Hello everyone and welcome to the thirty-ninth month of this competition! Last month I received 37 entries from 18 authors for the theme of ‘owing a debt’. NB You can all send in three stories for a better chance of being picked!
One was disqualified for only being 99 words and sadly the author had realised just after hitting send. Fortunately there were still a couple of days until the deadline so enough time to write two more, making the three maximum.
Another story appeared to be 101 but there was a space between a word and closing speech marks so when corrected, it was the obligatory 100. Yay.
A third was 99 words, probably because there was a hyphen (which Word counts as a word) instead of a dash.
If in doubt, check with the likes of https://wordcounter.net, although that counts dashes as words so be careful.
The winning stories are ones that I reacted most favourably to. They were clever, surprising, eek-making (in a good way),or gave me a warm fuzzy feeling (without being sickly). Sometimes a story beats another because it has a stronger link to the theme so it’s worth writing a story to the theme rather than tweaking a story you already have to loosely fit it.
You may have chosen a different order or indeed not placed one or more of them so if you entered and didn’t find your story / stories here, don’t lose heart. You probably only just missed out so do enter new stories this month*, next month, whenever you like (but not in advance!). It’s an ongoing competition and free, so you could win at any time. There were new and familiar names this month so anyone could win… it’s all dependent upon whether your story grabs me, for whatever reason (whether it be clever, funny, unusual, quirky, or sweet).
Apart from the top three and highly commended, there are some ‘Honourable Mentions’. They don’t win anything but they were so close to being Highly Commended that I wanted them to know how close they came. It’s still something for them to put on their CVs.
*The theme for December is ‘the end’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Monday 31st December. Details and entry forms on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/100-word-free-monthly-competition. So without further ado, below are the successful entries this month.
Rachel Barnett with ‘Owing a Debt’
The jolt as we hit the jump almost unseated me, the horse twisting in the air, fighting gravity. On landing I knew. A loud crack, like a thunderbolt.
He stayed on his feet, God knows how. Determined to protect me, I believe. He stood, flanks heaving, whilst the others galloped away.
Slipping to the ground, a single look told me this horse would never gallop again. One foreleg twisted, the knee joint buckled and horribly misshapen.
If he’d fallen on me…
I touched the dark sweat-slicked neck. I owe him a debt I can never repay. ‘Thank you,’ I breathed.
and Stuart Atkinson with ‘Lost Voice’
The ocean was strewn with wreckage and debris, with bodies bobbing up and down in the iceberg sea.
Ernie McPhail, a Glaswegian stoker, struggled for survival in the freezing waters. Although he was a burly man, the burden of supporting Alfie sapped his strength.
Through the darkness a voice called. “Give me the boy.”
Ernie managed to push Alfie up the side of the lifeboat as a fearsome wave washed over him.
Alone, a young man stands on the well-manicured lawn of the Halifax Cemetery besides a common unmarked grave.
His voice is lost as the wind howls around him.
Val Fish with ‘Payday’
It had started off so tiny, but then, multiplying like a cancer, growing into a monster, which ultimately destroyed her.
She’d had enough of the constant fear, every day dreading that knock at the door, knowing that whatever she said would make no difference, her pleas would go unheard.
Well, they could knock as loudly as they liked tomorrow, they’d be getting no answer from her. Or the day after, or the day after that. Maybe they’d bash the door down and then they’d be in for a shock.
The greedy heartless loan sharks would get nothing from a corpse.
Barbara Young with ‘Purgatory’
“William, I’ve sponsored five decades of your decadent living.” Lucifer’s horns glow red. “Time to pay your dues.”
“It was worth it,” I say. “I’ll willingly stoke your fires for eternity.”
Lucifer laughs. “Your capacity for evil is totally average; you certainly don’t merit that prime position. I have something a little more mundane in mind.”
Unsure of what energy source he uses, I have visions of hacking coal with my teeth. “I’m not as fit as I was.”
“No matter. You will remain here on earth. As befits your tedious nature, you are to be the next Brexit minister.”
- Anne-Marie Latter with ‘Her Happiness In Arrears’
- Astra Lowelle with ‘Cookies and Threats’
- Justine Laws with ‘Relief’
- Karen Lawrence with ‘Listening In’
- Laura Besley with ‘Giving and Receiving’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Andy Morfett with ‘The Debt’
- Jennie Cordner with ‘A Kick in the Stomach’
- Lesley McLean with ‘The Trollop Who Saved My Ass’
- Lestie Mulholland with ‘A Whisper in the Woods’
- Sarah Mosedale with ‘Spanish Castle Magic’
Congratulations, everyone. The entries for this month are already drifting in. Remember, you can send up to three per month so rather than miss out on a chance by sending one story, do submit more.
If you’ve enjoyed these stories and / or just want to leave a comment, please do so below and / or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, although I won’t (can’t) discuss forthcoming entries unless it’s a general query.