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Review of The Flower Girl  
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hi Jeff ! Here's a review from the Paper Doll Gang's Rockin' Review Academy. After reading "The Flower Girl, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Notev* Title/Description: The title of course made me think of a wedding and springtime. The way you wrote the description made me think that you'd written it as a spoof of the saying "April showers bring May flowers," that it was more of a metaphor.

*Notev* First Impression: I found my initial guess partly wrong. *Smile* April was an actual character and the story takes place in February around Valentine's Day, not in spring. Your writing is very clear and, in the "show, don't tell" way, shares April's emotions with the reader so we are easily able to sympathize with her over the fact that she is still single. We cringe when we learn that her newest client is her boyfriend-stealing ex-best friend and arch nemesis who is marrying said ex-boyfriend and that they want her to do the flowers. I think if I were in the same situation I would have done the same, though I don't know if I would have had the guts to steal Kim's suitcase like April did. *Laugh* But then again, I probably won't know until I'm in that situation.

*Notev* Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: "The Flower Girl was so well-written that I thought that I wasn't going to find anything wrong at all, and send only a note saying how much I enjoyed it and it made me laugh. I was surprised to find two things that need correcting or clarifying:

After April and Kim meet, April remarks on her confusion at the name "Davis."

"Oh, that." Kim laughed. "Just trying out the new last time name. It fits, don't you think?"

And just a few paragraphs later:

And so, on the day of the wedding, April arrived at the church and, as she strewed flower petals along the aisle, babbled like an idiot, (I'm assuming you mean that she's babbling to herself. I wondered if there were people around and she was babbling to them, or if April was alone) complaining about the lack of reasons to complain about Kim and Kenny.

*Star**Quill* I'm definitely going back and studying this story as a good example of "show, not tell" for emotions and thoughts. Thanks again for a great read!! *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

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In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi SHERRI GIBSON ! Here's a review from the Paper Doll Gang's Rockin' Review Academy. After reading "A PIECE OF MY HEART, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

A simple, honest title and description leading to a lovely poem that flows evenly and shares your heart with the readers and the man this is written for. The poem is full of the simple love and dedication felt in giving this man your heart. The whole poem is wonderful, but my favorite part of it probably has to be the last two stanzas that describe that despite all the challenges, your love is stronger and God gave you a "love that burns eternally" that was easy to give to someone else.

In the second stanza, I wonder if you should switch the semi-colon at the end of the second line with the comma at the end of the third line. As I understand it, the semi-colon is used to combine two sentences into one. Hmm... perhaps the punctuation is fine after all. *Smile*

Thanks for the wonderful poem, Sherri. Be cool and keep writing!

*Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

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Review of Where Evil Dwells  
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi Dragon Skies ! Here's a review from the Paper Doll Gang's Rockin' Review Academy. After reading "Where Evil Dwells, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Notev* Title/Description: An intriguing title with a quick explanation. And it looks like you listed the poem in all the right categories. I know that can be a trouble to figure out.

*Notev* First Impression: I have to confess that when I first saw the title, I debated with myself whether to read this poem. But I finally decided that if it ended up being too spooky, I'd find something else. What did I have to lose for being curious? How bad could it be being a Halloween poem? Good thing I did! It left me with an amusing read of everything to expect on Halloween. *Pumpkin*

I was going to comment about how the rhythm seemed a little off, but then I thought I'd look again to see if there was anything else special about "Where Evil Dwells. And I saw it: each line in the poem has seven words - except for the last line which has eight. So never mind the rhythm, which is still easy to follow, the choice of seven words per line - whether intentional or not - was unique. I've never noticed that in a poem before; that's definitely something to think about for my own poetry.

*Notev* Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: I didn't notice anything. *Thumbsup*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

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In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.5)
SHERRI GIBSON , here is a review from a student at the PDG Rockin' Review Academy. I am only a humble writer and reader like yourself, so if there is anything you find offensive - which I certainly hope there won't be - please discard it as useless and take the rest as you will, be it helpful or only commentative.

Sherri, I have to say that "WHAT THANKSGIVING IS ABOUT paints such a true picture. Thanksgiving, and most so many other holiday, really, has become so commercialized that we've lost sight of the purpose of celebration. Your poem is a good reminder. Brown was a good color choice for this poem too, as that's a very familiar color for autumn time; and really, I think that it might be the best color choice overall for the poem.

You keep a fairly steady rhythm throughout the poem, but I was slightly jarred by the added - I hate to say almost forced and sped up, but unfortunately that's what it felt like - beat in the third line of the third stanza. I see you're following the aabb rhyming scheme, so you needed something to make that complete. I think you'll need to reword it somehow to make the rhythm flow better.

A good read. Keep writing! *Quill* ~ Mary, aka Duchess Laughing Lemurs

** Image ID #1744011 Unavailable **
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Greetings 30DBC Creator/Founder . Saw this challenge on the contest page again and thought it was time to share my thoughts. As I have no intention to offend, you can take what you might find helpful and ignore what you don't like. *Smile*

This sounds like a great challenge not only to get people blogging, but to get them writing in general. I know I need to get back into the daily writing habit. This just might help. You have a simple, easy-to-read layout with an eye-catching banner. The rules seem easy enough to follow. The prizes are definitely tempting. *Bigsmile*

However, one of the "steps to join" isn't clear. You list the third step as "When you send in your review or rating you will be added to the list of participants." When I asked for clarification, my understanding of your response is that hopeful participants need to rate and/or review THIS challenge in order to be listed as a contestant. That wasn't obvious to me, and I believe to a few others, so I wish to request that the rule be clarified for all to see.

Thanks for creating this challenge!

*Quill* Be cool and keep writing! *Quill*
Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs
Review of The Dead Letter  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi Liam ! This is a review from Showering Acts of Joy. After reading "The Dead Letter, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title and Description: Knowing that term "dead letter" only from watching part of the movie "Letters to God," and reading in the description that it was one that affects the postal worker forever, I was very curious to see if the worker himself would be the one to read the letter. Just what would happen? I'm glad I read on. *Smile*

*Reading*First Impression: In such a short piece, you paint a magnificent emotional story As tempting as it probably was for the postal worker to open the letter itself, he continued on the long drive - another thing that made me just as curious as the postman; what in the world would need a ninety-minute drive just to deliver a letter? - to Masonville. I have to admit that when the postman saw the address, I thought that the house would no longer exist, if it ever did and so curiosity would lead him to open the envelope and read the message himself. But exist it did.

We see Mary Stewart's joy at finally receiving the letter, probably just when she needed it most, in her tears and in the way she hastily opens the letter. The impact is compounded when we learn that it's from her fifteen-year-dead son. To receive something like that can be such a blessing.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: I saw nothing wrong. *Bigsmile*

*Paste*Suggestions: Again, nothing.

*Star**Quill* Thank you for a good read. *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

Raindance SAJ Sig
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Prosperous Snowwoman ! So I'm realizing that it's mid-March and I haven't reviewed anything of yours from your February win in my contest. that I promised I would.

