Table of Contents

Untitled by @LurchMunster - Mark Ethridge
Untitled by @SweetSheil - Sheilagh Lee
A Lesson Well Taught by @ChessnySilth - L.T. Dalin
Haunted House by @DavidALudwig - David A Ludwig
Untitled by @Postupak - Rebekah Postupak
Untitled by @solimond - Nellie
Untitled by @PurpleQueenML - Miranda Kate

Judges Comments

Such awesome entries this week, it was very hard to pick… Since everyone can’t win, I decided to comment on all of them. My pick probably came from more my state of mind at the time (I really needed a laugh) than anything else, since everyone had such great entries! I could have given this win to pretty much any of you! Thanks for letting me read them! You all are awesome! :)
@SweetSheil You managed to surprise me! When the baby was crying and the voice was talking, I wasn’t expecting the father to have murdered an ex in the house! Wow! Pretty fun. I was amused that she bribed the necromancer with hidden loot…great detail. The necromancer wasn’t the most sympathetic character for me, but believable. The whole thing could’ve been a little tighter for me.

@Chessneysilth Haha! I really enjoyed this one! I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and I was a middle school teacher, so you hit home on a couple levels for me! J The argument in the classroom was well done and I could almost feel the encounter with the ghost. I’m not sure after hours of grading and whatnot that his mind (in a state of terror) would have made the connection with his class hours before. I did LOVE that the ghost was answering the question and the question of him being in the right house was a nice touch! J

@DavidALudwig I enjoyed the lighthearted dialog. I especially enjoyed the details of the ghost trying to pitch his voice “ominous rather than whiny” and the nonchalant position of the witch’s feet on the table and hands behind her pigtails. Oh, and her phrase “wicked cool.” (My sister lived in Boston for 8 years, and I managed to pick that up from her!) While enjoyable, it lacked something different for me. There were no surprising moments or anything that really jumped out and said, “This is awesome.”

@PurpleQueenML Ooooh, creepy! Your details were awesome – from the garish wallpaper to the greying twilight – it really helped set the mood. I loved how he argued with himself – the struggle was very well done and believable. I feel like you caught the essence of someone trying to talk himself out of his fears – usually a good thing – and having him find out that his fears had substantiation. I was even somewhat surprised at the end because I wasn’t sure which way you were going to go with it. I would have liked a little more, because I always want to know what happened, but I also liked that you ended with the echo of the original scream made real. Very powerful! Nice job!

Honorable Mentions

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@LurchMunster
Haha! Mark, I loved it! I had so much fun reading the details of how a haunted house was made! I loved his attention to details and purely logical, systematic approach to uncovering the secrets of Haunted Houses. (Even if it did take him an extraordinary amount of time to discover the things…) SO FUN! He was very believable and his reactions were consistent. I actually appreciated that he never ONCE thought that he might be wrong…like the idea of the mystical could never enter his brain. Great job!

@solimond
I enjoyed this one too! Both Bartholomew and Rory were very well developed and the little details you put in spoke volumes about their characters – Bart’s nose so high in the air he would fall backwards and the picture of Rory lounging at the bottom of the stairs putting his cigarette out on his boot were my favorite of these. Rory’s snarky dialog was fun to read as well. I laughed out loud when he interrupted Bart’s monologue. I also liked how you kept period dialog for the ghost – ‘common street urchin’ was nice. The ‘Apparition League’ was fun and I’d like to know more about it. J


Winner

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@postupak
Oh, Rebekah! I laughed so hard! I couldn’t help myself! I think there may have been tears… When she said, “God help me – for the first time in my life, I stumbled.” I think I almost bust my gut. Your details were brilliant – smacking gum and squeezing into a dress and flashlights with new batteries and whatnot. I could really get into the character. Really fun! The tense was a little confusing (‘I used to laugh at this’ in the beginning, while ending it in present tense was odd…) and the boss character was a little unbelievable, but I really loved the piece! Thank you for the laugh…I really needed it!
(Host's Note: That's two wins in one day.  Rebekah's on fire this week!)

