Monday, October 28, 2019

The Scary Flash Fiction contest results-FINAL


I don't know why I even try! But every week, I think "I bet this will stymie Steve Forti!" Only it NEVER does. Even when he was on vacation, he posted. This is taking on the hallmark of an epic battle, only I'm on the wrong side!!


Steve Forti 5-The Shark 0

Amanda used one of my favorite words!
Hornswoggle


Three great opening lines:

Jennifer DLozier
’Twas the night before Christmas and Santa was sloshed.

C. Dan Castro

Hiding in a stall, holding my wireless microphone, I don’t croon the standards.

Kregger
The elevator stopped at the gates of Hell.


These two sentences really caught my eye
Lauren B.
The patron saint of unmarked graves.

C. Dan Castro
Leave it to Satan to ruin another karaoke night.


The pun in this is pretty darn funny 
Colin Smith


If I wondered about my ability to make writers crazy
Just Jan's entry reassured me

Hat tip to Peanuts!
LynnRodz







Here are three terrific entries, clear finalists EXCEPT I didn't get them.
(Enlightenment welcome!)

Kregger
The elevator stopped at the gates of Hell.

Out walked a novelist, a comedian, and an Abuela.

The novelist approached Satan. “I don’t belong here. I drew from life’s experiences. I only nicked an idea…maybe two.”

The comedian warded his chest. “Everything’s a joke. I went to the john and ended here.”

Both men disappeared in a flash of light.

The Horned-One turned his eyes to the older woman. “And what is your story, mi kea?”

She blushed at the endearment. “My crime is, worst of all.”

“Really?”

“Yes,” she whimpered. “I forgot to change.”
Illumination from the source!

Kregger
This story relates to last week's post on what makes a story. Not including change and twists disqualifies our stories which becomes a sin of and/or omission. Thus the trip to Hell.

Jay Leno expressed the idea...if the audience buys the piece, they will buy the bit. In this case, the setup/piece is a classic three people walk into a bar joke followed by the punchline of a character (writer) ending up in Hell (also known as rejection) for not changing.

As Colin has said, (paraphrasing) sometimes utilizing the prompt words is easier than making it a story. Of which, I'm in total agreement.

Thank you for the mention, and good luck to all the finalists. 


flashfriday


She’d reworked (how naughty! sweet first: scones and clotted cream) the dragon’s riddle a hundred times (plates heaped with mozzarella and salami kept filled), but there was (chianti chilled in a dewar) definitely something tricky (darn icky, actually—sorry, not you, curry chicken on brioche) about this one.

Maybe (truffles or tiramisu?) it was his wording (fine, both), or maybe her (champagne!) inexperience.

But here, the dragon was clearly raj (oh, now cappuccinos?!) and she the humble peon (extra whip please).

“I can’t solve it,” she said in despair. “I’m just too full.”

“Yikes. Awful!” said the dragon. “Mint?”


KDJames
Their names are a blur, every Tom, Dick and Harry who drew me into the game with slick praise and sly hands.

My memory's selective, skipping fast-forward past needy johns and the thin joints nicked to endure them. Skimming past getting miked up for the cops that time, to nail a murderous rat bastard.

Here on Ward 5, that's all distant--

"Hey, baby," I say, "want to party?"

Just another sad old dame whose past is--

"Check it out, lover."

Who can't remember--

"Got your sugar right here, hon."

--why reciting these lines is hauntingly familiar.
illumination from the source:
KD James
Ahhh, I was going for subtlety and instead totally missed the mark (which I suspected but posted it anyway). Oh well. She's an aging prostitute with dementia, living in a care facility. She remembers some things well enough to *know* her memory is missing a few details, but other things are a complete blank. Like why it feels familiar to solicit the attention of men.

What I learned: It's difficult to convey memory loss in a first person account without some kind of framing or context.

This is just frain funny

John Davis Frain
 Mike, police procedurals, drew the short straw, so our critique group will act out his story to find flaws.
I hit the john, load my Beretta, ready to raise the stakes. Ward, horror (writing and life), joins me enthusiastically.

Drew is new, yet, ironically, historical. He’ll acquiesce.

Nick, noir, is a guest, so a mystery. Replaces John, who escaped in the nick of time. We’d pushed him toward the brink of insanity when we cosplayed his best-selling Dyin’ Eyes.

We enter the gritty sheets of chapter one when I drop the mike.

I’d tell you what happens next – but I’m suspense.



Here are the entries that caught my eye
Samara Lo
Min stalked past shrivelled mummies and cracked urns. She’d loved old and broken things. Loved them so much she’d married a fossil who got thrills from geochronologic names like aegean and animikean. His passion had ensnared her, until she’d discovered he was digging another site before the dust had settled on her wedding dress.

