Sunday, 30 November 2014

November Short Fiction Contest Winners

Image Credit - The Tower of Babel by the Belgian artist Paul Gosselin
The winners of November's Short Fiction Contest have been chosen. The image of the Tower of Babel proved to be a challenging one from the number of entries. That made the task of selecting the winners only marginally easier as the standard of the submitted stories remained high. There was also a decent variation on the original story about the tower, so I enjoyed reading through the stories.

Before announcing the winners I'd like to thank everyone who submitted. I'd also like to thank everyone who supports the contest by reading the stories and sharing the links. Please continue to do so!

And now for the winners:

 - First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize goes to D. Morgan Ballmer for his story 'More than Dust'

 - Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize goes to Nav Logan for his story 'Babel's Tower'

 - Third Prize of a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize goes to Samson Stormcrow Hayes for his story 'Babel On'

Congratulations to the winners and here are their stories:

More than Dust by D. Morgan Ballmer

https://www.facebook.com/dmorganballmer

A man will crush an anthill with his heel yet he hides himself from the view of lions.  He will swat a fly with is palm yet recoils his hand from the asp.

This is fear.  This is respect.

This is what I build.

They call my mission hubris, though never to my face.  Buzzing among themselves in their hive-like manner as they carry my stones, smooth my mortar, and erect my tower to the heavens.
"He tempts God," they say, "He invites destruction."

As if destruction is not stenciled upon our souls from the moment we first squirm from our mother's wombs.  As if our future were something grander than working, worrying, and weeping until the finite sands of our hourglass run dry.

As if we are greater than dust.

Low men of low ambition, these are the fearful creatures which emerged after the drowning of the world.  They came crawling from the mud-holes of a cursed land, and for what?  To fill their bellies, be drunk with wine, to rut in their hovels so the pathetic cycle may repeat.

But I, Nimrod, lead them toward a greater purpose.

They focus with one accord.  They move my brick.  Whether joyfully or with the sting of a lash upon their back they build the mighty tower.  Level after spiraling level, platform upon platform they are elevated physically and spiritually from their base existence by the hand of Nimrod!

Though they are poisoned with slothfulness and greed, I wield the twin flames of pain and purpose to purge these spirits from them.  They emerge anew, refined, fierce in countenance and worthy of respect.  This is as it must be, for the folly of our ancestors nearly doomed us all.

Our forefathers were ants, waiting for the heel of an angry God to crush them.  They skies thundered and they wailed for mercy.  The rain fell upon their upturned faces, into the open mouths of their screaming children, and they lamented.  Water gathered about their ankles and they knelt in supplication.  When the storm surged and a tumultuous tide carried away their wives they cried for mercy.  They died twitching beneath a breathless tomb, bereft of family, fortune, and hope.

They died like ants.

Now I make them lions.

No longer will we tremble at the sight of a storm cloud.  No longer shall my people tear their clothes for fear of another murderous flood.  Did we not save every animal from the wrath of the Hebrew God?

Now let us save ourselves.

Let a tower be built that no waters can cover.

Let a stairway be built to the very doors of heaven.

Let a king, Nirmod, breach the very gates of paradise that he might seize this Hebrew God by his beard. That he might gesture to his handiwork, this tower that bridges the gap between mortal and maker. That he may lift himself into the face of the Almighty and scream "Are we simply dust now?"

Babel's Tower by Nav LoganB

www.navlogan.com

Long, long ago, in the distant past, Mankind was united under one God. Mankind lived in peace and harmony and spoke but one language. The Priests of Mankind were proud of their achievements and built a mighty tower to celebrate.

For many years they toiled, and the tower rose higher, reaching into the heavens. The tower was a symbol of their unity and greatness; a testimony to their supremacy over the beasts of the Earth.
God came down, and in a fury, he pulled down the mighty edifice, scattering Mankind to the four winds. The unity of Mankind was forever broken … or so it was believed.

“Mankind should not put himself above the beasts of the Earth,”declared God with righteous anger.

He cursed Mankind to war, and pestilence.

He banished them from his sight and gave them many tongues to speak, many cultures to hide behind. He cursed them with hate.

Soon, there was no longer one God, but many, or at least there was many names that all meant God.
Mankind became blinkered in his vision and often fought over which version of God was the correct one, and which were false idols.

*****

Now, Mankind again congregates within a mighty city. He has found a new God to worship and a new language to give him meaning.

The new God is pleased with Mankind’s progress and happy to see the towering edifice rising into the skyline and dominating all before it.