Untitled
By Rebekah  Postupak
Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly, turning in their terror only for a well-ankled foot to catch on a rug or a tree branch, and then suddenly there they lie, limbs splayed in gorgeous helplessness until devoured mercilessly by the danger.

I used to laugh at this.

“What a crock!” I’d say to my friends, snorting between bites of over-buttered popcorn. “A real blonde would never do that.”

“Hollywood hates blondes,” I often said to my boss in disgust. “Like a brunette wouldn’t just do the same thing, only look tackier while doing it.”

Sometimes it really made me mad, but this was a feeling I shoved as far deep as it’d go. There was no place for bitterness, not in a world where I had to be *perky* at all times, smacking my gum and sporting skinny jeans and keeping unpopular suspicions to myself. All of which I did, because doing so was easier than the alternative.

“Fine,” said my boss one day.

“Huh?”

“If you believe it’s just a cinematic conspiracy, then go. Test it out. Then come back, if you can, and spare us having to listen any more to your lunacy.”

Giddiness swept over me. What a huge opportunity! I worked as a reporter for the Times, but to date my articles never broached anything snappier than the weekly firehall bingo game where I, inevitably, was the most talked-about round.

I took the longest time working out what to wear. Don’t mock—to prove my theory right, I had to follow everything to the letter. It took three hours with hot rollers to get my hair into the right sort of curls, ones that cascaded down my back in an obscenely natural-looking way. My knee-length summer dress (the blue one that everyone said made my eyes glow) didn’t really fit anymore, but after a good 45 minutes of huffing and puffing, I squeezed myself in. And into my roomie’s four-inch heels, obviously.

Into my silver clutch went a tiny pistol (loaded, duh), cell phone (fully charged), and flashlight (fresh batteries).

Now all that remained was the location: and ohhh did I have a doozy. The huge, abandoned, Victorian-style house at the edge of the wildwood. I drove there eagerly (full tank of gas, fresh battery). Alone, of course, late at night, without telling anyone.

I explored the house right off, knowing I would hear the voice all too soon. Or I would see a door slam shut, or a swarm (swarm?) of spiders scurry frantically across my path.

So when the disembodied voice called out, I was ready. I even giggled a little as I turned to flee.

And then—God help me—for the first time in my life, I stumbled.

Strained something pretty bad, I’m guessing, as I can’t move, and there’s my purse across the room where it flew as I fell.

Footsteps approach.

Dang, I think as I wait. There goes my theory.

 
Halloween is upon us.  Personally, I have little love for the occasion, but it does give us an excuse to do scary stories.  Eddie Murphy made an joke about the heroes of horror stories lacking in common sense.  One has to wonder why a person might pursue an obviously dangerous situation.  Use this week's prompt to explore motivation, plot holes or whatever your muse desires.

Program Notes

Motivation Monday will be on hiatus until the first week of December.  At least the contest will.  I'll be on a cruise next Monday, but for the rest of November, stop by each week for an article or discussion to motivate you in completing your novel.  As most of you know, next month is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short.  In fact, quite a few of our regulars are local facilitators for the event.  Hopefully, a few of them will provide a guest blog during November.  The idea is to write fifty thousand words in 30 days.  It sounds challenging but it can be done.
If you aren't interested in writing a novel or you want another challenge, please remember the Song Stories anthology is still looking for submissions.  Some of my best submissions have come from Motivation Monday regulars!  Now back to your regularly scheduled contest

The Judge

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Returning this week is judge Alissa Leonard.  She's a few scenes away from finishing the first draft of her first novel, a young adult fantasy.  (I know I'm eager to see the finished product.)
She''ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year for the second time.  She's going with an off-genre she calls literary romance.  (Hmm, that's got me thinking Jane Austen.)
She's won a number of badges and honorable mentions not just from Motivation Monday but from around the flash fiction circuit.  In her words, "I'm just having fun writing when I can and making progress."  (How's that for motivation?

The Prompt

Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly

The Rules

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  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the
    first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the
    prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an
    unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted
    by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be
    invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the
    one shown here.
  6. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  7. Have fun!

