Monday, February 21, 2011

The Other Four Winners! (And One Honorable Mention)



SCI-FI: Untitled

A ship glides through the infinite.

There are ten passengers aboard, and soon there will be nine. Those nine passengers do not know this, but the tenth does. She stands at the airlock window, quiet, contemplating, counting stars and planets as they float through the dark. The captain's voice pipes through a speaker above her, tinny and cold:

Approaching Planet 16573. Prepare for unloading.

The planet looms into her line of sight as they race towards its atmosphere. The tenth passenger brushes her thumb across a sensory pad and the airlock hatch opens with a quicksilver hiss. She steps into the tiny chamber, the cushioned floor sinking under her bare feet, and the door slips shut behind her. Entering a six letter code into the control pad, a countdown appears in the air before her, seconds rapidly descending. A mechanical voice speaks from nowhere:

Airlock will open in ten. For your safety, please be appropriately suited.

Moments later, the captain's voice comes to her again:

Thirty seconds until entry of the atmosphere. Passengers must be belted in.

The new planet hurtles towards the ship ever faster. Sorrow fills her throat with fire, but there is no turning back now. The countdown reaches zero, and a thousand locks release, the outer hatch slamming open. The tenth passenger hears the roar of the infinite, embraces it, in her last instant.

Her final words are sucked into the vacuum with her:

Desperate are those who try to touch the void.

WEIRD LOVE: Untitled

I'm dumping dirty clothes in the washer when Ben materializes.

"Astrid. Hey. We're on food duty this week."

I kick the hamper behind the machine, hoping he doesn't notice my lime green bra on top, and accept the rather large gun he hands me. I don't bother learning the guns' name, since we'll all be dead soon anyway, but I can handle it well and that's what counts.

Outside, we sprint through the ankle-high dead grass into the van, which provides a.c., a blessing in this heat. The world gets deader, hotter, crispier, every day.

"No Jeff?" I ask once I realize Ben started the van without his usual job partner in the back.

"Not this time." He glances at me. I wonder what he sees. I see an 18-year-old boy—about two years my senior—who is, admittedly, gorgeous in the dark-hair-and-muscles way. His eyes are a stunning green that give my bra a run for its money and he smells amazing.

A crush, me? Well, yeah.

We arrive at the superstore that we usually steal from. There's some intense technology keeping everything inside fresh for survivors like us.

Or any zombies that might get in, too.

This time, we're lucky; we're the only scavengers inside. Out again, with a squeaky cart full of food, we're not so lucky. The parking lot is completely packed with starving undead.

Ben gently tilts my chin up. "In case we die…can I kiss you?"

I hope he's joking about the death thing.


The city had a name, but it is no longer important. The people rushing to and fro along its streets were far too concerned with Matters of Consequence to bother with such unprofitable things as immortalizing the name of their city. Perhaps if they had, it would have had a happier fate. The skyscrapers shone and sparkled as the sun rose and set, but though those who saw them were many, those who looked were few. At the edge of the city, grass grew.

Only the poet watched it, and thought, The wind blows, the grass grows. The city grows, yet there the wind does not blow. The city will last forever, and the grass will die tomorrow...right?

One hundred years have passed. The city has been ravaged by fire and flood and disease. Those who survived left long ago. The city, abandoned, has fallen into ruin. The smooth asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks are cracked; wildflowers have sprung from the cracks and widened them. The streetlights, their glass splintered, have bowed and broken. Throughout the city are shattered windows, doors hanging off their hinges, roofs caved in. The remains of a chain-link fence lie on the ground in a pile of wire and rust. A fallen telephone pole spans a street, decomposing. Tiny pink mushrooms dot its damp, brown surface. The once-shining skyscrapers have died, leaving bare and rusting skeletons of steel. The wind blows softly. And all through the city, grass grows.

HORROR: Unreal



Lately, she hadn’t been able to tell the difference.

Afterwards, those close to her admitted that there had been something different—something odd—something off—about her.

Of course, that was before they started dying, one by one.

It was the most peculiar thing. Unexplainable. Her dreams became particularly bizarre—even more than ordinary—but in a horrific, terrorizing sort of way.

She’d walk down the hallway, under the cover of darkness. The door would creak. The floorboards would moan under her weight. She’d creep up silently, on tiptoe. Draw a dagger from the folds of her bathrobe.

She would awake, safe in the security of her bedroom, to the sounds of her mother’s piercing screams: Her father was lying in bed, the sharp blade of a knife stabbed into his chest.

