Monthly comp – July 2019

About Forums Den of Writers Monthly Competition Monthly comp – July 2019

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    ‘Bringing a gun into a house
    changes it.’

    The opening words lines of a poem entitled ‘The Gun’, written in 2001 by Vicki Feaver, whose work I discovered last year.

    I’d like you to enlarge upon this by adding no more than 200 words.

    And because I’m not convinced that two months makes participation any more likely, I’m setting a deadline of midnight on Wednesday 31st July.

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Sandra.

    Ooh! Interesting!


    This deadline will make me get my act together 🙂


    Nice. Might have a go as I’m in between edits…


    Here’s my entry, which contains mental health issues in a character under military duress. First line plus 200 words.

    Bringing a gun into the house changes it.

    Edward came home on leave. He was given embraces by Mother, pats on the shoulder by Father, and – foolishly, I now think – a salute by me, his brother. He laid his cap and service revolver, in its holster, on the hall table. A piece of the war, in our house! I, at fourteen, was eager to hear adventures from the western front.

    Edward kept the revolver in his bedroom. He had difficulty sleeping. I’d wake to hear him open and close doors, and wander about. His eyes were puffed, his conversation abrupt. Talking more to the air than to us, he said, I shan’t go back. Mother held her mouth slightly open, as if wanting to speak but unsure. Father’s lips were compressed.

    For minutes on end, Edward wrung his hands. I won’t go, he shouted.

    Father hid the revolver and bullets. He called our doctor. Edward went to hospital and, four months later, there he remained. Father wrote to his regiment, asking to return the firearm and ammunition.

    In our front room an officer stood upright and didn’t ask how Edward was getting on. Father handed over the holstered revolver and bullets.

    Our taste of war never went away.

    John S Alty

    Bringing a gun into the house changes it; that’s the truth. It’s not as if it was much of a gun, just an old Spanish automatic called a Ruby. Piece of junk, but cheap on the street. I never knew my dad to be scared of anything but he was scared now. Really scared.

    Before, when he hit my mother, we cowered in a corner of the kitchen, my sister and me. He’d look at us and sneer. You’re next, was the implied threat and most times it was the reality too. Now it was different. I’d brought a gun into the house, and it changed everything.

    Lots of words to spare.

    Baz Baron

    Hello everyone, couldn’t resist. I’ve been away too long.
    Hope you enjoy my offering – Wordcount = 196.


    “Bringing a gun into a house changes it.”

    I opened the door – wide. The light from the house flooded onto the gravel drive towards the parked Merc. In the passenger seat. A Goon. I saw a glint from his shades when he turned away from the glow.

    The man at the door had a bead of sweat on his brow. “Come, Mr. Smith”.
    A sharp whistle from me and, Jake pounded up the hallway and out of the door. Good dog. That should keep the Goon in the car.

    If Mr. Smith had taken the trouble to study my bio, he would’ve read that one of my previous clients frequented Saville Row. Check the cut of the suit, Mr. Mourakis. The personal dresser would insist, fluttering a manicured hand toward a full length mirror. Something I always do. Especially when I’m carrying.

    My lounge is warm and inviting. “Drink, Mr. Smith? Take a seat”.

    Smith, placed the briefcase on the oak coffee table between the two red leather sofas’ nodded then sat. Just where I wanted.

    I turned – less the drinks. Without a sound. My aim is shit hot. Middle of the temple.


    Hey, Baz – REALLY good to see you – and yes, it has been too long!


    Bringing a gun into a house changes it. I move from hallway to sitting room. Little Kev is trying to hide behind a chair. Bang! I shoot him through it. This isn’t the house where Kev lives anymore. His mum stands on the stairs, screaming. Screams of shock and denial I suppose. Bang! Screamy house one minute, quiet house the next. I step over her body as I climb the narrow stairs. Surely? Oh yes! The husband – the daddy. There’s a mirror; I can see the silly sod hiding behind the door. What does he imagine he’s going to do with those scissors? Oi, mate. Your boy’s dead, your missus is dead and I can see you. Twat. He’s realised about the mirror now. I give the wall a tap. Nothing but bloody plasterboard. Bang! I shoot him through the wall. His face screws up and he comes running out. He’s crying like a baby. Bang! One in the nuts. Still coming. Bang! One in the noddle and down he goes. There now. Jones family house yesterday. My house today. Totally changed.

