Friday, July 19, 2013

Writing contest!

All those books from ThrillerFest need a new home so it's time for a writing contest!

This week, let's celebrate Mike Cooper's FULL RATCHET (and the great opening scene I talked about yesterday!) with a contest.

Usual rules:  Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

Include these words in the story:


These words can be part of a longer word but must appear in this form so:

backlash but not blacklist
Fully but not fuelled.

Post your entry in the comments section of THIS blog post.

One entry per person; if you need a mulligan (a do-over) delete your comment and post again.

Prize is a copy of FULL RATCHET by Mike Cooper. If you've already got a copy, we'll figure something out.

Judging is subjective, non-objective and fierce.  Any complaints will bring you a visit from Silas Cade.

Contest opens Saturday, 7/20, 9am (Eastern Shark Time) and closes Sunday 7/21, 9am (also Eastern Shark Time)

Not yet!
Too late! Contest closed.


french sojourn said...

Coop, Claw, Ratchet, Full, Back.

“Ahh crap, I hate that fuckin sound.” Vinnie muttered as he ducked into the Pawn shops dark entryway. He squinted at the angled storefront’s reflection and confirmed his hunch. Behind him a beat up old Caddy drove by, with its trademark whine from the broken power steering.
“Ha, Petrov’s sending Ratchet and Clank in their rusty chicken coop-de-ville. Said two weeks…. I’ll pay him back in full alright.”
He walked into the pawn shop with his last twenty.
“Got any hammers?” Vinnie asked.
“Couple ball peens.”
“Nah’ framing hammer, straight claw.”
“Got one… kinda rusty.”
“Even better…. I’ll take it.”

Neil Christiansen said...

Blood can rot.
I mean, I knew that flesh rotted, but I had no idea that blood could rot as well.
Rotten blood smells awful; rancid, and acidic, and coppery.
I had to stop having people over, and eventually, my neighbors complained.
The first officer vomited when he stepped out of the house into my back yard.
By then the coop was empty save for a feather here, a claw there. The foul were gone, but the blood was everywhere.
When the metal cuffs ratcheted around my wrists my house was left empty, but my tummy was full.

Michael Seese said...

I stared down at the claw cobbled onto my wrist, where my hand used to be. I flexed it gingerly. It would serve me well.

“Has anyone ever said you look like Nurse Ratchet?” I quipped.

“Funny,” the doctor mumbled. “This may hurt.”

“It all hurts.”

What did I expect? I had opted for the full transformation. No turning back now.

Cooped up in this laboratory for the past six months, I felt ready to try out my new personal weaponry. Those who had brought me here – against my will – would make ideal test subjects.

Anonymous said...

McDonald sprinted at full speed.
His heart raced in his chest as his boots smacked the packed dirt.
Sweat soaked through his straw hat.

His pursuer shadowed him.
She matched him, step for step.
He dared not side glance and give her any advantage.
She already had one.

A claw caught him in the back.
He screamed.
She paralleled his pitch with vibrato.
The ratchet chicken had finally flown the coop.
The diva and her entourage of back up chicken singers sang out, through beaks stained with red lipstick, “Old McDonald HAD a farm,” in perfect harmony.

Anonymous said...

Godamn Ratchet. How many times had Coop told him Maisie was off limits. There was no telling a grunt like Ratchet, even if his years as College fullback hadn’t pulverised his brain, he wouldn’t have listened. Maisie, she sure was something. Boss knew it and paid for it, Ratchet knew it and was about to pay for it. Damn. Coop made the call. Ratchet and the Claw were buds back in the day, but Boss called the shots and Claw was a tool. Grubby, relentless, impassive. Coop knocked on Ratchet’s door, took the hood off Claw and walked away.

Anonymous said...

