October 2018 (Issue #32)

The premise for Issue #32 was


We challenged contestants to write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which a character (not necessarily the main character, but one important to the story) almost dies.

We received 377 contest entries and chose six stories for prizes. Two of our authors have been published in OTP before; the others are new to us. Three of this issue’s stories are speculative fiction, and the other three take place in the real world.


That’s another thing they don’t warn you: the end can come while you are doing something so ordinary you may think it can’t possibly be The Moment.

FIRST PLACE: Heart Emoji at the End of the World, Shauna O’Meara’s speculative story about a catastrophe.

“I talked to the elders today,” he begins, looking not at me, but at the light from a fire in the distance. “They say I should take Majabin as a wife.”

SECOND PLACE: My Song for Majabin, T. L. Sherwood’s real-world story about a child bride and the older bride who wants to keep her safe.

We came here to save people.

THIRD PLACE: One in a Thousand, Jakob Ryce’s real-world story of a pastor who works in the field of suicide prevention.

“This is outrageous!” he said, still hopping. “Hermes, the god of thieves, has stolen my death.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Dead Stop, Richard Zwicker’s speculative detective story set in a version of Ancient Greece. (Richard Zwicker was also published in Issue 20.)

“Six months here, you forget about manners. You forget… everything.”

HONORABLE MENTION: The God Star, Edoardo Albert’s speculative story about an unnatural phenomenon that is unusually difficult to study. (Edoardo Albert was also published in Issues 13 and 17.)

Spotter planes flew from dawn to dusk calling in one fire after another after another. The calls for inmate fire crews came in just as fast.

HONORABLE MENTION: Whom the Lion Seeks, Annie Lampman’s real-world story of a convict who works on a prison-sponsored fire-fighting team.

Note: Photo courtesy of Peter Heeling on Skitterphoto