2018 Grand Prize

"Cassie smiled as she clenched John's hand on the edge of an abandoned pier while the sun set gracefully over the water, and as the final rays of light disappeared into a star-filled sky she knew that there was only one thing left to do to finish off this wonderful evening, which was to throw his severed appendage into the ocean's depths so it could never be found again--and maybe get some custard after."  

The winner of the XXXVth Lyttoniad is Tanya Menezes, who at seventeen years old is the youngest winner in contest history and the first from its hometown of San Jose.  Tanya describes herself as your average rowdy seventeen-year-old, but one who works at a local museum (where she occasionally has to remind guests that Mars is still a planet and that global warming exists even though it was cold when they visited Vermont).  

 

She enjoys engaging unwitting strangers in staring contests and writes slam poems like stand-up routines.  He favorite poem is John Donne’s “The Flea” and her least favorite author is Nathaniel Hawthorne. Congratulations, Tanya!

 
 

Runner Up

Dreaded Pirate Larry was somewhat worried, as he looked down at his boot, where his first mate was stretched out, making whooshing sounds, attempting to blow him over, that despite having the fastest ship, the most eye patches, and the prettiest parrots, his crew may need a few lessons on the difference between literal and figurative, as evidenced by the rest of the crew applying ice to the timbers.


 

Shelley Siddall, West Kelowna, BC, Canada
 

Grand Panjandrum's
Special Award

I knew that dame was trouble as soon as I set eyes on her, see: there was a stain on her clingy dress, wine, difficult to get out (you notice these things when you’ve been in the business as long as I have); there was a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of her high heel, cherry, that would leave a gristly pink trail following her every step (you pick up on these things when you are as experienced as I); and when she coolly asked me directions to the detective’s office, I pointed her down the hall and went back to mopping the floor.


 

Bridget Parmenter, Katy, TX

 

Adventure

Winner

Eli Jacob Crowley, the famed pioneer figure who spearheaded America's westward expansion by blazing the Crowley Trail in 1838, was an awe-inspiring figure of a man, as stout as a four-century-old oak, as intellectually complex as the fronds of a Florida palm, as singularly focused as the trunk of a Giant Sequoia, though in all other respects, not like a tree at all.

John Hardi, Falls Church, VA

Dishonorable Mentions

Commander of the Bengal Lancers Lord Reginald Buckman, KCIE, was a strong, strong man, not “strong” like some onions, though he ate them often, and particularly enjoyed them sautéed in lard, a generous amount, but lightened with a bit of white wine, not too dry, alongside fresh calves kidneys, though goat would do in a pinch.

John Hardi, Falls Church, VA

Nothing looked familiar to Travis, who, recalling a favorite line from Tolkien — “Not all those who wander are lost” — reckoned the “not all” part implied that most who wander, like himself, are in fact lost, yet buzzards would pick his bones before he would think to ask for directions.

Dr. Joel Phillips, West Trenton, NJ

Dave’s fear surged in his chest, like those bombs they put in ski slopes to trigger avalanches, but this one didn’t explode and instead came down in a natural avalanche that covered the ski-resort parking lot and poured into the open window of Dave’s car, which is why he was so scared, sitting in his snow-filled car with a live bomb in his lap.

Chris Jordan, Seattle, WA

He blended with the bleak city storefronts as people fled the cold, hard rain that sounded like a funeral dirge on an unforgiving sidewalk, seen yet unseen, someone yet no one, and like a lion stalking a weakened wildebeest from the tall grass of the Serengeti, he sprang toward a beautiful woman struggling to find purchase in her high heels and handed out another coupon for twenty percent off at Sneaker Jungle. 

Mark Wisnewski, Flanders, NJ

Kevin M. Kinzer, Spokane, WA 

My escape from heavily-guarded Cochon Island, a Hungarian penal colony founded by the Gabor sisters, would have to be well-planned and faultlessly executed, I thought to myself, "and I'm just not the right man for it," so I stayed and lived out my days there, because having a Gabor slap you around wasn't that bad, especially when they said "dahling" afterwards.

