Tag Archives: Trifecta

Trifecta 105 – Matters of State

King Pondering

It was raining when they came. Four brutes on horseback spraying mud and scattering roadside beggars into sewer filled gutters. Children scurried into dark, smoky huts; frantic dogs howled while villagers screamed as thunderous hooves crashed by. These men were from the King, and they had arrived at their destination.

With steam rising in a fog from his grey steed, the leader of the band dismounted. It was a place he’d been before.

‘Get out here wench before we burn the whole rotting village!’ he demanded, preparing his scarred sword in readiness.

Slowly the door creaked open. Warily, a young girl inched her way out of the shadows. In her arms she clutched a gurgling infant. Alluring, unnervingly beautiful, but barely older than a child herself, she stood trembling.

‘Don’t hurt her, please sirs I begs,’ she grovelled.

In nearby doorways staring eyes retreated further into the safer depths of darkness. The captain moved in to pluck the wriggling child from his mother’s arms. A fearsome backhanded slap sent the young woman sprawling into the mud, blood oozing from her fatted lip. A mouthful of his spit followed into her already swelling eye.

‘Pick her up!’ the captain screamed in the direction of his second.

As the rain continued to beat down the skies greyed suddenly; thunder claps moved ever closer. Hurrying the woman and child onto horseback, the party left the village as they’d found it: cowering in fear and respect.

At the castle the King watched from his quarters as the Royal Guard finally returned. Behind them the gates were firmly bolted – his seat secured for the night. Feet away an open fire flickered and roared as a stooping  manservant shuffled in with his supper.

‘Has my Queen retired for the night?’ he asked.

‘She has, Sire.’

‘Good. Bring the woman and child to me,’ he said, nodding towards the drenched arrivals in the courtyard.

He knew one would have to die; he’d known it since the child was born.

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These 333 words, based on the archaic third definition of the word ‘pluck‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 105 writing challenge.

Trifextra 94 – The Cleaning Crew

AlexPardee_HeroesTheirs were the only three names on the list:

The only three not already dead.

As the Geiger-Müller clicked and crackled,

Three pairs of resigned, bloodshot eyes continued their work.

Death their reward.

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 95 challenge. We were asked to write a story containing a particular word three times. My chosen word was three.

For more information on the story behind the image please visit Alex Pardee’s Blog.

Trifecta 104 – A Life For A Life

Companionship__Kenya_Africa

I never asked to spend my life with him. It’s just what we do. The Prince must have his companion. He couldn’t be expected to cope on his own, not even for a minute.

Someone must be there. Willing. Forever.

That’s where I came in.

When the fourth Prince Danzal was presented to an expectant country I was already on my way to the palace. It was something our family has always done. My father spent his life with a King, my only sister never left the side of her Princess. I think it’s our dedication to the role – our uniqueness.  We do have our own lives, families, memories but we don’t bother our employer with them. We are here for their cares, not to burden their important lives with ours. Precisely the way it should be.

I can’t complain – not that I would think of doing so. The Prince led a glamorous life. I may have been in the background, out of sight, but I was there, just a nod or a wave of the Princes’ finger away. However, I didn’t always have to be told when I was needed. As I said we were especially good at this job. I knew when the Prince needed me, sometimes before he did. My whole family were the same.

I could see before anyone else that the Prince was dying. I sensed that cloud over his heart well before the damn fool of a court physician. I knew, could see, that there was no point in fighting it. It was time to make peace and accept the end with grace.

Both of us.

We never leave our charge, even after their life is over. As the Prince coughed his last bloody cough I was immediately sent to keep him company. I expected nothing less. My wife and son were heartbroken but understood. It’s just part of the job.

I’m still looking for him. He’s around here somewhere. I can sense it; sense him. I’m sure he needs me.

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These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘companion‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 104 writing challenge. The picture is courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media

Trifecta 103 – Bloodline

dystopiaMy mother was important. We knew that even as children – although we didn’t understand why. Each morning a silver car would come to collect her from our house in the hills overlooking the smog strangled city. Outside, the street would be deserted. Two other cars – black – parked a respectful, but appropriate distance away. Nobody else was allowed on the street when mother was leaving for work.

