Monday, March 09, 2020

Save Me From My Reading flash fiction contest results-FINAL

As usual, you all stepped up to deftly hold my attention after a long week of reading.

Herewith the results:

Filed under the why do I even try column YET AGAIN.
Steve Forti

Special recognition for words I had to lookup:

Special recogniton for a great line
She who controls the toilet paper controls the world

The Duchess of Yowl approves of this entry:
Lisa Bodenheim

Here's the long list of entries that stood out

Matt Krizan
“The Plot Thickens!”

“Twist The Knife!”

The old friends greet each other warmly, regaling one another with stories they’ve been in. From the far end of the table, A Snail’s Pace glowers at them.

“I thought they weren’t bringing him back,” mutters Plot.

Knife shrugs. “Can’t have one of these without him.”

“I guess.”

The moderator approaches. “Anyone seen On The Same Page? No? Well, we can’t wait any longer.”

They settle in next to the moderator, who taps on her microphone, asks everyone to please take their seats. “Welcome,” she says, “to today’s panel discussion on clichés in literature…”

Timothy Lowe
Digging for Grandpa required a treasure map. Luckily, Grandma left one.

“Twisted,” said Desiree.

“That’s Grammy.” I peered at the page. “Always with a sense of humor.”

We wound through thickets, splashed through streams, shovels in hand.

“Fitting payback for a lifetime of philandering,” she said. “But how did she know it would--?”

“He had a pacemaker put in. Next week, he went missing. Here we are.”

The mise-en-scene described in Grammy’s will: a rotten garter, a set of scarlet pumps, a wisp of gauze shrouding the shallow mound.

Desiree wouldn’t stop laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“Sex marks the plot.”

Katelyn Y
They’re silent when I finish. Finally, Tolkien speaks. “It’s not bad. Just… take more space. The more words, the better.”

Odd. Heaven shouldn’t have criticism. “It’s… a short story.”

“Exactly. Short on plot and allegory.” Lewis, nodding solemnly. “Though I liked that twist with the lion on page nine.”

“There’s not…” This can’t be Hell. I didn’t do enough for that, did I? “I think you misread – ”

“Atrocious ending too,” says Christie. “I’ve no idea who murdered whom.”


“Exactly.” Tolkien pats my shoulder. “Just rewrite, add fifty pages, and we’ll talk tomorrow.”

Oh. Purgatory. Fair enough.
Michael Seese
"I'm leaving."

Her "farewell," delivered after-the-fact—via text—confirmed what I'd long known. That in Darcy's Theater Of The Absurd, my role was little more than the mise-en-scene. Verily, Darcy had turned the page on our relationship somewhere between her byline and the (overly) dramatis personæ, with countless props from her private performances meeting shattered demises against a wall or the sidewalk below, while she recited her life from its hackneyed script.

"I need more."

"I have no space."

Of course, plotlines should wrap with a twist, though in this case, twenty.

Specifically, the lug nuts on her brand-new Porsche.

My eyes rolled in time with the thud of music. Oblivious human groupies swaying behind me. Cause strobe-lights and Michael Bolton? Not exactly…going the distance.
Leaning over the bar, I cupped my mouth. “No, Paige. Like page.”
Smiling the bartender, not a merit scholarship lot, whose muscles were more suited to spandex and iron than vermouth, gave my martini over.
“No, thanks.” Gripping glass, I took my—very—needed drink. Slugging it down, I pulled my silver pistol and took aim.
Because as for the undead lead singer of this cover band?
Forever would be enough.

John Davis Frain
Frain, creature of habit, hit the jukebox for Friday night inspiration. The Jackson 4 record dropped. Jammed. He shook and twisted the machine. No music. No inspiration.

He’d try again Saturday.

When he woke, none of his four senses seemed to function. He flushed his flash.

Sunday arrived with the same result. He stared into space.

“Hey, V.” He showed his wife his entry, nary a splotch on the page. “I plead the fourth. Nothing’s working.”

“She gave you fewer constraints, yet it’s harder?”

“Nobody understands writers.”

V gave him a high-four, pinky lost years earlier in a motorcycle accident.
The particularly nice twist here is that V is five in Roman numerals.

