Thanks to everyone who contributed this week, and thanks to Geoff Le Pard for some excellent judging. The man’s a legend 😉 . Here’s what he thought of it all:
As a first time judge I had no idea what to expect but in 30 stories I confronted absorbing lifts, time-travelling Pope killers, Keith Urban the worst date night, the sad demise of the rural vampire and, of course Chris and Mike v…. Boy, do you guys have imaginations. Dystopia was a popular theme – no one seemed to link ‘URBAN’ with sunny uplands – as was the soul sucking nature of mirrors. Loved it, peeps, so muchas ta-everso.
David, being a natural tyrant insists this isn’t a primary school egg and spoon race where you all get a prize so…
Dudetastic by Holly Geely
I suppose it’s because I can relate to the narrator’s confusion over language, in much the same way I was confused when confronted with Chaucer. ‘When did I stop understanding teenagers?’ When does anyone who isn’t a teenager understand them? The pain of the narrator is so clear. But please, tell me ‘Dudetastic’ isn’t the coming expression?
O Tempora! O Mores! by Geoff Holme
Where to start with this? The typo that means the wrong Pope is targeted. The innocence of appearing as a Christ-like figure that convinces the visited Pope to undertake the most compassionate mission tragically curtailed after 12 days because of the confused mission. I shouldn’t laugh, really, but…
Dates Dwindle by Iskandar Haggarty
A date gone wrong. I loved ‘Empty see-you-soons’. And the reference to ‘a little steam escaped her latte’ as she seethed at his comment. I was with that poor sucker, sure he was striking the right note only to realise too late it was just the death knell.
The Faymus Professys of Archibald Legend by A.J. Walker
Please read this, flash writers extraordinaire and tell me this doesn’t relate at some level to all of us. ‘Zombie apocalypse on steroids’ is a frightening concept but when linked to Flash dogs is truly mind altering. ‘Wolves with Thesaurus’ and saying Pratchett could have been one but for his use of footnotes to bypass the word count – perfect and laugh out loud funny (in context of course). My favourite line…
They chew their stories – Spitting out large morsels; keeping only the essential juicy bits’
That is the perfect mirror held up to us all.
Intervention by Pattyann McCarthy
Here is a live story told in 100 words. Elsie is a relic of the past, fighting her corner and for others amongst newly infiltrating gangs. She assumes she’s left alone because she is an anomaly but in fact it’s because she is the legend of the streets. Of all the stories this contained so much, allowing me to imagine a whole life spent and imagine the future too. Excellent.
Walk by Marie McKay
I took to this story immediately. Our unnamed narrator is a wage slave who has ‘a clock for a soul’. He is one of the pen-pushing ‘dead’. If you’ve commuted, you understand the precision of ‘ten mouthfuls of cornflakes, two coffees, one sugar’ and ‘spoonfuls of time measured out in crockery’.
Just when we’ve settled to this drudgery he spins the twist. Today is different. Today it’s ‘head and heels high’ our hero is ready ‘to walk the runway of catcalls and traffic cones’. Great stuff.
Miss Otis Has No Regrets by Ed Broom
This has everything. A story with depth, backstory and the stimulus for the reader’s imagination to think about the future; beautiful imagery; and some excellent humour.
Beryl is retiring from the planning department – now ‘Urban Design’. Jim has retired too ‘He got golf clubs. She has Amazon vouchers’.
The dialogue sums up so many retirements: ‘Don’t forget us Beryl’ ‘I won’t!’ I already have.
She glances at the gridlock ‘Jim’s idea, the one-way system’.
But just when we assume Jim is her nemesis we have Beryl blushing at her memory of journeys on the permanently moving ‘paternoster’. ‘Those up-and-over journeys passed into legend.’
I really enjoyed this simple tale, so well told. Thank you; now I want to know what will happen to Beryl and Jim in retirement!
Miss Otis Has No Regrets
“Urban Design” reads the self-adhesive sign on the closing door. Beryl wonders what became of that polished brass “Planning” plaque which greeted her for 35 years. Jim probably pocketed it when he retired. He got golf clubs. She has Amazon vouchers.
“Don’t forget us, Beryl!”
I already have, she thinks, glancing down at the 5pm gridlock. Jim’s idea, that one-way system.
As usual, one lift is dead. Such a shame they removed the paternoster. “On you hop, it doesn’t stop!” was Jim’s catchphrase. In the lift door, Beryl catches herself blushing. Those up-and-over journeys passed into legend.