The Three Hundred Word Challenge Roll of Honour

Discussion in 'Writing Challenges' started by Culhwch, Jun 11, 2011.

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  1. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    APRIL 2011 (#1)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]
    Photo by Mouse

    WINNER:

    Boxing Day Dinner
    by Boneman

    He stared up at the clock, turning the phone over and over in his sweaty palm. Checking endlessly as the orbs and hands approached the confluence that would allow him to make the call. He had one chance to change things; to make them right again.

    It had been six years; six years of grief after the horror, the hope and hopelessness, and the numb acceptance of the loss. His daughter and grandchildren taken, his wife destroyed by the pain and anguish that weakened and then broke her heart, dying on the dreadful anniversary of their loss. Her grave lay in the churchyard. He’d come here every Boxing Day, looking up at the clock, lost in his own misery, wondering how long he could go on.

    Then, three years ago the phone had rung, and he stared mutely at the number that was calling him: his daughter’s. The phone that was lost forever. The phone company must have re-allocated the number. He angrily punched the call button. But the laughing voices of his grandchildren came to him, wishing him Happy Boxing day, and he knew he was losing his mind.

    When the chimes struck, the call cut off instantly.

    It took him three years to understand. The alignment wouldn’t happen for another thirty years; he’d be dead long before then.

    It was time. He dialled the numbers, his hand shaking. It rang.

    “Happy Boxing Day, Dad.”
    “Caroline!” he shouted. “You have to get off the beach! There’s a tidal wave coming – get back to your hotel, get upstairs, get the children safe!”
    “Dad—”
    “Caroline, please! Get off the beach!”

    The chime sounded. The phone went dead. Then it rang, startling him.

    “Dad, where are you? Mum says dinner’s on the table, and the kids are starving.”
    “I’m coming home.”

    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/531196-april-2011-three-hundred-word-challenge-victory-for.html
     
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  2. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    JULY 2011 (#2)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]
    Image copyright 2010 Shawn Weixelman.

    WINNER:

    Bringer of ...
    by The Judge

    “Push, my dear. For the One.”

    “Yes, honoured midwife,” the girl says between gasped agony. “For the One.”

    A dutiful response, spoken serenely. More dutiful, more serene, than I have ever encountered, and I have heard hundreds of such. Her parents smile: she has learned her lessons well. The recordings will show the One was born into duty and serenity.

    And tonight He will be born. The prophecies cannot be wrong. Not again. Our Lord will come down to us. He will be one of us. Millennia of pain and oppression will end and we will rise under His glory.

    The baby crowns. The midwife urges more effort. He is there. I move forward to take the child, to hold him and feel the light...

    There is no light. Only another child.

    “This is not the One,” I say. The wait continues. “I name this child...”

    No one speaks. No one has prepared a name, so sure were they.

    “... Corin,” I say. My father’s name. Much good will it do the child.



    I leave them.

    The night is bitter, baleful. As ever it is. No other child is registered to be born this year. I walk without caring where my feet take me.

    A scream stops my reverie. I follow the noise. A girl, lying in the gutter. I kneel at her side.

    “Push,” I urge, echoing the midwives I have heard so often.

    “I... am... ****ing... pushing.”

    I laugh. Never before have I heard an honest response.

    The baby crowns. Another effort. He slips into my hands. I go to speak but...

    Light... the light comes! Pulsing through me. A coruscating beam of hope and splendour, its radiance kindling the midnight sky.

    “This is the One,” I sing. The long wait is over. “I name this child... Lucifer.”


    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/532422-three-hundred-word-writing-challenge-2-victory-to.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2014
  3. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    OCTOBER 2011 (#3)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]
    Photograph provided by Culhwch

    WINNER:

    To Accept with Serenity
    by TheDustyZebra

    The pictures in our hallway trace the lifetime of our angel; cherub-cheeked baby, laughing little girl, impish smile in school pictures -- one, two, three, but no more. The last picture tells a tale we don't repeat to anyone, ever.

