October Contest Winner: Erin Vance’s “Crepuscular Time”

I sit, bitter as unwashed and overripe lettuce. I cannot move.

My fleshless limbs dig into the bones of the old chair. It creaks beneath me, wheezing like a mucky lung. The moths flutter like angry feather dusters against my hard, plastic eyes.

A backdrop of yelping coyotes situates me in this house, a stinking carcass holding me in its shuddering frame. The wind licks the pipes and the bricks and I feel it sharp and prickly on my bare legs.

I want to go home.

At first, I was thrilled to taste air again. I was thrilled to be a part of a household again, posed by a man with rough hands, breathed on by strangers wandering through the house.

Eventually, my joints became stiff. The sun burnt my eyes. How I wished I could close them on those hot days. I felt each layer fade, become smaller, weaker.

I want to go home.

The crew left months ago. They muttered something about asbestos. Rats. The house was condemned. Me, with it.

I want to go home. Even if home is a plastic bin in the basement of a department store. Even if home is an incinerator. Even if home is a dumpster, reeking of diapers and mouldy pizza and stale beer.

I want to no longer feel the twitch of cold against my chest through this moth-eaten sweater. I want to move from this chair towards the hollow rattle of the radiator and melt a little bit at a time until I am pliable once again.

The rats quiver in the walls. Their scuttling keeps me awake at night. Their abject screeching scares the moths who perch still and twitch on my coarse lashes.

They crawl into my open mouth. They taste chalky and restless, weighed down by my silicone saliva.

I want to taste the wetness on the air, to blink away the moths and smell the skin of a plucked wren. I want to crawl out of this place, bloody my knees on the wood floor, drink from a cold stream, and taste fresh dirt in the evening chill. I want to be like the moths, and fly away, into the light.

I want to go home.

October Contest Winner: Fernando

“what is this ground?” from-jonah-of-the-kiln da-thumps in anxiousness. even though all of-the-kiln are near, the rustle of the tools against the brushes and their sweaty-earthy smell reassuring, they can discern just one other muffled step-talk.

“why can i hear no one else?” from-jonah dada-thumps then turns to their closest companion, hoping to smell their identity, giving up on recognizing their gait.

it’s mother.

from-jonah mouth-sings relief as mother nuzzles them.

“there, there, come, come” jonah-of-the-kilns swish-thumps close to their feet, then again and again and again until they stop shaking and ta-thump back “i am well mother. where are we?”

“you were sleep when the translation happened, that is disorienting, isn’t it?”

“yes. i couldn’t feel the grass anymore, the ground is difficult to listen to and smells like bad water. i don’t want to translate anymore.” from-jonah pa-thumps with finality.

jonah mouth-sings exasperation and nuzzles them again.

“not all translations are this bad, and it is better if you’re awake. you will try to be awake next time, won’t you?” jonah tata-thumps.

“yes, mother, i will” from-jonah ta-thumps.

“come now, the elders know of this place, we will find better ground up the slope, but need to keep close together and pay attention,” jonah tata-thumps, “this is important,” papa-thump, “warning will travel slow on this ground, you need to listen with your ears to noises you don’t know, not just step-talk,” pa-thump, “tell me when you hear anything,” pata-thump.

from-jonah-of-the-kilns nuzzles their mother back, mouth-singing resoluteness as they move out.

“this was bad for your first translation, but you will get used to it, then learn our histories.” jonah sings resolve da-thumping for only they to hear “then perhaps you will open ways yourself one day.”

October Contest Winner: Amy LeBlanc’s “Can You Hear Me Now?”

It wasn’t supposed to rain that night, but still, their shoes and boots filled with moisture within minutes of arriving. They stood around the spot where they’d be digging and crossed their arms over their chests, in part to keep the cold away, but also because the closing off of the body brought them some sort of comfort. One wore running shoes with mesh tops soaked through with water. Many wore practical work shoes, only one wore rain boots, and one wore a pair of rubber flip-flops that sunk into the mud. They stood around the time capsule with mud crusted over its corners like sand paper. When one person began to speak, it was as if they all exhaled collectively and four conversations began simultaneously. It sounded something like this:

God, you’d think we’re a coven standing out here in the rain.

Didn’t you used to be a witch in high school?

I was a Wiccan.

Who are we missing?

Same difference.

I think this is everyone.

Why are there so few of us? Wasn’t everyone from our class invited?

Maybe people don’t want to go back to who they were in high school.

I got divorced last year.

I had the time of my life in high school.

It wasn’t for me.

I got sick, but I’m better now.

I’m in publishing.

What happened? Didn’t make it as a writer?

I’m sorry to hear that.

No, I just got a better offer.

I hope things start looking up for you soon.

I settled down. I took on the family business.

Oh god, the funeral home?

That’s the one.

Really though, who are we missing?

That place used to give me the creeps.

It’s not so bad once you get used to the smell.

Have you sold any houses yet?

Still waiting for that first catch.

Where’s Dani?

Do we start without her? Him?

Wait, you guys don’t know Dani?

I don’t remember anyone with that spelling, but I’m sure I’ll recognize them once they’re here.

I checked my yearbook, but I couldn’t place them.

Should we wait?

Does anyone have Dani’s phone number?

Well? Should we start?

Leaning his weight on the shovel he’d brought, one man inched closer to the capsule, his knees cracking like the springs of an antique couch as he went. No one responded. When the shovel pierced the lid of the time capsule, a small sound that none of them recognized came from beneath the lid of the box.

Writing Contest Reveal!

This month we decided to make our Patreon contest more challenging and had our participants write a fully realised scene without relying on visual images. We encouraged our writers to give us stories (or poems) so complete that it would be hard to tell the lack of visuals, and they delivered. Stay tuned for flash fiction from our top three winners: Amy LeBlanc, Erin Vance, and Fernando! The uncanny awaits- we will be posting one story a day, starting this afternoon!

If you want to get in on our monthly Patreon contests (and have a chance for your work to be featured on our blog–we choose the top three each month!), then all you have to do is head over to our Patreon page and donate $2/month (or more, if you feel like it). That’s it. (Check out our blog post about signing up if you have any difficulties.) If you sign up, Patreon will charge you on the 1st of every month. This means, that if you sign up to donate any time in November, you won’t be charged until December 1st, but you will get immediate access to participate in the November contest.