It's that happy time of the month when I read all of the previous month's short fiction contest entries and pick the three winners. December's image was a little unusual in that it was a warm image, reminiscent of summer escapes to the tropics. Although I'm pleased to say that quite a few of you managed to twist some very dark tales into the bright sunshine.
In total I received 20 entries and while that's far from the highest number of entries it did have the greatest variety of stories. Even more importantly the high quality of entries I have come to expect was maintained and my task of selecting the winners was a fun but difficult one.
Before I announce the winners for December let me tell you about my Facebook group setup for readers and writers of short and flash fiction. For writers it is a great place to show off your short and flash fiction and for readers you can discover the same, you can join the group and see the latest posts here:
And now for the winners of December's short fiction contest:
- First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card goes to R M F Brown for his story 'A Nice Quiet Island'
- Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card goes to Bea Cannon for her story 'A Moment in Time'
- Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card goes to Mark Alan Trimeloni for his story 'Lonely'
I hope you enjoy reading the three winning stories as much as I did:
A Nice Quiet Island by R M F Brown
'You know, I'm really going to miss this place.'
'Why?' You've only been here a couple of hours.'
The man peered over the rim of his sunglasses, staring hard at the woman who lay on the deckchair, skin glistening with sweat and suncream as the overhead sun beat down on them.
'Are you kidding?' smiled the man. 'Look around!'
He waved his hand at the azure waters lapping the white sands, the palm trees waving in the breeze, the sound of laughter echoing out as a group of men and women chased each other along the beach.
'If you've seen one tropical island, you've seen them all,' replied the woman, rather snootily.
The man sat up 'But that's the point - nobody's going to see this place again, not for at least ten thousand years.'
The woman lounged back into her deckchair. 'Plenty more where this came from.'
Sirens blared, bells rang out, people rushed to and fro, footsteps echoing loudly along concrete corridors. The man ran down the corridor, adjusting his suit, fumbling at his pockets for his safety visor and a cigarette. The click of high heels made him look up, the woman, looking glamorous in her green uniform, flashed him ruby lips and perfect white teeth.
The man ran into the control room, a group of military men turning to face him.
'Glad you could make it, doctor,' said one man, puffing on a cigar, his uniform gleaming with stars and medals.
An assistant handed the doctor a clipboard. Ticking some boxes, he handed it back, and moved forward.
'Thirty seconds to go.' Sounded a soulless voice.
As one, the assembled men put on their safety visors and looked out of the bunker's viewing slit.
They stood still as statues as the countdown continued, then turned, shielding their eyes from a massive burst of white light. The island was no more.
A Moment in Time by Bea Cannon
Gerald Lansing’s job was making sure all parts were to specs. Unable to get one piece to calibrate, he looked up the original calculations and found an error, or at least an anomaly. He made a print-out and went to Prof. Willard, the head of the project who’d made the computations.
“Sir, there’s something I think you should take a look at,” he said pointing to the suspected problem. “I’m not getting the specified results. Perhaps someone has made a change?”
“What? Let me see,” said Prof. Willard. He took the paper.
He scrutinized the figures, crumpled the page and handed it back, frowning. “I don’t see a problem, and nothing has been changed. Look, you’re not supposed to be going over these figures. You’re just a technician. This type of math is too complicated for you to properly comprehend. Just do your job and leave the temporal calculations to those of us who’re experts.” He stalked off.
Gerald sighed. He’d felt he had to say something, but the professor saw him as only a pair of hands, a servant expected to do exactly as told. He knew going to any others in the lab would do no good: they never questioned Prof. Willard. He shrugged, tossed the balled paper into a nearby can, and went back to work trying to set the experimental temporal shifter as specified, finally getting it to more or less agree with the schematics.
The big day arrived. Gerald’s qualms were allayed by the preliminary trials. They had gone well. The temporal shifter worked perfectly, first going back several minutes, then a day, and finally to the previous month. The lab animals returned unharmed, and the head tech who’d volunteered to do the last test came back satisfied. He’d landed exactly where he was supposed to on the desired date.
Prof. Willard entered the cubicle and settled himself at the console. The place and time was set for an uninhabited, open plain in the western United States two hundred years ago. He started up and watched his instruments. When the counter stopped, he opened the door, stepping out - and realized something was wrong.
He stared at the landscape, horrified. Rushing toward him through what appeared to be tall palm trees was a horde of different kinds of dinosaurs. He dove back in and hit the return switch. Nothing happened. The vehicle shook as the animals thundered past on either side. The sounds diminished and he reopened the door. A very small animal, the size of a chicken scurried by.
It was hot, the sky a fiery orange. He looked up and the air was streaked with flashes of light as the rocks kicked up by the giant meteorite strike fell back to Earth. The destruction that helped wipe out eighty percent of all surface life sixty-five million years ago fell around him.
The last thing he saw was a palm tree silhouetted in front of a huge ball of fire coming straight at him.
Lonely by Mark Alan Trimeloni
Jeremy looked at the sun hiding playfully behind a palm tree. The warmth a feeling he was not used to. He’d spent the last month in bed crying. His father appeared to him in the glow of the radiant orb, hovering so beautifully near the end of the day. A sullen man with nothing but love for his only child. The feel of warm kisses passed over Jeremy’s face. In his hand a worn birthday card dangled. The words on the front read, “To My Favorite 8 Year Old”. Inside, in a broken scrawl, were the words, “I won’t be able to make your birthday this year. I have to go home. Love, Dad.”
Blood covered the image of a cake festooned with playful monkeys forming a number “8”. Along the back of the card more crimson deleted two sets of footprints leading down a beach. The caption read, “Where ever we go we have each other.” Jeremy put his hands over his face and his dad disappeared. He felt chills climb up his back as a hand rested on his shoulder. A scent of aftershave filled his “smeller” as his dad used to call his nostrils before placing two fingers on either side and saying, “I got your nose.”
“Daddy you can take my nose again. Just please don’t go away.” Jeremy felt another hand on his shoulders. A vision of blood trickling down from a man’s fingers to paint the carpet red entered Jeremy’s mind. He froze remembering when he’d seen all the sticky liquid pooling around his feet. His dad swung from the ceiling of his bedroom. Seven clowns circled his father’s head like a halo. A fallen angel caught on a rope around its neck. Both wrists slashed. The hand moved down Jeremy’s shirt and across his chest. He barely noticed.
“Will you be taking me home with you?” The question barely a whisper in the coming darkness. “I’ve been waiting the past month for you, daddy. I swear I’ll be really, really good this time.”
“Oh, I’ll be taking you home alright.” Came a low, gravelly voice from behind. Jeremy felt the hand move across his stomach and leaned into the touch. “I have games we can play.”
Jeremy knew the games would be fun. His dad always came up with the best ones.
“Why did you leave, daddy? Was it because I was bad?” Jeremy felt his shirt being removed.
“Yes, you were bad.” The voice moved to within inches of his ear. Jeremy felt his father’s lips move along the edge. Warmth radiated from his father’s tongue. “And you will have to be punished. Do you agree?”
“I’ll do anything you say, daddy.” Jeremy felt his hands being secured behind him. The punishment was beginning.
“Just say you love me.” Came the reply.
“I love you, daddy.”
As the sun went down behind the palms, only a birthday card remained.