Zeroflash Winner’s Page
July 2018 Results
by I. E. Kneverday
I loved this story from the title onwards. Balancing creepy and ridiculous takes some doing and this tale of ominous cheese-making does it brilliantly. The hints at sinister goings-on are heavy-handed, as they should be, pulp horror is not the place for subtlety, so the Dracula-esque format and ‘Damien’ the translator were spot-on. This story intrigues and entertains, it’s grotesque, creepy and playful.
by Kris McGinnis
The haunted/possessed doll was a reoccurring theme and while they were all good, this one stood out, I think perhaps because the doll in question is on the peripheral of our vision. The fear this story provokes is double edged because it plays on our fear of the unknown as well as our fear of the uncanny. I also felt that Kris did a great job of creating an unnerving atmosphere with the ‘bitter scent of incense’ and the ‘fulgurating light…from a static filled television.’ Also, I love a horror story that plays on folklore.
by Frank Trautman
This story is creepy and indisputably weird. There’s gore here, which a lot of modern horror writers are cautious of but a pulp horror writer wouldn’t shy away from. We start this story very certain of who the monster is but, as in a lot of the great horror stories, we’re not so sure by the end. Intriguing and unnerving.
‘The Mouth of the Cave’
by Jon Guzlowski
I liked the imagery in this story. The description ‘its stalagmites and its stalactites’ conjures the image of teeth so that we picture the mouth of the cave as a gaping jaw. Jon describes a hunger that the cave can feel ‘in its darkest grottos and most hidden caverns.’ By likening the cave to ‘a mother that had lost her only child’ and describing the victim’s feelings as ‘stark and wonderful’ the author manages to provoke sympathy for the monstrous.
June 2018 Results
Here be Dragons
by Jess Doyle
I loved this piece of writing. Jess successfully conveys a convincing ‘voice’ and style of writing which is both reminiscent of a Choose Your Own Adventure story whilst also interpreting this month’s theme in a unique way. When reading it, I could clearly hear the narrator’s speech as he offered me different options regarding my journey through the “lava fields”. Great visual imagery throughout, combined with an effective structure, make this piece a thoroughly exciting read. Framing the piece with the phrase “here be dragons” conveys a sense of urgency for the reader as we are hurried to choose our path before encountering “wings that eclipse the crimson sky and sink you into the gravest of nights.”
by Desmond White
This entry incorporated the challenge of writing a 300-word story as a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ brilliantly, injecting humour throughout with the choices and creating a sense that the poor person who works in ‘The Forge’ is under constant threat and turmoil. Economical use of the word count has created a piece which is entertaining and whole, depicting the village life in this fantasy world as one where you are tested to the limit.
by Jeanette Everson
I read and re-read this story several times as I think it works on many different levels. On first reading, I heard the voice of a fantasy character trapped within the pages of a Choose Your Own Adventure Book – speaking to the reader about the choices which lay ahead. However, reading it a second time, I thought the story could be less about a traditional fantasy realm and be more about a person who is in a difficult relationship – one which her partner has created in their own ‘fantasy’ world and which, until now, the character has not been able to escape from. When reading the story this way, the page choices of a “physical punch” or “emotional scarring” along with the final two lines: “I must choose my own way out. You will not have control of the pages I turn.” take on greater poignancy, with the speaker deciding to take back control of their life.
The Soul Snatcher
by Vidhya Harish Iyer
The title of this piece is extremely effective, and I like the idea of the central character, Kraal, who feeds on the souls of others getting a taste of his own medicine. Language has been purposefully utilised with such images as “a bunch of somnambulant figures waving to the rhythm of the wind” and a “wisp” of mermaids who travel via “a giant blob of water that defied gravity” portraying this fantasy world successfully – an entertaining read.
May 2018 Results
by Emma De Vito
This story conveys a horror which in a morbid way appeals to me; being abandoned in a place and a situation which you know you will never get out of. All there is to do is to wait for the inevitable end. Emma De Vito, in a perfect way lets the reader feel the mix of resignation and anxiety her character feels when he realises that the boatman has left him in the lighthouse and his dream was in reality a nightmare.
The Sea Witch
by Danny Beusch
An evocative piece that rings of folklore and fairytales; vindictive beings with the power to punish the humans who has betrayed and wronged them. It created very vivid images in my mind and I believe I know what the Sea Witch looks like.
Unhappy Endings to Common Myths
by Mileva Anastasiadou
I’m not ashamed to admit it; this piece made the tears rise in my eyes with its poignant description of a father making the failed journey across a sea with his family. Whether or not it’s the intention of MA, it conjures up the images of the thousands of people having fled across the Mediterranean, ending up, as she states in the end, as an “uninspiring story soon to be forgotten”. But I won’t forget this story for quite some time.
Rock, Papers, Scissors, Love
by A.N. Onymous
This is simply a beautiful piece of writing.
April 2018 Results
What is the mystical?
If you were to ask Gradschool Frank way back when he’d pull his nose out of a Jung or Campbell long enough to say that if you take the mystical and add narrative you get legend—the monomyth that we all tell each other about ourselves over and over. The mystical is not about who has told the best story, but who has told The Story best.
