Welcome to the awards ceremony for Vol 2-22 and our Peter Pan (or not-so-Peter-Pan) collection of tales (did I mention Judge Jess is more of a Cap’n Hook gal??). As ever, a humdinger of a ride with all you crazy dragonlings. Thanks to beloved familiar writers & to you brave new ones for joining the party! We always have a great time here, proved this week yet again. Thank you. Your time and participation mean so much.
Judge Jess West says: Greetings, flashers! With so many five star flashes this week, choosing twenty was nearly impossible. After agonizing over the choices for hours, I’ve finally managed to narrow it down to a reasonably short list. A few of you surprised me with what I thought was a clever and unique twist on the coming of age prompt. I’ve always equated a girl’s “coming of age” with the time of the red dragon, but you guys took it somewhere else entirely, to my astonishment and utter delight! (Yes, I’m a little twisted.) Although Rebekah suggested a Peter Pan-ish feel, several of you took real life cautionary tales and familiar favorites alike and gave ’em a nice, dark twist. If you know me, you know I love those. Some of you just jerked the rug right out from under me, and I’ll save my comments on those for last. Thanks again for an incredible week of judging, and I hope to see you all again in a few.
P.S. In The Sins of the Mother, a classic tale of lost boys and the one who would never grow up is brought to life -and present day- by our very own judge, Prathiba Kelapure. While her story isn’t eligible for placement, hers was the best use of prompts, including the photo, the dragon’s bidding, and the not-so-subtle hinting of our beloved dragony hostess, Rebekah Postupak.
Laura Emmons, “Fighting the Wolves.” A flash fiction piece full of conflict, with metaphorical wolves aplenty.
A Dark Moon in Orbit, “The Turning.” A sorrowful tale full of rich descriptions, and incredibly touching.
AJ Walker, “In Push to Restart.” The creeping darkness of the tone escalates subtly, making for a bigger impact in the end.
Chris Milam, “The Weed.” This one deserves a spot in the short list for Best Antagonist.
Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “Lunacy.” Jealousy, betrayal and murder make good bedfellows, and Taryn certainly used that to her advantage in Lunacy. Two sisters, one man … murder is inevitable.
M.T. Decker, “Destroyer of Worlds.” Highly entertaining with a twist I love and didn’t see coming. Mary made my day with this one.
Scott Vannatter, “Crisis of 1885.” I was waiting for something much worse to have happened than what the girl was trying to relay, getting just as angry as the mother. The relief I felt at the end added to the humorous impact.
Charity Paschall, “No More Secrets.” Another of those characters I’ve become quite familiar with, Rapunzel, makes an appearance in this dark retelling. Charity brings an element of magic into a story that could have happened in the past or in present day.
FOURTH RUNNER UP
R. A. Williamson, “Dark Water.” This is tragic tale told in poetic prose that took my breath away. R.A. uses second person POV as it’s intended, successfully amping up the emotional impact. It takes a writer with guts to add 2nd to his arsenal, and a writer with talent to pull it off.
THIRD RUNNER UP
Maggie Duncan, “Primogeniture.” The world building here is impressive. Marrying for status, sacrificing to a powerful being, and murmuring incantations all work to set the scene and tone. Maggie Duncan treated us to a beautiful but dark blend of Historical Literary Fiction and Speculative Fiction, possibly a new favorite of mine.
SECOND RUNNER UP
Tinman Done Badly, “Too Young.” The opening paragraph promised a Cinderella story, and I was curious to see where this author would take the tale. This version held elements of humor and unexpected disappointment for our beloved protagonist. Tinman’s Cinderella is a far cry from the docile creature we’re familiar with. Full of personality, both in Cinderella and the insensitive Fairy Godmother, “Too Young” is as memorable a Cinderella story as the first. And that last line, “Can I keep the shoes?” was sheer brilliance!
FIRST RUNNER UP
Joidianne4eva, “Like Glass in Your Mouth (And Stone in Your Veins).” With an ominous tone right out of the gate, that third paragraph raised the fine hairs on the back of my neck. I fell in love with visceral descriptions in the place of emotions. That last paragraph was a real kicker – the deed done, Lucille seems almost clinical in her detachment as she makes a mental to-do list. For impressive depth of a character and a good, dark twist, “Like Glass in Your Mouth” comes in at a close second.
And now: for an impressive, knock-your-socks off THIRD TIME (but first time in Year Two), it’s Flash! Friday
“The Hard Way”
A young girl’s despair was evidenced in her desperate pleas, still hoping against hope, and immediately I was emotionally invested, hoping right along with her. Mary’s mother, full of compassion, reassured her that she would learn to control the inevitable curse. A few quick lines of dialogue allowed me to hope that the girl may find some measure of relief amidst the turmoil she would soon face. Alas, with the close of “The Hard Way,” we all learned a lesson about impulse control. Unfortunately, for Mary that lesson was horrific beyond imagining. I do believe her mother was right, one night was enough. Horror with an emotional punch raises Craig’s tale in the ranks, all the way to the top.
Congratulations, Craig! Your brand new winner’s badge awaits you eagerly below. Here is your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:
The Hard Way
Mary’s sobs were muffled by her mothers lap. She finally came up for air. “Are you sure it will be tonight Mama? Perhaps the curse will skip a generation?”
Her mother gently shook her head, “I remember when I turned sixteen all those year ago and the curse was passed to me. I was so very afraid, but there is nothing to fear. In time you will learn to control the hunger, just like my mother taught me.”
Mary rubbed at her eyes, “How did she teach you?”
“There is only one way to learn such a lesson, the hard way.”
“Did you learn quickly?”
“It only took one night.”
The clouds finally shifted from the full moon. Mary felt her body ripping and reforming, and then there was a terrible hunger. There was only one source of food in the room. Her mother didn’t make a sound as Mary devoured her, and the lesson was learned.