July Writing Contest- Another Chance to Test Your Skills!


The latest writing contest has arrived.  Many of you enjoyed the last one as much as I did.  Now the time has come to test your creative writing skills once again, or for some of you, the first time!  You may find this one easier or harder, depending on how well you are able to follow the stipulations.  Due to Tim Greaton’s decision to forward his contest award for last month to this one, the prize is now a $20 Amazon gift card for the first place winner.  You have until Friday, July 29th (8pm EDT) to post an entry here.

After that, I will select the top three stories and open them for general voting in a separate blog post (if there are more than ten entries, I may make that four finalists). It will remain my right to use assistance from outside sources in the selection process if I cannot decide easily. Those who help will have no stake in this contest or its outcome. Here are the stipulations and rules, follow them closely or you will be disqualified!

Stipulations:

1) The submission must be between 400-800 words. I will allow no more than a five word variance from this. If you include a title, the words in that do not count toward the total.  This has been upgraded since the last contest to allow for more room in creativity.

2) The color “blue” must be used ten times within the story, but never more than once per sentence.

3) You must also include one of the following creatures in your story. They should play an important part, even if they are not the main character. The choice is yours as to which to use:

  • A black cat (it must remain that color).
  • Imps (a group of at least three of them, though you can just make the word plural and imply the number).  Don’t know what an imp is or want clarification on it?  Refer to the wiki explanation here.

Rules:

1) No extreme language.  There are people here who do not want to see it and I prefer we not have anything that might be too offensive to the average reader.

2) Making me laugh will gain you favor in my selection, though it isn’t a requirement.  All genres of writing are welcome (if you are erotica, try to keep it mild please).

3) Post your story here in the comments section.  Do not email it to me.

4) Ensure you include your name (even if it is only a first name or nickname) at the end of your work.  That does not go toward word-count either.

5)Anyone who has won any of the last three contests will not be eligible for a finalist position.  They can submit a story if they want, just for fun, but they cannot win.

That is everything you need to know.  Come back next Friday night to see who the final contestants are and vote in the poll for your favorite candidate.   The poll will stay open until midnight, the following Monday, August 1st.  That is three days for voting.  Tuesday morning, I will announce the winner.  That person will receive a $20 Amazon gift card.  If you have any questions, you may email me for clarification.

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~ by Suzie on July 23, 2011.

81 Responses to “July Writing Contest- Another Chance to Test Your Skills!”

  1. Something Borrowed, Something Blue

    It was a bright, breezy spring day in the Texas Hill Country. The bluebonnets were gently swaying to their own rhythm. Out in the meadow in a navy blue tent was a black cat named Wayne. He was surrounded by his friends Jack and Daniel.

    Jack said, “Wayne, are you really sure you want to do this?”

    Wayne tilted his head and flicked his ears back, “Yes, why do you ask?”

    Jack came closer as he whispered, “Aren’t you worried about the possibility of an imp invasion?”

    Wayne calmly tugged on his red bow tie, “No, why should I be. I have sentries posted at the red, white, and blue entrances.”

    Daniel interjected, “I have a man at the orange entrance. No one will get past him.”

    Wayne pulled his white tux down around his tail, “It’s my wedding day, please…”

    Jack backed up licked his front paw and straightened out the cowlick behind his ear, “Okay I’ll stop worrying you. After all that’s my sister, you’re marrying.”

    All three chuckled slightly in order to hide their nerves. Imps were nothing to laugh about. Sure they were mystical creatures to most but Cat-man-do club members were well aware of what havoc they could bring on weddings.

    Meanwhile across the meadow in a pearl pink tent was Meghan, a brown tortie. She was surrounded by her bridesmaids and maid of honor, Lily. Lily said, “We have the something borrowed. What about the something blue?”

    Mindy stretched out her paw and handed over a sparkling blue diamond collar and tiara set.
    Meghan smiled as Mindy and Lily placed them on her, “Oh girls, this is the loveliest something blue I’ve ever seen.”

    Mindy said, “Oh darlin’, I couldn’t let this day go by without you looking your very best, now could I?”

    “I suppose not,” said Meghan. “Y’all are just the sweetest thing. I just love y’all. Are the caterers here yet?”

    Lily said with a smile, “You just want to know if those ice creams have arrived. Yes, they have. I saw it coming through the blue entrance a few moments ago.”

    Meghan nodded, “You’re right. I love the milky taste of Blue Bell brand Homemade Vanilla ice cream. It was so clever of you girls to come up with those colorful entrances so that the guests could come from all over the hillside for this wedding.”

