Congratulations to everyone! Thanks for joining us. If you missed any of the stories, you can read them here. Otherwise, here is what the judge had to say:
Desperate times in Santa Monica by @studyleaks
This tale takes you on the roller coaster with Steve and Jean as they wait for mysterious and unexplained missiles to hit them. Stuck indoors, afraid of the radio for its ‘fabrications and exaggerations’ or its platitudes’ they chip and chisel at each other until they focus on Jack– their son? – when they begin to agree with each other. Is Jack safe? That seems to be the one remaining hope. Nice dialogue and a well-paced story.
The first Rocket Scientist by Gordon759
This is interesting, telling a historical incident in beautiful prose. The story is well known but it bears the retelling and the sang froid of both Wellington, and especially Congreve when the rocketeers came under attack is lovely. ‘“Good for a first shot.” The major commented, as he lit the fuse on the next rocket.’ I much enjoyed this.
The Grown Ups Are Gone by Sacha Black
Oh heavens this was hard. The tenderness between the youngsters, the evidence of a little hope creeping back into their lives. Joe can see another horizon, one which might prove to escape but first Lara must fetch help. Joe is ready to provide cover as she ‘pepper potted’ her way across the path. And then the crunching disaster, the devastation. Bang. War is bloody but never more so than this. This story demanding reading again and again and the end gets no better.
After the Electricity Died by willowdot21
This is a mini epic, describing the collapse of civilization in a few words. We learn that Dan and Simon have tried to retain knowledge, for a time when others can be brought together to try and restore a semblance of normality. Dan recounts his hopes, despite an underlying fear which at the end Simon ends when it becomes apparent that law and order have finally broken down and war is inevitable. Truly a dystopian tale, well told.
Mad Dash Escape by asgardana
This is a wonderful story of a descent to madness and how the sane want to believe that there must be a reason, beyond the obvious. John is dragged along despite misgivings; he has to make a swift choice and understandably sides with his wife, Emily. But by the end his horror is revealed in her true psychosis. A chilling story, with a horrific twist.
Always The Scientists by Amberlee Dawn
This reads, to me, as a somewhat surreal story, set in a future war situation but with similar issues confronted today in conflicts. Oliver is misused throughout and is doing his best but, sleep deprived, he is barely functioning. A clever story highlighting the failures of those in power and the sacrifices of those who aren’t and how, behind it all are scientists whose talents are ignored. Well done.
Special Challenge Runner Up:
Man and His Shed
This is a grand tale with brilliant humour dotted throughout. The war zone is a common one – the marital battlefield – but it is ripe for neat phrases. When George fails to tend the yard we are told it ‘had become such an embarrassment that Margaret now parked around the corner and had acquired a PO Box’. And when Margaret contemplates leaving she hesitates because of a ‘man drought’ knowing he has ‘a man in hand’. But there is always a toy boy, Audrey’s bloke who “had talents in other areas and that his lifesaving skills extended way beyond the beach”.
It’s a toss up between the old and the new and finally Margaret makes a decision; she goes to George’s shed. His refuge where he is making some incomprehensible invention. That’s it. Margaret is leaving. Until she remembers the dog. Delicious!
Special Challenge Champion:
I enjoyed the ‘war zone’ here, between grandma and granddaughter. Grandma is denied the weapons she needs so resorts to those she isn’t used to and while is pleased they work regrets having to use them. The relationship is neatly drawn and there’s a lovely touch in how Grandma is distracted from the washing up in just the same way Chelsea is from her allotted task.
Army of Ineffective Badness
This is a hoot, deliberately corrupting the Good v Evil story into a plot device that has to circumvented. His Badness is too clever, too cool, too sure. Some lines are fabulous. ‘Dark Lord had several flaws as a speaker, including soliloquies and belaboring the obvious.’ And on capturing the Hero’s love interest, ‘The Dark Lord delivered the standard misogynistic magic words, and negotiated the evil kiss despite her ridiculously ineffective struggles.’ He has to succeed until, at the inevitable denouement he realizes he failed to take into action the Hero’s Unrestricted Serendipity’ I want Captain Fodder, Dark Lord’s side kick to have his own story next time.
Enemy at the Door
This has a real sense of time and place as the two men listen for orders, tapped in the inertia of war. Some beautifully phraseology. ‘I need action to keep my mind still.’ Someone appears – friend or foe. The men are terrified but eventually one goes to see who is there. It is a friend, or is it. They treat him but even so, as Vikram says, “This is war, everyone is an enemy.” There is such a poignant tone here and you can hear the mouth organ providing mood music as this sombre but superb story unwinds.