And without further ado the Winner is…
1st Place: Phil Town – Ever After
2nd Place: Christopher Smith – The Search, The Savior
3rd Place: Alice Nelson – Henry and Vincent
4th Place: Kenneth Cartisano – The Man With the Crazy Horse
5th Place: Ilana Leeds – Afterwards it Was Quiet…
6th Place: Maud Harris – Star Wars
7th Place: Victoria Chvatal – In a Split Second
8th Place: Carrie Zylka – Oscar
Story with the Favorite Character: Henry and Vincent / Vincent
Story with the Best Pacing: Christopher Smith
Story with the Best Use of Dialogue: Phil Town
Anyone who would like to get their vote totals may send an email to liflashfiction(at)gmail(dot)com to request details.
To read all of the stories entered and find out how you can participate in our weekly/bi-weekly/monthly short story contests please go to: http://fiction.wwocz.net/blog/2017postapocalyptic/
Per the new process, Maud Harris will choose the January 2018 prompt/theme. Visit http://fiction.wwocz.net/blog/why-and-how-to-participate/writing-prompt-roster/ to view the Writing Prompt Roster.
Ever After by Phil town
“All right, my lovely. Just one more.”
The man pulled the blanket up to his daughter’s chin. Her short breaths came in tiny wisps of vapour. The cold air coming through the broken windows made the man shiver.
“It was a freezing winter and–”
“Once upon a time, daddy.” The girl’s voice was a whisper.
The man laughed, which set him coughing. When he’d recovered, he started again.
“Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a little girl called Iris.” In the dim, flickering candlelight he could just make out his daughter’s smile.
“It was a freezing winter, and Iris’s house was very, very cold. Her daddy wasn’t very well, so it was Iris that had to go out and find firewood.”
“Where was her mummy?”
“Well,” something caught in the man’s throat. “Her mummy was visiting her family on a lovely, warm island in the south, with sunshine, white beaches, warm, blue water – oh it was paradise! She sent them postcards, and Iris put them on her wall.”
“I wish I had postcards.”
“You don’t need postcards, my lovely. Daddy’s going to take you to an island just like that one, very soon.”
“Will mummy be there?”
“Oh, I’m sure she will be, yes.” The man turned his head away from his daughter and swallowed.
“What about Iris, daddy?”
“Of course! Iris,” said the man gratefully.
“As I was saying, Iris had to go out and get firewood because the house was soooo cold. So that’s what she did. But before she went, her daddy made her wrap up warm, with two coats, fur boots, gloves and a lovely thick woollen scarf that kept her throat nice and snug.”
The man pulled the blanket up to his daughter’s chin again.
“So Iris went off looking for firewood, but all the good stuff that was close had already been found, so she had to walk a long way.”
“Did she meet anyone?”
“Funny you should ask that, my little dumpling. She didn’t meet any people, no, because they were all in their houses keeping warm. But you’ll never guess what she did meet!”
“I hope it was a horse. I like horses.”
“I know you do, and it was indeed a horse, standing in a frosty field, looking very sorry for herself.”
“Was she cold?”
“She was very cold, my darling. So cold her nose had turned bright blue.”
The little girl laughed, and like her father before, this set her coughing – dry, hacking coughs that made her body shake.
“There, there, lovely. Maybe I’ll finish the story later.”
“No, daddy. Go on.”
The man peered at the dim form of his daughter and knew that, yes, he needed to continue.
“So the little girl got talking to this horse, whose name was …”
“Exactly. And she found out that the poor old thing was aching so much with the cold. She … Maisie asked Iris to help her, but what could she do?”
In the candlelight, the wisps of vapour came ever more rapidly.
“That’s exactly right. You’re so clever, sweetie. Iris took her scarf off and wrapped it around Maisie’s neck. And you’ll never guess what happened next.”
He paused to involve his daughter in the story, but she said nothing. He pushed on.
“Maisie changed into a fairy! A beautiful, bright, pink and white fairy with shiny wings. And what did the fairy say, do you think?”
The man paused again. He could still hear his daughter’s breathing, but it was very weak.
“She said: ‘For your kindness, dear Iris, I grant you one wish. You can wish for anything.’ ”
The man began to rush now; he had to reach the end of the story.
“And so Iris wished to be on the sunny island with her mummy and daddy, playing on the white sand and diving into the warm, blue water. Then WHOOSH! There was a flash and Iris found herself flying, hand in hand with her daddy, flying through the air at an incredible speed. But she wasn’t frightened because she knew that she was going to a happy place, and sure enough, after a little while, they landed on the beach, and there was her mummy waiting, and all three of them danced and laughed and hugged. And they lived happily, so happily ever after.”
He stopped and listened. He could only hear his own rasping breaths now. He slipped his hands under his daughter’s limp body, lifting her out of bed and into his arms, kissing her poor, blistered face.
“Oh, Iris, Iris.”
Outside, the black, ash-laden sleet started falling again.