Posts Tagged ‘winners’

Happy Tuesday, writers! Thanks to everyone who wrote and submitted stories last weekend. I hope everyone enjoyed the free for all. Thanks also to David Shakes for judging the submissions. You’ll find his comments and top picks below.

Return of the Monster

“What’s on Your Coffee Table” would really make a genuinely decent show! Pitch it, Stephen, pitch it! The characters’ names hint at details unwritten and the playfully bizarre tone really appealed.

Man Toes

My first question would be – how did Rebekah come across this picture to begin with? A brilliantly woven tale, a slow reveal and expert writing as usual.

The Devil’s New Job

How cool of Carol to write a sequel to her fantastic THE INFERNAL CLOCK story and afford me the opportunity of plugging our new anthology! You don’t need to know the characters to enjoy this story – but it helps! Suitably creepy – loved the boxing up idea!

Overlooking The River

I remember writing a few years back that Patrick would be a writer to watch. This was wonderful in its imagery and the building tension, just to have the rug pulled. I so wish I could see that prompt. Nice one Patrick.

The Poet Goes to the Shops

Dirty carrots?! The poet’s lines, in isolation, contain some lovely phrases and ideas but in the context of the overall tale just add to the beautiful absurdity. A sketch waiting to be filmed I feel. Hilarious.

Big Richard

Where did those character names come from?! Great narrative voice and another (subtle) nod to our new anthology, THE INFERNAL CLOCK which is now available as a Kindle edition and a paperback. I really love this story – what more can I say? A great mix of genres, a strong narrative voice.

Dreams

Is it wrong that I can follow Steph’s line of thought from brick house, to little pigs to evil child? Maybe we’ve worked to closely on THE INFERNAL CLOCK (have I mentioned our anthology?!) I loved where this went. Dark as ever, Steph, very dark indeed.

Confessions of a Portal Guardian

I do like this Voima! The narrative is so good and the last paragraph’s moment of suspense is a brilliant way to end. We both like a portal don’t we? Recurring theme for you and I. Deft storytelling and most satisfying.

Painting Your Troubles Away

I hope that Angelique’s paintballing experience was the only real-life inspiration here! I loved the line:

Revenge would not be sweet, but salty, like her sweat and his tears.’

I may have to steal that at some point! Great twist with the punchbag and the tough (but not life-threatening) paintball plan. Well done Angelique.

 I AM A GOD

Oh unreliable narrator, what to make of you? Brian – you’ve written a good one here. The tone is perfect. I am still undecided – deluded nutter or fallen god? That’s what makes this a cracking tale. I know that Brian’s a marvel fan and this felt like Marvel movie humour – he knows that’s a compliment.

Wasn’t My Fault

I like the idea that Len from next door is the keeper of the lexicon for this salt of the earth narrator. The date of this little round did not escape Stella here and she used it to great comic effect. Obviously, this lot are from Coventry though – that sort of malarkey would never happen in Solihull darling!

Whenever I judge these things, commonalities begin to assert themselves. Great narrators and protagonists seemed to be a strong theme this week. Comedy in all its forms too. A great set of tales and impossible to judge on merit alone. I’ve gone from the gut:

2nd Runner Up:  Overlooking The River by Patrick Stahl for its imagery and poignant ending.

1st Runner Up: The Poet Goes to the Shops by Ewan Smith for the rhythm and juxtaposition in this one.

And our ROUND 133 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Rebekah Postupak

with

Man Toes

Rebekah is back with a show don’t tell tour de force!

Congratulations, Rebekah! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Thanks again to everyone who wrote and to Shakes for judging. Next weekend, Jaime Burchard returns to judge round 134. Hope to see you all there.

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! 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!