The following night, her best friend went missing. There were bloodstains on the sheets. The police were bewildered: the doors were locked. No windows were broken. There were no fingerprints. No traces. Nothing.

There were never any traces. Her sister went next. Then her basketball coach, followed by her history teacher. Her brother. Her aunt.

During the day, she was confused and frightened beyond words. She didn’t know what to think—who was she? The mourning friend, or the evil villain? The innocent daughter, or the bloodthirsty murderess? It was far too terrifying to think about.



What was the difference? Where should the line be drawn?

WEIRD LOVE/ HONORABLE MENTION (Because it's hilarious, and you KNOW how I feel about Bigfoot.)

Dear Mary,

I miss you. I miss you so much. Everything I see reminds me of the time we spend together. Every mountain. Every rock. Every little cloud.

The world became gray when you moved to America. Well, it’s not like it has ever been colorful here. But still.

With you, the wind sounded like a beautiful melody emphasizing our love, the hail felt like a cool refreshment on my fur. Without you, the wind sounds like a hollow moaning, the hail feels like a set of icy swords, cutting my empty heart into pieces.

I remember us scaring hikers just by leaving our footprints in the snow. Now it seems senseless. I remember us laughing so loudly that they ran away, they nearly died of fear. Now I don’t laugh anymore. I remember us sometimes “finding“ children that tasted sweet and juicy and wonderful. Now, to me it doesn’t matter anymore if I eat berries or branches or children or rocks. They taste all the same.

I wish, you’d come back.

I love you. I love your laughter. I love your black eyes and the way they looked at me. I love your dark brown fur and the way it waved when you were hunting. I love your mouth, your sharp teeth. How you tried to catch snowflakes. Your huge feet.

I love everything you do. Even that you decided to move away. It just makes me sad.

Love, Yeti


Violet said...


Lucy said...

Awesome who was the guest judge?

Anonymous said...

Dear Violet:

Ditto. As an American, I'm supposed to leave being "gobsmacked" to the UK dwellers, but I'm gobsmacked by these winners. And even the honorable mention is excellent. Usually epistolary romances take FOREVER to read, but not that one.

Robert in San Diego

Anonymous said...

I. Am. Depressed. I can't believe I blew that chance. I hate myself.

Isabella P. said...

The sci-fi story was simply incredible--made me hold my breath while reading it. The dystopian story, "City Ago," was poetic, beautiful, and dark at the same time. The Weird Love story was intriguing. And the Honorable Mention was way up there, both hilarious and touching.

It's amazing what 250 words can do.

Anonymous said...

Dear Depressed Anonymous:

Don't be so hard on yourself. This was tough. I wrote THREE stories just to put in for fun (I already have all the posters I need posted). It was hard. I had fun. The stories were good.

Not a one of them is as good as any of the winners. Only one of them is close to being that good. This is one ROUGH literary neighborhood. I've met published authors, relatively well-known writers who, if they'd tried to waltz through this contest, would have been found by the grammar police, late a night, missing their wallets, shoes and socks, sitting on a curb by the adverb recycling bin, muttering "they looked so young, so cute, so innocent, how could I know they were dangerous?"

Robert in San Diego

Isabella P. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth said...

Amazing stories!
It would have taken me a year to write a story, and it would have been horrible! Haha.
I love the Yeti one! It's so odd, funny, and unexpected. And at Robert in San Diego, I agree with Isabella P. :)

Elizabeth said...

And her comment was deleted... but I love your comment Robert in San Diego. Love it!

Lucy said...

The sci-fi zombie story was pure awesomeness

Toodles*** said...

Wow, those all really deserved it. Well done, Irregulars!!! I LOVED yours, Mary. It was HILARIOUS!!! The other 4 winners were amazing. It sounds as though you have the potential to become full-on authors!!! Well done, guys!

Undiscovered Universe said...

City Ago

thats my vote, for sure.

Isabella said...

@ Elizabeth: Sorry. I've never really commented before on blogs and was messing around & I deleted it accidentally.

But anyway, I said something like:
Anonymous Robert in San Diego,
Your analogy is awesome.


I keep re-reading the other winning entries. The 3 of them (and the honorable mention) are all so amazing!

Anonymous said...

Congrats those who won!! ;)

Izzie said...

These are all amazing pieces of writing! I can't really comment on which one was the best because they were great :)

Beleive said...


The only thing is, the Yeti isn't like the Abominable Snowman like how the honerable mention makes him sound like; it's actually a mistranslation. The Yeti is more like Bigfoot.

Just wanted to make that clear.