Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 11: WINNERS

HOLY MOLY, PEOPLE! What a joy to see the community burn up the board this round. Brian Creek took the prize for making the 1,000th comment; but truly, this milestone is thanks to the many, many, many of you who took time out of your full schedules to invest in your fellow writers. And when it comes down to it, it’s not the number of comments that matters (as much fun as we had counting!). It’s YOU, and the safe, welcoming community you are. And I’ll stop there today lest I get all maudlin and weepy and accidentally set something on fire.  

(Again.)

Next up! DON’T MISS TOMORROW’S exclusive interview with the founding members of the Flash Dogs. And then comes Warmup Wednesday, followed by Thursday’s Sixty Seconds interview with today’s winner. Then it’s the fun of Flash! Friday all over again! 

Finally: don’t forget to claim eligibility for FEBRUARY on the Wall of Flame. Once March 1 rolls around, the wall will glow ONLY with names of those who’ve earned the #RingofFire badge in February. Meanwhile, I’m toying around with the idea of a prize at year’s end to whoever’s earned the most #RingofFire badges…. 

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Dragon Captains Carlos Orozco/Eric Martell sayWe had another great turnout this week. The flash fiction community refuses to make our job easy, and we’re glad. It really is an honor to be able to read and judge so many great stories. Speaking of judging, we would like to share a little bit of our judging process for this week. We felt like some great stories were unable to make our shortlist because they failed to meet the requirements for the story element portion. This week’s story element was setting, and the setting you were asked to write about was “moon”. Many of the stories were really good but failed to incorporate the moon as a crucial part of the setting. For our shortlist we favored the stories that used “moon” (in any incarnation) as a setting, as opposed to using “moon” as an object. It might seem a bit trivial, but focusing on the story elements will help us all become better writers.

Well, that’s enough of the boring stuff; let’s move on to the results:

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

It will make you double take: Clive Newnham, “…and the moon.” The first time through it seems as if the characters are drifting through space, and then you realize they’re not. You will read this one at least twice.

Most unique setting: Holly Geely, “Poor Things.” This writer really used some out of the box thinking to take us into a completely different landscape (albeit an undesirable one).

Best… um… Something. Mark A. King, “***SPAM***Lunar Realty Inc — Special Offer.” {{Editor’s Note: Which, for some TOTALLY STRANGE REASON, wound up in the lair’s actual spam file.}} A unique story structure (Spam email) in the second person POV which will inspire some grins, lolz, and/or ROFLz.

What Happens When Cute, Funny, and Sad Are Mixed. Rasha Tayaket, “Nursery Rhymes.” This had us smiling at first and holding back tears in the end.

Story That Can Double As a Playlist. Charity Paschall,Just for Fun. This is a unique idea that seems like loads of fun (Warm up Wednesday challenge perhaps?).

Ideas For the Real World. Colin Smith, UntitledWouldn’t it be great if something like this could happen in every town?

Superb Monologue. Deb Foy, “Elegy for the Earth.” We would love to see this performed on stage.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sarah Miles, Guess How Much I Love You.” We each debated how to rank this story because it was so well done, but did not utilize the moon as a setting prompt as fully as others. But how could you not be drawn into Jamie’s story? Too young to know what his father was doing to his mum (although there’s just a hint of what Daddy might be doing to him), and still innocent enough to believe his mum’s promises of an escape beyond his wildest dreams, you want Jamie to escape but know that he’s much more likely to spend the rest of his life being laughed at until he cries than ever walking on the moon. Heart-wrenching tale.

Rasha Tayaket, Stuff.” This was a story that just snuck up on you. It starts like a stereotypical argument between the arrogant husband, too stubborn to ask for help, and the over-packed wife, dragging half of her belongings on vacation while hectoring her husband. But there are hints that there’s more, until we’re smacked across the side of the face with the titular “stuff” that she was so reluctant to leave behind. What an imaginative view of the future, combining an almost magical vision of how new lives will be created with the horror of disposability of the weakest among us.

