• JP powerful descriptions in this work. A great reflection of a terrified episode in history. This is the start of a story that will grow

  • Hide West by Mark Patterson



    We finish Grace as the family does each meal. Mother stands and starts to pass around the food.

    “I don’t understand. Why California?”, she says putting the potatoes […]

    • Hi Mark, this is a different type of story from what I am used to reading from you. Having not read the previous stories I don’t have any background. But I get the impression she is wearing flowy dresses to hide a pregnancy:) I enjoyed the subtle questioning of her father:) It seems he knows her better than anyone else in her family.

      A couple of minor corrections needed here:
      “Pass the gravy please Anne,”, says mother, ”End of the month is not far off. Does that give you enough time to pack I still think having a job to go to makes more sense, but clearly you seem to have made your mind.” – two commas after please Anne – and you need to add a word at the end – have made your mind up.
      “Anne,” said father, “Help your mother with the dishes in the kitchen.” Ordered father. “I want to talk to Maureen. – you have said father and then ordered father. Might be better to make it –
      “Anne, help your mother with the dishes in the kitchen!” Ordered father.

      Well done and thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Mark. You reeled me in with the “Spy drama” genre… then again, I suppose she is being clandestine, right? I liked it. A good effort, with natural dialogue and a situation that’s easy to imagine. Having it all play out during dinner is great as well, because it keeps all the characters active.

  • Angelique excellent us of the prompt. I liked the cellphone messaging dialogue. Why did you change to first person for the last two paragraphs?

  • Pleasant dialogue works well. I would have like more description of Shada. Some hint about why this is freedom for him now. I wondered if he was in prison or trapped

    Well done

  • Elaine,
    A great story and a pleasing sequel.

    This could grow to rival the lab jars

  • A Bullet or Freedom by Mark Patterson


    The cold concrete bed underneath the backside of the prisoner seems to get harder and colder with each minute he sits there. His lips move as he continues to count up to […]

    • Good writing Mark. Great dialogue. You kept the tension going throughout. well done.

    • I enjoyed this. It reminded me of the mind games they played with former communist prisoners like Nathan Sharansky and how he had to focus on something familiar like chess to stay sane. You wrote a convincing piece.

    • Hi Mark
      This is an interesting story, or part of one, perhaps? It definitely will have a lot of merit as a longer piece. The atmosphere is established very well, especially for a dialogue-driven piece. What I can say, in be careful to keep your tense consistent. You slip into past tense here and there. There is also a bit of redundancy, the line “Time to be dragged out to his execution and a bullet in the head? ” is a good example of it. Just working in ‘a bullet in the head’ without ‘to his execution’ will be very effective. The execution is implied. These don’t detract from the story, however, and I hope you have more for Ravil. Good work.

    • Felt like I was watching a movie. I was a tiny bit confused at the initial reference to Yevgeny as Ravil’s superior, but it quickly became clear. I’m glad you commented on my December story (which I only realized today), leading me here to read this.

    • Hi Mark, another interesting story. I admire you for being able to write these kinds of stories, I would have no idea where to start. As Chantel mentioned a little bit of tense hopping (which I know I am guilty of as well.

      One example: Ravil blinks slowly and gave a slight nod. – gives a slight nod – to remain consistent

      Well done and thanks for sharing.

  • Chantel
    Well done a good story with a grteat twist.
    Couple of slip ups He so captivated by the woman, I think you mean He’s
    He looked to cell door, where the woman leaned against the bars. I thgink you mean he looked to the cell door
    He crawled to door and should be he crawled to the door.

    Loved this desription : “Neither do I” said the…[Read more]

  • Kathy
    I apologise, I have not read a lot of your work this year. This stands alone as a story so well done on that. It is a big story sardined into 1200 words so well done.
    I will have to go back to episode 1 and read them all.

  • Honey a stunning piece. Well constructed and flowed nicely. Great tension
    I felt the end a bit rushed but that is probably the word count.
    I too want more

  • Well written and delightful.
    Yes a couple of typos but nothing that detracted from the story.

    Well done

  • A great ending Jane and as the other comments have said this is worth keeping and fleshing out some more.
    Have a look at this “A wave of dizziness hit me, as I sat down on the kitchen bench.”

    Would you not sit down at the kitchen bench? if you did want her to sit on the bench then it would be better to say sat on.

    Well done

  • Great story Elaine with a brilliant conclusion. Full marks on the extra challenge

  • The extra challenge was proposed by Elaine Dodge and it read:
    The extra challenge I had proposed was:
    1. In the 2nd person (you),
    2. Probable future tense (you might, you could, you may, perhaps you will) {I have no idea if this is a thing or not. I did check, but could find nothing so maybe I just invented a new tense – fame at last!}
    3. There…[Read more]

  • 2029 by Mark Patterson with extra challenge


    You will be surprised at how easy it is going to be, just as when my ancestors did it. The targets were so careless and gullible then, that I am sure they will be […]

    • Hi Mark,
      Wow. I didn’t realise till the second paragraph where this was going. Very clever indeed. Especially since you incorporated the extra challenge.
      Could I perhaps suggest that you put the extra challenge rules into the comment box. I remember reading it weeks ago but cannot remember what it entailed. If you put it in there it would make it easier for readers to know what you had to slip into your story:)
      I really enjoyed this story – although it scared the bejesus out of me. I so hope this does not happen. Hell on Earth would be an understatement if it does. Scary, scary, scary.

