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Competition Winners

Quick links on this page:

introduction - winners and their stories

take me back to the hall of fame

Introduction

Competition Winner Trophies

From time to time, we run competitions in the AOFFWC Facebook group with prizes. Here you will find details of the winners, their winning stories, the prizes they chose and details about the competitions they won.

These types of contest run once every 6 to 12 months in the Facebook group. Please feel free to join - everyone is welcome.

Competition Winning Flash Fiction Stories

The stories are presented in reverse chronological order. The most recent competition winners are the top, the oldest at the bottom.

New Year Competition 2021

This competition was for stories of any style or genre up to 1,500 words in length, themed around the following subject:

  • A year ago today (1st January) you made a New Year’s resolution. You stuck to it (or didn’t). The result was totally unexpected and not what you set out to achieve.

The winner was Andrew Ball from the USA. You can read his winning story, 'Those Who Live by the Word', below.

The runner-up was John Notley for his story 'Educating Jemima'.

Andrew chose a copy of Chris's 'Topically Challenged Volume 1' book as his prize. Here is a picture of Andrew with his book:

COMING SOON... (well... one day hopefully)

Here is Andrew's story:

Those Who Live by the Word

by Andrew Ball

As I awoke on New Year’s Day 2020, I felt my dreams scurrying away like mice to hide behind the wainscoting of my mind. In a moment of unusual clarity, it occurred to me that my thoughts were doing that more often of late, even when I was wide awake. A word, a name, a train of thought, would suddenly evaporate, leaving me helpless and grasping. I knew they were in there somewhere, hiding, but could I find them? Of course I couldn’t. There was no escaping the fact that my mind was beginning to wobble as I stumbled towards the finish line in the egg-and-spoon race of life.

The night before, I had gone to bed early, sober and alone, but not without first filling my tea-kettle. This nightly routine had become a touchstone for me, a tiny act of faith that I would, in fact, survive the night and fancy a cup of tea in the morning. Over my breakfast bowl of Cornflakes, I pondered what was to be done. Single, superannuated and skint, I found the future rather bleak. I should marry a rich widow to keep me company in my old age, I thought. Pity I don’t know any. The solution, when it came to me, seemed obvious: I’d write and become rich and famous like J. K. Rowling. She must be worth a bob or two. After all, writing was just a matter of choosing the best words and putting them in the right order, wasn’t it? Piece of cake!

Flushed with enthusiasm for my new career, I cleared off the table in the kitchen – hereinafter to be known as my garret – and opened my laptop. Ah, the allure of a blank screen begging to be filled with my honeyed prose. Three days later it was still blank and still begging. It dawned on me then that mere words would not be enough to bring me the fame and fortune I craved; I needed a genre. All the best writers had a genre, but which one paid the most, pounds-per-word-wise? I concluded it must be ransom notes, but even I could see the drawback of seeking literary fame through writing ransom notes, however lucrative they might be. Also, I wasn’t sure that ransom notes were a recognized genre, as such.

The choice of genre wasn’t the only problem, either. I began to realize that in order to write, you actually needed to have an idea, something to write about, and I’ve never been that good with ideas – my own, that is. Other people’s always seem better. Once again, the solution when it came to me was obvious: plagiarism. But that’s not as easy as it used to be. Back in the day (whenever that was), plagiarism could often pass undetected, but Google has changed all that. What I needed was a source of unpublished literary works to cannibalize.

And that was when I had my inspiration: I’d run a writing contest! Every month I’d offer a huge prize (that I had no intention of ever paying), charge a carefully-calculated entry fee (large enough to cover my rent and groceries, but not too big to discourage anyone from entering my contest), offer critiques (for an additional fee), and then sit back and let the stories and the money roll in. I’d take the best stories and submit them under my own name to other contests. What could possibly go wrong?

In no time at all, my money troubles were over. Every month, I posted the names of those talented writers who’d made the longlist, the shortlist, the runners-up and the grand prize-winner, names I picked at random from an old phone-book. The winning story titles I culled from the morning newspaper.

The part I enjoyed most was writing the critiques. Let me give you an example, one of which I’m particularly proud:

Dear Aspiring Author,

Thank you again for submitting your short story to our Fabulous Fiction contest. Regrettably however, I must correct my previous email telling you that you had won, the result of my inadvertently hitting ‘Reply All’. The statement on our website that ‘Every entrant will be a winner!’ was meant as hyperbole, not to be taken literally. Had you not missed the deadline and gone way over the word limit, I feel sure your story ‘Dead on Arrival’ would not have been. You should take a measure of encouragement from this.

