Thursday, December 15, 2016

Year 2, Week 20: Results!

It wasn’t easy to judge this week’s fabulous entries. I read and reread, loving all the twists brought on by the prompt.

Finally, I knew which ones resonated with me. And why.

Announcement: Cracked Flash Fiction Competition is taking a hiatus for the holidays and will return for week 21 on the 7th of January 2017.


Honourable Mention

Carin Marais with “The Sewer Rat”

The revenge-element along with facades – obvious and metaphorical – made this a great read. I grinned with glee at the end. Note: either indent paragraphs or leave a line open. Also, “gold leaf” and “voice box”.

First Runner Up

Angie with "My Abuse Kit"

So often the abuse on women is overlooked or brushed off as nothing. Loved the ending where the character had left her abuser and went on with her life.
Note: use paragraphs; start a new idea in a new paragraph; leave lines open between paragraphs. Use a colon after “ultimate truth” to emphasise that he didn’t like what he’d created. And a semi-colon between the sentences “I never lied about it; I simply omitted…” to bind those thoughts closer together. Also, don’t use capital letters after colons. Great read.

Y2W20 Winner

Kelly Griffiths with "The Prettiest"

Dressing up corpses? Awesome! Loved the dark take on glittering things. Note: I removed the extraneous inverted commas in paragraph six.

      “Sometimes it’s better to hide the unsightly with shiny things than to try to fix it,” said the mother. “Grab that box of Christmas tinsel from the attic. And a fork.”

The child’s noisy rifling through the silver drawer induced a clamorous tune, followed by staccato thudding on the attic stairs. She returned breathless, holding a fork in one hand, a dusty red box in the other.

“This?” She asked, fingering the wayward silver strands.

The mother took the bright silver lengths and held them to the light. The tinsels flashed and shimmered, squirming in her arms like a lightning strike. She gravely handed the tinsel to the child. “You do the honors. It’s your first time.”

The child wrapped the silver noodles around her fork and jammed it in an eye socket.

“Yes, that’s it,” counseled the mother, “Now hold the tinsel down with your fingers and gently slide the fork out. Now the next one. We can stuff her mouth with dryer sheets soaked in cinnamon oil, so she doesn’t stink. Grab the red sequins and we’ll sew her mouth closed, but we’ll leave slits like a sachet. See?” The mother beamed with pride as her daughter bent to the work, eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

“Yes, like that. Sew her mouth into a smile. You just have to pull hard on the thread. She can’t feel anything.”

“I think I hear her crying,” the child protested. See, where she’s coming apart?”

“Just use more tinsel. Wrap it like a necklace and no one will know her throat is cut.”

The child obeyed, her eyes widening at the transformation. A slight smile played at the corners of her tiny mouth.

“This is the prettiest Christmas doll ever, Mommy.”

“Almost as pretty as you,” murmured the zombie.
Thank you all for your participation! Until January…

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 2, Week 20!

Welcome to another round of Cracked Flash Fiction Competition!
Announcement: This'll be the last competition of 2016! The Saturdays following are major holidays, so we'll be taking a hiatus and return for Week 20 on the 7th of January 2017! 

Beware the Rules that Lurk

Judge this week: Ronel

Word count: 300 words max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle and blog if you’ve got ‘em!). One entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Thursday afternoon.

Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they’re for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).


Sometimes it was better to hide the unsightly with shiny things than to try and fix it.

Inspirational picture:


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Year 2, Week 19: Results!

Sorry again for the delay--been running very tight on time with finals coming up next week. 

ANNOUNCEMENT: This Saturday's competition will be judged by Ronel, and it'll be the last competition of 2016! The two Saturdays following that are major holidays, so we'll be taking a two-week hiatus and return for Week 20 on the 7th of January 2017! 