      I do have a few small editing suggestion to make it a little easier to read. However, most of them are just comma usage (Oxford comma some of them). So definitely a personal choice. Please feel free to ignore if you don’t agree:)

      Inside their bodies faster than that Santa Claus, that red Flyer, goes around the world dropping of presents. – I think you need an extra word here and off not of – , who goes around the world dropping off presents.

      They hold the Windsors in such high regard around the world that their demise caused by what you will do will shake the world to its roots. – They hold the Windsors in such high regard, around the world, that their demise, caused by what you would do, will shake the world to its roots.

      Grinding their way through an ever more rapid disposal process wondering not if they will be next, but when. – I think you need a comma between process and wondering

      You will spread at an electrifying pace and they will not know your origin for months and by then it will be hopefully too late. – You will spread at an electrifying pace, and they will not know your origin for month, and the then it will hopefully be too late.

      You will succumb if they catch up to you or worse they happen to guess what your next mutation will be. – You will succumb, if they catch up to you, or worse, they could happen to guess what your next mutation will be.

      You will go will you not? – You will go, will you not?

      Well done Mark on creating what I hope is a brilliantly scary fantasy piece, and not a reality in the future:)

    • Hi Mark,
      I’m guessing that part of the extra challenge is the second person, but yes, I think it would be great to know what your challenge was. This was grim and insidious, which I imagine is the effect you were going for. I liked the part: “But you are not a nightmare or a nasty dream, you are here for victory, to be crowned.” which is a clever reference to the Corona Virus.
      I’m not sure if you find this important, but in the US, we call it Cranberry sauce not jelly (although jelly is a better description of it’s texture). I think Jelly works better because it’s a little more gross than “sauce” in this context. Also, if you want to write for a UK audience, Jelly is more relatable.
      “Swollen, rotting corpses” was a disturbing image, but effective.
      Interesting take on the prompt.

      I hope you have a safe and healthy holiday Season!

      • The extra challenge was proposed by Elaine Dodge and it read:
        The extra challenge I had proposed was:
        1. In the 2nd person (you),
        2. Probable future tense (you might, you could, you may, perhaps you will) {I have no idea if this is a thing or not. I did check, but could find nothing so maybe I just invented a new tense – fame at last!}
        3. There must be a haunting
        4. There must be a Red Flyer
        5. And cranberries

    • Goodness, Mark! This is by far your best piece ever. You seem so at home in this genre, in this voice, in the unusual narration and tense. And you’re right, this is nail-biting bed-wetting stuff. I’m really freaked out right now. Horror with a twist.

    • Hey Mark
      when you said horror,I anticipated much worse, because really, living in Florida, this reflects everyday reality,I am sad to say. That being said, this was a well-crafted piece, totally on point, and the inclusion of the extra challenges was flawless.
      so glad reading your haiku led me to this. Thanks

    • Hi Mark,

      Full marks for attempting the extra challenge. You pulled it off with a well-crafted thought-provoking submission.

      The story can be tightened, and hopefully does not break the extra challenge rules.

      I stumbled over the opening sentence of the second paragraph. “The dropping of their guard you will be able to make full use of.” Instead, thinking that a slight re-arrangement might be in order. “You will be able to make full use of them dropping their guard.” Or some such minor adjustment.

      Why the hesitation indeed!

      Thank you for sharing.

      Keep Writing.


    • Well done, Mark! That was probably your best story yet. And full marks on the extra challenge! It’s always so interesting that it doesn’t matter how many restrictions a creative person loaded on them, creativity always steps up! Well done. One or two places could be tightened up, the odd comma here and there inserted, but otherwise an excellent piece!

  • Nicole A story every parent can relate to as the fairy tale and telling it side.

    It was well constructed with an edge of seat conclusion.
    The punctuation in the dialogue you can easily fix and you kept Mr. Slater adverbially happy

    Well done

  • Mia
    Brilliant opening sentence grabbed me from the start.
    The story is well constructed. Great descriptions.

  • Michael,
    Another gripping instalment. Where do you get the names from?

  • Honey,
    Great use of the genre and a very poignant letter.

    Opportunity here to have Mom reply and maybe use the letters as bridging pieces in a larger work around Anna’s move and life in Italy?

    Well done

  • Paul,
    A great take on the prompt with current challenges viewed differently.
    It is always difficult to find issue with your work, as it is always well crafted.

  • JAne a great addition to the story. I agree with most of the comments.
    You could tighten up getting rid of a few adverbs (surprised JP didn’t say anything) e.g After eating at a painfully slow pace could be replaced with After nibbling through her croissant

    Still great twist in the story and John doesn’t have to be liked. Well done

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