It’s Winner Time! Hats, helmets, and plumed caps off to the lot of you for the fabulous torment you wreaked upon dear Pratibha; her winners’ list dripped with anguished tears over having to choose. Thanks to new and returning writers for joining this week’s adventure, and thanks to all of you who made time to comment on stories (especially Margaret Locke and MT Decker–wow–stunning support of the writers this week–thank you!). Someday we must put together a field trip to Guadalest to learn some of its real-life adventures (have any of you been? please share in the comments here!).
Special thanks to those of you who made donations this week, too. Your contributions have already made a difference. I have surprises in the works for the third quarter, and now that we’re past the halfway mark of Year Two, I’m already hard at work on this year’s Flashversary (December’s mega contest). Our next judge panel is very exciting (and excited — that’s their thunderous anticipation you hear), and their names will be announced June 20.
Finally: returning to Flash! Friday this week is Flash Points, a weekly line-by-line (ish) evaluation of a particularly noteworthy piece of writing. This week Flash Points will publish on Monday. Be sure to come back tomorrow to see if your story was chosen.
And now: join me in thanking faithful judge Pratibha Kelapure for her hard work this past quarter. Though it will be such fun having you back in the thick of the competition, your judgiffity perspective will be missed. THANK YOU!
Judge Pratibha Kelapure says: Hello Dragons! Curtain comes down today on my judging act here. That’s right, it was all an act. I am loath to judge anything, or is it I loathe to judge? 🙂 But be that as it may, I have enjoyed the experience, and I have a better understanding of what makes a story stand out among a group of excellent ones. I think! Oh, well! Rebekah, I am grateful for this opportunity. I thank all of you wonderful writers, regulars and the brand new ones, for all the brilliance and camaraderie. Allow me a moment to be sentimental and shed a few tears!
Ding! All done!
This week’s prompt was truly haunting. I want to write a longer story about it. Stay tuned. On one hand, the beautiful landscape inspired many tender stories of romance and love, and on the other, the treacherous climb to the tower brought on tales of mystery and evil. In all, fifty-five stories of clanging, tolling, and pealing bells warning young and old of the dangers lurking outside.
Okay, enough stalling, on with the results! But before that I want to give a huge shout-out to the fellow judge Jessica West. Her story “Renewal” took my breath away. The language is poetic, the concept is insightful, and the ending emerges organically from the flow of the story. Bravo!
Excellent Ending: Phil Coltrane, “Windmills Passing.” I am rooting for the Kingdom to find the hero.
Wonderful Worldbuilding: Eric Martell, “Morning Prayer.” I want to see what offerings the “nameless one” needs.
Lyrical Language: Carin Marais, “White Flag.” I can see that “snowy cloth” with my mind’s eye.
Funny Fiction: Margaret Locke, “Monk-eying Around.” I had a blast! Thank you, Margaret!
Marie McKay, “The Forger.” It is a twisted tale that flips the concept of good and evil on its head. The sensory details bring the setting and characters to life.
Betsy Streeter, “The Fire Goddess Gets Results.” I loved the dialogue, and descriptions such as “Her hands glow orange.” The character of the vengeful Goddess is portrayed convincingly.
Maggie Duncan, “The Last Watch.” I liked this ‘Sci-Fi’ish take on the prompt and irony of the underground world as the final frontier.
Tamara Shoemaker, “Night.” What can I say? It is poetic and is an allegory of the humans destroying the environment. “Citizens chatting with the Reaper” – profound!
THIRD RUNNER UP
Ian Martyn, “To Remember.” I loved the surprise at the end, quite fitting for the story written on D-Day. The characters of John and Father Bertol are well fleshed out in just a few words. The contrast between the two main characters is played out skillfully. The vivid description of the climb left me breathless.
SECOND RUNNER UP
Image Ronin, “The Messenger.” The plight of hard-working Arcane is gorgeously told. I simply loved the phrases, “orange flowers bloom in the twilight,” and “One after the other, a constellation of beacons spluttered into life.” The growth of the character during the span of the story is developed effectively. The sad ending left me teary-eyed.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Cindy Vaskova, “The Bell of Guadalest.” I loved this for the strong characterization of Anacleto; his anguish is palpable and his final act is defiant. The descriptions are vivid, “a gust of ash carrying wind blowing the stench of torched skin into his face.” I was drawn into the struggle of Anacleto, living each moment of his journey along with him.
And now hoop ‘n’ holler with me: it’s long time writer, first time Flash! Friday
I really enjoyed this non-obvious take on the prompt. The story is a heartbreaking tale of motivation, set in a nursing home. The brutal portrayal of the nursing home and the phrases such as “wheelchair graveyard” and “the wheelchairs just happened to be populated by blinking corpses” bring out the harsh reality of the life in the nursing home. In sharp contrast, the picture of the “bell tower situated within a mountainous landscape” hangs on the wall. The relatable characters, the vivid portrayal of the setting, and creative integration of the prompt with the story made this a winner in my eyes.
Congratulations, Brett! Your brand new, unbelievably stupendous winner’s badge awaits you below. Here is your equally new winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me ASAP so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:
Once you reach a certain age, society’s attention wanders from you. And it wandered from Cosmo and the others.
It was like a wheelchair graveyard in Seaview Nursing Home – the wheelchairs just happened to be populated by blinking corpses.
For most of them, their day consisted of getting helped out of bed, plopped into their wheelchair and going a few feet beyond their room; to gaze at others, to watch the walls, to hopefully see someone young and vibrant.
Cosmo was one of the few roaming bipeds at Seaview. He didn’t get far, didn’t move fast, but he wasn’t tethered by the wheeled menace.
“I’m gonna get there some day,” Cosmo said to Renee, a nurse, pointing at a portrait of a bell tower situated within a mountainous landscape. As he did every day.
Renee knew the portrait was just a painting.
But for Cosmo, it was the fire in his old belly that kept him alive.
Kept him moving.
* From 52 to 58.