I have spent the entire weekend lollygagging about petting the cat and cozying up to HBO on the couch. The ONLY thing I got done was the contest results! The contest entries were great, the cat is great, and HBO is a treat cause I don't have TV at my own apartment.
But now, to work! Herewith the results:
a misspent youth provided the secret to this story!
Did you figure out what it was about?
Steve Forti 9:59am
Not quite a story, but terrifyingly evocative
BJ Muntain 10:26am
This is a sentence that is almost an entire story
“You never expect the Spanish Inquisition,” Dad murmured. Or the first miscarriage, the second Recession, the third War, their last little girl to grow up.
Special recognition for a great sentence
Foy Iver 1:15pm
"Silence stalked through the line."
The bottle-blonde winked at Alan then turned to the roomful of college jocks deciding which tenderoni she'd stalk tonight.
Homage to the Duchess of Yowl, Herself (now sleeping on her heating pad after being served her dinner)
JD Horn 11:40am
Great opening paragraph
Angie Greagory 12:38pm
It’s been six decades since the day we drowned. Oliver’s death was over in minutes. I’ve been sinking for a lifetime.
Not quite a story, but compelling
Kelly Roell 12:38pm
Not quite a story, but hilarious
french sojourn 1:06pm
Not quite a story, but intense!
Foy Iver 1:15pm
Here are the entries that made the long list:
Janice L. Grinyer 10:30am
Kim English 1:05p
Michael Seese 8:15pm
John Frain 3:29am
Here are the finalists:
Colin Smith 10:13am
Sam yawned and stretched across the bed. Fleur walked up to him, bending down to nibble his ear.
"Hey tiger," she whispered. "Ready to go Stalking?"
"Hmmm," Sam said with deep satisfaction. "Where’s Lucy? Did they whisker away?"
"No. She’s sleeping off supper. Ate too much."
"Then we must prey for her," Sam grinned. He licked the side of Fleur's face.
“Purrfect,” she sighed.
A neighbor found Minnie's decapitated remains the next morning.
I love the wordplay here: "whisker away" "prey for her" And notice how the syllable "purr" appears like a dash of spice: whispered; supper, fleur. That innate rhythm in the story gives it an energy. It's like music. It needs a good rhythm section or it just sounds bland!
Marie McKay 2:44pm
I didn't tell them I heard a heavy buzzing sound- a purring- coming from his cradle.
When he learned to move on all fours, he wasn't so different from the other kids.
I bit my lip when he scratched through bathtimes, and braced myself when I had to cut off his whiskers.
The media circus still came, stalking him like prey. They tagged their work DOCUMENTARY since their medium was box-shaped, not tent.
But mothers know sacrifice.
Escaping to the hills, one day, I kissed his exquisite whiskers, before setting my Tiger Boy free.
Two lines just took my breath away are: "They tagged their work Documentary, since their medium was box-shaped not tent." and "But mothers know sacrifice."
Those sentences give this piece poignancy and irony. It's not only a story about a mother and son; it's about us, the reader as well. You don't read this from a distance; you're right there.
This piece is an entire life in 90 words. It's brilliant.
amy Schaefer 4:49pm
He was gray and whiskery, like an elderly tiger, or a Norse god gone to seed. Jacqueline traced the lines of his face carefully, curiously. She felt a welling of proprietary pride.
“Jackie! Get off that giant!” Her mother threw a tea towel across her shoulder. “Kids these days, cutting down beanstalks. Now I’m stuck with a rotting giant carcass in my yard in the heat of summer. I mean really…”
Jacqueline jumped off the corpse, spurred more by her own plans than her mother’s complaints. She had eggs to sell, a harp to enjoy.
And new prey to seek
This is hilarious. And it's one of my very favorite things: an old story seen in a very different light.
Deep purring and a heavy weight on my chest wake me. I pry open sleep-heavy eyes to gorgeous tiger-striped fur and a rough pink tongue cleaning something darker off whiskers.
Slowly, so slowly, I turn my head and see the mangled prey beside me.
My stomach lurches even as the warm weight lifts.
Come on safari, he said. We'll only shoot photos.
I feel dreadful affinity, watching the powerful beast stalk back through the gaping tear in the side of the tent.
We both now have a mate who will leave this place in a box.
I love the double meaning of "bloody liar" and the idea that the tiger is taking revenge. And "dreadful affinity" really gives us a sense of complex emotions in a perfect bell-note phrase.