    Grace disappeared on her 8th birthday, on vacation in France. She went to bed after her party and simply vanished. Months of endless nightmare followed: fruitless searching, skeptical and then downright hostile interrogations in a language we had quickly to master, and in the end, no trace. No Grace.

    When the call came, my wife sent me to talk to the old man; she'd had more than she could take of false hopes.

    I met him at the specified church, noting that he had failed to mention the adjacent graveyard.

    “I know where your Grace is,” he'd said, but the tale he spun was ludicrous, impossible.

    “I've lived here all my life; I've seen things.”

    He showed me the statues -- hundreds of years old, all, yet this one over here appeared only a dozen years ago, and that one just a few years before it. He showed me pictures. Pictures of the graveyard over the years, and pictures of missing children, clipped from newspapers.

    “But that's ridiculous,” I said. “How could that be?”

    And then he took me to the last statue. My angel Grace's sweet face, there in that stone monument at the edge of a cemetery in France.

    “But this statue is ancient, just look at it!” Reason warred with emotion in my heart.

    “Well, yes -- and no. It's been here for about 200 years. But it disappeared for years, and only recently reappeared.”

    “Disappeared?”

    “This angel was gone for eight years. Well, 8 years and 9 months, to be precise.”

    ------

    RUNNERS UP (TIEBREAKER): One Dastardly Plan by The Spurring Platty; Cast a cold eye by alchemist; and When A Restraining Order Just Isn't Enough... by mosaix

    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/533573-300-word-challenge-number-3-read-first-post.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2014
  4. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    JANUARY 2012 (#4)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]
    Image credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

    WINNER:

    AMID THE COLD OF WINTER
    by Teresa Edgerton


    It was a difficult climb stumbling up the hill. Esther’s legs already ached. But the children had said, "A Christmas tree down in old Mr. Spangler’s meadow." She’d come to humor them. Where did they even get the idea? There had been no Christmas trees, no Christmas, no celebrations of any sort since she was a child and everyone had finally realized that Earth had forgotten them.

    Forgotten this ball of mud and ice circling Bettelheim’s Star. The supply ships that used to come regularly had stopped. No one knew why. War or environmental disaster, maybe. What did it matter? The colony had troubles of its own. The native vegetation was inedible and the climate was changing for the worse. Under the thin cloud cover, the crops they’d been growing in vast greenhouses were fewer and sicklier. Two years, maybe three, that was all the time they had left.

    Damn it, the grade was too steep. It seemed she could hardly get enough air in her lungs, but the children had no trouble. They ran ahead, laughing and calling back to her, "Grandma, hurry." The thought of their certain disappointment when they discovered their mistake made her heart hurt. She remembered a line from an old book, "Always winter and never Christmas."

    But she crested the hill and there it was in the meadow below: Not quite the right shape — sleeker and more slender — but silver as the tinsel trees she remembered, and glowing with lights. Tears filled her eyes; the breath caught in her throat. A door had opened at the base of it, and out stepped three figures all in glittering silver.

    Three men who followed the light of a star, and came bearing gifts.


    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/534650-300-word-challenge-no-4-victory-to-teresa.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 27, 2014
  5. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    APRIL 2012 (#5)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]
    Image credit: Chris Green

    WINNER:

    Scriptorium
    by alchemist

    >enter<

    The silent word was like an icicle in some primordial part of my mind. I pushed open the door and swallowed my disgust at the creature's bitter smell, a mingled odour of vomit and camphor.

    It sat behind a desk with a book and blank sheet of paper. The room's one lamp illuminated its featureless face; no eyes, no mouth, no hair.

    I stepped inside. "I need to send a message. Quickly."

    >of course<

    Relief flooded through me. "I have money."

    It shook its head and pointed towards the blank sheet. >no money. your name and address only<

    My name? Nobody could know I had been here. I took the quill and wrote, "Ivan Ivanov, Lubyanka Square." The torturer. I smiled at the irony; the creature would be none the wiser.

    >where is the recipient?<

    "St Petersburg."

    It turned the pages of its book -- all blank -- until it settled on one.

    >who?<

    I took a deep breath and gave it my friend's name.

