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Vote for the best short story!

Poll closed Oct 14, 2013.
  1. The Final Clue - ~740 words

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  2. Scars and Letters - ~555 Words

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  3. Family Genes - ~1,677 words

    4 vote(s)
    66.7%
  1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Closed Voting Runoff Vote: Short Story Contest (140) Theme: The Discovery

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Oct 7, 2013.

    During the contest hand off from Lemex to me, and the board upgrade, some contest winners fell through the cracks. I don't know who the authors are, so if one of these is your story, send me a PM anytime in the next week. Or remain anonymous if you wish.

    There were initially 5 entries and the voting ended in a three way tie, so this thread will be a runoff of the three. I'll post the poll, followed by each story as a separate post. But if you want to read the entries sooner check them out in the other thread.

    I encourage authors to vote. It is acceptable to vote for yourself, but in the name of good sportsmanship only vote for yourself if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest consideration.

    Consider how the author has responded to the theme, as well as the quality of the writing and overall impression of the story in making your decision.

    Voting will be open for 7 days so will close next Sunday.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    The Final Clue [~740 words]

    ‘Did you know that I’ve discovered something?’ Daisy asked as she munched her cereal.
    I munched along with her. ‘Oh?’

    ‘Yes. It’s quite extraordinary, actually. I’ve been thinking of telling you for a while.’

    Grinning, I slurped down my milk and stood up, putting my used dishes in the sink. This was typical Daisy. She would let you wait and wait and wait until you could wait no more. But then sometimes she would just blurt the thing out. No warning, no explanation.

    This was not one of those times, and I was going to have to work it out of her.

    ‘Okay,’ I said quietly. ‘Okay. I’ll play your game.’

    Her turn to grin. ‘What game? I’m just trying to tell you something, and you’re turning it into some sort of drawn-out ritual.’

    Damn, I both hated and loved the way she did this. It was like my Christmas holidays as a kid: I would ask my parents on Christmas Eve what presents I would be getting for Christmas day, and they would conspire and give me subtle clues that I would never crack at such a young age. It drove me crazy, and I loved it. And every time Daisy gave her own clues, I was reminded of those past days.

    ‘Come on then,’ I said, sitting down at the table again. I stared deeply into her eyes, foolishly hoping that I would put her off.

    ‘Come on what?’

    ‘Give me my first clue.’

    ‘Your first clue?’ She leaned back and looked up at the ceiling. ‘I’ve not even thought about giving you a clue. But I suppose if I have to, I will.’

    Finally, some progress!

    Daisy stood up, gazing out the window as if she were alone. ‘Your first clue…all right. I suppose I should say that it’s about someone.’

    ‘What?’ I growled. ‘That’s it? My first clue?’

    ‘Yes.’

    ‘Damn you, Daisy!’ I roared in half-jest, pounding the table with both fists. ‘I need a better clue, or I’m walking.’

    She sighed and turned to me. ‘Fine, if you must have another clue, then it is this: someone is coming to visit you.’

    It was better, but it sure wasn’t enough. I racked my brain, thinking of people I hadn’t met in a long time. There were aunts and uncles abroad, but I’d barely mentioned them to Daisy. Who was so close to me?

    ‘Next clue,’ I said.

    ‘You’re not very good at this, are you?’ she snickered.

    ‘Just gimme the damn clue.’

    The early-morning cars whizzed past our open kitchen window, a flurry of colours distracting me from the matter at hand. The unknown visitor. The breeze coming in was fantastic, but Daisy was having none of it. She was staring right at me, as if someone had just died in a car accident.

    ‘Okay, here’s your final clue. If you can’t tell me what I’ve discovered, then you have to give me a foot massage. Deal?’

    Ugh. Foot massages. Bane of my life.

    ‘Deal,’ I replied, sticking out my hand.

    She did not take it. ‘Your final clue is this: the person visiting us is quite unknown, both by society and you. And me, I guess. But this person will definitely know you, when they come, and when they speak to you, you’ll know who they are.’