Alva Holland and Bill Engleson

with Drawing a Future and The Neighbors

Drawing a Future 
‘What do we do with them?’ 
Asu’s round black eyes widened when he saw the array of objects on the table. He thought ‘weapons’ but dreamt ‘art.’ Sharp spear-shapes usually meant pain. 
‘These are pencils, Asu. We draw. We make pictures.’ 
Asu picked up one of the pencils, held it in his fist, lead pointing down and he stabbed the page. The lead broke. Asu’s eyes filled with tears.  
'They don’t work. Nothing works for me.’ 
‘Asu, let me show you.’ 
Diane placed a green pencil in Asu’s tiny hand and coaxed his skinny fingers around it, loosening his tight grip as she spoke. 
‘Gently hold the pencil. Now press softly on the paper. Move your hand to the right, like this, and back. See! You’ve drawn green grass.’ 
Asu peered at the small circle of green in the centre of the pencil bottom. 
‘How does it get in there?’ he asked.  
‘I’ll explain that later,’ Diane said, smiling at the little inquisitive boy. ‘Let’s draw a house on the grass.’ 
‘What’s a house?’ asked Asu. 
‘A place to live, shelter for family.’ 
Diane held Asu’s hand again and started to draw a straight line for a wall. Asu dragged the pencil sideways. Diane let his hand go. He drew another sideways line joining the first.  
‘House!’ Asu exclaimed. 
‘Well, close enough, Asu, that’s a tent, but that’s also shelter for family. Good boy.’ 
Asu spotted a red pencil in the pile on the table. He grabbed it and scribbled all over the crudely-drawn tent. ‘No family now,’ he said, and his face crumpled. 
Diane held the little boy’s hand as he cried. Asu had a long way to go but Diane was determined the little mite would grow up knowing a better world than he had seen so far.

He thought ‘weapons’ but dreamt ‘art.’ 
What a poetic line! That drew me into this piece right away. I've been writing a novel that has a few scenes like this, which I think probably kept me in (I must be feeling maternal of late for some reason)--particularly with lines like "'They don't work. Nothing works for me,'" and "'What's a house?'" The emotional depth behind the story is poignant and evokes a sense of grief and pity. Asu's characterization carries the piece, which works even though the plot arc is very subtle. Good job with this piece!

The Neighbours 
“What do we do with them? My God, they’re multiplying like rabbits.” 
Georgina stares out the side window at Colin and Mary Hennessey’s house. I confess that Georgie does tend to exaggerate. Rabbits reproduce like…rabbits. Yes, they seem to want to have their fair share of baby bunnies, but to compare rabbits with the family oriented Hennessey’s next door is over the top even for her. And not a little unkind. 
“Sweetie, Marge Hennessey is pregnant with her third child.”  
I state this with assuredness. Colin told me so.  
“She’s almost thirty.” I say this as if procreation hits a wall at the big 3 0. “She’s not a giant, hormonally charged rabbit. She’s just having her third child.” 
“You idiot,” she fires back. “You think she’s going to stop?”  
Before I can formulate even an incredibly weak answer, Georgie blasts off with, “You better believe she’s not. That woman wants to repopulate the earth…WITH…” and this comes with a cheese-curdling shriek, “more of her own kind.”  
Don’t get me wrong. I love Georgie with all my energy. It takes quite a lot to love a woman of strong and awkward opinions. She has never been one to hold back her impulsive volleys of venom. I love her raw honesty. Some days, however, ever love and tolerance have their limits. Our neighbourhood can’t afford another War of Words.
“Georgie, I love you but you’d better curb your tongue.”
She gives me a skin-melting stare. It tells me…and the world…nobody messes with Georgina Tulip. And I have. I have drawn a line that she will cross at will. 
“I DON’T LIKE THEM. My life is quiet and you’d better be rid of them." 
Once again, I start the gossip.  
Gossip and neighbourly hate knives will drive them out. 
It’s worked before.

