Wow! Another great batch of stories! Thank you to everyone who wrote, commented, and tweeted.
Honorable Mentions | Soldiers | Silver James and Kat Avila
Silver James | @SilverJames_
Cara Says: An intense scene peppered with humor and cheese, lol. Like that peek into Smoke’s life before arson (and Leigh).
Ruth Says: I love how you managed to weave humor, banter, back story, extreme danger AND both prompts into a snarky sexy scene!
Kat Avila |@katheryn_avila
Cara Says: The circumstances surrounding this pair hint at a star crossed lovers sort of thing. Love the connection between them.
Ruth Says: Love the fluctuation between sweet resistance and sweetly relenting. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
Second Place | Underboss | Mark Ethridge | @lurchmunster
Cara Says: Armor 17 continues to develop and this entry is methodical and chilling. I love how he operates, ferreting out the bad guys with psychological games. Eager to see where this goes next.
Ruth Says: Again, one of my favorite elements of Armor 17 is his unique and unexpected perspective and interpersonal interactions. He captures my imagination.
Winner | Boss | NJ Crosskey | @NJCrosskey
Cara Says: The fun in this piece rests in how much the reader wants to see this killer MC get his comeuppance. That it should come from an even more cunning killer is perfection. The outward appearances hide serious darkness, and it plays out beautifully.
Ruth Says: The narrator’s voice is so compelling that I was completely unprepared when he became the victim. Such an enjoyable surprise.
The Winning Story: In Sheep’s Clothing by NJ Crosskey
As soon as I see her I know she’s the one.
She oozes self-loathing. The way she yanks her shrug across her middle tells me she carries that slight paunch like a millstone. Her steps are cautious, her gait apologetic, as she picks her way through the crowd. Always giving way.
Oh yes. Perfect. Exactly the sort to cream over an awkward, lonely loser like me.
It’s getting harder, there’s no doubt. I guess I’m a victim of my own success. They’re all so wary. It always has to be public, well-lit. But then she sees my flaky skin and wonky smile, hears my stammer, and her relief is visible. Danger doesn’t come in such a pathetic package. She’s been led to believe he’s a Romeo, a charmer. Suave and dashing – so the papers say.
A guy like me couldn’t possibly be the Sweetheart Killer.
It’s not the best moniker, I’ll admit. I’d have preferred something more butch. But, I can’t exactly call the press office to complain, so I guess I’m stuck with it.
Oh well, we all have our cross to bear.
Over drinks her guard drops. Her eyes fill with liquid pity when I confess crowds make me self-conscious. She suggests dinner, somewhere intimate. She’s like a pig in shit, finally she’s found someone to feel superior to. She stands a little taller, feeling attractive for the first time in God knows how long.
I let her talk all through dinner. That’s what these bitches really want. She babbles and blathers, and I nod in the right places. But I’m staring at that pudgy neck. Imagining the screams. I finger the blade in my pocket, and shiver.
She takes me to her apartment, all chintz and incense. As she pours us both a whiskey I’m breathless with anticipation. Soon now.
She prattles on about her dreary job, but suddenly her voice fades like the floating echoes of a dream. My head is pounding. The room starts shaking.
Christ, what’s wrong with me?
I try to excuse myself, but the words won’t form. I stagger down the drab hallway, trying to find the bathroom. I need to puke.
Too much booze. If I can just purge I’ll be good for the main event.
My knees buckle as I open the door, and I’m on the floor. I can’t seem to make my limbs move. What the fuck? It’s not a bathroom, it’s some kind of study. It’s getting hard to focus, but I squint at the walls. They’re covered in newspaper clippings. All about the Sweetheart Killer.
All about me.
I’m struggling for breath, I roll over and she’s there, standing over me.
“W-w-hat’s gerrin ohn?” I slur.
She smiles. Reaches down and pulls a slick, sharp silver knife from her knee-high boot. She straddles me, bringing the blade so close to my face I can almost taste the steel. “You just met your match, Sweetheart.”