Special challenge 1

Submission deadline: November 6, 2011
Voting deadline: November 13, 2011

Write a story WITHOUT using the letter "e".

Challenge winner

Small Crimson Riding Hood

By Anneke Ryan

 

Amalia walks from bright sun into cold shadows of trunks and twigs and things such as moss. Pulling folds of brightly spun wool around thin arms, running, sighing; such things bring joy to a girl who is today all grown up.

-A cloak of wool for your birthday,- Mama had said. -A crimson cloak with a warm hood. You must show it to Grandmama this morning.-

Any lass would want this cloak, thinks Amalia, hurrying along a path, touching bright fabric with a cold hand. Any lass would walk all this way in it, would jog, would run, would happily bring fruit buns to Grandmama just to wrap such a cloak around cold arms, just to know such warmth in this wind. Such a cloak; it is a whirl of colour against our dark woods.

Grandmama's fruit buns stay warm from hot coals which Amalia finds difficult to carry. Mama had six buns for Amalia to pack, and six coals for warmth. Amalia had sat grandmama's lunch on a gingham mat and put a small cast-off fruit bun against a fold of fabric. It is important to bring victuals for such a long walk. Amalia shifts a hip and two buns roll out of position. Two coals follow. Fabric shifts too, unnatural crimson bouncing across soft colours of natural things in such woods as this.

A wolf is a natural thing, a natural colour, difficult to pick out amongst animals and plants. As Amalia sits, swallowing fruit bun crumbs, a wolf turns in its tracks. As our lass stands to go on, just such a wolf follows a crimson cloak, craving a warm, tasty body. In fright, Amalia runs quickly, arriving at grandmama's bungalow gasping for air. Amalia knows of six doors, but only two without locks. Amalia's hand clicks a latch and six buns and a grown up lass walk in to visit Grandmama.

Grandmama says naught, simply looks at Amalia's still warm gift.

-Grandmama,- Amalia says, -What big pupils you own today.-

-So grand to look at you,- Grandmama says.

-Grandmama, what big nostrils you own.-

With a laugh and a snort, Grandmama sniffs Amalia's crimson riding hood. 

-Grandmama, what big lips you own,- Amalia adds.

-So grand to kiss you with,- Grandmama says.

-Grandmama, what big molars in your mouth.-

That mouth drops and Amalia starts to inch away.

-So grand,- Grandmama says, -to swallow food I must first ch...-

Amalia's hand almost finds door two, but Grandmama is not Grandmama, but a now unnatural-looking wolf. It jumps toward Amalia, who ducks.

At that instant a man who chops wood for Grandmama on Saturdays slips his account through a gap around door four.

A lass may find irritation in a wood chopping man who didn't think to drop an account on a day that wood is cut and thus had to visit again. But though it is Monday, Amalia finds this solicitation calming and is glad to call him in.

-Marcus, it's not Grandmama. It's a wolf in Grandmama's frock and hat. It wants to lunch on a lass in a crimson riding hood. Mayhap it's had Grandmama as it's first swallow.-

Marcus flings back door four and floors Wolf-Grandmama with his handy woodchopping tools.

Amalia runs to Marcus and jumps into his arms. Grandmama's wood chopping man drops his tools, flicks crimson fabric back off Amalia's shining blond locks and looks down onto a small mouth. His own mouth curls into a grin. -I'd thought you'd not want this.-

As if of its own will, Amalia's arm wraps around him. His manly throat swallows, summoning Amalia's lips. Happily, Marcus lifts his lass's chin and brings this sport up to his skilful mouth. Though a grandmama has lost out to a wolf, a wood chopping man and a girl with a crimson cloak shortly marry and find many days in which to kiss... and do various things at which Amalia is unusually willing and Marcus particularly skilful.

