Finalists for the February Writing Contest


The finalists for the February writing contest have been selected.  This was a tough one to narrow down as everyone had great stories and I enjoyed them all!  Unfortunately, only three could be chosen, but I want to thank everyone who submitted an entry.  Your stories were great and well worth sharing. Anyone who has not read them yet can see all of them here.  The following contestant’s are the ones who are up for voting.  Please do congratulate them!

*Duncan MacPherson
*Anthony Bellaleigh
*M. Cheykota

Below will be a review of the contest stipulations, followed by the three finalist’s stories. At the bottom will be the instructions and poll for voting. Anyone may vote for the tale they believe is best, but you should take the time to read all three before making your decision. Remember, you may vote only once.  Contestants, also note that you cannot use blogs, twitter, Facebook, or any other site to ask for votes.  You are allowed to announce you are a finalist on those sites and link this page, but you should only tell people to vote for the best story, not yours specifically.

Stipulations:

1) Tell a story about a date gone bad, between grown adults, on Valentines Day.  The couple could be meeting for the first time or they could be in a long-term marriage (or anything between).

2) There must be one kiss between the couple, even if it is very brief or only on the cheek.  It can happen at any time in the story.

3) The story must include three or more of the following issues:

a) Water gets splashed in someone’s face.
b) A fire breaks out
c) One or both of the date’s mothers call to check in on them
d) A natural disaster occurs such as an earthquake, tornado, or blizzard
e) One of the two characters on the date gets arrested (but not both)
f) One of them has a kid show up asking for money
g) There is a city-wide blackout
h) Someone loses their shoes
i) The place where the date occurs is not what it seems…
j) Hell freezes over (interpret that how you will)

4) Word count should be between 700-1200 words.

——————————————————————————

2 go mad in The Canaries

By Duncan MacPherson

The events portrayed in the following story are true. Only the date has been changed.

It was Valentines day, when my wife Lyndsay and I flew into Las Palmas for our 1st holiday without our boys in years.
My parents had insisted on taking us to Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and we were so excited. The expectation built on the plane and only increased on the bus ride to our hotel.
We were in an apartment next door to Mum and Dad and as soon as we got in we were in each others arms, for a snog and a quick grope. Then we had the discussion regarding how quiet we’d have to be tonight.
Once settled in my mum wanted to check out the shops, so we took a walk into town and discovered the Jumba centre. Four stories of shops spread out around an open square. After a spot of shopping we returned to the hotel to relax for a while. We had after all just travelled there that day.
At around 6 the “auld yins” declared they were going to kick back at the hotel that night. We were not of the same mind. We had plans of making the most of this opportunity. After all, we were childless again for a whole week. So we jumped in a taxi and asked the driver to take us where the nightlife was. We ended up at the Jumba centre again. We didn’t know that it turns into a large scale night spot when the sun goes down.
It was only then that we discovered that our holiday destination is the gay capitol of Europe. A quick reconnoitre of establishments in search of a pint of John Smith’s led us to Vivette’s. A tranny bar with English staff and lo and behold, the deal breaker. Karaoke.
We had a ball. The people we met that night were fabulous. We hit it off immediately with a gay couple and two gay single men, who insisted on taking us to the gay nightclub round the corner. We were pretty well in our cups by then and readily agreed.
Things were good in the club for a short spell until Lyndsay became disoriented leaving the Ladies and thought she was trapped. She couldn’t find me at first and when she did I was talking to the rest of the crowd including an attractive girl. This was where the mood changed. Harsh words were exchanged and we started proper rowing. Lyndsay managed to lose her high heels running away from me, while I walked after her shouting, “where are you going to go? I have your phone and the money.”
She told me to give her ff’ing phone. And to my credit, I immediately did. Launching it 40 feet straight at her, smashing it to smithereens in the process. Then I did something to prove to the world that I was a drunk Scotsman abroad. I ripped my shirt off hulk-style and threw it away, as if it were on fire. I can honestly say now, looking back, I do not know what that act was meant to achieve.
I must admit, nobody enjoys a good screaming match more than us, however, this had gotten out of hand. The relationship we agreed was over. Hating each other was the favourite topic then.
It was at this point that the Spanish police got involved. We were a whisker away from being arrested, but thankfully they put her in a taxi after making sure she knew where she was staying. “Hotel Green Golf,” she screamed at them over and over. They told me too make my own way back. She woke up my father at 4am and stayed with them. I got back, locked our door and went to sleep.
At midday my Dad came round to ask if I would see her. Of course. We put it all behind us in an instant so based on the previous nights furious declarations hell must have frozen over. Lyndsay and I ended up having a fantastic week. We were in Vivette’s every night. We met the most wonderful people. We even went to the nudist beach, but that’s another story.
That valentines night out was 6 years ago. We’re married now and have a daughter as well as our sons. But we both agree, that week starting with a calamitous night out, is one of our fondest memories.

