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Literary Maneuvers January 2021: Gunshots in the Hills (1 Viewer)


Staff member
Literary Maneuvers Competition
for January 2021

"Gunshots in the Hills"

Word limit: 650
Begins Friday, January 1
Closes Friday, January 15
2359hrs GMT
Critiques from judges due to rcallaci via PM
(please and thank you)
by Saturday, January 30


This month you will be prompted:

Gunshots in the Hills

Pick your own title, write about whatever you want, as long as it fits the prompt.

If you win, you'll get a badge pinned to your profile, plus the chance to write
for our yearly Grand Fiction Challenge which carries cash prizes. Pretty neat, eh?

The Awesome and Magnificent
January 2021 Judges

Thank you all!

If you wish to know more about scoring,
take a look at the NEW JUDGING GUIDE
which also includes a template to use for your scoring.

Please use this template for consistency.​


All entries that wish to retain their first rights should post in the LM WORKSHOP THREAD.

All anonymous entries should be sent to rcallaci by private message and please note in
the PM if you want your entry posted in the workshop thread, not visible to the public

Lastly, why not check out this ancient text on how to best approach this task.

Click HERE for the Rules

There are a few ways to post your entry:

If you aren't too concerned about your first rights,
then you can simply post your entry here in this thread.

You can opt to have your entry posted in the Workshop
which is a special thread just for LM entries.
You would put your story there if you wish to protect your first rights,
in case you wish to have the story published one day.
Note: If you do post it in the workshop thread, you must post a link
to it here in this thread otherwise your story may not be counted.

You may post your story anonymously.
To do so, send your story to the host (rcallaci) of the competition.
If you wish to have us post it in the workshop thread then say so.
Your name will be revealed upon the release of the score.

Everyone is welcome to participate, including judges. A judge's entry will receive a review by their fellow judges, but it will not receive a score, though some judges are happy to let you know their score for you privately. Please refrain from 'like'-ing or 'lol'-ing an entry until the scores are posted.

Judges: In the tradition of LM competitions of yore, if you could send the scores no later than
January 30, it will ensure a timely release of results. Much later than that and I will have to post with what I have. Again, please see the Judging Guidelines if you have questions. Following the suggested formatting will be much appreciated, too.

This competition will close on:
Friday January 15th at 2359hrs, GMT (not BST), on the dot.
Please note any time differences where you
are and be mindful of daylight savings time.​
Last edited:


Friends of WF
Warning Adult content ?

A full Pirate story or just some Pirated

It was a cold and stormy night
And the captain was in his cabin
And he said First Mate tell me a story
And the First Mate said
There was a gun shot in the hills
The captain turned to the open window
But too late as he narrowed his eyes
Suddenly his head snapped back
Eyes wide open with surprise
He was dead, shot above his browse
And the First Mate said
Was that a poor choice of story opening ?
Or a coincidence of epic proportions ?

At this very moment
The cabin door opened
And in walked
An English man, an Irishman
and a guy carrying a small piano
With an even smaller man sitting on
The piano stool that accompanied it
The Englishman said I thought it odd
The Irishman, from sure knowledge, said
It was poor diction

And the guy carrying the piano sighed deeply
Perhaps he said just per per perhaps
It twas my stammer that did it
Pi pi pi pianist
Does sound quite sim sim similar to
Pe pe pe penis
And the little people
Do have short attentions spans

[FONT=&Verdana]But my wife does not like music much
And after telling her of the wish and what I asked for
She has not talked to me in months
And me I’ve got to take this damn eight inch pianist
With me every where I go
If I leave him at home
Im convinced she will use him as a dildo
Imagine how sticky the keys will get
The sound will be completely spoiled

With this just said the First Mate turned
Surprised others were in the room
It was a cold and stormy night
But he was happy that these three had entered
Glad they had told him a story
And not one had heard
A gun shot from the hills
Although the eight inch pianist’s life
Did seem to be in mortal danger

But then he heard another report
This could only mean
Gun shots in the hills
It was then that the First Mate noticed
Gasped in surprise
His head snapped back
Shock upon his face
Shot through the head
Between the eyes no less
As he faded to black
Yes too late the story tellers job was done
And damn his final thought
I’m two hundred and fifty words short
Last edited:


