Round 83: Winners

Posted: November 3, 2015 in Winners
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hello, friends. Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween. I’m sad it’s over, but I’m glad you all stopped by to share your spooky stories. Many thanks to Shakes for judging this weekend. You’ll find his comments below.

Hi folks – thank you for coming out to write this Halloween weekend. I haven’t been able to fully comment on all the stories because life is manic at the moment – but feel free to contact me and I will give any writer as much feedback as they like to the best of my abilities.

I always put composition and effect at the forefront, but spelling, grammar, and punctuation are necessary evils – sometimes a wee edit would go a long way. Trust me, I’ve thrust too many half-finished pieces into the competition maelstrom and regretted it later. I’m no expert, though, this write up is probably riddled with error.

As I write, a persistent, thick fog has shrouded (masked you might say) much of the UK today. A perfect backdrop to judging, although it did add an hour to my homeward journey – another limiting factor in my write up.

I did read, the re-read then read again each and every story. I found something inspirational in each one. Some resonated more than others, some excited more than others. I am a sucker for a well-rounded tale, I am a sucker for a unique slice of imagery. When I get both, I’m in Flash Heaven.

As ever, judging was blind and I’ll save the writers’ identities for the announcement tomorrow. I do have my suspicions though! Take care and see you all soon.

Third Place – OLD HARRY by Steph Ellis

Like a classic TWILIGHT ZONE, this compact tale is a work of three parts. There’s great economy of language that still manages to paint a clear setting and imply an entire back-story for the disagreeable character Frank. The ghastly head that greets him at the open door of his latest “business” venture is a missed portent of his fate to come. Arrogant Frank chillingly reveals he’s “…carved enough faces in his time.” when Harry’s challenge is set – his cocky self-absurdness blinding him to Harry’s strange and sinister motives. “You wear the face that you deserve.” says Harry. Ouch! Loved this like a comfortable pair of shoes. That’s a good thing by the way! There were two other tales in a similar vein, but this one lingered longest in my imagination.

Second Place (by a whisker from the first) – THE MASKS OF BABYLON by AV Laidlaw

An arresting first line takes us into a well-constructed world wherein citizens mask themselves and their depravities from the eyes of their ancient gods. The masks’ temptations overthrow priests’ admonishments and “impotent” gods – melding with the wearers and becoming the new religion, the new flesh (nods to Cronenberg!). The closing paragraph which is both philosophical and chilling, sees our narrator remove their mask and a lot more besides, in order to wander the corrupt streets faceless and invisible. A strong narrative and a great subtext here. Feels like it should be the start of something massive.



Voima Oy


Thematically close to TMOB, this also starts with an arresting first line and then builds layer upon layer of poetic imagery. It reads and feels like the finest piece of folklore and is beautiful throughout. Thei dialogue is carefully measured to befit the style of the piece (saw this also done well in A DANCE OF DUES). There’s no waste in this tale whatsoever. What nudged it into first place for me was the line: “I am the fresh tracks in the snow, the trail of the black blood on the ice.” and then the fantastic last line. Haunting rather than horrific and quite stunning.

Congratulations, Voima! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie!

Next weekend, Marie McKay is back in the judge’s seat. Thanks to everyone who wrote this weekend, and thanks again to Shakes for judging. Hope to see you all again on Saturday.


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