Jul 302015
 

Hello, flash folk. Ready to write? Here are this week’s stimuli:

A catchphrase is a phrase or sentence, especially one associated with a famous person. Some catchphrases become the trademark of the person or character with whom they originated. According to Time magazine, the top ten movie catch phrases (Do you know them all? Answers at the bottom) are:

  1. “I’ll be back.”
  2. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
  3. “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”
  4. “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'”
  5. “Houston, we have a problem.”
  6. “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
  7. “May the force be with you.”
  8. “Show me the money.”
  9. “If you build it, he will come.”
  10. “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger (who shall henceforth be referred to as Arnie), utterer of “I’ll be back”, was born in Thal, Austria, sixty-eight years ago today. Arnie began weight training when he was fifteen years old, won the Mr. Universe title aged twenty and the Mr. Olympia title aged twenty-three. Arnie broke into acting with the 1982 movie, Conan the Barbarian. He has since appeared in many Hollywood action blockbusters including The Terminator, Commando, Predator, and Total Recall. In 2003 Arnie became the 38th Governor of California, a position he held for two terms. In 1977 Arnie admitted to using performance-enhancing anabolic steroids for muscle maintenance when ‘cutting-up’ for competition.

Let’s wish Arnie a very happy birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan via CC.

Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is KM Zafari, winner of MB1.04, MB1.06 and MB1.40. Read her winning stories and what she has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with CATCH and ending with PHRASE and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘Who is the author?’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.


1. The Terminator; 2. Gone With the Wind; 3. James Bond; 4. Forrest Gump; 5. Apollo 13; 6. Casablanca; 7. Star Wars; 8. Jerry Maguire; 9. Field of Dreams; 10. The Godfather.

Micro Bookends 1.40 – Results

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Jul 262015
 
The lone protester

Photo Credit: Dan Phiffer via CC.

It’s results time again. Hurray! First a huge thanks to this week’s judge, Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, who has done a fantastic job of picking the winners from another amazing crop of stories. Thanks, Donald. Here’s what he thought of your stories for this week:

A very evocative combination of bookends and photo prompt this week. I counted a lot of stories about actors and other performers. The photo prompt seemed to be harder for people to get a handle on; some stories seemed to ignore it altogether. Going through all the entries, here are the ones that stuck out to me:

Honourable Mentions

Death By Haiku by Dylyce P. Clarke

While I would quibble with the definition of haiku here, there’s something audacious about telling a story in a series of short poems. I like the way the images flow from one poem to the next to tell the complete story as much by suggestion as by straightforward narrative.

The Landings by Marie McKay

I really like that this story takes things in a direction that none of the others do. We can feel the narrator’s desperation, even though we may not know exactly why he wants the invasion as much as he does. I only wish there was a slightly stronger tie-in to the photo prompt.

“Every Man’s A King” by Geoff Holme

The power of this story lies as much as in what isn’t said, in what we know are going to be the logical consequences of what the narrator does, as it does in the words used. The narrator is trying to take back what control of his life he can, and we can admire that, even if we don’t admire what he does.

3rd Place

Easy Street Atonement by Foy S. Iver

Even though I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, there’s something very powerful suggested here. Are we in a world where public atonement has become common again? Or is there something inside the narrator compelling him to this unusual act? Again, the story is as much in the hints as it is in the words on our screens.

2nd Place

The Walk On by A.J. Walker

I find this story to have the most inventive use of the photo prompt. A poignant tale of real life invading the artificial world of so-called high culture, and totally upstaging it. I think we all need to apologize for not knowing his name.

Winner

Stages of Love by KM Zafari

A hauntingly beautiful story with a less than obvious use of the bookends and an excellent use of the photo prompt. We have a life’s worth of passion and heartache between the bookends. Very well done.

Stages of Love

KM Zafari

Stage 1

Was when we met on the subway. You, in your overcoat and hat. Me, sneaking glances over the paper I was pretending to read.

Stage 2

Was when we found out we weren’t alone in the relationship. You, shaking in the doctor’s office. Me, holding your hand.

Stage 3

Was when I asked you to marry me. You, too sick to walk. Me, standing in the snow with a sign proclaiming my love.

Stage 4

Was both the happiest and saddest time of my life. You, beautiful in your wedding dress. Me, in tears both times I wore that suit.

Beloved Wife. The tombstone bears your new name.