Congratulations on winning Round Six. As promised, here is a review for an item in your port. After reading "Stranded in a snowstorm, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title and Description: They tell a quick story even before I read the poem. Good job. *Smile*

*Reading*First Impression: I don't read much free verse, so your poem helped me understand a little more about what free verse is. You painted a pleasant picture

*Reading*Did it follow a prompt? Yes it did, and very well too.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: Since this is a free-verse poem, I'm uncertain where punctuation ought to go. But I think that the very first line ought to have a semicolon to separate it from the second line. You have similar punctuation throughout the poem, so it looks as though the semicolon was the only thing missing. I'm also thinking an em-dash is needed instead of a comma at the end of the fourth stanza's first line; it appears a separate thought, but still connected to the first.

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Just an Ordinary Boo! ! This is a review from Showering Acts of Joy. After reading "Close Encounter of a Strange Kind, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title: You let me know what to expect. And having seen the movie for the first time just a few years ago, it's easier to laugh.

*Reading*First Impression: Ew... talking cockroach... But you give good descriptions, from the "near dark of just-before-dawn" to the quivering antennae and flapping wings of the talking cockroach that watches late night t.v.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: Looks like just a couple of capitalization and small punctuation errors/questions that can easily be missed.

no sooner was the thought formulated <-- (after you've just realized you can talk to cockroaches) 'no' needs to be capitalized.

“Uh-huh” <-- (the cockroach wants to make a request.) Whoops! Forgot the period. *Smile*

“B-but…”, I stammered in bewilderment A comma has been misplaced and needs to follow "bewilderment"!

*Paste*Suggestions: Nothing other than what I've already said.

*Star**Quill* I wonder what made you choose to talk to a cockroach for that entry. *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

Raindance SAJ Sig
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi Sticktalker ! This is a review from Showering Acts of Joy. After reading "Saturday, Feb 23, 2002, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title and Description: Having a date for the title first made me think that, for some reason, you had decided to simply title the piece of the day you'd written it. Then I looked again and saw the description and that it was written in '09. So I thought to myself, "Ah! Must be part of the prompt then." So I read on.

*Reading*First Impression: Good thing I decided to read. *Bigsmile* The opening paragraph is written in a personal, humorous voice that drew laughter and me to continue reading. *Laugh* And you keep the humor throughout the whole story, even in the explanations of your daily note-jotting. It's an easy read - which must mean that a lot of work went into it. *Bigsmile* Awesome!

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: I flipped back seven calendars – its one of those big jobbers with lots of room for notes Whoops! Forgot the apostrophe in "its".

Woah, Saturday was missing! I've always thought that the correct spelling is actually "Whoa," but it wouldn't surprise me if I were wrong. *Smile*

Ut oh, problem.... Uh oh! *Bigsmile*

*Paste*Suggestions: Just to fix the spelling errors, otherwise it's humorously fantastic. Fantastically humorous? haha!

*Star**Quill* Looking over the story a second time, I'm starting to see it almost as a "My dog ate my homework" excuse, which made me laugh again! I'm putting this in my Favorites. *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

Raindance SAJ Sig
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi WordsDoMatter ! After reading "THE PERFECT PRAYER, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title and Description: Both drew me to immediately click on the link and read.

*Reading*First Impression: When I saw the title, I thought at first that you had been facetious in naming the poem "The Perfect Prayer," but the description corrected me. The rhythm and aabb rhyme of the poem made it flow beautifully and easy and quick to read. This was indeed the perfect prayer, simply saying "Help!" because of either too many words to say to possibly share what's wrong, or not knowing what to say. Our omniscient, Almighty Father knows our needs, but we need to let Him hear it. Sometimes just saying "Help" is enough.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: I see no errors. Yay!

*Paste*Suggestions: I need a little clarification, and it may just be me. *Smile* The last line of the first stanza says "My first thought was no, but I knew I must try." But the reason for the negative thought isn't clear. The first thought was "no" to what?

*Star**Quill* Found this poem listed in the 2/23/11 Spiritual newsletter. It's a shame that I couldn't see the image you used at the bottom of the poem, since it was only available for Upgrade+ accounts. Could we see the image, or is that not necessary? *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

You've just been reviewed by a Paper Doll!
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Review of Captured  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi Jace ! This is a review from Showering Acts of Joy. After reading "Captured, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title and Description: Drew me right in, especially the description saying how being "captured" is a good thing. My immediate reaction is "WHAT??" and leaves me curious to find out just what kind of "captured" you're talking about.

*Reading*First Impression:You include a picture of last February's "Short Shot" contest prompt. It ends up being a good thing, because otherwise, when I read about the dad looking through the viewfinder and Chelsea calling out "Capture me!", I immediately thought of a photography camera, not a video camera. It is, of course, explained as a video camera later in the piece.

I'm never certain if a dream should be italicized to separate it from the rest of the story, or simply extra spaces in between paragraphs. But I think that for "Captured", how you wrote the dream fits the piece. You write believable descriptions of the father "existing", of his pain, during the three weeks his daughter is missing.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: Just a few small suggestions that I'll put below.

*Paste*Suggestions: I found nothing to be changed with the dream, so it's not included.

I woke up drenched in sweat, my throat raw. The room was dark and silent as a tomb, no trace of the screams that had once again awoken me remained. But this time was different somehow. A thought knocked at the edge of my sleep-deprived consciousness, but I was too disoriented, too groggy to capture it ... it floated away, leaving me shaking.

Chelsea's words had taunted me every waking hour for the past three weeks; now they mocked me in the few moments of fitful sleep I managed. Since her disappearance, I've had precious little rest. My initial shock had given way to numbness. I existed ... and nothing more. Very good. We see in just a few words what the father has gone through.

The FBI agent assigned to Chelsea's case walked me through the investigation to date. My Chelsea was believed to have been taken by an unknown subject, or unsub, that the Bureau had been tracking for almost six months.

The statistics weren't good--five little girls had been abducted and found four weeks later, dead, a fact I focused on to my embarrassment. I couldn't get past the idea that after six months and five dead girls, the FBI was no closer to catching this monster. I couldn't offer any useful information; I hadn't even been with her when she disappeared.

I hadn't.... I got no further with that thought.

I got up, stumbling in the dark to the bathroom. I left the light off, preferring to remain hidden, shrouded in my despair. A small ray from a streetlight found its way past the closed curtain, partially illuminating a shadowy figure in the mirror as I passed by. I didn't recognize him.

Who was this? Certainly no one capable of protecting his family. First his wife ... now his daughter.

I stopped and stared at the sallow face with lifeless sockets as Chelsea's final words came flooding back to me.

"Daddy, did you capture me?"

I had once told her my job with the TV station was to capture life on film for all the world to see. Anything on film could be kept with us always. From then on, Chelsea never missed an opportunity to pose for me.

The thought returned, nudging me harder. Still, I couldn't quite grasp it. I snorted. Hell, I can capture anything on film, I thought, ironically. But I can't even capture a simple thought. <--I like that. *Smile*

The mask in the mirror continued to stare at me.

Suddenly it began laughing. Not a joyous, light chuckle, but a maniacal cackle. It laughed at me, punctuating my hopelessness. The fear gripped me again as if an almighty fist tightened around my pounding heart and squeezed until I felt like I would pass out. The blood rushing in my head was deafening as the sound mingled with the hysterical laughter coming from the mirror.

