Monday, February 29, 2016

The Icy Chill of Winter flash fiction contest results

Well, your pens were red hot for this icy cold contest!

Herewith the results

Special recognition for a great phrase
 Megan V 10:20am
she simmered alongside her cocoa.  

Marie McKay 12:22pm 
She stung him with articulacy 

Special recognition for a great sentence
Lennon Faris 10:59am
I gave her my heart, but she wanted my brain.

Michael Seese 8:52am 
They won't find her until spring, when the ice has grown weary of her, too. 

Special recognition for extraordinary exploration of form and style
Dena Pawling 11:34am

Special recognition for unusual POV:
Dee Blacks 12:20pm (seedlings)

Special recognition for a story about one of the loveliest miracles of our time
S.D. King 12:24pm

Special recognition for particularly lovely sentence:
My beautiful squandered life. RKeelan 5:36pm

Special recognition for words I had to look up
achilleas Rkeelan 5:36pm
daltonic Sara Halle 12:40am
rime Kate Higgins  5:07am

I may have to add a new rule "no heart tugging stories about dogs" after this one
Susan 10:11pm

Not quite a story, but a start to something I'd want to read!
Lance 7:56am

This entry cracked me up
Steve Wilkins 8:26am

Very meta
Laura Mary 9:53am


Timothy Lowe 10:08am
A chill split my spine. The lights dimmed. Onstage, the show began. An electric thrill ran through me - crackling, sparking.

He was some actor. Blown all our savings. Slammed my head on the bedsprings. Now he performed - a marionette.

Jumping, twisting, he danced on invisible wires. They’d been searching for someone to star in this little drama - a derelict killer of thirteen girls. He’d looked the part, so I filled the bill - went to the police, cooked up some tears.

Beyond the glass, he took a final bow as the current died. My eyes, dry as they pulled the curtain.

Madeline Mora-Summonte 5:21pm
    The homeless woman slumps on the park bench, mutters through lips cracked by winter's chill. She scratches her head with both hands. Lice scurry. Skin flakes fall like snow on her ratty fur coat. Her stink blows Travis sideways.

    Pickings are usually slim. Travis grins. Not today. He rifles through her cart for stuff to sell.

    Something warm, wet gulps his hand. A tongue, all pulse and sinew, winds around his wrist, an asp ringing its prey. Teeth strip his fingers' flesh, crunch the bones. Travis screams. Those, too, are swallowed.

    Pickings are usually slim. The woman grins. Not today.

Scott G 12:52am
Ice-cold beer in Jerry’s garage after work.

“Old lady home?”

Jerry shook his head. “Nah. She’s out.”

Life couldn’t get any better.

I pointed at the machine. “Whaddya got this thing out for?”

Jerry shrugged. “It’s stuck.”


“Where the spring connects the rotating augers.”

“I see. Looks like a stick or something.”

“Help me get it out.”

I sat my beer next to some buckets of red paint on a plastic sheet.


Jerry nodded. “Something like that.”

I pulled out the limb. Looked just like a –

A sudden chill.

Why was Jerry running his snowblower in the summer?

Lobo 10:09am
My stepdad beat our dog.

Mom says small men gotta compensate somehow (She’s got lotsa sayings. Says one day I’ll learn em).

Now I watch him dice the drift at the bottom of our driveway by hand, ignoring the idling snow-blower parked behind him. Maybe he’s still compensating.

Our dog never learns. Out there in the chill, beside the blower, watching like a loyal soldier.

. . .then her haunches slide. Just enough.

The blower’s footbrake releases. The machine springs forward, blades churning like hungry monster teeth.

I hear mom again: “Every dog has . . .”

Guess everybody’s learning something today. 

There is just enough here to know what happened, but not so much as to hit you over the head with gore.  And I do love a good revenge story.

Steve Forti 11:39am
She was such a pig. Rude, self-centered, with a glare that had its own windchill. But I saw through it all and loved her anyway. I was hers. Now, I’m not perfect either. But if I could find a way, why couldn’t she love me, warts and all?

