Will YOU be the lucky winner?

Last week on this blog I asked you a question: “Should I start a writing contest?”

I followed up my question with a promise: “If there is enough enthusiasm for a writing contest, I will start a writing contest.”

So. Was there enough enthusiasm for a writing contest?

Sort of!

And that’s good enough for me.

Welcome to the First Annual
Sully Award for Excellence in Writerishness!

The (one and only) winner will receive a bunch of valuable prizes!

A $20 gift card to Starbucks, because writers need to wake up before writing.
A $10 gift card to iTunes, because writers need to be in the right mood while writing.
A $20 Gift card to Barnes & Noble so you can read after writing.
And, best of all, a beautiful SULLY AWARD CERTIFICATE, because great writers deserve great accolades. The certificate will look something like this.

That’s a lot of good stuff.



To enter this competition you need to do two things:

The First Thing: In the comments section below, post a short (200-word max.) sample of your writing. It may be a complete story. It may be excerpt from a longer work. It may be a WIP. It may be a piece of flash fiction. It may be nonfiction. It may be previously published…or not. So pretty much anything, really.

A couple of caveats:

No co-writing efforts are allowed. If you can’t write 200 words by yourself, you are not Sully Award material.

Almost any genre will be considered, with the following exceptions: Plays, Screenplays, and Poetry.

Please submit only one sample. Hey, if you can’t settle on your best work, why should the Sully Judges?

And the Second Thing: Each entrant must plug this competition on his or her blog and link back to this post. Don’t have a blog? No problem, you can also plug the competition on Facebook or Twitter.



All valid entries will be blind submitted to an impartial panel of three professional writers.

The winner will be selected by a predetermined point system. The entry with the most points will be awarded the prize. In the unlikely event of a tie, new rounds of voting will continue until the tie is broken (or until the judges start swearing at me).

Please note that I will not be on this panel. I will neither be picking the winner nor influencing the judges in any way.

You can still bribe me, however. It won’t help, but I do accept bribes.

Note: If there are fewer than 25 valid entries, the judges or I may exercise our right to cancel the competition.



Please submit your entry on or before Tuesday, March 28. The winner will be announced the following week, on Tuesday, April 4. (The names of the judges will be announced at that time.)

If you have any questions about this competition, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thanks so much for willing The Sully Award for Excellence in Writerishness into existence! I look forward to seeing your work!




  1. Her silence began to paw at him. Like the constant yanking of coat-tails by an impatient child, her wordlessness did more to annoy him than if she were nagging him, as she usually did on these trips. But she was petulant in her nature this morning and it was agitating him to the point that he could not focus on his painting.

    The day had lent everything he required for his creative process. The sky was reflecting a profusion of purples and blues off the water and the grass was standing perfectly still, waiting for him to capture its very essence on his canvas. She began to pick at the weeds in front of her and sighed heavily each time she threw a collection of dying blades into the windless day.

    With each of her exhalations, his brush stroke became angrier and more forceful. The once stunning colors on his palette were becoming a mottled collection of angry hues and the overwhelming emotion he felt rising in his cheeks began to match those shades of regret and dejection. The beautiful day now felt sour and unfriendly.

  2. She blow dries my hair strand by strand. I hold my breath, wondering when I might finally shout “STOP!”
    But Glinda the hairdresser is intent on making my curly hair straight. All the models and actresses on magazine covers have shiny straight hair. Their thin angular bodies are framed with golden threads of hair as straight as reeds.
    But my hair is more like a forsythia bush. The waves curl wily nilly: in, around, through each other. In fact, my hair complements my thoughts in just that way.
    Glinda believes I’ll receive more compliments if I leave the building in a straight “do,” which will make me a more polished, perfect, painstakingly put-together person.
    I don’t want to be put together.
    I want my hair and my thoughts and my demeanor and even my clothes to show individuality, pizazz in its own unique way.
    “STOP!” I finally shout. “They’re coming!”
    “Who?” Glinda asks, dryer finally stilled.
    I don’t answer. I just gather my bag and book and my bedazzling still-curly self and scamper away.

  3. I met her in Costco. Only days after the pathology report promised me months of surgeries and baldness, Bernie and I took our prepare-for-battle shopping list to the superstore. Bulk buying has always improved the mood of my husband, and grocery preparedness seemed like a better plan for the day than putting on a brave face for the boys.

    Our carts met mid-aisle at the canned corn. She recognized her surgeon straight away and, after introductions, launched into a spiel of Bernie-gratitude that is always fun to hear. But she sensed something was wrong. So right there, under the eyes of a hundred Jolly Green Giants, I told this complete stranger the news. Hugs. Tears. Assurances that life would eventually be some sort of normal. She was so pretty with her long, black hair. She pointed to an over-sized cart brimming with all of the provisions for a teenage sleepover. She was Survival in Skinny Jeans– proof of a fun-filled life down the road. We were members of the same shitty sorority, but I could be just like her. Someday.

    One year later, I was. But she was gone. I don’t prepare for somedays anymore. I just wait for them.

  4. Reblogged this on Dear Writers and commented:
    Dear Writers:

    Nope, we simply can’t get enough of Sully the Salamander! Now that Writer Fellow has gone and started a writing contest in the name of the one and only Sully. It’s pretty much open seasons for topics and style, and you can read the details on his post:

  5. Tanley pushed out of her small stone house after being trapped by a storm for three days. Storms hit hard on the coast of Cornwall. Even more when she lived on an isle off its coast and the cold of winter still filled the air. St. Michael’s Mount home of three hundred souls and no more. They could walk across to the mainland when the tide was low, but that was when the sea was not tossed high by a storm. St. Aubyns’ castle stood up on the peak of the tiny island, lending them much distinction from a fishing rock. But not a tree stood about the 53 houses on four streets and the far side only boasted some steep banks of hard stone. It was the remaining shore where she walked when able, a rocky beach but flat. The waves were high, but she walked without shoes letting the cold water wash over her feet. Not a soul was in sight. Not a ship on the sea. Tanley knew it was only a lull, but staying in the house for much longer would make her daft. A school, a chapel, and three public houses used by the visiting sailors who her father used to do business with, that was her life. She’d not been further than five miles from that island since she was born. Tales of faraway lands and fights with the sea filled her ears around the fire. A driftwood log brought in by the storm blocked her way. Stepping around it, she stopped hard when she found a man there.
    “Damnation.” Rushing down, she pushed him over and he groaned.
    His eyes didn’t open and he was cold as ice. Running back to the houses, she found a wheelbarrow that Hellyer left out. No one even seemed to notice her as they too huddled around their fires. One wheel fell over several times in her rush to get back. Staring at him, her uncertainty left. He looked done for, clothes all but falling off him. One arm seemed to be at an odd angle. She couldn’t dump him out of the wheelbarrow, she might kill him. He groaned again and tried to push himself up, but his eyes were closed. The man couldn’t know she was there.

      1. It is part of a book called The Sailor’s Wife, I self-published a while back. 200 words though. I’ll have to think about that short and still saying something.

      2. okay put in something 199 words further down if you want to ignore this one, Same story though.

  6. I am forced into stillness, unable to act as I watch the unbridled show of greed displayed so evidently on my friend’s face. The world thunders and growls in protest, my resolve weakening as I encounter the earth-shattering blindness that must consume her.

    Repeated images flicker in my mind’s eye, increasing in colour and severity until I can longer see anything but the object of my desire. The inner blade of accusation will no longer settle the disturbed calm nor soothe the parched tongue. I am slipping, at my wits end, deep cracks and rivets forming on the surface of my deceptively feeble mask.

    What should I do?

    A thousand synapses collide in a myriad of conflicting desires and choices, competing with one another in an unconscious symphony, culminating in a kaleidoscope of firing neurons that allows for the disintegration of my carefully constructed armour, an intangible shield that I had previously been unaware.

    There is only one choice.

    My friend hands me a row of chocolate squares and I take them gratefully, an action to be analysed and demonised for many thought-seconds later.

    For the love of chocolate!

  7. The door swung open beneath the belly of the Boeing 707. Baggage handlers positioned a large box. A group of young men and women in uniform stepped out of a van. They slipped into formation as they walked with precision towards the airplane.

    Amidst the roar of engines, Isabella heard quiet sobbing as arms linked to hers. It was her family, there to support her and receive their loved one. The reality that Noah had made his final journey home sliced through her like the cold north wind.