    Now if that didn’t get me thinking, I didn’t know what would. My brain felt like it would overheat. It ruled out Mum and Dad, and my two sisters. Someone I didn’t know, but I would know once they’d spoken? I was in a fluster; I was collapsing from the shock of having to give my wife a foot massage. I crossed my fingers and prayed that there would be no bunions.

    ‘I hate myself, and my brain, to be honest. But I really can’t think. Riddles are my only short-coming,’ I said, desperately trying to make a joke out of my failure.

    ‘You give up?’ she said, smiling like there was no tomorrow.

    ‘Yes, Daisy, I give up! Now will you please tell me who’s visiting? At the very least tell me how I’ll recognise them with only what they say.’

    ‘You sure?’

    ‘Yes. Tell me what they’ll say when they speak to me.’

    Daisy was smiling so much now, and I hadn’t realised. Tears were even pouring down her cheeks. She outstretched her arms and I went in to the hug.

    ‘Hello, Daddy,’ she said.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    Scars and Letters [~555 Words]

    The outside world seeped through the window of the dully lit living room. I paced between the doorway of the living room and the kitchen. I held an envelope in my hand, thinking if this was right. The chair waited for me patiently. I was just about to get on it, when I heard someone come into the house. I froze, wondering if my parents had come home early from work for some strange reason. Instead, a woman I couldn't recognize walked into the living room. She looked around before asking me, "Hey, what are you doing?"


    I responded with a question, "What does it look like I'm doing?"


    She also responded with a question, "Why?"


    "Why what?"


    "Why are you doing this?" I hesitated for a moment, before I choked up and shed a tear.


    "Because they don't love me." I say cowardly. The woman gives me a shocked look.


    "Of course they do."


    I burst out, "How do you know?!" She looks at me sadly before looking to the wall.


    "Look on the wall." She points to the wall the couch is up against.


    "... What?" I had no clue why she wanted me to look at a dumb wall.


    "Just look."


    "Yes... It's a picture of me with my parents."


    "Why is it there?"


    "Because it looks nice on the wall."


    "There are other walls in this house."


    "Yeah, but it looks best in the living room."


    "Don't you think they'd find something prettier for that wall though?"


    I knew they had wonderful paintings in their room, and they've bought me paintings for my room as well. I couldn't think of a reason why they’d choose the family portrait over those paintings other than the importance of the photo.


    "Exactly. They love this picture, not because it's pretty, but because it’s a picture of all of you together."


    "That's probably to give people a good image of us. They always yell at me."


    "It's for a good reason."


    "Why is yelling such a good thing?"


    "Do they yell at you for no reason without feeling bad about it? Think about all the times they've yelled at you, and think about what happened before they yelled at you."


    "Most of the time, they tell me I've done something wrong."


    "Have you?"


    I remember as a child all of the things I've done wrong, and I also remember what happened with my arm. I quietly say, "... Yes."


    "They want you to grow up to be a good person because they care about you.” I look down because I know she has a point. She notices this, and then says, “Now, if all those weren't obvious enough, I have one more thing to say." I look up at her with some confusion on my face.


    "Yes?"


    "I'm not a normal person."


    "What does that have to do with anything? ... Hello?"


    I stood next to the chair, holding the envelope with a letter written to my parents. I just stood there, amazed at the fact that the woman who stood in front of me just disappeared. She took the noose with her, and replaced it with a photo that lay on the chair. I studied it, and realized that the woman standing in front of me was my grandmother who died five years ago.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    Family Genes [~1,677 words]

    My return from Fiji was greeted by a large dinner, organized by my parents, at their mansion in southwestern Ohio. I protested that I was just returning home and, regardless, wouldn’t be staying long. Ohio State had set my move-in date in less than a week. I didn’t need a large dinner. My parents, however, revealed that the dinner would also serve as my full initiation as an adult member of the Hills. For reasons I could not describe, I felt there was something deeper to the dinner than my family was divulging.

