Lily gave us three words, and what my fellow Predictioneers did with them overwhelmed me. This must rank as one of the best weeks I’ve seen, and I honestly began to fret on Tuesday when I realized that I would actually have to choose just one. But choose one I must, and so, judging boots on, I begin:
Mimimanderly’s emotionally charged tale of a goodbye, “No Place Like Home,” dropped a house on us and ruefully winked while doing it.
Melenka wrought shiveringly-good suspense in “Centennial,” making us into the cheering crowd and begging to know: What will be unlocked?
Lily’s “Provision” was naughty and exciting, blurring the line between woman and monster and creating art out of priapism.
Aidan F wrought gorgeousness out of tragedy, soaring above the realm of fantasy with a delicate touch in “Kazuhiro’s Dragons.”
Antonia Woodville brought us classic horror courtesy of the ever-divine Bela Lugosi with “The Vampire’s Quest,” feeding us her special brand of… sustenance.
David Barber delights with his dialogue-only piece, “The Two Blokes,” a couple of guys who I’d really like to have a beer with. I’d even buy!
AJ Humpage brought us along on “The Road to Kigali,” searing heartbreaking images onto our retinas in a reminder that horror exists everywhere, even in those places we seldom think about.
Chris Allinotte turned just-another-day-on-the-job into a crime story of gory genius in “Guts, No Glory.” Chris, we’re not sick of the weird ones yet!
John Xero let us get a glimpse of the start of something epic in “Entombed,” his devilish invention freeing itself (at our expense?), and he used the word “penumbral”!
My “Warble” wondered at the origins of song, and dug at an answer.
Sandra Davies showed us the subtle side of horror, creeping at our subconscious much like her heroine’s first tremulous fears in “Early One Morning.”
Angel Zapata’s Vicki has had enough in this home-grown horror story, “Slur,” a lesson for many: hide the key or combination to the gun safe.
Jenny Dreadful hunts vampires without a cliché in sight in the taut “Anything resembling a bath would have stymied me.” And reminded me to floss.
Asuqi was generous, granting us twice the A.S. this week; was it the extra words she gave herself? One isn’t sure, but in her first piece, “Paradise Lost,” she blends dream and reality in a Gaugin of words as birds fly from her prose, and in “I Can Bring Nothing,” her protagonist drinks jasmine tea while draped in the memories of those who have gone before.
Lissa introduced us to Clever, all arrogance (deserved? We must know!) and slickness as he disturbed a raven-haired beauty in her boudoir. My own throat tightened at the thrill of her words.
William Davoll’s suspenseful “After the plague Part II” pits witchcraft against spirits harboring the evilest of intents, and despite the outcome, leaves behind a sense of profound unease.
I cannot begin to say how difficult a task it was to choose a winner. I truly adored each piece, my heart racing at times with the images you created and the beauty of your prose. In the end, though, I found I could not shake the shadowy horror of AJ Humpage’s “The Road to Kigali.” I felt intense discomfort while reading, to the point of tears, and was also deeply moved. Thank you, AJ, for sharing your talent. My runner-up is Aidan Fritz with “Kazuhiro’s Dragons.” I admired the way he used tragedy as inspiration in a way that felt organic and respectful; I’m not sure I could do the same.
Thank you, Lily, for giving me the opportunity to stride about the place in my judging boots. It was too much fun, and my riding crop hasn’t had this much of a workout in ages.
And thank you, Rebecca for your excellent and insightful judging. I'm sure we all appreciate it. Congratulations to Ally Humpage, and well done to Aidan.
See you tomorrow for a brand new Prediction. A very goodnight to you all.