MIF Contest 1 Starter



Our first entry is from ONCE UPON A CRIME, a collection of short crime stories by various prominent mystery authors. The short stories all center around a fairy tale motif, taking classic fairy tales from Anderson and Grimm and reimagining them as crime stories. It’s a funny little book. Publisher Berkley, Copyright 1998 Trade edition.

From the short story OLD SULTAN by Mat Coward, page 88 (this is actually more than the official paragraph, but because Coward was writing with only single sentence paras, I combined a few to make a nice starter chunk).

No one had ever called Sultan a nice guy. He didn’t even think of himself– on those very rare occasions when he thought about himself at all– as a nice guy. But loyal, yes. He thought of himself as loyal, and he thought that others thought of him that way, too. You din’t have to be nice to do his job, was the way Sultan looked at it, but you DID have to be loyal

Have at it! I’ll be posting results here next Friday.

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8 responses to “MIF Contest 1 Starter

  1. Sulatn had to admit though he was loyal. He prided himself on that, after all he had been called loyal by no less a person than the center of his live, the hub of his existance. Wanda Whippenwhap who would pat the top of his head “Good Boy! Good Boy!” even as he strained at his leash to tear apart any who even threatened the delectable vision of loveliness. Yes he was very loyal, getting her slippers, fetching her the evening paper and awaiting the extravagant pleasure os she swatted him in the nose with it….

  2. Il est regrettable que l’état de nos finances ne nous permette pas d’avoir une voiture à notre taille; car, par crainte de démolir notre monture, nous avons fait tout le chemin à pied, traînant notre cheval par la bride. Mais quand nous serons de retour en Pologne, nous imaginerons, au moyen de notre science en physique et aidé des lumières de nos conseillers, une voiture à vent pour transporter toute l’armée.

  3. Mister Nizz

    It took a while for me to recognize the reference above, but the “Jarry” tag was a dead giveaway. The quote above is a lift from UBU ROI, by French Absurdist Alfred Jarry. Nice one. It has little to do with the little sequence in front of it, but that’s okay I guess. Here’s what Babelfish made of it:

    It is regrettable that the state of our finances does not allow us to have a car with our size; because, by fear to demolish our mounting, we made all the way with foot, trailing our horse by the support. But when we are back in Poland, we will imagine, by means of our science in physics and helped of the lights of our advisers, a car with wind to transport all the army.

    How you link the two is beyond me.

  4. “Hmmm” Sultan thought as he quickly scried the above passage from the newspaper that had just delivered a sublime and intoxicating swat on his nose as it fell to the floor. “I realize I’m new to this human thing, I haven’t even gotten my human name down yet– can’t get used to people calling me Mel Amute but this means something– this means something.” His mind raced as he tried to fit together the patterns in this strange new existence he inhabited. Meanwhile Wanda was giggling. “Oh Mel, I’m sorry” It’s just that you took me unawares with that comment! I’m sorry, but I just — well reacted.” Mel, or Sultan, as you wish, stumbled up with an answer. “Oh not to worry I guess I was acting like an old dog and had forgotten my manners. “Forgotten them! He thought I don’t even know what they are!” This human thing was hard. Had he known how hard it was going to be he wouldn’t have taken the assignment the Great Dane had given him, to go back, in human form, and save his former human mistress from dire danger. But the spies who see into the future (The Peeking-geez!) had said it was in the offing- so off he went.

  5. To walt from Otto

    The problem with this is that as time marches on, you have to go longer and longer down the list to get to this section—

    puts a damper on the work.

  6. Akbar the Cruel

    Upon one of those hot, sultry summer afternoons that so often
    prevail about the banks of the Bosphorus, the sun was fast sinking
    towards its western course, and gilding as it went, the golden
    crescents of a thousand minarets, now dancing with fairy feet over
    the rippling waters of Marmora, now dallying with the spray of the
    oarsmen’s blades, as they pulled the gilded caique of some rich old
    Mussulman up the tide of the Golden Horn. The soft and dainty
    scented air came in light zephyrs off the shore of Asia to play upon
    the European coast, and altogether it was a dreamy, siesta-like hour
    hat reigned in the Turkish capital.

    Let the reader come with us at this time into the circular area that
    forms the slave market of Constantinople. The bazaar is well filled;
    here are Egyptians, Bulgarians, Persians, and even Africans; but we
    will pass them by and cross to the main stand, where are exposed for
    sale some score of Georgians and Circassians. They are all chosen
    for their beauty of person, and present a scene of more than usual
    interest, awaiting the fate that the future may send them in a kind
    or heartless master; and knowing how much of their future peace
    depends upon this chance, they watch each new comer with almost
    painful interest as he moves about the area.

