What a ride! Thanks so much for each of your stories this week. The judge will be commenting on the threads of the stories not mentioned in the next few days, but wanted to get his decision to us now. Thanks, Karl, for your time and effort! If you missed reading the stories, you can go here to catch up before reading the decisions. Let's see what the judge had to say:
There were some great stories for my first stint as judge at Finish That Thought. Those locked doors kept people in, kept monsters out and kept getting in between our protagonists and whatever they wanted, while the clocks ticked, tocked and generally counted down towards a range of grisly fates.
When I picked my prompts, I was expecting a slew of action sequences, but the flash community is so much more varied and imaginative than that, and we had a number of quieter moments too, although I must give a special mention to Emily Karn’s tale Escape From The Purge, which rapidly rattled through it’s word count so intensely that I had to double-check that I hadn’t missed a paragraph or two.
Two unique takes on the Judges Challenge stand out:
Special Challenge Champion: Stella Kate T. Stella’s characters are such grounded, domestic Machiavellis, and her treatment of the challenge here shows why; With her subconsciously scheming protagonist in a seemingly life threatening situation, Stella uses the countdown to defuse the tension and get her back to planning tea with the delivery man.
Grand Champion Runner Up: Angelique Rider. Zombies are the last great unreconstructed monster, too rotten and repulsive for a Twilight style romantic lead makeover. In the half century since Night Of The Living Dead, their only real development has been learning to run, but in this untitled piece, Angelique takes them to a new level. All of the old hallmarks are there – the familiar faces turned strange, the herd instinct and above all the desire for human flesh – but by putting such a civilised spin on their unholy appetites, the walking, chatty dead become a whole new kind of scary.
Grand Champion: Caitlin. Putting the brakes on the first line’s momentum, Caitlin pulls us back in to a tense domestic scene which is clearly not as idyllic as the title would suggest. Questions abound as we are repeatedly wrong footed and made to wonder if our narrator is frightened of her new husband, sneaking off to another man or just regretting her choice of partners. In the end, the tale pulls back to reveal a much bigger world, in which the narrator is in complete control. She refers to her husband as Thomas, but after that pivotal phone call, he becomes The Target, dehumanized and disposable, making the false intimacy of that final line all the more chilling.
Well done to all of the winners, and I’ll be back at some point in the next day or two with my thoughts on the rest of the stories. Thanks again for letting me judge, and good luck for next week Caitlin!