Great job everyone! Go read the entries here if you haven't yet (WHAT?!?!?! You haven't read them? Whyever not?!?! Get to it!) You certainly know how to make it difficult for judge Jeffrey Hollar! Here's what he had to say:
I knew when my muse crammed this opening line in my head along with the special challenge words, it would make for some…intriguing stories. Those stalwart souls who took up the challenge certainly did NOT disappoint me.
Penname brought us a poignant and hard-fought battle back to salvation when all seems lost. I could identify with this story on soo many levels. Jessica West reminded me what it was like to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time on the streets of a city you have seriously underestimated the hazards of. I’m glad the ending worked out better for me than for this poor woman. Michelle raised the imposing question of which would be worse, that the end of the world is fast-approaching or that you have already seen just exactly what that end will entail? I’m not sure which it would be but this was a scary tale. And, as always, I truly enjoyed Rebekah Postupak’s signature blend of fantasy and whimsy. It’s gratifying to know that, for every unusual otherworldly creature there is a place they truly belong.
After far too much deliberation here are my top picks:
Special Challenge Runner Up: Megha Nayar for her story The Return. This was a thoroughly-disturbing example of children, in our day and age, growing up far too quickly and knowing far too much that no child should ever have to know. The special challenge words fit well in the tale told and didn’t seem at all out of place. I did find the phrasing of this story could have been arranged differently to create more of a flow to the tale. That is, in most all cases, a subjective thing and only time and experience will keep you on the mark with such things. Megha is certainly in the ballpark here.
Special Challenge Champion: Dr. Mike Reddy for his story For Better Or Worse. Who doesn’t enjoy a great tale of duplicity, deception and dirty dealing? In this case, the special challenge words were so subtly blended in I had to double-check myself to make sure they were there. (they were) I especially LOVED the ending when dear old mum gets to find out first hand exactly how Karma works. Outstanding work!