A worthy cause – Friday Fictioneers horror


Its gossamer tentacles slowly, almost tenderly, sank toward the fascinated crowd, captivating with hypnotic eyes. In a siren’s voice it lulled them for a final kill. They always said its gorgon beauty came from the gods. The ruling gods of silver capsules, the ones demanding constant sacrifices, but who rewarded quisling potentates with wealth that never had been known to man before. “It’s honorable to be selected for the greater good”, the priestess had proclaimed, and yet, for the first time, dressed in satin gowns, the young girls realized they had been bred as food to alien pets. They screamed.

Copyright – DLovering

Copyright – DLovering

I had every intention of writing a romantic story with a happy end. But somehow all I could see was a big monster with tentacles lowering itself toward a horror-stricken crowd.

Friday Fictioneers are a group of bloggers writing 100 word stories to the same picture every week. Visit Rochelle‘s home page to get all the info, and maybe join you too. You will be in great company.

One of the great thing with Friday Fictioneers is constructive feedback. I rewrote it after feedback from Rich and Helena, and also by Sandra and Janet.


Updated version

Its gossamer tentacles slowly, almost tenderly, sank toward the fascinated crowd, captivating with hypnotic eyes. In a siren’s voice it lulled them for a final kill. They always said its gorgon beauty came from gods.

The ruling gods of silver capsules, the ones demanding constant sacrifices, but who rewarded quisling potentates with wealth that never had been known to man before.

“It’s honorable to be selected for the greater good”, the priestess had proclaimed, and yet, for the first time dressed in satin gowns, they screamed as soft tentacles painlessly absorbed their tender flesh, the purpose of their lives fulfilled





April 9, 2014

137 responses to “A worthy cause – Friday Fictioneers horror

  1. Definitely not something I would have thought of…gossamer tentacles, indeed. It makes me think of how people often end up doing awful, terrible things, as long as there’s a reward—even trivial rewards. Your last lines had quite the kick!

  2. Hi Bjorn,
    Loved your always poetic language in this — was a bit surprised at the form. You might want to break this up a bit, it’s all one paragraph, and so ends up reading like one long sentence without pauses (at least that’s my experience.)
    Prose, like poetry, sometimes stands or falls on its adherence to form.

    Love, Helena

  3. long time ago, after i had written these for a few months and enjoyed the positive reactions, pretty sure it was russell who left a comment that he was a little disappointed in what i had written. i was shocked because, well, just because, because it was “me” (as if i’m special) and i wasn’t used to anything but how great i had done. and then i thought more, reviewed more, and dammit he was right on target where i had slipped on my narrative. that was a great thing he did, and it changed how i approached these assignments as well as anything else i ever wrote afterward.

    so, now your turn. this line, “the young girls realized they had been bred as food to alien pets.” i don’t want you to tell me THAT they realized. i want you to tell me HOW they realized. the real, grisly moment in this story is the moment when something is happening that allows these girls to realize their true purpose. that’s the horror. piercing flesh, exposed fangs, blood letting, slow asphyxiation, etc. so, HOW did they know? what did they feel? what was physically happening? that’s what i want to read. it’s that moment of revelation for the reader, when we are putting it together for ourselves instead of being told what happened. i guess it’s the classic “show, don’t tell” kind of thing.

    • Ah.. yes that’s the true challenge.. I fully agree… I guess I was lost in my eagerness to tell the tale, and in all honesty my focus was really not the sacrifice itself but the greedy leaders that sent young girls to be sacrificed for their own benefits.. but I definitely see your point, and at one point I might go with a change.

      • less important than changing it is that you would even consider it. thanks for not flipping out as others have when i didn’t say “great job.” but i know that you’re beyond that with a more grounded stress towards good writing and not just good cheer.

    • As I am completely new to fiction (as a writer), I would welcome any criticism you might have as well. Your words to Bjorn were helpful not critical (in the negative sense). I’m looking to improve … I give myself enough ‘atta-girl’s’. 🙂

    • Excellent feedback. I am always grateful to the FF readers who take the time to give honest feedback. Sure, it stings sometimes, but it is how we grow as writers. Björn, I am always impressed with your poetic wording, but I too was caught up on that final scene… “show don’t tell.” I think Brain hit the nail on the head, and I enjoyed reading both versions of your story. It’s a good example for all of us, to see the process… where you started, and what you worked on. Great dialogue here; it’s what I love most about FF and the blogging community… the willingness to share ideas and feedback and support each other with constructive criticism.

  4. Ohhh. Gave me the creeps. Good story, especially the way the alien is portrayed. I could see this as a really cool movie! Good work!

  5. I’m not sure which version is which. You have a different POV with each ending…I kind of like the first one because it speaks more to why this is happening, (i.e., the food for alien pets) and I think a more complete story. However, they are both effective endings. Well done, Bjorn!

  6. I really like that you bring a poetry to something as terrifying and horrifying as the alien Aztecs. And I love “quisling potentates.” 🙂 I’m a sucker for great words and phrases. Per the discussion, I like the form of the first even though, as you know, I like playing with structure and do it often myself. This story felt to me as if it all flowed seamlessly without a break and the one paragraph conveys that.