    Mindy replied, “I always wanted to do this, I dreamed of it one night. I just hope those hillside imps stay away.”

    Meghan visibly shuddered, “Don’t remind me. Did you hear what they did to Mary Lou’s wedding?” All the girls nodded. Meghan stretched out her back paws, bowed her head and prayed, “Dear Lord, thank you for this beautiful day, my wonderful friends, family, and my soon to be husband. Please keep those little imps from harm. Amen!”

    Lily said, “That was an unusual prayer. Why did you wish those imps no harm?”

    Meghan replied, “Because, they are just a little mischievous and misunderstood. I know my brother would not hesitate to bring harm to someone that would make me unhappy today.”

    Lily nodded, “You’re right.”

    The middle of the meadow was where the wedding ceremony was about to take place. It was shaped like a square or diamond depending on how you looked at it. All four corner entrances were different colors. On one corner was blue bells lining the entrance way. On a diagonal from that was the red entrance. It was lined with red heart balloons. On the other two sides were the white lilies and the orange tabbies.
    Daniel made his way to the orange entrance. He gave ‘the nod’ to his man. The rest of the orange tabbies served as the ushers. Daniel then went to the pearl pink tent and Mindy stepped out.
    Daniel said, “We’re almost ready for Meghan.”

    Mindy nodded, “We’ll be there shortly.” Mindy stepped back inside the tent and said, “It is time for me to get the flower girls ready.”

    Mindy went to the white entrance and smiled at the row of white lilies being held in the teeth of ten kitties. Mindy said, “Y’all look purr-fect.”

    Soon all the guests were seated and the wedding march began to play. Meghan came out of her tent crossed the meadow walked down the white entrance aisle. There in the center was her beloved, Wayne. Stepping to the beat of the music, she finally slid next to her intended.

    It was a brief but formal ceremony. The new couple turned to face the waiting audience after a brief kitty kiss. Meghan saw the three hillside imps sitting passively and happily at the blue entrance. She smiled as she looked towards heaven and whispered, “Thank you.”

    Submitted by Lynn Hallbrooks solely for the purpose of the July writing contest on mistressofthedarkpath.wordpress.com

  2. Love it, I just can’t come up with anything around Black Cats or imps 😦

  3. “Nightmares in Babysitting”

    I wiped egg off my forehead with the back of my hand. Yolk dribbled down my nose. Now I knew why the Martins were willing to pay me so much to babysit last minute—no one in their right mind would have set foot in this house. Babysitting wasn’t even my thing. Most parents would look at my nose ring and black hair streaked with cerulean blue and hide their kids. But the Martins were desperate, I was desperate, and they were paying me three times my hourly rate at the hole-in-wall coffee shop on Blue Street. What could go wrong?
    A high-pitched shrill rattled my eardrums and something that sounded valuable shattered, followed by harsh giggles. I covered my eyes with my other hand and considered curling into a ball and crying. So much for Miss Tough Girl. One of the triplets ran by my leg and I lashed out an arm to scoop him up. He shrieked at me and pounded baby-sized fists against my arm. He packed quite a punch. I set him in one of the cribs and turned around to see his brother taking a blue marker to a handful of twenty-dollar bills.
    “Stop!” I ran over and yanked the marker out of his hand. He growled at me. Something made a noise behind me, and I whirled around to see the kid I had put in the crib now hanging from the chandelier.
    There was a fairy tale about this, I was sure. Wasn’t there some kind of fairy that swapped out children for little monsters? These three couldn’t be human. The one on the chandelier grinned widely at me, revealing a row of pointed teeth.
    “Get down from there you little imp!”
    He howled laughter and threw blue Lego projectiles at me. I dove behind the blue loveseat. I took deep breaths. Breathe, be calm. I peeked my head up and winced. The three imps were now on the dining room table, arms linked and dancing in a circle. The remains of their three identical blue baby suits fluttered in shreds. I ducked back behind the couch and groaned. This was so not worth $200. That will teach me to accept “easy” jobs.
    I crawled over to the bookcase and scrambled for a phone book. Wasn’t there a nanny 911 number somewhere? Was the British lady with her own TV show listed? I leaned back with the book in my lap and yelped. Two, big blue eyes stared unblinking into mine. The Martins had a cat? A shiny black tag hung around his neck. “Blue” stared at me expectantly, his tail flicking impatiently as though saying, “Well?”
    “Well why don’t *you* do something?” I retorted. Great, I was reduced to talking to a cat.
    The feline huffed and walked back towards the three imps, now sitting in a circle and ripping up carpet. Blue threads drifted down like snow. The cat headed straight for them. My breath caught in my throat. What if they killed the cat? I’d be so fired. Belatedly, I realized that broken glass, shredded upholstery, and blue nail polish murals on the walls already qualified me for termination. I scrambled after the stupid animal.
    The three imps stopped to stare at the newcomer. At first they looked curious—and harmless—and then that wicked grin returned to their faces. The cat stared back at them, undaunted. It looked as though the blue in his eyes reflected off the walls like they were glowing devilishly. The eeriness brought me up short. Great, was I completely surrounded by demon monsters? The triplets crouched low and crawled forward with hungry, predatory gazes that chilled me to the bone. I didn’t think I could watch.
    The cat waited until all three were up close…and then he sneezed. My jaw dropped open. The imps were equally surprised, and stared back a moment longer before they simultaneously toppled over like bowling pins. No way. I gulped and crept out from my hiding place. The cat gave me a haughty look and with a flick of his tail walked away. Great, the cat killed the babies. I crawled closer but didn’t dare get near enough to check for a pulse. To my surprise, the kids were still breathing—snoring actually.
    Gently and cautiously, I moved each to his crib. They stayed sound asleep. I didn’t bother cleaning up; at this point I’d be happy to escape with my life. I turned around and the cat was once again at eye-level, those two blue orbs glittering intensely at me.
    “You owe me.”
    I was stunned where I stood. Finally, I nodded my head because speech failed me. “Wh-what do you want?”
    The cat’s eyes gleamed and he mewled, “Take me with you!”

