June 2013

“Stacey, stop texting and put the phone away,” said Ms. Leeds as she walked into her office, sitting across from the young student. Stacey tapped the screen a few more times and then complied, slipping the phone into the front shirt pocket of her boarding school uniform. Ms. Leeds found it obnoxious that these kids couldn’t go longer than a few minutes without staring at a screen, but didn’t press the issue. She wasn’t here to quibble over cell phones. “Stacey,” she said, getting down to business, “It has come to our attention that Chelsea McCormack has been cheating. But she’s your roommate, so you already know that, don’t you? I want you to sign an affidavit testifying to it.” Not only had Stacey known for some time now that …

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It was a single look across a crowded train station, but it held weight. More weight then Winona was willing to admit. It was a look that seemed to corrupt her, it tried to draw her in. She flicked it off, but felt nervously that her self-confidence wouldn’t be so strong if the look came again. When Winona got home she couldn’t forget the man she had seen on the train. She had an uneasy feeling that not only had she seen him before, but that his face should mean something to her. Her stomach trembled and before long she had worked herself into a small state. As a young woman living alone, it didn’t take much for her to become uneasy. She tried to sooth herself, and picked out …

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Jao, leader of the freedom fighters, cut his way through the thick forest leaves with his machete. His people formed a row behind him, their combined steps creating a slick mud path. The jungle seemed hostile to humans constantly barring their way, scraping them, tripping them, sending bugs and beasts after them. But it was still the safest place. A hard life in the jungle was preferable to what they had left behind. There could be no doubts about this. The only future lay forward in the path cut by Jao. Soon there was a muted roar that seeped through the air, the first indication of their destination. Jao’s people let out a sigh of relief as they wiped the sweat from their glistening skin and prepared for the last …

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Brone swung off the bars and landed amongst his many companions. One of them pulled his tail. “Relax, you’ll all get your share,” reassured the big hairy guy as he handed out the nuts. Everyone counted four nuts in their hands. “Just four?” – “C’mon, one more.” – “Yeah, don’t be tight.” – “Why can’t we have more?!” – “And we only got three this morning!” The big guy’s face flashed, “It’s what the Master ordered,” then stomped off. They huddled together. One of them suggested, “We gotta ask for more. I say we stage a protest.” Most of the group cried and screeched in assent. “Yeah, we should demand more!” However, a few replied, “I doubt that guy cares. He just follows the Master’s orders.” Brone listened and eyed …

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My uncle’s heavy fist landed on my face, after a flash of numbness, my cheek felt warm. I spat a broken tooth and blood on his face. Infuriated, he pushed me back, and my head hit the door of his bedroom. From the space between his arms and large belly, I saw my aunt grip my cousin tight. His body shook with anger, but my aunt was stronger than her six year old boy. “I’d make you sleep on the street tonight” my uncle cried. He pulled me up by my hair. Another blow fell on my face. More blood pooled in my mouth and mixed with my saliva. I spat it out. “Look, what she did to the carpet” my aunt yelled and pulled my cousin back. “We should …

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Upon a broken and sunlit mesa two figures face off, each ready to win or die. In the duel for this week’s winner, there can be only one: Congratulations to Debb Bouch! Debb’s entry drew the eye of all our judges this week. A fierce, fast, and thoroughly entertaining piece, Debb showed off her considerable passion for music with an entertaining narrative, packing everything into a single scene. Well done, Debb! Also, congrats to Manasvi Mudgal, who’s delightful ‘Breakfast Table Espionage,’ came in a close second.  

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It started again. Amelia and Jared began bickering more fiercely than ever, insulting each other and vowing to see the other defeated. “You know what? It would be a pain the ass for me to watch you cheering for a team in which I am the main player,” Jared sneered. “Oh right,” Amelia said scornfully. “You know what is more painful? Cheering for a team which has a loser like you.” “Then who asked you to become a cheerleader?” Jared stepped forward menacingly. “It’s my high school, my life, my wish. Who needs your stupid opinions? If you have a problem, then back off. Leave the team gladly and walk away.” Amelia too advanced on him angrily. “Oh really? Do you think I am gonna let you have any satisfaction? …

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Some years ago, when sunlight still shone uninterrupted down onto grassy meadows, a small community had sprung up. The people survived on cows that they ran out to pasture in the lush, thick grasses. Each and everyone grew up to believe that they were destined to stay and populate the little valley community that had only been recently discovered. It was not until a small girl, in a bright yellow dress, asserted herself within the community, that they realised just how dangerous an ingrown region can become. Independence, as a wise person once said, springs dependently from intolerance.   *** At the top of a green hill sat a small weathered church. It had been built nearly fifty years before by an evangelical man who believed that the closer the …

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James was standing, drenched in sweat and covered in sand underneath a jaundiced, full moon. He panted during the short interlude, his bruised limbs lethargic. He tasted salty iron at the corner of his mouth and knew it had been split in that last flurry of blows. His opponent looked just as battered as he did but neither one of them was ready to give up yet. This was the ultimate battle of wills and he couldn’t lose or he would die. James wiped away the sweat from his brow and ran towards his opponent. He dodged a right hook and landed an upper cut to the man’s jaw. He lashed out with a kick to the knee as he disengaged. The man buckled but dove for James’ legs and …

