Mini-Contest #54

The 54th OTP mini-contest launched in October 2022. This mini-contest asked contestants to write a story between 25 and 50 words long in which a ringing bell plays an important role.

We received 168 entries. Here are the winning entries, then the honorable mentions. Four of the six winners are new to OTP.

Third Place by Trey Neinast (new to OTP)

Overhead, he saw birds flying. There were too many to count. Against the sky they became nothing but a drifting “V”. Were they birds, or the “V”? He realized he didn’t know.

The bell rang. Soon he would be hanged. He looked towards the clamorous crowd, but saw no people.

Second Place by Laura Ruth Loomis (published in multiple issues and mini-contests)

“My ex-girlfriend was crazy—”


Todd flinched. “What was that?”

“No idea.” Kate knew her invisible guardian angel followed her on dates with a cowbell to warn when she missed a red flag. “What do you do?”

“I quit my job to invest in crypto.”


First Place by Marc Hemingway (new to OTP)

They attach a string from the body through the casket to the graveside which can be pulled by the wrongfully interred. This rings a bell that alerts myself that the corpse isn’t all that deceased. However, I’m old and digging is hard. Besides, the bell never rings for long.

Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)

Three other entries earned honorable mentions.

There are no rules against it, so she buys a giant bell from the skeleton of an old church and hangs it up outside her home. She rings it every night, beneath the light of the stars. The neighbors can hear the tolling for miles. She is not well-liked.
by Carter Lappin (published in Issue #39)

I eat just enough to stay alive. No more. It’s how you survive in this for-maximum-profit prison. Saturday morning’s ringing bell signals the weekly selection. The guards weigh us, and the heaviest two get taken to the slaughterhouse. Even the godless pray for fat new prisoners to arrive.
by Kristine Harvey (new to OTP)

Ringing the bell was a snap for smart kids who could hear. For Addie, deaf and slow, it meant processing visual urgings by the therapy horse leader and the one steadying Addie in the saddle. On the eighth lap she pulled the rope, a sweet successful sound to our ears.
by Sandra Fischer (new to OTP)

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