    “Mama is that Daddy?” asked Michael. His arms tightly wrapped her neck.

    “Yes sweetheart, it is.” She held him closely. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she wondered how Michael would ever remember his father’s love.

    In her grief, Isabella looked up to the terminal windows. Hundreds of people stood there holding their hands over their hearts. In that moment she felt wrapped in a grace like no other. They didn’t know Noah, but in their quiet compassion they were honoring his service and her family’s loss. It was a beautiful moment of sadness.

    The Honor Guard carried the flag-draped casket across the tarmac to the hearse. The door swung shut.

  8. Alrighty, then. Here’s my entry. Had trouble with the formatting when I copied into the post. Not sure if all the indents will look right. It’s called “Fairy Tale.”

    The truth lies beyond her knowledge, somewhere silent, dry, and hostile. A desert where life just mummifies.
    Toenail clippings lie scattered on a table near her worn recliner. Does she still have toes?
    “Peter!” she yells, although he stands behind her. “You been sitting in my chair?”
    “No, Mother,” Peter says, then tries a joke. “And I haven’t been eating your porridge, either.”
    “Laid these toenails here like breadcrumbs just to tease me? You gonna put me in the oven?”
    “No Mother,” Peter whispers, then looks square at her face. He lifts her hand and squeezes. Tries to bring her back. “Think now, you wouldn’t fit inside the oven.”
    Peter smiles.
    She peers into his eyes, searching for understanding, for forgiveness, for a memory. Comes up empty.
    He stoops to kiss her forehead.
    “How can that be?” she says, voice narrow and suspicious. She wipes a hand across her brow to shoo away his scratch of beard.
    “What about the big bad wolf?”
    Peter takes a breath, prepares to lie, and falters. “The wolf? I’m scared, too, Mother. We all are.”
    The doorbell rings.
    “Here Mother, hold my hand. We’ll pretend that we’re not here.”

  9. Slipping around another girl, I slammed my hip against one of the double doors, shoving it open. She threw her hands up with a “WTF?” expression. I curled my lips into a brief, apologetic smile as I spun around into the sun-filled high school parking lot. The books in my bag thumped against my back as I jogged to my car. I fumbled with the keys, dropping them in the muddy gravel.

    “Come on,” I muttered, retrieving them and stealing a glance at the sole exit to the street. A line of cars had already started to form. Seven. Not too bad. Of course, I could’ve been first if not for my crappy parking spot in the back corner under a tree. It was nice for its shade during the hot days, but it had a tendency to house birds who dined on Metamucil, by the looks of my car.

    I’d tried to get a better parking space but there seemed to be a pecking order. Even juniors warranted less white-speckled places than Isaac and me. But if he noticed his half-green, half rust-orange with white polka dots Ford looked like an ugly Christmas sweater, he never mentioned it.

  10. A sneak peek at my second children’s book, Meet Ozzie….which will be available VERY soon through Amazon, (hint, hint.) 🙂

    “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do,” grumbled Mark.

    It had been two weeks since we moved to South Africa and there was no one to play with except my brother David, who always asked too many questions.

    “Why don’t you go for a ride on your bike? The fresh air would be good for you,” Mom said.

    Anything would be better than another hour of listening to David, I thought. I headed toward the kitchen and looked out the window. All I could see was dry grass and dirt roads, perfect for a dirt bike.

    I rode my bike for an hour and it was getting hot, so I stopped under one of the few trees near our house. I had been resting for a few minutes and was about to take off again when I caught sight of a large egg. I had never seen an egg that size before. It was as big as a grapefruit. Getting off my bike, I slowly walked toward it. I could feel its warmth as I touched it. WOW! Whoever left the egg had not been gone long.

  11. Wesley moved his hands up and down his face over and over in the mirror as if he was willing himself to be young again. The space between his eyes was permanently folded from squinting at sheet music and his forehead was cracking from decades of uncertainty. He cleared his throat and struggled to lift the mirror off of the wall and into the moving box. He taped it shut and looked hopefully out the window, but the doorbell stayed silent. All three of the children’s pictures were packed up, sealed, and ready to be hauled off. He inched down every hallway, scraping his hand along the white walls he had never bothered to paint. He rummaged in his pocket, lit a cigarette, and slowly opened the door to the attic, the ladder rusted and chipping on the bottom step. A knock on the door.

    (competition linked on twitter)

      1. Thank you! I posted the link on my twitter but would be glad to provide proof if needed.

  12. The second alley will stand in silence, waiting for the clown. She will emerge after a while, head cast down and escorted to the awaiting prison bus destined for Indiana Women’s Prison by beefy white officers. In her walk of atonement, she will receive all kinds of reaction. A soulful cry will emerge from her mother. The older woman will break into a frenzied dash to embrace her daughter for one last time but the officers will block her path. A band of journalists will press forward with their cameras and microphones but she will remain silent. An old white lady will fight her arthritis, rush forward and yell, “Go to hell bitch!” and spit on her clothes. Omichè will neither fight nor look up. At the end of the alley, a young black lad will stand unshaken. Omichè will look up for the first time, amidst the worries and darkness, and the discerning look on the boy’s face will illuminate her heart. Yes, you will come looking for me. Omichè will affirm the statement on the boy’s face to herself. That boy is Roni.

    To all Omichès in there. We bleed for you.

  13. In the town of Roseville there was a charming bakery that a certain Miss Grissom visited every day on her morning walk. She could hear the busy doorbell tinkle before she could see the striped awnings, and she could smell the fresh baked goods long before that.
    The bakery was owned by Mr. Peterson. He and his young daughter, Gracie, kept it filled to bursting with all sorts of items to satisfy the customers––from celebration cakes to daily loaves, and from buttery brioche to palm-sized treats sure to disappear in one bite.
    Conversations were short and sweet because business was brisk, but Miss Grissom never felt slighted; there was always a toothsome gingersnap set aside in a brown bag which she claimed with a wave and a flutter of a dollar bill. And every time, on her way out, she would pause at the window display to look at a fruitcake, perched on a pedestal above the trays and baskets. It had been there ever since she could remember, bejeweled with glittery red and green cherries and golden sultanas. Miss Grissom imagined it to be a crown awaiting a queen’s coronation.

      1. Yes, but not finished. “The Story of Jubilee”. A re-mix from a previous story. Picture book.

  14. She abandoned the view and walked, arm outstretched, slender fingertips leaving invisible ribbons where they glided across the smooth surface.

    The unseamed gray of the floor, the cool walls, and flat ceiling held no memories of those who’d trod the halls before. They demanded no care, no cleaning, no mending, or maintenance. How long would the alien cities last unchanged, impervious to the passage of time? Another three hundred years? A millennium? Lives came and went, washing from the tiers’ petals like rainwater to the porous, wet world below. Was her life within these walls any more important, other than being hers?

    Perhaps, only a world of wrinkles and grooves could capture the fragmented stories of wounded souls, hold them tight in the ashes and rubble. One required pitted stone and cracked wood, ragged bark and churned soil to heal a heart’s broken flesh. Her lover and daughter lived in that foreign world.

    Her skin matched these walls, smooth and serene. Yet, the emptiness of her expression, the monotony of her smile hid a secret fire that would one day flare and burst forth in a conflagration of pent up desperation and burn the world.

  15. The bubble provides safety, security, contained within a shimmering lens. Once in the softness of this shell why leave it? Transparent to ugliness, grittiness, despair. You wrap tighter, reaching out to others but they live in the bubble too. You comfort each other but do not break the barrier. You risk disappearance of the perfect world. Risk being dropped into the middle of what what lies below.
    One day the view changes. Can you change too? You reach for the world below, but fluid barriers becomes solid. You long to touch those who are beyond your world of comfort. Cries of encouragement go unheard, you shout that you are part of them…only you are not. You are trapped in the bubble, floating too far above the ground, the way unclear. Words bounce back. Attempts fail. You struggle to leave the bubble, strain against it, but sink back into the stupor of safety and security. Where is the door? Do you have a choice? Are you willing to shatter the bubble and fall into another’s reality? Are you willing to accept the consequences if you do not?

    Word Count: 187
    Facebook post with contest link

  16. All Signs Point

    The doctor left the examination room, the door closing behind him with a weighted, soft click. Dog stood up, bare feet against the cool tiled floor and got dressed. Later that afternoon, he sat at the kitchen table, letting his coffee grow cold.

