1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.

    Past Contest Submissions CLOSED for Short Story Contest #165: Theme "Red Sun"

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Oct 20, 2014.

    Short Story Contest 165
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Red Sun" courtesy of @Fan7asticMrFox

    Submissions will be open for 3 weeks.


    If you wish to enter the contest post the story here directly in the thread. It will show up as an anonymous author.

    This contest is open to all writingforums.org members, newbies and the established alike. At the deadline I will link to this thread from the voting thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. As always, the winner may also PM me to request the theme of the subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Entries do not have to follow the themes explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.

    Word limit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Sunday the 9th of November, 2014 1600 (4:00 pm) US Pacific time

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. Any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    If we reach 20 entries, the maximum number of stories for any one contest, I will consider splitting the contest into two. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permitted.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece basis to decide its legitimacy for the contest.

    A story entered into the contest may not be one that has been posted anywhere on the internet, not just anywhere on this site. A story may not be posted for review until the contest ends, but authors may seek critiques after voting closes for the contest. Members may also not repost a story anywhere, or bring attention to the contest in any way, until the voting has closed.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets [xxx words] at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please send me a PM (Conversation). After the voting ends, posting in the thread will re-open for comments.

    ***And thanks to even more long hours put in by our very special mod/member @Wreybies, winners are now awarded with olympic style medals displayed under their avatars.

    Thanks, and good luck!

    Be sure to preview your entry before you hit 'reply'.
    Check italics and bolding as sometimes the end code for bold or italics doesn't copy/paste affecting large stretches of text. If you need to fix the formatting, hit 'control a' to 'select all' and clear all bold and italics code. Then re-add it back in using the board's font controls before you hit 'post reply'. Same thing with extra line spaces, delete them directly from the post before hitting 'post reply'.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  2. qp83

    qp83 Member

    May 21, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Making Progress [582 words]

    I grab my coat hanging on the back of the chair.

    "John! We need to talk," the commissioner says.

    I know what he wants to say, but I'm not ready yet. Hell, I will probably never be. I hurry to the elevator and pretend I don't hear him.

    I let out a loud sigh as I land in the driver's seat of my car.

    "Boss being tough on you, huh?" my partner says.

    I cast a glance over at her. My eyes land on her curly brown hair and her brown eyes.

    "Yea, whatever," I say and grab a half-smoked cigarette from the ashtray. Once the smoke from the first breath enters my lungs I can finally relax.

    "It's not going to get easier you know. Maybe it's time you come clean-"

    "Fuck off!" I tell my partner and fire up the engine, making the dashboard tremble. I back out of the parking lot and head downtown.

    I pass rundown buildings with old billboards, women and men in short skirts, wearing way to much makeup, and groups of men dealing meth and cocaine.

    My phone buzzes in my pocket. I pick it up and put it to my ear. "Yeah?"

    "Hey, it's me, Ty. Come over to the 6:th street, I've got your cut."

    I hang up and make a hard turn to the left. The wheels screech against the road, coloring it sooty black.

    "You're really doing this?" my partner ask as she hangs on for her life on the handlebar above the window.

    Rather than answering, I shift gear, and accelerate.

    It only takes a few minutes before we arrive. I pull over at the curb and roll down the passenger window. Ty is outside, waiting.

    "Yo, what's up!" Ty says.

    I glare at him. I'm seriously pissed.

    "Hey, I know you're pissed, man. But, the bitch had to go, she knew too much," Ty says.

    I squeeze the leather of the steering wheel and clench my teeth. My heart is boiling and I can feel my hole body wanting to do something.

    "Dude, are you sweating? Eh, whatever, here's your cut. Mike added a few bills for the hurt feelings and that shit."

    "That shit?" I say. "You mother fucker!" I grab my gun from its holster and point it directly at him. I clench my teeth again and am just about to pull the trigger, when I feel my partners hand around my arm. She shakes her head and gives me one of those smiles.

    "Oh, fuck!" Ty ducks down below the window and out of my view. Then I see his back in the rear view mirror as he runs away.

    "Why did you stop me?"

    "You know why," she says and lets go off my arm.

    I put the gun back in its holster and lean back. I draw a deep breath from the cigarette in my mouth and feel its calming smoke enter my lungs.

    "Can't you change the jacket?"

    "I don't think so," she says looking down at her bloodstained jacket.

    "Will you ever forgive me?" I ask, looking at her face, wondering when she began to look so beautiful.

    "I think we're making progress," she says and smiles again.

    I roll down the window and flick the cigarette butt out onto the street.

