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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Lilywhite

2015 Short Story Competition Entries - Voting finished

2015 Short Story Competition  

8 members have voted

  1. 1. Which story do you think should win?

    • A
      2
    • B
      6


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Hello All!

 

Please find below the entries for the 2015 Short Story Competition.  Yes, there are only two entries but I would like to thank the authors for their effort and I hope you enjoy their entries.  Once you have read the stories, please answer the poll at the top of the page to indicate who you would like to win.  Please feel free to leave your praise and encouragement in this thread.  But be aware, there may be spoilers if you haven't already read the entries!

 

I will leave the poll open for two weeks and the winner will be the story with the most votes at the end of the voting period.  I will leave it up to the authors to reveal themselves at the end, if they wish to do so.

 

Happy reading!

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Entry A

 

Help, Hinder or Neutral

 

As the clock struck 10 o’clock Paul screamed. He had almost made it this time, but the purple light had caught him, and now the ten year olds greatest fears were chasing him down. He fell silent when he realised that all his screaming would do is enable his nightmares to find him. He hunkered down deeper into the blanket bundle and tried not to work out just how much he wanted his Mum. He heard a deep bell ring and a voice informing him that it was time, and he knew in that moment that he wasn’t alone in his own head.  

***** *****

Since the earliest days mankind has been fascinated with dreams and the subconscious mind. Over time this has developed into a serious subject of study and interpretation. It was discovered that some members of the population could both manipulate their own dreams, and infiltrate the dream realm of others. Others, especially children formed, what had been termed the susceptible group, with a sleep time subconscious open to even a mildly talented dream walker. Private companies, and governmental groups had been created to review just what this might mean, and how best to exploit the potential applications of this new understanding.

South of the river a motley collective of like-minded people had come together. We were bothered by the tone of all the news sparingly shared within the field of Dream Technology, as it was now known. Discussion about the ethics of dream exploration in others was limited, and it was felt by many, that it was safer and definitely desirable to remain out of reach of the conglomerate mentality.

 It was the underbelly of society that we wanted to help, the poor and needy, the hopeless and helpless. Mental health issues amongst societies forgotten wasn’t high on anyone’s agenda, but was well known to be “positively susceptible”, as Jo-jo put it, to dream guidance.  My young friends, Jo-jo, Jenna, and Marcus had established a safe and non-intrusive way of both entering and manipulating dreams. It was a calling. When they undertook a dream walk a few of us non dream-talented friends would gather, and use our presence to keep the experience positive, safe and loving. We had helped quite a few this way, often only as a silent presence in the person’s sleep for a time, reassuring and understanding.

***** *****

Paul and his mother Netty had arrived on our doorstep from north of the river a few weeks ago. Anxious and clearly scared they had been made welcome. Netty had told us of young Paul’s increasingly troubled dreams. She needed our help.

They had travelled with the sole purpose of finding the group that was spoken of on the quiet. All Netty had known when they set out was the reputation the house had for helping life’s errant dreamers.

“He’s not mad. He’s troubled. I used to be able to ease it for him, but it’s beyond me now. I thought you could help.”

Netty might be meek in many respects, but as a mother she was all protection and defence. 

 “Troubled?” Marcus had asked.

“Nightmares. Every night, through the night. A dark light is all He can tell me. Well scream at me is more like it. The dark light, the bell and the building near the water”

 “Dark light and bell?” Jo-jo sat up fast. The ever composed Jo-jo was clearly shaken.

***** *****

When lunch was finished and cleared, a handful of us stayed at the table, quiet in the background.

Jenna and Jo-jo were talking by the sink as they washed up.

“What’s dark light Jo-Jo?” Jenna asked quietly, Jo-jo’s reaction earlier still bothering her.

Jo-jo rubbed her face as if to rouse herself, “All I know is that it’s a purple coloured light a child can see in dream state.   I saw it the once when I was ten and it scared me rigid. That and the voice telling me it was time. There’s been a mish-mash of theories about it for years, but nothing conclusive.”

Marcus had been typing at his laptop while the two had been speaking. He wanted to make some sense of what was being said.

‘Dark light’ and ‘purple light’ brought up modern myths and urban legends, amongst photos of bewildered children and worried adults. Strangers came, children disappeared, and communities forgot. Weird and worrying.