Jul 232015
 

It’s great to be back. Hope you’re all well. Ready to rock and write? Read on:

A stage name is a pseudonym adopted by entertainers such as actors, singers and musicians. There are many reasons why an entertainer may choose to adopt a stage name. Their own name may be considered boring (like Reginald Dwight, who legally changed his name to Elton John), they may wish to dissociate themselves from a famous relative (like Mike McGear, brother of Paul McCartney), or they may want conceal their heritage to avoid potential discrimination (such as Farrokh Bulsara (Freddie Mercury) and Ramón Estévez (Martin Sheen)). Some change their name to better fit their image, like today’s birthday boy, Saul Hudson, also known as Slash.

Slash was born in London fifty years ago today. He is best known as the lead-guitarist of hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. Time named him the second greatest electric guitar player of all time behind Jimmy Hendrix. In 2012 he, and the rest of Guns N’ Roses, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band have attracted controversy throughout their career, the original cover art of their album Appetite for Destruction and a cover version of the Charles Manson song, Look at Your Game, Girl, being particularly controversial. More recently they have been criticized for tardiness at concerts such as at the 2010 Reading and Leeds Festivals, where they arrived an hour late and their sound was cut after they ran over by thirty minutes prompting a sit-in protest from the band.

Let’s wish Slash a happy big five-oh with this week’s photo prompt:

The lone protester

Photo Credit: Dan Phiffer via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, winner of MB1.39. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with STAGE and ending with NAME and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘Who is the author?’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Micro Bookends 1.27 to 1.39 – Voting Results

 Voting  Comments Off on Micro Bookends 1.27 to 1.39 – Voting Results
Jul 182015
 

Thanks to everyone who voted for your favourite stories. I’m not going to release how many votes each entry got because I don’t want to prejudice future voting.

Photo Credit: Kodak Views via CC.

Photo Credit: Kodak Views via CC.

The three winners, in no particular order, are:

Just Maybe… by N J Crosskey

Phantom by Marie McKay

Dull Silver by Iskandar Haggarty

Congratulations, NJ, Marie, and Iskandar! Please contact me here with your postal address so I can send you your book.

 

Who is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt?

 Who is the author?  Comments Off on Who is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt?
Jul 152015
 

DonaldOur most recent winner is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog. If you enjoyed Donald’s MB1.39winning story, you may like to check out more of his work at 1000words and Cast of Wonders.

Donald has kindly agreed to judge the next contest, so pay attention as he tells us a little about himself and his writing:

Donald Jacob Uitvlugt lives on neither coast of the United States, but mostly in a haunted memory palace of his own design. His short fiction has appeared in print and online venues, such as Necrotic Tissue and The Drabbler, as well as anthologies such as 100 Horrors. He strives to write what he calls “haiku fiction,” stories that are small in scope but big in impact.

So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? I knew when I saw the photo prompt that I wanted the story to take place in the control room of someone’s mind. I had first thought of a football player (American football), the “six” being part of a play call. But I had a hard time fitting “degrees” into that scenario.

The idea of Alzheimer’s as “death by degrees” popped into my head (inspired by thinking of my own grandfather), and I wrote the rest of the story rather quickly, the challenge being to paint the scene while sticking to the word count.

100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? As might be guessed from my Twitter handle, I find a lot of inspiration for my writing in Asian art. Like many forms of Asian painting, micro fiction relies heavily on “negative space” – on what isn’t said. One learns to trust the reader to meet the writer half-way. Or they find something that the writer didn’t intend, which can be even more interesting.

Getting rid of modifiers is helpful too. A well-placed verb or just the right noun can do away with five equivocal words. And it gives the modifiers one does use more impact.

Why do you like flash fiction? It may be a paradox, but I find the limits of flash fiction to be extremely freeing. When I submit a Micro Bookends story, I try to always turn in exactly 100 words (not counting the title), because it’s just a little more challenging.

Flash fiction strips some of the pretension that writers can have. When you have so few words to connect with a reader, you have to make every word count, and I try to take the lessons I learn from flash into my longer fiction.

Plus there’s the instant gratification factor. I can have a story written in hours. If I post it for the Micro Bookends contest, I’m getting feedback on it instantly. A lot more rewarding than sending a 5,000 word story out into the aether and waiting months for a faceless editor to reply in a form rejection.

People who write and read flash tend to be fun people.

Been writing long? I’ve been writing since late elementary school, but only seriously (ie, to get published and paid) since 2007.

You write anything else? Since 2007, I’ve had the good fortune to get a couple dozen of short stories published and I don’t know how many pieces of flash. Haven’t had the persistence (yet) to complete a novel-length project. A fair number of my stories are available for free online. Let me know via Twitter if you’d like a list, or simply Google my name and you’ll find several.