United once more, the city grows and grows, until it dominates the skyline.

The beasts of the Earth tremble in the shadows of the mighty city.

Many creatures choke and die from the toxic fumes billowing forth as Mankind builds a tower to dominate all other towers. The city of Babel is truly born, as the tower blots out the sun with its majesty.

In the new city, Mankind is ruled by his all demanding deity. Every moment of every day, Mankind worships his God. Even in sleep, his new God dominates his dreams, encouraging greater effort in his worship.

Everywhere Mankind looks, he sees symbolism of this new order; images that confirm the might of his God over all lesser deities.

Even the language that mankind speaks, reflected his piety.

Mankind loves their new God with all their hearts and live every second of every day in homage to his greatness.

Babel continues to grow and dominate the world, the beasts being forced into cages lest they interfere with the great work of Mankind.

They are here to serve God, even if they do not believe in his existence.

The beasts are unable to comprehend the new language that Mankind utters. To them, time was a measurement of each passing day, the passing season. It was not a language that the beasts comprehend.


Neither do they understand this new god: Greed. Though, they have learned to fear it, as they had learned to fear the blind faith of Mankind in his new deity.

Babel On by Samson Stormcrow Hayes

www.stormcrowhayes.com

The Architect stared up at what was undoubtedly the tallest structure made by human hands. Around him bustled hundreds of workers, masons, artisans, and thousands of slaves. He waited for the Contractor to return from his inspection of the tower. When he was close enough to hear him, the Architect asked, "So... what next?"

The Contractor wiped some dirt from his hands. "What do you mean?" he replied.

"How much longer until it's finished?"

The Contractor turned and looked up at the towering structure rising hundreds of feet into the air. It was cone shaped, widest at the base and narrowing to a tiny point at the pinnacle. Knowing he could go no higher, the Contractor shrugged his shoulders and told the Architect. "It's finished now."

"How is that finished?" demanded the Architect, pointing at the structure.

"We can't go any higher."

"Why not?"

Again, the Contractor looked at the tower pinnacle wondering why the Architect couldn't see for himself what he was seeing. There was simply nowhere else to build. The structure reached its natural apex.

"There's nowhere else to go," he explained. "It's complete."

"I told you I wanted to build a tower to heaven, but that doesn't even reach the clouds! I can see the top!"

The Architect grabbed the Contractor by the arm and pulled him into the design hut where a small piece of parchment lay on a small table. The parchment held a crude drawing of concentric circles stacked on top of each other. At the bottom was an arrow pointing to the widest circle and the word, "Ground," while another arrow pointed at the top with the word, "Heaven" scribbled across it. Above that was an archway and the words, "Pearly Gates."

"This was the plan," continued the Architect. "To build a giant tower that would lead us to heaven. The Tower of Babel! Instead, you built me this." The Architect walked to the door and pointed at the structure. "What am I supposed to do with this? Use it as a scale model for the real thing?"

"Look," the Contractor replied, irritated. "Me and my men, not to mention a few thousand of your slaves, just built you the tallest structure ever conceived by man! Nothing in all the eight months of recorded history, has ever been grander. It's a phenomenal accomplishment!"

The Architect sighed. "No, you're right. We need a bigger base. The problem is, there's just not enough land out here. We should build in the desert.

Only instead of a cone shaped structure, I'd like it with corners." He quickly drew a shape on the parchment. "There, what do you call that?"

"A pyramid?"

"Yes, we'll build a pyramid. I know just the place. I own some land in Egypt that would be perfect. Yes, I'll leave immediately."

"What about this tower?" asked the Contractor.

"It's an affront to God. Tear it down."

7 comments:

  1. Kudos to the winners! Great stories.

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  2. I'm very proud to have a story featured on this great blog. Thank you for offering this great contest, Michael!

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    1. No problem - congratulations with the story.

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  3. I can only agree with Stormcrow. I am flabberghasted to have been selected and thank you Michael for running this contest. This particular one was perhaps the hardest one yet, so i am double pleased. There are some absolute crackers of stories that enter each month, some wonderful writers out there. Well done, one and all.

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    1. Thanks Nav - and well done on the story.

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  4. You have a great thing going here Michael, thanks for providing this venue. I regularly read the winning entries hoping to pick up tips and tricks from the talent you feature on your page. So, thank you and thanks to all the other writers who consistently impress me with their story crafting abilities each month.

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    1. Thanks - there's some great writers taking part.

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