This contest has a new wrinkle: instead of announcing the winners, I've re-posted the five finalists' entries. You get to guess which one is the winner. (not pick the winner, guess who's been chosen)
Herewith the results of the 77 entries, each of which I read more than once:
Nice twist of the trope:
Sarah 11:58pm (time jump allowed because I opened the comments five minutes early)
Three entries had a line that just leaped off the page:
C. Andres Alderete 12:12am
She was beautiful once, but circumstance gnarled her and gravity pulled her and God demanded too much from her.
Murder is sometimes a necessary breach of etiquette.
Michael G-G 11:53pm
The Shark, moments before, had knifed out of the conference bar and plunged into the ocean, headed for Nassau.
Of course, some of you resorted to poems, and they were doozies!
Amanda C. Davis 11:18am
Working Stiffs 1:04pm (with special recognition for mentions of La Slitherina Herself)
Jdh 5:32pm (with special accolade for rhyming "entity with gentian tea"!!)
Two of you have been reading too much metafiction and are now writing metaentries!
Debra L. Schubert 11:25am
Several entries had very interesting concepts but weren't quite a story:
Mr Sitouh 1:42pm
Four were very very nice, but not quite stories:
This is AMAZING but again, not a story:
Durango Writer 4:51pm
That cunning Adjective was on the chase again. Noun looked for a page to hide behind but the outlook was bleak. Verb had already unhappily fallen prey to Adverb. The battle for narrative clarity seemed impossible to win.
“Stop breaching protocol!” Noun shouted. “Publishing doesn’t like when we pair up.”
“I hate when you talk about Publishing as if it’s some Entity to fear,” Adjective said. “It’s those critique groups you should really worry about.”
And an illustrated entry (which I promptly posted as my new Twitter avatar!):
Here are the five finalists:
Mr. Copperfield had the peculiar occupation of giving chase to rabbits for a living. Every morning he would stare down at his vegetables from his farm house only to notice a severe breach in the wire fence around his garden.
It was a bleak situation.
Despite the turned pages of Rabbit Hunter Weekly, all of his cabbages were gnawed to the point of no return. Red-faced, Mr. Copperfield cursed the little bunny entity, marched outside, and poised his shovel to strike, only to find his dog, Pookie, slipping back through the fence with a cabbage head between his teeth.
Janet B. Taylor 11:27am
“She wouldn’t let me page you,” Sam says, as I breach the double doors.
The bleak emptiness on his face confirms my worst fear.
“Why would she choose a human doctor?” I ask, as my eyes chase the arterial spray across a gleaming white wall, “I could have saved her. You knew that.”
My hands twitch with the need to touch my sister. Heal her.
“She didn’t trust magic,” Sam squeezes his wife’s limp hand, “believed it came from the Dark Entity.”
A sick feeling overtakes me.
“Sam,” My voice is low, but growing shrill, “where’s the baby?”
“There’s been a breach in the perimeter! Page the commander.”
I pick up the mezzophone and bark into the speaker, “Alien entity alert. Perimeter breach. Chase it down!”
Alarms sound overhead. The red light flashes, alternating with an amber blinker. This is the real deal.
I peer out of the viewport and across the bleak expanse of moonscape, seeking the telltale dust puffs that will give away the approach route. I see nothing.
The mezzophone chirps. “Yes?” I ask.
“We found the entity.”
“And…?” I feel the sweat pool at the small of my back.
“It’s your mother.”
Insufferable avian. Every year – every single bleak midwinter, without fail – it raps at my window, begging to be let in.
Let it freeze. It’ll never make it through the double-glazing. Besides, if I let it in, it’ll only chase me around my chambers, squawking its one-word vocabulary and pretending to be some dire entity of lore.
As if I didn’t have enough to do.
I ducked my head, turned the page and tried to concentrate on the report. Breach of contract, insurance number, ominous silhouette at the window –
No. Enough! I’d had enough!
Tomorrow, I was buying a .22.
Shaw sat in his car and snipped the dedication page from every copy of Ceaselessly and then returned them, the bookstore non-entities crediting his Discover with a sigh, a “Sorry” or “But it’s Henry Light.”
The pages applauded in Shaw’s hand as he chased Henry under the bleak dawn, across West Egg beach. Henry slipped on the rocky stubble, and Shaw fell on him. He rolled Henry over and kneed him.
“Into the breach. Into. Her. Dear. Friend.”
He filled Henry’s mouth until pages bloomed.
“Oops,” he said, standing, trembling, giggling.
“Oops. Oops. Oops.”
And dragged Henry into the sea.
Now, here's the fun part (and a new and delicious way to torment writers!)
I've picked the winner. Who do you think it is?