Our prompt picture this week was a film still from a movie called Recurrence, which is currently showing in the Lucerne International Film Fest. Directed by Marc Schicili and Brady Wedman, the movie is an abstracted, modern retelling of an early flash fiction, An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in 1890 and weighing in at less than 4000 words, the Bierce story was flash before flash was popular. Not to mention the story contains the mother of all plot twists.
Side note: wouldn’t many flash fiction stories make great short films?
Our image shows the National Cemetery at the Presidio in San Francisco, California, which holds the graves of American veterans and their family members.
It was a tough week for judging. So many of the stories had great concepts. Emily had to get out the rubric again.
Honorable Mention: For Mittens, Holly Geely
Here we have a classic example of strong flash: a clear story arc with a central conflict, a single well-described scene with economy of language, and of course, the creep factor: “Jeff always gave them a last chance.” Add a zombie cat and what’s not to like? Perfectly balancing darkness and humor, Geely staged this story expertly, displaying authorial confidence and panache. This one wins the sprezzatura prize of the week. Read it on our blog tomorrow.
Growing Pains, David Borrowdale: David offered a vivid and memorable interpretation on this week’s prompt—seeing teeth instead of gravestones in this tale of the tooth fairy’s origins. We love a story that drops a reader right into its action and doesn’t give away all its secrets at once. Little details like Alice’s dancing pigtails and the predatory canines paint a clear picture of the setting. Written with a light hand, this story hints instead of shows, leaving room for the imagination to fill in the gaps between teeth.
Nothing Personal, Nancy Chenier: Nancy’s first line brought us fully into the story—enticing our senses with beautiful descriptions of the alchemist’s art. In the way of a true storyteller, she doles out information bit by bit, keeping us hooked until the very end. The complexity of the idea suggests that this could be the seed of a larger work. We expected disturbing stories from the graveyard picture, and this one took the cake for wyrdness. We’re still pondering the ramifications of multiple selves in parallel universes.
Potential Energy, AJ Walker: This story pushed edges in many ways: subject matter, characterizations, imagery. There is an art to developing characters in only five hundred words, and AJ managed that beautifully here, not only with the grave robbers but also with the off-stage characters of the wytches (love the spelling!). Balancing sweet imagery with dark creepiness, the story sticks in the mind. We remain worried about the potential of those Gaimanesque wytches.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Mark A. King: What bold choices Mark used: second person, multiple eras, balancing repetition with advancing story-line, painting in broad strokes that nonetheless locate us in time. Mark’s story straddles the line between prose and poetry with startling poise. We especially appreciated the depth of thematic layers in this one—religion, war, god, beliefs. A truly unique take on the prompt.
If you are a new anthology winner, please email: emily at luminouscreaturespress dot com
Thanks to all who participated and gave us such a wealth of stories to read!