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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 179 (August 24th- 31st) Stories Topic: Modern Warfare

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message 1: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (chasmofbooks) | 2875 comments You have until end of August 31st to post a story, and from September 1st to end of September 5th we’ll vote for the story we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group.

Keep your story between 300 and 3,500 words long if possible. You may post longer stories, but they may not get read.

REMEMBER! A short story is NOT a scene. Please give it a BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END of some kind.

This week’s topic is: Modern Warfare

The rules are pretty loose. You may write a story about anything that has to do with the topic. We do not care how, but the story you post is to relate to the topic somehow, even if very loosely or metaphorically.

Above all, have fun!

message 2: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments This should be fun. And I should have plenty of time to write ...

message 3: by Saira (new)

Saira (herumouni) | 667 comments I think even I can come up with something! Edward help me learn about weapons...lol

message 4: by Daniel J. (last edited Aug 25, 2013 01:44PM) (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments Perhaps it’s just your style, but I thought using “he said/she said” sparingly in your dialogue was a good choice for this type of story; it helped to emphasize the undertone of urgency in what was being said.

Your prose also stayed true to the feel of the story, and at times really emphasized the military aspect. “The one salient piece of intelligence I had withheld from Swan was the linchpin upon which the mission rested.” Great sentence, not only because it conveys a great deal of interesting information, but also the use of the “salient”, which has military meanings, keeps the reader engaged with mission. On a personal note, I appreciate you not shying away from being specific about equipment: saying “magazine” instead of “ammo” or listing the actual model of gun instead of just saying gun or rifle. I know nothing about guns, so the imagery is lost on me, but it still adds authenticity to the story.

Lastly, I thought a wet environment was a nice choice. I think of wet terrain as sluggish, which was an engaging contrast against the action of the story. (Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more moisture in this piece for that very reason.)

message 5: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Rosler (ronnydazzler) | 92 comments Great story. Kept me interested the whole time.

message 6: by Daniel J. (last edited Aug 27, 2013 07:25PM) (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments This will be my first story posted in the group.

A Study in Modern Suburban Warfare


Sylvia Mayflower had never written anything before in her life. Well of course she must have written something sometime, a Mash game in middle school, a love note in high school, a protest in college, but nothing that she deemed as creative or insightful. She once thought of writing a children’s book series about an obese cat named Annabelle who opens up a detective agency with her uptight toucan sidekick. She heard there was a great deal of money in children’s literature, but had been convinced by her neighbor Ann Hovel that it would look silly, a woman without children writing a book for children. In truth, Sylvia had gone three decades, from birth to the present, without ever once considering the idea of writing because she wanted to; until the morning after Penny Powel died. Sylvia had read three or four of Penny Powel’s books. They had never enthralled her the way she thought they would; though Sylvia assumed this was due to a fundamental fault in her own nature, because Penny Powel had written three-hundred and seventy four books. “Anyone who writes three-hundred and seventy four books in a life time must be a fiendishly good writer.” She thought.

“William honey?” Sylvia said to her snoring husband as she took a hopeful look toward the bedroom window to gaze at the fresh sky. “What would you say if I told you I was going to write a novel?” She said it with triumphant mirth and imagined inhaling the new morning air. She imaged because the previous tenant had a gruesome case of paranoia and had nailed the bedroom window shut.

William, stirred from sleep by the words of his wife, turned toward her. His eyes opened bulbously and with some surprise, but were quickly shut tight again by the daylight; a mess of wrinkles populated the top of his face. “You’re going to fight Ann Hovel?” He asked with groggy concern. Ann Hovel and Sylvia had been at odds with one another for many years. Their relationship had transformed into one of those feuds without end, despite there being no recollection of what sparked the beginning.

“No dear, that’s not what I said – though it would be nice to see someone give that old crow...” she trailed off “– I said I was going to write a novel.” Sylvia picked up a hair brush from the nightstand and began brushing her auburn hair without direction or rhythm.

Running a hand down his face William was finally able to put his eyes in a position that allowed him to view the woman he loved, but which still kept the overzealous morning light at bay. “Who ever heard of such a pointless thing? Sylvia dear, you don’t even read that often, why would you want to write a novel?” He wrestled with the bed sheets in a bane attempt to rediscover comfort.

