Newcomer Chris Wheatley takes on NiTH heavyweight Nick Lachmund in this Patreon sponsored award. Let’s find out who took first place.
1. The Final Party by Chris Wheatley
Praised universally for the snappy pace, dialogue and abrupt yet apt ending, Chris Wheatley’s first foray into the Needle in the Hay shortlist was a refreshing take on the brief that has all the hallmarks of a top piece of flash fiction.
“Can you believe,” said Phillipa, “that in this day and age there are still some places where you cannot connect to the net?”
“Have a drink,” said Mike, passing round the bottle.
“Urgh,” said Phillipa, “even the sat-nav is out.”
“Have a pill,” said Mike, passing round the pills.
“What are you laughing at?” said Laura.
“A CEO,” said Frank, “a banker, a Senator and a scientist and here we are lost in a field. Useless.”
Wheatley’s story moves along at a fantastic clip. So much so that there’s barely enough time to learn the characters names before they are met with a grisly end. Read the full story here.
2. On the Side of the Road by Nick Lachmund
Like Chris, Nick also set his story somewhere along an unnamed highway. But where Wheatley’s story is set in some future dystopia, Lachmund’s tale is entrenched in the here and now:
I don’t remember exactly when dying became a fantasy. It wasn’t on the day Jen left me, but it wasn’t long after. Three years of dating and two years of marriage gone in an instant. I assume that’s why the idea of an eternal sleep feels so comforting. No more worries, no more pain and no more thinking about her. I can’t think of anything better than that.
‘It’s not fuckin’ turnin’!’
That’s Pete, my oldest friend. He and Steve, my second oldest friend, are trying to lift Pete’s car using a jack to change a tyre. I didn’t offer help and they didn’t ask.
Blokes having an existential crisis are bread and butter for Nick. On the Side of the Road is the perfect meeting point for the author’s unique and honest perspective on the challenges and small wins of everyday life. Read the full story here.
Whenever there’s a two person shortlist there always feels like there’s a little more at stake. A more clearly defined ‘winner’ while the non winner has to stand alone. It’s a double edged sword. Invariably, and as was the case this week, the difference between 1 and 2 is a couple of points, even less. But still, there’s a winner nonetheless.
This week we have something of a record. Our win we has taken first place in the last three shortlists in which he has featured. Congratulations to Nick Lachmund for his excellent story ‘On the.Side of the Road’.
Just because Nick won doesn’t mean Chris goes empty handed. With our Patreon Awards both authors share in the prize pool. So if that sounds cool to you, maybe you should check out.it out.
Thanks to everyone who helped out judging this week. Coming up next… The Mutually Assured Construction short list.