    "You dead people are so fucking happy." I say and floor the gas pedal and drive off towards the red sun going down the horizon.
  3. Lancie

    Lancie Contributing Member

    Oct 20, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Birmingham, UK
    Beneath the Surface (1807 words)

    The painting had moved again.

    Or rather, the woman in the painting had moved. This time, she was looking directly at me. The day before, her wistful gaze had changed from left to right and I had blamed it on a long night of researching. Too much time in front of a computer screen and hunched over books. This time was different. She had moved, and now she was looking at me.

    Whoever had painted the piece had captured her in astonishing realism. I could barely see a brushstroke. Those wonderfully deep, almost coal black eyes had caught my attention when I first saw it. Shaped like almonds and framed in thick, dusky lashes. Now they were staring out at me. This time, it was unmistakable.

    I crouched slowly. Without taking my eyes off her I picked up the keys and pieces of phone I'd dropped against the wooden floor, fumbled a moment, trying to force the battery back into the case.

    The phone vibrated and chimed and I began to stab at the buttons. Alex, are you in? I need you to come to my office now.

    With a heaviness in my leg, I crumbled into the chair opposite the painting. It was propped up on my desk in my cold little office, tucked in the back of the university somewhere between empty lecture theatres and the old library, and waited. Eventually, I felt my eyes pulled down to the woman's hands, the left lightly raised as though waiting for a lover to gently take it to press their lips against her knuckles. On her forth slender finger was the epicentre of the painting, the heart of my PhD. A giant glittering red diamond set in a sunburst of beaten gold with a halo of perfectly cut, clear smaller diamonds encircling it, known as The Red Sun. It must have been a majestic sight before it vanished.

    As I starred at the gleaming gem the clock on the wall with it's striking tick tick went silent. Nothing in the room moved. Like the woman's too real eyes, the diamond sparkled from deep within the canvas. I held my breath and began to reach a hand out to it, but the sound of footsteps echoing down the hall made me look up and finally away from the painting.

    Alex, shabbily dressed in cords and a t-shirt as usual, stuck his curly head round the door.

    "Valerie? What's up?"

    I pointed at the picture. "She moved. She's moved twice now."

    Alex frowned and smiled all at once and stepped inside, carefully closing the door behind him. "What? Didn't you lock it in the safe?"

    I snapped my head round and looked up. "I don't mean cleaners moved her, Alex," I sighed loudly. "I mean she, that woman, has moved. Look, she's looking towards me. She was looking to the right when I first got it. Yesterday her eyes had moved left and now..." I trailed off. Alex wasn't looking at the painting. He was looking directly at me. Concern peaked in his eyes. "Just look at it and tell me it's the same or not," I said and waved my hand at it.

    "Well, I only saw it the once but it looks a little different. Are you sure it's not just the light?"

    I closed my eyes with a groan. “Trick of the light. Ok,” I mumbled quietly. Then I noticed his hands held a brown envelope. "Are those my X-rays?"

    Alex nodded. Together we set up my backlight and he produced the shiny black and white pictures.

    We both recoiled the instant I turned the light on. "Oh God!" Alex grimaced.

    I could barely see the woman, she was partially hidden by violent, childlike scratchings that smashed out her eyes and turned her mouth into a wide, unhinged violent scream. The rest of her was lost beneath a tangled ribbon of black, thickly curled writing. The Red Sun is mine and will never be yours. Over and over. First in English, but then sporadically in German, then in French, Latin and Greek. As the writing went on it became less neat. It slanted, like it was falling over, becoming less recognisable. By the time my eyes had followed it to the bottom right corner it was ragged and thin, unfinished. As though it was dripping off the canvas.

    I took in a breath. "The Red Sun is mine and will never be yours,” the words stuck in my dry mouth.

    "That is disturbing," Alex crinkled his nose and took a step closer. "What is it you were after? A signature?" he asked. I nodded, then shrugged helplessly. "Does it at least prove to you this is a painting of The Red Sun Diamond?"

    I licked my lips. "I think it proves that when people said this was a creepy painting, they were right." I shivered. "I've gone right off it," I tilted my head. "It is interesting though, in a grotesque kind of way."

    Alex patted my shoulder lightly. "I'll leave you to it. Shout if she moves again, OK?" he grinned and quickly removed himself from my sight.

