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Stories that won 1st place, as picked by our readers



     

Planetary Shift by Jim Hawe c 2012
on 2012/4/24 19:27:55 (528 reads)
* First Place Winners *

Like most married couples, Jay and Clover Brewster did not always see eye to eye but upon one point there was complete and utter agreement: they just had to get off the moon.

The couple sat quietly at the Sector 7-1 Relocation Center, massaging sweaty palms under the table as their assigned real estate agent worked feverishly at his key pad with long, six-jointed fingers sweeping back and forth. His right pupil, a small white dot on a black cornea, spun around like the second hand on a clock pouring over data, while the left pupil remain fixed on the fidgeting couple. With four independent brain lobes, the insectoid Acrisians are expert multi-taskers ideally suited for civil servant jobs.

"Now why do you want to relocate?" the agent asked, his right pupil still spinning over the data.

"Moon dust," Clover blurted out. "I can't take the moon dust any more. It gets into everything." She scratched at already red forearms.

  0   Article ID : 215
Chiseled from the Cold By Matthew Fritz c 2012
on 2012/1/10 18:26:18 (498 reads)
* First Place Winners *

I lost my love long ago in white deserts of barren snow.

We were of an ancient race, her and I, bacterium drifting in great clouds above the sky, over land and sea, to the steps of the blazing rays of day.

And we loved each in our billowy drifts, until the skies became warm and we crashed down to earth, our bodies breaking apart, colonies of bacterium separating, our minds becoming numb, separated, barren.

Cold.

For centuries, millions and millions of years, I was emptiness spread over gulfs of space, tiny and pathetic colonies of germs, until, little by little, my bacterium started to recede together, returning back to an ancient place, a colder place, a place frigid enough to feel my loss.

I didn’t know what you called it then, but it was the substance referred to as snow that my colonies sat and collected, until together, they pieced back my mind, my intellect, until I remembered her name, Infinity, my love.

  2   Article ID : 191
Underwriting by Jonni Butler c 2011
on 2011/11/11 17:33:36 (478 reads)
* First Place Winners *

The examiner opened his digital notebook and fussed about with setting up the interview form.

Allyson fidgeted in her chair. "Will this take long?" she asked.

The examiner just caught himself before rolling his eyes and sighed. "Your agent should have explained to you that this interview will take between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on your answers to the questions. Some responses cause additional questions to be generated. Did your agent explain this to you?"

"She might have told me that. It's been 4 months since I applied for the policy. I don't really remember exactly what she said."

"All right, then" the examiner replied in a very bored, very carefully impersonal tone, "Allow me to quickly review what the agent may have or should have explained."

He looked at her and waited.

  2   Article ID : 180
Scriptorium by Faircloth Kirk. c 2011
on 2011/8/13 20:15:38 (540 reads)
* First Place Winners *

"You still drink Godfathers, Valentine?"
"When I get the chance."
Addison Valentine took a seat on the plush, leather couch. He smoothed the wrinkles out of his tuxedo pants, watching as she stirred the Scotch and amaretto, the ice cubes clinking against the side of the glass. Something about this woman...
"I suppose you're wondering why I dragged you away from such a fabulous party?"
"The thought crossed my mind."
Diana Bloodgood's four-inch heels tapped a steady rhythm on the hardwood floor as she crossed the study. The tips of their fingers touched as she handed him the sweating glass.
She took a seat across from him. Valentine couldn't help but admire her crossed, elegant legs peeking through the slit in her crimson dress.
"Have you ever heard of the Scriptorium Project?"

  2   Article ID : 167
First Sight by J. Davidson Hero c 2011
on 2011/4/24 17:27:39 (562 reads)
* First Place Winners *

As the landlord pounded in the "for rent" sign in front of the gray house across the street it was as if Sebastian could feel each whack of the hammer in the center of his own chest. He looked down the street at the line of "for sale" and "for rent" signs that stretched all the way to the end of the block. There already weren’t any other boys his age left living in the neighborhood, and now Jenny was leaving too. What was he going to do?

  2   Article ID : 149
This Property Protected By… by Dennis Hanley c 2010
on 2010/12/15 17:52:59 (592 reads)
* First Place Winners *

“Stop struggling. It’s your own fault. You think this is easy for me? If you keep struggling it will go so much worse for you.” The man in the apron shut and bolted the shop’s front door. “You decided to rob me, rob me and tonight of all nights. You have no one to blame but yourself.”

A tall man in a stocking mask stood nearly motionless in the center of the little convenience store. He shuddered and moaned as if struggling against invisible bonds. The pistol he had waved in the shop owner’s face only moments before lay on the floor at his feet. The money he had sought was safely locked in the cash register tray. The anti-theft system the shop owner had been reluctant to pay for had worked. It worked with swift and terrifying efficiency.

  2   Article ID : 137
Forgotten Memoirs by Seth Benish c 2010
on 2010/10/6 15:14:37 (762 reads)
* First Place Winners *

If you ever come around here, I’ll be waiting. Well not for you of course, but waiting, as in waiting to see what happens next kind of sense. I mean… I might as well wait some more; I’m not too busy these days.

