October 2019 (Issue #34)

The premise for Issue #34 was


We challenged contestants to write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which some kind of tradition is important to the story.

We received a new record 435 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 others take place in the real world.


The leaves rustled as Grandma drew closer. I held my breath. Grandma’s steps slowed, and then she walked past me. My stomach dropped.

FIRST PLACE: A Summoner’s Tale, John Burridge’s speculative story about jealousy. (John has been published in three other issues of our magazine.)
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Before the fun could start there was an important job to do.

SECOND PLACE: Break, Gina Burgess’s real-world story about a family that wants to do right by their son, but doesn’t have much to work with. (Gina was published in mini-contest #39.)

There are rules about burial at sea.

THIRD PLACE: Gone, the Sailor, Leonie Harrison’s real-world story of an unusual funeral. (New OTP author)

“When do you migrate away?” she found herself asking.

HONORABLE MENTION: Breathe, Jacob Mooney’s speculative story about an inter-species romance. (New OTP author)

Truth is, it could be worse. At least if something happens out here there isn’t anyone below.

HONORABLE MENTION: D.N.I.F., Andrew MacQuarrie’s real-world story about a fighter pilot with a medical problem. (New OTP author)

“The boy must have his Hunt.”

HONORABLE MENTION: The Irish Lion, Thomas Shea’s speculative story about a tradition that is getting difficult to perform. (New OTP author)

Note: Photo courtesy of Markus Winkler on Unsplash