The challenge was to write about a character who could never say a specific word, under promise of death. They had 40 minutes (I think?) and no word limit.


Melissa Diamond

Lilani had two minutes before they questioned. She dug through the basket on the shelf, through the lotion and makeup and tweezers. She went through the medicine cabinet. Nothing. She dug through the drawer beneath the sink, and…yes. There it was.

A razor. She removed the blade carefully then hid the razor beneath the pile of garbage already in the trash can.

A knock at the door. “Lilani, you are needed.”

She put the razor in her pocket. “I’ll be right out,” she said, flushing the toilet for show. She washed her hands, and the citrus smell of the soap made her grimace. She hated that she’d associate oranges with this home forever.

Lilani opened the door, and her sister wife stood there. Aria’s brows furrowed, a look of worry. “Are you alright?”

Lilani nodded. “My stomach is a bit upset, but I’m fine.”

“Well, put a smile on your face. His lordship wants you for the night.”

Lilani nodded. Her nights with his lordship were the hardest, but she could not express resistance, and she most certainly couldn’t say no. She hated him and this palace. She hated this life. She hated the riches and privilege and fame that came with being a sister wife to the dictator, but most of all, she hated science. She hated that it for the capsule embedded in her thigh, set to kill her if she even uttered the word ‘no’.

Aria left her at his lordship’s door, and Lilani went in alone. She kneeled before him, avoiding even a glimpse of his face. He was handsome, charismatic, but even a glimpse of his dark eyes, and she wanted to vomit.

He removed his pants and stood before her, already erect. Her brain screamed at him. No, no, no. It envisioned the many things she could do instead — run, scream, bite his cock off and spit it in his face.

Instead, she did as she must, if she wanted to live. She ignored the sharp edge of the razor in her pocket, a prick against her thigh, and she took him into her mouth.

***

3am. All were asleep. Lilani hid the razor in her closed fist and went into the bathroom. The guard nodded at her. Three minutes before he questioned.

She stared at the sharp edge of the razor, swallowed her fear, said a prayer, and cut.

Deep into the side of her thigh. She gritted her teeth, held back the screams of pain. Blood flowed in rifulets down her thighs, her knee. She dug until the razor hit something small and hard. Not a bone, but a capsule.

Two minutes before they noticed.

She’d known pain worse than this, worse than the searing horror as her fingers dug in and removed the capsule.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

The capsule was so tiny for something so deadly, and her hands shook as she stared at it in her bloodied fingers.

A minute left, maybe. No time to dawdle.

She put the capsule in her mouth. She flushed the toilet. She turned the water on, and she vigorously washed the blood of her legs. She took a towel, wiped at what was on the floor, on the ground. She grabbed a tampon out of the bathroom.

The guard knocked. “Hurry up.”

“It’s that time of the month. I’m bleeding. Give me time.”

She wrapped the towel around her leg to stop the blood and pulled her PJs back up. She opened the door, and he glanced at the stain on her pants. He blushed, turned away.

Men and their fear of menstruation. A blessing in disguise.

***

The pain kept her up all night, but she felt invigorated as she went to see his lordship in his room.

This time, when she knelt, she was prepared. He put his erect penis before her, and she said no.

“No.”

He looked infuriated. Then, when she didn’t immediately keel over, he looked confused. When she sliced at him with the razor, he looked horrified.

And as he lay bleeding, she ran.

K: I don’t know if it was supposed to be a misdirect or it was just a happy coincidence, but I can’t be the only one that expected the razor is immediately for the dictator, and not her leg. I envisioned something where she planted the capsule on him and THEN said no, leading to some bad ending for the dictator that way, but I’m not sure that the rules of the capsule would be obeyed this way. Anyway, it’s a strong, dark story and the protagonist’s depression and ingenuity are both well-drawn and believable.

MN – This is a pretty cool world you’ve built. Familiar enough that we aren’t lost, yet new enough that we aren’t bored. I’d have liked more of the impact up front – seeing the devastation in her fellow sister wives, or something along those lines – which would have set up her heroic act in a more emotionally satisfying way. As it was, it was a bit clinical, being very focused on the removal of the capsule, with the liberation being almost secondary. I do like the way you matched the two bathroom scenes though, and the practical heroism we have. Very rewarding.

Joshua Longman

Tinza adjusted her jeweled broach in the mirror as she checked to make sure her mascara was just absolutely perfect. It was, and it matched her shiny, raven hair as she hoped it would. Flashing an involuntary grin, she grabbed her tome and ran out her dorm room, scared to miss another session of Familiars 401.
She made it to class on time and grabbed her usual seat next to Misty.
“You made it today, hm?” Misty asked playfully.
“I thought Professor Archem deserved it this time,” Tinza riposted.
All heads turned as a frail blonde girl stumbled through the door, her books sprawling out across the floor as she scrambled after them. She stood up with a blush a rushed to her seat.
“Ugh. Marigold again. Why is she even here?” Misty asked, rightfully. The flaxen haired youth was here on her first year, but somehow had made it into the same classroom as Tinza and the rest of the adepts.
“I bet she blew that Archem’s old rubbery dick,” Tinza said. “Look at her, she dresses like such a witch.”
Misty covered her mouth and chuckled heartily, along with several other students in the vicinity, but Tinza had a hard time erasing the scowl from her face.
What does Beric SEE in her?
Professor Archem stormed into the room and set his notes down in a huff. He cocked his head back, looking down the lenses of his bifocals out at the room.
“That will be ENOUGH of this merriment. Now, turn your page to 105, I believe we were discussing the intricacies of commanding the common barn owl….”