In a rage, I put my fist through the face, sending shards of glass everywhere.

It was funny--the first sensation I'd felt in a long time was something warm running down my leg. In my fear, I had pissed myself. The urine ran through my toes and pooled at my feet jolting me to my senses. An intense pain shot up my arm completing my ride back to reality.

"That was a real dumb thing to do, Drew," I said, the sound of my voice serving to calm my churning emotions.

I flipped on the light and was shocked at the fractured image in the broken mirror still hanging on the wall. Like some schizophrenic picture,<-- Interesting description. I realized that over the past three weeks, I had given up on my daughter, my family, and my life. Only fragments of the man called Drew McCann remained. The blood dripped off my fingers, its deep color a stark contrast to the white porcelain sink.

Chelsea was all that was left of my once perfect life. First, Christa was killed last year by a drunk driver. Now Chelsea was taken from me. Cruel circumstances had beaten me down.

Taken! I thought. But not dead. Her body had not yet been found. What did that agent tell me?

"Until we find a body, we assume Chelsea is alive," Special Agent Jennifer Coates had said. "We'll pursue every lead diligently, Mr. McCann."

Every lead.... I sat down, hunched over with my elbows on my knees and my head between my hands. Closing my eyes, I tried to replay those last moments at the playground in my mind.

It was Saturday, sunny, but still cool in the morning air. Chelsea had her light red jacket on--I remembered thinking how well the shade complemented her red hair. Not many people were out yet ... mostly joggers and a few folks out for a morning walk. I had chosen this time specifically for the longer shadows created by the rising sun.

Between trying to catch the footage I needed for the station <--Why did he need footage? and and the constant "Capture me, Daddy," I was fast running out of time. The shadows were disappearing. I was in a hurry as I positioned my tripod for my final shot, and I knocked over my coffee. As I watched it soak into the ground, I realized I had to use the restroom. "I'll only be a moment, honey."....

The thought came bounding back. This time I plucked it from my tortured mind, and nurtured it until it opened like a flower.

I washed my hand, quickly picking out small pieces of glass; I'd probably need a few stitches, but they could wait. Rubbing some ointment on the wound, I wrapped my hand, and headed for the phone. Ignoring the clock that patiently announced it was 4:33 a.m., I dialed Agent Coates' private number.

"Yes?" a voice still half asleep answered. In my mind I could see her fall back on her pillow, eyes closed, phone held loosely to her ear.

"Agent Coates ... Jennifer ... the camera," I babbled, too excited to be coherent.

"Mr. McCann? Slow d---,"

"Please listen," I said, interrupting, forcing myself to speak slower. "The day Chelsea was taken, we were at the park for another reason. I was filming some B roll--footage for the station's files. Just routine stuff we store for future shows.

"I set my camera on the tripod and just let it roll while I went to the bathroom. I figured I'd only be gone a couple minutes."

"And...." Agent Coates prompted.

"Don't you see?" I almost yelled. "It was pointed at Chelsea."

Several seconds passed while my words registered. "Where is that film now?" she asked.

"Here. I haven't been to work since Chelsea went ... missing." My voice cracked and I started sobbing, something I hadn't allowed myself to do in those three weeks.

From a distance, I heard Agent Coates say, "Mr. McCann, stay put! I'm on my way."

I dropped the phone as tears poured down my face. Despair overwhelmed me when I realized the means to find my missing daughter might have been here all the time. How stupid could one man be? So much time wasted because I lost it; I needed to pull myself together for Chelsea's sake.

I was just splashing water on my face when Agent Coates arrived twenty minutes later. I grabbed the camera and my coat, and yanked open the door before the chimes <-- Of the doorbell, I assume, not the clock. died away.

"C'mon," I said, rushing past her. "We have to get to the station to develop the film."

Agent Coates grabbed my arm and jerked me back.

"Stop, Mr. McCann," the agent said. "We'll get it developed at our lab. We can't take the chance that the film will get damaged in your ... uh, haste. Our technicians are very experienced in this area. Please, trust us to do our jobs."

"But ... I didn't even remember this until now. What if it's too late?"

Special Agent Jennifer Coates must have realized the pain I was feeling and smiled at me. In a soft voice she said, "We believe your daughter is still alive. This unsub holds his victims for at least four weeks before he seeks another," the implication left unspoken. She gestured toward the camera. "This ... this gives us the best chance at finding your daughter alive."

Looking past her, I saw a man in a suit approach. Following my gaze, she turned. "Agent Jacobs will stay with you. If you think of anything else, tell him immediately." Coates squeezed my good hand, her eyes noting the blood seeping though the bandage. "We'll find her." Then she nodded at Jacobs. "See about getting him some medical attention."

The doctor called by Jacobs had just left after treating me as best he could at my apartment. I'd refused to leave, fearing I would miss a call about Chelsea. It was irrational; I knew Jacobs would let me know the moment Coates called. But I needed to be some place familiar, some place with Chelsea's presence.

The wait was excruciating. For weeks I had been numb. Now the slightest glimmer of hope created a rush of emotions in me that threatened to tear me apart. A wave of nausea hit me, sending me to the bathroom. Huddled over the commode, I had too much time to think about what I hadn't done. I tried to reason that the film must be important, that the camera would be her salvation.

I pulled myself together and joined Jacobs in the living room. He turned the television on, perhaps to try to lighten my mood, or maybe to divert his attention from his reason for being there. It was obvious that Jacobs wasn't a man given to babysitting people.

As the day wore on, my depression worsened. Not hearing anything from Coates weighed heavily on us both. We spent most of the afternoon trying to steer clear of each other--I'd pace and he'd watch TV. Then we'd switch. Sometime toward evening, the TV became a liability, and Jacobs turned it off. He called someone to arrange for dinner. <--Good. Just a few simple sentences to show the passage of time can make all the difference.

Exhausted by the stress and with no desire to eat, I stared out the window at the lights coming on across the city. It was almost fifteen hours since Agent Coates left with my camera. Was the film no good? Or, did the film offer no clues to Chelsea's disappearance? Oh, God, I couldn't be wrong. It was my job to protect her. <--When I first see how long it's been, I immediately suspect Coates to be the person the feds are looking for and that she took the camera to destroy the evidence. That thought obviously doesn't even cross Drew's radar.

The telephone shattered the silence.

The past year has been torture, the endless trips to the psychiatrist trying to overcome the trauma of that ... incident. An incident--that's what he calls it. Now I sit in the doctor's waiting room, wringing my hands in my lap. I just don't know anymore.

I want my old life back. I want our old life back.

"Mr. McCann?" The doctor's voice pulls me back. I look up.

He smiles. "I believe the worst is over. I'm cautiously optimistic about the prognosis."

"Cautiously optimistic? What the hell does that mean?" I've listened to psychiatric double-speak for the past year unable to see or feel any improvement. I'm almost as helpless and frustrated as that day when I turned my camera over to the FBI. Would these feelings ever pass?

The doctor turned and motioned to his office door. It opened.

I watched Chelsea walk into the waiting room. She was smiling. For the first time since she was taken, she was smiling.

