Tag Archive | Clive Tern

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 28: WINNERS

This is a BIG HUGE WEEK in the writing world; what a privilege getting a dragon’s eye view. In case you were temporarily off-planet, yesterday saw the official publication of the #FlashDogs‘ latest venture, the two-book flash anthology, Solstice: Light and Solstice: Dark.  Many of the writers in the Flash! Friday community (including me!) have stories in one or both of these; all proceeds go to The Book Bus

Next up: I’m THRILLED TO DEATH to reveal the names of our guest judges for this coming Friday: Emily June Street and Beth Deitchman of Luminous Creatures Press! Read all about LCP (and you will want to) at their guest judge page here

And in case THAT wasn’t enough excitement….?!?! Writing/editing/trapeze superstar Emily June Street‘s latest novel, The Gantean, is being published this Saturday, June 27. To celebrate The Gantean as well as LCP’s stint as guest judges, tomorrow’s #Spotlight feature belongs entirely to Emily. Be sure to come back: not only is it a super fun interview, but she’s giving away a FREE COPY of The Gantean! 

And now.

Sigh. I suppose I can’t put off this unpleasantness any longer, hard as I’ve tried: it’s our final farewell to our final judging team of Year Three’s first term: Pratibha (who judged TWO TERMS!), and Sinéad O’Hart. They have read and battled over your stories with grace, courage, and a keen eye. They turned the spread of cultures and time zones — California by way of India (Pratibha) and Ireland (Sinéad) — into a strong advantage as they sifted through your mountains of flash fiction jewels, ferreting out the most powerful tales and themes. Pratibha and Sinéad: working with you has been a joy and privilege. Thank you for sharing your myriad talents with us here at Flash! Friday (and please keep doing so!). I am forever grateful.     


Dragon Captains Sinéad O’Hart/Pratibha say: 

Pratibha: It’s time to hang up the judge’s robe and drop that gavel. I simultaneously feel relief and sadness. This is my second stint as the FF judge: madness, I tell you. Even though, I won’t be officially judging, I will turn up to write Flash! Friday tales and actually post them here from time to time. Flash! Friday may be based in Shenandoah Valley, but to me it’s Hotel California –

“You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”

As usual, excellent work this week, people. Keep on flashing!

Sinéad: Well, what a way to round out my stint as a Flash! Friday judge. Every time I’ve had the privilege of judging, I’ve been amazed by the depth and variety of stories, all based around the same prompts, and the level of accomplishment that goes into each one – and this week was no different. From malfunctioning androids to lives held in loops, from grieving parents to trains themselves being vehicles between worlds or realities, these tales truly raised the bar. I think I enjoyed every one, and choosing winners and Runners Up was a real challenge – there was a lot of back-and-forth between the judges! It’s never easy to pick winners, but when there’s such an embarrassment of riches to choose from, it really does make the challenge all the harder. Thank you, one and all, for your efforts this week, and we hope the choices we’ve made reflect the quality of the stories we were presented with. Thanks also for being so great during our tenure as judges! We hope we did y’all proud.



Best dialogue: Reg Wulff, “Excuses.” 

Pratibha: This captivated me because the dialogue flowed smoothly. The characters are believable and strong. Well done.

Sinéad: Stories told through dialogue are always an eye-catcher for me, and this one made particularly great use of the conversation between Frank and Billy, using the trope to create brilliant characterisation and a clever story (which makes excellent use of the prompts!).

Best Rhythm: Colin D. Smith, “Always the Same.” 

Pratibha: The story is told in a poem that skillfully captures the rhythm of the train. I wish we had a special category of poems.

Sinéad: Of course, in a week where one of the prompts is a train, we hope for stories which make use of the wonderful ‘clickety-clack’ rhythm of the wheels, and this one did just that. I enjoyed its use of the sounds of the train itself and its effective ‘Until it isn’t’ at the end, signalling destruction.

Best Use of Humour & Topicality:  Mark A. King, “The Original Mr. Grey.” 

Pratibha: I always love a humorous tale; this one is it this week, and if the story addresses a current news story, even better.

Sinéad: As well as this one being funny and relevant to this week’s big literary news story, I thought it was charming and funny, particularly the image of Death doing a dad-dance once a year, and the very idea of there being a Mr Grey (a god of the banal?) was intriguing.




Clive Tern, “Wishing for Eternity in a World Lost to Love.” 

Pratibha: I loved this one for the subtle use of the prompt and overall sense of mystery. The sad predicament is only revealed towards the end. I loved the dialogue, and how it wraps around at the end back to the beginning of the story. A clever use of the flash technique.