    ~Angela Wallace

    • Love it Angela. Especially the end when even the cat wants out! Too funny.

    • Surprise ending! “Take me with you” – been there, done that. Great story.

    • I really love this Angela. Especially the part…’now I’m reduced to talking to the cat’ I can so relate to that. I also hope the babysitter took the cat and ran. (lol)

    • Thanks guys! 🙂

      Lynn–I reached the word count limit, but you can assume she took the cat and fled. 😉

      • I thought it might be something like that. I had to do a little editing to get that pesky word count in line myself. I wonder if the imps were considering messing with me?

        • I know the wordcount limit does make it harder, but you all do so well with the challenge! The imps will mess with anyone who doesn’t stay within the wordcount limit. I also have some hellhounds to step in as well, but that is another story.

          • Yikes, I’m glad they didn’t mess with me. I think I made friends with the imps by the end though. They are sitting on my laptop looking over the edge. Does anyone believe that…didn’t think so. 🙂

    • Great ending, Angela. I’m pretty sure I’ve had a few babysitting jobs like that…only they were my kids 😦

  4. Two out of nine lives

    Friday …

    Jenny carried the bag out to the trash can. It was garbage day, and the can was empty. The bag fell to the bottom with a dull thud. She froze, suddenly sensing that someone was watching her. Slowly she turned, finding a pair of piercing blue eyes fixed upon her. A black cat sat there motionless, its unblinking eyes seeming to bore into her soul. She shook herself out of the trance and returned to the house.

    Saturday …

    It was raining heavily. She threw on her coat, even though it was only a few feet to the trash can. She dropped in the bag, looking at the cat out of the corner of her eye. He stood there, ignoring his bedraggled state, the blue eyes staring accusingly at her as she turned and hurried back inside.

    Sunday …

    “That cat was there again,” she said to Pete. “It has these really weird blue eyes. I didn’t know you could get black cats with blue eyes, not once they grew out of the kitten stage, anyway.”
    “Probably a cross-breed,” said Pete. “Probably a bit of Siamese in there somewhere. Maybe its mama was a bad kitty and escaped for a raunchy night of passion with the local toms.”
    “It’s not funny. It keeps staring at me, unnerving me. Pete, I know you’re going to think this is weird, but it really reminds me of Tom. He had piercing blue eyes exactly like that. Do you think there’s such a thing as reincarnation?”
    Pete looked across at her with a troubled frown. “Jen, you’re just being silly. It’s coming up on the anniversary of his death and he’s on your mind, that’s all. Don’t start with some nonsense about him coming back to haunt you.”
    “I wish they’d found the murderer. I hate not knowing what really happened; there’s no closure for me.”
    “Don’t talk about it. It upsets me as much as it does you. He was my best friend as well as your boyfriend.”
    “I know.” She crossed the room and placed her arms around him. “Thank you for being there for me, Pete – for picking up the pieces and taking care of me. I don’t know what I’d have done without you there to help me through it.”

