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Literary Maneuvers May 2021: Writer's Choice (1 Viewer)


Staff member
Senior Mentor
Literary Maneuvers Competition
for May 2021


It was posted earlier this month
that the May LM Prompt
would be a surprise!
A fun surprise!
(I promised xXx it would be fun)

The surprise prompt is …………….

there is NO prompt.

The stories you submit for the
May 2021 Literary
Maneuvers Comp

can be about anything you want,
but must adhere to 650 words,
not including the title.

Do your best work.
Your stories will be scored the same as always,
without the caveat that it must relate
In some way to a prompt (because there is none).

Word limit: 650
Begins Wednesday, April 28th
(due to site transition)
Closes Saturday, May 15th
2359hrs GMT

Critiques from judges due to
(please and thank you)
No later than Monday, May 31st

This month you will be prompted:

To Write About
Whatever You Choose
Prompt-less Prompt

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 and an invitation to submit a story for our
annual Grand Fiction Challenge
which carries cash prizes. Pretty neat, eh?

The Awesome
May 2021 Judges

Olly Buckle

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.

Additional Info

All entries that wish to retain their first rights should post in the

All anonymous entries should be sent to SueC by private message and please note in
the PM if you want your entry posted in the secure workshop thread
which is 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 Challenge Workshop. . .

. . . which is a SECURE thread just for LM entries.
You can 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 (SueC) of the competition.
If you wish to have us post it in the secure 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.

: In the tradition of LM competitions of yore, if you could send the scores no later than May 31st, 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:
Saturday, May 15 at 2359hrs, GMT (not BST), on the dot.
Please note any time differences where you
are and be mindful of daylight savings time.
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Best Seller
Friends of WF

Carnival Balloons

The health bot is dragging itself down the hall again, missing its lower limbs. I rush to the doorway before it vanishes.


Do you know what happens to a body in space, sans suit? Some say that all those interior gases cause the body to explode, skin and bone bouncing off the hull. But no, you fill up like some giant gasbag, your eyes boil, and then you suffocate.

And the child in you tears up watching your crew, balloons in some mad carnival, eventually swallowed up by the darkness.


The Roomba slides across the floor, bumps against my shoe repeatedly, and in my wife’s voice says, “Remember at Antares, where we witnessed the birth of the twin stars. We always said that that would be the perfect place to conceive.”

A child would’ve been a damned inconvenience. Shayna slips into my mind. Lean and limber, our affair was heated but without passion, more like animals rutting. Inconvenient was having to explain to my wife countless bruises and an occasional torn sheet.

The meteor shower had damaged the hull, pushed us off course, and ruptured a number of oxygen tanks. I had already done the calculations, but I never shared them. There was only air enough for one, not a crew of nine. We wouldn’t even make it to the belt.

Katy waved, and I painted a smile for her. She would be the easiest, being in charge of the external hull repair. An inexplicable tear in her suit. But the tear had ruptured as soon she exited the airlock, and the damned health bot lunged in a futile attempt to save her, cut in two when the hatch closed. I hid the lower half.


There was no damned way the health bot had returned, but every morning, like clockwork, it was dragging itself across the floor.


One by one, I disposed of them. As our numbers shrank, we eyed each other warily. Recordings mysteriously erased. Accidents that appeared more and more like the machinations of a warped mind.

Matt was a beast, a mammoth of a man, as if two boulders had given birth. Unfortunately for him, there wasn’t much more than a vacuum between the ears. I managed to convince him that we could patch one of the oxygen tanks. I clipped his line, and he floated off. I never did see him die. Who knows? Maybe he’s bouncing between the moons of some distant planet.

And then there were three: Chet, my wife, and I.

Chet and I squared off, grabbing whatever was at hand. He was light and fast, but I was stronger. He managed to nick me a few times before I crushed his nose with the heavy wrench. Spluttering, he fell to the floor. I finished him with a final blow. One more balloon to add to the party.

My wife was last. She didn’t even struggle. I pushed her limp body through the airlock and closed my eyes.


The Roomba was banging against my heels again. “Remember at Antares, where we witnessed the birth of the twin stars. We always said that that would be the perfect place to conceive.”

“There’s still time.” Madness pulling at my bottom lip.


Maybe it’s a lack of oxygen, but I can see the lights of the carnival now, and there’s a new door in the middle of the airlock.

The health bot clamps its hand, just metal bones stripped of flesh, on my shoulder. “I always wanted to see the Renaissance Faire. Costumed players. Men breathing fire. Jousting! And maybe a stolen kiss or two.”

I blink back tears. “So did I.”
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Senior Member
The Banality of Evil [650 words]


"My lads will take it from here, Herr Krauss! Feel free to go have a smoke while they unload," Untersturmfuhrer Kirchner speaks, handing me back the signed invoice.

"Is there a telephone around I can use?" I ask, "I need to call my wife and tell her I'll be running late today."

