The Best of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2009

As promised, here my favourites of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2009.

You can read the complete list here.


“Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin’ off Nantucket Sound from the nor’ east and the dogs are howlin’ for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the “Ellie May,” a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin’ and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests.”
David McKenzie
Federal Way, WA


The wind dry-shaved the cracked earth like a dull razor–the double edge kind from the plastic bag that you shouldn’t use more than twice, but you do; but Trevor Earp had to face it as he started the second morning of his hopeless search for Drover, the Irish Wolfhound he had found as a pup near death from a fight with a prairie dog and nursed back to health, stolen by a traveling circus so that the monkey would have something to ride.
Warren Blair
Ashburn, VA

Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award

Fleur looked down her nose at Guilliame, something she was accomplished at, being six foot three in her stocking feet, and having one of those long French noses, not pert like Bridget Bardot’s, but more like the one that Charles De Gaulle had when he was still alive and President of France and he wore that cap that was shaped like a little hatbox with a bill in the front to offset his nose, but it didn’t work.
Marguerite Ahl
Prescott valley, AZ

Winner: Adventure

How best to pluck the exquisite Toothpick of Ramses from between a pair of acrimonious vipers before the demonic Guards of Nicobar returned should have held Indy’s full attention, but in the back of his mind he still wondered why all the others who had agreed to take part in his wife’s holiday scavenger hunt had been assigned to find stuff like a Phillips screwdriver or blue masking tape.
Joe Wyatt
Amarillo, Texas


In a flurry of flame and fur, fangs and wicker, thus ended the world’s first and only hot air baboon ride.
Tony Alfieri
Los Angeles, CA

Winner: Detective

She walked into my office on legs as long as one of those long-legged birds that you see in Florida – the pink ones, not the white ones – except that she was standing on both of them, not just one of them, like those birds, the pink ones, and she wasn’t wearing pink, but I knew right away that she was trouble, which those birds usually aren’t.
Eric Rice
Sun Prairie, WI

Dishonorable Mentions

The appearance of a thin red beam of light under my office door and the sound of one, then two pair of feet meant my demise was near, that my journey from gum-shoe detective to international agent had gone horribly wrong, until I realized it was my secretary teasing her cat with a laser pointer.
Steve Lynch
San Marcos, CA

After quickly scrutinizing the two dangerously buff men coming toward her in the dark and wondering whether she could take them both out, P.I. Velma Plusch mentally inventoried her arsenal-two pistols, two stiletto-clad feet, two leather-gloved hands, two each eyes, ears, lips, and breasts-and decided that she could.
Donna Kain, Ph.D.
Greenville, NC

Detective Pierson mentally reviewed the group of suspects milling around the recent crime scene-two young siblings eating gingerbread, a young girl in a red hoodie, a beautiful girl with narcolepsy, and seven little people with the profession of miners-then gave his statement of “It’s a grim tale” to the press.
Shannon Gray
Wichita, KS

Darnell knew he was getting hung out to dry when the D.A. made him come clean by airing other people’s dirty laundry; the plea deal was a new wrinkle and there were still issues to iron out, but he hoped it would all come out in the wash – otherwise he had folded like a cheap suit for nothing.
Lynn Lamousin
Baton Rouge, LA

No man is an island, so they say, although the small crustaceans and the bird which sat impassively on Dirk Manhope’s chest as he floated lazily in the pool would probably disagree.
Glen Robins
Brighton, East Sussex, U.K.

Fantasy Fiction: Runner-Up

Towards the dragon’s lair the fellowship marched — a noble human prince, a fair elf, a surly dwarf, and a disheveled copyright attorney who was frantically trying to find a way to differentiate this story from “Lord of the Rings.”
Andrew Manoske
Foster City, CA

Winner: Purple Prose

The gutters of Manhattan teemed with the brackish slurry indicative of a significant though not incapacitating snowstorm three days prior, making it seem that God had tripped over Hoboken and spilled his smog-flavored slurpie all over the damn place.
Eric Stoveken
Allentown, PA

Dishonorable Mentions

Mortimer froze in his tracks; the rhythmic clicking on the stones of the path (well . . . not really a clicking sound so much as a kind of clinking sound, more like the noise made by shaking a charm bracelet filled with Disney characters to a salsa beat) made him suddenly realize he had forgotten to buckle one of his galoshes.
Rick Cheeseman
Waconia, MN

Without warning, their darting tongues entwined, like a couple of nightcrawlers fresh from the baitshop–their moist, twisting bodies finally snapping apart, not unlike an old man’s muddy galosh being yanked away from his patent leather shoe.
Matt Dennison
Erie, PA

She expected a beautiful morning after the previous night’s hard rain but instead stepped out her door to a horrible vision of drowned earthworms covering the walkway — their bodies curled and swirled like limp confetti after a party crashed by firefighters.
Rita Hammett
Boca Raton, Florida

He slowly ran his fingers through her long black hair, which wasn’t really black because she used Preference by L’Oreal to color it (because “she was worth it”); her carrot-colored roots were starting to show, and it reminded him of the time he’d covered his car’s check engine light with black electrical tape, but a faint orange glow still shone around the edges.
Lisa Mileusnich
Willoughby, OH

