In the Eye of the Beholder

Eye-witness accounts are notoriously unreliable – people see what they want to see.

Write three tellings of the same incident, as expressed by three spectators – the incident can be everyday or exceptional.

One version a week for three weeks, each version 100 – 250 words.

Posted in 2012-03-12 to 2012-03-25 - Who Pitches the Pitchpeople?, 2012-05-14 to 2012-06-03, Pitches | Comments Off

Fire, Earth, Air, Water

Project Spectrum Elements by LollyKnit on Flickr

Tell us a story in four parts:

  • Fire,
  • Earth,
  • Air,
  • Water.

The whole story should be about 1,000 words (completed over four weeks), but each piece can be as long or as short as you like.
You can use the elements in any order, but must use them all.

Posted in 2012-03-12 to 2012-03-25 - Who Pitches the Pitchpeople?, 2012-03-26 to 2012-04-22, Pitches | Comments Off

Hey, Bartender

It’s been a rough day.
I need me a drink.
Something… with a kick.
Hey, bartender, what’s your signature drink?
What goes in it? Yeah, make me one of those.
How the hell did you come up with that anyway?

Manager says you’ve got one week.
And keep it short: name, recipe, and 100 words for the story.


Pic adapted from Cocktails 4 Two on Flickr.

Posted in 2012-03-12 to 2012-03-25 - Who Pitches the Pitchpeople?, 2012-04-23 to 2012-05-07, Pitches | Comments Off

The Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle, that is.
UFOs? Icebergs? Mermaids?
Share with us a story of a vessel, sea or sky, that was lost in the Bermuda Triangle.
Schlock preferred.

Our sources suggest that the story would take two weeks, and be about 250 words long.


Pic adapted from Boat in Bermuda on Flickr.

Posted in 2012-03-12 to 2012-03-25 - Who Pitches the Pitchpeople?, Pitches | Comments Off

Mrs Peacock, in the ballroom, with the dagger

“Hmm, yes?” She turned around to see him bowed deeply, hand proferred.
“Would you care to dance?” he asked, a confident, broad, grin across his face. She made him wait a few moments, then took his hand.
“Well, okay, just the one. I’m waiting for someone, and I wouldn’t want to miss them.”
“Of course.”

Her eyes kept darting to the door as they spun and twirled around.
“Welcome: I’ve not seen you here before.”
“Oh, I used to be a regular. Many years ago, though.”
“Really? I’ve been coming here for as long as I can remember, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember your face.”
She stopped her surveillance of the door for a moment: “I’ve changed a lot since those days. I hardly recognise myself.”
“Well, might I say you look magnificent now, Miss…”
“Peacock. Mrs. Thank you. Very kind of you.”
She spotted movement at the doorway. It was him. Tall, thin, same old leather jacket.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse me. My friend has arrived.” She stepped away as their twirl took them past the doorway.

“Hello, brother,” she spat, reaching for her concealed dagger.
“Hello, brother,” he replied. “I can always smell you. No matter how you change your body, your face. You stink of the vat. Green eyes now, I see.”
She plunged the dagger deep into his chest and was out and away before he hit the ground.
“Dammit, brother,” he groaned, pulling out the dagger, his skin closing around the wound.
“I say. Are you all right?” his brother’s dance partner asked.
His tightened his bloody grip on the dagger.

Posted in 2012-02-13 to 2012-03-11 - Get a Clue(do) | Comments Off

Miss Scarlett, in the Study, with the Spanner

“Dearest Rose,

John here, John Black. Remember me? What’s up with this strange recording, though, right? I am just such a cad! What a jolly old idea, to leave you this mysterious tape-recorder, this wacky message! Just like good old fun times.

I know, I know. I need to be moving on. Oh what fun we had, but it’s over noooooow! I should have made you a mixed tape – but this is better somehooow! No, don’t switch it off. You only get one chance at this message, my dear Rose. It has been designed to self-destruct just as you realise how fundamentally, life-changingly important it is: I modelled it after our relationship, after all.

But to get to the point: how was your meeting with Mr Green?  Did you enjoy the lengthy wait in the study? Seven people saw you go in there, you know, and four of them saw me enter the room earlier, with a nice cup of tea. What? You didn’t notice me? That hurts, honey, I was shoved under that sofa you were sitting on so nicely, dead already, still cooling. Anyway, did Green tell you I had tried to kill myself? Did you get a bit emotional? Did you run out crying? At least two people should have seen that. You see how it builds up?

Oh, and don’t bother looking for the murder weapon. You hid it well. Pity about the fingerprints, and of course using the spanner from your own car… careless. You were always a bit of a hothead, after all.