    They’d said it was supposed to warm up. But the sun hid behind thick clouds, threatening snow. In the other room, the television rang shrill. They announced that day’s big winner. Dog half-listened to their excited whooping and lively music.

    His wife would be home soon. Maybe, he thought, they’d could go out for dinner. Somewhere nice.

  17. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Heads Up Folks – Mike Allegra has a great competition going on – with GREAT prizes – Head over to his blogpost, read, inwardly digest and put YOUR entry in his Comments under the post.
    BTW – Don’t forget to plug this competition on your own blog, your Facebook Page, or, Twitter Account (check with Mike regards LinkedIn or Google+ accounts if you don’t have any of the other other media accounts)
    GOOD LUCK 👍😃

  18. He sat, back straight at the table, pulling his heavy oak chair closer to it. White hair parted from the left, framing a formidable face etched by the ravages of time. Sharp green eyes sparkled just a little at the sight of 11 grandchildren anxiously waiting for him to blow out the candles on his birthday cake.

    “Edna Leighton Jones,” he said, smiling at his wife of 47 years, “You’ve outdone yourself this time.”

    “It’s only a white cake with lemon filling and butter cream icing,” the slender woman said. Edna scampered back into the kitchen, her mom radar on full alert. “Eric! You know better than that!”

    “You’re 36, boy!” his father laughed. “Time you stopped trying to steal cookies.”

    “But they’re chocolate chip, and my wife can’t cook worth…beans!”

    “Good thing she’s not here,” Edna said, laughing at the hurt face. “She might deserve the insult, but she’d not be kind.”

    Two daughters and three sons doled out cake to children eagerly sitting at tables built for their smaller bodies. Finally! The adults settled into a table for 8 and began to enjoy the rich, creamy softness of their father’s birthday cake.

    Ding…Dong… rang the front doorbell…

  19. Thank goodness for Diana (Wallace Peach) for introducing me to your blog! I am definitely entering this competition and you absolutely crack me up. It’s nice to have a blog that makes you smile when you’re a stressed out and frazzled writer xD

  20. A true story:

    So what garners Lisa a blinding headache, and glares from a couple of other shoppers? Post-adoption trauma on two-year-old May’s part, perhaps? Fear? Even terror? Maybe just utter frustration at not being able to express herself.

    Or maybe not.

    Try joy. Lisa and George are shopping, and George leaves the pair to go over and look at something. No problem . . . until May spies him and the shrieks of joy begin. There’s Daddy–and just a few yards away!

    Lisa decides against trying to hush her delighted little one. “Stop being so happy” doesn’t sound quite right. May does well with “Shhh,” mind you. She says “Shhh” back, and resumes shrieking.

    Lisa decides that in the time it takes someone to glare at her, she’ll have walked past them. There will come a time, probably quite soon, for May to turn the volume down on her happiness, but for now we’ll all enjoy this toddler who’s so full of joie de vivre.

    If only joy were the only cause of headaches!

  21. She stood with such force that she knocked her chair backwards and it started to fall. She had her gun out and in her hand before the chair hit the floor. The scraping noise of the chair as Molly stood turned the men’s attention from the gold to the table. It was the last act of their lives. Molly had a bullet into each one of them before they knew they were dead.
    Jass couldn’t believe it. He took the bottle of Three Star, tilted it to his mouth and drank a goodly portion. Then he sat down and wiped his brow. In spite of the cold, he had been sweating. Huck went to Molly and gently touched her cheek with the back of his hand. “Good girl,” was all he said.

    Excerpt from: Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure

  22. Charlene felt the hot coffee as it ran down her upper body. She fanned her blouse letting it cool
    her burning skin. She blinked to stop the tears. It wasn’t so much from the burn but knowing her
    interview was in a few minutes and now she had mocha latte all over her white shirt, smelling
    like chocolate. She felt a laugh riveting up her throat. Maybe, this was a mistake, since chocolate
    wasn’t her favorite thing.
    “Are you Okay?” The man asked again. He threw the remaining liquid into the trash.
    “I’m Okay,” she said, as she wiped her blouse. The more she wiped the darker the stain shown.
    “And you’re sure, you’re all right,” he stated.
    Charlene released a breath and turned to leave since she couldn’t go ahead with the interview with a badly stained blouse. She looked like she hadn’t washed in days.
    “Here let me help you,” he said, as he extended his hand.
    “I…I can’t,” she said.
    “Come on, it’s just a little coffee stain,” he said, trying to encourage her. “It’s barely noticeable.”
    She glanced toward the gentleman. Was he holding a hidden laugh behind the lips that just made that crazy statement?

    Reblogged on and facebook

  23. Teyin grumbled silently to himself as he strode down Giant’s Causeway. Sensing his mood, a family of Hobgoblins—damn tourists were everywhere these days—and the Nixie stall-owner selling them candied butterflies, scuttled out of his way. Two of the Hob children stared as he passed, green eyes in lumpy brown faces following his progress.

    Shatterstone’s open gates swallowed him, the darkness stealing over his body as he stepped into the entry chamber of the mountain. The guards, nominally present to protect the ruling council from the dangerous mass of curious tourists, saluted but offered no comment. Either they’d been told to expect him here, or… or Teyin Airkin was the victim of some Devonai practical joke. If so, somebody would definitely be getting an earful today. Possibly an eyeful and a noseful, too.

    He made his way on foot to the Mirror Chamber because Blinking was prohibited within Shatterstone. The official story claimed teleportation was forbidden because one unlucky Onai had, centuries back, Blinked himself right into a wall, resulting in one fatality and a great mess for the Brownies to clean up. Teyin did not believe the official story, mostly because it came from The Officials.

    1. 138 superfluous WIP words valiantly sacrificed themselves to allow this excerpt to come in at under 200. I can’t wait to see how many words I cleave from the finished product.

      I’ve done the bird thing, now to do the blog thing!

      1. I followed you here, and also allowed some words to sacrifice themselves to the greater good.

        (After writing that, the “Where’s my super suit?” scene from The Incredibles popped into my head: “I am your wife! I’m the greatest *good* you are ever gonna get!”)

  24. Dreamily, I sat on a rock by a creek that wormed itself around a field of dry, parched grass, thinking of nothing. It was late afternoon. The blazing sun was beating down from a clear blue sky, appearing like a pool of deep blue water. A slight wind swayed through the high grass of the field, stirring it around. Sparrows darted from here to there, filling the air with their mystical chirps. But then, suddenly, an idea struck me.

    Could I change into an animal to see, to feel and to be like an animal?

    Putting my finger into the water, I watched the ripples I created and listened to the quiet song of the bubbling water.

    Presently a green tree frog jumped nearby. With that thought in my mind, if I could change into an animal, I stared intensely at it and wished to be that frog.

    I felt dizzy. Goose pimples crawled over my skin.

    Believing in what would occur, I jumped and splashed into the cold water.

    The coolness of the water shocked me and when I looked around and saw my long frog legs to jump with, I shouted joyfully, ‘It worked! It really worked! I am the frog! Look at my jumping legs!’

  25. Betrayed – part 1

    An ominous sky overshadowed her petite pale frame, as auburn strands of salty wet tresses held fast to her cold wet skin. Her thin white cotton dress clung to her body and revealed her emaciated figure. She sat motionless on the rocky precipice, with her scraped knees tucked up under her chin and her listless arms wrapped around her bruised legs. She shivered as the waves descended upon her frail form and braced herself each time the saltwater flowed freely over her superficial wounds. Determined not to shed a single tear for his benefit, she faced the onslaught of breakers, and let the raging sea carry away her disparaging thoughts. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing that he had humiliated and crushed her unadulterated spirit. Instead, she would make him pay dearly for his cruel behavior; only just as soon as she could find a way to escape the godforsaken island, where he had so nonchalantly discarded her, like a useless piece of rubbish.

    By, Michelle Cook

  26. Hi Mike, reblogged on WP, FB and Twitter. Here’s my entry:

    “This is my truth!” Rathe screamed and flung the gold ring at the statue as hard as he could. The ring smashed against the statue and shattered as though it had been made of glass. Rathe felt a new infusion of strength wash through his body and for one brief moment he closed his eyes and imagined Fleur’s lips brush against his.

    The hint of lilacs wafted on the wind.

