Welcome to the results show. Another fantastic round of Micro Bookends. That photo coupled with the bookends, FEAR and FLYING, really got your creative juices flowing. Gold teeth, bad breath, bad trips, and screaming. Lots and lots and lots of screaming. I think this is one of the strongest top threes we’ve ever had. I had all of them in the winner’s spot at one point. In the end I chose…. well, you’ll just have to read on to find out.
Positive Thinking by Geoff Holme
Some very clever wordplay here – power of Persuasion, nicely done. Poor Sam might not make it to his daughter’s wedding, showing how real flying fear can be. It’s just as well Alicia is a bibliophile as well as a bookworm. Imagine if she had a flimsy James Patterson she’d picked up at the airport. Good fun.
Not-So-Impenetrable Walls by Caitlin Gramley
Great use of the opening bookend: “Fear is what keeps me here.” The character’s OCD (“Healthy is my name, cleanliness is my game”) has led him or her to this desperate situation. I really like the sense of panic from the short sharp closing sentences, right down to the Yodaesque finish.
Contemplations of a Dying Man by Carlos Orozco
Appropriate that Fear and Loathing is playing on the television given the psychedelic nature of the story. Very powerful images throughout: “He tried to lower his jaw to the floor, so that the flavor could crawl out.”, “The only logical way to get rid of the taste now would be to swallow his tongue.” Terrible (in a good way) ending. Nightmarish stuff.
Mining for Gold by Steph Ellis
Excellent use of the photo prompt: the harvesting of valuable items in the Nazi concentration camps. A harrowing story. The line “a small sun that shone briefly before the pliers did their work” speaks volumes to me. Thankfully, the story ends on a positive: “rumours about the approaching Allies started flying.”
Fear’s Lozenge by Foy S. Iver
Such a good title and concept. I think we can all admit to be swallowed by fear from time to time. Beautiful language from the excellent opening line (“Fear pops you in its mouth and sucks on you”) to the hopeful finish (“Somewhere – free – your almost-children are flying.”) Bonus points for mentioning the gold tooth, tongue, throat and saliva. You certainly squeezed that photo prompt 😉 .
Fear by Jacki Donnellan
Fear as a drug to be used to cure a humdrum life. Such a good concept and brilliantly explored. We get the humdrum from the “magnolia-walled office” and the MC “plodding from one safe, sanitised moment to the next”. I love the descriptions of the effect of fear: “boredom to unease; heartbeat to hoof beats.” But like all drugs, it’s possible to overdose on fear, especially premium grade: “Above the crescendo of my scream I can see Death’s angels flying.” Such a powerful closing line.
Phantom by Marie McKay
The opening line grabs you and won’t let go until the story has taken you through its lovely rhythm to nightmarish conclusion. The story and word choice are excellent, but what I really love about this piece is the rhythm. I don’t know if we’re looking at a supernatural being or if the MC has a mental disorder, but the short sharp sentences heighten the sense of unease. I always think good dialogue can carry a lot of weight, and the line, “What’s keeping you, Lady?” shows more than a few lines of description ever could. And speaking of rhythm, the train thrumming “Take care! Take care!” to the MC adds to the nightmarish quality of the story.
‘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.