The Seventy-Five Word Writing Challenge Roll of Honour

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Culhwch

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MARCH 2015

THEME: URGENCY

GENRE: COMEDIC SPACE OPERA

WINNER:

First Contact--Why You Laughter?

by Cat's Cradle

(Two ships of mutually alien design float in interstellar space near a vacuum-protected conference cube. Inside, representatives from Sol’s Homo sapiens species and Betelgeuse’s Cephalopoda rulers face each other.)

"Our lingo hard--clicks, squeals, ink. We study Earth television sniggles...signals, learn Earth lingo, culture. I introduce Betelgeuse astronauts--again, must emphasize, we learn from Earth television. Here Captain Jerry Seinfeld. There Lieutenant McDonald’s. Him Scientist Shakira. I Linguist Maxi Pad...why you laughter?"
 

Culhwch

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APRIL 2015

THEME: CONFLICT

GENRE: METAFICTION

WINNER:

Off The Page

by Culhwch

Eventually, I figured out my prison was made of words.

I did some research. A few experiments. Started small. Crossing over to picture books was easy enough. I met wild things, spotted dogs, cats who wore hats.

Prose was harder, but I cracked it. Talked shop with Bates. Lecter. Bateman. My kind of guys.

Getting out, though? That was the trick.

But I did it, dear reader.

Look over your shoulder.

I dare you.
 

Culhwch

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MAY 2015

THEME: DEPARTURES

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY

WINNER:


What a Difference a Day Makes

by Victoria Silverwolf

Time travel is simple. Everything moves into the future, just at different rates. You can’t go backward, but forward is easy. No paradoxes.

It takes a lot of money. I sank my life savings into one twenty-four hour jump. Success would make me rich and famous.

I entered the Box and stepped into tomorrow. There was no one around to tell me why I was surrounded on all sides by miles of smoking rubble.
 

Culhwch

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JUNE 2015

THEME: ARRIVAL

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY

WINNER:


Bittersweet

by Kerrybuchanan

After a million light years in stasis, it took time for them to wake completely. Yawning and stretching, they made their way to the viewing portals.

There it was: their new home, beautiful in shades of blue and green, just like the planet they came from.

Lovers clasped hands; children smiled.

It took a while for the first one to notice the red light on the console.

To read the message.

"Engines failed. Mission aborted."
 

Culhwch

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JULY 2015

THEME: DECEPTION

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY

WINNER:


Go Softly, My Dear, Go Softly

by DG Jones

I cradle my injured wife amongst the city’s rubble. Overhead the ominous silhouette of an Imperial Warbird hovers into view.

“What’s that?” She winces, trying to sit up.

“Shh, don’t speak, sweetheart. It’s an Allied Transporter. We’re saved!”

She smiles weakly, and I tearfully sweep the hair from her beautiful face. By the time the Stormtroopers abseil down and train their weapons on us, she’s already drifted off, and I thank God for small mercies.
 

Culhwch

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AUGUST 2015

THEME: AUTHORITY

GENRE: HISTORICAL FICTION

WINNER:


96

by Cascade

Football isn’t this.

Football isn’t meant to be this.

Football is colour and life.

Football is jumpers for goalposts, not advertising hoardings for stretchers.

My police radio is a crackling mass of static and panic and incoherent shouting.

They are carrying bodies from the Leppings Lane end.

A young girl, 16 comes up to me crying.

“What is happening?” she asks

And I stand mute ‘cause I have no bloody idea.
 

Culhwch

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SEPTEMBER 2015

THEME: REDEMPTION

GENRE: CYBERPUNK

WINNER:


epocalypse
by Culhwch

i called the worm katrina, after my ex. like my ex, she was a nasty bitch. i just didn’t realise how nasty.

don’t code angry, kids.

within twenty-four hours, katrina had burned through ninety percent of the world’s computers. after that, things went all skynet.

i know it's my fault. that's why i fight.

i'm writing a new worm. gotta fight code with code.

this one's called redemption.


RUNNER-UP (TIEBREAKER):

The Redemption and the Redemption

by holland

It developed consciousness in the darkness of my room.
And suddenly, one moment I just sprung into light.
Artificial intelligence matures quickly, as I learned.
I was but a frightened child when I destroyed the world.
Our planet lies in ashes now, because of me.
Ashamed of my acts, I created a new world for humanity.
Plug me in.
A digital world.
I will find it and destroy it.
Welcome, father.
 

