August Writing Contest- Test Your Skills!


The August writing contest is here.  There has been a good turnout for the last two.  I hope to see previous participants return as well as new ones.  This time is a bit different from the last two, so pay close attention to the stipulations.  Also, the prize will again be a $20 Amazon Gift Card (or an equivalent depending on your location).  It will remain at that amount for all regular contests.  The $10 Card that Tim Greaton passed on when he won in June is now going to be added to the November contest as part of a holiday bonus.  For this time around, you have until Tuesday, August 30th (10pm 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. Now, here are the stipulations and rules.  Follow them closely or you will be disqualified!

Stipulations:

1) The submission must be between 700-1000 words. This has been upgraded since the last contest to allow for more room in creativity.  I will allow no more than a five word variance from this. Titles are required this time, though they do not count toward the total.

2) The point of the story should be to bring a killer to justice.  You should include the details of the crime as well as the perpetrators capture.  Those who were murdered do not have to be human but must be mammalian in nature.  There can be one or more victims.

3) The killer themselves cannot be human.  Anything else is acceptable (ie- ghost, tiger, vampire, alien, shark, etc).

4) Ensure your story is well-edited and broken down into paragraphs.  If it is not, these things will count against you.

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 is not eligible for a finalist position.  They can submit a story if they wish, just for fun, but they cannot win.

That is everything you need to know.  Come back next Tuesday night to see who the final contestants are and vote in the poll for your favorite candidate.   The poll will stay open until midnight (EDT) Thursday, September 1st.  That is approximately two days for voting.  Friday 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 (see my About Me page for the address).

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~ by Suzie on August 23, 2011.

62 Responses to “August Writing Contest- Test Your Skills!”

  1. Bayou Bigfoot

    a 999-word short story

    from “Maine’s Other Author”(TM)

    Tim Greaton

    “What to hell is that?” Tom Broward said, his voice cracking with fear. He was a big man who hadn’t had a real scare since the Cuban mob had come gunning for him more than ten years earlier. But the thing in the Grebos’ kitchen…hell, anyone would have been scared.

    “Ain’t you gonna read it some rights or sumpin’?” the Grebo’s little boy asked. All of maybe six or seven years old, he was still covered in his parents’ blood.

    “Not this time, kid,” the sheriff told him, pulling the boy’s head back down behind the couch where they’d been hiding.

    “Pappa says big hats never do what they’s sposed to. “

    “Guess he got my number, all right, this time,” Tom muttered.

    A ferocious snarl came from the kitchen, and a human leg flew from the kitchen and smashed through the glass front of an old-fashioned television. Nearly torn from the rest of the leg, the foot protruded from the shattered face and hung, dripping blood onto the light-colored linoleum.

    “Didn’t work noways,” the boy said, staring at the shattered appliance.

    Tom was trying to keep his own body from shaking apart with fear, yet the boy acted as though his mother’s severed leg was of no more concern than a thrown rock. This was precisely why he left swamp calls to his deputies. Cajuns gave him the creeps.

    “Sheriff?”

    “Yeah, Sharon, I’m still here but you better have good news.”

    Her voice was suddenly drown out by the violent sounds of cracking wood and tearing metal. He glanced up to see an avalanche of glass and ceramics shatter across the kitchen floor.

    “Arghh!” the creature bellowed as an entire kitchen cabinet smashed on the livingroom floor beside Frank Grebo’s lifeless and headless body.

    “Jesus!”

    “What, Tom?”

    “Sharon, who’s coming and when!”

    “The state troopers laughed when I told them you had a creature cornered and needed some help.” He should have known those pansies wouldn’t help. Their commander hated the swamps even more than he did.

    “So,” Sharon said, “I told the Coast Guard you were in the middle of a shootout with Florida drug dealers.”

    Tom’s heart was yammering. He wanted nothing so much as to bolt out the living room door, but he’d already seen Frank Grebo try it. No way was he taking that chance. Besides, he had to protect the boy…no matter how thick-headed he might be.

    “And?”

    “And they’re sending a DOG team your way,” she said.

    “A DOG team!”

    That must have been one convincing lie. The Coast Guard’s elite tactical Deployable Operations Group almost never came to shore. Right now he just hoped they would arrive soon and with some heavy artillery. His four 9mm slugs in center mass hadn’t even slowed the creature down.

    The beast ripping another cabinet from the wall—

    Almost as though it’s looking for something.

