Happy Tuesday, friends! Thank you to everyone who stopped by to write and comment this past weekend. Thanks also to David Shakes for judging and commenting on this week’s entries. You’ll find his thoughts and top picks below.
Thank you Rebecca for inviting me to judge. 2016 has be a pivotal year. Interestingly, a couple of stories touch upon quantum mechanics and the multiverse. My own theory is that we’re now on the wrong timeline – hopefully The Enterprise, Time Cop, The Sliders or Dr Who will show up soon to make some adjustments without causing a temporal rift.
When we’re course corrected, I hope I still have my new job. The only downside is that it’s eating my time like there’s no tomorrow. I’m not writing. I’m still reading. (Always read – always!)
What a pleasure it was to read your stories for what I considered a great prompt. Think I detect some new (to me) voices too. I really loved everything you wrote. Glad to be back in the saddle.
May I just add one more thing? Thank goodness the Hourglass is back! We need this.
As always, judged blind and random order. I’ve made short notes for all and then it’s time for winners:
Thin Spaces, Shadow Places
One of my top three titles. Alluded to this in my introduction – Sci Fi with depth of emotion and some great philosophical moments. Making the here matter most – someone knows my own outlooks or just resonated? Lovely writing.
From Fear to Modernity
Another of my top three titles. A familiar style – full marks (or Mark’s?!) for emotionally charged imagery. I connected with the character on a really deep level and the ‘caldera eyes of her gaunt doppelgänger…’ is fabulous imagery and heralds that ending. That single word at the end. That word. Sublime.
Of Quantum Ticketing and Squashed Ducks (and Don’t Even Mention the Dog)
Last of the top three titles, first of the laugh out loud tales this week. I first spat my coffee at the line:
‘…it’s not doing duck things anymore.’ and then didn’t stop laughing. The punchline was fabulous and grounding too. Great fun here. Northern humour through quality dialogue? It’s like a treasure hunt this!
LaVon King, Street Artist, Dies at 26
Brilliant in its blunt simplicity. A social commentary wrapped in a tragic story. The brevity of the descriptions of the artwork for the moving gallery still managed to conjure great pictures in my head and the juxtaposition of ‘…dark eyes peering from jungles’ and ‘angels weeping over expressways’ really worked – felt cinematic. Strong endings abound this week – this was one of the strongest.
Through Hell and Beyond
A ‘does what it says on the tin’ title here but a well handled story. Some of the side roads presented us with another type of social commentary and I kept thinking: The Wages of Sin (I suppose you can take the boy out of church…) I liked the last line very much – I suspected that reincarnation beckoned – a chance to be reborn?
Second laugh out loud story of the week and just great. In the first paragraph and I guess eternity / maternity link and thought – this is the man – The Prince of Puns, Guardian of Grammar, doing his thing. In the second paragraph I didn’t see the ‘…back in two shakes’ and ‘David!’ coming – stories should, they say, connect on a personal level though!
Final paragraph and the set-up pays off – the punchline was brilliant. Well worth it.
A Choice to be Made
This gave me a coffin fit! No – I can’t do puns can I? I thought the white van man reference and the fact that we were delivering one side of the Mersey (mine or Zev’s?) made this a FlashDog tale (tail?) at least and I drew up a shortlist of suspects but can’t guess as well as in others. I found myself in the position of typing ‘Do they burn coffins in the UK?’ in to Google. Seems it’s an FAQ! This is the second example of a simple tale that works because it is what it is without pretense. We’ve had life after death and now life with death.
No Through Road
No parking, deep emotions.
The second story to do the life after death trip and the second one (in the order I read them at least) to feature the loss of children. There’s a focus on memory here, of memory being stripped away perhaps, but not before it’s recalled and reconciled whether our narrator wants to or not. What’s beyond the tunnel? No parking.
or ‘To be Frank, He Gets What He Deserves’ – No, puns still not my thing at all. I do like a nice tables-turned story and the predatory Frank will eternally regret dating Ashley. I liked how she still had time to appreciate the well described view at Lover’s Cove and this was the first, subtle signs that she may not be as intimidated as we’d first imagined. Blowing him up may have been a tad too far though!
Composing a Sonnet
Most disarming title award. Psycho killer qu’est ce que c’est?
I really liked how this one played out, with the narrator’s voice taking us along with it, drawing us in to his thought patterns, his motivations. ‘My house is ETERNITY’ – a bold line with, I felt, layers of meaning – backed up with the finality of HERE for the boy’s fate. ‘There, there – all done.’ Chilling – especially ‘…although I must say crimson is a most becoming colour…’ A master of show not tell at work here.
Those Things Are Going To Kill You
Warning signs eh? Signs that give warning. This was great and, upon re-reading, the clues are there from the start – dry lips & breath tests; pins, needles and fast food wrappers. I wondered if the businessman who burned himself was our guy? A glimpse of the future or a past not remembered? Certainly the repeated use of the word ‘burning’ gave hints, the air being too thick to breathe. Great last line, (haven’t they all been though?) loaded with meaning. Kind of thing I’d try to write to be honest.
A Heartbeat in THX Sound
We start and end with some Sci Fi. A future where the death of cinema and the rise of technology has reached its sad conclusion. I loved the question ‘Would you put The Grand Canyon in your pocket?’ – a fabulous summary of the point our author is making. The real horrors are hinted at in the one-liners – like kissing in person or believing the truth (topical!) being a thing of the past. This is the only entry to directly reference the film too. That last line is so loaded with imagery that I’m still unpicking it.
There are no special mentions as they were all special (and not in that ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ patronizing kind a way) – that’s why I mentioned them all. You’ve taken time to make thought into word and now something unique exists in the digital ether because of it. How cool is that?
Second Runner up is A Heartbeat in THX Sound by Richard Edenfield for premise and execution
First Runner up is Big-Boned by Geoff Holme for the humour and audacity
And our Round 117 FLASH MASTER is…
Those Things Are Going To Kill You
…because I enjoyed it the most
Congratulations, AV! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend we enter the magical month of December, and Brady Koch will be there to kick-off the judging.
We will be breaking for Christmas, but if I can find a volunteer to judge, The Angry Hourglass will ring in the New Year with Round 121!
Until next time!