Quick editor’s note: I greatly appreciate the work that Tim Meyer and Hunter Shea invested to see this contest through. I’m honored to not only call you gents friends, but awesome writers who really care about fans. Respect, gentlemen. Respect.
So, the contest has wrapped. We didn’t take in enough standout submissions to warrant the release of a new anthology, but we’ve got some great material to share with you, and picking a winner of this contest is not going to be an easy feat. And for those who do win, you’ll be afforded some cash (well, paypal dollars… but those are still dollars, right?) and some nice promotion here on HNR.
But before we start having visions of dead presidents cloud our minds, we’ve got to establish the winners, and that’s where you come into play. Your votes will decide who takes away $50, a front page feature, and hell, we’ll even work to get one of your other projects (if you’ve got one) promoted for a full month on the homepage of HNR.
Here’s what you’ve got to do:
Read the stories from our five finalists from each category (Creation and Destruction) below. Then make your selections (only one from each category) for best story in each category in the poll attached below the stories. We’d really like to see you respond to this post with some insight and feedback about your picks, or any stories that moved you, but that’s not a mandatory requirement. We’ll allow two weeks to pass to accumulate sufficient voting participation, and hopefully a clear-cut winner.
What follows? Well, we’ll obviously announce the winners, and get the ball rolling in regards to paying and promoting those authors!
CREATION AND DESTRUCTION
Displacement by J.E. Streets
He made passionate, aggressive love to his wife. She writhed and moaned underneath the weight of his body. He finished inside of her and she growled, rolling her eyes back into her head. She was eight months pregnant. He kissed her forehead and got out of bed, walking into the hallway bathroom. He began to wash his hands, and in the mirror he stared at his wife’s purple, mangled body lying naked in the bathtub, her stomach torn open. He heard an infant scream from the bedroom. Then his wife’s voice called to him, “Honey, come back to bed.”
Alone For Life by E. Reyes
The magic pill to live forever worked. What had been Dr. Wilson’s greatest creation is his biggest curse. He now looks over the nuclear wastelands of what he used to call home. Everybody on earth is dead. He did not know that his creation would make him invincible—immortal. Guns to the head, blades to the wrist, or nuclear warfare were no contest to him. The deepest depression crawls over him as he overlooks the destruction of mankind. He only made one pill—one for himself. He now waits impatiently for the sun to explode. Unfortunately, he will live.
Body Art by Ross Baxter
After seven solid hours of drinking Emma finally had enough courage to get the tattoo she’d always wanted. The other girls cheered as she staggered from the bar, happy she would have a lasting reminder of the hen party.
“You can be as creative as you like,” she babbled to the proprietor of the backstreet shop as he silently led her into the dark musty basement. “Just make sure it doesn’t hurt.”
In her drunken haze she didn’t worry when the old man strapped her into the chair. It was when he started the chainsaw that she started to panic.
Paternity by Nikko Lee
The tiny foot protruded from the distended skin of his swollen belly.
The Birth by Mark Allan Gunnells
She threw back her head and screamed as the pain tore through her abdomen. She was covered in sweat like a slimy film coating every inch of her skin. Gritting her teeth and squeezing her eyes shut, she pushed with all her might…
Then in a gush, it all spilled out from between her legs. Great swirls of light and spinning planets and blazing suns and deep black holes, chunks of rock and ice.
Propping up on her elbows, she looked over what had come from her. “I’ll name you Cosmos,” she said and smiled. For it was good.
Love And Hate by RG Halstead
Fire. Twelve-year-old Malcolm sure loved it. So far, he had burned down the grocery store, old Mr. Nordstrom’s house and had just now returned from torching the school which he hated so much. Getting underneath the covers of his bed, he muttered, “Got away with another one.” Malcolm closed his eyes and hugged his teddy bear. “It’s not my fault, Mr. Fuzzy. My parents are real bad parents.” Sleep came to the boy.
His twin brother tied Malcolm to the bed. And set fire to it with the help of some gasoline. “Let’s see how you love this fire …”
Wean by Máiréad Casey
Deep and sinister in her sleep, my child’s scaled tail wraps round her little body and aquiline head. She lays crunched into a knuckled parody of the foetal position.
If she were an animal –all animal, I would admire her uncanny splendour. The juxtaposition of wide, overlarge eyes designed to incite affection, and feral otherness. But she is not, and all I feel is repulsion and the sickness of burden. And I wonder if flakes of her flesh line my womb.
I would have called her Lorna.
Poison milk runs down her chin. She swallows the sick sap like honey.
I’ll Be Right Back by ML Kennedy
As I was dragged by my ankle, the basement floor pulled my shirt up, exposing my lower back. Both the basement floor and the hand which dragged me were hard and cold and dirty and both belonged to the hard and cold and dirty man. He sat me up against a metal pole and produced a roll of duct tape, proceeding to wrap it around my neck and the pole, eight, nine, ten times.
He grabbed a strange funnel, whose small end was sharpened to a point, and stuck it into my arm.
“I’ll be right back with the bugs.”
Varlok by Paula Cappa
The ninth hour. Julietta carries her violin up the darkened stone bridge. “I seek Varlok the music falcon, blind creature of the ninth chorus.”
Julietta plays her sulky étude to the vale of sky, squeaking such discord she fears the black falcon will flee. “Dearest Varlok, I give you my perfect green eyes. Please grant me your immortal sonatas.”
The music falcon flies the Dusha River. He pecks her eyes, releasing glittering harmonies. Julietta breathes in the triumphant notes, grows dizzy, splashing into the river like a coin. Varlok soars the stars, consuming her lustful soul like a tasty fish.
The Feast of Days by Matthew R. Davis
Dying is so intimate; you don’t want to do it wrong and look foolish. Your first death is like your first fuck – so overwhelming that you barely understand what’s happening, let alone enjoy it. But once it’s done… trust me, it only gets better.
Hush, baby. Let it happen. I’ll be here when your eyes open again. I’ll always be here. Remember our vows: death will not part us. We are forever. We’ll have all the time in the world, all of it, and we’ll devour each discarded day… quite literally.
Welcome to eternity, my love.