    You would denounce Me? The deity’s voice was thunder. The ground trembled with Her fury. Rathe stumbled as the ground rocked beneath his feet.


    Quin suddenly unleashed a pure guttural scream and lunged at Rathe. If the ground hadn’t already made the Listener unstable on his feet, Quin’s long straight-edged blades would have run him through. As it was one of Quin’s blades snagged the Listener’s bandolier, snicking the leather and sending the contents scattering to the ground. Rathe stumbled backwards and with lightning speed, drew his katanas.

    There was no facing off, no words exchanged…

    … the two men launched into a duel that they both knew would only end when one of them died.


  27. Alexei threw himself at the cloud-giant and locked his jaws around the giant’s leg. He pulled and tugged, trying to pull the giant over but the giant just picked up his leg and shook it, attempting to dislodge Alexei. They hung there, wolf and giant, Alexei grinding his teeth into the giant’s leg and feeling the giant’s leg bone resisting him deep within the giant’s leg. Finally the giant reached down, shouting something at Alexei in words that he could not understand, and wrenched Alexei’s jaws from his shin. He picked Alexei up and tossed him like a ball in a game of nine-pins.
    Climbing up further into the storm, his claws scrabbling against the clouds as the way became steeper and steeper, he could hear the cattle bellowing below as the giant kept tormenting and terrifying them and driving them on to cause more havoc on the earth below. Off to one side, he saw the drunk again, now even more drunk on whatever he was sipping from his jug, colliding with the clouds and unleashing more thunder and rain and wind every time he knocked into the wall of clouds around him.

  28. Re-bloggged this… my piece is below…

    Does it get any easier after losing a child? Somewhat…
    Is it possible for a parent to be happy their child/children are perfect in Heaven above… and feel peace with that? Sure… (It took me twenty-three years for Eli and somewhat less for Joshua).
    Can a parent ever “get over” losing a child? No. This is the KING of loss. We can be happy that they are perfect in Heaven and sad at times when we miss them the most.
    Bereaved parents are continually re-writing each day, as they try to cope with their new “normal.” This won’t change. We will think of our loss when other children reach milestones such as their first tooth, first steps, first words, kindergarten, holidays, best friend, graduation, prom, falling in love, first kiss, learning to drive, getting married… the list is endless. There will always be reminders of our loss.
    The WORST things you can ever say to a parent who has suffered the KING of loss, even after one, ten, twenty, or more years? “You should be over it by now,” or “Move on with life.” You see, we are moving on with life. We just do it one hour… one day at a time… re-writing life as we go along.

  29. You don’t have to do this, they told me. You don’t have to go this way. You don’t have to do this. That’s what they told me. That’s what everybody says. But how come they’re never there when I need them? How come they’re not here, on this bridge? The lights are so bright, I can’t believe nobody has seen me. It’s a Saturday night, everybody is too busy having fun. Too busy having a good time. Too busy to notice me. That’s what everyone said. I was the least of their problems. Divorce, counseling, and boyfriends came first. They had their priorities, but I was never one of them. That’s cool, I’ve got one priority right now. These next two steps. They’ve pushed me away, ran from me, called me crazy. All these years I put up with them. They never really cared about me. They weren’t pressed about having a real family, they just wanted to have fun.
    That’s probably what they’re doing right now, having fun. Where am I? Who knows, I don’t even know. I just remember we came here on a trip and I decided to make a final decision.

  30. Kamaria decided that Jezebel was probably not evil. A harlot, maybe, but not evil. She sighed. “The Denizens of Dawn are here. Leave it to the professionals.”

    Talib opened his mouth to protest, but was interrupted by the shifting of their rough-hewn bench. Two women joined them on both sides of the increasingly crowded table. One seized the bread from Kamaria’s plate and swallowed it whole.

    “Asis,” the other hissed, “manners.”

    Asis brushed breadcrumbs from her tunic, belched loudly, stood, stepped away from the table, and offered an insincere curtsy. Her eyes roamed the empty glasses. She shrugged, grabbed a bowl of olive oil from the center of the table, and slurped loudly. The orphaned children snickered and a scowl from Kamaria did nothing to stem the tide of giggles. Talib allowed a smile to transform his stern features. Asis’s companion rolled her eyes.

    “Relax, Jahan,” Asis declared settling back at the table. “The young lady merely provided the first round of negotiations.”

    “Negotiations?” Kamaria inquired.

    “For our services,” Asis insisted.

    Kamaria blinked. “Services?”

    Asis turned her gaze toward Talib. “Are you the keeper of our friend of few words here?”

    “I doubt anyone would dare claim that,” he sputtered.

  31. Wondered over via The Story Reading Ape to see what this was about. And found myself editing a recent post managing to trim it into 198 words –

    He sat in a rocking chair, the old man. Filling his meerschaum pipe required his full attention. It was never, ever lit. The comfort of the ritual, the smell of the baccy and the feel of it in his mouth was all he wanted.
    Outside, the velvety blackness was broken only by the twinkling of a million stars scattered by a careless hand. They provided a lustrous background to the full round moon.
    Inside, circled around him on the floor were his grandchildren. Cosy and warm they gazed at him with rapt attention.
    I dreamed a dream, he said, in his soothing old, gravelly voice. It was not an ordinary dream. This one was special and so real. In this dream I was old, much like I am now. I sat in a rocking chair telling tales to my grandchildren. Just like now.
    Don’t you think that’s wonderful that the dream I dreamed so very long ago brought me here – to be with you.
    The children hugged their knees and smiled to know that all those many years ago before time had brought them into this world, they had already been known by Gramps in his dream.

    Orignal –
    Will reblog this which automatically links it to FB and LinkedIn

  32. Darcy’s Shack

    There wasn’t much left of Darcy’s old fishing shack after the storm. The hut sat on the edge of the beachhead for as long as I could remember. Darcy was a name my father told me about.
    He recalled Darcy as an old man who spent his days fishing the water’s edge, forever happy telling tales of his seafaring days.
    A few times over the years I had ventured into Darcy’s old hut. There wasn’t much to suggest it was a home or anything, more a shelter from the weather.
    It was one room with a crude table in the centre, a chair that had seen better days, a few shelves nailed to the walls and in one corner a rough old bed. There was a tin framed fireplace and windows with ragged curtains hanging over them.
    Now the place lay in ruins. A pile of timber bearing no visible sign of inhabitancy. In the rubble that was once Darcy’s home lay all the secrets and memories of a man who lived long ago, all forgotten but preserved in the timbers now scattered on the ground.

  33. Somehow, she was the one that became the islands’ doctor and nurse. More times than she wanted to count her father had come running from his evenings at the public houses dragging her back to patch a man in his cups. Most used an embroidery basket for coverlets, hers was a joking name for surgeon’s tools.
    He was dark after being in the sun for years, certainly not new to the decks. Tanley laughed at herself, using the finest stitches she knew on flesh. She replaced sheets beneath him somehow as he rested calmly on his stomach. Picking up the soaked articles, she took them to wash. If there was more to them, she could have told perhaps even where he had been. But other than saying he had dressed warmly, there were no real clues. Dark hair and sea colored eyes. No clue to even tell nationality. Looking the clothes over though, something caught her eye. A hole, a fresh hole yet to fray. Damnation! It was no scratch from a dump in the sea. Fresh, an inch wide, thin, he’d been stabbed. Tanley stared, what happened to him. More, who had she just let into her house?

  34. By the time I arrived on the scene, the wagons had long circled Anna and, by extension, Darlene, whose emotional fragility and need for protection were understood as fact.

    If there were villains, they are no longer. I say these words, and the taste of persimmon lingers. In truth, the high-strung Darlene became a devoted spouse and the loving, capable mother of four. I suspect now that she was without guile. Her childlike heart, so carefully protected by spectator pumps and silk blouses, was revealed the moment she arrived at the Old House each summer. Her first act, always, was to drop everything, put on her swimsuit, and baptize herself in the clear and frigid Lake. I witnessed this ritual several times myself. Her face was unguarded.

    This (his)story has grown as wavy as an old window pane. Though I experience longing, the longing I feel is rooted in a time which can never return.

    I last visited the Island 20 years ago, and it was much altered. The town beach was fouled, and the naked red mud of fresh driveways marred the untamed perfection. Perhaps my island is no longer haunted. Perhaps my island no longer exists.

