This story was the second placing for the 2012 Story Quest Short Story competition, a disaster tale with a science fiction flavor. Two men at sea, working to clean up oil slicks, encounter an unexpected sea creature. Their concern for the animal may be misplaced. Perhaps they should be concerned for themselves… SY
They were five miles from shore on the trawler and it was Hollis who first saw the slick. He signaled from his lookout on the starboard bow.
In the pilothouse Cody throttled down and scanned the horizon. He discerned not one but two pools of oil each about a quarter mile wide, separated by a channel of clear water. The oil didn’t glisten, as you might expect. It was just a shade darker than the ocean surface. Cody could see the entire circumference of each slick. The contours reminded him of the terrain maps he’d used in Iraq.
Hollis stepped back from the foredeck, momentarily lost his footing, then recovered and made a theatrical bow. Cody smiled, though he had been a bit concerned when his former college roommate had arrived at the dock that morning: he’d put on considerable weight. He hadn’t seen him in several years, ever since Hollis had gone down to Galveston to work quality control for a chemical company. It was a desk job, sure enough, so that must have accounted for the added girth.
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
It starts as it always starts; with a need for power. Deep in the jungles of Bolivia, a scientist hunts the secret of health and longevity. Aided by the American military, the mission takes on an entirely different purpose.
Faye’s Diner by J.T. Seate was placed third in the 2012 Story Quest Short Story Contest, and was deservedly given a winning award. This subtle horror piece explores the theme of the uncertainty of death, in a ‘down home’ setting. GH
Faye’s Diner was a haven for old timers. They got together to play games; talk about who’d died, or how the world was going to hell in a handbasket. The biggest event ever at Faye’s was when the twenty-one year young Judy Beth Dinglehooper came into the place, climbed on a tabletop, and took off her clothes to encourage donations for a one-way ticket out of town. Wearing only her red slippers, she’d raised enough for at least a start.
Three years had passed since that classic morning. The table she’d climbed on top of was still held in an odd kind of reverence by those who knew the story. Those who’d been in the diner for Judy Beth’s performance marveled at how quickly those three years had flown by. Lord, how time flew for old duffers.
By nine o’clock in the morning, the dining room smelled of men and fried onions. The usual crowd passed along greetings while Faye made the rounds with her coffee pot. The men ranged in age from mid-sixties to eighty, mostly Social Security wards. Josh Potts and the slightly cross-eyed George Fraily were already shoving dominoes around a plastic checkered tablecloth while they sipped coffee and waited for their orders of ham and eggs. Josh nibbled on the thumbnail of the hand holding a domino while George patiently waited for him to make a play. Josh’s turd-brown, porkpie hat, with the brim bent up in front, perched atop his head in glaring conflict with his faded blue overalls. He was a character seldom at a loss for words.
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
In this teen dystopian sequel to Ashfall, it’s been ten months since a supervolcano erupted near Yellowstone National Park. Most of the U.S. lies under a thick layer of ash and snow. People everywhere are resorting to unthinkable acts to find food and basic necessities in the midst of a perpetual winter.
Moyes’ short story, Caldera, was shortlisted in the 2012 Story Quest Short Story Contest. The judges were impressed with the evocative imagery of a believable disaster of immense proportions in the US, as well as the story developing to something beyond… GH
Charlie’s tracks are no longer visible. Only a couple hours ago they were there, the edges softening and crumbling in on themselves. Now they have filled in completely. The front yard, the street, the baseball field on the other side of the street, everything: blank.
Not a trace he was ever there.
The flakes keep falling, big and soft and light. You can blow on them as they come down and they eddy and drift like froth. Like smoke. They fall clumped together, some clusters the size of a human head. It piles up as it has been piling up for three days. The second day it built up higher than the floor of the porch and then later it spilled over, fluffing out over the porch and crawling its slow way toward the door. You could almost believe it is snow.
Last night Charlie decided to go for help.
We packed for him, mostly clothes. Water we scooped into canteens from the bathtub. Several handkerchiefs to tie around his face. He wouldn’t take much food. Said he could pillage abandoned convenience stores he came across, and I would need as much as we could save. He didn’t know when he would make it back.
Reviewed by Damien Smith
The Salem Witch Society is the debut novel from K.D. (Kieran) Shields and it’s a cracker. The book is historical fiction set over several months in 1892 Maine, around the 200th anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials. A brutal murderer is on the loose and appears to be attempting to recreate some arcane ritual.
Marie DesJardin’s Strike Day deservedly took first place in the 2012 Story Quest Short Story Contest as the judges felt that she sensitively wove an apocalyptic event into a person’s – and family’s – everyday life. It juxtaposed the worst possible of events with daily life, and a man’s love of his family. GH
Nate woke earlier than usual. He lay still, his gaze tracing the rough-cut boards that formed the ceiling of his bedroom. Pat either noticed his shift to consciousness, or was wakeful herself. She turned her head on the pillow, her eyes meeting his through a downy mass of hair. For a moment they simply looked at each other, then she leaned forward to kiss him lightly. The gesture had a feeling of finality, and Nate quickly turned away.
Pat stroked his hair. “So. Any change of plans for today?”
Nate stared at the ceiling. “Milk’s got to be delivered.”
“It might miss.”
Pat hesitated. “I suppose.”
Welcome to the first day of 2013 everyone!
What did you promise yourself for this year? I know more time for writing was on my list. I hope that you get more time to polish up your stories and get them published this year.
This edition we have the winners of IFWG Publishing’s 2012 Story Quest competition. This year’s theme was ‘Disaster’, and there are some fantastic interpretations amongst the group.
The winner, Marie DesJardin, wrote an extremely heartfelt story about the lead up to apocalypse. Guy Prevost has told a tale of oil spills and strange creatures with his second-placing story. J.T. Seate penned a story set in a small town diner, full of quirky characters, winning third place. Josh Moynes, one of the finalists, chilled us with his story of the end of days at the point of talons.
In part one, we meet Hack, a shaman who deals in intangibles. He can acquire what it is you need. His customer lives behind a mask in a chequered castle. The most important task: to make his mark. SY
I. September 7th, 1989
The shaman is named Hack, and he does not work for free.
He leans alongside an empty guardhouse beside a great gate, awaiting his client’s dispatch. The hilly countryside lies pastorally still, so much a postcard. His wintry hair reaches in the breeze, bald pate white with sun. A tattered overcoat mimics his hair, lifting in identical pattern. His appearance suggests nothing of a miracle worker.