My sister and I would be waiting for her to leave. Always the same sterile, crisp, blue trouser suit, the flat shoes, the black briefcase bearing the party emblem. A kiss for the children. A cold nod towards our father.

“Remember who you are children. Remember who we are,” she would tell us.

Who were we?

All I knew was that the four of us lived in sprawling mansion filled with servants and snivelling nameless officials. While most of the city was overrun with poverty and resentment, ours was a life of obscene luxury. However, we didn’t complain. You don’t when you’re a child.

As we grew older we began to understand more about who we were; who our mother was.

***

Mother and I slowly grew apart. This was dangerous, but I survived. Her conceited grand plan and their utopian ideals eventually failed miserably. People starved. With what strength they had left they fought back.

They won.

As the city burned, party flags lay smouldering in the gutters; their headquarters were ransacked – people swarmed like ants over corridors and offices once only visited in handcuffed terror.

As we entered the last room on the third floor my second handed me the loaded pistol. The woman in the chair had her back to us. Even so she appeared unnerved and impassive, despite the chaos all around. Her perfect society in ruins; her family scattered.

“Is that you son?”

“Yes mother.”

“Do you remember who we were?”

“Yes I do mother.”

As the bullet echoed around the room a new leader was crowned.

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These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘remember’ , form my entry into the Trifecta 103 writing challenge. The picture is courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media

Trifextra 93 – The Quick Learner

universe“31, 32….hmm, 33 late AGAIN?”

“Sir!”

“Yeeess 25?”

“Sir, 33’s gone.”

GONE! Explain yourself 25!”

“Sir, he’d been, umm, creating his own, err, universe for a while, Sir.”

“Sit DOWN 25!”

“Yes, sir.”

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 93 challenge. We were asked to write a story containing 33 Gods. I hope you enjoy where I went with it.

Trifecta 102 – Fight The Good Fight

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“…Righto mum, we’re just off now, let’s hope for some good news. He needs it, we both do. Ok, you too, yep, love you, I’ll catch you later…bye, bye…”.

She doesn’t think I can hear her through there, but I can. The walls in this shoebox of an apartment are paper thin. I may be coming many things these days, but deaf isn’t one of them – not yet anyway. Perhaps that will be today’s news. Christ, I would laugh, if I could. Would I really? Maybe not. No, I wouldn’t.

I can see him out there again today. He’s another one who thinks he can take advantage of my apparently irreversible decline. Scurrying across the frost tinted lawn without a fear or a care. The little grey interloper shows the same cunning and craft I once did: when I was able to walk, talk. Be normal.

“Ready honey? I’ll be there in a moment,” she shouts through from the bedroom.

Yesterday I may have been able to muster enough movement for an answer. Not today. Today looks like it’s the first day of the next phase. I knew it was coming. You want to hear what I’m thinking you’ll need to get in here with me. Haven’t the heart to tell her, even if I wanted to.

Out there he sprints back and forth. Gathering, hiding, protecting. He is looking after his own. When I was playing football for the biggest team in the land I did the same. I had everything. Often wonder if I hadn’t been who I was would she have chosen me, stuck with me now? I’d be lost without her.

He’s now on the window ledge. Staring in.

“You ok,” he’s saying.

“Me? Not really,” I stare back.

“Come on honey, let’s get your coat on. We can’t keep the Doctors waiting.”

As we leave the apartment I look back: the squirrel is gone. I hope he’s there tomorrow. In him I’m free for a few moments at least.

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These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘craft , form my entry into the Trifecta 102 writing challenge.

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This piece is dedicated to Fernando Ricksen, the former Rangers and Netherlands footballer, who recently disclosed, on live television, that he is suffering from ALS. The outlook for this condition is absolutely frightening. These 333 words are meaningless but as he was in my mind I felt I had to write something. Good luck Fernando. All of us here in Scotland are thinking of you.

Trifextra 92 – The Numbers Game

Frustrated-office-worker-005‘It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die’

The memo couldn’t have been clearer.

I nervously rechecked my figures;

They were good –

Good enough?

From behind came a scream.

Turning, I saw an empty, blood splattered chair.

