Friday, May 31, 2013

Smut Marathon—Round #2: The Reveal


I still haven't found the perfect way to showcase the list of entrants. If you click this image, I believe the picture will get bigger. But I will list the stories here in order of votes:

#1 Like Nobody's Watching by Laila Blake
#2 This Girl by L.C. Spoering
#3 Underneath by Molly Moore
#4 Zach Kromer by D. Sadie

We then had a multiway tie for:

Beauty Routine by CJ Lemire
The Bookworm by Andy
Legs by Marie Rebelle
Aimee by John D.
Choose Me by Angell Brooks

New Orleans Boy by Tamsin Flowers

Another tie for:

The Predator by Victoria Blisse
An Unlikely Wrench by Aisling Weaver
Home by Preston Avery

Unfortunately, this means that we must say goodbye to the author of Edele, Jillian Boyd. But, JB, I have prizes for you—drop me your snail mail address to msalisontyler at yahoo dot com when you have a chance!

For the rest of you—I will be mailing your next challenge shortly. I hope you're all enjoying yourselves. I think this round was a blast!

XXX,
Alison

Smut Marathon—Round 2

NOTE: The poll for this round is now closed.

Here we are at Round 2. Thank you for your patience. This was a particularly exciting challenge (to me) because we are building on the information shared in Round 1. I asked the writers to... well, here is exactly what I said:

Choose a location described in Round 1. Any location. Except the one you wrote. Keep the location in your mind as you write a 200-word (max) character description of someone who might venture to the location.

Keep in mind that while creativity counts, you can expect (those of you with a little foresight) that you might be asked to include this character (male, female, trans, etc.) in an erotic story in the future. So please, a) no underage. And 2) consider penning a character your readers might like to have a literary romp with. (I mean, you might enjoy describing the next hunchback of Notre Dame but will you want to see him fuck? Maybe. That’s up to you.)

Give your character sketch a title. Makes it easier for me with the poll. That doesn’t have to count in the 200 words.

What else? Oh, yes, you won’t know which locations the other writers have chosen. I don’t mind doubles, triples, etc. We’ll all find out who chose whose when the stories post and the authors are revealed.

And now... the entries. Remember, they are posted anonymously. Authors, please refrain from sharing which one you wrote until after the voting ends. I posted the pieces in the order in which they came in. 



Entry # 1: Zach Kormer

Zach grabbed a towel as he crawled out of the swimming pool. The familiar smell of chlorine followed after him as he headed straight for the showers with water dripping of his slender body. It was only three months ago that he graduated high school and he still managed to keep his swimmer's form that almost won the state championship.

As he entered the lockers, he passed two taller guys as they were heading into the pool. He smiled and shook his head. Everyone was taller than him. On a good day, he was five foot even... in shoes.

He used his towel to pat dry his long black hair. It reached the small of his back. With his height and body, they used to tease him about looking like a girl when he grew it out, but he donated twice a year to cancer survivors and refused to stop just because everyone said he'd look better in a skirt.

Passing through the lockers, he noticed he only had a half hour before he had to be at work. It was a thankless jobs of cleaning cabins for a small resort up in the mountains, but he enjoyed the quiet.

***** 

Entry #2: Like Nobody is Watching

She was like a mirage – an image that didn’t fit. She made you want to rub your eyes just to make sure she was still there and not a strange shimmering thing that vanished with a cooler breeze in the overcooked streets.

Barefoot, a pair of simple flats dangling from her fingers, she seemed to be balancing on the mounds of her toes from buttery smooth cobblestone to cobblestone. Her chin was tucked against her chest, carefully avoiding any of the narrow gaps.

She wore what looked like a man’s shirt and pair of jeans cut-offs, so short they vanished under the starchy cotton that was too long but puckered and stretched around her pillowing breasts and made her look extraordinarily and gloriously bare. Her stature added to the impression - small and compact but with curves, wide hips and round, tanned thighs that most women had long been shamed into hiding. She wore no make-up but her eyes and lips looked puffy and soft, as though she might just have wandered out of bed with that tangled pink hair, an odd dreamy thing playing on the cobblestones and soaking up the heat of the ancient city.

