Another fantastic turnout this week with stories from heartbreak to heaven.  Our judge was once again the ever-thorough David Ludwig.  Without any further ado let's get to the results!

Honorable Mentions

@Rowanwolf66 – Ooo, violet glow from a syringe… Creepy opening, definitely got my attention. Heh, got me good there! I was right there with the woman, and Trevor totally got me too with his “first feel of a woman’s flesh” I was totally expecting it to be his last instead of an elaborate ploy. Rich characters and a great twist within the word count. Particularly loved how “her feet fly even faster than they did at track meets” since I ran track in school myself.
Definitely makes honorable mention for so completely immersing me in the scene, and pulling so brilliant a plot twist at the end too. Always impressed by successful plot-twists in short fiction.

@rastrohman – Will’s not the only one the words hit “like a punch to the gut”. I saw the twist coming but you did a beautiful job of building up to it—and having the drugged out prostitute open with The Tempter’s line definitely grabbed my attention. Great job characterizing Will with his relationships.
It's your elegant characterizations and the emotional gut-punch that earned you honorable mention in my book.

@jezri1 – Another $50 hooker opening… Now I wonder if that’s a common rate. Agh, and you get right into the creepy. Yeah, Jarrod freaks me out. Very strong language throughout, and loved the sharp and revealing characterizations, of Jarrod, the hooker, and the neighborhood. Particularly creepy because the way we basically get in both their heads is well executed as him being in her head. “She was trying to decide, fight or flight. Either would be fun for him.” And “there were a few do-gooders in any borough” were my favorite lines. The first for characterizing Jarrod and the second for introducing an element of decency that makes the darkness of the story seem blacker.

Great Stories the Judge Loved

Stacey Jaine McIntosh [You can find her on Facebook] – I get a Jane Austen sort of vibe from this one, and the tale is a very poignant one. I feel like it would be stronger if we stayed in Haydn’s view-point instead of slipping into Jessa’s with things like “Jessa hated to admit it”. I loved the frequent comparisons of the dirt to blood, especially as I go back and look at your “A Cursed Land” title again.

@WakefieldMahon – Eek! Got me with the “rather die” line, almost never a good idea to say those words! Also caught my attention with the man named Morrigan… I’m fascinated by the magic of the amulet and Morrigan’s about-face when it manifests. I want him to be the ‘cool-old-man’ character who will be Clara’s ally now that the necklace has shown her to be the rightful owner, but I also can’t shake the feeling that it changes his designs but not necessarily any more in Clara’s favor.

@SweetSheil – The constant stream of dialogue flew by quickly enough I had to laugh at “Yes you are my Vampire Queen” since that’s a pretty big title for the set-up to have breezed by so fast. Maybe consider spacing between lines or else filling out more of the available word count to slow the reader’s path to that line to raise its impact. I’m also a little confused who the characters are, sounds like Eva, Brett and Marco? Two guys and one girl? I’m guessing both guys are vampires? Over all I may be with Eva on this one, “I don’t understand any of this Marco.” Though if that lands me the Vampire Queen gig maybe that’s okay.

@zombiemechanics – Gave me a smile at the end. Somehow I don’t see this working out for Melanie either way, but it could be very interesting to see how it goes. I liked the way you moved between dialogue and action, keeping the senses engaged.

@ChuckWesJ – Very curious about this scene, but more specifically the larger story of your alternative immortal—who I know I’ve seen pieces of in various flashes. I’m not sure if my vague familiarity with the character/story works for or against you though. I’m not sure this vignette gives me anything I didn’t already know other than the names of his family, but I’m also not sure if I could understand what was happening in this piece if I hadn’t already seen other fiction with the character and his struggle. “His tiny fingers are dark with necrotized flesh. Dried blood soaked into his pillow.” That line is probably going to haunt me for some time. Very creepy.

@solimond – Another eek! Both creepy and disturbing, you paint the corruption powerfully and suggest an epic conflict—feel really bad for Jos that Frieda ended up corrupted, and unsettled that not knowing how the corruption works I’m not sure it was voluntary or not and the implications are bad either way. The setting, characters and especially the corruption are extremely fascinating to me so it was a hard choice not to include this one in the honorable mentions, but I feel they have greater impact if they are fewer in number.

@klingorengi – Awesome, “they walked through them Pearly Gates and straight for that fried chicken.” You do an amazing job with the colloquial voice so that every word and the sentence structure itself seems to tell us about our humble narrator, and is just fun to read in general. I was concerned that it was going to be “that Ole Devil Man” offering the chicken at the end after the initial set-up, so can’t tell you how relieved I am that at least in death things seem to have worked out for Shadrach.

The Winner

@SiobhanMuir – Wow, tore MY heart out with that one… I feel like Jakran does love Tricia and the feeling is just so alien to him they don’t realize it. But then I’m big on the happy endings even when not reached during the story itself. Beautiful language throughout, especially lines like “But rag-sot-riches stories only worked if the people got together in the end,” simple but evocative.
With so many strong entries this week I’m going to have to fall back on my own love for the sappy-happy ending—and I really believe if we spent more time with Jakran and Tricia they’d get there. Maybe not a universal criteria for good flash-fiction, but this one’s my favorite because it makes me want to read more.

The Winning Story

“I can give you all of this.” Jakran’s hand swept across the vista before the tower window.

“That’s the thing, Jakran. I don’t want ‘all of that’.” Tricia waved vaguely.

He turned his golden eyes on her, his expression resigned. “What do you want, then? Lands?”

“Jewels and gold?”

“No.” Tricia wrinkled her nose in distaste. “That’s just stuff.”

“Power? There’s nothing more powerful than being Queen of the Goblins.”

“No, Jakran. I don’t want power, or stuff, or property.”

“Then what? I can give you anything you want.”

Tricia sighed. “Can you give me your heart?”

“Sorry?” he barked, a horrified look flooding his face. “My heart? But I’m still using it.”

“What? No, not physically. That’s disgusting.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Do goblin females really demand that sort of thing?”

“Only when going for King’s Consort.”

“Eewww.” Tricia grimaced and shivered. “No, it’s a human expression, meaning to give your love, heart and soul, to someone. I don’t want the organ in your chest, I want to be loved. I don’t need power, or jewels, or lands. I need…love.”

At his blank look, she shrugged and tried to swallow the disappointment. Maybe she’d spent too much time being human, but while every little girl dreamed about being a princess – or a queen in this case – she still wanted the happily-ever-after of the Disney films.

Jakran looked so regal and handsome, everything a prince, or a king, should look. But rag-sot-riches stories only worked if the people got together in the end, and Tricia would much rather be poor and in love than be wealthy and live with a handsome roommate.

“I can’t offer you that.”

“I know.” Her heart ached. Too bad she’d gone and fallen in love with him over that last few months. Stupid me. “Maybe you should just take me back to the human world and look for someone else. There are plenty of women in Las Vegas who’d marry a guy just because he won a big jackpot at one of the casinos. I’m sure you could find one who’d happily take on a whole Kingdom.”

“Tricia, I –”

She held up one hand to stop him. “It’s okay. I’m not right for you. I get that. I’m too needy for things you can’t give. Let’s just chalk it up to a learning experience and work on a solution.”

She gave him a false smile and turned away before the tears she swore she wouldn’t shed overflowed her eyes.
3/28/2012 11:49:50 am

Jane Austen huh? Wow! That's inspiring. Thanks... I think I'm going to enjoy following along with this.

Oh... and I now have twitter... @StaceyJMcIntosh


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