Good luck, Rose! Oh, you might want to put the tape recorder down now! That whole self-destruct thingy is about to -”

Posted in 2012-02-13 to 2012-03-11 - Get a Clue(do) | Comments Off

Mrs White, in the Kitchen, with the Rope

“Mrs Peirson? Hello, I’m Mrs White. Please come in it’s nice to meet you in person. “

“Why yes, it is a lovely old place. Come through to the kitchen. Let me apologise for the smell – the housekeeper has been cooking tripe for the dogs” – boiled down chicken blood doesn’t smell like tripe but Mrs Peirson wouldn’t know that.

“You say cloves? And cinnamon? Well it is a kitchen…” – scorched bat fur smells nothing like cloves! Mother Nastri would have cackled wildly at that:  She was quietly proud of the strange reeks that issued from her quarters behind the main house. In those long forgotten years in Haiti such stenches advertised her power and artifice.

“Now please sit down. As I understand it from your letter your problem is, umm, well, not in the bedroom; but rather in that you don’t conceive?” – it had  better be: I spend the whole morning tying and retying the six pointed knot in the blood slick rope – ‘eighteen  repetitions to be sure’, I was taught , ’each one as flawless as the child to be born.’

“Now sit down and have some tea – Earl Grey for you dear and Slimmer’s herbal infusion for me: it tastes terrible” – that at least is true, the rum is rough island gut – raw and burning the way Mother Nastri liked it.

“My mind-technique is simple – have a look at this rope, run it though your hands, concentrate on it” – a real hangman’s noose, used a decade ago to execute a certain John Muller, not easy to acquire in civilised England.

“Keep concentrating; close your eyes and visualise the soft maroon rope in your mi…” – this bit is always difficult, there is just no polite way to spit on someone in England.

“Oh! I am so sorry Mrs Peirson; that tea must have gone down the wrong way. Here, let me dry you with this towel. I feel terrible, I can’t apologise enough…” – well that’s that then, a job well done, another patient sent forth to motherhood.

“But you have the hang of it Mrs Peirson – just remember the mind-technique every night and your pregnancy is assured”

Posted in 2012-02-13 to 2012-03-11 - Get a Clue(do) | 1 Comment

Reverend Green, in the cellar, with the revolver

“Then the actress said: ‘And that’s as big as it’s going to get!’ Honestly, I nearly wet myself laughing,” Reverend Green said, putting down his cup of tea and passing his handkerchief to Mrs Winsham.

“Oh, thank you, Reverend,” she said, dabbing away the tears of laughter at her crow’s feet. “Oh, goodness me. I feel so much better. Thank you so much.”

“A pleasure, Mrs Winsham. I’ll be here whenever you need a chat.” He smiled softly at her as he plucked another Hob Nob from the plate.

Mrs Winsham took a final sip of tea and gathered her things. She nodded at him and waddled down the church aisle and out into the soft evening sun.

His hands twitched. A little rain of crumbs fell on his lap. I just need to pop down to the cellar. Just to make sure it’s still there; still safe. He caught sight of himself in the mirror: nibbling away like a squirrel at a nut. Just need to hold it again. He set off toward the cellar.

He pressed his hand against his chest. The key was still there. He pulled off his dog collar and rolled up his sleeves as he pushed open the heavy oak door leading down to the cellar.

He let his eyes adjust to the dark for a moment, then strode purposefully across the hard stone floor to the small lockbox in the farthest, darkest, corner. He opened it and picked up his old service pistol and breathed in the oily, metallic, smell.

“I’ve missed you, old friend,” he whispered, as Mrs Winsham flicked on the lights and her eyes opened so wide he thought they might pop out of her head.

Posted in 2012-02-13 to 2012-03-11 - Get a Clue(do) | Comments Off

Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick

The candlestick felt right: heavy, finely carved, balanced. Professor Plum lifted it experimentally, swung it gently from side to side, turned it over in her hands. The mechanism was superbly integrated, the surface smooth. No sign of tampering. Satisfied, she placed it in the centre of the round table, between the crystal ball and the skull.

The skull – on second thoughts, she removed the skull. It was simply too much, an extravagance too many. Hard to resist, of course, when ordering online, but nonetheless a mistake. She placed the grinning head back in the trunk – a genuine Moroccan camphor chest, very atmospheric and altogether a worthwhile expense. Very occult, very spiritual. Yes.

She checked the curtains she had draped over the library shelves one more time – heavy velvet things, subtly altered to swing and bulge mysteriously at the press of a button. Very eerie. Very authentic.