Good morning, friends. Sorry again about the error with the photo this past weekend. I do my best to mark them with the round they’ve been used for, but occasionally one slips thru the cracks. Thanks to my astute writers who recognized the familiar prompt. Thanks also to CR Smith for judging the stories this weekend. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

I’ve spent a very pleasant afternoon reading all the entries and — let’s face it — they’re all outstanding, which makes choosing a winner all the more difficult; there really isn’t much between them. But a Flash Master must be crowned, so, before I get down to it, here’s a selection of my favourite lines.

Formaldehyde: The nursing home is a carapace of thoughts and cobwebbed memories; the rocking-chairs and statuesque invisible once-young.

Ongar-Bongar Cheese: …which led to acting-Factory Manager Ted Eagle’s concussion, memory loss and subsequent assertion that he won the hand in marriage of the village postwoman, Andrea Goodbody, at a quiz night in The Haunted Poacher in the neighbouring village of Lower Backache.

Knifecloud:She sits in an office chair, her fingers are her weapons: warmed with a cup of organic coffee from a place she’ll never visit.

The Dream of Icarus: But I remember the time before the Drought, when the aeroplanes flew on ribbons of cloud, the sunlight burnishing their wings.

Terror on the Tarmac: The blackness spread, covering its countenance until it ruptured toward him into row after row of pointed teeth, oscillating in a way that made him nauseous.

A Cautionary Tale: He reached out a little bit further, felt the cold metal beneath his skin, saw himself reflected in the panel, fading, disappearing. Gone.

Come Fly With Me: Those with window views marvel at the light of the sun on the clouds, the patterns of fields below, Lake Michigan like a mirror.

Reality Shifting: And only last week he saw a guy dressed the same as him on another of the bikes at the gym then realised it was him.

Little Birds: He identifies with the little birds that populate the airport, they could fly anywhere they want but they are happy with the pickings they get there, no need for them to move on to greener or more exotic climes.

Operation Prodigy: Military jets escorted the unidentified aircraft to a secure airstrip, the world’s media salivating at a 30 km radius.

The Talisman: He had his little rituals but they weren’t compulsive.

The Others: To some, the shade no longer exists — faded forgotten — its original planes and dimensions now flattened into a singular, thin sliver.

HM: Operation Prodigy Nice twist; children coming from the Bermuda Triangle to save the world.

3rd: The Talisman by Stella T: I liked the pacing of this and the foreboding. You just know that by Dan not performing his rituals, it’s going to end in disaster.

2nd: A Cautionary Tail by Steph Ellis: Ah! That desire to touch something you shouldn’t; it always wins out in the end. I like his cynicism at the whole thing being nothing but a money making exercise.

And our Round 102 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Rob Knipe

with

Terror on the Tarmac

Great idea of there being something living on the other side of a reflection. Lovely imagery throughout this piece and that’s what edged it over the winning line.

Congratulations, Rob!Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

Thanks again CR for jugding. Next weekend, Marie McKay will be back to judge Round 103. See you all then.

Hello, all! Thanks to everyone who wrote stories for our 100th prompt. For those of you who missed it, photo contributor Ashwin Rao (@badash13) had some encouraging words for your previous endeavors: 

I just wanted to say what an honor it has been to have my photos serve as inspiration for so many incredibly talented writers at the “Angry Hourglass” blog, which is run by my friend Rebecca. The site has just completed 100 contests, so many hundreds to thousands of stories have been shared and discussed! I am so impressed by the content of her sight and humbled and thrilled that my photos can foster such poignant short stories.

Well done, everybody!

Thanks also to Stephen Lodge who makes his judging debut with this milestone prompt. You’ll find his comments and top picks below.

Thank you so much for asking me to judge Round 100. Thank you also for the opportunity to read your “Zoe’s Last Birthday.” I really enjoyed it.

It set the scene for what was to follow. A dark selection of stories from truly classy writers. Made me feel like I was standing in the shadows of giants. Apparently at 4 a.m. my wife found me huddled in the corner, sitting on the untreated wooden floor of an unfurnished dream, mumbling “Some birthdays were fun, weren’t they?” Not the ones that had scary clowns obviously, but clearly here is a collection from the dark side of dark.

