Read in a Rush: Gifts

The Bolthole's monthly 1,000 word story competition.

Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby LordLucan » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:07 am

This is the official thread for posting stories for the December 2013 'Read In a Rush' Competition.


To enter the competition, you must write a story, set within 40K/Whf/Bloodbowl or a setting of your own devising, of between 850 and 1150 words in length addressing in some way the prompt word or phrase announced at the start of the competition. In this case, it is Haunting.

Audio scripts and their accompanying audio files are admissible. The format for presenting those scripts, however, is strict. Include the audio script, properly formatted (no spoiler tags, please), first. A link to the audio file should then be provided after the script.

Whether you're writing a prose entry or a script entry, you must provide a word count alongside the title of your work.

At the moment poetry entries are not admissible.

You should post your entries on or before the deadline of 2200BST on Friday 3rd January (extended deadline due to me possibly not being around online at the end of December for some reason... ;)). There is no limit to the amount of entries you can post, but only one may be submitted for voting. If you've only posted one entry in the posting period, then you don't need to do anything. Your entry will be automatically submitted for voting. If you've written more than one entry, you will need to PM me with the title of your chosen entry. You will be given a full week to make your decision about which story to put forward. If you do not manage to PM me before that time, then I will put your first story into the voting thread.

Any questions, please feel free to PM me.

We also have a suggestion thread here. Feel free to peruse it and post your thoughts on any and all things RiaR.

PLEASE NOTE. If you submit a story you are also committing to vote (and the custom here is that you vote for stories other than your own). Stories whose writers have not voted will be disqualified from the competition and their votes will not be counted.

All the best,

Grand Overlord, the one true RiaR Monarch, Lordlucan.
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby Rusk » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:59 pm

Last minute again. Inspired by GTA, the first Gaunt's Ghosts and a ridiculous story my friend told me about how drug dealers mark out their territory in Manchester. (also, woo, default!)

A Simple Job

The half-track slewed to a halt in the foot-deep snow, sliding through the piles of powdered mush carpeting the windy courtyard. The four occupants of the truck bundled out, one of them slipping in the slush and flopping face down onto the ground. One of his compatriots snorted, before bending down to offer him a hand up. The driver pulled up his balaclava for one second to plant a kiss on the half-track’s soaking snow plough.

One of them had marked out the drop earlier in the day. A pair of scruffy hiking boots had been tied together and hurled at the vox lines crisscrossing the street adjacent to the target, dangling down between the flashing neon lighting of late night Lyskovo City. Almost invisible, unless you knew what you were looking for.

The fifth member of the crew was waiting in the corner of the courtyard, next to a pair of trashcans that he’d pulled aside to reveal a concealed, gutter-level window, its insides shrouded in darkness. He gestured his accomplices over with a wave of one gloved hand, the other holding a compact, silenced autogun at the ready.

“What the hell took you so long, V?” the fifth crewmember hissed.

V gave him a blank look. “Oh, I don’t know, Eye, maybe the snow? You pass your driving license and then I’ll let you criticise me. What’s the plan?”

“Same as before. Go in, hard and fast. K, O, handle the night shift. Me and G will grab the gear, then back out here and away. V, stay with the truck, get it ready to go. Last thing we need is our clean getaway being shafted by your shoddy work.”

“I’m glad you have such faith in my work,” V smiled sweetly. “Shut up and rob this joint, the boys at base are waiting on their presents.”

O slipped in first, contorting her short, powerful body to squeeze through the narrow gap. She dropped down into the basement of the target and disappeared out of sight, shortly followed by G, whose black fatigues and balaclava were still caked in snow. K went next, drawing a serrated dagger from her waist as she did so. Eye was last, offering V a quick fist-bump before swinging inside.

V sighed, pulling up his mask quickly to wipe his sweat-drenched forehead as he wandered back to the half-track. He paused to kick some of the larger clumps of snow from the mudguards defending the wheels and the heavy, rusting tank treads, before pulling himself up into the machine’s greasy, steel interior. Kicking the old truck’s engine into life, V cracked open a window and settled back in his seat, eyes flickering between the gutter entrance and the truck’s mirrors, and allowed his mind to wander.

This wasn’t V’s first job, and with any luck, it wouldn’t be his last, either. It was probably the easiest he’d done, too; as long as Eye didn’t mess up, the arbites wouldn’t find out about the heist until they were long gone. V had faith; Eye was solid, so was K, and G, even if he was a little trigger happy. O was new, they’d only roped her into the crew a few months earlier, when one of the old boys got his brains blown out, but she’d done well. Even if she’d been a steaming pile of grox-turd Eye would probably have still kept her round, pretty girl like that, so V was thankful she could pull her weight.

