Posts Tagged ‘AJ Walker’

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. 

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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!

Sanderson Filibuster’s Amazing Shopping Emporium (somewhere off the beaten track)
by A.J. Walker

‘Build it and they will come.’
‘I’ve heard that.’
‘Received wisdom.’
‘Maybe an old wive’s tale.’
‘A wise old wife.’
‘Or not, I mean come on!’
The silence rang through the store like a truth told in Parliament.
‘So, has there been anyone in today?’
‘Lots. Looks beautiful doesn’t it?’
‘Very Christmassy. I assume that’s what you mean.’
‘Good work from Ethel. I’m minded to give her a Christmas bonus.’
‘Erm… nice idea.’
‘What’s with the “erm”? I mean it is Christmas and she’s done a fab job.’
‘Erm.’
‘Stop it with the “erms”!’
‘Okay, um…’
‘Now come on, an “um” is the same as an “erm’.’
‘Is it?’
‘Yes, everyone knows that.’
‘Well look, yes, she’s done a fab job, the store looks amazing.’
‘Capital!’
‘Capital, who says that?’
‘I just did. Stop digressing; the ums?’
‘Okay, my point is the store is busy with people; packed in fact.’
‘Yes?’
‘Well all these people work here, don’t they?’
‘Yes. Yes indeed.’
‘Exactly.’
‘Spit it out man, what you getting at?’
‘It was the same yesterday. The day before. The week before and the month before.’
‘And?’
‘Let’s cut to the chase. We haven’t had a customer here since June. And she was only her ‘cos she was lost.’
‘I remember, Brenda. Said she loved it. Filled in a form.’
‘Yep, I know. It’s on the top of the pile of customer questionnaires. And the bottom.’
‘Not everyone fills them in.’
‘There hasn’t been anyone else.’
‘It’s been slower than I’d want.’
‘Slower! It’s dead!’
‘Quiet.’
‘Dead. Look, I have two pieces of advice my friend.’
‘Go on.’
‘Make sure your fire insurance is up to date – I know a man with a can.’
‘Oh come on!’
‘You can’t go on like this, it’s not healthy. As “mad as Sanderson Filibuster” is a saying now.’
‘A fire. That’s like giving up.’
‘It IS giving up. But with a money back guarantee. It’s the only option.’
‘I’m not saying yes, but what was the second bit of advice?’
‘You must take out a Contract on the wise old wife who told you “they would come”. Bloody liar.’
‘Ho ho fucking ho!’

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

 

 

Welcome back, writers! I’ve got a shiny new photo prompt to inspire you, and A.J. Walker will determine which of this weekend’s stories will top the Angry Hourglass podium.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

round 119

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

Hello and welcome back. It’s good to see you all here again. I’d like to say thank you to all the writers who posted stories this weekend. I thought the multi-photo format would be a fun challenge, and I’m glad to see others liked it as well. You may see this format again in the future. Thanks also to Jaime Burchardt for judging the trick or treat kick off. You’ll find his comments and top picks below.

Just want to say, I’m really glad AH is back in full swing, and I loved this new format! And I’m glad it started off with a bunch of solid stories all around. This, folks, was not easy.

2nd Runner Up: zevonesque – “Time Flies”

The experience of an emotional rollercoaster in 360 words. It’s glorious when it’s done right. Solid job.

1st Runner Up: Steph Ellis – “Canvas”

I felt like the sole purpose of this story was to reach a unique level creepiness, and by god it did. It really did. Well done.

And our Trick or Treat FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Rebekah Postupak

with “The Costume”

Just wonderfully told all around. It’s well paced, intriguing and the ending’s caliber is one of a true storyteller.

Congratulations, Rebekah! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Thank you again, Jaime, for judging this round’s entries. Next weekend, Marie McKay presides over the return of Flash Frenzy. Hope to see you all there.

Happy Tuesday! Only a few stories this weekend, but every one of them was a gem. Thanks to Steph Ellis for reading and commenting. Her thoughts are top picks are below.

Many thanks to all those who entered this week’s Angry Hourglass competition particularly as for some it was the end of half-term with all the demands on time that that brings. As usual, the stories were all written to a high standard and again – as usual – I found it difficult having to leave some off the podium. So without any further ado, here are my favourite lines and placings:

Favourite lines:

… beyond the port lay a courtyard with its eternally patient, hungrily waiting shadows – She shouldn’t Have Set Foot in the Shadows

The dead are ever-present—those ones, who paved the way with blood and bones, will walk alongside me in this foreign port. – Passages

“Lieutenant, you know we got toothbrushes on board. Right?,” Yancy said, pointing to plastic device in her hand. – Port of Call

I’m going to take your heart, Johnny. I’m going to pull it out between your ribs and squeeze it until all the blood has dripped through my fingers. – Matters of the Heart

Braids wind through the wide boulevards, tangling in the side streets, twining around the lamp posts. – City of Women

She pushed the glass panel and felt that same enticing breeze of outsideness, which filled her heart with nostalgia and longing and oh-so-many other feelings.  – Lightning Does Strike Twice

HM Lightning does strike twice – Sal Page

Beautifully gentle little story of a doll coming back to life and seeking out the boy she had met the first time she had been struck by lightning – a boy who would now be a man. It is possible that he might not be there but Cecily is so hopeful, so sure, that the reader in turn shares that hope for her.

2nd RU Matters of the Heart – AJ Walker

Hunted down by the Whore of Basildon, this is a woman after Johnny’s heart although not in the way he had hoped or imagined. Despite his best efforts, he is tracked to a little Italian piazza where he realises he has no escape. Angelica in white – an angel in white (love the irony at play here) – is anything but, she is ‘going to take your heart, Johnny … pull it out between your ribs and squeeze it until all the blood has dripped through my fingers’, a nicely gruesome image.

1st RU She shouldn’t have set foot in the shadows – Shadow Walker

As the winning story spoke to the poet, this story channelled my darker side. The repetition of ‘She shouldn’t have …’ takes you back through each of the stages, step –by tension building – step, that brought her to this place, to the ‘patient, hungrily waiting shadows’.  And you know she has signed a contract with the Devil, even though he is not mentioned; he has deceived her with the ‘gleam in his eye … the shimmering in his voice … that promised her things … beyond human reach.’ 

And it draws you in so that you want to warn her but no, that is ‘pointless’. Wonderfully sinister.

And our Round 110 FLASH MASTER is..

FLASH MASTER

Voima Oy

with

City of Women

As a writer there are two sides to me – the dark/horror author and, in complete contrast, the poet and this story spoke to the poet in me. The language was lyrical, describing an island society that rose ‘like Venus the shell’, where poetry holds sway over all aspects of life, of a place where women are capable of tackling all professions, it does not matter that there are no men – the women are perfectly able. Wonderful images are conjured up of women whose hair is ‘long and wild, black as the wings of blackbirds … tangling in the side streets, twining around the lamp posts. The town’s population is boosted by female babies cast-off from nearby towns – how often, even today, are female children abandoned or aborted because they are perceived as less than men?  Here, there is a sanctuary, where women are valued. And here there are no men except for one night only; here there are ‘no men, no murders’.

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

Thanks to everyone who wrote this weekend and to Steph Ellis for judging. Next weekend our judge will be Mark King. See you all then.