Mallory Love
“Let travel through space and time.
Plot our way through the universe.”
The young guy sang my lyrics to me.
“You’re a legend. Can I get an autograph?” He ripped a page from his notebook.
It’s rare nowadays to be recognized as a geriatric rock star.
Rarer still to get an album sale. Tours? Forget about it.
“How about a picture instead?” I suggested.
To most kids his age, I’d just be another old man on the street.
I’m flattered he noticed me.
The twisted thing was he’d never suspect me when he later realized his wallet was missing.

Here's the short list of entries that stood out.
(this was REALLY a task to choose which ones!)

My evil twin rang the stage at dress rehearsal. “Bomb on mise-en-scène.”

Pacing, the director turned the page.

“Who plotted a twist without telling me!?”

A stage “dude” strode forth, a paper-brown box-en-hand.

Actors aghast, eyebrows high, and fingertips to lips.

The actor dropped the box.


Actors shuffled back once…twice…throwing up their hands (you should try it sometime, bleech).

End act one.


Standing from afar, I watched a fireball light the low-hanging clouds.

I turned to my doppelganger as she giggled with delight.

“I told you. With your lisp, they’d never understand mezzanine.”

She turned in shock. “What lissp?”
This is so much subtle fun!
I read this three times and saw something new each time.
That's real artistry.

S.D. King
“Me, too.”

Nods around the circle.

“Me, too. I was 12.”

Six inmates - Rikers Island. Tough women. Little girls robbed of trust. Of hope. Of future.

Janice stood guard as the weekly GED Study Group got off topic again. She liked these women.

“I’d plot a Lorena Bobbitt if I got my hands on the bastard.”


“Actually any raping bastard. Even Cosby or Spacey.”

“Preach it, girl.”

Janice understands- she still can’t even pee without drippage – broken beer bottle.

“You hear a famous twisted bastard’s in the men’s cellblock?”

Janice knew the cell number.

“Me, too,” she whispered.
While this isn't really a story, there's no way I'm not giving this some love.
Probably helps that I watch Unbelievable on Netflix over the weekend.
(I'd watch Merritt Wever in just about anything, up to and including just standing in a phone booth on Seventh Avenue)

Lora Senf
Always known there’s a space.

And a door.

Between There and Here, I mean.

Momma said, “Careful, baby – what’s There’s where it belongs. Got no business Here. Not anymore.”

Did my best to mind, but turns out it’s me that’s bridging.

Plotted to open it a crack - barely enough to slip a page – to see the light poke through. Figured, There must be a whole lot brighter’n Here.

Turns out it don’t abide partway. That door flew wide and wasn’t no light There. I ‘tribute it to folks being all twisted up and mostly dark inside.

Shoulda minded Momma.
This really isn't a story either, and I normally don't go for much that is allegorical and abstract, but this just really spoke to me.

french sojourn
Her words hit him like a poleaxe to the gut.

She has the nerve to stand there in all her pageantry and look so smug. How could she mention my sickness in front of everyone? Why? I’m seeing a therapist… you money-grubbing cheese eater. Damn, now you’re bringing up my health.

But he, Walter Mitty, stood there and took it. Turn the page, be the better person.

Even more twisted, now she’s going on about my death…plotting it in front of all these people.

The minister turned, smiled, and said, “I now pronounce you, man and wife.”
I'm always a sucker for this kind of twist in a story, and this one is damn good.

C. Dan Castro
The promoter smiled. Feral. “And then?”

“Our hero flees with the Speck. But...plot twist! Monkeys steal the Speck. Give it to an eagle which loses the Speck in a clover field. Hero finds it, but other animals pounce. Tie him up. Threaten to destroy the Speck.”

“Then he gets them to hear a what?”

“A who.”

Feral laughs. “Feels like Abbott and Costello.”

“It’s a page turner. For a children’s book.”

“Yeah, fast paced. Ted, it’s ‘54. Commies everywhere. Make the eagle a vulture, giv’im a Ruskie name like Vlad, and I’ll see citizens hear about Horton hearing his Who.”
This made me laugh out loud, particularly given I've spent the week offering up notes on manuscripts. I hope I'm not quite as blind as Mr. Feral (such a great name)

Fog oozed across the pier like an ocean of milk suffering from severe personality disorder.