It was established that Paul’s dark light dreams had started ten months ago, mild to begin with, but over time he had only the murderous chasing dreams to look forward to each night. For the past ten nights he had barely slept, so fearful of what he would see. Since their arrival Jo-jo and Marcus had been ‘visiting’ Paul in his sleep in an attempt to make sense of why he was so troubled. So far it was all confusing and inconclusive despite the dreams being so repetitive in content.

***** *****

We needed more information to know how to proceed. We decided on a more proactive approach when they dream walked tonight. Tonight was information gathering rather than just handholding. Dreams always held clues, all they needed to do was gather them and we would hopefully be able to decipher them.

As Jo-jo, Marcus and Paul readied themselves for sleep, as the loose collective gathered round the big wooden table. Lamps went out as candles were lit, chatter diminishing until as one the group felt for and found the emotional friendship links that bound us together. We were ready.

***** *****

Sound and heat blasted Jo-jo as soon as she entered Paul’s dream. There were shouts and high pitched whines and a damp oppressive darkness that made her lungs feels heavy. Even in her worst dreams she had never experienced the sense of foreboding she now felt. She had to find Paul, and quickly. Marcus would find her soon enough, he always could, but an unusual feeling of panic was rising in Jo-jo. She felt out of control.

Jo-jo got her bearings quickly, she somehow knew she had been here before, and headed toward lower ground. She knew that Paul must be close and looked for hiding places. A bundle of blankets and cardboard half hidden beneath an abandoned skateboard ramp looked likely. She made a dash for it and found herself almost falling on top of a trembling Paul. He was beyond terrified.

A bell tolled, and a deep voice intoned “It’s time.”

Shadows that seemed to obscure potential enemies were getting closer and with no sighting of Marcus, Jo-jo just wanted to get the blazes out of there. Grabbing Paul’s hand she made a move toward the rusting iron gates that seemed to lead to the river, only to be met by a wall of sound that hurt their ears, and flooded with a strange purple hued light that dazzled them into stopping. They rapidly backed away, despite the encroaching shadows and the sing-song calling. Marcus bumped into them as they retreated. He looked spooked.

”We need to get out of here. Now” He shouted to be heard. “I’m waking us up.”

The sights, sounds and smells of the dream dropped from as each woke up. The sense of menace lingered. The group smiled warmly at them as one, then broke up the comforting circle that had accompanied their little dream trip. Most headed off to bed, while one or two of us lingered to hear about the adventure and the abrupt return.

Marcus explained his decision.

“There was a consciousness in that dream and it wasn’t ours.  I saw a purple searchlight that locked onto you two straight away when you went toward the water, and that awful noise. Then there were the shadows and I kept hearing a loud voice say ‘it’s time’. On top of that every wall I passed had posters written in mangled French; Trouver violet clair. Aller à lieu vide.”

I had been sitting quietly with Jenna, but wracked my brain for the translation in my own version of mangle French,

Find purple light. Go to empty place. Is that right? There seems to be two things going on here, and if Marcus is right with his feeling that there was an outside consciousness at work here we need to make some quick decisions.”

While the others could work within dreams, my talents are more earthbound, and I wanted to throw that into the mix. If dreams are our subconscious, there is a conscious behind it, and I am great at human motivations and thought processes. I love a good interpretation, and having got to know Paul and his Mum, plus knowing Jo-jo and Marcus as I do, I felt between us we might make some sense of this.

 “Let’s play a game of ‘Help, Hinder or Neutral?’ You three have been in there, so ask yourselves what was helping you and what was hindering you and what stayed neutral in the dream?” I got a laugh for my age old way of assessing a situation.

“The noise and light stopped us from getting to the water, but the shadows and calling was creeping us out, so we didn’t want to head that way either. I have no idea what the posters were about” Jo-jo was tired but played along.

“From that we could say the light and sound hindered, and the shadows and voice did nothing but freak us out. Therefore were the posters trying to help?” Marcus looked baffled.

“Something to sleep on I think”. I ushered them off to them respective rooms.

 

Paul was soon snoozing in what appeared to be a dreamless sleep, his Mum nodding off in the bed opposite. I closed their door. Jo-jo and Jenna headed off to their room, while Marcus and I got a pot of coffee on the go.