*****  
Entry #3: Beauty Routine

A toilet flushed. A tap ran.

Tom ambled across the bedroom, his newly shaved scalp glowing in the sticky Louisiana heat. He was naked save for the stainless-steel chastity cage, its locking pin fed through the piercing in the head of his cock.

He’d been a wrestler in high school. State champ. Team Captain. The physique was still there, mostly, buried under the subsequent years of hard living. Ink covered his chest, arms, and back: the early tats carefully selected and artfully placed, and the bender trophies that filled in the gaps.

From the bedside table drawer he grabbed a purple butt plug and a flip-top bottle of AstroGlide. He knelt on the bed and poured lube over the neon colored silicone. He leaned forward, placed his forehead on the mattress, loosened up his ass with a lubed finger, and placed the head of the toy at the opening. A single thrust and it was inside. He pressed on the base until he felt his hole pucker around the plug and suck it in.

He waited like that, ass up and head down, arms draped loosely by his side.

The clock ticked.

*****  

Entry #4: The Predator

Fletcher sipped the green heat and watched the writhing bodies around him. He took note of tattoos and naked flesh and pondered his next move. Even though the heat in the club was stifling he kept on his long-line leather coat over his thick shoulders and lithe muscles, oblivious to the body heat.

His long, silken brown hair swished against the leather as he knocked back the last of the powerful absinthe. He nodded and another appeared before him almost like magic. Anyone watching him would have noted his body language. He held himself tightly together but with the languid self-confidence of a cheetah eying up his prey.

If you met his gaze you’d be stunned by the deep green that echoed the colour of his drink and would wonder about the jagged scar, white and raw just below his jaw. He was very aware that he was causing a stir among several women at the bar. He knew he looked good and wasn’t afraid to use that to his advantage. When he saw a beauty that struck a chord he flashed her the secret weapon, his smile. It talked of wicked sexual indulgence and she was powerless to resist.

*****  
Entry #5: This Girl 
           
Ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag, that’s this girl, all pink bubble gum lips and hair that sparkles in the brief flits of sunlight through the standard English cloud cover. She’s all hips and ass and tits crammed in a shirt that features a faint dampness in upended C-shapes below the stretched faded text: London Is For Lovers.

She sticks out, this girl, not like a sore thumb, but like a finger with slicked sparkly polish on the nail, pressed into pillowy flesh. Bare feet and curls in her eyes, she bounces more than walks, giggles more than talks, and if it weren’t for her accent, heavy, flat, middle-American, one might take her for a ringer on the midway, ready to lure you in.

*****  
Entry #6: Title: The Bookworm

Michael yawned and rubbed his eyes. Getting up early to write before work was helping him to knuckle down and develop his book but it was hard work. The chapter he’d just finished had been based on his exploits with a previous girlfriend and the memory always caused a rush of blood to his groin, today was no exception. Standing up, he stretched and crossed his apartment, heading for the shower. He glanced in the full length mirror as he passed and paused to reflect on the naked image it revealed. His new fitness regime was definitely working, his stomach whilst still not a six pack was noticeably flatter and showing some signs of muscle tone, his shoulders were broader and his arms and legs were no longer the weak, skinny things he’d had for most of his life.

“Getting there” he thought.

Cycling to work was getting easier, he locked his bike and as he climbed the stone steps he realised he didn’t even get out of breath anymore. Things were definitely looking up. He smiled to himself as he pushed open the doors and the familiar smell of massed books welcomed him like a warm embrace.

***** 
Entry #7: New Orleans Boy

He stands naked by the window, staring out with unseeing eyes, his arms hanging loosely, an empty whiskey glass in one hand. In the glow of the streetlamp, he’s a bronzed statue - lean, youthful, well-hung. There’s no softness to his body or in the expression on his boyish face.  A heavy sweep of copper hair adds height to his high forehead and there’s a kink in his nose where his father broke it. Bee-stung lips and wide-set eyes flecked with gold. The burnished tone of his skin comes not from the sun but from the finest dusting of grainy freckles; the surface beneath is creamy white.

