Four To The (Cage) Floor
Last week’s award asked for a pretty specific type of story. Born from our Twitter page, where we frequently post short, fast writing prompts, the Rat In A Cage Award asked authors to write about an animal breeder who became trapped in one of his own cages.
With such a specific setting and plot point, our four short listed authors had to create something pretty amazing to stand out. Lets see how they fared:
Ash Warren’s Fine Provisions opens with two women discussing the evening meal in a spotless, gleaming kitchen. We see Ash’s trademark mix of observation and metaphor, with subtle hints of the story to come hidden on the walls.
It was all white counters, with a black slate floor that seemed to be made of shadows and which just emphasized the spotless order of the room. A huge renaissance painting of fruit and flowers overflowing from a darkly glinting silver bowl hung on one wall underneath which was a expertly achieved ikebana display of plum blossoms clinging ephemerally do their dark branches, like divers pausing before they plunged into the sea.
Ted Inver has made himself known as someone to watch in the second half of 2015. Strong stories with realistic dialogue and nefarious characters. Doctor Atis is one such fellow. Blinded by his pursuit of science, Atis is about to have a a freaky awakening in Caged Compassion:
“Be careful!” The rat squealed, bringing the crawling human over, sniffing at him.
“That’s right, boy. Hola.” The rat pointed at the cage door, grimacing at his hideous paws. “Help!”
The human nibbled at the metal.
“No use your hands, you idiot!” His squeaks came out clipped; if there was ever a time to believe in animal communication, it was now.
The human responded with a frown, then dropped out of sight. Nauseous, the rat sunk to the floor in agony, massaging the wound above his missing testes. What did he ever do to deserve this?
Always ready to make a mark on the short list. Lydia Trethewey’s The Jaws Of Life gives us the memoir of Wendell Lambert, a sickly man who wants only to bring the best designer pets to the paying masses, only to find himself the target of a media firestorm:
The back of this cage runs deeply like a tunnel through a mountain. Blind in the dark basement, I hear the whisper of an alpine wind beckoning the powerful legs of a great beast. Water trickles slowly down the rounded walls of my imagination, divulging an earthy scent. A fathomless, salivating hole opens up, one that leads inwards and outwards towards freedom.
And finally the Rat In The Cage Award also welcomed newcomer Nick Lachmund, who’s aptly titled Caged, saw a lot of attention from readers and on Facebook, taking the torture horror of an Eli Roth film and translating it wonderfully into written word:
My throat’s dry, too dry to even spit out the words. I need a drink desperately. As if reading my thoughts, the man approaches my cage and slides a dirty water bowl under the door. Is he kidding me? Does he expect me to drink out of that? He’s mad!
Our winner this week took no prisoners, leaving the other authors in the dust with a strong, captivating story. That’s less a criticism of the collective cadre, and more praise for an author who really knows how to turn on the good stuff.
We’ve said this several times already in 2015, but that hasn’t tempered our enthusiasm for congratulating Lydia Trethewey for another outstanding win!
Lydia took no prisoners with her exciting, well structured story, delighting our judges across the board.
Well done Lydia, who now moves clear of all authors at the top of the leaderboard, (and perhaps offering a target for other authors to aim at).
Thanks also to Ash, Ted and Nick for their great stories, and to our judges for their tireless efforts. As we move into the end of our third year, it’s clear how fun, competitive writing can push authors to greater heights, regardless of who wins or loses.
Coming up later today, our next exciting short list is for the Triumphant Return Award. And later in the week, new awards, more from Harbourtown Blog, and a couple of interesting interviews.
See you all next time!