 
Great news!  One of our regular authors was featured in The Flash Flood Journal with a story you read here first.  Congratulations, Ruth!

I agree with judge Robin Abess who said, "I really enjoyed every tale that I read this week, as always. Great job to all, and congrats to the winners!"

Table of Contents

Untitled by Rafe Brox
The Cave by Robin Abess
Untitled by Rakel Sampson
The Scenic Route by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Corp Fleet by Jeffrey Hollar
Untitled by Alissa
Untitled by Ryan Strohman
Untitled by Nellie

Honorable Mentions

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Jeffrey Hollar (@klingorengi)
This story had a real "Firefly" feel to it for me, which made me love it all the more. Terrific tale!

Lisa McCourt Hollar (@jezri1)
I'm a sucker {no pun intended} for vampires, and loved the feel of this tale. Nicely done.

Winner

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Judges Note:
I could picture the brother/sister argument plainly and this made me laugh. Poor alien in charge!

Untitled
By Alissa Leonard


“When we started this journey, we never thought we’d find-”

Marcus interrupted, “Oh, shut up, Martha! You couldn’t have thought anything after we found that shiny door thing! Who has any way to guess what could have been in there?”

Martha did her very best impression of their Momma. She lifted her chin and pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows – trying to look supercilious (a word that would have been her favorite had she only known of its existence) and fully ready to chastise him. “Daddy has read the Narnia books to me. I know what to expect when you go through portals like that…Or, at least, I thought I did.” Her face fell at the realization that the wood she had been expecting was, in fact, not there.

“Whatever. You didn’t know we’d find-”

“No, but I knew it would be special because-”

“Oh, please, I knew it would be special too! I’m not stupid! Besides, I found it.”

“By running off after Momma specifically said-”

“She did not! She said go play. I was exploring the new backyard!”

“That was not in our backyard, and you know it! Momma probably doesn’t even know that cave exists-”

“What she doesn’t know, won’t kill her.”

“No?” Martha gestured wildly around them, “You don’t think she’d be a bit concerned? Especially when we don’t come home for supper?”

“Well…” Marcus looked around again and bit his lip, “I still don’t think she’d die from it…”

“Well I do! I think she’d fall down dead of a heart attack right now if she knew where we were.”

“Exactly, but since she doesn’t know, it won’t kill her! See, I was right!” He stuck his tongue out at her.

“No, I’m right, because if we never get back, she’ll die from not knowing!” She stuck her tongue out as well, it was hard to remain mature and *supercilious* when the ‘I’m right’ wars began.

“Ahem.” The sound had a lot more gurgle to it than a normal throat clearing. Both Martha and Marcus froze and stared at each other for a moment with wide eyes before turning toward the sound, silent in a way they had never been. “It is clear now. Wipe their memory. Put them at the entrance to the caves. They’ll be found. Then fix that damn cloaking device. Go.”

 
Much snark has exchanged lips over Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of a "new world".  One thing, however, remains unquestionable.  The human mind is always pushing the boundaries,  We speculate about what might be out there beyond the limits of our vision. If we went on a journey, across space, or time or other dimensions, what might we find on the other side?

The Judge

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A regular fixture on the Flash Fiction Circuit and a veteran of NaNoWriMo challenge, Robin Abess also known as @Angelique_Rider on Twitter has graced us with champion stories before and will once again be this week's judge.

The Prompt

When we started this journey, we never thought we'd find...

The Rules

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  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the
    first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the
    prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an
    unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted
    by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be
    invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the
    one shown here.
  6. If your story contains graphic language, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  7. Have fun!

 
My apologies on the lack of formatting this week.  I just want everyone to get their results, then I'm going back to bed.  Big thank you to judge David A Ludwig for his excellent reviews!

Reviews

Kimberly Gould (@kimmydonn)
NEVER SAY DIE –

Wow, great job building and maintaining interest from the start. Sounds like a zombie apocalypse to me, but I love that you never spell that out or even really show anyone at the full zombie level. Very intrigued by the fact that only adults seem to be affected, and love the contrast of the main character’s very reasonable level of self-involvement with the greater crisis encroaching on their special day. This one definitely engages my imagination.