"Daddy, let's go capture me."

*Star**Quill* All in all, a well-written piece that keeps the viewer reading till the outcome, anxious to know right along with Drew if his daughter is alive. Well done!*Thumbsup* *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

** Image ID #1683650 Unavailable **
Review of The Trap  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Coffeebean ! This is a review from Showering Acts of Joy. After reading "The Trap, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title and Description:Simple and intriguing enough to draw the reader to look at the story - at least, this reader. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*First Impression:I'm expecting trouble and action with something entitled "The Trap". I get an ending that makes me laugh. *Laugh* From the small word count provided, I would guess that this story was an entry for a contest, but no prompt or link to a contest is included. Maybe you just wanted to write something that short. *Smile*

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: A few punctuation errors that I can help you with below.

*Paste*Suggestions:John Hardy leaned on the bar in the Alamo saloon, wrapped his trail weathered hands around a cold mug and washed Kansas dust down his throat. Behind him, rambunctious saloon patrons indulged themselves in games of chance, while a player piano pounded out a mechanical version of Clementine. <--Nice descriptions. I can picture this as a typical saloon.

The piano played its last note, <--I would suggest either ending the sentence there, or rewriting it to say "As the piano played it's last note," the raucous coarse voices and ribald laughter suddenly lowered to a murmur when Marshall Tom “Bear River” Smith <-- Now that's an interesting nickname. How did he earn it? ambled into the dusky saloon.

Smith crossed the room with effortless strides and stood next to Hardy. Both men stiffened, their gun hands flexed and their unwavering gaze fixed upon the back-bar’s mirror never faltered.

“Marshal,” Hardy said, and nodded.

Smith tipped his hat. “Hardy.”

Hardy drained his mug.

“I’ve heard a rumor, Hardy.”<-- Since Smith is saying it, there needs to be a comma at the end of this statement. Or delete-> Smith said.

“And what’s that, Marshal?”

“You’re riding out to the Spencer ranch at sundown.”

“I’ve been invited. <--Again, another comma.” Hardy answered.

“You’re walking into a trap.” Smith relaxed <--If he's passing on a warning, I don't think he's relaxing. and placed one foot on a brass rail. “As Abilene's lawman, it’s my duty to warn you, what you do is your business.”

“You’ve done your duty, Marshal, but it’s too late to back down now.”

Hardy knocked on Widow Spencer’s door.

Widow Spencer, dressed in her finest calico, hair curling around her shoulders and with a huge welcoming smile on her face, opened the door. The smells of fried chicken and baked apple pie wafting in the air and the image of the widow woman framed in the doorway, cast an immediate spell upon John.

After supper and his third piece of pie, John sat with the widow on the front porch.

“Have you ever considered settling down and getting married, John?” the widow asked.

Then John remembered the marshal’s warning. “You’re walking into a trap.” It was too late, the trap had sprung.
<--NOT the ending I was expecting, but it was worth the read. I'm still chuckling. Marshal certainly did warn him, didn't he?

Thanks for a quick, enjoyable read that allowed me to enter the Old West for a few minutes.

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

** Image ID #1683650 Unavailable **

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Invalid Item.
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Quihadi ! After viewing "The Lighthouse Poetry Contests, I thought I'd drop a line and share my thoughts and comments. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've created. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title and Description:The title initially made me think that this would be a contest about the sea, but the description cleared that up and drew me right in to look at your contest.

*Reading*First Impression: Welcoming, thanks to the beautiful image of the lighthouse with Christ's hands around it - and, of course, the welcome banner. Also very simple and easy to view. The rules are clear on what you want, and the colors, size and font choice make it easy for the viewer/hopeful contestant to understand what this contest is about. The prizes are eye-catching and very desirable.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: I saw no errors. *Thumbsup*

*Paste*Suggestions:This is a rare contest that doesn't provide an example or direct link to bitem help. You may have a good reason for that; but I find it more newbie-friendly to provide an example or link, rather than simply having the contestant wonder how to find WritingML Help. Or you could state where to find the Help.

*Star**Quill* I think it was a good idea to start with a Christian poetry contest. Poetry seems the easier medium to share Christian testimony. I see several entries already with the month and first round half over.*Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs
Review of frazzled  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi spaztic ! Congratulations on winning in my contest. As promised, here is a review for an item in your port. After reading your contest entry, "frazzled, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title:I was expecting "Frazzled" to be a short story, which reminds me never to judge a story by its title. (Wait... that sounds familiar. *Laugh*)

*Reading*First Impression: A well-told story in poetry form. The description of the piece drew me in with curiosity.

*Reading*Did it follow a prompt?It certainly did.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: A few small spelling and punctuation errors which I'll show below.

*Paste*Suggestions:A green strand of frayed yarn
A repulsive sweater worn to
o long
I pull the fray, in hopes of ruin
With sly apprehension, as though it hides what
I'm doing
The threads unknit, but the form never strays
This covert destruction is taking me days
Attached to each knot is a bundle of words
Mainly lies, excuses, and explanations absurd
I think back, reflecting, on how I obtained
This wrapping of yarn, of which
I'm so ashamed
The more I unwrap it, the more loosely it fits
Turning from clothing, to netting... Now i'm trapped in these pits
I try to untangle, to remain somewhat unmangled...
To set fire to these threads of truth from which I dangled
I swallow my pride, start again, get relaxed
With such simple answers why am i so perplexed?
Wait! This yarn, I became razzled, while it remained strong
Is this not my burden, my decay, misery? I am wrong
I rest my eyes, open my mind, take a much closer look
In sickness with solidity, the truth of my actions caught me like a hook
I awaken, cloaked in shadows, curled hiding in my hole,
so vicious and destructive, I was only maiming my own soul
My salvation was my victim, drowning in my own remorse
This frayed green sweater, ugly as ever, was my lone chance of recourse
I put an end to this numbness, my self abuse screams it won't matter
I'm winning life this time... it's not a shirt. Its a ladder!
This ugly green yarn, so profound an unassuming
turned into my badge, my demon's own undoing

*Star**Quill* Once again, congratulations on winning! *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs
Rated: E | (5.0)
*groan* I was salivating by the fourth paragraph. What'd you do that for?????

Now that that's out of my system.... *Laugh* I'd say you have no trouble at all with "show, not tell". You described every little bit as if the reader was the one eating the chocolate. I appreciated the warning for chocoholics. I am one and so was debating whether or not to read it.

I think it was a nice touch that the woman never found out who her mysterious admirer was. Leaves plenty to the reader's imagination.

Thanks for the delicious read!!
Rated: E | (5.0)
Web Witch shared this in her latest Spiritual newsletter this week. After reading it, I have to say thank you for sharing your thoughts, your struggles, your trust in God. The past two days have contained spiritual food that I desperately needed to hear. It can be hard to trust in Him, especially if you're in a situation or place you don't want to be. But yesterday it was brought back to my attention that even though it seems that we are in the poorest ground (place or situation), the Lord knows it, has put us there for a purpose , and we can produce beautiful fruit if we will allow ourselves to be nourished.

So thank you again.

Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hi Majestico ! Here is the third and final review of your port as part of your prize for winning the first round of my contest. After reading "The City Fight (continued), I offer you these comments, which you can ignore or take to heart as you please. I mean no offense with my words, only suggestions on how to make your story come a little more alive:

First Impression: You definitely need to write/post more of this story. There are so many things that need to be explained, and I'm certain other readers want to know what else happens to this little group of magic users. *Smile*

Suggestions:Well... I think maybe an explanation of just how magically strong these characters are that Kalos is still standing even after having the flesh torn from his ribs(ew!), how Kendall can still walk around after being stomped on by a huge creature and had a two-foot piece of blade stabbed in his arm. Hopefully all this can be answered in other parts of the story.

Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: About ten full paragraphs down, you mention "two-dozen" men, women and children. Two dozen doesn't need to be hyphenated. You're saying how many dozen are there. I didn't see anything else that needed to be changed.


Be cool and keep writing! *Quill**Quill* *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs
Review of The City Fight  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Here's another review for you. I'm doing this one differently than how I reviewed your contest piece. I've copied the story here and added my comments in another color.

Duchess Laughing Lemurs


The rainstorm Kendall had summoned was buffeting her so brutally that she had to crouch down to stop from being swept off the edge of the plateau road. It had gained momentum in the last few minutes, starting as a light rain but quickly degenerating into the worst storm Shalaris had ever seen. Lightning filled the sky almost constantly. Wind had turned the fat rain into needles that stung the flesh when it hit. The clouds swelled as if they were to burst, blue-white flashes washing across the surface of the roiling heavens. It was as if the sky was opening its great maw and attempting to consume the city. Very good description. I can see the storm as if I were there.

I wish it would, Shalaris thought. Shalaris is the girl? I thought it was Kendall and Shalaris was a city. You might want to mention her name in that first paragraph. And who is Kendall? She moved close to the side of the mountain atop which the city of Kasgalor sat, Wolf pressing up against her legs to keep warm. Kendall stood up the path toward the two great stone pillars that marked the common grounds before the main gate, a flat expanse of land surrounded by a wall on all sides like a bowl. Beyond the opposing wall, on the other side of the Ramproad gate, the wall protecting the city sat. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Looks like you were struggling on the imagery. What opposing wall? Or do you mean “opposite”? Kalos moved close to her, his hands folded before him. His voice was low and calm despite the torrent of weather, <- make that a period and start a new paragraph, since he’s about to speak. “You were correct, Fostian. Who’s Fostian? I can smell the dead.” Another new paragraph, since we’re back at Shalaris’ thoughts. She could as well. There was no one left in that city, no one alive. The vision of it had been so strong that it had forced her to her knees. The demons had come, Vesvelid, Carreau, are these different clans of demons? others that she had never seen before. They had torn the people apart with their hands. They “They” meaning the people, I assume? tried to fight, but what could they do against such a force, she asked herself. She closed her eyes for a second, but it made the vision worse. The Carreau had scoured the city after it was attacked, finding and tearing apart anyone they came in contact with. Thousands perished. There was only one man alive left within those high walls now. Trap or not, Kal will pay for this, by my hand.

Faundius signaled from the top of the Ramproad, How did he signal? And how could the others see it through the storm? and they moved forward up to the entrance to the common grounds. He wore an uncharacteristic look of concern on his face. He raised his finger to the silhouette of the wall in the distance. “Watch,” he said. In the flash of the lightning, Shalaris could see the pointed parapets of the city wall stabbing up toward the sky, and the squat gatehouses next to them, barren and empty. Formidable, but nothing compared to the natural defense of being built on the top of a small mountain. A lot of good it did them. The gateway itself was gone. The stone gate lie lay broken at the foot of the entryway as well as beyond. Everything was quiet, a dreadful calm amidst the chaos of the storm. Suddenly, she saw what Faundius had seen.

Something beyond the wall, above it, moving at a slow step. In the air? On the wall? On the mountain behind it? Not very clear.

Kendall broke the silence first, “It seems we have company. Are they what I think they are?”

“Two Vesvelid,” Kalos spat.

Two! She could see them easily now, their sloped head and massive shoulders visible above the city wall. They had to be over fourteen feet tall. She leaned in close to keep from yelling, “There will be more inside, I have seen. She has visions? There are at least six, if all are here from the invasion.” She hoped they had scattered after destroying the city; many had gone, from what she could tell. Perhaps on to another Elinael City-State. Kal’s conquest of the Southwest was had been ongoing for the past four months. She imagined he was not going to be complacent with the first city in the Southern Expanse.

Shalaris covered her eyes to shield them from the stinging rain. She looked to Kendall, “How are we going to get around them?”

He said nothing, simply staring off at the hulking demons that towered above the city walls. Oh, they’re huge? She still marveled at the fact that the metal body he had transferred himself into had such a capacity for showing emotion. There were no muscles under that steel skin, yet the metal moved so much like flesh that, at times, she forgot what he was, what he had done to himself. His face was so tense and sad as he looked off into the gray storm, but hardened into a rigid scowl when he brought his gaze down to hers. Those eyes, mercury swirls of dim, white light, still seemed so familiar, so human. Wow. Good description; makes me curious to know how he did that.

She asked him again, “Kendall, how are we going to get around them?”

His voice was stone, “We’re not. We’re going through them.”

Rage immediately burst into red hellfire at the statement. Faundius snarled, “It’s about time we stop hiding and take back what is ours.”

Shalaris ignored the statement, keeping Kendall’s attention, “Think this through, Kendall. The last time we fought Vesvelid we had four times the amount of people, and there was only one demon. Even then we lost people. I know that your emotions are high because of Kal, but think it through. We can’t…”

“Things are different now, we’re much stronger than we were before. Plus, if we don’t eliminate them now, they will overpower us later. You said it yourself, there could be over a half-dozen of them within the city. I’d prefer to fight them in as small amounts as possible.”

She could see the anger in his eyes, he wasn’t fooling her, “You could easily get us around all of them! Why risk so much on his minions when we should be saving our energy for killing the man who controls them? You know that this is a trap. Why would you be so stupid as to fall for it?”

He kept his voice down, but it made the rain seem warm, “This,” he gestured toward the city, “is my fault, Shalaris. My fault. And I can tolerate this no longer. We will not just sit back and let them come to us. This will not be another Cernnia. I will correct this errant boy. It stops here.” He turned to Kalos, “Move forward. Strike at my command.”

“Yes, milord,” was all Kalos said, and began to walk up toward the ruined gate, taking off his robe and dropping it to the wet stone at his feet. Faundius followed close after, running off diagonally across the common ground.

Shalaris said, “No, you’re wrong, Kendall. You can’t blame all the sins of others on yourself. Don’t let your anger consume your reason.” She grabbed him by the sleeve but he ignored her.

Kendall tightened his pack and brought forth Shalla-Vanor a sword? in both hands before him, his voice flat, tired, but he managed a weak smile, “I have already released the dogs of war, Shalaris. Is that a reference to Shakespeare? *Smirk* We have little time. There is no turning back now.” With that, he turned and walked up into the courtyard.