Fave Moments

Economical – The narrator composing a menu in her head for meals using decomposing food.

Gaap Year In Hell – Black Widow Cupcakes? These should be at bakeries everywhere.

Baked Alaska – When we received confirmation of what we suspected, that Rick was in death what he was in life – a useless lump.

My Runner Up vote goes to David Shakes for “You Can’t Have Your Cake & Eat It.”  –   Shadows dance in the dim candlelight, their languorous sway seemingly independent of its gentle flicker. The remainder of that first paragraph continued to hold my attention. The story’s imagery and descriptions were always intriguing and the small girl’s song so clever.

and our ROUND 100 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Marie McKay

with …To Me

The old house groans, filled with the noises of it’s past. The woman flaps like a bird.

Into any story, throw in an old dark house, a brooding pile with generations of mystery within the walls and then add a bit of a haunting with a twist and I am already on the edge of my seat, howling at the moon and begging for more.  …To Me was my favourite in a very strong field.

Many thanks, Rebecca to you and to all who took part. 

Congratulations, Marie! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Many thanks to Stephen for judging this round. Next weekend, AV Laidlaw returns to judge Round 101. See you all there. 

Hello, friends. Welcome back. For the few of you who might not yet know, the latest FLASH DOGS anthology Time is now available, so you should go order a copy and then come back for results. It’s okay. I’ll wait…

Done? Great.

As usual, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who posted stories this weekend. You are sand pouring through the hourglass, and without your efforts it would cease to exist. I’d also like to extend my thanks to Sal Page for judging the entries. Volunteer judges take the bulk of time commitment each week, making it possible for me to host a weekly competition. You guys are great. Without further ado, here are Sal’s comments.

On the Edge by Steph Ellis This city is a strange and sinister place; empty, with watching eyes and not even on the map. With each line this is reinforced. The city’s a creature that, quite casually, (love the image of the courtyard turning into a tongue), swallows the man down, leaving the woman alone. The last line just adds to the sinisterness by leaving us in darkness.

Tourists by AV Laidlaw. A good take on the prompt to make the man a statue (I did think those white shorts were just too white) and then the whole city full of statues, with the implication that maybe they were once alive. Yes, they’re almost too real, spookily so, with their beads of sweat & tiny hairs. And even, we learn at the end, the tour guide thinks this particular statue may come to life.

Nervous by Jaime Burchardt. Told entirely in dialogue, we learn a lot about the two characters situation. I like the idea of the vampires being nervous about moving to a new city and having to keep a low profile to start with, something Ricky is clearly struggling with. Angela and Ricky sound so normal in many was and yeah, ‘Even freaks need to unwind.’

Tourist Class by AJ Walker. Despite going their separate ways at the end of this, these really two deserve each other. There’s a dual point of view here, which is fine as they really are both as bad as each other. The reader won’t want to pick a side. ‘She was happy though to notice his dandruff seemed to be getting worse.’ made me laugh and, looking again at the photo, he’s very obviously a Cosmo.

Walking in My Girlfriend’s Shoes by Fae Fielding. When I saw the photo on Saturday, my immediate thought was ‘they should swap clothes’. No idea how I would have preceded with that. This, however, is very clever and well executed, with the title and last line working well to tie everything together and create completeness. Based on the idea that each should walk in the other’s shoes, it then becomes so much more. The two of them ‘found their freedom’ from expectations.

Transaction by Stephen Stucko. The two characters begin looking out across the city, in what appears to be a romantic scene. This gradually fades away as we learn more about them. Michael is bored of the city and talks of wanting to go home to his wife. Vicky is there to get money for her hormone treatment. The last couple of lines made me laugh and wonder whether they’re going to stick together after all.

