It was an exceptional contest — one which because of the sheer number of first-rate entries took me over a week to decide.
Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites:
Shonda Royall: I woke up, dying.
Jeremy J: Not again, she thought.
QUINN-TUP: With closed eyes, she stumbled to the blood-spread of her parents’ bodies and dropped the tiny sugar skull, pulverizing it beneath her heel.
Doc: She was so glad to be rid of her parents, but why had Johnny left her behind?
Cindy: Detective Curtis, weary and slightly nauseous, squatted in the dust next to a set of size 7 footprints.
Scott: On a back Texas road, they were hurling to slaughter.
Charles Larch: The suddenness of death is a song that bludgeons the unwary.
coal-brains: Now condemned, the child should hang herself.
Ann: “Leave the girl!”
Scott: It was her twelfth autumn, but the first in New England.
Jeff: Sleeping through the horrors was not nearly as difficult as getting them to drive all the way out here in the first place.
MR: When the highway patrol officer knelt down on that godforsaken road and placed her hand on my shoulder, I knew it was the last time I would feel warmth.
Lazar: Cecelia’s scream resembled her ringing ears: a muted screech echoing through her skull.
Charles Larch: “Are we there yet?” she asked without opening her eyes.
Allie.C: She had just woken up and now all she wanted was to wake up once more.
Wendy Vega: Her cat Blackie was sitting by the corpses, mouth full of her mother’s chewed hand, and she realized she’d have to gut him to get the diamond back.
Charles Larch: She knew she must keep very still while she waited for daylight.
Chelsea: Her parents’ bodies were beginning to stink.
Charles Larch: She smelled the blood before she saw it; metallic like the scent of a coin in her palm.
Chelsea: If only they had started running sooner.
Michael: My dreams warned me with caves and grinding steel, my Nana sobbing an echoing darkness, but when my eyes snapped open I screamed anyway.
joe musso: Young Emma awoke to the very scene she had just dreamed, and, with a snarl on her lips that may have been a tarantula in a different lifetime, whispered to herself, “It worked!”
mm pesola: They thought I was dead, too.
And here are the top six:
Lisa: My parents never liked driving at night.
Lil’ Jack: The rising growl in her throat was of a black and ancient origin, and knew far more than she did.
MR: She wept as the blood moon rose and eclipsed her innocence.
Charles Larch: Moonlight shimmered in the blood puddled beneath her mother and father.
Charles Larch: Be silent, be clever, she told herself.
Sabir: Sarah woke up, but her parents did not.
The night smelled sweet and it was raining just a little, a soft but steady drizzle too weak to wash away the blood.
Congratulations, Penny Prince!
My thanks to you all.