April 2023 (Issue #41)

cover photo of woman looking for someone

The premise for Issue #41 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 important to the story is missing. Whether the person or thing is ever found was up to the author.

We received 547 contest entries. Of those entries, five stories won prizes. Another story was selected as a guest writer entry, and that story will be published in May 2023. It will be added to this issue when it is published.

Three of this issue’s stories are speculative fiction and the other two are real-world stories. Two of our prizewinners have had a story published in OTP before, two have had mini-contest entries published, and the other–our first-place winner–is new to OTP.


My sister Joan says this is just aging and I’m an idiot. I know about aging. I see my own hairline receding and my paunch growing. This isn’t the same thing.

FIRST PLACE: The Aliens, Cindy Cramer’s real-world (trust us!) story about a man who sees his elderly parents in a new light. (New OTP author.)

All Vince had done was order cake.

SECOND PLACE: Vinny Two Snacks, Robert Mangeot’s real-world story about a low-level con man whose vacation doesn’t turn out the way he expected. (Robert was previously published in Issue 19.)

“I wish to hire you, Mr. Pocopson. Last year, a friend of a friend, Red, had trouble with a stalker that you… handled.”

THIRD PLACE: Porridge, James Blakey’s speculative story about some fairy tale characters who get in over their heads. (James won a prize in mini-contest 48.)

I want to investigate but I have to be tactful. This is a predominantly male staff and they might not like me interacting with the public. I am new here, just a week old.

HONORABLE MENTION: A Letter for Sitamma, Ramesh Avadhani’s real world story about a stubborn customer at the post office. (We published a story of Ramesh’s all the way back in Issue 9!)

No, Mrs. Hoskins…. An H2 doesn’t go missing.

HONORABLE MENTION: RoboHub H2, Chris Cottom’s speculative story about a customer service problem. (Chris won a prize in mini-contest 53.)

“I’ve heard about these places,” the first man says. “I think we are in an escape room. It’s a game to see if we can figure out how to get out of it.”

GUEST WRITER: The Two-Man Condition, Alan Wain’s speculative story people who keep finding themselves in the same situation. (New OTP author.)

Note: Photo courtesy of Katerina Kerdi from Unsplash