PWTP4-3

I spent all week grading an exam that didn’t go very well and then dealing with angry and disappointed students.  Nothing like some more judging to wash that down.  Apologies if my comments are short this time.

Jonathon

Wham!

I ran directly into the snowball. It was a huge neighborhood snowball fight, and I’d been running for the cover of a large oak tree, ducking and weaving. I turned, and I could see it coming at me in slow motion. Then everything went black.

When I came to, my brother and Kurt the next door neighbor were standing over me, arguing. They looked strange.

“Did you put a rock in there?”

“No! I wouldn’t do that! I just packed it really tight… there were probably chunks of ice in it.”

They sounded kind of far away. I struggled to sit up while they argued over who was at fault, which annoyed me. “Someone want to help me up?” My brother and Kurt both jumped when I spoke, but each one took an arm and got me on my feet. I was freezing, and I was trying to brush the snow out of my eye. My brother asked me what I was doing.

“There’s too much snow in my eye.”

“There’s no snow in your eye. Mom and Dad are gonna have a fit.”

They did. It was clear when we got to the house that I was blind in my right eye. Mom wanted me to go to the hospital and Dad was trying to figure out how we’d pay for that, I was the calmest person in the house. I was freezing, and I sat next to the heater, trying to warm up. I slowly stopped shivering, and everything in my right eye went grey. Then white. Then there were shapes down a long tunnel, which slowly got closer, eventually matching my left eye.

Everyone looked at me like I was crazy when I said “I can see now. Can we go back to the snowball fight?”

DG – I like where this story went.  The recovery at the end works, and I kind of like that the narrator isn’t the most active player in this story. SILVER

DK: I like this, there’s lots of nice details that make it feel real.  The descriptions of the lose vision are especially good, and the ending is pretty cute.  BRONZE

Annette

The first time he hit her, it surprised him as much as it did her. It was just a stinging slap; more a humiliation than anything else. They got past it. It would never happen again. He was sorry. He loved her.

Stanley married beneath himself and he made sure Frannie knew it. His family had a long history of Ivy League graduates, while hers made their living at sea.

Of course it happened again. Bruises on her ass, ribs, legs . . . until Stanley screwed up and punched her in the face. Frannie’s gaze slid out from under her brother’s as she mumbled  about tripping and hitting her face on a door. Albert turned speculatively to Stanley.

“You know Frannie,” Stanley smirked. “Such a clutz.” Stanley squeaked as Albert stepped in and grabbed the front of his pants; belt, briefs and all, and hauled him to the tips of his toes against the wall. Stanley’s nuts screamed in protest.

Look, Stanley,” Albert said softly into his face. “Frannie has never been clumsy a day in her life.” Stanley started to sputter and Albert shook him by his pants. Stanley groaned. “I’ve seen you drink and you’re a mean little asshole. If you’re making my sister ‘clumsy,’ you better NOT DRINK.” He shook again and tears leaked onto Stanley’s cheeks. “Or I’ll tune you up, Stanley. I’ll tune you up and make you SING. Understood?” Stanley nodded frantically.

It wasn’t discussed, but Stanley stopped drinking. Until the weatherman predicted heavy snowfall from a northeaster and he stashed a case of beer in the garage.

The snow fell, the roads closed and Stanley started drinking with breakfast. Frannie’s lip split. At the sound of the snowmobile, Stanley angrily slammed open his front door.

“STANLEY?!!!” Albert bellowed as he stomped up the drive.

DG – This is a good story.  Stanley is well-established as a character, as is Albert.  The showdown at the end doesn’t need to be shown to work. BRONZE

DK: Suitably dark and effective as a portrait of abuse.  I think the ending feels a little compressed, so there’s some issues with the pacing within this amount of space.

Kelly

With one final push, I break through.  There’s a chill in the air – one that
far outstrips what we get at home – but I barely notice.  This place is
a wonder.

My jaw drops as I survey it – the trees growing upward instead of
downward, the white covering of the ground, and the majestic buildings
in front of me – the places of kings?  I cannot fathom that they belong
to the laymen.  Above, there is no cover.  Where is this world’s cover?
Is it that far up?

