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Old 01-31-2010, 06:51 PM
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Default Word Vault Flash Fiction Contest – WBQ25

Welcome everybody to the Word Vault Contest thread, as featured in WBQ 25

Before we go into the Details one round of applause for Xanthia, the winner and Calligraphy, the runner up, of last seasons Contest. Now the sharp eyed of you will have noticed that Xanthia is not featured in WBQ 25, as sadly we where unable to get hold of Xanthia to ask permission.

for both.

On to this seasons contest, with hopefully some really wonderful words for you all to play with.



Members are allowed one entry in the Word Vault Flash Fiction Contest. You are required to use at least one of the words from the Word Vault, (duplicated for your convenience below). Entries should be submitted as posts to this thread. The competition is open to all members of Writer’s Beat, including staff.

Members are requested to refrain from commenting on entries in this posting thread. Please use the Word Vault Flash Fiction: WBQ26 - Comment thread instead. That thread will remain open throughout the posting period and afterwards, and members are encouraged to let entrants know what they thought of their entries.

Word Limits:

250 words maximum


Once an entry has been submitted, it cannot be altered. Any work that is edited after it has been entered will be disqualified. If you feel you need to make a small alteration (a misplaced comma, a spelling error), contact a member of staff. If we feel your request is reasonable, we will make the correction on your behalf.

Close Date:
31st March 2010, 12 midnight GMT


After the closing date, we (the Staff) will select a winner to be published in the next issue of Writer’s Beat Quarterly, assuming permission is given when we contact the winner.

susurrus (n): 1) a whispering or rustling sound, 2) a low, soft sound, a murmur
Example: From the back of the class, I could perceive a gentle susurrus as the students got bored with the exercise.

macaco (n): 1) a macaque or similar monkey, 2) (obsolete) any of a number of species of Lemurs
Alternative spelling: macauco
From either Portugese macaco and/or French macoco (from Malagasy maka/maki (lemur))
Example: The rowdy macacos had stole all the fruit from garden table while I was getting the ice.

crenellated (crenelated, US) (adj): 1) having a series of square indentations, 2) resembling battlements (v): past participle and simple past tense of crenellate
From crenellate (to indent/notch, to add crenelles), from crenel (the space between merlons in a battlement), from the Latin crenellare, and/or French créneler
Example: She could see the town below her, nestled on top of a
low hill, surrounded by a crenellated wall from theMiddle Ages.
_____— Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl, p 52

whittle (n) A large knife; (v) 1) to carve shapes out of wood with a knife, 2) to gradually reduce something
From Middle English whittel ‘an alteration of thwitel, from thwiten (‘to whittle’), from Old English thwitan possibly from Old Norse þveita (‘to hurl’)
Example: The wooden bear had been skillfully whittled by Grandpa.

culverin (n): 1) A large cannon or a type of handgun, precursor of the musket and field gun
From Old French coulevrine, from Latin colubra meaning snake.
"In this, my countrymen, be rul'd by me:
Have special care that no man sally forth
Till you shall hear a culverin discharg'd
By him that bears the linstock, kindled thus;
Then issue out and come to rescue me,
For haply I shall be in distress,
Or you releasèd of this servitude."
_____— Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, Act V

latibulate (v): To hide oneself in a corner
Example: Don't latibulate, please. Come out and introduce yourself.

happify (1945) (v): To make happy
Example: Several attempts to happify Quinlan simply didn't pan out.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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Last edited by Tau; 03-16-2010 at 03:15 AM..
Old 02-01-2010, 10:37 AM
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She sat looking at her son sleeping, making susurrus tones he lay still, upon her knee. If only he could be like this all the time, she thought to herself. What could be more beautiful? More serene? A 4 month old baby boy with whispy light brown hair and blue eyes. Most of the time he was content just being fed and sleeping, but he could cry when he wanted. Sometimes he would howl the house down, demanding food to be brought to him on time. How could a life this young, small and delicate make such an enormous noise?

After about half an hour, he was awake again. Red in the face, his screams filled the house. During times of silence it was like the lull before the storm. With two children, times of peace did not happen as easily anymore. The house was a constant whirlwind of chaos.

