Congrats to everyone and thanks for coming out to play! If you missed any of the stories, read them here. Here's what the judge had to say:
First, thank you, Alissa, for inviting us over to play every week! It might feel like pure fun but we’re working, stretching our writerly muscles. And thanks to everyone who came out to contribute. We had 9 entries and all of them were good in their own rite! (This is a disturbed bunch; I expect to be awake and clutching the covers for a few nights after this.) On to the results…
Conspiracy Theory – Parkinkspot - Our stories kicked off this week with one of my favorite genres, Sci-Fi! Framed as a husband concerned about subtle changes in his wife’s tastes (listening to “Angry Femme” music rather Country, wearing make-up, and getting manicures), we’re led to surmise with him on everything from a mid-life crisis, to an affair, to a robot replacement. In the end, however, it’s poor Doug that “Detroit Robotics” comes for. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been so curious.…
Who is He? – Geoff LePard - A wonderful story that would probably have me rolling if I watched the show. Thankfully, I have enough friends on Facebook who post about this Mr. Dr. Who that I recognized “who” he was. (See what I did there?) Many of those same friends would give anything to be in this woman’s place, waking up next to The Good Doctor. You might’ve convinced me to give the show another try. ;)
Positive Thinking – Geoff Holme - This bit of fiction tickled my brain: from the inciting event (“It was a step-ladder!”) to his wife’s “power of 'Persuasion’” (taking a hardcover to her husband’s noggin’), I thoroughly enjoyed it! The end left me cheering, “good for her!” Whoever let a little phobia get in the way of their daughter’s wedding?
Presence in the Night – realmommaramblings - And here’s another of the brilliantly creepy stories this week. Reading this, I struggled to breathe, feeling that familiar suffocation of a semi-dream state. You know the dream. The one where you’re paralyzed and a shadow is hovering over you, your chest won’t expand to bring in oxygen, and then you’re falling and the ground is coming up fast and then…you’re awake. Only the vision clings to your mind, leaving you to check the closets and under beds. Nicely done.
Ideal Self – Christy - Another Sci-Fi twist! This time we find a wife wondering at the changes in her husband, only to realize she’s the one who’s different. His caresses and voice are not the same but perhaps that’s because he knows she isn’t truly his wife? We’re left to speculate. The last lines are chilling–“Checking how Patrice's first day went – if there were any problems with her transfer let us know.” This “duplihuman” protagonist deserves her own novel.
Fallen Apple – realmommaramblings - Wow! Opening with raw dialogue and ending with a clever perspective switch, this story depicts the erosive power of addiction. After enduring hardships a daughter shouldn’t have to survive, the protagonist succumbs to her past demons, proving that the apple truly doesn’t fall far from this rotting tree. So sad.
Special Challenge Champion - The Eyes on the Shelf – Emily Clayton - Does it get much creepier than a demonic teddy bear? Probably not. Oh, wait it does. An ex who’s sold his soul to come stalk you! That raspy voice (“I SEE YOU, I SMELL YOU, I TASTE YOU”) chains us to the words as they unfold, building suspense until the final blood-splattered moments. Of all the stories this week, this one delivered the most effective surprise ending. Superb job! I won’t be sleeping tonight.
Runner Up – The Stranger – Rebekah Postupak - Stunning. A novel-worthy story packed into 190 words. “The Stranger” paints a fractured marriage, the efforts a husband takes to fix it, and his wife’s (understandable) reluctance to trust someone who’s failed her. Word economy is perfect in this piece and that final line “sober” adds, wraps, and chills. A powerful piece.
Grand Champion – Skin Changer – asgardana - I adored this take! The voice, the pace, the originality, all brilliant! One moment it had me laughing (“I was trying to figure out how my husband’s button down bowling shirt made its way around this woman’s breasts”), and the next wanting to dash out the door with her. Oh, and this line: “the noise was not coming from the woman’s mouth but from her skin, her veins”–delicious! Well done.