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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 - 05:19 am:   

If you’re into it, look at the sentence below and write a few follow-up sentences, developing a mood and a character. Then tell me a little about yourself: gender, country of birth, relative age (under thirty, middle-aged, ancient of days), and occupation. The material that you develop is not for my use—anything you develop is your intellectual property, except the first sentence; that is my intellectual property. This is a not a writing contest, but rather part of a test that I’m developing as an element of story entitled “Champagne,” and I’m interested in gathering a range of responses to determine if the sentence achieves the desired result. The winner will be chosen on a purely arbitrary basis; good writing is not a criteria, but is always welcome. You may post your response or email it to me at:

lucius4@earthlink.net

The winner will receive a modest prize, a copy of the special Readercon trade paper edition of my story collection, Dagger Key, limited to 50 copies, which has the virtue of being printed without either story notes or intro, a $25 value that one day may be worth 26 or 27 dollars…or less. Unfortunately I won't be able to mail the prize to the winner until Aug. 17, when I return from Europe; but I will mail it if you provide address.

Now here’s the sentence:

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet he (she) dreamed about it constantly.
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Alan frackelton
Posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 - 12:41 pm:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet she dreamed about it constantly.

She might have been more concerned - more afraid of - the dreams were she actually murdering people, but without exception every dream-death she was somehow responsible for was the result of an accident. The blond kid (boy? girl? it happened too quickly to tell) smashed thirty feet into the air after running out in front of Champagne’s dream VW; the old man dressed in faded, moth-eaten tweed choking to death on a fish bone because Champagne couldn’t reach him in time to administer the Heimlich; the honeymooning couple who plummeted to their deaths when the cable car Champagne was operating broke free of faulty cabling, cabling somebody else should have checked...There were dozens of others, hundreds, too many to count. In fact, if there had ever been a time when her dreams were not filled with the bloody, broken, burning corpses of her unfortunate victims, Champagne could no longer remember it.

Male
UK
Early 30s
Full-time carer/sometime writer.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 - 01:26 pm:   

thanks, alan...
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Bob_kruger
Posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 - 02:29 pm:   

In some dreams, she'd serve a coup de grace to a loved one or friend, a quick stab, a gunshot to the head, and with extreme regret. She'd awaken distressed, sometimes even crying, while her husband's snores seemed to express his disinterest. In others, she'd kill a wicked, faceless stranger -- rapist, child molester, CIA torturer -- having suddenly tapped a supernatural vein of strength and resolve in herself. She'd revel in the act as she crushed a spine with her fine-boned, steely hand or grind a xiphoid process into resisting heart muscle, the villain spasming helpless in her grip. She knew the dreams betrayed her ambivalence about having to change. "Every change is a crime against the past," her therapist would say. But she'd held out so long. How big a crime would it now take?

Male
WA State
Late 30s
Editor, Programmer
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jk
Posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 - 03:30 pm:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet she dreamed about it constantly.
It was the rat bastard's favorite drink. He'd break it out on special occasions. Then he'd break a few ribs, or give her a nice purple shiner. How simple it would be to get ahold of some cyanide. She would have to make sure the needle was long enough to make it through the cork though. He'd never notice the little hole. He'd be too giddy. Celebration time. Only she'd be the one celebrating this time, doing a little dance over his corpse. In her dreams, of course.

Male
USA
Mid 30's
wage slave
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Huw
Posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 - 03:42 pm:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet she dreamed about it constantly.

Last night had been no exception. She'd dreamt she was at a high-school reunion, an event she'd always fervently hated, and made a point of avoiding whenever possible. She was in the middle of a great, dimly lit hall. The people in attendance were, she soon realized, not her old classmates, but rather a motley collection of characters she'd encountered throughout her life, along with some that seemed vaguely familiar, and whom she suspected she'd read about or seen in the movies.

Seated at the nearest table, which seemed impossibly long and low, she'd found her first ex-husband, Geoff, deep in hushed conversation with a thin, austere-looking woman dressed in various shades of grey who wouldn't have looked out of place in one of the old black-and-white films she'd loved so much in her youth, before she'd met Geoff, who'd insisted such things were childish and a waste of time; this interest, like so many others she'd once pursued with a childlike passion, had waned and eventually been stifled altogether after she'd settled down with Geoff, she recalled.