Shalaris realized with a sigh, there has never been a chance to turn back.
He strode forward into the middle of the courtyard, embedded Shalla-Vanor upright in the stone beneath him, and pulled back his hood. Even in the haze and rainfall, she could see him clearly, but the position he had taken up was still out of the line of sight of the demons. She ran forward along the outer wall of the courtyard, dropping as much dead weight as she possibly could. Wolf ran with her, silent and quick, hidden by the shadows of the wall. Far off in the distance, the flickering light of Rage ??? snuck through the horizontal rain. She had no idea where Kalos had gone.

By their very design, demons were deceptive beings. Those with the large, cumbersome build could often be quicker than virtually any creature in the wild, and the Vesvelid were one of the quickest. And the smartest. What was worse, those swords were over seven feet long, razor sharp, and the demons wielded them like they had almost no weight at all. She had trained to fight them. They all had. She had practiced with Cambian until her arms could no longer move and her body was rigid with aches. Never had she met a man so quick with a sword, and eventually she could even keep him at bay. For a time. He had taught them so much about fighting and the Erebusi that she hoped the others were not swelling with overconfidence. The teachings were there, she could see it in their fight with the Carreau in the cave, but Carreau were just soldiers of the demon army. They had yet to test their learning on any of the true demons, the aristocracy of the underworld, the Venii. She had almost memorized the histories in Cambian’s library. Hundreds of men were unable to down one Vesvelid at Arrow Point. It took three Jharsilde Metaphysicians to put it at bay. The last one they fought had wiped out four Jahadrasilde and left her bedridden for weeks. There were over twenty Jahadrasilde in that battle. And now they “they” meaning Shalaris and Co.? were four, with over a half-dozen Vesvelid to confront. She hoped that things were indeed much different than they were before.

Shalaris tried to dry the haft of the crystal axe on her coat, but it was useless. Even the ice that formed on the gloves back up north was easier to deal with than this. She would just have to grip tighter. She watched Kendall intently.

A bone-white light flashed for a split second in Kendall’s hands. A silence followed, and for a moment, Shalaris wondered if he was reconsidering this foolish assault. Then, as if to answer her thought, he raised his foot and struck it to the cobblestone floor beneath him. The ground and air shook in a tremendous boom, dwarfing the thunder that echoed overhead. The sound was deafening, it almost brought her from her feet. Both Vesvelid raised their heads over the wall, tips of their wicked swords rising.

Kendall screamed then, a harrowing sound that sent chills up her spine. Brilliant, purple-white fire spilled forth from his grasp, an arrow-straight line into the face of one demon, flashing like the lightning overhead when it hit. The second scream that rang out in the night was that of the Vesvelid.

The other demon immediately leapt over the wall at the sound, blade a solid shadow in the stormy night. It was huge, and for a creature triple the size of a man, it was unnaturally quick. It moved toward Kendall with preternatural speed. Those wicked swords had hit Shalaris, once. It had almost been the death of her. It might still, she thought.

Shalaris moved forward then, raising the black axe before her in both hands as she ran. She barely intercepted the Vesvelid before it had made its way to Kendall. The demon blade swung down on her instead, and she scarcely deflected it with her own black blade. Gods, the creature was strong! The force of the hit brought her to her knees. She regained her footing. Before she knew it, the blade was swinging again, this time in a horizontal sweeping arch. There was no time to attack. It was too quick. She redirected blow after blow, retreating slowly, barely able to think under the overpowering assault. She struck at the sword with the flat of the axe. It caught in the crux of the haft, and the weight of the hit sent her skidding across the ground.

The air exploded again with Kendall’s fire, and the Vesvelid staggered back at the hit. An inhuman cry bellowed forth in the distance, and Shalaris turned, but all she saw was the red flash of Rage beyond the city wall. Hopefully, Faundius and Kalos would be able to keep that one at bay. She could barely handle this one.

She gathered herself quickly up onto her feet and got her balance again. Kendall was retreating then, back-stepping. The Vesvelid was moving quickly upon him.

It took so little from her to release the dark ara with the crystal axe, and it poured out of her like a flood of shadow. The force of the discharge almost knocked her back to the ground. The stream hit the demon in a great crack, and its tight, wet flesh shredded and flayed under the black flow. Kendall changed direction at the sight of the hit and charged.

He held the water staff across his chest and leapt at the knee of the Vesvelid, knocking it to the ground. “Keep hitting it!” he yelled, and Shalaris once again released the blackness into its hide. The Vesvelid flailed and grasped at the air in pain, striking the earth. Die! Please DIE, Shalaris pleaded.

But the demon was not so easily defeated. All at once, it was on its feet again, sword in hand, striking down on a prone Kendall. A split second before the dread blade cleaved him, he disappeared, sinking into the ground like it was water. The blade splashed harmlessly in the watery stone. Kendall had vanished.

Before it could withdraw for another strike, Shalaris attacked. The razor sharp crystal bit hard into the back of its twisted leg, and for a second, it seemed hobbled. It looked back at her with its three inhuman eyes, black and circular like an insect. Then, as quick as the lightning that fell from the sky, it swung its blade around. She managed to bring the haft up enough to stop the weapon from cleaving her in two, but it scooped her up from the ground and sent her high in the air, knocking the wind out of her when it struck. She hit the ground hard, landing on her shoulder first. The pain shot through her, and she looked up dazed at the creature above her, the axe knocked from her grip and lying in a puddle of rain at the feet of the Vesvelid. She couldn’t move. Blinking the rain from her eyes, she fought for consciousness, fought for strength. Get up! she thought wildly. The Vesvelid seemed to sneer. It approached.

But as it took a step, the earth below him turned to mush at its feet. Its arms flailed about as it toppled forward, its feet cemented in the cobblestone floor. Before it could even finish its fall, a white-hot blast of plasma shot upward from the earth in front of Shalaris and consumed the falling face of the Vesvelid in a fountain of brilliant fire. By the time it struck the ground, it was already dead.

The sky and ground seemed to rock and sway as she fought for consciousness and for breath. She looked for her axe. Slowly, the world righted itself, and she stood, picking the weapon up from the ground next to the dead demon. Its face was nothing more than a black husk, shrunken and withered, sizzling in the rainfall.

Kendall rose up from the earth like the dead rising from the grave, Shalla-Vanor shining pale blue light across his dour, iron face. He wasted no time. “Through the gate, quickly.”

The city was dark, and it was almost impossible to see through the curtains of rainfall, but the rain was needed. They were hiding in plain sight. Such a downpour would even cause a predator like a demon to strain. She knew that, but it still did not sit well. They ran blind. If something heard them, it could be on them before they knew it. They circled through the great hole in the wall and around into the first tier of the city. Somehow the darkness was worse here, almost palpable, like the water that rained from the sky. Nice.

The buildings were tall, most over two stories, and cluttered together in close to one another as if they were huddling from the terror in the road before them. The streets were wide but few. Only one stretched off north, turning a corner and fading into haze and darkness. Toward the end of the street, just barely visible, Rage spat and wavered. What or who is Rage?

“Damn!” she said aloud. The fight was a good distance away. They ran as fast as they could toward them. They could see the wild swings of the red sword illuminating the area, but little else. Faundius’ sword would not be able to damage the weapon of a Vesvelid, and Kalos’ weapon was no match for that infused blade. It was a mistake fighting like this. Bad tactics. If they made it through this day, Kendall would get an earful about it from her.

