Monday, November 11, 2019

Flash fiction contest results

The prompt words were quite hairy this time, weren't they?

words I had to look up
Craig F: Thaumaturgy
Unknown: bothy
Efa Foy eucatastrophe

Outstanding use of the prompt word HEAT
Aphra Pell: Heart Ever Adoring and True
Craig F: (Health, Environment, and Thaumaturgy) Team
Colin Smith: Hell’s-fires at Extremely Amplified Temperatures

Why do I even try?
Thwarted AGAIN

Steve Forti!
“This is a serious accusation being leveled. You swear your innocence?

Ha! I look’a gilty sort? I eats me own, no moor.”

“What about Maxwell? He’s always been a shifty, shady character.”

D’ weezil? He n’ wood’a dun it a’lone.”

“But as you say, he’s weaselly enough. Makes for a good suspect.”

“Aye. He ate ‘em, n’ dowt. But he’n’t b reachin no hand n no jar less’un he b tolled.”

“Told by whom?”

“Hmm… ‘f I reson i’ out, I b gessin i’ were yu.”


“Thass’ rite. Yu stoled d’ cooky frum d’ cooky jar.”
Lennon Faris having some fun
“Next act will be from ‘Chicago!’”

“Is that their name, or hometown?”

“Wasn’t Chicago a band?”

“So it’s a person, place, or thing.”

Thing, we decided. Whatever it was, swung around the stage whipping wild hair and hailing demons with an electric guitar. At the end, it turned around, dropped its Firestone trousers, and mooned us all.

“Disqualified!” screamed Principle.

“Name?” asked the judges.

“Dweezil Henwood. Also, Sortie.”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” said Principle.

Dweezil winked.

Judges whispered, then called, “Carry on.”

“What?!” cried Principle, heated.

“It didn’t breach any rules. It’s a noun, alright, but nowhere near proper.”

Special recognition
C. Dan Castro 
I am not a coward.
“Gentlemen, tomorrow’s sortie against Ploesti will cripple the Nazis.”

Some men...boys cheer.

I know I wouldn’t make it back.

“Heil Hitler? We’ll hail a firestorm down like God’s wrath.”

All the boys whoop.

It’s suicide. I’ll feign illness.

“What about air defenses?” God, he’s 18?

“Partisans with HEAT rounds’ll smash ‘em. Let us breach AA defenses.” If the partisans show.

“Gentlemen, tomorrow we end this war!”

The boys erupt, unleashing a cacophony that if the Ploesti Nazis could hear it, they’d quake.

I can’t...won’t abandon these boys.

These men.

I’m not a coward.

TS Rosenberg
Built my empire with sweat equity. Years of rice and beans. When I gazed up at the skyscraper bearing my name, I cried.

After the hostile takeover, I moved fast to the “acceptance” stage of grief. I hail from Chicago, where corruption's part of life.

Then they smacked me for breach of contract. My sortie with lawyers (Dewey, Cheatem & Howe) left me so broke I couldn't buy beans, never mind rice.

Slipped into the “disgruntled ex-employee” stage of grief.

Chicago knew something about fires, too.

I gazed up at the skyscraper. My name faded within the smoke. I cried.

John Davis Frain
The four-way is now a stoplight. I pass the theatre where my procrastination backfires. It’s a three-story condo. Lover’s Resort (i.e., Coal Mine Road) is grown over.

At Mom’s, the oak is gone. Tire swing, too.

I’m surprised when my key works. Guess it would have all this time, ten years and change.

Inside, memories hail from the walls. Mom asks if I’m here to fix the toilet. Every bone, every fibre, aches as I bend to hug her. She can’t remember my name.

I thought when you had no one, no one could hurt you. But I’m wrong, Mom.

Unbeknownst to Pam, the new thermostat Jim installed in her mother’s apartment was a direct portal to Hell. Programming it sent her on a sortie to the land of fires, red-hot hail, and teeth gnashing.

“This is a breach of contract,” Satan wailed.