The crack of gunfire carried easily over the hum of the neon lights and the buzz of distant traffic. V jumped out of his seat, smacking his head on the half-track’s roof. Spitting curses, V yanked his laspistol out of its holster and aimed it at the target window, squinting through a stiff wind that kicked up and sent snow swirling through the air. There was movement in the darkness, and V’s grip tightened on the trigger. A balaclava-clad head appeared in the window as it hauled itself through, followed closely by the considerable girth of a body in black overalls, snow still smeared down its chest and legs.

“What the hell happened?” V shouted at G.

“Damned if I know!” G bellowed back, scuttling over to him, a thick sack slung over one shoulder. Eye was clambering out next, firing his autogun behind him one handed. “It was all going fine, next thing I know one of the night guards has K by the throat and Eye starts firing!”

G bundled into the back of the half-track, followed by Eye. O and K were at the back, the former supporting the latter, who was limping from cuts to her arm and leg and muttering curses under her breath. Eye span as he got to the passenger door and fired a stream of bullets back into the building. Eye waited until O and K got themselves into the truck before jumping in, leaving the door open to keep firing at the window.

“Drive, Vikenti!” Eye barked.

“Zell’s tears, Eye, names!” Vikenti snapped, throwing the half-track into first gear. “Be careful, please, sergeant.”

Vikenti span the truck, sliding it through the snow, before chuntering away from the courtyard and away down the neon-lit street. He’d have to dump the truck, he mused sadly. Early spring in Lyskovo, the arbites would track them like wolves to a fresh corpse.

“What happened back there?” he yelled over the roar of the engine.

“Stupid phaking guard,” K growled back, teeth clenched. “Decided to play hero, tried to take me out. Stuck me good with my own knife. Eye takes him out and the rest of them freak. Some start shooting. Motherphakers.”

“Did you get the goods though?”

“Of course we did,” G scoffed, opening up the thick sack he’d placed on his lap. “Lho-gum, amasec, tequila, whiskey. Few canisters of the Red King’s Own as well. Merry Emperor-damned Candlemas! The regiment’ll live for a week off this haul. Sold to them at discount price by Sergeant Isaak Rourke enterprises, of course!”

“Do you want me to throw you out that window, G?” ‘Eye’ Isaak snarled. “Shut your trap!”

A flash of blue and red caught Vikenti’s eye in the rear view mirror. “Boys and girls, not to disturb you but I think we may be about to have a problem.”

G looked out the back window of the truck and sighed. The heavy-set man pulled up his balaclava above his mouth, drew a flask of amasec out and cracked it open with his teeth, pouring a generous amount of the warm amber liquid down his gullet. He glanced round at the others, staring at him.

“What?” G complained. “I intend to enjoy this. Best to make use of it now in case Vikki can’t get us out of this sticky situation.”

“Adeptus Arbites! Off the road, NOW!”

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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby Commander Shadow » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:12 am

has there been an extension? i'm sorry, i'd like to submit, but this is my first time back on the site in a while
- And there arose from the abyss a terrible beast and the armies of man were laid low by the walls of the ancient city. The ground shook and the skies trembled and all knew as the beast had come forth and that the end of time was upon them.

"Shadow is always right, except when he tries to save his men from charging orks" - Ang
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby Rusk » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:10 am

Might as well post something, LL hasn't visited in a while. It's lonely in here...
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby Corrigan Phoenix » Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:16 am

*watches the tumbleweed blow through*
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby Rahvin » Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:06 pm

Rusk: That's a brilliant little christmas gangster story, love it. Might have benefited from being a little longer so we could get more of a grip on who the characters were (the single-letter codenames didn't help), but that's the limitations of the competition, really. Really good tale though.

I'll sneak my own entry in, because why not? Something of an experiment using the unconventional 2nd-person future-tense.


A Choice



The offer will be a good one. At first, you’ll refuse, make excuses, ask for time to consider. They’ll let you – they know that nobody ever says no in the end. Human nature is all too predictable in these matters. So they’ll nod in sombre acceptance, as if they've never seen anyone display your presence of mind before, and acquiesce. You’ll leave the gathering, removing your hooded robe only after a mile’s walk and sixteen changes of direction, and your mind will be churning.

Why not accept? By then you’ll have already accepted that there are other powers in the universe than the God-Emperor alone. It’s not heresy, you’ll tell yourself, not really. Just the simple realisation of the truth. It’s not as if you’ll deny the God-Emperor – you’ll still love him more than any. It’s just that you’ll realise that His boons tend to only make themselves known post-mortem. A shield for the soul is all well and good, but you’ll reason that it doesn't do much to help the body.

These other powers, the ones the group will tell you about once you accept their offer to slip out after curfew, these powers will take care of your life. They’ll give you passion to fuel your drive, intelligence to plan success, strength to carry those plans to fruition, and toughness against the hardships along the road. That won’t sound so bad to you, not after thirty-four years of toil in the counting-houses of the administratum, looking up at the next rung on the ladder hanging just too far above for you to reach.