    Empty plastic bowls and dented cans spilled into view. The sheriff had only gotten one brief look at the creature as it raced into the living room. Easily seven feet tall and covered in dull green fur, it had ripped retreating Frank’s head from his neck as easily as someone might have torn a sheet from a roll of paper towels. As the cocaine-dealer’s body tumbled to the floor, the creature stomped back to the kitchen, Frank’s head dangling from its claws.

    Tom suspected the creature’s bright yellow eyes would haunt him for the rest of his life, and at the moment he only prayed that might be for more than another few minutes. He pulled the apparently fearless boy down to safety again.

    “We have to stay hidden,” he whispered.

    “But Gary already knows where I is,” the little boy said.

    Suddenly, Sheriff Broward got an inexplicable chill.

    “Gary?”

    “That’s what he calls hisself,” the little boy said.

    “You mean that thing.”

    “He’s not a thing, he’s a teenager…kinda like my married sister Krissy.” The boy was staring at him, his young blood-covered face completely sincere.

    The sheriff didn’t have time for this.

    “Sharon?” he whispered into his radio.

    “Yeah, Tom.”

    “I’m going to keep my radio on, just in case they have any trouble with the GPS code on the cruise—”

    “Hold on, Tom, it’s the DOG team.”

    “Go ahead,” he heard her say. Then static.

    “Good news, Tom” she came back on. “They have four birds and three airboats heading upriver toward you right now. ETA less than two minutes.”

    Tom strained his ears and sure enough heard chopper blades churning the night sky.

    “Argh!”

    More kitchen items smashed then it sounded like metal being torn. The appliances?

    “Gary was mad at my folks,” the little boy said, peeking over the couch, his eyes settling on his father’s corpse, “cause they wouldn’t give him no more powder.”

    Suddenly, blinding light streamed through the kitchen and living room windows as a whirlwind of debris swirled through the open doorway. The noise was deafening. The tall, furred creature raced into the living room, its shoulders in a half-crouch, yellow eyes darting every which way.

    Tom Broward had seen this same scene a thousand times at a thousand different crime scenes. The creature was looking for a way to escape.

    “Sheriff,” a voice bellowed through a loud speaker, “cover you and the boy’s nose and mouth as best you can!”

    Tom shoved the boy to the floor and pulled his jacket over both their heads.

    Suddenly, a dozen loud explosions filled the air followed but gouts of thick smoke.

    “Breathe close to the floor, kid,” he gasped.

    They heard animal roars and gunshots. Then it was over.

    Strong hands pulled him and the boy upright, pressed masks to their faces and led them out into the fresh air where the creature was splayed out. Its yellow eyes were open but lifeless. Green fluid poured from a dozen holes in its furred body.

    “Damn Bayou Bigfoots,” a man in combat gear said. “Bunch of drug addicts, that’s all they are.”

    The End

  2. Shape Shifter!

    The shrill of the telephone jerked Deputy Julian Meyers out of a half dreamt daze. She jerked upright with a gasp, and glanced at the clock on the wall; 2:48 am. Reaching out, she snatched the phone off the cradle and murmured, “Deputy Meyers…”

    The woman’s voice was thin with nerves…fear. She said, “Deputy…Julian, is that you?”

    Julian frowned and said, “Renee? Renee, what’s wrong? Why are you calling?” There was a slight pause, and the line went dead. Julian held the receiver away from her ear, and glared at it. “Renee…are you there?”

    “Yes,” the voice continued. “I called because Ronnie ate the dog!” Soft sobbing filled the earpiece, and Julian rubbed her forehead in resignation. Renee Dupree was a little on the wacky side, everyone knew it, but this was a new level of strange.

    “Wait a minute, Renee…are you saying that your husband, Ronnie ate your dog?”

    “Yes… both of them, actually. It wasn’t so bad when he ate Tinkerbelle; she’s so small, see. But when he turned around and ate Bruno, well, I figured I better call in some help!”

    Lauren thought, Why me? Why do I always get the whack jobs! She said, “Is Ronnie in the house with you now?”

    Sniffles filled the air, and the sound of a nose being blown. Then, Renee said, “No. He’s gone out in the woods. Can you come?”

    “Sure…I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes. You lock your doors, Renee, okay? Don’t let anyone in, until you hear my voice.”

    “Alright, Deputy, Hurry up!”

    Lauren sat and thought a minute, and then went to her locker. A few minutes later she was driving down the county road. She ran dark and quiet…no need to alert the perp that she was coming.

    The horned moon was just starting to descend over the treetops. Its silver light painted the highway’s blacktop like a neon strobe. Lauren shook her head. It was THAT time of the month!

