Archive for the ‘Winners’ Category

Happy Tuesday, friends. I hope the day finds you well. Thank you to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend (after seeing AJ’s comments, I’m really glad I didn’t post the photo prompt I was originally contemplating!). Thanks also to AJ for volunteering his time to read and comment on the entries. You’ll find his comments and top picks below. 

Last time I judged there were just seven entries, this time thirteen and they were all tremendous (I can still use that word, right?). 

I did tweet prior to the prompt ‘bonus points for not making the stories about Trump’ as I was having a weekend trying not to think about him – not even my country and I feel I needed a break. And only one of you did, so thank you for that. And I didn’t mark the offending piece down; in fact it made me laugh, which I’m always a sucker for.

Each story included a train or two, which would have seemed coincidental but for the prompt photo and of course someone had to throw in a bit of Warren Zevon – let’s face it that is always a wise choice for any given day. Aah wooo! 

Needless to say all the stories were strong and I was quite torn, especially between the top two, but I have done it. These are the facts, not alternative ones, real ones. 

So, without further ado my favourite lines and my picks of the week…

Fave Lines:

1. Shokolokobangoshe

Hatch was on a 2 year contract, teaching Ceramic Engineering and Flirting at the Iffy Ilumasha University.

2. The White Room

Those first nights, whenever a train passed, I thought it was an earthquake.

3. Runaway Train.

She will be back once she finds all her missing pieces.

4. The Mission

He fell again, tumbling head-over-heels through bushes, against trees, and then crashed out onto open track to see the huge, shrieking train racing towards him.

5. Condemned

He felt the guard’s cold breath as he whispered in his ear. “Waiting, see. Waiting for the son.”

6.A Community Welcome

It’s not ideal but it’s not war-torn.

7. Tremendous

How dare they make him look like that? He’s the most important man in the world now.

8. A Winding Up Of Sorts

Their invention outlasts their hearts – wound tight, at first, then loosening, with time.

9. Chhotu: little one

That’s where the real people were, they would enjoy a cup of strong ginger tea.

10. Askance

I’d set our daughter free. But in that moment I wondered what else I had unleashed.

11. The Man in Blue

For the night comes for him.

12. It’s All in the Leap

Today, Sam marries his sweetheart: that was me, but he says it’s always been her.

13. Werewolves of London

What the hell had been let loose on the 9.15 am from Coventry?

HMs 

– The Mission by Ewan Smith

There wasn’t that much humour in this batch of stories. Which is fine. No, no, it really is. Anyway, this one had a nice punch line so thank you for giving me at least a little humour. Starting off like a scene from The Hunger Games to end with the less than exciting Trainspotting (i.e. nothing to do with the new film from Danny Boyle).

– Tremendous by Sal Page

Well hell I said no Trump please and what happened? This tremendously fun story about someone who seems a bit Trump like (can’t put my finger on why I think it could be). The train heading closer and going round the bend. Indeed. Safety information can be found under the seat in front of you and in between the carriages. Good luck.

(Okay, this was humourous too I think. Or was it alternative fact or Double Speak? I don’t know who to check with these days, we can’t trust anyone. So perhaps it wasn’t humour at all. In fact it probably wasn’t about Trump either now I come to think about it.) 

Runner Up – The Man in Blue by Mark A. King

I’ve been to Auschwitz and this story even on the first read took me straight back there. Thankfully merely as a visitor, but it’s not a place you can forget. It can be hard to write about such serious subjects especially with so few words to play with. So many people love trains, as can be seen in all the other stories; the journeys, the excitement; the possibilities about where you could be going to. Then there’s this place. Miles of train tracks, ash and detritus. 

The simple title gave no clue about the story and then the memory of trains and the people it brought to him for this evil man was one he enjoyed; while I could but shudder. It didn’t sound like the protagonist was that haunted by his past, but it was good to find out in the end he was – at night, at least. Evocative and brilliantly done. 