The home was usually tidy, but when her 4 year old came home, it looked as though a tornado had hit the house. Where was the time when she spent just watching her son sleeping? Why does time fly by so quickly? It waits for no man and has no respect for anyone. If a photograph of a certain time in your life could be captured what moment would you choose?
Old 02-03-2010, 07:46 PM
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“I won’t stand for Tanner’s nonsense much longer,” Mark said as we crossed the campus.

“What nonsense?” I replied. “I think his arguments are quite logical.”

“It’s not his arguments that irritate me, Vernon. It’s his crenellated voice. It can drive a man mad.”

“His crenellated—what?”

“It’s like the wailing of a culverin. It’s like getting stabbed in the ears with scissors.”

“A culverin? Mark, I think—“

“It’s torture, sitting in that lecture hall for fifty minutes, shackled to our seats, defenseless against the onslaught of his vocal cords. You must admit that, Vernon.”

We arrived at the door to the lecture hall and stopped.

“I don’t believe I’m obliged to admit anything,” I said. “In fact, I disagree with your assessment. I think Tanner has a very pleasant speaking voice.”

“Oh, please,” Mark said. “The screeching susurrus of his classroom disquisitions is better suited to the interrogation rooms of Guantanamo Bay.”

“I know what you’re doing, Mark.”

“Really? And what might that be?”

“You’re attempting to use each word from our writing prompt in your conversation, but you’re purposely using them incorrectly.”

“I always knew you had a sharp mind, Vernon. The whittle now is, have I succeeded?”

“Not yet.”

“No, not yet. I still have one macaco to go. Make that none.”

“Well done,” I said, grinning. We shook hands and laughed, Mark said, “That was fun,” and we entered Professor Tanner’s classroom.
it all ends in tears anyway
Old 02-07-2010, 08:49 AM
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I am the hunter. The one true beholder. He whittled his knives until they were sharp enough to slit his forefinger upon slight contact. Withdrawing from the shadows, he proceeded with the grace of a leopard. The assassin scanned the crowd and locked his gaze on the target. He quietly chuckled to himself. The target was a short, fat man wearing the most ridiculous garments he had ever seen. With a fiery orange bowler hat, he was impossible to miss. He was an easy target; almost too easy. It wouldn’t give him much of a thrill, but at least it would satisfy his thirst. The fat man waddled through the crowded streets until finally stopping at an alley. The assassin moved with the shadows like they were united, concealing his every move. He smiled in amusement. He’s making it easier for me. The man scratched his head, obviously lost. He took out a map. The killer glided through the alley, making no sound. He stood behind the target, his gleaming knife in hand. The man was still reading the map, oblivious to his upcoming danger. He comically folded his arms and tapped his foot, causing the target to whirl back.
“Who- who are you?”
“I am the jaws of death.” And with those words, his knife plunged deeply into the man’s chest. He watched as blood spurted, smirking with a sick pleasure. Wiping his knife on the man’s hat, he left without disposing the body. They never find him anyways.
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest achievement."
Old 02-09-2010, 06:53 PM
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You know that feeling after something bad happens? The helpless feeling that seems to break down the walls you had built to keep the world out. The feeling that seems to makes pride a pointless past time. I’ve come to know that feeling well over time. It’s always been a pointless hurt until now. I finally see that the walls and pride where the things that kept me thinking I could do it all alone.

I find myself standing between the right way and the easy way. My friends morals no longer mach mine. There friendships are becoming fake and our smiles rest on uneasy conversation, all derived from a forever decreasing similarities. Life is becoming complicated and I’m losing faith in the people I once turned to. The one place that I saw as an escape has become hell on earth. The comments the giggles the looks, make even the idea of school torturer. Each new comment slowly whittles away the confidence I once held. The teachers treat me like I’m stupid and I’m starting to believe them.

Now that my pride has been broken and my world isn’t the familiar place it once was, I see that I can lean on you and let go. As my friends fall away and you hold me tight. You look at me with no judgment and I love you for it. With you the helpless feeling that haunted my life is forgotten.
Old 02-10-2010, 12:45 PM
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A group of macacos scampered toward the safety of the surrounding trees. Their early morning routine of grub eating was rudely interrupted by a threatening scent. A chorus of warning yells issued from them, as they climbed a vine or scrambled up a trunk.