  35. I’ve been an interminable misfire and a screaming wreck. Deeply wounded. Randomly sad. Meanderingly pensive. Lonely. Scared. This is pain, diligently forged, purely honed and singularly sharp as the blades wrought by ancient, grey-grizzled and craft-mastered swordsmiths. This is a violently jarring ejection into the vast vacuum of immediately inhospitable space. I wish I could spectacularize what delivered the experience to my doorstep, but it was merely a flea circus becoming an elephant stampede. It came not from the likes of a monstrous betrayal (that came later) or a long-hidden physical abuse, but from countless grains of sinister sand snakily slipping into the bowel of an hourglass. Hundreds of flash-in-the-pan, seemingly harmless words, spoken in heat and without any authentic thought or faith, fell like droplets of arsenic at the root well of a once mighty family tree. Countless minuscule moments gone the way of an unintended slip from the edge of a cliff-hung hiking trail, only to find when the many falls were done that a canyon expanse had opened like a maw between me and the far-off shadow of somebody for whom I must stop longing. This is divorce. And this is utter, grave-faced and hauntingly possessive heartache.

    -from a larger work-in-progress begun months ago

  36. Children lazed between the boards and crosses of the boneyard. All spoke at once, reciting:

    Three in a bathtub, scrubbed each others’ neck,
    squabbled at their brother, for the soap he’d lost.
    He’d left it in the birdyard where the hens all pecked.
    Now the chickens all lay dying at a dreadful cost.”

    A boy atop a granite stone: “Who will give us eggs?”
    A girl upon her back sang-out: “Who will fill our pillows?”
    A boy with dirt beneath his nose asked: “Who will eat our worms?
    The girl who’d begun the chant, threw out her pointed finger: “Who will be our supper?”
    On signal, each extended a finger toward another child. Each accusing finger drifted to a different face then another. Seven fingers implicated child after child, Over time, the haphazard drew focus until all arms, save one, pointed to the red headed boy.
    The boy dropped his arm and ran. Girls and boys took pursuit. He clambered between fence slats, where one might pass with ease, but not six.
    Having won a gap in time, the red head scampered the field and dropped into the cut of the creek, where his passage along the bank became invisible.

  37. The Dream

    About a year ago I had a horrible dream that our house had been invaded. Me and my family were being held hostage in our living room. My wife and kids were watching me, with my hands tied behind my back, on my knees, bent over. Someone stood behind me with a machete in his hand.

    The surprising thing was that my wife was calmly watching. Not the least bit concerned. Didn’t she care? I was about to have my head cut off! I twisted but couldn’t see the face of my killer.

    And then…whallop.

    My head separated from my body. And still my family showed no emotion.

    I awoke to a new day and was extremely thankful. Another chance to let my wife and kids know how much I care. Another chance to fix my priorities.

    A year later… I’m still enjoying my family, the ups and downs. I have learned to laugh, take it easy, and take pictures of sunsets.

    Just a few weeks ago, I had the same dream. Only this time, I was able to see my executioner…it was me. My old selfish self HAD to die so that my new self could thrive.

  38. “Frances, what would you like to get out of these sessions?”
    With Rhona’s eyes on her and Martin waiting expectantly for an answer, Frances decided to disillusion the two of them even more.
    “Nothing. I’m only here because Martin begged me. I don’t expect to gain anything from coming here. Whatever I felt for my husband died a long time ago. All we do now is play mind games with each other.”
    She could see that Rhona’s face had remained expressionless as the counsellor nodded and turned towards Martin. Frances sighed, sat back, crossed her arms, and looked at the floor.
    “Martin, can I ask you the same question please?”
    Frances made a point of not turning her head towards her husband as he shrugged and fiddled with the cuff of his shirt.
    “Just to get my marriage on more of an even footing and for my wife not to move out would be a start. I’m not after miracles, as you can tell.”
    Frances looked up as the counsellor wrote furiously, her pen sweeping across the page in broad strokes. She listened as Rhona talked and jotted down notes at the same time.

  39. Razorshell

    The touch of the felt tip was the most love I ever knew.

    Abandoned dead and washed up I was scoured clean, almost to nothing, by tides of sand when hand-in-hand lovers picked me up and initialled me. So I became someone’s cherished two as one. And I lived an afterlife on a shelf with sight of the sky, and photographs and sweet memories for company.

    Until two became two again, and I an ill reminder – discarded, castaway, jetsam, trash on the street for collection by gulls.

  40. An Excerpt from “The Nail”

    I thought about tugging at the nail, pulling it right out of that rubber and leaving it to glint against the hot tar. I felt the head of it between my index finger and thumb before I got in and pulled away, before I could do more damage.

    I remembered someone telling me, perhaps my father, when it came to nails or screws in your tire, rule number one was- don’t touch it. Rule number two was- get busy having it fixed. I knew the actual repair would only be twenty bucks or so at any tire shop. I passed about thirty of them already. I just didn’t have the time. Every moment that went by left me more and more in a tizzy.

    I thought about Gabe sitting there behind bars, a victim of county cops south of the big city. I knew what they were like, I worked for them. I could not believe what he had done this time, but the thought of blaming him just wasn’t there. The only track that my mind was on was that of a solid rescue mission, and that nail that kept clicking if I went too slow.

  41. Tweeted and FBed.

    They had run out of time. There were no more moons left, no more hope. Nothing more would rise in the sky, night or day. The standing stones watched but refused their help. The magic that lay beneath them slept. And it would sleep now forever. The sleepers would never waken, though this was surely the end, and they were the only ones who could avert it. So said the stories.
    The fox watched the setting sun and called the vixen. Together they slipped through the gateway between the stones to the otherworld and left the earth to its dying.

    Vixen stopped and looked back. Dog fox sat and wrapped his brush neatly over his toes. The sky beyond the stones was darkening though not with night; it was dark because the sky was empty. The pale sun had set and no moon would rise. The stars had all fallen and the universe turned its back on the earth. A flock of birds swung, swift, feathered darts, between the stones. An owl followed, another. They were the last. The stones fell together and shattered. The doorway had gone. Fox shook himself, vixen yawned, and they trotted into the starlit night.

  42. I didn’t look at you, but I knew you were suppressing a smile too. She had a face that looked like she’d been angry for 30 years, and I imagined how we would laugh about that later. But not now. There was business to be done. She scowled at us over the top of her narrow spectacles. We anticipated some words from her pursed lips, but none emerged. Should I speak first, or you? Probably best me. I confidently approached her time-weathered table.

    “We’re here about the angels.”

    She bristled. “The angels?”

    “Yes, the order they’re in. It’s up for review.”

    With bony fingers she removed her spectacles and directed her attention to you. “What does she mean?”

    “Madam, it’s as she says. The order of angels is up for review. Didn’t you get the email?” You handed her the copy. She peered at it and then turned away, repulsed, as if the mere sight of it was too much to bear.

    “Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones…” She began. “It’s always been…you can’t simply…”

    “I assure you madam,” I said. “This request comes from the highest authority. The HIGHEST. So if you don’t mind, please take us to their dimension.”

  43. “You stupid heifer! Do you honestly think I’m afraid of you?” The tall, aging David Cassidy wannabe with a stupid grin on his face, swaggered toward Joan Delaney, as her hand rested on a slightly curved filet knife.

    The petite blonde laughed. “I’m not scared of you. You’re not dealing with the spineless infatuated girl that you used to know.” Joan wondered how she had ever found Mitch Quinn handsome and irresistible as she looked up at him; his six-foot frame towering over her barely five-foot frame. He was still in good shape but the many years of alcohol and cigarette abuse had ravaged his skin, making him look as if he were ready to retire instead of his true age of forty-six.

    He stood over her, leaned down and smelled her hair. “Still miss your sweet kisses, baby.”

    Joan clinched the knife lying on the preparation table behind her, wanting to carve out his rotten heart and serve it to him with a sprig of parsley. Instead, she smiled. “Well, you’ll never know how much sweeter they are now.”

  44. Blow My Cover

    I walk into the restaurant, wearing a dress that reveals no cleavage and low heels as befits a widow of my age, fifty-five. Waving at the hostess, I continue on. His husky voice comes from the bar, my stomach flutters but I keep my feet moving, per protocol. He laughs, raspy and deep. I do not look toward him but scan the tables for my three girlfriends. “Anita, over here,” Deirdre’s soprano voice calls out to me. When I reach the table, they each hug me tight, understanding the value of physical contact to someone who lives alone. Deirdre and Jody are married; Gwen is divorced, actively pursuing one-night stands. She and I are nothing alike—I am the loyal widow.