We spent the next few hours debating, discussing doing wild internet searches and running out the room to get yet another book or yellow pages or map. By morning and the arrival of the others we felt we were getting super close to figuring it out. The thing we couldn’t fathom yet was the voice and the French.

Ok, ok, let’s run through this one more time…..” Marcus was in full flow, all sparkling eyed and slightly manic. “The earliest mention of the purple light, or dark light in nightmares was about ten years ago. A ten year old girl was reported to be experiencing crippling nightmares. She and her family appear to just vanish within months, no further mention of them. We also have our very own Jo-jo experiencing a nightmare with the same stuff, about 9 years ago, just before the family moved. She was aged, guess what? Ten!”

”Travelling on down, despite the odd gap here and there I think we can safely conclude that every few months for the past decade children have been targeted by nightmares. All of these kids aside from Jo-jo have ended up disappearing, most often with their whole families.” Marcus sat back in his chair.

“Yep, that sums up that part. The age thing is actually interesting as this study here,” I waved a sheaf of papers at him, “showed the susceptibility factor in humans was at its most receptive at around 10 years old, and it debates the ethics of making use of that fact.  We also know that the early days of dream technology involved waves being transmitted to test subjects. The waves were interpreted as pastel light beams by the subconscious. This could explain the purple light, kind of.” I didn’t think it was a perfect fit, but it was the closest thing we had to a proper theory.

“Now for the giant leaps that bring us home. Stay with us if you can” If it hadn’t been for a young boy sitting in front of me with dark circles under his eyes I might have said I was enjoying this.

“‘Help, hinder or neutral’ last night showed us the light and noise hindered, the bell, voice and shadows did nothing but spook, which means that the posters in French are trying to help.” I did grin then, happy that my lifelong sorting method might actually crack this.

“Trouver violet clair. Aller à lieu vide. Closest translation is Find purple light. Go to empty place. We decide to ignore that it was in French, which could be from any one of the psyches involved in the dream, but concentrate on the meaning.”

Marcus took up the delivery. “We think that it means that we will find the source of the purple light in an abandoned building. Getting the maps out, and knowing that Jo-jo had felt it was all nearby, we threw in skateboarding and a riverside park and came up with three places that might fit. But then we saw the name of this one, Clair Violet Fashions. This just had to be our lieu vide! ”

“That’s when it all came together. Around fifteen years ago CVF, as is was known had a huge advertising campaign, with the phrase ‘It’s time to get on trend’ and the toll of a big bell. “

Netty looked dubious, and Jo-jo looked dumbfounded.

“So what’s actually happening then, and why?”

”We are pretty sure that CVF trialled some illegal direct advertising using their old phrase, but it didn’t work, or so they thought. A lightning strike on their old signal tower ten years ago corrupted the ad into a menacing mess that haunted youngsters, with ten year olds being particularly vulnerable to the intermittent signal. The only reason Jo-jo didn’t suffer the same fate as the others was that the family moved out of signal range soon enough.”

“And the disappearances?” Netty’s larger fear rose to the surface.

“Not disappearances at all, but relocations by the authorities who knew there was a problem, but hadn’t figured out the how of it. Marcus sent an email today letting them know where to start looking.”

So it’s over?” Paul had asked the most important question of all.

“This messing with our minds is done with!” Jo-jo looked delighted for Paul. She leant down and gave him a hug. “It is sweet dreams from now on.”

***** *****

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:boogie:Congratulations Author of Story B!   :cows:

 

A dark and menacing story, dense with description and genuinely creepy. The imagery ensured I could see each scene so clearly, and I experienced the shivers at a few points. Well done.  :smile:

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Many congratulations to the winner and a huge thank you to both entries. I know its not easy putting your work out there for people to judge.

 

I will leave it to the authors to decide if they wish to come forward or not.

 

Can the winner please pm me your address and I can make arrangements for your prize

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:boogie:Congratulations Author of Story B!   :cows:

 

A dark and menacing story, dense with description and genuinely creepy. The imagery ensured I could see each scene so clearly, and I experienced the shivers at a few points. Well done.  :smile:

 

Thank you Chrissy! :blush::wub: It makes me so happy to hear that you enjoyed it. :D Don't be afraid to dish out criticism, too - I'd welcome any and all feedback to make my future writing better. :)

 

:hide::giggle2:

 

Many congratulations to the winner and a huge thank you to both entries. I know its not easy putting your work out there for people to judge.