Second Runner Up.  Tourist Class by AJ Walker

First Runner Up. On the Edge by Steph Ellis

And our Round 93 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Fae Fielding

with In My Girlfriend’s Shoes

Congratulations, Fae! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie. Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

Next weekend AJ Walker will be acting as judge. Hope to see you all there.

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means… WINNERS! Thanks to Foy Iver for judging this past weekend; you’ll find her comments below:

Thank you, thank you to Rebecca for allowing me to perch in the judging chair! Not an easy task balancing on leather back while reading stories fit to bowl me over. The prompt seemed to suggest carnivals and circus life but all of you brought your own originality to it. I noted what I appreciated about each of them but, in the end, emotion and imagination won the top spots. Well done, all!

Beyond Belief

A nice ode to Alice after Wonderland. My favorite line? “People like me lose their childhoods, put them down somewhere and can’t find them again.”

Rivulets

Begins with blood and ends with atonement just like the ultimate pardoning. Love the title; reminds me of the old hymns.

Turn Left Past Prairie Bend

Great layers in this one! The pace, too, is well timed. Slow and dust-covered until those final lines when intrigue disturbs the expected.

Welcome to FunTown

GAH! Clowns are what demons look like. This one left me rocking in a corner scrubbing at the image of that Picassozoide (doesn’t that sound so much freakier than “Picassoesque”?) face. Well done?

ABOVE AND BEYOND

The “Odd Thomas” aura of this one brought a happy warmth to my belly. Such true descriptions of the believing. We differ in our sacraments and worship styles but we share faith and that should be enough. I hope that one day it is and the bickering can die at the root.

A Place Beyond Belief

So applicable on many levels but especially to us writers. Sometimes we’ve just got to give the mirror “that old fuck-you smile” and keep putting pen to paper.

In Our Town

The final line of this one is the clincher (“we’ve moved beyond belief”) taking that popular word choice and giving it a whole new meaning. I enjoyed the matter-of-fact voice and the Gaimanesque use of repetition.

Certainly

The prompt seems to have revived a bit of Lewis Carroll’s ghost! Another one that’s deliciously whimsical. It feels like dream-reading as you walk through the words, nibbling at poetic phrases like, “each butterfly whispering a single sentence of the story” and letting yourself be swaddled in the idea that this is how “the world could be.”

El Norte

Strong poetic images in the first paragraph! This writer captured well the idea of looking to El Norte, an unfortunately reality for many.

Special Mention “The Butterfly Effect” by A.J. Walker for pulling me out of a gray-office day

Poetry, poetry! A magnifying glass turned on “ponderous bees” and butterflies “designed by innocence,” this beautiful bit of flash sucked me right out my office window and into a meadow fit for all the “blue sky thinking.”

The ending is so uplifting, pointing out that we, too, are part of life’s gossamer dance.

Special Mention to “Stunning Garden” by Sal Page for pulling off chilling AND human

This plays out like cinema, slow and eerie, as each new horror is peeled back to reveal a fresh wound. Those final paragraphs had me screaming at Chaplin to watch his back.

But it isn’t all fried flesh and mystery. There’s a breath-takingly human moment between the chills when we learn about David’s dying relationship with his mother.

P.S. fantastic chameleon title!

Second Runner-Up “Risky Business” by Sonya 

I adore the cheekiness of this one!

Strong voices, natural dialogue, measured peeks at a foreign future and a catastrophic past, this is distilled flash.

Writers who can create whole realities on a threadbare word count continually amaze me. But then it’s not threadbare because the tapestry is whole, a gorgeous weave in 100 powerful words.

First Runner-Up “Escape” by Marie McKay

So much beauty in this!

Through the unitalicized text, looks and emotions unfurl, painted like a vibrant brush stroke across the mind.

Quickly, we learn to fear what the voices flee, and hope in the haven they’ve found.

It’s masterful writing that can bring this much depth of emotion in so few words.