And our Round 123 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Firdaus Parves

with

Chhotu: Little One

Loved this vignette, could really see ‘the little one’ waiting at an Indian train station. Hoping that the train would come shortly (a lottery with many a timetable) so that the tea would still be saleable and desperate to get the tea to as many customers as possible, maximising the possibility of profits, however small, in the short time available. 

At the the end the fear that one customer had got away without paying for the tea was nicely played, and the uplifting end made me feel all nice and warm – like I’d just had a taste of some of that ginger tea. In short, I felt like I was on the platform watching the scene unfold. I felt hot and dusty and had to put the kettle on. Well done.

Congratulations, Firdaus! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie. Recruiting for February judges shall commence shortly. Anyone interested in judging (even if you haven’t been a Flash Master) is welcome to contact me, and we’ll arrange a date. Next weekend, A.V. Laidlaw will be presiding judge. Hope to see you all there. 

Happy Tuesday, writers! Thanks to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend, and thanks also to Steph Ellis for judging. Her comments and top picks (with a surprise award!) are below.

Well you certainly didn’t disappoint this week (not that you ever do I might add) with twelve stories of an exceptionally high standard and as expected I found it extremely difficult to chose between them. I truly enjoyed reading these flashes on the day which has been dubbed the ‘most depressing day’ of 2017. So, thank you for the respite from the greyness and misery that is currently Southampton and now here are my thoughts on your entries (you can all gossip about my judging prowess – or lack of it later!):

A Blanket of No

Weather getting in the way of true love. The snow says no and it’s all the fault of the new President Elect. The sense of her impatience comes through so strongly that you are there with her in the kitchen as she looks at the watch, at her phone, considers coffee. Eighteen calls though points to a certain neediness that might not bode well for the future. Hope the snow clears.

The Snow Wand

The power of the imagination … and belief. Took me right back to the years I had to spend walking home along country lanes in the middle of nowhere in weather like this; wish I’d had a snow wand then to make it disappear. At least the wand worked and allowed the guinea pig to survive.

Wouldn’t That Be Something

Oh dear, sounds as though Mel has failed as a weather witch. A difficulty with some poor human male has resulted in his death and now Mel has to live with the consequences, but ‘it’s just not easy, getting things right’. The niggling and arguing between the siblings as a result of this is spot on.

Snowed Under

I’m hoping that perhaps this young adventurer has mistaken not caring for caring too much and that his family may have moved on because they didn’t want to be reminded of their ‘loss’. This story is a good example of showing how it’s always that ‘split-second decision’ that can send your life on a different path, in this case literally.

Snow Country

The perils of jumping headlong into something without preparation. The consequences in this instance appear to be almost certain death, a sacrifice of some sort. The Festival is made to sound sinister and menacing rather than having the usual inferences of fun and excitement. Perhaps the ‘cold and bitter’ herb tea was poisoned, perhaps he may be killed in some other way; either way he definitely won’t be enjoying the event.

Six Inch Marzipan Man

A different take on death by chocolate. Beware all those who cheat – you can’t always have your cake and eat it – you’ll probably be clobbered to death with it instead. The one-sided dialogue flowed perfectly and Caroline sounds like a right old gossip with an eye for the main chance. Very Midsomer Murders.

And to the results:

Firstly, a special award here

The Trump Award for Fantastical Fiction and Taking Liberties goes to

Two Extraordinary Women And A Modest (But Handsome In A Rugged Way) Young Man by Ewan Smith

A real puzzle as to who wrote this piece! Obviously they don’t realise that I cannot be bribed – although offering me some freebie books (print not digital)  may weaken my resolve somewhat. Alcohol doesn’t work either, I just fall asleep … can’t answer for Lady Hazmat though. Great fun and just to boost the unknown author’s self-esteem, I declare them the winner of this week’s Trump Award for Fantastical Fiction and Taking Liberties.

