Rifling through the entries this time out triggered some intense reactions from the judges! I was pumped to begin with, and only a few stories backfired! Your aim was true, writers! You went all out, and the results were really [firearms pun]! Here are the results…



1 – Pete Bruzek

The shot rang out like a cry in the night. Daniel clutched his stomach, the red ooze betraying his fears.


He reached a withering hand toward his assassin, receiving a puzzled look.

Daniel swooned – groaning, CONVULSING. Vision became a panoply of red as…

“CUT!!” exclaimed the director.

“Fuck, Brandon. It’s a gunshot, not a goddamn orgasm. Settle down.”


2 – Sarah Johnson

Jodi’s room smelled like moldy towels and powdered milk. We played Nintendo in the basement, crushing silverfish with jelly shoes.

She never had any sheets on her bed.

Jodi’s dad watched The Pink Panther and shot at mice with a BB gun. The bullets pinged off Jodi’s door.

Her dad looked like the devil. He was a chiropractor.


MATTHEW: Hm. Two stories that really didn’t resonate too much with me. The first had a nice little twist to it at the end that made me grin, but didn’t make me laugh. Once it got there, though, it made it feel like the build-up was a little too much for the reveal. I guess it was meant to drive home just HOW much of a ham Brandon-as-Daniel was in his head, but it just blunted the payoff. Story two was…just a shell. All scene-setting with no inner motion or conflict to be found. I guess a story which ends with a grin out-performs a story which ends with a shrug. WINNER: #1

Novak – I’m gonna enjoy this week again, ain’t I?  #1 is interesting.  I feel like it’s a bit pulling the rug out from under us, since there’s no hint of it being a scene before the last couple lines.  But it’s a good concept, and well executed otherwise, with good language.  #2 is so colorful.  I love the descriptions, and the things the author chose to focus on – sheets on the bed, etc. – are perfect.  But there’s no plot, and that’s really too bad.  #1 wins.

ANDY: I like the idea, #1, and it’s executed well. #2, you came dangerously close to just making a story with a bunch of random details without much of a point… but I did actually enjoy it quite a bit. I guess they were the right sort of details. Winner: #2.

WINNER: Pete Bruzek




1 – Christina Pepper

Beth’s dad offed himself last weekend.

Andy says he heard a gunshot, but he lives on the next block, so I think he’s lying.

Michelle’s mom says suicides go to hell.

Mrs. Lieder says we should make an appointment to discuss our feelings.

Beth has been gone all week. Probably no one will say anything when she comes back.


2 – Ian Pratt

The empty casings at Gary’s feet piled up as fresh ones cascaded down. Sixteen rounds per magazine. Nine magazines emptied so far. Three magazines left. 192 bullets in total. All right on the money. Gary would stand his ground, hold out as long as he could, but he knew. He didn’t have enough bullets to kill it. Nobody did.


MATTHEW: Phoof, maybe I should have gotten a few drinks in me before reviewing tonight. Story 1 was the third in a row that made me think, “yeah, but so what?” It has a bit more going for it in that the observation of children’s responses to suicide are kind of compelling by themselves. But it still felt like I was reading a checklist. Story 2, thankfully, broke the streak with a rhythmically written little vignette that built nicely up to a lovely bite of intrigue with the nonspecific ending. WINNER: #2

Novak – I like the quick snippets of #1.  A great job revealing the narrator’s character through other people.  I’d like for something a little more in the last line, something that implied more about cause or effect, other than the expected effect on his daughter.  #2 is really intriguing.  The math in the earlier sentences gives a stronger – more final – effect to the conclusion of the story.  Really well done.  #2 wins.

ANDY: I feel like #2 had a good idea, but I just wasn’t pulled in and immersed in the world the way I hope to be in a sci-fi story, even a short one. Not sure I like the word “offed” in this context, but the rest of #1 establishes a great tone and the right style. Winner: #1.

WINNER: Ian Pratt



1 – AMR



2 – Melissa D

The story couldn’t be allowed to exist.  The implications were too great.  The author could submit it, unleash its power onto the world, but…


He sent an email instead, then found his gun.

He fired the gun into his brain.

Across the country, an email opened on a screen to read, “Non-sub.”


MATTHEW: Oh, how perfect is it that story 2 was matched up against a non-sub this week? Good job, #2, the story made me laugh. WINNER: #2

Novak – #2 wins, and it’s really creepy, especially against a non-sub.  It’s the kind of thing that makes me take pause and ask if everything is alright – like, for real.  If anyone ever need anything, there are plenty of folks around these parts who are happy to be there for you.