As Champagne approached the end of the table, which now seemed to have grown even longer, the woman looked up at her and for a moment their eyes met. The eyes were wide and wild and, it seemed to Champagne, filled with a kind of desperate entreatment, but as Champagne opened her mouth to speak the woman's head snapped back into position, puppet-like. As she stood contemplating the significance of the woman's behaviour, Champagne became aware of a buzzing sound that seemed to issue from somewhere deep within the hall, an insect-like drone that filled her with a sense of implacable dread. She'd heard this sound before, and as it built in intensity she suddenly remembered what it signified, what she must do. She raised the straight razor that had appeared, not to her surprise, in her hand, stepped forward to the table, and brought it down in a deep, wide sweeping arc across her ex-husband's throat. He stared at her without expression as she continued slashing, the sweeps becoming wilder and less precise as fury overcame her. Something large and winged flitted against her face but she made no attempt to dismiss it; it settled in her hair and continued its susurrations. She was vaguely aware that the woman had left the table, the hall was now empty, and that the sound of insects had become almost deafening.

She'd awoken covered in sweat, arms flailing spasmodically and with the sound of countless insects buzzing in her head. It was not until she'd got up and filled her morning with the usual mundane tasks that she felt calm enough to sit down and think about the dream, and what the next night might bring.

Male
UK
Early 40s
Own business/occasional translating
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 - 05:23 pm:   

Thanks, Bob, JK, HUW....
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 - 10:55 pm:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet he dreamed about it constantly. Exploding corks. Thrusting bubbling bottles between swollen lips. Drowning others in its sweet effervescence. Yes, he was a homicidal maniac—but first and foremost he was a bon vivant of the highest order whose weapons consisted of deadly caviar and poisoned pâté de foie gras.

Male
USA
36
Writer/teacher
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Sunday, June 03, 2007 - 05:06 am:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet he dreamed about it constantly. He imagined the entire scene: the insouciant glitterati with their appetites whetted by canapes and jumbo shrimp, their rented tuxedos still free of stains, the women trying not to look clumsy in their high heels and new dresses, the whole room buzzing like that first addicting cocaine buzz. Smith even imagined the snatches of conversation he'd overhear as he walked among the crowd: "Ballard never did it better . . .", "I read is first few stories, but never thought he had _this_ in him," "Well, yeah, you can get away with anything if you write a story like _that." And then the great moment: the champagne glasses passed around, the toast led by the old literary lion, "To your first Hugo!", then the liquor, sipped or knocked back as he, in his t-shirt and jeans, watches without glee, without pain, just observing---_just like a writer_--- as the crowd begins to explode like seagulls fed Alka-Seltzer.

Yeah, he dreamed about it constantly.

At fifteen, the whole world lay ahead of him.

---Male
US
40
Ediot
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, June 03, 2007 - 07:01 am:   

Thanks, Brendan...

Sounds like autobiography, Gordon. Do seagulls really explode when fed Alka Selzer.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Sunday, June 03, 2007 - 07:27 am:   

That's what I've heard, Lucius. I've never tried it myself. In high school, Mark Huertes put an M-80 in a piece of bread and tossed it up to a seagull. I'm not sure if that was what got him suspended, or if it was the fact that he then put the dismembered seagull head on the fence by the commons.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, June 03, 2007 - 09:25 am:   

That's hilarious. In a gruesome way. Use it in a story.
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Mark Bukovec
Posted on Sunday, June 03, 2007 - 10:00 am:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet he he dreamed about it constantly.

"Do you think you're a hard man?" Vermelho had asked him.

Champagne didn't answer. He turned the glass in his hand.

That night Vermelho's deliveryman Joco paid him a visit. Joco passed the 9mm in a plastic bag from a toy store.

Joco had burns on his palm. He used to wire up shanties in the favela with stolen electricity. Joco, too, was moving up in the world.

Champagne asked him if he wanted to play Nintendo, but Joco had other errands.

Champagne sat in a windowless room. He snapped the clip into the pistol.

Champagne: light of color, always up for a party, high-class.

He dreamt of the business at hand: not the money, not the girls.

Male
USA
39
Stay-at-home dad
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Sunday, June 03, 2007 - 11:05 am:   

I'd recently read some of John Varley's Eight World sequence and immediately thought of 'Champagne' as a name rather than the drink.

I've already e-mailed this one in but what the hell...

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet he (she) dreamed about it constantly.

Every night she dreamed of walking through crowds of shadows lining a narrow, twisted street, the only sound the tortured rasp of her breath. Passing through a marble arch crowned with skulls, she came into a vast cobblestoned square. Thousands of masked women dressed in white turned as one to see her enter the sun-drenched plaza, and a path opened to the center of the square where there was a stone ziggurat, on top of which was her mace and the first of the morning's condemned.