HMs

I am a Practising Eccentric by Stephen Lodge

Wonderful nonsense that nearly lost me with the Hawaiian shirt (loathe them) but pulled me back in with mention of a shrubbery (can never hear that word without thinking of Monty Python). The names were a particular delight: Cliff Hanger, Jobby & Squalid Dobbs, and of course the flora and fauna. And yes, I googled some of them just to make sure! I’ve a feeling that perhaps the art collector was pretty gullible in his dealings with the Dobbs brothers but he seems happy enough.

Neighbourhood Watch by Alva Holland

Snow, the great leveller of genteel suburbia, covers all that the residents take pride in, all are the same. I love the little descriptions of the house owners’ petty jealousies and their competitiveness. I dread to think what will happen when they try to keep up with their newest neighbours, the Jones’s.

Second Runner Up

The Fox and Two Sisters by A.V. Laidlaw

A story told in the manner of a traditional tale and which would not seem out of place in early mythological collections, having the feel of a story that has been around and accepted for centuries. The narrative is perfectly paced and beautifully descriptive with the silver-tongued Fox craftily getting his own way as he switches between the two sisters  so causing the change in seasons; a sly old dog indeed.

First Runner Up

The Visitor by Marie McKay

Small but perfectly formed. The atmosphere is tense, the fear strong. The personification of the buildings show how even the inanimate are affected by the presence of the bogeyman. He disturbs buildings, prayers and dreams. His presence is all-pervasive, dark and grey, pressing down on them as his feet ‘thud, thud, thud on their roofs’. But he is just ‘toying’, enjoying the torment he creates as he passes through the town and when he leaves, the colour doesn’t rush back in, instead he leaves a ‘grey nothingness’ behind. Wonderfully dark writing.

And our Round 122 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Richard Edenfield

with

Reading an Avalanche

Rich imagery takes your eyes away from the words on the page and into your own snow world. The cold seeps out as ‘ice cracks like bone’ and ‘mist from my breathing’ floats through air, numbness seeps in and limbs become heavy. The reader matches their pace with the injured creature. Is this a story or is it the author fearing ‘writer’s block’, the blood being the ink, the pale stark blanket, the empty page. Author, reader, subject – all interweave on the page, none exist without the other, viewpoints flit in and out so that this becomes the art of creation. Poetical and beautiful.

Congratulations, Richard. Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! This weekend A.J. Walker will be back to judge stories, I hope you’ll all be back to write them. Cheers!

Hello writers. Happy Tuesday. It’s snowpocalypse 2017 at Angry Hourglass HQ, so I hope everyone is staying warm. Thanks to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend, and thanks much to Jaime Burchardt for volunteering his time to judge. You’ll find his top picks and comments below.

Welcome to the first Angry Hourglass Frenzy of 2017! I love that it’s the new year, and I love that none of you made this easy. In fact this may have been the most difficult time I’ve had judging these flash stories due to the fact that you all submitted worthy pieces! Picking just three wasn’t easy, so before we continue I just want to give a bow to all of you. Thank you for your submissions!

3rd Place

“It-” by Rebekah Postupak: This is a story that paints a pretty & tragic story all within its flash walls and the details cannot be denied.

2nd Place

“Them Apples” by zevonesque: I’m a sucker for a one-punch ending, and in this case the rest of the story had the pacing & pleasantness to lead. A nice, detailed and easy-flowing read gives Them Apples its legs.

And our  Round 121 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Ewan Smith

with

“Intolerance”

The wind-up, the pitch, and…what are they chanting about? I found myself clapping at the end of this in sheer joy. Love the dialogue, love the obvious care that went into its crafting. A winner in every sense.

Congratulations, Ewan! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s Hump Day Quickie. Next weekend, Flash Master extraordinaire Steph Ellis is back in the judge’s seat. Stay warm, stay safe, and I’ll see you all on Saturday!

Happy Tuesday! Thanks to everyone who wrote for Round 120, and thanks also to Catherine Connolly for judging the last challenge of 2016. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

So, there were several stories touched by the Christmas – or a slightly more serious spirit, in instances 😉 – this week, given the photo prompt involved a shopping mall or centre, for the Brit based.  By turns hopeful or somewhat ominous in tone, they made me laugh or pause for thought, depending on the subject matter.  I even travelled the eras, along with geographical boundaries, whilst trying to make a decision as to a winner – and, along with that, pick my favourite lines and phrases from them all.