Despite being forced to disqualify your entry, I accidentally read it in a distracted moment, and by way of an apology for my email error I would like to offer the following critique. Who knows? Maybe it will help you develop a more complete skill-set as a writer.

Opening sentence: There is a fine line between homage and plagiarism, but I feel the opening of your story – ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ – catchy though it is, falls on the wrong side of that line.

Style: Maybe you should strive to master a simpler narrative voice before tackling that of an Omniscient Narrator suffering from dementia.

Location: Victorian London! Well, there’s a novel idea for an exotic setting. /S

Characters: I feel the character of your protagonist ‘Tiny Tom’, although developed in totally unexpected ways, is nonetheless somewhat derivative.

Plot: Convoluted plots are generally laudable, but yours was so twisted it left me feeling positively pretzelesque, or maybe even pretzellian. While the consequences of contracting COVID-19 (in Victorian times?) are varied in the extreme, the idea that the infection could enable Tiny Tom to win the Olympic decathlon gold medal is a trifle far-fetched, don’t you think? Surely recovering the use of his legs would have been sufficiently dramatic.

Proofreading: The importance of careful proofreading cannot be overstated. Did you really mean to write that after Tiny Tom’s success, his alcoholic parents turned their livers around?

Best wishes from all of us here in the editorial team at Fabulous Fiction, as we eagerly await your next submission.

As 2020 wore on – and what a wearing year it was – my competition went from strength to strength. Every month, more people sent me their best efforts and paid real money to receive their inevitable disappointment. Who knew there were so many masochists in the world? Meanwhile, my own submissions were beginning to achieve the recognition I felt they so richly deserved, providing me with a second, albeit modest, income stream. Those other contests were not nearly as lucrative as mine, the cheapskates. As I sent each story out into cyberspace, I felt as I had as a young lad when I pushed my model sailing yacht out into the middle of a boating pond. I began to care deeply about the fate of my recycled stories.

Then one day, the unimaginable happened (you can’t make this stuff up). Shortly before the deadline for the July contest, I received a submission that looked vaguely familiar. Sure enough, when I checked my records I found it was a story I’d sent to another contest just the month before, word for word, submitted back to me by an author I’d never heard of. I was incensed and outraged; what a nerve! Was there no honesty in the world anymore? I blamed Donald Trump, but that’s another story.

What should I do? Initially I tried to ignore it, but the injustice of having my work stolen – well, you know what I mean – was too much to bear; and it wasn’t even one of my best stories. I felt compelled to act. After several sleepless nights, I decided that for the next deadline of the scoundrel’s contest, I’d submit this story – the one you’re reading right now – unfinished though it was at the time. Subtle? I thought so.

I waited anxiously for the response, but my August deadline came and went with no submission from the fraud. Had I scared him off, perhaps? Then one of the other entrants’ names caught my eye: ‘Rich Widow’ had submitted a heart-rending story of isolation and loneliness, and her search for a soulmate with whom to spend her declining years. She described how the nightly routine of filling her tea-kettle before going to bed had become a touchstone for her, a tiny act of faith that she would, in fact, survive the night and fancy a cup of tea in the morning.

It’s cozy in our bubble. We work together in the garret, she at one end of the kitchen table, I at the other. Between us, we’ve already squeezed many of the other writing contests out of business. Our next target is ‘To Hull and Back’, run by some guy from Bristol.

They say that those who live by the word will die by the word. Maybe we will, but no longer alone. Happy days.

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Easter Competition 2020

This was a competition for a story of up to 500 words in length, themed around Easter. Submissions had to contain SOME of the following words (in any order):

  • chocolate
  • egg
  • rabbit
  • bonnet
  • holiday
  • basket
  • chick
  • parade

We welcomed any slant on the stories submitted. For example, perhaps an experience that turned out to be not such a 'Good' Friday, or did a character once have a part-time job as a Hot Cross Bun crosser?

The joint winners were Amanda Jane Davies and Cathy Cade, both of whom are from the UK (Amanda is based in Wales, Cathy in England). You can read their winning stories, 'Chocolate Rocks' and 'Bird Brain', below.

The runner up was:

  • Maggie Elliott

Amanda and Cathy both picked a copy of the 2019 To Hull And Back Short Story Anthology as their prize.

