Our 2018 - Week 43 Winner is ...
A perfect end to October . Three stories, each a delight to read in their own right.
This week' prompt:
Mark - you painted such a vivid picture of the setup, and the accident. From the seemingly innocent driver to the accident and near miss, and the final moments with the protagonist hanging on, and hoping rescue will come- but the damage is already done. Tense and intense.
Siobhan - I love how you engage the senses in your story, I can feel the temperatures in the air, and in the characters as a chance meeting turns into something more. I could see the action and reactions as I read the story. Delightful.
David - David, what can I say? Macabre and the most horrific part is how disconnected the heroes (if you can call them that) are from their actions, all that matters is the results. Winning is everything, after all. Horrifyingly good.
Thank you all for a great break from the mayhem that is NaNoWriMo.
As always, only one story can be the winner - For haunting me long after I read the story, the winner is: David Gardner with “How to Win.
How to Win
by David Gardner
The car was an altar.
Several things had been sacrificed to it. Indecisive squirrels, slow turtles, and one small deer had met their destiny under tires and wheels. They were, in all ways, inconsequential.
One body had been sacrificed, tied spread-eagled to the cold steel hood. Tradition would have you believe that it was dark and story, but truth be told, it was an early evening, with the last vestiges of the sun streaming over the horizon’s dyke. And it was warm, although the metal itself was still cold.
The cold steel had been the least of the girl’s concerns. She had been taken while walking home from a drive-in theater. She had told her parents that she might spend the night with a friend after the show, and so they were unaware of any real threat. Had she been smarter, she might have been tabbing through the index cards of her mind for a solution to her problem. Instead, she alternately mewled, pleaded and screamed. None of that mattered, any more than the squirrels.
Tradition would also have said that she was naked, but her clothes were untouched. No one had made any attempt on her virtue. They didn’t really care. If they had come across her during the day, in town, they would probably have made the typical teenage murmurings of appreciation for her form. Now, they were about other things.
“Shit!” said Matt. “I left the knife in the car.” At the mentioned of the word “knife” the girl’s struggling trebled.
Brad stopped in his tracks. “You had one goddam job! One!”
Matt slumped. “I have my pocket knife,” he all-but-whispered.
Brad lost his control. “A pocket knife? Does it have a fucking Boy Scout logo?”
Jimmy was the practical one. “It’s 15 minutes back to the car, and then 15 minutes back up here. It’ll take us at least that long to dig a grave.”
“If you start now, then we’ll still be on schedule.”
Partially to avoid Brad’s stare, and partially to get things on track, Matt headed back down the trail. Jimmy grabbed the shovels and moved away from the car. Brad followed.
“He’s trying his best. And we need him,” Jimmy said.
Brad still had not forgiven the mistake. “What do we need him for? He’s a fucking moron.”
The soil there was loose, and it was easy to dig. “He’s the only one of us who really understands what we’re doing. On a deep level. He can channel the energies better than your or me.”
Brad dug at the hole in silence. The girl’s voice had given out, and that was good. It let him think. He realized that Jimmy was right.
Half an hour later Matt had come back. The knife might have been Toledo steel, with intricate patterns engraved into the blade, darkened and given depth by years of sediments. It might also have been soft cast iron with a printed ink design. None of them cared. The girl, least of all.
They dropped the shovels. The hole was only two feet deep, but they’d stack some rocks on it and that would be that.
The three pulled on robes, soft and black They would have made good bathrobes, absorbent. Many people don’t think about the need for absorbency in a bathrobe.
They gathered around the girl, Matt on the passenger side, Brad on the driver’s, Jimmy kneeling on the hood. If her legs would have been free she would have kneed him in the crotch, but like the squirrels, that was irrelevant. Her screaming started again, and Brad winced. Jimmy raised the knife and plunged it into her throat. Before her gurgling had ceased he was carving out her heart, careful not to damage it. He handed the still-twitching heart to Brad.
Brad reached for a little bag, and from it he produced a carburetor. Brad squeezed the heart over the carb, sending streams of blood over it, around it, into its linkage. Matt joined him, rubbing the blood across and into the metal, almost in a trance. The girl had long since stopped twitching when they finished.
They finished. The girl was buried, and the rocks were stacked, and the rope used to tie her was cut away and packed out. The carburetor was safely placed back in its bag.
The next weekend, their Mustang ran a solid 11.5 seconds, and they wondered what they would have to do to coax out a little more power.
Congratulations and thanks to all - you are an amazing band of writers.
Tune in tomorrow for another installment of ... the ATA Flash Fiction Contest!