It bears repeating that, as ever, the standard for stories was high, making my decision a tough one.  I enjoyed all of entries on their merits – and big thanks to all of you who found time to put together an entry at a very busy time of the year for most.  That said, I’ve had to come to conclusions, so below I’ve flagged my favourite lines from them all and my winners for this week:-

Favourite Lines

Yet Another Era

‘Lord George shook his head.  “Not even a postcard.”’

Peace On Earth

‘”This place—secular!?” said a young man.  “Look around you, mate.  Every shop in the mall is full of Christmas goods.”’

Views In Ashes

‘Everywhere I look I see young lovers walking hand in hand, their expectations of an engagement proposal high.’

Christmas Shopping

‘The same events of conditioning and control were being repeated in shopping malls across the city.’

Sanderson Filibuster’s Amazing Shopping Emporium (somewhere off the beaten track)

‘The silence rang through the store like a truth told in Parliament.’

Newbie

‘”Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe it’s the wild-eyed stare…possibly the gaping mouth…perhaps the drained complexion.’

Runner Up

‘Christmas Shopping’ by Steph Ellis for its sinister imagery of the inhabitants below stirring to life – even for a little while – and imaginative use of phrasing, with runs involving ‘sleepmode’ and ‘wraptime’, amongst others.  The emphasis on language and technology amidst an apparent festive season scented with cinnamon and pine leads cleverly to the image of city-wide conditioning and control and areas devoid of humans.  The bleak last line wraps the story up – with a not so festive bow.  Nicely done!

 

And our Round 120 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

A.J. Walker

with

‘Sanderson Filibuster’s Amazing Shopping Emporium (somewhere off the beaten track)’

Aside from a nicely formulated title, which sets the tone for this story from the outset and got me on ‘track’ (as opposed to off!) for the rest, the back and forth of the dialogue in this piece is brilliantly tongue in cheek and got me laughing, as well as creating a great sense of character.  Phrases such as ‘on the top of the pile..and the bottom’ stack up, until the suggestion of the ‘man with a can’.  (The can do man? 😉 ) Ho ho ho indeed – and fab to boot too!  Thoroughly enjoyed it, gifting this one my winning vote for the week.  Well done!

Conratulations, AJ! Your story will be features as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie!

In observance of the upcoming holidays, The Angry Hourglass will take a brief break until the first full week in January. Whatever holidays you’re celebrating this year, I hope everyone has a wonderful love-filled season and that I’ll see you all back in 2017.

Cheers!

~R

 

 

Happy Tuesday, friends. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to write and comment on this week’s stories. Thanks also to A.J. Walker who, despite being under the weather, did an admirable job of judging the entries. You’ll find his comments and top picks below.

First off, I was glad there were only seven entries this week, I’ve been off sick struggling with painkillers and anti-inflams. So a big thank you to all of you who didn’t enter this week. It is appreciated.

Secondly, to those that did thanks – I suppose – as ever the standard in Angry Hourglass is always so high. I know you guys realise a joke or two always gets a thumbs up from me. I like a laugh. With that in mind… what the heck happened this week?! How could a photo of a nice looking lady doing yoga outside end up with so much death and threatening behaviour? It’s a mystery to me. And not funny. All the stories were strong and had their merits, but I’ve had to choose my top 3 and I have.

So, without further ado my favourite lines and my picks of the week…

Fave Lines:

All Daddy’s Rules

Last month I’d realised, in all Daddy’s rules there wasn’t one about not killing him.

SAD Day

I’ve never seen his thighs from that angle – interesting, although a little hidden by buxom-butt herself.

When I Was Young

She felt touched for an instant by a long-forgotten warmth.

Dancerella’s Dream

It was just me, dancing my heart out for the city.

