Right, so I had only five entries but they were all just so darned good and were all written so well that I struggled quite hard to choose which ones should win (thank Hades I didn’t have tons of entries eh? :P). Not to mention I know most of those who entered and felt rotten that I had to pick only two winners and potentially upset or disappoint a friend, that always sucks!
But, pick only two winners I must. So I have gladly taken the little longer my scheduled posting of Umwelt has afforded to think hard about those five pieces, looking for the two that really sparked my imagination, and I have chosen! My two winners, after much thought, are as follows:
Schrödinger’s mistress by Phil Ambler
I walked out on her two years ago. I walked out as she lay there bleeding in that windowless room. The blood pooling around her as she clutched the butcher’s knife driven into her abdomen.
I walked out across the sticky carpet whilst she stared imploringly at me, desperate to understand why; her life slowly ebbing away.
I walked out on her and locked the door. It was the only way to keep her alive.
Every day since I stand and stare at that door, pausing as I go to open it, then turn away.
Sometimes I hear her crying.
I chose Phil’s story because he made a really unusual psychological play on the idea of Schrödinger’s cat. The killer in this flash is really quite an unnerving fellow, the psychology behind his actions both unsettling and cold. We wonder who she is and why it is he feels that this is the only way to keep her alive. Did she make the foolish decision to leave him? What did she do? Whatever it was his reaction is horrific and, in the case of my little competition here, entirely apt. I also thought the concept as a whole was both fresh, creepy and intriguing. So well done, Phil!
Steve Godden’s Piece
Creaking, quivering, divergently shivering, the door opened with treacle slowness. I stepped back, aghast, wondering, where had it come from? A man lost in the broken borders of a place destroyed by financial misanthropy will look for anything he can use to pay the bills, but this door creaked, quivered, diverged from reality, shivered open and revealed the abyss beyond. I couldn’t dig this up and sell it on to Pugh the Scrap. Maybe I should have run, sprinted away through the wreckage of the steel-works, but I stayed and watched and waited for what was to come.
I’m in the belly of the beast now.
At least it’s warm.
I chose Steve’s story because, not only is the language really enjoyable, it also builds a gripping picture of a society shot to all hell, a fantastical one perhaps… but perhaps not. I like the fact that we don’t see the beast coming, nor consuming him, but we know it’s happened. Not to mention the fact that the victim stood and waited for his end. We all shout at the TV or rail at the story we’re reading in those moments but we all know for a fact we’d be too curious to run. We read these things with a shiver of both macabre pleasure and underlying unease at our identification with the desire to know. Great stuff, Steve!
If both my winners will contact me with an email address then I can have their shiny, best-selling anthology copy winging off to them ASAP. Thanks to all who took part in this competition. The few entries I had were all superb pieces of fiction and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. You guys made my task exceedingly difficult, blast you all!