    For the rest of the day, I worked with the picture turned away from me and began to pull together my notes. Despite weeks of searching, I'd not been able to pinpoint an artist. The Red Sun Diamond had, according to legend, been discovered in a cave in Brazil towards the end of sixteenth century. The natives at the time reportedly said it belonged to the Devil. To validate their concerns the cave promptly collapsed and swift vengeance fell on all those who knew of the diamonds origin. Another story had it presented to Marie Antoinette and on her person when the guillotine fell. It had been owned by a smattering of European aristocrats and painted countless times. There were odd stories and accounts that muddled the timeline, of witches cursing and casting spells as their bodies went up in flames leaving nothing but ash and the diamond. Highwaymen periodically stole it in the depths of night and rode across the country with it in their pocket. It was a diamond people were willing to kill for, that much was certain.
    And yet, the diamond was lost. It's history reduced to myth and nightmare. I was starting to wonder if it had been deliberately destroyed.

    My painting was believed to be the last accurate depiction of it, though so far my efforts to track any details on it had led me down dusty library aisles to, eventually, nothing. More conflicting accounts and tales of murder swirled around the painting than the diamond itself. Even accounts of the woman's appearance differed wildly. Finally, as night came and my tired eyes began to strain, I turned the painting around.

    She wasn't smiling anymore. Her lips were flat.

    A cold trickle ran down my spine. I decided to put her and the X-rays into the safe so I wouldn't have to worry about her moving during the night.

    I made my usual way home on the bus and dragged my feet up the stairs to my flat. Once inside I switched on the lights and threw down my bag and coat. I crossed my hallway to my kitchen, aiming for the kettle. My hand instinctively went to the light. I pressed the switch three, four more times. Nothing happened.

    The coldness returned to my spine. The clock on my wall was still. I squinted into the darkness, slowly stepping inside and pulled my phone from my pocket and pointed it's dim blue-green screen light ahead of me. On my terracotta floor I saw the words, in slanted oily black scrawl, The Red Sun is mine and will never be yours.

    The phone fell to the floor and my legs moved backwards like a command hurriedly towards the door. I spun round. On the table where my bag had landed I saw it there. It was facing the wall, turned away from me. A whimper escaped my lips. And yet, my hands were drifting towards it. Shaking, unable to draw them back, I felt my heart pulsing and trembling inside my chest as it collided with my stomach.

    My hands gripped the frame and I turned the painting round. The canvas was blank. The woman wasn't there.

    The light above me flickered and I felt that hateful gaze on me. "The Red Sun is mine and will never be yours." The voice scraped against my skin. My entire being trembled as I turned. "The Red Sun is mine and will never be yours."

    She took a step towards me. An elegant renaissance styled woman in a deep, blushing red gown, trimmed with scarlet lace. Her black hair hung limp around her waist like a cape. She stepped towards me, raising her bejewelled hand. My feet wouldn't move. I let out a wail and hurled the frame but it bounced right through her. She shimmered, glittering all over, stepped slowly closer. I cried out but no noise came from my dry throat. Sweat fell from my brow despite the cold in my spine. Terror took control and my body held firm to the spot.

    "The Red Sun is mine and will never be yours."

    My lips shivering, I croaked "I don't care!" I sank backwards. "Please, I don't want it!"

    She was unrelenting. "The Red Sun is mine and will never be yours."

    But then, she began to slip the ring off her hand and my eyes instantly latched onto it. The deep, luscious red was endless, the size of an egg, emitting a spectacular warming glow. The cold in my spine began to warm. She stopped and began to extend her hand.

    "The Red Sun is yours."

    The ring was throbbing. I ached to hold it. I needed it on my finger. My hand raised and went towards her. The exchange was seamless. It clung to my finger.

    "The Red Sun is yours. And I am free."

    Alex huddled in the back of the Auction Room, biting his thumb nail with concern, right down to his skin, as the lot came up and the room fell into a reverent and rippled hush. The Auctioneer cleared his throat as the painting was unveiled.

    "Lot 34. Titled Lady with the Red Sun Diamond. A fabled lot that we are pleased to offer, beginning at £2000. Given to us by the University of Birmingham, the painter of the piece has long been a mystery. It depicts the rare Red Sun Diamond in it's glorious gold and halo setting. The lady, also unknown, has blue eyes and brown hair."

