We had an amazing turn out this week. Thank you to all who participated!  To read all of the stories click here.
I'd like to thank our judge J. P. Sloan for doing a wonderful job this week.
Now on to the results in the judges words!

Special Mentions:

_ Siobhan Muir for most profoundly uncomfortable subject matter;

Lisa McCourt Hollar for successful Godwining;

Ryan Strohman for most unexpected genre/twist of plot, and making me grin.

Runners Up:

_ Rafe (@etcet): I really enjoyed his narrative style. Style is a difficult element to describe or advise upon, as it really depends on flow of words, diction, and voice. This entry is textually rich, approaching poetic. I only wished that it took us somewhere.

Karen Walcott: A close second for this week's prompt. What we find in this entry is a sense of dread and suspense that propels us forward. In flash fiction, I really want to read a "scene", and not just exposition or something that reads like a pitch. We get that in spades with Karen's entry, and are left gawking, reaching out, wanting to know what in God's Green Hell is going to happen next.

The Winner:

_Cara Michaels: Returning to my point about creating a true scene with few words, this week's winning entry knocks it out of the park. Beyond situating the reader deeply into the P.O.V. of the main character, Cara accomplishes two tremendous feats in 500 words. First, she gives us a super-setting and a sense of history without leaning on exposition. We glean a depth of backstory through the presentation of action and dialogue... precisely as a capable author should. Second, the main character undergoes two distinct shifts of emotional state... shifts which are believable and intriguing. What's more... we care. Building empathy for a dynamic character is an absolute must for a fiction writer, and doing so in 500 words or less requires skill. Congratulations!

The Winning Story:

_“An ancient legend tells of a sword and stone, but this was something different.” The storyteller’s rich voice lifted over the gathering. “Guided by the great mystic, Merlin, young Arthur pulled Excalibur from a stone and united the Ancients of Old Earth.”

Merlin? Arthur? As in Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table? I couldn’t help grinning. I’d loved the Arthurian tales as a child. It seemed his tale had grown even more awe inspiring in the last nineteen thousand years.

I closed my eyes, just letting the flow of the story roll over me.

“And so we know the tale of a great king, and his enchanted sword in the stone.”

The air crackled with anticipation as the storyteller hunkered down.

“But what about the man in the stone?”

_Susurrating excitement sifted through the audience.

“Discovered some five thousand years ago, the man in the stone sleeps on, never changing. Never waking. Is he man? Is he god? Who among us will wake him? Who among us will unify our tribes?”

A man in a stone?

I heard something moving toward us. Eight young men guided something along the path. I made out the low purr of a motor just as they came into full view. A hover cart barely cleared the ground, born down by the massive weight it carried. Hydraulic lifts tilted the thing to about sixty degrees.

Thank God I was sitting down. My legs trembled, and the world went briefly dark. Worried hands pushed my head between my knees, calm voices gently urging me to breathe slow and easy.

Willing myself to face this without passing out or barfing on my own lap, I sat up. The whole world spun around me at least once, but I didn’t keel over. I just stared, blinking my way through the sharp sting of tears.

Encased in sedimentary rock, the tempered shield of a pod revealed a peaceful face. Just to the right of his face, bio indicators glowed a steady green.

Alive. The man inside, found five thousand years earlier, was alive.

My stomach flip-flopped, and my breathing hitched into something gasping and scene-making. Several faces turned to me, but the pod’s markings held my undivided attention.

EASA EA-55-V-15RT.

Echo-Alpha-Five-Five-Victor. I knew the sequence by rote, had heard it more times in recent months than could possibly be healthy.

Gaea’s Ark. Pod fifteen.

RT for Ryan Terneus.

“Oh, my God,” I moaned. “Ryan.”

I bolted up and ran forward. It took some doing, but I pried the control panel open and entered my authorization on the tiny keyboard beneath the cover.

“Wake up, please,” I whispered.

Forever passed before Ryan took his first breath in nearly twenty thousand years and shifted in his sleep. I pressed the manual release and opened the pod.

I turned at the collective gasp and found thirty some people dropping to their knees in front of me. The storyteller took my hand, eyes shining with reverence.

“We are yours, Great Lady.”

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