    We chat about the weather—unseasonably warm, how long it has been since we have all gotten together—three months, what to drink—wine, of course. It is what we always drink. Knowing he is here, my mouth wants the bite of tequila, the bitter chill of beer, but I agree with wine as expected.

  45. I linked to this page from my blog as per the instructions above. Thanks for letting me join the fun.

    Here’s my submission. It’s part of a series of stories I’m working on called The Alphabet Soup Stories. This one is G is for George.


    “What’s with the dog?” asked James, settling into the folding chair near his brother.

    Stuart brushed the lapel of his Brooks Brothers coat before answering. “I haven’t a clue. He was lying next to the casket when I arrived. Fitting, though – just the sort of mutt George might have latched onto. Since when are dogs allowed in funeral homes?”

    The dog stared at the brothers. His milky, tea-colored eyes were sorrowful.

    “Speaking of mutts,” said James, “did you notice the character in the back of the room?”

    “Rather hard to miss since he’s the only one here besides you, me and the dog.”

    “Think he’s one of George’s converts?”

    “More likely one of his AA pals. Those people do hang on.”

    The brothers were silent, thinking of George’s plunge from businessman to drunk and then sidewalk preacher.

    “Wonder what Father would make of this,” mused James.

    “He’d give thanks that the old boy’s death ends a sorry family chapter.”

    “George was a good man,” muttered the man from the back of the room.

    James rose. “Let’s go, Stuart. We’ve stayed long enough to pay our respects.”

    The dog never raised his head as they walked past the casket.

    ©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer

  46. I’ve posted a notice of the contest on my blog: Here’s my story

    Chapter M: At the Roqetscienski’s Backyard Party

    “What’s Robert telling those kids, Martha?”

    By the swing set, they could hear Robert’s voice rise, “…and then there was a BIG BANG!”

    “Oh. He’s telling them his version of the creation of the universe.”

    When the kids settled, he leaned in toward them and whispered, “And God said, ‘Oops.'”

    Chapter M + 1: Another Way the Universe Might Have Started

    Kathy’s six-year-old Billy sat by her. She whispered, “What was that crazy Dr. Roqetscientski telling you by the swing set?”

    Billy shook his head and giggled.

    “You can tell me.”

    Billy refused.

    “Whisper it in my ear.”

    Billy spoke into her ear, “He said God pooped out the universe.”

    Chapter M + 2: Still Another Way the Universe Might Have Started

    “Robert Roqetscienski told your son that God pooped out the universe.”

    “No! Even Robert’s not that stupid. Billy probably misunderstood.”

    “You need to talk to your son.” Kathy told her husband.

    “Hell, I don’t know how it started.”

    Before bed, Billy’s father reasoned, “It might have been only a fart.”

  47. So Mike:
    Lots of amazing writing submitted here. I thought I would submit something with the intent of making you laugh–yeah, I know you aren’t a judge. I just wanted to hand in a piece of humorous writing as an acknowledgement of all those fabulous laughter moments that flow from your brain. And not one mention of a cow.
    There were aliens sitting at the breakfast table. I don’t know when it happened but aliens came and took up residence in my mom and dad’s bodies. Admittedly, they looked and acted quite a bit like my parents. They even got that one mole that sits on my dad’s neck just right. It’s raised and kind of hangs there, like a fleck of ear wax. They copied how mom’s left nostril is larger than her right one as well. All in all they are very good imitations. Not like the guy from Men in Black, whose skin didn’t fit right. No. These look, sound, and act like my parents. I still think they are aliens.
    The real question is why I didn’t notice earlier. Maybe there some sort of cosmic ray they used to shoot my milk with so I didn’t notice. Now that I’m in junior high I don’t drink as much milk. It may do my body good, but it’s havoc on my intestines. Lactose intolerant. Bad gas is not cool in eighth grade. Sixth grade maybe. Not eighth grade. Okay, in the locker room. Not in science. Especially standing next to Heather Fortuna. I may not end up marrying her, or even like her by the time we get into ninth grade. All I know is drinking milk at lunch with my pizza slice has its consequences a half hour later. Which would be in science class.
    Let’s get back to my alien parents.
    I think when I stopped drinking so much milk I caught on to the fact my parents had changed. They may be onto to me so I better stop staring at them at slip into my usual morning scowl of indifference.

    And here’s the rest of the piece (because I know you wanted to read more, right?)
    So how did an average fourteen year old boy figure out his parents are aliens? For one thing, I began noticing them more. Like my dad. He’s really a terrible driver. As a kid I used to sit in the backseat and play my video game or even read. When I got into junior high dad told me I could sit up front, as long as I didn’t pester him. That’s when I began to notice stuff.. For one thing, he talks to the light. Right—as if that could make the decision to change green or not. He also talks to the other drivers. Like in, “Oh, brilliant! Did you get your license from correspondence school?” Or the one that makes me shrink down in my seat—”Hey! Go any slower and you might as well just park your car.” This one is accompanied with the banging of his hands on the steering wheel.
    Only an alien would think his verbal transmissions could manifest themselves from one vehicle into another, or even try communicating with another machine.
    I won’t even tell you how my mother will navigate lanes or even pull u-turns as if her vehicle operated on non-gravitational ability. Yeah, she must think she can get the car to fly. Either that or she is totally unaware of Newton and his ideas that for every action there is a reaction. I know I react when she is driving. She must be letting that alien side slip out when she is behind the wheel, thinking that in space there are no rules of road. Dodging asteroids and plotting hyperdrive must be an aspect of her alien life she misses. Either that or she never let them part dematerialize as she morphed into an earthling suburban mother who multi-tasks while conveying her progenies around town.
    That’s it for now. No doubt I’ve broken all your submission rules and I’m out of the Sully running. That’s okay–I only got to Starbucks in winter for hot chocolate.

  48. I have promoted the Sully Award Competition on my blog at I am entering an excerpt from my most recent novel, a historical fiction based on the love affair between Augustus Saint-Gaudens, America’s premier sculptor and his model, Davida. It is titled “Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

    Gus often draped a muslin cloth over me, working the folds until
    they were perfect. He wrapped a garland of flowers around my waist
    and set a wreath of flowers atop my hair, which was parted in the middle
    and gently swept to each side in waves. As he instructed, I stretched my
    arms above my head and turned my head slightly down and to the right.

    Once completed a year later, the angel stood in a hollow niche with
    her arms stretched high above her head, holding a tablet. Her wings
    curved upward, and she wore a flowing gown that barely covered her feet.
    On her head was a crown of flowers, and a garland of flowers was around
    her waist. Her facial expression was one of love, peace, and harmony.

    This was the start of a long, meaningful, and special journey we
    shared. When completed in 1898, the piece would be called Amor

    (156 word count)
    Thank you for this opportunity.
    Karen Ingalls

  49. Okay: I had another look at the prize swag. I wouldn’t mind a Barnes and Nobles gift card. Here is my official entry (198 words)
    There were aliens sitting at the breakfast table. Admittedly, they look and act like my parents. They even got that mole that’s on my dad’s neck just right. It’s raised and kind of hangs there, like a fleck of ear wax. They even copied how Mom’s left nostril is larger than her right one. All in all they are very good imitations. Not like the guy from Men in Black, whose skin didn’t fit right. These look, sound, and act like my parents.
    Why didn’t notice earlier? Maybe there some sort of cosmic ray they used to shoot my milk with so I didn’t notice. Now that I’m in junior high I don’t drink as much milk. It may do my body good, but it’s havoc on my intestines. Lactose intolerant. Bad gas is not cool in eighth grade. Sixth grade maybe. Not eighth grade. Okay, in the locker room. Not in science. Especially standing next to Heather Fortuna.
    I think when I stopped drinking so much milk I caught on that my parents had changed. They may be onto to me so I better stop staring at them and slip into my usual morning scowl of indifference.