    Alex felt a trickle of cold in his spine and sweat on his brow as he turned and left the room, just as the bidding began.
  4. Jovon Green

    Jovon Green New Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Minneapolis, MN USA
    The Red Sun: Scroll of the Shattered Lands
    (1-400 words relatively)
    Quite possibly hidden in an unknown cave in the far east land of China, there is a scroll called the legend of the Red Sun. Detailed in the scroll is a man created for the purpose of following the will of heaven in present day.
    This is the reason the evil dragon who fell from heaven is overworking himself to stop the will of God. Yet ultimately the choice is that of the Red Sun which path he will take. The Red Sun cannot reach the limits of his potential unless he chooses the path of heaven. If he chooses the path of hell he will face eternal death. Herein lies the primary issue of free will. This is the edict of the unknown scroll:

    "Mortal man of Mortal coil. Here the ultimate insight of Heaven."
    "Mortal man has always from the start had freewill."
    "Yet the cowardly actions of mankind namely DISRESPECTING GOD,
    is why we are at the present state of things."
    "How Hard can it be To Listen to God's direction?"

    I soon awoke from my dream. WHAT THE HELL DID I DREAM THAT FOR!?!
    Then I thought to meself dreams are merely Gods way of teaching mankind what
    is needed and nothing more. Some are for entertainment, other's are mandates and insight from
    God. The nightmares are the dark possible outcomes of life should we sit there and do nothing or cowardly rebel against order. Freewill is there for freedom of choice yet God is more than a choice he is an emnation and choice, where as evil is only a choice in that of itself. I the RED SUN choose the will of God. Now it is time to smash the darkness within and without without hesitation!
  5. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Couple more hours to go. If you have an entry that is close but might not make the deadline, send me a PM.
  6. Patra Felino

    Patra Felino Active Member

    Apr 5, 2012
    Likes Received:
    When the Birds Stop Singing [1,602 words]

    The red orb inched its way above the horizon, tingeing the cave walls with blood. The feeble rays brought no respite from the cold, though, and Anthony wrapped the blanket tighter and shifted his position on the cold, damp rock, letting his back ache in place of his thighs. With his tongue clamped to the roof of his arid mouth, he shut his eyes and tried willing the sound into being, but all he could hear were the taunting plops of rain from outside.

    As dad had taught him, he waited for the last crack of the red disk to rise above the opening of the cave before standing up with a shiver, stretching his sixteen-year-old, bony frame and reluctantly heading back down the tunnel. He wondered how he should disappoint them today. Should he greet them with a straight “no”? Shake his head? Say nothing at all?

    How much longer must they wait? How much longer could they?

    As he scrambled up the narrow passage, he passed the entrance to the “pantry” – a well-camouflaged tunnel that led to thousands upon thousands of tins of food. He saw again himself as a small child, his mother raging and crying at her lunatic husband who had spent all their savings on food and batteries, and grimaced at the well-worn memory. If only she had been right.


    “But I don’t understand! Why can’t we drink just a little bit of rain? I’m thirsty!”

    Dad sank his head into his hands. I saw his knuckles whiten and his body shake. The bags under his eyes were darker and fuller than ever and he seemed skinnier than ever. Ant stepped forward, taking his little sister’s hand in his own.

    “Lucy, we can’t drink the rain because it’s poisoned. You were just a baby when the bombs came, but that’s why outside is poisonous now. It’s all radioactive.”

    “But why can we drink the water from the mountain? Why isn’t that radyactive too?”

    I tried and failed to suppress a smile and drew an embarrassed angry frown from my little sister. Even surrounded by desperation and misery as we were, such a simple sweet thing still had the power to lift my spirits.

    “I know it’s difficult to understand, Lucy”, I said, ”but the water from the mountains comes from snow that’s been there all winter. It melts and runs all the way down the mountain. The thing about radiation is that it gets less and less poisonous with time – you see, there’s this thing called half-life, and…”

    “She’s too young to understand about half-life, Ant”, interrupted dad, who was now grinning through his greying, dishevelled beard. “Lucy, do you trust your daddy?”


    “Then trust me when I tell you that we can’t drink the rain because we’ll die. Do you understand what that means? It means we’d be gone forever and ever. Would you like me to go away forever and ever, Lucy? Or Ant? Or Grandad?”

    Lucy pouted, then shook her head, eyes wide open with fright. She was probably remembering mum.

    “Well, we don’t want you to die either. You’d leave us all lonely. So just wait. We can all have a bit more water with our lunch.

    An angry snort came from the other side of the biggish chamber we jokingly called the living room. Grandpa was getting up, cane swinging.

    “Lunch, eh? There’s a word that’s lost its meaning since my day. Once was a time that it used to refer to food! Now I’m lucky if I get a piece of spam and a teacupful of honey. Once was a time I could count on a good bit of lamb, some lovely roast spuds and veg, not forgetting the gravy.”

    “Not now, Pop”, said dad, head back in hands.

