Man you guys turned up the DARK for these stories! Lots of edgy themes this week! Right on!
Soldier | Honorable Mention | @denise_callaway
Cara Says: Love conquers Cyn. Or at least delays her nefarious plans.
Ruth Says: Watching Max surface from the lie made for a great read. I was terrified he wasn’t going to grab hold of reality! Whew!
Underboss | Second Place | @EFOlsson
Cara Says: With a stronger ending, this would have been my top choice, I think. Gloriously creepy. Man, I hate ouija boards …
Ruth Says: Umm, yeah, ouija board seriously creep me out and this story took that creepy vibe and ran with it. Wow. Great job!
Boss | Winner | @silverjames_
Cara Says: I love that the person holding all the cards in this exchange is Mother Goose. *snort* Great setup snippet that made me want to know more about Mother and Duke’s future with her team.
Ruth Says: This is one of those pieces that sucked me in and made me sorry there wasn’t more, much more! Terrific atmosphere and a character you can’t help but root for! 🙂
THE WINNING STORY
Hope Springs Eternal by @SilverJames_
“Here. Have a glass of self-pity.” Mother Goose slid a glass of single-malt scotch in front of Duke. He knew what she was doing by the sound of glass scraping on wood and the smoky scent of the alcohol.
“Not what I’m drinking.” He couldn’t even work up the energy to reach for the sweating beer bottle at his elbow.
“Oh? Could have fooled me.”
“Dammit, Mother. I didn’t come in here for this crap.”
“Then get your ass off my barstool and get the hell out, Duke.”
“I’m fucking blind, Mother.”
“Yeah, and?” There was no pity in the relentless woman’s tone. “Bear, get your butt over here. This whiny-ass SEAL needs an escort to the door.”
The big bartender clapped his hand on Duke’s shoulder but he shook it off. Raising his head, Duke turned his head in the direction of Mother’s voice. “Did I piss in your Wheaties or something? I’m not a SEAL anymore. The Navy gets all twisted up when their snipers can’t see their fucking target.”
“Yeah, and? Damn tired of repeating myself so you better listen to me, Duke Reagan. You can sit there like some crippled, bitter piece of shit or you can stiffen your spine and do what it takes to get your life back.”
“What part of that did you not understand, old woman? Blind. Sniper. Not a SEAL.”
“If you could get your eyesight back, what would you do?”
What the fuck? “Not possible.”
“Every gawddamn doctor in Brooks Med Center, Walter Reed, and every Navy hospital in between all say the same thing. I’m fucked.”
“You don’t sound impressed.”
“I’m not. Excuses. That’s all you’ve got. Plus, I know things you don’t, Duke.” Mother leaned on the bar and he could feel the heat from her skin as she whispered in his ear. “Did you ever wonder about that last mission?”
He stiffened but schooled his expression, saying nothing.
“Yeah. Thought you might be wondering. You need to see my doctor. And when you’re cured, I want you back here, training. Your job ain’t over, Duke, not by a long shot.”
He heard her fingers tapping on the bar and her silence stretched his patience to the breaking point. Still, he waited. If he’d learned nothing else about Mother, it was she had her own way of doing things.
“What if I told you Surfer Boy and the Tank were still alive?”
“Bullshit. They died. The next teams they served with, their next missions.”
“So you were told.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“It means they’re working for me.”
Duke sat in stunned silence.
“You’ll work for me too. Bear, take Duke to Doc Pemberton’s office.”
“You think this is a done deal?”
“Of course it is. You want to see. I need a sniper.”
“Who the fuck are you, Mother?”
“I’m your worst nightmare. And your best friend. We have the world to save. You with me?”