Whoa! What a fine kettle of fish you fried up for us this week. Thank you to everyone who wrote, commented, and tweeted!
Honorable Mention | Soldier | Emily Clayton | @emilyiswriting
Cara Says: The idea that suicide—specifically the emotions pushing the MC over that edge—feeds something lurking beneath the surface creeps me right the hell out.
Ruth Says: There’s a cadence here, repetition that lilts along, drawing the reader deeper into the truth, through the pain, and down into the abyss with the protagonist.
Second Place | Underboss | Eric Martell | @drmagoo
Cara Says: Wow, this story is so harsh. Jonny is an unapologetic dick to Belinda, but she just rolls with it. Maybe she’s just used to it, maybe she doesn’t know any better. Either way, a tremendously sad and dark piece.
Ruth Says: Stark and unrelenting all the way through, this story slices down to the bone and the dark tone leaves us flinching.
Winner | Boss | Revo Boulanger | @RevoBoulanger
Cara Says: I love the deeply seedy atmosphere to this piece. Blade Runner popped into mind, and that’s never a bad thing. The double-edged, self-serving nature of the MC doesn’t hesitate to take a life of someone he doesn’t like to save a life he does. Well done.
Ruth Says: Just the sort of complex character that keeps readers turning pages and leaves them hungry for more when the reach ‘the end.’ Riveting!
The Winning Story: Untitled by Revo Boulanger | @RevoBoulanger
The Wash is full of grit, bile and unpleasant smells. What it lacks in light, it makes up for in filth. Gray buildings rise high enough to block the moonlight, arching over the streets until only a sliver of cloud cover is visible. Even pigeons don’t fly overhead. I can’t say I blame them.
It’s misting, covering the streets with a glaze reflected from the occasional functioning streetlight. It’s always misting or fogged over, making this avoided part of the city look like a rat encased in Lucite. It’s a city within a city, a city starved for the innocent to consume.
I call it home, not that anyone cares.
Peeking out from the shadow of the alley across my vantage point is a man, at least he thinks he is. Occasionally a smile creases his face, revealing gold teeth like a jeweled barracuda.
He’s dangerous and on my turf. I don’t like fish, no matter how they’re decorated. Strike one.
He stands with one foot poised against the brick, coiled to strike. A predator holding out for the young brunette with a limp. She reeks of easy prey.
She’s not pretty in the conventional sense, but I like her smile. It’s a small ray of light in the tomb. She serves me coffee every day, strong, black and served without questions. If he succeeds, I’d have to go somewhere else, somewhere less convenient. Strike two.
Also, I hate being inconvenienced. Strike three.
I stick to the shadows and approach from behind the Chinese restaurant’s dumpster. My footsteps are silent. He doesn’t turn.
The shuffling footsteps approach, slow and lame. Twelve-hour days on her feet, too tired for caution. His muscles tense as a right hand tightens around the grip of a silver blade.
She can’t know what lurks in the gloom. I’m addicted to her sunlight as much as the primo bean-juice. When you don’t have much, the little things count.
This has to be handled quickly, quietly, and without her knowing it ever happened.
“Tsst.” I hiss with him three feet away.
He’s good, wiry and fast. The blade arcs backwards toward me before he even turns his head. He overestimates his lunge though, and it’s all I need.
The same second my large left hand covers his mouth, my right clamps on his wrist. I continue the motion around an upward until the knife is sunk to the hilt in his side.
He tenses again and tries to break free. A minute later he’s limp. I let him drop to the filth, a fitting feast for the rats.
The shuffling steps are close. I step forward into the light. She turns with a start then lets out a slow breath of relief.
“Oh…high.” She smiles tentatively. “I’ve never seen you at night.”
“See you tomorrow.” I mock tipping a hat then add. “Be safe.”