Sunday 24 May 2015

May Short Fiction Contest Winners

By The creator of the Art piece- Lars Widenfalk- Poderedellaluna
I had a fun evening reading through the entries for May's Short Fiction Contest and this morning have decided on the three winners. As expected the image of the black violin on red silk inspired some great stories and always it was tough selecting just three winners. I'd like to thank everyone who entered and also those who support the competition by sharing the links.

And now I am pleased to announce the winners:

 - First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Sheila Deeth for her story 'My Brother's Keeper'
 - Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Nav Logan for his story "The Midnight Serenade'
 - Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Lauren M. Gunter for her story 'Unfinished Symphony'

Congratulations to the winners and here are their fantastic stories:

My Brother's Keeper by Sheila Deeth


D’you remember that song about the devil playing violin? Or was it a story? Or was it real?

I guess I remember something about a crossroads, and I see my brother there. The fields behind him are red with poppies glowing in the sun, flowing like blood in the breeze, sown like a song on the seas. I hear his voice. No. Not singing. And not a violin. I’m not talking devils here. My brother’s just talking to me, soft and quiet, and he makes me want to sing because, well, my brother always had that kind of voice; you know, musical, low, rhythm and rhyme all the time. I remember him there and I see this black violin on a bed of scarlet silk and I think I’m just imagining his words falling down onto poppies. The trouble is, I can’t work out the words. Like an opera sung in Italian, or a perfect meal cooked in Chinese; like a page of music where the notes won’t stay still, or writing where the letters jump and dance to their own tune. I remember him and I see these black lines and shapes all rippling together on red sheets, all twisted and torn. I tell myself I’ve imagined his last night on earth, because he’s not been seen, never again, since I left him at that crossroads, since his breaking voice sang like music and the poppies stirred.

I hung a blank piece of paper on my wall the other day, to cover up the stain. It just appeared one day, the stain I mean. I don’t know where it came from; general decay? It was red, leaking on gray; gray paint; gray walls. So I hung up the paper and thought I’d paint myself a picture one day. But I woke in the morning and saw the charcoal outline of a violin. I don’t even own any charcoal. Still, it looked good. I promised myself I’d paint over it, but when I came home from work it next day, the violin was already painted black. Okay, thought I; I’ll buy some red paint for the background tomorrow. Then it was done, red rumpled bright like silk behind the notes.

This morning I stood by the coffee machine and couldn’t smell the grounds. I stared at a blank sheet of paper on my wall and thought, yeah, I’ll really have to buy some charcoal and paint and make a picture there. Then I looked at my bed. The sheets were red like poppies in a field, and the body was mine, black as death and twice as gone. I heard my brother’s voice on the wind and knew I wanted to sing. Then I saw the crossroads through the window; saw him waiting there. No. Not my brother. Him.

D’you remember that story, that song? Or was it real? Or will it be? Can you hear the music playing?

The Midnight Serenade by Nav Logan

With hands still grimy from digging his most recent grave, the maestro lifted up the string and fitted it into the violin. The task was not a simple one for two reasons: Firstly, it was pitch black in the graveyard, and he needed to complete the task by touch alone. Secondly, the wire was still slick with fresh blood.

Each of the strings of his violin was anointed thus. Each wire had been consecrated by the blood of a young female victim. It was part of the ritual he performed whenever he needed to replace a string.
Since his rise to stardom, it had become so much easier, of course. He didn’t need to hunt his victims down anymore. They came to him; all wide eyed and simpering over his music. They eagerly accepted his offer of a private dinner, away from the crowds and paparazzi. The lavish dinner, prepared with his own hands, was followed by too much wine. Heady with drink, they would fall into his arms, and later, into his bed. It was there, during a night of wild passion, that they would meet their demise.

He loved the look of shock on their faces as the garrotte bit into their soft tender necks. He often became aroused again during their final struggles.

Later, he would carry their still naked bodies out into the family graveyard at the back of his mansion, and there they would be laid to rest, forever to listen to his midnight serenades.

When the new string was set in place, he would tune his instrument; a wonderful Mendini, as black as his heart. Plucking the newly-baptised string, he tightened the peg until the sound of the note was just right. Tiny droplets of blood flicked across his cheek as he nuzzled the chinrest and began to play.
Standing over his mother’s grave, he always played her favourite piece: Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor. In his mind, he can hear the rest of the orchestra playing along as he performed the piece in front of a packed arena, perhaps even for the Queen herself.

He could also imagine the sighs of his many victims. They rested nearby, keeping his mother company through the long years of darkness. She had always demanded to be the centre of attention.
It was his mother who had bought him his first violin. She, who demanded the best on every occasion. She, who beaten him and locked him in his room whenever his performances where not up to scratch. She, who eventually became his first victim.

Playing his violin afterwards, with her blood still slick on the strings, he had found a new sense of peace. He had played like never before … and so the ritual had begun.
He was sure that his mother would have understood. It was such a small sacrifice to make for the art. He was sure that they had all understood eventually, once they had heard him play his midnight serenade.

Unfinished Symphony by Lauren M. Gunter

Black on white. Black on white on red, glinting off the liquid notes of an obsidian violin.

Lilting, melancholy music coaxed forth from the fingers and bow of an expert. An expert who for years had played the greatest concert halls in the world. But tonight, in the enclosed, velvet-curtained atmosphere of his inner sanctum, the professor played for a special audience. An audience of no more than seven.

One moment the music flew in the strains of a gypsy csárdás, the next dropping deep into the notes of a lullaby. In the small room, the strains of music seemed to resonate, twining round the white lights, entrapping themselves in the heavy red velvet of the curtains. Then the notes of the black violin took on a life of their own, swirling into a wild, unearthly music.

A quiet stir sounded as one of the audience left the seats. A rustle of velvet brushed the professor’s sleeve as his fingers caressed the bow. At the gentle touch, the notes, of their own accord, quickened and rose higher.

“You waited for me.”

The professor inclined his head, his eyes remaining on the fiddle and bow.

“Very few people surrender it willingly.”

He turned, his extended arms holding out the fiddle and bow, but the music played on.. “I am tired. And it will always be yours in the end.”

Her eyes softened as she reached for the violin. As her fingers touched it, a spark leaped from the ebony surface. Her eyes drifted closed, a shudder running through her frame. She grew, taller and taller, no longer a young woman, but a presence that seemed to tower to the roof. Smoke billowed, curling round her until she was transformed into a living pillar of smoke and black velvet. Her skin remained smooth as silk, but her black hair changed to gray in the space of a heartbeat. Her eyes flew open, revealing wells as old as time, but somehow new and fresh. The music flew to a fever pitch, then slowed abruptly to a lull.

“Your notes ring true in my song and you returned it to me willingly. For that, you have earned the right for yourself and these others to go peacefully, with no struggle of parting.”

The professor’s face settled into peaceful lines, his eyes drifting shut as if in sleep.

The woman turned to the audience. Five had followed the professor, leaving only one. She beckoned gently and the young girl left her seat, making her way slowly to the professor’s stand.

“Why was I left behind?”

The woman smiled, “They were taken because they were ready. You, however, were summoned for a different purpose.”

The ebony violin again changed hands. The music began to sparkle with a new, vibrant note.

“Much good can be done in one life, as well as much evil. This is now yours to use, but remember, I shall be back. Be ready. Until then, add your notes to my unfinished symphony.”


  1. excellent stories. I particularly liked Lauren's

  2. Thanks navlogan, congratulations on taking second!