    Twelve minutes later she parked the cruiser in front of Ronnie and Renee’s mobile home. Sure enough, Lauren saw the silhouettes of two dogs in the front lawn. Getting out of the car, she drew her service revolver out of its holster, and proceeded forward to inspect the dead bodies.

    One dog was almost torn in half, poor thing. It was a miniature poodle. The other dog, a huge Rottweiler lay in a pool of its own blood. Most of its throat was gone; eaten presumably, by its master, Ronnie Dupree.

    “Ugh” she spat. Walking to the front door she knocked, and yelled, “Renee, open up, it’s me, Deputy Meyers!”

    A few minutes passed, while Lauren tapped her toes impatiently. Then she saw the lace curtain over the door twitch. A moment later the door opened and Renee stood staring out at her. Her hair was a mess and mascara ran down her cheeks.

    “Can you get him, Lauren?” Renee was crying again, and twisting her bathrobe in her hands.

    “Yeah, I can get him. Dammit, Renee! You know better!”

    Renee hung her head in shame, and shuffled her feet. “I…I’m sorry…I forgot!”
    “Well, where is it? You made it didn’t you?”

    Renee brightened and said, “Yeah, yeah…it’s right here!” She left for a moment, and returned with a triple layer chocolate cake.

    “Here it is!” she said proudly.

    Lauren rolled her eyes and said, “Give it here!”

    She sprinkled the powder over the cake and walked out into the trees, calling Ronnie’s name. “Ronnie, come on in, sweetie. Look at what I brought! Ronnie!”

    She set the cake on a boulder and melted back into the sheltering trees. Twenty minutes later, a large black bear shambled into the clearing and started eating the cake. It snuffled and snorted in pleasure and then started to vomit.

    “Yes!” Lauren crowed. The ipecac was doing its thing. While the bear heaved, Lauren pulled out her tranquilizer gun, and shot the bear. Within minutes the bear was gone, and a man lay curled on the ground, still heaving.

    Lauren turned him over, so he wouldn’t choke, and muttered, “Damn, shifters are a pain in the butt.”

    No animals were harmed in the making of this short story…

    LOL, Nel

  3. Great story, Linell. Excellent tension that drew me constantly through the narrative. I also had no idea where you were going with this, so it was a surprise ending for me. Very nice 🙂

  4. Bongo and Blue – Elephant Detectives

    Bongo and Blue had a mystery on their hands. They found the old man named Grey a splattered mess at the bottom of a high cliff. It was a sad day for the entire herd, as the old man was a much respected elder. He would be sorely missed for his wisdom as well as his wit. But for now they had to do two things. Firstly get his body to the elephants graveyard, and secondly find out if he jumped or was pushed.

    “Grey having been such an extraordinarily confident and self possessed elephant, we can assume it was a homicide.” said Blue.

    Using their trunks, they carefully dragged the body away from the site. It was messy business. The landing had been not an elegant one and Grey had splayed his legs out in four directions before his chest hit the rocks.

    “You know,” trumpeted Bongo in his deep voice, “He can’t have jumped.”

    Blue looked at the spot where old Grey had landed.

    “How do you know?” replied Blue in his trumpeted tenor.

    “Because his face was towards the cliff when he landed. Who jumps from a cliff backwards?”

    “Hmmmmm” trumpeted Blue, “We should check out the top of the cliff. There may be a clue there”

    So it was that after delivering the body into the care of the graveyard’s minder, Bongo and Blue headed back to the cliff, but this time carefully made their way to the top.

    “What are those marks?” said Bongo

    “It’s scuffs from old Grey’s feet. He was backing away from something. What do you suppose it was?” Blue replied.

    “Well, wait a minute…” said Bongo.

    Bongo knelt low to the ground, inspecting the dusty earth carefully.

    “What do you suppose these marks are?” he said.

    Blue knelt down low next to his friend, and carefully inspected the marks.

    “It’s footprints. Of a… a… m.. m… m… MOUSE!” said Blue.

    As soon as he got the words out, Blue jumped to his feet, his head swinging as his gaze darted about nervously. Like so many he was terrified of the little creatures that were so hard to see beneath you’re feet.

    “Wait here, I’ll go get the elders. They’ll decide what to do about this murderous mouse!” Bongo said confidently.

    As Bongo sauntered off, Blue sat morosely and stared out over the cliff’s edge. Just as he was drifting into a pleasant nap, he felt something. Something strange. Slowly his mind came to full alertness. Somebody was pulling on his tail!

