Oh Autumn. Season of yellow fruitiness.
Judging a writing competition – even a little one like QuickFic – can be quite a Zen thing. Passages of equal length, on an identical prompt, can take on a lulling, cosmic quality. Beautiful descriptions of lush forest. Warm evocations of the season, of the mists, of the poets and the flora and the ineluctable cruising on of time’s Corolla.
And THEN there’s a unicorn.
And THEN someone threatens to murder a weeing schoolchild.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun reading the entries, and a lot of trouble choosing between them, but choose I did, and here they are. Congratulations to both, and thanks to all – come back next week for more.
RUNNER UP: Magic, by Alexis J Reid
The villagers are coming. All flaming torches and pitchforks. How parochial. I’d expected more from them, I’d hoped for a little ingenuity from my oppressors. But no, here they come, chanting their inane chants and brandishing their poorly-spelled placards. Sigh.
‘Give us our forest back!’ Shouts a rotund, red-faced woman who I believe is the baker’s wife.
I open the shutters, looking down on the crowd below, trying to find a friendly face amongst the sneers and the booing.
‘But you have a forest. I just made it better. Look how beautiful the trees are,’ I say.
‘You made it autumn. It’s the 15th of March!’
‘Yes, but look at how pretty it all is. All of those reds and oranges.’
I can feel their hostility growing, they obviously don’t appreciate the aesthetic wonder of an autumnal display.
‘You’re supposed to help us, wizard, not plunge us into eternal winter.’
Autumn. I’ve plunged them into eternal autumn. Can’t these people get anything right?
‘We need summer to come! We need our crops!’
Always with the crops.
‘There will be a bounteous harvest,’ I shout, pleased with my own munificence.
‘We want summer!’
And they all take up the chant. Someone spits at my house, a little globule of silver spittle dribbling down my door.
Truth is, I can’t change it back. We’re stuck with it. An autumn that will last through the ages.
‘Better find your brooms, you’ll be sweeping up leaves forever,’ I shout. And then I run.
WINNER: Waldeinsamkeit by Anand Modha
She’d heard about the girls who were eaten by wolves. Wolves whose mouths grew bloody and their bellies fat on the gristle of hooded Year 7 children. However as the rows of trees marched away from her, she had no fear. In fact, she had no words to describe how she was feeling. If only she’d known German, as then she’d have a word. A word to describe the solitude of being surrounded, yet alone. Yet she’d bunked off her double language lesson to be in the woods right now, so she was doubly at a loss. She’d heard of murderers dragging corpses to the copses, and burying people, both alive and dead in the woods. Yet the sun streamed in at friendly angles, and birds chirruped in the branches high above her, and she found it impossible to be scared. Instead, she stretched out her arms so her hands brushed the trunks of the trees that were nearest. She span on the spot, and danced in that way you only do when you’re alone. Little did she know, that she truly was experiencing, and enjoying, waldeinsamkeit.