Here is a picture of Amanda, with her book.

Amanda Davies

Here is a picture of Cathy with her eBook.

Cathy Cade

Here is Amanda's story:

Chocolate Rocks

by Amanda Jane Davies

It was hotter than hell in Medusa’s kitchen, which wasn’t all that surprising since she had met and married Satan himself.

She had been banished to the underworld a day after her seventeenth birthday when she married Poseidon, but then realised, too late, she didn’t like living under the sea. Needless to say, he quickly divorced her and sent her somewhere drier instead.

As she wiped the sweat from under her armpits with a manky dishcloth, she marvelled at their ingenious plan.

"Darling," she called, "do you think this is really going to work?"

"Of course it is," exclaimed the horny old devil.

Leaning forward with her head practically on the chopping board, Medusa squeezed a few drops of poison from the corn snakes of her fringe into a mixing bowl filled with melted chocolate. She stirred it quickly, then demanded the hapless cook pour it into small bonnet, egg and rabbit shaped moulds and place them in the chiller.

Medusa then retired to her boudoir for a relaxing bath. Sinking in to the chilly slurry-scented water, she felt her muscles relax. It won’t be long, thank fate, before I can taste human souls again, she thought.

Later, Medusa, dressed in leather trousers and skimpy top, searched for husband. He was in the  study examining the death lists. His face contorted, like he had a carrot stuck up his arse. He got like this every lent. Most people who were about to pop their clogs (but didn’t know it) suddenly abandoned their hedonistic lifestyle to become friends with God. Every Shrove Tuesday after gorging on pancakes, they gave up one or two vices not knowing it would be in vain.

Bored of this ritual, Medusa and Satan decided it was time to cause some mischief. What better way to celebrate the lead up to the Good Friday holiday parade than getting those do-gooders to break their promises, so when their time was up, (and there were a few on the list for this week) Medusa and Satan could feast on the their souls.

To implement the plan, on Thursday morning Medusa would abandon her biker-chick clothing in favour of a floaty white dress. Armed with a basket of goodies, she would visit Earth to tempt those with the willpower of an alcoholic saying no to a drink in a free bar, to taste her wares. Satan, meanwhile, would stand nearby with his hell basket, ready to collect the souls.

The day was perfect in every way. Medusa walked the streets seductively, snake-hair disguised in clever blonde cornrows, handing out homemade chocolates, to those who just couldn’t resist. Then at the appointed time of their death, Medusa would gaze steadily at the victim, and as they tumbled to the ground, their soul turned to chocolate rocks, ready for Satan to collect.

In hell later that evening, Medusa sucked on a tasty fisherman’s arm, the dark chocolate dripping all over the bed sheets. Just another perfect day in hell.

~

And here is Cathy's story:

Bird-Brain

by Cathy Cade

The doorbell rings. I fix a smile and open the door to my neighbour.

"Hi, Pol. How was your Easter break?"

"Brilliant! Swam with dolphins." Polly and Rob would never waste a long bank holiday on DIY projects, like the rest of us.

She gushes, "The fish – fantastic colours – and the birds. How's my Peter? Did Peter Piper miss his mummy?"

She flies to the birdcage, alight with expectation. The blue budgie bobs up and down in front of its mirror. Polly adopts her who’s-a-pretty-boy-then voice.

"Who's a pretty boy, then?"

Blue Peter is silent.

"I think he missed you," I say. "He's been quiet all week."

It's been blissfully quiet, in fact, ever since he escaped his cage… but I don't mention that. Or our panic when Moggie left her basket to climb the curtains towards his perch on the curtain rail.

Polly tries again. "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers?"

I hold my breath.

"Pick-a-pecker, pick-a-pecker."

Polly cocks her head on one side. "He's never said that bit before."

"He's pleased to see you," I say. "Wants to impress."

"Peter-pecker, Peter-pecker."

Puzzlement clouds Polly's dark eyes. "He sounds different."

How can it sound different, for heaven's sake? It sounds like a flaming budgie.

"Maybe he's out of practice after a week off."

But the damn thing's getting in its stride now. "Pity-boy, pity-boy," it squawks.

"They say pets get to look like their owners," I babble. "Perhaps they sound like them too – their keepers, like."

Or should that be owners looking like their pets? I reassess Polly's flattened hairstyle and aquiline nose as she bobs up and down viewing her budgerigar from all angles.

"Well he certainly seems chirpy," she says, handing me an Easter Egg and a carrier from the duty-free shop.