    A careless crowd thronged the place, lounging about in little knots
    here and there, while one lot of slave merchants, with their broad
    but graceful turbans, were sitting round a brass vessel of coals,
    smoking or making their coffee, and discussing the matters
    pertaining to their trade. Some came there solely to smoke their
    opium-drugged pipes, and some to purchase, if a good bargain should
    offer and a beauty be sold cheap. Here were sprightly Greeks, sage
    Jews, and moody Armenians, but all outnumbered by the sedate old
    Turks, with beards sweeping their very breasts. It was a motley
    crowd that thronged the slave market.

    Now and then there burst forth the ringing sound of laughter front
    an enclosed division of the place where were confined a whole bevy
    of Nubian damsels, flat-nostriled and curly-headed, but as slight
    and fine-limbed as blocks of polished ebony. They were lying
    negligently about, in postures that would have taken a painter’s
    eye, but we have naught to do with then at this time.

    The females that were now offered for sale were principally of the
    fair and rosy-cheeked Circassian race, exposed to the curious eve of
    the throng only so far as delicacy would sanction, yet leaving
    enough visible to develope charms that fired the spirits of the
    Turkish crowd; and the bids ran high on this sale of humanity, until
    at last a beautiful creature, with a form of ravishing loveliness,
    large and lustrous eyes, and every belonging that might go to make
    up a Venus, was led forth to the auctioneer’s stand. She was young
    and surpassingly handsome, while her hearing evinced a degree of
    modesty that challenged their highest admiration.

  7. With desperation rising in her stomach, and her demeanor of cool bravado and icy aloofness crumbling before her very eyes, Wanda saw the fate worse than the fate worse than death awaiting her as she was to be dragged down the path of debauchery and slavery. As in a prayer her lips trembled and she breated out a last worried plea, perfectly inaudable to the disgusting, smelly, pickle-nosed liberlipped, goat faced deformed denizens in front of her who were ogling her with their bulding eyes and from their slavering lips the insane babble of the eternal barbaric tongue which they spoke. A calloused and bony hand grabbed the sheer shift that she wore and tore it off. The crowd was silenced, then the insane cakcling of the crones as they readied the branding irons and knives to perform the barbaric circumcisions this accursed people considered necessary to feminine beauty. Just as she was going to succumb to terror she heard an odd sound, the harsh metallic clang of metal on metal — of the slithering serpentine hissing of something being driven home. She looked up even as her hands darted to cover her nakedness.

    There he was, standing on the tailboard of the truck, the tailboard that just dropped, and inside the truck she saw the dim outlines of something– something small, and brown, and it had a tripod.

    The man was talk and handsome, in a pair of tight-fitting jodhpurs and tall jackboots, a sam browne belt holding a holstered pistol. The man wielded a Russian PPSH and he had a full shock of red hair shot here and there with drey. His lips curled bak in a snarl and he pointed the sub-machine gun at the crones just approaching with their instruments of torture-

    “Women and Children First!” he bellowe and cut them down, — fairly cut them in half with a burst from the gun. Then the steady rhythimic thump of the heavy maxim took up its cadence, underpinning the stacco trilling of the sub-machine gun. “Hey Hey!! Habla-Habla this you towel-headed raggedy assed camel-humping bastards!” he roared as he played the gun with amazing accuracy. In a moment the square was reduced from its lazy, sumptuous, decadant eastern splendor to an arena of blood and terror as people sought to flee by any means, but could not flee the murderous scythe of death.

    There was silence.

    All that was heard was here and there a low moaning or a sobbing in the shattered courtyard. All that broke it was the tinkling business like sounds as Mel Amute derisively tossed off the spent drum magazine and fitted a new one, and his assistant Sy opened a new belt.

    He jumped down from the truck and strode forward to the low platform on which Wanda stood transfixed. He averted his eyes as he gathered up a silk robe whose former owner had thrown off to allow him to flee (unsuccessfully) easier and handed to Wanda. She wrapped it around herself, covering her nakedness. He spoke softly, tenderly, “Come Maam, we’re ready to take you away from here.” She nodded, still too shaken to speak. He helped her down and held her arm as they crossed the courtyard. Half way across a young boy rolled over, his chest ripped open by a maxim bullet. “Please Effendi, please– my sister–” He said, pointing to a prostrate body below him.” Please help my sister” he begged his breath gasping and rasping.” Mel looked at him and offhandedly sprayed it with slugs. The boy, a look of horror and shock turned up his face to stare at Mel. Mel snarled at him “Hey kid, take a message to Allah for me– Tell him to Go to Hell!” and he emptied the drum into the boys face.