She stopped at the 100 carat diamond looted from a raj.

“Oh no, not looted,” he would’ve chided. “Museums acquire.”

She snickered and withdrew. At 0300 she’d be “acquiring” the sparkling reward in his name. Surely his future inmates loved old and broken things.

I love the "not looted/acquired" play here. How we view things, the words we use do indeed show our view of the world.

And that she's set him up to take the fall is so subtle and elegantly hinted at, I just wriggled.

This is lovely work.




Fearless Reider

“Who put a nickel in her?” groused the coroner.

“Rookie. I drew the short straw. Hasn’t quit moving since we got here.”

We sucked at stale coffee and watched her flit.

“The lock’s been johnnied!”

“Uh... jimmied. Devoured, I'd say.”

"Something's in his throat, Mike!”

I reached in. Drew out a bloody phone. “Fetch me that thumb.”

Click.

Dear God. My stomach heaved upward.

Dr Agnt

U up?

Cant wt 2 tl u abt my nw fction nvl
Almst cmplt @397,666 wds

Call me

— Ishmael

“Welcome to the QPD, kid. We're done here.”

No jury in the world would convict.

this is just so damn funny, who could resist.

And the subtle QPD makes me laugh every time I read it.
Get it? Get it??


Smoketree
Long ago, three witches lived in a crumbly cottage in the middle of a wild wood. Their names were Drewsilla, Johnevre, and Mike. Each of the witches had spiders for hands, and at dusk they would crawl out of the crumbly cottage to spin thick, sticky wards around the property line. These were so strong and so slick that nothing could pass in or out. Later, over cake, they reminisced about their dear, departed sister, Nicklementine. The cake was soon finished.

Not quite so long ago, two witches lived in a crumbly cottage in the middle of a wild wood.

 Starting with the names: this just cracked me up. I LOVE the juxtaposition of the overly mannered names with Mike. 

And then, everything is unsaid. The beauty and elegance of this is that you know, you can just SEE what happened.

I really loved this. Spare, elegant. Hilarious. Terrifying.


Lenon Faris
When I reach the middle, 156 cars have passed me. Last year, I promised myself if someone stopped, so would I.

I’ve wizened up.

Nobody pauses now, anyway. Busy, busy. That’s all.

I reach my old spot. In the pre-dawn grey, fog rolls beyond my toes. Thrill. And terror.

A noise, sideways –another silhouette draws towards the edge.

I run.

“Wait –what’s your name,” I ask. Mike? I’m Drew. I tell Mike about John, my nick-of-time friend.

We call Mike’s sister. Sister arrives —hugs, tears.

I decline their ride. 219 cars pass me.

“See ya tomorrow,” I tell my bridge.

Ok , please tell me you all noticed wizened up, and that it "should be" wised up??
Except there's an implied physical toll with wizened up, which I loved.

And this kind of story just grabs my cold sharkly heart.


Kate Higgins
I live in an old, sort-of-furnished, 3rd floor walk-up.
All my books are soldiered in an ancient wardrobe, much roomier than the shelf in the john
or the origami-keeping-knick-knack-dust-collecting bureau in the hall.

The last someone left one book behind.
The book always stuck out.
It would never stay even; it was like the other books withdrew from this pariah and shunned it.

I never read it, but I kept it.
I kept it as a guarantee.
The old gold-printed spine read, "The Last Book You'll Ever Read!"
I kept it as a guarantee.
and I never read it.

"all my books are soldiered" is such evocative writing I want to pet it.
 "origami-keeping-knick-knack-dust-collecting bureau in the hall" is pinpoint perfect description.
Notice there's no reference to what it's made of or what color it is. So often writers default to brown wood (for example). 


And the repeated phrases at the end.

Well, face it, this is Kate Higgins. We have come to expect brilliance.She makes it look easy, but every writer knows these little flash fiction things are anything but.




Delaney
“Dudley,” Squire Johnson said, “we are beyond grateful that, once again, you have saved our daughter in the nick of time. My wife and I cannot fathom why disasters have beset Luella since we came to the East End. You seem the only man who can keep her safe.”

Dudley doffed his cap. “Glad t’ be o’ service, yer worship.”

He withdrew, rounded the corner, and rewarded the ruffian waiting for him.

“Y’ want another near-thing tomorrah?” the ruffian asked. “Runaway ’orse? Viper, mebbe?”

“Aye,” Dudley said, “’e’s ‘bout ready to ’and ’er over, s’mike it a good ‘un.”
 Well of course any entry with a ruffian has my immediate interest. 
And a horse.
And a VIPER!!

And what made this entry just so damn wonderful is how the writer used vernacular to incorporate a prompt word to mean something entirely different: s'mike (so make.)

This is so deft I expect occult forces may have been brought in!