 

Thank you Kat. :) This is the first piece of writing I've ever a) finished, and b) shown anyone, so I was kind of scared to see how it would be received! Thanks for running the competition - finishing this story and winning this has given me the motivation to start writing regularly again. :)

 

(That sounded like a gushy Oscars acceptance speech or something :giggle2: )

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I thought story A was crap........ but as I was the one who wrote it, I can say that!  :blush2:  :giggle2:

 

It was a fairly ok idea badly executed. In the end I had re written the bl**dy thing so many times with different tenses, voices and characters I HAD to go with what I was left with on the (extended) closing date. Thank you to everyone who voted, it is enormously appreciated. :flowers2:

 

It's a shame that there were only two entries, as I know there are so many of you who would be able to write a great tale.

 

Laura, you are such a worthy winner with your very dark and spooky tale.  :yes: The twist was unexpected and somewhat blew my story reading mind. If this is your first time of finishing a story all I can say is KEEP WRITING. I would love to read more of your stuff.  :readingtwo:   

Edited by Chrissy

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I thought story A was crap........ but as I was the one who wrote it, I can say that!  :blush2:  :giggle2:

 

It was a fairly ok idea badly executed. In the end I had re written the bl**dy thing so many times with different tenses, voices and characters I HAD to go with what I was left with on the (extended) closing date. Thank you to everyone who voted, it is enormously appreciated. :flowers2:

 

I had NO idea you were the other entrant!! :o :O :o Have you written stuff before or was this your first go at it? I really liked the idea behind your story, and considering we were on a deadline I think we did well just to submit something! :yes:

 

I liked how you played around with the POVs . . . do you think you'll go back to it again in the future, or have you anything else in mind?

 

 

It's a shame that there were only two entries, as I know there are so many of you who would be able to write a great tale.

 

I too expected there to be more - I was looking forward to being able to read loads, and having great feedback discussions with everyone. Maybe next year?

 

 

Laura, you are such a worthy winner with your very dark and spooky tale.  :yes: The twist was unexpected and somewhat blew my story reading mind. If this is your first time of finishing a story all I can say is KEEP WRITING. I would love to read more of your stuff.  :readingtwo:   

 

Chrissy, you're such a cutie - thank you so much for your amazingly kind words. :flowers2:  :wub: My dream is to be a full time writer, and hearing such supportive words really lets me hope that one day it will come true. :wub:

 

(Cheesy, right? But true. :D)

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I write quite a bit, so I really should have just expanded and completed a 'resting' story for this comp, but instead threw myself into an idea that had been nuzzling my brain for a while. There is a distinct possibility that I will take the central idea of the story and write it up (very) differently at some stage.  :smile:

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Congratulations Laura :D!!

 

Chrissy, I wouldn't have guessed that you were author A! I voted for your story. The accents in story B confused me :blush2:.

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It's a shame that there were only two entries, as I know there are so many of you who would be able to write a great tale.

 

I spent most of the month or so the competition was running for trying to think up a decent story but failed (the closest I got was an idea about the 10th Ring Wraith - Kevin - who doesn't feature in Tolkien's "authorised history".  I just couldn't think of a way to make it work, though . . .).

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I spent most of the month or so the competition was running for trying to think up a decent story but failed (the closest I got was an idea about the 10th Ring Wraith - Kevin - who doesn't feature in Tolkien's "authorised history".  I just couldn't think of a way to make it work, though . . .).

 

'Kevin'? :rolol:

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I would pay to read that, Raven! Good money too!  :D

 

Problem is, it is a one line joke.  Expanding it and keeping the humour going would be difficult.

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*sadly drops large denomination notes back into purse*

 

It's a terrible shame that The Tales of Kevin the 10th Wraith will be forever lost to the world. 

 

*sigh*

 

:D

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A HUGE thank you to the lovely Katrina for my fantastic prize!

 

 

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There's a selection of fancy notebooks (I especially love the red pirate-y one), some lovely writing pens, and of course the CUTEST little pink unicorn eraser! :wub: 

 

Thanks so much, Kat - now I have no excuse to let my writing lapse! :D

 

And of course, here are the obligatory pictures of Fili doing what she does best: photobombing. :rolleyes:

 

 

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(I have no idea why her tongue looks so much like a piece of pepperoni. :giggle2: )

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