Michael by Lily Wilder
I really enjoyed this tale by newcomer Lily Wilder. On debut the author has captured the serotonin depleted twilight antics of an ageing star. Opening with a wind whipped crack and ending with a beat, it’s a taughtly balanced tale that begs to be read:
The stylish, sleek car sped down the track. The scenery, no more than a blur as the car flew, its engine purring like the most content Cheshire cat. The drive was flawlessly smooth, and was as promised; the best ride of Michael’s life.
Still, he felt nothing.
The Feeling by James Croker
Another author on debut, James Croker’s Cram is a rocker who’s star has distinctly faded. Self medicating to avoid dealing with his problems, we learn Cram has just been convicted of assaulting his parents. It only gets worse for the former Inverts musician.
Cram bowed his head and shuffled nervously away from the court as the reporters circled the steps leading to the court. He imagined the headlines in tomorrow’s newspapers; Former rock star pleads guilty to assaulting parents, next to photos of his bloated, dishevelled frame. He ambled into a slight jog and forced his way into the nearest taxi. He appeased the driver with some small talk before asking to be driven to his old studio on the west side of town.
Writer’s Breakdown by Tarni McCosker
We have to travel back to December 2016 for Tarni’s previous story, Aura for the 21C Mega Death Award. Writer’s Breakdown breaks down (get it) the stages of collapse of the average writer as they progress from best selling author to talk show detritus.
First writer’s block, and now writers breakdown. The new disease for writers, one where instead of grasping for creative thoughts you are trapped in your own explosive mind due to one, deadly reason; talk shows.
And they’re killing writers worldwide.
Hidden Pleasure by Guy McGivern
Another author on debut, Guy makes a statement with his first shortlisted story on NiTH, as one of the band’s memebers holds a deep, dark secret.
Stars twinkled in the summer sky above, though the brightest shone on centre stage at the Narson Gardens Arena. James Carson faced his thousands of adoring fans begging for more. It was a familiar scene; plastic cups flying through the air, beer raining down like an intoxicating waterfall and people rubbing up so close they almost amalgamated into one.
The Leap of Faith by Sachin Sharma
It’s been great to see Sachin come along in leaps and bounds over the last few weeks, consistently making short lists after a bit of a rocky start to NiTH. In this week’s story we meet Paula. At 42 she’s a Hollywood superstar, but her biggest challenge is still ahead.
Paula takes her stance, a bit hunched. It’s the age maybe.
She rubs the blue mattress beneath with her feet, gathers courage and then looks ahead 30 meters, at the landing point.
Paula has always dreamt of this moment.
So 5 stories, 3 debuts but only one winner. Please congratulate Guy McGivern for his outstanding (and outstandingly creepy) Hidden Pleasure. Well done Guy!
A big thank you to everyone who read, commented and scored on this week’s shortlist (as well as the authors).