Special challenge 1 submissions

Sing Us A Song

Sonya Lano | 01/11/2011

“Sing us a song!” Black Bull Saloon’s patrons shout loudly, grinning and smirking as I walk lightly up to its platform. My foot lands half-unwillingly on its first stair and I halt.
I don’t want to do this.
But can I back out now?
I push my limbs to carry on.
I turn to look at my public shifting anxiously and antsily on bar stools and chairs, and for an instant I can do nothing but flinch as I think on what an awful standard I’m about to stoop to.
No! It’s foolish to think of it!
Too many uncompromising doubts swirling too copiously in my mind.
Hastily wiping away all misgivings, I nod to Larry and summon a saucy grin as I kick up my skirts to show a bit of lacy stocking. My noisy throng bursts into wild catcalls and howl in anticipation as Larry’s hands slip across his piano in a smooth rhythm to match my dancing. I start to sing, knowing how strongly my song grips, imprisons and controls all in my proximity, turning normally autonomous chaps into putty.
All watch, lost in my harmony as I watch for…
Finally!
I almost faint as a motion disrupts my absorption in my music and I look toward a man pushing through Black Bull’s swinging doors.
Darryl!
Naught but a no-good rascal, though I cannot fight off my adoration for him. It runs too far into my soul to stamp it out without annihilating my spirit along with it.
His scan of his surroundings absorbs all risk factors: a muscular barman, a rowdy, vigorous, liquor-swilling crowd that calls out vulgar words about what I could do on a cot in a dark room…but mainly his caution is gauging how raptly all individuals watch my act.
A look and a knowing grin from him applaud my triumph and inwardly my soul soars high – too high! – as I contrarily also long to sink into a stupor, hiding in an uncaring void, for I know I slay my morals for him. This is not a thing I can say I’m proud of.
But how can I mind, with that blissful vision of him always in my thoughts and muddling my wits?
Larry slows his music to a soft murmur, and my song and my swaying body follow, slowing gradually, gradually…luring my public into a cunning lullaby.
Don’t look around, I think a bit frantically toward my patrons, and it works. I still hold all in my control…so Darryl can accomplish his task without any difficulty or confrontation.
Unknown in this part of town, my bandit winds in and out among Black Bull’s patrons, his hands choosing victims randomly, without favoritism.
I hold my public still so Darryl can finish his work, robbing many (too many!) of a month’s hard-won savings or tonight’s luckily-won winnings.
Why do I do this? I ask, inwardly writhing at my dishonor as I watch poor folks’ cash vanish into Darryl’s coat.
What a stupid inquiry.
I know why I do it. I do it for him. It is all for him.
As I catch his wink and his wily smirk, with his obvious approval trailing across my body, I start shaking, drowning in his look, drawn unavoidably into his world and abandoning my morals…again.
I must finish my song, and as it drifts into oblivion, I find that I’m crying.
Darryl is instantly at my back, his arm snaking round my waist to tuck my body blissfully into his. His warmth surrounds my chilly form, a comfort, a transitory sanctuary that will vanish if I stop participating in his plot. Which is why I can’t back out. To my humiliation, obtaining my lost morals isn’t worth losing him. Nothing can supplant him…but knowing that can’t stop it from hurting.
Darryl pulls my shaking body onto his lap and commands a drink from a glaring barman. I drink and drink and drink again, my wits slowly dulling as Darryl’s hands brush across my damp skin, wiping away any hint of my sobs. At his coaxing, silky-smooth murmur I look up and his scurrilous grin turns my body traitor, making it long for his silky, sinful touch, his silky, sinful kiss and his silky, sinful body. I long for him to drag my guilt into oblivion.
This isn’t right, I moan inwardly, and as I catch a flash of warning on his tight lips, I know that I said it aloud. It is his signal to act, to clarify again why I’m forsaking right and wrong for him.
A kiss is my gift for tonight’s act, my pay for a good job, my drug, intoxicating and all-consuming. His lips fall hot on my skin, tantalizingly disarming, charming, wooing and winning. I submit with hardly a sigh of opposition.
I hardly know what’s going on until I find us in a dark room. Darryl lays my willing body on a cot amid avid murmurs of adulation and ardor, worship and vows of undying passion. His skillful hands know just how to touch to bring forth naught but rapturous bliss and I’m crumbling at his ministrations, my qualms falling apart, cast out of my mind in favor of this…
For this is my award, a sordid trophy that I swap for my honor.
Is it worth it?
I can’t say, for as I succumb to his will, I inwardly go numb.

Re: Sing Us A Song

Sonya Lano | 01/11/2011

Based on my poem "Thief's Woman" (http://jottify.com/works/thiefs-woman/) if anyone's interested :-)

Re: Sing Us A Song

Anneke Ryan | 07/11/2011

VOTE - I was surprised at how easy it was to not notice that there were no e's. Less surprised, I suppose, given its provenance, that it reads like poetry. Actually I liked Damien's story too. It made me laugh even though I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was all about.

Re: Re: Sing Us A Song

Sonya Lano | 07/11/2011

Thanks :o) Some of it was easy to write without e's but I kept wanting to put "he" and "the" in there everywhere!
Damien's story was about a guy who was supposed to supply the vodka for the town Christmas party but the vodka wasn't ready until 7 months later (in July, when they could finally celebrate Christmas with the vodka). I had to ask him what was going on the story, too, (which is why I know :o) so I guess he really doesn't make it clear enough.

Re: Sing Us A Song

Damien | 13/11/2011

On the whole I like the story, but I have an issue with the two of them staying in the bar to drink afterwards. Surely while they were drinking a few of the other patrons would have realised that their money had been stolen, and in such a situation you can usually rely on them to blame the stranger....