How did I
blow it? I thought I could move on. Tried other men, disasters one and all. Animal, weirdo, even that grouch from down the street. I pick up the phone. I just need to hear his voice.


My heart does hand
springs. “Kermie?” 

This is amazing form. It's two points of view in 100 words (quite an accomplishment)  and a funny story about love gone awry. Of course you have to know about those star crossed lovers Miss Piggy and Kermit to understand what's going on.  And this is from Steve Forti, so the prompt words are always artfully used.

CarolynnWith2Ns 3:41pm
Overwhelming debt, and the chill of loneliness, had me heading north during a 100 year ice storm.
Go the way you know, they say in Maine. It’s easy to get lost, easy to become stranded, easy to be forgotten, especially if there is no one to remember you.
I took a shortcut.

“Heat gone.”
“Gas tank empty.”
“Hiking out.”

Tracks in the snow and the memory of who I was - blown away.
Bleak beyond belief.
My will to live Shawshanked my want to die.

Car found.
Note discovered.

I am warm, far-away free and new.

It's that one word "Shawshanked" that let's the reader know what really happened. Very elegant story telling here.

Bethany Elizabeth 5:04pm
They took my boy and made him a (murderer) martyr. They chopped off his hair, propped his jellied legs with dynamite, and chained him to the supports of a skyscraper office. He didn’t wear his new red coat; he wore a trench, ill fitted over the wires, boxes, and springs.

The snow (ash) falls. The wind blows it away.

Not a single soul escaped. Judges 16:30.

His ‘brothers’ honor him with celebration. I scour the ‘net for a kind of recipe to bring. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the mother.

It'll be a blast.

What ever happened to Delilah, anyway?

I love love love that this a story on two levels: modern day suicide bombers, and the story of Samson and Delilah. So, this is not only a story, it's making a point that what you think about "Samson" depends on where you're standing.

This is really brilliant.

[Judges 16:30 (KJ) And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell on the lords, and on all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.]

John Frain 12:18am
I offer an apology, a sacrifice. Instead of forgiveness, she freaks. So finicky.

I’ve been kind to the furniture for weeks now. Stayed off her keyboard. When’s the last time I puked on her rug?

One indiscretion and she tosses me out. I’m no fool. Spring’s not blowin’ in the wind yet. Humans are so quick to judge.

Should I put a chinchilla at the foot of her bed next time instead of a mouse? Of course, there won’t be a next time. I have eight more lives. She doesn’t.

Enjoy your final moments before I gnaw these electrical wires.

Cat revenge. What's not to love!

Sara Halle 12:40am
Thanks to a whistleblower, I needed to clear out of this solar system. I sourced a new identity, and my partner in crime offered a getaway outfit. Wearing clashing colors topped with worn-out overalls made me feel like a daltonic hillbilly, but no one could recognize me.
After hopping a spatial springboard across the galaxy, I played it cool on arrival.
"You're under arrest," an officer said.
Impossible — my cover was as pure as Martian snow!
Then my heart froze in my chest. My partner had sent me straight to the strictest authorities in the galaxy — the fashion police.

I love the humor here. And what great phrases: spatial springboard, Martian snow. 
And it took me three word searches (finally only using ll) to spot chill. Devious writer!

Kate Higgins 5:07am

    Rime and Punishment

    I told them my diagram would explain Triple Point, that anomalous behavior of water.
    Water existing as ice, liquid and vapor simultaneously.
    Let me show you;

    32.02 °F

    Human are 60% water, I said, it is why we see these Arctic phantoms.
    They are not icy wraiths wrought from carving winds.

    32.02 °F

    Spring is months away.
    No one listened.

    I hear crystal ice calling; clanging carillons of chill.
    My breath is blowing snow. My lungs refrigerate.
    Hoarfrost floes beneath my skin.

    I feel my essence sublimating.
    Humans are 60% water.

    32.02 °F

    I told them so

This is so utterly original it just stands out like a column of light in darkness. It's not totally clear what's going on, so different readers will draw different conclusions. It's like a poem, rather than a story, in that respect.

