Many thanks to the 253 international writers who entered this contest. We would also like to thank UK reviewer Paul Gray for his invaluable assistance.
First Prize: Churn by Laura Lindsay
Second Prize: On Her Knees by Tim Dadswell
Third Prize: White by Chang Shih Yen
Judge Ty Spencer Vossler comments: “Oh … my … God! How difficult it was to place the top three finishers in this contest. Each story was unique, deeply satisfying, and well written. Congratulations to every one of the twelve finalists. Each story was amazing, and it was a privilege to have read them. Keep up the great work. The cream always rises to the top, and you are all there.”
FIRST PRIZE: Churn by Laura Lindsay
Judge’s comments: “This is such a powerful tale. This author has a finger on the pulse of what makes a story great. The idea of using a small child, and a dispossessed man to create tortured relief and retribution—brilliant! This story caused me a physical reaction as if a cold finger had touched my heart. I really loved this! At this moment I am picturing the hanging tree and the rope still suspended from the branches.”
By Laura Lindsay
Walking. The man had walked most of the night, pausing only occasionally to cough, hawk, and spit. Rain began to pelt the dirt, drops shattering like spidersacs dropped and burst open to reveal a thousand within.
At a crossroads ahead, a child played beneath an enormous oak, digging a small branch into the earth and flicking it toward the tree’s trunk. Now and then, she would spin around to flare her long dress, purple-crimson-purple. As he neared, he saw they were toadstools she was gouging and flicking. A large circle of red-spotted toadstools. Fairy-ring, he remembered from when he was young.
She was chanting something he never got to hear, for one vigorous flick made her lose her balance on the rain-slicked mossy roots below her and she landed on her backside.
“Here!” he called. “I’ve got you.” (more…)