December Flash Challenge: The Premise


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Post December 13, 2017, 08:56:54 PM

December Flash Challenge: The Premise

This challenge is to create a brand new “urban legend.” We all know about Bigfoot, Nessie, The Skunk Ape, The Jersey Devil, aliens, and the like. The trick will be to not recycle elements of things we’re all already familiar with, but to strike out into new territory. You’ll want to give your legend an air of mystery, a touch of history, and enough plausibility for a reader to think “this could be true.” Play to your strengths here, but also try and stretch yourself out of your comfort zone a little. You can use a city background, or countryside—for that’s the thing about urban legends, they can become established anywhere: woods or swamp, lonely highways or bridges, railways or airways, inner city or rural backwaters.

Don’t be afraid, be VERY afraid! And make your readers feel that fear. Send a shiver down their spine. That’s the ticket, right? 1000 words, not counting title, byline, or The End. Ready, on your mark, GO!

The challenge will run until 12-27-17, then I’ll post the entries and let readers vote for two weeks. I’ll try my best to have another challenge ready the day I announce the winners, 1-10-18.

Dan

Example Story:

The Old Man In The Woods

Tales of the crazy old man who walks the American woods first began to circulate even before this country had fought the British for independence. Scattered throughout the colonies, the stories were told around the fire on many a moonless night. Campfire or fireplace, in taverns and homes, along the trails between settlements, the firelight flickered across the faces of those who claimed to know the truth. Or those who had escaped with their lives when the Old Man crossed their paths. Like a black cat crossing your path, crossing his path was something to avoid if you were wise. Oh yes, occasionally the Old Man would guide some lost traveler to safety, but those tales were few and far between. Mostly, he seemed to be some sort of guardian of mistreated animals, even wild animals. Many a time an abusive homesteader had whipped a horse, or an unsuccessful hunting dog, or tried to kill a stray cat, or some hunter failed to make a clean kill, and suddenly come face to face with that crazy old man—dressed in ragged clothes, his heavy woolen coat hanging to his ankles, his hair and beard matted and filthy, scattered leaves and twigs snagged on the cloth and in his hair and beard, as if he’d spent years sleeping rough on the forest floor. The smell of tobacco smoke and pine sap from his coat vied with his stale sweat and the rotting stench the of slimy muck that clung to his moldy, rough leather boots. A long knife hung bare from his belt, sheathless and gleaming in the dark as if it were lit by some infernal fire of its own. A few growled words from the old man, and those who lived to tell the tale ran like all the devils of Hell pursued them. Those who didn’t run—well, sometimes their trail was found, leading to the trunk of some old oak tree whose bark was slashed and stained with old blood. As if the hunted fool had tried to run through the tree, and been caught before an escape could be made. Tracks of dogs or wolves, bobcats or cougars were always found around the tree, overlaid by the prints of the old man’s heavy boots. Sometimes a coat or a hat, or an empty shoe lay at the foot of the tree. But no tracks ever lead away.

Other times, a hunter made a difficult shot, and the prey fell instantly—yet far away and in rough territory. As the hunter made his way through the briars and undergrowth towards his kill, he’d hear a twig snap behind him. Then a rough voice, saying “good kill. Don’t lose it.” When the hunter turned around, the old man would be standing there, like a ghost made flesh. “Bear to your left,” he’d say. “Aim for that cedar, yonder. Your deer is in the blackberry briars just beyond it…” Then the old man would walk away, to vanish like a spirit behind some nearby tree.

Still other times, a farmer plowing his field found his plow horse lamed, and unharnessed the horse to lead it home for care. Before he’s gone ten steps, all the while talking gentle to his horse, the old man would step out from the woods at the edge of the field and trudge towards them. When he got close enough, he nodded at the farmer, saying “you care. That’s good. See you keep that way. Have him re-shoed, soon as you can. Good horse, that… Take care of him and he’ll take care of you.” Then with another nod, the old man turned and walked away--to vanish in the shadows at the edge of the woods. Or a lost traveler would tiredly find an inn, only to reveal that the old man had found him and lead him there to safety—only to be gone when the inn was in sight.

