Hello everyone. This month I received 33 entries from 20 writers. Three were disqualified for only being 99 words which was a real shame as one was from someone who’d promised frequently on social media to enter and finally did, and only the one story. Another lost out because the author had included a dash – in the 100 words and as the rules state, they aren’t. Fortunately there were two other stories to choose from and I preferred them anyway. Another was over the word count because of dreaded ellipses (not being separate from the following word). Another story was exactly 100 but lost points because it had an extra ‘the’. Fortunately the author had sent two more stories – one of which I preferred. Another was again the right word count but had a rogue ‘r’ on the end of a word and a rogue ‘e’ on another, so lost points – and it was the only story submitted by that author. It goes to prove that you need to read your stories (ideally aloud) carefully before submitting anywhere, especially if you’re paying for the privilege. One story was disqualified as there was no mention of a train. Fortunately it wasn’t the author’s only submission. Phew. 🙂 Finally, another story lost points for having a word missing a letter which meant something else… and for having a cliché.
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). 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 (there were originally eight highly commended then I whittled down to the maximum three) so do enter new stories this month*, next month, whenever you like (but not in advance!).
It’s an ongoing competition and free. 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).
A new recent feature… 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 August is ‘ticking’ and you can submit your entries at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Thursday 31st August.
So without further ado, below are the successful entries this month.
Coppelia Tingley with ‘The Train to Nowhere’
The shrill of the guard’s whistle rang out. Clambering on board, nothing people. Strangers in drab clothes, blank expressionless faces, stared ahead. No conversation. Apathy shrouded them.
The tracks disappeared into nothingness. A wall of misty grey. The people had squandered life, wasted opportunities, let things happen around them. Now on their way to nowhere.
The other platform. Animated, friendly people, brightly attired, climbed on board. They had, grabbed opportunities at every turn, and held on for dear life. They had made things happen.
The lines ahead stretched into infinity. Wild buildings, fields of flowers. Technicolor. Exciting adventures awaited them.
John Murphy with ‘Two Moths’
When he saw those two young people seated across the aisle from each other, he was reminded of a Linklater film he once saw. He closed his book and leaned against the window and listened to the sound of the train, its hums and murmurs. The two young people shared a brief smile. He smiled at their smile, unbeknownst to them. An image came to his mind, an image of two moths colliding in the dark, and he thought that this was the image of contentment. Looking once more at the young couple, he blessed them, and then he vanished.
Join third place – in alphabetical order, each winning free access to one of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £20 / $20) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,000 words (worth £7 / $9):
ados123 with ‘Acknowlegement’
Saturday morning, Henry Doveton sat with tea, toast, the local paper. As he reached the obituaries, he froze. He knew that face.
Thirty years on the 7.10 to Clapham. Same carriage, same seat, but he’d never exchanged a word with the man.
Strike days, iced points, leaves on the track, signalling problems and even the odd bomb scare and they’d never done more than nod.
Henry looked back at the page.
‘Arthur Lemery, sixty-seven years. Service at St Martins Church, Tuesday afternoon.’
He folded the paper open.
He should go.
Least he could do for a stranger from the train.
Simone Davis with ‘Strangers on a Train’
Two tribes surge forward through newly opened doors. War-painted warriors in red and blue display their colours proudly; jostling rudely and counting coup.
They make the sacred signs and proudly wave their standards then retreat to their own appointed territory, each man unto his brothers.
In the no-man’s-land of the buffet car is pre-battle feasting: bacon butties and special brew.
Mind the gap.
Now, seize the glorious field and fight!
We’ll meet here again once the war is won, to sing the victory song or nurse in agony a broken heart.
Till next year on Twickenham’s hallowed ground.
- Alyson Faye with ‘3D Audrey’
- Gaynor Jones with ‘Ruffled’
- Laura Besley with ‘A Chance Encounter’
- Mark Sadler with ‘Caught in the Ruffles’
- MW Brown with ‘The Book Club’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Andy Davis with ‘Strangers on a Train’
- Justin Rulton with ‘Small Talk’
- Rehanna Neky with ‘They are Strangers’
- Sam Bowie with ‘Strangers on a Train’
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.