Each of the finalists this week was wonderful in its own way. I debated long and hard because I really loved the humor in Steve Forti's and Sara Halle's entries.  I loved loved loved the startling originality of Kate Higgins. I could visualize Carolynn's entry so clearly too (a sign of great story telling).  John Frain and Lobo's entries really appeallead to me as well. I'm always a sucker for a good cat/dog story.

But in the end Bethany Elizabeth's entry seemed the most layered and nuanced. She didn't go for the obvious in any way (no snow, no ice.)  It's a complete story, and also makes a point, but not in a preachy way (despite having an actual Biblical quotation).  Now THAT is  a feat worth recognizing.

So, the winner is Bethany Elizabeth 5:04pm.

Bethany if you'll email me with your mailing address, and the kinds of books you like to read I'll send you John Frain's manuscript**...I mean a book.

Congratulations to all the short and long list entrants, and thanks to all of you who took the time to write and submit entries.  Amazing work!

**inside blog reader joke from the week in review.


Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Geeze, I agree. The dogs ones kill me :( (animal ones in general....) As a result, I really dug Lobo's ^^

Yay, Bethany! I really liked that one (among many).

S.D.King said...

Thanks for giving me a place to tell Abigail's story. I am growing to love this spunky girl. Today she started breathing on her own and gave a "thumbs up."

Congrats to all finalists and winner.

Brian M. Biggs said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Celia Reaves said...

Wonderful story, Bethany! It's like a two-way mirror, two different stories happening at the same time. Amazing work.

Steve: your Muppet story cracked me up completely. I'm still not over the Kermit/Miss Piggy breakup.

John: Yes, cat revenge. Having nine lives makes all kinds of revenge possible!

Everyone did such an outstanding job here. Thank you, Madame Shark, for organizing this festival of writing. We all love you for it.

Colin Smith said...

I got a big chuckle from Steve Forti's, but I completely concur with the judgment here. Well done, Bethany Elizabeth!

Amanda Capper said...

I loved Timothy Lowe's story. And yes, Bethany's as well. Oh, and Steve's. Liked them all.

But I envied Michael Seese his sentence. I break out treats the odd time I ever write a line like that one.

Brian Schwarz said...

Bethany, just a fantastic story. I can't ever seem to wrap my head around that type of poetry/allegory. It's such a great and unique talent!

And I agree with Colin! Don't sweat it to those who didn't get a mention or make the lists! This is a great way to practice being clear and concise in such a short form. Its always fun just to participate and learn!

Thanks for the contest Janet!

Brian M. Biggs said...

Thanks Colin, I agree it's a great way to stimulate your writing brain and improve.

Karen McCoy said...

What a great sent of mentions, longlisters, and finalists! Well done, Bethany Elizabeth.

I came up with a better line for my entry the following day, but decided not to mulligan because I'm trying to becoming more accepting of my writing. At least I can save the line for later, in case I want to use my entry in a larger, more short-story structured context.

Love these contests!

Kitty said...

The level of writing by the Reiders is outstanding. So, CONGRATS to all, but especially to Bethany.

Marie McKay said...

Thanks for the mention, Janet. Congratulations, Bethany. Well deserved win! Great writing! Well done, everyone.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Oh, I know - Susan's just made my heart tingle, and give permission to my 90 lb mutt to jump on the bed. Bad Susan! :D But it was a heart tugger for sure.

Congrats Bethany; the multi-layers was just beautiful, in its own tragic way - well deserved!

And also congrats to the Notables, long and shorters- also, it was wonderful to see more new names this week!

Colin Smith said...

Karen: I hear you. Self-confidence. This time I went for a very minimalistic style of storytelling (I'm fairly sure it was a story) that relies a heck of a lot on the reader to fill in the gaps. Not something I've tried much before. It's possible with a bit more thought I could have come up with something more conventional, but I decided to go ahead and post what I had just to do something different.

Scott G said...

Congrats to all of these amazing entries. Thanks, as always, to Janet for creating this forum for authors to practice their trade.

I loved Lobo's story. I figured it out on the second read and then I gave my dog a pat on the head and my wife was wondering why I put three steaks on the grill last night instead of the usual two.