If you were to ask Graveyard Frank today, your humbled judge stealing a moment between technical reports to Tweet and eat Mujadara. He’d say he just likes stories about skeletons and tentacles.
Either way this month has been a fun blast of creatures burbled out of the out of the esoteric soup into new tales of fae folk, sea witches, brownies, and bears. To be sure, a hard one to judge and yet…
At the End of Every Rainbow
by Kris McGinnis
There were a few grin-inducing entries this month, but this one won out for me. KG has great comedic timing. I feel led down a path and equally delighted and horrified at where I wound up.
by Mark Carew
There are many ways to cross the threshold from the ordinary world to the unknown, and I’ve read more than few in this month’s entries. MC’s final reveal puts me in mind of the old tale of the World Turtle. Simply put, I am glad the animals are beautiful all the way down.
That Night on the Sea
by Camilla Johansson
Like Kafka’s Ulysses, sometimes the sirens don’t pull you down with song. Sometimes it is much more dreadful. I love CJ’s reimagining of classic sea lore. Its horror, beautifully told. More importantly it embodies the heart of the mystical. What is more mysterious, impenetrable than to cross the limits of the known only to find the worst of all lies past the monster? Silence.
March 2018 Results
Who needs Easter eggs? My Easter was filled with giant bees, robot spiders, massive, maleficent sea creatures and all manner of tentacled horrors. Reading your stories was a joyous thrill ride of nightmares. Thank you. The problem for me was that there was something I liked about every story that I read. I thought each one of your stories could have been a winner. So, in the end, I had to go with the stories that were faithful to David’s brief –otherworldly tales, set in remote locales that made the reader question their own existence. However, I would like to mention a few entries before the official highly commended and countdown of winners.
Here’s what I loved…
Kathryn Evans’s smart, stylish writing in ‘No God, Please. We’re Cornish’.
The sense of mystery and claustrophobia created by Luke Sheridan in his untitled piece.
The faithful Lovecraftian references and sense of mystery in ‘The Angler’ by Matthew Bazinet
The originality and story-telling of ‘Soul Supplier’ by Gordon Pinckheard
Claire Fitzpatrick’s combination of horror and sci fi was perfect in ‘Humanoid’
‘A Weekend at the Hospital Cave’ by Benjamin Neispudziany was beautifully weird and poetic.
The build-up of tension in Ryan Yarbler’s tale of an out-of-this world, gladiatorial death match – ‘Tonight’s Entertainment.’
Richard Twenty Two’s creepily convincing gardener in the excellently titled ‘Face Plants’.
The horrific new meaning brought to the term Human Resources in Jacqui Carter’s ‘The Next Level of Human Resourcing’.
And so much more. All the entries are well worth reading.
This was a beautifully written and genuinely disturbing story of being trapped in a labyrinth of mirrors with a strange and terrifying beast. I though this haunting story was stylish and original.
I loved the staccato style of the short, fragmented sentences in this story and I thought they created a really tense narration. Some of the language of the storytelling was exquisite – ‘eternal flames sending butterfly kisses, yellow whispers warm their faces’. Subtle references to Lovecraft and a truly other worldly expedition into hell.
Faithful to the brief and utterly absorbing, this story about the hidden horror lurking in the mountains of Mars captured the essence of all that is unknown in this strange universe that we live in.
The Ward Round
Susi J. Smith
This witty, weird and disturbing tale of an extraordinary hospital round made me chuckle. But like the best dark humour, it also made me feel disorientated and not a little afraid. A fab story, well-crafted with a great punch-line ending.
This was a beautifully crafted story with convincing characters delineated in very few words. The language patterning helped draw out the differences between the priest and the narrator – ‘His faith. My fact’. “I feel no spider web,” he said. “I see no God,” I replied.’ And the ending truly does cause the reader to question life, the universe and everything! A brilliant story.
This tale had me gripped right from the very start. The mysterious noise of bees underscoring the sound of everything was a really innovative twist on Lovecraftian weirdness. I thought the characters were great and I loved the ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ type ending. I really enjoyed reading this. Well done!
February 2018 Results
by Matt Bourn
‘Means of notice’
by Emily Harrison
‘Clouds love monster jazz’
by Richard Kemp
by Valerie Moyses
by Donna L Greenwood
January 2018 Results
Reading January’s stories has been so much fun. There were dystopian futures, post-apocalyptic worlds, ruthless AI, caring robots, hopeless humans, and a bunch of hopeful ones as well. The stuff dreams (and nightmares) are made of. Mine are, anyway.
So, yeah, last month’s stories were fun. And good. So many good stories that it has been incredibly hard to pick a single winner. But here we are, with not one, not two, but three runner-ups, plus your usual 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Congrats to all of you!
‘Sorry, No Wi-Fi Available’, by Kris McGinnis
‘Death Lined Up’, by Rebecca Field
‘Flinstone’, by Alex Z. Salinas
‘The Human Touch’
by Jenny Woodhouse
‘The Definition of Insanity’
by M.P. McCune
by Alex L Williams
December 2017 Results
This month was so much fun to judge. I’ve always been a Christmas fan and even in my late 30’s, I’m still enthralled. Thank you all for ending in such imaginative and thoughtful entries.