    My younger sister was not invited, as she was not yet an adult. I knew my family probably had secrets, what rich family doesn’t? Perhaps my great, great, great, grandfather once bedded the queen of England? Maybe one of our ancestors was at the signing of the Magna Carta, knife at King John’s throat. My curiosity devoured theory after theory as I walked up the marble steps of my parent’s mansion. As I saw my mother, though, garbed in her typical house dress, I began doubting my absurd thoughts.

    “John! You look like you’ve grown!” My mother announced as she swept out of the doorway, embracing me on the veranda.

    “Don’t be foolish. Hills men never grow past eighteen. We’re quick growers,” My Dad laughed. My father towered behind my mother, his large hand making a deep clapping sound as it smacked my shoulder. My mother, over a foot shorter than I, remained clinging to me.

    “John, are you sick?” She asked, pulling away from the hug.

    “I get much bigger and I won’t be able to play my position,” I joked, ignoring the question. My position is that of a Tight End. In fact I happen to be the best high school tight end in Ohio…ever. I broke the state record with 2,105 receiving yards, and 28 touchdowns. I also stole 90 tackles, 15 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles on defense, but my primary position was as a tight end. I was the first tight end in my high school to start on the varsity team as a freshman.

    If you’re a sports fan then you’ve heard of my family. My father is a hall of fame quarterback who retired several years ago. His father before him was a pitcher who still holds the single season record for the most strikeouts while he played for the Cincinnati Red Stockings. My family boasts a long line of male and female athletes. Even before sports became a way to make a comfortable living, my family was known as fierce war-fighters, which was frighteningly the sport of the era at the time.

    I’ve always excelled in athletics. In grade school, boys hated me for my talents. My skills exceeded the others in such a way that it became glaringly obvious that I wasn’t normal. After pitching a few perfect games in high school, breaking the school record for most points scored in a basketball game by one person, and obviously for my state record setting in football, it became clear to those watching me that I was exactly like my father…a genetic freak.

    “Well come on in, everyone’s waiting for you,” My father said. The dinner was set and the guests seated. My uncles, aunts, cousins older than 18, and of course grandparents, awaited me in the dining room. The eating began immediately, and to my family, with the men so large, eating is a serious affair. I punctuated the clash of knives and tears of bread with questions.

    “What is this initiation all about? Did my great great, great, great, grandfather bang the queen of England?”

    “No,” My father laughed in reply, “But if he did, and we kept it secret, we wouldn’t exactly announce it to everyone.” I shrugged and continued eating.

    “How come I had to wait ‘til I was 18 for this?” I asked.

    “Tradition boy, this practice has been going on in our family for centuries,” My grandfather croaked, old but still giant and able.

    “Centuries? Exactly how old is this dinner practice?”

    “Ancient,” My father said. I knew my family could trace lineage all the way back to Wales before emigrating to the Americas, but I had no clue our knowledge went back further than that. My grandfather turned the conversation over to Fiji, and asked how my summer was.

    “John,” my mother inquired, “where’s Ashley?” I swallowed a gulp of mashed potatoes and gravy.

    “I broke up with her,” I announced to my entire family. Fighting the red creeping up into my cheeks I stared down at my
    plate and picked around my food.

    “Why?” My mother asked.

    “Because of college. We’ll be too far,” I replied. My mother made a, hmmm, sound in reply.

    “Young love,” My father announced. I kept my eyes on my plate.

    “Well it’s not like the boy will have much time for the girl at Ohio State,” My grandfather said,” He’s the best damn tight end in the country. He can run a 4.81 second 40 yard dash. I mean…who his size can do that? At his age eh?”

    “At six foot five and 290 lbs he shouldn’t be able to do that,” my father laughed.

    “John, is something wrong?” My mother asked. I massaged my temples.

    “No. I just have a headache.”

    “I knew you were sick,” She said.

    “It’s nothing,” I reasoned.

    “Let me get you some aspirin at least,” She demanded.

    “No!” I replied, “I’m fine. Really.”