“Well I want to be doing something.” she said forcefully. She pulled out a 6 ½ by 4 inch paperback copy of 'The Befuddling' from the night stand drawer and held it close to her husband’s tired face. “Penny Powel wrote this, along with three-hundred and seventy-three other books, and she’s just a normal, everyday woman like me; or I guess I should say she was; she’s dead now, and not without scandal. There’s a rumor that the Cuban government...”

“So what?” William interrupted, taking the book and reading the first line: 'Rachel Lindsey sat again on the patio, her thoughts violently expostulating, and allowed the wind to embrace her heaving bosom.'

Sylvia put a hand to her eye, realizing she had slept in her contacts again. “So if one normal, everyday person can become a writer, why can’t another?”

William turned back around and closed his eyes. “I can think of far more agitating hobbies for a woman to have, so whatever makes you happy dear.” William, with the content reassurance that his wife’s desire for writing would dissipate by lunch, drifted back into slumber.


“I’ll use genital related swear words; all the good writers use genital related swear words.”

“I’m eating.” William said angrily from across the breakfast table, his mouth filled with half masticated eggs over easy.

Sylvia waved a dismissive hand. All her focus was directed at her computer as she vigorously typed lists of possibilities. “I think I’ll set my story among the gentry class on the English countryside. Yes, I like the idea of England as the setting.”

William, awakening to the situation, began to fear that his wife had more vigor toward writing a book than he first realized; he decided it was time to discourage her. “Aren’t you concerned about finding names for all your characters? I hear it’s hard finding names for all the characters.”

“You hear from whom?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “People talk.”

“Nonsense, and besides, I want my character’s first names to be as spontaneous and organic as possible. And British gentry surnames are so easy to come up with: you just put two inanimate objects together and you’re done.”

“How do you mean?”

“Like this: I see a penny on the floor and you’re buttering your toast, Beatrice Butterpenny. My plan is to create my characters that way.” She looked around the room. “Henry Appleglass, Edmond Pepperspoon, Cassandra Nicklephone, and so on.”

Before William could make another attempt at discouraging his wife there came a knock at the kitchen door. Sylvia didn’t seem to notice the knock nor did William feel it his duty to get up and answer it. The knock came a second time, harder and with less patience, prompting William to submit to the inconvenience and rise to get the door. On the other side of the threshold stood Ann Hovel, a meticulously crafted, statuesque woman in a fashionable obsidian suit. William knew immediately the nature of Ann’s visit.

“Good of you to answer so promptly William.” Ann said with a sarcastic smile.

“I’m sorry Ann; my wife and I were just eating breakfast.”

“Why it seems a little late for breakfast if you ask me William: nine o’clock. I’ve been up for hours working on my first novel, but you wouldn’t be interested in that I suppose.” Ann made it a point to make sure all her acquaintances knew of every endeavor of hers, a different one arising bi-monthly. It was painful, like flint rubbed hard against the skin.

“You’re writing a novel?” Sylvia, materializing, asked with a poorly disguised pang of concern.

“Why yes. A truly fantastic idea came to me last night in a dream. I’d tell you what it was all about, but I’m afraid I haven’t finished outlining yet, you know? Well no I suppose you don’t, but anyway the reason I came over was.” Ann stopped cold and stood stone faced as though she had never intended to finish the sentence. “I guess I’ve forgotten the reason. Anyway Sylvia, I’d say ‘see you at church’ but you weren’t there last Sunday, so I suppose I’ll see you around the neighborhood.” Ann walked away with a confident, stiff, stride.

“Goodbye.” Sylvia called, waving a hand to the back of Ann’s head. When the kitchen door was once again closed: “I swear it’s like she has microphones in the house; she’s always stealing my ideas.”

William sat back down to his interrupted eggs and toast growing ever soggier. “Lots of people write books dear. Besides, how do you even know that Ann’s book will be anything like yours?”

“Oh, I know.” was the best evidence she could offer.

“I would just let it go.”

Sylvia, slamming her fist on the table and looking up into the indeterminate distance, declared: “I also know that my book is going to be better. I’ve let Ann talk me out of too many great ideas over the years, but I am going to write this book. I’ll get started right - away.” She looked wide eyed to her husband for a moment before putting her pun to paper.