A predator was near them. The smell of the unseen threat was strong and familiar to their senses. All their eyes were wide with fear as they frantically scanned the area below for movement.

The soft susurrus of the invading movements cascaded through the air and landed on the macacos sensitive ears. More shouts of intrusion gave away some of their positions in the leafy trees.

The sounds of the impending danger vanished suddenly, but the threat wasn’t over. Through a small opening of underbrush, virtually invisible to the weak eyes of the smaller primates, lurked the long barrel of a musket. It pointed steadily at an unfortunate macaco.

Bam! The firearm unloaded without warning. The lead ball struck its intended target with enough force to open a gaping hole along the macaco’s neck. All feeling in its body ceased swiftly. The monkey’s grip released and it fell to its death.

A voice rang out from the veil of greenery concealing man. “Nice shot Jimmy!”
Battle is tricky. Sometimes one can only hope that luck strikes favorably. But without effort, luck is sacrificed.
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Last edited by Devon; 03-26-2010 at 06:53 AM.. Reason: Comma to period change
Old 02-11-2010, 04:33 PM
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Goodbye, Mary sue

“Ivy, Get me the rifle.”

“The rifle? But.. John, what-”

“Just get the damn thing now!”

"Pa, what is it?" I cried.

“Josephina, stay behind the stairs.” Pa's voice thundered like a culverin as Ma emerged from the kitchen, rifle in hand.

“They're coming across the field,” Pa growled. He fired a shot from the window. Ma cried out in alarm, and despite their orders, I relinquished my hiding post and ran to her side.

“There's too many! I can not hold them off for long. We have to get out of here, get down to Gunderson's farm!”

He took one more shot and then turned, and before I knew it he had scooped me up in one powerful arm and the three of us were running through the small house and out the back door. As we ran, I craned my neck to look back.

Most of the people coming towards us were already half- rotten, and dirt-covered. But I recognized one – Mary Sue. She had died six months ago from fever. She had been only twelve, a year younger than me, and looked as though an animal had got to her and gnawed off most of her right arm. Still she came awkwardly towards us, mouth gaping.

Pa lifted the rifle. I heard the bang, and I saw the top of Mary Sue's head open. Then she fell to the ground, and I turned and looked towards the Gunderson's farm.

Goodbye, Mary Sue.
Not all who wander are lost...
Old 02-21-2010, 12:05 AM
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Default Fretful Healing Time...

A susurrus reached my ears and I turned around, curious as to what made the noise. When I noticed my darling little kitten latibulating in kennel, I nearly wept with guilt.

Approaching the cage-like structure, I opened the door and reached inside slowly. When my fingers met the soft fur of Joy's forehead, I smiled softly at her and lifted her into my arms. “My crazy little purr-monkey,” I cooed at her, rocking her gently as she began to purr, although I doubted that macacos purred like kittens, if they purred at all.

“You know that I love you,” I sang quietly, leaning down to kiss her nose.

“I wouldn't put you in that cage if it weren't for your own good. You have to let your wound heal,” I told her, knowing she wouldn't understand as I spoke about the incision site from her spaying.

“If I could happify you while still keeping you safe, I would,” I added, kissing her once more before placing her back within her kennel. When she immediately snuggled into her bed, I sighed contentedly.

The fact that she wasn't cowering in the corner as before had my body sagging in relief. “Aishiteru.” I murmured my love for her softly before returning to my bed to read.
The Lanistter Chronicles
The Isle
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20 years Later: A New Masquerade
Isabella Lanistter & Chrystopher Stewart
Theories of Life & Love
'Reid's Journal'

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Old 02-28-2010, 02:47 AM
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Default A Pale Horse or a Pale Rider

The war has grown fierce. Germany's forces have whittled the Allies' morale to an all time low. The soldiers in the platoon have crenelated, creased, combat wear. They're fresh recruits. The Allies have become increasingly drastic.

