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Vote for the best short story

Poll closed Nov 4, 2015.
  1. Filth

    6 vote(s)
    42.9%
  2. The Budget Airline

    8 vote(s)
    57.1%
  1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Closed Voting Modified Sudden Death Runoff Vote

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Nov 3, 2015.

    Second chance to break the tie:
    Contest #180
    Theme: "Dead Air" courtesy of @Spencer Rose

    The top two voted for stories in the contest can be found below.
    Entries are listed in the poll in the order posted.

    Voting EXTENDED until 7 pm PST tomorrow (to be fair) at which time if there is still a tie, voting will open to sudden death runoff.

    ########################################

    Filth [1027 words]

    She had been staring at it for over one hour, but not because she was afraid. She simply wondered if this was the best way to go.

    It was one p.m. The neighbours next door were cooking something disgusting: dried fish. She saw a tray of fish fillets on their balcony, gleaming under the sun. It sat there for a week, a pile of rotten meat and flesh, infested with flies. They were frying them now, sizzling dead meat in hot oil, adding crushed garlic to cover up the stink but only making it worse.

    The she of six months ago would have written a letter to the council demanding them do something about such neighbours. They wanted to live in her country yet refused to adapt to the new environment, to uphold the standard set within a first world country. Let one thing slide and many more would follow, and soon this place would be no different to any of those countries where children's heads are bigger than their bodies.

    The she of today felt she had no rights to complain about anything.

    The she of today would eat foul dead fish everyday if only it helped her forget.

    The stench had found its way into her flat, and there it became stronger, as if a sewage had broken out and she were standing right in the middle of the stream of shit and slimy wastes. She sucked in some air, not bothered with opening the door and window. Sweat trickled down her temples. It was thirty seven degrees today. The weather woman, the one with breasts peaking out from her plunging neckline and arse bigger than Cyclone Yasi, said so last night. She used to have breasts and arse like that, pounds of meat and flesh underneath tight fabric that made men stare and women envy. It was frightening how much weight and curves she had lost after six months. She used to take great care and make even greater use of her assets. There was nothing more ecstatic than watching a man climax, succumbing to the commands of her body. She would grab a chunk of his hair with one hand and twist, and the inner of his thigh with the other until he screamed and collapsed onto her. She liked the thought of her being the one in control, of her allowing it to happen. It had been an escape, temporary as it always was, from the memory of her friend's father pinning her down on the basement floor.

    She was ten, and it had been twenty years, yet she still remembered his minty breath on her face and the perfume on his shirt.

    Garlic to help disguise rotten fish.

    Where she was going there would be no need for escape, whether from the past, taxman, or filthy air. Where she was going, there might be fire, eternal flame engulfing and burning her over and over again. She hoped it would. She could smell the roast of her skin already.

    She studied the rope one last time before looping it around her neck. The last man nearly choked her to death. Bruce, a coworker, a big gun, family man, beautiful wife cute kids and all that shit. Shit means shit. He came to her house on a Saturday morning. His wife took their kids to see her parents. He told her he wanted to utilise the day and strip the old paint off the doors and coat them with a better colour.

    He was stripping things off all right.

    'Go play in the backyard, sweetheart,' she told Lily, who was three at the time, shoving a pack of chocolate cookies into her chubby hands. The back door barely closed on the little girl and his hands were already up her skirt, ripping her panties off. He slammed her against the wall, the kitchen bench, the sink, his mouth all over her breasts and her face. He reeked of cigarette smoke. He dragged her to the lounge room, his arm hooked around her neck, locking it in. Pictures of her husband and daughter and herself smiled down at them from the walls. Trusting, wonderful, average James, he was away on a business trip. Just my body, James, my heart belongs to you. She closed her eyes and felt her knees and palms burn against the carpet. Bruce closed his fingers around her throat, digging, squeezing. She choked and gagged, but she wanted him to squeeze even harder. He was making that noise, half grunting half growling, and calling her a fucking whore and telling her he was going to tear her apart and shove things in her mouth, a lot of unintelligent stuff for such a well respected man, his hand slapping and pinching and groping. She was getting warmer and warmer; it was going to end with a bang for both of them any second now. And then she would take Lily to the ice cream van; she had been hearing it jangling down the street for the last five minutes or so. Her little girl was probably hopping from one foot to another and peeping through the gaps in the gate, ears pricked up at the jingle. Strawberry ice cream with sprinkles for daughter, lemon sorbet for mum. Hang on, sweetheart, mummy's coming.

