§ Foy says: Man-eating fish and fish-eating men—trouble-makers, the lot of you! Before we swoop on through ice-sheer tunnels to the hearth-fires of the Winners’ Feasting hall, Wednesday we’re sitting down for another update from one of our own, a horror aficionado and veteran flash fiction writer turned short-film creator. Do join us and share your thoughts!
§ Rebekah says: A delight to see you back! Thanks to all who shared their tales this week; if you haven’t read through to hunt for your own favorites, it’s never too late. ♥ And a special shout out to Ken Liu, featured these past couple of weeks at Flash! Future. His English translation of celebrated Chinese scifi writer Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem won it the 2015 Hugo (in fact, it was the first Asian novel ever to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel), and the trilogy has just been contracted for production by Netflix. Both Cixin Liu and Ken Liu will serve as consulting producers. (Please don’t mess it up, Netflix!)
Quick note on judging: Six pairs of judges across multiple nationalities and genres are taking turns reading your submissions (meet the judges here). As soon as each contest round closes, your stories are first stripped of all personal info before being sent on for judging. This represents our effort to maximize every story’s chances, whether it’s the first or hundredth story you’ve written. ♥
SOL 4’S JUDGES SAY:
Voima Oy: It’s overwhelming to see the responses to Flash! Friday. It’s not that there are no places for flash fiction—there are many, many magazines and journals. Flash fiction is thriving as a form! No more, “It’s not really writing, is it,” as people used to say. Just a few words, how hard can it be?
A.J. Walker: It has been a difficult call to choose my favourite stories from such a good selection. I dropped it down from the 52 to 17 (for no good scientific reason) and then from there a top eight and ultimately my top 3. They didn’t tally perfectly with my judging partner – why would they?– apart from the winner. So I guess that may mean that we picked the right winner–and that there were a lot of good stories out there this week.
I’m not sure where the picture would have taken me, but with these stories there was a lot of rough and tumble, fishing, brotherly love and the odd border crossing which is understandable. There weren’t many humorous stories so the ones that were there stood out for me like StellaKateT‘s ‘Old Wives Tales’ and Geoff Le Pard‘s ‘The Lake of Life’ – Twins!
VO: Wonderful characters frame this story. And what a story they tell! There is such good humor, friendship and love. It’s a joy to see.
AW: Got to mention a story with humour! There weren’t many this week, and we could all do with some light at the moment.
VO: I love the premise of this story–the legacy through generations–the mark that reveals your soul….
AW: a great story about telling a story told well. Loved it. And I’d like to believe in the inkfish. Maybe because I fancy a tattoo.
VO: This one has real horror beneath the surface. It is the story of brothers–what pain they share, how they stand by each other. It is a story of protection, and redemption. It is a tough story, but full of great love, and even hope. A survivor’s hope.
AW: A mean and moody story full of testosterone and brotherly love–had an image of a 1980s movie with a 1960s soundtrack for some reason.
And now: it is our pleasure to present to you our
VO – This story seems almost mundane at first, the language is so spare and matter-of-fact. The drowned boys, waiting. But the mythic world unfolds in the details. I love the details–the ritual stoning, the trinkets the girl jingles in her palms. Each boy gets a fitting token. Then the Lake speaks, the girl shakes into ebony feathers. The shapeshifting is beautifully done. Marvelous storytelling!
AW — A great story in itself but what made it stand out to me was some of the beautiful sentences right from the off, marvellous storytelling indeed.
Congratulations, Nancy! Here’s your winning story:
The drowned ones loiter on the shore, lulled by lakesong. Scarred longing binds them to her banks, the only mother to ever take them in.
Tia is new here, all scowls and obsidian. She hurls rocks to break the lullabies their infant ears never got to hear. They break her with rocks.
But she comes back.
“Why stay?” She spits a loogie into the glassy face. Their hands curl around stones.
“She loves us,” they murmur. A wet embrace is better than none at all.
“Loves you like farofa!” Tia crows. “She swallowed you whole and crapped you out here!”
They stone her again.
Third time, Tia doesn’t spit or scoff. She sits. She jingles trinkets in her palms.
To one boy, she gives a key. “Skinny Lucio can slide through keyholes.” He drops his rock.
To another, a bean. “Fabian forever has candy in his pockets.”
To the last boy, a watch. “Gasper hypnotizes toads by talking backwards.”
Clutching their new identities, they sidle away from the water and into the woods.
Lake heaves herself upward in a shower of scales. “Is it still a trick if it helps them?” she gurgles.
Tia shakes herself into ebony feathers. “Always.”