The position of her fingers told him what he needed to know. Curled, like a claw, scratching in the mud, she was still alive. He strolled back and forth, waiting. He could ratchet things up, move it along, but this was the part he enjoyed, after the dirty work was done. Watching. It gave him a feeling similar to being full after eating, satisfied, content. Coop stood below a tupelo tree, lit a cigarette, listening. The rattling of her breath slowed then stopped. Her fingers relaxed.
It was quiet once again in The Great Dismal Swamp.

Sarah W said...

He took one last look at the small shack where he'd been raised, where his mother had kept him warm under her wing and his father, ruler of the roost, had kept him safe.

But his tension, his hunger, had been ratcheting for a month, like an immense, dangerous, pale thing shifting beneath his skin.

He hesitated, then cursed himself for being chicken.

There was no going back. It was past time he flew the coop and unleashed his true nature, red in beak and claw.

What else was a werehuman supposed to do when the moon grew full?

Megan said...

"Well, that chicken has flown the coop," he chuckles.
"It's not funny Ramsey," I say through tight lips. I've been backed up on paperwork for a full month. This was the last thing I needed.

Dave Kreighton brutally murdered his before ending his life on his farm. The twisted son-of-a-bitch hung himself with a ratchet strap.
I walk back to the decrepit house and toward the basement where the most heinous acts were committed. His wife left claw marks on the door. He saved her for last.
Never let people tell you being a detective is a heroic job.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

“Mr. Rachet?” I was tentative. He didn’t look like a Mr. Ratchet. He looked like a pigeon that had flown the coop and died with a rat’s claw around his neck.

“That’s Rachetti,” he said gruffly. “I use the full name now.”

I nodded. I wasn’t taken aback by his gruff manner. And for a killer for hire, I’m usually quite timid.

I rummaged in my purse. “Hold on a sec,” I said. “My purse is always a mess.”

I found it. My .38. Loaded with silver bullets. I left him where he fell. Starbucks was next on my list.

k.kellie edwards said...

“Drop that ratchet and turn around slowly, Coop.”
I let it drop. Turn around. “You might want to reconsider, M’am. Unclench your claw and drop that weapon.”
“Claw? That’s precious. Five seconds--start talking. One.”
“What? Christ, never mind. Two.”
I take a full step back. Don’t want her all over my new suit.
She looks at me cock-eyed. “Three, Coop.”
“Bam.” I smile.
“Four. Nice knowing you, Cooper,” she says.
"Thank you, M'am."
She pulls the trigger.

I flick a bit of flesh off my cuff. Pick up the ratchet.
Time to get back to work.

The Magic Violinist said...

This contest is infuriating. How in the world am I supposed to fit five bizarre words into one story that makes sense? I pound my head against the keyboard and watch the letters form a string of nothingness: “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”
I take a deep breath and try again.
“Ratchet was so angry, he could’ve clawed someone’s eyes out.”
Ugh, that wasn’t right either. I deleted the sentence.
“Coop was full from Thanksgiving dinner that night.”
No, no, no!
“I go back to blaaaaaaack.”
I delete the document and go to get some ice cream.

Steve Forti said...

Her talons claw at the air, but find no purchase. She must take this punishment. Learn from it. In full view of all others in the coop, bent across my lap. I take a reluctant breath, adjust her feathers, then strike my wing against her backside again. And again. Ratcheting up the pressure with each swat.

She squawks. “But Daddy, I love him!”

Another swat.

The onlooking hens coo, then hush. They understand. Soon she will, too.


One more spank, then I let her up. “Not another word of this.” No daughter of mine will be dating a fox.

Patrick DiOrio said...

Monsters hide in closets, Timmy’s friend confided at school.

Now in the dark of night Timmy lay on his back in bed studying his closet door. Hannibal, his cat, curled beside him.

“We ain’t scared, Hannibal.”
Hannibal meowed softly, stirred.

The closet suddenly burst open. Six full feet of cooped up scaly monster lumbered through.

Timmy grabbed Hannibal, squeezed hard, screamed.

Hannibal sprang. Claws, fangs, flashing. Panic ratcheting—his bite, quick, surgical.