But back in the day, that is a little different. I use to be important, everyone knew my face. My reddish, rectangle face. Well, I guess you could call it a brick face… It’s actually the perfect definition, because it’s not a definition in fact... it’s a noun. You see, I am in fact a brick. Not one of those new, hot shot perfectly symmetrical bricks, but one of those old worn down, dirty bricks. You may think useless is a good adjective, but I would say elder, or wise brick instead. You see, I have been around since this town was built. I was shaped in the factory down the road, and they put me right on main street. I have seen it all since then, seriously, I have been sitting around watching this city since they tucked me in with mortar. I in fact use to be one of those hot shot bricks. Perfectly symmetrical with sharp, un-chipped edges. I looked like a rectangle that could be found in the geometry books from the old high school that used to be down the road. I’ve been through everything with this city, well not directly, buy witnessed everything kind of sense. I witnessed every wall on main street go up (besides my own), I witnessed all the other streets get put onto the ground. I’ve seen too much to describe, so let’s just say that I’ve been around to notice all of this city’s changes. First the town became populated with new lively people, all of them happy, then eventually everyone became frantic stressed in a way, then the air became musky, the sky became dark, leading to the grand finally of this town’s end. Well I guess not the “whole town’s” end; I mean I’m still around. Well I’m partly here.

  1   Article ID : 129
Interview with the Werewolf by Eric Zimmerman c 2010
on 2010/8/15 11:54:05 (733 reads)
* First Place Winners *

"I got the call two days ago. The number came up "unknown". Normally I'd let it go to voicemail, this time I answered.



"I'm not sure if that was good or bad.



"The caller said he had a story for me. He said it was going to make my career."



Well my "career" if you can call it that, stalled about a year back. I have been living day to day. I got a couple of pieces published freelance in the "local" paper. You know the one that's free, with "massage" parlor ads in the back. Yeah that's a career.

  2   Article ID : 121
Madame Zelda Sees All By Arthur Sanchez © 2010
on 2010/3/22 11:41:49 (1423 reads)
* First Place Winners *

"Ok," Madame Zelda said in a voice soaked in boredom, "it's $14.95 for the first ten minutes and a dollar a minute there after. I don't predict lottery numbers, I don't read tea leaves, and I DON'T do birthday parties. All predictions are for entertainment purposes only and all customers, that's you," she said, pointing at the man sitting across the table from her with a manicured finger, "are advised to seek legal counsel before acting upon anything Madame Zelda tells you. Payment is required prior to any services. No checks but cash or credit cards are gladly accepted." Madame Zelda narrowed her heavily shadowed eyes and took a long draw on her cigarette. "Now, what can I do for ya, hun?"

  2   Article ID : 92
Reddof Parts By Luke J Maucione © 2010
on 2010/2/6 2:22:43 (724 reads)
* First Place Winners *

"You are needed," the runner said.

Edgar flinched at the words.

They had traveled many leagues to reach the fabled Cairn of Sorrows. Along the way the party dealt with scorpions, giant nomadic sand lizards, and an enormous sandstorm that nearly buried them in its wrath. When they finally reached the opening of the Cairn the previous day, Edgar’s services still had not been utilized.

  2   Article ID : 84
No More Brains for Jack by Stephanie L. Morrell
on 2009/12/7 17:30:37 (860 reads)
* First Place Winners *

Jack Whitman sat quietly in the corner and tried to gather his thoughts. It was a difficult task considering the fact that he had been dead for quite sometime as were all the others occupying the abandon cellar along with him. They were all zombies but Jack felt different from the rest. He no longer wanted to eat human brains and this fact made him a target of ridicule and hazing. Still, he was set on changing his lifestyle and giving up human brains was his New Year's resolution.

"Where are you heading off to, Jack?" Lilly was up for a night on the town. "We could get a bite to eat then break and enter into someone's home to watch a movie."

"I don't think so, Lilly. I'm not really in the mood."

"Come on, Jack." She smoothed out the five blonde hairs remaining on her skull-like head and batted her dead colorless eyes at him. "The house will probably have cable so we can checkout On Demand for the new movie releases."

"Maybe later." He offered her a hollow grin. "I just need to have some time to myself."

"This isn't about your brain free diet, is it?" Lilly tilted her head and gazed into Jack's pasty grey face. "Is it?"

"No," he said plainly. "I just need to walk around for a while."

  2   Article ID : 71
The Witches Brew By Jamie K. Schmidt
on 2009/10/14 14:02:53 (923 reads)
* First Place Winners *

Belinda liked to watch the Harry Potter movies in order; just so she could see the kids grow up before her eyes. It also made her feel a little less like a dirty old lady for lusting after the lead when he took off his clothes for that play about blinding the horses.

The children she taught were nothing like the students from the popular movies and books. Her students were chosen for their lack of moral fortitude. In short, they were sociopaths. It was her job to give them a conscience or at the very least, rein them in so that they worked for the good of society instead of nefarious purposes. Failing that, well, Belinda preferred not to think of such unpleasant things.