    “Can’t stop me thinking about my memories, son. All I’ve got is memories. Just so happens I prefer reflecting upon them than my next meal of spam in this freezing hole, sitting and stinking and waiting to die.”

    “Dad! Not again. Not in front of Lucy.”

    “Ah, the sooner she knows the truth the better, and the truth is it’s probably better that the birds don’t come this year, put us all out of our misery. What kind of life is this?”, spat Granddad, swinging his cane in a wild arc about him, “for a little girl anyway?”

    “Do we have to have the senile old fool act again, Pop? Do we really have to go through it again?” My father had those red spots in his cheeks.

    Granddad turned angrily towards his son, preparing a retort and swinging his cane, but this time it cracked into the half-full cup of water on the table, sending it flying. Even before the last drops had landed, I had made a dive for the sponge and was soon squeezing brownish drops back into the cup. It wasn’t the first time it had happened.

    Dad looked really crazy now. For a moment I thought he was even going to attack Granddad, but all he said was “That’s coming out of your lunch water, Pop.”

    “Lunch, eh? There’s a word that’s lost its meaning since my day. Once was a time…”


    Ant sat in the dark and waited for dawn. Under the coarse blanket, his fingers were in constant motion, keeping the blood flowing like Dad had taught him.

    Dad knew all about that kind of stuff because he had been a scientist before everything went bad. That’s how he knew about the best food to keep in storage for years and years, and what vitamins you needed to take if you were going to live inside all the time, and why the sun was always blood red in the mornings and evenings and, of course, about the water.

    Ant shivered and drew the blanket closer still as he recalled the fateful afternoon, years ago, when they had had to leave the truck – loaded full with barrels of water – because the neighbours had gone crazy and were going to kill them, and remembered Mum’s screams as they had grabbed her. He remembered the weeks and weeks of sneaking outside at night in the suit to bring back samples, testing them with the Geiger counter and pouring them down a deep, dark hole. And when dad had realised that the snowmelt from the mountain was safe to drink they had all been so delighted, but they had to be so, so careful to get it without being seen, because being seen would mean their hiding place would be overrun and all their supplies gone in the blink of an eye. So far, nobody had found out their secret. Except for the birds.

    Because every spring, the birds somehow – not even Dad understood how they did it – knew when the rocky pool at the bottom of the little cliff began to fill up with water, and when birdsong greeted the sunrise, the family knew it was time to send Ant down on the rope with the bucket and begin the long, welcome routine of filling up all the cups and bits of plastic and empty spam tins. But every year, the winters got colder and the birdsong came later, and every year the unspoken question hanging over them was closer and darker and more ominous than ever before.


    Ant snapped awake to the angry hisses of his father and the deeper grumbles of his granddad. He leaned over and listened for the even breathing below the golden curls that told him Lucy was still asleep beside him, then tiptoed out of the cave that he shared with her. He could see the candlelight from the living room. As he moved closer, he could see that his father was gesticulating frantically, while his grandfather sat at the wooden table in the middle of the room. He was clutching something in his hand.

    Moving closer, Ant could see what it was. It was a clump of hair.

    “When did you start drinking it, you bloody fool?”

    “About a week ago. Don’t see what difference it makes, son. At least I can die on my own terms, without being desperate for a sodding drink.”

    “But you know what comes next. How many times…Jesus Christ, it’s like you actually want this, you old…”

    Ant’s father turned away in exasperation and found himself looking straight at his son. He moved between the two of them as if he could somehow block what had already been seen and heard.

    “Ant! Ant, what are you doing up? What about Lucy? Did you leave Lucy all on her own?”

    “Yes, but she was asleep. Look, she’s just…”. Ant stopped dead when he saw the empty bed. They all stood silent for a moment, but when they heard the scrambling from down the tunnel, Ant bolted after it.

    “Lucy! Stay where you are. You stay right where you are.”

    Ant caught up with her just before she reached the entrance. The sun was starting to come up, so he could see the streaks of tears running down her filthy face.

    “I’m just so thirsty! I don’t care if it’s radyactive.”

    “But Luc,…”. Ant stopped mid-word at the same time as Lucy’s eyes shot open. Had they both imagined it? Seconds ticked by. All they could hear was the beating of their own hearts.

    But then a chirp came from outside. It was answered by a longer warble.

    Relief flooded through their bodies. They were going to be safe!

    They were going to be safe for another year.
  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Congratulations @Lancie. I'll be posting your winner's thread tomorrow and start the voting on the next contest. I've been busy trying to get as much stuff up for sale on EBay for Cyber Monday. I have a house full of stuff that needs to go.
    Lancie likes this.

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