Any advice for other flash writers? Keep writing. Read, and read widely. You never know whence inspiration might come. I never expected Japanese poetry to influence my writing as much as it has. You may find your inspiration in music or biology. Immerse yourself in the flow of others’ words, and you’ll get a better sense how you want to use words.

Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? Oh, I’m always working on something. My issue is usually picking something to focus on long enough to bring it to completion.

On my blog, interested readers will find episodes from a “story-in-drabbles” called Trashling Tales. The stories explore an urban fantasy world in a Spoon River Anthology/Winesburg, Ohio fashion, each episode only 100 words long. I would love feedback on what I have so far.

I also have a science fiction story and a couple of horror stories coming out soon. My blog is generally the best place to find what has come out recently.

I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? Probably the best book in helping me articulate what I mean by “haiku fiction” – and a book I need to re-read myself is Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho by Haruo Shirane.

The book certainly demonstrates the skill used to create depth in an apparently simple genre like haiku. I think there is much in the work that flash writers would find interesting.

Micro Bookends 1.27 – 1.39 Voting

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Jul 132015
 
Photo Credit: Kodak Views via CC.

Photo Credit: Kodak Views via CC.

It’s time to find the top three stories for the third quarter of Micro Bookends Year One. Below, I’ve compiled the winning entries from rounds 1.27 to 1.39. Below them is the voting gadget. Please take a moment to read the stories then vote for your favourite three. Voting is open until 5am on Thursday 16th July. I’ll announce the results on Saturday 18th July.

The authors of the three stories that receive the most votes will each receive a copy of Doing Creative Writing by Steve May. That’s a real book with paper and ink and that new-book smell! The winners will also go through to the Micro Bookend of the year competition to be held at the end of year one.


1.27: Just Maybe… by N J Crosskey

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.


1.28: Full English by Ed Broom

George waves away her smoke and reaches for the ketchup. Sunlight bounces off the dog tag but the cat’s seen it all before.

“Mind your uniform, George.”

“You know me.”

He’s already changed his shirt after tidying last night’s empties and ashtrays.

“I made lunch.”

“George, you’re a saint. Your father would be…”

Her fingers trace the familiar embossing on the metal ID hanging from his neck: name, service number, blood group.

Glancing down, George sees his yolk submerged in red gloop.

“Mum, shut up and eat. You know what you’re like if you skip breakfast.”

“I know. I turn into a right dragon.”


1.29: Away Sweet Child, Ride Away by R Matt Lashley

“Wild thing, you make my …” The Troggs’ tune, barely perceptible over the whir of tires, crackled and popped from the front left of the new-to-her dark blue ’82 Datsun. The radio received one station: classic rock. The one working speaker, like her life, was shattered.

But today, the lonely, abandoned, broken girl who sold five dollar handjobs on the subway would disappear forever.

She wiped the dollar store makeup from her eyes then floored the gas. Hot desert wind blasted her face, baking her cheeks like sticky, fresh biscuit dough. Then she cranked the volume, tossed her head back and howled with Axl, “Woah, oh, oh, oh, sweet child …”


1.30: Note to My Sister by Rebekah Postupak

First, I’ve brought your underthings, which are silk and smell of lavender. (That was a surprise!)

Second, your pantyhose, so nobody will guess how long it’s been since you’ve shaved. You crack me up! We don’t care, but I know you do, so.

Third, a new dress. It’s secondhand (sorry about that), but just LOOK at all those pearls!! It could be a queen’s gown, and the sea green matches your eyes.

Last is hair and makeup. I’m lending you my favorite lipstick. Just this once.

There, you wild angel, you star of my heart, you death-snatched sister, are you happy? You finally get your wish to be a lady.


1.31: Truth Silences Lies by Caitlin Gramley

“Face yourself,” The voice said. Cynthia looked in the mirror, “You’re hideous.”

She believed it. Her swollen eyes glared back at her, puffy from sobbing. Her hair, frayed yarn, looked as though it had been dragged through wet sand.

“No one could love you,” the loud voice hissed.

“I love you.” A still small voice whispered in the distance. Cynthia didn’t hear it.

“What did you eat today?” The loud voice filled her mind, gaining volume to attack the truth.

“You are beautiful,” the small voice sang.

Cynthia shook her head.

“COW!”

“Beauty. Precious. DAUGHTER.”

Cynthia wept.

“Fear not my child, for I have written your name in my book.”


