Shortlist! Can You Guess The Winner (& runner-up)?

Newsflash: Winner & Runner-Up Will Be Announced On Here Tonight at about 9pm GMT

season-sardines-canned-720768Right, as promised, here are the 6 shortlisted stories in my Random Word (planet/key/six/sardine/soup) Competition!

Ta Dah!

BUT wait, before you think, ‘blah, there’s nothing in this for me, I’m going back on Facebook’ – read on – there just might!

The estimed judge (whose identity will be revealed at the same time as the winners are announced) has already made his/her decision, so just for a bit of fun, I’m running an extra competition, which is open to everyone, regardless of whether you entered the competition or not.

Here’s what you need to do. It’s very simple. Read the 6 shortlisted entries below and make your own choice of 1st and 2nd place, as if you were the judge.

Put the titles of your chosen 1st and 2nd placed stories in the comments box (you can say why you chose them if you like but it’s not compulsory). If anyone matches the judge’s choice, exactly (ie: not just the first two stories but the placings too), I’ll award them a £10 Amazon voucher. If more than one person gets it right, then I’ll do a draw for the £10 voucher. If no-one gets it right, there’s no prize! Sounds fair enough?

I will publish the winners – and the winner of this extra prize – on Thursday 18th, so you’ve got a couple of days to get your choices in. Good luck! (And just one entry per person, please).

So, without further ado, here are the shortlisted 6, in alphabetical order by title:

1. A Futile Gesture – by Paul Warnes
Patricia was fuming. Six years, six precious years and it had come to this. Valentine’s Day dinner at bloody Planet Hollywood. That’s what you got for settling. Her mood had darkened during an interminable tube journey sardined between a pair of malodorous teenage backpackers. Gary was already seated beneath a glass case containing Rocky’s boxing gloves. She could’ve put one of them to good use. He’d already ordered. Two bowls of soup arrived.
“Enjoy!” said the waiter with a wink. Was it an order? Americanisms! She tasted metal and choked on the key to Gary’s heart.

2. Lucky Number – by Ciarán Parkes
They met for the first time in a small cafe in Key West.
One minute she was slurping a skinny mocha as if it was chicken soup for the single and desperate soul.
The next minute they were squashed together on the floor like sardines.
He helped her to her feet.
“This is what we get for living on a moving planet”, he said, “anything can happen”.
She found out later it was an earthquake.
Six on the Richter scale. Her lucky number.

3. Sixpence And A Smile – by Fiona Ritchie Walker
Too long playing football, jumping in puddles – will it be shut?
Sixpence, Mum said, if he gets it right. A pound of tea, sardines, pomegranate, cantaloupe.
A whole sixpence…. Run, legs, run – the blinds are down!
“Please Mr Cranston.” Words tumble out. “A round of keys, some beans, plum planet, can of soup.”
The shopkeeper smiles. Every Saturday at closing time. The wrong list given, right food taken.
Too soft? Well, it’s worth the back room call to his mum to see Harry at the sweet counter each Monday. In his hands a sixpence, on his face, a smile.

4. Sleep – by Sharon Twizell
Sleep, never my friend, became my enemy as I lay in a soup of sweat and dirt.
Guilt my cruel companion, kept me awake, for eight days straight.
Insomniac hallucinations plagued my waking, as dreams and reality merged. Replaying life events and tortured history that caused such terrible regret. I was different now, I’d learnt. I’m sorry.
My planet, my life, was this small room now. Canned like a sardine without a key.
There would be sleep for me tonight, for the guard had handed me a card.
It said “Menu for Last Meal request; Death Row Prisoner Number six”

5. Stargazy Pie – by Christine Howe
Dave strapped himself into his seat.
‘Ready?’ Mick said.
‘Yep. Planets Five and Six, here we come.’
Few astronauts got to work on the space stations, most did interplanetary deliveries.
‘Don’t you love Planet Five?’ Mick said. ‘Happy families.’
‘And don’t we hate Six?’
Six was colonised by celebrity chefs out-cooking each other. The meat cleaver count was high.
‘They’re making a Stargazy Pie, to celebrate Six. Key ingredient: sardines. Heads poking out of the pastry, gazing at the stars.’
‘Heads.’ Dave’s voice shook. ‘We’ve brought tinned – no heads.’
‘Jesus, we’re soup.’
‘The galactic equivalent of toast, mate.’