Staff member
Media Manager
Footnotes on the Hemford Event (597 words)

[SUP]1[/SUP] which, being the “Apex of Summer”, was hot, clear and cloudless

[SUP]2[/SUP] Reports suggested that the two participants (“Ellis” and “Sandy”) had had a longstanding dispute, though this was never divulged whether it concerned land or personal effects or some other business. Some speculated a common romantic interest, but again, it was not clear. Certainly, no-one from the towns around Hemford has come forward as a named person of interest, and no reliable paperwork has been filed on the matter. Stories and myths, however, abound, and provide a curious pattern of their own.

[SUP]3[/SUP] None of the notes and diaries imply that anyone saw them leave to go up into the Sardona, which is the range of hills nearby. That was conjectured from the noise of the gunshot and the fact that they were both absent from the dawn moot.

[SUP]4[/SUP] a stream which parallels the track leading to the Eskins smallholding. Its source is said to be among the northwestern crags of Great Sardona Four, “The Bullock”, though no documents confirm or refute this. It is considered irrelevant.

[SUP]5[/SUP] a hamlet some five hours away by foot, or three hours and seven minutes when ridden at a slow to medium pace (best recorded EX., 1844).

[SUP]6[/SUP] Sheriff Taglia was alerted to this fact by Dr. Priscilla Yatton, who wished it to be duly noted.

[SUP]7[/SUP] (Editions 17 and later) the anomaly was later assumed to be a stray asteroid or comet[SUP][evidence required].[/SUP] The inhabitants of Hemford would have most likely taken it as a heavenly sign, doubtless connected with the other concurrent incident.

[SUP]8[/SUP] A midsummer sun celebration, somewhat akin to Baisakhi or perhaps May Day.

[SUP]9[/SUP] Please refer to the notes on page 514 of the fourth edition (hardback), subsection E, clause iv

[SUP]10[/SUP] This is concordant with an eyewitness report, located an estimated seventy miles southeast of Ludva, and which claimed the “sky went to a darker-than-usual blue”. The individual also reported a drop in temperature and a change in behavior of nearby wildlife (birds, etc.).

[SUP]11[/SUP] Forensic findings have verified that the first gunshot happened approximately five seconds before the impact. Both bullets were later discovered. Only one had its shape deformed, and that but slightly, hence our ongoing investigation.

[SUP]12[/SUP] Two sets of footsteps, anecdotally matching Ellis and Sandy’s profiles as they have been described. One had a mild deviation characteristic of a limp.

[SUP]13[/SUP] A sinusoidal waveform

[SUP]14[/SUP] Here is where they separated. Please note that the event did affect local weather for some time, so the usual patterns and processes may become unreliable/should not be used unless etc.

[SUP]15[/SUP] Markings discovered much later (see editions 46 and after) indicate the crags of Great Sardona Four (“The Bulloch”) [sic] may have been struck by one of the bullets, possibly causing the deformation.

[SUP]16[/SUP] It is the belief of this investigation that both parties (“Sandy” and “Ellis”) are still living and furthermore may have valuable knowledge concerning the event.

[SUP]17[/SUP] This refers to the separate body of work that provides a detailed analysis of spring water and runoffs in the region.

[SUP]18[/SUP] Borriss and Sanchez’s 1876 paper On Ballistics and the Hemford Event conclude that the second gunshot was fired zero-point-three-zero-seven seconds after the impact, but before any sound waves and natural ground undulations would have reached the two participants.

[SUP]19[/SUP] Relatives of Sheriff Taglia dispute this notion (ongoing, 104[SUP]th[/SUP] Ed.).

[SUP]20[/SUP] A follow-up investigation has been commissioned. Please refer to that when cross-referencing all subsequent materials. Details can be found on page 307. No other survivors are known to exist.



Senior Member
Gunshots in the Hills, 650 words

‘I’m going out just to clear my head.’

‘Take your coat, Honey,’ I told my man.