1.32: Phantom by Marie McKay

‘Fear me,’ he says- just as he hands me my change; just before the train pulls up; just before the guy behind me shouts, ‘What’s keeping you, Lady?’

I try to find a trace of the words on his face. In the lines across his forehead. In his pinpoint pupils. In the shiny gold between his yellow teeth. But they’ve disappeared.

Except, somehow, I am in possession of them. I carry them onto the train, feel them fluttering at my chest. I try to pull them into some other shape. But the train thrums, ‘Take care! Take care!’ I turn towards the squawking skies and watch the noises flying.


1.33: Thud by Jessica Franken

“Soap…he slipped…his head…” Squeak—thud. Ten p.m., my neighbor Jean at my door, backwards nightgown, barefoot in the snow.

Squeak—thud. I heard it through the bathroom wall. Squeak. So close I shot my arms out to catch him, but walls are still solid and living still cruel. Thud.

Squeak—thud. I heard it and knew Jean would come. In the seconds between thud and knock, even as I moved to the door I imagined myself far away, tending sheep on a quiet hillside.

But then the knock, then a deep breath, then Jean in my arms, her grief an aria in life’s savage opera.


1.34: Sleeping Beauty by Lynn Love

Under the leer of a new moon, inky slithers melt into life.

A mermaid licks salt-crusted lips, flicks her scales and dives, breaking through the waves of skin that roll across your chest.

The rose unfurls its petals, nips at flightless doves, thorns snatching at banners declaring ‘Stella’, ‘Gloria’ ‒ ‘Mum’.

You wanted ‘ink’ ‒ to be a man. Now the pictures that smother your skin smother you.

They weave and warp to form a tattoo where you never felt the sting before – your throat.

You dream of the needle, of the sea, of Sleeping Beauty cradled in her bramble nest. You stir, gasp, swallow.

Ink is your final breath-taker.


1.35: Kiss of Death by Geoff Le Pard

Double vision, nausea, bone snapping pain.

They stack us up, serried ranks of decrepit bodies, left to corrupt.

You see it in their eyes. Once we were unique, individual. Now, in the throes of death we are ubiquitous, homogenised by decay and depersonalised by disease.

If you didn’t know they had abandoned you before, the perfunctory response to any request screams the truth. Yet even knowing their disgust, you still crave the careless spray of their spittle to moisten parched lips.

The irony isn’t lost on any of us for it was the self-same sharing of fluids that brought us here. Death determined by such a simple act.


1.36: Miss Otis Has No Regrets by Ed Broom

“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 won’t!”

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.


1.37: Wish Lists by Foy S. Iver

Big boobs.
Long legs.
Straight teeth.
No acne.
Skinny.

Big scholarship.
Long distance.
Straight shot.
No parents.
Skinny.

Big dinners.
Long nap.
Straight A’s.
No Bio Chem.
Skinny.

Big paycheck.
Long holiday.
Straight hair.
No landlord.
Skinny.

Big wedding.
Long getaway.
Straight flight.
No protection.
Skinny.

Big positive.
Long checkups.
Straight epidural.
No complications.
Skinny.

Big(ger) bed.
Long leaves.
Straight diets.
No stretch marks.
Skinny.

Big(ger) car.
Long nap(s).
Straight(ened) house.
No meltdowns.
Skinny.

Big girl.
Long curls.
Straight steps.
No messes.
Skinny.

Big fights.
Long silences.
Straight tequila.
No take backs.
Skinny.

Big changes.
Long walks.
Straight talks.
No defeat.
Baby brother.


1.38: Dull Silver by Iskandar Haggarty

Childhood is supposed to be golden.
6.
Fathers are supposed to wake up, bright and early, and make breakfast.
Bright and early, Papa put the barrel of his shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
8.
Mothers are supposed to tuck their kids in at night.
Mama cried tears of salt and cigarettes when the judge found me a new home, but she never visited.
Not even once.
10.
Friends are supposed to stick up for you.
The whole baseball team disappeared the day the bigger kids came for me.
12.
Childhood is supposed to be golden.
Mine was the dull silver of a dying star.


1.39: In the Control Room by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt

“Six Five Seven through Seven One Nine — no response.”

“Reroute through the Eight Hundred block, but keep trying those pathways.”

“Received. Wilco.”

The center worked furiously, busy hands moving wire after wire. But no matter how fast the girls worked, the systems collapsed faster.

The supervisor turned toward the monitor. A hazy picture showed the face of a woman. She should know who the woman was, but…

“Not getting through on the Eight Hundred block, mum.”