Through Icarus, Kisen And Beyond

His knees crumpled as he hit the paved floor of the balcony, his gasps making way for sudden silence.

The Last Summer

While the city burned, we danced in the spray like kids.

Praying Mantis

If they did, they would be running to that fat little priest of theirs as fast as their legs could carry them and he would have them on their knees.

HM

When I Was Young by Ewan Smith- A lovely story illustrating a slightly testy relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter. Nice interaction between the characters with a grandmother being made to be thoughtful about her past but sharp enough not to let the young girl take the mick.

Runner Up

Through Icarus, Kisen and Beyond by Catherine Connolly – Nice world building with the always scary mind control and subterfuge thing (I watched the Ipcress File last week again funnily enough; or did I?). Both the speech of the characters and the descriptions of them set the story up brilliantly. All things considered very, very good.

And our Round 119 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Steph Ellis

with

Praying Mantis

A scarily confident slightly peckish “woman” into bondage with unusual eating habits and a dislike of second dates. Loved it.  Nicely paced with good scene setting and a smart if unhappy end (for the bloke anyway). I for one will be keeping away from those who Yoga (it doesn’t help that they always look like they could do with a good meal too).

Conratulations, Steph! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! We’ve got one more weekend before we break for the holidays, and our last judge of 2016 is Catherine Connolly. 😀

I’ll be sending out Twitter requests for 2017’s first crop of judges in the next few weeks, but if you don’t use Twitter, especially if you’re a former FLASH MASTER (Helena, Angelique), and you want to try your hand at judging, please send me a message through the contact tab and we’ll get you signed up. Thanks again, everybody. See you next weekend!

Happy Tuesday, Friends! Thanks to everyone who came out to write this past weekend, and thanks also to Brady Koch for volunteering to judge and for offering a copy of his new book as a bonus prize. You’ll find Brady’s comments and top picks below.

First of all thanks to Rebecca for inviting me to judge and for bringing Angry Hourglass back. With our lives and environments in a constant flux, it’s helpful to have respite on the weekends for a little creative release.

We had some great reads this week. 2 dystopias, 2 dog encounters, 2 visits from beyond the grave, and 2 instances of tree lights brightening the human experience.  It’s amazing what a simple photo prompt can evoke. I was curious to see what kinds of themes can come from this prompt so I made this word cloud to analyze. Interesting to see what we’re all thinking about.

Some quick reflections on this week’s entries:

The Life App by Angelique Pacheco – I can relate to this one with my phone constantly affixed to my palm.

The Dog Did It by Alva Holland – This seems like something I would do . . . or have done. Post-election campaign signs and holiday decorations are both in the same category for me: you have two days after the event to take them down.

Knowing by @el_Stevie – Always a fan of fitting a dystopia into flash. Really like thinking about the relevancy of these newspaper boxes in a future society.

To Grant A Wish by @carolrosalind – Great concept of using the tree as the character. Made me think of the other events a city tree would witness over its lifespan.

In Memoriam by @geofflepard – The holiday lights as memorial won me over. The fact that each bulb has meaning was just great to no end.

News of the World by @AvLaidlaw – I like portrayals of wrong-headed revolts. Feels immediately relevant.

My Poinsettia Love by Nicola Tapson – Poinsettias always struck me as a sad plant. Maybe it’s the white blood, maybe it’s that no matter what efforts I make, I can’t get them to live past January. I’ve heard the post death delivery of flowers over years, but this is the first time I can think of where the dead loved one is hinting about foul play.

Untimely by Jeff Rowlands – Grim Reaper is a busy guy. He has to run late some times as Jeff Rowlands effectively points out. Great concept of reading your own obituary.

1st Runner Up: To Grant A Wish by @carolrosalind – fresh POV for a lead character.

 

And our Round 118 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Geoff Le Pard

With

In Memoriam

Simple and honest story of coping with grief years later.

Congratulations, Geoff! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie! If you wish to collect your book, please send me your mailing address through the contact tab and I’ll forward it to Brady. Next weekend, A.J. Walker is back as acting judge. Hope to see you all there.

