• Mary Decker

ATA Flash Fiction Winner Announcement

Our 2018 - Week 31 Winner is ...

First, a word on judging and a look behind the scenes:

I've come to love, and loath judging this competition. I love reading the stories and I loath having to then go over the mechanics, dissect the stories and evaluate them for artistic merit... some judging is easier than others.

One of the first things I do is check the word count. I first use the word count in Scrivener, if that's good I move on, if not, it then gets put into Microsoft Word for a word count - if that fails, I hand count the words. If any of the three methods gets the right word count, I move on to the rest of the technical.

For technical evaluation I have two levels - me eyeballing it (when I notice spelling errors you know its bad) and note what I find. I then move on and let Grammarly be my guide. I have to be careful with that because it highlights grammatical errors and doesn't take into consideration dialog and speech.

For artistic judging I look at a lot of different things - the initial impact of the story and then how the story stays with me. That staying power is one of the things that sets the story apart. Does the story haunt me? Does it make me think? Do I want to revisit that world? Do I need to?

Artistic values are harder to evaluate because they are personal and they are opinions. The technical is easy, it's constant - but artistic... artistic lets us bend the rules, try something new - test ourselves and hone our skills.

I think what I love about this week's entries is seeing authors I love push the boundaries and working to create something fresh and new, and I am honored to get to witness this.

So thank you!

This week' prompt:

You both stepped away from the picture - used it as inspiration, but did not make the story about the picture and I love that. The prompt is to inspire, and you have to leave enough of the prompt in there so that the judge can see the inspiration - but I love that both of you took the image and ran in different directions.

Mil Ana - .Your story shows us a world, and what lays beneath that world - that no matter where you go - you take yourself with you and your subconscious can have a mind of its own. It makes me think and it haunts me to no end.

Mark Moris - Second person is never an easy thing - we're almost programmed not to write in that format, which makes reading it that much stranger because we don't see it. You took that perspective and ran with it, creating an intimate portrait of a retrospective, compete with studio audience. Well done..

It's amazing to me that two very different stories can have hints of the same things happening - one in the mind and another on the screen as the past is shown on the screen. Both hint and much larger stories and both haunt me in different ways.

As always, only one entry can win this week - and that winner is:

Mil Ana - as I said - one of the qualities of this story is the fact that it haunts you. It's one of the things about your writing that is so powerful is that you speak on many levels and they stick with you - I've always been drawn to characters who aren't quite plumb, and sometimes it's even more intriguing when they know they're not quite right...


I never thought we’d reach that far. Far as metaphorically speaking, since the distance from home is not that great. Truth be told, it’s farther away than I ever thought I’d travel in my lifetime, yet only because I grew up poor. Only rich people have access to this beach.

“You’d better get used to it,” he says, his laughter echoing above the blue waters.

He grabs me by the shoulders and shakes me.

Come on, I tell him. It’s not like we deserve this.

“Who does?”

Without truly expecting an answer, he takes my hand and drags me into the sea. For a moment or two I almost feel safe. This paradise is ours to enjoy.


I went to greet the rabbit when it first appeared. It looked white and pure. Only it wasn’t decent at all.

Instead of shaking my hand, the rabbit bit my finger.

“You’re not Alice.”

Its voice sounded hoarse. Not that I know how a rabbit’s voice sounds like. Obviously, rabbits don’t speak at all.

“This is not Wonderland either.”

I nodded. Wonderland was supposed to be underground somewhere and I could still see the sun.

“Are you all right?” he asked me. My hand was bleeding. Then again, it was the drugs, right? The drugs were part of the fun.

“You’re bleeding,” he cried. He should have fetched me a bandage, yet he wasn’t the useful kind of person, or the calm kind.

I wasn’t either. The rabbit looked me in the eye, grinning, as if asking:

“Another fairytale gone bad?”


I didn’t tell him the truth, or he’d consider me a lunatic. In the beginning, whenever the rabbit appeared, I ran into the sea. Rabbits can’t swim. Yet later on, the rabbit remained silent, watching us, shaking its head from time to time in a seemingly disapproving way.

“We’ve only robbed a bank, it’s not like we killed anyone,” he says.

“You can always run away to beautiful places. Yet you can never escape yourself,” I say. Or the rabbit, I think to myself.

He doesn’t see the trap. He doesn’t care either. He won’t let anything spoil the moment. I keep my head underwater for as long as possible. That’s when I forget myself and the rabbit. I know if I keep myself there long enough, the rabbit will disappear. For good.

Then I’ll be truly in paradise.

Congratulations and thanks to all - you are an amazing band of writers.

Tune in tomorrow for another installment of ... the ATA Flash Fiction Contest!

#FlashFiction #FlashContest #WritingPrompt #amwriting #writingchallenge #Fictioncontest #WritingContest #WritingContest #FlashFictionChallenge #ShortStoryCompetition

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