He lifted the shot gun from the porch, from the resting place in the umbrella stand. He never took an umbrella. He never was an umbrella sort of a man. And I knew it, him being the only man in my county, me being the only woman, officially.

Back then even…was when he said to me:

‘I’m not an umbrella fella.’

When he chuckled that first time, irritating.

‘Stop it,’ I cried.

But that was another time when it was raining outside. Not that it rained inside our house. My man is useful in the ways of maintenance.

One day he takes a hammer. Now why he takes a hammer? ‘Why have you takes a hammer?’ I said up the staircase to him. He never replied even down the stairs.

‘Husband!’ I cried, I rushed a level. It was awful worrying the thought of a man with a hammer in a house with no reason. I saw legs emerge from the attic steps.

‘Ah, thank goodness you are safe,’ I said, ‘only, why you take a hammer into a lofthouse, when, and you know, I counted nails, you never took nails into the attic?

He sensed my suspicions.

‘I did take nails into the attic. I bought fresh nails on F…f…Friday,’ he stammered…like an asshole.

‘You bought fresh nails this F.f.friday? You never told me you bought nails on Friday.’

‘I did, I bought a box of fresh nails.’

‘And you never ever bought me fresh nails and, and never never?’ I cooed, sashayed, a beautiful lady in a house of chairs and my windows.

He curled his little fist into a ball. He chewed his little fist with the dirty teeth.

‘So you are saying I am not feeding you properly, is that what this is all about?’ I could read the boy’s mind.

‘No,’ he said, in this appearance of shame. His fist was red raw.

‘You’ll ruin your appetite,’ I softened before the quizling question: ‘Tell me what you doing up there with the hammer up there with your secret box of nails. Why are you crying, Baby?’

‘I thought only to drive nails through my eyeballs.’

‘So…so you think you’re a new funny man now? You’re not a funny man.’

A woman cannot worry when a man takes the shot gun into the woods, and is not wearing his coat. I have chores to attend to, until the discharge echoed through those distant trees. The birds flapped, I imagine, over the crescent of beauty. I could smell pine beauty like a toilet wiped with tissue.

He’s fired that gun, I thought. I truly believed my conclusion. What else was I supposed to think? With nobody else for miles around, and he fires a gun in the woods unsupervised.

So the second gunshot came as some reassurance.

Twilight closing in. My chopping board arrangement, my herbs, my spices, my squirrel in the barrel anticipates his drowning before the dinner occasion. ‘Cling to your edge a while longer, fluffy,’ I smiled, sang folk songs of yesteryear to that squirrel.

And here comes my man down from the forest surrounding.

The door slams, he shakes the snow, and the sweat I see, soaks his throat through the raspberry kerchief.

‘You done something wrong?’ I say in a greeting.

‘No,’ he kind of whimpers like a squirrel. And sits at the kitchen table, and begins a whistling. I read him like a book.

‘What’s that in your hand, Honeybun? Is that an ear in your hand? You go hunting in the woods and you bring me home an ear?

Can’t you hear me?

And what’s that in your shoe?’

‘My foot, Baby, my foot.’

‘So why’s it with the umbrellas? Drag it over here. Let me look at your foot.’


Staff member
Media Manager
New Year (643 words)


Without warning, the front door of the cabin swung open and 2020 burst in, slamming the door.

It was 10:39 p.m. on the last day of the year.

“She’s trying to kill me! Please! I need help!” he said between gasps for air. Since the year was almost done, he had the appearance of a very old man. And he was winded.

I stood and confronted him, an iron poker in my hand, his entrance having interrupted my firebox adjustments.

“Who’s ‘She’?” I said. “Nevermind! I don’t want to know. Get out of my cabin!”

“Mother Earth,” he said, ignoring me. “She’s coming for me.”

“Maybe I should kill you myself and do everyone a favor.”

Old 2020 looked beaten by my words. He slumped against the door in surrender, resignation and sadness in his eyes.

“I wouldn’t blame you. Really I wouldn’t,” he dropped his eyes to the floor. “I was a terrible year.”

“Quite the understatement.”

“Yeah,” said 2020. “I’ve seen the memes.”