The camp tents bear an emblem in honor of the current leader's father. It displays two macacos conjoined by the waist. One macaco smiles contentedly, holding a glass of beer. The other is rabid and wielding a culverin. His father is animated and optimistic, but a savage fighter, and resourceful leader, on the battlefield. He was greatly revered.

The atmosphere in the encampment is overwhelmingly sullen. The leader will latibulate to the desolated end of camp as a routine for comfort. It's not wise to hide from his troops. The absence of their leader can easily distill panic in the recruits. However, facing the facts is a crushing reality for both of them. The battle is looking grim. Only a charismatic leader can happify this group of discouraged troops.

“Look alive, men,” his bark quelled the floating susurrus.
“Let's haul our rear-ends in gear! There's a town full of rum, spirit, and rations waiting for us at the next contact zone. If we're gonna die, wattayasay we not die empty handed,” the leader grinned.
His father inspired those words. That's one half of him. The young leader can only find the missing half in the heat of battle.
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Old 03-04-2010, 01:44 PM
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I must have started the letter a dozen times. Looking back, I can’t remember the details. Each attempt blurred into the one after and the one before. For what must have been hours, my world had shrunk down to the susurrus of page against page and pen against paper. It had got to the point where I no longer knew what I was writing – just scribbling down words, churning them out in an attempt to pin down my errant feelings and whittle them don into something suitable to send to her. Maybe the problem was with those errant feelings. If I was unsure of them myself, how could I possibly hope to express them with the eloquence she deserved? She, who turned the merest word into poetry that fell sweetly upon my ears, whose very presence lightened up my life. She, who betrayed me. I hated her. I loved her. More than anything, I missed her. I continued with the letter. Waste paper piled up in the trashcan. My hand became sore from the frustrated attempts at expressing myself. My mind swirled in circles, trying to decide on how best to express it’s turmoil. Then – a knock on the door. I went. Opened it. She stood there, as beautiful as the day that she broke my heart. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, she was back in my life. I knew I shouldn’t let her in. I did.
Old 03-07-2010, 12:21 AM
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Default Inertia And The Art Of Nature Photography

Chris could see the curtain of rain advancing across the lake towards him. “Bloody stupid” he berated himself. He quickly packed up his camera kit, snatched up his bicycle and set off. Pedalling franticly, Chris realised he’d stayed too long, and was going to get soaked.

His train of thought was abruptly broken. A movement off to the right caught his eye: not far away - the width of the road maybe? Time slowed as Chris’s mind raced to process what he was seeing: small, about half a metre high, a light brown colour and hairy, running on all fours, a dog? No, not a dog; the face was all wrong… the face?

“…kin’ monkey!” he shrieked, struggling to avoid it.

Time suddenly came crashing back to normality as panic and adrenalin conspired to kick him in the backside. The monkey raced across the road and made a bolt for the tree line. Chris swerved squeezed the brake hard, realising just too late it was the wrong one - the front wheel stopped abruptly, with inevitable results.

Quickly pulling himself off the road, Chris realised he could still be in danger but the macaco was sitting a few metres away eating a piece of fruit. This was his first encounter with a wild monkey and it had scared him half to death.

“Just stay there you little bugger” he tried to sound friendly as he eased his camera from it’s bag.
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Old 03-07-2010, 05:19 AM
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Default The Assignment

Create a crenellated castle wall. That's what it said on the paper that the teacher had handed out. A susurus had taken over the classroom as the students discussed their ideas, and the styles they would be using. Everyone had magnificent walls in mind, with flags and chains and bricks, and little knights on top. Everyone, except me. I stared at the paper, and felt like latibulating.

When the bell rang, I heaved my bag onto my shoulder and slowly made my way out of the classroom. I didn't even know where I'd left my whittle. How on earth was I going to do the exercise? I wanted to stand out for once; to do something noone had ever seen before. All the other students always got compliments concerning their originality. Pwah. I could do that too, couldn't I?

I sat upon my bed, Animal Planet on in the background. Some documentary about macacos. All of a sudden, a crazy idea entered my mind. The assignment didn't mention what kind of castle it had to be, or if the construction should be realistic, did it? I could make a castle wall with macacos on it, firing culverins!