Sinéad: Well, what a tearjerker. Such a tender tale until the giveaway line ‘All those times now gone forever…’, when we realise things aren’t as they appear; and then the sad, looping and deeply touching denouement finishes things off perfectly. This was a little story-gem, which I really enjoyed.

Eliza Archer, “Temps Perdu.” 

Pratibha: This was a treat to read. I enjoyed the experimental technique. A story told through a list poem with a twist at the end. What a great title. Well done indeed!

Sinéad: Structurally, I liked this story; I enjoyed the way it was put together and laid out on the page, and I enjoyed the way it was told through a series of ‘If onlys’. It was clever, and well titled, and a really well put together piece, and I admired the way the author allowed the story to unfold gradually, and without being obvious.

Brian S. Creek, “1979.” 

Pratibha: I loved this for the way the main character uses modern technology to get to the bottom of the recurring dream.

Sinéad: A lot of stories this week attempted the same, or very similar, themes, including (as here) the idea of having lived through a disaster in the past; but this one stood out for me. I liked the idea of the repeating dream, and the dreamer’s determination to get to the bottom of it. I also thought how it ended was just perfect, leaving the reader hanging.

Steph Ellis, “Family Outing.” 

Pratibha:  The writer builds an alternate world with a cast of characters from mythology, and sends them on an ordinary family outing. Nothing ordinary about that. This was a fun read.

Sinéad: I just loved this one for its use of mythological figures and its depiction of them as a family – it reminded me in some ways of the Endless in Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ graphic novels. I enjoyed the last line, wondering how often Nyx has filled Morpheus’ flagon with Lethe water, and what else she has made him forget – and what effects this might have had on frail humanity!


Tamara Shoemaker,Like Daughter.” 

Pratibha: I liked the exquisite descriptions of the setting to indicate the characters were trying to avoid the unpleasant truth facing them. The strained relationship between mother-daughter is shown through the body language. I liked the expert use of the language and story-telling technique.

Sinéad: I loved the voice and perspective in this one, and the use of the prompts, which are subtle but intrinsically woven into the story’s plot. I particularly loved the use of ‘deja vu’, as the mother looks back over her life and sees her child repeating the same mistakes she made as a younger woman, and I was particularly taken by the image of the ‘wadded papers and candy wrappers’ on the coverlet, which shows how young the girl is despite her efforts to be grown up. I just loved this; I thought it was so beautifully written.


Casey Rose Frank, “I Love You/I Love You Not.” 

Pratibha: I usually don’t care for the stories that deal with supernatural, unless they are done expertly and bring home some truth about human emotions. This story does that. The train-wreck of emotions is portrayed by soft strokes that gradually turn into hard ones until the point is driven home. The end is chilling, but the words remain calm. I love how the ending sentence returns to the beginning.

Sinéad: Out of the many stories this week which dealt with rebirth, or people reliving events, I thought this one was interesting because it had a different perspective than the others – and it was also truly chilling! The idea that a spirit would wait until someone’s dying day just to get revenge on them for an imagined slight was memorable and clever, and really well expressed. One is more used to stories about people who meet their deceased loved ones at death in order for a peaceful and beautiful reunion to take place, so this subverted that trope very nicely.


Michael Seese, “Don’t Worry, Little One.” 

Pratibha: This story caught my interest right away. The vignettes of the series of firsts in a child’s life are portrayed tenderly. The refrain, “’Don’t worry, little one. Everything will be fine” is soothing yet ominous. We wait for a train-wreck to happen, and when it does, it’s nothing like we expected. I love how the story unfolds layer by layer. I loved the gentle tone and understated horror at the end.

Sinéad: This one brought a tear to my eye. I thought the emotion in it was true and touching, and beautifully expressed, and the repeated refrain of ‘Don’t worry, little one. Everything will be fine’ was particularly affecting, because of course sometimes things aren’t going to be fine, no matter how much we want them to be. Nobody, not even a mother, can guarantee this, and that hit me powerfully. From a writing point of view, I enjoyed how the author employed the prompts – the life of the daughter told and retold, and the unexpected use of the image of the train – and to combine skill like this with such deep emotion was a true accomplishment.

And now: for her very first time, it’s Flash! Friday




“Iron Mistress”

Pratibha: I like strong characters, so this story and voice of this woman who is toughened by her life caught my attention. The story basically a monologue, but the entire life unfolds in front of our eyes. The slow realization that “Even freedom isn’t free,” is unsettling. I loved this woman in “peacock-feathered” hat, who is defiant and non-apologetic for her life-choices.  The imagery in the story is evocative, and the voice in memorable. I loved her “deja-vu” life that is still a runaway train, but with the shifted control. Powerful story.