A Mardi Gras shriek reminds him that the night is waiting. He drops the tumbler hard on the desk and it cracks. He curses, running a hand through his quiff. In one fluid movement he picks up and pulls on tight leather pants, stretched at the knee through wear but still sculpted around his high, tight butt. Scuffed biker boots, ripped T-shirt. From the bed he grabs a short-handled flogger which he shoves down the back of his waist and, with tails streaming out behind, he heads for the door...

***** 
Entry #8: Legs
The crunching sound of the gravel under her feet echoes on the warm summer wind. Birds in the trees sing in happy tones. She walks slowly, swaying her hips, exactly as instructed. Adrenaline rushes through her body as she gets closer to the cabin. Her self-consciousness shows in the cautious way she places her feet with each step. Her long legs are accentuated by high heeled shoes. The black lace tops of her stockings are clearly visible under the short black dress. A white button-down blouse completes the picture. Her long brown hair moves in the soft wind. A blank expression hides her nervousness. Even though it will be another week before the tourists descend on this place, she has a feeling that more than two pairs of eyes are watching her. One, two, three, four, she counts her steps. Only a couple of meters more before she reaches the door of the cabin. The birds are gone. The wind is quiet. Nature is holding its breath, as is she. She looks up and see them: two men watching her from behind the big window. She exhales loudly. What do they have in store for her today?
***** 
Entry #9: Aimee

It's impossible for Aimee not to catch any man's eye; her tall, elegant frame and long, black hair is clearly inapposite in the airless testosterone-filled garage, where masculine voices and the deep throaty roars of powerful engines dominate.

Her driven expression permeates the crude aggression of the audible chatter, and she casually adds stains to her stains on her faded blue dungarees where the grease from the vehicles are routinely wiped from her hands. She smells faintly of engine oil and diesel, and as she adjusts her clothing in the sweltering heat, the brightly-coloured dragon tattoos on her arm becoming visible for a fleeting moment. If you get to know her better, she may reveal a psychedelic butterfly on her shaved mons, but few men know this.

Aimee is the youngest child and only daughter from a farmer's brood of seven. In her youth, she learnt extensively about farm machinery from her brothers, and later about satisfying her lustful yearnings in secluded barns from the many farmhands. As fiercely independent as a lion, and no less vicious, Aimee needs control and domination from her partners, but few men can tame a wild minx, and even fewer are prepared to try.

*****

Entry #10: An Unlikely Wrench

A stiff spring breeze grasps at crisp, white cotton, carrying the scent of myrrh and vanilla into the garage's dank staleness. Meredith shoves the overhead door away and wrinkles her nose. “Guess Uncle Thad didn't change much.” Her bootheels ring through the building, the opposite garage bay groans open. The wind plays through the newly opened space and around her, setting her curls free from her collar, baring vivid ink and golden skin. The art spins and scrolls from her neck beneath her shirt and peaks out again at her left wrist, all abstract shapes and curves.

Chrome winks from the leather about her wrists as she turns up her shirtcuffs. Links of chain shift around her waist as Meredith pushes the pit grate with a scuffed toe. “Bet Uncle Thad didn't expect to be leaving this place to us, eh Bruce?” She looks out at the silent, slouching bulk of her beat-up truck and sighs. Could she be mechanic to Eston, pop. 679? Her bark of laughter echoes and she's still chuckling as she pulls the main breaker, setting machinery into motion. From bar wench to town wrench. I'll fix y'right or fix y'up.

*****

Entry #11: Choose Me

She owned the room, wherever she was. Tonight, the flounced denim skirt rode up over her muscular creamy thighs, red and black striped socks pulled up over her knees worn under twenty-hole battered Doc Martens.

Her tits defied gravity, a black bra visible under the sheer prim blouse she wore with faux pearls, as if she were going to a garden party. Black hair, streaked through with white, fell straight down her back, reaching her pert ass.

The short, manicured nails of one hand gripped a black leather jacket. A cigarette burned to ashes in the other, the filter smeared with fuck-me red.

