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You people are super creepy. I’ve done the scary story contest before, but last time around, the stories were not nearly as disturbing as yesterday’s entries. Maybe it’s the Fargo-esque quality of the deep snow. Maybe it’s the clautrophobic feel of the photo. Maybe I attract a particularly sociopathic readership. Regardless, there sure was a lot of blood and a lot of people locked in trunks.
Some honorable mentions…
Best use of semicolons to adhere to the 5-sentence rule:
Cody Knutson, who employed them twice. Properly, too! Well done.
Most appropriate and creative exclamation:
“Great balls of snow!” by Kathy Kemen Mehalko. Indeed.
Best deployment of a potentially rabid badger:
Kristian, who’s not even writing in his native language. (What’s the Finnish word for “badger”?)
Most disgusting (possible) allusion to a Death Cab for Cutie song:
J Lopez, whose John Spellman decided to “repossess the heart” of his lover, Connie, via an apple-sized chest cavity he apparently created with his bare hands, just as Ben Gibbard might.
Best use of the general creepiness of quirky vocalized music from 1980s:
Danny Clayton. No more disturbing words in the English language have been uttered than “an 8 track of Bobby McFerrin’s Greatest Hits.”
Best twist ending:
Lauren Sawyer‘s revelation that Maria and Hambone were — wait for it — alien beings from the planet Mercury. Of course.
Best use of both a pirate apparatus AND a Kirk Cameron tie-in:
Joe Cassara, whose Hambone had a Peg Leg and who name-dropped the Love Dare book from Fireproof: The Movie in Which a Former Teen Heartthrob Plays a Grown-up Firefighter Who Learns a Valuable Lesson about Marriage. (I think that was the full title.)
Excellent, creative stuff, everyone. I wondered if the “Hambone” rule would be a hindrance to the writing, but you guys had no problem with it. Seems Hambone is a great name for 1) a murderer, 2) a car, or 3) a small town in the Canadian hinterland (Kristian: nice).
But the winner, to me, was a no-brainer. Creativity is good. Lengthy entries that still manage to adhere to the five-sentence rule are good. Really disturbing stories are good. But top-notch writing always wins, and for that reason Amber wins this contest. Hands down. When I first read her entry I smiled, because I knew it would be hard to beat.
Each snowflake fell slowly, silently, adding its own microscopic mass to the already infinite depth of the surrounding white. Hambone watched from his perch in the tree, his breath shallow, his heart barely beating, as the small car struggled through the blinding snow. He hadn’t eaten in five days. His naked and distorted frame could no longer feel the cold as the car finally slowed to a dead stop. He licked his lips.
Here’s what I love about this submission. It starts off with a serene, beautiful description of the place — the silent snowflake, the “surrounding white” — before descending into an incredibly sinister and disturbing image: that of a hungry, naked man in a tree, watching a snowbound car. The car comes to a dead stop. And the final, killer sentence has only four bone-chilling words: He licked his lips.
Wow, Amber. Such economy of words, but a powerful story nonetheless, and I love how you create a sense of dread and then just leave it hanging there at the end. So menacing and cool. One of the best submissions in any of my contests so far. Excellent job. You win.
Shoot me an email and let me know if you’d like a book or a t-shirt.
Thanks, everyone, for participating. We’ll do this again soon.