These new powers, the Ones Beyond The Veil as the group names them – you’ll try to remember the individual names, the monikers of the Great Four, but every time they’ll slip from the cusp of your memory as you leave the group in the dead darkness of the small hours – these powers will give you the helping hand you need to just reach up far enough to grasp that next rung. And the one after that, and the one after. That’s the first thing your mind will latch on to, when they tell you – the possibilities, how far might you go? How high might you reach? You’ll recall the guesses you made about the identities of some of the other group members, looking at mannerisms and accents and the glinting of rings beneath wide sleeves, recall dismissing those guesses because why would those kinds of people associate with a clandestine meeting of midhive manufactory workers, forlorn clerks and typists? And you’ll pause on your walk home, and you’ll start to reconsider. Maybe they accepted. Maybe they started where you are. Maybe they took that helping hand up and now they want to spread it to the rest? To you?

It will be a powerful lure. Only once you get back home to the safety of your hab, once you’ve checked you haven’t been noticed or followed and thrown your robe into the compartment prised open inside your kitchen wall, once you’ve sat down with a strong mug of recaf and begun to slow your mind down from its kaleidoscopic imaginings – only then will you consider the price they asked.

It won’t sound much. A pint of blood to open the way, that surely won’t hurt? You’ll half-remember hearing from one of the medicaes at work that the body contains ten or more. An electoo, in a place that you’ll be allowed to choose. Again, it won’t be a hardship – you’ll be able to keep it dark, get it someplace unnoticed, maybe your foot. Just a mark, really, a show of commitment to the group. A favour, they’ll ask for, to be paid in future at a time of their asking. It won’t sound unfair – they’re doing this for you, after all. It won’t be unreasonable for them to ask you to do something to pay them back later on. And they’ll ask you, almost as an afterthought, to bring someone else into the fold, another hooded face in the family.

You’ll ask yourself again, sitting there contemplating the steam rising from your recaf – why not? They’ll have been a good group to you. The hoods and robes and insistence on anonymity will strike you as a little melodramatic at first, but in time you’ll realise that they’re part security and part atmosphere. If nobody knows who anybody else is, then if the enforcers catch one on their way to or from, they won’t be able to identify the others, bring the enforcers down on everybody’s heads. Not that you’re breaking the law too much, you’ll tell yourself. Just out after curfew, meeting some friends somewhere you can talk without the vox-thieves recording every stray sound and word. The enforcers won’t like it, but it’s not like you’ll be hurting anyone. In fact, you’ll help them, just like they’ll help you. You’ll get advice, brotherhood, and after they get a handle on you, you’ll get a glimpse of what the galaxy can really do for you.

But there’ll still be that little niggling thought, the tiny voice insisting that opening yourself up to any power save the God-Emperor is wrong, heretically wrong. It won’t be easy to silence it, despite all your mental arguments. You’ll wrestle with it long after you’ve finished your recaf and crawled into bed for a fitful few hours of sleep, and you’ll still wrestle with it all the while you sit at your cogitator terminal at work. Your supervisor will berate you for your distraction – your work will be slow, mistakes frequent – but you won’t be able to bring yourself to care. They will not see that you wrestle with a problem bigger than the mundane administratum complex that whittles away your years.

The frustration will mount. You’ll find yourself annoyed with the mundane trials of the daily grind, your mind will be grappling with higher matters. You’ll find the stories of your colleagues dry and bland next to the possibilities offered you by the group.

The lure, as it always does, will grab you. By the time you go back, three nights later, you will have made up your mind.

Yes.

And from that moment, you will have damned yourself to a life of darkness beyond your deepest fears, until you die screaming under the Question.

So think on, little clerk, when hooded men come bearing gifts.


(1068 words, including title)
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby TunnelRat68 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:34 am

Rahvin, great story and liked the pace and questioning nature of the tale with a good solid thump back to reality at the end.

Rusk, also loved the idea of guardsmen making do anything any which way they can to survive or live a little better at the front. I felt it was actually a longer story squeezed into 1000 words and would fit better at 2000 to get the detail in that was just missing.

Cheers for the reads.

TR
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby Rob P » Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:11 pm

Did RIAR get forgotten? Shame on you, LLv :lol:
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby Mossy Toes » Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:04 am

Has RiaR died, then? And HOES on heresy online certainly seems to have dried up to a dribble as well. A lamentable loss.
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby ninja101 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:01 pm

I keep popping back here to see if anyone's resurrected it, but so far no joy. Sad times.
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Re: Read in a Rush: Gifts

Postby Rob P » Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:35 pm

I'll bite. Voting thread up.
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