    And then came those sounds.

    Tyres screeched.

    People screamed.

    Little bones crushed.

    Bruce roared on top of her.

    She had not stopped hearing those sounds for the last six months.

    James asked for a divorce. She had moved out of his house and into a rat hole where neighbours hung their washings along the balcony and ate things that smelled like death.

    She had not stopped seeing Lily wondering around the backyard nibbling on cookies and picking dandelions, patiently waiting for mum.

    The loop nice and tight around her neck, she peered down at the plastic stool on which she was standing.

    It was the same plastic stool which Lily used to stand on and undo the latch on the back gate.

    She took in one last breath of dead air, and stepped towards her little girl.


    ########################################

    The Budget Airline [1184]

    Dear Sirs

    I am writing to complain about my recent flight with Dead Air.

    I chose to fly with you because you charge very reasonable fares. I was not put off by the negative reviews from relatives of your passengers, or the many sensationalist news articles condemning your business model as unethical – I personally find the profiteering of other airlines to be much more worrying (British Airways quoted me 4x the price you did!) Sadly, despite my open-mindedness I was very disappointed with the overall experience and with the customer service I received from Dead Air.

    The problems began at check-in. The assistant’s communication skills left much to be desired; she merely grunted and pointed in order to request my passport and ticket. She was then infuriatingly slow on the computer. This was somewhat understandable as three of her fingers fell off during the typing process, but the supervisor was terribly slow in attending to the issue. The masking tape he used to reattach the digits looked very flimsy and I would not be surprised if other customers had to contend with the same sluggish service I was subjected to.

    The irritations did not end there. As recommended on your website, I had purchased a DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator to protect myself during the flight, at a cost of £19.99 – significantly more than I paid for the flight itself (but still cheaper than British Airways). I understand that this is the only weapon permitted on your flights and carries a 100% guarantee of killing the crew should there be any breaches in security. You can therefore imagine my annoyance when the check-in assistant grunted at a sign informing me that I had reached the free luggage allowance with clothes and there would be a £23.50 charge for each additional 500g packed. The DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator, as you well know, is 497g.

    The supervisor was most unhelpful in responding to my complaint at this stage. After a circular argument lasting several minutes he informed me that your customers’ chances of survival are 32% without the DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator and 78% with, and asked if my life was worth £23.50. I was forced to abandon the weapon and proceed unarmed. If I was willing to pay British Airways prices, I would have flown with them.

    The check-in assistant’s arm fell off when she waved me goodbye. It was not a clean break.

    You may accuse me of being over-optimistic but I was still hoping for a pleasant flight once the check-in counter was happily behind me and the small chunk of rotting bicep muscle was removed from my Dolce and Gabbana handbag. I reminded myself that the ticket had been an absolute bargain and I hadn’t had to dip into the Portuguese Villa Fund to pay for it.

    Once I boarded the plane I began to suspect my positivity was misplaced. I was pointed to my seat, with a grunt, by an air hostess. Not only was there an unpleasant smell of decomposition pervading the entire cabin, but I was seated beside a young woman with a squalling child hanging off the side of her chair. I presume it was not on its mother’s lap because there was not enough space to hold a pygmy field mouse, let alone a lumpy toddler. Not only was said toddler making a constant noise in the precise key of nails scraping down a chalkboard, but it had eaten its last meal rather messily and its face was covered in pieces of meat, attracting a fair bit of attention from the crew.

    I was not happy with the seating arrangement but when I complained a cabin-crew-supervisor informed me there was an £18.45 surcharge for moving from one’s allocated seat. I was forced to remain beside the appetising aroma of the child.

    Having somehow crammed myself into a seat with legroom barely sufficient for an immature bonsai tree, I diligently attempted to watch the pre-take-off security and emergency instructions. Unfortunately my comprehension was thwarted by the host’s hand dropping off when he pointed out the closest emergency exit. Once again, it was not a clean break and it was inexpertly patched up with masking take by a rather harassed-looking crew supervisor. I suspect the live:undead ratio of your staff is not correctly balanced. My praise of your ethical pricing was misplaced; it’s a disgrace that you clearly value profits above the welfare of your customers.