I tunnel back down toward home, bringing a pile of the soft white flakes
to retrace my steps.  I always knew there was a world above, and now
I’ll be able to prove it.

DG – A nicely different perspective.  I’m not sure it got enough depth to really drive that home though.

DK: I like a lot of elements of the concept here.  It’s tough to get a good grasp on character, and the idea itself maybe could use some more fleshing out.

Bret

Scoop, lift, throw.  Scoop, lift, throw.   Mark thought to himself for the thousandth time, I should’ve known better than to listen to her and move here.

Sure, Sadie, western New York, there’s some amazing opportunities with bio-tech companies doing cutting-edge chromosome sequencing and some out-of-this-world work on genome-splicing.  Mark scooped up another shovelful from the sidewalk and threw it over his shoulder with a disgusted grunt.  What a wonderful goddamn place.  Ugh.

All he ever did anymore was shovel, Mark reflected.  Fuckin’ shit falling from the sky, all along Lake Erie.  And then Mark got to shovel and scoop a path out of the house, dig out the truck, try and keep the windows and doors clear.  What a shithole.

Mark caught sight of a flock of birds and leaned on the shovel handle to catch his breath while he tracked their path through the bare tree branches.  Slow, steady wing beats carried them past; on their way to the roosting grounds up on the Canadian side, most likely.  The second one from the lead carried a Holstein cow in its talons.

Mark hoped that whoever the jackass scientist was who had created twenty-five foot tall pigeons had been eaten by one of the damned things.  Probably had been.  He was probably part of the four-foot high pile of pigeon shit covering most of the town.

Scoop, lift, throw.  Scoop, lift, throw.

DG – Nicely revealed.  A clever twist and the fact that it’s pigeon-shit fits perfectly with Mark’s state of mind. SILVER

DK: Okay, I laughed at this for a while.  This pretty much perfectly sets up and yet obscures its punchline till the right moment.  And pigeon shit is a great unique use of the prompt, too.  GOLD

Joe

Bitter.

I’m out here shoveling snow, and my sisters are warm and cozy inside playing with their stupid dolls.  Mom and Dad told me… no, us… to get outside and shovel the walk.  They promised hot chocolate.  I got my snowsuit, coat, hat and mittens on and headed outside.  The girls were getting their stuff on, but they’re still not out.  I could go in, remind them to get out here, but I know the words won’t leave my mouth before Mom and Dad yell at me to get back outside.  I never win.

They come out, but they don’t shovel, they play.  They build a snowman.  I tell them they need to help me, but they don’t listen.  I tell them again, louder.  They’re deaf to my appeals.  Finally I let out all the air out of my lungs, telling them they HAVE to help me.  Mom throws open the kitchen window and tells me to stop bothering them and get back to work.  I never win.

They go inside.  They’re too cold.  Babies.  I follow them in.  No go.  I need to go back outside and finish shoveling the walk.  I ask for help.  They yell again. It’s not fair.  I go outside and writhe in bitterness.  I want to take my sweet time because I don’t want to be in with them.  It’s cold, so I don’t want to be out here, either.  I never win.

I think about moving the snow to right behind their cars.  I think about wrecking the snowmen.  I practice the tirade I’ve practiced a hundred times.  The eff-you speech that will tell them off for good.  I start to feel a little better.  I’m almost done with the walk.  I smile.  Then new flakes start to fall.  Of course.

DG – The first word kind of tells the whole story here.  Good job of capturing that mood throughout.

DK: I got a little confused about the relative ages of the people involved (maybe I just wasn’t clear about whether the cars were the girls’ or the parents’) but if a fairly young kid is what’s being shot for here, I think this carries off the feel of that thought process in this situation pretty well.

Melissa

The cell phone towers had frozen.  The cell phones, too.  TVs were dead, as were the people who worked on TV.  We had only voices crackling through our CB.  Don’t go outside.  You’ll die.

