Yikes. These scary contests are getting more and more disturbing every time. Splattered brain matter, rotting body cavities, burning corpses, hemorrhoid cream…I’m going to have to put a parental advisory on these things.

Still: Well done. Some great stuff here. Let’s start with a few of the honorable mentions.

Best “Mr. Shifty” Usage
Jeremy, whose “Mr. Shifty” wasn’t a goat or a person, but rather a house. A scary house with a blood-red roof.

Second-Best “Mr. Shifty” Usage and Best Allusion to International Genetic Milestones
Kit Palmer, whose story referenced a certain “Dr. Shiftowitz” and Dollie the cloned sheep.

Best Celebrity Shout-Out
Jacob, who found a way to work Ryan Seacrest into his story.

Best Closing Lines That Also Could Have Been the Caption of a “Far Side” Cartoon
Maria D.’s tightly constructed story that ended with this gem: The goats had won. For now.

Most Offensive Naming Convention
Bryan Allain, for naming a dog “Boyett.”

Best Biblical Tie-In
Bob from Chicago, who wrapped up the whole conceit into the Abraham/Isaac story.

Most Creative Storytelling Method
Kyle Davis, who kept within the 5-sentence limit by telling the first three sentences of the story and the last two sentences of the story… while leaving a lot of mysterious plot unsaid.


But I had no trouble choosing the winner of this one. It’s Shawn Smucker. Shawn’s submission was economical, beautifully descriptive, contained an impressive amount of action, and ended with a chilling surprise: the subtle shift of a vehicle.

Oooh. So good. Shawn’s a professional writer, and proves it with this story.

The occasional passing volcanic ash cloud always killed a few of the strays, but Bryan had never thought of using one of them to lure that nightmare from the barn. He drug the straggler by the horn and left it lying in the middle of the deserted lane, then jogged back to the pick up truck where he had been living for a month: it was out of gas, but the rifle under the seat still had one more shining bullet. He knew he was running a serious risk by staying in the truck after dusk, but he couldn’t stand one more night in the trees, and “Mr. Shifty” gravitated to dead flesh first. As the filtered sunlight began to fade, and specks of snow drifted aimlessly through the gathering dark, Bryan lifted the rifle and looked through the scope, the x trained on the slowly opening barn door. But when the door swung wide, nothing was there, and Bryan felt the subtlest shift as someone, or something, stepped up into the bed of the pick-up truck and approached him from behind.

“…using one of them to lure that nightmare from the barn” is a killer line.

Shawn, email me your shipping address and I’ll get a free copy of O Me of Little Faith headed your way.

Thanks, everyone, for your submissions! If you didn’t win, keep reading. There are more of these coming in the future.


And for what it’s worth, here’s where I found the photo, including its real-life caption.

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