Blood filled Timmy’s mouth.

Monster, gone.

Hannibal running off as Timmy’s mom switched on the light.


Timmy mumbled.

“Speak up. What’s wrong, honey? Cat got your tongue?”

Kathleen said...

Rachet handed the full bottle to Coop who coughed, took a drink and handed it to Claw. The top of the bottle was now covered in spittle. Claw wiped the rim off with the edge of his shirt before taking a drink.

"You should get that cough checked out," Coop said staring at the red tinged liquid inside the bottle.

“Why? I know what it is. So do you. We’re all infected and it’s only a matter of time before we all turn,” Claw said. “Why do you think they call me Claw? Now give me back that bottle.”

Michael Pogach said...

“All I’m asking for is a little cooperation.”
Full stare. He never blinks when he speaks. And the rust colored spittle that ever laces his teeth jumps to my face in warm, angry dots.
Two heavy, metallic objects clunk onto the tinny tray table beside me. I roll my head to see, squirming as best I can with my hands tied behind my back. He’s placed a claw hammer and a ratchet on the table. I can’t forget what he did with the tweezers yesterday.
I tell him again I’m innocent.
“Then you wouldn’t be in Gitmo, would you?”

Anna-Lara Cook said...

At five, I hadn’t yet mastered the delicate art of escaping the chicken coop. My brother knew that. Locking me inside turned into his favorite Sunday sport.

He armed me with a ratchet, but I couldn’t hit the chickens. So I backed away from the hungry swarm of hens that clawed at my legs. They struggled to reach the full bag of feed he dangled over the high, chain-link fence. I couldn’t climb it, but I could throw the ratchet. And boy was he sorry he’d given it to me when I pegged him right between the eyes.

Steven said...

“You have everything needed to breakout, unless I’ve misjudged you,” Cooper said. Dropping the Sig to his side, he kissed Creed full on the mouth. “I loved you more than her, brother.” Cooper pushed a pocket Maglite into Creed’s trembling mouth and backed up, letting the hefty lid secure into place.
Creed clawed along the bottom of the aluminum coffin, stretching to his limits. Beyond reach were fisherman’s pliers and a mini-ratchet. The LED streamed across the familiar apartment entry lock refitted to the lid, and he resigned to never escape, though the corresponding key was tucked within his wallet.

Spencer and Kimberly said...

“Ratchet! Goll darn it, boy, get back here! Don’t ya go gettin’ yerself near that coop again! Ratchet!”
A black and white bullet shot into the chicken house, causing an explosion of squawks and flapping of wings.
“That darned dog of yers is gonna get ‘imself killed,” Marla hissed, thrusting the bucket full of brown eggs into her wounded husband’s hands. She held up her apron as she charged toward the coop.
Ratchet, clawed and bloody, slowly backed out, dragging something long and heavy.
“That Judd’s boot?”
Rex nodded at the severed leg.
“Gonna need a deeper grave.”

SiSi said...

The cat’s claws dug into my back and I leaped off the bed before I woke up good. I whirled and swatted at the cat, yelling for it to get off. Instead of helping, Cooper yanked on the bag full of money looped over my arm, but I hugged my arms together so tight he couldn’t get the bag, not even when that hellcat ratcheted up the pain by clamping his teeth in my shoulder. Me, Cooper and the cat lurched across the room as the cops busted down the door.

I was almost glad to see them. Catnapping sucks.

Anonymous said...

Marty closed his eyes and tried to shut out the click-click-click of the ratchet wrench winding up, but couldn’t ignore the point of the deck screw against his palm.

“Last chance,” the Claw warned.

“I already told you. She flew the coop. She’s not coming back.”

The screw creaked in the block of wood, and Marty cried out as a full turn of the wrench twisted stainless steel into flesh. “OK! Stop! She’s at Stephanie’s!”

Click-click-click. “What are you doing? I told you where she is!”

