October 2020 (Issue #36)

The premise for Issue #36 was


We challenged contestants to write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which odor, or the sense of smell itself, played an important role.

We received 396 contest entries and chose seven stories for prizes. For only the second time in our magazine’s 14-year history, we felt compelled to publish four honorable mentions this time, instead of the usual two or three.

One of our prizewinners has had a mini-contest entry published in OTP before, but none have had a short story win a prize. Five of this issue’s stories are speculative fiction and the other two (the first place story and the last honorable mention) take place in the real world.


It had been early on, maybe the second or third day, that I figured out I was in a Catholic hospital.

FIRST PLACE: Jesus Doe, Jeff Jaskot’s real-world story about a man whose body is temporarily paralyzed, but whose senses and mind are sharp enough to try solving a mystery that’s going on around him. (New OTP author.)

“How do I know you’ll keep your word?” the witch asked.

“How do I know you’ll keep yours?”

SECOND PLACE: Beasts of the Woods, Maya Levine’s speculative story about a witch who tries to help a stubborn young girl. (New OTP author.)

She had never run this fast, this free.

THIRD PLACE: The New Smell, Azure Alexander’s speculative story about a dog who discovers a world it had never imagined. (New OTP author.)

Back in the kitchen with their windows firmly closed, all three housemates stared out across the expanse of garden–all twenty feet of it–and reviewed their options.

HONORABLE MENTION: Weed, Derek Des Anges’s speculative story about three college-age house renters and the most horrible smell ever. (New OTP author.)

I wondered where he was on Earth. He was using scent #19549, freshly laid asphalt.

HONORABLE MENTION: Scentology, Hannah Whiteoak’s speculative story about a future version of odor therapy, and the people who administer it. (Previously published in mini-contest #40.)

Thinking back to four hours ago, she recalled a stillness all around, even in the canopy of the trees above.

HONORABLE MENTION: Fur, Bret Nelson’s speculative story about a hunt on an alien world. (New OTP author.)

They didn’t know about the baby yet for sure, didn’t need to start saving money until Monday.

HONORABLE MENTION: Garden Parties, Tiffany Allan’s real-world story about people whose lives aren’t going the way they’d hoped. (New OTP author.)

Note: Photo courtesy of doTERRA International, LLC from Pexels