Wow! You guys turned out in full force this week and gave us some excellent weekend reading! Thank you!
Soldiers | Honorable Mentions
Cara Says: I find stories of lost memories so sad, but this one stood out with the jumps between moments, and put me in her shoes.
Ruth Says: Okay, I read this one several times. It’s aching and haunting. Wonderfully written.
Cara Says: I love the staccato action as Moose moves through the house, taking out the baddies on his way to Bobby the Mouth.
Ruth Says: Honestly, this had me at the title and never let go. Fast. Confident. Fun. Great characterization and runaway action.
2nd Place | Underboss | @surlymuse
Cara Says: I had in mind some sort of Temple of Doom scenario, but what you gave us is so much cooler. I’m sad to see a cool character lost to play host to a demon, but what a wicked ending.
Ruth Says: Man, this was chock full of visceral details and when I got the end, I just sat there with jaw unhinged. Our kickass protagonist fell down the rabbit hole?! I need to know MOAR! Mostly, What Happened Next?! 🙂
Winner | Boss | @lurchmunster
Cara Says: This story is brilliant and creepy, and I love it. The black room, the droning voice breaking down the narrator’s sense of self and individuality, the tiny ways (s)he tries to hold on, and that certainty that (s)he’ll never outlast the voice… So well done, Mark!
Ruth Says: The isolation and indoctrination came across so well that I began to fidget as I read, as if I could dodge what was coming, what was happening. Wonderfully creepy and well written!
Untitled by Mark Ethridge / @lurchmunster
They keep me in this room, with no windows, black walls, floor, ceiling, and door., under fluorescent lights that never turn off. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. Here, there is no time.
There is an endless voice that always speaks of the good of the society, the body of humanity. Of how we are parts of that body, each part filling a need of the body. I know there was a time I didn’t believe. Now, I know someday I’ll believe every word.
I write with invisible ink, from an invisible pen, on invisible paper. I’m writing a book on the death of the individual, the rise of society, and the macro-organism humanity has become. I start over each time I write, for I can’t remember where I left off.
“There is no I. There is only we. There is no me. There is only us.” The voice goes on, endlessly. I stand in the middle of the room, hold my invisible conductor’s baton, tap it against my invisible podium, and conduct an invisible orchestra as they play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Or at least the small bits I can remember of it. I make up the parts I can’t remember as I go.
“Work for the good of all. Play for the good of all. Help all. Care for all.” Once I screamed for the voice to shut up. I put my hands over my ears, and sang songs to drown it out. I tried to tear my ears from my head so I couldn’t hear it anymore.
They tied my hands down. And the voice droned on. “The only joy is service. The only love is service. The only life is service.” I screamed. I kicked. I stopped eating, drinking, sleeping. I prayed for death. For release. For an end to the voice, the lights, the black everything. I prayed for freedom.
Until exhaustion captured me. Until it handed me to sleep.
Eventually, I stopped praying. I began to eat, and drink. I learned there was no escape. They freed my hands. And the voice droned on, “Like a body has cells, society has cells. We are those cells. Each with a different purpose. All working together for the good of the body. The good of the whole. For what benefits the whole benefits each part.”
I try sometimes, to remember the sounds of birds. The colors of flowers. The smell of a good meal. What it was like to walk beside the ocean. I always fail.
Someday, I will understand that voice. Someday that voice will take away everything I am. Everything I could have been. And I will become another cell in the body of humanity. Part of me sometimes wants to cry at that thought, as if something has been lost, though I can’t imagine what.
And all the while, that voice goes on.