    Monday …

    The blue eyes stared up at her pleadingly. She pulled the remains of a tuna sandwich from the bag and bent down, holding out her hand cautiously. Its pink tongue licked her fingers, the blue eyes fixed on her the entire time. Gently it took the morsel of food, meowing softly as it made one final circuit of her fingers with its tongue.
    “Well, don’t encourage it,” said Pete, standing in the doorway. “We’ll never get rid of it if you start feeding it.”

    Tuesday …

    Pete came out with her. “Go on, clear off,” he shouted at the cat.
    “Pete, don’t.”
    “It’s giving you the creeps. I’m sick of hearing about how its blue eyes remind you of Tom. You’re starting to get stupid about it, and the longer we encourage it, the harder it’s going to be to get rid of the thing.”
    The blue eyes burnt into him with a fierce hatred. The cat hissed, baring its teeth at him. He caught hold of Jenny’s hand and drew her back into the house.

    Wednesday …

    The cat had gone. She dropped the bag into the can and looked around, but there was no sign of it.

    Thursday …

    Pete took out the trash. He dragged the can to the pickup point, ready for the garbage truck which always came early on a Friday morning. He lifted the lid off the can one last time, readjusting the top bags to ensure they covered the body. Hopefully the garbage guys would just tip the thing into the truck and never notice. The eyes weren’t blue anymore; they were red clumps of blood, where he’d pierced through them with a five inch nail.
    “That’s twice now I’ve got you out of her life,” he said viciously. “And if the nine lives myth is true, make sure you find some other woman to get your claws into for the next seven.”

    Word count – 704
    By Janet Moules, writing as Alex Le Soum

  5. “My Friend”

    She was the most beautiful black kitten I had ever seen, but my mother named her Azure. She chose that name because of her eyes. They were a wonderous shade of blue. Not the blue of the ocean, as your peer out across it, but not as light as the pastel blue of a babies nursery. They were the hue of the the sky, as you gaze upon it, unclouded, and clear. From the moment my mother first saw her, as a baby kitten, Azure ruled her heart. She was a finicky cat, as most cats are. Any space the little imp could possibly squeeze into, she would . But thank goodness, she always managed to get herself out of trouble without any assistence. It was beyond me how she was able to eject herself from some of the tight areas she liked to play in. I remember, when Azure was very small, my mother was knitting a sweater. It was the most beautiful shade of blue, a cross between turquoise and cobalt. She had worked arduously on it for several months and it was very near completion. One day the kitten, found the beautiful hand knitted sweater, and of course, had to see it up close, so into the basket she jumped. Mothers kinitting basket was always by her chair, but for some reason that day, Azure felt that little red basket with the tiny blue flowers had to be investigated further. I guess the old saying, “curiousity killed the cat, ” applied here. I had to be called in, to help out this time, as this turned out to be a fiasco. That was a day I will never forget. Azure had rippped that little basket into shreads, all that could be seen as remains, were a few tiny blue flowers and a rather askew handle. She was encased in knitting thread, and completely tangled up from one end to the other. She was panting from her labors, and almost completely out of breath, from trying so desperately to disentangle herself. Every time my poor mother tried to help her, she would fight harder, and become even more entangled. The sweater had turned into a mass of blue thread, with no evidence that a sweater had ever existed, at all. By the time I arrived, Azure was worn to a frazzle, panting and making some rather odd growling noises. My poor mother was ranting and rubbing her hands together, begging for help. At first I froze, not knowing for sure what to do, then blue eyes, glassy with tears, gazed up at me pleading. My mother instinct kicked in. I hurriedly grabbed a pair of scissors from my mothers blue apron and feverishly began to cut. At that point, neither my mother, nor myself gave a second thought to the blue sweater, we were just trying to save her poor kitten from any more undo stress. The more I cut the less Azure fought, I think she realized I was only trying to help her. Finally, victory at last, she was free from her entanglement. I expected her to scamble in a panicked fervor, but instead she looked up at me, with those gorgeous blue eyes, then licked me on the arm. After that day, I had a new best friend. Any time I visited my mother, the second I sat down, she was in my lap, palpitating her little paws and looking up at me with those beautiful blue eyes. She seemed to be saying, “Thank you,” each and every time.”

    Hope you enjoyed, R. C. Drake
    http://www.thewarriorsdragon.com

    • Such a sweet story Rhonda. I can just picture that cute little kitten!

    • Aw, so cute. I feel like it could be a true story (probably is somewhere!). 🙂

      • Thank you Angela. You are probably right, in that somewhere, right now, a mischievous cat has their nose into something they shouldn’t.