So when one of her students, Jezzie Bell -- yes, that was her real name (sometimes, Belinda wanted to smack the parents) -- boiled up a mind control potion, Belinda had some hard choices to make.

On the one hand, it was rather funny to see Joachim (apparently “J” names were in for wizards that year) “bawk-bawking” around like a chicken, but it was another thing to see the possibilities glint in her other students’ eyes.

Belinda confiscated the recipe and erased Jezzie’s memory of creating it. Mind-wiping was another of those skills that danced the line of decency. Belinda understood her students so well because, a long time ago, she had been one of them.

  3   Article ID : 64
Him and Me and a Package of Twinkies by C. Clayton Chandler
on 2009/7/29 18:48:02 (983 reads)
* First Place Winners *

Error

That's all the screen said.

Error

Just five green letters glaring out at me. But suddenly the sky's purple and the mountains are scorched and the oceans are boiling. Lakes are spitting steam and great streaks of fire are slitting the night apart.

Mushroom clouds are sprouting out of New York. Mushroom clouds are sprouting out of Los Angeles. Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow. London. Paris. Tehran. Hundreds of other cities, towns, landmarks, strategic locations.

Lasers are blasting down from satellites. Blasting up from ship decks. EMPs are knocking airplanes out of the air. Some virus is making people projectile vomit until they die from aneurysms.

  4   Article ID : 53
A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Arthur Sanchez
on 2009/5/1 12:00:50 (1623 reads)
* First Place Winners *

Satan looked down his angular nose at the demon sitting in front of him. The portly creature squirmed in his seat. Good, Satan thought, don't want them getting comfortable. "Name?"He asked.

"Gluttony, Sir, it's right there on my app--"

Satan held up a hand. "I can see that. I wanted to know if you knew your name."

The demon cowered. "Yes Sir. Right Sir."

Satan smiled. "Tell me, where do you see yourself in four or five millenniums?"

The demon's face brightened. He'd prepared for this question. "In your job, Sir. Of course, that's after you've moved up to --"

"NEXT!"

The portly demon was stunned. "W-What? Wasn't that the right answer? All the books on interviewing said to be: confident, ambitious, and to --"

  4   Article ID : 39
Tax Time by Arthur Sanchez
on 2009/3/11 12:15:19 (1240 reads)
* First Place Winners *

Mr. Witherspoon stared at the display and examined the "final" number. "Hmmmm," he said, "it seems you owe."

"What!" Roger sat up in his seat. "Are you sure?"

Mr. Witherspoon sighed. "I warned you that your Great Aunt's inheritance might tip the scales. I told you to do more community service."

Roger sat back. He owed, dear God, he owed. "But, my work with the homeless, my time teaching English to new immigrants, surely --"

Mr. Witherspoon shook his head. "Insufficient. I'm afraid you owe taxes this year."

"H-How much?"

Mr. Witherspoon looked down at his display again. "About six years. Of course, you would split it between you and your wife Rachel, three and three."

  4   Article ID : 33
The Last Day of Christmas by Angel Zapata © 2008
on 2008/12/6 22:24:15 (1199 reads)
* First Place Winners *

When ten year-old, Jason Howard wrote his letter to Santa two months earlier, the last thing he expected to receive was a reply. His mother came barging into his room and tossed the envelope down on the bed. He was flat on his stomach reading the latest issue of Demon Hunter comics with his feet kicking the air behind him.

"What's that, mom?" His eyes were sparkling and he quickly sat up.

"Well, Jason it looks like it came from the North Pole." She had both fists perched on her hips and her full lips were stretched into a wide U. "I'm sure it's got to be good news." She leaned forward and tousled his curly brown hair.

"Wow," he whispered breathlessly. "I can't believe it."

  4   Article ID : 16
Halloween, 2032 by Angel Zapata ©2008
on 2008/10/28 17:33:18 (1386 reads)
* First Place Winners *

The carved pumpkin sitting on the front porch steps of the house was actually a hologram. The image flickered intermittently and quickly disappeared.
"Dammit!" Michael Plant stood just outside the doorway and continued to press the red power button on the pumpkin's remote control. "It must have some kind of short in the digital box."
"Could be, sweetheart," his wife, Rachel agreed from inside their home. She stuck her head outside the window. "You need me to help you troubleshoot it?"
"Well, I really think the kids look forward to seeing it every year. I don't want to disappoint them." Michael sighed and slapped the remote against his palm. "You think we got enough candy?"

  4   Article ID : 10
A Singular Opportunity by Arthur Sanchez © 2008
on 2008/7/12 12:51:51 (1532 reads)
* First Place Winners *

It took almost a week for Sam to accept that the voices in his head weren't imaginary. They were real. That annoyed Sam. He'd taken this sensory deprivation vacation in order to "get away" from it all -- the noise, the people, the 24/7 advertising, everything. It was supposed to be a full month of peace and quiet. Having people talking in his head was a blatant violation of his travel plans and management was going to hear about it.

  3   Article ID : 3



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