L.T. Dalin (@ChessnySilth)
RANDOM FLUKE –

Fun interplay between your characters, I love the contrast of their personalities held together by their ‘survivors’ scenario—and of course the source of the virus is one of the survivors. Very intrigued by the concept of the apocalyptic plague, and you top the fun off with an excellent, and perfectly foreshadowed, emotional gut-punch when the survivor with him exhibits symptoms. I love the scope of the story you imply with this single scene.

Mark Ethridge (@LurchMunster) –

Egh, great job describing the experience of the symptoms in the beginning—took me back to the last time I was really sick, and that was a long time ago. I also love the narrator’s quoted commentary on his situation. The twist of robotization is a very refreshing deviation from the norm on this prompt, and you definitely had my interest with the silver as I tried to piece together what was going on alongside the narrator.
That said the transition from cold to robot take over felt a little sudden and lacking in set-up. I would have liked some subtle hint how he might have wound up ‘infected’ before the silver started showing up—and I wonder if we didn’t get too much information about the globabl takeover at the end. The implication of “Human unit 13527938 ready for use” would have been enough information to get me excited.

Nick Johns (@nickjohns999)
SOUL MUSIC –

The staccato rhythm of your set-up and sense of mystery as to just what’s going on and why priests are being brought up in relation to what was thought to be a cold is great. Ooo! Genius, like the piper’s music itself your piece flows in an eminently readable fashion. I loved the musical exorcism, but suggesting it to be the Pied Piper at the very last was a true master-stroke.

Rebekah Postupak (@postupak) –

Wow, great segue from the cold to the job situation. It makes this a very timely piece, and immediately takes it into territory I can relate to all too well. Also it makes the cold more intriguing in the context of being the first paragraph, but then set aside for the reader to wait to return to. The reveal of being an exchange student from Venus at the end was cute and definitely made me smile, but ultimately the piece felt like it lacked something.
You captured a brilliant and poignant day-in-the-life snapshot, but as we reach the clear ending of the piece I’m not sure what to take away from it. It was fun, but these competitions are intense enough it takes a little more than fun to win.

Honorable Mentions

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Jeffrey Hollar (@klingorengi)
COLD TERROR –

The immediate set-up of their marital relationship was a great direction to take things, focusing on the characters rather than the cold. Definite points for being the first story to actually scare me, even with some logically grim stuff in the others—which again I think comes from the initial focus on the relationship, after which describing his condition alone is frightening. Ack, and then she’s probably got it too at the end? That was some brilliant horror in a very small word count. Brilliant.
You got second place for being the best horror entry this week—if horror were more my genre you probably would have won. The technical execution, characters and precision of your craft were all excellent in this piece.

Alissa (@lissajean7) –

Immediately I’m grabbed by the depth to which you take us into the narrator’s point of view, the thoughts quickly began to feel like my own—and it doesn’t hurt that I don’t get sick easily myself. The number fixation and appreciation for the nurse were great details to immediately tell us a lot about the character. Yours is one of the stories that really immerses the reader in the reality of the epidemic by presenting it so entirely from a point of view to which it matters.
“Then start taking some blood, woman!” Made me laugh, I love that kind of fire to a character and it was a great counter-point to their dire situation.
I’m giving special mention here because your combination of dire circumstance, character and humor put me in a very similar mood to the winning entry.