47 year old Canadian male, electrical engineer.
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 03:12 am:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet she dreamed about it constantly.

Mostly, it was because of the name. She blamed her parents who, in addition to this travesty of parental malfunction, painted her room champagne pink every year until she was twelve and took to the walls with a permenant marker. Twice. Her parents, both white, both American born, were both caught somewhere between greenie slash yuppy moral codes with a lifestyle that supported the last more than the first, and lived on money they had never earned. Their sole claim to fame were a series of below b-grade films featuring a lot of nudity that--and fuck she hated them for this--they showed her when she was ten, so it was out in the open. Like she told her therapist, Seeing Mom and Dad's cunt and cock wasn't at all liberating. The therapist came after her revolt against the pink walls. A big, hairy man in suits one size too small, he was her giant bear to confide in. She didn't even mind that he talked back; after all, what teenager wasn't egotistical enough to want a fucking therapist all to herself twice a week? Friends you could pay for, she explained it once, to herself.

male.
thirty.
teacher/writer/internationalmanofmystery
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 07:33 am:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet she dreamed about it constantly.

She would dream of it killing in the most varied ways: exploding corks violating vulnerable eye sockets, pyramids of magnum bottles collapsing on the heads of unsuspecting dowagers, unexpectedly durable bottles knocking holes in the hulls of freshly-christened, freshly-doomed Cote d’Azur yachts. Last night’s feverdream was among her most vivid. She was perched, like a noisy alley cat on a picket fence, along the rim of a colossal champagne fountain that was sucking down into its depths an army of lost souls. Dissipated French cabaret crooners tangled in lengths of microphone; entire hip-hop posses still clutching glasses of gratis Cristal; new brides lost in rivulets of white satin; freckled starlets, their robin’s-egg eyes wide with surprise and terror; all swirled in the sweet, carbonated Charybdis. And above the tumult, Loretta stood, holding in her clammy hand the stopper from the fountain’s drain.

It was funny, she thought, how the mind of an alcoholic’s child worked.

Male
United States
45
Attorney
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 09:38 am:   

Thanks, guys.
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Bronwyn Elko
Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 04:36 pm:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet she dreamed about it constantly. Lopping heads was a recurrent theme, bathing in hot blood while sipping a glass of her bubbly namesake. Using a scapel to slowly picker the victim's flesh, her lips lingering over the silky smooth edges of each tender cut. Slicing her own fleshy biceps ultra-thin, the rosy fillets transparent with firelight. Perfect for sushi.

She imagined tonight's dream would culminate in suicide. Each successive vision had yielded richer sadisms toward her own destruction. Each mangled corpse was a koan comprised for her enlightenment.

Female
USA
53
Retired astrologer, scribbler
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 04, 2007 - 04:53 pm:   

thanks bronwin
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Monday, June 18, 2007 - 06:08 pm:   

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet he dreamed about it constantly.

The dream always came after midnight, always after Mary's damn cuckoo clock had at last squawked twelves times in a row and he could sleep for at least a few hours, the back of his neck finally relaxing until three O'Clock when the peeping of one and two O'Clock turned back to full-fledged squawking through sheer repetition.

Mary said that she would rather die before letting anything happing to her great grandmother's cuckoo clock. Something was going to happen to great grandmother's cuckoo clock. Jasper loved Mary with all his heart. Mary deserved the champagne dream. The cuckoo clock on the other hand only deserved the baseball bat dream.

"Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!" squawked the cuckoo clock.

Byron Bailey
Age 36
Indiana (rumored to be part of USA but that has never been confirmed as far as I know).
Unemployed
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Monday, June 18, 2007 - 06:11 pm:   

Male.
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PM
Posted on Monday, June 18, 2007 - 06:33 pm:   

Here's my tongue-in-cheek submission which hopefully will not offend.

Champagne had never killed anyone, yet he dreamed about it constantly.

We're gonna have us a champagne jam
We're gonna have us a champagne jam

Break out the guitars and let's play some blues
Don't want no whiskey, gimme some high-class booze
Some cham-champagne, thank you ma'am

We're gonna have us a champagne jam
We're gonna have us a champagne jam


Apologies to the Atlanta Rhythm Section and everyone else...
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Sean Melican
Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 05:51 pm:   

Then he changed his name to Charlemagne and the rest, as they say, is history.

male
thirty-four
the Garden State, just off exit 7 (really)
science teacher
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 05:59 pm:   

Contest us over and a winner has been declared.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 09:39 am:   

Thank you for providing me the excuse to write some bad prose and have a little fun doing it.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 09:46 am:   

No prob, Byron...

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