 

Children's Literature

Winner

Hi, my name is Neptune Galapagos Cooper, I'm 13, I live in the suburbs with my middle-class white family (my SUPER ANNOYING little brother, my parents, who are sooooo lame, and my dog Bailey, the only one who really gets me) and there's one thing you should know about me: I'm not like other girls. 

Rachel Koch, Blackstone, MA

Dishonorable Mentions

MAs Penelope sprinted breathlessly across a field of wildflowers, over a rickety bridge, through a dense copse, and across seven more fields, trying to outrun the ogre, she wished desperately that she had a horse – a fancy, prancy one with tufts of fur by its hoofs, a shimmering mane, and a white diamond on its forehead, preferably named Stardust.

Aasha Sankpal, Monroe, CT

"Pooh," said Piglet inquisitively, "I don't believe the quantum interplay of dark energy and black holes allows for the anti-matter superposition of a Higgs-Boson vector that you are postulating transported you thru an n-dimensional carbon lattice and got you stuck in the hunny tree . . . just sayin'."

Tim Metz, Kokomo, IN 

 

Crime/Detective

Winner

He glanced at his unsuspecting guests, his slight smile hiding his hateful mood, his calm eyes hiding his evil intentions, and his smooth skin hiding his tensed muscles, skeletal structure, and internal organs.

Dave Agans, Wilton, NH

Dishonorable Mentions

Jimmy-The-Bull lay sprawled in a puddle of his own blood, which spread out like a bright-red Rorschach test, in which Detective Williams had so far identified a butterfly, a puppy and the Eiffel tower, but was vaguely disappointed that there was nothing resembling Jimmy’s trademark bull, although the coroner had seen a giraffe, which he claimed was close enough, since it was also a ruminant.


 

Arlen Feldman, Colorado Springs, CO 

For rookie detective Lara Stinson, the hardest aspect of her most recent case was not discovering that the adolescent victim had been thrown from the tenth story of the apartment building by his own grandmother, but rather trying to spell “defenestration by octogenarian” in her subsequent report.

Thomas Purdy, Roseville, CA 

Inspecteur Rollin of the Paris murder squad lit a cigarette as he stood over the body of la prostituée engorgée (to those readers who don’t know French, a prostitute with her throat cut and, indeed, how else would one describe her—la pute, la fille de joie, la vendeuse de sexe, la travailliste de la rue?) which lay on the Voie Georges Pompidou under the arches of le Pont Neuf on the rive droite of la Seine which flows through the most beautiful city in the world.

Ralph Cutting, Kingston Upon Thames, England
 

Who knew what answers the elongated, odd-shaped gray trunk would reveal, but there was no doubt that in solving the mysterious homicide at the zoo the great weight of evidence pointed to the elephant in the room.

Jay Dardenne, Baton Rouge LA 

It was a routine day for Detective Maxwell, who did not yet know that instead of solving a case today, he would become one, with three lined chambers and genuine leather piping. 

Talha bin Hamid, Karachi, Pakistan

The good always wins out when you observe matters from a distance, gasped Detective Inspector Fred Pickle, dangling from a meathook in a disused Balham slaughterhouse, but it didn't, really, not for him, nor yet for the guy on clean-up. 

John Holmes, St. Petersburg, FL

 

Dark & Stormy

Winner

It was a dark and stormy night: the wind whistled like an old man with drugstore teeth trying to teach his grandkids to say, "She sells sea shells by the sea shore," causing the little shavers to wonder why Peepaw was suddenly talking like Daffy Duck, whether he'd just had a stroke, and if any of them was in the will.

Mark Schweizer, Tryon NC

Dishonorable Mentions

"It was either a dark or a stormy night, depending, of course, on if one was comparing globally or locally, as the midnight sun would be considered quite bright to the rest of the world, and by Alaskan standards, the negative fifty-degree wind chill would be considered balmy," thought Janet as she wrestled yet another sled dog out of the alien's tractor beam.