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.

Hello folks.

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?

Big-Boned

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.

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…

FLASH MASTER

AV Laidlaw

with

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!

Happy Tuesday, friends! Thanks to all the writers who submitted this past weekend, and thank you Steph Ellis for volunteering your time to judge and comment. You’ll find those comments and top picks below.

Welcome back to all those who either read or contributed a story to this week’s Flash Frenzy. As it’s November, I am aware that a number of you have been hard at work on your NaNoWriMo novels with the FlashDogs in particular racking up the word counts at a great rate of knots.  To those of you who managed to ‘flash’ as well as ‘nano’, you have gone above and beyond. Somehow I crawled across the finish line this weekend but not completed the novel so I haven’t ‘nanoed’ in the truest sense of the word – but it was a kick up the backside to get on with something I’d been procrastinating over for most of the year! And for me that was my November target. I hope you all meet yours.

And now back to the stories …

Is This The End? – Great setting and atmosphere. The silence of the missing crowds – or the dead – contrasts with the eerie sound of creaking cabins, swinging doors and the wind blowing sagebrush down the street.  The sense of abandonment and desertion, of death with the flies buzzing above a cadaver is strong and perfectly drawn. And then that switch, from a place of catastrophe to the mundane traffic and weather report, disaster dismissed and life goes on; very well done. Plus this week’s award for best town name goes to Loose Stools.

The Big Wheel – Those summer days with life literally spread out below you. The wheel turns, they kiss, the wheel turns, she is pregnant and now with major decisions to face, they look out at those below whose worries are all ‘so distant and small’ compared to their own. Beautifully done.

Steel Flower – ‘My mind turns with pockets of sunrise memories.’ What a beautiful opening line. There is a strong sense of the character’s separateness from those around him/her, a feeling of displacement, not quite part of the world which is carrying on in its own sweet way.  He has almost lost his sense of self, become just an ‘idea’, ‘vague notion’. Lovely, almost ethereal piece.

Wheels Within Wheels – It is the tattoos that speak in this story. Each character has, or desires a tattoo which brings with it hope of change, of knowledge and understanding. Lives not fully realised – a job as a janitor, a spell in prison – all point to a dead-end but the idea of the wheel brings back a memory to Snake, of another man with another tattoo ‘Live free or die’. A reminder perhaps that his ‘problem with authority’ might cause him trouble yet.

Gone – As soon as you finish the first line you know what’s coming, an irritating child, a younger sibling, the one we’ve all had to care for at sometime when we’d rather have been elsewhere. And you just know something bad is going to happen.

Despite the clear hero worship of Cody by Emily, when she ‘beamed as though I had given her the world’, he ‘barely acknowledged her’. He wanted to be checking out video games, not babysitting his little sister. Obediently though, he follows his parents’ orders, after a fashion, until you get to one of those ‘it won’t hurt’ moments and the narrator sits his sister on the ferris wheel next to ‘an older lady so I knew she’d be okay’, and he goes to look at video games. In the end he is disappointed by what is on offer but when he returns she is gone. The consequences of his selfish action, although only minutes, becomes a never-ending moment of horrific realization and freezes the blood in his veins. Fluid story-telling at its best.

Full Moon Rising – Not what you’d expect on an innocent ride on the Ferris Wheel, a moment of fun becoming a living horror story. Graphic description of the werewolf, ‘drool hanging from his half-open mouth’ and strong sense of claustrophobia and tension with words like ‘clamped’, ‘muffled’, ‘suffocation’, ‘intensity’. She cannot escape him and in the end raises a family with him but then it is her turn to become the killer as she watches her children ‘at birth for signs and smothered the hairy ones and the one born with a tooth’. A mother’s lot is not a happy one.

 

Special Mention

Full Moon Rising by Stella Turner – for conjuring up a werewolf horror on a Ferris Wheel.

Honourable Mentions

The Big Wheel by AV Laidlaw – for the repetition mirroring the turning wheel and events unfolding at each turn.

