, if one considers the heart's host, instills the piece with a weary workman vibe.

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    3. Oh, SO much indicated and illustrated by that little curl of smoke! And a lot left for the imagination to feed on. Nice one Bill.

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    4. this is superbly done. I've been lecturing again today on 'leave out the background and give us the action' and here it is, action and background blending to make a real horror story in 100 words. The newbies have a way to go yet, it seems...

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    5. An absolutely fascinating world you've presented us with, and an interesting character. Loved the tentacle.

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  17. Writhe
    Town biddies mutter “Inappropriate!” but menfolk and curious women pay them no mind. The audience is full, drinking, smoking – bans circumvented by promises – waiting to see live that only glimpsed in pictures.

    Snake dancing fell out of favor, ages gone, but myth cannot be fully erased. And there is always the draw of burlesque. People trade much to view shimmying flesh, embrace carnal desire and fantasy of touching the forbidden.

    Weaving through tables, iridescent serpents sliding over pebbled skin, I find my target. Such a pretty boy, it saddens me to ruin him, but we are all so very hungry.

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    1. Ooh - that 'pebbled skin' sets mine crawling, and what a vivid scene created here. SO good to see you here again.

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    2. This was pure delight. The burlesque images were spot on...well, as far as I know anyway. LOL. "Iridescent serpents sliding over pebbled skin." Now what a picture that conjures. This could easily by the first part of a serialization...yes???

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    3. SO good to see you here again, Rebecca! with such a brooding piece, too, carrying menace and malice alike. More please.

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    4. Glad to have you back! A fascinating, captivating piece with vivid imagery and a killer final line. More please for sure! :)

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  18. The Adventures of Rosebud, Pirate Princess #54
    The Nature of Piratical Actions


    Someone told me once that live targets are inappropriate targets, but what’s the point of shooting at empty ships? The empty ones, by their nature, don’t have anything good in them. As a pirate you have to shoot at ships full of people, otherwise you’ll never get any loot. Granted, most of the time I’m only allowed to shoot at ships of my mother’s enemies, but some of my favorite coats came from those ships. There was a whole convoy of Greeks once that gave me a friendly typewriter and some gorgeous fabric.

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    1. This stands out for me as one of the more humorous episodes. Perhaps it is the image of Greeks bearing a "friendly typewriter" that captured my amusement. In any event, yet another standout episode. Rosebud is such a trip!

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    2. Rosie, as today, I usually get to read your latest episode first thing Friday morning and what a treat they are. This is no exception. I sincerely hope you are keeping them together somewhere with the eventual intention of producing a book.

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    3. She's definitely a fun character with all sorts of interesting adventures. Always good fun!

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