HULLO GENTLEBUTTS AND SCHOLARS! ("Gentlebutts" sounded creepier than I meant it to, but there's no turning back now.) I'm going to keep things short and sappy: today is my 2-year anniversary as a Sparkitor, and I want to thank you guys for making the last 730 days so amazing, hilarious, and sweat-filled. I couldn't ask for more brilliant, talented, superfoxyawesome readers, and I adore each and every one of you. PANCAKES AND CHRIS HEMSWORTHS FOR EVERYBODY! And now, segues be damned, here are last week's post-apocalypse-prompt winners!
Sparklers' Choice (with 17 votes): igordead!
Dagger's Choice: igordead! Yep, you read that right: I've gotta agree with you guys on this one! I don't think I've ever chosen a Sparklers' Choice winner as my favorite before, but this story is JUST. SO. GOOD. The only way to improve upon it would be to turn it into a YA novel and send me an advance copy. Here's igordead's story, in case you missed it:
Anna always said I was a gambler. Back in the old days, I’d take any bet, no matter how low the odds. Didn’t matter what the stakes were – money, possessions, anything.
I never thought I’d gamble my life, though.
And I’ve won. Sort of. I’m hiding in the burnt metal remains of an office building. The walls are warped and twisted, half-melted from the heat that engulfed our world and set it aflame. But the concrete floor is mostly intact. I lean back gingerly against a metal frame that used to be a window, seeing if it can take my weight. The glass, first shattered and then melted, forms pebble-like protrusions on the floor. I stroke their smooth transparent surface with my fingers, concentrate on my hushed breathing and the whistling crying wind that weaves its way through the streets. Anything to distract me from my leg.
It doesn’t look like my leg anymore, but what else could it be? The stump that used to be an ankle oozes blood, despite the bandages. By bandages, I mean strips I’ve ripped off my jacket. I haven’t seen real bandages or antiseptic in years.
I wonder where my foot is. Maybe someone ate it.
In my sweaty hands, I clutch what I sacrificed so much for: a tiny glass vial filled with clear liquid. The glass is expertly and delicately shaped, the end twisting upwards in a teardrop shape. At the end of the teardrop, there’s a tiny hole plugged up with what looks like chewing gum. In my grimy, bloody hand, it looks out of place, from another time that I can’t believe used to exist. When glass wasn’t melted or broken, when we still had small beautiful things.
Before the bomb that incinerated the surface of our planet and burnt anyone not deep below ground into human hotdogs left on the grill for too long.
Before the survivors emerged and the gangs and warlords took over. Before those evil twisted minds, buried for so long under the façade of normalcy, showed their true colors and turned what remained of our world and turned it into a nightmare.
I remember, long ago, hearing about the child soldiers far away. Boys taught how to shoot, how to kill. Forced to do terrible things. They never told me what happened to the girls.
And that’s why I gambled. Gambled everything I had for this single, beautiful vial of poison that will kill me in two seconds flat, should I drink it.
But it’s not for me. Oh no, my death will be slow and agonizing and painful.
This vial is for Anna, her bones broken and her skin bruised, her eyes wide and frightened and dead. This is for Anna, who lies on the floor of her room curled up in a ball, around her belly in which grows something strange and foreign and wrong.
I can’t rest. I have one more journey to make, one last trip to Anna’s side in the bowels of the fortress where boys become men and girls scream silent screams that no one hears.
This is my cure for Anna.
You guys really knocked it out of the park last week; those were some absolutely PHENOMENAL stories! If you, like me, are a huge fun of post-apocalypse fiction, I can't suggest Cormac McCarthy's haunting, heartbreaking, Pulitzer-prize-winning The Road highly enough. And now, for this week's prompt:
It's simple: I want you to write a scary story (in 500 words or less). Before you scoff, you should know that writing a truly terrifying tale is actually very difficult; a great horror story requires subtlety, suspense, and a character or idea that climbs inside the reader's mind and haunts them for long after they've finished reading. Avoid cliches, and really push yourselves—can you come up with something new, something that no one's ever seen (or been scared by) before?
A few suggestions for inspiration:
-Any short stories by Edgar Allan Poe
-The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
-The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
-The Bees by Dan Chaon
SECRET DAGGER NOTE: agentoboe, the quote in last week's intro was from Ever After, one of my FLAVORITE fairy tale movies ever. In a particularly great scene, the king says to his son, "Do not mock me, boy, for I am in a foul disposition!" It's a great line to yell when your mom/friend/sister/crush/AP Physics teacher is getting on your nerves. I shout it at people all the time.
Related post: Writer War Archives!