Wheels Within Wheels by Voima Oy – for the way in which tattoos are used to provide the framework and the message in the story.

 

 

2nd Runner Up – Steel Flower by Richard Edenfield. A piece of writing that reminds me of a dandelion clock, ready to break apart and just float away.

1st Runner Up  – Is this the End? by Stephen Lodge For the way in which a horrific event is dismissed in order to report on the mundane.

And your Round 116 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

 Angelique Pacheco

with Gone

A tragic story that serves as a reminder to us all not to look away, even for just a few minutes.

Congratulations, Angelique! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Thank you again, Steph for judging this weekend’s stories. Next weekend we embrace the first official Christmas shopping weekend of the year. I wish everyone who ventures out a safe and kind shopping experience, and I hope you’ll still have the energy to pop by and write some flash for Judge David Shakes. See you then.

Happy Tuesday! Thank you to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend, and thanks much to Voima Oy for judging and commenting. You’ll find them below:

Welcome, everyone. It’s so good to be here, in this place. These uncertain times need stories more than ever. We need all kinds of stories–funny, sad, warnings, courage, hope. This photo by Ashwin Rao is wonderful, even iconic. Where would it take you? You have risen to the challenge brilliantly. Thank you for sharing your stories with me.

On to the comments—

The Last Fires of the Fall–I love the voice in this one, so down-to earth in the bleak landscape–“I’m an old man and Sonny is my last dog.” This is a post-apocalyptic world without much hope, a virus has devastated the earth. But the smile on the boy’s face as he pets the dog Sonny is a sign of life. There is a moment of beauty and grace, even here.

Mabel and Ron, Stella and Roger–The characters and details really make the story, here. This an everyday tragedy, a harsh reality–the judgements, the separateness of people. The dog, Roger, is a reminder of our shared humanity. Very sad story, and beautifully done.

The Big Move–Let’s hear it for the power of brevity! This says it all in those few words–six if you count the title. Perfect with that photo. My sentiments exactly.

Byron & John Keats on the Road–In this traveling library through a post-apocalyptic landscape are spirits of Whitman and Kerouac (On the Road) and Ray Bradbury (“I sing the body electric,” and Fahrenheit 451) too. This is a powerful story of hope. The last paragraph is marvelous, pure poetry.

A Dog’s Life–I can picture these dogs on the road–what great characters they are. I love the point of view. There’s wonderful humor here “stop using our wee-mail!” — and such a free spirit. What a delightful story!

Ragnarok–It’s not the end of the world–yet–but the sense of impending doom is so strong in this story I can feel it. I can see the Norse gods among the rusted trucks and dreadlocked potheads. I love Loki as the dog and Odin on the roof of his van turning his eye to the sun. Great stuff!

Wag this Tale Off–This is truly the dog’s tale–I love the voice in this, the spelling and the language, how it conveys the energy, the enthusiasm and loyalty–the bond with the you-man. Truly dogs are in a state of grace. They do have a buddha nature, living in the moment. Just beautiful.

Sparrowditch. The Beginning.— I love how this story unfolds, such subtlety. The voice is just a little bit creepy at first, but it becomes more and more sinister. Scary stuff!

Idiosyncracies– I’m reading this as a vampire tale, and humans are the prey. It could also be an allegory of the wealthy elite. The voice here speaks of clans, entitlement, and a rejection of that society–“I left behind the comfortable life they had created.” and a need to “feed my soul,” embracing a life of uncertainty, the thrill of the hunt. Really chilling.

931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway–This pilgrimage to the last piece of America rings true. So many great lines–“show what this country blows up for..there was America in those eyes…we were ready to take back our country..” The appearance of Jefferson, and the violet of forgiveness is breathtaking.

Nature versus Nurture –What a great opening! This is flash at its finest–not a word wasted, and the details are so vivid. The story gets darker and darker. It has a medieval feel, or post-apocalyptic. The last paragraph is a terrifying twist. The God of Greed is Mammon–I looked online and pictures look frighteningly familiar. Amazing piece.

