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