    • Great story, RC. I do believe that many animals instinctively know who they can trust. You illustrated that beautifully 🙂

      • I feel that is a very true statement Tim, and I totally agree. My sister-in-law has a black dog whot was orphaned after our last hurricane, that visits me daily. I don’t always feed her, but she visits me everyday. She has a way of, “talking,” to me that is beyond cute. She sneaks up on me sometimes in the garage, and begins talking to me before I ever acknowledge her. I have to pet her, she expects it, and then off she goes. She just needed to say hi……I guess.

    • Sweet story Rhonda. Good job.

  6. OK, Tom comes back six more times in various guises and each time Pete kills him, until he finally comes back in life number nine as an imp who happens to be part of a particularly nasty alien attack force, who home in on Pete, conduct any number of horrific and excrutiatingly painful experiments on him, and ultimately put him out of his misery in an agonizing and extremely drawn out death. Jenny gets bitten by a vampire imp, turns into an imp herself, marries Tom and flies off to live happily ever after in outer space.

    But that’s the sequel and doesn’t count in the word count for the competition 😉

    • Now that is the greatest speedy ending I have ever read! Bad guy gets killed off in a painful way and the seperated lovers are reunited. I’m so happy and I feel complete now. Of course it is not a part of the original story since they are not posted together and this section can’t be considered for the contest. Yet it doesn’t mean we couldn’t enjoy that you posted it. If Tim could add two stories (which didn’t count) to the last contest, then there is nothing wrong with you doing this 🙂

    • LOL!

  7. LOL – I was kind of in my Edgar Alan Poe or Roahl Dahl Tales of the Unexpected zone. I didn’t want it to have a happy ending.

    But after reading all the comments, I didn’t want to leave anybody with an unsettled feeling that good didn’t ultimately triumph over evil, so that ending is just for you guys, to give you peace of mind and leave you smiling. 🙂

    Anyone else that reads it can assume Jenny lives out the rest of her life with a crazed psychopath.

    • Janet, I figured that was what you were up to and actually thought it achieved that end. Of course, we have a lot of eternal optomists here (including me) who have to pretend it went on to end in a good way, lol. Thanks for doing the extra bit. I know I appreciated it. Once in awhile, I get the urge to set up a short story page for this blog where people could write as long of a story as they want or continue the ones they wrote for contests. I’m just not sure if people would like me to do it or not. Plus I have so many pages on here already, so I worry about adding more.

    • Haha! It’s okay, Janet, I rewrite books and movies in my head all the time if I don’t like how they ended. I will content myself with the alternative ending in my head where Pete gets his just desserts. 😀

  8. “Imps and Blue Paint”

    The imps danced joyously in front of their mischief. They had just painted an entire vineyard bright blue, and were frolicking in the dawn mist. It was only the latest in a run of tricks they had played, and they were getting bolder with each day.
    Nobody observed them but a single black cat, which watched them through narrowed eyes as it purred on the back step of the house. This was a small vineyard, and when Gerry and Sara awoke to the blue vines, they would undoubtedly be delighted. At least the Imps thought they would be.
    The leader of the little troop, fenix was his name, had chosen the vineyard as a target. He had told Hazzy and Bawb, his companions, that it would be a pretty thing the people would appreciate. While the three imps faded into the mist and the sun rose into the clear blue sky over the picturesque land, that idea was about to be proven very mistaken.
    Sara woke the dozing cat about eight o’clock in the morning with her shriek as she looked out over the vines, a bumper crop of grapes that were due for harvest soon. All tainted by the blue paint. Once she had deafened both her husband and that poor black cat, she went to the phone and called the police.
    The two men in blue uniforms who arrived shortly thereafter seemed tired. They wasted no time telling Sara and Gerry that theirs was only one of many problems around the village at the moment, with the post office, the pub, and the fountain in the park all having been painted blue in recent days.
    They were trying to find the culprits, they said, and advised them to contact their insurance company to recover their losses.
    Meanwhile the imps had placed their dozen tins of blue paint in a tree house they found in the woods behind the common. They had stolen the paint from the local hardware store and the store’s owner had been making his disgust at the act well known around the village. He had found four young boys playing in the alley behind his store and immediately assumed the guilt to be theirs. The poor boys were being treated rather unfairly as a result!
    This amused the imps greatly, and the cat none at all. Those boys had been friends of the cat, often handing over their left over bait and excess catch after their fishing trips when they trooped down to the river. Some of those trips to the river were on weekends, but many had been on days they should have been at school. Unfortunately that fact had come to light, reducing the chance of the boys being believed innocent even further. It also put an end to the fishing trips.
    About ten in the morning, the four boys arrived, dragged by the ears by their parents, who carried big blue buckets and sponges in their free hands. The boys were forced to apologise, and seemed no small amount put out by the task. Their parents then drove off, in spite of the boys protestations.
    Meanwhile, the cat had a scent and rushed into the gardens. The boys scrubbed and washed, cleaning the blue paint away from the vines. About then, as the village policeman stumbled on the pile of blue tins in the tree house, the cat was stalking something small and magical in the undergrowth.
    Sadly the boys were proven beyond doubt guilty in spite of their absolute innocence. That said, as the cat returned smugly to the sunny back step with a belly full of imp, the real culprits of all the trouble had received their just deserts for the pain they had caused. Fenix, Hazzy and Bawb were venturing up into the imps heaven and the humans would never be any the wiser.
    So the next time you find paint or some other coloured markings tainting your pristine home, don’t automatically blame the children. If they say it wasn’t them, remember the imps and give the innocent ones the benefit of the doubt!