But it was never the clothes that made you sit up, take notice, with a hard cock or wet cunt. It was her stature, her attitude. It was the way those latte coloured eyes fixed on  you, as if she saw all your secrets, and the smirk that said you’d have more to keep before she was done with you.

You want to be the one to conquer her, even though, inside, you know you’ll be on your knees for her, begging by the night’s end.

‘Choose me’ is your last thought before she claims your soul.

*****
Entry #12: Edele

The sand is almost burning under her bare feet, but she enjoys it because it’s something she can feel. Walking along the beach in the last light of the day, her frizzled red locks sway in the breeze. Her weary green eyes are scanning the landscape. She’s tired of running from her own mind. Her body smarts under the heft of the miles she has walked today. Her chest heaves and her ample breasts strain against her bra. Salty tears sting at the back of her eyes, but she knows she’s close so she has to grin and bear it.

And then she sees it. A tiny grey cabin, weathered by seaside weather conditions. The horizon is still visible and as she runs towards the cabin, she wants to scream because her lungs feel like they’re going to burst. But it doesn’t matter. Once she lies herself down on the bed and closes her eyes, there will be nothing left but her, the smell of fresh fish and the crackle of the old record player. Her favourite song. He’d remember. He always did.

*****

Entry #13: Underneath

She is not what she seems beneath the dirty overalls and greasy hands. To everyone else she is untouchable, almost rude, but they come here anyway because she is good at her job, fixing their cars no matter what seems to be wrong with them. They pay her willingly and hurry away. She scares them, especially the men, but not me. I know differently. I know that underneath the standoffish demeanour and the tomboy look there lingers another woman.

I smile when I see the way they treat her; the other men, like she might bite them if they get to close but she has done it on purpose, creating a protective field around her, because if they knew they would never leave her alone. If they knew she would have no choice but to be the little slut she is all the time and she can’t bear that thought. It surprises me though, how unobservant they are. The moment I saw her I knew, but it was her smell that really gave her away, once you cut through the acrid stench of gas and chemicals that surround her it is there, the unmistakable odour of sex.

******

Entry #14: Home

He is lost.  He knows exactly where he stands but inside, he lacks the quintessential compass that has always guided him. Purpose.

Ever since he was small, it was bases. He was a natural. The crack of bat on ball, the thrum in his fingers that came the same instant, the hammer of his heart in his chest as he pushed toward first, second, third, home.

In college he was still consumed by baseball, but mastered rounding bases of a more human and feminine nature in the off-season. He was a natural at that, too.

Even when he hurt his knee and lost his scholarship, he kept focus. Content with his recreational league and with coaching. Bases. Training others to run in circles.

At 27, he is lost. He knows when it happened but not precisely why. He is sure that it’s not only because of what she did to him, though. Just one day, the bases weren’t enough anymore and now he wanders, aimless without them.

He drifted across the Atlantic in a 757 and stands, sand in his toes looking to the waves for something. Purpose. A reason to run. A reason to go home.

*****

Okay, so there we have the choices. Pick your favorite, cast your vote, and savor the sweetness of so many jobs well done!
XXX,
Alison 

P.S. Poll will run until May 30th!



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Big Reveal




Bear with me... or even bare with me... I'm a little groggy this morning. But we have results in for our first round of the Smut Marathon. I have to say, once I enter the stories, I forget who wrote which. So this will be a reveal for both of us. Or all of us.

First Place: The Lake House Den by CJ Lemire
Second Place: Library by L.C. Spoering
Third Place: The Tiny Cabin by Laila Blake

This was so close. The stories were only separated by a single vote from one level to the next. In fact, there were multiple stories that received the same number of votes, so I'm just going to list the rest without saying places:

Scenes with Fantastic Locations by D. Sadie
The Garage by Serafine Laveaux
A Bar in Bologna by Tamsin Flowers
A Hole in the Wall by Molly Moore
Pulse by Preston Avery
A Long, English Beach by Victoria Blisse
A New Orleans Apartment by Jillian Boyd
Return to the Scene by Aisling Weaver
Far Away from Civilization by Marie Rebelle
The Assault Course by John D.
Anticipation by Angell Brooks
A Sturdy Wooden Cabin by Andy

Now, because we had a glitch with the voting, I'm not going to exile anyone from this round. We're all adults here. We're all going to play fairly in the future. Consider this a freebie. I'd feel bad otherwise.