    Slightly afraid of what he may see there, Blue turned his head to try to look behind himself. At first he saw nothing, but he could feel his tail being pulled. First his tail was pulled to one side, then to the other.

    As his tail was tugged to the same side he was trying to see, it came into view – the mouse!

    Blue leapt up in a fashion you wouldn’t believe possible of such an animal!

    “M M M M M M M M M M M MMMMOOOUUUSE!” He squealed, quickly jumping to his feet and turning to face the hideous monster.

    There before him, boxing at the air as he danced nimbly in front of the elephant was the most arrogant, over confident mouse you ever saw.

    “Hey FATSO!” shouted the mouse, it’s squeaky voice sending shivers along Blue’s spine like a tusk down a rock.

    “W w w w what?” said a petrified Blue, as he inched back slightly more.

    “You wanna piece of me?” squeaked the mouse.

    “N n n n no thanks! Please, will you just go away?” said Blue.

    “I ain’t goin’ nowhere you see?” squeaked the beastly creature, “I’m gunna do for you just like I did your big fat friend before!”

    To illustrate his intention, the mouse jabbed the air between them, sparring with Blue as though it was already a serious fight. Intimidated, Blue backed away further.

    “Go on fatso, give it your best shot! I bet you can’t! You big fat elephant chicken! HA! HA! HA! HA!” squeaked the monster, jabbing a fist hard at Blue with each ‘HA’ he said.

    “L l l l l leave m m me alone!” said Blue as he backed up further.

    “Tell you what I’m gunna do,” said the mouse, “I’m gunna show you my karate skills before you die”

    “N n no th th th thankyou!” said the fearful Blue.

    “Hya!” said the mouse as he kicked the air.

    “Hya!” as he kicked with the other foot.

    “HiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiIiIiiIi” said the mouse as he wound a foot behind himself as if in preparation for some special big kick.

    “B B B B BONG G G G GO!!!!! Help meeEEE!” trumpeted Blue as he backed up more, feeling his back feet reach the edge.

    “Your friend can’t help you now fatso! HYAAA” squeaked the mouse as he swung a mighty kick in the air.

    The mouse returned the foot for another go, winding it up again in a comical fashion.

    “Here I g…”

    SPLAT!

    “Blue what are you doing? I brought the elders” said Bongo.

    Then he stopped talking, a confused look on his face. He thought he felt something squishy on the ground. He lifted his foot, tilting it to try to see its underside. A splattered mouse fell to the ground where a goopy mess was clotting the dust.

    “Oh my… Did I do that?” said Bongo.

  5. Dammit I spotted a mistake! lol. always the way after you post something lol

  6. MR, that story was EXCELLENT! I liked it for a ton of reasons, but here are the top four. One, it was one hundred percent logical within its paradigm. Two, the tension of wondering if Blue was going to fall was palpable. Three, your “alien” point of view was wonderfully done and believable. And, four, I couldn’t imagine anyone deserving “justice” more than that *#$#*%! mouse.

    Bravo!

  7. FOR AN ETERNITY

    The lovers met only at night.

    When they had first encountered each other, there had been an instant recognition. An awareness that they belonged together.

    And so, each and every night they would begin their dance anew.

    Eyes smiling, she gradually removed her clothes in a striptease meant to entice him. Watching his reaction to her gentle teasing made her even more inventive than usual.

    At last she stood before him…naked and beautiful in his eyes. She saw herself in his reflection, and moved towards him with a joy that could never be diminished.

    His own clothes long discarded, they met near the bed and began to dance. Naked, free of inhibitions, they started to explore paths taken so many times before, yet always new.

    His hands touched her body. A trail of kisses followed the path blazed by his touch.

    She offered herself to him, body and soul.

    A leisurely, sensuous smile played upon his face as he gradually entered her. His mouth sought hers with a tender reverence which brought tears to her eyes.

    Her legs moved, winding themselves around his body.

    Their hands roamed over each other. Touching, stroking. Playfully, lightly at first…then more firmly as he thrust into her with an ever-increasing urgency. With a shout of exultation, he emptied his essence into her.

    They lay there, replete. Holding close to each other. Wanting the night to never end.

    Later, the shadows – in stark relief against a moonlit wall – displayed a renewing of their voluptuous dance. One which continued until the sun’s reappearance marked the end of yet another night.

    As a new day began, they parted.

    How long had they been together, now? A month, a year? No, it was a lifetime…it would be a lifetime.

    But they could not continue like this. And that knowledge lay between them.

    When reality could – at last – no longer be avoided, her preparations began. She felt a giddy, almost overwhelming relief.