Sinéad:  This story featured a great, snappy voice, one which caught my attention and held it. I loved the character’s determination and self-assurance, even if it may be masking a deep well of fear and insecurity, and I thought the ending – which is powerful, but also slightly disturbing, as we wonder what exactly she’s going to do when she gets ‘West’ – was excellent and memorable. I thought the lines ‘I may be cheap but nothing is free. I sold my soul to buy my freedom’ was particularly evocative, and I liked the idea of a life twice-lived, reinvention, and new beginnings, which took the idea of ‘deja vu’ to a new level.

Congratulations, Katie! You’ve earned other nods before, including winning an HM at the most recent Flashversary–what a pleasure to see you grab the dragon crown! Here’s your brand new winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please stand by for questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:

Iron Mistress

They say I’m a runaway train, with lots of flash and smoke and steam. They say I’m nothing but an Iron Mistress, plowing through everything and everyone and leaving rubble in my wake.

Maybe I am. Maybe I ain’t. I’ll leave that for biddies to decide when I’m mouldering in my grave in my peacock-feather hat. Money don’t grow on trees and milksops only get the cash cow after she’s drained dry. Nothing is free — except maybe me.

If I’m a runaway train, it’s because this land pounded the weakness out of me with every clack of the wheels. A girl leaving a sooty New York orphanage for a hot, harsh land in the grip of the Dust Bowl, who had yet to learn that nothing is free.

Not even me.

Now I’m back on that train heading West and if my dress is a tad fancier and my legs lad-fumblers instead of dried sticks, those iron wheels are still pounding this truth home.

I may be cheap but nothing is free. I sold my soul to buy my freedom. Even freedom isn’t free. Say what you might. This train is a’coming. Ain’t nothing gonna stand in her way.


Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 27: WINNERS

It’s coming up on a HUGE week in Flash Dog Land: in case you haven’t heard (not possible!!), the newest, most compelling flash fiction anthology, Solstice: Light/Dark yet is hurtling into publication on June 21. Make sure you’re following @FlashDogs so you won’t miss a thing. In honor of this event, tomorrow our Spotlight feature will shine on the Pack Leaders themselves, Mark A. King and David Shakes. Be sure to come back for this exciting, behind-the-scenes look.  

In the meantime, it’s another goodbye-fest here at Flash! Friday, as we bid a fond and grateful farewell to Eric Martell and Carlos Orozco in their capacity as dragon captains. They’ve judged your stories faithfully and with excellence, wrenching themselves out of deep and comfortable naps beneath large, warm rocks to do so. Now that’s love! –They’ve promised we will still see much of them as they write and share stories here; help me chase them down if they don’t, k? THANK YOU, dear friends, marvelous writers, for giving of your time and hearts to this community. We’re so very, very grateful.   


Dragon Captains Eric Martell/Carlos Orozco say: 

Eric: The best part about judging for Flash! Friday is that you have to read all of the stories. You can’t let life get in the way and miss all the wonderful writing – so you see the brilliant things people come up with week in and week out. The worst part about judging for Flash! Friday is that you have to choose! Every week there’s about twenty stories I consider for my top choice, plus a bunch more that Carlos liked and, when I re-read them, see them in a different light. Then you say “this is the best one!” Ha! Best! So I’m going to be glad to turn that choosing over to someone else. But thank you to Rebekah for giving me the opportunity to read all these stories and the responsibility of choosing. I only hope I haven’t messed up too much.

Carlos: First off, I’d like to thank Rebekah for giving us this great, safe place to write. She does so much behind the scenes to keep this contest rolling week in and week out. It’s truly inspiring. Believe me when I say, I would probably not be where I am with my writing if it wasn’t for the dragon lair. With that said, if you ever get the opportunity to judge, do it. It not only gives back to this flash fiction community, but your writing will also get better. When you’re up late on Saturday night trying to cut your list of 20 down to 10 and trying to justify why story A should make it and not story B, you really see what separates the good from the spectacular. Then you have to write why that story felt so right (trust me it’s a lot harder than it sounds). But in the end, you start seeing similarities in what makes a story a winner. Once you have that, it’s like: Eureka, I have the secret formula for winning.

Now that we’ve gotten our tears and goodbyes out of the way, let’s get on to what you have been waiting all weekend for.

