The stories were SO GOOD this week, and there were SO MANY, that the judging took a wee bit longer than normal. Well...he got it done on Thursday, but it wasn't until after I went to sleep. :) (Granted, it was a bit of an early night...) So, if you missed out on reading all of the awesomeness, go check it out here. Otherwise, here's what the judge had to say (Thanks, Michael!):
Thank you to everyone who entered.
Fifteen entries this week. Miss Alissa said this was a new record. More important, fifteen wonderful stories without a weak one in the mix. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries, and that makes trying to pick this week’s champion very hard. In my judging method I ranked works — we had nine tie. This is trying to judge who is prettiest at a pretty-person convention (they have those, right?).
We had stories with people falling, with forgiveness, and with revenge. Spaceships, ghosts, and made wonderful appearances. We had many nameless characters, we had male and female characters, and even an it. We had fairy-tale princesses and cabin boys who would grow to be pirates.
Carolyn Askfalk: A haunting tale of regret with powerful emotions. Then to mix in the feelings that his love may have died hiding that she was still in love with her husband. This drips with hurt and it’s wonderful. Kudos, your made up words were so subtle I tried to look them up.
Great line with: “Only hate would sentence a man to a lifetime of guilt”.
Michael Seymour: This is a great beginning if you wanted to pull this into a larger story. Wow, pulled off to be the angel of death (or something close). I love the “Go ahead. I probably deserve it.” We learn the nameless protagonist’s motivations and personality quickly. I have to confess to being confused by the ending and wondering what the evil soul heading to heaven did.
Giselle Marks: A fantastic story of alien encounters. I love how you dodged every cliche of the genre and made it your own. The aliens showing up as children is creepy. This story seems to beg for more — it could easily support a short story or longer. Nice try by the moalfs trying to play on human emotions before being led off. After all, the law is the law.
Rebekah Postupak: What great use of new words that need no explanation (though you gave them at the end). The lad has kissed plenty of cold fish — I hope he wasn’t a mortician. Very fun play against the fairy tale tropes. I can picture Rapunzel dropping our nameless protagonist to the ground below.
Melina Gillies: Any first paragraph that ends with, “I am the devil” is one I love. Then it takes a delightful series of turns. He was guilty, then violent, then going to die, then forgiven. Your descriptions are wonderful: ”A firm touch — delicate and sure”, “raw and battle-scarred like my soul”. This is a heck of a roller coaster in under 500 words.
Quenby Olsen: Whoa nelly. A demonic possession always is a favorite. This feels like Poe where the narrator is horrified but can’t leave. You have a way with horror, and it shows in this piece. The eyes snapping open while the heat surrounds him is chilling (which is odd, considering it’s warming).
Erica Rahaman: I don’t know how you made a sweet, endearing troll story, but you did. The father is so believable in his adoration of his daughter. No fair playing the father card against me. Who knew trolls were so noble and caring. I expected that the other trolls gave the dragon the daughter — but instead you popped a strong twist.
Jessica Dragon Cheramie: Whoa. Mind = blown. I was digging the writing and wondering what has happening and then her father’s head is on a plate. What a fun twist (fun in a head-on-a-plate kind of way). Your writing is very strong and the dialogue intermingles very well with the action. I adore how “she” was worried about blood on her chairs more than her father being killed. This would make for a heck of a fun introduction to a novel.
Stella Kate: Ohhh, our first switch to where the POV is the one saying the words. And then to make it more wonderful, your character lied. I can picture the Donny Osmond poster on the wall (thank you for that). The senses are great through this, smells, sounds, feelings, emotions. This is a wonderful story, and what a great introduction to your magically-capable protagonist.
Imageronin: You have to love a story that could be read multiple ways. Through it I was sure that our protagonist had murdered his lover so he could be with the other member of their trio. Then that assessment is ripped away. This is a very deep piece masquerading as a macabre piece. The tone of this work works to set a bitterly sweet creep factor.
Mysoulstears / @LurchMunster: Beautiful. I could tell where the story was going and still loved every sentence. The descriptions of how he knew her mood was wonderful. The quandary we want to know: how can our protagonist read everyone else’s mind but hers?
JM MacF: Could this be the finest fan flash fiction ever? Who doesn’t love Princess Bride? This is a fantastic back story for the tale. Poor Wes. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure snugget was something you made up, or if I just don’t know words for headwear. This fiction needs to be seen more. The only little gotcha, you repeated two sentences (Got caught…). Was that on purpose? I had a sense of matrix deja vu, but I’m thinking it’s not. (My apologies if it’s something too clever for me).
Murmade: The wizard returns. This is a fun dive into a world of magic. I love how much you were able to convey while keeping in one scene. The lady wizard waiting for the return of her man is touching. Like good flash, it raises as many questions as it does answers them. Now I want to know why the wizard didn’t know who he was, and what happened to the person the wizard inhabited. This needs to be a short story.
ChristianFlashWeekly: As a father to a girl I am taking notes. The machetes are touch of class, and would look great over my steps. Very nice how you tied the girl’s forgiveness to the father’s over protectiveness without letting him know why. The Burger weight gain is likely true.
Lori: Rebels doing what they can. I love how Vodka forgave our protagonist — despite knowing well who had caused what. The image of a dirigible of death is vivid. At first I pictured Steam Punk, then over to something more akin to Blade Runner. Very cool how Vodka walked off to certain death with an air of dignity while our protagonist realized it was him/her who did it.
Special Challenge: Include two words and use them in your story. They should come across as natural. Extra difficulty: No proper nouns or food names.
What great imagination and wonderful usage. This is the most subjective thing we could ask since it’s playing off the judge’s imagination and experience. But then, that’s writing. The real unfairness is the best made-up word probably was so good that I hadn’t noticed it was made up.
Special Challenge Runner-Up: JM Mac F!
I loved expendiary so much that I had to google to see why no one has used it. You know you did well when your made up word is so natural that others did.
Special Challenge Champion: imageronin!
For making me check to see how many of the words used were real. I award you the special prize: Person who taught me the most words this week. Druggernaut is a fantastic word, and may start a whole category of steamdrugpunk by itself.
Story Prompt: [She] whisper[s], “I forgive you,” as [her] hand slip[s] out of mine.
Having to choose makes me want to write things that will blow this blog’s PG rating. So many great stories to choose from — but one must be chosen. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Thanks for keeping it clean! And thanks to the writers for writing such awesomeness that you had to bite your tongue! :)
The entries are so competitive that judging has had to go to the old staple of who had the cleanest entry to go with great story. And even that made it tight. In the end, the choice was to go with the cleanest manuscript that spoke to me strongest.
Grand Champion: Carolyn Astfalk!
The premise that our protagonist tried to save his lover, only to realize, or rationalize, that her death was punishment is too engrossing to ignore. Your story covered a range of bitter sweet emotions: Guilt, sorrow, despair, hate. “For the rest of my sorry days, peace would slip through my grasp just the same as her hand.”