6. Winging It – by Linda Mallinson
Key worker, my wife. On call every night of the year is the downside, fantastic salary is the upside. Tonight she is in bed with chicken soup and flu. I, having managed to squeeze into her uniform, am deputising for her. My destination, a child’s bedroom, smells of fish. Creeping up to the bed, taking care not to disturb the sleeping six year old, I lift his pillow and quickly do the business. Exiting, I knock into a dangling planet and slip on a sardine. The boy wakes. I fly, hoping he doesn’t notice the tooth fairy has a beard.

This entry was posted in Competitions, random word competition, Short Stories and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Shortlist! Can You Guess The Winner (& runner-up)?

  1. Excellent stories, hard to call it.
    I’m placing my money on 1) A Futile Gesture, and 2) Sixpence and a Smile.

  2. gailaldwin says:

    Well done everyone!
    1. Sixpence And A Smile
    2. Stargazy Pie
    3. Winging It
    4. A Futile Gesture
    5. Sleep
    6. Lucky Number

  3. Catherine Robinson says:

    1. Lucky Number 2. Stargazy Pie 3. Sixpence and a Smile 4. A Futile Gesture 5. Sleep 6. Winging It

  4. 1. Stargazy Pie, 2. Winging It.

  5. Vivien McLaren says:

    1st: Sixpence and a Smile, 2nd. Sleep

  6. Sue C says:

    1 Sixpence and a Smile
    2 Winging It
    Well done to all shortlisted!

  7. polytPolyt says:

    1. Sixpence with a Smile
    2. Stargazy Pie

    • polyt says:

      Sorry that should read Sixpence and a Smile. I had such problems last night logging on and leaving a comment that I couldn’t face another battle to change the mistake.

  8. Jackie Sayle says:

    My choices are 1 Lucky Number and 2 Winging It.

  9. Keith Havers says:

    Congratulations to all those on the list.
    I’m going with:
    1. Winging It
    2. Lucky Number
    3. Sixpence And A Smile
    4. A Futile Gesture
    5. Sleep
    6. Stargazy Pie

    Thanks for the fun, Helen.

  10. jeanne772013 says:

    1. Sixpence And A Smile
    2. Lucky Number

  11. jeanne772013 says:

    Enjoyed reading all short-listed work. Pleasing how so few words can convey many different emotions. Congratulations to all writers short-listed.

  12. ados123 says:

    Excellent stories!
    My guess is 1st place -Lucky Number. 2nd place – Sixpence and a smile.


  13. Bob Major says:

    1st 5) Stargazy Pie, 2nd 3) Sixpence and a smile.

  14. Jo Hunter says:

    Hard to pick but my guess is 1st Sixpence and a smile 2nd Lucky number

    • Jo
      Sorry you had problems trying to leave your comment (and well done for persevering!). It was because you’d never left a comment before, I think – I needed to approve the comment. Next time you leave one, it should go through automatically. Thanks again.

  15. sparnel says:

    1st – Sixpence and a Smile 2nd – Lucky Number


  16. Karen says:

    ‘A Futile Gesture’ – 1st
    ‘Sleep’ – 2nd

  17. Cath Barton says:

    1. Lucky number; 2. Stargazy Pie

  18. Julie Lees says:

    It was really difficult to choose; they were all so good. Congratulations to all those shortlisted!
    1. Lucky Number
    2. Sixpence And A Smile
    3. A Futile Gesture
    4. Stargazy Pie
    5. Winging It
    6. Sleep

  19. Sara Kellow says:

    Very difficult to decide, but my choice for 1st place would be Lucky Number and for second Futile Gesture.

  20. banksywrites says:

    1. Sixpence and a smile
    2. Sleep

  21. juliathorley says:

    1. Stargazy pie. 2. A futile gesture. They’re all very good.

  22. 1. Sixpence and a smile
    2. Winging It

  23. Claire Chappell says:

    1. Sixpence and a smile
    (Clever play with words)
    2. Winging it
    (Made me laugh. A beardy toothfairy :-))
    What a hard job to choose. Congratulations to all those long and short listed.

  24. MarypP says:

    They are all well done!
    1. Lucky number
    2. Sixpence and a smile

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