I'll be contacting all the writers with a new challenge today. Hope you're all game to continue. I'm totally excited about what I'm tossing your way!

Stop back soon, because I have a photo of my hot friend I'm going to put up for a little reader entertainment.

XXX,
Alison

P.S. I believe if you click the image of the poll, the picture gets bigger. The stories are not listed in the order of the most to least votes.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Smut Marathon—Round 1 (Reboot)

Dear Smutters (and others), Unfortunately, there seems to have been some poll manipulating on this round. So I've decided to restart the voting and try again. Please stick to one vote per customer. Poll will run until midnight tomorrow. XXX, Alison

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Smut Marathon — Round 1

Here we are at the Smut Marathon—Round 1. This was the assignment:
Please pen me a 200-word (maximum) description of your ideal setting for an erotic story.
That’s it. Ta da! Do not go over the word count.

Of course, me being me, I did not remember to ask the writers to title their pieces. Some did, some didn't. I slid titles in for the polling to make things easier—so I'm apologizing if I stepped on any toes. I'll remember to ask next time.
What do you do? Read the 15—yes, 15—anonymous entrants and vote for your favorite. Poll ends at midnight on April 30th. Winner will be announced on May 1, and I'll be handing out the new assignment at the same time. Please feel free to share the link with your friends, families, strangers, neighbors, dog-walkers... But authors, don't reveal which piece you wrote until the voting ends. Then I will add the author name to each story.
Oh, I posted the pieces in the order I received them. I'm trying to do all of this fair and square. Every once in awhile, it gets a little oblong...
Entry #1: A New Orleans Apartment A New Orleans apartment, looking out over Bourbon Street. Midnight. Mardi Gras. Even for the late time of night, the heat weighs heavily and all the windows in this apartment are open. It’s sparse, filled with mostly noise from outside and the smell of cheap cigars and third-hand whiskey fumes. The bed is unmade. Strewn around it are a variation of Mardi Gras beads and the odd piece of clothing. A half drunk glass of scotch sits on the bedside table. There’s a desk in the corner, with an antique typewriter on it. One sheet of paper, one line of uninspired words in thick, black ink. It’s the air that gets you though. It smells like old sweat and cologne and Mardi Gras pussy. And the faint trickle of disappointment lingers in the background.
*****
Entry #2: The Lake House Den The sweet dawn light poured through the floor to ceiling windows of the lake house den, basking the room in soft pastels, attempting to probe its night secrets. The removable wall panel on which the dartboard hung remained secret-agent silent about the St. Andrew’s cross concealed behind. The whips, canes, rope, clamps, dildos, vibrators, plugs, lube, and other pervertibles hid from the sunlight, tucked away in the armoire against the far wall. The exposed ceiling beams gave no hint about being structural, such that a suspension ring lashed to them with a leather strap might create the perfect anchor point to fly her from. So what if the round table in the corner was a good height and diameter to bind her atop, her head hanging off one end and her ass perched at the other, to present her holes perfectly for fucking? Such thoughts surely had no place in the innocence of morning. If the tatami mats seemed well suited for relieving the stress of time on her knees, and the candles on the mantel burned at the ideal temperature for drizzling on delicate body parts, that was just coincidence, right? Nothing to see here. Move along.
*****
Entry #3: Scenes With Fantastic Locations In erotica, the setting is best when it's involved with the story. A cozy basement make-out session is one thing, but knowing that they had their first fight on the couch only a week before makes it more precious. It adds an edge to the scene beyond just three people exploring each others bodies during tearful apologies which turn to curious exploration. I have a fondness for fantasy and sci-fi. This leads into scenes with fantastic locations: floating motes of light over a shadowed pool, an asteroid crater, or perched on top of trees in the rain. But, what really gets me off is knowing that the shadowed pool might be haunted and that the asteroid is minutes away from being pulverized. And fucking on top of the trees? It really depends on who owns the trees and what is below. Settings are just as much of a character as the people involved. A childhood kitchen has more poignancy than just a table to fuck on. I want the emotions to rise as someone grips the edge of the table, remembering how they carved their initials on the top or it fell on them during a makeshift BDSM scene.