    >begin<

    I closed my eyes, unable to look at the creature anymore, and recited the message I had rehearsed. "Dearest Pyotr..."

    It wrote, each letter existing for a moment before fading away, leaving a virginal page behind.

    "...we are undone. Natasha has..." I choked, consumed by the thought of it "...has been taken to the Lubyanka. I flee tonight. Meet me at The White Rose on the fourth, when we may sail for London. Yours, Nikolay Sergeivich."

    It finished writing.

    "Has he got it?"

    Its face twitched. A frown, perhaps? >the message has been received<

    "Are you sure?"

    >do you not know?<

    A cold knot of fear took hold of my stomach.

    The scribe pointed to my head. >did you not get your receipt, Ivan Ivanov of Lubyanka Square?<

    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/535869-300-word-challenge-number-5-victory-to-alchemist.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  6. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    JULY 2012 (#6)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]
    Photo provided by Sephiroth

    WINNER:


    The Dream Factory
    by Hex

    The wires hum against my forehead, burning out the first time she kissed me. After school, lips liquorice sticky -- always afterwards, the taste of astonishment and lust.

    Ah, Lisa. I never deserved you.


    * Account credit: £30 *


    They offer £60 for our wedding.

    Cider and sunshine and the fat seals on the Tay. Later, in the slick darkness, giggling at the noises the old iron bed made.

    Regret closes my throat, but the gas bill's due. "Aye. Take it."

    The chimney where the dreams burn looms over the city. Only the desperate go there.

    But we're all desperate now.

    #

    The house has just two rooms, but she loves the garden. We drag the iron bedstead down the path; it catches in the fence and knocks her onto the grass. Her hair tangles black among the dandelions. Her skin tastes of salt and rain.

    That's £20.

    #

    Lisa's breath purrs in the darkness. She'll never forgive this. When I'm finished at the chimney, she'll be a stranger.

    I want to wake her, tell her what I'm doing. But this is all I have left to give her.

    #

    She's mopping the kitchen floor. Her hair tied back, sweat shining on her neck. When she looks up, her smile punches through me.

    I have to tell her the mill's closing.

    £5. Holo-dreamers don't want unhappy.


    # # #




    She's standing outside the chimney, a black-haired woman so lovely that for a moment the world fades.

    "I'm empty," I tell her, and turn to go.

    "Jamie." Her fingers close tight round mine. "Come home with me."

    "You don't understand. I sold all my memories."

    Her grip tightens. "You don't understand. They're my memories too. We'll share them."


    When she kisses me, her mouth tastes of liquorice.


    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/537002-300-word-writing-challenge-6-july-victory-to.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  7. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    OCTOBER 2012 (#7)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]

    Photo by kneesamo on Flickr.


    WINNER:

    Mega-Man Comix: Issue 658; Mega-Man’s Vacation. Written, drawn and inked by Dan Cooper
    by Grinnel


    ==============================​

    FRAME 1:

    ARTWORK: Steve Wilson, Mega Man’s alternate identity, lounging in cabin; boots off; sock feet propped near an old wood stove; tea kettle on stove.

    NARRATION: MEGA-MAN ENJOYS A WELL-EARNED VACATION IN THE WOODS!

    SPEECH BUBBLE: AHHHHH!



    -------------------


    Really? A weekend off? No costume? No cries for help? No having to watch every freakin’ word for the young readers?

    Awesome! Thank you, Dan.

    I might even learn to fish. This is my first time off since MEGA-MAN 264; INTRODUCING GALAXY GIRL.



    -------------------


    FRAME 2:

    ARTWORK: Streak leading from sky to forest. Trees falling.

    NARRATION: MEANWHILE, NEARBY:

    SOUND EFFECT OVERLAY: CRAAASH!!



    -------------------


    Meanwhile nearby? Aw, c’mon! Don’t do this! I am so tired of getting bashed and beaten every month.



    -------------------


    FRAME 3:

    ARTWORK: Same as FRAME 1

    SOUND EFFECT OVERLAY: Small ‘boom’



    -------------------


    Just ONE lousy weekend off, Dan! Just one!