And our Round 73 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Karl A. Russell

with “Asteroid X-237”

Force me to feel or force me to think. “Asteroid X-237” does the later deftly. There’s so much meat to be stripped away from bone in this one. With only three characters, a single setting, and a decision as vast and weighty as the universe this writer creates a novel-worthy flash fiction.

It leaves me wondering what I would do in any of their places – give in to despair, find resolve in knowing a grim truth, or continue in rabid denial? Fantastic world-building, character creation, and thought-provoking prose.

Congratulations, Karl! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend, Voima Oy returns to the judge’s seat. We both hope you’ll join us for more Flash Frenzy.

 

Happy Tuesday, it’s time for winners. Speaking of winners, I’d briefly like to announce (for those of you who are interested and have not already heard) that last week I received an email from the American Board of Pathology informing me that I have passed both of my board exams and am now a board certified pathologist! I appreciate all the kind words and understanding from the flash community earlier this year when The Angry Hourglass was on hiatus while I was studying for the aforementioned exams.

Enough about me. Catherine Connolly was our judge this weekend and she has many words about YOU. Here they are!

It was a pretty difficult task judging Angry Hourglass last time for me and second time around you guys have made it even harder, if that’s possible!  This week’s photo prompt provided a wealth of stories with themes including (but certainly not limited to!) ageing and death and emotions ranging right from tongue in cheek to horror and geographical realms, including those reaching skyward..

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to write for me and making me mull over my decisions so carefully.  Genuinely, any one of the stories could have placed without difficulty this week, which is no mean feat!

With that in mind, I’ve commented on all stories:-

“Circles” is beautifully written, utilising plain, spare prose in its tale of the unnamed narrator who climbs towards his “splendid” windmill daily at 6 am on the dot.  There is a wealth of detail within just 181 words and we gain a clear impression of the man’s longstanding love and affection for “her”. The personification of the windmill, with her “latticed blades” and “giant vanes” is a wonderful way of emphasising the close relationship between man and landmark, to the extent that they become coupled together within the prose through linguistic choices.  Language is key to this piece – from the mirror image of the shoes polished to a “reflection” and bow tie “symmetry”, to the circular passage of time and similar circles of the windmill’s blades.  Wonderful work.

The tone for “Charging at Windmills” is seemingly set from the first paragraph, with Gerald striding forth, umbrella bearing, courtesy of Shank’s Pony.  I loved the references to knights errant, as our protagonist apparently goes forth to slay his particular and personal “giant”.  I found myself feeling for Gerald, as he comes into close quarters with his Dulcinea and all becomes clear to be reader and character alike.  Particularly once Betty takes relatively quick consolation in the opportunity to waddle off with Bert to the afternoon Bingo, despite her apparent feelings beforehand!

The relationships in “Top Room of the Windmill House” are wonderfully observed – showing not telling us about our characters.  The feeling Nora has for the as yet unnamed inhabitant of the top room of the windmill house in the title is in her fretting at the curtain as the storm approaches and gussying up of the silo room – contrasting with Vincent’s emphatic confirmation he is not Jasper’s father later in the piece.  His uneasy relationship with their resident grey shadow is in the clenching of his jaw as he endures the chill of contact; a gesture to enable all of those dwelling within the windmill to enable their co-existence more easily.  Nicely done.

“A Miller’s Tale” is a lovely story of father and son, with son outstripping father once he has been taught to tune the sails until they sing (beautiful description!)  The suggestion that a step is being added to the climb each year is a wonderful way of emphasising the passage of time subtly – as is the reference to the father’s wet face; ostensibly due to the failings of his traitorous umbrella.  The image of father and son, wives buried below but remaining faithful and married to the wind (“always”), is a powerful one – particularly when tied in partnership with the endless turn of the sails.  A beautifully observed ending.