This week gave us many great stories about prisoners, theaters, prisoners in theaters, and theaters inside of prisoners, but per norm, the unique takes on the prompts are the ones that stood out the most. Also, this week was the first week where we both agreed on the top spot (battle to the death averted).   Now without further ado, let’s get to the winners:



Best description of the man in the photo: Mark A. King, “The Unreliable Narrator.” “…his smouldering Oscar Wilde look about him, his unruly cravat, foppish hair and come-hither eyes.” With this description, we had no need for the photo.

Funniest title: Tamara Shoemaker, “Ungrapeful Audience.” This was a very funny piece that did the title justice.

Cliff hanger that needs an answer:  Clive Tern, “Across the Fourth Wall.” Was Aloise caught or did she fall to the floor? We NEED to know.

Best description of a theater:  Steph Ellis, “Curtain Call.” Amazing description of an abandoned theater. This one did the theme justice.

Angler of the week:  Michael Wettengel, “Inspiration.” This opening line hooked us in, hard.



Andrew Laidlaw, “And Then is Heard No More.” So much story here, and so much yet to tell. We don’t know who the prisoner is or who the guard is, but we know they’re playing roles – the prisoner pretends that he hasn’t been beaten and the guard knows that *how* the prisoner says it could determine what happens to him. We really wanted to read more of this one, so compelling a picture it painted.

Liz Hedgecock, “Monologue.” This was a perfect marriage between humor and horror. Our protagonist is haunted by that one commercial he did. While some seek fame by going viral, this person was destroyed (enslaved) by it. He will forever be the “Oat bar guy” unable to continue his career in acting. Our final verdict for this story “It’s SO good”. 

Phil Coltrane, “Matinee of Torment at the Theater of Lamech.” Starting off like a noir crime story and ending like a foray into the world of Edgar Allen Poe, this tale of one man’s revenge against the woman who had spurned him and his comeuppance was a joy to read. A man who celebrates killing his wife by watching her on the silver screen? What a compelling and remorseless character, Humphrey is.

Carin Marais, “An Audience at Bedlam.” This story is told almost entirely through the audience’s dialogue, and it works well. We get a very strong sense of how the caged man feels.  In a way it’s like the audience is telling us those things. But before we get a chance to feel bad for the man, he lets his ego out, trying to perform for his fans. It’s in this action that we get the feeling that perhaps he did something to deserve being put in the cage.


Mark Morris,Brother Computer’s Final Final Show.”  A takedown of reality television, a dystopian future, and a zombie story all wrapped in one. Quite a lot to put into 209 words! Painted with tons of descriptive terms which set the scene easily (view-screen, time-code, MoltoCon, paddock, dying and already undead), plus some inventive character naming which set the story in a world both like ours and not, we’re brought into the story along with our narrator, Brother Computer. A lovely and sad tale.


Eliza Archer, “The Long Run.” We liked this story because the setting enslaves the character in this one. He is bound by what most other actors seek: success. It is the flipping of traditional beliefs on their heads that makes the story stand out. And the image of the crowd devouring the actor’s soul was very vivid and maniacal. It felt like something from a nightmare.


Michael Seese, “The Fourth Wall.” This story did a wonderful job of revealing the theater and the prison that can hide within the commonplace. Samantha and Jonathan live the American Dream, but not *their* dream. Terms like “Middle Generica” show that they’re trapped in roles which were defined for them, but which don’t have meaning for them. The picture of ennui and antipathy that the author paints is one which can make us all question our choices – are we living the live we’re choosing to lead, or choosing to live a life that we feel has been chosen for us?

And now: another new member of the Quad Club: celebrating his own FOURTH win, it’s Flash! Friday




“House Arrest”

The first line “He slid the CD, a meal of memories, into the mouth of the plastic device” took our breath away, and it only got better from there. From “He was a human tree on the couch, rooted in the fabric” to “Newspapers piled up on the porch like black and white firewood”, every description in this was deliciously original and we were beyond envious. This writer showed a strong command of the language, twisting and contorting each word and phrase to tell a great story. The pacing was also well executed. Like the depressed protagonist we lose track of time and slip into the monotonous routine of daily life. Ordinary objects become fantastic (mailboxes gaining weight, lawns turning into extraordinary landscapes), but it doesn’t matter to us because the story also drops us into that dark place. Well done. 