"Oh no… really," I protest.

She insists. "We wouldn't have enjoyed ourselves if we hadn't known Peter was well looked after."

"Cobblers," says Peter.

Polly's eyebrows rise.

I cringe inside, reliving that dreadful morning when I noticed, too late, the open window behind the curtains.

I left the baited cage open in the garden, on top of the rabbit hutch. It fed only sparrows and squirrels until a shower turned it into a bird bath.

Easter weekend was spent searching for a bird the right shade of blue with the same wing markings as Pol's photos. Surrounded by chocolate eggs, I even thought to verify its gender, visited by visions of it laying its own egg once Polly got it home.

And don't get me started on the hours I spent teaching it, "Who's a pretty boy?" and, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

"I must go," says Polly, lifting the cage. "I daren't leave Rob to unpack; I'll never find anything."

I open the front door for her. On the doorstep, she turns. "You must come and see our holiday videos."

Dropping out of the sky, a ragged blue budgie lands on the cage she's holding.

"Peter Piper pickled peppers."

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Christmas Competition 2019

This was a competition for a story of up to 500 words in length, themed around Christmas. Submissions had to contain ALL of the following words (in any order):

  • accident (anything from a cut finger to a fatal crash)
  • key
  • window
  • note
  • piece of fruit

The story did not have to be set anywhere, or at any time, and didn’t necessarily need to relate to Christmas in a traditional way. We asked for writers to be creative with their interpretation of the theme.

The winner was Kim Hart from Australia. You can read her winning story, 'Christmas Traffic – A Horror Story', below.

The runner's up were:

  • 2nd place - Cathy Cade
  • 3rd place - Tony Thatcher
  • 4th place - Paul Mastaglio

Kim chose a copy of Chris's 'How to Write a Short Story' book as her prize. Here is a picture of Kim with her eBook:

Kim Hart

And here is Kim's story:

Christmas Traffic – A Horror Story

by Kim Hart

Sweet Jesus, what fresh hell is this? If this traffic gets any slower, we'll be going backwards. Note to self: leave at the crack of dawn in future. Although, if the dog hadn't swallowed my key this morning, I would have left on time.

Come on people, move it. The light doesn't get any greener, you know.

What is this woman doing in front? Her makeup? My god, get up 10 minutes earlier. Your car is not your bathroom, love.

Beep, beep.

Yes, hi, you can go forward now. Jeez, Louise.

There must be an accident up ahead, surely this can't be normal.

Bang.

What was that? A bloody cyclist. You better not have damaged my car, you Lycra-clad oxygen thief. There should be a law that you have to pay rego. Freeloading hippies, the lot of you. And don't give me that bull about saving the planet.

Splash.

What the—? No, go away. I do not want you to wash my windscreen. Get your dirty cloth off it. No, I'm not paying you. The window is worse now than before you started.

Yeah, well up yours too. Get a proper job, loser.

Lovely. Well, at least your spit is cleaner than your water.

Green light, finally.

And we’ve stopped again. Dear Lord, kill me now.

Where are you all going? Work? Can't you get the train or bus?

Look at this guy next to me, is he seriously eating a piece of fruit?

Oh my god, he's eating a mango. Juice is running down his sagging jowls and dripping on his ugly tie that his long-suffering wife probably bought him 40 years ago when he got his first job at the bank, where he – no doubt – still sits on his fat arse all day, shuffling papers.

Beep, beep.

Sorry, mate. Got distracted for a minute by the white whale next to me inhaling his breakfast. Does anyone use their cars for mere transportation these days?

Yawn.

I'm so tired. Damn mozzie in my bedroom, buzzing in my ear half the night. Slapped myself silly trying to get the bugger. Why last night of all nights? The one day I need to be on top of my game and I feel like I was out all night, consuming a keg.

Beeeep.

Did you just cut me off and then flip me off, jerk? Where'd you get your license? Don't they install blinkers on Beemers anymore? And you're on your phone. Take your hand off it, idiot. Where's a cop when you need one?

Miracle of miracles. The car park. Now for another feat of endurance, finding a parking spot. And we have a winner. And right next to the employee's entrance. Time to buy a lottery ticket, but first...

"Hi, I'm here for my first day. Here's my paperwork."

"Thank God you're here. The queue to see you is building already. Here's your uniform. You can change in there."

"Thanks."

"You're welcome, and I ho-ho-hope you have a great day, Santa."

~

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