    They got to the truck and Mel helped Wanda in. Sy had already wedged his husky form into a forward position. He opened the door of the cabin and let her arrange herself in the passengers seat. He went around and got into the drivers seat. The shock had just about worn off her and she, with trembling voice muttered”I- I guess I should say thank you…” He smiled and said “Nahh, just a normal day for an old workin dog like me.

    Mel hit the gas and the truck sped off down the road, with Sy taking pot shots with the Maxim at interesting targets as they left the city.

  8. With desperation rising in her stomach, and her demeanor of cool bravado and icy aloofness crumbling before her very eyes, Wanda saw the fate worse than the fate worse than death awaiting her as she was to be dragged down the path of debauchery and slavery. As in a prayer her lips trembled and she breated out a last worried plea, perfectly inaudable to the disgusting, smelly, pickle-nosed liberlipped, goat faced deformed denizens in front of her who were ogling her with their bulding eyes and from their slavering lips the insane babble of the eternal barbaric tongue which they spoke. A calloused and bony hand grabbed the sheer shift that she wore and tore it off. The crowd was silenced, then the insane cakcling of the crones as they readied the branding irons and knives to perform the barbaric circumcisions this accursed people considered necessary to feminine beauty. Just as she was going to succumb to terror she heard an odd sound, the harsh metallic clang of metal on metal — of the slithering serpentine hissing of something being driven home. She looked up even as her hands darted to cover her nakedness.

    There he was, standing on the tailboard of the truck, the tailboard that just dropped, and inside the truck she saw the dim outlines of something– something small, and brown, and it had a tripod.

    The man was talk and handsome, in a pair of tight-fitting jodhpurs and tall jackboots, a sam browne belt holding a holstered pistol. The man wielded a Russian PPSH and he had a full shock of red hair shot here and there with drey. His lips curled bak in a snarl and he pointed the sub-machine gun at the crones just approaching with their instruments of torture-

    “Women and Children First!” he bellowe and cut them down, — fairly cut them in half with a burst from the gun. Then the steady rhythimic thump of the heavy maxim took up its cadence, underpinning the stacco trilling of the sub-machine gun. “Hey Hey!! Habla-Habla this you towel-headed raggedy assed camel-humping bastards!” he roared as he played the gun with amazing accuracy. In a moment the square was reduced from its lazy, sumptuous, decadant eastern splendor to an arena of blood and terror as people sought to flee by any means, but could not flee the murderous scythe of death.

    There was silence.

    All that was heard was here and there a low moaning or a sobbing in the shattered courtyard. All that broke it was the tinkling business like sounds as Mel Amute derisively tossed off the spent drum magazine and fitted a new one, and his assistant Sy opened a new belt.

    He jumped down from the truck and strode forward to the low platform on which Wanda stood transfixed. He averted his eyes as he gathered up a silk robe whose former owner had thrown off to allow him to flee (unsuccessfully) easier and handed to Wanda. She wrapped it around herself, covering her nakedness. He spoke softly, tenderly, “Come Maam, we’re ready to take you away from here.” She nodded, still too shaken to speak. He helped her down and held her arm as they crossed the courtyard. Half way across a young boy rolled over, his chest ripped open by a maxim bullet. “Please Effendi, please– my sister–” He said, pointing to a prostrate body below him.” Please help my sister” he begged his breath gasping and rasping.” Mel looked at him and offhandedly sprayed it with slugs. The boy, a look of horror and shock turned up his face to stare at Mel. Mel snarled at him “Hey kid, take a message to Allah for me– Tell him to Go to Hell!” and he emptied the drum into the boys face.

    They got to the truck and Mel helped Wanda in. Sy had already wedged his husky form into a forward position. He opened the door of the cabin and let her arrange herself in the passengers seat. He went around and got into the drivers seat. The shock had just about worn off her and she, with trembling voice muttered”I- I guess I should say thank you…” He smiled and said “Nahh, just a normal day for an old workin dog like me.

    Mel hit the gas and the truck sped off down the road, with Sy taking pot shots with the Maxim at interesting targets as they left the city.