The ensuing days were marked by a clear and growing temper of competition in Sylvia. She worked tirelessly on her book in the hopes of rising victorious over Ann Hovel. In the back of her mind Sylvia knew that disdain and malice where not the most beautiful of muses, but what they lacked in creative inspiration they made up for in the inspiration for determination.

Ann Hovel remained blissfully unaware of Sylvia’s competitive spirit for a day or two, but with the help of a loose lipped hair dresser, gossipy and flamboyant to the point of being a hollow, one dimensional stereotype, soon discovered that Sylvia also was writing a book. Ann didn’t believe such a thing could be possible, but the hair dresser reassured her that he had “heard the news that Sylvia was writing a romance novel from Sylvia herself”. Ann sat in the plush hydraulic powered chair, her shampooed head filled with the buzzing thoughts of all the terrible possibilities Sylvia might have for writing her own book. Was Sylvia trying to outdo her? Was she trying to make it appear that the idea for writing a book was hers? Had Sylvia somehow stolen Ann’s outline, and was now trying to pass it off as her own? Ann, unable to swat away the black flies of speculation, left the salon, the shampoo only half rinsed off.

“Steal my idea would she?” Ann said as the head rest of her driver’s seat grew heavy with moisture. She set out toward her home. The constant speed signs reminding her to slow down added to her frustration.

message 7: by Daniel J. (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments III

Sylvia had decided the confinement of her house was not the place to finish chapter thirteen (the chapter where protagonist Lucinda Thistlewink escapes from the arms of her drunken husband into the forest of Timberland), and was now seated comfortably on her front porch. “I’ve forgotten my Thesaurus.” Sylvia said aloud to the empty chair on the other side of the plastic porch table. “William!” she shouted. “Bring me my Thesaurus.” An annoyed but compliant response came from within. Deciding not to wait for William, Sylvia began writing.

'Lucinda awoke suddenly from her restful slumber. She looked around the lush forest, realizing she didn’t know where she had led herself while running wildly the night before, wildly away from her drunken husband Whiskey Pete. Her stomach rambled with hunger. Then she saw a deer. She quietly followed after the deer who led her to a tree filled with lush soft cherries. In a fit of starvation Lucinda began violently gouging herself with the soft fruit. It was a minute or two before she noticed a man was watching her. The man looked as though he was a bandit, powerful muscles bulging through tight clothes. His hair was dark as night, long but clean cut. Lucinda blushed as she noticed a powerful sword running down the length of his left thigh.'

“That’s good metaphor.” Sylvia thought. She placed her fingers once more on the keypad, but her story was interrupted by the sound of a car, pistons firing, driving down her street. She got up from her plastic chair and leaned over the porch railing to put an image with the frightful sound. To her amazement the car she saw looked identical to that of Ann Hovel’s, the same bolder of a vehicle with the same stone grey color. Sylvia, for a moment, thought that Ann Hovel’s car had been stolen and at any second the police would come racing down the lane like the chariots of Ben Hur. “Ben Hur, I should write that down.” The thought was broken when the decidedly stolen vehicle pulled with a squealing stop into Ann’s driveway; the stench of burning rubber filled the neighborhood. Ann emerged from the car, stiff and wet, and walked toward Sylvia.

“Well hello Sylvia, enjoying this beautiful day on your porch I see.” Her eyes piercing.

Sylvia stared in stupefied wonder at the tense dripping woman before her. The droplets from Ann’s head ran down her face causing fault lines in her makeup. Small tremors of anger could be seen just under the skin. “Yes.” Sylvia managed. “I was just...”

“Working on a book, yes I know.” Ann let out a harsh laugh to make clear her intentions. She stepped up on the porch, dangerously close to Sylvia. “Funny you should begin a book right after I announce that I’m writing one myself. Original ideas are rather hard to come by I suppose.”

Sylvia straightened her spine in an attempt to mask her offense with dignity. “Actually Ann, I decided to write a book before the idea that you were capable of stringing together a single sentence had ever crossed my mind.”

Ann’s pursing lips betrayed her growing anger. “That’s fine. I hear you’re writing a romance; but then what else could a woman who’s so obviously dissatisfied with her husband write about?”