    -------------------


    FRAME 4:

    ARTWORK: Same as FRAME 1. Note: FRAME 5 overlaps bottom right quadrant.

    SOUND EFFECT OVERLAY: Progressively larger Boom! Boom! BOOM!!



    -------------------


    Not gonna happen! I can’t heeeeear you! LALALALALALALALA!



    -------------------


    FRAME 5:

    ARTWORK: Close up of Steve’s head, facing reader, startled expression; action lines show head turning.

    SOUND EFFECT OVERLAY: BOOM!



    -------------------


    Noooooo! Get Galaxy Girl: she loves this crap! She wants her own series!



    -------------------


    FRAME 6:

    ARTWORK: Robotic arms tearing roof off cabin.

    SOUND EFFECT OVERLAY: CRRRRRUNCH!

    ELECTRONIC SPEECH BUBBLE: HAHAHAHA! I HAVE YOU NOW, MEGA-MAN! I’LL CRUSH YOU LIKE A BUG!

    MEGA-MAN SPEECH BUBBLE: YOU’LL RUE THE DAY YOU ATTACKED ME, ROBO-TIC!



    -------------------


    Seriously? Rue? Nobody says rue anymore.



    -------------------


    FRAME 7 (full quarter page):

    ARTWORK: Steve Wilson (sans Mega-Mancostume) leaps to attack, his fists

    “Dan.”

    “WHAT?”

    “Supper!”

    “COMING!”



    -------------------


    Hey, waitaminit! You didn’t finish! DAN, COME BACK HERE AND DRAW MY ARMS!

    ...I hate him!

    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/538106-300-word-writing-challenge-7-october-2012-victory.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  8. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    JANUARY 2013 (#8)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]
    Photo by Charles Knowles on Flickr.

    WINNER:

    Live Forever, Die Alone
    by Mouse

    I go into the chippy and watch the young lad plunge the basket into the boiling fat. My stomach rumbles as the potatoes crisp and, if I imagine hard enough, I can even smell it.

    It's empty now though. There is no lad. No chips. Everything's covered in dust. Nothing to eat here.

    I wander back outside and walk along the promenade. The wind blows papers and bits of rubbish across the street. It's the only noise I hear.

    Sometimes I wonder if I've forgotten how to speak. I don't bother trying. What if I have forgotten? Not that it matters. There's nobody to speak to but myself and I've never been a very good conversationalist.

    I wish there were zombies. Or vampires. Or some sort of monster you used to see in films. Something I could hunt, or play with or, I don't know. Shag. Eat.

    I'm so hungry I want to cry. There's nothing left anywhere. Nothing.

    God, I wish the sun would blow up. Or an asteroid would strike. I wish aliens would come and take me away.

    Please come and take me away.

    I clamber over a wall, stumble across the pebbled beach and keep going until I'm waist deep in the sea. The sea is stagnant now, like a pond. The tides have gone. Everything's gone. Sometimes I remember that it's weird.

    I take a breath and disappear beneath the water, breathing out, watching bubbles rise, and then I breathe in until my lungs fill with water.

    I've done this before.

    I didn't die then either.

    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/539136-300-word-writing-challenge-8-january-2013-victory.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  9. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    APRIL 2013 (#9)

    THEME:


    [​IMG]
    Picture by Teresa Edgerton



    WINNER:

    LIBERATION

    by springs

    The ships came from the north. Alone, I stood, shivering in my shift, as their oars slapped against the waves. The soldiers disembarked and crossed the beach to me, the sunset’s dying light casting angels’ halos around them.

    Their leader -- a captain by his uniform -- stopped, and took in my rope-raw wrists and bare feet. He crouched before me. “Child, you’re safe, we’re here to stop the sacrifice. Can you lead us to the church?”

    I nodded and skipped over the sand until I reached the furzed dunes beyond. His heavy breaths and the curses of his men followed me. I waited for him to reach me. He leaned forward, his hands on his knees, and puffed out a breath.

    “What are you?” He glanced through a sweat-laden fringe and gave a crooked smile. “A girl or goat?”