——————————————————————————

A Table For Two

By Anthony Bellaleigh

Hell has frozen over. Apparently it’s got something to do with the Omnipotent’s concern for the overuse of fossil fuels and some mysterious phenomenon called global warming but that’s all a bit complicated for me and, personally, I think He’s just letting His strange compassion for humanity get the better of Him.

The upside of course is that purgatory isn’t half as bad as it used to be back in the ‘good-old-bad-old-days’. The downside is that us demons are now at a bit at a loss for what to do with our time. Eternity, as they say, goes on for…, well…, a long time.

Let’s face it, it’s okay for the human souls – lost or otherwise. They can just mosey about and do their normal stuff. They don’t have enormous fangs punching downward out of leering mouths, or red skin, or yellow eyes, or cloven hooves, or claws for finger nails. As a demon I found I was really disadvantaged until I found myself a lifeline: internet dating.

You see, PictureApp Pro (Hades-User Edition) did a great job of magically smoothing over even my most deeply pitted scars, and I managed to carry off with aplomb the requisite flirtatious keyboard conversations, so my circle of ‘acquaintances’ grew by the day and, if I’m honest, it started making me feel a little excited in places I’d nearly forgotten I had. But then, disaster…

Humans it appears – dead or otherwise – have a special day set aside for romance. Where, for some unfathomable reason, it is mandatory for the ongoing sustenance of any relationship for some ‘effort’ to be made. Much can be placated by gifts – apparently – but preference is for some form of eating ritual. My longest standing on-line ‘acquaintance’ had been dropping sledgehammer hints about it for weeks and my nether regions had been enthusiastically ruminating about what might happen in the future if things went well and I, like the rot-infested idiot that I am, went and set up a date… Probably not my wisest hour.

“So, do you like it here?” I ask across the silverware encrusted, candlelit dining table in an attempt to dislodge my eating partner’s delicate human lips from the frozen ‘o’ shape that they seem to have been stuck in for the last five minutes. I’m also fairly sure she’s a good shade or two paler than when she first arrived.

“Mmmm…” she manages, though there is still the hint of a tremor, even in this small utterance. Perhaps the sight of my muscular chest, a slab of glistening vermillion still dampened by the lingering memories of aeons spent stoking the Master’s cauldrons, is proving too much for her and, come to think of it, I’m getting strange glances from all around this opulent chandelier and cut-glass festooned restaurant? Unfortunately, however, I suspect it might be my more general ugliness that’s at the root of her obvious disappointment and I have to admit that my ‘nethers’, despite an eternity of under-exercise, have never felt more downhearted and withdrawn as at that moment when she first caught sight of me, and screamed out loud.

Got to admire her though! She’s got a lot of nerve and I think that’s one of the reasons I liked chatting to her on-line. Barely ten minutes of slight hyperventilation and two sizable brandies have proven enough for her to muster sufficient courage to join me at this cosy corner table and, right now, I can barely see her shaking. Perhaps there’s hope yet?

Two slender crystal flutes filled with gently simmering champagne sit between us, flickering hypnotically with reflected spark-light from the taper candles. Perhaps a toast might be in order? Some quiet words of friendship might help to put her more at ease? As it is, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be having a moment of cultured and attractive company – my usual social partners being the dankest dregs of the abyss, literally.

I reach out to take hold of one of the glasses and she flinches backwards from me. “Please don’t be afraid,” I rumble as pleasantly as I can given my usual vocal capacity for eardrum rupturing roars and try to move my hand away in a placating and unthreatening gesture. Sadly, I’m paying insufficient attention to the surrounding tableware and one of my claws catches the candlestick and knocks it into what looks, from my suddenly adrenalin soaked perspective, like a slow motion rotation.

Horrified, I watch as the errant silverware spins like the startup phase of some ancient propellor engine. Now would probably be a good time for prayer, mutters my mind but sadly, as you know, I’m not of that disposition and instead I thrust my arm forwards with the full intention of athletically recapturing the object’s status quo.

But claws aren’t particularly well suited to catching metal.

I know this now.

The candlestick jumps out of my grip and lands heavily into the sizable pile of tissues that my Valentine has been using to mop voluminous quantities of tears whilst we wait nervously for our Hors D’oeuvres. Unfortunately it seems that there isn’t as much moisture in them as I need because they burst into flame which quickly spreads toward the fine lace table cloth.

Flames. Demon. It must be in the genes because I‘m transfixed and sit there for a few seconds like an awestruck child who’s just been thrust headfirst into the world’s biggest sweet shop.