The Claw smiled. “Now I’m just having fun.”

Kristen Strassel said...

Three encores.

The lights rose, no longer blinding me. I could see the full theater, on their feet all the way to the back row.

I took one more polite curtsy in the spotlight before turning away from the adoration.

Was it just a dream?

My keeper’s claw like fingers dug underneath the powder of my shoulders, leading me back to the small coop I called home. I didn’t flinch anymore. He pushed my head down, I hugged my knees. He fastened the ratchet tight.


On to the next city.

Ilene said...

Coop grabbed his bat and swung. It made contact with a sickening thwack. “That’ll teach you to steal my ratchet, you thankless piece of…”

The thankless piece’s twin jumped on Coop’s back. Coop pivoted and slammed full force into the SUV. Another one down for the count.

Then number three reached out from under the car and clawed at Coop’s ankles. A hard stomp, a squeal and then a retreat, scurrying from under the vehicle and then straight out of the garage.

Coop dropped the bat and surveyed the carnage. Picking up his ratchet, he sighed. Minions were overrated, anyway.

Colin Smith said...

"Don't claw!" she said tossing the chicken into the cage.

He immediately set about it, fangs ripping into feathered flesh. She closed the trunk, dropped the ratchet screwdriver onto the passenger seat, slid behind the wheel, and pulled away from the farm whose coop was now minus one resident.

"You okay back there?" she said ten minutes later. Silence. He was probably asleep.

She looked out at the full moon setting on the western horizon and smiled. Just a few more hours and the nightmare will be over. At least for this month.

nightsmusic said...


“Wait, I—”

She flew past her friend. “Can’t wait. By the time he gets back with that ratchet to fix the door, we’ll be long gone and the coop will be empty. Then he’ll come looking with the ax. Now hurry.”

“But my claw is caught in the floorboard.”

She glanced over her shoulder at her friend. “Then peck it loose! I don’t care how full he keeps our food trough; I’m not going to lose my head for him.”

Eyes wide, she pecked furiously until her claw came free and together, they flew out the door.

Beta Shy said...

The fullback in pink stilettos sashayed towards me.

Soft hair blanketed its upper lip like chicken feathers straight from the coop.

As the behemoth moved closer, its breath ratcheted up from pungent to obscene. Large, muscular hands reached for me: hairy knuckles and the faint aroma of wrist-dabbed perfume.

I clawed at my tie for air.

Damn Mike and Janet for setting me up with her. This was going to be the worst blind date ever.

Anonymous said...

The monkey was now only half full of stuffing due to the gash that clawed across his belly. Broken records and the once shiny ring, now covered in mud, kept him company in the grass. Footsteps- she was back! Maybe she wouldn’t immediately coop him up in the attic, and he could try to ratchet his way back into her good graces. She threw him again, but this time not at “You cheating bastard!” ’s car. The lid slammed. Now there was another broken heart. But he was the only one abandoned among the coffee grounds and fast food wrappers.

Lance said...

The psych ward was a chicken coop: dirt floor, broken screens and rusty bars on the windows. The nightjars were full. The patients sat on stools, backs slumped, staring. I decided I was somewhere south of Texas, nothing more specific. Just after dawn, a rooster crowed, and in burst Nurse Ratchet. Starched, white uniform, crackling as she walked. No sweat stains. At her nod, the orderlies each took an arm. Legs wouldn’t cooperate. Down the hall we went, my bare feet dragging. In a small, dark room, I smelled the ozone. I clawed against the straps.

kregger said...

Matt Cooper, the Claw (portrayed by Jim Carey) and Nurse Ratchet walk into a bar.

“Three flaming shots of 151-rum, please,” said the Claw to the barkeep.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat.” Cooper stared at the flames.

“Now calm down. The best thing we can do is go on with our daily routine,” said Nurse Ratchet picking up her shot.

The Claw burnt his fingers. Cooper toasted Quint, and Nurse Ratchet threw back her full shot the hard way.