    I smiled and turned. I ran across Gannet’s Head and down the path onto All-Souls’ Beach. The soldiers followed, making scree tinkle past my feet as they skidded. I stopped at the bottom and pointed. There, framed in the rising darkness, was Montchelli Church, candlelight flickering from its windows. The captain put his hand on my shoulder. “Thank you.”

    I ran across the beach, my feet sure.

    “Goat-girl!”

    I stopped and turned. The captain was ankle-deep in sand. His crooked smile was gone.

    “Help me,” he said. He sank some more, the mud tendrils up to his knees. “Please! We’re here to help!”

    I joined the islanders gathering on the sand bar and listened as the soldiers’ screams cast through the darkness. When they ended, I dipped my head and gave thanks. My beguilement was complete -- the gods would demand no sacrifice of me this year.

    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/540476-300-word-writing-challenge-9-april-2013-victory.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  10. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    JULY 2013 (#10)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]
    Photograph by Ken O'Brien


    WINNER:

    All That Glitters
    by Mouse

    Watching, waiting, looking on and salivating. Rings bling in a window and I won't go, though Crow said no – said, "Pay for it with your own dough."

    Said I, "But why? Doesn't fly, that, with me."

    Shiny things in shops, cops watch, can't rob and no job. I want it all for free, see.

    Crow's a witch, a human-switched bitch. Tight-arsed, two-faced, money-hoarding waste of space. Won't help, gone home, flown away, left me alone.

    Magic rings, the gold sings of castles and kings and things I can't have. Or need. I won't leave, I'll grieve. It's a tragedy. I concede it's greed. I have no fingers. Want lingers.

    Mustn't look, mustn't stay, come again another day. But still I stop outside the shop, longing, yearning, never learning. It's caught my beady eye. Will I die? Pfft. Not I!

    I take to the sky and fly. I'm Magpie.

    (Besides, I've seen a cat.)

    ------​

     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  11. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    OCTOBER 2013 (#11)

    THEME:


    [​IMG]
    Photo provided by Culhwch


    WINNER:

    Strange Fruit
    by The Judge

    They find Lizzie Ford two days after she’s gone missin’. Find her body. Her skirts all ripped, an’ bruisin’ on those soft, lily-white thighs. Old man Ford, he goes crazy wantin’ her killer, an’ he ain’t interested in no trial. So we go lookin’ for some buck to hang.

    I find him, up by the dead shagbark hickory. He’s strange coloured, like hickory wood, an’ green eyes like new buddin’ hickory leaves. I call, an’ the others come runnin’. He swears he’s done nothin’, but they find half Lizzie’s missin’ kerchief there.

    We string him up on the hickory, pull him high, an’ leave him. Let the crows do their work. Only, when I go back, a week later, he ain’t been touched; still looks the same, those green hickory eyes starin’ out his strange-coloured face.

    I go back reg’lar after that. Nothin’ changes, ’cept in the spring the old dead hickory starts buddin’. I watch them buds open, watch the leaves spread. Each one’s got a coloured bruise, shaped like a hanged man. I hear the wind whisperin’ through the leaves. His voice. Swearin’ he’s innocent.

    After that, I’m there every day, watchin’, listenin’. The hickory nuts start growin’. Only they ain’t nuts, they’re fruits, coloured like hickory wood, two green eyes on ’em. The wind still whispers at me.

    When fall comes I cut the hickory man down an’ sit talkin’. I don’t want to, but I can’t stop myself. Like when I was with Lizzie that last night an’ she kept saying no.

    A hickory fruit falls. Inside it’s soft, lily-white. Like Lizzie’s thighs.

    The wind don’t whisper no more. The hickory man’s gone. Old man Ford’ll be here in the mornin’. He’ll find the other half of Lizzie’s kerchief.

    They’ll hang me on the hickory.


     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  12. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    JANUARY 2014 (#12)

    THEME:



    [​IMG]
    Picture by Glisterspeck


    WINNER:

    EBONY, OAK, AND IRON

    by Teresa Edgerton

    Lightnings danced amidst the towers. In a secret chamber up among the spires, the sorceress boiled a potion in an iron pot: essence of tears and wounded love, seasoned with years of malice.

