Ooh. That was pretty special, let us tell you. As you’ll recall, we asked for 250 word stories on this picture:
You wrote about heaven, you wrote about war. You wrote about San Francisco and you wrote about the Heathrow Holiday Inn. Guys, it was epic.
But we do have to have a winner, so that our stack o’books has a home to go to. So here that winner is:
RUNNER-UP: Petrina Hartland
You cannot fight a troll. Everyone knows that.
The only way you beat a troll is by trickery. By cleverness and wit, guile and deceit. Which leaves the nice people of the world, the kind, generous-natured souls who would no more lie to a stranger – even a slavering beast of a stranger – than they would steal from one of their neighbours, well, it leaves them royally screwed.
Kind people. Nice people. They are not equipped to make it over the bridge.
Me, though, I’m an old hand at sweet talking my way out of trouble. I can argue, prevaricate and bamboozle. Even on a bad day, I’m halfway across the span before the troll notices the sound of my steps. Before he rises up out of the foul mist of his breath, to clutch and grope, to tempt and pull.
I am not nice. I am not kind. I am on my guard.
I am not above bargaining, as part of my cunning. One more step. One more metre. One more day. Tomorrow, tomorrow can be the day of reckoning because I am holding on to today. I am holding on.
I beguile them all. Not just the troll under the bridge, but the demon in the tube tunnel, the genie in the bottle of pills. The cold, sharp siren call of the kitchen knife.
I balance on the bridge. One step at a time.
WINNER: Emily Smallman
“Just look at that,” he says through shutter clicks.
I kick up a clump of rust coloured dirt and crush it under my boot. It cracks into dust.
“The fifteenth Wonder…beautiful.” He polishes the lens with a gloved finger and replaces the cap. “Still works!”
“Can we go now?”
“Come on, we’ve still got a few minutes. You know, for the time, it was quite a feat of engineering.”
I grant it a look. Clouds seem to gather at the base. They rise and fall as if they were breathing.
He takes out his tablet and starts swiping through facts.
“4,200 feet…1.2 million steel rivets – steel!” He’s interrupted by a slow groan of metal.
The noise rings out as we see a chunk of red metal drop. We wait for the landing sound but it never comes. The wind picks up and the mist lifts.
“We should go,” I say, taking a step back.
“Maybe you’re right.”
We put on our masks and head down the slope, careful not to slip on the loose earth. I can just about hear his muffled words.
“We create the best and the worst…”
We arrive at the bottom in time to see a figure climbing over the barriers.
We shout together, waving stiffly in our suits, but he ignores us. He runs past the flashing lights and slows down at the mouth of the bridge, opening his arms.
The mist thickens and swallows him whole.
Congratulations, Petrina and Emily!
And thanks to everyone who entered. See you next Friday!