"It'd help lots if you'd dispose of the body," said Vanderbilt, peering at the semi-seen scene with a twisted, uncertain grin.

"What I'm s'posed to do 'bout it?"

"Listen, it's a pretty hip age we're living in, but not hip enough for blatant murder."

"He should'na had that crap ace up his sleeve."

"And you shouldn't have had that knife up yours."

"Alright, I'll handle it—Vanderbilt?"


"Where's the body?"

"Rien ne va plus," said the fog. "Guess it isn't your lucky night after all."

Semi-seen-scene in and of itself is hilarious but for use of the prompt word mis-en-scene, it's sheer genius.

And that last line takes this from deft to utterly delightful.

So, who did I overlook?
And who's your fave?

I read these again today, and my initial choice is still the final choice.

The prize goes to Kregger!

Kregger, email me your mailing address and what you like to read and we'll get a prize in the mail.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and post entries.
It really livened up my weekend.



Aphra Pell said...

Oooh, it's tricky again. *Waves pom-poms at everyone indiscriminately*

From the shortlist, SD King has the most impact for me, but I'm in love with Casual-T's first line.

Aphra Pell said...

And from not-on-the-shortlist:

JustJan made me laugh, but NLiu's captured my heart (again!)

And I'm not sure if Timothy Lowe is a genius, or should go and sit in a corner and think about what he has done.

Steve Forti said...

I'm partial to Mallory and Hank's this go round.

NLiu said...

Out of the shortlisted entries, C Dan Castro's was my fave. I also enjoyed Steph Ellis' scatological toilet paper heist. Boom.

Aphra Pell, what can I say? Your heart was too big for me to carry so I handed it in at the police station. Alas, I'll stick to doubloons and ransomable nobility from now on.

Is this a good place to mention I have a mailing list about stories AND I'm looking for beta readers who enjoy YA fantasy? Details (email and mailing list) under my blogger profile. Excuse for being so OT is that those are Things Janet Said To Do. (Although Janet please delete my comment if it is too OT and also please please please don't eat me.)

french sojourn said...

Lora Senf's read to me like lyrics, so nicely crafted. (Although, I couldn't for the life of me match it to music, the closest I got was Aztec Camera.)

They were all so close. Good luck QOTKU.

Thanks for doing these contests, they really help sharpen our quills, and reading the talent doesn't hurt either.


Megan V said...

C Dan Castro has my vote - Horton AND a who’s on first mention? That’s brilliant and hilarious.

Matt Krizan said...

I thought Timothy Lowe’s “sex marks the plot” was a great line. I really enjoyed Katelyn Y’s writers’ purgatory. My favorite was John Davis Frain’s. 4 stars.

Maybe it’s just me, but there seemed to be an awful lot of stories about people being sneakily violent to other people. :)

And thank you so much for the mention, Janet. Made my morning.

Just Jan said...

My favorites today are Tim Lowe, Katelyn Y, and Hank. Congrats to everyone who long- and short- listed and to all the mentions!

Also, thanks for the shout out Aphra Pell!

Luralee said...

Casual T gets my vote, cuz I agree with Janet. Semi-seen scene is genius!
And from the long list Katelyn Y and Matt Krizan made me laugh :)

Casual-T said...

As so often around these parts, this is extraordinary work. C. Dan Castro’s Dr. Whos, and Hank’s Secret Life coaxed some particularly reverberating LOLs from my chest. I love Thurber’s story about that eternal dreamer, and Danny Kaye’s 1947 portrayal makes me smile to this day. And, even though I’m usually not too fond of remakes and reboots, Ben Stiller’s 2013 effort is one remake I can say yes to. Aren’t all writers of fiction Walter Mitty at heart?

PS: Thanks much for the mention of the G-word, Janet. I’m humbled, and thankful for the recognition. Now I simply need to stretch this “genius” from 3 words to about 100.000, and that publishing contract is as good as signed.
PPS: Many thanks for the shout-out Aphra Pell and Luralee. Glad you guys dig the word mangling.

Claire Bobrow said...

Ya know, it just gets harder and harder to pick a favorite in these contests because they're all so dang good!
Big shout-out to everyone in the mentions and on the short and long lists. Great work!

