Welcome to the results show. There was a lot of cynicism on show this week. I think it comes with the season, at least for me. The contrast between a day where people give thanks for what they have, followed by a day of people trampling over each other for cut-price electrical goods is enough to bring out the cynical side in anyone. Anyway, let’s give thanks to judge, Marie McKay, for some sound judging.
But before I hand over to her, here’re my thoughts on the stories that didn’t quite make into her winning selections.
Thursday’s Child by Avalina Kreska
There are some great lines in this: “last spurt of human endeavor”, ” I double-dared the needle tip”. I love the image of the giant God with the cynical message. Is it from us to God because of the devastation about to hit, or from God to us because He is displeased? I love writing that both entertains and makes you think. Well done.
Thanks Taking by Denise
Thanks Taking is an excellent and original use of the opening bookend. “To survive, people only thought of themselves” was exactly what I was thinking as I watched the shocking scenes of people climbing over each other to get at discounted TVs on Black Friday. This is a very bleak and cynical story with a sad ring of truth. Well done Denise, and welcome!
Pinky the Pig by Holly Geely
A shocking act of vandalism tantamount to murder! I love the dialogue in this and the relationship between Jesse and Frederic feels very real because of the little details like Jesse’s appreciation of Fred’s award-winning gravy. A fun story. Well done Holly.
Birthday Celebrations by Stella Turner
“I had a predilection for swine. After all I had married one!” What a great line. I liked the way you included “hair in pigtails” to keep the piggy theme going. Some complicated relationships between these two couples! So did she fall or was she pushed? Great story Stella.
(*Terms and Conditions Apply*) by Karl A Russell
And now for something completely different! This had such an authentic feel, I’m sure there’s a job for you in space marketing. I loved that you saw the inflatable as a real creature; the legendary Flooflar. “You will share it’s life and memories forever.” Does that include the memory of when the poor creature was netted and milked by rich space tourists? I hope so. Well done Karl.
Ada by Stephanie Ellis
This is fantastic writing. The descriptions of the husband eating are great. I particularity liked “mouth churning a wash-cycle of gluttony.” You can feel Ada’s hatred for this slob and sympathise with her when she wants to deflate him “but everyday he seemed to balloon up that little bit more.” Brilliant, well done.
2 22 28 46 10 by Jim M
Jim focuses on the numbered people in the first of two great offerings. Extreme Bingo! What a fantastic idea. I love the TV program-style commentary, it has a real authenticity about it, especially with the clever product placement. Excellent inclusion of one of the best bingo calls (Gandhi’s breakfast, eight nothing, get it?). A really fun story.
For The Treatment Of Others by Ed Broom
A great title leading into a great, feel-good story. The dialogue is authentic and the relationship between the characters feels real. I love the little details “is there a pen in this house that actually works”, and the jokes, “I’m gonna flash this to Ali later, try and get money off my kebab.” The inflatable pig is incorporated brilliantly. I hope it’s not a premonition. Nice work Ed.
Giving Thanks by Jacki Donnellan
This story left a huge smile on my face, not just for the life-affirming theme, but for the simplicity and leanness of the writing – qualities I strive for in my own writing. I love the idea of Thanks being objects to be displayed and judged (the best Thanks are the ones with the biggest appendages of course). But we all know that the best Thanks are really the little ones given in private. Excellent.
They Always Boast by Jim M
I love the voice in this story, and there’s some great lines: “he wins it open, then loses it”, “slots ching and pour”. A cautionary tale. If you have a system to beat the house, keep it to yourself. But as the title says, they always boast. Well done Jim.
The Deal by Geoff Holme
You really feel for this couple. They have “mortgaged their future” to achieve their desire. You can’t blame them for taking up the sinister professor’s offer. But maybe they should have read the small print. I love the incorporation of the photo prompt (“her belly expanded like an inflatable pig”), and the ending is chilling. Well done Geoff.
Now, without further ado, here’s what judge, Marie McKay, had to say about it all:
This is my first time judging and, albeit clichéd to say this, you made it very difficult for me. You are such a talented bunch! When I saw the photo prompt, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the stories were so varied. There were futuristic and humorous stories. There were themes of consumerism, greed and murder. There were other surprises along the way, too, including Extreme Bingo and a mention of Nessie. Thank you, all, for allowing me the pleasure of reading your incredible material.
Here goes with the judging:
When Turkeys Fly by Voimaoy
This is a hugely entertaining story. I loved the fantastic end line that managed to incorporate ‘television presenter speak’ and one of the required bookends with great panache.
Carnival in the After by Nancy Chenier
This haunting tale of the Before and After is full of wonderful imagery. We are never told exactly what the event is that has pared people down. Whether it is some type of apocalyptic event or huge financial recession the characters are caught up in, the language describing its effects is stunning.
People ‘pay their barter, linger at the exhibits…’ depicting perhaps a longing for food or just even a purpose.
‘Their hungry gazes rake over the animals.’ This line has so much impact. This world is grim and its closing words underline its terrible hardship, ‘They’ll come from miles around to take whatever we’re giving.’ Fantastic writing.
Traditions by Carlos Orozco
The dialogue between 88 and 10 is sharp and poignant. The reverence 10 displays for the corporations of their forefathers’ time is a brilliant piece of irony. ‘When the sky blackened on Friday’ is a captivating line followed up by another excellent piece of irony in the description ‘day of Macy’ that seems to attribute an almost religious aspect to a day of consumerism. Using 10’s skewed view of history to explore themes of Capitalism was a very effective and clever tool. A smart piece of writing.
Not me- not today by John Cassidy
I love how skilfully the author tackles huge themes in this piece of micro fiction.
‘Thanks a bunch Uncle Sam.’ Is an excellent opener to set the tone. By the end of the second sentence we have a clear idea of this character’s history. This story has many layers. We have the narrator’s opinion of the parade’s pink elephant beautifully depicted in this wonderful image: ‘OK for a ball game, I guess, with wide eyed kids hunting their heroes between hot dogs.’
Then we are in the reality of the war zone, with ‘cowering widows’ terrified of their ‘liberators’. The final line, ‘I’m done with giving’ is poignant and encapsulates this veteran’s disillusionment expertly.
Well done on writing such a powerful story in so few words.
Not me- not today
Thanks a bunch Uncle Sam. Two sweltering summers and frost bitten winters and this is what it’s come to – inflating a pink elephant. Reward for a vet who’s lost an eye.
These guys don’t get it. Don‘t get my mood today.
A pink elephant. OK for a ball game, I guess, with wide eyed kids hunting their heroes between hot dogs.
Nothing to be grateful for. Neither me nor those cowering widows with frightened stares as I ‘liberated’ them.
Don’t tell me “cheer up, buddy.” You don’t know what a buddy is.
Let’s get this done. You guys go home and gorge yourselves.
I’m done with giving.