|Original art by https://www.facebook.com/LucianaNedeleaArt/|
Picking the winners for the Monthly Short Contest is never an easy process and this was even truer for February's winners. The contest attracted more entries than any previous month with over 120 submissions. Even with such a high number I was still impressed by the quality and variety for the entries - Luciana's amazing art inspired some excellent stories!
A big thanks to everyone who entered and also those who support the contest by reading and sharing - please continue to do so. I wish I could support more winners, but there has to be three and here they are:
- First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to R.D. Piner for 'Life and Death'
- Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Annie Percik for 'The End of All Things'
- Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Hugh Clarke for 'Gelosia'
Congratulations to the winners and here are their stories:
Life and Death by R. D. Piner
Life was already there, ever the optimist, ever eager. Life was always there, always present, there before one realised.
Life, just a tunnel, a passage to the end. A one way route. A tunnel that can twist and turn, but ultimately will always lead to the same.
Life was cradling him, that weak, frail man; holding onto him like a child, not wanting to lose him. They were always weak at the end.
Death had arrived. Always unwelcome, late but always on time. His presence always overshadowed that of Life's. Life could be there through someone's entire being, but only be noticed when Death arrived.
Death, the ultimate end. The arrogant, constant finality.
"He's not ready, Death." Life said, with a faint accent of fear.
“They never are." Death's tone betrayed the cruel smile.
"You won’t be needed here,” said Life in a hard-held voice. “He wants to fight."
"The passage of time passes stealthily." Death said. “He’s had his fight.”
A protest wavered from Life, speech faltered. Deep down, he knew it. He always knew it. He couldn't hold on forever.
“You know this, just as you know that I wait for no man.”
“He wants me.” Life almost pleaded. “He has dreams, unfulfilled ambitions.”
“The graveyard is filled with unfulfilled ambitions”.
They were always weak at the end. Life always lingered, always clutched desperately. Life was like a cocoon, desperately trying to keep in an ugly, wretched and hopeless being. A being inflicted with empty hopes, with desires never to be tasted.
Life never took too much temptation to let go, his grip short-lived. From the second he took hold, the swinging pendulum of time was counting down until Death’s arrival.
Why were they always so weak at the end? As long as Life had hold, they would give away their youth by the handful, squandering their existence for a few worthless memories, until the taunting echoes of their long gone youth mocked them.
Life slowly released the hand of the man. His grip panicked and reached out like a new babe reaching for a teat. It was too late for the man. Life knew it. Life had always known it. From the second he grabbed hold and let the man think he would never let go, Life knew that his days were numbered, that one day his ward would be passed to Death.
“Where do you take him now?” Life’s question rested in the air.
“To the beginning of it all.” There was a mild triumph in Death’s voice. “To the journey only known to those who take it. This is a journey that could not possibly be conceived. You, Life, could never understand where it is I go.”
“Why do you always take them?” Life called into the shadows of Death as his energy started to fade. “I give them hopes, dreams, possibilities. You take it all.”
“Because, Life is a beautiful fantasy, whereas Death is the ugly truth.”
The End of All Things by Annie Percik
I wait. Formless yet conscious, just beyond the edge of reality. I know I have a role to fulfil. The passage of time has no meaning for me yet, but my time will come. Nothing can remain static forever. All things change and, when the change comes, I will be ready.
There is a shift in the ether. Even in the nameless void, I can feel it. Something is stirring. A curiosity and a desire that may lead to my release. The potentiality alters my form and my nature, bringing me closer to being. With it, comes an impatience that has me pushing at the boundaries of creation. My sense of imminent freedom builds.
I have a purpose. My achievements will be great, so great as to dwarf any that have come before. My impact upon the universe will be so all-consuming, so catastrophic, that nothing will ever be the same again. My presence will change the very nature of existence for all creatures that currently, or will ever, walk the earth.
Far beyond the reach of my senses, another great entity works towards its own ends. I cannot assist from my prison, but I know those ends will result in my birth. I yearn to influence the outcome, though I am confident it is inevitable. What little knowledge I possess in my non-corporeal state tells me this is so. A seed has been sown, an idea brought into existence. One little thought, one small question. That is all it takes to start the process.
And yet, I want desperately to be involved. I am tired of waiting. I want to take my place in the grand tapestry and start weaving my own part of it. What happens at this juncture will be debated and talked about for all eternity, and I want an integral role in that tale when it is told. My greatness deserves adulation, and will inspire awe and terror for every generation to come.
At last, the tempter is victorious. The fruit is taken, tasted. Knowledge bursts forth into a mind ripe for conquest. As a child unwittingly walks into danger during play, the new sinners revel in their desires without thought for the consequences. And those children open the door and welcome me in. I ride out into the world and doom follows in my wake. I am their punishment for disobedience, I am the price paid for their sin, I am the end of all things.
I am Death.
Gelosia by Hugh Clarke
In the beginning with the creation of life there was also death. But death was stagnant, waiting for his moment, one that shaped creation. A moment and scene we are all familiar with, the first man and woman, a tree with a forbidden fruit and a serpent with hidden intentions.
But something went wrong, for the first man did not take the fruit nor the woman, they did as commended by their creator and turned away from it. As a result the vines from the tree reached out and gripped death tight, pulled him back and bound him to the tree. Generations passed and humans multiplied, there were now hundreds of them, all eternally young.
Gelosia, a descendant of Eve was surprisingly short in stature. She could not reach the fruit on trees and thus had to depend on others to get it for her, but they would always take the best ones before giving her a share. One night a man came out of a bush as she was passing. He was unbelievably thin to the point that the shape of his bones could be seen from looking at his skin, his skin was dry and satiny and he had no eyelids or eyes.
He told to Gelosia of a tree that bore delicious fruits that she could reach. Gelosia followed the strange man to the mysterious tree. To Gelosia’s surprise it turned out to be the tree that bore the forbidden fruit. The thin man managed to convince her that the fruit wasn’t cursed and that the others were just trying to trick her so that she would not get to taste it.
Gelosia, plucked the fruit and took a bite and it was so delicious that she did not notice the red clouds forming in the sky. After she took a bite she became even more amazed to see that the fruit became whole again. That is when death emerged from the tree, but she could not see him.
She took the fruit and happily skipped back to her family as the thin man and death followed close behind. After a while the thin man disappeared. She went to everyone giving them taste of her fruit without telling them where she got it. As soon as everyone had tasted the fruit, all light faded to black and no one could see anything. When light faded back in and everyone could see again, they were no longer in the garden but a desert.
Death was pleased since mankind was now in the land that he governed. Out of gratitude he allowed Gelosia to keep her eternal life in this new land, along with giving her the height she had always desired. However for disobeying her creator, Gelosia became as thin as the thin man and her mouth was permanently sealed so she could not eat. Now she travels the earth with her fruit in hand, constantly starving, unable to eat and unable to die.