I'm off to search for the fog that speaks French...

Katelyn Y. said...

Thanks for the mentions everyone! Casual-T and C. Dan Castro were two of my favorites, but I have to go with french sojourn for the twist at the end :).

Claire Bobrow said...

Forgot to say: It didn't make the mentions, but I loved Just Jan's entry.

Richelle Elberg said...

I vote for Katelyn Y this time--great job all!

Bethany Joy said...

I love these because each one is mini-masterclass in writing. Much can be said in a few words. But french sojourn's twisted wedding is my Primus inter pares.

Lora Senf said...

Awfully excited to see my weird little "story" on this list! Thanks, French Sojourn, for the mention! And thanks, Janet, for including me.

Lots of brilliant stuff here. I rarely participate in these contests, but always read them! I'm frequently in awe of what people can pull together with so few words.

Kate Larkindale said...

Wow! Once again I'm floored by how good y'all are. Don't think I could pick a winner. They're all fabulous in their own ways.

Beth Carpenter said...

Wow! Just wow.

Kregger said...

Thank you for the mention.
I'm always a sucker for Walter Mitty.
But other than French Sojourn (Hank), I like Tim Lowe's

Matt Krizan said...

Thanks, Luralee. Glad you got a chuckle out of it. :)

french sojourn said...

Now I'm torn between C. Dan Castro, Kregger, and Casual-T. Layers and layers of razor sharp writing.

"All bets are now taken?"

Timothy Lowe said...

Thank you Aphra Pell, Matt Krizan, Just Jan, Kregger for the kind words. Always fun to have something that grabs attention. All of these are so amazing, I don't envy Janet having to choose. Katelyn Y's really resonated with me this time! Purgatory, indeed!

Alyssa R said...

I vote for Katelyn Y and S.D. King.

Also NLiu, whose pirates seem to have sailed off the short list.

S.D.King said...

Thanks to Aphra Pell and Alyssa R for the shout-outs. And thanks, Janet for noticing my work. So many great entries!

Mallory Love said...

Congrats Kregger! And congrats to all the other short and long listers. So many great entries here. I particularly liked John Davis Frain’s and Katelyn Y’s. Thanks for another fun contest, Janet.

Casual-T said...

Cheers, Kregger! Well done, and well deserved.

Lora Senf said...

Congrats, Kregger! Well done!

Just Jan said...

Way to go, Kregger! Congratulations!

C. Dan Castro said...

Wow, thanks folks for the five shoutouts. I know I’m late to the game—not sure if anyone reads this post-contest so late—but the least I can do is offer a few S-Os back:
—Timothy Lowe: your final line bust a big laugh out of me.
—Colin Smith: liked your working in “alibi”
—S.D. King: very solid, very memorable
—Katelyn Y: my 2nd place choice; simply enjoyed it a lot.
—Matt Krizen: my 1st place choice; inventive/clever; simply enjoyed it the most.

Colin Smith said...

Congratulations, Kregger! And thanks for the shout-out C. Dan Castro. :)

I have updated the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest.

John Davis Frain said...

Side benefit of a busy Monday ... less suspense, and the winner is already chosen. So, congratulations Kregger. That was a lot of tough competition you edged out, so give yourself a pat on the back.

Thanks, as always, to our gracious Queen for excelling in her hosting duties. The commentary following the finalists is always enlightening, and worth the price of entry all by itself.

Keep writing, y'all.

Tiggergramma said...

Congrats to Kegger!
Now I need a little help, please. Can someone please point out where french sojourn used 'pace'? You guys always make me work to find the words, but I've read that one six times and can not suss that one last word...

french sojourn said...

Congrats KREGGER! Beautiful win.

Tiggergramma...ha, I just re-read my entry, this makes it the second time that I made it as a finalist leaving out a prompt word. Good catch. It is strewn somewhere on the editing room floor. Guess there should be a new category for old people losing one of the prompts.

cheers Hank.

CynthiaMc said...

Congratulations Kregger and all the finalists.

Kregger said...

Thanks to everybody and to Ms. Reid for the honor.
I'm having my first cup of coffee, and I think I'm still asleep.
Yup, still asleep.

Katelyn Y. said...

Congrats Kregger!