Peter Seakat, Rochester, NY 

Sufficiently numerous airborne water droplets struck various grounded objects at appreciable velocities, illuminated by ambient light from a sub-horizon sun such that fewer photons were absorbed by the retina of our protagonist’s eyes within a given interval of time than the number at which he would struggle to decide whether the amount of light he perceives should be considered “bright” or “dark”; in other words, it was a dark and stormy night.

Shea Charkowsky, Santa Clara, CA 

 
 

Fantasy and Horror

Winner

His steel sang as Dothrak, mighty thews febrile with barely-checked power, drew Aelthmor (the blade forged in eldritch shadows by the Zdrahali adepts) and declared, “All who have sworn allegiance to the False Duke will feel my wrath!” yet he was summarily admonished to silence, for it is at the Reference Desk of the Skokie Public Library that our story takes place.

Greg Carlson, Minneapolis, MN 

Dishonorable Mentions

Talila Norpiros, heir to the elven throne and commander of her people’s armed forces, chose a slightly more risqué outfit that morning than she would normally wear to battle, theorizing that if she were presented as a sex symbol as well as a dynamic protagonist, the series might attract a few more male readers and finally make the New York Times bestseller list.

Bridget Parmenter, Katy, TX

Kravik the Helm-Cleaver gripped his Damarrian battle-axe and stepped into the inky blackness of the cave, wishing he had thought to bring a torch to illuminate the stalagmites or stalactites—whichever were the ones that hang down from cave-roofs to crack the cranium of a man who stands two meters tall—as he searched for Dwarf Kobolds, the vile creatures who, at less than half the barbarian’s stature, never had to worry about conking their scaly heads on stal--, stalac . . . pointy ceiling rocks.

Brad Taylor, Iowa City, IA 

Under a lurid dawn sun, the Usher Property was less baleful than it had been during the past evening’s abode-splitting weather event, and my practiced realtor’s eye – have I not mentioned my profession already? – recognized development potential once the tarn was drained and fissure remediated, perhaps to build an outlet of shopping at which consumers would dawdle, aghast at the scale of discount savings.

Brian Brus, Oklahoma City, OK

The wars between the Aarbollethi and the Deffalecci was now in its seventh haelon, and it is difficult to imagine they began when the Aarbollethian Ambassador to Deffalecci, when addressing the Deffaleccian Secretary of State, pronounced their nation’s common greeting, achdazar u zynthio as ashadar y thynzio, which, in the Deffaleccian tongue is an insulting reference to a hero from their classical mythology named Ashadarythyn, who was supposed to have murdered his Vareto and lain with his Amunna.

Ralph Cutting, Kingston Upon Thames, England

Although widely despised by his own kind, Kazimir Kilcescu was a hero to a few uninhibited vampires who adopted his “baby talk and Ugg boots” method of victim selection which, when applied correctly, largely eliminated the blood-curdling screams that otherwise left them the choice between letting their swooning prey go scot-free or choking down two liters of curdled O-pos.

Drew Herman, Port Angeles, WA 

The witches cackled in glee, an eye of newt emanating a very satisfying ‘pop’, the ear of a pixie providing a heady scent, and the chest hair from a burly princeling for some zing, as they tipped them into a dark cast iron cauldron, only for Millicent the youngest of witches to wonder whether they sold more contemporary cauldrons in Williams Sonoma and if they had a free delivery option.

Hwei Oh, North Balgowlah, Sydney, Australia

Winner

And it came to pass that, in those days when the young and powerful Alexander, called The Great, boldly ventured forth on his mighty steed Bucephalus, leading a vast army to conquer, claim, and generally visit the more tourist-y areas outside his empire, there remained at home his lesser-known brother Demetrius the Mediocre, who kept the fires burning and, to everyone's surprise, produced a pretty decent BBQ.