"You can use the one in the guardroom," Kirchner points me to the guardhouse near the gate, "If anyone asks, tell them you have my permission. Just remember - no loitering around!"

I set out to the guardhouse. There is a sentry posted near the door, a young SS man roughly the age of my eldest son. After explaining him my business here, he nods and leads me inside, pointing me to the telephone on the wall.

"Hello?" I finally hear my beloved Katherine on the other end after the operator connects us.

"It's me, darling!" I speak, "Just wanted to tell you I'll be late today. Have a lot of work, must make several deliveries."

"Alright, love!" my wife responds, "We'll be sure to save some of the dinner for when you get back."

"How are the children? I heard there was another air raid yesterday. Is everyone alright?" I ask with concern. Air raids on the big cities have become a significant problem lately.

"Yes, we had to run to the shelter at night again, but they were bombing the factories on the other side of the city," Katherine explains, "Maybe we should send kids to grandma's at the countryside? Lena is holding up well, but Jossi is deathly afraid of the sirens. Yesterday he couldn't calm down for hours afterwards."

"Tell him to think what Manfred would do, to try and be as brave as him," I suggest. Little Josef idolizes his big brother and wants to serve in the army like him when he grows up, so I have no doubt Manfred's example will help my young son deal with his fear.

"Speaking of Manfred, I fear for him much," Katherine sounds worried, "It's been over three weeks now since his last letter arrived. I hope he isn't hurt or worse..."

"I'm sure it's just a delay of mail," I try to reassure her, though the thought has frankly been bothering me as well lately, "Surely you've heard how bad the roads in Russia are. It takes good two weeks to get mail out and another week to sort it!"

"I know, it's probably nothing," my wife agrees, "I just hope he's alright."

"As do I," I say, "I have to go now. Kiss the children from me and tell them we'll be going to grandma's on the weekend! Let's hope the SS doesn't need any of their priority deliveries again."

Really, whenever the factory's called me to work on weekends, it's always had to do with the SS and their "priority deliveries". Why would they need a truckload of insecticide every other weekend in a prison camp of all places, beats me. They must have one hell of a lice problem here.

"I will! Kisses, love! Bye!" my wife ends the conversation and hangs up. The young sentry escorts me back outside.

When I return to my truck, the SS guards are almost done unloading it. Crates of insecticide canisters sit on several pallets which are then dragged inside the storehouse out of my sight.

"I guess that's it," Untersturmfuhrer Kirchner speaks, lighting up a cigarette, "Deliver your boss my regards and tell him we expect the next delivery on the same time next weekend. See you next Saturday, Herr Krauss!"

"What do you even need so much insecticide for here?" I can't help being curious.

"Pests," Kirchner answers nonchalantly, "We have a huge vermin problem here."

I start up my truck, quietly grumbling. Pests or no pests, it most likely means I'll have to disappoint my children and wife again next weekend.


Senior Member
Biology [ward]@650 words

When this mind reflects upon issue of compulsive viewing as the intellectual pursuit, I think of the Youtube smash viral hit, the heart-warming and close-focus upon a hairy bee affixed to the woman’s arm.

With close microphone the scientists monitor screams of the bee.

Why would the bee scream? you might ask…

The answer lies in his ‘stinger’ trapped inside the top layer of the woman’s skin.

The woman coaxes the bee from her flesh.

Do we blame producers for the dab of honey glooped upon the lady’s shoulder? It tempts the fellow’s sense of the good scent.

The woman’s smile melts a viewer’s heart. She coos at her lips, seemingly talks bee, coos at five eyes and ensures, in the climax between advertisements, how his tiny barb does not snap.

The fellow feels relief, we sense the relief in gurgle, crawling from crash site toward her mouth.

The release is a moment of wonder.

When we imagine a bee creeping on our own bare arm, the feeling likewise is of the lovely fur upon the skin, feeling every fuzzy footfall, we feel him come upon one. Tantalising, occasional buzz of back wings, he climbs among the forest of our hairs, stumbles at jaw-line and hops free to rest inside your cheek. Open wider.

Bee hives in the cavern. The scout bee, so-called blows a baritone frequency.

Baaaaauoooooomb - at subsonic flies the bomber through your window, may bugs scatter and they die. Queen bee gargantuan arriving to nestle inside your mouth.

‘Good work, scout,’ she commends him.

You, you now decide: inhale bee community into acid baths of digestive tract - or allow free bee prosperity inside one, inside you?

Pioneering - as in the bees in science.

The second case-study: ‘woman 2’ - lives with one single bee.

Several weeks they dwell together as wife and as bee, him climbing curtain, or reclines under lettuce leaf. She dutifully forever she strokes at his sides as inspiration for adolescents.

What draws me, author, toward this science? What inspires me, benefactor to low orders of invertebrate creature?

In childhood I was known as the killer and like every boy adored a crisp crunch of a bluebottle on the tongue. Wings on the lips; spitting wings away like chicken wings, only black and they were raw, organic free food found in my town.