    182 words


    Bringing a gun into a house changes it. You can’t help it, of course. The trick is not letting on to everyone else that you’ve changed it. Keeping everything looking exactly the same, so all the neighbours, passersby, any visitors have no idea what you’ve done.

    It’s a specific kind of visitor we have in mind. The kind that bulldozes in mob-handed and stays for a month, steadily eating their way through your food, breaking your stuff and bringing the wrong kind of crowd to the neighbourhood. Can’t let that happen.

    They’ll wish they hadn’t come by this house. But they’ve no idea how we’ve changed it, you see. And they won’t until it’s too late.

    Bringing the gun in changed things a fair bit, it’s true. More than I’d like, but needs must. The back door needed widening. A lot. And more or less all the middle wall had to go. That was load-bearing, so we had to whack props in to support the ceiling.

    But when you bring a 17pdr, SP Achilles into a house, it’s going to change things. And when the counter-attacking Jerry Tiger tanks turn onto the street, they’re going to know how much.

    199 words

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Daedalus. Reason: For some reason my word count appeared in the middle of the text. Sorry

    Bringing a gun into the house changes it

    Baz got the letter on his fourteenth birthday; he was now old enough to get a gun from the government store, so he finished hoeing the weeds among the vegetables and went to get it. His mother wept a little and his sisters picked the peas and looked sombre.

    Nothing much changed at first. He kept the gun locked in a box in his bedroom, only taking it out when he went for the obligatory shooting sessions with the militia.

    After a while he stopped locking it away and went out with it and the boys from two streets away. Patrolling, he told his mother. And she wept again.

    And then he was rarely there. Too busy, he said, keeping them safe from marauding gangs.

    The weeds grew long and the house felt empty. Things fell a little further into disrepair.

    They brought his body back and laid it in the front room. His mother wept and his sisters too. They buried him on Friday in the space next to his brother Pete, dead three years ago aged fourteen and a half.

    Someone came round from the government store and collected the gun the next day.


    I asked my daughter if I should post this or was it nonsense. She suggested I post it because it’s nonsense 🙂

    Bringing a gun into a house changes it
    Even when it is not your gun
    And not your house

    Fingers snatch at your wrist
    ‘Don’t go in!’
    A glimpse of join-the-dots red etches on your brain

    You spin
    And spin
    And don’t recognise the screams as your own

    Voices calling
    Heartbeat stalling
    Silence flutters down on the wings of crows

    And now your past is just a lie and
    Your future has been revoked
    You wear your guilt like a hydrocolloid dressing as if you had pulled the trigger

    Much later
    You find a tooth embedded in the fireplace wall

    That’s all.


    Sensible lass, your daughter …


    I second that, Sandra. Struggling to get started on next WIP, so might try and come up with something this time.


    Not of the same calibre as some, I gladly concede (don’t envy the judge!), but this proved to be a great exercise to get the ‘fresh writing’ juices flowing – thanks, Sandra.

    Bringing a gun into the house changes it all, doesn’t it? As soon as she caught sight of Daddy’s new addition, taking pride of place in his shiny cabinet, Annie demanded one of her own.
    The toy shop obliged.
    ‘Bang!’ Annie cried, pointing the gun at Mr Smiddles, who barely managed one of his tired, catty stares from the sofa arm.
    ‘Bang!’ It was Mopsy next, who always did do a good ‘playing dead.’
    Mummy dashed in from hanging out the washing. ‘Annie, what’s all that –’
    ‘Bang!’ Annie giggled, ‘cause Mummy didn’t stay cross for long. ‘I is the winner,’ she declared. ‘Daddy has to take me to his gun club now, doesn’t he, Mummy?’
    Afternoon had turned ripe and golden when the car’s purr fell silent after a squeak of brakes. Aiming the fob at the doors, Jim turned and smiled thinly at the girl waving at the window, then sighed. Just look at the little imp. How he wished Diane didn’t leave her to her drawing while she caught up in the kitchen. Look at her – red paint all over her hands – her face. Globs more of it spattered about the window.
    Goodness knows what state he’d find the rest of the room in.