Amy Johnson
“That’s what makes a story a story,” she said into the mike.

Leaving the conference, she detected the fire twenty-three blocks away. She ducked into a portajohn and SWITCHED into her superhero suit, then flew toward the flames, drew in a super breath, and blew out the apartment fire, saving everyone there.

Then, she thwarted thugs attempting to nick women’s purses, REPLACED a stranded motorist’s tire, and, having no spare COINS, dropped a twenty into a man’s cup.

The feline met her at the front door, paws crossed. “You’re late. What’s your story?”

“I’m afraid I don’t quite have one.”
This entry wins the Duchess of Yowl Seal of Approval.

And mine for thwarting thugs!
 
It's also hilarious, and deft.








Let me know who I overlooked, what I missed in the stories I didn't get, and which of the shoutouts is your choice.


Final results later today!


And here it is: later.

I read these over again, and this week's prize goes to Delaney. All of the entries are wonderful, and I found a lot to admire in them.

Delaney, if you'll drop me a line with your mailing address and what you like  to read, I have some really good books to offer as prizes.


Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and enter, and those who commented this morning.

I love hearing your thoughts on these! 



39 comments:

Aphra Pell said...

Of the finalists I have a soft spot for smoketree's.

But also a wave of the sparkly pom-poms for Timothy Lowe doing it backwards in heels, sorry, in rhyme.

NLiu said...

I vote for Lennon Faris. What a great story.

nightsmusic said...

I loved Fearless Reider's. Timothy Lowe and Frain get a vote from me as well. They were all great this time though I admit, there's always that one or two I don't get. :(

Marie McKay said...

I do love John Davis Frain's. It is fantastic.
Good luck, everyone. The talent here is immense.

Theresa said...

Amy Johnson gets my vote.

And I thought Kregger's was about the discussion of what makes a story.

french sojourn said...


Such great writing, short list and otherwise. I liked Lenon Faris and the eternal / mortal question (so to speak) "To jump, or not to jump."

Cheers Hank.

Jenn Griffin said...

Fearless Reider's is great.

I vote for Timothy Lowe's poem. I haven't stopped laughing about it.

Lauren B. said...

It's a tough choice, but of the finalists, I give my vote to Kate Higgins :)

Also, I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one who didn't understand the reveal in a few of the entries.

Kregger said...

This story relates to last week's post on what makes a story. Not including change and twists disqualifies our stories which becomes a sin of and/or omission. Thus the trip to Hell.

Jay Leno expressed the idea...if the audience buys the piece, they will buy the bit. In this case, the setup/piece is a classic three people walk into a bar joke followed by the punchline of a character (writer) ending up in Hell (also known as rejection) for not changing.

As Colin has said, (paraphrasing) sometimes utilizing the prompt words is easier than making it a story. Of which, I'm in total agreement.

Thank you for the mention, and good luck to all the finalists.

Amy Johnson said...

Thanks, Janet. And thanks, Theresa. Congratulations to all! I so enjoy reading ff on the Reef.

Just Jan said...

Glad to see my two favorite entries posted here!

Mr. Frain, I take off my hat to your cleverness--loved your story.

Kate Higgins, I haven't stopped thinking about that book since I read your story yesterday. You have my vote, hands down.

Good job, all who were mentioned. Your entries were a balm for a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon.

KDJames said...

Ahhh, I was going for subtlety and instead totally missed the mark (which I suspected but posted it anyway). Oh well. She's an aging prostitute with dementia, living in a care facility. She remembers some things well enough to *know* her memory is missing a few details, but other things are a complete blank. Like why it feels familiar to solicit the attention of men.

What I learned: It's difficult to convey memory loss in a first person account without some kind of framing or context.

I'm surprised Timothy Lowe's poem isn't on the short list! John Frain's made me laugh too.

Of the finalists, I'm torn between Lennon Faris (haunting), Delany (great twist), and Amy Johnson (another clever twist and very funny).

Beth Carpenter said...

I loved Lennon Faris's story from the first reading and I love it more today. Still, I'm waffling between it, Delaney's, and Amy Johnson's. Glad it's not my decision. All finalists were wonderful.

Steve Forti said...

With Delaney as runner up, I'll cast my vote for The Manuscript this week. Definitely my favorite when reading yesterday.

Beth Carpenter said...

French sojourn's was another story I felt like I was on the edge of "getting" but couldn't quite grasp it. What reference am I missing?

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

KDJames, I did get yours and liked it!

LynnRodz said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't always get the story. My vote goes to Kate Higgins, but I also liked Timothy Lowe's poem. Very clever!

Thanks for the mention, Janet. I had writer's block and couldn't come up with a story. Then about 45 minutes before your closing time, I was in the shower and thought about Charlie Brown's The Great Pumpkin. I managed to post it one minute before 9 am and didn't even have time to proofread.