*****
Entry #4: Far Away from Civilization An adventurous young woman rows down the river in a small boat, enjoying a lovely wind still summer’s day. Unintentionally, she falls asleep in the boat after a light lunch. She does not notice that her boat slowly drifts down the river in the light wind. At a sharp bend in the river, her boat drifts under overhanging branches and towards the shore. The young woman wakes up when strong male arms scoop her body out of the boat. She screams and tries to free herself, but the man holds her tight and carries her to the encampment where he lives with a group of men and woman, far away from any kind of civilization. This group lives according to their own rules, which are very different to those that the young woman has been used to all her life. The leader of the group takes a fancy in the young woman and claims her to be his property. She fights, she hates, she tries to escape, but she does not only fight and hate him. She fights the feelings inside her and hates herself for developing tender feelings for this savage man.
*****
Entry #5: A Long, English Beach It’s a long, English beach with sand gradiated from fluffy-white boiled rice to the darker, brick coloured wetness that clumps like spilt sugar in a saucer. The sea sparkles and waves, dark as ink and bright as day depending on the angle of the sun. There are people around, dog walkers and families but if you walk along the beach the crowd thins out and you’re suddenly alone, dwarfed by the sea wall and free to do whatever you please, naughty or not. Behind the towering wall is a road and on the other side there’s amusement arcades and shops selling rock, fudge, ice-cream and Fish ‘n’ chips. The scent of doughnuts and salty air, the calls of fishermen selling their wares blends with tinkling music from the amusements and the ring of prize bells with the clunk of dropping coins. There are quaint cafes and souvenir shops. There’s hustle and bustle all around but movement is languid; everyone’s on holiday and out for enjoyment. Laughter echoes from young and old and the air vibrates with the potential of long days filled with opportunities to have fun. It isn’t home, you’re free to be, to do, to fuck.
*****
Entry #6: The Garage Thick shafts of sunlight penetrate high windows to splay across cinder block walls and stained concrete floors. In the shadows a wire cage sits chained, padlocked, the lone guardian of zip ties and duct tape and clamps of all sizes. Within reach dangle belts, thick rubber and nylon, growing stiffer with time. Some bear curious twists, more shackles than belts now. Massive doors open revealing the pits, their gaping slits guarded only by lone gratings that slide tirelessly along the dark chasm. Shadows swell within its depths, defying the sun as it seeks to enter. Twisted tangles of hose cascade from above, their slickened skin gleaming, their pumps leaking lube. Deeply ridged vacuum hoses dangle limply beside, their raspy inhales barely audible beneath the insistently pulsating air compressors and the metallic clinking of chains as they strike the massive hoist frame dominating the far wall. A dark sheen of oil embraces all surfaces, slipping and slicking wherever contact is made. The slightest caress stains and defiles, impossible to remove. Even the scent overwhelms. Sweaty and musky and ripe, it forces itself upon you, into you, claiming you. By stain or by scent, the garage marks you for its own.
*****
Entry #7: The Tiny Cabin Licking at the old and weathered wood of the pier, the ocean sends wave after wave against the sand several feet below us, the sea foam sizzling as it quietly disintegrates. The air is sticky and salty, but finally a cool breeze is blowing in the last light of the day and a torch splutters on the banister. Somewhere far away, the horizon is still visible – a patch of sky still orange and violet where it meets the sea. Outlined against it in the distance is a boat with billowing sails – I watch its slow progress towards the edge of the word. Like the pier and the banister, the cabin is made of wood that has grown grey in the violent coastal weather. I am sitting at the side of the bed you carried out here, the white cotton sheets smell clean – a little stiff and starchy to the touch -- and the salt has not yet defeated the scent of laundry detergent. White curtains flutter through the open French windows of the tiny cabin, as if moved by the smell of frying fish wafting through the door or the low-key, crackling music from the record player.