Curtis Moser 5:35pm
Robin lay on the floor, holding his longbow limply over his head. "I don't know what's wrong with me, Father. My whiskers don't work, my purrer is broken--even my stalker is malfunctioning."
"It's because you're a fox, not a tiger."
Robin considered this. "Maybe I'm a tiger in a fox's body?"
The clerical mouse was only half-listening. "That's against God's will."
"Great. Now I'm confused and depressed."
"Pray about it."
Robin put his longbow down and sat up. "You think preying will help?"
"I'll be damned," he said, licking his chops. "The good Father was right."
I love the word play of pray/prey, and "my stalker isn't working" and the double meaning of "good." Those kinds of clever juxtapositions are delightful. And of course, the idea that homonyms can kill you is VERY appealing.
Master calls me Muffin which is PERFECT she is the BEST THING that ever happened to me since I forget when but Master SAVED ME she SAVED ME I love her with all my heart she is PURE BEAUTY how I can please her today I am going to LICK HER and JUMP ON HER and CHEW ON HER SHOES and—
Enough, limp-whiskers. Learn one word: prey. Stalk tiger-like. Think tiger-like. Be a damn tiger. This house is MINE. Your “Master” is my SLAVE. She will aid my world domination. She-—HEY, I—-hey—-you brought me catnip?
This is a really interesting case study in editing. There was an earlier entry (at 6:42pm) that I liked, but it didn't really elevate to the short list. Then, this revised entry, where it's now clear that it's a puppy (not a kitten) and a cat, makes it clearer and more funny I don't know when flashfriday realized it could be improved (somewhere between 6:42pm and 7:24pm presumably) but I love this cause it underscores how important both revision and re-reading can be.
Also, of course, I like the story!
Tiger Shark slipped under the Moon by a whisker. Its hyper-drive engines purred as they gobbled anti-matter and tritium.
Captain Newmar stalked the bridge in her curvaceous latex-jumpsuit and stepped behind Lieutenant Foo.
“Here…? Why?” the diminutive-oriental pilot queried.
“The dark city’s our oyster, I prey.” The captain’s muscles tensed.
The vessel approached Gotham under a cloak of invisibility.
Newmar donned her hooded cape and prepared to eject into the city’s cesspool of chiroptera guano.
“Bats’ll be good hunting this year.” She removed her uniform and stepped into the transporter, saluting Too Won Foo, “Thanks for everything,” said Julie Newmar.
Holy smokes Batman! This is so subtly hilarious I just don't want to explain it. The only problem is the movie title is missing a letter, and I can't figure out if it's a mistake or done on purpose. And "chiroptera guano" in Gotham City is just perfect.
E.M. Goldsmith 9:47am
“What the Hell, little brother?” Luc asked.
“Making a better garden,” Joe said.
Luc laughed. “That’s a flood. What's that?"
“No, not your damn fish. That?”
“It’s a tiger.”
“It’s being stalked by a shark.”
“Luc! Stop adding things,” Joe said.
“You’ll thank me for the boat. Mammals drown. Turn off the rain.”
“Why are you helping?”
“Judgment Day comes soon. My world is already perfect.”
Luc spurred Joe’s anger.
“Dad,” Luc said. “What’s that whiskered fellow doing?”
“So I’ll help.”
“Joe, that’s cheating. You’re supposed remain invisible to your creation.”
I'm not sure I agree that Joe and Luc can be brothers, but let's suspend the theology for the sake of the story. I love this because it's highly original and it's also funny without being comic, and it makes you think. "My world is already perfect" should give you something to gnaw on for a good long time.
I think each of these finalists are amazing and prize worthy. It's getting harder to choose each week. I'm only sorry Her Grace, the Duchess of Yowl was unable to choose. She stared at the screen for a moment, but was then distracted by a dust mote.
In the end though, I had to choose the one that just took my breath away when I first read it. Those first reads are often the benchmark. When I read this one I knew instantly it was an entry that would be on the short list.
It never lost any of its power in subsequent readings.
Our winner this week is: Marie McKay 2:44pm
Marie, if you'll email me with your preferred mailing address, and the kinds of books you like to read, we'll get your prize in the mail.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to enter. I love reading what you write. You surprise and amaze me every week.
Congratulations to all our short and long list entries. The competiton is fierce, and subjective. Many of you will find your entry is someone's favorite as you read the comments to come!