Friday, July 20, 2012

Write On Edge: Secret Challenge

Red Writing Hood this week gave us a poem by Robert Frost.

We dance round in a ring and suppose
But the secret sits in the middle and knows

Word limit is 450.

Secrets are tedious, fickle creatures. They entice us. We want to believe that we are the only ones who know, but inevitably we feel pressure to share our special knowledge with others. Sometimes the game is harmless. Sometimes, the secrets we tell sink ships. 



I offer the following in response: A Game of Secrets




“Someone in this room is a traitor.” The words tripped softly from the king’s lips but triggered a tsunami of silence across his dinner guests. Horror descended next when he added, “And the traitor was poisoned during supper.”

A cold sweat forming on my neck, I shot the king a look. He smiled back.

A servant replaced the centerpiece with a golden chalice. “There is the antidote,” the king announced.

Bromley gave a nervous chuckle, “Surely, your Majesty jests-“

“We are disappointed, Lord Bromley. Our father thought you an intelligent man, and yet you call us a jester. We are your king!”

I tried to remember the flavors of the meal. His Majesty ruffled feathers with his rise to power. There were whisperings among the courtiers that the king was mad. His temper tantrum last week left a prostitute broken and bloodied. It was hushed of course, but his majesty was growing paranoid and unpredictable of late. And I had a secret he wouldn’t like to hear.

Elisse met my gaze with worry in her ice-blue eyes, the only blemish in her calm exterior. “Your Majesty, my husband, I am sure Lord Bromley meant no disrespect.” Her voice was steady, unlike my churning stomach. Surely our affair had not been discovered. We were so discreet.

Like the others, I shifted my gaze from the chalice in the center of the table, to the sea of surprised and disturbed faces at the table. My vision began to blur and played to my fear that I had been the one poisoned.

The king sat back in his chair, a smug smile plastered above his chin. “Time is running out. If the traitor doesn’t drink the entire contents of that chalice before the effects of the poison takes root, he will die.”

Lord Bromley dabbed a handkerchief across his brow. “Your Majesty, I can’t believe that any of us, your Majesty’s trusted advisors, would commit treason.”

The king answered with a silent glare. My lungs were iron and refused to breathe. Panicked accusations were hurled around the table, none of which I could hear above the ringing in my ears. I prayed, ready to reach for the chalice.

Movement caught the corner of my eye. Stunned, I watched Lord Percival lean forward with a shaky hand. “Majesty, forgive me.”

We watched him drink the contents of the chalice and then fall over dead. Shocked, we turned to the king for explanation.

“The poison was in the chalice,” he stated simply. “We really didn’t think any of you were traitors.”

Breath returned to my lungs as a new secret grew in my gut. I was going to kill the king. 


30 comments:

  1. Oh! I was totally hooked the whole way through. Enjoyable. Dark. Mysterious. And a touch of insanity. What more could you ask for?!! I liked your phrase a "tsunami of silence". Orginal yet refreshing. And I loved the twist at the end with the poison -- mind games. Brilliance all through this piece.

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    1. Thanks! I'm thrilled the tsunami carried the effect. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  2. This is brilliant!! You really had me handing on. "Elisse met my gaze with worry in her ice-blue eyes, the only blemish in her calm exterior." Love that line. :)

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    1. Thanks! I'm thrilled you found the read captivating. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  3. Wow, I wondered if the poison was going to be in the "antidote" but the tension of waiting to see who would break was great! Nicely done.

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    1. Thanks! Tension is difficult to achieve I think, especially in such a short word limit. I'm thrilled you stopped by. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  4. What a demented and intriguing mind game. I love your easy use of the royal "we" and that we, as readers, know the secret.

    Now...will he really kill the king?

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    1. Thanks! I think my mom just wondered if I need psychological help, LOL! The royal "we" just fit the best, considering the mindset of the king. It could be the royal "we" he's using, or he could be referring to the voices in his head.

      And I'd like to think he succeeds in killing the king. A man like that should never be on a throne.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  5. Interesting. It leaves me wondering what other secrets are still in that room.

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    1. Thanks! There were a ton of secrets in that room, but I only had 450 words...

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  6. I imagine that the king could do that once a month and someone would drink, every time.

    I loved this, the suspense, the waiting, the climax. Great job!

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    1. Thanks! I imagine that too, and when no one reached for the drink, the king would command someone to do it. Evil, evil man.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  7. This was so Henry VIIIish and I loved it. Knowing the secret and actually feeling him sweat it out. So there was more than one secret out there evidentially. Someone always guilty of something. Will he or won't he have the courage to kill the king?

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    1. Thanks for the love! I'm glad to see the "absolute power corrupts absolutely" translated here. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  8. I really like this story. You kept it compact--I think you should flesh it out in the future; there's room for the prose to be smoothed out--you can only do so much in such a short word count! Good job!

    Two concrits: The tsuanami *is* a vivid image. It occurs to me, though, to wonder if that's a word that fits in this "world," that's my only caution on the matter. The other thing is that I was a little startled when I realized the narrator was male. If you can make that crystal clear right from the start, it will make the piece even better!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I agree that the word choice for tsunami might be out of place in this world, but it was one word vs. two in "tidal wave". In this case the word limit forced my hand. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and giving such wonderful feedback! I always love hearing your thoughts.

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  9. traitor is an old word yet, it's powerful.

    I liek how you made this piece about the mystery around the secret

    great ending, well done

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad this worked. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  10. You got my attention even before the story. I loved this line:

    Secrets are tedious, fickle creatures.

    So very descriptive and so true. I enjoyed the story too. This 'graph really did it for me too

    The king answered with a silent glare. My lungs were iron and refused to breathe. Panicked accusations were hurled around the table, none of which I could hear above the ringing in my ears. I prayed, ready to reach for the chalice.

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    1. Thanks! I'm thrilled you stopped by, and I'm equally thrilled that you shared your thoughts. Thanks for letting me know what worked!

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  11. Ah yes, great tension builder. By the end I figured the "antidote" was actually the poison and wondered if the narrator was going to be the one to tip his hand and reach for the "antidote." Really enjoyed this!

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    1. Thanks! I'm thrilled you enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  12. Oh, I loved the trickery in this scene. Great dialogue, too. I agree with Jack. You got my attention with your intro. Your intros are always enticing. I am so glad I was able to visit tonight!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you like the intros. They're fun for me to write. And I'm happy you stopped by. As always, you are welcome anytime. Thanks for the love and for sharing your thoughts!

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  13. The beginning is awesome, and the interplay, the intrigue is thick and tangy.

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    1. Thanks! I'll take "awesome" any day. :) Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  14. HA!! This was fantastic!! What a surprise ending! You did a wonderful job of showing us the emotions and reactions, especially from a 1st person POV. I really enjoyed this.

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    1. Thanks! I'm thrilled you enjoyed your stay. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  15. Wow! talk about gripping! So many secrets in that short story, and all of it rivetting. Great job.

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    1. Thanks! I'm thrilled you stopped by. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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