She felt ready; the subjects – guests, she needed to think of them as guests – would arrive shortly to take their seats around the table. They were drawn from all avenues of society – a reverend, a retired colonel, all sorts of different characters. The experiment depended on achieving a varied mix of believers and sceptics, young and old, religious and secular.

The Professor smiled as she allowed herself to imagine the findings: “The Effects of Supernatural Terror on the Human Psyche”. Of course, she was aware that true terror did not come from self-lighting candles, levitating tables and rustling curtains. These would merely create the atmosphere: her experiment truly centred around Dr Black and the role he had agreed to play.

It would be absolutely perfect.

Posted in 2012-02-13 to 2012-03-11 - Get a Clue(do) | Comments Off

Colonel Mustard, with the Lead Pipe, in the Conservatory

The colonel walked across the crumbling mansion, each pace carefully measured. His polished leather shoes made a crisp click with each stride. Despite his decade long retirement he still carried himself like an officer of the queen’s army – at least in public.

He entered the lush, humid confines of the conservatory; it was his custom to spend his evenings here nurturing his orchids. A package had been left inside the door – the pump outlet pipe that had been on order for weeks.  Although none would disturb him here, he quietly turned the key in the lock before taking the heavy pipe to the back courtyard.

He topped up the nutrient mixes in a few containers as he passed through the rows of orchids. He didn’t actually like orchids, they were too temperamental, but they were an appropriate hobby for an ageing gentleman. This hobby allowed him to obtain a variety of piping, pumps, sprayers and agricultural chemicals without fuss and without arousing the suspicions of servants or family.

After unlocking the low doorway, the colonel entered the glassed-over courtyard and set to work dismantling the main nutrient pump. He worked with clean, efficient precision: removed his jerry-rigged connector, fitted the new lead pipe and got the system flowing again. The colonel sighed, sat down in his camp chair and stretched out his legs. He was proud of the system; not many could design such a complicated set-up; six years as an army mechanic in North Africa teaches one about pumping water.

He pulled a small wooden pipe from his pocket and casually stuffed it from the drying table behind him. After lighting the pipe carefully, and taking a few slow drags, he held the pipe out before him and considered it deliberately.

The pipe was from his favourite grandson – ‘a souvenir from Africa’, the boy had said, ‘I know you’ll like it’. It was a rather communicative gift to a grandfather who doesn’t smoke. He thought how he had always liked the boy – perhaps he should invite him to the conservatory one evening soon.

Posted in 2012-02-13 to 2012-03-11 - Get a Clue(do) | Comments Off

Who Pitches the Pitchpeople?

Pitch?
Pitch!
Pitch.

Time for another Pitch generation phase ™.

Two weeks, at least two Pitches each.
Also: POIDH. Add a shiny, Creative Commons licensed, photo to make it pretty.

Posted in 2012-03-12 to 2012-03-25 | Comments Off

Transplant

“Look, I know you don’t really want to be here. It’s awkward for me too. But I think it’s important.”

“…”

“I just… I just want a chance to say my piece and then I won’t bother you again. I promise. Does that sound okay?”

“…”

“I have to admit: you’re not what I expected. Taller, for one. Smarter. Dressed smarter, I mean. That’s a great suit. Where did you get it? It doesn’t matter. It’s probably more than I could afford anyway. Me? Postman. Delivering the mail. See: I’ve the bag and everything. I know that almost everything’s electronic these days, but you’d be surprised how much stuff still gets sent through the post. Weird stuff too. The other day I – Oh! Here you come. No more practising.”

“Hi. You must be… Peter, right?”

“Yes! Yes, that’s me. Peter, yes. Pleased to meet, very pleased.”

“That’s great, Peter, great. You can let go of my hand now.”

“Oh, sorry, yes. Yes! Right you are. Sorry. Yes.”

“No problem. Let’s sit, shall we?”

“Yes. After you. Please. Let me get your chair.”

“Thank you. Waiter? Double espresso and a tea. Quickly, please. I see the transplant took well, Peter. Here you are, bouncing around.”

“I wanted to say… thank you. You saved my life.”

“That’s very kind, but perhaps a little bit of an exaggeration. I wasn’t using my soul; you needed one. I saw it as more of a business transaction.”

“Yes, but now you’ll go to Hell. And I’ll go to Heaven. For ever.”

“I don’t think that will be a problem. Let’s just say I have friends in… low places.”

“I don’t understand.”

“No, I don’t suppose you do. Ah, my coffee, excellent. May I smoke here?”

