SUMMER 2020 SHORT STORY COMPETITION
If you'd like to get published, please request more information
Paperback & Kindle eBook editions of the Prizewinners and
Highly Commended stories
First Prize: £500
Publication in the MTP Summer 2020 Anthology (print book and eBook)
Anthology title based on the winning entry
plus Annual All-Access MASTERCLASS PASS
- All Those Things That You Never Thought Mattered
Second Prize: £300
Publication in the MTP Summer 2020 Anthology (print book and eBook)Rosalind Thomas - Iron
Third Prize: £200
Publication in the MTP Summer 2020 Anthology (print book and eBook)
James Hancock - Vortak: Evil Wizard
Highly Commended (in alphabetical order)
Aidan Furey - Conor McCloskey is Not Dead
Benny Allen - Maya Woke up Late for the End of the World
Beth Roberts - Her Last Temptation
Carrie O'Leary - The Book
Christopher Kerr - All in the Mind
David Bell - The Dark Suit
David Challenger - Samui
Doris Allimadi - The Priest & I
Eddie Woods - Cattle Fodder
Helen Lawrence - The Affair
Ian Craine - Two Sisters At Their Windows
Ian Goh Hsien Jun - Art and Science
J W Voyce - Hold On
John Buckley - The Fitbit
John Sandry - The Man in the Dark
Karmen Špiljak - The Assistant
Kate Bramhall - Another Lost Day
Louise Mangos - The Burden of Truth
Malina Douglas - The Secondhand Smile
Matt McCabe - The Token
Michael Noonan - The Mystery Tour
Mike Tibbs - Hibernation
M.E. Hills - The Ruminant Kind
Neil Walker - Rebecca & William Zero
Patrick Eades - What Lies Beneath
Peter Hankins - Glimpsing Her
Philip Charter - Ludgate Circus Crossing
Rachel New - Compliments and Appreciative Platitudes Season Two
Richard Hooton - The Secret of My Success
Rob Dorey - Past Imperfect
Ros Levenson - So lucky
Rosemary Barry - Ivy, Mary and Me
Sagamba Muhira and James Page - Out of Africa
Samiha Ali - Cave of Anguish
Sean Sheehan - Insects
Stephanie Rybak - Transmogrification
T. H. Kunze - Ionisation
Yvonne Barker - 3 Syllables
EXCERPTS from the PRIZEWINNING STORIES
Anthony Buck - All Those Things That You Never Thought Mattered
Rupert slumped forward onto the steering wheel, pain racing across his chest, completely baffled as to what was going on. The last thing he saw was a tree zooming toward him at over fifty miles an hour over the dashboard.
Everything went dark. And then a small dot of white appeared in the far distance, slowly growing until Rupert could resolve it as a single rectangular block of pure white marble. Soon afterwards, it stopped in front of him, or he stopped in front of it. He kicked at the oblong, he tried to pick it up, he sat on it. Nothing happened. Eventually, he had the bright idea of standing on it, and immediately a second block appeared next to but just above it. For want of anything more sensible or constructive to do, he stepped up onto that one. A third block appeared, and so on until he had followed the mysterious set of steps all the way up to a flat white walkway, that he had failed to notice initially, suspended a long way off the ground.
It was starting to become apparent that he had died. He liked the special effects but he was worried that the afterlife seemed a bit boring so far. He hoped that something exciting would happen soon.
He shuffled lazily along the walkway, without any particular motivation to get a move on. He peered over the side, but found that without anything visible on the ground it was impossible to judge how high up he was. Even the steps behind him had now disappeared. He had a sudden urge to step off the walkway to see what happened, but he had already managed to die once today and it had hurt. He didn’t fancy going through all that again.
After what seemed like an eternity of walking he eventually reached a door. Just a plain white door, with a handle and a white glow spilling out from all around the sides of it. Had Rupert been of a more practical disposition, he would have noticed that there were no breaks in the light around the door where hinges might be. But he wasn’t, so he just opened it and walked through.
He found himself in a waiting room. As he had come to expect, everything was white, including the skin on the half dozen faces of people sitting around the room. He wasn’t really in the mood for standing around gawping at everything, so he skipped further inspection and lolloped over to the desk to be greeted by the albino receptionist. He noticed, without much interest, that her eyes were pure white around the small black pupils. Not much colour around here, he thought to himself.
“If you would like to have a seat, Saint Peter will call you through shortly,” she informed him sedately. He shrugged and chose not to reply, instead turning to do as she suggested. As he sat he looked around for a magazine to read, but couldn’t find any. The pages would probably have been totally white anyway, he thought to himself morosely.
Rosalind Thomas - Iron
The interview room was cold. Deliberately made cold. Bare walls. Lino floor. One large, serious policeman.
Mrs Birdie Dunlop was not intimidated. Instead, she sat across from the detective, her face a study in sangfroid.