Day one, the snow had fallen.  Normal at first, then heavier.  Then ice and wind and hell fell with it.  Our living room windows shattered.  We huddled in the bathroom.  We built fires in the bathtub.

Day two, it warmed enough that Andy raced to grab frozen bottles of water, frozen food, frozen blankets.  We heated it all with the bathtub fire.

Don’t go outside. You’ll die.

Dad had gone.  He’d left to shovel snow when we thought all was normal.  He hadn’t come back.  We held out hope.

Day 4, our food ran out.  Shit piled high in the toilet, covered with piss.

Day 5, the CB message changed.

Don’t go outside unless an emergency.

This was an emergency.

Andy huddled with Veronica under the blankets.  She’d gone still an hour ago.  I kissed their chilled heads, and I left.

Frost shimmered on our walls and carpet.  Snow piled along the inside of the broken window.  Outside our door, though, it had gone.  The path was shoveled.

I followed the path, the wind outsidr so chill it pierced through my coat and hat and scarf, through my snow pants and longjohns.  I shuffled down the path until it stopped.

I found Dad.

He stood there, brow furrowed.  His snow shovel perched high in the air, frozen mid-movement, his blue eyes frosted open.

The silence was complete and terrible.  The ghost of the CB echoed in my head.

Don’t go outside.  You’ll die.

I closed my eyes.

The cold hurt.

It hurt.

Cold.

DG – To keep track of where I rank all the entries, I keep a text file with shorthand notes for each story.  This one was “popsicle dad” which amused me.  Anyway, it’s  a good story, well told, but I didn’t get the creeping horror that I get from some of the other “shut-in” stories.

DK: This is definitely one of a few I really wanted to medal but found I had run out.  This really evokes the desperation and the feeling of succumbing at the end without needing to go over the top with description or language.

Will

OPEN ON A TV NEWS BROADCAST. SCHOOL CLOSURES SCROLL ACROSS THE BOTTOM.

JEFF:

(friendly and articulately) I guess that’s good news, Tom. Now that the first measureable snow is here, WLSY’s Neil Wilcox joins us with the story of a pretty great nine year-old.

CUT TO WILCOX STANDING ON A SIDEWALK WEARING A PARKA. HE’S HOLDING A MICROPHONE IN A GLOVED HAND. CARS PASS BEHIND.

NEIL:

Thanks, Jeff. You see behind me Clarence Winston (looking over his shoulder). In the snow, he had fruitful, inspiring day.

CUT TO PRERECORDED SCENE. NEIL WALKS TOWARDS THE CAMERA.

NEIL:

The eight inches of snow that fell this morning and slowed on the morning commute wasn’t all bad. Just ask Clarence Winston.

CUT TO CAMERON SHOVELING A DRIVEWAY NEXT TO A SNOWBANK REACHING HIS TORSO.

NEIL (voiceover):

Winston is a third-grader at Patrick Kirby Elementary. With school canceled, he shoveled eighteen driveways in his neighborhood.

CUT TO CLARENCE, WITH A SNOWY BOOGER HANGING FROM HIS NOSE, LEANING ON A SHOVEL

CLARENCE:

My mom told me to shovel, and I told her she should pay me. She said she would give me $5. She also told me that cars couldn’t drive fast today so I had permission to walk around and see if other people would pay me, too. At first, people would pay me $5. Then, when they learned I wasn’t keeping the money, some started paying me $20 or $30.

NEIL (voiceover):

You won’t believe why.

CLARENCE:

I know some people are poor. They can’t afford things they need to live. So my mom will use this money to buy them stuff for school.

JEFF:

(upbeat and slightly patronizingly) We live in the best place on earth.

(With excitement) Up next, do cluttered closets take years off your life?

CUT TO COMMERCIAL

DG – This captures the non-story of the story very nicely.  This just got edged out in my rankings, but it deserved better.

DK: Initial instinct I found myself expecting some kind of bigger punchline to follow the setup, then realized the utter banality of this kind of news ‘report’ is the punchline.  Which I got a pretty good kick out of.  BRONZE

Pete

Snowfall : A Short Tragedy

ACT I, SCENE I

Bernard’s Sidewalk

Enter Bernard, carrying a snow shovel

    Francine (off stage): Fine, then!