*****
Entry #8: The Assault Course My naked body shivered in the cool breeze wrapping itself around my torso, chilling me to the bone. It stung my mud-caked shins and wet thighs. It bit into my exposed nipples and iced my fingertips. It whistled through the trees around me, providing a soundtrack for my torment. I focused on the array of slides, swings, nets and challenges in front of my eyes: the assault course was the scene of our first date and her first victory. I could still taste the earthy mud in my mouth from being thrown face first into the silky, algid earth. I could still feel the bruises on my bare body as I was hunted, diving under cargo nets into filthy puddles or scaling large wooden structures. I had a sixty second head-start, but I'm now tied naked to the tree, illaqueated by the elegant manager and helpless as she giggles nefariously from behind me. “You can't resist me,” she smiles, and the nude woman kisses me on the shoulder. “You're mine now,” she whispers in my ear. And I was, exposed and vulnerable in her playground.
*****
Entry #9: A Bar in Bologna You asked about the setting? A bar in Bologna that I happened upon while walking through the city one night after dinner. Intrigued by throbbing music and a mess of hipsters spilling out onto the sidewalk, I pushed my way in through the crowd. The room was dark and the air hung heavy with cigarette smoke, patchouli and sweat. Chandeliers of deep red glass cast virtually no light and the mottled mirrors lining the walls reflected only shadows. The music was so loud I could feel the drumbeat reverberating in my chest like a second heartbeat. I sat down on a red velvet banquette at the back and noticed my body was vibrating against the cushions in time to the bass. The place was heaving and everywhere I looked I saw exposed skin; the hard, sinewy flesh of youth, ripped forearms and shoulders, abs and backs. All covered with dark tattoos that rippled as their owners writhed to the music. At the next table, a boy swept his ponytail aside to reveal a skull on the nape of his neck. A bar girl with wind-sculpted cheekbones and a fierce undercut asked me what I wanted. I ordered absinthe.
*****
Entry #10: A Sturdy Wooden Cabin Early sunlight shines on the granite walls that stretch thousands of feet upwards into the deep blue sky painting them the warm shade of an open fire. The valley floor is littered with impossibly tall trees reaching straight up towards the hot sun. Their bark is a deep ochre and they are surrounded by lush green meadows. The sound of a fast moving stream somewhere nearby is audible now but will be masked by the sounds of people when the coach loads of tourists arrive later. Water flowing in the stream is ice cold, cascading from the frozen mountain peaks above. The silence is deafening, broken only by the occasional cry of an eagle soaring overhead. Nestled between the trees, barely visible to each other are sturdy wooden cabins. Each cabin has a large walk in shower, easily big enough for three. The beds are oversized with soft cosseting mattresses and a tall post at each corner. Furniture is simple and sturdy, carved from local wood and timelessly elegant. The main living space is dominated by a large stone fireplace with a soft bearskin rug stretched out in front. Solitude and privacy are absolute, until the tourist hordes descend.
*****
Entry #11: Library Top of the stairs, to the left, and straight on through the stacks. The library always seems to be the last on the agenda when it comes to funding, and it shows, giving the whole place the air of something from not just different lifetime, but a different century altogether. The sounds of the outside are deadened here, and voices go instinctively soft the further in you venture. There is something magical, dangerous, enticing in the journey. The shelves groan under the weight of decades of books, and dust, settling like snow over the surfaces. The wood is worn smooth in spots, the oil of hundreds of hands; there is a sort of musk in the air, like the smell of flesh, of human contact, the sighs of books, the perfume of pages, the breath of the anticipated. Speaking seems sinful here, but who will tell the tales left behind—the long dead authors of the forgotten tomes? They are easily forgotten in the filtered sunlight through the warped glass of the windows. This is a hidden world, right out in the open.
