December 2014

Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year It’s the holiday season, so I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible, cause I’m sure you’re all busy digesting large quantities of cake to avoid talking to relatives you only see once a year. Christmas is a time for giving though, so it’s apt this week’s winner captured the essence of charity. Congratulations to newcomer Evret Marr for his story Finnigan’s Wake. Evret beat out a small but tough field of stories to claim this week’s top spot. Our next award is the VISIONS OF 2020 competition. If your New Year’s Resolution is to write more, or even to read more, we’ve got you covered. Head on over to the Awards and Collaborations page and check out what’s coming up. …

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A strange situation this time around with 4 of the 5 stories sharing second place. Well done to Fingernails, Grading On A Curve, Mrs Williamson’s Rose Garden and The Box on running a tight race. Ultimately though our congratulations go to Lisa White for her story “Better Than Most.” A win on your first short list probably doesn’t qualify as a NORMAL SUCCESS, but it’s more than deserved (Insert ‘Better Than Most’ pun here). Don’t forget to check out all the new awards we have up for the first couple of months of 2015 on the awards and collaborations page. Also, the NORRISH GIFT Award short list is up right now. That’s all for the moment. We’ll have some interesting new elements coming up this week, including a public schedule …

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Special thanks to Daniel Norrish for donating his winnings back to the competition. Even though it was a slew of late entries we have some excellent submissions. A few tear jerkers in there are well. Check out the full short list here   One Good Turn by Sean C Grid Lock by Jason Fink The Nightmare by Charlie A Novak Raindrops by Little Miss Carmello Finnigan’s Wake by Evret Marr

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My next door neighbour has: a whipper snipper; a leaf blower; a chainsaw; a ride on mower; and a shredder. Well he used to. He may have had other tools in his back shed, like a spade or a rake, but they never came to my attention. It was the noisy petrol guzzling buggers that keep the garden under the thumb that piqued my inner good Samaritan. And that is the point I tried to make after I politely knocked on my neighbour’s door last Sunday afternoon. “There’s no law against leaf blowers,” he grunted. “Do you think you could maybe give it a rest on Sunday’s at least.” “What are you a religion freak or sumthin?” I must admit his massive illustrated biceps and the can of bourbon and …

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“Fuck you,” I muttered. Traffic was bad, the weather worse and my mood – surly. Cutting me off was not the best idea at that moment. I memorized the make and model of the car, and the license plate as well. If I ever came across that particular vehicle, I would fuck it the hell up. The phone went off in the seat next to me. I glanced down at it. My boss. Again. She could wait. She was a douche-and-a-half, and I was only going to be ten minutes late. Maybe twenty. But still. I was only late a couple of times a week. She could bite me. I moved a bit closer to the bumper of the car that had cut me off. I’d been in line for …

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The figures that prowled the swirling, golden mist were indistinct, yet terrifying. Their forms were hunched and misshapen, no two alike. Some red, some black, some scaled, others spiked or hairy. All were equally horrible. The way they moved was worst of all. They never stayed in one spot for more than an instant. They flickered in and out of visibility, appearing and disappearing at random. They were unpredictable, everywhere. Leo wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around his head and hide, but he dared not look away from the monsters. If he did, they would kill him. A demonic face loomed in front of him. Its skin was red, intricately patterned with gold swirls. A cruel, thin-lipped mouth was stretched into a manic smile that revealed pointed …

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As the bell signals the end of another tedious and sultry day, there is hurried gabbling, shuffling of papers, textbooks squashed with little dignity into bulky schoolbags, a snatch or two of nervous laughter, leather shoes thundering across the carpet, and the door closing with its plaintive squeal. Silence. She remains at the desk, in the right-hand corner of the classroom. A bead of sweat trickles down the side of her cheek, but she brushes it off before it lands on the grid paper. She scratches the paper with her pencil; solid, consistent strokes of a well-practiced swimmer approaching the final lap. She finds the last coordinate, plots the last point. As expected, the points join in smooth curves. The hyperbola and parabola intersect perfectly. Satisfied, she takes her time …

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Finnigan was a despicable human being, a fact he himself well knew. He looked up at the large colorful rosette of St. Jude’s Chapel illuminated with the warm soft glow of tens of hearts in prayer. ‘Ah, Christmas Time!’ he whispered with relish, breathing hot air into his gloveless cupped hands. It was freezing but Finnigan knew his hardship would soon be rewarded. He’d scrounge around the crowd for a while and then it’s straight off to The Sidetrack. He could already feel the whiskey streaming down his throat, heating him up, filling up all his empty spaces… Finnigan willed the doors to already open – floodgates letting the wave of parishioners spill put into the courtyard and Finnigan’s outstretched arms. He had found out long ago that he belonged …

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