    Through an open window a sizzling indigo bolt struck the cauldron, which for a moment glowed with dark demonic light. The air smelled of something curiously sweet. From the seething brew rose a figure, crude at first and clear as water. The sorceress spoke: the form solidified, flushed with color ... and became a maiden, hair like sunlight, fair as any summer day.

    ***

    The queen sat brooding on her throne, while on the dance floor the king disported with another woman.

    She remembered ... a long cold sleep, through many passing seasons. The prince (as then he’d been), thinking he beheld in her the secret of eternal youth, woke her with a kiss. A decade now had passed. Men still deemed her fair, no trace of silver touched her raven locks -- but the king chose younger mistresses every year.

    How flirtatious grew the figures of the dance! The golden girl stood up on her toes, turning up her face for his kiss. It was the merest brushing of their lips. Then the king swooned and fell, deathly pale, to the floor.

    In their haste to reach the king, none saw his partner leave. Later, when they searched, no one discovered where she’d gone.

    The queen knew. She smiled with lips red as blood. He had found eternal youth, and she her revenge. She would see him buried deep, in a coffin made of stoutest oak, wrapped round with iron chains. No one would look inside and kiss him awake.

    Snow White smiled again. She’d known exactly how the poison would work. It was a family recipe.


    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/546834-300-word-writing-challenge-12-january-2014-victory.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  13. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

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    APRIL 2014 (#13)

    THEME:


    [​IMG]
    Image credit: Chris Green


    WINNER:

    Frizzled memories
    by springs

    After the shrinkies frizzled my brains I stopped remembering too well. The doctors go on about their new machines helping people think straight, but sometimes they do the opposite.

    Since I don’t remember much anymore, I built a memory pole. Wanna tour?

    Start at the side, there. That’s Da’s belt. It never fitted me, I’m way too skinny, but he taught me lots with it. I put it on the pole, and that’s how I started.

    There’s Ma’s mask, for when she didn’t want to see things. She mostly had an invisible one, like a shade over her eyes, but when she died she wore the real one. I didn’t want her watching me, see, with my brain hot and not right. I’d have scared her.

    Round the back’s personal. Annie’s knickers; she wouldn’t take them off for me. I don’t like to think about that too much.

    The face? Sure, that’s a memory; it’s the shrinky that frizzled my brain. Scared looking, ain’t he? Well, so was I. Only fair when I got hold of the machine he got frizzled too.

    And here; the horseshoe. I did Ned’s head with it when he said they should’na freed me.

    I’ve one more to go. Seymour told the shrinkies about me. He needs to learn to shut his mouth. How? I’ll show you. Come on, I won’t hurt you. Can’t hurt you; no room left for anyone but Seymour.

    See the blade dancing? After I see Seymour it’s going on the pole. Then everyone will know not to frizzle me again.

    You going? Well be careful through the swamps. I’m not the only one frizzled; there’s a whole bunch of us. And we all have a memory pole each. Sometimes more than one. Like me.

    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/547811-300-word-writing-challenge-13-april-2014-victory.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  14. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2005
    Messages:
    7,198
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    JULY 2014 (#14)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]


    Image credit: Quintin Booth


    WINNER:

    Escape

    by The Judge

    The Hounds are nearer now, a note of triumph in their howls, malign to my ears, almost lascivious.

    Three Seekers dead. Now the Hounds hunt me.

    I stumble through a thicket of butcher-bird trees and thorn-grass, leaving driblets of blood and skin in my wake. A gate is close. I feel it in the tingle at my fingers’ ends, taste it in the bile on my tongue. But is it close enough? I’m near collapse – my legs tremble, my lungs are on fire. I want to vomit.

    Three Seekers torn to shreds, then half-eaten – eye sockets empty, marrow sucked from broken bones. And the Hounds getting ever nearer.

    I force my legs on, though my heart will surely burst.

    A creek. I wade into it – the water might confuse the Hounds – and downstream I see a gate’s blue-green light beckoning. I plunge towards it.