So while I like the concept of the girl distracting the whole room with her singing while her boyfriend goes around picking pockets, and especially like the moral battle she has with herself over her actions, I think towards the end the story just let itself down a little bit.

Maybe it would be a better ending if she just finished the song and then Darryl spirited her away before anyone could react or something....

Small Crimson Riding Hood

Anneke Ryan | 01/11/2011

Amalia walks from bright sun into cold shadows of trunks and twigs and things such as moss. Pulling folds of brightly spun wool around thin arms, running, sighing; such things bring joy to a girl who is today all grown up.
-A cloak of wool for your birthday,- Mama had said. -A crimson cloak with a warm hood. You must show it to Grandmama this morning.-
Any lass would want this cloak, thinks Amalia, hurrying along a path, touching bright fabric with a cold hand. Any lass would walk all this way in it, would jog, would run, would happily bring fruit buns to Grandmama just to wrap such a cloak around cold arms, just to know such warmth in this wind. Such a cloak; it is a whirl of colour against our dark woods.
Grandmama's fruit buns stay warm from hot coals which Amalia finds difficult to carry. Mama had six buns for Amalia to pack, and six coals for warmth. Amalia had sat grandmama's lunch on a gingham mat and put a small cast-off fruit bun against a fold of fabric. It is important to bring victuals for such a long walk. Amalia shifts a hip and two buns roll out of position. Two coals follow. Fabric shifts too, unnatural crimson bouncing across soft colours of natural things in such woods as this.
A wolf is a natural thing, a natural colour, difficult to pick out amongst animals and plants. As Amalia sits, swallowing fruit bun crumbs, a wolf turns in its tracks. As our lass stands to go on, just such a wolf follows a crimson cloak, craving a warm, tasty body. In fright, Amalia runs quickly, arriving at grandmama's bungalow gasping for air. Amalia knows of six doors, but only two without locks. Amalia's hand clicks a latch and six buns and a grown up lass walk in to visit Grandmama.
Grandmama says naught, simply looks at Amalia's still warm gift.
-Grandmama,- Amalia says, -What big pupils you own today.-
-So grand to look at you,- Grandmama says.
-Grandmama, what big nostrils you own.-
With a laugh and a snort, Grandmama sniffs Amalia's crimson riding hood.
-Grandmama, what big lips you own,- Amalia adds.
-So grand to kiss you with,- Grandmama says.
-Grandmama, what big molars in your mouth.-
That mouth drops and Amalia starts to inch away.
-So grand,- Grandmama says, -to swallow food I must first ch...-
Amalia's hand almost finds door two, but Grandmama is not Grandmama, but a now unnatural-looking wolf. It jumps toward Amalia, who ducks.
At that instant a man who chops wood for Grandmama on Saturdays slips his account through a gap around door four.
A lass may find irritation in a wood chopping man who didn't think to drop an account on a day that wood is cut and thus had to visit again. But though it is Monday, Amalia finds this solicitation calming and is glad to call him in.
-Marcus, it's not Grandmama. It's a wolf in Grandmama's frock and hat. It wants to lunch on a lass in a crimson riding hood. Mayhap it's had Grandmama as it's first swallow.-
Marcus flings back door four and floors Wolf-Grandmama with his handy woodchopping tools.
Amalia runs to Marcus and jumps into his arms. Grandmama's wood chopping man drops his tools, flicks crimson fabric back off Amalia's shining blond locks and looks down onto a small mouth. His own mouth curls into a grin. -I'd thought you'd not want this.-
As if of its own will, Amalia's arm wraps around him. His manly throat swallows, summoning Amalia's lips. Happily, Marcus lifts his lass's chin and brings this sport up to his skilful mouth. Though a grandmama has lost out to a wolf, a wood chopping man and a girl with a crimson cloak shortly marry and find many days in which to kiss... and do various things at which Amalia is unusually willing and Marcus particularly skilful.

Re: Small Crimson Riding Hood

Sonya Lano | 01/11/2011

I think this is hilarious :-) If I could vote already I'd vote for this.

Re: Small Crimson Riding Hood

Sonya Lano | 07/11/2011

VOTE - Here is me voting for this because I think the beginning is written very lushly and the description is richly done, the middle part using "own" instead of "have" (what big pupils you own) as if grandmama has purchased herself some new teeth and eyeballs and such made me laugh uproarously and the ending with its lascivious tones naturally appeal to my romantic heart :o) So I guess this story is right up my alley...

Re: Small Crimson Riding Hood

Andrew McGeehan | 11/11/2011

VOTE - Love it! The use of verbosity to avoid a key vowel just makes me laugh! Although the misuse of an apostrophe in the fourth-last line jars me to the bone, I just love the underlying cynicism of this story.