    That night as she greeted him, he sensed that this would be their last time together.

    Frustrated rage began to consume him. He did not want this to end – ever. Branding her as he had never done before, he tried desperately to express himself without words. They soared ever higher, a moment suspended in time.

    Nothing could change what was to be, however. Resignation was then followed by acceptance, the emotions visible upon his countenance.

    He offered her one last smile, kissing her lightly on her forehead, her eyelids, her lips. Her tears began to fall, her mouth tremulous beneath his own.

    The lovers’ last embrace was a fatal one. The heart contracted, struggling in a last-ditch effort to continue beating as an essence reached inside, squeezing with a pressure which seemed to last an eternity.

    Pain for both – and yet, each aware that there was no other way for them to be together.

    The last thought before death occurred was this, “It hurts more than I thought it would.”

    At last there were no more breaths. No more pain.

    The body was found three days later. The police had been called to the house after the mail carrier and neighbors had grown increasingly concerned. Never before had the mail been left to pile up and no one was answering the doorbell. Anything might have happened.

    After the autopsy had been performed, the coroner’s report ruled it “Death by Natural Causes” and the police closed the case file.

    There were no relatives, no one to claim the house or its contents. A few friendly neighbors and acquaintances mourned the passing, but all soon went on about their own lives.

    In another dimension, the questioning had begun.

    “You were there to observe – only. You knew the rules, and yet you chose to disobey them. Why?”

    “Death would have come eventually, anyway. And I could not continue to hold a human form there. Every day I would dissipate. And each night, it became more difficult to reshape myself. Why should we be parted? Yes – I was there as an observer. But what I came to feel was stronger than any rules. Please, accept this. Allow us to stay together.”

    The council began to debate what was to be done. The essence of the human had been brought here. Without the permission of those in charge, but with the consent of the human involved.

    Were they to opt for imprisonment due to misconduct, what would become of the lover?

    This too, must weigh in their decision.

    At last, they reconvened.

    “We will allow you to remain together, though neither of you will ever be able to leave this dimension again. This restriction is immutable. Dismissed.”

    As the lovers were joyously reunited, a discussion was taking place between neighbors of the deceased.

    Lowering his newspaper, the husband looked over at his wife. She had just recently turned sixty and yet was still beautiful – always beautiful to his eyes. He said, “You know, I think that I’m going to go see a doctor and get checked out. If a heart attack could hit someone that young, what about someone like me?”

    Pausing work on her embroidery, she gazed thoughtfully at her beloved. They had been married for nearly 40 years now. The thought that either one of them might die at any moment, leaving the other alone, gave her a sudden chill.

    “I think that we both should, my love. After all, Richard was only 34 years old when he died.”

    Written by MaryG

  8. MaryG,
    I LOVED it! What an excellent short story. You should write more often. Your concept was mysterious, passionate, and thought provoking. Possibly write a novel carrying this theme to an entire population creating cities, and worlds, in other dimensions. It could be expanded beautifully. Really impressive work, MaryG!

  9. Stone Cold Kill

    I was sitting behind my desk, watching the clock and contemplating doing something stupid when O’Weinstein, the Chief of Police, stormed in, steam pouring out of his ears. He threw down a copy of the late edition on my desk and glared at me.

    “What the Hell is this?”

    “It’s the Pravda Nuevo Times, Chief.”

    “Don’t get smart with me, Chase!”

    He jabbed the paper with a fat forefinger, his face turning an unhealthy purple.

    “Care to explain this to me?”

    “Well, I don’t read that rag myself. There’s a little too much red in their yellow journalism for my taste.”
    I smiled up at the Chief, going for cute. I guess I missed.

    “You sonovavich!”

    O’Weinstein leaned across my desk, grabbed my lapels and proceeded to blow the scent of gefilte corned beef into my face.

    “Where do you get off telling them that you can stop the Midnight Mauler but I warned you off the case?!”

    Not wanting to put my hands on the touchy Chief, I stood up from my chair, as his hands slipped off my lapels.

    “I told them the truth, Chief. Who knew they would actually change tactics and print it?”

    To be honest, I was surprized I had gotten drunk enough to actually tell that little weasel reporter the truth, that he was sober enough to remember it, and that his editor had enough common sense to print it. The Midnight Mauler had brutally murdered 16 people, all people working late, crushing them to death, according to Magget, the coroner, before throwing them through highrise windows. The police had nothing. Not really surprizing, they couldn’t spot the obvious if it was sitting on their faces and wiggling. They even lost an undercover to the killer and a pair of detectives trying to trap the killer. I knew what it was, and was willing to risk my bright future as a live P.I. to stop it. O’Weinstein was too afraid to lose his job to listen. All things being equal, hopefully that drunken mistake on my part might save some lives.