  50. Well this is my first attempt at writing a story since my college days. Just something that came up in my head. Re blogged this on my page

    I can still remember the old man’s song; like a distant echo across the lake and through the marshes. At night, as I grew older, I remember hearing his tune, play across the breeze. Sounds of the bayou filled the night, yet once he began to play, all other sounds would cease. Creatures of the night seemed to listen in, as his guitar began to strum. It was a bluesy sound, full of yesteryear and sorrow. No matter what I was doing, I could not break free from straining my ear, to hear his tune. Little was known about the man and no one could recall ever actually meeting him. One summer, the tune seemed to disappear. Sitting on the back porch, I’d stare into the night, listening intently for that sad song; but all I could hear were the noises of the swamp. Police investigated, and all they ever found was an old guitar next to an old worn out rocking chair. I’m a grown man now, and at night, I still sit on the porch and stare out over the lake. When the moon is full, I swear I still hear that sad tune, playing on the breeze.

  51. Thank you Mike for such an opportunity to showcase our talent. This is an excerpt of my previously published post “Women’s Era ” & I am submitting it for this competition. Here it is… 😊

    Nowadays, we are hearing a lot about women empowerment, feminism, right to equality etc. Even though women have proved themselves in every field of work, she still has to battle the odd prejudices. Social attitudes are hard to shake.
    On my path of concerns, I have witnessed many women in my life who live with fear everyday due to social pressure. Our perceptions are often influenced by external realities.
    Don’t waste time setting dress codes for women, abusing them, humiliating them, setting boundaries for them instead enourage them, support them. Their talent needs to be given wings. Give them the same freedom that men have enjoyed for so many years. Only then competition would be fair enough. Equal equal & then decide on your own who should dominate the world. Women can overcome differences & bring people of diverse natures together- she does it in her home all the time! Women can make this happen without getting stressed since qualities like softness, gentleness, compassion, nurturing instincts are inherent in them. Women can prove their worth in male dominant world by their work. Are men ready for that or they still want to continue living their life in “fear” of losing their dominance as they are doing since time immemorial.

  52. Thank you for this opportunity to showcase our talent. This is an excerpt of my previously published post “Women’s Era “. I am submitting it for this competition. Here it is…😊

    Nowadays, we are hearing a lot about women empowerment, feminism, right to equality etc. Even though women have proved themselves in every field of work, she still has to battle the odd prejudices. Social attitudes are hard to shake.
    On my path of concerns, I have witnessed many women in my life who live with fear everyday due to social pressure. Our perceptions are often influenced by external realities. 
    Don’t waste time setting dress codes for women, abusing them, humiliating them, setting boundaries for them instead enourage them, support them. Their talent needs to be given wings. Give them the same freedom that men have enjoyed for so many years. Only then competition would be fair enough. Equal equal & then decide on your own who should dominate the world. Women can overcome differences & bring people of diverse natures together- she does it in her home all the time! Women can make this happen without getting stressed since qualities like softness, gentleness, compassion, nurturing instincts are inherent in them. Women can prove their worth in male dominant world by their work. Are men ready for that or they still want to continue living their life in “fear” of losing their dominance as they are doing since time immemorial. 

  53. Hey. here’s my entry for the competition:

    “Look at those cows, incredible,” Dorothy said.

    “This entire gallery is full of painted cows. Is this the artist’s ‘thing?’ Dorothy’s husband, Stanley, asked a gallery employee.

    “Hi, I’m Theresa,” the woman said. ” How do you like The Moo Gallery? Isn’t Shaunda Rose talented? I’m not sure why she chose cows but I adore how every cow is a unique work of art, don’t you?”

    “Shaunda is ridiculously talented. Painting plastic cows, she’s brilliant,” Dorothy declared.

    “Cows? Really? Who wants a painted cow in their home or office?” Stanley asked.

    Theresa smile was unnatural, “You’re right,” she said nodding at Dorothy. “Cows are Shaunda’s specialty. In fact, these cows were once alive. She has the cows sent to a taxidermist and then has them resurfaced so she can paint them. It’s why they’re so authentic, a fabulous example of Modern Art. Each cow sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

    Dorothy’s enthusiasm for the painted cows evaporated and she gazed at Stanley alarmed. He simply shook his head at her and smiled because he’d known all along Shaunda Rose was crazy. Theresa attempted a sales pitch again but he held up his hand to stop her.

    “ Shaunda Rose is a nut. Tell her Stanley Manet said so. Manet was an authentic artist, he was also my Great-Great-Great Grandfather.”

  54. She lay against the cool glass of the car window. The humming and vibrating was anaesthetically numbing against her head. She didn’t need to think now; she just needed her Nanny. Her breath was still going in and out, her father stealing a glance at her every now and then in the mirror. No one had told her the exact details yet, the cold facts would be saved for her later.

    The last half mile home was unbearable, waiting for a sign that it was all a big misunderstanding; that someone had gotten something wrong, any straw to cling to. Cars were everywhere; rows and rows or cars outside their cottage. Brigid had her confirmation; trying desperately to remember the last thing her Nanny said to her she stepped out of the car.

    “It’s OK Brigid, you’ll be OK” She didn’t recognise the man speaking to her in this comforting gentle voice as her father. She wanted to scream but nothing came out. They faced the house and took the first steps towards Hell. Her mother, pious, cold and in charge. Dressed from head to toe in black; holding rosary beads. A paradise of prayer and penance for three days.

  55. Hey Mike, I hope I made it in time for the competition!

    Title: The Harmless Volcano
    Word Count: 159

    They believed the volcano to be extinct. They thought it was harmless, and welcomed the building of a city beneath it and the planting of crops on the fertile red volcanic soil.

    The day they heard the low drumming, steady and rhythmic under their feet, they wondered if they should leave their city.

    “But the volcano will not erupt,” they reassured each other.

    And they were right. The volcano didn’t erupt. It did something worse.

    The day the drumming got louder was the day the earth cracked open, emitting pink, fluorescent light that grabbed at their flesh and sucked the life out of their breaths. The entire city floated in the air, frozen in time, and then with a final note, the bodies disintegrated, the dust settling back on the soil.

    When silence fell on the city, all that remained was a crimson layer of ash, the key to the soil’s fertility, and the volcano they thought was harmless.

      1. Awesome! Just wanted to let you know, I shared your Sully Competition Post on my Twitter yesterday as opposed to linking it on my blog. (I noticed, sharing was the second requirement)

  56. Pam (roughwighting) kind of worked on me to enter … as this a piece she liked and came in at 196 words I thought ‘hey why not’ …

    He stands a foot from the wall, illuminated by strobe lit blobs and spheres, hand in pocket the other holding a cold beer. 10 pm he’d guess, summer darkness outside lures moths to flight, rhythm finds his feet yet too soon for moves. She takes to the floor perfection slight yet curved, green eyed blonde focal point of his desire. No smile yet politely declines the handsome or just confident; dancing with her sister or maybe a friend. He buys a second beer, a small one, returns, his space still there a few metres from her presence. 11.30 pm checks his time, no chance, better men have tried, he moves. She turns to face his walk towards her, the beat slows, traces a smile, no words, her fingers behind his neck stroke him closer; his hands on short skirted hips that sway in and not away. Sibling, friend, whispers “We have to go.” He asks to see her, she puts her finger to her lips then his, says “I fly home to Germany tomorrow” let’s go his hand and disappears. Forty years on he’s not forgot, likes to believe, she’s had a good life.

  57. This is an excerpt
    Knox stood up from his chair by the window in the small dining area at the “Uaine ‘Bheinn” – “Green Mountain” as he struggled to read its Gaelic name – a tiny hotel in the village of Dundonnell on the south side of Little Loch Broom.

    The morning of the early autumn month was cloaked in a milky mist; a treacherous weather symptom that made the paths difficult to follow and the signs hard to read. The owner, a man in his mid-50s spat on the happening as he came dragging his feet to stand by the window.

    “I don’t like it when this one falls down. Eerie.“

    Rising an eyebrow at the thought, Knox picked his ready backpack, the ropes and ice axe safely tucked in. He zipped his jacket and reached for the door.

    “There’s something about the mountain,” the older man said quietly. “Sometimes it goes wild. No ropes can save you. You might as well hang yarself with them. But you know best, lad. Me, I say don’t go. Unless of course yar wanting to die?”

    Knox paused briefly wrist trembling atop the handle, unsure. Then he decided. The bell on top of the door rang twice.

  58. Reblogged this on EDC Writing and commented:
    Hey still time to enter this … 200 words is all you need … go take a look a shed load of short pieces vying for the prize … it’s kind of interesting looking at all the styles … and yes I’m in there somewhere too … Oh and the deadline is tomorrow!