Talk about original, hah! That would happify the teacher.
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Old 03-07-2010, 08:12 AM
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When Mrs Digby entered, the room fell silent. Even the children knew of her thirteen different husbands and, more recently, her frequent "private meetings" with Reverend Locksby. Yet, Digby was aloof and dignified, and ignored the scornful looks she received as she made her way to the far wall, where Dorothy sat, staring at her knees, as though trying to make them move.

"I wish you wouldn't latibulate, darling," Digby whispered, "It's ever so rude. And where on Earth did you get that dress from?! It's ghastly!"

Dorothy merely gave Digby an icy stare and shuffled off, playing with her golden hair as she did so. The room continued to look at Digby, their eyes like knife blades.

"She's my daughter," Digby cried, looking at the room as if the inhabitants belonged to her. "And I feel no reason to justify my actions to you. Good day!"

And with that, she made her way out of the building, not even registering the sighs of the relief the congregation made as she departed.
Old 03-07-2010, 04:25 PM
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Daddy said people could fool you with nice clothes and a sweet voice, but the truth was in their faces. I couldn’t see Mr. Kramer’s face. The brim of his hat cast a shadow that masked it.

“Hey, Theresa right?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Follow me.” We walked towards two cars.

“Which one?” I asked.


“I only came for the Moonfire,” I said, “not the Carillo.”

“I know, but check them out.”

I walked around both cars, sat in every seat and checked the tires and bodies. They both had dints and some rusting, but one was a cereal box on wheels and the other had shape.

“I like the Moonfire,” I said.

“Ok,” he said then he popped both hoods and gave me a crash course on car engines.

Daddy warned me about this.

“So the Moonfire isn’t for sale?” I asked.

“No, you can leave with it today.”


“But as beautiful as you are, I don’t want to see anytime soon, and I don’t want to see your daddy either.” His voice was soft. He held his face in such a way that the mask disappeared, but it wasn’t like his voice. It was crenellated, worn by time and life’s cycles.

He felt my eyes on him and tilted his head masking himself again.

“Theresa I’m not trying to swindle you. You can have the Moonfire just like it is.”

I paused.

“Why don’t I look at them again,” I said.
Old 03-09-2010, 04:52 AM
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Just a bit further. Ignore the pain Melanie, it’s your only chance!” She repeated in her head. She was down on all fours, crawling flat on her stomach. He would know where she was going. The only neighbors they had on this secluded forest land. The Macomber’s.
She bit her lip as a twig scraped her belly.
Have to be quiet…” she reminded herself. He would be listening for any sounds she made.
When she moved here with him six months ago as his bride, she believed she was the luckiest woman alive. She had the perfect man and the most beautiful and private home to spend the rest of their lives together. Now with fearful eyes, none of it was fairy tale like.
The continuous flow of blood from the gash in her right shoulder now made her weak and dizzy and although her mind encouraged her to keep going, her body could not obey. She dragged herself up to a wide tree and latibulated behind it, listening for the sound of leaves crunching.
There it was! She held her breath as she saw his dark outline approach and suddenly his flashlight was aimed at to her face. With swift movement, he had her on her back as she struggled to break from his hold
“You can have the money you bastard! Just please let me go!” She screamed as he had the bloody stake knife poised in mid air. She dug her fingers in his eyes and he growled. He dropped the knife and without giving it a thought, she grabbed it and plunged it into his neck repeatedly.

Old 03-15-2010, 04:26 PM
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She stood at the door way and took a deep breath. This was going to be hard, but not nearly as difficult as the last three months have been. She adjusted her skirt, brushing imaginary lint from it. You're stalling, she thought.
She opened the door with resolve. She was determined to do this. At once it seemed, all eyes in the gallery turned to watch her walk in. The room seemed to quiet to nothing, hearing the proverbial pin drop. The susurrus she heard made her nervous. Surely they were wondering what she was doing there and why she had come. As she walked through the room, she could pick up bits of conversation. How could she come so soon, and she must be out of her mind to show up here after all that had happened. But she had every right to be there. It was, after all, her gallery and she wasn’t about to latibulate.
God, she hated the circle of people that she associated herself with. First order of business tomorrow is to get new friends, she thought smiling politely at anyone brave enough to catch her eye.
Old 03-19-2010, 02:57 PM
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The Tree.