Congratulations, Chris! What a pleasure seeing you nab your FOURTH win! Your writing, often dark and disturbing, always haunting and beautiful, nabs readers’ eyes and imaginations each week, so it’s only fitting. Here’s your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please stand by for questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:

House Arrest

He slid the CD, a meal of memories, into the mouth of the plastic device. It accepted his offering with a grinding, mechanical thank you, a sound that became his friend over time, his partner in torment.

Images leaked from the television, coating the walls and his face with the chaotic light of evacuation. He was a human tree on the couch, rooted in the fabric, sedentary, except for his eyes. They shimmied in their sockets, pulsating blue, as they drank the beauty on the screen and devoured the colorful silhouettes that crawled through the darkness like radiant serpents.

Over time, he had moved his bed into the basement. And the refrigerator. The microwave. He turned a storage closet into a matchbox bathroom. This theater of solitude became a damp penitentiary of the past. Daily, he slammed the mental bars, turned his key of regret, and did his time.

Newspapers piled up on the porch like black and white firewood. His lawn grew into a suburban savannah. The mailbox gained weight.

Richard couldn’t differentiate between dusk or dawn, snow or sunshine. The outside world was as foreign to him as happiness.

He snatched another CD, stabbed Play. Caged bones and iced soda, their trip to the zoo last summer.


Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 25: WINNERS

AND NOW it’s time to bid an official, tear-soaked farewell to our glorious first Dragon team: Image Ronin and Joidianne. We haven’t seen the last of them, I’m quite sure: but it’s the last we’ll see of them (for now…!) in their capacity as judges. Their tireless thumb wars over choosing winners from among a community of spectacular writers has been a great deal of fun watching. Thank you so very much, dearest IR and Joidianne, for giving of your time, your talents, and above all, your writerly hearts to this community. We are so very grateful!


Dragon Captains Image Ronin/Joidianne say: 

So here we are. When the ever supportive and patient Rebekah gave Jodi and me this opportunity, I was terrified and delighted in equal measure. Genuinely reading each and every one of your stories, teasing apart, narrowing down, selecting the few has been a privilege. We’ve learnt so much through this experience, not only in terms of writing, but the reality of what Rebekah has dealt with week on week since @flashfridayfic was forged into splendid dragon being. 

Yet our time has come to an end, and heaven knows I’m miserable now. Yet with every cloud a silver lining.

So firstly a round of applause to this wonderful cabal of fantastic writers. It has been a joy and an honour to collaborate with you all, and we both feel richer for the experience.

And a standing ovation for Rebekah, for without her support, patience and reassuring emails ….

Well, let’s just say you’d be still waiting for our first results to be posted.

So, tears welling, we bid adieu, its been a blast, and now I know it’s over I can simply sit back and panic over what I’m going to submit next Friday.

Till we cross pens again, here are our final finalists.



For Morrisey-esque lyricism: Carlos Orozco (outgoing Team 3 Dragon Captain!), “In Limbo.”  –“the simultaneous feelings of being satisfied and not, tug on what most writers would call his heart”

Most Disturbing Juxtaposition: Mark A. King (outgoing Team 2 Dragon Captain!), “The Hospital.” “She comes with her distended belly and eyes of wonder.” “She comes with her skeletal body and eyes of knowledge.”

Ridiculously Satisfying End Line: David Borrowdale, “Respect Your Elders.” “Let them squabble, I thought, as I rocked backwards and forwards on the patio Mam and I had laid together. Her legacy is more than mere possessions.”

The Frankly Mr Shankly I’m a Sickening Wreck Award: Voima Oy (incoming dragon captain!), “The Singers.” They sang of the vanished days of job creators, of a Land of Opportunity across the sea.”



Brett Milam, “The Darkest Night.” 

J: This was a heartbreaking tale and one that I had to reread several times for the simple twist that came at the end.

IR: A well written, I nearly wrote executed but managed to avoid the pun, narrative that dealt with a complex scenario. Albert’s desires, fleeting memories that evoked the underlying current of a barabarism [that] begins at home.

MT Decker, “Double Edged.” 

J: This left me with so many questions. Who wrote the letter? Were they the ones who had been defeated or were they truly the victors? And the letter in itself was so haunting that I was unable to get it out of my head. Brilliant take and I’d love to have read more.

IR: Please, please, please let me get what I want! Answers, resolutions, something to calm this itch that refuses to be narratively scratched. An intriguing take on the prompt, that left me as beguiled as bewildered.

Clive Tern, A Tower to the Heavens.” 

J: This made me laugh way too much, the tone of the piece from the very beginning reminded me a bit of a Monty Python sketch and it honestly didn’t disappoint when I realized that the construct was actually the tower of Babel.

