Thank you for your tremendous patience today in waiting for results. I’ll keep my chatting to a minimum, and will even (gasp) bullet point my reminders!
- We are NOW ACCEPTING apps for those who’d like a turn as a judge! Details here.
- Don’t forget to read Saturday’s #Pyro story & leave crits! Low turnout this week. Read it here.
- Tomorrow! I’m beyond thrilled to welcome current judge IfeOluwa Nihinlola to the #Spotlight mic, as he shares about his life writing in Nigeria. Be sure to join us!
Many thanks to Dragon Team Eight, Voima Oy & A.J. Walker, for commandeering this week’s Alice in Wonderland tale judgery. They say:
Once again Team 8 has had the luck to get stuck into the stories plucked from the ether relating to such a fantastical book. We’ve had a welly load of grinning cats and tyrannical queens and busy white rabbits and we quite understand now that Team 8 are a couple of the more normal people in the Flash! Friday Fiction Family – Andy for one wants some of what all you guys have been dropping!
(Partly Andy needs to take something to take his mind of reading too many stories with cats in. They got everywhere this week – even into soup).
Team 8 would like once again to thank Catherine aka @fallintofiction. Catherine was the Queen of Hearts this weekend, in so much as she went around exclaiming ‘Off with their names!’ and lo! we could get on with the blind judging over the weekend.
We’ve put our heads together, which is usually quite difficult due to the 3,779 miles separating us but, due to the mind expanding effects of the green skittles (when taken with the correct dose of yellow M&Ms) we got together on a small cloud over the Mid Atlantic Ridge and had a spiffing time reading all the stories over dandelion and burdock and cream buns whilst listening to Cream and Justin Bieber.
So, without further ado… drum roll from a large party of hedgehogs banging wheelie bins with candy canes beneath a prince purple sky and a groovy pulsating moon made of Lancashire cheese…. the results!
F.E. Clark, “Twinkle Twinkle Mr. Spiffy.” –because a talking cat in space. “out there beyond” pure magic!
Brian Creek, “How to Say Goodbye.” —stunning depiction of a space between dream and death – “I don’t want real anymore.”
Betsy Streeter, “Friday Afternoon at the Bureau of Dream Leakage.” — for the best title and giving Andy an idea of where he’d like to work.
Catherine Connolly, “Greeting at the Gates of Horn and Ivory.” — the world presented here seems less fun and nonsense and something altogether more grim and foreboding. Or will it be. If she can get past the gate? Moody.
Colin Smith, “The Girl and the Toad.” — V – Told in rhyme like Jabberwocky, this story is so inventive. I can picture this toad and his epic battle sword. What a strange dream! AJW – poetry is the new flash! Well, not really, but we’ve had a fair few poems in our stint as Team 8. And I for one am not complaining. This presented an entire story in rhyme and I take my hat off to the writer for that* (too clever by half). The dialogue even in rhyme chimed well – I particularly liked the line ‘What words of follysome blathering spew!’ and intend to use the line in conversation at some point this week. [[* I’ve put my hat back on to cover my forklift truck wound – otherwise it frightens the dancing playing cards and the flying mice minstrels.]]
Sal Page, “Lancashire Cat Soup.” — V– the umbrella is an essential ingredient. I loved the wordplay and surreal situation. And “the Lancashire cat will make your soup extra cheesy”. Splendid nonsense. AJW – one comment on this: I hope the recipe takes off. Me-oww!
Karl Russell, “Wonderland.” — V – powerful social commentary–playing on Alice characters (the dormouse, the mad hatter, Alice), this harsh reality is in sharp contrast to the supposed wonderland on TV, “Any change?” AJW – loved this one. Not so much a fairytale but a bit of political comment; quite rare. ‘Any change?’ Nah, of course not. Right on my man! (- or woman, damn blind judging)
Mark A. King, “Tale of One City.”
V – The setting is the city, then and now. The use of italics is very effective. It works as a contrast and a mirror for the two characters — they are not so very different — dealing in death and services as old as time…
AJW – clever combination of two tales across different times. Both tales cleverly crafted and evocative. Making the setting Whitechapel immediately gave it an image to the reader, allowing the writer to concentrate on the little things of the visuals and taste to further the development of the atmosphere. I was briefly considering discounting it as cheating as it’s two stories of 125 words and not one story of 250 😉
Casey Rose Frank, “A Solitary Girl.”
V – This is a fantasy world with the feel of a children’s book. The animal characters are lovingly depicted, and the descriptions are beautiful. It is a world of gentleness and soft edges, like a dream, until that haunting final line.
AJW – I thought this was beautiful. It was perfectly paced and the descriptions just fell on to the page like they had been shaken out of Alice in Wonderland itself. Top marks for capturing the mood – you’ve a fine eye and pen for capturing nonsense (that’s a compliment!). I’m feeling the bear should be able to have first choice of the next game, as hide and seek is surely a tad unfair (perhaps he should suggest they play it in the woods, then he can get his own back).
Geoff Holme, “White Rabbit (1967)“
V – brilliant use of language and great take on the Jefferson Airplane classic — a reference to Alice in wonderland as well as altered reality. Here, the familiar words become jumbled together in a magnificent stream of nonsense and poetry.