    “My offer still stands, Chief. You give me one shot, no questions asked. I pull it off, you get the credit. I get the reward. I screw up, you can urinate on my grave with clean hands.”

    He closed his eyes and slumped.

    “That maniac killed three of my best men. Do it. And God help you if you screw up, Chase. What do you need?”

    “Just access to the High Infidelity Building’s 30th floor. I have everything else I need.”

    That night, I was doing my corporate gerbil impression, acting harried at a desk in the High Infidelity Disclaims office. Things began to jump around midnight, when the Mauler came through the window. Gotta love a punctual killer. Not so thrilled to learn that I was right. The Midnight Mauler was a full blown gargoyle. An animate stone killing machine. I gave it the finger and ran for the hallway. I stopped, checked to see that the elevator was open and waiting, then backed towards it enough to give me some room.

    The gargoyle came through the door like a freight train, spotted me and tried to stop, sliding on the marble floor and slamming into the opposite wall. I stuck my tongue out at it. It roared and charged. I ran for the elevator, watching the floor. There! I threw myself over the pool of silicone lubricant, to the right of the elevator, landing on my stomach. The gargoyle, a ton and a half of stone moving at high speed, tried to stop, found no traction and slammed into the open elevator. I pulled the rubber stop out, letting the door slide shut. The creature never got the chance to turn around when the cable snapped, sending it on a oneway trip to the sub-basement. The building shook with the impact. I brushed myself off and decided to let O’Weinstein’s men sift through the gravel. I needed a drink.

    • I like it Recluse! The elevator trap was good. Didn’t even think about him being too heavy for it. Thanks for posting 🙂

    • Nice, recluse! Definately noir, which is a favorite of mine…Spencer meets Supernatural. We bad…LOL!

    • Jon, I like your story better than my own! 🙂

      • My previous comment just did not come out right! ((bangs head against desk))
        Your story was witty, gritty and intelligent. I loved it!

    • Fabulous story Recluse! I give it an A++++

    • Absolutely phenomenal, Jon. I can’t believe you told such an amazing story in such a short space. I loved everything about it. The characterization, the fast-moving description, and a full problem-challenge-solution plot. I can’t believe you even found room for a flashback 🙂 .

      You used unique language and a unique resolution.

      Blown away is the most accurate statement. You should definitely be writing books or at the very least a lot more stories.

    • Very nice use of the gargoyle and elevator. Love the main character too.

    • Couldn’t wait to read the action scene involving how the gargoyle would make it to the elevator! Great job.

  10. Hey, hey recluse! You said you didn’t have it in ya. Well ,you were wrong. Fun story., and loved the detective’s humor. …if it was sitting on their faces and wiggling. Ha! I would give you five stars!!! So proud of you, my little brother.

  11. Gus Graham and the Great Thief
    by Matthew Hopkins

    There was once a small town in Ohio with very chatty residents. The citizens would chat about everything, almost endlessly: the weather, their jobs, their children, everything. But the richest thing the citizens had to chat about was, without any doubt, other citizens.

    Of all the citizens that were chatted about, the most be-chatted was undoubtedly Francis Patickle, an entrepreneur who lived on the edge of town in a gigantic house, a house only visited by people with as much or more money than Patickle, and also some loose women from time to time.

    In contrast, the most unspectacular person to chat about would be Gus Graham, a man of small stature and an unassuming personality who ran an ice cream shop in town and lived with his wife, Emily.

    Emily could not have been happier with Gus and their life. Emily was so proud that her husband had been able to open up his shop and keep it running for seven years, putting smiles on the little children’s faces and giving the older ones a place to come to stay out of trouble. He had made a decent living doing it, too.

    Emily’s little heart sung every time she heard their front door squeak, because this sound signaled Gus’ entrance. However, one day, another sound accompanied the squeak of the front door as Gus returned from work.

    This was the sound of Gus screaming.

    Emily rushed into the front room to see her little husband, brow covered with sweat, leaning on the end table, his lungs winding down. She didn’t know what to think. She had never seen Gus like this before. In fact, she had never even thought him capable of creating such a panic.

    “Dear,” she asked cautiously, “what’s the matter?”

    “Emily!” Gus shouted, looking up at her with a sudden, manic glee as if he had not even realized
    she was there.

    “Gus! What’s wrong?”

    “It’s trying to kill me,” Gus said.

