The 27th OTP mini-contest was held in October 2015. This mini-contest asked contestants to produce a compelling and creative beginning of a short story based on the old cliche that one or more characters have amnesia. Contestants had up to 75 words to produce their beginning.
Here are our winners, then our honorable mentions, then a judge’s entry. Four of the seven winners are new to OTP.
Third Place by Laura Loomis (previously published numerous times in OTP)
There must be a reason I created them. They look so much like me, and they have so many of my qualities: creativity, intelligence, compassion. But they do destructive things to each other, even while they’re speaking of me.
I must have had some plan to get them under control. But the last thing I remember is filling the universe with light, and I’m not sure how we got from there to here.
Second Place by K. Dearsley (new to OTP)
It isn’t just my keys I keep losing. My thoughts run away down side streets and back alleys, and when I turn around to look I don’t know where I am or how I got there.
The last time I looked, I was Miss Angelica Seymour. A tall, imposing name for a short, generously proportioned woman. Nevertheless, I have hidden behind its sophistication. It’s allowed me to pretend to a clarity I no longer possess.
First Place by Donald Conrad (previously published in mini-contest #10)
The patient was in a typical hospital gown. He was strapped down, bed elevated, and the sheet was pulled over the restraints. As the drug wore off, he continued with his rant about alien abduction finishing with, “They’ll be back for me. They always come back.”
The mental health worker leaned in to the doctor while watching the little gray skinned guy and whispered, “Should I show him the mirror yet?”
Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)
Four other entries scored highly enough to earn honorable mentions.
Stay calm. Deep breaths now. Start with the facts…
One. I’m strapped to a metal hospital bed in a long, windowless room. Perhaps I was in an accident. But where are the other patients?
Two. I can’t feel my legs.
Three. There’s writing on the inside of my hand. My writing. “DON’T TRUST ROBERT.”
Four. No time for four. Someone’s coming in… a blonde smiling man with a clipboard. Robert, his name badge says.
(by Jennifer Moore, previously published in mini-contests #22, #24, and #25)
The first thing she saw was a respectable-looking man, about thirty, smiling reassuringly at her. He might be a therapist, doctor or teacher. Not that Jodie could remember.
“So what happens now?” she asked, having rejected “Where am I?” as giving too much away about her amnesia.
He looked slightly shifty.
“Good question, Miss– um–”
That was interesting. He didn’t know Jodie’s name any more than she knew his.
(by Cathy Bryant, new to OTP)
Donald Wood was not Donald Wood, but no one around him cared. He cared, but not as much as he used to. He had the nagging feeling that he should care more, but another tour of Key West’s bars pushed those feelings away for one more night, every night. He remembered nothing and nowhere else, but he thought Key West was probably as fine a place to be lost as it was possible to be.
(by Daniel LeBoeuf, new to OTP)
Godiva says it is her real name. We believe her out of habit: of the five of us here she comes closest to the full picture, remembers everything up to and including the altercation where her son threaded a pair of compasses through her left orbit. That tale of catastrophe’s banality is on constant replay. Keeps Suki, the other one with antero, enthralled. We listen too, hoping one day she will recall what happened next.
(by Nikki Vega, new to OTP)
Now It’s Our Turn
Frank Dutkiewicz is the OTP partner who came up with this particular mini-contest, and he had an entry too.
Carl’s world was a blur when he opened his eyes, his head ringing like the bell of Big Ben striking noon. The ring gradually gave way to a muffled roar as his vison cleared. In his face, a man in a zebra shirt leaned over him, flashing hand signals and shouting. With all his effort, Carl concentrated to make out the words of the striped-shirted man that seemed important.
“…seven, eight, nine, ten, You’re out!”
(by Frank Dutkiewicz)
Congratulations to the winners and our sincere thanks to everyone who entered the mini-contest.