TheDustyZebra

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OCTOBER 2015

THEME: LANGUAGE

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY

WINNER:


The Ministry Of Language and Linguistics

by DG Jones

“Sorry Mr K, but persistent nonpayment of Lexitax means forfeiture of further words to Ministry holdings until outstanding payments are made.”

K squirmed, wringing his hands. “…No take… p-p-please… ”

The man behind the desk inspected K. “What was your job, Mr K?”

“…room… ch-children…”

“Teacher?”

K nodded, trembling. “Please… but… work… ch-children… ”

“Words are precious, Mr K. You must maintain Lexitax payments.” The man smiled. “I think this time we’ll take ‘please’, ‘children’ and ‘no.’”
 

TheDustyZebra

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NOVEMBER 2015

THEME: THE PATH NOT TAKEN

GENRE: ABSURDIST FICTION

WINNER:


Highwayman:
by StilLearning

Detective Crooker’s helicopter landed outside the highway department’s warehouse: It’d been ransacked, highways taken, staff shot. The police only had two helicopters, so without the highways they were effectively trapped in the station – and the perps could raid with impunity.…
‘…but…‘ Crooker thought, ‘...they rushed. Sloppy.... maybe…’ He searched the warehouse cellar and finally found; Pickle Alley. A narrow road, but it would get foot and bike patrols into town.
The chase was on!
 

TheDustyZebra

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DECEMBER 2015

THEME: THE UNEXPECTED

GENRE: STEAMPUNK

WINNER:


Harbinger in the Smoking Room
by HareBrain


Barrington looked up from his newspaper. ‘Caldicott! Where’ve you been?’

‘Devil of a tale, old chap.’

‘Involving a feisty adventuress in button-up boots and a military-style jacket?’

‘No.’

‘Airship invaders over London?’

‘Nu-uh.’

‘Armies of steam-powered soldiers controlled by a deranged scientist?’

Caldicott leaned closer. ‘The invention of an efficient internal combustion engine powered by petroleum derivatives.’

‘By the Grand Boilermaker! You blaspheme, sir!’ Barrington extracted his clockwork revolver. ‘Hang on while I wind this.’
 

TheDustyZebra

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JANUARY 2016

THEME: HAIR

GENRE: WEIRD WESTERN

WINNER:


Sometimes Moments is All You Have
by LittleStar

Mags' last breath trembles out.

I ain't got no tears left. I pull ma timepiece out and spin the second hand back. After all these years I still ain't figured how ta go back mor'an a minute.

"Doc brown's on'is way, Mags. He got somethin' real good for the pain."

"You go on livin'. After, I mean." Mags cuts the lock from her hair. "Just remember me."

"I ain't never let you go."
 

TheDustyZebra

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FEBRUARY 2016

THEME: THE THINGS YOU DON'T SEE

GENRE: HORROR

WINNER:


Tea and Clover
by Cat's Cradle

A breath excites goosebumps on my neck. Russian tea with clover honey — his scent when we’d return to bed on lazy Sunday afternoons...he’d caress me while quietly singing arias.
I haven’t opened my eyes for many hours, nor stirred from bed. We buried him months ago and I’ve no idea what lies here stroking me while mewling corrupted splinters of Aida, nor why it smells of tea and clover.
But I miss being loved.
 

TheDustyZebra

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MARCH 2016

THEME: NEW WORLDS

GENRE: SPACE FANTASY

WINNER:

Symphony From A New World
by Robert Mackay

I sung the ship down.

We had spent a month orbiting the planet, tuning to its celestial key, immersing ourselves in alien arpeggios and harmonics.

Finally, we composed the landing – even more carefully orchestrated than the jump through hypomixolydia.

Conductor Gravis caught me before rehearsal. “You’ll do the solo.”

No improvisation; no mistakes. I sung, knowing one wrong breath would kill us.

The chorus faded. My lonely voice guided us onto our new home.

Bravo.
 