    199 words


    Bringing a gun into a house changes it.

    It doesn’t matter that it’s locked away, out of sight. There’s something tangible – a weight, a tension – that comes with the knowledge of its presence, which terrifies me more than him.

    He explained the gun’s for protection.

    What extra protection could he need? He has his expression, his speech…his fists. And if they’re not enough, he has ropes, chains, hunger and pain to get what he wants.

    But I’ve seen where he keeps the key.

    And that means that it’s not just the house that’s changed. I’ve changed too; finally I can allow myself to hope.

    For freedom.

    And revenge.


    (content warning)

    Bringing a gun into a house changes it
    Sliding a small skirting board piece to one side
    You couldn’t secrete barely a few shells between
    A pipe and this weird angular thing that you recall
    Has something to do with home repair
    For the un-betooled.

    Planking pulls up with relative ease. In they go
    Force in a cloth, deaden the sounds. No-one will see
    They’ll never again throw rocks at your head when they call you names
    Tremble and pray is what they’ll do
    When you come by

    ‘Cos all that you want, all that you need, from day to day,
    Is love and respect (Aretha would say) – prove that you’re wrong
    If ever they knock somebody down, you’ll push them back
    So keep on about the punitive ways the world can be
    You tried to be good, you tried to be good
    You failed again.

    Face doesn’t fit? You’re a little bit dim? Good luck to you.

    You padded the bag with jackets and books, student stuff.
    The person who said that God is Love has lied to us.
    You crossed the street, you crossed a line.
    The rest we know.

    Bringing a bag into a school changes you.



    Bringing a gun into a house changes it.

    Atoms shift and reconfigure to make space
    for this alien instrument
    and what it might wreak.

    It’s not the way, she pleads.
    Violence begets violence
    and can’t be undone.

    Pushed back by forceful hands,
    she quakes in the corner,
    bible clutched to heart.

    He sits rigid, jaw clenched, hairs on end,
    the weight of duty in his lap,
    staring down the hall towards the door.

    The drip, drip, drip of the tap jars,
    its rhythm disconcerting, out of sync
    with that of the ticking clock.

    Ears prick: the purr of an engine, idling.
    A soft step.
    A mutter and shuffle.

    An unholy heaviness as the gun is raised.
    Sweat dampens the stock.
    Squinting eye follows the line of the trembling barrel.

    Door knob, dulled by time, turns.
    Time slows to freeze-frame.
    Wait … wait.

    The silhouette in the doorway
    backlit by headlights
    cries and falls as the bullet enters flesh.

    Die you bastard!
    Got what was coming.
    You’ll torment us no more.

    That birthmark on the hand –
    surely not? Surely not!
    A guttural wail begins, builds and bounces off every surface.

    Beloved son
    home unexpectedly.

    Atoms shift and reconfigure to make space.

    [Words: 192]

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by GippsGirl.

    Bringing a gun into a house changes it. The fear that used to coil in your stomach like writhing vipers has stilled. No need to jump at every squeak and clonk. Now, a strident voice in the street or the sound of smashing windows makes you smile. A slow, secretive smile.

    You think it’s power, and the gun feels like it. The slick weight in your hands, the metallic taste of oil at the back of your throat, the imagined whiff of ozone and gunpowder.

    Protection. Security. Your life’s better. You almost wish someone would dare; that your faceless tormentors would violate your home. Because things are different, and you’d show them.

    And then all your fears and secret hopes become reality; there’s someone in your house, the gun is in your hand and your finger is on the trigger. This is the moment. Your moment. Except the truth of it slices like broken glass on bare feet. This isn’t safety; this is a speeding bullet. And what will you do? Your finger twitches, your thoughts spiral like fractured light. Can you do it? Death.