Fortunately my Valentine has better reactions and leaps up, sending her chair clattering behind her as she rises. Leaning forwards she quickly grabs the glasses of champagne and, with a view to douse the rising conflagration, thrusts her fully loaded hands in front of her like a cowboy gunfighter drawing his six-guns. Well, as it happens, she throws the liquid more toward me than the fire and, if I hadn’t already been feeling so uncomfortable with the way the evening was playing out and not now been sitting there with two full glasses of fine French wine trickling down my face, I would probably have found it amusing to see the look of abject horror that plastered itself over her otherwise beautiful face.

Still, her misdirected actions at least broke my reverie and I leaned forward and tamped out the flames with the flat of one hand. That’s probably the only advantage I can think of for being who I am: I’m very heat tolerant.

“This is a disaster,” I mutter sadly to myself, staring at the blackened singe-marks in front of me. “I’m very sorry…”

“I think it’s best if I go,” says my Valentine quietly and I nod disconsolately feeling my shoulders slump under the heavy weight of disappointment. “But let’s chat some more,” she adds. “On line… Where it’s safer.”

I pick my head up to look at her, not certain that I’ve heard her properly and she leans forward and kisses me once, briefly, somewhere on the vast escarpment that’s my forehead. Then she turns and walks away.

I have to say. Despite my background, that’s the warmest touch I’ve ever felt in my life.

Happy Valentines.

——————————————————————————

The Unexpected 

By M. Cheykota

Charlotte opens the front door after fluffing her shoulder length, straight caramel colored hair to reveal a handsome man wearing a dark blue sweater and comfortable slacks standing on her doorstep with a nervous smile on his face. They admire each other for a moment and she quietly exhales in relief when she feels her insides twist in attraction. She also notices his anxious smile turns genuine as his dark blue eyes under dark eyelashes sparkle in delight. During his appraisal, Charlotte has to stop herself twice from adjusting her new, long-sleeve turquoise blouse that she bought earlier in the week when her good friend Margaret convinced her to go on a blind date.

Before she can introduce herself, her teenage daughter yells for her from the other room. Charlotte flushes in embarrassment from her daughter’s behavior. Ignoring her daughter’s call, she introduces herself to her blind date quickly and invites him inside.

Her date barely steps inside and is in the process of introducing himself when Charlotte’s daughter, Savannah, bounces into the room, stopping right next to her.

“Mom, can I have twenty bucks for the movie tonight?” Savannah asks while her curious gaze moves over the man in appreciation while her open palm waits impatiently in front of her mother’s face.

“Savannah, where are your manners?” Charlotte’s face heats in mortification as she searches through her purse for her wallet, desperate to get her daughter out the door.

“Allow me.” Her date’s voice sends chills of excitement down her spine as she and Savannah watch him pull off a twenty-dollar bill from his thick money clip. He places the crisp bill in Savannah’s open palm.

“Wow, thanks!” Savannah winks at him in thanks and whispers in her mother’s ear. “He’s hot mom. Have fun tonight and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Charlotte gives her date an apologetic look after Savannah runs out the front door. “Please forgive my daughter’s manners. I’ll pay you back…”

“There is no need, Charlotte. Although I do not have children of my own, I find the presence of children uplifting and highly entertaining, especially teenagers.” He interrupts her with a small chuckle and reintroduces himself. “As I was saying before, I am Ben Stanton. Margaret has told me wonderful things about you Charlotte, but her vague description of you did not prepare me to expect such a beautiful woman as my date tonight.”

Charlotte giggles, surprising herself by her adolescent behavior. “Thank you Ben.”

“Are you ready to go? I have made dinner reservations at a restaurant nearby an acquaintance of mine recommended to me.” He asks while offering his arm to her.

She can’t stop the grin from spreading on her face. “Let me just get my coat. I’m ready to go. Aren’t you going to be cold wearing just that sweater tonight? It’s still very chilly out.”

Ben accepts her coat from the rack near the door and eases it up her arms, taking a little longer than necessary to adjust the collar. “Don’t worry Charlotte. My coat is in the car. I was only trying to impress you with my manly physique by appearing at your door without my coat.”

She laughs at his obvious joke and follows him to his car, pleasantly surprised as he holds the passenger door of his luxury sedan open for her.

They arrive at the restaurant less than 10 minutes later, just as the wind begins to pick up and water droplets sprinkle the windshield. Dashing inside the restaurant, Ben leaves a guiding hand on her back as the waiter escorts them to their table.

“This place is really nice. It looks as if we arrived just in time. The storm seems to be picking up momentum.” Charlotte remarks as they settle in their seats.

Ben glances out the window as sheets of water begin to drench the streets. The trees sway from side to side from the strong wind and heavy rain.

“It’s a good thing that we’re inside.” Charlotte remarks as she picks up the menu for review. “It looks a
little dangerous to be outside right now.”