I’d survived another year.

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The 33 words which follow the opening line form my entry into the Trifextra 92 challenge. We were asked to complete the story – I hope you enjoy where I went with it.

Trifecta 101 – Home Run

baseball

The Pennington Vipers stunk, and I mean real bad. However, no matter how bad, the Vipers were still the biggest show in the county. In truth there weren’t that much to compete with but, believe me, folks loved ‘em. Jennings ballpark was the place in town to laugh, to cry, to boo, to get drunk – usually all four. Every Friday night was a party when the Vipers took the field – win or lose, and there were twenty hard years of losing before that night.

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. With two out the Viper’s had one last chance to win the game: to get their first winning season since Hitler waved the white flag. The stands were rockin’ as ‘Wobbly’ Joe Lugarno stepped up to the plate. Joe had been tipped for greatness in his younger days; however, an over active eye for the ladies, as well as a thirst for one too many cold beers, had seen him ending his career back in the minors. With the pitcher eyeing his pray, Joe still had time for a thumbs-up to his fevered fans in the stands, as well as a lubricious wink towards a blushing young female in the front row.

In it came – a fast ball – and darned if Joe didn’t connect flush. As the ball steepled into the reddening night sky all heads turned. Over the infield and into the outfield it sailed. My eyes were trapped, watching, looking, praying – and there she was. In the background muffled cheers came and went. That was the first time I saw my Vera. Those bright red curls never did fade. Until our final years together they still glistened,  red as ever.

As another Series hits the retirement home TV, my mind again goes back to that night at Jennings. Oh and in case you’re wonderin’ the damned ball hit the fence and ‘Wobbly’ was run out at third. The Vipers lost, but heck, it was still a night to remember at the ballpark.

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These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘Boo‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 101 writing challenge.

I was inspired to do a Baseball story because it really is World Series time in the USA. I’m not a real follower of America’s summer sport but, as a big New England Patriot’s fan, I’ve developed a soft spot over the years for all things Boston. Therefore I’ll hope you’ll allow me the indulgence of ending this trailer with two words – Go Sox!

Trifextra 91 – Malware

isitsafeThe laptop’s freshly fried motherboard crackled;

Exposed wires sparked and hissed.

A slick of glowing, orange slime trailed from the smoldering wreckage to the open window.

Frankie Junior was nowhere to be seen.

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 91 challenge. They were inspired by the idea of  beasts in unexpected places.

Trifecta 100 – Duty Calls

victorian-school_2127557cSt. Hannard’s junior school was tucked away out of sight; indeed, some would have said that was a blessing. But there it was, hemmed in between the sprawling docks and overflowing tenements of east London. Poverty was endemic; the sewers ran thick with human waste while the local rats gorged themselves until the size of cats.  It was a slum, no other word for it, but to one young woman it was a calling.

Elizabeth Lampkin was her name and it was in the autumn of 1884 that she first walked into a crowded classroom at St Hannards. Her tightly bunched blond hair, an ever present smile – she ‘glowed’ is what they said. Others sneered she reeked of naivety – this wasn’t a place for the likes of her.

Many colleagues chided her. Just keeping these children off the streets and out of trouble was seen as a good day’s work for them. Elizabeth’s crime in their eyes was to allow her charges to dream. A phantom of hope the Governors called her – she insisted she was simply doing the only thing she wanted to do: teach.

It was nearing the end of Elizabeth’s first term at St. Hannards. Christmas was only a week away and heavy snow was beginning to fall. As drenched rats scurried for shelter between the snowflakes a crowd gathered across from the King William pub. The shouts and screams said trouble wasn’t far away – bad trouble.

The bastard had made such a mess that it took a while before they could be sure who it was. Normally he left the face alone – it was his so called trademark – not this time though. When she didn’t turn up for School that day no identification was needed. Everybody knew who it was.

Over 100 years later I sit here reflecting and applauding as the annual Lampkin Medal is presented once again to the teacher deemed to have most inspired others. While Elizabeth’s own life may have been cruelly short her legacy proudly lives on.