Dena Pawling said...

I got a "special recognition for extraordinary exploration of form and style" which my writer brain translates as a euphemism for "WTF was that????!" But it was fun to write.

Congrats to all of you who are much better at writing flash than I am. Great stories. And congrats to Bethany for the win!

Steve Forti said...

@Celia - if last week's episode of The Muppets was any indication, they'll be reuniting soon enough, fear not.

Congrats to Bethany! Lots of great entries as usual. Always psyched to be among the finalists. See you all again in the next Thunderdome!

Celia Reaves said...

I agree with Colin: sometimes you just want to try something different as a way of stretching the old writing muscles. Even if it doesn't work, it's still good exercise. This time the fact that the first two prompt words (blow, snow) rhymed got me off on a poetry pathway, and the next thing I knew I was whipping up a full-on Shakespearean sonnet. Not a story. Not even fiction! I decided to submit it anyway, because it couldn't hurt and anyway no writing practice is ever really wasted.

But I need to have WORDS with my muse.

Timothy Lowe said...

Always interesting to see the results. Thanks Janet for another great contest and for the mention. And thanks Amanda for your mention here in the comments. I think the best part of this amazingness is that we get to have others read our work - I was in awe of sdbullard's entry (11:44), the one that read the same forwards and back, structurally paying homage to the mirror that played such a central part.

I thought for sure that had a good chance to win. But there are so many different ways an entry can be brilliant, and there's so much I don't catch in my reading of the entries. I find that reading the comments in the results opens my mind just as much as entering the contests.

Nate Wilson said...

It's hard enough to craft a quality story in 100 words. But to do that, and also incorporate multiple layers, that is something. Great job, Bethany. Congratulations!

(And the same goes for dual meanings. I enjoyed the stage play, Timothy.)

Well done, everyone. Finalists, longlisters, and mentions alike!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thrilled to be on the Long List - thank you!

Lobo's was one of my favorites. I love a good revenge story, too. :)

Congratulations to Bethany Elizabeth and to everyone mentioned!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Good job Bethany. No idea how Janet sifts through all these in a day. I still haven't had a chance to read all the entries.

Amazing work mentionables, long listers, and finalists. And to echo Colin, good job to everyone who entered. It is no easy thing writing a story in 100 words with five of those words pre-determined, then to edit and submit within 48 hours. It is a great exercise that can only help us each grow as writers.

french sojourn said...

Bethany, wonderful work. It is the best way to alleviate the Monday's. Congrats!

These are such great mental gymnastics, thanks Coach! So much talent here, well done everyone.


Anonymous said...

These contests are very satisfying. Frightening to stick my toe in that water, but gratifying that I pull it out whole, and I always learn something new about writing and writers. Every time. My mind is for sures starting to focus on some finer aspects of the craft. I love it.

Steph said...

Congrats Bethany! There were so many great stories to read this time; though I shouldn't have read Steve's while drinking my afternoon tea...

For those of you combating writer's block, here's a bit of silver lining:

Lennon Faris said...

Congratulations to Bethany and all the others! You are all amazing writers and I can't believe what you can do with 100 words. And thanks for the mention, Janet!

Colin & Celia - I tried something new (sort of), incorporating a Bob Dylan song into a zombie love story. I do love the idea of exercising writing muscles. These FF contests seem to be the perfect place to do it.

On that same note, I was also really super impressed by sdbullard's mirror entry. So cool! Sounded just like what I imagine a lonely, naive ghost would sound like. And a mirror image of the phrases - whoa.

Thanks for the fun, Janet.

LynnRodz said...

Wow, how you picked a winner from all these great entries, Janet, is beyond me. Damn, people are really putting on their A-game and making these contests harder and harder. I need to step up and start thinking outside the box.