Ben opens his mouth to respond to her comment and pauses when the lights flicker before the entire restaurant plunges into darkness. Several people around them gasp in alarm as lightning brightens the room for a moment before a thunderous roar shakes the restaurant. A few minutes pass as waiters walk around the room, lighting candles that they place on everyone’s table. As the waiters are filling wine glasses, they inform everyone in the restaurant the kitchen will only be a slight delay in delivering their meals.

Charlotte and Ben laugh at each other’s jokes over their candlelit dinner, taking their time to get to know each other. After sharing a delicious piece of lemon-raspberry cheesecake, Ben pays for their dinner, leaving a generous tip, and helps Charlotte into her coat. The storm is no longer raging, but the saturated street outside the restaurant has her grateful that Ben chose to use the valet service.

They talk quietly to each other on the sidewalk while they wait for the valet to bring around Ben’s car. Ben is standing in front of her, his back to the street so he doesn’t notice how fast the valet’s approach to the curb is. Charlotte squeals softly in surprise and hides her head in foresight of what is to come. Curious about Charlotte’s alarm, he turns around just as the valet approaches the curb a little faster than he should. The water accumulated near the curb raises high into the air in an arc, splashing Ben directly in the face. Spluttering, Ben accepts a handkerchief from Charlotte as she fights hard not to laugh.

“You could have warned me, you know.” Ben mumbles teasingly.

Charlotte bursts into laughter, unable to contain her amusement any longer. A moment later, Ben joins her in laughter and waves off the valet’s apologies, removing his damp overcoat before climbing into the driver’s seat. Minutes later, Ben is walking Charlotte to her front door.

“I had a really great time tonight Ben.” Charlotte admits honestly while fishing her keys out of her purse.

“I did too. As far as blind dates go, I can say things did not go as smoothly as I had hoped.” Ben confesses while taking a step closer to her, closing the distance between them to less than a foot.

“You have a wonderful sense of humor. I’m glad you didn’t allow the unexpected to ruin our evening.” She daringly moves a scant closer to him, looking deeply into his eyes.

“Don’t you know I planned all those things to happen?” He jokes playfully. “I wanted to make sure our date was memorable.”

Sensing her mutual desire, Ben slowly wraps an arm around her waist and cradles her cheek with the other. His lips brush hers softly, causing the air to leave her lungs with a soft sigh before he applies more pressure. He breaks their kiss, leaving both their bodies tingling with desire.

“You just did.” Charlotte whispers against his lips.

Ben returns to his car with a smug grin on his face.

————————————————————————————————————————————

Congratulations to the three finalists.  You all did a wonderful job and I wish each of you the best of luck during voting.   The poll will stay open until midnight (EST) Friday, February 17th.  That is approximately three days for voting.  On Saturday, February 18th, I will announce the winner and runner-up.  They will both receive their Amazon gift cards that day.

Once again, the contestants are welcome to announce their story being up for vote on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. but I require you DO NOT tell people to vote for you specifically.  Ask others to simply visit and select the story they think is best.  Please make this a fair contest.  I really do not want to disqualify anyone.

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~ by Suzie on February 15, 2012.

9 Responses to “Finalists for the February Writing Contest”

  1. Three very worthy finalists. I wish you all the best of luck.

    Brilliant stories… now to try and pick one!

    After, of course, I have had the enjoyment of reading them all again.

    • Just write their names on separate pieces of paper, tape the papers onto the wall, and then throw a dart blindly to see which one it hits. Pick that one. That’s what I do! Just kidding, I actually agonize for hours over my decision on whose entries get to be finalists. You’d think I’m masochistic the way I keep holding these contests, lol, but it’s worth it to read all the great stories.

      • I believe it must get tougher and tougher to pick each time….we writers do tend to get better with practice.

        I too would like to say that I find the competition getting better. I wish “Bestsellers” to all the finalist.

  2. […] Vote Here:  February (Valentine) Finalists on Musings of Mistress of the Dark Path […]

  3. Well done to everyone! I really enjoyed all of this month’s submissions… I’m amazed I made the shortlist.

  4. I, too, am amazed that I am a finalist. It has been an enlightening experience that has given me the boost of confidence that I need to try entering another contest. As a new writer, it humbles me to hear people enjoy reading my stories. Regardless if I win or not, I’m proud to know that my work is appreciated. Thank everyone for the opportunity and I look forward to next month’s competition.

  5. Tough choices this month, but I think I made the right one. Congrats to all of the finalists. You’re all winners.

  6. Thanks to Mistress Suzie for allowing me to enter. I’m amazed and honoured to be shortlisted out of 95. Thus was my 1st short story and 1st entry. It won’t be my last. Thank you.

  7. […] February Short Story (Valentine) Finalists on Musings of Mistress of the Dark Path […]

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