2016 NYCM FFC | Round 1-Challenge 1 | ‘Gancanagh’ | Magically enhanced with feedback!

This is my entry for Round #1/Challenge #1 of NYC Midnight’s 2016 Flash Fiction Challenge.

Genre:  Fairy tale

Location: A liquor store

Object: A clipboard

Word Count Limit: 1000

Actual Word Count: 997

Synposis: ‘She stopped for a bottle of wine and ended up finding something unexpected.

He encountered someone with whom he could be himself again, if only briefly.’

 

—–

The bell on the door tinkled merrily as a stunning woman entered, trailing a gust of wind and a clap of thunder. The dormant part of him stirred, awakened by nature’s fury. He took in her wet hair, her flushed cheeks, and he coveted her.

“Evening,” he said.

“Hello,” she replied, turning toward him.

He could feel the other part of himself rising to the surface. He welcomed it.

—–

The liquor store clerk spoke again. “Help you?”

“I’m looking for a bottle of wine,” Alanah said.

“Mostly hard liquor here,” he said in a lilting, accented voice.

He dropped a book on the counter as she approached, and she eyed it where it sat beside an empty clay pipe atop a clipboard. The tattered cover featured two half-naked men in the throes of passion. The clerk appeared to have grown tired of inventory, opting instead to read a trashy romance. She didn’t blame him.

“So, no wine?” Alanah just wanted to get her wine and go home.

The man jerked a thumb. “Wine’s in back.”

She thanked him and turned away. He was rude but sexy as hell with wavy auburn hair that fell to his collar, a strong jaw, sensuous lips, smoky eyes. And his voice, damn. But after two bad breakups in two years, she was happier alone. Besides, based on that book cover, she wasn’t exactly his type.

Alanah felt eyes on her and turned back, but he was watching the storm. She tossed her wet hair over her shoulder and looked for the wine section.

—–

Filled with lust, Gancanagh decided. His nature was to work slowly, seductively, and days could pass before they were destroyed. But it had been so long, he couldn’t resist this woman, this opportunity. He would capture her mind and take her quickly.

He turned off the neon sign and moved silently to the door to lock it. Care was necessary when taking a woman in this world’s modern age. Mustn’t draw attention.

His desire grew to match the frenzy of the tempest raging outside as he focused on his shadowy reflection in the door’s glass. His eyes turned from gray to electric green as the glamour fell away and his true self fully emerged.

—–

“Closing in five,” the clerk called as thunder crashed and the lights flickered.

“Okay!” Alanah hurried to the counter, set down two bottles of Cabernet, and held out her debit card. A hand closed gently around her wrist and she jerked. Her fingers released the card and it clattered on the counter.

Alanah stared at the pale hand around her wrist, more aroused by his touch than she’d ever been. She felt hot all over, despite the chill from the rain and her damp hair. She raised her eyes, taking in the clerk’s black polo shirt with the store logo on one side of his broad chest and a nametag on the other. ‘Jon O’Connor,’ it read.

Her head spun as she met his eyes. They were so green. Greener than emeralds. Greener than grass. Greener than… green.

“Jon,” she breathed, overwhelmed with love and desire. The name on his tag changed suddenly to ‘Gancanagh’ and she trembled. Wait, hadn’t his eyes been gray? What was happening? Primal, irrational fear spiked in her, but when she met his emerald-green eyes again, she was lost.

She forgot the wine. She forgot she wanted to go home. She forgot everything but his touch and those green eyes, those dark lashes, and those lovely lips. She had to have him. She wasn’t happier alone.

“Thank God you’re not gay,” she said.

—–

He released her and walked around the counter. His glamour gone, he stood before her nude, knowing that she wouldn’t resist. None had resisted over the long centuries, not once he’d decided to take them.

“You must agree,” he said as her hands moved over his body. “You must submit willingly.” Her body and her mind were his, but her permission would ease the small conscience that plagued him on occasion.

“I love you,” she told him breathlessly, “I need you!”

“I will be the last,” he warned, lifting her onto the counter as her own clothes disappeared. His excitement built, his façade of humanity crumbled.

“Yes,” she groaned. “Now!”

Thunder boomed, the lights went out, and he entered her roughly, sealing her fate.

—–

Alanah’s breath grew ragged. Her heart raced, blood pounded in her ears, and her head throbbed. She loved this man fiercely. She didn’t know how that was possible, but it was true. She’d die without him. She might die anyway, her love was so intense.

Was this real?

“Say you love me, Jon!”

“I love you all, leannán,” he growled as he thrust into her. “For a moment.”

Her vision darkened, her head throbbing in time with their coupling. “I can’t live without you,” she confessed. Through her pain and pleasure, she saw Jon—Gancanagh—bathed in otherworldly light.

“Wait,” he panted. “Don’t go yet… I’m almost there,” he said before continuing in a language she didn’t understand. Finally, he cried out, clutching her to him as he orgasmed violently.

