October 2023 (Issue #42)

The premise for Issue #42 was


We challenged contestants to write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long which in some way was inspired by, or referred to, the above paragraph.

We received 239 contest entries. Of those entries, six stories won prizes. Two more stories were selected as guest writer stories. One of them will be published in November 2023, and the other will be published in December 2023. Each guest writer story will be added to this issue when it is published.

Three of this issue’s prize-winning stories are speculative fiction, two are real-world stories, and the remaining one could be either. One of our prizewinners has had a story published in OTP before, and the others are new to OTP.


“That’s a hell of a place to meet a woman,” she says. “Have you ever tried a bar?”

FIRST PLACE: Out on a Limb, Roger Hart’s real-world story about a man who’s waiting for someone who isn’t likely to arrive. (New OTP author.)

This year, after discussing your mammogram–looks good!–you casually mention a nagging cough that’s been around for months.

SECOND PLACE: Sliver of Hope, Barbi Calusdian’s real-world story about a woman with a medical concern. (New OTP author.)

Still, for every happy story, there are other stories of those who are not so fortunate.

THIRD PLACE: A Numerical Revelation, Anne Wilkins’s speculative story about a young woman who cares a lot more about counting things than anyone else in her fairly unsophisticated village. (New OTP author.)

“Mr Pittman, we have a warrant to search your premises,” she said in a sharp voice. “We have reason to believe you’ve been mistreating a holo named Rylee.”

HONORABLE MENTION: The Light and the Dark, Richard Zwicker’s speculative story about a detective who is also a living hologram. (We published a story from Richard in Issue #20 and Issue #32.)

It was Alyssa’s stories about Miller Lake that made Gabe want to come for the weekend, but she can see him shrinking away from the reality of it as he takes in the sight of the cabin.

HONORABLE MENTION: Black Squirrels, Elliott Gish’s story about a woman who is fighting back memories of a very bad day from her past. (New OTP author.)

As soon as my finger made contact the photo flashed a brilliant white light, temporarily blinding my captain, but not me.

HONORABLE MENTION: On This Date, C. B. Channell’s speculative story about a mysterious photograph sent to a police department. (New OTP author.)

She bends and kisses the ground at the base of the twin-trunked pine tree that marks the site of her husband’s and daughter’s bones.

GUEST WRITER: Yetta and the Beast, Peter Alterman’s real-world story of a desperate woman whose life has been defined by her land’s continuous wars. (New OTP author.)

He was still in what looked like the same woods, but he’d never seen this part before, and the tent had vanished. Also, he was now tied to a tree.

GUEST WRITER: High-Treed Chase, Filip Bonnyn’s real-world story of two not-that-bright guys whose camping trip doesn’t go as planned. (New OTP author.)

Note: Photo courtesy of Bethany Granger from On The Premises