IR:  A comedic slant that took us into a realm where the certainty of one’s own talents are wrenched asunder by complacency and the might of things beyond our control. Bigmouth strikes again, I can only surmise.

Carin Marais, “Defeated Draugr.” 

J: This take on the prompt was absolutely heart-wrenching, the fact that the ghosts were trapped there, stuck in a moment of such sorrow, one that seemed to be eternal was a harrowing thought but it created such a powerful scene as well.

IR: The Queen is Dead, and I was drawn into this realm of eternal pain and loss. The imagery of the eternal couple, trapped within confines where there is a light that never goes out, was evocative of LOTR. Nicely done.


Maggie Duncan, “Mother of Exiles.” 

J: This caught my eye because of the concept that it explored, the understanding that behind every historical or great moment there are people who have lost and hurt. It was a brilliant idea to interweave into the prompt, and the fact that they were building something that highlighted what they no longer believed in made it even more poignant.

IR: The notion of unwritten history, the history of the common voice, permeated this piece. Like a boy with a thorn in his side, the pain and regret that in turn forged a community, was eloquently delivered. The bitterness at the end, the stains of a past that tainted everything, left me wanting more. A really intriguing approach to the prompt.


Colin D. Smith, “Future Hope.”

J: In the midst of the tales of despair inspired by the prompt, this was a lovely unexpected twist because defeat doesn’t extinguish hope. The writer managed to capture that perfectly with this fill and the image of a half-built pyramid… after all, there’s always next time.

IR: “The gasp of the audience, magnified in the echo chamber of my mind.” Such a wonderful line that took me back to those formative years when the snap of failure recurred more than dreams of victory. My cheeks flushed crimson as I read this piece, feeling for our fallen hero, only to find my heart delicately played with as the father’s true intentions manifest. This charming man whose desire to heal led to a heart-warming and tender tale that took the prompts on an unexpected journey.


Tamara Shoemaker (outgoing dragon captain from Team 2!), “Potpourri Dreams.”

J: I loved the wordplay here. The utter despair and futility woven throughout seemed to grow with every word, and it left me hoping that there would somehow be a happy ending — even though I was fairly sure that wasn’t in the cards. A compelling read from start to finish.

IR: That opening line, cinematic Imax description of something intimate and laden with regret, drew me straight into this tale. The imagery never lets up, wonderfully capturing a relationship where love has been replaced by apathy and despair. Barbarism indeed begins at home. Elegantly brought back to our petal beginnings, the tale leaves one incredibly satisfied.

And now: for his THIRD time, it’s Flash! Friday




“Be Careful What You Wish For”

J: This was such an original take on the prompt and I loved it all: everything from the innate curiosity that drove the group to build without true understanding of what they were building it for, the hopes that each of them had, and then how easily it was flipped from innocence to darkness. This was absolutely stunning from start to finish and well deserving of the winner’s spot.

IR: The characterisation and development of this piece grabbed my attention. From Mary whose desires were based upon fleeing an abusive legacy, to Mo hand in glove, seeking a second opportunity, with each description this group were clearly defined and depicted. The ultimate defeat, how are pride and desire can bring us all low, was wonderfully “executed”. A worthy winner.

Congratulations, Josh! A true pleasure to see you back at the top–and only weeks before you join us as a dragon captain, no less. Here’s your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please stand by for questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:

Be Careful What You Wish For

“If you build it they will come.”

That’s all the blueprint said.

Knowing neither what “it” was nor who “they” were, they built it anyway.

Abe, the aged wanderer, hoped “they” would give him a place to rest his weary bones. On work release, Mo, the law-breaking career criminal, wanted freedom. Mary, a young woman, prayed for a baby so she might give the love she never received. Long ignored by his family, Joe, the youngest of twelve brothers, wanted power and recognition. Justifying her drinking for being bored with life, Teresa the lush sought none other than God.

Upon completion an inscription appeared above the threshold.

Abe read in it “Invitation.”

Mo saw in the word “Instruction.”

Mary, “Incarnation;” Joe, “Interpretation.”

And Teresa? “Intoxication.”

They argued over who was right and who was wrong. They called one another names. Some even threw punches.

And the doors finally opened, a light pouring out from within.

They stopped, their mouths agape. Some fell to their knees, believing their dreams about to be realized.

Then “They”–the demons of jealousy, anger, greed, self-centeredness, and self-righteousness–came.

They saw what had become of the five, how they debased themselves in their wanting to be right.

Then, They conquered.