October 2015 (Issue #26)


Amarnath, Kashmir, India


The premise for Issue #26 was


All stories had to be told in strict chronological order, with no flashbacks (scenes that take place before previous scenes) and no flashforwards (glimpses of a future which then return the story to its present).

We received 216 contest entries and chose six stories for prizes. Two of our authors have been published in OTP before. For one of the others, this issue represents a first fiction sale.


And then a high, lisping voice says, “But why shouldn’t we negotiate?”

FIRST PLACE: The Tale of King Edgar, L. S. Johnson’s story about a corrupt king and the passage of time.

…silence was important. She was sure of it, just not sure why.

SECOND PLACE: Out of the Opened Door, S. Bullard’s speculative story about the aftermath of an especially vague disaster. (First fiction sale!)

I thought how a fever of 106 is a black hole. Nothing escapes. If we didn’t do something—and fast—he’d never wake up.

THIRD PLACE: The Kowalski Scenario, Edison McDaniels’s real-world story about the challenges of being a brain surgeon. (Edison McDaniels was also published in Issue #16.)

“What can I do? Do you need anything?”

“I might need to stop drinking.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Tenderness, Ben Leib’s real-world story about people who need more help than they’re probably going to get.

Nothing is getting me off this couch, he thinks to himself. His next thought is that he just jinxed himself because an eighteen-year-old suicidal comes over and sits down next to him.

HONORABLE MENTION: The Common Room, Thomas Cannon’s real-world story about an intern in a psychiatric ward and a patient he might, or might not, be able to help.

A few days later there was an unexpected knock at the front door. Miklos opened it to reveal the smiling young family from the adjacent house, come to introduce themselves.

HONORABLE MENTION: What He Loved Most, T. C. Powell’s real-world story about a painter’s relationship with a very young art critic.


Note: Photo courtesy of sandeepachetan on Flickr (www.flickr.com)