Hope you’re all having a great Sunday. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week. There was a great range of fantastic stories. We had a lot of disorder, both culinary and mental, and a great deal of explosive stuff, including, but not limited to, diarrhoea. Hope you’re not eating as you read.
Before I hand over to this weeks judge, Bunmi Oke, here’re my own musings on the stories that didn’t make it into the winner’s circle:
Word Salad by Geoff Holme
A very clever title referencing both food and mental disorder, and a nice use of IED. I love the description “her hands writhed like eels in a bucket”. The latter part of the story captures perfectly the sense of helplessness and confusion of trying to make sense of bad news interspersed with medical jargon.
Special Sauce by Voimaoy
This is such a fun story. I love the idea of chilli sauce so hot it sends the ship into a different universe. And the system with such a lovely view the captain says, “let’s stop here for lunch”, conjures up images of space anchors. I wonder what will happen with the new batch of special sauce. Great stuff.
Mushroom Risotto by Stella Turner
Great use of clocks as a running theme. I love the line “her heart was forever being broken by the succession of uncles that came for lunch.” The narrator’s explosive temperament finally shows through for a great ending. Lovely sinister stuff.
Desperate Measures by Natalie Bowers
I love the way the clues are dripped in slowly until the final reveal. The lingering detail on the coke bottle suggests to me that the girls left in a hurry with only limited supplies. Such a good closing line. Well done.
Newness by Cara
You can feel the tension simmering throughout this excellently written story. The line about people judging you, especially if they’re related to you, is so true. This story fits the photo prompt so well. I can picture the character swigging from the bottle of wine, just keeping her emotions in check. I know I’ll be experiencing some of these emotions over the next couple of weeks. Well done.
Diplomacy by Stephanie Ellis
This story is perfectly hinged around the line “She wanted more.” Before that we think the host is trying to avoid any unpleasantness, and after we know the opposite is true – even flash should have a midpoint. At first the line “they detected the bouquet of one of their own” made me think the guests were a family of vintners opening one of their priceless vintages, but of course it is much more literal than that! Great vampiric fiction.
Get The Shot by Ed Broom
Pulp Fiction spin-off where Mia Wallace and Vince Vega get married and spend their evenings watching TV and hosting dinner parties. I love it! Great use of other Travolta movies for symptoms – Danny Zuko’s hand-jive from Grease, and Tony Manero’s arm in the air from Saturday Night Fever. Great fun.
People Who Need People by R Matt Lashley
Matt wins the award for best use of the bookends: explosive diarrhea and bedwetting disorder. This is a brilliantly unique, unusual story and very well written. I love the fictional diarrhea that occurs during church services or when their favourite sports team is playing. The image of the assault by the overweight son and his apple-face girlfriend will give me nightmares tonight. The ending is as strangely brilliant as the rest of it. Matt sure has a unique and very enjoyable style.
Spirit of the Season by Nancy Chenier
A lovely story that perfectly captures seasonal disharmony. I love the description of the argument “curdling the gravy and souring my eggnog.” And the ending is perfect, with the children taking refuge under the table to argue over far more important issues.
Dragon Fire by Anna Elizabeth
A nice bit of fantasy here. Explosive mood swings are perfectly natural when you’re of dragon descent. I love the description of the character: “slight and feisty, adorned with hazel eyes and a chocolate brown pixie cut, plus, she loved to bake”. The fact she loves to be says so much about the character. Being of dragon descent and loving baking is a great contrast. What has led Zalia to be sitting on the floor muttering “it’s not a disorder”? Will we ever find out? Perhaps.
A big thanks to this weeks judge, Bunmi Oke. Here’s what he thought about this week’s stories:
They did not have to come in their hundreds but with the quality of the entries I had to peruse (and with the bookends), you won’t exactly find my job over the weekend an enviable one. I reckon contributors did really have fun inking across a spectrum of uneasy calm to mildly disturbed and to utterly eruptive characters amid messy settings. A miscellany of humor, chaos and elements of surprise thrown in, in no particular proportion or order (yeah, that’s disorder) made this task for me as delightful as it was daunting.
Believe me, winner or not, you all were splendid. Keep at it. (And bring more people!) Great job, writers!
Untitled by Roger
Such inventive, humorous coinage (e.g. “pyro-culinary terrorism”) and puns cannot be lost on anyone with a fine taste in creative writing. One heck of a mind game-r this is.
What a mess by John Cassidy
Quite an Amazing (or is it Amazon?) gooey scenario. Medley of an initial anxious moment and eventual beacon of messy, explosive laughter, story made me rethink shared/collective embarrassment is a thing to laugh over. Clearly, this was a hearty write and a funnier read.
Choice Cuts by Carlos
Well done. The shuddering unraveling in the last line twirled my stomach – a precursor to what could have been an anti-cannibalistic retch. A bite into this story tasted so unbelievable that I almost got Carrie-d away.
Her Name by Holly Geely
I like the subtle delivery here as OCD imaginatively takes me inside her own head, giving me a more-than-enough sneak peek. What’s more, the clever use of personification tinkers with the humane portion of me – not to mention the personalization too: “She’s different for everyone, but for me…”
First name: Obsessive; Middle name: Compulsive; Last name: Disorder. Nice piece.
Christmas: Plausible Deniability by A.J. Walker
Though I scarcely look forward to the mother-in-law-daughter-in-law interrogation slash faceoff (I predict the kitchen won’t contain it), the cute metaphors this piece is adorned by were a reading delight. Graphic, hyperbolic depictions (e.g. “epicenter of the blast zone”) with a creative allusion to a real-life scenario currently at the front burner, made not having this piece in top three both implausible and deniable.
Disorder by Rasha
A realistic, almost-relatable (because I ain’t psychotic, duh) portrayal of a distorted perception of reality. This simple, yet ingenious story took me on a sufficiently brief tour into the typical troubled mind of a seemingly helpless bracket of people. I’m not done taking in the entropic setting when the closing sentence flips everything on its head, re- presenting the entire piece in a brighter, if not different light. The stunning surprise, unforced sympathy and curt silence it elicits all at once are a stirring quality.
Congrats to you!
Explosive sounds of pots and pans banging around erupted from the kitchen. Martha was disheveled, her hands gripped her hair and she was muttering about the mess.
“Can I help?” I asked. She did not respond. I started to cover turkey leftovers. She screamed and I jumped.
“Stop haunting me!” she shouted uncovering the dish.
“Haunting? Martha, I’m not a ghost.” I grabbed for the doctor’s note hanging on the refrigerator to once again remind Martha that she had been diagnosed with psychosis after the accident.
The sounds in the kitchen silenced as I pointed to my own name on the line diagnosed with hallucinatory psychotic disorder.