“That wasn’t called for!”

“Wasn’t it Sylvia? I see the way you boss poor, emasculated William around.”

“I do not boss William around.”

“Here’s the Thesaurus you wanted dear.” said William entering with the large volume in hand.

Sylvia hesitated a moment before taking her Roget’s International. “Thank you sweetheart, for doing that out of the kindness, the manly kindness, of your own heart.”


Ann, tossing her hands into the air, turned and walked toward her own house muttering “How ridiculous”.

“Being inexplicably wet is not an attractive look!” Sylvia shoved the thesaurus back into William’s hands, grabbed her laptop from off the plastic table and thundered into the house. “Ann’s not going to win this one.” She grumbled as she connected her computer to the printer. “I’ll just take what I’ve got down to the publishers office right now. When Ann hears that my novel has already been accepted for publication, I bet she’ll throw whatever awful trite she’s written right into the trash.” Sylvia collected her warm printed papers, putting them under the stapler which she punched accusingly three times before a staple made it through all thirteen chapters.

As Sylvia marched to her car she noticed Ann Hovel marching uniformly toward her still smoking motor vehicle. Sylvia tried not to look, but the identical white bundle that Ann held in her hand stopped Sylvia in her tracks. She looked in disbelief at the stack of papers Ann held; Sylvia looked at her own stack to compare sizes. Looking up she saw Ann starring back at her, the same expression of disbelief on her chiseled face. Both women, in perfect unison, began slowly for their cars. The slow stride turned into a brisk walk, the brisk walk into a competitive run. By the time the car doors were opened, both women were throwing themselves into the driver’s seat and stabbing their keys into the ignition.

William watched helplessly from the porch as his wife and neighbor tore down the suburban streets like the chariots of Ben Hur. “Ben Hur, I should write that down for Sylvia.”

Cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians alike all screamed angrily at the two raging vehicles, but all the mad remonstrations were blocked out by the determined drivers. Sylvia and Ann, tied in there race to literary victory, took their eyes from the road only to exchange an intimidating scowl at their competitor. Unfortunately it was these very scowls that were the undoing of them both, for as the two women approached the publishing office they each looked at the other for one last glower of impending victory. Neither one, as they scrunched their noses and furrowed their brows, noticed the great speed at which they were moving toward their destination. Ann, whose vehicle went airborne after hitting the curb in front of the building, was the first to realize. As Sylvia watched her nemesis inexplicably ascend into the air, she was compelled to look back at the road only to find it had been replaced by a large building whose glass walled lobby was filled with screaming secretaries dashing to safety. The two vehicles blasted through the glass walls in a brilliant display of shimmering diamond fragments, waiting room chairs that could fly and dance, and the booming roar of twisting metal.


Dennis Miller had taken shelter under his desk, suspecting the great sound had been a bomb going off. He immerged at the startled voices of secretaries speculating about alcohol, suicide, and sleep deprivation. He cautiously exited his office and tentatively stepped into the lobby. It wasn’t a lobby he saw, but instead two dented and cracked vehicles, with two women standing in helpless shock amongst piles of coffee table halves and partially exploded chair cushions, while a soft rain of used typing paper coated the still chaos. “Good heavens.” Dennis Miller exclaimed. “What has happened to my publishing office?”

message 8: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11106 comments Hello Felix. Welcome to the WSS. Be sure to introduce yourself in the greetings section.

And thank you Chris and Felix for your stories.

message 9: by Guy (last edited Sep 01, 2013 04:48PM) (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11106 comments Another week has ended!
Way too quickly, in my experience, but the clock does not lie.
Please go vote.

Poem poll.

Story poll.

The new contest topic is Paper Cut:

Poetry Stuffage.


message 10: by Saira (new)

Saira (herumouni) | 667 comments Oops. I forgot to write something. Oh well.

message 11: by Daniel J. (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments Thank you Chris for the comments on my story; you are the first non-family/friend/teacher to do so, which makes me even more appreciative of the feedback.

Thank you Guy for the welcome, but I've actually been a somewhat active member for several months. To be fair, I don't think I ever did introduce myself in the greetings sections. No worries, entirely my fault.

message 12: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11106 comments I'll be reading and commenting on the stories before voting cuts off. Life is busy.

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