Aged eleven I read the horrible stories, how the flies I adored awaited in heaven to reap revenge. Specism should now why surely now why be addressed before death, surely I feared death? Surely after many years of reflection upon death, in a fourth decade I became true.

‘Advocacy for flies in our community!’ read my banner.

First shift, newly appointed beach superintendent at Filey promenade, I greeted stall-holders, the lolly-ladies of my shoreline. ‘There’s something about me,’ I told them all, ‘protect my flies aside the dustbins,’ I said, ‘aside seals and your seaweeds. I have a leaflet.’

The visionary trusted by pedestrians unable to fathom perspectives of shoreline ecology.


Cecelia invited me to debate visions in her kitchen.

Cecelia, yogi, friend, shaman sister, a harem-trousered kind of a lady. Her wisdom inspires me:

‘Now, how do we remove flies from the house?’ I asked during my TED talk in her kitchen.

‘Quite simple,’ she said. ‘I say “fly, get out,”’ she said.

Like magic, and that instant, a fly exited through the back door. My first encounter with a real witch was amazing.

I spent the rest of the afternoon inside her kitchen.

‘Get out, fly,’ I said to the hostile audience. I am new to our business. I nodded also when Cecelia regaled the very, very long sweat lodge anecdote and some crap about Maochu Peechu.

Anyways, let us persevere with loving ways toward all the creatures of our world.

Yours and mindful


one journey begins with 10 000 steps every day.


Senior Member
Tainted (650 words. Strong language and violence)

Pavement slid by like the juice flowing from Tom’s burger as he careened through the wooded corners of state route 522, known locally as the highway of death.

“Dad that’s gross! wipe your chin,” Natalie giggled.

“Tom for God’s sake watch the road, you’re going to get us killed,” Sarah, his wife interrupted.

“We don’t watch out. They watch out for us, cause we’re the Hammonds! We’re carnivores.” Meat, sauce, and red juice streamed from his mouth as he spoke.


Their black SUV jolted upward on the right side with just the left wheels on the pavement. They rode like this for several feet before landing back on all four wheels and spinning to a complete stop.

Tom blinked his eyes several times to clear the shock. Once he regained his composure, he checked on his family. Like him they were disorientated but the safety restraints had brought them through the worst of it.

Tom got out of their car followed by his wife.

“My God what is that smell?” Sarah said, holding her nose.

“I’m not sure. a slaughterhouse maybe?”

“Peeewww. Did someone number two?”

“Nats get back in the car sweetie...” Sarah’s voice trailed off.

All three of them turned and peered into the gloom as the long shadows of dusk feasted on the dying day. Inhuman moans drifted along the highway.

“Tom, you hit a cow. I told you to watch the road!”

“I didn’t hit the cow. It was already in the fuckin road. Must’ve escaped…”

“Is the cow going to die? I don’t want the cow to die mommy,”

“Nats the cows going to be ok. I’m going to call the animal ambulance,” Tom said as he brushed away her tears.

His call with the Animal Control Office was brief but both Sarah and Natalie clearly heard, “two hours,” before Tom abruptly ended the conversation.

“Alright get in the car its all taken care of.”

“But the ambulance isn’t here Daddy.”

“It’ll be here. But right now, we have to go…”

Their discussion was interrupted by a high-pitched bellow. Through the gloom they could make out a smaller animal a calf. Its brays would pause momentarily as it licked the wounded bovine.

“Is that its baby?” Natalie asked.

“Everyone get in the car.” Tom gestured with his arms.

“Tom, we can’t just leave it like this?”

“They’re on their way. We’re done.”

“Carnivores.” Shaking her head, “Right Tom?”

Natalie sobbed as she slumped into the backseat.

“Now? You’re going to question me now? You’re some piece of work, you know that?”

“You hit the cow! You own this! Our daughter is traumatized for life.” Sarah threw her hands up in the air and let them fall loosely at her sides.

Tom brushed by Sarah and threw the passenger door open. It bounced back on its hinges from the force. Tom pulled his gun out of the glove and chambered a round. Turning to Sarah he sneered, “Happy?”

He walked over to the wounded heifer. The stricken animal attempted to get up on all fours but with its back broken only managed to scoot further into the road. The calf licked its mothers head and backed off several feet as Tom approached. Its eyes wide and expectant as Tom patted the feeble animal’s head. Tom wanted to retch. A single thunderclap echoed along the highway.

The drive back was quiet. Natalie had cried herself to sleep and his wife sat next to him with her seat partially reclined. If she was asleep, he didn’t know it. The smell from his half-eaten burger was nauseating. As repulsive as it was, however, he couldn’t bring himself to throw it away. He owned the rot, the smell, and could feel its taint on him. In the dark the pavement slipped by like the tears streaming down his cheeks as he carefully rounded the corners of Highway 522.