Yesterday, to get you all excited for July’s upcoming workshop and to do something fun for May 1st, I put up a 24 hour flash fiction contest. I got five submissions on my page and one via PM but even with four prizes to give out, I still had some tough choices. Here are your winners and their flash pieces:
3rd place Chad Lutzke
‘Chad has won an ebook of A God of Hungry Walls.
Watching Sanctuary by Chad Lutzke
There’s a good chance it’ll happen tonight. A better chance than most evenings, anyway. And if I were a betting house, I’d lay money on it. It’s spring, the eggs have long since hatched, and the brood has left the web above the bed, exploring every nook. Every cranny.
Any orifice in his face will do.
Shifting and creaking are tedious tasks. And with a homeowner like mine, observation is very much like watching paint dry. That isn’t cliche, trust me. I’ve done both, and they are equivalent.
With the man working nine to five, followed by hours spent in a chair surrounded by TV dinners and empty bottles, it’s his sleeping that breaks the monotony. Watching in great anticipation as night after night the arachnids get closer and farther from his gaping, drunken mouth. Much like watching the races, I suppose. I place imaginary bets and root for the little creatures as they dangle above his snore, teasing me–climbing the wrinkled mountains of his dirtied T-shirt, making their way toward an ear.
Tonight there are far too many about for them all to ignore the man’s enticing, dark, fleshy holes. While the bed is still made, the man sleeps deep, still reeking from the day’s work.
The spiders descend. The spiders crawl.
One hundred dollars on number thirty-two!
She rests on the fold of his face, closing in on his naris, peeking, touching the interior with her curious palps. This could be it. In a perfect world, she’d hop onto his tongue and skitter down his throat. But should her exploration take her through nasal passages only, it will be satisfactory to see the irritation in the man as the many legs tickle and tap.
Sweet dreams, drunken fool.
Rob has won an ebook of A God of Hungry Walls.
Inside these walls of mine resides a man. Inside this man resides a hatred he himself does not yet understand; but I do. It is the same hatred I feel as I stare at him, immobile due to his own free will choice, whilst I am relegated to stillness out of anothers. Is it apathy? Is it self-loathing? I have as much respect for him as he has for himself. To devour him would be delightful, but I have no mouth with which to feed. Thus, I must get satisfaction from watching him devour himself. Slowly, and methodically, his ego chips away, leaving a husk of a man who should not exist. With each passing day, he becomes weaker; and I stronger. It is only a matter of time before he fades. I, on the other hand, will stand solid on my foundation, waiting…for the next one.
Lynn has read A God of Hungry Walls so shall instead receive a digital copy of Archelon Ranch.
Like canopic jars that cherished their desiccated organs, her collection of never-used vases lounged on various shelves, their dark wide mouths ever parched for roses and peonies and lilies. We envied her the busy tasks she set, dusting and rearranging all the useless objects that made up her life’s museum. Tea-sets in every color: an art deco jade green from China, a dragon-encrusted black and cream one from occupied Japan, the turn-of-the-century Austrian demitasse in a tutti-frutti paisley pattern. The home’s heart she was, centered in a hoard of domestic clutter, given meaning by eras past that had also valued the display of bric-a-brac as proof of time’s passing and wealth’s accumulation. And then she thrilled us all by meandering to the dollhouse.
Ah! This miniature of our own bones! Beloved twin viewed through the wrong end of a spyglass. We shivered in delight when she took a sponge to the jewel-like windows and roof, twinkling beneath her clever, spidery fingers. All at once we felt our own eyes shine, our own pate massaged with longing. Even though she had never, in fact, taken vinegar and newspaper to our rain-spattered panes, or wire-brushed our shingles crusted with bird droppings. But how sweet to view the exact duplicate of our own sovereign self earning such attentions and glowing beneath her teasing, tickling feather duster. Our shutters shuddered in sympathy, we spasmed in delight as she touched each little dollhouse item that corresponded to our larger body in every alchemical detail.
She manipulated the five-inch plastic Poe with a raven on its shoulder, laying it lengthwise on top of the plaster girl broken off from an old Black Forest cuckoo clock. They tumbled from the delicate canopy bed made of carved toothpicks and ground their pelvises together on the silk printed carpet, a giveaway prize in tobacco packets from the nineteen-tens. We hummed together with her as the dollhouse couple spent themselves.
And we sighed with her afterglow sighs, and cried when she cried as she crawled into her own solitary bed with its velvet awnings, jealous of the dollhouse bed with its sheets of antique lace handkerchief, its tiny plaster Rhine maiden, its doomed romantic Poe guarding the front door. More company than she, or we, had ever entertained in the vast expanses of our own too-large and empty rooms.
How we longed for a new tenant, one who would invite the world in, throw frequent, frantic parties, lots of energy pouring into our walls, bequeathing us new memories. Alas, the mortgage was fully paid. She owned us outright. We’ll have to wait for her to die of old age… or we may have to plot.
Just HOW will we kill her?
And the winner of the July workshop slot is
“Circles Go Round and Round”
Worm crawled in his burrow.
Worm thought he was a man. Worm thought he knew what a man was.
Worm couldn’t hear the voice that calling outside. His own screams and clawing against glass walls muffled everything else.
Long ago, Worm might have been something else, caked with serenity instead of filth. The cage acclimated. Worm had only his own offal effects to wade in.
Opening his eyes, Worm saw glass walls smeared in shit and scratches, a blinding glint reflection from lights unseen. If Worm just kept his eyes closed, dug around, worm could find solace in the warm of excrement.
There was happiness below the mess. Worm swore.
There was conformity in his tiny world. Worm smeared himself with refuse and called it identity. Confined in flesh and meat, Worm congested-sobbed and patted himself with filth, shaped the viscous hide into a mask that hid him from the glass screens and the strange sights there. To hide below, to wait.
Chains were not always made of metal.
Worm opened his eyes and hated everything he saw. When he was blind, the safety of the womb lulled him, it hung pregnant with false deceptions. There was no happiness when Worm opened his eyes.
The false hope in his sight lured him once again. Worm pushed his hands against the glass, smearing the view of his broken life. There was no real day or night, only patterns.
“Did you take out the trash?” the woman’s voice echoed from beyond barriers. Worm wouldn’t fall for the trick any more. It couldn’t be a real person. Just like the hazed images dancing on the other side of the glass every time Worm opened his eyes, this must be another deception.
Across the glass was a house. Worm was told it was his house. The dingy four walls encased him, bare, caked in a filth he could not clean off despite exhaustive scrubbing. When he directed himself around the house, Worm watched the room shift and move, as if his glass cage was travelling through it. And yet he knew the lie. The room didn’t exist, house neither, the woman who lived there, nor the job miles away his glass cage travelled to. The bills never ended, debts neither. His paycheck fed him enough to feel like starving. Food crossed the glass only by transforming the brown mud at his feet into the shape of food. It still tasted like shit.
No matter what occurred out there beyond the walls of his prison, Worm knew it was a lie. The greatest deception. He took out the trash, anyways, knowing it’d be full the moment he returned to the house. So he borrowed and hid again, closing his eyes. A thousand years he repeated this routine.
The devil had Worm and this was hell.
The images beyond the glass were only the false carrot of hope and Worm knew if he ever gave in, ever believed it for a second, he’d get the stick.
Thanks to everyone who participated! For all others, if you sign up for a slot in July or August’s workshop, you will get your choice of a free ebook from my catalogue! 10 slots remain in each and publishable work has come out of each, so hope to see you in July or August.