Re: Re: Small Crimson Riding Hood

Anneke Ryan | 11/11/2011

Am mortified to have offended with my grammatical error but otherwise chuffed that you liked my story.

Re: Re: Small Crimson Riding Hood

Sonya Lano | 12/11/2011

Apostrophe misuse corrected :o)

Re: Re: Re: Small Crimson Riding Hood

Anneke Ryan | 13/11/2011

Thank you Sonya. It just sneaked in there when I wasn't looking. Apostrophe man will be out to get me.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Small Crimson Riding Hood

Sonya Lano | 13/11/2011

No problem, I didn't want Andrew to be too jarred to the bone if he reread it :o) Anything else you would like corrected just let me know!

Re: Small Crimson Riding Hood

Damien | 13/11/2011

This one gets my vote, simply because the story is so old and well known, and yet you managed to make it seem fresh and new, which is never an easy task. To do so without using the letter 'e' just makes the achievement even more impressive :-)

Standoff

Damien | 30/10/2011

I stood by my shack and saw a group of townsfolk slowly climbing up towards my position, knowing instantly that this was going to call for my traditional quick talking if I was to walk away from this with my body still intact.

For now, though, I had almost half an hour to wait as it was a difficult climb to my position across a rocky hilltop, and my aim was to try to distract as many of my rivals as I could so that I could boost my opportunity of surviving this final night.

I was still hoping to avoid an actual attack by this foolish mob as I was an old school buddy of Captain Smith and had always had an ability to talk him down in any situation, but I had to plan for a particular situation in which my old drinking pal might not control his prior skills for calming down a crowd, as if I didn’t plan for this I could think of myriad options which would only confirm a pain that I was hoping to avoid.

All that was missing was a final six hours and my work would finally fulfil all of our aspirations, but this was now an angry mob and so I had no way of knowing how things would finish tonight on this hilltop.

My only thought was to try to guard my shack for as long as I possibly could, as of all things in this town, all that was important right now was how long I could talk for to try to hold back a calamity that was without doubt on all of our horizons should I fail.

Six hours, and my work would finally pay us all back for our long days and months of waiting. But now, just as my work was almost through, a farm hand in town had wound his pals up, and things had grown rapidly to a point in which my work was now facing a crushing blow from which it, and I, would stand nary a shot at survival through this night.

So plainly can our vision look and catch sight of our approaching doom.

But I still had my words, and I could only pray that I could bring this crazy march to a halt for a final night.

By now, my mood was approaching disgust that this insipid group of morons had not paid my crucial instructions as much mind as my warnings had shown as vital to our mission.

A sound by my shack was my assistant, standing by a bush with a look of joy. I had but a small window of opportunity in which to work out that my calculations might contain a slight flaw, as almost at that instant I saw an ax fly past my noggin and bury its point in a shrub.

As my alarm clock got going with announcing that it was almost dawn, I had a small bit of luck with which to calm this nasty situation down prior to my losing my thinking apparatus with a shot from a gun. So I took it, by saying.....

“Calm down guys. Your vodka is waiting”.

And with that, our Christmas party could finally start. In July!

Re: The Standoff

Sonya Lano | 01/11/2011

Just a note: you use the letter "e" four times in your story (including in your title :o), so maybe you should fix that:
- *The* Standoff
- I stood on *the* hill
- attack by *the* mob
- a farm hand in *the* town

Re: The Standoff

Sonya Lano | 01/11/2011

And it's just like you to take 7 months to get the vodka ready!

Re: Standoff

Sonya Lano | 07/11/2011

Anyone who writes a story without the letter e deserves to be congratulated so of course hats off to you, sir, for writing the story at all! My only suggestion is that maybe you add information that you were responsible for bringing the vodka to the Christmas party because it wasn't clear to me (though of course we know that I miss twists often in stories :o).

Re: Standoff

Anneke Ryan | 07/11/2011

You know, when I first read this it never occurred to me that the Christmas Party was late. I just thought it was about those weird people who like to celebrate Christmas in July (you know, because it's better to eat roast turkey and Christmas pudding when the weather's cold). There's quite a movement of such people in Australia; they call the celebration Yulefeast. It's only now at 0430 on a hot late spring night in Sydney that it occurs to me that if you live in Prague Christmas in July would be completely pointless because it's actually cold and snowy for Christmas in December.

Re: Re: Standoff

Damien | 13/11/2011

I think I could have probably made things a little clearer and have everything make a little more sense, but I deliberately went for ambiguity because when I read I want to be drawn in and have to use my imagination to try and work out whats going on or to fill in the colour of a scene, and so I tried to do the same thing here :-)

It may not have worked as well as I'd have liked, but at least the two people that I know for sure read it were left having to think about it afterwards, and that can only be a good thing!

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