I actually wasn't enjoying this story until I hit the fourth-to-last line, and then I had an "OHHHH SNAP" reaction, since it puts the rest of the story into context and demonstrates the insidiousness of this relationship. The last line gives us a whole host of backstory--telling us the main character has buckled before to Georgina's demands and gives us an idea for what the War of Words was (it makes this neighborhood a whole lot more interesting). I believe what put me off of the story partially is the length. The piece could be tightened around the edges to give it a more powerful punch. Format and word amount can make the piece feel more pedantic than it really is. The rant, which probably should come off venomous and raging, instead feels like it's heavy and dragging. 

The last lines of the piece rather pull it together well, however (and might even be able to stand alone on their own as a whole piece).
“I DON’T LIKE THEM. My life is quiet and you’d better be rid of them."
Once again, I start the gossip.
Gossip and neighbourly hate knives will drive them out.
It’s worked before.
Good job with this!

See you all next week for the season finale!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 2, Week 19!

Welcome back to another round of Cracked Flash! Many thanks to those who participated last time around.


Judge This Week: Mars

Word Count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). One entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT! 

Results announced: Next Tuesday afternoon. (Well, I'm going to try for Tuesday)

Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).


"What do we do with them?"

Year 2, Week 18: Results!

Gonna get it on time next week, guys. Let's try for Tuesday to make up for Friday 😂 Thank you all for participating! 

First Runner Up

Alva Holland's I Did it My Way

The conflict between these two characters comes out really strong, and makes, like Nicola pointed out, a very contentious atmosphere to work with. What makes this situation great is that it's not a "band aid" scenario--there's no easy fix for this problem between these two characters, and it makes the story compelling and strong. In light of this relationship, I felt like the deathbed monologue was a little long--it felt to me like the daughter would be interrupting a little bit (even if he is dying). The piece still hit home with those last few lines, though--nice job!

Y2W18 Winner

Kim Davis!

with The Understanding

I want to take a moment to appreciate the finesse that little details about the characters are dropped to build an image of them in the mind. Without ever saying outright that Mrs. Baker is a construction worker, we see that she's wearing a flannel shirt and a hardhat (and, presuming this is mostly from her POV, 'an outboard motor' sounds like something a construction worker would be able to recognize (I certainly wouldn't be able to)). There might have been a little more build-up to the climax, or the climax a little bigger--it felt like the story started at a mezzo-piano and only grew to a mezzo-forte or forte (sorry to bust out the music terminology out). I really like how much this piece of flash relies on extrapolating data--I had to reread it a couple of times to get all of the nuances. Good job with this!

The Understanding 
“I don’t require you to flatter me.” 
“But Mrs. Baker, the grace with which you handled the little incident this morning was nothing short of miraculous.” 
The flannel-shirted woman removed her hard-hat as she walked around her desk and sat down facing the suit. She waited until the door to her office snicked closed. “Mr. Morrison,” she began in a soft, measured tone. “I’d hardly call what happened here today a ‘little incident.’” 
The man made burbling noises, like an outboard motor trying to start. 
Clarissa Baker raised her hand and continued gathering force. “It was a peaceful protest that you turned into a full-blown riot. Lives could easily have been lost. How dare you call that a ‘little incident’!” 
“I merely meant . . .” 
“Trust me, Sir,” she said, her anger apparent, “I know what you meant. Some lives are more important than others.” She took a breath and lowered her voice again. “I have a gift for public speaking, but it is what I said rather than the way that I said it that did the trick. You see, the people here mean more to me than the people who want to shave half an hour off their daily commutes. Did you pay any attention to what I told that angry mob, Mr. Morrison?” 
“That’s neither here nor there.”  
“Is that right? Then there will be more violence. Your company will lose equipment for certain, and possibly lives. Those protesters live here, and you plan to destroy their homes.”  
“It’s not up to me.” 
“I think it is.” She pulled an amended contract and a loaded Glock from the desk and cocked the gun, leveling it at the businessman’s forehead. 
He tried to stare her down, but in the end, they understood one another.