I write with my dead husbands pen, the shaft, smooth like his shaven cheek, the ink, black as his hair and heart. The children are glad he’s gone. Their eyes are bright once more, and laughter fills the rooms. Sun warms the blossoming borders in the garden.

I unscrewed the hooks from the basement walls, burned the leather straps. The flames from the bonfire rose high. Old love letters, blackened and curled at the edges. They flew, like small, silent crows into the night sky.

The scorched earth grew cold, and I dug. Shards of bone, like whittled wood, white on dark soil, rattled against the edge of the spade.

In his ashes I planted a tree. The little tree thrives on the food around its roots.
Old 03-20-2010, 07:19 AM
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I ran, blinded by tears of terror, never really seeing where I was going and never caring; all I knew was that I had to get away, far away. My breathing came in small gasps sounding to me as loud as the shots from a culverin and the branches tore at me, sharp as whittles and tearing my skin like tissue paper. Blood. I was in trouble now. No time to worry, I had to keep going. Fate had a different idea though, a tree branch tripped me up and sent me tumbling to the ground. The sickening sound of bone snapping churned my stomach as I lay on the forest floor, unable to move. To latibulate was a welcome idea – too bad it wasn't an option. The susurrus that had been stalking me grew louder, closer as I closed my eyes in a fearful anticipation and waited...
Old 03-23-2010, 10:43 AM
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With its highs and lows the piano began to slowly squeeze emotion from my brittle depths. I turned my head and closed my eyes not caring who watched me. Every song the man had played while I'd sat at the fountain waiting had been a classic. The kind of music that easily blended into the susurrus of early mornings hushed conversation. But this, this had to be something of his own. I'd heard a sigh break from his lips as if he'd fought with the idea more than once before. It was made for someone he loved I could tell. It was written by a composer in worship, beautiful, carefully rising and falling, and then a tinkle of the lightest touches moving ever higher like crystal glasses toasting.

Was he thinking about her then? Maybe, but I was thinking of angels. Moving onto the deeper notes filled with base enough to rattle my chest, he brought a rumble from his instrument like thunder. Was he thinking of the loss then? Maybe, but I was thinking of my own. A tear welled, and then moved to the easiest route upon my face. I didn't need to look at him to know that he had seen it, I felt it in the hesitation of his next few notes. The song ended and I gathered my things, never looking back I joined the crowd.
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Old 03-29-2010, 03:29 AM
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The Classroom

A susurrus comes from the edge of the room where a group of girls sit, discussing the latest celebrities. Behind them a group of boys are leaning back, whittling on pieces of wood with pocket knives, which strictly speaking they should not have on them. Towards the middle of the room a group of students are acting like macaco’s no teacher is in site to stop them – not that the presence of a teacher would make much of a difference. I am latibulating in the corner of the room, it’s the perfect space, very few people notice me as I sit, watching. At the front of the room a few kids are taking it in turns to try and happify the rest of the classroom – not going to happen, why would we be happy here? It’s a prison, a cleverly disguised one, but a prison none the less. There is a picture of a culverin on the old blackboard – not that it’s easy to see for all the graffiti on top of it. I look up at the crenellated ceiling, waiting for the time when we will be rescued from our captivity.
Old 03-30-2010, 11:53 AM
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Default After the Battle. A Cameo.

After the Battle. A Cameo.

It was on the surface a tranquil scene. Birds sang and crickets chirped on a crisp Spring morning. The hopeless screams of the dying had long faded away. The smoke of the burning buildings had been borne out to sea long since by the salt breeze, although the charcoal smell remained. The once proud castle still stared out across the strait but it's defiant crennelated towers now lay cast down. It's rough granite walls were tumbled in disordered mounds. The grass had started growing over the picked-clean bones of fallen victims. In a century or nine the tourists will think it's "quaint" and "picturesque" but they won't have to see the ravens, feathers slick with gore, too fat to fly.

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