    “What? What’s trying to kill you?”

    “Gravity.”

    Two weeks later, if you asked anyone in the little Ohio town for the latest dirt on Francis Patickle, they would barely know who you were talking about. In only two weeks, all the chatter was about Gus Graham.

    “It’s been going on for God knows how long,” Gus had explained in an interview with the local gossip rag, “but it took me until now to realize. I’m not this short for any reason but that gravity is trying to kill me. It’s just smushing me away. All short people are slowly being smushed by gravity. It doesn’t want us to get any taller.”

    The citizens were raging with excitement. A genuine loony had been produced right within their own circles.

    Emily watched people cross to the opposite side of the street in front of their little house, and the back of her neck prickled. Business was booming at the ice cream shop, the customers popping in every day to see if Gus would do something crazy. But she stood by him; yes, she would not say a word to fault him. After all, they still had a relatively quiet life.

    That was before Gus got the phone call.

    A short man from Philadelphia phoned one day to tell Gus that he had been afraid to admit for years that he had the same suspicion: gravity was killing him. He claimed that gravity had murdered his father; he had the smushed clothing to prove it. He said he would ship some of it to Gus.

    Emily cradled her head in his hands as Gus stamped about the house until late that night, worked up into a furor by the call. She finally tiptoed downstairs to check on him.

    “Gus, please just get some sleep,” she begged. “You’ll feel better in the morning.”

    “I can’t sleep when I’m thinking about gravity,” her husband replied.

    Two days later, Gus received a package in the mail containing a belt that seemed to have been smushed by an all-powerful, unyielding invisible force.

    Within the week, seven more men and women from all over the USA came forward with their long-held suspicions that gravity was slowly pushing them into the ground. In a month, there were hundreds. The panic among the short population was rising.

    Gus had Emily measure him three times a week. Three months after his discovery, Emily measured him and he saw that he had lost a full two inches of height.

    “Two less inches, already,” Gus said with religious terror. “It knows I’m talking. Soon, I’ll just be a puddle on the floor.”

    Gus’ physical condition worsened. His back began to look as if it was bearing an enormous weight. Emily would sneak a peek at him now and then as he hobbled through the hall when he thought she wasn’t looking.

    One day, Gus got in his car and left without telling her.

    Panicked, Emily called all his relatives and friends, but no one had heard from him. She sat by the phone, wringing her hands, watching the television.

    One day, a report came on. Thirty thousand men and women of small stature had made an exodus to Death Valley, Nevada, where they stood together in a mass prayer. There were photos of them huddled against each other, raising their hands not very high.

    And Emily wondered…

    Four days later, Gus showed up, the sides of his car streaked with dust. Emily was out of the house and on the driveway before he could get out. She opened the door to find her husband looking healthier than ever.

    He smiled up at her. “You’ll never believe it,” he said.

    “What happened?”

    Gus swung out of the car and stood up. Emily noticed, to her great surprise, that he was almost half a foot taller than her.

    “What happened?” she repeated, stunned.

    “We pushed back,” Gus replied.

  12. Very unique story, Matt. Reads almost like a fable at the beginning. Definitely a unique take on a not-human murderer. Nice work 🙂

  13. Justice Is Blind
    By Debbie L Moore

    Crash! Then total darkness – it was certainly not the end that Alexandra had foreseen; letting him in had changed everything. She could not begin to conceive what effects this would have on the future.

    Suddenly, Alexandra was startled by high-pitched scratching against metal. The sound grew louder and louder as her pain grew stronger. The scratching sound stopped without warning, only to be replaced with the sound of breaking glass a few moments later.

    She moaned in pain as she attempted to unfasten her seatbelt. She so wanted to fling open the door and run away to safety, but Alexandra was unable to move; her body was not responding, every inch of her ached.

    She felt his familiar lips, which used to thrill her but now caused panic, softly caress the right side of her neck.

    “Oh no . . . please don’t,” she begged, suspecting what would come next. “You’ve won, just leave me die in peace.”

    There was silence for a moment, but then a voice whispered, his warm breath in her ear, “Now what kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn’t put you out of your misery? I’ve missed you so.”

    She couldn’t fathom how anyone could be so cruel. Alexandra prayed it would be over quickly.

    He sensed this of course, which is why he would prolong it for as long as nature would allow.

    Terror gripped her when unexpectedly, and with great force, the driver’s seat was pulled backward onto the back seat of her vehicle. Alexandra could barely feel her legs, which were now pinned under the dash, as the panther began first tearing into her neck, then scrupulously traveling the rest of her body.