AJW – This hallucinatory tale is presented like a punctuation-free download dump of a movie. The descriptions are so well depicted I could see it really well. Loved the line referencing the queen minutely reviewing the flash fiction pieces – I assume it is Voima (not sure if that makes me the king or a prince, but I suspect – more likely – jester).
SECOND RUNNER UP
Becky Spence, “Chasing Dreams”
V – The story begins with a somber funeral gathering, when a white rabbit among the flowers lures little Alice away. The fantastic landscape of fairy rings and happy memories is destroyed by harsh reality. Great descriptions and atmosphere — it reminded me of Pan’s Labyrinth in a way — the mix of fantasy and terror. Did this father murder the mother and sister the way he kills the rabbit? What does “growing up” mean? Reality becomes a nightmare.
AJW – Fabulous piece presenting Alice as a carefree child enjoying childhood in play and dreams until the father figure cruelly discards her dreams in a truly visceral scene – wringing the rabbit until Alice heard the crack. The story hits home as we’ve all gone through this to some extent or other – our innocence can only be destroyed in an single instant then never rebuilt. (That terrible time you are told there is no such thing as Father Christmas… (sorry, should that have had a spoiler alert?). Crack-ing!
FIRST RUNNER UP
Image Ronin, “1=0.9999999999999999999999999999.”
V – What a trip! This is both mind-expanding and surreal. The language is astonishing, how it mutates –“Thhhhheeee woooooooorrrlld slllllooooooowwwwws, tiiiimmmmme beeeecooommming frrracccttturrrrree” …. Images fracture, collide, coalesce–” she vanilla and rust mouth and tongue between it popping head her of out eye last the gougingg out reach I blinded other the eye single a wings bejewelled into sculpted face angel’s an crosses butterfly ” and then back to reality –“fast food and short lives.”
AJW – Took me a while to read this and realise how it all worked, and it was worth the time. Loved the backwards paragraph in particular – reminded me of when I was on a hospital table jacked up on gas listening to the nurses who seemed to be talking out of order (it was boss). Great take on a messed up minute- or is it a few days? Transported into the world of a tab drop of something mmmiiinnnddd eeeexpppppandingg and world e x p l o d i n g. Spot on in its depiction (er, I expect – having had nothing stronger than a Fisherman’s Friend myself (er, not true, see above)). place two top a of deserved construction brilliantly absolutely
And now: for her magnificently constructed third win, it’s this week’s
“The Tenth Circle (OR 01010100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01010100 01100101 01101110 01110100 01101000 00100000 01000011 01101001 01110010 01100011 01101100 01100101)“
V – This is a realm of absurd logic. The binary code translates to “The Tenth Circle” — Yes, I had to look it up. Here, ones and zeros define this space, this place. Although I am not familiar with programming language, I can appreciate the symbolism of And/Or/Not logic gates and the absurdity of arguing with this gatekeeper. Here, the world of the Matrix meets Monty Python. There is fiendish humor, too — “I couldn’t bring my plus one — I didn’t use enough poison.” This hellish argument could go on forever…
AJW – This had me laughing, which is always a fine thing – I felt for Jacob caught in a simple logic trap. It seemed like he was in some bureaucratic nonsense from the film Brazil (or anywhere in the former Russian republic), but it truly was a foul trap devised by the very devil himself, and poor Jacob will have eternity to ponder why he didn’t just follow the instructions precisely. Again another story where we can all think of maddening moments where we’ve been there. Wrong form mate, you want the pink one. But it’s the same questions. You’ve filled in the yellow form – it’s the pink one on Tuesdays. Go to the back of queue. For the love of… logic!
A cool tale with great dialogue perfect pacing and a maddening eternal end. Loved it.
Congratulations, Steph! What fun having you soar back to the top again so quickly! Your winner’s page has a brand new fancy trophy on its shelf now; your winning tale can be found there as well as over on the winners’ wall. Stand by for questions for your newest #SixtySeconds interview. And now here’s your logically blazing story:
The Tenth Circle (OR 01010100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01010100 01100101 01101110 01110100 01101000 00100000 01000011 01101001 01110010 01100011 01101100 01100101)
“You surely see the logic of your situation?” said the demon.
Jacob watched the ones and zeroes streaming endlessly across the screen. “Yeeees.”
“Well then you must know we can’t let you through this particular gate.”
“I still don’t …,” said Jacob. He looked around. This wasn’t quite what he’d expected.
“Look,” said the demon patiently. “This ticket says ‘Admit one AND guest.”
“This is an OR gate. Your ticket allows you entry via an AND gate only.”
“Where do I find this AND gate then?” asked Jacob.
“Over there,” said the guard. “But they won’t let you through.”
“No, not NOT, AND, NOT is back the other way. You need AND but there’s only one of you.”
“I couldn’t bring my plus one,” said Jacob. “I didn’t use enough poison. Doesn’t matter though, does it?”
“Of course it matters. You made a deal. You can’t be both a one AND a zero. You’ve got to be one OR the other.”
“Well I satisfy that argument,” said Jacob. “So I can go through this gate.”
“No. If you couldn’t find a plus one that means you’re a zero. So you’re not one OR the other any more.”
“So I could go through a NOT gate because I am zero AND NOT one?”
“You could but your ticket says AND,” said the demon.
“We could spend an eternity arguing about this,” said Jacob angrily.
“And that’s exactly what you’ve got,” grinned the demon. “Hell, isn’t it?”