Finalists for the July Writing Contest!
It took 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 story was creative and unique. I felt honored that the writers took the time out of their busy schedules to participate in this contest. Below will be a review of the contest guidelines followed by the three finalist’s stories. At the bottom will be the poll where anyone may vote for the tale they believe is best. You may vote only once.
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.
1) “Two out of nine lives” by Janet Moules, writing as Alex Le Soum
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
Pete came out with her. “Go on, clear off,” he shouted at the cat.
“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.
The cat had gone. She dropped the bag into the can and looked around, but there was no sign of it.
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.”
2) “Nightmares in Babysitting” by Angela Wallace
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!”
3) “Imps and Blue Paint” by M R Mortimer
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!