March 31st we announced the winners of our first 365 Writing Challenge Contest. 56 people entered. These were our top three. If you love their piece, please be sure to comment below.
Our 3rd place winner was Ian McAllister with One Step Ahead
Maybe we should have repainted the spacecraft dark grey, but you know Amisool. He insisted that a space yacht in chartreuse was the only way to be seen. Yeah, by the port authority, and after we stole the thing in the first place.
He waved three arms around, just the three, because the other one gripped a large drink. “Sweat the small stuff, Panslemann. We’ll walk away with a ticket for not filing a transit request. What’s the worst that can happen?”
“Come on, Sool,” I complained. “They’ll check the registration on this ship, or your record on at least fourteen allied planets.”
“Nah.” He put the drink down and made that gargantuan shrug only his species can manage, all four arms spread vertically with the red feather fringes sticking out. “I’ve asked them in for drinks. They want to see if we have a lounge design to go with the exterior gorgeousness.”
The Comm chimed.
“Clipper Lime Passion, this is the P.A.S. Cruiser Dime Rattler. Tankstith Amisool Torderregan, shut down your dormant drive nodule. You, sunshine, are under arrest. Oh, by the way, it will look a lot better if you don’t cancel the drink offer. Stand by to be boarded.”
Amisool’s arms sagged to some of his knees. “Slem, smack the nodule and bang out. Go!”
“Where? I need a plan.” I’m a competent enough pilot, but I don’t have the imagination to wing it at zero notice.
“Two minutes!” His fringes thrashed about in panic. “Make it look like we’re outbound to your world, but crash-stop outside the edge of this system. Two pop-jumps galactic inbound, then drop out into normal space and head for that place we sold all those suits.”
“Got it. Strap in!”
Our 2nd place winner was Steph Sorensen with Shook
The sun flickered off the flat face of the lake, sending signals. Come on boys, it whispered in its watery voice made of light. Come swim. Colt knew he was supposed to say no. Summer just had that pull though. Or the lake did. Some combination of the two.
The day squatted over them, muggy and still, thick with bugs. Mom had said she was just running out for a refill of her raspberry vape drops. But she’d be gone an hour at least, doing whatever she was actually doing and not saying. Colt was left in charge of his little brother, as usual. Being six years older made him the fallback parent.
“Can we swim?” JoJo shot Colt sad-little-boy eyes, although at ten he was about too old for them to work.
“You heard Mom.” Colt picked bald spots in the Astroturf flooring of the sunroom, waiting for a breeze to blow through, but it didn’t. “We’re not supposed to be staying here, we can’t let anybody see us hanging around outside.”
Colt knew a simple morning swim might get them caught—thrown out, back in a shelter—or worse. He could find them again.
“We could watch TV. Play a game.” The suggestions were halfhearted. They spent their days and nights sequestered in the cottage, had tired of daytime television shows almost immediately. The internet was out, though it didn’t matter. They had no computer, and Mom had taken her phone. They’d played every game on the shelf besides Yahtzee, and Colt knew they’d never be that bored. Each worn cardboard game box had something wrong within it. Monopoly was missing its money. The board for Risk had gotten wet at some point, boundaries between countries warped and blurred.
And our 1st place winner was Bonnie Tesh with Monarch Moon
Some mistakes in this life, Rally girl, you never quit paying for.
Her northeast Texas mother’s words beat at her like a drum.
Even with the top down, the wind could not drown out that voice in her head. She had shrugged off the warnings when she was younger, but now she understood. A past mistake propelled her out of Chicago in the middle of the night, down the interstate toward the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.
The Autumn night was crisp and clear, a tonic to her worries. A thick wool sweater and scarf staved off the cool air, except for the slight chill creeping around her bare ankles. Before she left town, she had wavered on whether to raise the top, but she liked to drive with a clear view of the star-studded sky.
Her thoughts wandered. Did she make the wrong choice letting Joe Fenner live? Was that one of those mistakes she would never quit paying for? She stared down the ribbon of black highway and worried the small scar over her right carotid artery. She shivered, but not from the cold.
A ribbon of dawn cut into the dark horizon as she entered Hayes County. When her best friend, Marney Phillips, moved to the Ozarks, she had extended an open invitation for Rally to visit. She’d debated about making the late-night call, but Marney seemed delighted.
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