David Shakes, “The Sky is Falling.” From the first line we can tell the situation is hopeless, but the dad still pretends survival is possible to keep his son hopeful. The difference in mood from father to son is stark, and that juxtaposition makes this piece all the more heartbreaking. In the end, the characters’ roles are reversed and it is the son who has accepted their untimely demise while the father can’t help but weep. The image of the father and son hugging under the light of a giant moon and waiting for the earth to swallow them is very powerful, beautiful, and melancholic.

Mimi N., “Alone, Together.” This piece delivers exactly what the title said it would. The main character isn’t alone yet, but she might as well be. She hears the madness of isolation creeping up through the beat of Stefan’s heart. It’s ironic that hearing that heartbeat does little to soothe her. Instead she goes outside (by herself) and looks at the Earth. For her, the view of Earth and the fantasy of floating home does more for her sanity than the company of someone else.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Jamie Hershberger, “Down on the Corner.” The first thing that pulled us into this piece was the creative use of the moon setting. Rather than giving the characters a moon under their feet or over their heads, the writer gives them a street called Moon. Also, the character descriptions in this are great. Saying the mother “smoked Virginia Slims” does much more for her character than simply saying she was a smoker. Finally, the last bit of bitter news reveals some vital information, answering many questions we didn’t know we had.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Alicia VanNoy Call, Bring an Extra Suitcase.” While the first person to set foot in any given place is an explorer, the day will inevitably come when explorers will be replaced by tourists, surrounded not by the staggering beauty of a world unexplored by the human experience, but by the detritus of a more “civilized” age. And yet, if one cocks an eye at just the right angle, there’s still magic to be found among the wonders of the universe. A wonderful story that finds beauty among the strip malls.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Brian S. Creek, “Oxygen.” This was a chilling story of an astronaut accepting that he or she was on a trip with no way of getting home. Except that there is a way home, through a hypoxic delusion taking us back to the astronaut’s childhood home. A masterful interweaving of the prompt setting and photo – the astronaut was on the moon, but also on Hope Street, where dreams of the future always reside.

DRAGON WINNER

PHIL COLTRANE!!!

for

“Runaways on Hope Street”

This story was one of the few we both had in our top ten (doesn’t happen often).  The piece was only 202 words, but it felt like a novel.  The required story element was also successfully used with the moon playing a crucial role in the story. We could feel the longing in the little sister’s gaze as she looked up at the moon while her brother told fantastic stories to comfort her. The story also did a great job of hitting all the little details. For example, describing the stars as uncaring counters the romanticized idea of the wishing star. Another little detail that makes the story successful is the word choice when the characters gaze “heavenward”. The brother’s story sounds like a heaven of sorts that’s placed in a much more tangible location (the moon). This places a silver lining on a grim ending.

Congratulations, Phil! Please find below the rights to a your fourth winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here are also your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for interview questions for this Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Runaways on Hope Street

“Tell me it again, Rudder. About the Moon.”

Roderick embraced his kid sister, for warmth as much as affection. The wind ripped straight through his ratty coat. “They’s a huge castle up there on the Moon. Bigger even than this factory. But clean, ’cause the Man in the Moon has hundreds of servants to scrub away the grime.”

Blue eyes admired the bright orb. “It looks like ice. Is it cold?”

“No, Winnie. Up there, the sun’s so bright it makes everything glow like a gas lantern.” He leaned against the icy brick wall, gazing heavenward. Uncaring stars twinkled in the winter sky. “And they’s clear lakes, and open grassy fields for miles and miles and miles. Just like when we was young.”

“It must be real warm there, Rudder. I can feel it now.” Her shivering stopped. “And Daddy is up there?”

“Yes. Daddy went to be a servant to the King and Queen of the Moon. They pays him in diamonds, and dresses him in purple silk, and lets him stay in their castle.”

Sleepily, the girl closed her eyes. “When can we see him, Rudder?”

“Real soon, Winnie.” Roderick, too, closed his eyes. “We’ll be with ‘im real soon.”

FFwinner-Web

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