I loved Steve's story!
Lobo and John's Karma is a bitch ones are also great.
Madeline Mora-Summonte hopefully won't give me nightmares again tonight. (I did have one Saturday night and now I'm wondering if it wasn't partly due to her story. Hmm.)
Loved, the true story that S.D. King wrote about.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I'll just say, congrats to Bethany Elizabeth for standing out in a very tight race. Great job everyone!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

@Lynn - I would say I'm sorry for the nightmares, but I'm really not. :)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Oh, wow, thank you! I'm really excited to be included in such an amazing group of entries. I think this is the first week I read through all of them (usually I just get overwhelmed!) and I had such a fun time. I really liked Lobo's entry especially. I'm with Janet - I love a good revenge story! I just read The Cat from Hell by Stephen King, and this entry kind of reminded me of it. :)
I also love all things zombies, so I'm a big fan of Lennon's story. Kind of reminded me of one of my favorite songs that goes I love your brain but I hate your guts.

Kregger said...

Wait a minute...Kermit and Miss Piggy broke up?! Pfft, next thing you'll tell me is Bennifer are two people again.

Congrats to Bethany Elizabeth...story with bag is filled with clubs, but I guess there is room for one more, or a thousand as needed.

Everybody, keep up the new work.

Thanks for the opportunities, Ms. Reid.

John Frain said...

I stand in awe, Bethany Elizabeth. I had to look up Judges 16:30 and somehow still didn't get the full meaning until just now when I read Janet's comments. It's always humbling to read a great story and know I could not have cobbled it together. Great read.

I'm in awe of our worthy judge too. Seriously, how can you get through 90+ entries when so many have such nuance. I'm amazed every contest. I read all the entries, yet then when I read them with Janet's comments it's like I'm reading a whole new set of entries. As if someone just shined a flashlight on them and entire new meanings come forth.

Bethany, I would be honored to send you my manuscript, but of course, you've earned something worth much more so my advice would be to choose what's behind curtain number two. Especially since you get to decide what to put behind curtain number two. But since Craig's subhead of the week encourages to "query widely," I'll send it your way if it'll help me prosper, my friend!

Susan said...

Congrats, Bethany! Well-deserved!

Janice: I'm sorry! Give your 90lb lug an extra hug from me! <3 A fellow Reider told me I'd made them cry (which is a compliment for me, in a twisted way!), and I told them, if it's any consolation, that as soon as I was finished writing it, I hugged my dogs and wouldn't let go. And now, they can have as many treats as they want and I won't even yell at them for ripping apart my couch. =P

The same night I wrote my entry, I read this: Get Your Tissues Ready . Do not read in public.

Next week, I'll write a happy story.

(No I won't. Who am I kidding?)

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Oh, Susan- the feels. Thank you for the warning. Having never gone without any animal companion in my life ever (horses. horses until my last breath) I have been down that road many, too many times having to make that final decision. And that writer just gave me a new perspective, one that healed some of those holes in my soul. We need to love them enough to let them go. Hugs to you, seriously - Thank you for sharing !!

Now its treats and hugs all around out here for the critters! :D

Susan said...

Janice: Hugs right back! It's the hardest decision, but truly the humane one. My one blessing is that I've been with all of my animals when they passed, but two years later I feel like I'm still grieving over my cat because it was so unexpected. You're right in that this gives you new perspective. I felt a lot of peace after I read it, like he was okay, and now so am I. I'm so glad you feel the same.

And then I clung to my dogs like I'd never let them go. (Moxie, my 2 year old love muffin, was all, "Yay! Mommy cuddles!" Riley, my 9 year old grump, was all, "WTF, Mom.") Gotta love them.

Mark Thurber said...

Congratulations, Bethany Elizabeth, finalists, long-listers, mentionables, and unmentionables! (In that last category, Writer4 cracked me up.)

These are always such fun to write and read, and a weekend highlight whenever they take place. I suppose the fact that 24 hours of word-filled obsession/panic constitutes a highlight just means I fit right in here...

nightsmusic said...

Congrats to everyone who participated and Bethany Elizabeth, great story! Sometimes, I don't get them but I did yours. (I know my bible)

Steph, that link is too funny!!!

No sad animal stories though. They're too tough to read. Even in only 100 words :( I have to stop when I realize, or I'll cry.

Joseph Snoe said...