“You actually wanted my mother?”

“She’s post-menopausal and feisty--she can handle the heat.” His eyes twinkled. “Besides, most husbands don’t read the fine print when they ask me to take their mother-in-law.”

“You mean--?”

Satan giggled. “For all eternity.”

“That’s genius!”

“Pure evil! Wanna watch?”

And so Pam learned the true origin of reality TV.
Efa foy
It’s picture day and the boy breaks out in fish scales.

Peachy. Derek and his alpha-ilk will LOVE this.

He tugs at the plates breaching his flesh. They tug back.

Can we wait this out?

The bathroom door thumps—“Hon, bus’ll be here soon”—as gills blossom on his neck. Miss the bus, and he’ll have to face Dad’s switch-stiff ire.

So, that’s a no.

Even toothpaste smeared, they are stunning: Blue-green iridescent.

Maybe this’ll work?

Deep in the striations or tiers of himself, he changes, too.

This could be his eucatastrophe. At least, he’ll be visible.

I think I know who gets the nod this week, but I really like getting your opinions on who you think should win, and who your faves were, and most important, who I left out.

Results later in the day!


Aphra Pell said...

John Davis Frain for me.
Runner-up Dan Castro for Rememberance Day.

Aphra Pell said...

Oh, and a wave of the sparkly pom-poms to Kregger for making me laugh.

Steve Forti said...

I second the vote for Frain. With a runner-up nod to Efa foy for that last line making the whole story punch.

Karl Henwood said...

Honestly the Forti use of my dogs name is absolutely magical. My vote goes to him.

C. Dan Castro said...

Thanks Aphra!

I’d like to give a shout-out to Mr. Seese’s entry. Felt like it had a lot goin on, but also was nicely simple.

nightsmusic said...

Frain's really struck me hard. I'm still trying not to cry. He's got my vote although so many were excellent.

NLiu said...

Efa Foy gets my vote!

Theresa said...

It's a real f-ing day for me: Forti, Faris, and Frain, in that order.

Megan V said...

My vote is for Efa foy!

Beth Carpenter said...

All are so good. I really enjoyed Aphra Pell's story, but my favorite is Forti.

Dena Pawling said...

TS Rosenberg for including my favorite law firm. Lennon Faris for ensuring that Dweezil Henwood was absolutely NOT used as a proper noun. C Dan Castro for his timely entry for Veteran's Day. John-the-Manuscript for his walk down Memory Lane. JustJan because she got Satan to giggle. Efa foy for toothpaste in the gills. Steve Forti because, well, because Steve Forti.

I'm glad I could help you choose a winner. You're welcome.

Colin Smith said...

As someone who is NOT Steve Forti, this was a hard Forti challenge.

A great set of finalists, but my vote goes to C. Dan Castro, not simply because it is Veteran's Day here in the US, but because it's a reminder of what true bravery is: doing what you have to do despite being scared out of your mind. And that's why the soldiers who have fought and continue to fight to protect our country and defend our freedoms are the bravest of us all.

Thanks for the shout-out, Janet! I wondered if we were to take the case of "HEAT" into account, so I hedged on the side of caution. I know you can be a tricky shark... :)

Steve Forti said...

Can confirm: Colin is NOT me. Luckily for him, of course.
And yeah, wasn't a lot of wiggle room to use this time. Had to get ridiculous with it.

Timothy Lowe said...

Efa foy's entry is just too bizarre to pass up. The rest are great, but that one takes my prize (editor's note: I do not have a prize).

Matt Krizan said...

Another vote for John Davis Frain.

Just Jan said...

I can't choose between C. Dan Castro and John Davis Frain. Both packed quite an emotional punch.

But my favorite entry was Colin Smith's. I'm still chuckling over that one.

TS Rosenberg said...

Dena - happy to see someone knows the reference. :) (I'm pretty sure La Shark used it recently, as well.)

I'm thrilled I finally learned how to push someone out of the airlock in 100 words.