Silas Cade sprayed hot lead at the three characters. “Two bit or not too bit, I hate passive characters.”

*My apologies for mangling the character names.*

Matthew Masucci said...

He shouldn’t have been laughing as I ratcheted the curved blades of the claw hammer from his back. It narrowly missed his spine.

Editor, or not, nobody messed with my prose.

He snarled. “It was a fucking comma splice.”

He mumbled something about no one appreciating the full service editors provide.


I brought the hammer up, rotating it to the flat face of steel.

The Editor’s last words were, “it’s a cliché! The title! Flew the Coop! Terrible!”

Then a dull crack, followed by a thump.

That was the last red ink he’d put on my book.

Kathryn Leonard-Peck said...

“She used a blade for the coup de grace on Harry. Got him when his back was turned.”

“The coop has no grace. We’re trapped in a dump, full of crap and old seeds.”

“I mean he got axed, birdbrain. Choppy-chop. I’m clawing my way out before I’m next. Wanna come?”

“There’s all those roads to cross...”


“Of course. Rhode Island Red and purebred.”

“Take care, Chanticleer.”

“For a rat, Chet, you’re ok.”

“And with a small sharp instrument I’m unbeatable. Ever notice ratchet rhymes with hatchet...Watch your back, farm-girl.”

Chet crept away, knife in teeth.

j welling said...

Feathers danced under azaleas and ratchet bushes as Owens, special agent ATF, walked into the backyard. He found the fire chief by the lone oak.

“What the hell?”

The chief shook Owens’ hand with a face full of smile.

“Murder,” the chief answered. “Unnatural death, anyway.”

He pointed to a tarp behind the garage.


Owens kicked at the drifting down.

“Chickens. Backyard coop.” The chief pointed to the tree. “Chicken claw embedded here. Blunt force trauma got that one.”

“Incendiary?,” Owens asked.

The chief shook his head.

“Steam. Like a pot pie in a microwave.”

“Again,” Owens said.

Pip said...

“I hate being the bearer of bad news,” said Sergeant Tiller, tilting his good eye towards Mrs Brown across the kitchen table. “Your turkey has flown the coop.”

Mrs Brown clawed hysterically at her dirty-blond weave. “How could this happen?” she shrieked. “Christmas is tomorrow. I want that turkey back!”

“Calm down,” said Sergeant Tiller, with the authority of one charged with upholding the full law of the land. “We have a suspect.”

She glared at him suspiciously.

“Old Mr Butcher down the road. Yesterday he was seen clutching a ratchet spanner covered in feathers. He’s our man.”

T.D. Hart said...

“Close your eyes, Evie,” the angel says. “I’m here.”

I turn my head. Blink away dripping blood. He’s dazzling, familiar. Blond hair. Dimples. Green eyes brimming with love and untold jokes.

The haze clears.

I’m on my back, alone. Moths dash against the fly-spotted bulb in our chicken coop.


My mouth is full of cloth. I gag. Ratchet a breath.

In the doorway, a human monster. Blond hair trails from the claw of his hammer like blood-soaked algae.

“I’m here, babe.” The angel’s breath is like cool water on my cheek.

The hammer lifts, and I close my eyes.

Anonymous said...

Louie looked up in time to see Sally the fine-feathered femme fatale flying the coop.

"Wait," he shouted, struggling to get back up.

Someone planted a foot on his head, talons clawed his crown. Furious, the rooster spun around in time to catch the culprit.

It was Joanna, the hen-pecking broad from the other night.

"Trying to ratchet up another notch on that expanding belt? Ha!"

Louie stared at her, dumbfounded. The full-figured chick continued clucking as she yanked a wedding ring from her breast fold.

"It’s simple. Seeing as how we're expecting quintuplets, your cock-a-doodle-do just became a cock-a-doodle-don't."

2951 Shebil

William said...


“Yeah Stokes?”