Posted in 2012-01-09 to 2012-02-05 - Coffee & Cigarettes | Comments Off

It’s, like, totally my dream job!

“Sorry – “

“What, are you kidding? This is perfect!”

“No, it’s just, my office –“

“It’s, like, totally inadequate for this, like I know? I totally get it!”

“No, I mean, it’s just small –“

“This is such a great coffee shop, you have such an eye. It’s like this perfect mix of grimy and gritty and local and flavour, you know? So, what do you want me to do?”

“Um. I thought we’d just – chat a bit?”

“Oh yeah, totally! Totally. OK, I’m taking in the vibe, right, I’m just gonna improvise, just go crazy, right? This is so cool. You are so cool!”

“What? Look, just tell me about yourself and stuff?”

“Right, totally. I got it: I’m gonna do like bohemian art-student vibe, coffeeholic, right?”

“What?”

“Oh, Simon, it’s like awesome to be hanging out here, you know these guys like started the coffee revolution, they are totally out there, you know?”

“What?”

“No, you gotta try the triple-whammy-moccacino – I like totally improvised that, did you get it? – it’s like the best in Seattle, you’re gonna love it!”

“Look, I don’t see this on the menu – “

“Oh, darling, you know it, you just ask for it, it’s like totally that kind of place. Gosh, those are such fabulous shoes, you are just so out there!”

“Um. Thanks?”

“Is this working for you? I could do something different. I’m really feeling it, you know! We are going to make such a great team! I’m like, totally, made for this kind of thing!”

Posted in 2012-01-09 to 2012-02-05 - Coffee & Cigarettes | Comments Off

She’s so fine

“She’s not all that.”

“Whatever. I wish I hadn’t told you.”

“No, no. This is good. Little Ricky, all growed up. On the prowl.”

“Oh fuck off! I just said she’s pretty. Why do you always…”

“Let’s call her over! I’m loving this. Miss!”

“No – shit! Mike! What – “

“Hey there, Miss, Kate, is it? Kate.”

“Hi. What can I get you guys?”

“Well, me, I wouldn’t say no to some of that… apple pie. I bet you’ve got great pie. But my mate Ricky, here, well, he’s – “

“I’m fine, honestly, I’m good with the coffee. Good – coffee. I mean – “

“He means he likes your coffee, you know what I mean? Heh!”

“One apple pie, then, coming up in a sec.”

“Oh, maybe you’re onto something, Ricky-boy. Watch that ass now – that’s some sweet-walking-away-action– “

“Geez, man! You’re a fucking jerk.”

“Wait, wait, here she comes – just watch this -”

“What? Watch what?”

“Apple pie. Here you go.”

“Not to worry. Hey, babes – what’s a sweet chick like you doing later?”

“Oh. “

“Lost for words, hey? I have that effect – “

“ – oh, you are actually asking me out? Seriously? “

“Uh -”

“Oh My God. Just a second. Ricky – your name is Ricky, right?”

“Y – yes, Rick, Rick is fine.”

“Rick sounds great. I’m actually nearly done here, and I think you and I might hit it off, actually. Wanna dump this idiot and blow this joint?”

“Sh –sure!”

“WHAT? Rick, what the – where are you going!? What the fuck just happened here?”

 

 

Posted in 2012-01-09 to 2012-02-05 - Coffee & Cigarettes | Comments Off

Business

“Mrs Hobson I assume”

“Ah. Mr Johnson, please sit down”

“A most interesting location you have chosen for this meeting, my dear. And in a language the locals can understand – it’s no wonder your lot are considered eccentric.”

“This negotiation concerns them; it’s outcome will determine the continued existence of everything they have ever known. They have, I believe Mr Johnson, a right to listen.”

“Still, inappropriate to our meeting. It might remind this lowly civil servant of his duty – and that would act against your cause.”

“You are here – you have no sense of duty. Anyhow I like the novelty of bipedalism and the vocalisations have a certain rustic gusto, don’t you think? Another espresso Mr Johnson?”

“I would prefer to get right to business. As I understand it you require me to survey the Sol System as ‘Devoid of Life’ so as to more easily acquire a C-class demolition permit for the surrounding reach. Is that the gist of it Mrs Hobson?”

“For which I will pay you four hundred Cesari pure by anonymous transfer.”

“I have further requirements, these long survey trips create domestic difficulties. I require a paid vacation to Belruga Playspace for my mates and I.”

“What, all of them?”

“Unfortunately tradition dictates only the primary seventy-seven should be taken on a trip of this nature.”

“Well that seems fair enough Mr Johnson – I believe we have a deal.  Let’s spit and shake hands on that: it’s how they do it here.”