I loved the characterisation of Kees in “The Keeper” as a frequenter of Tasting Houses, about whom gossip concerning his name “swirled” (very apt phrasing!) – particularly given the contrast with his stiff and broken knees as he faces the journey home post Jenever.  (Jenever is also well observed for this particular judge!) We feel empathy for Kees as he stumbles towards what we sense has been inevitable and fact that he has sought brief escape from it..  The final image of Kees alone, having trudged up the many steps to the windmill, contrasts with his preceding travels around the village – although even in the midst of apparent company, Kees is a man who has deliberately kept himself at arm’s length from those who do not understand him.  The breaking of the waves on the rocks accompanies the breaking of Kees’ heart as he bids his beloved farewell.  Well done.

There’s a wonderfully tongue in cheek tone to the start of “Philosophy 101”, given a number of serious pieces this week.  I couldn’t help laughing at the intro classes taught by a professor named Staff – plus Levi Strauss blue jeans!  I could clearly picture Dr. Farley too (who couldn’t?!) courtesy of the John Cleese tie in.  I think everyone’s been taught by a “character” teacher at some point too!  There’s a nice analogy in the reference to the narrator’s crush on Dr. Farley as a “first draft”, given the preceding one to dreams and illusions in connection with romance.  Clearly, there’s going to be a better endeavour in the narrator’s future!

“Departure Time” presents us with the “chance for new beginnings” in a world of wondrous technology (worldwide information nets – imagine!), set out by the smooth talking owner of a gunpowder beard with honeysuckle eyes (great descriptions!)  I really enjoyed the concept of the windmill as a method of transportation through the ages and fact that the narrator found it impossible to leave the somewhat peevish Felix behind.  Nice characterisation.

Lots of great sound references in “Things In Common”, which tie in with the way Ronan is haunted by the ghosts which clamour in his head like non-musical ear worms, “chattering” to make themselves heard.  Added to that, Ronan’s afflicted by the drone of mankind for all his meditation and chanting – small wonder he’s attracted by a self-confessed witch who might have some spells and tricks of her own!  I can just picture the two of them flying over the rooftops if Ronan’s date can manage to drown out his voices with the sound of her own!  Great ending.

“The House That Derek Built” starts with a “Field of Dreams” style vibe, as Derek builds a windmill after losing his son and to deal with his grief.  The reference to loss is cleverly done, given we read the reference to disappearance as death, for the story’s purposes.  However, things take a different turn (pun intended – blame judging pressures for the lack of originality!) as Derek takes to the skies in search of his missing son by the conclusion of the piece.  I have to hope with such dedication Derek proves successful in his mission and brings him home to the no doubt taken aback Melissa..  Nice story.

We get a clear picture of waitressing from the repetition of “service” in the opening paragraph of “Coffee and Headlines”, right down to the “service with a smile”.  Nicely observed!  The dialogue flows easily back and forth between Jack and Rebecca and a more ominous tone creeps in as they discuss the apparent Act of God lightning strike to the windmill.  I really enjoyed the reference to leaving for “unforeseen circumstances”, as I could tell where the story was going by that point in time but enjoyed it all the more for being privy to Jack’s secret whilst Rebecca remained oblivious.  Great story with very few words.

A really great horror story in “This Is Really Him”, which starts off all cafes and cake and admiration for Danny’s assets, before becoming something a whole lot more sinister.  I liked the way the story made the journey from light through to dark, along with the character’s climb up the steps.  Our narrator should have stuck to her guns and gone with the coffee, as opposed to walking up to the windmill – although I do admit a slight bias where coffee is concerned…  The final paragraph ups the ante courtesy of the howling rotten teeth and clutching bony fingers.  Ultimately, we as reader, too, are trapped with the narrator in the final words, having nowhere to escape as she(?) confronts a nightmarish possibility.