    Submitted by M R Mortimer for the July writing contest on mistressofthedarkpath.wordpress.com

  9. The Blue Porkasis

    (an 800-word flash fiction story from the Zachary Pill universe)

    from “Maine’s Other Author”(TM) Tim Greaton

    “This ain’t gonna work, Vargus,” the embarrassed imp said as he flew behind his two friends. He was having a difficult time seeing out of his face mask and his wings were chafing at the edges of the fat suit they had squeezed him into. “Who ever heard of a blue porkasis?”

    Though none of them had ever actually seen one of the famed flying pigs, everyone knew his Lordship Ker Sevikrage kept several of the talking creatures as pets…until he ate them. Grogen shuddered that someone might actually try to eat him. He vowed to ear-flame the first creature to come at him with a fork.

    “That’s why it’s going to work,” Varga assured him, her voice surprisingly deep and raspy for an imp not yet past her seventy-fifth birthday. “When we present a rare, blue porkasis, the guards will have to take us inside the castle.”

    “They’ll have Grogen for lunch,” Snork quipped. Though larger than his two friends, Snork had been declawed at a young age. But he made up for it with his sharp tongue.

    The three imps had been flying low to the purple and green tree tops but suddenly found themselves in the open air above a small castle. Grogen immediately sensed the magical nostril tunnels inside the guarded walls. Those tunnels were their way off-world…but only if everything went according to plan.

    Fat blue chance!

    Grogen didn’t see how anyone would believe he was a blue porkasis. But if they did, he had no intention of becoming someone’s dinner! He gagged as Varga dragged him down into the courtyard.

    “Keep fluttering,” she whispered, even as her own clawed red feet settled onto the lush green grass.
    Without claws that were almost necessary for landing, Snork nearly knocked her over.

    They had no more than touched their feet to the grass when a towering gray creature stomped across the moat bridge to challenge them. He was covered in metal armor and a helmet with four protruding spikes. Any one of the imps could have fit inside the enormous creature’s shoe.

    “What come you for?” the stupid creature asked, staring down at them. The deadly rows of teeth that split its thin gray lips suggested intelligence wasn’t required for guarding castles.

    “We brought this,” Varga said loudly. She yanked on Grogen’s leash.

    He gagged but managed to stay aloft at about the height of the creature’s shin.

    “It’s a rare blue porkasis,” she continued.

    “Flying Porks not blue,” the orc spat. Its eyes narrowed as it leaned down.

    Grogen prayed the onions Varga had mixed with his blue dye would work.

    The orc took a deep wiff and might have sucked Grogen upward if Varga hadn’t been holding tightly to his leash.

    “Me smell stew,” the orc said.

    “Onions,” Varga corrected. “Blue porkasi eat lots of onions.”

    The orc didn’t look convinced but turned and started back toward the castle.

    “Come you,” the creature boomed. ”You show Krage Lady. Then maybe orc stew.”

    Grogen panicked and struggled to get away. His wings flapped wildly.

    “Stop it,” Varga hissed. Flames shot out her ears.

    Grogen didn’t care. Obviously the orc had its next meal planned and blue onion imp was on the menu.
    He tried to free himself from the leash but the fat suit was too tight and his hands were stuck inside the hoof-shaped gloves. Obviously, what Varga said was lotion was actually glue. What kind of mess had the she-imp gotten him into?

    Suddenly, he remembered various events from their past, like the way she had once tricked him into eating goblin dung. And then the time she had tied him to a baby dragon’s tail while he slept. Only luck and a well-positioned ear flame had gotten him out of that mess.