Timothy Lowe said...

Thanks for the mentions in the comments, Reiders! Made my day. I was proud of this one -- glad it resonated with so many of you fine folk.

As for my two cents, the finalists were all great, but Collin's story made me spurt coffee through my nose. I'm a sucker for a good pun, and his ending was delightful.

Thanks for another fun contest, Janet!

french sojourn said...



Beth Carpenter, it was a prologue for Richard Connell's "The most dangerous game." about a jerk of guy that is a big time game hunter and roles are reversed when he falls overboard and turns into the hunted. (Not someone I cared for as a character, nor believed qualified for redemption. )

So, yeah it was obscure. 100 words doesn't give a lot of background. Cheers!

Fearless Reider said...

Lennon's story was my favorite among many standouts. Amy Johnson's and John Davis Frain's stories were so clever, and Timothy Lowe's was a treat (ha!). Thanks for the shout-out! There are truly too many great entries to name all of the stories that tickled me and/or made me think.

Lennon Faris said...

Amy Johnson's really made me laugh, so that might be my fav? Not sure though. They are all fantastic. Very well done, everyone.

Thank you Janet and folks here for your kind words! My significant other did not 'get' it, so I wasn't sure if it was too obscure.

Kate Larkindale said...

They are all so clever! I don't envy you having to judge them. I particularly liked Kate Higgins' entry.

Beth Carpenter said...

French sojourn--Ah, I knew I'd read or seen something similar but couldn't remember. Very clever. Thanks!

Sandra J. said...

Janet, my choice from your shoutouts is John Davis Frain - his story was so clever and I absolutely loved it.

Just Jan's entry made me laugh because her story happened to me while I was trying to put something together for this contest.

Rosanna M's entry caught my eye.

Also, to be honest, I struggled with several entries that were either over my head or I didn't understand them (were they a story, were they not a story, what the heck is happening?).

smoketree said...

Congrats, Delaney! I also have a hard time resisting any story with both a runaway horse and a viper in it.

I will be taking Janet's kind words to my (possibly early) grave.

nightsmusic said...

Congrats, Delaney! And to all the others as well. This was a tough one this time.

John Davis Frain said...

Soooo many fantastic entries, it's a bountiful week! I, too, am on vacation, though not with Mr. Forti (wouldn't that be a delight!).

So happy my tale clicked with a couple folks as my family doesn't always (read: NEVER) understand my obsession.

Congratulations, Delaney, you had a high bar to cross this week with these finalists. High fives all around, I've had an excellent time reading all these entries. You're like Lay's potato chips -- no way I could've picked just one.

So write all you want, I'll read more.

Thank you, Janet, you hauled in a full net of delicious entrees.

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations, Delaney! Great story!

I'm tickled I finally got "deft." I've been trying for years to get "deft." Thanks again, Janet. And thanks, writer pals, for the nice comments.

I'm making fudge for everyone!

KDJames said...

Congrats, Delaney! I hope we see more of your words, more often, in the comment section (I used to be better at keeping track of names around here, but yours seems fairly new/recent).

Thanks, Sharyn!

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, Delaney!

Lennon Faris said...

Congratulations, Delaney!!

These contests are fun and a good mental exercise. I *always* feel wizened up after...

Beth Carpenter said...

Congratulations, Delaney! Well done!

Colin Smith said...

Congratulations, Delaney!

And thanks for the mention, Janet. Anyone who appreciates my puns has a special place in my heart. ;) You too, Timothy--I'm so pleased it was a coffee nasal-spurter. ;)

I have updated the contest spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest.

AJ Blythe said...

I'm glad Janet didn't get some of these because I didn't either. But I also missed the mark with Lennon (sorry, Lennon) although it seems everyone else understood.

Great entries everyone and congrats Delaney for the win.

french sojourn said...


Congrats Delaney, well done. Enjoy your hard earned win, you deserved it! Cheers!

Samara Lo said...

Congratulations, Delaney. Great effort everyone :)

JulieWeathers said...

There were so many great stories. Timothy Lowe, Dr. Frain, Well, lots of great stories. I'm glad I don't have to judge because I couldn't. I am always in awe of the talent here.

Good job.

Linda Shantz said...

I also feel better now I didn't get some of them! So many great ones. Congrats Delaney!

Kate Higgins said...

Congrats to Delaney! Thanks to Janet always for her comments.
How do you pet a word?
And thanks to those who enjoyed my little story. I hope to be more active with my writing and my comments now that time has softened my life crisis. I have too many ideas that time won’t wait for. And thank you all for your condolences in the last few months. My goal is to turn ‘widow’ into ‘Word Wonder Woman’! (note: there is no time-stamp on that ;) - Kate H