“Keep trying. The answer is there. Somewhere.”

***

Barbara kissed her mother’s cheek. She would not cry. Damn Alzheimer’s. Damn that death by degrees.


Jul 122015
 
Photo Credit: Tekniska museet via CC.

Photo Credit: Tekniska museet via CC.

Welcome to the results show. First, a couple of announcements:

There will be no Micro Bookends this week (boo) because I’m going on holiday (hurrah). The next contest will be on Thursday 23rd of July.

At 5am BST Tomorrow (Monday 13th July), voting will open for the best stories of this quarter. You’ll be voting for your top three stories from MB1.27 to MB1.39. The authors of the top three stories will each receive a copy of Doing Creative Writing by Steve May (that’s a real book with paper and ink and that new-book smell), and will also go forward to the Micro Bookend of the year contest to be held at the end of year one.

Now, back to business. A huge thanks  goes to this week’s judge, Iskandar Haggarty. Here’s what he thought of it all:

I’ve got to say it; you all have not only the talent, but the bravery as well! One look at this week’s photo prompt had me stumped, and yet I read the various and diverse ways in which it was incorporated. Hats off to you all; I’m severely impressed. Choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. But it had to be done, so without further ado, here are this week’s standings!

Honourable Mentions

Drive by Emily Livingstone

I loved the creepy undertone of this one; the excitement of the girls and what they hoped to encounter made it realistic and relatable (and who doesn’t love a character named Laurel?) while the hostile ending leaves you on the edge of your seat; what happened? I want to know more! A quality story.

Hairpins and Hurricanes by maielizabeth

Okay, so I might have a weakness for the strange/outlandish, but this one caught my eye immediately; the description of the girls who controlled the earth was interesting and borderline whimsical (which is wonderful!) and a very fresh approach to the photo prompt. The description of Dolly as being the oldest by “a billion years” is so simple and outlandish that I actually believe it; interesting, quirky, and a formidable piece all in all.

Spontaneity by Numbers by Geoff Le Pard

This piece reminded me of the late-great Ray Bradbury because of its futuristic approach to problem solving. The piece managed to stay fictitious while sounding close enough to reality for it to sound like a plausible future. All I can say is that after reading this, I think I want a Hu-maid!

Seventh Hope by Holly Geely

This story had me hooked from the first line; its matter-of-factness pulls you in, and the writer uses this to expand on their sci-fi world in a manner that loses no momentum whatsoever. The excitement at finding a new and livable home is palpable, which makes the last line all the more devastating (and in its own sense, even a little tragically funny). I don’t think I can praise this piece enough.

3rd Place

The Switch by Marie McKay

This piece included it all; a creepy and gripping plotline, beautiful descriptions (‘scarlet words’ and ‘rooms that had sunnier aspects once’ made me gasp in awe) and an all-round sense of completeness. What the narrator has to go through on a day-to-day basis is traumatizing, and one can’t help but feel horrified while realizing what is going on. The writing in itself is the type that takes a hold of you and doesn’t let go. An absolute pleasure to read.

2nd Place

Newtonian Mechanics For Beginners by A V Laidlaw

Description. The description in this piece is so masterfully crafted that I could see absolutely everything while reading; I felt as if I myself were a satellite! The use of both short and long sentences gives the piece a variety that keeps each and every line interesting. The last sentence almost made my heart stop; it is so simple, so chilling; so strong. This wasn’t writing, it was painting. It was art. I am in awe of the author. Incredible job.

Winner

In the Control Room by Donald Uitvlugt

This piece is a winner and rightly so; it took me on an emotional rollercoaster. Its concise, dialogue-intense beginning felt top-secret and mysterious, which then melts into slight confusion at the mention of a hazy picture, which packs an immense punch with the final two sentences of the story. The bookends were used seamlessly; it feels as if it wasn’t even written for this week’s competition! An excellent story worth its weight in gold.

In the Control Room

Donald Uitvlugt

“Six Five Seven through Seven One Nine — no response.”

“Reroute through the Eight Hundred block, but keep trying those pathways.”

“Received. Wilco.”

The center worked furiously, busy hands moving wire after wire. But no matter how fast the girls worked, the systems collapsed faster.

The supervisor turned toward the monitor. A hazy picture showed the face of a woman. She should know who the woman was, but…

“Not getting through on the Eight Hundred block, mum.”

“Keep trying. The answer is there. Somewhere.”

***

Barbara kissed her mother’s cheek. She would not cry. Damn Alzheimer’s. Damn that death by degrees.