Marsha Engelbrecht, Lafayette, LA 

Dishonorable Mention

 

Historical Fiction

Winner

And it came to pass that, in those days when the young and powerful Alexander, called The Great, boldly ventured forth on his mighty steed Bucephalus, leading a vast army to conquer, claim, and generally visit the more tourist-y areas outside his empire, there remained at home his lesser-known brother Demetrius the Mediocre, who kept the fires burning and, to everyone's surprise, produced a pretty decent BBQ.

Marsha Engelbrecht, Lafayette, LA 

Dishonorable Mention

“Big Bertha” was a giant artillery piece used by the Germans that could hurl shells as big as a horse and cart causing horrific death and destruction over a distance of six miles which is why General Blithering, a brilliant English tactician, established his HQ some seven miles from the front as he preferred not to risk damage to his antique Spode china tea set with the hand-painted blue willow pattern.

James Bruce Baber, Brentwood, TN 

Purple Prose

Winner

The summer afternoon was so fierce, Italy pulled off its boot, to wiggle toes in the cool blue sea, as hot Contessa Ravioli slid off her pantyhose.

Don Hansbrough, Seattle, WA

Dishonorable Mentions

He was a bold man, thought Arial Calibri, the typesetter’s daughter, but he wouldn’t recognize a superscript if it was underlined, believed that “strikethrough” was a baseball term, thought italics were people from Italy, and that sans serif was a Caribbean island. 

Sarita Hough, Blacksburg, VA

Even in the noisy gloom of the Oyster's Pearl, the most frequented bar in town, Sergeant Pete Harrison spotted her the moment she walked in--the young, tall blonde in a tight red dress that clung to her the way those stringy bits stick to a banana after you peel it.

Sylvi Warshaver-Stein, New York, NY 

He walked in wearing a red checked shirt that was impossible to avoid seeing no matter how desperately one might wish otherwise, looking like a table at a cheap Italian restaurant that had eaten all the pasta on it and then figured out how to come upright on two legs and walk.

Raymond Lockley, San Jose, CA

Elodie was like a beautiful newborn fawn, with sylphlike legs and owlish eyes that seemed frightened of everything, and a soft voice that one could imagine floating through a misty lea like a dryad's (except that cervids make horrible noises and Harold had already compared her to a deer, not a dryad, and who knew if dryads talked, anyway).

Ava Zaleski, Lisle, IL

Unlike the effete bun-coiffed duennas back at the English Department, she was just the kind of unassuming dame you liked to find holding down a stool and nursing a smoke at the end of the bar -- no more likely to decline a drink than a noun, casual when it came to conjugation, and disposed to end a sentence with a proposition.

G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA 

“I do,” Jennifer repeated over and over in her mind, but even though she had rehearsed that sentence countless times, she could not bring herself to say it now before Barry, before the minister, before these people, before God; instead she could only make a low, churning sound, like a refrigerator’s when refilling the freezer’s ice maker.  

Thomas S. Maple, Auburn, AL

Priscilla was a persnickety, perspicacious, and petulant old prude, with a parsimonious purse brought on by pernicious poverty, prone to pettiness, and with an air of pusillanimous if not precarious ways, all proving that the worst things in life are pure pride of place and a pretense of presumptuousness brought on by pouting at the people who preferred prune juice over pilsner.

Linda J. Ashmore, Lynnwood, WA 

Rowena barely made it to her destination before the sky opened, unleashing a torrent of pea-sized hailstones spreading across the windshield and joining together, looking like a large flat dish of albino caviar, and she was reminded that she likely hadn't been getting enough Vitamin B12 lately, since she had been eating mostly salads after the Christmas weight gain.

Ann Rutledge, Nova Scotia, Canada

Ivory clouds parted above the approaching mahogany frigate to reveal not the cerulean skies of literary convention, but a utopian kaleidoscope of mulberry, periwinkle, taffy, juniper, chartreuse, bubblegum and mauve, and Captain Alexander Smollett silently exalted the poetic license of Robert Louis Stevenson for its vibrant insinuation that this nautical interloper indeed was sailing under false colors.