    I knew I couldn’t trust her!

    “Come on, Grogen,” she hissed and yanked again.

    He bared his teeth but realized the face mask hid his expression. Defeated, he allowed her to pull him along like a child’s kite.

    “Orc stew,” Snork whispered then grinned and moved up to walk beside Varga.

    Seventy-two years old and this is the best I could do for friends. I deserve to die.

    The castle seemed much larger inside then out. The orc lead them down several wide stone hallways to an immense room filled with colorful wall tapestries. An old Pandemone woman dressed in red silk sat on a throne against one wall. A black cat in her lap hissed at them. She stroked its head.

    “What have we here,” she said.

    “I present you a rare—“

    “Shhh, shhh,” the woman said holding up a hand heavily adorned with rings and bracelets.

    “Jasper, please throw these three imps into the dungeons until their master can retrieve them. It’s the blue porkasis scam again.”

    The End

  10. THE BOARD MEETING

    “Blue! Is that the only color you know how to wear?

    “My name is Depression, what am I supposed to wear? Depressed. Blue. Get it?”

    Pessimism rolled her eyes and turned back to the others. “As I was saying, I called this board of directors meeting to discuss last quarter’s profits.”

    “You mean we’re makin profits?”

    “No, Sarcasm, we’re not making profits, that’s the whole point.”

    A small figure dressed in bright yellow raised her hand.

    “Yes, Optimism?”

    “Weren’t last quarter’s profits better than the previous quarter?”

    “Oh great, there you go again with that sunshiney stuff. Yeah, they were better, but they’re not good enough.”

    “Excuse me, is my name Greed or is yours?” asked a rough-looking fellow with rings on his fingers.

    “I’m just sayin’…”

    “What?” demanded Belligerence. “That we’re not doing our jobs? And why are you always picking on Depression? What’s it to you if she wears blue?”

    “Blue, yellow, and look at Envy over there. This place is looking like a damn circus. What happened to our dress code?”

    Exasperation heaved a heavy sigh, and said, “Today’s casual Friday, remember?”

    With a dismissive wave of the hand, Pessimism went on in a low drone. “The bottom line, people. We have to watch the bottom line. If we don’t, we’ll go the way of the four horsemen, and you know what happened to them.”

    “Yeah,” said Slly, bursting into laughter. “They took over the world.”

    “No, no. I mean, everyone hates them. We can’t run a corporation without the good will of our clients.”

    “A little kindness always works,” suggested Optimism.

    “Tell that to him,” complained Exasperation, shooting a glance over at Belligerence.

    Ignoring Exasperation’s childish annoyance, Pessimism replied, “Sure, for you. But what about the rest of us? Do you really think old blue over there is gonna garner anyone’s kindness? She’s lucky if the people in her department stay alive they’re so damned depressed.”

    “Blue,” Sarcasm muttered.

    “Blue, shmu!” Greed leaned forward, the heavy rings on his finges making a clacking sound on the desk. “Look, if it weren’t for me, none of you would even be here.”

    “Well, I never,” cried Pessimism.

    “That’s right, and you never will. The only reason the bottom line is so important is because of how much dough it shows and there’s where I come in. And frankly, I’m sick of your whining. This corporation could run without you.” Turning to the others, he said, “I say we take a vote on naming a new Chairman. Pessimism’s too much of a downer.”

    “I sure do covet her spot,” said Envy.

    “Yeah, as if,” Belligerence scoffed.

    Optimism smoothed her yellow dress and said, “I’m sure we can come to a peaceful resolution.”

    Sarcasm snickered. “And if you think that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.”

    “This is getting us nowhere,” huffed Exasperation.

    “Let’s not bicker. It’s such a beautiful day.”

    They all shot Optimism a disapproving look.

    “Let’s let them decide,” said Greed. “Their department is a little wild and uncontrollable but it always comes in under budget.” He looked toward the far end of the table where a trio of small and very ugly creatuers sat. “Impio, Rumplefeather, Zooks, what do you think? Are you guys up to running the whole shebang?”

    The three imps began an excited exchange amongst themselves. “On certain conditions,” said Impio.

    “Name them.”

    “No more blue. We want Depression to wear creamsicle. Optimism is to wear only gunmetal gray, and enough of the beautiful day stuff. Pessimism is to submit a positive report every day. Silly must wear a three-piece business suit to the office. No more of those ridiculous hats with the feathers. If Exasperation sighs one more time, he’s out. Belligerence will be in charge of customer relations. Sarcasm will refran from making snide remarks. And Greed shall be forced to give us his rings.”

