The Rot

Friday Fictioneers Madison Woods

image    Madison Woods

In the end, destroying all traces was simple.

Spores introduced at midnight erupted with milky white tendrils and swiftly penetrated the ancient timbers.

By dawn, their sickly flowers swelled to produce bulbous fruit the colour of angry midsummer roses. And in the midday sun, those fruits burst, disgorging a sickly yellow fluid ripe with seed, and rank with the sweat of decay.

This in turn attracted the little things. Those creatures which burrow and bite and chew, thriving on the rot of life.  Nature’s housekeepers.

The first cracks appeared late afternoon.

By dusk, their house was gone.



I would love critique on any and all stories, so feel free to comment.


26 thoughts on “The Rot

    • Thank you Sandra, it’s my first time at the Madison Woods prompt, and I’ve had a lot of fun looking at the other entries. I shall pop across and look at yours now.

  1. “… disgorging a sickly yellow fluid ripe with seed, and rank with the sweat of decay” — wow! I think, on a word-by-word basis, this may be the best I’ve read so far this week. It also reminded me a little of the fungi that takes over ants before sprouting (grossly) from their heads. Great job!
    Brian (disgorging a sickly yellow fluid ripe with seed, and rank with the sweat of decay.)

  2. Hi Trudy,
    Great story. I agree with a previous poster that this is the best I’ve read. Stephen King needs to write like this again. This was a difficult prompt — great job.
    Also, thanks for mentioning Madison’s blog.

    • Thanks Mike, that’s a wonderful compliment. I guess all those years of devouring horror must have left its mark, that’s all I could think of when I saw the prompt. Not sure how it’s going to serve me in my quest to write a children’s book though!

    • Hi, and thanks for stopping by. I really liked your story about the brothers and the road trip, it hinted at so much more. My first foray into the Friday Fictioneers has been inspiring – so many different minds coming up with so many different interpretations of that yucky photo!

  3. Hi Trudy, I didn’t see anything at all to criticize! Very nice story and I liked the way it led us crumb by decaying crumb to the end. Nice imagery. Glad you’ve joined us!

    • Thank you Madison, I’ve had a great time looking at all these stories – so many ways to use 100 words to describe that strange picture

  4. Hi Trudy, I really liked your story – and I wasn’t expecting the last line – that was inspired! I know that you’re here to get critiques so I’ll give you my thoughts. This is really taking it apart, so please take it in the constructive spirit it is intended. Ignore anything and everything, and please feel free to do the same back to me. And for anyone else who reads this – Trudy and I have discussed constructive criticism, so I’m trying to be helpful, not mean!
    I thought the first line worked really well. I liked how it was the first line, but you started with ‘In the end’. I also thought it helped set up that this wasn’t any old fungus – it seemed to have a plan, an intention.
    The second sentence doesn’t have a subject – the person or thing introducing the spores. If you’re trying to have an anonymous protagonist that works, but it also has a way of distancing the reader from the action. There are also quite a few adjectives here – four in a short sentence – which can sometimes stop the reader from imagining the story for themselves. Having said that, it’s great imagery and you’ve given us a lot of information in a very short line.
    In the third paragraph you’ve got sickly twice. I think repetition can work, but it is often better when the words are closer together because then it is clear that it’s deliberate. I love the sense of time passing, that you pick up on here – you’ve got midnight, dawn, late afternoon and dusk – really well written.
    I’m not sure about ‘angry midsummer roses’ – as a reader, I find that hard to visualise. And again a lot of adjectives in this paragraph (9 I think), I try to avoid two together – but that’s a personal thing. Also ‘sickly’ suggests sweet – has the narrator tasted it! But, having said that, ‘disgorging a sickly yellow fluid ripe with seed, and rank with the sweat of decay’ is beautiful (is that the right adjective?), especially ‘sweat of decay’.
    In the fourth paragraph you’ve got ‘those creatures’ which echos ‘those fruits’ in the para before. Is this deliberate? If not, it’s worth thinking about. (Also, very picky, but shouldn’t it be just ‘fruit’?). Really great alliteration and assonance in ‘burrow and bite and chew’ – that’s just lovely. I also like the two word sentence.
    And I have no comments on the last two lines – I think they’re great. They round it off perfectly. (oh, ok, I can’t resist – just thought about something else – in this short piece we have no idea who the house owners are in the last line, and this did make me stop and think, hang on, who are they? Would ‘By dusk, the house was gone.’ work just as well? However, I just thought of another thing – I really like that it is only in third word to the end that we learn it is a house – very clever!
    I really hope this is helpful…

    • Thank you Claire, that’s a really detailed critique, and I do appreciate it. I’d spotted the double use of sickly (too late to change it), but hadn’t noticed I’d used ‘those’ twice.
      I’m sure you’re right about ‘fruit’ rather than ‘fruits’, and I’d probably change it to ‘the fruit’ if I had a do-over.
      I’d keep ‘sickly yellow fluid’ and maybe change the ‘sickly flowers’ – as you say, it does conjure up a taste, but I was thinking of the malnourished kind of sickly when I wrote it, and the other meaning didn’t occur to me.
      In my mind there’s a lot more to this story, and an antagonist who is covering something up, and I should have made that clearer, or removed him from the picture entirely for this exercise – replaced ‘introduced’ at the beginning, and changed ‘their house’ to ‘the house’ at the end.
      Thanks again, Claire. It’s very helpful.

  5. I like the layering of story. I was a little confused by the destruction of something followed by the detailed description of the development of something. I wondered how the two related. Then I found out. The first and last sentences seem to be where the real story lies. The technique of distraction works here, I think, in jarring the reader into a recognition of something far more sinister than bizarre plant life.

    • Thanks for stopping by Keli, and for your comment. I have found all the critique very useful, another pair of eyes is just what I needed.

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