Joe Wyatt, Amarillo, TX 

 

Romance

Winner

Phoebe sighed happily as she read the text from Mark asking her to be "friends with benefits," as she thought maybe, just maybe, she would finally get that 401k and dental insurance.

Amber Burns, Calhoun, GA

Dishonorable Mentions

Watching Liz Platskis’s lithe form undulate across the room left Bob shaken, but not unpleasantly -- kind of like the time he heard that Caltech seismologist lady describing a magnitude 6.9 earthquake along the Verdugo Hills fault underlying his subdivision only a few minutes after it had happened.

G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA 

My doomed love affair with Katrina was the old, old story: boy meets girl, girl gains control of killer robot, girl uses killer robot to take over the world, boy tries to persuade girl to give up power, girl orders killer robot to throw boy out window. 

Sarita Hough, Blacksburg, VA 

She pursed her lips in disapproval as she considered the divisive and hateful words her lover used to describe the shredded broccoli she had prepared for their honeymoon feast, and woe, too late, she realized that perhaps Col. Sanders was not her destined soul-mate, but, oh God, that pointy little beard sure did tickle her fancy.

George Coe, Broad Run, VA

Their eyes meet . . . his, one green and one brown, hers, one brown and one green; angels sing, little lambs prance around, red plastic hearts float down, it is love, it is lust, it is happily ever after in a little stone cottage with white picket fence and a puppy with huge eyes, and lying on the beach at sunrise entwined in each other and a bunch of seaweed, as the waves wash over their pulsating bodies, it is . . . ”Hey, ya want fries with that?” she asks, popping her gum.

Joy Diamond, Astoria, OR 

This date is going horribly wrong she thought staring in vegan disgust at the charred remains sizzling in his fajita skillet -- her large, luminous, sectoral heterochromic eyes that had a limbal ring of deepest grey flickering angrily in the flame of a beeswax candle filtering the air around them.

SJ Baldock, Quitman, TX 

I moaned through my last moments of ecstasy as I pawed my fingers through his hair, feeling like a crock-pot that had just been turned off, when he turned to stare at me with that same cocky smirk he always had whenever we were finished, and asked in a slightly hoarse voice "How's that for extra credit, Mrs. Thomas?"

Payton Gregge, Christopher, Illinois

 

Science Fiction

Winner

The professor had constantly warned his protégé about the time travel related risks of meeting a past version of yourself or killing your grandfather, but unfortunately he'd never mentioned the worst time machine risk of all -- sticking your head out of the window.

Phillip Davies, Cardiff, Wales

Dishonorable Mentions

Terellian Shapeshifters often blew their cover by taking subtly inappropriate forms -- a squirrel that swims perhaps, or a chair with five legs -- but Officer Max Throckmorton spotted this one immediately; every Human knows that bidets are NOT purple, and they usually aren't installed next to a McDonald's drink dispenser.

Mark Watson, Chapel Hill, NC

She stood out like a fifth appendage on the prehensile glandular dorsal fin of a love-sick marmoset from the twin-mooned planet of Hades VII in the Alpha-Centauri star system, but I thought she looked damned cute anyway because of the sailor cap she wore so jauntily.

Tim Petteys, Malden on Hudson, NY

Captain Calamari loosed a plasma bolt from his crossbow, but the charging cyborg knight hefted his magna-shield and deflected the sizzling violet flare into the dust, forcing the square-jawed hero to coolly reload his cumbersome, anachronistic weapon and wonder as he did why he couldn't have a blaster pistol like Han Solo instead of being stuck in this weird hybrid cyber-medieval universe.

Steve Lauducci, Bethlehem, PA

 

Vile Puns

Winner

As Sheriff (and choral conductor) Patrick “Pitch-Perfect” McHenry assessed his perfectly mediocre chorus upon the saloon stage (sopranos that could only sing melody, serviceable altos, screechy tenors, and basses dropping the pitch by more than a quarter step), a wrinkled scowl protruded from under his pristine Stetson and he growled, “I don’t like your tone” at his “okay” chorale.

