Welcome back! Once again I’m writing you from the frigid depths of my basement. My fingers aren’t quite blue, but I am imagining they are, which makes writing this Winners’ Post feel very heroic. And since each of you is a hero in my book for showing up each week and daring to raise your keyboards in a writing battle, perhaps my imagination’s not too far off, eh?
Judge Erin McCabe says: Wow, my judging week has come around again so quickly, and of course I couldn’t be happier. Thank you all for taking the time to enter your stories; it was a tough prompt this week and required great skill to capture the breadth and depth of a concept such as destiny in such a short word count. I enjoyed the humour in many of the entries submitted this week and the diverse range of characters and plots you all devised, another great week of writing!
Like the other judges, I judge blindly, dividing entries into different categories and then re-reading until I’ve determined my final list. So without further adieu, let us begin.
Ian Martyn, “The Empire Builder.” I really liked the pace of this piece and the language, for example the use of “geometric perfection” to describe the aesthetic value of the statue. Our character is destined to watch over the common man and to value his endeavours however large or small for the rest of history; a price to be paid for vanity, frivolity and lack of empathy. It seems fitting and is captured brilliantly within the language used throughout this story.
Phil Coltrane, “Standing Before the Public Thing.” It is no secret that I am in love with the Zombie genre and so this piece really stood out to me. The theme of destiny was expertly embedded, and the reveal of the undead was a welcome surprise. I really liked the flow of the piece, but most of all the final line of “Brains,” and the casual tone in which it was expressed, caused a huge smile to spread across my face, so well done.
Tinman, “To Caesar What Is Caesar’s.” This one definitely deserves a mention for making me laugh; the theme of destiny was well constructed through the rise of Caesar Septemberus, which also linked well to the pictorial prompt. Winning the people over with Salad versus the persuasive power of pizza however is what I loved the most; so humorously written, great!
SECOND RUNNER UP
Dieter Rogiers, “Thou Wouldst Be Great.” I loved the title and particularly the power of this entry from beginning to end. The Dictators wife: persuasive, corrupting and merciless; her power and his unvoiced submission is tangible throughout the piece. There is realism to this which I love; there have been many women through history, some known, many cloaked in anonymity, which would have taken this approach to gaining power. The theme of destiny is very strong, culminating in the ending, “Build my gallows high.” It’s a perfect ending to bring the story full circle through future echoes.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Sinead O’Hart, “The Stonecarver’s Boy.” What I appreciated most was the writer’s ability to condense the life of this boy into approx. 150 words. The idea was well formed, and the story of the boy’s work and fate were a good interpretation of both the prompt and the theme of destiny. There was also an excellent emotional aspect in terms of the Mother’s distanced love, knowing she cannot protect him but fruitlessly attempting to do so anyway. Death with a purpose but for no real purpose was well told and yet not condemned by the central characters, the frivolity of his death ultimately creating an even greater sadness within the reader. I really liked this piece.
And now: drumroll, please! it’s back-to-back
“Some Men Would Let the World Burn”
This story ticked so many boxes for me: the link to the pictorial prompt, the theme of destiny, a great ending, a brilliant title and some excellent world building. Well done, Cindy! I loved the language used to describe the deep-seeded contempt and disgust boiling over within the protagonist. The language had tones harking back to the industrial age but was also peppered with futuristic mechanical references, “buzzes and the clacks of apparatus modern.” This actually made me think of the steam-punk genre, which I really like. In particular, the line: “Is it the look of my own handmade apparatus?” really made me think, as it almost suggests, that our protagonist is a man-made man, adding a whole new dimension to his plight. I liked this ambiguity as it captured my attention and made me think deeper about the piece. Well done, a well-deserved win!
Congratulations again, Cindy! I think you may be the first writer to win back-to-back, and with two different judges! Your winner’s badge welcomes you back in a very impressed sort of way. Here is your updated, still very sparkly winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for another set of questions for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:
Some Men Would Let the World Burn
Let dollars be thrown in the air in celebration of the future, of prosperity and innovation, and let the electrical body be immortalized! Let men from each side of the world join hands and put great minds together to create and improve. But God let that be at a lower cost.
Oh, how each light bulb pulsates with power, so bright! So many!
In the crowd I am alone, amongst the buzzes and the clacks of apparatus modern and astonishing. Beyond that I see a society that does not abide by the rules given to it by Destiny. I breathe the air of its false utopia and it sickness me. I have seen a future of Godlike men, emotionless. So tell me Lady Republic, what shall I do to save you?
Ah, there comes old Moore, frightened and absurd. Is it the look of my own handmade apparatus?
“Visconti, wait! What are you doing?”
Salvaging, cleansing. Let it all burn.