  59. My contribution to the Sully Award. Thanks for the opportunity. I have read some brilliant entries.
    Word Count: 197

    The browning album crackled from the weight of the fading pictures as my grandchildren looked at the wonderland that used to be. Alayna said to Pete, “That used to be Grandma.”
    “Wrong, Alayna,” I thought. “That girl was never me. “I wore her clothes and combed her hair, but she was never me. She never cuddled my babies, pursued a career, or licked the seal of an envelope containing a final payment. She never climbed my mountains, nor stumbled in my valleys. She never faced my temptations, nor experienced my victories. That girl was never grandma, but I was once that girl.”
    I experienced what she experienced – the warmth of a hot water bottle on wicked winter nights; the pettiness of being a petulant pouter; the cool coziness of lying prone on newly mopped linoleum; the cushy-curly buoyancy of a Toni perm.
    I knew nothing of things still to come that would make me “me.” Salty tears and delicious laughter, my child’s birth and my mother’s death, the dirge of night and the delight of dawn, the pain of aging and the hope of eternal.
    Yes, I once was that little girl, but she was never me.

  60. Hi! This is my first time visiting. I’m excited to have discovered your blog! I linked to and plugged the contest in my blog post here:

    Here’s my entry to the contest:

    “I’ll escape someday,” twelve-year-old Andy had said, sitting on the backyard tire pile. That’s when my idea first arrived. At nine years old, it had frightened me too much to act.
    Over the years, mother’s hoarding worsened and my idea grew lustrous from tumbling around my mind like a river stone. Andy had grown into a drug-addled teenager. During this time, we traversed our home on paths between junk mountains. We ate dinners in the car. We climbed boxes to enter the bathroom until mother filled that room too. Mother’s house entombed us.
    One day, mother had raged because I discarded some unused junk. It wasn’t the first time, but my idea matured that day. I had imagined phoenix fire purifying us, flames consuming everything, and we three emerging unencumbered.
    Oh Andy, the boy who just wanted to escape. Too high to smell or hear crackling flames? Did you feel pain or succumb to smoke first? I thought you were out with mother that day, not inside the house.
    Now I’m viewing my old home’s ashes—a yearly pilgrimage—and a neighbor’s on his porch, older but recognizable. Long ago, did he see the girl and her matches? I flee.

    1. Welp, it looks like my spacing did not turn out as planned. I also forgot to add a title! I’m still getting the hang of WordPress! I hope you’ll instead note the paragraph spacing below as how it should appear. Thank you!!

      Title: The Burn Pile

      “I’ll escape someday,” twelve-year-old Andy had said, sitting on the backyard tire pile. That’s when my idea first arrived. At nine years old, it had frightened me too much to act.

      Over the years, mother’s hoarding worsened and my idea grew lustrous from tumbling around my mind like a river stone. Andy had grown into a drug-addled teenager. During this time, we traversed our home on paths between junk mountains. We ate dinners in the car. We climbed boxes to enter the bathroom until mother filled that room too. Mother’s house entombed us.

      One day, mother had raged because I discarded some unused junk. It wasn’t the first time, but my idea matured that day. I had imagined phoenix fire purifying us, flames consuming everything, and we three emerging unencumbered.

      Oh Andy, the boy who just wanted to escape. Too high to smell or hear crackling flames? Did you feel pain or succumb to smoke first? I thought you were out with mother that day, not inside the house.

      Now I’m viewing my old home’s ashes—a yearly pilgrimage—and a neighbor’s on his porch, older but recognizable. Long ago, did he see the girl and her matches? I flee.

  61. Words can dig into your skin. They bruise. Some scab over. But they can never be forgotten.
    The victim, yes victim of a lawsuit that meandered, lingered, tortured twelve years of my life has left me with the residue of depression. For so long I refused to be a victim. Their victim. The victim of people who were victims themselves. Victims of greed and misunderstanding. Misunderstanding that they refused to accept were errors of their own judgement, false impressions they grew into reality, confusion they were not willing to clarify.
    The accusations were unbearable. We were told that they were throwing everything at us, plus the kitchen sink, to see what would stick. For a while I was not sure that our own lawyer believed us. After all, it was two against one. A brother and sister against one brother. And his wife. Me.
    It was not fair. But as the old saying goes: life is not fair. I ask why. Why is life not fair? I guess that shows what a babe in the woods I was. Like Bambi. They did not kill my mother. But they took away our livelihood, then they made us pay for something that was ours.

  62. Zap, zing, plunk, there went another eraser sailing by my head. I slid around in my seat and looked at a big nosed, short, round, dark man who was not only my English teacher, but had small tattoo numbers on his left inside wrist and letters on the inside of his right wrist. WEIRD. Chalk dust filled the air around my youthful body. Mr. London was always throwing an eraser or a piece of chalk at me when he wanted to get my attention. He was standing in front of my tenth grade English class explaining when to use a noun or pronoun in a sentence example on the front black board. The year was 1957. When I entered high school I was warned by my friends not to get into Mr. Londons English class. If I did he would fail me. I took the warning as a challenge and a dare, and signed up for Mr. Londons class.
    While the midday heat and the boring subject of English was played out in the classroom, my mind and voice would wander to friends near by. Soon I would be passing notes…

  63. Alas, I was going to put in an entry, but life likes throw curveballs my way for sure. Grandma’s been in the hospital since Sunday.

    Looks like you got a ton of different selections, though! Lucky you, Mike, for not having to pick the winner all by yourself. 😉

  64. The smell of acrid metal burned in the air around him. Hot powder from gun fire mixed with the coppery smell of blood flooded his nose. His blood. His blood. It’s your blood, his brain screamed, snapping him back to reality. He blinked in quick succession at the growing dark spot on his grey, long-sleeved, shirt. The stain was spreading just above the elbow. “She shot me.”
    “That she did,” his partner, Phoenix, answered. A wry smile spread across his face.
    “Why did she shoot me?” He wiggled five fingers and bent his arm as much as he could before the pain fired through him.
    “I don’t think she likes you’re FBI.”
    “There’s a lot of people I don’t like. I haven’t shot any of them,” Quin returned. Gingerly, he pulled his arm from his shirt sleeve for a better look at the wound. A little kid disappointment set in when he saw the bloody graze mark. For his first gunshot wound it wasn’t going to be anything to show off over beers. “Did Mikey catch up to her?”
    “Yeah, they caught her just down the street. She wasn’t as fast on six inch stilettos as she thought she was.”

  65. Jake extended a line to help her. When she was fourteen, he taught her to fish. They waded upriver together, and he showed her how to flick the line and charm the fish to the fly. He charmed Elanor with stories of famous flashing pools and the origins of the fanciful flies—never-ending variations of beads and string and pieces of fuzz. Nothing beat the moment of watching a fish break the surface and wriggle in the sunlight on its way to your bag, unless it was the moment of sharing the succulent meal, hot off the grill, with your fishing partner.
    Eventually Elanor opened up more than her tackle box, and at fifteen she confided in Jake about how she missed her dad, Marty. Despair hung over her as she confessed her guilt at enjoying her time fishing with Jake, and how she felt she shouldn’t come along anymore. Jake didn’t answer, but waved her upriver beside him. As they rounded a bend, he pointed at a still pool on the far bank. He told her it was an eddy, a place in the river a struggling fish could find rest. A cool shade fell across the backwater, ….Thanks!

  66. Alagbara sat in the sands of the desert. On this dark moonless night, Alagbara could only see vague shadows of distant dunes. Clouds of grey and buttermilk stardust tangled with glittering diamond fragments which made up the sea of stars. It reminded him of his mother. When he was a child she had told him about the god Sedonko who created the world with their blood, the rivers with their tears and the desert with their breath. Sedonko writes every person’s dreams and destiny with a quill made of words, with ink made of stars upon a canvas of the sky. Alagbara’s mother believed that everyone’s fate was written in the stars. Alagbara wondered if she herself actually believed in Sedonko or if she wanted to believe that life had any meaning at all. The blowing wind changed the sand dunes each night but the sand itself never leaves the desert. Alagbara wondered if he was also like the desert sand. He traveled many lands but he always returned to the desert he was born in. Alagbara was now old, with only had regrets of lives he had not lead, and a love he had let leave him behind.

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