Posted in 2012-01-09 to 2012-02-05 - Coffee & Cigarettes | Comments Off

Tough customer

“Un-fucking-believable.”
“What?”
“Same as yesterday. Cold. Too cold. Look at it.”
“What? Looks like coffee. It’s coffee.”
“It’s not just coffee. It’s my coffee, and it’s fucking cold. Again. Just like yesterday. And the day before.”
“Are you going to make a scene? Shall I come back in a few minutes?”
“No, stay right there, I’m going to sort this out and we can get down to it.”
“So, it all picks up speed from Wednesday, when we have six of them coming in. Fresh off the blocks, too, so you’ll have your work cut out for you. Be gentle with them this time. Thursday has another five, mid-range this time. Friday’s a bit slower and – you’re not even listening are you?”
“Hmm, no. I mean yes. Wednesday six little ones, Thursday five at half mast, Friday slow. There he is.”
“Who?”
“The waiter. Must have been hiding in the kitchen. Hey! Here. Yes, over here.”
“Jesus, make it quick, will you?”
“Hi. I’m afraid this coffee’s no good. Here, pick it up. See? Cold. Too cold. You can hold the cup for more than a few seconds. That means it’s too cold. Bring me a hot one, won’t you? There’s a good chap. Let’s see how he does this time.”
“I don’t know how people put up with you. Still living on your own?”
“I like my freedom.”
“Why do you keep coming here if the coffee’s so bad?”
“Haven’t I told you before? It’s wonderful for eavesdropping. Best way for people in our line of work to pick up business.”

Posted in 2012-01-09 to 2012-02-05 - Coffee & Cigarettes | Comments Off

Old Friends

“… dunno – about three years; you know I left a year after school and then lost touch with your posse till I met you here last week.”

“You look good – fit and healthy”

“Ja man – I run three k’s  every morning”

“Seriously ,  you – the x-box champion!”

“Every day – weekends too – I get up and run at six. It’s a great way to start the day.”

“Jus. When I knew you, you could barely walk up the two blocks to buy cigs without puffing.  I can’t believe you’re this seriously fit oke now. I mean you, a computer geek: what suddenly inspired you to start running man – that’s plain weird.”

“Well I met this girl….”

“You started running at 6am for a girl! You were love-struck baby, love-struck. And you always made out like you were way above that shit in school.”

“Naah, no man, no it wasn’t like that – I mean not after the first time. I was already basically living at her place, and she runs like once a week, so one day I go along with her just for fun and it nearly kills me but she’s very encouraging, you know – very encouraging.  And we discovered that it’s a really good time.”

“For what? A shower?”

“Well not that day, we didn’t get as far as the shower we just screwed in the hallway as soon as we got the door closed. It’s fantastic man – you’re both hot and sweaty and hyped up on adrenalin: it brings out all the wild every fucking morning man – it’s fantastic!”

“Running huh? I could run, sounds good.”

 

Posted in 2012-01-09 to 2012-02-05 - Coffee & Cigarettes | Comments Off

Cyclostyle

Emerging in San Francisco in the early 90′s, “cyclostyle” was was a brief trend embraced by some hipsters. In the end, however, it failed to catch the imagination of the general public.

The cycling-inspired fashion advocated garish colours, skin-tight lycra, and, most memorably, padded posteriors. This last feature may have been the style’s eventual downfall: in the immortal words of P. Diddy, “That’s one big ass, yo.”

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off

Tokonoma

Developed in Japan in the early 22nd century, tokonomas were first intended as a bridging device to help students adjust to an independent life. They were programmed to follow their owner around, picking up untidy elements, demanding the owner put on a jumper, lecturing their masters on topics such as safe sex and wholesome nutrition.

Rather than wean themselves off their tokonoma, many students took comfort in the ongoing, harmless presence of a responsible entity, giving rise to the Tokoma Generation –   child-like grown-ups still accompanied by their now worn-out robotic minders.

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | 1 Comment

Eschutcheon

The final shard of glass or ceramic that is only discovered a significant period after a careless domestic breakage.

An eschutcheon cannot be discovered by searching or vacuuming:  Riwaq is the correct term for a hidden shard discovered during a careful post-breakage search. The last Riwaq is assured to be both blunter and smaller than the eschutcheon.

Eschutcheon are most commonly discovered by bare-footed toddlers, first-time visitors and judgemental relations.

The phrase the second eschutcheon is informally used to refer to the tetanus injection associated with painful eschutcheon discovery.

Posted in 2011-19-12 to 2012-01-08 - From Arris to Wall Dormer | Comments Off