The tales go on and on, through the years, from then to now. Just last month I heard about a child, kidnapped from their home and carried off into the woods for God only knows what unholy purpose. A search was made, and the child was found unharmed, sleeping by a fire set in a ring of stones. A coarse blanket was wrapped around her, and tracks lay scattered about the clearing as if the child had been guarded by coyotes—while the tracks of a bear and a wolf and a cat laid side by side with the prints of heavy, handmade boots—leading straight to an old oak tree that was spattered with dried blood. The kidnapper’s left shoe, with his foot still in it, lay against the oak bark as if the tree had opened its red heart and swallowed the villain whole—well, almost whole. When the child awoke, she asked after her “grandfather.” When her parents gently explained that all of her grandparents had passed on some years before, the girl insisted, “no, my new grandfather, Grampa Gray. He chased the bad man away. His doggies stayed with me ‘til he came back and built the fire. He gave me his blanket. He told me stories. His kitty snuggled with me ‘til I got sleepy. Where’s Grampa?” No one had a good answer for the little girl. At least, not one safe to tell her until she was grown.

I suppose spirits come in all shades. The darkest evil, the shining good, and at least one in gray—good or ill, that one gives you what you deserve. He’s walked the woods for nearly three hundred years. He’s always watching, waiting, for good or ill. Ready to give you whatever you’ve earned. Help or damnation—whatever you earn. The woods are his. He lets us in whenever we like. But it’s up to his judgement whether or not he lets us come out again.
Don’t believe me? The woods are right there. Take a walk. You’ll see…

THE END
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Post December 14, 2017, 05:15:30 AM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

Just gotten an interesting idea...I think that within today, or tomorrow, the entry will be written down...eh,eh :D
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Post December 15, 2017, 09:13:40 AM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

Mine has been completed yesterday, just waiting for the usual useful reviews/suggestions before sending it in...eh,eh :D

Now I am a little busy this week watching - and re-watching...- the new Star Wars movie, that here was released on 13th December, before U.S.A....so far, watched three times at the cinema...eh,eh...but there is also a new full week ahead, after Sunday of course... 8) 8) 8)
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Post December 16, 2017, 02:50:05 AM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

Ok, I've got one written for this, but I need to let it sit for a day or two before I send it. I might decide I need to change something, and I don't normally write one this fast. Best to wait a bit, and make sure everything makes sense.
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Post December 17, 2017, 01:40:18 PM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

Ok, I'm in.
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Post December 18, 2017, 03:38:00 AM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

I've sent mine now...eh,eh :D

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Post December 18, 2017, 02:25:10 PM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

I'll try to send one in. Since my daughter died last March, I haven't felt much like writing. I should try to write according to grief counselors.
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Post December 18, 2017, 02:38:49 PM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

Megawatts wrote:I'll try to send one in. Since my daughter died last March, I haven't felt much like writing. I should try to write according to grief counselors.


I was going through that after Dad died. Everything switched off except for the grief. Eventually, the lights started coming back on, though. Writing did help.

Dan
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Post December 19, 2017, 01:48:27 PM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

It's been a depressing year for me. My daughter died, my wife's favorite nephew died the same week, then on 6Nov17 my brother died. I'm been trying to write and go forth with me life, but it's like I'm in a shell---just moving but not feeling.

Thanks for your concern.
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Post December 20, 2017, 11:01:53 AM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

For Megawatts:

I didn't know about this...also to me this hasn't been a pleasing, or funny year, at all, given the loss in my family...

My deepest condolences...

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Post December 20, 2017, 05:47:08 PM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

" I didn't know about this...also to me this hasn't been a pleasing, or funny year, at all, given the loss in my family..."

Sorry for your loss. I know it's hard.

You have my condolences.
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Post December 26, 2017, 09:42:27 AM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

What time/timezone on the 27th is the deadline, please?
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Post December 26, 2017, 02:11:07 PM

Re: December Flash Challenge: The Premise

Well, Dan is on the east coast of the US, but I don't think he gave a time on the 27th. By a reasonable hour, probably...
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