Saturday 27 September 2014

September Short Fiction Contest Winners

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons Author - Shubi

Picking this month's winners proved to be the hardest of the contest so far. September's image of a leather bound tome sparked a diverse range of stories. I received over sixty entries and they were all of a quality. I will be featuring a few in future Sunday Stories.

But today's post is about the three winners and without further ado here they are:

  • First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to David Turnball for 'The Book of Remembrance'
  • Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Kath Middleton for 'Arbow's Notebook'
  • Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Chad Lutzke for 'The Damned Thing'
Congratulations to the winners - I'm sure you'll agree that they have all written superb stories. Thanks also to everyone who entered. Each month you make my task of selecting the winners that bit more difficult with more entries! And a big thanks for everyone who has shared the links for these contests, your support is much appreciated.

And now for the winning stories:

The Book of Remembrance by David Turnball

The population of my village was amongst the first selected for extermination. Our oppressor wanted to send out a strong and unequivocal message that left no one in any doubt about what they were capable of.

We were given no warning. The trucks came at dawn. In addition to their weapons the soldiers brought with them their dreaded Book of Remembrance. We had heard of this book. It was designed to consolidate the message. 

It was presented on a red cushion, as if it was something sacred. Each section of the book contained the name of a village. Each page following each section contained three columns – name, date of birth and date of execution.

Before they faced the trauma of the firing squad each villager was to be compelled to write down their name and date of birth. If couldn’t write there were military clerks to whom you could dictate your details. Their Central Command had predetermined the date of execution and therefore this column was already complete. 

By the time they came to our village two other sections had been filled. Two entire villages wiped from existence, the men, the women, the children, only remembered from names entered on the lists.

The oppressor wanted the victims of their genocide to be more than just cold statistics. They wanted these Books of Remembrance to be read by the surviving populace. To them a coldly calculated remembrance of lives so easily extinguished was in itself was an act of subjugation. 

They wanted us to be real because perceived reality increases the level of terror. They wanted the same dreadful thoughts to be ingrained in everyone’s mind. ‘The same thing could happen to me.’ They hoped to instil a level of fear that was sufficient to ensure an unfaltering subservience.

I heard each person before me forced to read out what they had written into the book, name and date of birth – date of execution punctuated by the shock of a single gunshot. I heard the wailing of the women and the children. A wilful calmness settled over me. When it came my turn I took the book and ran.

I was always the fastest runner in my village. I dodged their bullets. I ran deep into the forest. I ran high into the hills. A helicopter gunship came searching for me, sweeping low over the crags and gullies. But I knew the hills too well.

I watched my village burn. I watched the departure of the trucks in slow serpentine convey. I watched the smoke fill the red sky at sunset. Knowing that the empty cushion would be interpreted as a defiant act filled me with determination. I placed the tip of my pencil onto one of the empty pages.

And there began the Book of Resistance.

Arbow's Notebook by Kath Middleton

You could say this is my diary although I have never written in it. 

I fell in with a man of science by the name of David Arbow. We were both acolytes of John Dee’s, a man who sat upon the boundary between science and magic. These days he is thought of as a magician and an occultist although when we first knew him he was concerned with communicating with angels. It was through this cabalistic angel magic and his beliefs that man has the capability of divine power that David Arbow came under his influence.

Contrary to common belief, Dee was a devout Christian and a gifted mathematician and his reputation for black magic is not founded in reality. Arbow, however, loved the idea of communicating with angels, most particularly with those angels who fell, along with Lucifer, when challenging the Divine One for power. He felt that if he could speak to these entities, steal a little of the power they surely possessed, he himself would rise above his fellow men. His arrogance refused to let him consider anything else.

He had nowhere near the calibre of mind which his hero possessed. He would sit with Dee while the latter performed calculations, nodding and seemingly sharing the journey of learning with him, but he was floundering along the wayside. Without the Master he was lost. Nevertheless, he had accumulated a certain cachet amongst Dee’s other hangers-on and sought to reap financial rewards through this reputation.

We were all in awe of John Dee’s mind and the things of which he was capable. Most of us were content to study with him and in all honesty, we struggled to follow in his wake, let alone keep up with him. Those of a more esoteric frame of mind would try to emulate his scrying techniques and attempt to contact spirits and even angelic beings by use of an Aztec artefact – an obsidian scrying mirror. 

Doctor Dee would occasionally allow those of us of lesser talents to attempt to see with this device but I have to confess, I saw nothing. Arbow let it be known that he could contact heavenly beings and also lost souls, adrift in a void and looking for the way into celestial bliss. Dee was interested and gave Arbow special attention, though the rest of us believed he was being fooled by a cunning man of lesser talents.

Dee encouraged Arbow to make copious notes in a diary. He suggested he should note the days on which he made the contacts, the results of his ‘conversations’ with the angelic forms and even the weather conditions prevalent at the time. He told Arbow that the diary must be a special book and that it should never be used for anything else. It was the key to heaven.

It was to me. It is made from my skin.

The Damned Thing by Chad Lutze

I bound the damned thing tightly; hopefully for the last time, though I could not rid my room of it and, there was the matter of “just in case.”  A plethora of perfumes emitted from each page even with it shut, flooding my mind with an extraordinary lust for more.  During these episodes, when I would finally get a hold of myself, I often found my eyes rolled backward; overtaken by an unexplainable ecstasy.  Because the words elude me, I will end the attempt to describe it here.  

My collection of their perfume-scented clothing is harmless.  My voyeuristic viewing from afar would be perceived as a perversion by most but would keep me from imprisonment as long as I was careful.  It was the book of names and addresses that could ultimately cause the death of the whores were I to open it again.  The book has become cumbersome, and I fear I can no longer keep the pages together.   

Marked in red, my favorites reside in the district of Whitechapel.  In blue I marked routine police routes.  Getting caught is not an option.  I would take every precaution necessary, though if I were to give in to my desires I would surely participate in taunting the district police.  Perhaps I’ll even send them pages from the very book I struggle to keep closed.  Ha!  If only I could watch them as they struggle to find me.  

As I write, the attraction grows.  Perhaps tonight I will give in to my urges.  I’ve prepared the jars for trophies.  Through my studies, I've become somewhat obsessed with human anatomy.  Perhaps closer examination of their internal organs would give me a greater understanding of life, of medicine...of women.  This next statement to be said without pun, but perhaps stopping the whores from their infestation, while furthering my invaluable research, would kill two birds with but a single stone.  Do I manipulate myself into the slaughtering of the broads using my scientific examinations as justification?  Am I feeding science or a demon of murderous lust?  If I begin will I be able to stop?  

My written entry this evening has stirred within me a temptation I can no longer resist.  I will open the pages of the damned thing and hunt for the first name penned in red.  The cobblestone streets will collect the blood spilled tonight, and though they will pursue after me, they will find me not, for Jack is nimble and Jack is quick, and the throat of the dresses my razor will nick.


  1. Three well-done tales! Congrats to the winners.

  2. Three very good stories from deserved winners. I smiled with surprise on reading the last one, Both Chad and my own submission were about Jack the Ripper, though both very different tales.
    Well done to you all, and well done Michael on his selection of writing prompt.