If you knew Mrs Birdie Dunlop from Number 6 Jacaranda Crescent, Beecroft, you’d know she was quite capable of manufacturing calm. You’d also know she was once an actress, an actress who once received a telephone call from The Queen, congratulating her magnificent turn as Lady Macbeth at the Aston Street Theatre.
Birdie Dunlop would have told you this herself, possibly more than once.
Sometimes, she forgot which neighbours she’d told and which she hadn’t and proceeded to give you a second (or even third) reminder of the royal stamp on her theatrical curriculum vitae.
Of course, this required the verbal dexterity to squeeze a mention of ‘The Queen’ and ‘my role as Lady Macbeth’ into any kerbside exchange of pleasantries between neighbours, even if you happened to be dragging your bin to the verge or emptying your mailbox.
The fact that there was never a theatre on Aston Street, and that Birdie Dunlop was never an actress, let alone a Lady Macbeth, is not important. What is important is that no-one, not even Her Majesty, corrected her. (Long ago, Birdie Dunlop convinced herself that behaving like an actress was not a pretence if it led to self-realisation).
So it’s not surprising that if you were observing Mrs Dunlop now - a suspect being held for questioning at the Eastwood police station in Sydney - you’d be impressed by her performance.
You’d notice how still she was. The only discernible movement about her was the swell and fall of her considerable bosom under the soft cowl of her lambswool knit. She sat with the straight-backed carriage of a woman who considers posture a measure of class.
Unlike the usual demeanour of police suspects, Mrs Dunlop was composed. Serene even. You might also observe that Mrs Dunlop was hinged forward on her seat, knees pressed together so she could align the toes of her sensible maroon lace-ups with a join in the lino tiles. From this, you might conclude that Birdie Dunlop liked symmetry and uniformity and took pleasure in creating order as a kind of moral uplift.
You’d never guess, then, that on the inside, Birdie Dunlop was seething with indignation, and that it was the heat from this internal outrage that enabled her to remain unstirred in the frigid interview room.
James Hancock - Vortak: Evil Wizard
Vortak was an evil wizard. He had a tower at the edge of the black forest in Mortissia, and twenty minions to guard it. He had fifteen magic items in his treasury at the top of the tower, and a princess from Elandar locked in the dungeons below. He was on the verge of defeating Duke Laminar of Brightmoor, when a party of hired adventurers broke into his tower and set upon his minions. The princess was rescued, there were deaths on both sides, and Vortak was forced to quickly open and flee through a magic portal. The spell didn't go as planned. A fumbled casting when he really didn't need one, and Vortak was transported to an unknown world and without the means to open a new portal. Trapped! But he had survived. Now he lives in a one bedroom flat in Brighton, England, and earns his keep in the only way he can... Vortak The Incredible: Wizard For Hire. Degrading himself at music festivals and children’s parties in the Sussex area.
Three months in his new life; a life of gas and electricity bills, buying bread and milk from the local shop, and making small talk with his eccentric neighbour, Graham.
Graham knocked on Vortak’s door, beamed a big smile, and held it fixed ready for when Vortak answered. He waited. A minute passed and his jaws began to ache. He dropped the smile and reached up to knock again as the door opened. Graham quickly smiled again as Vortak stepped into the doorway and lifted a lantern to illuminate the area. Deep blue eyes under a heavy frown, pale skin, jet black hair, and robes to match. Vortak stared at Graham... fake tan, brilliantly white teeth, skinny and weak looking; Vortak considered how easily he could crush him. Graham held up a plate of freshly cooked homemade brownies.
“I thought you might like some homemade brownies. Fresh out the oven.” Graham continued to beam his exaggerated smile.
Vortak looked at the brownies and then back at Graham, thinking for a moment. “I accept,” Vortak said, took the brownies with his free hand and slammed the door shut with his foot. Graham waited for two minutes, but Vortak didn’t return.
Vortak walked into his living room. All the modern furnishings yet lit by several lanterns and dozens of candles. He placed the lantern on a small table, and sat in a comfortable chair with brownies on lap. He picked up the first brownie, and a vibrating buzz sounded from under him. He jumped, startled, and dropped the plate of brownies on the floor.
“Son of a witch!” he yelled and instinctively unleashed flames from his hands at the scattered brownies. He quickly calmed himself as the buzz sounded again, and reached under his robes to pull a mobile phone from his trousers pocket.
Vortak placed the phone to his ear whilst stamping out the small carpet fire near his feet. “Who calls me at this hour?” Vortak spoke with an intimidating tone.
He listened. “Yes. Next Saturday at one clock. Let me check my diary.” Vortak paused, leaned forward and picked up a non-charred brownie. “I am available. What age will your daughter be, and how many infants should I expect?”
Vortak took a bite of the brownie, nodding as he listened to the information.
“Send an electronic message to this device after the conversation has ended, and specify your address. I shall be there on time. I accept cash and cash only!” he ended the call.