Mini-Contest #7

The seventh mini-contest was held in December 2008. It challenged contestants to tell a complete story in 25 to 75 words in which the most prevalent and important sensory information related to sound. To make the challenge greater, we insisted that dialogue be used sparingly, if at all.

We received 84 entries. Two reading judges selected 11 contenders from all the entries received. Five prize judges labeled one entry as their “favorite” and rated the rest as either “yes,” “maybe,” or “no.”

Our first place winner and the author of an honorable mention have never been published in OTP before. The other three authors represented below are previous winners, and their works once again impressed the judges, who, please recall, judge every entry blindly. These authors must be doing something right! But with every contest to date, we’ve published authors who are new to On The Premises, so I think we’re doing something right too.

Third Place ($5) by Ashley Armstrong

My husband is a quiet man, whose whisper sounds like waves on the seashore. I didn’t know what to do when I met him. Sharon introduced us fast and hard in her loud nasal whine, patted us both on the shoulder, and left us to talk.

“Hi,” I tried.

He stood there without saying a word. The noise of other people’s conversations rose around us like bubbling water. But he didn’t speak.

I liked it.

Second Place ($10) by Laura Loomis

The silence after he left was like the silence that woke her after the heater turned off at night, a deep comforting hum that went unnoticed until it was gone.

First Place ($15) by Liz Tetley (new to OTP)

They want a legally blind person to pick out the robber? Five men stand right in front of the window, but I still can’t identify him.

I remember Jeffy swishing coins on the counter, counting aloud. A gunshot. Sizzles and pops as the old security camera fried. The man slammed the metal cash box shut. His footsteps were uneven as he fled. His ride screeched off.

“He had a limp,” I say.

Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)

Two other entries scored highly enough to earn honorable mentions.

Distant sirens transport Joey to the night his parents died. Flames sizzle, devouring drapes; light bulbs explode with sputtering pops. Burning newspapers hiss a trail to the sofa, igniting it with an explosive whoosh. Bourbon-soaked clothes flare; agonized shrieks erupt.

Now, he listens to his foster parents fighting. She screeches; he bellows. Cupboards slam. Dishes shatter.

The sirens recede. Joey yawns, scrapes his thumbnail on the matchbook beneath his pillow, and dreams.
(by Renee Holland Davidson)

The key clicked as he turned it. Clockwork ticked and tocked. The mechanical bird opened its eyes and loosed a brief melody of chirps.

It really was a marvel. No creaks or squeaks, but only whispers of movement as it carried on like a bird of flesh. Beautiful.

He took the bird into the living room, where the clockwork cat purred in its sleep. A bell tinkled when he pulled a string.

“Dinnertime,” he said.
(by Robert Nickerson, new to OTP)

Now It’s Our Turn
Tarl had to try this one himself. None of the other judges felt so compelled.

I’m old school: rattling chains, creaky floorboards, abrupt moans right behind your ear. Or more subtly, the gentle susurrus of drapes moving in no wind. But this new ghost died young and brought his PlayStation with him. Now this old townhome’s owners hear explosions, dragons’ roars, soldiers’ shouts, incessant beeping. They say it’s the neighbor’s TV and snore away, unafraid. Dead or alive, it’s the same story: the world’s leaving me behind.
(by Tarl Kudrick)

Congratulations to the winners and our sincere thanks to everyone who entered the mini-contest.