“Look over here. What do you see?”

“I see one of your little rat-claw hands waving at me from under the car.”

“I need the half-inch ratchet. So…I guess you’re still pissed about last night.”

“Because you told everybody I was full of crap about seeing Bigfoot? Nah. Here’s the wrench”

“Good. More cooperation and less harassment will get this job done by lunch.”

“Oh, I’ll be done by lunch alright.”

“That’s the spirit. Now back the car off the lube rack so I can crawl out of here.”



Just Jan said...

"I know he woke you up, but that's what his kind do. Is it really necessary to retaliate?"

I test the blade against the back of my hand. "You'll thank me when our bellies are full tonight."

My husband storms out of the coop, letting the door slam shut. A few hens flutter from their roosts in protest, and the throbbing in my head ratchets up a couple levels. When my enemy comes out to investigate, I grab him by one clawed foot and stare into his beady eyes.

"Rooster," I say, "only one of us is leaving here alive."

KarinB. said...

“They’re not meant to be cooped up like this,” Sergeant says. “You’ve got to let them stretch their limbs. Clear their lungs.” She tugs one out of the pit by the chin.

The waif squints toward the suns, claws at the air with grubby fingers. A gurgle escapes chapped lips.

“How you expect any of them to reach full grown if you don’t give them vitamin D? Owners manual says they need it.” Sergeant smacks my forehead.

“Ow,” I says. “Okay. Okay.”

Soon’s she leaves I shoves ‘em back. Ratchet the boulder into place. Human kids are so much work.

kristin reynolds said...

The twins, finally asleep, snore like angels in bed beside her. Their hair, soft as down, glides easily through her fingers. A sudden wind drags through the shutters like a ratchet across a wood floor. Fear closes her eyes like a drug. Livy envisions the old chicken coop; instinctively, she clenches her fists. Her mother used to make Livy feed the chicks until they were full, then claw out their sleepy eyes, and wring their little necks.
“I never loved you, Livy,” the memory of her mother whispers. As Livy wakes up screaming, wringing her angel’s limp necks.

Amy Schaefer said...

I found the claw under six inches of dirt beside a half-dead sagebrush. The sad little thing still had some fur clinging to the back of it. Jolene was digging near the cactus; I slid the claw into my pack. She didn’t need to know yet.

I sat back on my haunches. So, Pratchett lied to me. Mercy knows why I expected any different. Idiot husband.

Jolene gasped. She scooped up another claw, her face white as powdered milk.


She shook her head sharply, eyes full of rage. “We dig. We find him. Then we chop off his claws.”

Ellen Saunders said...


I hadn't expected her in this tiny coop. "Did daddy put the princess out with the dogs?"

Celeston sank her claws into my shoulder. Points of pain burned down my arm to the slipjack I'd used on the door.

"I'll shear you myself," she hissed. "Back up." Jewels glittered in Celeston's fully extended crest. My bundled plumes would never get such finery, but they rose half an arm higher. She would gleefully mutilate me to rectify that "genetic mistake."

I rammed my slipjack under her talon, ratcheted it off. She lunged as I ran for the gate.

Calorie Bombshell said...

The full metal jackets tumbled off the dining room table as Fat Boy broke down the door. Too bad my
9mm was in the bedroom. Said the Man wanted to see me. Something about an unfinished job. Payback. Figured I’d be gone awhile so I dumped two scoopfuls in the cat’s dish.

“The Man knows I don’t do blades,” I said. “Never even used one.”

“Don’t matter. A job is a job.”

“What’s he gonna do?”

“Declaw you,” he said matter-of-factly.

“With a .38?” I felt its muzzle against my back.

“No, something more personal,” he chuckled. “Rhymes with ratchet.”

Hannah Seigworth said...

"R-A-T-C-H-E-T. Ooh, boy, that's a full-fledged piece of vocabulary if I ever seen one! All seven tiles. That's 74 points for me, Coop, and I'm out! Whatchu got left, eh? Count 'em up!"

