Mini-Contest #39

The 39th OTP mini-contest was held in October 2018. This mini-contest asked contestants to write a story no more than 50 words long that was based on the idea of “lost and found”.

Here are our winning entries, then our honorable mentions, and then a special honorable mention (a rare occurrence indeed!). Five out of seven authors are new to OTP.

Third Place by Alyson Hilbourne (previously published in Issue 14 and mini-contest 21)

Dad joked he found Mum at the Lost Property Office. “I was only looking for my umbrella!”

“It’s where I worked,” Mum explained.

When Mum left to ‘find’ herself with her yoga teacher, Dad was bereft.

“I never did get my umbrella back,” he said, ripping up her photo.


Second Place by Gina Burgess (new OTP author)

When I was little, my dog died. Gone to live on a farm, Mum said.

Now he pattered to my rocking chair, leash in mouth, dog code for walkies. I hadn’t walked in years, not even with a cane. Still, I stood and let him lead me to his farm.


First Place by Dean Hutchins (new OTP author)

Been lost in this cave for days. Crawled onto a narrow ledge looking for exit, but now can’t move. Wait! Someone above me is digging. Rescue! Shovel breaks through and I can see daylight! I pop my head out at the bottom of an open grave. Mourners scream and faint.


Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)

Three other entries scored highly enough to earn honorable mentions.

Celia dreams of rescuing the paintings she’s sold. She’d break into those extravagant homes finding, rediscovering her lost little children. Dash off with gilt frames tucked under her arm, police floodlights catching only her shadow.

But in order to do that, Celia would need to sell a painting first.
(by Samuel Barnhart, new OTP author)

Finding a camera just before my vacation seemed the best luck. I saved the images, intended to trace the owner, but somehow forgot.

Losing my laptop was bad luck. It being found was the worst—the police want to know why it holds images of eighteen recent murder victims.
(by Patsy Collins, new OTP author)

Aunt Marge has always said that love is unpredictable. “You lose love when you need it, and find love when you aren’t looking for it.” I understand that all theorists dream of proving their theories true, but why did Aunt Marge have to do it at Uncle Ronnie’s funeral?
(by Rachel Dib, published in mini-contest #32)


Special Honorable Mention (no money, just fame)

Oh, there it is.
(by Kyle Jacobson, new OTP author)


This entry broke a rule we’ve had for so long that, for several contests now, we’ve forgotten to tell anyone about it. Specifically, a rule about a minimum length for mini-contest entries.

See, if we give authors up to 50 words, then they tend to use at least 80% of the words allowed. In fact, over at least the previous ten mini-contest entries, we haven’t received even one entry that used fewer than half the maximum number of words allowed. That’s why, long ago, we dropped any minimum length for mini-contest entries. Why announce a rule everyone follows anyway?

As much as we loved Kyle’s entry—and we loved it!—we don’t think entries of drastically different size can be compared fairly. That’s why we don’t allow flash fiction (say, under 500 words) in our short story contests. So from now on, we’re enforcing minimum word lengths for mini-contests.

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