    I was then treated to an eleven-minute-and-twelve-second sales pitch from said supervisor, in which we were offered a DeadAir™ Spinal Cord Separator for the vastly inflated sum of £29.99, having been informed that the monthly statistics had just been released and the survival rate for unarmed passengers was now 29%. These kind of high-pressure sales techniques are most crass and I suggest you retrain your staff in appropriate methods at your earliest convenience.

    It was impossible to get any rest as the supervisors were constantly running around dealing with the crew’s attempts to eat the passengers. Every few minutes there were loud, intrusive announcements from the captain ordering his undead slaves back to their seats.

    As I was unable to move more than an estimated seven millimetres in any direction, let alone enough to reach my in-flight magazine, I was very bored. I was glad when the meals were served, giving me something to do. Alas, I had to expel the first mouthful rather forcefully, staining my Gucci dress with flecks of something inedible and orange. I was informed by the supervisor that you use no seasoning in your meals as salt is poisonous to the crew and immediately sends them back to their graves. I feel you could have at least tried to spice things up with a herb or two rather than serving a carton of mushed cardboard. Perhaps it is an attempt to make the customers unappetising to the crew, in the manner of a Portobello mushroom stuffed with papier mache, but judging by the number of deaths in-flight it is not proving successful.

    Things deteriorated further when, as the supervisors were busy attending to the re-animating passengers in Row F, the aromatic child beside me was attacked by three crew members. The young mother was unable to fight off the attack and I spent the remainder of the flight picking bits of sinew and flesh from my Prada jacket. Had my recently-departed neighbours not been too decimated to re-animate, I may not have made it to the end of the flight.

    At least the severely restricted legroom came in handy when the supervisors were eaten; the crew were unable to reach me in the ensuing kerfuffle.

    Now, I hope you will see that your service simply must improve. Using the undead as staff may cut costs but they must be properly trained in customer care. I will accept vouchers as compensation for my inconvenience and I expect to see significant improvements on my next flight with you, which will be on the sixteenth of Novmeber – you are, after all, still considerably cheaper than British Airways.

    Yours faithfully

    Mrs J Moremo
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Congratulations @Tenderiser, you've earned silver with your unique story. I voted for it in the runoff.

    New member @sensen takes second place with a story that was only barely edged out. It was excellent writing and certainly in my top three.

    @Fernando.C takes third with the story I initially voted for.

    All in all, what a bunch of excellent stories, many from new faces in the forum. Good job, everyone, and thanks to all the voters.

    Link to the initial voting thread.

    Link to the original stories with the authors revealed.
     
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  3. sensen
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    sensen New Member

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    Thank you, @GingerCoffee , this has been a great experience :)

    Congratulations, @Tenderiser , a very unique story :)

    A huge thanks to everyone who has voted for 'Filth'. I wouldn't have made it to 2nd place without you. Thanks for reading and voting :)

    I voted for @Fernando.C for his entertaining and well written short story :)

    A big round of applause to everyone who has entered this contest :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I voted for Filth. Excellent story, @sensen!

    For a while it looked like the contest that would never die - when I voted in the run-off it was tied again. :D
     
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  5. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    I voted for "The Event". I think it's really cool and scary. :)
    Congrats to all!
     
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  6. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    The website was down for me while the runoff was running. However, I would have voted for the winner, so no diff. Congratulations @Tenderiser and all.

    Originally I voted for The Clinic. I think it's a nicely told story with a very real MC that I could really get into the head of. (Despite reader/character gender mismatch).
     
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  7. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Today's story on Daily Science Fiction "The Darkening Skies" has interesting parallels with @Tenderiser 's story, being as it's an exploration of the consequences of ultra-cheap air travel. I think Tenderiser's story is more left field. (For me, that's a positive).
     
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  8. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I voted for "Filth" as well, both times. Glad to see it placed highly.

    Congrats @Tenderiser! Yours was quite entertaining :) Definitely one of the best in this contest.
     
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  9. Fernando.C
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    Fernando.C Active Member

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    Congrats @Tenderiser! I voted for you in the runoff. I liked how unusual your story was. You certainly have a creative mind.
    And thanks @GingerCoffee and @sensen for voting for me it means a lot. Also I liked your story a lot @sensen, it was a very close call for me between your story and @Tenderiser's
     
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  10. bumble bee
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    bumble bee Member

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    Well done all, I thought there were some great entries to this one!
    I missed the run off but initially voted for Budget Airline. Just loads of fun!

    The Event, Cylinders and The Question were all close contenders for me too.
     

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