ANDY: Who do I give the win to here? It’s my favorite non-sub so far. But, rules is rules I guess. Winner: #2.

WINNER: Melissa D



1 – Erik Dikken

I had known my roommate for years. I even considered him to be my best friend. Then one day I got home from work to discover he had eaten my leftover pizza. So I shot him. Gilman thought it was an overreaction, but I disagree.


2 – Zack Sauvageau

For the last sixteen months Chad attempted to eke out a living working at Taco Bell. Today, it all hit him like a ton of bricks. He’d lost everything, and this was hardly living.

Chad grabbed his and walked behind the store. He placed the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

His mouth filled with delicious guacamole.


MATTHEW: Tsk tsk, story one. You know what they say about sour grapes. Besides, I’ve done worse to people who’ve pilfered my pizza. As funny as story 1 was, though, I think Story 2 made me laugh more heartily than any story this season. I’m glad I’m not the only person confounded by those odd condiment caulking guns at Taco Bell. WINNER: #2 [ADDENDUM: I’m right to think there’s some kind of cosmic appropriateness that a story about pizza and Taco Bell get paired up right after Das Racist break up, aren’t I?]

Novak – Oh man, #2, it took me a while to realize that the things they use at Taco Bell to put on condiments are guns.  I really had to pause there to figure it out.  And I felt a lot of relief when I did figure it out, which means you built up the tension and emotion really well.  #1, it’s a good voice you’ve found here, but there’s too much telling and not enough showing.  Lots of potential, but it didn’t quite get the job done.  #2 wins.

ANDY: Correct usage of “eke”. It’s not used enough these days. Are there any other things you can “eke out” besides a living? Just wondering. Anyway, I really, really enjoyed #2. I thought it was going to be a really boring story, but the twist was amazing. Loved it. My winner, #2.

WINNER: Zack Sauvageau



1 – Dean Carlson

With the still smoking pistol in its holster, Buddy stepped exaggeratedly over the mangled body and into the sun-drenched street.  Pulling out a tattered notecard he scratched the name “Williams” and looked at one remaining name:  “Brookings.”  It will take seven long years but everyone who gave Buddy a swirly in Ninth Grade will be dead, every single one.


2 – David Larson

His ears still ringing, Dean sighted through the scope, out the shattered plate glass window, past the splintered tree limb swinging from its tentative grip, to the craft store’s pierced sign shaking from the chains that held it nearly two blocks away.  Turning to the cowering man behind the display counter, a grin split his face.  “I LIKE IT!!”


MATTHEW: I like where you’re going, Story 1: Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Williams, Vol. 1”. And nicely evocative descriptions. Story 2, you really grabbed me, though. The overlong first sentence was perfect to describe the aftermath of a super-long-distance sniper rifle. The pace and payoff sold me. WINNER: #2

Novak – Is this a thing now?  Using names of CdL folks?  (Williams/Brookings = Will/Brooks; Dean; Gilman… etc.).  #1 has great motivation.  I love the descriptions, but I find myself wondering if it would have worked better in first person.  Maybe not.  #2 took me a minute to realize what had happened.  So much focus was put on the path of the sight/bullet that I thought the target would be more relevant, when really it was the shooting that was the issue.  A bit confusing in that, but really fun to envision what happened and the path the bullet took.  It’s my close call of the week, and I’ve gone back and forth on this, but this time I’m giving the edge to #1.

ANDY: A little corny and predictable for my taste, #1, sorry. #2 is a bit more original of a concept, and written a bit better as well. That’s my winner: #2.

WINNER: David Larson



1 – Erik S

“You can’t do this!” she pleaded.

There was little emotion in his eyes.  “I’m sorry, Annie, but you’ve left me with no choice.  You brought this on yourself…”

As she left the room in tears, Vince leaned back in his chair and flipped through his mental rolodex, wondering who he could find to fill the role of Skylar White.


2 Beau

Meldon brought over his revolver, the lovable bastard.  Seeing his war buddy was almost enough to change Jack’s mind. But not after another painful manhandling, courtesy of his nurse’s aide.  Life couldn’t go on, not like this.

“Jessica?”  His aide turned, smiled, then dropped like a ton of bricks.

“One down,” Jack said, wheeling out of his room.