He looks like the Dog’s B*ll*cks in the Light of the Super-moon—I had to look up the reference to the Dog’s B*ll*cks, but it means the best there is. This is a tale of personal apocalypse, a story of survival and hope. It is harrowing, heartbreaking, beautiful.

Well-done, everyone!  I love all these stories, and every one of you.  Here are my choices–

Special Mention

The Big Move by Bart van Gothem–power of brevity!

A dog’s Life by Angelique Pacheco–great characters and humor

Honorable Mention

Last Fires of the Fall by AV Laidlaw–sad and hopeful–a moment of beauty

Wag This Tale Off by Sal Page –Beautiful writing of a state of grace

2nd runner up

Ragnarok by Steph Ellis –Feeling of doom, and Odin in the sun

1st runner up

Nature and Nurture by Stella Turner –subtle and horrifying.

And our Round 115 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Richard Edenfield

with Byron & John Keats on the Road

Powerful spirit–epic and hopeful

Congratulations, Richard! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s Hump Day Quickie! Thanks again, Voima, for volunteering your time. Next weekend Steph Ellis is acting judge. Hope to see you all there.

Hello again, and happy Tuesday! It’s election day here in the states and all I want to say about that is please, if you haven’t already, go and vote. It might be the single most important thing you do.

Tangentially related: There is an Angry Hourglass holiday poll to gauge interest for Flash Frenzy over the upcoming holiday weekends. Pop over and let me know how your holiday plans stack up.

Now to this week’s business. Thanks to all the writers who stopped by, and to everyone who left comments. A huge thanks also to Marie McKay for volunteering your time to judge. You’ll find her comments below.

Thanks, Rebecca, for the opportunity of judging this week’s competition. The prompt was dealt with in so many different ways, and everyone was so incredibly inventive, I feel unworthy of picking the winners.

I’ve said a quick word about each. Here goes:

Weapon

This flash fiction piece has an impressive amount of depth. The characterisation is fantastic throughout.

Pillow Talk

The character names, here, are very clever. A witty piece of dark writing.

Chimes in the Rain

Beautiful imagery right from the outset.

And Finally…

A highly original story that cracked me up with lines like, ‘cheese-related concussion.’ Brilliant!

The Art of Pillow War

I love the title and concept of this story. Arming women with pillows might well solve many of the world’s problems. The drill sergeant is a great piece of characterisation, too.

Feathers Inc

What a lovely premise to this story. I love the use of different generations to tell this one’s story.

As Above, So Below

Another story with great names. This one had a nice twist.

Untitled

A surreal feel to this with its squishy heads and ‘skull-cracks.’ Mayhem abounds in a manic arena. The ending is particularly poignant with the protagonist contemplating whether a win in these circumstances really is a win.

Angels of the Somme

Elegant imagery reminding the reader of what was fought for in the bloody fields of the Somme.

So-Called Fight Against “Pillow Plague” Continues

Another highly original tale. The tone and of this one and its detail make ‘Sandman Syndrome’ a very convincing modern take on ‘Sleeping Beauty.’

Bring Out Your Dead

This story involves a particularly vicious Student Rag Week. Pilates saves the day. A very entertaining mixture of light and dark.

2nd Runner Up: Angels of The Somme by Mark A. King

The imagery was breathtaking in this piece.

1st Runner Up: Pillow Talk by Steph Ellis

This one was quirky and rather twisted which I loved.

And your Round 144  FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Helena Gordon 

with Weapon

I think the writing here is excellent. It deals with teenage angst in such an insightful way. Brief, yet, telling references about peers and parents give this story depth. The ending is shocking; but, in the short time the story takes to read, the writer still makes me feel sympathy for the protagonist despite the appalling situation. A great piece of flash fiction! Well done!

Congratulations, Helena! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s Hump Day Quickie! Thanks again to Marie for all your comments. Next weekend, Voima Oy steps back into our judge’s role. Hope to see you all there.