Peter Bjorkman, Rocklin, CA

Dishonorable Mentions

In preparation for visits by African dignitaries, we had redecorated the West Wing of the White House in an African motif with numerous artificial plants and animals, but the President asked that we remove the papier-mache wildebeests, saying he was "tired of fake gnus."

Wm. "Buddy" Ocheltree, Snellville, GA  

As Lakshmi bestrode her vanquished foe in the Dombivli garment store, she clutched the coveted outfit  and with a smug, haughty voice demanded, "Whose sari now?"  

Brent Guernsey, Springfield, VA

As the prosecution wrapped its case, Reynolds listened and knew he'd been foiled again.

William Lindley, Glenview, IL

“A bad pun is like an emetic,” said Fritz, downing the contents of his one-litre stein and chomping on a sausage—“It brings out the wurst in me.”

David Hynes, Bromma, Sweden

Wending his way through the streets of Amsterdam only moments after his arrival, Basil-Brett Benedict -- passionate fan of the theater and life-long member of the Baker Street Irregulars -- could not contain his joy upon seeing a Stadsschouwburg posting advertising its dramatization of A STUDY IN SCARLET, THE SIGN OF THE FOUR, and THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, enthusiastically proclaiming his intention of seeing them with, “There’s no plays like Holmes for the Holland days!"

Amy Torchinsky, Chapel Hill, NC

 

Western

Winner

After three weeks on the trail, John’s jock rash was (in some places) burning brighter than the West Texas sun – least wise as far as a cowboy could tell with his chaps and britches down and the little mirror his mom had given him.

Chuck Gray, Shreveport, LA 

Dishonorable Mentions

We start at the end, with a town full of shot freegrazers and rangemen, with me the only survivor of that terrible, bloody day, the worst part being we never had the traditional pre-shootout accusation and insult trade-off mandated by western cowboy law.

Rob Greer, Queen Creek, AZ

Sarah knew a man like Walter "Wild Walt" Sumner could never be tamed; with his brash, unruly manners and fiery temper, and his fast-talking, hard-drinking, gun-slinging, lying, gambling, and cheating ways, and that's why she was marrying Larry, the village idiot. 

Rachel Koch, Blackstone, MA

When Earl flopped down from his sick horse, he (the horse) knew that Earl might become sick too but doubted it because they ate different foods.

Clifford Nishi, Mitsuke, Niigata, Japan 

 

More Dishonorable Mentions

He told her that his love for her was bigger than a spoon because the effects of the anesthesia had not fully worn off and he didn’t know what the hell he was saying; nonetheless, this is where our story begins.

Douglas A. Bass, Farmington, NY

Once in a great while a story is so magnificent, so grand, so great that it begs to be told and while this is not one of those stories, it's nice to know that they're out there. 

Douglas A. Bass, Farmington, NY

He had always associated the beauty of a woman with an exotic and sublime face, but there was something about her silky tresses and corkscrew curls that held his attention prisoner, typed the author, scratching his bald head absently.

Palak Bhatia, New Delhi, India

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders” overheard Preston the Praying Mantis of his fiancée chatting with her mother, though he may not have understood the full implications thereof.

Peter Bjorkman, Rocklin, CA 

It wasn't fair to call Michael a scum-sucking monster from the deep, the miserable, fetid descendant of some unnamed demon who, after centuries at the very depths of the ocean, had somehow surfaced and found his way to Wall Street---it was accurate, of course, but he preferred Michael.

Allison Bryski, Danville, CA 

Maxine, past her prime (such as it was) and well into early middle age, had an epiphany and resolved to end her addiction to soap operas and switch to a mix of talk and reality shows (with the occasional game show for balance), not knowing the tempest to come, which, although about as exciting as an orthodontists' convention, does illustrate the potential pitfalls of blindly following epiphanies.

