A big thank you to all 24 entrants! We had a LOT of fun reading your entries--all 76,630 words. The standard was fantastic, and we were blown away by the sheer range of stories you came up with from such a broad and simple prompt. We had horror, romance, sci-fi, comedy, thriller, satire... you name it. We laughed, we cried (not just at the two week judging deadline), we gulped, and we blurted out, "Whoa, I didn't see that coming." Judging was sometimes difficult and sometimes easy, but one thing we all agreed on was that more than three stories deserved recognition. In fact, ALL of them deserve recognition, and as a result we are offering critiques for any entry. You can either: PM any of the judges (me, @Lifeline, @Steerpike, @Komposten and @Wreybies) for a private critique. Post in the workshop, where at least one of the judges will post a critique. Other forum members will, as usual, be able to provide critiques as well. We will give you your score (out of 200) if you contact one of the judges, but we will not be posting these publicly and we ask you to keep them to yourselves--we don't want anybody obsessively comparing their scores to others! We have each chosen a Judge's Choice story. These are our favourite stories outside of the top three. There is no monetary prize for these stories, but we hope it will put a smile on your face to know how much we enjoyed your story. Finally, a big thank you to @Jeff Countryman, both for the idea of a supporter sponsored contest and for his contribution to the prize pool. It was only unfortunate timing that meant he wasn't a judge. So without further ado... First place, with a prize of $85.50, goes to... This Is Probably What Hell is Like by @izzybot A strong, engaging voice with moments of pure brilliance and an original take on a version of hell that isn't just demons poking red hot pokers up your arse for all eternity. We loved the imagery, the "nauseating descriptions", and the excellent writing. A well deserved winner! Second place, with a prize of $60, goes to... I Won't Say I'm In Love by @A.M.P. An excellent exploration of a 'bromance' but, more than that, a complex male relationship that we don't often see tackled (no pun intended for fellow British readers) in literature. We loved the strong characters and our hearts ached for Ryan. This fantastic story was only just beaten to the top spot. Third place, with a prize of $25.50, goes to... Marion's Secret by @A man called Valance It was the voice that got us again, described as "wonderful", "bright" and "fun". You kept us guessing until the end and the journey was very enjoyable indeed! Marion's Secret was just one mark away from the second place entry and a very worth third place winner. --- Our Judge's Choices are... Mapleberry by @doggiedude chosen by @Komposten, who says: Definitely my type of story. I love fantasy stories, unexpected events and unknown worlds. While the character development might not be the finest, the story still kept me hooked from beginning to end; laying on the couch, imagining the world and the creatures and environments it contained as the story progressed. The writing was solid and the flow was good. Headcount by @zoupskim chosen by @Lifeline, who says: Of course 'Headcount'. I read military memoir by choice, and this story is right up my alley so to speak. It is mostly overlooked in other writings how important it is to get all your buddies back, there is a deep committment which is mostly absent in usual society. War (and sailing) are two instances where you depend on your mates with your life, that they protect your back and deal with anything which might threaten all. And this sense of being a part of many, where when one doesn't come back stabs you hard - as in a part of you is not there - is something which goes so deep you never think about it if you have never experienced it. I guess I miss this sense of belonging in civilian society, and I love the take of this story to show its importance. She's My Ten by @Wayjor Frippery chosen by @Wreybies, who says: There were many great stories from which to chose and I was torn between this story and Headcount where, like Lifeline, I was in touch with the idea of the unquestioning commitment one must have to one's fellow troops - it's almost like a marriage - in order for the dynamic to work. What kept me with She's My Ten was the movement of the writing. I felt tossed on turbulent seas. I felt the scale of jubilation slide to dread and back up again, heady, disorienting, dizzying, all of it written with a steady show of wordsmithery. This piece was a very vulnerable permission to enter into a fellah's inner clockwork at a moment of intense intimacy. In that way, it was like an unexpected but very passionate kiss, and that's what sold me. I hope that's not too embarrassing for the writer of the piece. Life, Death and the Big White Bull by @obsidian_cicatrix chosen by me, who says: Here's a story with the time-honoured traditions of British comedy; chaos at a funeral, ladies going into labour in inopportune moments, and large animals in inconvenient places. Life, Death and the Big White Bull was Steptoe and Son meets Carry On (with class). Anybody who knows me will tell you a comparison to Steptoe and Son is about as big a compliment as you can get! Strong voice, full of dark humour, unpredictable and well-written. What more could I ask for? This will be going on my Kindle for future enjoyment. Shi Bop by @Marsh chosen by @Steerpike, who says: Shi Bop kept me engaged throughout. I like the flow, the stream of consciosness, the certain slipstream aspect to portions of the entry. I was compelled to go back and read it a couple of times, which is a good thing. I enjoyed the imagery and the author's voice, and I like the subtle unifier provided by the title. Nicely done. --- So thank you once again for all your entries. We hope you enjoyed writing them as much as we enjoyed reading them!