The first one that came into view was the towering black Vesvelid, with the silhouetted form of Faundius stalking before it. The demon drew ragged breaths through a bloody mouth and gouged chest, but it still gripped its weapon tightly and moved as if it had no wounds at all. As they neared, Shalaris saw Kalos crouching along the ground behind the creature. The way he moved… it wasn’t human. It was feral; an emotion reflected in movement that was nothing more than primal. He appeared unharmed, but it was hard to tell. Shadows flickered from the red glow of Rage. Everything was the color of blood.

The demon struck first. The blade hammered down in two massive strikes, both caught and deflected by Rage. Sparks flew like the sword struck a fire pit. It wheeled around and swiped once at Kalos, who simply jumped out of its path. It did that a number of times, forcing Faundius on the defensive as well as keeping the monk now we have a monk. Is that Rage? out of striking distance. The creature was smart, but the additions of Kendall and her had added to the stress, and it stopped for a second, surveying the battleground.

Faundius was silent and unmoving, Rage writhing soundlessly in his grip. The Vesvelid took two steps forward toward him, but leapt back suddenly, carving a wicked slice out of the air toward the crouching figure of Kalos behind it. The monk jumped over the blade easily, and struck down on the forearm of the demon with his staff. Shalaris heard a loud snap sound unnecessary out in the street. The great black sword of the Vesvelid slipped out of its crippled arm and clanged loudly against the building across the way. The arm swung through its motion weaponless.

And before it could finish the motion, Faundius had removed the arm from its shoulder.

He hammered down again with Rage, slicing a vertical black-red line through the thick carapace at the abdomen of the Vesvelid. It doubled over as if it were trying to hold itself together. Kalos leapt in the air, striking down with both feet into the back of its head, driving it into the ground face-first. The head broke beneath him like a melon.

The creature writhed and twitched, then grew still. Kalos stood in the mess as if he did not realize what it was. He brought his head up, his face turning to Kendall. His eyeless face, emotionless and infinitely calm. “Others are close. I can hear them.”

A cold shudder swept through Shalaris. No one was hurt. Her shoulder was bruised but not damaged to the point where she could not use it. “I cannot believe it,” she muttered to herself. Two vesvelid, and we treated them like lambs to the slaughter.

She looked to Faundius, his body as taut as carved wood. He was squatting with one hand on the ground. Rage still burned, but the light was slowly dying. Oh, Rage is a visible emotion/power, then? She thought at first he might have been hurt, but it was not a grimace of pain he wore on his face. He was grinning. The sight was enough to make her skin crawl.

Kendall said, “We need to get there,” he pointed up to a huge citadel in the distance silhouetted against the swirling sky. “More than likely the main routes will be protected, so we should take the smaller roads and alleys. Signal if you see anything.”

Kalos approached, “Shall I take the vanguard, milord?”

Kendall said, “No, stay close. I don’t want to separate again. Our best chance is to fight together. Remember our training.” Kalos merely nodded and moved behind him.

Faundius rose, swinging his gaze around to Kendall, “I will lead.” His voice left no room for argument. He started moving north. Rage dimmed into non-existence at his side, and he too began to fade in the rain as he walked away. The others followed close behind.

Kendall moved close to her, putting a hand at her back as they walked, “Are you alright?” She nodded. “They know we are here now. They will come for us, and soon. Be wary.” Did Shalaris or Kendall say that? He then turned to Kalos behind him, “Kalos, where are they at?”

He meaning Kalos? raised his head up, nodding slowly, like a dog sniffing for its prey. The rain cascading off the corded muscles flashed in the lightning light. His face reminded her of an insect, unfeeling, cold. She remembered still his cry at the touch of the ancient relic that shattered in his face, a horrible moan, as if he realized immediately the enormity of what happened and wailed at the loss. It was the last truly human emotion she remembered him having. It was as if the loss of his eyes had taken his passion with it. They had called him the Unfinished Man in Dorient. It didn’t fit him. He was whole once. He was a man at one time. She did not know what he was now.

“I am not the seer, milord.” He replied. “I can taste them in the air, though I know not where they might be. They are everywhere in this place. Close, that is all I know.” It was the truth. She could smell the blood and burning steel that was the odor of Erebus hanging from the air, despite the rain.

Kendall said, “Very well, we will find them soon enough. I want all of you close. That includes you, Faundius. We must be prepared for an ambush.”

Faundius shook his head, “I have little need of your protection, nephew. I can take care of myself.”

“Just the same, I have need of yours. I will not quibble with you on this. Do not go off on your own. Kalos, keep him in sight at all times.”

“Yes, milord.” Kalos responded.

Faundius stopped and wheeled around to stand in front of Kalos, Rage hinting at life, “Your blind dog should attend to his own, nephew. I would hate to have to tame him.”

Kalos stopped as well. “Milord,” his voice was low, barely audible in the storm, “I will keep you close.” It wasn’t a threat, but it was evident that Faundius took it as one.

Shalaris had had enough of this, “Move out of the way, Faundius. You will get your blood soon enough without having to draw it from us. Let us help you get to Kal.”

But Faundius was not listening. He leaned in close to Kalos’ ear and said, “Still so loyal, even after all you’ve been through. Loyalty is an admirable trait in a dog. Tell me, dog, whatever happened to your loyalty for your king?

Kalos was silent for a moment before he said, “You are not a king anymore, milord. ”

By the look on Faundius’ face, Shalaris assumed that was not the answer he was looking for.

Kendall stepped in front of the two, placing a hand on Faundius’ chest as if to push him away, “Move along. Your son awaits.”

. The ghost of Rage crackled into existence in a flash, then disappeared once again. He pushed Kendall’s hand from him and said again, “As I said, I will lead.”

Kendall held his hand out and bowed, “By all means.”

Faundius ran forth in a rush then, a quick shadow floating through the dark. Kalos started after him, but Kendall held him back, “Let him go, Kalos. He knows better than to go too far. Even he is not so bewildered that he thinks he can do this alone.” He seemed to be trying to convince himself of it as he said it.

Shalaris asked, “Why do you even try to put a leash on him? You see how he reacts to being given orders.”

He shook his head and paused. It was the first time since he lost his human body that she thought he truly resembled steel, “I do it because I know someday I will have to leash him. And I want to make sure that I can.”

Shalaris gazed off into the darkness where Faundius stalked. She could feel Kendall next to her, strong, upset, hurt. He watched the shadows too, but said nothing. The memory of her last vision still sat hard in her mind, the fields of fire, the countless dead, and in the middle of it all, Kendall, on his knees, laughing. The sting of his laughter was a dagger in her mind. She thought, Make this the ending paragraph. And who will leash you, my friend?

Whoa now. Looks like there’s a lot to this story that isn’t here. I think we need to see the rest of this role-playing story!
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi Majestico ! Congratulations on placing in my contest. As promised, here is a review for an item in your port. After reading "The Skeptic and the Monster, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title: An interesting choice, it definitely made me curious as to how you were going to fit your story to the criteria of the contest.

