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Edition 2: Duet by Nu Yang

flag USNu Yang’s Duet was very well received by the judges of the Story Quest Short Story Contest, hence its shortlisting. They were particularly impressed with the dark, psychological overtones of the story, and the hard edged narrative style. GH

My brother came home with a shotgun in one hand and a bag of salt and vinegar chips in the other.

Jason didn’t say anything as he leaned against the wall outside our motel room. That was our home. Room 11. It had been for almost a week now.

I glanced at the gun and waited for him to speak.

“Didn’t I tell you to stay in the room until I got back?” He kept his attention on the parking lot. Only a handful of cars looked back at him including the black SUV we had picked up from a grocery store parking lot two states back last month.

“I hate being cooped up all day.” I scratched my sticky nose. “It’s so damn hot.”

“Watch your mouth.” Jason turned his hardened gaze to my face. “Girls shouldn’t talk like that.”

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Edition 12: Crawler by B. T. Joy

flag UKDelve into the mess that is Martin Serper’s mind. Having seen the creature pulled up from beneath Kingston, he finds himself slowly losing his sanity. How many legs? Why is it coming for him? Your skin will crawl. SY

He sees himself again.

Deep in the red shadows, and in the after-images of light, something is moving.

Shut up! Shut up!

He ignores the darker shapes. They are sidling, in the peripheries, through those coloured rags of illumination potent enough to seep through tight eyelids. They are easily ignored for now. And besides, he has promised forgetfulness to himself. Promised himself he won’t face what he encountered. Beneath the earth. Under the city. Not until he absolutely has to.

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Edition 12: Inside Ferndale by Lee Murray

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Lee Murray was the winner of the 2013 Story Quest competition. Judges were impressed with her story of young women shunted into the system, and how reform fails the best of them. While not supernatural, she invokes true horror in the girls’ plight. SY

Ferndale Hostelry for Girls: a pretty name for a juvie detention centre, and a place I’d never heard of until I came up on the last charge. It was my third offence, this time for assault on a teacher, but the snotty cow deserved it, and everyone knows the law has no teeth when it comes to teens. So I was sitting in the courtroom not worrying, picking at the frayed knees of my jeans, waiting for my parents to arrive at the hearing. Only they never did. And when Judge Eastergard realized they weren’t going to show, he sent me to Ferndale. He said, if my parents weren’t willing to take on the job of straightening me out, the state would have to do it for them.

Eastergard may as well have sent me to prison. Hell, it was a prison. One for kids. There were no cigarettes. No alcohol. No TV after ten. At Ferndale, they told me when to wake up. When to eat. When to pee. And the good-cop bad-cop thing? They had it mastered. One minute, pursed-lipped guards were checking under the mattresses and rifling through drawers, and the next, sweet-voiced counselors offered milky smiles and stupid suggestions: “Come on, Storm, we’re here to help: a problem shared is a problem halved, after all.” Silly do-gooders. They didn’t know anything.

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