“The Forecast Calls For Rain” – brilliant title to fit with the story!  Nice twist on the concept of the Ark, with Donovan voting to save solely himself, despite the impending floods.  I loved the tongue in cheek musical references for the reader’s benefit, foreshadowing where the story was going.  Plus, something this particular Poised Pen member is hardened to due to previous fictional occurrences – cats in peril!  (Poor ballast!)  Additionally, I’m presuming Cheryl, may well meet an untimely end too (albeit “off screen”!) for storytelling purposes!  Great story and nice ending.

There’s a wonderful world in “Protected” that I’d love to explore further, with its guardian protector who raises questions concerning both need and the reasons he scares those he is apparently watching the horizon (and any apparent threats) on behalf of.  Where does the other one come from and where do these structures originate from?  How long have they stood guard over the inhabitants?  Moreover, I want to know which one won!  This has the makings of a longer and highly original off-kilter piece.  Tell it to me, please!

Great world building in “Vocation” within only 204 words.  I liked the fact that this story provided a completely different slant on the photo prompt and the use of nude statues as a means of justifying a new form of living statue.  Plus – great catchphrase in “If you move, it’s rude!”, with the sinister tone,  courtesy of the watchful eye, to ensure none of the “statues” move a muscle.  Great irony in the final paragraph and a real sense of our narrator there too.  Nicely done.

Getting to the hard part and because there must be winners for the week, I kept the winners list short this week – simply because it took long enough to try and pick any!  (Once again, great job all).

Runner Up – “Top Room of the Windmill House” by Nancy Chenier for its nuanced portrayal of relationships and the concessions made for them in the interests of love.

Runner Up – “The Forecast Calls For Rain” by A.J. Walker for fitting a well depicted story into 360 words and for incorporating musical references as a means of foreshadowing.

And our Round 72 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Marie McKay

with

“Circles”

-for incorporating language so effectively within such a small word limit and creating an affecting portrayal of the central relationship which made me re-read more than once to experience the tale again. Well done!

Congratulations, Marie! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie! Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

Next weekend our judge will the lovely and talented Ms. Foy Iver. Hope to see you all there.

Hello again,  my lovelies! It’s time again to announce winners. Thanks again to everybody who submitted stories this week and to Pattyann McCarthy for judging. You’ll find her comments below.

My thanks to Rebecca for giving us Writer’s a great space to exercise our writerly muscles each week. My hardhat’s off to you for running a fantastic site!

Props to Steven Stucko for being the first to submit, and congratulations to everyone for entering your stories! They’re all fantastic and it’s tough to choose the winners, but it has to be done. Reading, as you know is subjective, so here is my take on each of your stories.

Puddle Jumper by: Stevenstucko

So sad, this story of loss and survival where you’ve nicely shown the confusion in the aftermath of a tragedy. I felt the exuberance of Scott’s hope when he saw the railroad tracks, and I agree the last line would probably be a thought in his mind and that he would run to safety rather than take the time to address it. Nicely done, Steve.

P.S. I never did like Puddle Jumpers, and now I see why.

Red by: caseyrosefrank

You gave us a great description of the sweet enchantment of childhood summers. Then, how adulthood opens our eyes to a different viewpoint, red, no longer carefree childhood fun, but danger. Your use of ‘red’ throughout your story lends a nice pacing adding to the build-up of possible tragedy, and I’m happy she survived.

Sold by: Stephellis

Fantastic story. It’s evil right to its sinister core. The teleportation is a nice touch. I’m a sucker for Sci-Fi and this satisfied my tooth for it. I never expected his parents to be ‘that’ cruel and devious! Great last line, ‘Sons provided for their parents… and that was as it should be.’ This story unnerved me and lingered with me through the night.

Flash Burn by: Joey To

What a great name for a new flash fiction site, ‘The Flashing Pen.’ Lady Radiation is a nice touch and a tip o’ the hat to Rebecca! My favorite line in here, ‘He hammered his keyboard like a drunk. This was because he was drunk,’ made me laugh! Loved the finish too, ‘The aroma of barbeque filled the house.’ I’m a huge sucker for a good barbeque!