This may be the second or third time I've agreed with Janet Reid on who wrote the best story.

A confession: I didn't truly appreciate the story until Janet explained it. Then WOW.

LynnRodz said...

Hmm, Madeline, is that nice...well, at least you're honest.

Theresa said...

Great stories, everyone, and Bethany's was a marvel.

BTW, for all you book lovers, Oxford University Press is running a 60% off sale for today only. A certain book on women in WWII is only $11.18. (Plus lots of other fascinating titles.)

Just Jan said...

Great job, everyone! And congratulations to Bethany. I have to agree with Mark Thurber--these contests are a true weekend highlight!

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

I love reading the analyses of the winners. Gives me a greater appreciation for the literary form, but also shows me a better way of using my craft tools.

It amazes me how people craft their words. I see something done well and I think, "I would not have considered that before." Now I can, and that will make me a better author in the end.

Y'all keep up the good work. I'm grateful for the examples y'all give me.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Bethany Elizabeth WOW. Congrats.

Janet, thank you, thank you for your kind words. Because I am so stuck, and comfortable in non fiction, your words mean the absolute world to be.

Congrats to all. This was funner than fun.

Sara Halle said...

Lovely work, Bethany, congratulations!

Susan, your stories made my heart twist -- both your flash piece and your Facebook post.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats to Bethany Elizabeth and everyone mentioned.

And Thank you, QOTKU, for sharing your insightful bits with us so we can continue to learn our craft and admire our esteemed colleagues anew.

Julie Weathers said...

Congratulations to all the winners and and honorable mentions. I confess, I'm pretty sure my mind isn't firing on all cylinders. I didn't get some of them even after reading repeatedly. Reader error, no doubt.

There were some gorgeous lines. Whoo whee.

SiSi said...

Congratulations, Bethany--what a lot to pack into 100 words. Congratulations to everyone mentioned. The writing level here is amazing.

Kate Higgins said...

Congrats Bethany! This contest is getting tougher but such fun for our left brains.
It is good to see someone is up as early as I am. I guessing you live on the west coast. My 'Rime and Punishment' story was inspired by a Jeopardy question in which the answer was "Triple Point" while I was eating ice cream; all Janet had to do was give me the words and my 4am brain came up with the prose.
I love doing these! Thanks Janet for the wonderful compliments!

Donnaeve said...

Congrats to special rec's, long's, short's and the winner, Bethany Elizabeth!

Like Colin and maybe someone else mentioned...? It's practice that's fun b/c when you're working on the same thing day after day, you sort a want to turn to something fresh.

I didn't get some of these until QOTKU pops in with her words of wisdom (the WOW, right?) but quite frankly I bet *most* of you didn't understand mine!

I'd be interested to know if any *did* get it. I left hints, but I think I learned a lesson here. I believe QOTKU has said something along the lines before that readers need to have a way to connect the dots. Or something like that. Mine is based on historic facts. Anyone care to guess?

Regardless, these are always a lot of fun!

Lochlan Sudarshan said...

Kate, I liked yours, but I didn't really understand it. Could you explain what's going on?

Colin Smith said...

The Writing Contest Spreadsheet is up-to-date in the Treasure Chest. Congrats again to first-time winner, Bethany Elizabeth! :)

Julie Weathers said...


The Donner-Reed disaster of 1846 in which about only half the people survived. Many who did, did so by resorting to cannibalism. Two little girls, and I can't remember their names had notes pinned to them by their mother asking people to have mercy on them because they had never eaten human flesh. Some of the people were insane by the time they were rescued.

Megan V said...

Congrats Bethany Elizabeth! And congrats to everyone. That was some amazing writing folks.

Donnaeve said...


Out of most Reiders here, I suspected if anyone got it, it would be you. LOL! History buff that you are!

But yes. It was such a terrible thing. I've read a lot of the diary entries, and of course, some of the papers back then exaggerated some of what happened, but needless to say, their desperation took them to the place beyond civility.

My hints: Jay Fosdick, Forlorn Hope, Starved Camp.

Mark Thurber said...