‘Winter Comes Again’
by Sameed Sayeed
by Kelly Griffiths
‘SANTA HITS ON GRANDMA’
by Irene Montaner
November 2017 Results
October 2017 Results
Halloween was the theme of this month’s competition taking inspiration from Mother Nature. In the 42 micro-tales submitted we saw everything from storms and horrors lurking beneath the surface of water to mythical beasts and dystopian worlds. So many of them got into my head and under my skin. Beautiful language lured me in before twisting plots threw me somewhere completely different. They were all a pleasure and a curse to read. A very difficult decision but here goes…
‘All Hallows Eve’
by M.Irene Hill
Not only was I chilled to the bone by this Satanic tale but I was taken back in time thanks to the authentic ancient language which cleverly used all the senses. A good old fashioned fireside story.
by Alexandria Nicole
Fantastic use of present tense, I felt like I was walking into the woods with the six of them. So much detail brings it to life and the dark ending really stayed with me.
‘Wrecked (After Prospero)’
by Liam Hogan
The poetic first line reeled me in instantly. I enjoyed this mythical tale which made me ask, was it all in his head? A perfect story arc and an ending which ebbs, much like a storm, leaving desolation behind.
by Patrick Widdess
There is so much going on in these four evocative paragraphs. The language is almost tactile. I could feel and taste as I read. The description of the natural elements are extremely well done. We get little hints about Leon as we read, start to build up a picture of him, then we get the harsh truth of what’s driving him right at the end. Survival instinct. After I’d read all the stories, this is the one that really stood out for me due to the artistic use of the language, the world created and the original, unpredictable storyline.
September 2017 Results
This month’s theme was romance.
To attract a mate Lyrebirds make elaborate nests, some penguins give each other perfect pebbles, hippos flick their excrement about, and humans make eyes across the bar. Who’s to say which approach is the best?
With over 30 stories entered this month the writers examined this question and the different spectrums of love and romance. First loves, lost loves, unrequited love, heartbreak, online dating, and offline dating were just a selection of themes from this great selection of stories.
With great difficulty, here is the top 3:
by Casey Kimberly
The fact they were crows snuck up on me. I really liked the image of the crow holding the moon in its beak.
by Katie Lewington
A people watching story on public transport. Enjoyed the build up to the comedic final punch line. A little reminder that love comes in all forms.
by Emily K.Martin
Love and longing are a great avenue to comedy. I really enjoyed the voice in this one and the awkward teen comedy vibe. The imagery of the bumbling alligator mascot gave me a good chuckle.
by Janelle Hardacre
Thought this was beautifully subtle and captured love and loss really well. All those little routines and habits you adopt together and the in depth knowledge you gain of one person. Well done.
August 2017 Results
You guys. This is the creepiest, collection of horrific creativity I think I have ever had the pleasure to peep out into the daylight from.
This judging gig could have gone so many ways and I’ve jiggled the list around dozens of times but David wants this today so….
Honourable mentions for:
‘The Horror Section’ by Devon Rosenblatt for a brilliant idea and making the narrative hold together whilst incorporating many, many titles. Chris Stanley for creating a total narrative world with backstory in so few well-chosen words, Kelly Griffiths for the to-die-for language. I won’t forget that ‘serrated tongue’, or the ‘cathedral stillness,’ and Steph Ellis, for the horror, the imagery and oh yes, the horror.
I’m a sucker for a twist though. I love flashes that, despite their brevity, take me somewhere I wasn’t expecting to go so…
by Ben Marie
Just loved this, with its twisted, well… twist. Totally in the 80s, the voice just right, the setting spot on, and those three-character initials to record gaming triumphs back in the day were a badge of honour that everyone noticed…a great way to ‘tell’ that unimaged extra.
by June Egelund-Jenkins
The opening paragraph is full of dynamism, energy and teen spirit and contrasts with the closed-in, pitch-black click, echoing around my readers imagination. This was genuinely scary and with a touch humour too, which is not an easy thing to do. And the ending. I was not expecting that.
Jeffrey with two effs
by Jade Mitchell
There is an atmosphere to this story. A dark and drunken touch of midnight. The voice is nuanced just right, cock-sure and self-knowing, making the reader (this reader) suspend their disbelief.
July 2017 Results
This month the judging reverted to me, your publisher and self-proclaimed lord of Zeroflash and to that end, I decided to let my love of Metafiction run riot. Having writted a Meta piece for a University project I became somewhat enthralled by the style, technique, genre, demented forth wall breaking method and thought, you know what, let’s see what the good Men and Women of the Zeroflash community can conjure-up…and my oh my…
The winners this month are…
The tiny little book of oblivion
by Mileva Anastasiadou
The Book Shelf
by Ben Marie
and in 1st place is…
by Jan Kaneen
Congratulations to all who entered this month and we can’t wait to read your works in August.
June 2017 Results
I used to be an outside cat.
But now that I’m locked inside I spend my Saturday nights in front of a roaring fire with a board game, swiping pieces onto the floor with my paw. I’ve thought about games a lot recently. I spent a lot of my youth crawling into these little boxed universes, learning, socializing having a laugh or a small thrill. Who doesn’t love Lewis Carroll, after all? My current project is even a retelling Mexican Loteria as archaeology. So when this month’s contest was announced I was well-aware it would be fun…but also a challenge.
