January 2013

  Part of the pressure of running a site like this is keeping all the threads together. Keeping the awards ticking over, making sure all the submissions get a fair read, that the short list is representative not only of personal taste but of the broader fiction scene. Getting all the points tallied up takes time. We’re fortunate to have a great pool of judges made up of friends, literary types and former participants to call on. Maybe it was the broad selection on the short list (eight stories was our largest list yet) but we did fall a bit behind this week. Fortunately, we had a couple of people step in and cast their votes at the right time. So onwards to the winner. It was a tight contest, …

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Verity is a lovely young lady who wished to become an archaeologist. She is very interested in history, has a sharp analytical mind and was brought up in an environment which was and still is very supportive of her aspirations. She is generally modest, not the vain, greedy, thrill-seeking type who wants to tear through galaxy and dig holes everywhere just to be able to brag that she desecrated tombs and pinched artefacts professionally. Last year, during her ninth grade, when she realized (more so than before) that classes merely “delivered loads of overly-simplistic horse manure” she naturally felt “lied to” and was discouraged that things were more complex than she thought. Consequently, she skipped school for two weeks and got herself suspended for another one week. During that time, …

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So, that’s how it feels. Not what I expected. More deliciously powerful than I could have imagined. More sickeningly horrifying than I could have dreamed. Ed stared at his outstretched arm. It trembled as the internal war between his mind’s vindication and his stomach’s nauseous churning built to a crescendo. Acrid smoke stung his eyes and the back of his throat. The sound of spent brass settling upon the tiled floor rang through the hammering of his heart and the rasping of his excited breathing. The gun in his hand began to shake, his knuckles white upon it, his finger still clamped down on the trigger. Bile burnt bitter upon his tongue and bubbled from his lips. Remnants of stringy yellow drooled down his chin in long strands. I did …

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Vice Admiral Heather Johnson floated in a tank of viscous, red fluid, entangled by a thousand gently glowing nerve fibers. She did not see tank, however, or the gray, conduit choked room in which it rested. The tank hijacked Heather’s senses, and to her it seemed she floated in space with HIF Task Force Beta, surrounded by warships and a vast, starry expanse. The communications from all fifty ships flowed through her mind like a waterfall in which she could hear each individual drop as it plummeted past. Heather focused in on Fleet Commander Roger Greene’s baritone voice. He sounded tense but controlled as he instructed the fleet’s captains. “Charge drives and prepare for Space/Time Folding to Sol System. Task force Alpha is already on its way.”     Responses poured …

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Tonight is the night The Chittermen come out to play. When the sun goes down and the streetlights start blinking into life; the Shadowlands open doorways into the world. Small pockets of darkness creep across alleyways and under cars, beside large buildings and in parks. At the foot, and in the branches of tall trees; anywhere the light retreats from, the Shadowlands advance. Humans tend not to see the things in the dark, though they are often aware of a presence; a feeling of being watched, of being followed, of not being alone. They say the dark holds secrets that play with the mind. Many’s the time an unwary human has crossed paths with the Shadowlands and dismissed the shivers as an overactive imagination, a play on the peripheral vision, …

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Oscar Lennon wants to clarify that the situation he is about to encounter does not show him in his best light. He wants to make it clear that he managed a B average this year, so if you’re planning to accuse Oscar of being stupid, you’d be way off the mark. All of this should be kept in mind, because without a little context, without knowing what B Average Oscar Lennon is all about, you’d be at a tragic risk of getting the wrong idea about it all. In every horror movie there is Victim Number One, whose only real purpose is to look stunning as she is hacked to pieces. She exists so that the smarter, more important members of the cast can have a good bit of warning …

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He knew the room was empty. He’d registered the dirty cream walls and scuffed floorboards. There wasn’t even dust. Disgusted, he’d closed the door and waited. Now this petite spitfire of an investigator had turned up and wanted in. Didn’t they trust him? Eloquent in his silence, he opened the door for her. ‘Hah,’ she said. ‘No dust! Too clean. What are they hiding?’ He cursed inwardly. How could he have missed that? He’d noticed the lack of dust, but hadn’t completed the analysis. Yet he’d been taught him never to take anything at face value. He cleared his throat. ‘Uh, maybe we should look for some kind of ‘Ignore Me’ spell?’ ‘I’m already ahead of you, boy! This room reeks of spell craft. I’m gonna read it but I …

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A set of azure eyes pierced through the whirling mist, penetrating my skin already stinging from the icy vapor. How fast the world had become a foggy haze. How quickly my surroundings had vanished into eerie nothingness. And yet the eyes still shone through, cold and steely, unaffected by the smog that had distorted everything else into faded shadows. Night approached, though it was hard to tell with hardly a ray of sunlight escaping the brume. The ground clouds that had previously been ghostly white grew dark, adding effect to the murky gloom. Now the eyes grew brighter in the dim, contrasted against the dull grey of the fog. My heart pumped wildly, and with each beat, paralyzing fear coursed through my body like seawater crawling up the shore with …

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I could hear him. He was right behind me now; close, so very close. My footsteps echoed loudly through the damp, mildew-ridden abandoned tunnels. My legs ached as I pushed myself to go faster. My breathing was nothing more than ragged gasps that pulled painfully at my chest, my lungs screaming for more air. My heart pounded wildly in my chest and echoed in my ears, like an eerie drumbeat. It felt like the old concrete walls were closing in around me, like a trap on an old Indiana Jones movie; forever imprisoning me within the maze-like tunnels. I couldn’t see in front of me; the thick, coiling shadows were almost impenetrable. But I knew, with a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, that he was getting closer. …

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All through the new year our coven of prophets have gathered, consulting their oracles of bone and fowl innards. From the pool of unlikely heroes a winner has emerged. Congratulations to: Jason Fink! Jason’s piece won in a photo finish, scraping across the line with several fine submissions in tow. The MAYAN was our first invitational award and the short list did not disappoint. A wealth of talent was on display, so much so that the judges asked for more time to deliberate. There could only be one winner though, and Mr Fink is a deserved first place. With that out of the way, what do we have to look forward to in 2013? More awards, of course. NITH’s primary goal is to provide emerging writers with a platform to …

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