Winner

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Robin Abess (@Angelique_Rider)

REGRETS –
Of all the disease stories, I particularly enjoyed your ability to set the scene immediately with your description of the symptoms and attempted treatments. The technical precision of your story really grabs me too, with each paragraph feeling like just the right amount of information before moving on to the next scene.
Okay, you really nailed this one! You got me to smile with a vampire/dhampir coming-of-age story, it actually seemed cute when the mom laid down for the dad and daughter to feed on her—and I sorta wonder if the doctor was in on the whole dhampir thing. Excellent characters, and you actually wrote a vampire story I’d like to read more of in spite of recent media vampire super-saturation.
You had some very stiff competition this week, some of which I’d say was just as emotionally compelling and technically executed as your story. Ultimately what makes the difference and allows me to say you are the clear winner is that on top of all that, you actually left me with a positive feeling at the end. I imagine the mom isn’t going to feel too good for a while and there are definite complications on the horizon, but I didn’t get the sense that she would die or that the complications were insurmountable. In a story where a little girl gets sick and turns into a monster and her mother is powerless to stop it, leaving me in a good mood is an amazing achievement.
So, in the context of my interpretation I’m not sure if “Regrets” is the right title for your story. I get that she has them, but that isn’t what I take away from the story. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, and either way I pick yours as the winner, but thought it was worth mentioning

Regrets
by Robin Abess


I thought it was just a cold. Mary was pale and listless, sneezing and coughing a little bit, but no fever. She complained of chills, so I wrapped her in blankets and put a hot water bottle on her feet. She couldn’t get warm, and as time went on, she was getting worse. I took her to the doctor, but he wasn’t alarmed. Said he’d seen a few other cases in children her age, and just to keep her on bedrest and lots of fluids. She should be fine in a few days. I took her home, trying not to worry.

The weekend came, and I heard Mary crying, so I rushed into her room. She complained that the bright sunlight hurt her eyes and made her feel funny, so I closed the blinds. The next day, she said her teeth hurt, so I gave her pain reliever, but it didn’t help. Her back started itching along her shoulder blades, and she scratched at her skin until she bled. I called the doctor again, but he insisted that she’d be fine and that she was having an allergic reaction to something.

I gave her oatmeal baths and juice and read stories until my throat was sore. I kept her blinds closed tightly, and even put a thick blanket over the window, when she said the light was still too bright. I wanted to take her to the hospital, but she cried so hard, I relented. Finally, I did what I hadn’t wanted to do at all – I called her father.

He was angry that I hadn’t called him before, but over the staticky connection, I heard him say he’d be there soon. True to his word, Duvid showed up on our doorstep that night. He brushed past me without even a greeting and rushed upstairs to Mary’s room.

“Papa!” Her voice was weak and thin, but happy.

“Papa is here now, my darling. You’ll soon be fine.”

I’d followed him, and I watched as he stroked her dark hair, so like his own, with his long fingers. He looked her over thoroughly, nodding thoughtfully at the spots on her back. He nodded again when she opened her mouth for him to examine her teeth, turning to face me.

Those eyes. They were deep and glowing and I fell into them. He beckoned me to the bed and I went without hesitation.

“Well, Emma, it seems we know now who Mary will take after. She’s going through the transformation now. By tomorrow, she’ll be ready for her new life.” He paused, smiling slightly. “Before then, she must…feed.” His voice grew low and husky on the last word. “As will I. It was quite a long journey.”

He gestured to the bed and I lay down beside our daughter. I listened as he taught her how to release her fangs and felt two sets pierce my throat. As I lay there, I wondered again why in the world I’d married a vampire..

 
I had a miserable weekend, writhing in the clutches of wretched illness.  It offered time to contemplate on my mortality and the simple fact that I'm not as resilient as I once was.

Use this week's prompt to explore mortality, loss, the beginning of the zombie apocalypse or whatever else your clever minds can interpret.

The Judge

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This week's judge is no stranger to the winner's circle.  David Ludwig has won Motivation Monday several times, along with nearly every other challenge on the Flash Fiction circuit.
Best of all, he is a tremendous supporter of other writers and always offers helpful critiques when he judges.

Visit his website to find out more about David.  You'll find fascinating posts about gaming, blog series like  Lost Girls' Society, artwork and information about the new Super Flash Fiction Magazine.


The Prompt

[I] thought it was just a cold.

*replace with any noun or pronoun to suit your plot.

The Rules

Picture
  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the
    first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the
    prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an
    unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted
    by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be
    invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the
    one shown here.
  6. If your story contains graphic language, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  7. Have fun!