First of all, thank you for allowing me to read your wonderful work. It has been a pleasure reading so many different interpretations of the prompts. From a personal point of view, had I been taking part this week, I think I would have found the bookends easier to work with than the concrete blocks. However, you turned those blocks into mazes, laboratories, film sets, torture chambers and even a cafeteria. Your stories were varied, and I enjoyed reading each one of them. Needless to say, I found selecting the top stories very difficult as the quality of your writing was so high. However, in the end, these were my thoughts.
The Price of Silence by Iskandar
The closing line of this one made it stand out for me. It gives us an insight into the killer’s character and ego. An understated story with a dark, wry last line.
Being Creative by Stella Turner
The domestic setting is not immediately apparent. The main character seems to be hiding from an adversary. But in a pleasing turn of events, equipment and chaos he refers to in the story become the toys and contraptions that accompany babies- the proud father is in need of sleep.
Left to Go Cold by A.J. Walker
The bookends were used exceptionally well in this piece. The life of a man is depicted in one incredible sentence, and the final image is sad and beautiful.
Don’t Speak When You’re Spoken To by Geoff Le Pard
The clever title and line, ‘An odd compliment for a child’ made this an interesting piece from the outset. Jaroslav is the leader of an underground group. His boastful nature becomes quickly apparent. He takes credit for the child’s ability to keep the group’s secrets. His cruelty towards the boy is disguised in the idea he has ‘Trained…’ him. That training it would seem has been extreme. The group, once made aware of the boy’s treatment, understand why, in the end, the boy murders Jaroslav. The use of ‘could’ in the line, ‘why he could keep silent.’ has very sinister connotations. This was a very well constructed story.
Trial and Error by Emily Livingstone
The concrete maze inspired a number of stories about laboratories of one kind or another; however, I liked this interpretation very much as it was both dark and humorous. Ms. Wainwright’s lack of attention to detail and perhaps even her arrogance, is underpinned when she calls the intern ‘Sonia’ rather than ‘Sofia.’ The disastrous results of Ms. Wainwright’s approach to the experiment she is conducting become apparent when ‘the [giant] rats [are] halfway across the field, their tails sliding heavily through the grass behind them.’ The lab rats, it would seem, will be allowed their revenge. A beautifully paced, witty piece.
Just Maybe… by NJ Crosskey
I thought this was an excellent piece of micro fiction. It builds to a very disturbing idea: ‘Maybe I’ll smash your skull in with a freakin’ shovel… I’ll bury you on the hillside with the other cows.’ Yet, the pain and frustration in this internal monologue becomes clear in wonderful lines like, ‘…I Don’t and I’m Not because of YOU.’ The repetition of ‘maybe’ ensures that we are aware that the ugly words and violent threats do not take place outside of this character’s own head. They seem his way of releasing the tension and unhappiness of being in a relationship where he feels controlled and undervalued. With the author’s seamless use of the final bookend, the main character resigns himself to keeping silent- even though constructive dialogue might be a better solution- and merely turns the volume up on the film. A clever story that I thought worked exceptionally well.
Silent treatment, that’s what she accuses me of. Then it’s all: You Never, You Don’t, You Aren’t.
Well maybe I don’t and maybe I’m not. But maybe Glynis, just freakin’ maybe, YOU don’t and YOU aren’t either.
And maybe, just maybe, you sound like a flock of constipated pigeons. Maybe you’re a shrill, controlling harpy who kicks me when I’m down, so MAYBE, just maybe, I Don’t and I’m Not because of YOU.
Maybe I’ll smash your skull in with a freakin’ shovel. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll bury you on the hillside with the other cows…
…Or maybe I’ll just turn the sound up so I can hear the film.