What do you get when you multiply six-six-six by two? You get twelve-twelve-twelve, of course! So I’d say that makes today a perfectly auspicious date on which to finally announce the winners of the 2012 MicroHorror Story Contest!
But before I name the three champions, I’d like to keep you in suspense just a little longer while I introduce my co-judges.
You probably already know Oonah V Joslin. Writer, poet, editor, and three-time MicroHorror winner, she graciously accepted a promotion to contest judge so other folks could have a chance. It’s an honor and a pleasure to judge alongside her once again this year.
And new to MicroHorror, none other than Michael A. Arnzen! Mike is a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and teaches a unique Master’s degree program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. He’s a true master of the craft of short-short horror. To learn more about him, you may wish to watch this brief video I produced. Mike, thank you for volunteering to help judge!
That’s quite enough preamble. On with the winners! In no particular order…
Oonah says: Chiseled was one of the shortest pieces entered this year but it said a lot about the thinking behind art–the canvas, the page, the marble–and something, a struggle for life, going on in that concrete block. Short and absolutely terrifying, it intellectualised a horrific act in the name of art. This one is cold. It stays with you. Well done, Caelin Beaty.
Mike says: A devious interpretation of the classic quotable quote from Michelangelo: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Here the angel is death, frozen in the struggle to survive. What makes Beaty’s sudden story stand out for me is what it accomplishes in its brevity: it packs a perverse punch and delivers the blow with impact. Very Poe-like in its narrator’s insanity. Bonus points for making it about itself, as well, in the line about transforming “the blank page.” Great microfiction.
Oonah says: Disturbing Art by Mara Morrigan is short and impressive. It centred well on the main theme, Art, had a good ‘hook’ at the start, gave plenty of gore in the middle–kind of like the jam in the doughnut for me. It also had a nice mix of story and speech that kept the plot moving along. Best of all, I just didn’t see that ending coming.
Mike says: Morrigan’s story got me with its surprise ending, when the narrator, in essence, pulls away their mask. Mara succeeds in keeping the spotlight on one thing only to allow the story to sneak up on you from behind. What also works so well in this story is the way it invites a second reading, and when you read it again you see all sorts of clever things in the dialogue that take on a more sinister meaning once you know how it ends. The entire story is itself an instance of “Disturbing Art.”
Oonah says: The Blood Worms is as surreal as it gets in the mind of an artist. This is a well written and disturbing piece. The first line sets the tone perfectly:
Raymond felt the transition from oil paint to blood was completely natural.
That transition into madness is one that we take with Raymond and it seems at the end that blood-slick worms dancing on black upholstery is perhaps the natural dénouement to this state of mind. Fine writing as always from Angel Zapata.
Mike says: How could anyone not be intrigued by a title like that? The concept of this one is pretty strong, but Zapata’s story really won me over with its chilling imagery–and the sheer insanity depicted here really transfers from the story into the reader’s mind. “Blood Worms” is written with a sure hand, driven to deliver the goods, and it succeeds in depicting an artist’s vision as a disturbed one. The last line stuck with me long after I read it, like an afterburn.
I don’t mind saying, this was one of the hardest contests to judge yet. There were so many amazing entries that picking just three was nearly impossible, but we did it. Thanks and congratulations to everyone who submitted a story, and congratulations above all to Caelin, Mara and Angel. E-mail me with your mailing addresses so we can start sending out your prizes!
Thanks again to Oonah and Mike for all their help in judging, and thanks to Kevin Bufton for donating some great books.
It’s been hard work, but a pleasure all the same. Until next time, stay scary!