I don’t know what I would have come up this month, judging them is hard enough. That is to say, admirable job everyone. There is quite a range to choose from— We’ve heard from the POV of both the players and the pawns from melodramatic Monopoly to Cluedo comedy.
While, I have the spotlight, let me thank the good folks at David at Zeroflash for the honor, as well as Ben Marie, last month’s judge, a brilliant man say some. Also Andrew Howell and Sophia Johnson for the keen illustrations. That was a cool bonus.
But now it’s time to see who cut the (Colonel) Mustard, as it were. Let the pieces fall where they may!:
The First and Final Clue
by David Drury
DD covers a lot of ground here in a fast paced, fun little tale. It’s got physicality to it that I like. The story is in its details.
Bert Moves On
by David Cook
What can I say? DC’s story is sad and it’s sweet. It’s the first ten minutes of Disney’s Up. It’s got a sort of rhythm and a full stop. I bought it.
by Mike Murphy
But, I had to go with this tale of adventurous game pieces from Mike Murphy. It sparked my own imagination like a good game should. It gave me a “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” kinda vibe with more firepower. Who hasn’t wondered about that eclectic bunch of monopoly tokens? From heavy artillery to house hold items, what couldn’t they do with a little teamwork if push came to shove? Thanks, MM. This made me think, and smile. And think some more.
May 2017 Results
Let me start by saying this: I am a big sci-fi nerd. So I was very happy to be the judge for this month’s competition. I grabbed myself a cup of tea, some soylent green wafers and delved into the entries. Trying to place them on the planetary scale from Earth to um Uranus when I have absolutely no qualification to do so.
In the pursuit of fairness I enlisted the help of my partner Sarah for a female perspective. She was also tasked with keeping me grounded in case being this month’s
Intergalactic head of fiction judge went to my head.
As is it should be with the Sci-fi genre the entries stretched scientific knowledge in several different directions. There were dinosaurs, cosmic granny’s, intergalactic removalists, meat men and plenty of space travel.
But finally we arrived at our destination. I really did enjoy all the stories, but for me these were the shining stars. Keep in mind this is just one person’s opinion so please don’t hunt me down with phasers and/or lightsabers….
by Kev Harrison
I really enjoyed the idea of this story, a tragic tale of things only working in theory. Because not everyone who goes through a black hole ends up inside a bookcase or slowly orbiting the earth as a foetus star child.
What the sea brings
by Ana Rita Mendes
My favourite story in terms of its tone and style. Atmospheric and poetic. I am still actually trying to work out what it was all about, but I quite enjoy a story that doesn’t reveal itself on first approach and can pull you through on language alone.
Ten thousand spoons
by F. Trautman
Humanity will always shine through in the technological age. For all our advancements the instinct to survive still controls us. For me this story was the right balance between sci-fi, horror and humour. If only there were some rations on board, perhaps some fava beans and a nice chianti….
Congratulations and well done to everyone on some great stories.
April 2017 Results
Horror is my favourite genre, so this month’s competition has been an utter delight to read. But as in any good horror story, there comes the thrill of dread…and I have to judge. This was incredibly challenging due to the amazing standard of writing, the clever plots, the alluring narrative and the sheer beautiful goriness of the entries.
As they came in, the stories jostled and pushed and bared fangs until a few truly monstrous ones emerged from the shadows. I looked for flow, structure, content, descriptive quality, imagery and impact…and how dry they left my mouth. If you aren’t on the list, it certainly isn’t because you didn’t scare the whatsit out of me or write beautiful horror. This was a truly wonderful collection of stories.
Courtship of the Sewer King by S. E. Casey
Hunger by Natalie Ortiz
I found these two stories to be very chilling in as much as the horror seemed a ‘normal’ endeavour…a reasonable goal. The description, word usage and flow were excellent and the unsettling questions they both raised will linger with me. Well done and thank you!
Waiting for Dinner by Danny Beusch
I like the idea of the mundane being a portal to terror, and the ‘house’ that could mimic the best trap was incredibly engaging. It was interesting to peep into her world and be encouraged to feel the smallest flicker of remorse at her starvation. Reading it from the perspective of the aggressor was also a nice touch, and the sugar-rush ending was just…sweet! I wonder if high on sugar she’ll go out for feasts…plenty of plump pickings out there.
Resurrection by Stephanie Ellis
Wonderfully written, great imagery, beautiful referencing. I loved the depth to this story…how each sentence carried a whole backstory to it. The sense of restrained righteous rage, the sweetness of revenge and the cool execution of it was stunning. It was also a particularly apt choice of plot. The use of varying sentence lengths—flowing musings and punchy deeds—made this a highly engaging piece. Thank you for this beautiful read.
The Cellar by Ben Marie
It flows so smoothly—perhaps like the wine?—that at first, you don’t quite ‘get it’. You get wrapped up in all that intoxicating prose, lost in the romantic imagery of wine biding its moment and the intense descriptive detail in the narrative. But then hints come through, and you go back for another deeper sip and it grabs you…and then you think of that wine, resting there so innocently: full of bodies. For me, this slowly building awareness that settles in your gut first to swirl unpleasantly before rising up the gullet to go right to your head is a winner! Congratulations and thank you!