Yup, I got yours too, Donna -- and liked it! It's closer to home for us Californians.

Anonymous said...

Bethany, congratulations! I'm grateful for Janet's explanation/citation, heathen that I am, which gave me better context to appreciate what you wrote.

Well done, everyone. So many great stories here. I am always amazed by the variety and imaginative genius that stems from the same five words. It's comforting, in an odd way, to know all of you are out there making stuff up and each putting your own unique touch on it.

Donnaeve said...

Thx a bunch for that Mark T!

Timothy Lowe said...


I thought Donner party, but didn't corroborate through google until you threw down the gauntlet. When I was in high school (this is how strange I was) I read and reread a massive account of Arctic exploration entitled The Arctic Grail. Fascinating stuff - especially the Greely expedition, which too resorted to cannibalism on the Ross Ice Shelf, and the doomed expedition of Pierre Andree, who attempted to reach the North Pole by hot air balloon. Needless to say, hot air and sub-freezing temps don't mix.

I liked your entry. There were a lot of great entries this time around. I have to quote my all-time favorite custodian: who has more fun than us?

Julie Weathers said...


Mother used to buy Old West and Western Times magazines every month when I was a kid and I read them cover to cover. As an adult, Dad went to auctions and bought me boxes and boxes of western history books and shipped them to me.

I remember reading about the Donner party when I was about eleven and the story of those two little girls just broke my heart. The mother didn't make it, but her concern was her babies not be ruined by the horror.

Lance said...

Congratulations to Bethany for a terrific story! Hey out there, to the long-listers and the mentionables. One thing about it, Reiders are Wreiters. To be mentioned in such august company is humbling indeed. Thank you, Ms. Janet, for that and for convening such a school of incredible story tellers. We are also grateful, I think I speak for us all, for keeping some of us occupied in writing about these things rather than enacting them.

John Frain said...


I had yours pegged as the Donner Party as well, but I confess I don't get lots of the stories until after Janet throws out a bone of understanding. And even then (I'm looking at you, Kate Higgins) I still don't always understand the story. I think I get it, but I'm sure there's a lot of subtlety in there that I'm completely missing.

And Donna, I didn't (and still don't) understand the Jay Fosdick or Forlorn Hope references, but there were other hints in there that led my mind to the Donner party. I guess you could argue that some of your hints could reference ANY party caught in a blizzard, and I took a leap of faith to get to the Donner Party but you didn't mention the Andes Mountains so I was able to eliminate the Uruguayan (I think) rugby team from the Piers Paul Read novel.

Even in Bethany's winning entry, which I understand on a much deeper level after several readings, I'm still not entirely sure that I'm getting all the nuances she was able to sneak in there. I keep reading the last line and thinking there's something more that I'm missing.

Man, you guys are addictive. I gotta get back to editing my suddenly straightforward, vanilla short story.

Kate Higgins said...

To answer Lochlan Sudarshan's question:
This is what I thought when I wrote it but it can be interpreted differently.

Imagine a group of scientists in the Arctic plagued by unexplained images appearing like ghosts in the white-out snow and ice fog conditions. One scientist postulates that because humans are made from 60 to 72% water and water can exist in three states (triple-point = liquid, solid like ice and vapor like steam) at the same time at 32.02°F. Maybe, she says, humans are affected by this phenomenon...since they are mostly water.

Maybe the phantoms they see are what is left behind when other have frozen to death here at their Ice station. Maybe some of the souls that have perished are experiencing a kind of oscillating change of state depending on the weather conditions. Maybe the ghosts they have been seeing are triple-point, frozen souls who cannot leave the earth. Maybe they are trying to tell the living something about death in the Arctic.

But no one believes her.

And she goes for a walk and for whatever reason, freezes to death at °32.02F. Her essence, her soul is doomed to walk the world and try to warn the living about freezing by death...or by skepticism.

Lochlan Sudarshan said...

Thanks, Kate. I did get the arctic phantom bit (very reminiscent of John Carpenter's "The Thing," as far as atmosphere goes) but I didn't make the connection of the POV turning into one at the end, I assumed they just froze.