I watch my grandmother from the doorway. She is leaning over the table, her emaciated back crooked, propping up the sweater that hangs from her spine. Claw-like fingers pluck Scrabble tiles from her opponent's wooden tile holder.

Place them one at a time on the table.

Coop. My grandfather. He was killed on his beat forty-five years ago.

NotJana said...

Live life to the fullest, they say. Don't spend it cooped up inside.

Thing is, I loved my life. Loved sitting at the back, in the dark, watching my family grow faster than my midriff.

Now they are gone.

My home was first.

Pulled out of the darkness, lifted into the air, discarded on a high perch. I clung onto my home, my ratchet strap, with imaginary claws.

Watched our protector, The Bed, be dismantled. For one glorious moment I saw my entire city, my people, laid out below me.

Then the tornado came.

And sucked them all up.

Danny Konczynski said...

Before I flew the coop, I had one last piece of business to finish. I needed to send a message they would never forget. I walked into the back of the bar and saw him sitting there; the smug look on his face doing nothing but help ratchet up my anger another level. I waited until he stood and turned. Before anyone could react to what was happening, I took a full swing with the hammer and slammed the claw into his back. As he turned I smiled and took a slice of his pizza before bolting out the door.

jannelle dear said...

Mutha Clucker McCall, the world’s only secret agent chicken, was in some deep shit. At least it wasn’t her own.

“Mutha Clucker, give us back the egg.”


“You speak chicken?”

“I speak the language of love. Those claws, that breast? I must have some of that white meat. Leave the coop.”


“That’s a chicken for God’s sake.”


“I’ll get the declawer.”

“Don’t make me go Full Metal Jacket.”

Mutha Clucker broke free from her binds. A shot rang out.

“Bok Bok Brawkk-awwwwwwwwk!”

“A fine ratchet mess unrequited love is.”

“Sick chicken fucker, deserved it.”

Scott G said...

I could claw my way out.

I could bend my knees and kick with my feet to splinter the gnarled wood and crawl out the end.

I could put my hands above my head, arch my back and ratchet up all the strength left inside me to pop the nails out and send the lid flying.

But there is no escape.

For I know full well why I continue to lie here, cooped up for eternity with my hands folded together, fingers intertwined, wishing I could go back to the split second before I ended up in this god-forsaken place.

MJ O'Neill said...

The fiery sun glinted on the rippling waves where she entered.

The crisp, undulations of her sleek form through the water betrayed the message her conservative choice of swimsuit sought to deliver. Annoyed at the ratcheting desire clawing at him, he tossed back his full, sweating glass of Jim Beam.

“If you keep staring at me like that I’m going to cut your eyes out while you sleep,” she said, pulling herself out of the water.

As the bourbon’s burn washed over him, he realized her cooperation in the inevitable seduction, while preferable, was no longer required.

ami said...

Like a balloon whipping around the room, my words spray all over, fast. I want to take them back. Better yet, the full month of December, cold and lonely even in his arms.

His eyes get owl like and one hand spreads into a claw.

But he says nothing.

“I’m not keepin’ it.” I whisper.

His stare hits me harder than the ratchet Dad threw after I spilled my news in the practice run.

I rub the knobby bruise at my calf.

“Aint nobody gonna coop me up in this bullshit town. I’m leaving today.”

Instead of flinching, I run.

Sarah said...

“Nature, red in tooth and claw,” I hummed, kicking my insane chickens away from my ankles. Strictly for their own good - they couldn’t peck their way through my steel-reinforced galoshes, but the full weight of a boot on a bird’s back would do some serious damage. And that would be a shame, after all the work I’d put into the clockwork and weapons systems.

After ratcheting each bird up to full power, I stepped out of the coop and looked down at the quiet village below. “Soon,” I whispered, and laughed merrily.

JD Paradise said...

My claws ratcheted, fists in memory.