March 2017 Results
The competition asked for stories inspired by 1980s TV, plasma balls, new opportunities and a life full of chances, and I was amazed by the many ways this month’s authors built on these themes. I enjoyed all of the stories and there were several strong contenders, but the ones I kept coming back to were:
By Mike Murphy
On the brink of a new life, hard decisions need to be made. This is a beautifully written and entertaining twist on the well-known Bible story that sheds new light on the challenges of those 150 days and an early example of a man driving a species to extinction.
‘Can’t Ain’t Our Word’
By Sian Brighal
Perhaps more than any of the other stories, the narrator’s sense of wonder really captured the spirit of 80s television and film as I remember it. There’s an A-Team reference up front but by the end I pictured Jonas as a young Doc Brown from Back to the Future, definitely going somewhere…
‘Better like that’
By Alva Holland
The ‘Better like this?’ refrain does a wonderful job of anchoring us in the present during a visit to the opticians while the narrator trawls through past, from the bright lights of 70s discos to the present, recalling an entire marriage with just a few carefully chosen words.
I’ve been around and around on placings but my winner this month is…
‘Can’t Ain’t Our Word’ for its energy, its wonder and its innocence – all the things I remember as a child growing up in the eighties. Well done, Sian Brighal.
‘Better like that’
By Alva Holland
By Mike Murphy
How The Hell Do You Think They Pay for Bridge Maintenance, Anyway?
by Philip Kleaver
Comic violence in the same vein as Monty Python, I could almost imagine this scene appearing in a Terry Pratchett novel. I loved the dialogue and immediately liked all of the characters. This story was a lovely light in an otherwise dark theme.
by Jamie Thunder
by Chris Stanley
by Philip Kleaver
by Jamie Thunder
January 2017 Results
AWAY FROM IT ALL
by Jade Mitchell.
Good use of saying one thing but meaning another. We are told the main character is relaxed, however, through her actions we learn that the very opposite is in fact the case. Nice piece of writing.
ROLL THE DICE
by David Whitaker
Liked the futuristic element to the story. Very good.
THE KEEPER OF TEEHEES
by Alex Z. Salinas
This story made me laugh. Well done.
NO HOME FOR HOLLY – Alison Faye
NEW BEGINNINGS – Leigh Whiting
SPROUT – Jeremiah Telzrow
December 2016 Results
For the last competition of the year, we were hoping for something seasonal but rather different and that’s exactly what we got!
Reading all the entries, I realised just how talented all these dedicated writers are and we want to thank all of them and their social media efforts for spreading the word for the competition.
Now, without further ado, the Winners are…
‘The Architects of Christmas’
by Jack Koebnig
I truly loved this story. The inventiveness and humour filled every sentence and I’m quite partial to the ambiguous nature of storytelling wherein the characters are simply un-named. A great work and a fun tale for Christmas.
by Rebecca Dempsey
Wow. What exquisite writing. The last paragraph stayed with me for hours.
‘Christmas Eve 1905’
by Stephen Lodge
While the idea of a good-luck charm is not original, the humour that embeds this death-bed tale is more than enough to distract from the impending loss and says a lot about bequeathing power to lesser deserving individuals.
‘Atwater’s Petunias’ by Evan Guilford-Blake
‘Lovers Reunited’ by Mileva Anastasiadou
Best of the Best Competition Results 2016
Judge: David J.Wing
Over the last year and a half I have been privileged to start this flash fiction competition and through it, meet some of the most incredibly gifted, honest and thoughtful people I have ever encountered. Writers, as we all know, can be a precious bunch and in their insecurities their can often be resentment and bitterness, but the men and women that have made this competition their monthly home have shown none of that frustration. Their love for writing and heartfelt congratulations and joy at others winning is what makes this competition worthwhile.
Some, most of the entrants, when they have won have told me that this is either their first win or the first time they.ve been paid for their hard work, or both. As soon as you are paid for a piece of writing, you ARE a professional! What a feeling! What a joy! What confidence that creates. To be able to gift that sense of achievement to friends and colleagues is a reward greater than money…although some money is often nice.
This month saw the first ‘Best of the Best’ competition. Now, this isn’t the best of the site’s entries, merely the best of the 1sts, 2nds and 3rds over the year. But, my word, are these some talented writers.
Thank you all for being so dedicated, sharing your work, sharing your successes on social media and thank you for the opportunity to work with you all.
Happy Christmas and congratulations.
‘The First Time I saw Him’
November 2016 Results
Guest Judge: Jack Koebnig
Like you guys, I love writing flash fiction. There’s just something so simple and utterly addictive to catching an idea, sitting down and spending thirty minutes or so getting lost in your story.
Well done to all those writers who entered November’s competition. You took the time to sit down and write – in my book there’s nothing sweeter.
It was an absolute pleasure to read (then re-read) November’s submissions. I enjoyed each and every one. Unfortunately, the nature of the beast dictates that I choose just three to pop on a pedestal. So without further ado, here are the results:
by Claire Chen
Being obsessed with something is a condition most of us will probably experience at some point in our lives. And Claire’s story shows in an extremely entertaining way the potentially destructive force such single mindedness could very well ignite. Well done!