After class, Tinza and Misty joined Beth and Lasha on the way to lunch. Tinza tried to join in on their gossiping, but couldn’t shake the bad mood which seeing Marigold had put her in. They walked through the giant oaken doors into the mess hall and fell in line.
“Bleh, goat quiche again,” Lasha commented.
Tinza ignored her, looking around the room for Beric.
“Uh, ohhhhh…” Misty remarked as she nodded behind Tinza. There she was, that yellow bitch sitting next to her charming Beric as he whispered in her ear. Wasting no time she threw her tray to the ground and stormed over.
“Haven’t had enough embarrassment today?” She harped to Marigold.
“Oh, hey Tinz,” Beric offered, but Tinza ignored him.
“I thought I told you last week to leave Beric alone. Shouldn’t you be with the other underlings.”
“I…I didn’t mean anything by it….” Marigold replied weakly.
It was too late for excuses, Tinza had had enough. With a cruel smirk she recalled a forbidden charm Lasha had pried from her aunt last year.
This should do it. She thought.
She clenched her fists as her eyelids fluttered; her mouth moved with silent words only she could hear. Her eyes rolled back down from her head and she fixed a smirking stare at Marigold.
The girl looked confused for a moment before letting out a surprised shriek, shoving herself backwards from the bench and toppling over, revealing a large red smear on the wood. Beric tried to withhold his laughter, but couldn’t, mingling with disgust.
Marigold rose, a smoldering leer dominating her face. She brushed at the stained gray hem of her dress. With newfound confidence, she spoke.
“Do you know why I was accepted here?” She asked, not bothering to wait for an answer. “It’s because I have a strength that others find surprising. I’ve always been scared by it. Like the time my uncle tried to touch me and he immediately died of a heart attack.” She took a step forward.
“Or the time my mother made us move from our hometown and I made her teeth fall out.” She took another.
“I never understood it, but here, I’m starting too.” Tinza retreated a few paces, suddenly unsure of herself. Marigold flashed a wicked smile of her own, her eyes fluttering in turn.
Her attention snapped back to Tinza.
“This is the boy you love?” She asked rhetorically.
“Beric, Beric, O’ swett Beric. Such a lovely name. I will do you a kindness you did not show me, and tell you what I’ve layed upon you. Never shall you say his tender name, never shall you utter it from your lips. For if you do, yours will lose their color and your skin shall grow cold. Enjoy, him, Tinza. Enjoy him and never say his name or be a feast for worms.”
Marigold marched from the room in a hurry. Tinza looked to her friends for support, but there was none to be had. For the first time in her life, she felt regret.

K: This is a pretty rockin’ idea, and the ending sets up a really nice beginning to a story I could read. This one needs an edit, as there are a few errors, though they weren’t overly distracting. I was a little distracted, however, by the Harry Potter meets Monster High tone going from tweeny to “rubbery dick” in kind of a flash. If this was going to be dark and seedy, I would’ve liked more of that slimy realism, and if it was going to be more of a fable, it could have stuck with a more youthful feel.

MN – Another world that is both familiar and in some ways new. Another with menstruation, that starts with looking through a makeup in a bathroom. Weird. Tinza is fleshed out pretty well, especially in contrast to some of the other girls. We get her motivation, and we kind of feel for her – because although she took things too far, she also got a far harsher punishment. I think Marigold’s role switched kind of suddenly… we knew there was more to her, but the inactive to active switch comes with a bit of alarm. Another fantastic entry.

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K: For me, these were both enjoyable reads and ideas, but the first one executed better on its promise. I felt I’d gotten the whole story, whereas the most interesting part of the second story is probably coming after the ending. Watching our heroine driven mad by her curse would’ve been great fun.

So obviously, though I like both of these, I’m favoring the first.

Novak, too, says he gave the nod to the first story, so Melissa has won the duel.

Thirteenth Elimination from Spookymilk Survivor XVIII: Joshua Longman

This was one of Josh’s best stories of the season, and it’s tough to see someone go out on a story so strong, but the game is on, folks.

Okay, final eleven. I promised a weird prompt, and you’re going to get one. I don’t know if you’ll love or hate this, or what, but sometimes I get these bizarre itches and they just have to be scratched.

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TIME LIMIT: 40 Minutes
WORD LIMIT: None

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This is due Monday night at 9pm Central. Sunday is usually a great day for both of us, but this week it’s neither, so you get the extra day.

Cheers, Survivors.

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