All The Time In The World by: A V Laidlaw

This story is so creative with the Fast and the Slow. What a nice person Billy is, or is he too tired to make these difficult choices anymore? I love the line, ‘The oligarchs didn’t want the sick in their time-stretched playground.’ Made me feel like they are selfish little children, and I hope we never meet any oligarchs’ here in our world! I like that Billy allowed the petrified couple into the Slow, giving them another year of time to inhale love. Very nice.

Going Nowhere by: Sonya

Love that you de-lurked; stay out of the shadows and dance with us! This is written nicely, Sonya. You’ve painted a great picture here, and ah, the struggles between partners. Always wrangling, compromising, we would hope, but this is tinged with a sadness that they’re on a different page, their desires too far apart to reconcile. Well-done, and no more staying in the shadows!

The Meeting by: mariemck1

I was hooked with the first line, ‘Red light nail polish and fishnet tights, she’s walking tall in six inch heels,’ but I never saw that ending coming! Poor Jake, making a deal with ‘the Man’, wanting more time with his little girl. I love, ‘Death’s a bitch,’ and the last line, ‘She sure is,’ croaks the old guy.’ Brilliant making the spirit of death a woman in fishnets and stilettos!

Stations by: Voima Oy

Fantastic story! I read it three times. You give us so much emotion in such a little space. It’s slathered with loneliness, sadness, regret and unrealized wishes and dreams. The ending pulled my heartstrings into a phrase of tears and it stuck with me long through the night. Nice writing.

Kernel Panic by: Necwrites

What a fun story! Is it normal for a human to be attracted to an Autobot, Maxine, or something of its kind? This Autobots internal dialogue is priceless, and I love the way it drives the story into a total meltdown. The last line, ‘“Somebody help! My girlfriend—She’s on fire!” is hysterical!

The A – Z of Wells by: Geoff Holme

This story is fun! The chattiness is a nice play back and forth. It’s well-done and certainly well-thought out. I can envision these women in ‘any’ time period having the same conversation over a cup of tea, or a glass of wine. My favorite lines in here are, “It’s not exactly a well-kept secret, darling.” Rosanne retorted. “Don’t tell me that you thought his trouser pockets were simply well-lined!” Ha-ha! I’m still laughing over that zinger, though, I don’t think Xanthippe (What a name!) is getting the best of the three.

Honorable Mentions, in the order they’re submitted:

Flash Burn, by Joey To: Because I like to laugh and I love a good barbeque. That’s right, grab for the important thing, your adult bevvie; don’t go for the useful gun! I’m sure he wouldn’t have achieved a proper aim in his condition anyway! Great fun.

All The Time In The World, by A V Laidlaw: Just your average (?) midnights’ ride in the Fast lane, hoping for more time in the land of the Slow. The invention of a new land, a new way of life is fantastic, I just hope it doesn’t happen here!

Kernel Panic, by Necwrites: For Camala’s weird taste in women, if that’s what you want to call Maxine! The Autobots dialogue skewered this Honorable, and laughing keeps my blood pressure down, so thank you. This is so fun!

Third Place:

The Meeting, by mariemck1: Love that the spirit of death is a woman and the stilettos and fishnets did me in; she seems a bitch all right, and that’s okay with me!

Second Place:

Sold, by Steph Ellis: As I’ve said, I’m a sucker for Sci-Fi, and the sinister core running through this piece kept me glued to the page!

 

And our Round 71 FLASH MASTER is . . .

FLASH MASTER

Voima Oy

with Stations

This piece is so emotive and I love stories that tug at me and make my heart cry; stories that cling to me, to my skin, like the humidity before a thunderstorm. Perhaps someday, the train will stop once again!

Congratulations, Voima! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend Catherine Connolly is back to try another round of Flash Frenzy judging. Hope to see you all there. 🙂