"Unfinished" had some stand-out, antiquated images I was thankful to see again.
"Total Win" had a winning narrational attitude, but swung wildly from deal with it to let's tie the knot. Bit of a capricious zombie!
"The Equalizer" had probably my favorite line of the year: "Rich and poor use the same alphabet. "I was unclear as to who was driving the corvette. Were they in the car together? This piece sent me on a researching spree: decomposition. I learned those gut bacteria DO bloat your entrails till they come out your... (well, look it up if you want to be disgusted!)
On to the winners.
Sara Codair with "What Comes out of the Ground"
The mother's sass was fun. I also enjoyed the literal take on the prompt and the details that painted an exact time/scene. The clear plot and surprise ending was ultimately what made this my runner-up.
Bill Engleson with "A Heart-Worming Story"
The funny, strong voice immediately pulled me in. Then you make the idea of him waiting and listening under there with the beautifully understated phrase, "It was all very remarkable." Then, the betrayal! The origin of the walking dead- love!
My flesh is clothed with worms and a crust of dirt.
The dirt is essential. The worms absolutely insist. I don’t mind. They are unusually polite, not a characteristic you would normally expect from worms.
I had once considered cremation. It seemed a nice tidy way to exit.
But I dawdled with my will and no specific changes made it into the final draft.
Sam Salter, my lawyer, kept at me, of course. “Spell it out, Walt. If you have a preference, state it.”
I suppose it was the smoke, the flame, the fire, the blast of heat that caused me to hesitate. In the end, I went for the traditional funeral, the box, the lowering into the ground, the eternal wait.
After a goodly number of months of interminable rest, the cold, the heat, the changing seasons up above, the voices of other new members of our cemetery community, my consciousness began to stir. It was all quite remarkable.
Cecile came often. I could almost hear her. “Oh Walt, I hope you don’t think me disloyal. Sam has been very helpful with the estate. We have become closer than I ever imagined possible.”
As I heard her confession, I thought, well, at least I know him. He was a pretty fair lawyer. He might make a suitable lover.”
The worms thought otherwise. Surprisingly, they could not curb their tongues. “Lawyers. Squirming sleazy lawyers,” they would say. “We can barely find the courage to slither into their corpses. We let the other creatures of the soil slip under their skin. Beetles! Ants! Oh, the ants love to crawl into the orifices of dead lawyers.”
Eventually, the concept of the walking dead arose in discussion.
The worms heartily endorsed the activity.
Sam and Cecile can expect a visit any night now.