First an announcement.
DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDED IN THE UK TODAY, SO PLEASE CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE ON THE WORLD CLOCK. YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS NEXT WEEK’S HALLOWEEN FUN!
What are you lot like? I expound the benefits of a meat-free diet and you come up with some of the most warped, weird and wonderful stories I’ve ever read. Thanks! Maybe I should have saved these prompts for next week’s Halloween special.
Thanks to everyone who turned out to write this week, and a huge thanks for dropping back in to comment on the other entries. I know how useful and enjoyable it is to read feedback on your writing.
Before I hand over to this week’s judge, Carlos Orozco, here’s my two-penn’orth on the stories that didn’t make it into the winning circle:
The Fabulous Butcher Boy by Image Ronin
IR crammed a lot of great imagery, emotion, and back story into this fantastic flash. You get a real sense of the hardship these people endure (“his breath a chain of clouds”) and the extreme measures they employ to survive – “William hefted another crimson-flecked sack from the wagon.” Shivers. Top notch.
Fresh by Rasha
Children as meat. A very sinister take on the prompt. I loved the line “seasoned workers stared at us hungrily”; it made me think of someone with a giant pepper grinder. Madam Henrietta sounds delightful; she deserves a story all of her own.
Free Lunch by Holly Geely
Although Jeff’s mom is only mentioned in the story, I felt she was a really strong character and could imagine her scolding Jeff at every turn. Steven is obviously a clever chap and manages to set up the situation to satisfy both himself and Jeff’s mom. But what about Jeff? I don’t think anyone ever cares what poor Jeff thinks. Great story.
Walking in Antarctica by Voimaoy
A particularly liked this story because Voimaoy provided a visual aid to the kind of clothes you should wear when walking in Antarctica! This made me shiver just reading it. “Flesh, don’t fail me now”, “Here is cold as the space between the stars”. And those memories of warmth contrasting starkly with the cold. Some incredibly beautiful writing here.
YOUNGER by Brian S Creek
Brian playing with the structure again to great effect. It could have been difficult to read without the clever use of capitalization to guide the reader. Of course the clever structure was not all this story had to offer. It’s kind of like Benjamin Button on steroids: eat manflesh or get younger and die. Story and structure very cleverly linked.
Fresh from the Abattoir by Nancy Chenier
I love good dialogue and this had nothing but. I sense a genuine pro-veggie viewpoint here, and done to great effect. The poor lad tries to put his morals across but dad is adamant; meat is the only way. On a personal level it reminded me of when my sister decided she would become a vegetarian. Our father was a butcher so it didn’t go down well! Great writing that both entertains and makes you think. Brilliant.
Express Image by Ed Broom
Another incredibly clever offering from Ed. I love the opening bookend; meat instead of cheese when taking a photo. The dialogue is excellent as is the choice of character names; it gives a very authentic feel. Two bible verses make it into the story: Exodus 20:4: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” – that explains Dorcas’ discomfort. John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” – very cleverly twisted by Eli to excuse his actions. Love it.
Now here’s what judge, Carlos Orozco, had to say about it all:
First off, I’d like to thank David Borrowdale for hosting Micro Bookends. It’s a really fun contest, and we can never have too many contest.
Great stories this week. My strategy coming in was creating two stacks: one for stories I wasn’t too crazy about and one for stories I really liked. Every story ended up in the latter category. I wished I could stop there but I couldn’t. So in the end I narrowed it down and ended up with two feel-good stories and two darker tales. Every one of them could have been number one, but I don’t think that would fly with the host. So without further ado:
Cat on the Menu by Avalina Kreska
Love the premise, and this line “The handful of breakfast oats never filled his aching stomach.” This explains so much without going into detail. Remember, what is said is just as important as what is not said. Also, “peeling skin like an orange” evokes such a dark twisted image. I love a good dark tale and this was great.
The Dirt by Grace Black
This is a well done feel-good tale. I prefer the darker stuff, but how can I dislike this one. I enjoyed that while the people perused the shop’s items, the narrator perused the faces. This line: “smell their forgotten childhood laughter and the acrid heartache that has taken its place.” Evokes all the senses by describing the smell of something we are supposed to hear. And all of this is summed up in one powerful word.
Uprooting by Brett Milam
Did I mention I like a good dark tale? This one grabbed my attention with the first line. Describing humans as meat monsters poured into boots and clothes is not just great imagery, but a way to desensitize humanity to justify what is coming up. I like that the word meat is used throughout making it an integral part of the story, not just a word forced in there. This line was my favorite: “We were the worst kind of meat”
Graven Image by Geoff Holme
The dialogue in this was great; very believable. I imagined the little girl sitting on her pap pap’s lap listening to stories. The mix up with Amish and army made me chuckle. Also, this story does a great job of telling the story with what is left out (if that makes any sense). The brief mention of Kathryn paired with the final line sets in motion the gears of the mind. Is Kathryn the Grandma or is she the person that got him to quit the Amish lifestyle which led him to where he is now? Also, great incorporation of the photo prompt.
by Geoff Holme
“‘Meat store’, Grampy?” she said. “Thought you wuz a veti-…”
“Vegetarian. I am, Becca. What have you found?”
He saw the creased Polaroid, its faded hand-written caption, and his heart flipped.
“It… it says ‘Me at store’, sweetie,” he managed to whisper. “That’s me on the cart.”
“The boys have funny hats,” she giggled. “They school uniform?”
“A uniform of sorts. I used to be Amish.”
“Army? You were a soldier?”
He smiled wrily. “No, Becca, just the opposite.”
Turning over the photo Kathryn had secretly given him that day, he saw again the phone number she’d written.
He’d known even then.
One day he would have to break free.