‘Like a Good Neighbour’
by Alex Z. Salinas
The build up to the final line is fantastic. Each time I read Alex’s story I arrived at the same conclusion: I wanted more. This story has legs and I for one would be very interested in its destination.
by Richard M. O’Donnell
The ending to Richard’s story is a killer. It resonates while you slowly digest the story. More than worthy of a place on November’s pedestal. Thumbs up!
The Bad Samaritan by Stephen Selkirk
The Hitler Paradox by Liam Hogan
I Remember Paris by Kareen Getten
October 2016 Results
Guest Judge: Jennifer Lloyd
October is made for dark fiction and I could not wait to see what you all produced (and what nightmares it gave me later!). You did not disappoint.
Each piece struck its own unique chord. Some made me chuckle out loud. Others were poignant. More than a couple made my skin crawl and had me wishing I slept with a night light.
It was an honor to gobble up your excellent work like a monster hiding under the bed. These three are my top choices for October, although all were a great honor to digest.
By Jack Koebnig
The storyteller showcased an outstanding ability to create an intense sense of place while, at the same time, leaving that very setting a total mystery to the reader until the end. The evocative descriptions created a deeply satisfying sensory experience throughout
One of my favorite parts of the story was the simile comparing the creaking floor boards to “a scream choked into submission.” Just fabulous turn of phrase.
I found myself waking up in a groggy, pre-dawn state this week feeling much like the main character, whose experience is surely among the greatest forms of torture known to mankind.
by Myrto Zafeiridi
By encapsulating action, movement and reflection, this author struck a beautiful balance between horror and heartbreak.
The piece made me reflect on the idea of the monster lurking inside of us all, who inevitably — occasionally and, perhaps, unintentionally — hurts the ones we love dearest.
None So Blind
By Travis West
In addition to the unsettling yet stellar descriptions, my mind wandering back more than once to the circular nature of this creepy tale.
The main character’s end seems ironically fitting given her inability to see her surroundings for what they are. The story spins a subtle lesson about awareness, empathy, and, of course, avoiding dark alleyways.
Michael Snyder’s “Domestic Violence” was such an enjoyable read on every level, from the language to the climactic conclusion. Well done.
September 2016 Results
Guest Judge: Gary Buller @garybuller
You would not believe how difficult it was to somehow sort the fantastic selection of September’s entries into a top three. I know that it is scant consolation to those that didn’t make the all too short list, but you all did an absolutely fantastic job and made my life hell whilst trying to judge.
I know as a writer myself that these things are your babies, you’ve invested a lot of time in them and boy, did it show. Be proud of them, seriously, tell me to go take a long walk off a short pier and submit them to whoever will read them for publication. The prose in one or two that didn’t quite make it put the sum total of my published stuff to shame. They were that good. Still, here are my top three;
by Jennifer R Lloyd
This short story kept popping into my mind again and again after I’d read it, from washing the dishes to putting my daughter to bed it kept niggling me in a good way.
A family man goes through the monotony of day to day life with an apparently sinister secret that keeps the reader guessing to the wonderful conclusion at the very end. This could be any of us. I absolutely love a story with a clever twist, and this ticked all the boxes for me.
by Sandra Arnold
An intelligent piece of flash fiction with a social commentary. We are told throughout our lives to never judge a book by a cover, but we are all guilty of it at some time or another.
Sandra Arnold’s judgemental protagonist ignorantly stumbles her way through a story where perceptions are continually challenged right through to the very last sentence where a smoking couple turn and wave as she drives away.
This story made me smile. I could relate, a wonderful tale.
by Jack Koebnig
Two lovers talk before a final meeting in a post apocalyptic world destroyed by an atomic bomb. The simple but beautiful prose leads the reader through what has led them to this final meeting and touches on a society that has changed and not necessarily for the better.
The final reveal in the tale that occurs as the male character is looking at the symbol of their love, a bracelet that he has crafted himself. It shocked me and delighted me in equal measures, and enticed me to re-read it just to reassess my perceptions.
I don’t even know if I can do this, but I really liked the world that Stephen Lodge created in ‘The Shipwreck of The Salty Lash.,’ and I thought that it was a fantastic story. I will be sure to check him out on Twitter.
August 2016 Results
Guest Judge: C.R.Smith
I’ll keep it short because I’m tired from travelling back from Amsterdam and I imagine you’re all on tenterhooks waiting to find out who’s won August’s competition.
The standard, as usual, is incredibly high. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every one of the stories, several times over; unfortunately there can only be one winner.
‘A New Arrival’
by Gary Buller
There are so many good lines in this piece, from the struggle to find the appropriate screwdriver to the sourcing of parts on eBay. Not to mention Grandfather’s remains being signed over and used to create the next generation. It puts you in mind of a future where 3D printers are capable of creating practically anything.
by Janice Rothganger
This is a great story, told well. Nice idea to describe every thing Mike won’t be doing, especially as you soon realise the minute he gets that recipe right everything will unfold in exactly the same way.
by Cath Barton
Everything is definitely slowing down here. Life has become too much of an effort, and there’s a gentle resignation to events unfolding beyond your control. Lovely writing.
So, there you have it. I wish I could have picked out more stories, but three’s the limit.