    Calm is needed to open a gate. As my feet slip and slide I try to calm myself, to think pleasurable thoughts. But my heart still races, my breath still comes ragged, as I recall three dead, mutilated Seekers.

    The gate shimmers, aquamarine tendrils dancing, but it doesn’t open.

    The Hounds’ baying alters in pitch, the sound of confusion. They’re at the creek. A shout. I’m seen.

    Desperate, I repeat the incantation over and over. Then... A dark circle, the scent of pine resin. I throw myself forward as a Hound snaps at my heel.

    I’m through. Safe. I fall onto pine needles.

    Behind me, the gate ripples, closes. The Hounds of Justice howl their frustration, and their masters, Seekers – Fugitive-Seekers; lawmen, if you will – curse.

    I lie back, smiling at familiar stars, then I reach into my pocket for the treats I’d saved for home. Three Seekers. Six eyeballs. Tasty.


    ------

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/548787/
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  15. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2005
    Messages:
    7,198
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    OCTOBER 2014 (#15)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]

    Image credit: Laura Bifano

    WINNER:


    A Fairy Tale
    by Juliana

    The tiny fairy hovered, obscuring the pages of the book.

    "Go away," I snapped. "I'm trying to read."

    "Can't I help?" she trilled, voice like tiny silver bells.

    I sighed. "No. You can't. It doesn't work that way."

    I longed to swat her away like a fly but that would have been cruel. It wasn't her fault I had saved her from that Rottweiler. How was I to know there was some fairy law about payback? Until last week, I hadn't even known the ruddy creatures existed. Now I was stuck with her until she saved my life in return.

    I set the book down and Tink walked onto the page. Of course, her name wasn't really Tinkerbell, it was some unpronounceable gibberish, but who could resist? So Tink it was. To be fair, she didn't seem to mind.

    "Who is the small human?" she asked.

    I resigned myself to conversation. "The Lost Princess. The woodcutter raised her, but now the evil queen is hunting her. That's the queen's knight."

    "And will he capture her and carve out her heart?" She was surprisingly bloodthirsty for such a tiny thing.

    "No, the knight will show mercy. He has a boy of his own, see? The boy will grow up and fall in love with the Princess."

    She considered this, head tilted fetchingly to one side. Her fair curls, almost white against her blue skin, drifted like dandelion seed in the breeze and she gnashed her needle-sharp teeth.

    "Humans are strange. Better to just carve out her heart."

    Her eyes glittered and I shivered, uncomfortably aware of just how alien the small creature was. I closed the book as she watched hungrily. I was suddenly very, very glad she owed me her life.

    -----

    Challenge Thread: http://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/549854/
     
  16. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2005
    Messages:
    7,198
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    JANUARY 2015 (#16)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]

    Image credit: Bryan Wigmore aka HareBrain

    WINNER:

    Pillar of the Community

    by The Judge

    Old man Yu was dying. Master Yu. Patriarch Yu. Judge, arbiter, settler of disputes; sage, advisor, oracle, prophet.

    Li Min wept in fear. For the village.

    “How old is he?” she asked Yen the blacksmith, meaning “Who shall be our master and leader when he is gone?”

    “Who cares?” answered Yen, meaning “Me. And everyone will do exactly what I say.”

    “How old is he?” she asked Ch’ien the clerk, meaning “Who shall be our judge and settler of disputes when he is gone?”

    “Who asks?” answered Ch’ien, meaning “Me. And everyone will pay dearly for my judgements.”

    “How old is he?” she asked Hsueh the spinster, meaning “Who shall be our sage and oracle when he is gone?”

    “Who knows?” answered Hsueh, meaning “Me. And everyone will listen to whatever nonsense I choose to tell them.”

    “How old are you?” she asked old man Yu, meaning, “I’m frightened, Great-Grandfather. Why must you die?”

    “Older than the birch, younger than the mangrove,” answered Yu, meaning “I will still be here when your great-grandchildren are old.”

    Old man Yu died. Li Min wept in sorrow. For herself.

    Yen the blacksmith demanded the village council meet in the village square. Ch’ien the clerk delivered his verdict that one was necessary. Hsueh the spinster said she had foreseen it.