    “Oh, God, I think I’m going to kill myself.”

    “Shut up, blue,” said Greed. “That’s the best offer we’ve had all year.”

    “And in return for our agreeing to this, what will you three do for us?” asked Exasperation, trying hard not to let his breath out too audibly.

    Again, there ensued an excited exchange among the imps. “We will hold our pranks to a minimum. Say, no more than three per week.”

    “And no switching babies! The last time you did that old blue’s department was innundated with calls. We have the good name of this company to think about.”

    “Which brings me to the last condition. The name of the company will be changed to I-M-P, LLC.”

    “It’s rather cathchy,” ventured Optimism.

    “Oh please,” whined Depression, “someone shoot me now.”

    Nancy Morse

  11. One word, AWESOME!

  12. This is to inform those participating in this contest. that there is a wet and hazardous road ahead and and that road leads to my my door with prize placed in my hand. All rules will be followed and all have not planed to have me as a contestant. Cover your bets and your asses
    .

  13. Give Them an Imp, They’ll Take a Mile

    “Honey, the imps got in the garbage again!” Roland said to his wife Clare.

    “Are you sure it was an imp, because I saw rusty throwing up a blue imp last night. Are you sure he is not the vandal? Damn dog,” said Clare.

    “I told you to stay out of the garbage,” said the Gold imp whispered to the other two hiding under the cupboard. Now they’re watching us and Blue was eaten in the process of raiding the trash. Good for him that he did not digest well and Rusty threw him up.”

    “That was a real trip man,” said Blue. “Like a being on a big rollercoaster or something.”

    We need to stay o below the radar,” said Red the imp.

    “We need to move is what we need to do,” said Gold. “We look too much like chew toys to be around here.”

    “I’ve got an idea,” said Red. “Let’s raid the fish pond. Fresh fish for dinner?”

    Blue was not too bright and was slow on the uptake. He was the “special” imp with special needs. “I want to be the bait,“ said Blue.

    “You’re always somebody’s bait,” said Gold to the Blue. “In fact we always use you as bait. Remember the time that we tied you to a piece of yarn and had the cat chase you. That worked well. They never did find that cat. It sure tasted good.”

    “We need more iron in our diet,” said Red. “But Blue here ate the alternator out of the family car. That got the exterminator called on us, the one that specializes in folk law creature elimination, guaranteed. Good thing we’re immune to most poisons, all except spirits of ipecac and camphor. That’ll make an imp explode in flames!”

    “Let’s do something now,” said the Gold one. “I want to play ‘who lives longest when the lights go out. It’s not dark enough yet though”

    “We can play in the closet!” said Red. “That utility closet by the garage has plenty of stuff too throw, including spray cans, power tools and heavy hand tools.”

    The game was dangerous and it required a dark room packed players and with a variety of hard, sharp or dangerous objects. Someone of the players would be designated a “target”. Then the lights were turned out and the object was to throw anything at all aiming at the target. But if anyone got hit it was a score. A hit that resulted in a kill scored the highest points. Bleeders and broken bones resulted in lower scores. If you were still standing or breathing after all other’s fell out, as the last to succumb, you would win the game. This was an inanely stupid game to play because of the risk of life and limb, but the imp was immune from the perils of death and harm to flesh or bone. If they lost a body part, it simply grew back, or in most cases, the imp could not be hurt at all. They voted Blue the designated target.

    The three imps entered the closet with zeal and contempt for any danger they might face. Through the closet door you could hear the thumps, grinding and hissing of the objects employed. Then it was quiet—too quiet. It was quiet for days until Clare opened the door for a heavy duty power tool, the big Black and Decker circular saw. There she saw the decomposing bodies of the Gold, Red and Blue. Blue had a can of spirits of camphor still in hand. Blue apparently won the game of “Who lives longest when the lights go out?”

    By A. J. Grady

  14. The contest has now been closed. Expect a new blog post tommorow morning announcing who the finalists are. There will be a poll inclided to begin voting on those three. Thanks to all who participated. Every story submitted was absolutely wonderful and it will not be an easy decision to decide whose tale gets picked. All of you are very talented. I am honored to have read your work.

  15. […] a good deal of deliberation to decide which three contestants would be in the finalist round of July’s contest.  All of the entries were very well written making it difficult to choose from among them.  Each […]

  16. […] of the other contestants entries, can be viewed here.  I am truly pleased to see so many people were inspired to write under the tough guidelines.  […]

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