"Coop." Her back to me, her shoulders hunched. "Ellis. It isn't about the girl."

"You're full of shit."

"It could have happened to anyone."

"It happened to me."

When she turned, tears silvered her porcelain cheeks, chrome gleaming beneath the skin. "They say you're afraid to touch me now."

"They're wrong," I lied.

"Still. They're pulling the plug."

"How long do we have?"

"Soon now."

I had no heart for this. But the need in her . . .

I opened a claw. Stroked her face. Microsensors shuttled and clicked.

The wounds trailed silver. Despite my care.

LynnRodz said...

My parents kept me cooped up in this hellhole for years. The only way to claw myself out, they said, was to get a full scholarship to an Ivy League school. So, I did what I was told and they can't say I didn't try. Then I discovered a way to make a lot of money and I could be out of here in a few years. Now I spend most of my time on my back and sometimes the requests are ratchet. But, hey, a girl's gotta' eat.

Deborah Herd said...

Deborah Herd wrote...

The starling sat on the telegraph wire six feet above the coop and watched as Hedley, dressed in his Sunday khaki pants and flak jacket, opened the passenger door to the truck. He placed the box containing the ratchet, wire, screws and hammer on the seat. Its swoop was silent but Hedley felt the bird’s wing brush the back of his hair in the split second before the claws dug into his neck. The full force of the talons severed the carotid artery instantly and he slumped to the icy ground. The bird sat on the coop, eyeing the hinge.

furrykef said...

I looked down at the body. I was scared at what I had done -- at what I'd been capable of doing. Ratchets weren't meant to be used that way. But he'd kept me cooped up in that room too long, clawed at me one time too many. I'd figured I'd pay him back in kind. Still, as I looked in the mirror, I could only see a murderer staring back at me.

But the next day all the world would see as I stepped onto the field was just another fullback.

richardh said...

"Rachel, what are you doing?" the Fat man said.
"Consider her coopted," I said pushing her fully into the room, the gun now pointing at him.
"A robbery?" he scoffed.
"Claw back," I corrected. "You took Their cash, but did not deliver. Open!" I nodded at the safe.
He shrugged. I pointed the gun at the girl.
"Shoot her and alert security."
"Bastard!" she screamed, pulled the painting off the wall, breaking the ratchet, spun the combination, and opened the safe. She threw plastic packed bills on the table.
"Repayment in full," I agreed.
We escaped - together - through the window.

Rick Anderson said...

Now the whole thing’s strictly tourist. Back when it started, we filed claws razor-sharp and ratcheted-up birds with chili pepper and cocaine. Didn’t have fancy hen houses back then, either. Our coops were flat bed trucks full of cages. Called it death row. Lost some birds to the sun—people too, but the sun didn’t kill them. Hell, guns and drugs and booze were everywhere. Surprised more didn’t die.

Won’t find any of that now. God damned shame if you ask me. God damned shame.

W. Scott Bowlin said...

Coop sat in the mud and wiped at the blood on his leg. He had been in worse situations, and was fully aware that this was survivable. He took off his belt and wrapped it around his thigh above the broken flesh where bone had escaped. He ratcheted it down, ignoring the pain, ignoring the lifeless woman face down in the runoff, ignoring the constant rain and the idea that they were still chasing him somewhere up there. He secured the belt and began the painful crawl back up the other side, away from pursuit, away from death.

William Coleman said...

“Who are you?” the man screamed in my face.

I am James Lanham, undercover detective, but I wasn’t going to tell him. Tony Vanzetti was the target of my investigation. His breath smelled like a chicken coop, and I told him so.

The backhand was swift. He smiled. I suggested he see a dentist for a full workup.

“You think you’re a funny man?” Tony dug his claws into my still stinging cheek. “Let’s ratchet things up.”

He raised a knife. I strained against my bindings then smiled.

“What?” Tony asked.

“Finally have you,” I said, “right where I want.”