Sorry these results took so long, folks. Aside from the non-writing life kicking our butts this week, you made choosing damn tough! So… well done! 🙂
SOLDIER | HONORABLE MENTION | @lizhedgecock
Cara Says: How much do I love that the devil is the honorable one in this story? Even if he is playing with a loaded deck. 🙂
Ruth Says: I really enjoyed this, felt so sure the protagonist was going to get away with it, and then BAM, no dice. Wonderful surprise!
UNDERBOSS | RUNNER UP | @callthewriter
Cara Says: Guess I’m a sucker for a sucker. There’s such an interesting premise here, layered with such an innocent and bittersweet romance. Le sigh.
Ruth Says: Enjoyed all the little details and bringing the green sucker and knuckles back around was sweet and wrenching all at once.
BOSS | WINNER | @AvLaidlaw
Cara Says: I didn’t expect Bobby to run from a deal that would give him what he wanted, so props for a character who doesn’t take the easy road to soulless fame and fortune. The ominous ending though… gives a sad hint that Bobby can’t run far enough to escape, either the desire to be better or the demon offering to satisfy it.
Ruth Says: Although the song serves merely as a prompt, I really loved how it felt as though the story stepped right out of the lyrics. You can’t run from destiny.
The Winning Story: Crossroad Blues by @AvLaidlaw
Late that afternoon, a truck kicked up a plume of dust behind it like a tornado coming down the dirt track. The boy in the ragged t-shirt and converse sneakers all holed and dust smeared stood by the side of the road and watched it through tired eyes. Then he hitched the guitar strap over his shoulder and carried on walking.
The truck passed him rattling like old bones and its engine choking in the heat. It pulled up a hundred yards further along at the crossroads though there was no traffic around. The boy kept walking. The fields stretched away either side of the road, sunburnt and featureless. There was nowhere to hide.
The window of the truck rolled down. The radio was tuned to a Christian radio station; he didn’t think much of the music but he felt a little safer. He stopped. A middle aged woman, all earrings, frizzy hair and scarlet lipstick poked her head out. “Want a lift?”
“Going to keep walking, if it’s all the same.”
“Getting late. How long you going to keep walking for?”
“Till they bury me.”
She laughed a throaty laugh like she smoked too many cigarettes. “I’ll take you to the next town. Go halves on a hotel room if you like.”
He stepped back from the car and her earrings jangled as she laughed again. “I’m kidding.”
“Ain’t got money for gas.”
“Like to pay your way?”
“Debts have a way of getting paid, don’t they?”
“Give me a tune on your guitar and we’ll call it quits. I like a little music.” The western sky burned a fierce orange and red, and the shadow of the signpost stretched across the road, its tip touching his chest as if pointing at his heart. She turned off the radio. “Not that crap. I was into it way back, but I guess I’ve seen too much now.”
“Truth is, I don’t play so well.”
“But you want to, don’t you Bobby?” The familiar arch of the eyebrow and flicker of tongue against teeth. “You want to be on stage with the girls looking at you all wide eyed. You want a pocketful of bills so you can tell your old man where to go.”
Bobby ran from the car and across the fields. He didn’t stop until he’d run a mile or so and then he dropped to the dirt and gasped for breath. His shirt was soaked in sweat. He still clutched the neck of his guitar in his white knuckled fist and he wondered why he still held onto it so tightly wherever he went. All those nights when he blistered his fingers trying to play the damn thing, all those nights the devil came to him no matter how fast he ran from it. He held the guitar, his fingers on the strings.
Down at the crossroads, the truck kept its engine running and waited for him.