Wayne Carmichael, Tyler, TX 

"Prevaricator! Burning trousers!" hissed eleventh-grade exchange student Jean-Claude Dubois at the now-trembling girl who had falsely accused him of cheating on his physiology lab reports, and although his words betrayed the shakiness of his English idioms, the boa constrictor he brandished at Kayla Stevens proclaimed the steadiness of his purpose.

Paul Culp, Stephens City, VA

The snow was of the fluffy white variety as it began to fall in Alert, a small, remote, quiet, Northern Canadian town, with a population of sixty five residents and situated within the Canadian Artic Archipelago on the island of Ellesmere and closer to Greenland than mainland Canada.

Brendan P. Curran, Manchester, NH 

Lisa cried inconsolably after handing in her report on her parents’ climate denialism, but she cheered up no end when her teacher gave her report a gold star, with silver stars for using grown up phrases such as ‘ignorant conspiracy theorists’ and ‘secret cabal of well funded front organizations for Big Oil’.

Jeremy Das, Loughborough, England

It didn't sound like a particularly glamorous profession but to get the post of 'senior equine theriogenologist specialising in artificial insemination' in the Royal stables Edward had had to beat off some really stiff competition. 

Phillip Davies, Cardiff, Wales

"As the birds scattered across the sunset vista like so many pimples over a nose, I mused on why it was I had never not enjoyed my time when I wasn't a dermatologist."

Aloma Davis, Melbourne, Australia

The following is a work of fiction and resemblances between a character in it and any person, living or dead, are purely coincidental apart from the one based on my bitch of an ex-wife.

Lewis Gurran, Gresford, Wrexham, Wales

I first met Charles, for in those days he went by Charles and not yet by Charlene, as he was still he and not yet she as the infamous operation made so famous by the Swiss had not yet been performed and he not yet been perforated, in a Quaker Meeting House where he proselytized to the homeless as they would prostrate themselves before a man who they did not know would soon be without a prostate.

Ben Handy, Philadelphia, PA 

Cardinal Gugliotti’s blessing comforted young Father Hartoonian like nothing short of macaroni and cheese with bits of bacon and a hot buttered biscuit on a cold night.

Greg Homer, San Vito de Coto Brus, Costa Rica

Walking home, picking crushed bouquet bits from his hair and lapel, it occurred to Stan that perhaps "spotless" was the wrong compliment for Evelyn's home so soon after the incident between the Mazda and her beloved Dalmatian.

Steve Lauducci, Bethlehem, PA


For the more squeamish, I recommend you skip ahead to page 427, allowing you to miss the more difficult portions of my story of murder, mayhem and more than one marine mammal in an industrial scale blender, but for those up to the task, lean closer and today you shall hear the sordid tale of the Love Ballad of the Accordion Player.

Nathan Lazarus, Bethesda, MD 

Though she had just been laughed out of the forty-second delicatessen that week, Epicurean philosopher Florence Smoot was determined that she would find the answer to that age-old question of which came first – the chicken salad sandwich or the egg salad sandwich?

Joshua Long, Harrison, OH  

As Tiffany Wonder ended her shift at The G Spot Gentleman’s Club, swapping out her spangled thong and pasties for the dowdy barista’s uniform sporting its more accurate “Jane Wilson” nametag and readying herself for another day of pulling espresso shots for tips at the Groundskeeper Coffee House, she couldn't help but remark the fact that somehow, her financial fate had become almost entirely a function of cup size.  

G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA 

Grace Delgado, pointedly of average attractiveness so as to be relatable to the masses of pitiful girls wasting their time reading erotic novels to make up for their lack of romantic lives, stared at herself in the mirror for a few minutes that morning, for no other reason than the author needed a chance to describe her physical appearance.

Bridget Parmenter, Katy, TX

"Eel keel jou," Calliope spat in her Gypsy accent, an accent I shall now discard for sake of the narrative because it's too hard to keep track of the phonetics and anyway, you'd never be able to figure out what she's saying but I'm sort of used to it.

Mark Schweizer, Tryon,  NC

Once upon a time, there was a place where things happened; allow me to be more specific.

John Wallace, South Australia