I heard it first, a scuffling outside the door. I stood, keeping the iron poker within reach.

“What now!”

There was a light knock, followed by a woman’s scream.

I rushed to open the door and Mother Earth, pregnant and in the throes of labor fell into the room.

“What the hell are you doing here? Hey, 2020! Help me get her inside!” I scooped up Mother. Her mouth gritted in pain, her eyes pinched tight.

2020 sat staring into the fire, unmoved or uncaring. I grunted my irritation and carried her to the bedroom in the back of the cabin.

“Thank you!” she hissed as I lay her down on the bed.

“Are you going to be okay? I… I don’t know how to deliver a baby. Tell me what you need.”

She actually laughed, half in pain, half in amusement.

“Don’t worry! It’s not my first. Just prop me up with a couple pillows here and I’ll handle the rest.”

I looked, dumbfounded. She bent forward, her face pinched in sudden pain.

“You sure?”

“It looks worse than it feels, Honey!” and looking at the alarm clock-radio playing evening jazz on the nightstand next to the bed, “I’ve still got a good forty-five minutes yet.”

I hesitated. I didn’t know if she was being brave or stupid. With concern, I noticed my .357 revolver on the nightstand behind the radio. I shrugged and left the room. I took a seat next to 2020 and glared.

2020, staring into the fire, finally roused himself from the trance and sighed. He looked at me with deep sadness.

“You think I was bad?” said 2020 with dead eyes. “See what happens when that baby drops.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

2020 slowly turned back to the fire.

There was silence.

Then he muttered half to himself, “New Year.”


I was outside for midnight.

Gunshots echoed in the hills. They came from the bedroom. A curious squealing laughter followed.

I pushed inside and ran to the room. I threw open the door.

On the floor Mother Earth’s unmoving feet stuck out from behind the bed. A pool of blood spread underneath.

On the radio, news was blaring. A voice on the verge of panic:

“The North Koreans launched a nuclear strike! Seattle has been vaporized!

“In New York, aliens landed in Central Park! They are firing high-energy ray beams at citizens and police!

“An earthquake struck the central and southern coastline of California. Cities still above water are burning and millions are trapped and destitute…”

On the nightstand, a wobbly toddler 2021 stood dripping blood and after-birth, a smoking gun in hand, and laughing hysterically. When he saw me, he dropped the gun and threw his fat baby arms in the air, shouting in a toothless, squeaky baby voice:

“Welcome to 2021, Motherfuckers!!!!”

The Carcosan Herald

Senior Member
The Kibbutz [650 words; content warning]

Welcome to 1990. The year everything went to hell.

So here I am, a run-of-the-mill Sayeret Maglan operator, stood in a South Korean village whose name I can't even pronounce, having just smashed an East German paratrooper's head open like a coconut. The plaster smoke is starting to clear, giving me a good view of my late adversary. Given that his face is currently bashed inward and his brains are leaking onto the floor, I get the sense they'll only be identifying the poor fuck through his medical record.

The dented iron wok I'm holding clangs to the floor and I reclaim my Galil rifle. Making my way outside the house, I realise the fighting has mostly subsided – only the occasional gunshot rings out from the hills to the north. Every now and again the sharp burst of a machine gun retorts, and where that doesn't suffice, the pop-crash of an RPG makes short work of them. It seems the Americans have arrived with reinforcements. About damn time.

"Sergeant!" I shout to our squad commander. "What's our headcount?"

"Fifty-two dead. Most of 'em Rosenberg's men. We took out close to ten times that number – Comintern forces mostly. Chinese armour, one of their bombers..."

"Ha ha!" laughs a paratrooper whose name I don't care to remember, pointing towards the northern hills. "Run back to Berlin, you Red Nazi dickweeds! This is our kibbutz!"

"Would you shut up?!" I bark at him. "You want them to come back with another bab?!"