*****
Entry #12: Return to the Scene Bette's diner hums with the familiarity you can never quite call home again. Jake's bulk, somewhat larger and topped by less hair, dominates the grill and Vera still wears catseye glasses and laddered silk hose, seams snaking. Nope, not home now, just as it wasn't eleven years ago, no matter the hours spent clearing tables and slapping the wrists of truckers and football players. Soon someone else would make the bells ring on the plate glass door with its taped-up signs for turkey shoots, bingo, three-day revivals. Someone foreign to this time capsule who might just break it. The air went hot and beads on a tall glass of tea dripped. No one watched her sit in the corner booth but everyone knew where she sat. The chrome table edge winked, the chipped formica gaped a toothless smile on rounded corners. Nothing changes, everything changes, it all stays the same. Vera tapped her pencil on the counter. A cropduster's trail sputtered over the gravel lot. The twin props rubbed the consideration into a smear of pesticide and dirt. When the sunny cloud of dust settles a motorcycle leans just beyond the expanse of windows.
*****
Entry #13: A Hole In The Wall The lock slides across the door with a satisfying click which echo’s briefly around the tiled room. The lighting is aggressively bright and glaring, emphasising the stark whiteness of the space and the porcelain that lines one wall. Every sound seems to be magnified into something louder more intense than it really is; the swing of the door, the low buzz of conversation from outside, the sound of a zipper followed by what appears to be a cascading waterfall of liquid trickling and running away down the pipes but it is not water. Water doesn’t smell warm or human and it doesn’t carry that clawing musky scent that men leave behind when they piss. The whole place reeks of male, the stench fills the air emphasising the filthy dirty nature of all this but it the perfectly round hole in the partition between the stalls that really gives away the squalid use of this place. Peering through the hole into the empty cubicle beyond, the walls are adorned with the standard graffiti signatures nestled amongst a parade of hot offensive language and accusations. A d├ęcor of words left here by others for those who come next to cleanse themselves in.
*****
Entry #14: Anticipation Fifteen stories up, with the fiery sun setting into the city skyline, the evening beckons. Through the clear glass patio doors, chaise lounges are arranged artfully on the sand coloured deck. Spaced properly and topped with luxurious cushions, they are big enough for two to play, and any seat will give you a view of the city at its finest hour. A hot tub, set into the wood in the corner bubbles in anticipation of bodies filling it tonight. The deck is firm, brand new in contrast to the older building. The whole block is brick and mortar, built to last, not to fulfill some architects unrealized art school fantasies. A standing shower is next to it, out in the open, for all to see. The brick is warm to the touch, rough in some place, worn smooth in others. The view from the ledge is orgasmic. The lights of the city awaken the night, bringing out the beautiful, the carefree, the adventurous. The hidden speakers sound the call, the smoky layers of jazz inviting one and all. The whiskey sits in its decanter, surrounded by empty highballs. Just waiting for guests to arrive, and the adventure to begin.
*****
Entry #15: Pulse This space is a warehouse and most often dark, dingy, dead. Tonight, though, it pulses with life, with energy. Sequential bright white spots and beams of neon pink, cerulean and yellow paint the air in a kaleidoscope of Technicolor. Pulse, pulse, pulse. Bodies fill the cavernous space, close in a way that everyday life would never allow - moving, swaying, bleeding into one another, a rhythm that could only be called synchronous. Pulse, pulse, pulse. The smell of beer and cheap spilled rum plus musky fresh sweat, smoke, and lust gathers all who enter here into a pocket of unanimity. Pulse, pulse, pulse. Then there is sound. The reason they have all come. That pure sweet pulse, pulse, pulse of lyrics and voice and instrumentation joining to create something unto itself, something transcendent, something alive. Effortlessly this force connects each human being with the instinctive pulse, pulse, pulse in their own body, their own soul, that same pulse, pulse, pulse that echoes, mirrored and transmitted from one to the next, to the next. Everyone here knows the beat. Everyone here knows the words. Everyone here is enraptured and hungry, hot and needing. Everyone here is pulse, pulse, pulse.
*****
There you have it. Fifteen completely different answers to the same challenge, which is why I can do new and fresh anthologies year after year. Every writer has a unique viewpoint. Don't you love these? XXX, Alison