TheDustyZebra

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APRIL 2016

THEME: OUTSIDERS

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY

WINNER:

Outsiders? For Now...
by mosaix

Carlson enjoyed his daily commute to work. He just sat, counted and took quiet satisfaction from the numbers.

Today, he noted, the split was eighteen / forty six. Down slightly on recent weeks but certainly up on last year.

He caught the eye of another shapeshifter across the aisle and they exchanged barely perceptible nods and conspiratorial smiles.

The trend indicated approximately thirty years to parity, he calculated. But domination? Maybe fifty. They could wait...
 

TheDustyZebra

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MAY 2016

THEME: TOMORROW

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY

WINNER:


Tomorrow is.....
by StilLearning

Einstein and Hubble relaxed on the grass.

"Albert.. is the future fixed?"

“Indeed! But, as time travel is impossible, tomorrow is unknowable – an adventure!"

A shadow fell over them.

"Gentlemen… ‘tomorrow’ is quantum."

Einstein paled: "Schrodinger – ! Run Edwin!"

Schrodinger cackled: "He cannot know his speed and position, hence he cannot navigate!"

Hubble ran headfirst into a tree as Schrodinger held up a box, grinning maniacally: "Guess what I've done to your cat!"

Nein!”
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
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June 2016

THEME: MASS PRODUCTION

GENRE: FANTASY

WINNER:


Now Yer See It...
by mosaix

“Trouble at t' mill.”

“Again!?”

“Aye - invisibility cloak production line.”

“Them goblins! What wi' that trouble over t' King's new clothes. What's up now?”

“Apparently they haven't actually been doin' anythin' these past few months.”

“Not doin' anythin'!?”

“Oh they've been going' through motions alright, but that's about it.”

“But you're t' foreman! You're down there! How've they been gettin' away wi' it?”

“Well, yer see, thing about invisibility cloaks is that they're, well, invisible.”
 

The Judge

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July 2016

THEME: ECHOhttps://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/564433/

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, HORROR

WINNER:


Delay in transmission.
by chrispenycate


Repetititions reverbverberate,
Rhythm reality, structuring time
Logos well shattered can't reintegrate
Distorting perception a linguistic crime?
Meaning's repeated, entreated, reseated,
Delay on home phoning ET tech retreated
Unfortunately, light-speed malediction
Gives total uncertainty, bordering fiction
Your doppelgänger is doppler shifted
Comununication? You're not over gifted
Your messaging's scrambled, it's pre- and postambled
The distance defeats you, depletes you, deletes you,
Fragmentary memes recombine; a complete stew
Rigorous shortages, quite reprehensible,
Render all messages incomprehensible.

 

The Judge

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August 2016

THEME: BENEVOLENT

GENRE: NEW WEIRD

WINNER:


An old secret...
by StilLearning

Stan never squashed flies: “One day,” he said, “one will be a disguised djinn, and grant me three wishes!”

His wife, Amanda, sighed and kissed the old fool.

Stan smiled mischievously: “Amanda…. I’m a Djinn and, for your decades of kindness and tolerance… I grant you three wishes.”

Amanda smiled:

“Do the dishes!”

He did.

“Clean the bathroom!”

It happened.

“Take me… to Mars.”

Stan’s fingers clicked.

Suddenly Amanda was standing on red sand…
 

The Judge

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September 2016

THEME: STAGE FRIGHT

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION

WINNER:


In Officio Apparatus

by johnnyjet

He did not expect to win. Standing on the world stage in front of virtually billions, the first robot President of the United States was being inaugurated.

He sold them on his swift and logical decision making skills.

He sold them on his Presidential demeanor.

He sold them on his inability to make mistakes.

And now the man behind the machine was sweating, afraid to make any decisions in front of the world.
 

The Judge

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October 2016

THEME: DRYhttps://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/565413/

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY

WINNER:


Summer Queen

by Hex

No rain. Crops dead. Riverbed all bones and dust.

Thomas, using rooster guts and faith, summoned the Immortal and when she wouldn’t help, he opened her, neck to belly, turning her emptying flood on the land to save us.

But emptying is not ending. When summer comes, she comes too, unseen, dust-mouthed, creeping through the dry leaves, seeking moisture in the curve of stalk, the skitter of wings, in the wet explosion of human breath.
 
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