Sadly, one of our judges has fallen wounded to another prey: a hideous, vile cold. So, I'll be your only judge today. Hope that doesn't damper anybody's excitement to hear the announcements! (Rin did help pick, though, so rest assured; it's not just craaazy Mars picking stories out at random.)
Steph Ellis' Oblivion
This one was a little too creepy for my tastes, but was excellently written and the intention is clear. The sentence structures are nicely varied; it makes this story flow very well, and the word choices gave the piece a tranquil, sadistic tone.
I think I've laid my finger on something: the piece is clean and well-written, but doesn't have much in the way of conflict. Karl's already been killed and it's just Emma contemplating her contentment.
"It was contentment, not oblivion that claimed her and she wanted to remember every minute, every heartbeat, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow," is a rather intriguing line; the repetition of 'tomorrow' gives a sense of eternal repetition, or even oblivious bliss. It rather summed up the piece in one line for me.
Red Fleece's Campfire Stories
The tone of this story doesn't really come off as scary or as a horror until the last few lines (*cough* Rule Breaker (#2) *cough*)--a very well-executed "dun dun dunnnn" moment. My favorite phrase is, "Toby became a whisper," for some reason. It seems like it might be an error, but it really complements the rest of the piece for me--it feels to me like the most emotion-filled sentence.
That's mainly what I felt was lacking: emotion. It feels disconnected from the characters--I don't have a personal connection to any of them. Shortening Sandra's 'ghost story,' or even having other kids ask questions in the middle, might fix that problem for me.
I thought it was clever how light-hearted the story was to begin with--we've all been there, telling (really) lame ghost stories around the campfire (or flashlight), knowing that none of us are really scared. But then some jerk slams the kitchen drawer and freaks everyone out, which is how the last lines come off. Overall, this was an enjoyable story.
I really appreciate the shortness of this piece, first-off. I think it's the shortest that has been done so far in the competition. There's very little or no excess words, but it still gets the story across poignantly.
My only true confusion is who's saying the last line. It seemed to me like Liam had disappeared, and she was left--so it might be his wife saying the line to herself?--or it could have been a time loop, and Liam was repeating it all over again.
The piece evokes definitely invokes questions like, "What are they doing? Why are they doing it?" but the beauty of this is that the story still feels like a story without those questions answered.
“Don’t worry; you won’t remember anything by morning,” Liam assured his wife as he checked the survival suit and made sure she was secure.
“But… if you fail…”
“Then everything is the same, except I’m not here. The real problem is ‘if I fail- you’ll never know’.”
When she frowned he winked. “Occam’s Paradox… the most likely is a false memory.”
He drew a deep breath and stood, realizing he was delaying the inevitable. He pressed the button and sensed nothing.
“Don't worry; you won't remember by morning…”
|We might have to ban you from winning,|
too, Decker. XD