He falls silent with a terrified stare. A 'bab' is a North Korean H-5 Beagle attack aircraft – the Americans have started calling them a shorthand for 'big-ass bomb'. Lately the Norks have gotten into the habit of dusting off these old museum pieces and loading them with the biggest, nastiest bombs the Soviets and Chinese can toss them. The worst I've seen are the 3000-2s, three-tonne dumb bombs that can send Merkava tanks flying across a rice field – often to the detriment of whichever hapless soldier happens to be directly underneath said Merkava when it lands. I'm not as fazed by them as Rosenberg though: anyone who's fought the likes of Hamas for any length of time knows not to underestimate the deadly effectiveness of such simple tactics and weapon systems.

Technically I'm not even here. Hell, my unit technically doesn't even exist. The only reason we've been caught in the middle of this godforsaken mess is to help train South Korea's own cohort of recon commandos after a spike of incursions and threats from the North. Then came the joint exercise that went to hell after a South Korean frigate accidentally torpedoed a Soviet spy ship. Now I expect that my husband is going to kill me if I ever get back home.

To be honest, we've had it easy so far. The poor East German I bludgeoned to death in hand to hand combat couldn't say the same. The war in Europe is starting to escalate, putting his family in the firing line. I can only feel sorry for him, and that's something I, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, never thought I'd say out loud. At least we get to choose whose wars to fight.

"You think they'll come back for more?" I ask the Sergeant.

"They already have," he growls out. His eyes are focused northward. "Get ready to move!"

True to his word, more gunshots are ringing out from the hills just beyond the village we've taken to calling 'The Kibbutz'. Sometimes the thunderclap of a Chinese tank gun can be heard over the madness.

I let out a heavy sigh as I check over my rifle for battle damage once again. These Galils are tough, I'll give the grease monkeys in Ramat HaSharon that much.

This will be a long day, I deduce as I adjust my beret for the final time.


Staff member
Indian Bones
(650 words)


I lay on my belly, clutching the string of my pink plastic sled, which looms dangerously over the steep hill. Marcus is at the bottom. We are in the sixth grade together and probably in love. At least, that’s what my best friend Jenna thinks.

All I know is I get goosebumps when he says my name.

“Kylie!” Goosebump.

I watch as he throws a well-crafted snowball softly into a nearby tree. Everyone is always talking about how Marcus has a good arm. They say it’s because he’s the ancestor of a Navajo warrior. I can’t tell ‘cause I hate sports.

“Are you coming down?”

“I’m thinking about it.” Next moment my eyes are closed and I’m gliding swiftly down, powdery snow getting in my eyes and hair. Yuck. But I like the jittery, floating feeling I get going down the hill.

“Look out!” I open my eyes to Marcus waving his arms. He kicks my sled off course and I start slowing down. I guess he has a good leg, too.
“You should be more careful. Y’know Sam in 7th grade? He had to get seven stitches in his forehead after sledding into a tree. He really smashed his head in, he couldn’t play basketball for the rest of the season.”

“Oh,” I say, “Well, I figure they gave him a lot of morphine.”

“No way!”

“Yeah! My Dad had to get some for his back surgery. He said it was fabulous.”

I am suddenly aware that we are sitting alone. It’s getting dark.

“I heard that there’s Indians buried under this hill.”

“That’s not true!”

“Is too! Mrs. Mast said this land used to belong to them. And now it’s a sledding hill.”

His eyes hardened. “White people took everything.”

“Hey, they took plenty from the European colonists, too. Sometimes they even kidnapped whole kids. I read about it in a library book.”

“The ancestors of those kids are probably doing fine. Look at any Native kid on a reservation. Most are raised by their grandparents, ‘cause the parents are alcoholics. Most kids turn into alcoholics when they grow up. And then they drink themselves to death. So the cycle continues. Isn’t that exactly what those manifest destiny white dudes wanted?”

I get the feeling he doesn’t want to talk anymore; I just breathe hot air into my palms and wait.

“I bet gunshots rang clear over these hills.” He stares off sincerely.

“Maybe. But I’m pretty sure this hill is man-made.”

“Why do you contradict everything I say?” He raises his voice.

“I don’t. I just say what I think."

“Well, maybe you should think first.” He clenches his hands on my shoulders. Goosebump, goosebump, goosebump. I can barely see his eyes in this light. The wind is whistling over us.

“Kylie, have you ever kissed somebody?”

