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Paperback & Kindle eBook editions of the Prizewinning and selected

Highly Commended Stories

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First Prize: £1000
Plus publication in the MTP 2023 Anthology (print book and eBook).

Anthology title based on this winning entry.

Benjamin Allen - The Last Man on the Moon


Second Prize: £500
Plus publication in the MTP 2023 Anthology (print book and eBook).

David Missen - Nine Months

Third Prize: £250
Plus publication in the MTP 2023 Anthology (print book and eBook).

Tangcheng Daoxiang - A Night Wiped Away by Heavy Snow

Runners-up Prizes: £50
Plus publication in the MTP 2023 Anthology (print book and eBook).

In no particular order...

A. M. Kent - Tiberius Lonewolf

Daniel Larbi - Room For More

Emmy Hoyes - Persona per se

Ingvar Hellsing Lundqvist - New Word Symphony

Martin Heath - Big Data

Highly Commended Stories

in no particular order

Annabelle  Andrews - Grandad
Annie Percik  - Behind Every Hero
Darren Clarke - Out of Time
Geoff Aird - School's Out For Summer
Henry Nixon - Red for Go
Jan Mitchell Rogers - Where Did It All Go So Wrong
Joy James - Black Wall Street
Judy Raymond  - The Old Monsters
Luke Davies - BA248
Matthew Ewan Thomas - Door After Door
Nick Gilbert - Dancing a Deux
Nicki Parkins - Ash
Pete Pitman - The Curiosity Shop
Rayna Haralambieva - Three Kinds of Tears
Richard Hughes - The Weight of It
Rob Molan - A Divided Self
Sophie Ellen Powell - The Spiral and the Sticks
Stephen Atkinson - Lupo Solitario
Terrey McCormack - Nuclear Furnace
Tessa Gordziejko - Somebody Died
Tiffany Williams - When the Power Goes Out
Tim Cantwell - A Dog is for Life
Tina Hobbs - Elvis Is Still in the Building
Tracy Fells - Cleopatra's Pearl



Benjamin Allen - The Last Man on the Moon


I tell the story to the woman standing in front of me, and from the way she’s squinting, you could tell, she doesn’t believe any of it.

A long snake of people that curves back into the nappies aisle with everyone waiting for the only cashier open for check-out.

The woman, she’s got spots of pink lipstick over her front teeth. The mountain trails the skin on her face turned into, she could be on display in a history museum. With her hand full of bracelets all dangling and swinging, she clutches my wrist, saying, “Oh, sweetheart.”

I don’t tell her that I don’t like to be touched. Instead, with my free hand I cross my heart. Pinky promise. Young Scout promise. I tell her the story it’s for real. All true. I swear. And a big tear spurts out of her eye.

Sometimes you tell a story and your friends hold a yawn. Stretching nostrils with sealed lips. Pretending to listen, waiting for their big moment to talk. Sometimes you tell a story and nobody believes you.

Like a misleading weather forecast. All those storms named after crazy relatives, you wish they never come too close.

Announcing storm Brendan. Storm Ciara. Dennis. Jorge. Shut your door, lock your windows, and wait for the worst.

People are walking out the shop cinching up their coats over their mouths. Flying plastic bags and paper wraps slapping their faces. The wind recycling in a tornado of rubbish. What nature needs, nature takes.

The storm will hit soon and everyone is stocking up with no idea how long they’ll be locked in for.

Back at home, with his eyes glued on the TV screen, Dad shook an empty can of beer and said, “We’re running out.” Shutting the front door I whispered, you are.

The day Mum asked if he needed anything from the shop, Dad said nothing. His legs splayed on the couch, he pressed his finger on the remote and turned the volume up. Mum, she kissed me goodbye, her lips squeezed on my hair for a moment too long, and left. My shoe got a couple of sizes bigger, and we’re still waiting for her to come back. Dad keeps nibbling and snoring on the couch with the TV that doesn’t answer to questions he doesn’t ask.

Around here the snow always comes down in buckets. Drowning streets and everything else. You never know if something died frozen beneath until the sun comes out. Most of the time it’s just a squirrel. A bird. Sometimes it’s a guy who fell asleep on the wrong bench at the wrong time, turning all stiff with blue lips.

In the shop I sneaked in the queue right behind this woman. Her basket full of cream, flour and blueberry. Lock yourself with a snowstorm and you’ll find the cook hidden in you.

I tell her, does she know that we’re forty per cent DNA identical to a yeast cell?

The checkout queue stops moving because a man on a walking stick doesn’t have enough cash. A voice in the queue shouts, “Hey grandpa, are you having a stroke or what?” And the grandpa turns all blushing cheeks and lips curved on the side. The voice in the queue says, “I’ve got a life to live.”

To the woman in front of me, I say, does she know we are the same as the stars? I say that she’s the same as the trees. And she says, “I’ve been called worse.”

I tell her that Sean told me that. He knows so much he could write its own encyclopaedia. Her eyebrows come together and, focussing on a spot on my face, the woman says, “Who?”

So I told her the story. The story of how I met the last man on the moon.

The day snow drenched the streets in bright white, Sean and I were selling snowballs. Wrapped in gloves and woollens the colour of a street Carnival. Wear any shade of white, a coat, a jacket and car drivers will mistake you for another floating snowflake. Running you over with pop songs coming out of the radio.

Sean, you could have pictured him all grown up living in a top-floor with one of those kitchens you see magazines too tidy to cook in. He could have tricked people to buy things they didn’t need. But Sean, he had other plans...

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