    We ate dessert , hot fudge cakes, and finally finished the meal. My mother stalked off, keys chiming, saying she would drive over to her friend’s house while we conspired. I received a peck on the cheek as she left. My grandfather lead my family out the back door of the mansion as my father guided me, bring up the rear of the procession. I followed my family out into the expanse of our garden and into the pit where my father had his practice green for putting. I expected a present.

    Instead of a present, putters, and golf balls in the pit though, was a small girl chained to the ground. Around her stood candles, blazing in the dusky light of the evening. She was wimpering and crying out. Her wails were useless as our family owned the entire wooded area for miles around the mansion. I let out a cry of terror.

    “What’s going on? Release her!”

    “No John, this is it. The secret,” My father said.

    “That you kidnapped a girl? Let her go!” I screamed. My father grabbed hold of me and shook me.

    “Calm down and listen!” he yelled. I quit struggling and looked at my father, confusion etched on my face.

    “Dad…” My father said. My grandfather pick up his call.

    “For hundreds of years our family has enjoyed being better; Financially, physically, mentally, socially. It is no accident that we happen to possess freakish physical ability and mental capacity far above normal. Since before the memory of our family, we have enjoyed these abilities. Although the original story of how our family became this way has been lost to us, we do know that we have The Old Gods to thank for this.”

    “The Old Gods?” I asked.

    “Before the Romans brought their own gods upon us, before the Christian God, and even before the heathen Germans invaded our lands and forced their Nordic gods on us, our family worshipped the old gods,” My grandfather continued, “We do not know much of the old gods, as far as names and duties. But we do know the most important part.”

    “Our pact with the old gods needs renewing with the coming of age of each family member. When the excessive strength and power of that family member must be harnessed and renewed through the taking of a young, innocent, and weak life,” My grandfather gestured to the crying girl.

    “You’re insane,” I said.

    “Far from it. If you do not kill this child you will weaken into the state of a normal human being. Far from the athletic
    prowess you enjoy today.”

    “That’s ridiculous. We’re just lucky is all. It has nothing to do with fake gods or anything.” I said.

    “Oh? Didn’t you say you were feeling fatigued?” My father asked.

    “I’m just sick,” I said, confused.

    “Have you been sick since right around your eighteenth birthday?” My grandfather asked.

    “No, I—“ I paused. My condition had started around my birthday, worsening with each passing day.

    “You’ll slowly get weaker, slower, and dumber until you take the life of this weakling,” My grandfather said.

    “That can’t be…this is—murder!”

    “It is not murder. A lion does not take pity on the antelope,” My father said.

    “The Old Gods allow us to take their lives for our good,” My grandfather said.

    “No…no. We’re just normal humans. We’re just lucky, like the other great athletes out there.”

    “Oh? A man running 28 miles an hour? A woman who can jump clean over a full grown man without a running start? These
    are normal humans? No boy, they’ve made the same pact we all have.” I stared at them, mouth open.

    “You’ve all done this?” I asked. Every single person nodded their head. I suddenly felt sick.

    “If you don’t do this boy, you’ll never be the same,” My father said. He handed me a large knife.

    “And neither will your sister. She’ll begin to feel the effects too,” he added. I jerked my head at her mention.

    “Pity,” My grandfather said, “And she was a favorite for a starting position on the Olympic women’s soccer team.” Knife in
    my hand I looked about at my family members, meeting their gazes. Each one begged me to kill the girl.

    “There must be another way,” I pleaded.

    “There is no other way,” My grandfather replied. I looked around once more, but my gaze met only the eyes of lions. With tears in my eyes and a cry of desperation, I raised the knife and plunged it into the innocent.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    Just a reminder, there's plenty of time left to vote, but the clock is ticking. :)
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    Poll closes in less than 24 hours. :D
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    We have a winner in the runoff contest 140 The Discovery: "Family Genes". Would the author care to PM me or come forward and/or could Lemex send them a notice in case they haven't been on the board for a while?
     

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