July 2016 Results
Guest Judge: Alyson Faye
It’s actually a cliche to say this judging gig is tougher than you think, but it is. In the end I chose the stories I most enjoyed, which entertained me, that read most seamlessly and drew me back for a re -read. I have read all the entries a few times. There are others in this month’s comp which are well written too, stylish and entertaining but there can’t be 19 winners. It was a tough call between the 2nd and 1st place as well.
I personally love reading horror fiction, short or long and enjoy writing it too. So this month’s competition theme was great for me. A good wallow in horror. I’m taking Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot’ away with me on holiday for a re read. One of the greats.
3rd place :- ‘Done Fishing’ by Carl R Jennings
The opening paragraph set the scene effectively, the ensuing dialogue between the two fishermen revealed much about them and their relationship, the last line made me smile. It was a clever spoof on the monster from the black lagoon idea leaving not so much terror in its wake but apathy and indifference. Nicely done.
2nd place:- ‘Gotta Catch Em All’ by G.H. Finn
The opening lines really flowed, drawing the reader in. Cape Wrath- great name- you can just see the place can’t you? The story is topical with its Pokemon theme which is rather appealing. The play on words to do with faith/pilgrimage was well done, (there are other word plays going on throughout- milking the language), the dialogue gradually hints at more danger coming along and there’s a stormingly good last line. It was witty and punchy. It was amusing the way the older’ brother’ reins in and rebukes his younger ‘sister’. I wanted to re read this one to pick up all the clues, hints and spot the mood gear change. This one stuck with me. Great fun too.
1st place:- ‘You Can’t Get Away’ by C R Smith
This story really held me and also made me think, about the monsters we parents ‘authorize’ as being acceptable to introduce to our children. An interesting line of thought which strikes a true chord with any parent. The piece is cleverly constructed with a careful choice of language, ‘I was a difficult child…’ can be taken several ways for instance. The whole piece flows, drawing you in, showing both child’s and parents’ differing responses. So it is richly layered, important when the words are limited. When you reach the last line, which reveals the ‘true’ nature of the monster, you want to go back and re read the piece to place your newly acquired knowledge in to the narrative. So it is a piece which benefits and grows from more than one reading of it. The last line is powerful – the cycle of parental monster mongering continues, there is no escape.
June 2016 Results
After a cup of tea and a fortifying piece of cake, I’ve finally managed to make a decision. Thank you everybody for sharing your wonderful responses to June’s prompts. Like the before me judges have said, it is difficult to chose just one but …. Ta dah!
By Alyson Faye
I loved the motif of the crow – it captured my imagination. The writer’s observations about the narrator’s family responses to the ‘avian shadow,’ painted wonderful pictures in my head. The twist at the end of the story was wonderful. I loved the last line.
By Alex Z Salinas
A poignant, tender story. The writer offers the reader a feast of fabulous details – including the ‘yellow bicycle,’ the ‘dark unibrow.’ I loved the image of Billy, pedalling quickly ‘lifting his butt off the seat.’ Again, there is a surprise for the reader.
The Girl With Holes in Her Knees
By Katie Lewington
I loved the way the writer incorporated a range of senses to tell her story. The lingering taste of a pint, the touch of a brick wall, the sound of the stones hitting the water, and the physicality of the narrator’s actions including hair being caught in a branch. As for the ending – this time the reader is left to wonder about the strange busker and his strange song.
Thank you everybody for participating this month. It was an honour and a pleasure to read your fabulous words. Good luck for July.
This judging malarkey has been a real eye opener. There will be no more cock snooking from me when people say it’s a difficult job because it really, really is. It’s so subjective – one minute you like one story best, the next another, but I had to stop somewhere and this is where I ended this morning.
The Helter Skelter
by Bibi Hamblin
I loved the universe of this – a nightmare dystopia where women’s freedoms are curtailed, very topical and very believable, unsettlingly so especially with its witch finder general imagery – latter-day ducking chairs and scold’s masks resurfacing in a misogynist paradise. The images left in my mind were lingering and vivid. They’re still haunting me actually.
by Daisy Warwick
The shape and voice of this were expert. The first paragraph is flawless, setting everything in place, time and atmosphere so succinctly. The voice is very distinctive, rebellious and accepting; ironic and world weary, seeing everything and being able to do nothing… and the one-word ending. Brilliant!
Wood Smoke and Goat
by Lee Hamblin
The language is at once sparse and poetic, ‘kicking up a veil of white,’ ‘spits into a callused hand,’ ‘Dr Usui wipes a window free of mist, and through a circle we search the horizon,’ – pitch perfect. Everything in this world is strange and unexplained, the setting, the curtailed train tracks, the lyrical names. You can feel the cold.
As I found it so difficult to pin winners down I’d like to give some Honourable Mentions to two stories that kept falling in and out of my top three and one that fell in right at the end.
Cath Barton’s Fish Knives is soooo clever idiolect-wise and disturbingly weird.
The Burden of Death by Edward Carney which is like a supernatural urban myth and made me empathise with/feel sorry for, the Grim Reaper himself.
Abandoned by Craig McGeady – The use of language is so insightful and unexpected – ‘ferocity of nature,’ ‘thickest mystery,’ ‘insects clouding the air.’