    And now you know. Bringing a gun into the house didn’t change it. It changed you.

    (193 words added)


    With a dozen sparkling and highly entertaining entries already posted I know I’m only making it harder for myself to choose, but feel obliged to point out that there’s still five days to go before the deadline.


    I didn’t have any specific criteria in mind by which to judge this; just expected to choose the one which moved me most, in much the same way as Vicki Feaver’s poetry moves me. Which was a BIG mistake. Because each and every entry was thought-provoking in a subtly different way.

    But definitely NOT a mistake for the pleasure each one brought me, very much deserving of at least a brief comment.

    Libby’s multi-layered tale of military duress I took as WWI, a favourite period of mine. It reminded me – in mood at least – of Rebecca West’s ‘The return of the soldier’.

    John’s was cleverly constructed domestic noir, the resonance and the power of it only apparent at the end (and thus demanding a re-read).

    Baz’s reference to Goon places this in yet another world. The tale rests on a lot of unspoken history – all the more intriguing for that – and the reference to the cut of a suit . was fascinating.

    Athelstone delivered an instant brutal punch. And went on punching. A tongue-in- cheek (I hope) by-passing of estate agents.

    Daedalus thought big. Very big. Required a bit of Googling to find out just how big. And realise just how clever, as well.

    Jane’s tale of cyclic inevitability was heart-breaking. I read it three times over in the hope that things would change. Knowing they wouldn’t.

    Seagreen used snatches of contrasting imagery like abstract poetry, which allowed me to create my own overall picture. Vividly contrasting phrases such as ‘Silence flutters down on the wings of crows’ against the brutal tooth embedded in the wall. And not nonsense at all.

    Janette’s tale of little Annie one of full-on psychological horror, leaving me trying and failing to suspend disbelief, fully taken in by ‘Afternoon had turned ripe and golden’.

    Squidge succinctly brings more domestic violence, the gun changing the weight of it, empowering as much as destroying.

    Jonathan’s gun … ah. I couldn’t decide how reliable his narrator. ‘For the un-betooled’ held something sly and self-justifying. Yet it might be that he’s driven to it because of being bullied … except ..
    … except I think he’s guilty. Of a massacre. Am I right?

    GippsGirl provided poetry of a different sort with an enticing opening line, then hammers home the finality of the mistakes that can be made with a gun.

    Kate describes the physicality of the gun. Spoke of how ‘the truth of it slices like broken glass on bare feet‘ Of the responsibility of holding a gun. Of what it can do.

    So, limiting myself to two honourable mentions: John and Seagreen
    And one winner: Kate
    Thank you all for participating


    Great competition Sandra! Congratulations to all the entrants! I’m looking forward to the next one.


    Gosh, Sandra, you posted your verdict at 4 am! I hope you’re catching up on sleep today. Thanks for an excellent comp theme, which elicited a host of cracking entries.

    Congrats to Kate on a worthy win, and to John and Seagreen for their honourable mentions.


    Really enjoyed this one and it certainly got the words flowing. Congratulations to Kate and to the honourable mentionees! And very well done Sandra.

    John S Alty

    Congratulations Kate!
    Well done Sandra, really good competition, thanks.


    Lots of congratulations to Kate, and to John and Seagreen. And thank you to Sandra.
    I’m chuffed to be mentioned alongside The Return of the Soldier.


    Thanks, Sandra. I wasn’t expecting that! A really fantastic prompt and so many great entries. Bear with me on coming up with something for next month as I’m helping my mother move house today.


    Congratulations, Kate, John and Seagreen. And thank you, Sandra, for an excellent competition that compelled me to return to entering. I didn’t envy your task of decision making.


    Absolutely brilliant competition, and what a crop of entries. Well done Kate – superb bit of prose – and the honourables. Looking forward to this month’s!

    Baz Baron

    Great result @Sandra thanks for hosting a super theme and those comments for all – marvelous. Reading all the entries was a pleasure for me and makes me realize what I’ve been missing since the cloud succumbed to global warming ;-). Well done all and @Kate perfection with your prose and your take on the theme.

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