MATTHEW: It’s funny, if I hadn’t watched the entirety of Breaking Bad over the summer, I wouldn’t have gotten story 1 at all. As it is, I applaud the way the author brought in the required theme to their story. It was very creative, and just as risky. Story 2, though, had more going for it from a story standpoint. Just…not a whole lot. Maybe it was the “One down” at the end, but the story felt too callous for me to really allow me to empathize fully with Jack’s decision. Still, it WAS more of a story. I think that just allows it to edge out the first one. Juuuuust barely. WINNER: #2

Novak – I know enough about #1 to catch the references and all, but I don’t know enough to know what you’re spoiling for me and/or what else I need to know.  A risky proposition going somewhere you don’t know the judges can get to.  #2 is, in it’s own disturbing way, fun.  Old folks getting even?  Showing they can take care of themselves, so to speak?  Yeah, that means #2 is a win in my book.

ANDY: Oh I get it, “fired a Gunn”. Clever girl (or boy). Sorry, #2, but I guess I’m looking for something a little more than just a straightforward disgruntled guy shooting people. Winner to #1 for the nice effort at creativity.




1 – Will Young

The guard allowed General Snierski to adjust his hat.  He allowed this protocol breach because everyone else had been hatless. Finally, he cuffed Snierski’s hands and presented him to Vasili Blokhin.

After exiting the cell, he heard the muffled noise.  The tally increased in his head: one thousand and fifty-two.  He forced the thought away.  Six hours until vodka.


2 – Kelly Wells

Gerald unfurled the blueprints of his ex-girlfriend’s house.  He’d be killing her family in just fifteen minutes.

Gerald filmed his Death Manifesto, speaking confidently and cruelly.  Never turning his piercing gaze from the camera, Gerald picked up his gun, bathing his plans in a pool of brilliant crimson as he accidentally blew off the top off his own head.


MATTHEW: Whoo. Sudden ending there, Story #2. It’s a bit of a risk, and I appreciate that you took it, especially since the build-up was pretty interesting to begin with. I just don’t think it outshines the story you were up against this week, which manages to be chilling without being too dramatically graphic or grisly. Not mentioning a gun, or even (directly) a gunshot, Story 1 took a big risk too. Both risks paid off, but story 1 drew me in deeper from the start. WINNER: #1

Novak – These are both solid 59-word entries, that both inhabit tight little worlds, but neither of them really does it for me like I’d want them too.  The juxtapositioning of such malice with such incompetence in #2 just doesn’t quite work (though that could be really good for humor at times), while #1 seems to dwell too much on the trivial.  I assume that was on purpose, but something about it leaves me a little too cold.  I love the word choices though – they’re perfect.  So for that reason, #1 wins.

ANDY: I found myself much more intrigued by the world that #1 is establishing than the character presented in #2. There’s not much there to grab onto, I’m afraid. I’m looking for something a little edgier, I guess. Winner: #1.

WINNER: Will Young



1 – Eric Schapp

It wasn’t right. The plan wouldn’t work this way. Jesse slowly took his other hand off of the glock and began to release the gun. The lack of pressure tripped the hair trigger. 7 bystanders died that day. Jesse lived.


2 – Colin Woolston



MATTHEW: Another non-sub. Oh well. You grabbed it, Story 1. WINNER: #1

Novak – #1 wins, though I don’t know that it would have against most subs.  It’s a little too vague in its action.  A lot of potential though.

ANDY: I don’t want to be too harsh here, #1, but your entry doesn’t show too much effort. Luckily, you were up against a non-sub, otherwise I think you might be in trouble today. Winner: #1.

WINNER: Eric Schapp


Two weeks to go, fellows and ladies, and it’s a bit disheartening to see non-subs. Even if you’re out of the running, don’t you want to try to keep some folks OUT of the playoffs? Most of us are from Minnesota and Arizona, so let’s follow in the grand tradition of their NFL teams and PLAY SPOILER!

Next story topic: write a modern American Tall Tale. You can select one of the classic American folklore heroes (Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, etc.) and put them into a new fable, or create your own Tall Tale hero/heroine. It might be a bit hard to do the latter AND tell a story about them in 59 words, but you folks are pretty damn talented, so if you think you can do it, go for it. See you all on Sunday!


Sarah Johnson vs Beau

Erik S vs Kelly Wells

Pete Bruzek vs Eric Schapp

DPWY vs Christina Pepper

Colin Woolston vs Melissa D

Ian Pratt vs David Larson

AMR vs Erik Dikken

Dean Carlson vs Zack Sauvageau