Alanah screamed as she climaxed, feeling her heart would burst with love as she clung to him.

His ice-cold eyes spoke of great age and held a depth of knowledge that awed her. He was beautiful, he was terrible.

‘You’re not human,’ she realized as the blood vessel burst in her brain.

—–

Gancanagh felt life leave the woman, and her eyes dimmed as he pulled from her. He released her body and donned his clothing as the glamour covered him anew. His true self retreated, sated.

It had been too long since he’d taken a woman and oh, she’d been exquisite. He preferred men because their minds didn’t break at his touch, and they always survived him. Only women died of their love for him; it had always been so, sadly.

Still, how wonderful to be himself again, if only for a brief moment.

—–

end2

Feedback, with my italicized comments embedded:

ETA: This story earned 8 of 15 points for Challenge 1.

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY:

{1669}  The descriptions are clear.…

My reaction: Judge #1669’s dislike of my story is already painfully obvious in light of the difficulty she had finding something positive about it! o.O

{1610}  O, it was so camp in it’s bodice-busting Romance-novel style!

The pacing was relentlessly amplified from the first encounter to the semi-tragic climax.

I really felt their isolation, not just via the weather and the locked door, but also via the tunnel-vision of their lust.…

My reaction: This made me chuckle… ‘bodice-busting Romance-novel’. Also that the judge put an apostrophe in ‘its’. For reallies?

{1648}  Everything! The passion! The characters! The pacing! Perfect story.…

My reaction: I rather think I like Judge #1648. :o)

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK:

{1669}  This story is highly sexist, and seems to present rape as something that is ‘okay’. Because he glamoured her, she wants him, but this no different than using a love potion or a date rape drug–and still constitutes sex without consent. It only makes it worse that she dies from it, and the comment at the end, about how he prefers men to women because they are stronger and don’t die, that implies that a woman’s emotional state is a weakness, which is even more sexist. In addition, the back and forth nature of the narrative is choppy and pulls the reader out of the story.…

My reaction: I don’t know where TF Judge #1669 gets that I’m presenting rape as ‘okay’. It’s an inhuman creature, driven to prey on an unsuspecting woman by the fury of nature and his own darker desires. Obviously, the story features sex without consent, but it’s a goddamn Faerie… he’s not bound by human morals.

And it’s a STORY. About a creature who leaves dead women in his wake, women who die of their love for him. I didn’t make up the myth, I just adapted it for my story.

Also, nowhere did I mention that men are stronger, just that their minds don’t break and they don’t die… and the creature laments the fact that the women do. Plus, I certainly didn’t imply that a woman’s emotional state is a weakness. Methinks this judge allowed her personal feelings to interfere with what should have been a professional assessment of a story. I didn’t pay to have my morals questioned.

Finally, I don’t recall one person who beta read or who provided feedback in the forums to mention that the dual POVs pulled them out of the story. Many people liked it a great deal and some even said that though they normally don’t care for it, and that it shouldn’t work with such a short piece, that it worked well in this instance. Though I can’t bitch too much about this comment because this is the kind of feedback that a judge should be giving in this competition. I’m just annoyed by the rest of it and wish I’d been given a different judge than old #1669.

[Note that when giving feedback back to the judges, I added what I mentioned here about not paying to have my morals questioned and that this was a story about a mythical creature, not a defense of rape. I gave them the sharp side of my tongue, to be sure.]

{1610}  Being FBI (Full-Blooded-Irish) myself, I know of Gancanaghs and their wiley seductive ways, and their association with pipes.

But I’m also aware that these male fairies are known as “love talkers,” and that skill is sorely lacking here.  Because he cuts to the chase with no sweet-talking, your player comes across as likely a gay fairy with contempt for women who enjoys his power-trips over them: could be better.…

My reaction: Obviously, I altered the nature of the creature as a true ‘seduction’ would take a hell of a lot longer than 1000 words. *shrug*

I’m boggled at the ‘contempt’ and ‘power-trips’ comments… Did you guys get that from what I wrote?

If so, it certainly wasn’t meant to be that way. I was going for an obviously magical, inhuman creature whose nature is to prey on women, and who avoids women because he kills them and he regrets it. No contempt or power-trips at all, else he wouldn’t bother satisfying his needs with men… who he does not kill.

{1648}  Although this isn’t written in the style and pattern of a standard fairy tale, it is sooooooo good and it includes a fairy character doing what fairy characters do! The problem might be the eroticism. I like that eroticism is explored and studied…but in the future,  perhaps it’s safer to explore innocence..because innocence is lovely as well and many people expect fairytales to be fit for children. Anyway, great story.…

My reaction: Ah, #1648… my favorite judge, seems like this one had to dig for something to criticize. :o)

Though I appreciate the suggestion to go ‘lighter’… perhaps my assignment tonight will score better.

 

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