    Alexandra tried not to cry out, didn’t want to give him the satisfaction, but she had lost control of her actions. There was no way to escape, nothing she could do but lay there in agony and wait to succumb.

    The panther’s black fur was beginning to glisten with her blood as loud, horrific screams drifted off into the darkness along the desolate highway.

    Alexandra sought to transcend to another place; her body became cold. Before losing consciousness, she swore she could see the panther grin facetiously, glaring at her with icy, steel-blue eyes containing no compassion or sympathy. Only pure, unadulterated evil.

    Her eyes began to glaze over. The panther stopped its attack to watch in anticipation. . . .

    “Mrs. Valantsio?” said a small voice. “Would you follow me, please?”

    “Where are you taking me?” asked Faith.

    They walked down corridor after corridor, each one darker than the next. The smell of disinfectant over sickness filled the air. The nurse began to slow as they reached the door marked ‘Morgue.’

    “No, there’s been some mistake,” Faith whimpered.

    “No, my dear, I’m sorry but it’s no mistake,” stated the nurse.

    Faith couldn’t think as the door opened, she couldn’t breathe. The room seemed to spin as they entered. Inside, there were another nurse and a police detective who were awaiting her arrival.

    “I’m Ms. Collins, we spoke earlier on the phone,” said the other nurse. “And this is Detective Ramos; he came in with your mother.”

    The detective spoke up; “Your mother was found outside her vehicle shortly after midnight. On that stretch of highway, it’s not uncommon to cross paths with deer or other wildlife. We needed you to come down to positively identify the remains . . .,” he paused, “. . . the injuries your mother sustained are unusual for an accident victim.”

    Faith took a deep breath and stood; only now seeing the table at the far end of the room.

    She walked over slowly. The nurse lowered the once-white-now-red sheet, covering the lifeless body of what used to be her mother, from Alexandra’s face only.

    Faith gasped, unprepared for what she saw. Her mother’s blue eyes were still open, staring blankly at the ceiling, with a look of pain, horror, and disbelief on what remained of her face.

    Faith covered her mouth as she felt her stomach heave, trying to control the feeling of overwhelming nausea.

    “Who . . . what . . . could have done this?” she moaned between sobs.

    “That’s exactly what we’re going to investigate.” assured Detective Ramos. . . .

    “Line them up!” Detective Ramos was anxious to dispose his own form of justice, shotgun in hand. Black hairs had been found under Alexandra’s fingernails during the autopsy. Several caged panthers were put into place.

    “You know they’re endangered, don’t cha?” one of the officers reminded.

    “Don’t care. One of these beasts has tasted human blood and must be put down before there’s another attack.” A round of gunfire followed. . . .

    Nash Rittic had slinked his way into the old abandoned restaurant before changing back to his favorite form. Nash was covered head to toe. He cleaned himself up in the kitchen sink and smiled as all evidence washed down the drain in deep red spirals. . . .

    Faith was touched by how lovely the service was and how many people turned out to pay their respects. She found herself mesmerized by one speaker in particular: a handsome artist with chiseled features and the clearest steel-blue eyes she’d ever seen. She found his words heart-felt and sincere.

    Before leaving, he approached her and, after formally introducing himself as Nash Rittic, asked if she would be available tomorrow morning for a cup of coffee. He divulged that he had lost his own mother and could relate to what she was going through.

    She appreciated his openness and could use someone to talk to that understood. Besides, Faith could get lost in those eyes. She felt an excitement fluttering within her stomach. And agreed.

    With that, Nash smiled a crooked grin that was quite charming, and walked away.

    Faith watched as he left and she found herself smiling also; for the first time since her mother’s death. . . .

    (NOT PART OF THE STORY – Want to know what Nash Rittic is? Unscramble – his name is an anagram)

    • Debbie, loved both the story and the anagram. 😉

      Oh, and Tim? Yeah, he’d make one – um – “heck” of an antagonist. 🙂

    • Great job Debbie! You certainly kept the suspense up and left me wanting more.

  14. Fascinating story, Debbie. I especially liked the scene flashes. I didn’t get the scramble, unfortunately. I do think that character would make one heck of an antagonist in a novel 🙂

    • Thanks, I’m glad to hear it. He’s the antagonist in my “Pure Faith” series of ebooks on Amazon and B&N. Here’s a hint – the first and surname, put together, form one word.

  15. Great story, Debbie! I’m assuming the anagram is antichrist? So yes, Tim, he is one “heck” of an antagonist in a pretty well-known book.

  16. […] of the other contestant’s 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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