That fun time of the month where I read all of the entries for the latest short fiction contest has arrived and as expected February's scary clown picture inspired some nicely horrific stories, so thank you all for that. As always I was impressed by the quality of the entries and it was a difficult (but fun) task to whittle the list down to the three winners.
Before I announce the winners let me remind you all that March's contest has started, you can find all the details here:
Also let me thank everyone who has helped spread the word about this contest, I won't be satisfied until this is the most popular short fiction contest on the internet (I like to aim high!) so please keep tweeting and posting and letting everyone know about the latest competition.
And now for the winners:
- First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card goes to Elizabeth Foshee for her story 'Face in the Window'
- Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card goes to Daniel Richardson for his story 'Smiles on a Screen'
- Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card goes to Darren Grey for his story 'My Father, The Clown.'
Congratulations to the winners and before you read the winning stories let me do a quick plug for the Short Fiction Writers and Readers Facebook group, it's a great place to discover short and flash fiction:
The Face in the Window by Elizabeth Foshee
When Sarah saw the face at the window, she thought at first that it must be a hallucination.
As usual, she was at her desk sorting through the stacks of paper that had accumulated during the day. A glass of chardonnay and a small plate of gourmet chocolates sat near an open laptop. This was her favorite time of the evening because she liked to use the time to relax and finish up paperwork. She was going through a stack of unopened letters when she saw movement from the corner of her eye.
She looked in the direction of the movement and gasped. Her eyes grew big and her breath caught in her throat. The face was a culmination of evil masquerading behind a twisted parody of humor. It must be a mask, she thought faintly. Surely nothing that hideous could be real. She tried to stand but couldn't find the strength to move.
The face was painted white with green triangles painted around eerily glowing eyes. The nose, round and bulbous, was painted a bright cherry red. The lips had also been covered with bright red paint. The lips pulled back in a menacing grin, revealing white teeth with wickedly pointed canines that were much too long to belong in a human mouth.
Night pressed at the window, making the face appear to be floating. The glow of the streetlamp should have been visible from the window, but she saw no light other than the glow of eyes. How long would it stay there before deciding to come in? The grin widened as if the face could read her thoughts. The glowing eyes mocked her. She felt as if her chest contained a small frightened bird beating its wings frantically in a futile effort to escape.
She heard dark, wet laughter from behind her and her paralysis broke. She staggered up from the chair and whirled around to face the open door, knowing what she would see. The face.
The doorway was empty. She stared at the empty space in disbelief. She didn't know what she had expected to see, but it was not this emptiness. Her legs were trembling and her breath was coming in ragged, uneven gasps. She placed a hand on the desk to steady herself and felt something warm and wet beneath her palm.
She snatched her hand up in revulsion as she looked down at her desk. Blood screamed up at her from the surface. Her eyes moved jerkily across the desk. There was blood splattered across the laptop, smeared around the stem of the champagne glass, and dotted around the chocolates.
She looked toward the window again. There was only her reflection. Her St. John's suit was covered with gore. Terror stole into her, turning her blood to ice that moved sluggishly through her veins. She suddenly knew why she had seen the face in the window. It was the grinning face of insanity. It was her face.
Smiles on a Screen by Daniel Richardson
My name is Emily and I have a very strange problem. There is a man who watches me from my television set. Well, not a man, but rather a clown. I noticed him one night while I was brushing my teeth. I had the bathroom door open and in the mirror above the sink I could see the television in my room. I was watching some advertisement for a new soft drink but the image flickered away into silence, and then he was there. The white figure of his shaven painted head lit up on the surface of the black screen. He smiled at me and watched. Just watched.
His wide, yellowed eyes scanned my body up and down invasively with a frantic nature that froze me to the spot. I stared back at him through the mirror and as my eye line met his, he stopped still. His pupils expanded in an almost hungering manner. Red lips slowly parted to reveal a grimace of rotten teeth. The wet pink of a tongue flicked out between the gaps of his grin smothering the makeup on his upper lip as he licked his mouth. That was enough to snap me out of it. I spun round as fast as I could, not wanting to take my eyes off him for a second, but when I turned, he was gone. In his place a smiling lady who’d just livened up her party with the introduction of the drink from before. Had I imagined the whole thing? It seemed real enough. I knew there was a horror movie marathon coming up on this channel so possibly the clown had been some kind of viral marketing thing for it. I swear he looked me right in the face though. Not wanting to take any chances I went straight over to the television set and turned it off at the mains and, being admittedly a little frightened, I took the extra pre-caution of turning it to face away from my bed.
I don’t remember when it was I finally fell asleep but I do recall when I woke up. At first I thought I was having a nightmare. When I woke up the room seemed darker than it had ever been. I looked over at my clock but there was no digital red numbers flashing on its L.E.D display. It was the breathing that scared me though. Long and loud breaths came from the foot of my bed. The noise seemed to come from behind my TV. I walked over slowly. Each step brought me closer to the deep, long and exaggerated exhales. I noticed the TV was plugged in again. My trembling fingers crept over its sides. With a twist I pulled the screen to face me and…nothing. The screen was blank. The breathing kept going, though I wasn’t sure where from. Then the warm hair hit my ankle. Followed by the spider-like grip of a make-up covered hand. I looked down. He smiled.
My Father, The Clown by Darren Grey
My psychiatrist keeps telling me I should talk more about my father, be open about what happened, and about why I behave as I do today.
It's not easy though. So often I wake up at night in a cold sweat, remembering the children screaming, the smell of rubber from twisted shapes of animals, the horrible laughter piercing through all other sounds. I can still remember so vividly my father’s eyes, painted in sadness as he laughed like a maniac. It chills me.
All my friends were afraid of him. He would try to play with them, forcing them to sit as he enacted his gross “entertainment”. His daubed visage leered before them, their young faces twisted in horror and revulsion beyond their years. They hated him, and in turn grew to hate me.
The red nose, the blanched face, the garish clothes. They hover before me in my dreams, pushing on top of me, smothering me till I am forced to accept them, to smile and laugh with them, even though I'm crying inside.
I stand in front of the mirror, painting a forced grin on myself, my eyes still sad as I decorate my body in multi-coloured clothes. I stare at my reflection, wondering is this really myself? Why do I do this? As I affix the red nose I ask myself, why have I become the thing I hate?
But my psychiatrist tells me it’s normal for those who were amused as children to go on to be amusers themselves.