Winner: Romance

Melinda woke up suddenly to the sound of her trailer being pounded with wind and hail, and she couldn’t help thinking that if she had only put her prized hog up for adoption last May, none of this would be happening, no one would have gotten hurt, and she wouldn’t be left with only nine toes, or be living in a mobile home park in Nebraska with a second-rate trapeze artist named Fred.
Ada Marie Finkel
Boston, MA

Dishonorable Mention

As she slowly drove up the long, winding driveway, Lady Alicia peeked out the window of her shiny blue Mercedes and spied Rodrigo the new gardener standing on a grassy mound with his long black hair flowing in the wind, his brown eyes piercing into her very soul, and his white shirt open to the waist, revealing his beautifully rippling muscular chest, and she thought to herself, “I must tell that lazy idiot to trim the hedges by the gate.”
Kathryn Minicozzi
Bronx, NY

Science Fiction: Runner-Up

George scratched his head in abject puzzlement as he tried to figure out where he’d parked the rocket this time in the 100-acre parking lot of Nallmart 75B, but then he remembered that a ship-boy had taken his DNA key-but which one, the kelly toned humanoid or the atmosphere-of-Rylak-hued android; scanning the horizon, he at last turned to Babs and asked “how green was my valet”?
Leigh A. Smith
New Douglas, IL

Winner: Spy Fiction

Oliver Smith, spy on Her Majesty’s service – not that she knew about it, because that tended to spoil the whole secrecy thing and really, who’d want an un-secret spy, anyway? Not to mention that any spy worth his salt would kill anybody who knew his identity . . . so I wouldn’t go around mentioning that I read this if I were you – looked both ways before crossing the street.
Rafaela Canetti
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Winner: Vile Puns

Using her flint knife to gut the two amphibians, Kreega the Neanderthal woman created the first pair of open-toad sandals.
Greg Homer
Placerville, CA


Medusa stared at the two creatures approaching her across the Piazza and, instantly recognizing them as Spanish Gorgons, attempted to stall them by greeting them in their native tongue, “Gorgons, Hola!”
Eric Davies
Dunedin, New Zealand

Dishonorable Mention

Eyeing the towering stacks of food colouring that formed the secret to his billion-dollar batik textile empire, grumpy Old Man Griffington was forced to admit that dye mounds are a churl’s best friend.
Janine Beacham
Busselton, Western Australia

Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions

“I want you to follow my husband,” said my newest client, the enigmatic Mrs Yogi, estranged wife of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Steve Heckman
Taylors, SC

From my car I took thorough stock of the loose group of illegals standing around outside the Home Depot–plasterers, roofers, painters, all for hire . . . girls, too–and fingered the FEMA money in my pocket ruminatively; my house was a mess, but so was my love life–what was my pleasure?
Jeff Eller
New Orleans, LA

As Oedipus watched his mother gracefully glide across the great hall, he felt a stirring in his loins which he immediately regretted but then quickly dismissed, for he knew if these wanton desires for his mother were wrong then someone would have named the condition by now, thus proving once again that where his emotions were concerned there was only one description for Oedipus . . . complex.
Ted Begley
Lexington, KY

Rosalita came in looking, with a look of surprise not unlike that of Hedy Lamarr in the 1947 version of “Samson and Delilah” when she learns that Samson will marry the woman, portrayed by Angela Lansbury, but with less fervor than that of Joan Crawford’s 1948 version of “Mildred Pierce” discovering her daughter, played by Ann Blythe, was to run away with her, (Mildred’s) boyfriend, to discover that Ernesto had once again left up the toilet seat.
James Biggie
Melrose MA

As Lieutenant Baker shrank his lips back to their normal size, he tried desperately to think of a situation in which his new-found power might be useful, as have I, your narrator.
Dan Blaufuss
Glenview, IL

There were earthquakes in this land, terrible tsunamis that swirled flooding torrents of water throughout, and constant near-blizzard conditions, and not for the first time, Horatio Jones wished he did not live inside a snow globe.
Rich Buley-Neumar
Amityville, NY

Before she was Tabloid Sally, the impossibly foxy movie star who destroyed marriages like a busty ball-peen hammer, before she was Nobel Sally, the mercurial chemist who cured chronic halitosis, and before she was Pulitzer Sally, the honey-dipped scribe who brought Washington to its knees, she was just little Sally Barns from Crow’s Neck, Neb., Bill and Margie’s daughter, a doe-eyed pixie who loved fairy tales and onion rings.
Roger Collier
Ottawa, Ontario

I awoke in my sleeper on the way from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, my nightmare riven by a train of thought that abruptly stopped me in my tracks with cataclysmic, explosive, and yet equal and opposing force, like a train on its way from Rotterdam to Amsterdam; then I realized I was on the wrong train and headed for Rotterdam, instead of Amsterdam.
Joe Dykes
Denver, CO

The skydiver jumped out of the plane and felt his skin being pulled back like that of a dog sticking its head out of a car going 110 on the highway, owned by a driver rushing to be on time for work or else he would get fired by his boss with the curly mustache who owned a large speedboat.
John Faherty
Queensbury, NY

Tinkerbell landed softly on the bedpost in a sparkle of Industrial Light & Magic, handed the packet of cigarettes to a rather stubbly ‘Pete’ Pan and, seeing his little green tights strewn carelessly on the floor and a still sleeping Wendy lying naked beside him, quickly realized they were now a very long way from Never Never Land.
Hugh Trethowan
Bath, U.K.


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