*Reading*First Impression: You tell it from a young child's point of view and do a very good job at it. I love the backstory of Ally's father promising to always tell her the truth and how both of them could tell when someone was full of crap. The way you described her from Ally's POV, even I was a little scared of that Old.

*Reading*Did it follow a prompt? Whoa. You weren't kidding when you said "just barely". I'm not seeing stuff about school itself, but Ally is certainly getting lessons throughout the story.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: No errors that I saw.

*Paste*Suggestions: From some of the things you mention in the story, it looks like the Old was there for more than the first night. Yet we only see that first night, and at the end, Ally wakes up on the kitchen floor all bloodied and bruised. Is she alive or dead or what? Or was this some totally crazy nightmare? *Smirk*

*Star**Quill* I was definitely not expecting a story in the Horror/Scary genre, even with allowing any genre except erotica. *Shock* Wow. Yeah, those knitting needles can be deadly weapons. *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
Hi A.S. Hendra [Job-Searching] ! After reading "My Dearest Nemesis, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title and Description: Seeing that "My Dearest Nemesis" is a parody of "Little Red Riding Hood" definitely got me interested. Combine that with the fact that the wolf was on vacation and I was certain I'd be laughing by the end. I was right.

*Reading*First Impression: You have the letter in a different font from the rest of the story. Definitely a good idea, especially using the "courier" font; gives the impression of a letter. At first I thought the story was only going to be that letter, which was definitely amusing in its own right. Good thing I kept reading. I could not stop laughing! *Laugh* Readers wouldn't expect Red to be depressed that the Wolf is gone, but Red herself says it best,

“It’s Big Bad Wolf. Without his evil scheme, my life suddenly feels so... so empty. I spent my time trying to hide from him, escape his traps and survive from his jaws, and so suddenly... Plop! And he left me behind! [...] He’s my one and only nemesis, Mom! We’re destined to be together—he and I! It’s more than just rivalry; we’re enemies! We want each other disappear, destroyed and exterminated! I hate him and he hates me—what else I can wish?!”
She sighed once again, and then hid her face on her hands and started sobbing. “Oh, my beloved enemy! How much I miss you! My kingdom... for a nemesis!”

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar:You use an elipsis [...] at the beginning of four different paragraphs and the last line of the piece. Though you were probably using them as indications of pauses, they're not really necessary. Having each paragraph as a new paragraph is enough.

*Paste*Suggestions: Mind you, these are only suggestions. You can ignore them if you want. *Smile*

“Yes! Yes, I will, Mom!” she yelled happily,(<-End your sentence here and start a new one.) picking her flower bag and immediately going out of her house; didn’t forget to kiss her mother first. That looks a little choppy. May I offer a suggestion? Something like "Red picked up her flower bag and, not forgetting to kiss her mother first, ran out of the house."

In On one occasion, when she was walking deep into the forest,

In Again "On", not "In" another occasion, Little Red Riding Hood visited her grandma once again,

Just then, Little Red Riding Hood took a few steps to the mailbox as what her mother had just told her. Nevertheless, But before she could reach it, she was surprised when something big suddenly jumped out of the bushes. And before she knew it, she had been held by two big, furry arms with sharp claws.

He laughed again—more scarily maybe "frightening" and maliciously this time. After all, this was something she had been waiting for in these last seven years, and the scent of warm little girl at his arms just drove him even crazier.... How old is Red, anyway?

*Star**Quill* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Invalid Item. *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

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Review of Precious Cargo  
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi Hyperiongate ! After reading "Precious Cargo, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

*Reading*Title: "Precious Cargo" Definitely a title to draw me in, especially when it's followed by "A cargo of untold value arrives at the spaceport."

*Reading*First Impression: Oh. My. Word. *Laugh**Laugh**Laugh**Laugh**Laugh* I certainly do not expect the words "blanket, skating, and cocoa" to be associated with something sci-fi. *Thumbsup* Full marks for originality! *Thumbsup*

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: No errors that I saw. Well done!

*Paste*Suggestions: err... uh.... Dang! I don't see anything to suggest. Awesome! *Bigsmile* And with a 300 word limit, there's not much you could change anyway.

*Star**Quill* So tell me - is there a black market on cocoa? And to have gold and diamonds be mere trinkets... I'm still chuckling. *Laugh* *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

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In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi Jess ! After reading "The gift of an Angel Chapter 1, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Invalid Item.

*Reading*Title: "The gift of an Angel" An interesting title with an attention-grabbing description that drew me to click on the piece and read.

*Reading*First Impression: Since we don't know who this stranger is right off, and your description says "darkly handsome stranger," for some reason I immediately thought of a vampire; and then I thought that might not be it. Too much vampire fic lately. But then, I haven't read anything else connected with this story, so I may end up being wrong. *Laugh*

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: You misspell 'briefly' as 'breifly' in the sixth line of the first paragraph.
And in your last paragraph - he needed to no know why the demons had targeted her.

*Paste*Suggestions:I would suggest mentioning Danton's name right at the beginning. There doesn't appear to be any particular reason you wait till the second paragraph to name him.

At the very end, if the woman is unconscious, then Danton doesn't need to hush her. Perhaps just "he whispered". Interesting that he feels comfortable enough to call her "baby" when it doesn't look like they actually know each other. (Right now, at least. I see it's only chapter 1.)

*Star**Quill* I do believe I'm interested in reading more of this story. *Bigsmile* *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

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Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi BIG BAD WOLF is Merry ! After reading "Take Your Son to Work, I thought I'd drop a line and add my thoughts and comments on what I just read. I'm only a humble writer and reviewer like yourself and have no wish to offend, only to offer suggestions - or at least the knowledge that someone has enjoyed what you've written. *Bigsmile*

Title and description: It was the description that told me I was in for an amusing read, curious to see just what in the world a "Take Your Son To Work" day would be like for a bank robber.

*Reading*First Impression:For being dialogue only, you did a very good job of telling the story. Now we know how to stop the bank robber - get him/her to take the child too.

*Reading*Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: I didn't see anything.

*Paste*Suggestions:The bold print may or may not be necessary to distinguish between robber, cop and child. But you can test that out for yourself to see how it looks.

*Star**Quill* *Quill**Star*

Be cool and keep writing! *Peace* Peace! *Peace*~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs

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Rated: E | (4.0)
This is so inspiring. I had trouble figuring out if this was a non-rhyming poem or some other writing, since you called it 'prose', but in the end I decided it didn't really matter. *Bigsmile*

The words are inspiring to anyone, a comfort. There's a personal problem I'm dealing with and "Brokenness Repaired helped to remind me that the Savior truly has that love for all mankind.

*Star* "The jagged chards pierce His skin." Did you mean 'shards'?
Review of Pain (2nd Place)  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Whoa now. That was quite a twist of an ending I wasn't expecting. Nicely done for letting the readers sympathize with the doctor and Stan, working on this formula for twelve years. In this world of instant gratification, people want stuff, and want now.

I could be wrong, but I thought the DFF wants the prompt words in bold in our entries. Even if they don't, I do that for mine so they can find the words easier.

Good luck.
~ Mary, Duchess Laughing Lemurs
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