Hello again. I’d like to thank Catherine Connolly for her outstanding efforts this weekend as judge. She had 15 great stories to read and ultimately choose winners from. Not an easy task. She has comments for everybody, so I shan’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here is what Catherine had to say about this week’s entries:

First off, thank you to everyone for making my job so difficult this week!  This week’s photo prompt provided scope for a wide variety of stories and you all proved equal to the challenge, with themes ranging from unrequited love, to the underworld of Aztec mythology and much further afield and skyward…  I loved reading all of them:

Steven Stucko’s “Between” focuses on unrequited love and its barriers, which prove all too real for Scott, as he tries – and fails – to persuade Sam that they should be together.  The story brings the island clearly to mind, with its swarms of tourists, oblivious and fumbling with their guidebooks, as well as conjuring a vivid picture of Scott’s heartfelt declaration.  The plain language and reference to the way Scott feels electricity at Sam’s touch create a clear impression of his feelings for his friend, before the wall forms between them, as Scott realises all attempts to change their relationship are doomed to fail.  A poignant ending.

In “Myopia” Stella introduces us to an alternate world in which the Wall of Heroes documents those who have chosen to pledge allegiance after conflict with the Mutants from Outer Space.  Gradually the story progresses from the familial visit and discussions over old photos to a more explosive ending!

In Charles Short’s “Through Another’s Eyes” we see Annie from alternative perspectives – as she sees herself and how she is viewed by Jayson.  The contrasting paragraphs highlight brilliantly the difference between Annie’s viewpoint and Jayson’s, as well as her gradual realisation of how she is seen by him.  Again, a wonderful concluding paragraph.

Amy Wood’s “The Wall” draws the reader in from the outset with its clever use of questions to create intrigue.  The fact that the Wall remains unnamed adds to the ominous nature of the construction, setting the tone for the remainder of the story.  Dialogue is used throughout to great effect.  The image of Dan as the charred puppet with its strings cut is particularly haunting.

I enjoyed the tongue in cheek tone to Mark King’s “Wall Art”, with the wall behind Greggs Bakers being set up as the most valuable wall of them all – never mind the others, including, of course, Pink Floyd!  The back and forth between mother and son works really well and I really enjoyed the Banksy slant as someone who’s done a street art spotting tour in Bristol!

Steven Stucko’s “Epic Buzz Kill” combines Bill and Ted with Pink Floyd at one of the most anticipated rock shows ever.  The story is crammed with details of the spectacle the concert is envisaged to present, before the narrative cleverly brings our expectations to a halt as Bill deliberately delays the concert for numerous hours!  The fact that so many details are set out for the reader works really well in building the sense of anticipation prior to the closing line here. 

Diann Hays’ “Click” is a great tale of a duo who seem to know exactly how much not to trust each other! We get a clear picture courtesy of Frankie’s fiendish smile and sense of boredom as to precisely where the power in the partnership seems to be before Lana turns the tables and proves her wrong. Cleverly done.  Great dialogue too.

Voima’s “The Words On The Wall” is a beautiful tale of someone becoming increasingly familiar with the words of the Wall and learning the story of the Traveler.  The poetic language brings to mind a dreamlike world, akin to that of the Traveler, dreaming of distant hills, whom our unnamed narrator wishes to return to his home.  I, for one, hope someday the protagonist is successful in the mission…

I really liked the diary style structure to Sal’s “A Sticky Situation” and frank, conversational tone to the various “entries”, with the contrasting extract from The Gazette inserted into them.  The language is spot on throughout and I had to laugh at the final paragraph!

Marie Mckay’s “The Limit” uses stark, simplistic language to great effect in describing how Boy One and Two make their way to Door Zero during their time at Sky Portion.  The clock countdown adds to the sense of urgency in reaching a decision as to whether to look up or not and pay off once it is finally reached.  I’d like to read more about the world of Sky Portion!

From the first unseen element captured – or not – on Caleb’s screen, C.R. Jennings’ “Evelyn’s Wall” has the fear skittering up our spine, similarly to Steven himself.  The constant questions add to a developing sense of menace, as communication finally breaks down into Steven’s whimper and eventual silence.  Again, a brilliantly effective ending in the image of the blood-spattered phone at Steven’s feet.

I have a soft spot for any story involving the Underworld and so really enjoyed the chance to familiarise myself with Aztec mythology as a result of Deb Foy’s “How Man Kept His Mortality”.  There are numerous brilliant descriptions throughout the tale.  I particularly enjoyed the concept of the Underlord and his woman throned in death.  I’d also like a follow up capturing the details of the proposition, please!

Brian Creek’s “Witness” concerns a supposedly sinister humming metal wall.  Gradually, through a number of persistent questions we learn that the wall is not exactly what it first seems to be and we are not alone…  A dialogue driven story, this is spot on in terms of tone and language.

Nancy Chenier’s “Pointed View” concerns the search for Waylan and Todd’s “cliff-faced” father.  It is a story rich with small details and apt descriptions, including the insignificant “suits” on benches, reduced to their clothing only, as the two search for one all important face to ask a simple and yet complex question.  The way Todd sucks his breath in as the two see their father speaks volumes.

In A.J. Walker’s “The Silent Wall” Sam and Ethan encounter the strange and sudden appearance of a monolithic wall at the junction with Market on the way to sort out arrangements for a summer music festival.  What starts out as an upbeat conversation, with effective dialogue (A-may-zing!) turns into pondering as to what the wall is for, before gradually the two realise they have no idea of whether they are barricaded in or outside of it and that no one else seems to be around, ending on a mysterious and chilling note…          

Getting to the hard part, which caused much deliberation and because I must choose…

Runner Up  – Voima’s “The Words On The Wall” for a beautifully poetic and poignant story of the Wall which speaks to return the Traveler to his homelands.  Wonderfully evocative.

Runner Up – Stella’s “Myopia” for its arthritic jointed lady with myopic eyesight who dares to walk into the Mutants Lair laden with her shopping trolley of dynamite.  Fabulous concept and image – loved it!

your Round 57 FLASH MASTER is…


Sal Page

with “A Sticky Situation”

for a hard hitting story of bullying in the digital age, effective use of language and story structure, as well as a character who manages to have the last laugh.  Well done!

Congratulations Sal! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay quickie. Next weekend, I’ll be back with a new photo prompt, and Jaime Burchardt will be back in the judge’s hot seat. We hope you’ll all be back, too. See you there!

  1. 🙂 Congrats everyone! Nice words of encouragement from this week’s judge, Catherine.

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