Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flash Fiction Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Tara Baldridge, winner of the Writing Center's first Halloween Flash-Fiction contest. Tara is a Graduate student here at Roosevelt and is working on her MFA in Fiction. In addition to being published in this blog along with the 2nd and 3rd place pieces, she will read her story on Roosevelt's own WRBC radio station, her story will be part of our official podcast, and she'll receive a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. Congratulations Tara! Now, on to her story... (the 2nd and 3rd place pieces follow)

Grand Prize Winner:

Collection Night
by Tara Baldridge

I sold my soul on a night like this. The night I found my brown-black mutt of a dog, Sarah. Rail thin and needy, her warm body leans heavily against my cracked leather boots as we sit tucked behind a row of ghoulish jack-o-lanterns. The leering eyes of the disfigured pumpkins hide us from the parade of tiny costumed children skipping merrily down the sidewalk. We make out the taller, leaner bodies of adults among them and study each form for the slightest recognition. I fantasize that we are protected by the pitch black of the porch and the worn out scarecrow thrown hastily on the concrete stairs. Sarah and I are satisfied that no one will make the turn into our walkway, unless they want more than candy.

At the edge of the silence, I hear the once inaudible ticks of the ancient grandfather clock. I am still surprised at how it grows louder as the years pass. For twenty years, it loomed at the top of the stairs without a sound and I was able to forget its presence. Another twenty and the soft sound of the intermittent ticks slithered along my eardrums like a whispered secret. Ten more and I was unable to ignore the witchcraft. Sarah watched as I ripped open the clock, spilled its mechanical entrails along the hallway. And, still, the sound echoed throughout the house. Now, even as it stands empty, the chipped mahogany yells its reminder of fate--a redline to Hades.

Moonlight hits the trees and cobwebs of mist hover among the leaning, leafless limbs. The night air is heavy with fog. It chokes the air and suffocates the wind, so that each sound, each movement, each childish scream is magnified without the background noise of a rustling breeze. I reach down and touch Sarah’s back. Through the long, matted hair, I feel the vibration of her throaty growl. When she sits up and walks toward the banister, we both look out at nothing. There is nothing there. But, Sarah throws her head back, opens her mouth in a long howl that reminds me of a werewolf. And, I imagine that when I am called to turn, she may become something else, something sinister. As quickly as she starts, she stops. The voice that comes through the new silence is ghastly, “Thomas...” it says, “time’s up.”

2nd Place
Alternative Lifestyles
By Margaret Schoenherr

Trick or Treat,” screamed three children as they traipsed past jack-o-lantern faced pumpkins towards the large oaken door. A young, trim woman appeared at the door in black cobweb-print tights, long black dress, and a redlined cape double-knotted at the throat -- a commercialized play at witchcraft.

He wrapped his hand around the steering wheel rubbing it between his thumb and forefinger.

“Oh aren’t you scary?” she mused, placing candy in the werewolf’s bag, “and look at this ghastly zombie. Nice entrails on your shirt there James.”

As the children scattered, he slithered his tongue over the coin in his mouth. It had been a lovely find hidden away in his grandfather’s clock. On the front was pictured Aphrodite, goddess of lust and beauty, while the reverse bore the image of Hades, god of the underworld. He liked the way the dirty silver tasted as it clicked against the back of his teeth.

Placing the coin in his pocket, he lifted the empty delivery box from the passenger seat of the van.

He thought she looked a little like a scarecrow gyrating beneath him as she fought for breath, her skin turning a little bluer with the escape of each raspy choking noise. As he walked out, he laughed absently at a joke he had once heard about the scarecrow needing a brain, the tinman a heart, and Dorothy a basement.

“I’m home,” he called up the beige carpeted staircase as his wife came around the corner in a seductive angel costume. As they made love, he fanaticized about cobweb print tights and wondered if his wife would outlive him.

3rd Place
The Witching Hour
by Keryn Stewart

“It’s like witchcraft” Marah told me as the grandfather clock struck thirteen. “It only does it in October too.”
I had never been in her house before but I already wanted to head back home; I was just afraid she’d tell everyone at school I was a scarecrow, but I had fantasized for too long about those blood red lips to give up on my chance. Anyway, if I left now I would have to walk though her garden again, and it was so full of spiders and over grown plants that I didn’t think I could make it alone. So, I plucked a stray cobweb out of my hair, choked back my fear, and slithered closer to her on the couch.
“It’s kind of spooky, are you scared?” I reached for her hand but she pulled away from me and laughed.
“Oh no, my uncle is a werewolf, I love this time of year. The Jack-O-Lanterns smiling, the entrails and egg soup my mom makes, and of course the pumpkin pie!”
I shuddered. No girl, no matter how cute and mysterious is worth entrails and egg soup I decided as I bit back a scream.
“What about your family?” She asked, “Do you have any fun traditions?”
“We don’t celebrated Halloween,” I blurted out before I could stop myself. She must have thought that I was an idiot.
“That’s terrible!” Marah replied before inching closer and whispering, “Do you want to go to the graveyard and look for the door to Hades? It’s my favorite game to play on All Hallow’s Eve.”
I swallowed hard. For the first time I saw her ghastly smile for what it was as she leaned closer to me. Her skin was stretched tight over her face and her eyes looked like they had sunk into her head.
“What are you?” I asked as she wrapped her hand around my arm and pressed her lips to mine. Last week I would have told you that Marah might have been a bit strange, but she was the hottest girl I knew, but now tasting her cold lips as I stared into her crimson eyes I was regretting the short trip on the redline which brought me here.
“It’s like witchcraft,” she whispered pressing her lips to mine, and I think she was right.

We had tons of amazing entries and selecting a winner was very difficult. Thanks to all who participated and make sure to check back here for details about when and where you can hear Tara read her piece! Don't forget to stop by the Writing Center in AUD 650 for help on all your writing assignments, spooky or otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Tara's story is very well crafted, good pick guys, and good work Tara. Hope to see more of your work out there.