You've amazed me yet again. The reason it's taking so long to announce the winner in these things is that it's not all that easy to choose! As problems go, this is a pretty good one to have!
First up, some special recognition for a young writer making her first foray into writing contests!
A Funny Daddy's 8 year old daughter 3:56am
It makes me very happy to see kids wanting to write!
These entries just totally cracked me up.
I suspect some sort of collusion or nefarious pen-name shenanigans since they posted at the same time, but I adored them both:
Marybk at 8:33am's entry:
Noah draws his net filled with gyrating crustaceans and catfish, his smile arching like an upside-down rainbow. “God’s finest provisions, dearest.”
“Indeed.” Namaah squibs an armadillo across the deck. “Did He send any baked cobra?”
“Our maker humbles us, love. The Lord giveth…”
“But sushi giveth the elephants gas.”
“Perhaps they’re…heaters for chilly nights?”
“Bah! A firefly’s warmth is preferable.”
“Wouldst thou have me forsake an entire species for one meal?”
Nearby, a giant tingo belts, squeehaaahhhhn! Noah jumps, losing his grip, sending the day’s catch back to sea.
Namaah nurses his rope-burn. “Betcha tingo tasteth like chicken.”
David at 8:33am's entry
A firefly landed on G34 the same moment the MC announced it. I smothered the bug and number with a chip. “Tingo!”
“That’s not how you pronounce it.” Jennifer sighed and regarded the rest of the ancient Tingo hall: “Sorry folks, drinking turpentine will do that to you.”
My face burned like a space heater. I jabbed at her to-go box of sushi. “Eat your nasty squibs and shut the hell up.”
“Fine.” I grabbed my Clock .40 from my purse and shot her phonetically correct ass. A touch of brain splattered on her card.
A lot of the entries had great lines:
"my brother is borrowing me blind."
"'Tis a tingo beauty," says an Aussie."
"Without magic he would end up working for the Witch’s Auxiliary as a broom boy"
L.G. Smith 10:09am
"Language was his first love, silence a close second."
Michael G-G 12:21pm
"I was Alzheimer’s bitch."
Rebecca T. Little 9:26pm
Shaunna 1:33pm had a brilliant first paragraph
Bartholomew Turkleson eschewed soft cheeses, sushi, raw eggs, and beef. He wore his seat belt, kept his water heater at 110, and never ended a sentence with a preposition. He didn't fear death, but he wasn't going to leave the door open for her either.
Lynn @ 1:56pm had an outstanding first three lines:
They came at dusk.
They always did. It was their dinner time, and lucky us, we were on the menu.
Jjdebenedictis at 2:45am demonstrates wordplay both elegant and imaginative:
"Good resemblance, hey?"
"May I help you?"
"Here to see Martin Goethe. I scare people."
"No, it's my job. Martin wants to fire Flynn Weber; I'm here to help."
"Martin didn't warn you?"
"Martin lacks, as employers go."
"Heh. Can't fire his own people."
"Can't foresee me intercepting you."
"Last fellow was a barbarian imitator. He ate raw meat."
"Er. Repent, sinner?"
"Dieu, sauf moi des débiles qui B.S. You know Martin's superior also wants him fired?"
"What? You mean--?"
"Quite. Always nice to meet a colleague; good day, sir."
And this one, this one, oh mygodthis one.
This entry is in its own special category of "the most amazing contest entry I've ever seen, and boy howdy, I've seen some REALLy good ones." You might have to read it twice (I did) to see why I love it so much.
Kate Outhwaite 7:27am
“Squibs!” declares the child, pointing at the adjacent tank.
“Squi-duh, ” sighs the father balancing sushi on chopsticks. He turns and I see it’s Josh. Older, but unmistakably the boy who bought me a firefly in a jar as the chemo fought the cancer for the right to kill me the first time round.
Our eyes lock. He sees me!
Josh points at me. “That one.”
Steam rises from the pan over the propane heater.
“Hurt lobster?” asks the child.
“Not really. Maybe it tingles a tiny bit.”
“Tingo...” says the child as the chef lowers me into the steam.
This one is too brilliant not to win, but there were four other amazing entries too. So, clearly more than one winner this time.
Here are the finalists:
“Tingo!” Akiko yelled, as she swung the bat into knotted sheets. “Tingo!!”
Seven months ago the Peruvian diplomat had fed her sushi on one of his squibs, then made her love him while fireflies danced across the shores of lake Chauya.
Winking flits of hope.
“Tingo!” The bat crunched sheets.
A baby in two months, but better without him, her diplomat, whimpering now, blood spotting linen. He'd given three months of lust and four of short temper--quick and cruel affections.
“Tingo,” she said, missing, then hitting the heater. It psshhd hot steam over fading firefly dots.
Love speckling out.
The Sentence Sleuth 11:22am
Yuki’s back was turned to him. The firefly pattern on her kimono dissolved into a pile of yellow and red fabric as the garment slid to the floor.
As the silk nuzzled the space heater, Squibs McGee nuzzled her bare neck, her bare shoulders.
“You make me tingo all over,” she said.
He felt more than a tingle himself as she pushed him onto the futon.
“Now you show me American sushi roll.”
The neighbors heard the explosion.
Stone Girl 1:22pm
There is but one who knows the fates of Brahm and Wu:
The former (tingo impulse: high) is at Wu’s door (again); this time, to beg a bit of sushi.
As Wu turns ‘round to fetch the fish, Brahm spies the squibs stacked (foolishly) atop the unlit heater. . .
Unable to resist, he reaches out to pilch a squib! Just as he does,
a firefly (exacting sweet revenge against the swatting Wu)
swoops down! Its flash ignites the heater, which ignites the squibs, and then, the two!
The witness to their grand demise? Just one, with tiny compound eyes. . .
Katherine Tomlinson 9:06pm
Life imitates art
At the last minute, the director changed the scene from the interior of an Italian restaurant to an exterior at a sushi place called “Tingo.”
He wanted a firefly to dance across the frame as he filmed and was surprised that fireflies aren’t available in December. Warmed by a heater at his feet, the director was also oblivious to his star’s discomfort as he waited in the cold.
The squibs went off perfectly, polka-dotting the star with fake blood. It took a minute for anyone to notice that the director’s coat was also bloodied.
On-set accidents happen all the time.
The winner is Stone Girl @1:22am in a very close call.
If the two of you (Stone Girl and Kate Outhwaite) will each send me your mailing addresses, I will pry another copy of THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X from the adept digits of the editor and send it to you.
I am in awe of what I read here.