October 2021 (Issue #38)

The premise for Issue #38 was


We challenged contestants to write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which someone or something is viewed as some kind of monster (though whether it really is a monster is up to the author).

Remember last issue’s record of 480+ entries? Hah! This contest blew that record apart with 631 contest entries. Of those entries, we chose six stories for prizes.

Two of our prizewinners have had a story published in OTP before, and one has had several mini-contest entries published. The other three authors are new to OTP. Four of this issue’s stories are speculative fiction and the other two are real-world stories.


Leila doesn’t mind having a monster under her bed. Aside from the occasional outburst of sulfurous flatulence, he’s no trouble at all.

FIRST PLACE: The Monster Under the Bed, Jennifer Moore’s speculative story about a child who likes monsters and a mother who doesn’t.(Jennifer’s mini-contest entries have been published numerous times, but this is the first time we have published a short story of hers.)

He was nobody I knew from neighboring homesteads or that I ever saw in town. Finding him in my house brought my heart up into my throat.

SECOND PLACE: The Right to Hang, Brandon Barrows’s real-world story about the search for justice in the older American West. (New OTP author.)

Thirteen in all including Allie. Allie was number six. He’d refined his craft by then.

THIRD PLACE: Slaying Monsters, Leonie Harrison’s real-world story about a courtroom trial that doesn’t quite go as expected.(Leonie was also published in Issue #34.)

Farrah wanted a boyfriend (or even just a date) where she could be unapologetically a werewolf.

HONORABLE MENTION: Swipe Right, Daphne Strasert’s speculative story about how dating isn’t easy for anybody, really, in these modern times.(New OTP author.)

“Baaba is at the mosque, he’ll see you there.”

“You know we aren’t allowed in God’s house.”

HONORABLE MENTION: A Monstrous Bargain, Adelehin Ijasan’s speculative story about the clash between new technologies and old customs. (Adelehin was also published in Issue #4, all the way back in 2008. Wow!)

The rusty knob rattled. No, it didn’t simply rattle, as if slapped by a paw. It turned, slow and deliberate, first clockwise then counterclockwise.

HONORABLE MENTION: Skins, Michael D. Winkle’s speculative story about a real-life historical villain encountering an even stranger local legend.(New OTP author.)

Note: Photo courtesy of Ashkan Forouzani from Unsplash