“In Kindergarten I kissed Daniel Murphy. In the Principal’s office. He broke his arm from falling off the monkey bars.”

I don’t know if Marcus is listening to what I’m saying.

“I wish I could kiss you.” His voice breaks, and his arms fall from my shoulders and into my lap. He cries. A crying without noise crying. And I kiss the top of his open mouth.

His chest stops heaving up and down. I feel his nose nestled against my inner arm. I’ve been getting used to goosebumps.

One day Marcus will ask me to prom. I will make sure to say yes and maybe even wear a pink dress. If everything goes good from there we could even be married.

But I don’t think any of this is on Marcus’s mind. I think he is watching the American Indians in his mind, seeing the silver streams from their cook fires and hearing their war cries and watching them live and die, live and die.

I hope he is living with me in this moment, instead of dying.


Senior Member
Pazi - Snajper! [650 words]

"Wait for it!" Rada shouted to her daughter Milana, "Wait until it drives closer!"

The white-coloured M113 with "UN" prominently stenciled on all sides rumbled down the boulevard. Seeing the two women ahead, the driver deliberately slowed down. The locals knew the snipers wouldn't fire on UN vehicles and used them for cover, the operators sometimes slowing down or stopping altogether to help them out.

"Now!" Rada shouted when the APC was square between them. Milana dashed forwards, briefly stopping behind the vehicle to catch her breath and look for the next safe destination before sprinting again. No shots came this time. Relieved to see her daughter cross safely, Rada waved thanks to the driver, who waved back before moving on.

"We should bring something for Uncle Radko and Aunt Zoe too, mom," Milana suggested after the two moved on, "They are too old to go to the market themselves like this."

"I suppose we should, baby girl," Rada lovingly ruffled her daughter's hair, "It's the least we could do to repay for looking after your brothers while we're gone."

Indeed, keeping an eye on two hyperactive five-year-old rascals was no small favour to ask from an elderly couple even in a city under siege.

The blasts of several artillery shells a few blocks away startled the two women mildly, but they moved on. There was a shell falling somewhere in Sarajevo every minute these days. Thankfully, the Serbs manning the batteries in the hills around the city didn't seem to care much for precision, mostly shelling the city just to keep the citizens and defenders on the edge. Their snipers, on the other hand, were no mere nuisance.

After walking through the largely-deserted block, Rada and Milana approached the main obstacle on their bi-weekly trip to the market. Seemingly just another boulevard like others criscrossing Sarajevo, Zmaja od Bosne was easily one of the most dangerous places to be around in the daytime, stretching its entire length in plain sight of the Serb snipers in the hills and high-rises in the occupied districts.

"I hope they have apples on the market today! Branko and Vukmir love apples!" Milana exclaimed, thinking of her little brothers even at times when she and mother couldn't always eat their fill.

"You know we have no money to buy apples, baby," Rada looked down at the girl, feeling almost guilty that circumstances had put even such a basic commodity beyond their means.

"Maybe the UN will have brought some," Milana remained optimistic. The UN did not include perishable foods in their aid rations, but her daughter probably knew that, merely daydreaming to keep their spirits up. It was kind of the same way when Rada sometimes spoke of her husband as if he would return from the front any day now, even though both of them knew he wouldn't. Still, they kept up the fiction of dad coming home soon, if only to avoid having to explain Branko and Vukmir why they would never see their father again.

"Pazi - Snajper!" The inscription on the traffic break clearly warned passerbys of the main hazard on this street.

"We cross this one together," Rada instructed after peeking around the corner carefully, "If one goes first, they'll zero in the other."

"I'm ready when you are, mom!" Milana looked to her mother with absolute confidence.

"Ready? Go!" Rada exclaimed and broke into sprint with Milana close in tow.

The snipers were clearly on the lookout, a bullet cracking past uncomfortably close to the two women. Then another, and another, a strange splat. Winded, Rada finally covered behind a corner on the other side. Something bumped her foot, and she looked down to see Milana's basket rolling on the ground. Milana lied still and lifeless just a few steps from safety.

Amidst the many gunshots in the hills, one woman's wail of grief went unheard that day.