Kate Larkindale said...

I think this week it has to be Frain. Thanks for making me tear up, dude!

Marie McKay said...

I love John Davis Frain's. Every line is so good.

Fearless Reider said...

Tough one! I loved all the finalists, as well as a number of the stories that didn't get mentioned. But overall I have to go with Efa Foy's fish tale because eucatastrophe is one of my favorites -- both the word and the concept.

C. Dan Castro's story is so fitting for Veterans Day and it made me read up on the Ploesti raid. I'm a little red-faced that I got an American studies degree without encountering it. Or maybe the knowledge got pushed out of my head by all the novels I was "forced" to read for my other major. Lord knows there's limited space in there.

Sandra J. said...

Frain's entry really packed an emotional punch that many of us are likely experiencing at present, and Colin Smith's made me laugh.

My top pick is Faris for being funny and clever.

Anonymous said...

Always enjoy these.

John Davis Frain said...

Today, and any day for that matter, I'm going with C. Dan Castro for his moving (and accurate) portrayal. On top of that, it's structurally sound. Well done.

Also, it's snowing here. Big, bold flakes making for a beautiful landscape. Unless you're driving in it, of course.

KDJames said...

I thought Colin's would be a finalist, but maybe you have to live in the south with its monster bugs to find hilarious empathy in just burning down the house rather than calling an exterminator. Totally cracked me up.

I liked the cleverness of both Colin and Timothy doing an acrostic of the Forti-words.

I read Rio's several times-- I think it was about her shadow? I really liked the idea of it being her protector/avenger.

But I agree that John Frain is the winner this time. This line just killed me: "I’m surprised when my key works. Guess it would have all this time, ten years and change." Well done, John. Dammit.

Oh, and since someone contacted me to ask-- no, mine was not autobiographical.

Rio said...

KDJames, yes, the story was about the girl's shadow! I was afraid it was too obscure, so I'm really happy you got it!

I'm glad to know your story wasn't autobiographical, but it's still unfortunate to think it's autobiographical for way too many people.

My vote goes to Efa foy, because I know all about the horrors of picture day!

Kregger said...

I'm voting for C Dan Castro almost strictly on timeliness.
Great job to all.
I'm waving my sparkly pom-poms at you Aphra Pell in thankfulness at the mention.
(okay, okay!)
I'm stepping down from my chair before the partners want to have me committed.

Claire Bobrow said...

Sorry I missed the contest! Looks like you all did stellar work. No surprise there, you talented Reef dwellers!! Congrats to those on the short and long lists.

In the "late to the party" department: Julie Weathers, I missed yesterday's post because I was in the great state of Texas for a writing workshop. I'd like to add my admiring comments re: Gage the Wonder Dog. He's clearly a very good boy. Please give him a pat from me!

Craig F said...

I'm torn between two of them and it isn't looking to come clean anytime soon. Thanks for letting us read your stuff and thank you, My Queen, for the shout out. It has been a long time since I even managed that.

LynnRodz said...

As with most, I'm torn between two. Frain's hits too close to home, and Castro's coincides with Veteran's Day. I'll let you decide, Janet.

Lennon Faris said...

Ooh, nicely done folks. I wouldn't want to pick... but John (mss) Frain's really resonated with me. They are all excellent though.

Thanks for the shout-out, Janet and Dena!

Colin Smith said...

Thank you, Just Jan, Sandra, and KD. We have lived in a house (not anymore) where every summer was like an invasion. For some reason we never got small roaches there. Always 1-2 inch monsters that seemed to come out of nowhere. Just part of life in the South. :)

Efa Foy said...

Thank you, Steve Forti, NLiu, Dena Pawling, Timothy Lowe, Fearless Reider, and Rio for the kindnesses and encouragement, and a double helping of thanks to Janet for hosting and feedback!

I've been lurking about the reef a while now, learning as much as I can from the flash contest and query posts, and am perpetually blown away by the value of a resource like QS.