Here I was, all worried the moody song I’d picked was going to give us a Weep Fest but not a chance! You guys unleashed holy hell, literally in some cases, and gave us a truckload of dark fury and shadowed pasts! Way to go!
SOLDIERS | Honorable Mentions | @EFOlsson and @AvLaidlaw
Cara Says: This fantastically creepy “romance” starts out sweet enough, but takes such a crazy turn. I shuddered the moment James broke out the new air fresheners.
Ruth Says: So enjoyed how this played out, going from what seems to be a sweet reminisce to full on YUCK!
Cara Says: The MC’s struggle to understand his world after discovering his true nature grows truly heartbreaking as he questions everything he thought he knew.
Ruth Says: This piece left me with so many questions and happily so. There is a whole world here, just waiting to be born. 🙂
UNDERBOSS | Second Place | @davejamesashton
Cara Says: “You caught me monologuing!” I love a good villain monologue. I love it even more when no one saves the day. Wickedly fun story!
Ruth Says: Such a fun read! I could listen to this character talk his way through an entire novel! Love the tone and voice here! 🙂
BOSS | First Place | @emilyiswriting
Cara Says: This wicked twist of bad is good and good is bad made for a great read. For the MC to wake up without pain and have this be the first herald of life going in the wrong direction is great. I especially love the end, as sympathy and kindness spread, an “incurable disease.” Fantastic!
Ruth Says: This world in reverse is so ripe with inescapable details! What an incredible concept! And a killer closing line!
THE WINNING STORY – Curses in the Night by Emily Clayton
Mirror, mirror. Who do you see? An innocent woman looks back at me.
In this world, you’re born evil. You walk evil. You breathe evil. Those who are not evil are deranged. Good behaviour is wrong, and it can quickly morph an evil youth into a sweet-tempered fiend. Oh the horrors!
I start my day with a brisk dip in the Pool of Mystical Odours, and I splash my cheeks with angel tears. Angels. Those vile creatures. We hunt them for sport, or else they’d take over this place. Just the other day I actually caught one planting flowers in the road. Horrible! You don’t plant flowers. You pluck them. Shredding the petals until they shrivel and die. Decay is the highlight of our existence.
The Hour of Regurgitation, the only meal of the day in this place, consists of rotten fruit mashed to a pulp and dried. It is tough, leathery, and nausea inducing. I wash it down with flavourful fermented goat’s milk, the kind that is thick and bursting with mouldy chunks. I heave the contents into my second stomach to allow further fermentation. I regurgitate the meal, savouring the bile. Just what I need to get through the day.
Society is single minded. Wherever we work, however we occupy our time, we labour with one goal: to eliminate the kindness. You see that metal shard in the Nightmare Park? Throw it at the angels. You see that mouldy bread? Eat it quickly, before someone else partakes of the delectable spores. If we see someone suffering, we prolong the anguish. A kind charity act would go against everything evil and impure, everything that makes us thrive.
One morning I wake up without the knot in my back. Without the pain. I know something is amiss. I glance in the mirror, and instead of scratches and claw marks, I see the outline of lips on my left cheek. Something — something good — has cursed me.
I eat the dried rotten delights and vomit profusely. I suck down the fermented chunks and spew my stomach contents across the room. I panic. I race through the house, into the street, seeking — love. Comfort. The thoughts are horrendous. What’s wrong with me? I’m not who I thought I was.
I’ve become one of them.
The crowds form. They surround me, brandishing daggers and swinging clubs. A short-lived hunt. As I scream in fear, begging for the life I know I’ve already lost, my eyes observe a trace of sympathy. Gentle eyes near the back of the crowd.
Kindness, that virus, that incurable disease, is on the move.