Posts Tagged ‘Stella Turner’

Please accept my apologies for the missing winner’s post this week. Some unexpected events popped up and one of the casualties has been the Angry Hourglass. I plan to do a double winner’s post as well as double up on the HumpDay Quickie next week, but in the meantime, since I neglected to rescue one of last week’s entries from the spam goblins in time to be judged, here’s a bonus story to tide you over until this weekend.


A Personal Challenge

by Stella Turner

It’s the hug that finished it. Arms around me like bands of steel, hot breath searing my neck. The heaviness of his head forcing mine downwards as the ground rose up to suffocate me. I could only see the chains of domesticity dangling in front of me. I was terrified. My arms limp, fingers caressing the daisies hidden in the grass like ancient overturned gravestones.

The city skyline calling to me, “Run! Run! Before it’s too late”

Whispering in my ear he said the word I’d been dreading. I tried to breathe gulping air into my constricted lungs. I couldn’t push away. Hadn’t I been working for this all my life? Twenty five years! The counsellor had told me how to deal with my underlying anxiety. It was easy just concentrate on breathing.

“You okay Ruby?”

I gasped for air and shook my head. He reached into my bag and passed me the blue inhaler. I wasn’t ready. The strong steroids soothed my lungs air passing down into the bronchioles. I felt stronger but not fit for a battle to end a war.

“I thought you might like to flat share with me”

I shuddered. I’d never shared anything in my life not even my parents and I wasn’t going to start now.

Happy Tuesday, writers! Thanks to everybody who wrote and/or commented on stories this weekend. Thanks also to AV Laidlaw for reading and judging. You’ll find his top picks below.

So, while I was enjoying myself down at the Icebreaker Festival in Southsea, it seems you lot were busy writing. A bumper crop of stories this week. Alas, time is short and I can’t comment on every one but I enjoyed them all. Sometimes it’s a gut feeling why I might pick one story over another, just something in the story that intrigues me, moves me, or makes me laugh.

HM – A Boring Picture by Richard Edenfield

It’s true, I’m a sucker for meta-fiction. A story based on a photograph that is about writing a story about that photograph… And all done in dialog that gives a great sense of the two people and their relationship. Of course, sometimes stories are a bit more real than you expect.

HM – Uncle Charlie by Frank Key

A nicely drawn character sketch of Uncle Charlie here, and written with a good strong voice that gives a real sense of these people and the world they live in. And Suzy Peek is a great character name.

HM and Best Title Award – Four Hail Mary’s and a Packet of Crisps by Stella Turner

A straightforward encounter between a policeman and a woman. What makes it a story is the tension between the surface actions and the thoughts of the narrator. We don’t know exactly what has happened to Peter John Clay but that doesn’t matter. The important thing is the emotion and the loyalty of the relationship between father and daughter.

2nd Runner Up – Health Kick by Steph Ellis

Oh, that January health kick when we realise that we’ve had one too many guests for Christmas dinner. I’ve always loved the comedy in taking an absurd premise – a jogging vampire – and playing it out logically. The character of Drac is so well portrayed by his thoughts and his actions that I feel sorry for the poor old soul (or non-soul) as his wife and children gang up on him.

1st Runner Up – The Letter by A.J. Walker

A convincing depiction of grief, not the immediate shock but the hollowness and anger that lingers on for years afterwards. The writing is uncomplicated, it doesn’t stretch for effect, but every beat hits an emotional truth.

And your Round 124 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Richard Edenfield

with Time Ghost

The shortest piece here but just packed so full of images and strangeness. I really don’t have much to say about it; it stands on its own perfectly.

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

And on that note we bid the first month of 2017 farewell! I hope you’ll all join the fun next weekend with judge Mark A. King.

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.