    But in the village square a pillar of wood had appeared, an outline of a man upon it, old man’s beard draped around it, holes carved into it. Wind blew through the holes and the pillar spoke. Spoke in the voice of old man Yu.

    “I am master and leader. I am judge and settler of disputes. I am sage and oracle. And I shall be here when your great-grandchildren are old.”

    Li Min wept in delight. For everyone.

    -----

    Challenge Thread:
    https://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/550923/
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  17. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2005
    Messages:
    7,198
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    APRIL 2015 (#17)

    THEME:


    [​IMG]

    Image credit: Christopher James Bean aka Phyrebrat

    WINNER:

    Whisper in the Wind

    by Juliana

    She limped along, small bare legs a mess of cuts and darkening bruises, tiny feet clad inadequately in plastic sandals. Insect bites, thorn scratches, blood on her cheek. Wild tousled hair, with one pink ribbon still hanging forlornly from the remains of a braid.

    The jungle grew thicker, darker, denser. She stopped, pulling up the hem of her gingham sundress to wipe away the sweat. No tears, though, there were no more tears. The tears had stopped a long time ago, swallowed by exhaustion.

    She wanted to rest, but the wind tugged at her hair and whispered, “Just a little longer, darling, just a while more.” So on she trudged, swaying in the wind that eddied up around her and coaxed her along. “Just a little longer, my love.”

    When the day turned to night she wanted to run from that black and frightening world of chirping, calling, rustling things, but her tired legs wouldn’t obey and the wind told her, “Hush, baby, nothing can hurt you here. Just a little longer, we’re almost there.”

    At last, a glimmer of light, of hope. She stopped and stared, wondering if it could really, really be?

    “Yes, come my sweet, we’re here, you’re safe.”

    And the wind pulled her forward, pushed her through the last tangle of branches and vines to a clearing and a small, shining farmhouse.

    The next day, the newspapers were full of the story. How had the tiny girl, lone survivor of the plane crash, walked for hours through the jungle to the only house in miles?

    But when the old farmer opened his door that night, he saw a multitude of shadows accompanying the child, and as she tottered forward she turned and whispered to the closest one, “Thank you, Mama.”

    -----

    Challenge Thread: https://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/551971/
     
  18. Culhwch

    Culhwch Lost Boy Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2005
    Messages:
    7,198
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    JULY 2015 (#18)

    THEME:

    [​IMG]

    Image credit: holland

    WINNER:

    Charlie
    by Remedy

    His name was Charlie and he was kind.

    ***

    Mrs Jaques tore my story out, calling it drivel. She balled it up and dropped it in the bin. Other children sniggered. Charlie didn’t. He winked, which kept my tears at bay.

    I still cried in the park after school. I wanted to write Day at the Castle, not the beach. It was good.

    Charlie came cautiously around the swings with his gentle smile. “Please don’t cry.”

    “She’s a horrid teacher,” I sobbed. “I hate her.”

    “She smells like cat wee,” he said. “You can’t let someone who smells like cat wee make you cry.”

    I smiled. Somehow it made sense.

    Charlie crouched next to me and put his palm to the grass. Lifting it slowly, a metal stem followed his hand like a charmed snake. A shiny blob formed and opened into cobalt petals. “For you,” he said easily with another wink.

    My mouth gaped stupidly. “How?”

    “Dunno,” he shrugged. “I’ve always been able to.”

    ***

    We met after school every day from then. I would suggest objects and Charlie would pull them from the ground, just like the flower. We laughed when he made a little metal clock tower fall on a little metal Mrs Jaques.

    Not long after, we started seeing the man with the suit, always on his mobile phone. He watched us and Charlie would stop making things. Everywhere we went, he seemed to follow.

    ***

    Charlie made us a metal den on a rainy day. We were inside eating sweets when they came; four men who didn’t speak. They just dragged Charlie away as metal shot from the ground while he struggled. I screamed and I scratched them.

    But as the door closed on their van, I’m sure I saw Charlie lean to the side and wink.

    _____

    Challenge Thread: https://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/560338
     
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