As a counterpart to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Award, which gives us the worst opening lines of non-existant novels, the Washington Post has asked for the worst endings of non-existant novels, the Inker (scroll down to “Report from Week 788”). In the spirit of all bad things done well, I’ll give you a best of here:
As the wail of the nearing sirens shook him awake, Todd rose from the charred remains of Rensfield Manor, wiped the ectoplasm from his brow and, stuffing the Amulet of Valtor inside his shirt, gazed ruefully at the venom-encrusted Sword of Darjan, realizing that this long night wasn’t over yet, because he still had a heck of a lot of explaining to do. (LuAnn Bishop, West Haven, Conn.)
Oh, and by the way, Chapters 3, 8, 10 and part of 16 were all dreams, in case you hadn’t caught on. (Art Grinath, Takoma Park)
[This might be my personal favourite. Reminds me of Life of Pi.]
As he left, the captain flashed a smile — a wide, satisfied grin with lips parted a quarter-inch, the right corner of the mouth raised slightly above the left, and a dry lower lip slightly stuck to the teeth — that defied description. (Jay Shuck, Minneapolis)
First the infarction, then the ambulance ride, now going under the knife, he drifted away under anesthesia, humming Celine Dion’s tune “My Heart Will Go On.” But it didn’t. (Larry Miller, Rockville)
The Lost Weak Ends: Honorable Mentions
He had only 75 words to go on his contractually required novel of 50,000 words. A guy could say a lot in 75 words, like “Pudding is best when it’s warm.” He wondered whether to count hyphenated words as two words. Strange thoughts come to a fellow at times like these. Should he have written “50,000” as “fifty thousand”? He was close enough to count down: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. (Art Grinath)
He had been in a long, slow denouement. He rocked rhythmically on the porch, at once hesitant to turn the next page of his life, yet resolved to face his fate. With a deep sigh and exhalation, he turned the page.
The page was blank. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis)
She slowly tied noose to rafter, and then she slowly loaded six .38-caliber bullets into her revolver, and then she slowly swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills, and, with gas from the unlit kitchen stove slowly flooding the house, she, gun in hand, slowly mounted the creaking chair beneath the dangling noose. Finally, slowly, oh so slowly, she thought, “THIS will teach those meanies at Publishers Clearing House.” (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf)
Approaching dawn’s rosy fingers limned a sweat-stained border around my ponderous flesh on the wafer-thin flophouse mattress that had involuntarily witnessed a thousand loveless assignations. Worse, the tag had been removed. Still, tomorrow held the happy promise that all mankind would act like golden retrievers and I, like they, scratched my ear, chuffed contentedly and resumed my sleep. (George Vary, Bethesda)
And as he watched, the day slowly faded away like the picture on an old black-and-white TV when you turned it off, only this time, there was no little pop of light at the very end. (Andrew Hoenig, Rockville)
I hope that in the years to come, this award will gain popularity and more submissions. I can see future greatness.