    As for the ending, “for the first time dressed in satin gowns, the young girls realized they had been bred as food to alien pets. They screamed.” First of all, I prefer the first ending as the line with that mayor seems to me to be stuck on and takes changes the tone of the story. Secondly, I think it should be “food for alien pets.” Finally, I feel as though maybe you could use a comma between “time” and “dressed” unless you’re stressing that it was the first time they’d worn satin gowns rather than they realized for the first time.

    janet

    • quisling is a word of special significance as it is named after a Norwegian traitor who ruled when Norway was occupied by Germany.. I changed the ending of the second one, I totaly agree with the mayor.. it was just that I really wanted to use up all my 100 words.. Now I have two versions with small differences.

      As for poetic language, I really try to use scansion in what I write, to give it a clear beat. Once you have started it’s hard to stop doing it…

  7. I preferred the second one, but without the addition of the ‘mayor’ bit which seemed to take the story elsewhere to little effect. Well done Bjorn.

  8. Wow, ‘painlessly absorbed their tender flesh’ – wonderful. I wonder about the screaming. It might be creepier if they were silent, especially if it is painless (although horrific).

  9. Bjorn, I prefer the rewrite. As the silver capsules already spoke of aliens to me and the new ending left me felling their demise and sick with the reality of the mayor’s reward.

  10. It’s always interesting to see how an author reworks a story and to compare the choices he made. Raymond Carver’s widow brought out a collection of his stories as he wrote them before Gordon Lish edited them. It’s fascinating to try to decide why Lish slashed them so severely. I like both your versions – great imagery – but the second seems crisper and cleaner to me.

  11. Creative and entertaining – I love it! I do like the second one better than the first one – though I do understand the thought process behind both of them.

    Well done, sir. 🙂

  12. The rewrite is really effective. “soft tentacles painlessly absorbed their tender flesh” makes for more dramatic reading and is in line with the lyrical beginning. I thought about alien monsters too but decided to the other way.

  13. By the way – since I run into you at CDHK and several prompt sites – I value your opinion because you are such a skilled writer. If and when you have suggestions to improve a piece I am open to your suggestions, if you have the time.

    The constructive criticism I received (in a recent rejection letter!) was painful but very helpful. We need that from time to time. 🙂

      • It was for a journal; I thought “why not?” – just to say I did it. 🙂 I had no real expectation of being published, so the “hurt” kind of surprised me. But it was a great learning experience. My haiku have improved; I can see that now.

        All the best to you —

  14. Fun! The second version, with the breaks and rewording of the end, is much more impactful, and delightfully horrifying.

    I would change “the one” to “the ones” in the 2nd paragraph, first line, since “gods” is plural.

  15. Yeah, the second version is the clear winner. Far more subtle and insidious, although I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be chosen and would have screamed bloody murder as in the first. l could only see a monster too, but a low budget one. Much less subtle than yours.

  16. Dear Bjorn -I love your story. I like the first one the best. It scares me and I like not having everything explained. That’s why we have an imagination. Good job! Nan

  17. Loved both versions. I can see where you got your inspiration. I had thought something akin to your rendition, but went with romance. Looks like we were thinking similarly…but went in opposite directions. Excellent rendition…

  18. Great story! I particularly love the first three sentences. While I definitely get a sense of building tension in the condensed version, I think the separation of the narrative into paragraphs allows the reader to better absorb the power of your language choices. I’m not really sure how to explain it… in the version with paragraphs, it is as if your language gets heavier to fill the spaces, thus building anticipation in an unexpected (but incredibly effective) way.

  19. Both versions are good. I think, personally, I like your original, but that’s a matter of personal taste (that pun was NOT intended…but now that it’s there…hope those aliens found the girls to be tasty!!) 🙂

  20. Ooh yes! When I first saw this picture on Wednesday, I did think of a many legged creature too! The sacrifice element didn’t strike me though. And yes, the amended version definitely flows better.

  21. I’m grateful I didn’t decide to read everyone else’s posts for this edition of Friday Fictioneers before I wrote mine, since I just cannot get the image of a giant Cthulhu advancing on me from that picture. I have your talent to thank for that! 🙂 Second take has powerful wording, but the first one still did the trick. Awesome writing, BR!

  22. Not to be contrary, but I preferred your first version. And I would have liked to read your romantic story. I find it strange how such an innocent seeming image causes some of us to imagine such horror. But those streamers do look like alien tentacles…

  23. Dear Bjorn,

    That story made me shiver. I wanted to know, but didn’t all the same. You packed a big story in a few words. Terrific!

    Love, Renee

  24. It’s rather reassuring to know that I wasn’t the first one who saw undersea tentacles at first glance of the picture. What a great story.

  25. This street decoration is inspiring FFers in so many different ways. It is sort of octopus-like, isn’t it? I love ‘quisling potentate’. Had to look up ‘quisling’. I see a bigger theme in your story: of enslavement dressed up a freedom.

  26. Great story, I preferred the first version, the screams at the end have a lingering effect and represent the silent screams of so many people who suffer at the expense of others who accumulate wealth

  27. Everything I would have said had already been said. I prefer the rewrite; it is great to get such good feedback from fellow FF’ers, I am in the process of reworking my story after positive feedback
    Great story Bjorn

  28. Bjorn, Thanks for posting the revision here as well as the first post. I thoroughly enjoyed your take on the prompt this week, and the revision is a significant improvement. Your story this week is creative. You truly wrote about what spoke to you in the picture more than about what you saw.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  29. those street decorations will never be seen as silly plastic decor anymore. yes, i love the revised polished up version.

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