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These 333 words, based on the frustratingly awkward third definition of the word ‘phantom‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 100 writing challenge. Two things to add. Firstly, this story is completely made up i.e. there is no Lampkin Award. Secondly, I found this prompt extremely frustrating and awkward so apologies if my words aren’t quite as snappy as normal! 

Trifextra 90 – What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You

christmas-tree-lights1

Food, warmth, family, love –

I have them all.

Now pretty white snow is falling;

Sparkly lights flash on the tree.

Life couldn’t be any better.

Why would us turkeys be afraid of anything?

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 90 challenge. They were inspired by the idea of  what triggers fears.

Trifecta 99 – The Player

casinoThe roulette wheel clicked to a stop – 23 Black.

High rollers at the Baccarat table chewed feverishly on their unlit cigars; up above prying security cameras whirred and zoomed erotically.

‘Hit me,’ she whispered.

The dealer’s left eye twitched as the card flopped – Six of Hearts.

Bust;

The dealer exhaled – relieved.

Rising, she dropped the solitary remaining $10,000 chip into her clutch purse.

A grimace adorned the manager’s face as she approached. He squirmed as a manicured index finger ran down his clammy, familiar face; winced, as her scented red lips pressed against his scarred cheek.

‘Till tomorrow,’ she smiled.

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These 99 words, based on the word ‘baccarat‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 99 writing challenge.

Trifextra 89 – Another Day in Hell

devil2

We get them:

The ones He doesn’t want.

Murderers, rapists;

abusers, losers.

You think I want to be with these people?

You think I enjoy this?

You think?

…Hell, yeh –

I love it!

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 89 challenge. They were inspired by the Rolling Stones classic ‘Sympathy For the Devil’.

Trifecta 98 – The Morning After

Halloween-Cocktail-Zombie-PunchIt was a heavy night, but I was due. It’d been an absolute brute of a week and I needed to let off steam. I admit it, I needed a bloody good drink, sometimes you just do. Let’s face it, it wasn’t the first time I’d got rat arsed at one of Steve’s dos.

The morning after – it was then that the regrets began to kick in. My head felt worse than shit. The antiseptic tang of neat alcohol coated the surface of every tooth. What the hell was in that last pitcher of Zombie? Can’t believe I downed a pint of the syrupy gloop in one go!

Outside it appeared set to be a beautiful day. Inside was carnage: arms, legs, socks, pants  and bras everywhere; red wine, beer, pretzels and cold pizza trampled into poor Steve’s best Persian. It was ugly. Seemed a good time to make a quick exit.

On the way out I spotted a skinny kid frying bacon; think he may have been one of Steve’s, but I wasn’t sure.

‘Enough for two?’ I asked, in greedy expectation.

Pulling the front door closed I began chewing on my bacon sandwich. A can of coke and two paracetamols completed breakfast. Head felt worse than ever, and the first mouthfuls of bacon didn’t slide down as smoothly as hoped. Perhaps the fresh air would help. It did a bit, not enough.

After hurling my load I left the remnants of my sandwich to the neighbourhood cats. My stomach wasn’t in the mood for food. In truth my body wasn’t in the mood for being awake, but there was somewhere I needed to be.

Thankfully I was parked close by. Slumping into the driver’s seat I belched and broke wind simultaneously – it seemed funny at the time. Giggling hysterically I fumbled for the ignition. Eventually I stabbed the key in and turned the engine over.

That moment was the biggest regret of my morning after; it’s a regret which will haunt me for the rest of my miserable, worthless fucking life.

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These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘zombie‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 98 writing challenge.

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Trifextra 88 – Double Sacrifice

tiedtotree

We watched on,

Indifferent to her terror; apathetic to her cries.

From the loch it emerged –  

Trailing seaweed; dressed in algae.

A slimy claw ripped at her swollen belly.

We retreated,

Suddenly ashamed.

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 88 challenge. The photo prompt, which you can see on the Trifextra page, asked us to write about a creature coming out of the water. I hope you like my idea.

Trifecta Winner Icon - 300dpi

This piece was my first winning effort in the Trifecta Writing Challenge. I have placed five times in all, but this was my debut appearance on the top step of the medal rostrum! As ever I am flattered that those judging saw something in my work.