May 2020 Winners - First Place
"Hell's Cobblers - Stick on Souls" by Lesley Anne Truchet
‘Why am I here? I was a priest for God’s sake.’
‘Mistakes happen, Father.’
‘I want to go up there. It’s your mistake. Do something, you flaming horn head.’
‘To go up you must replace your lost soul. Try Hell’s Cobblers, over there.’
‘Hi cobbler. I need a replacement soul.’
‘No problem, Father. I can stick one on you. However in payment you have to nominate someone without a soul to die.’
‘I need the business. No one wants to be here.’
‘Ok. Hal E. Luya. He’s a Horrible Bishop.’
‘A Bishop. Fantastic. Come back in one hour.’
An hour later I found myself rising heavenward, my soul floating behind me like gossamer wings.
‘May I come in?’ There were too many pearls on the gates for my taste.
‘No, Father. You’ve caused Bishop Hal E. Luya to die.’
‘It’s the only crime I’ve ever committed.’
‘One is enough.’
‘But I don’t want to go back down there.’
‘You can’t. If you choose to leave Hell they don’t let you back in. You’re stuck with the multitude in Dead Man’s No-Man’s-Land.’
‘Hey. That’s my soul.’
‘Not any more. I sell them back to Hell’s Cobblers.’
May 2020 Winners - Second Place
"Morpheus boons" by Ashique Ali
The cat named Tottochan, a blacky black one with blueish blue eyes, says.
All the dreams are wet and drippy. A storm that keeps changing directions, follows you either way. Step into that timelessness, you bleed. If you come out of it you are the loneliest survivor.
Naked in the playground. Everyone around laughing. I wished the world end.
Wake up to the world which was still there, without any defects.
Childhood. Walked over to the toilet, pass water. If there is a heaven in earth its when you urinate after holding it for ages.
Wake into a wet bed and blanket.
Tottochan and me were playing. I passed him a plastic ball. Whenever the ball reached him it metamorphosed to a tiny rat. Tottochan was dribbling with it.
Later, mom digs a grave for Tottochan.
Life flourished with dreams of unknown continents. I turned to a dreamless being, a shadowless monster. I begged the Morpheus, at least give me a nightmare.
A parade of nightmares followed. Suffocating, drowning, falling, snake bite, lightning, electric shock, Tsunami. No casualties felt invincible. Even if almost dead, I wake up into an epiphany, it’s just a dream. That’s a wonderful relief, a reincarnation. We all reincarnate a million times.
We live a million lives in dreams, it blossoms.
Riding motorbike. Tottochan stood on the fuel tank like a steel logo embellished in front of the vehicle.
Next day there were three blacky black kittens with blueish blue eyes in the backyard. I’m not sure which is Tottochan 2.
Life is a hell, dreams pleasure trips, the only world I am the lonely watcher. A single show movie made exclusively for me. You cannot dream for me. You don’t even know my dreams.
Dreams continue raining.
May 2020 Winners - Third Place
"In the Garten of Ina" by Brandt Scheidemantel
I wonder if clouds get hungry, he thought. The sunset draped sherbet hues beyond the mountains and he felt as though he could taste the bare tree trunks in the valley. Maybe if he could snatch them up, they would crunch like chocolate pretzels.
Lately, he had also wondered about God, about the origin of things. The order to the day. A germinating flower, a robin’s nest. The architecture of sunshine. How, when the sun dies, the stones of the front stoop radiate like indentations in the sheets. Moonlight that reveals thoughts, bumping in the night. He gulped a finger of whiskey and leaned in the deck chair.
“If you don’t have homemade whipped cream,” reassured a TV voice, “store bought is fine.”
“Will you shut ‘er up!” he hollered toward the kitchen.
“Hush and drink your whiskey,” his wife responded through the screen window.
“Store bought this and store bought that...”
“You done nothin’ but buy from the store anyhow.”
“This ain’t Nam.”
“So I say, what’s changin’?”
“Harold, God dammit, you watched your mouth for fifty years. Don’t stop now.”
She closed the window.
The sky faded from rust to black and all depth was swallowed into darkness. Approaching his chair, she tripped the motion sensor light. He wiped tears from his cheek. She placed her hand on his shoulder and a cream-topped bowl of berries in his lap.
“Who am I?” he asked the darkness.
She grabbed his whiskey and sipped.
“Sweetheart,” she said, feeling his fingers squeeze hers, “if you don’t have a homemade order for things, God’s order is fine.”