Mini-Contest #34

The 34th OTP mini-contest was held in May 2017. This mini-contest asked contestants to write a story no more than 50 words long in which the number ten or the idea of “tenth” played an important part.

Here are our winning entries, then our honorable mentions. Five out of six authors are new to OTP.

Third Place by Robert Weissenberg (new OTP author)

“Gabriel,” their teacher asked, “what’s in the… tenth circle of hell?”

Gabriel stared at his hands and stammered, “The sinners who… broke all ten commandments?”

“There isn’t one,” Christina sneered.

“There may be one,” their teacher laughed, “reserved for those who don’t do their reading. Would’ve horrified Dante.”

Second Place by Robert Townsend (new OTP author)

A crotchety old editor barked, “OK, kid, time’s up, give me your story!”

The young reporter scribbled -10- at the bottom and handed it over.

“In the newspaper business, -30- means the end,” the boss scolded.

“I know,” said the kid, “But I’m only one-third done.”

First Place by Lynn Love (new OTP author)

Frank was their tenth child, the last born at home. Soon the farmland grew tired and blew away, so Papa filled a cart with the bed and some pans, a lamp hazed with dirt. Now the ten walk, dust eroding their skin. At night, Frank dreams of a roof.

Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)

Three other entries scored highly enough to earn honorable mentions.

Peering down from the tenth story ledge, Larkin thought it fitting. Breaking the tenth commandment had marked the beginning of his downfall. He almost smirked at the pun. “Should have stopped at coveting,” he said. “Maybe I should just turn myself in,”—his last words, before the sneeze dislodged him.
(by Garth Pettersen, new OTP author)

They stand stiff in tight formation at the alley’s end, ready for battle, mocking me in silence. Only two cannonballs remain. Last chance to topple my adversaries and break one hundred for the first time. But my aim is amiss. Two gutter balls and my ten foes still stand.
(by Kirby Hancock, previously published in mini-contests 10, 19, and 30)

10 Downing Street…

When I took this job on, I’d no idea it would be so hard, so stressful, so soul-destroying. I’ve only been doing it for ten months, but already I look ten years older.

I don’t want to be Prime Minister any more…
(by Sue Barnard, new OTP author)


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