Right, seriously relieved that’s over. Well done everybody and good luck for next month.
Thank you for your patience while I made my final decision. I know every judge has to say this, but the process definitely wasn’t easy! I was told there were more entries than ever this month. Something about the April prompt must have really resonated because you guys came up with some great stuff.
Without further ado, here are the winners of the April competition.
By Jan Kaneen
Beautifully written, beautifully formatted, and left me guessing in the best way possible from start to finish. The narrator’s “amnesia” was handled superbly. Not once did I think the mystery of this story wasn’t in masterful hands. I was hooked.
The Duck Incident
By Cath Barton
Cath utilized a second-person narrative voice that completely succeeded. I felt utterly immersed in the events of the story, and the closing lines were just incredible. Props for giving the butchery a timestamp and making me glance nervously at the clock on my bedside table.
And One for the Little Boy Who Lives Down the Drain
By Lee Hamblin
I had to switch the light on the moment I read the title of this entry. Great, great voice; the author managed to seamlessly blend the everyday concerns of a little girl with the not-so-everyday subterranean friend she visits. Sweet and eerie, like those strawberry hard candies your grandmother never seems to run out of.
I love creepy stories. It’s the reason I was so eager to accept the judging position for this month’s competition. But two entries really tickled me with their oddness and humor, and I can’t sign off from judging without at least giving them a mention.
By Tom Moody
By Daisy Warwick
Both of these stories read almost like anti-jokes to me, and they held a special place in my heart all month. Thanks for the laughs you two!
And thanks to everyone who entered! I can’t wait to see what Zero Flash has in store for May.
February saw Cath Barton taking the reigns as guest judge…here are her thoughts and thanks so much for taking part.
Funky, odd, strange – how does it work?
Reading all the wonderfully quirky entries in this month’s competition this was the question I asked myself. What makes a strange story hit the spot at this micro (300 word) length? There’s not room for too many characters or too much to happen without confusing your reader. But you still want a beginning, a middle and an end. Or at least I do.
My conclusion is the successful micro story paints a clear focussed picture. In the same way as images can inspire our stories, those micro stories that work leave us with a strong, lingering image. Each of the stories I chose did this for me and, in its oddness, evoked something a bit disturbing.
Thank you all for entrusting your work to me, and to David for inviting me to the table. It’s been a privilege.
The Girl in the Green Hoodie
by Jill Hand
A story which starts in the everyday and leads us into a mystery. I love the image of “scarlet ribbons wrapped round her wrists.” The story is complete and yet leaves me wondering. Just what I want.
Dogs Will Be Cats
by Tuppy Bee
The dog “from another planet” made me laugh. A smart, nicely paced story with a great ending and a brilliant title too.
by Jack Koebnig
There was an ‘ah’ moment towards the end of this story which was neatly achieved. I really liked the central conceit about fish into man.
This January competition saw you hark back to your childhoods and delve into the dark. I enjoyed them all immensely. Some of you referred to therapy…that’s all I’ll say on the matter 😉
And the winners are…
Pretty in pink
by Cath Barton
The Odd Looking Man In A Green Velvet Coat
by Stephen Shirres
by Daisy Warwick
December of 2015 is at an end. That means, the results are in. Thank you so much for your descriptive and often magical entries. I felt chills and frostbite alike. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and got all those presents you asked Santa for.
Congratulations to this month’s winners:
Promises to Keep
And here as they say are the votes of the Scottish juror …
First of all, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to enter November’s competition. I had an absolute blast being guest judge. I was confronted with some pretty amazing stories which thankfully made my job extremely difficult. You all deserve a huge round of applause. I’m looking forward to joining you in entering December’s competition.
Congratulations to this month’s winners:
by Cath Barton
by Jan Kaneen
THE BONE MAN
by Lee Hamblin
Keep writing @koebnig
October is over and Halloween has been. I hope you kids all got your candy allotment.
This month’s competition was scary and I want to thank all the entrants for putting their Stephen King hats on and delving deep into the belly of our tunnel prompt.
And so, with no further delay, our winners this month are…
by Jack Koebnig
Don’t read this if you want to live
by Jan Kaneen
by Cath Barton
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!
September’s competition is at an end. Our gnomes have all been gobbled-up and it’s time to announce the winners. Thank you for your entries. I am particularly fond of the science fiction and fantasy genres and note that many flash fiction competitions veer strongly towards the literary and poetic. Thanks for stretching your fingers to type words with a fantastical slant this month.
by Mike Gibas
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!
That’s the end of our second competition and I must say, it’s getting more and more difficult to judge.
This month you were inspired by an odd fellow, his trombone and a heard of cows. The stories you sent in were a joy to read and I welcome you all to submit again.
And without further ado…
by Charles L.Crowley
The Hardest Word
by Lee Hamblin
Joint 3rd Place
by David Novak
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!
Well people, thanks for making the first Zero Flash competition a headache to judge.
There’s been some great submissions and I’ve enjoyed reading them all.
With no further preamble, here are your Winners.
by Levi Noe
by Jayne Buxton
Joint 3rd Place
by Jack Koebnig
The space between heartbeats
by Eileen Merriman
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!
Please feel free to add comments and thoughts. We’d welcome your input.