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Tayla fishtails around the corner in her pink hover car named Daisy. Jack has never been late before let alone stood her up but she’s annoyed anyway. When she pulls into her driveway, she senses that something is odd. Just a bit. It’s not merely that her bedroom window is broken but something else… It suddenly occurs to her that as she sped down the street everyone was glaring at her and seemingly not because of her driving. Tayla steps out of her car and, seeing the two children on their bikes across the road staring at her, decides to approach them… except they ride away. Thump. Thump. She recognizes that sound and turns to see a towering grey man-walker mech leaning over her. “We have to talk.” The voice …

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Every muscle ached. Every fibre of his being, screamed with the loudest voices, using his nerves as the means. Each of the 206 bones in his body were on the precipice of not simply breaking, but shattering into a million pieces. The ever-present sensation of pressing down threatened to make his bones evaporate into a dusty cloud within his body. His toes, they were what went first, either through frostbite or the inevitable wearing down of the flesh at the bottom of his feet. Whatever had happened to them, he could only feel a dull ache being emitted from them when he concentrated on their specific sensation. It was like some mercy which had been laid upon him, like the omni-malevolent being in the sky had searched far and wide, …

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Alright Hercules, you may be bigger than I am, and you may have been here longer, but I am getting that last piece of chicken, thought Ronin, as he spied the unattended meat on the counter. He wasn’t really hungry, but the smell was driving him crazy, and he knew he’d have to get past his arch nemesis to get it. Hercules sat seemingly undaunted, grooming himself a few feet away. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the movement of the smaller cat, circling around, trying not to be seen. Aw, Ronin thinks he’s going to steal the chicken, thought Hercules. How cute. He stretched, shaking out his back legs, and walked casually just a few steps closer to the object of their desire. Ronin froze, and …

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Staring at you, taking in your curves and shapely body I am enthralled. You captivate me with your every move; the way you like to mirror me is enchanting. Surely magic or imagination must have given birth to you, my silent stalker. Countless times have I tried to defeat you, but you simply laugh at me silently and ward off my attacks by mockingly copying me. Frustration eats at the very core of my being. How to defeat you? You, who are born of light and shadow, you who haunt my every step? Did you not have enough of this mockery? What is it of this torture that you find so endearing that you keep on doing it? I, for one, had enough of this. Today I will find a …

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Joe had trained for this. Practised this moment over and over. Now it was time to walk the walk. The moves should flow without conscious thought but momentarily he was so caught up in the enormity of his challenge that he felt awkward, clumsy even. He shook off those feelings of inadequacy and strutted to the middle of the arena, taking up a fighting stance. Someone once told him that skill was only part of what made you truly great. You had to refuse to acknowledge your own mortality and to be arrogant enough to know that you were the best. A heartbeat later, Mark, the old alpha male, strolled out with insouciant ease, eyeballing his opponent. This was about more than the moment. This young pretender was challenging Mark …

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“Would you like some sugar?” my wife asked me. I sensed the great effort it took her, to even acknowledge the fact that she had forgotten to add sugar to my coffee. I nodded and presented my half finished cup to her. She peered in it, smiled, and said, “Did you not notice it was missing?” “Of course I did.” “Then why did you wait for me to ask?” “I had my reasons” I said. Though in my head it sounded suave, but when I heard it when it came out, it sounded more like a hoarse whisper. My wife chuckled. She added some sugar to my cup and settled back in her chair. I was about to reach for the day’s newspaper, but she beat me to it. After …

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He seemed more bear than man. Standing head and shoulders above the rest of his fellow guards, clad in furs and chainmail holding that axe. Nearly as tall as he was with a great crescent-shaped steel blade counterbalanced by a massive spike on the back, it was a vicious brute of a weapon. She on the other hand was more akin to a wolf, small and lithe, clad in dark silk and wielding a pair of daggers joined by a cloth wrapped chain. The only part of her visible was a pair of amber eyes. They were battling for their masters, reasons held no meaning to them; their lords commanded and they fought. An uneasy silence blanketed the area, some guards watching silently while others ignored the upcoming fight to …

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I could see my toes gripping the sparse soil fragments spread in little pockets over the ragged cliff edge. As I stared down, my toes were at the edge of my field of vision, like little spectators’ heads popping out over the fronds of boulders; beyond them were the jagged edges protruding from the cliff face, which careened down into the deep black of the sea below. I stared at the black body, beckoning to me with foamy white snarls, thrashing against the cliff face in a bid to shake the earth, to send me tumbling down eighty feet into the abyss. I could feel Tom breathing beside me, it was a tense and slow series of gasps, so slow, as if trying to halt time with the rhythm of …

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From across sweeping plains and grand vistas our judges have assembled, ascending the great mountain of NITH to nominate a winner from the chosen few. Get the picture? Congratulations to Nadya Agrawal! Nadya’s Sunshine and Movement showed an excellent contrast between the landscapes of the everyday and flights of fancy we take into imagination, be it real landscapes or places of fantasy. It’s a delight to have a first time winner. Maurice Said, another first time entrant, came in a close second with his excellent Under The Carob Tree. If you haven’t read either of these, I strongly recommend you do so. Please take the time to congratulate Nadya in the comments below. Our latest award, the ADRIAN’S DUEL, is up now, so check it out.

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