       Bernard: Fine, then!

Bernard begins shoveling

      Bernard: “Shovel the driveway so I can leave!” she says, “I have a meeting with Mark!” she says. I’ll shovel her head clear off her shoulders!

Enter Bernard’s Subconscious

    Bernard’s Subconscious: You wouldn’t really do that.

       Bernard: I might!

    Bernard’s Subconscious: No, you’ll just do what you always do. You’ll angrily watch her leave, then get drunk and lament your loveless, faithless marriage.

Bernard says nothing, but quickens the pace of his shoveling

Enter Bernard’s Mental Construct of His Faithless Wife (BMCHFW)

     BMCHFW: You know I’m sleeping with Mark.

    Bernard: I know it, but I don’t want to think about it. Please, let me be!

    BMCHFW: He’s much richer than you, and he has a much bigger…

Screaming incoherently, Bernard flings his snow shovel into the road, nearly hitting Todd, driving his Escalade

    Todd: Whoa, man! Be careful!

    Bernard (scowling): Sorry, Todd

Exit Todd

       Bernard’s Subconscious: It’s sad. He’s only 22, and he already has more than you ever will.

Bernard clears the driveway of any trace of snow

    Bernard: Now to the liquor store.

    Bernard’s Subconscious: Ah, but it’s Sunday, and you live in Minnesota! No alcohol for you!

Bernard trudges to his front door, muttering all manner of oaths.

Exeunt.

Act I, Scene II

Bernard’s Bedroom

Bernard is sleeping alone in his bed, his wife having not come home from last night’s dalliances

    Bernard’s Subconscious: Wake up, Sisyphus! It snowed another two feet last night.

fin.

DG – Easiest decision of the week.  This was hilarious from “Enter Bernard’s Subconscious” to the all-too brief encounter with Todd. Loved it.  GOLD

DK: I’m not going to ignore experimenting with form here when it’s as funny as this.  I especially like including multiple characters for manifestation’s of Bernard’s mental constructs.  Poor guy.  GOLD

Christina

A better wife would put on the coffee.

“Keep sleeping,” Russell had whispered when the alarm buzzed. “It’s a snow day for sure.”

I can hear the rhythmic scraping of his shovel against the front walk. The noise cuts through even as I started to drift off again.

unbuttoning his shirt slowly, luxuriously, his warm skin a balm against winter’s chill, my tongue tracing along his sternum

I roll over and stare up at the plaster ceiling, willing my mind to think of the hours ahead. A day free from being Mrs. Campbell. Free from runny noses and wet wool hats. I could spend all day in the studio if I wanted.

running my hands through his hair soft like a fine paintbrush, breathing in his scent rich with loam, waiting to kiss his mouth until I know his lips are hungry for mine

The front door opens and closes abruptly. I hear Russ stomp the snow off his boots and I know he’ll leave them tidily on the mat inside the front door. He’ll make oatmeal for breakfast just the way he always does. Shower and put on a suit. Give me a quick kiss and promise he’ll drive real careful.

feeling his rough hands on my naked skin, hearing the pace of his breathing quicken, pulling him onto me

Russ enters the room. My eyes open.

“You all right?” he asks. “You look a little flushed.”

“It’s nothing,” I respond, closing my eyes again. He tousles my hair and leaves.

Still under the comforter, I slip off my nightgown, then slide my hand between my legs.

A better wife would, at the very least, have put on the coffee.

DG – Whew.  This certainly captures the mood and runs with it.  In addition to all the steaminess, there’s a real character there as well.   Which is why I like this.  You know, for the characterization.  That’s it.  GOLD

DK: I can’t pretend to know much about what good wives (or husbands) would be doing, but I do think I need a cigarette right about now.  SILVER

Eric

Snow

DG – The temptation to use a full 100+ word paragraph to review this is almost overwhelming.  Good thing I’m too tired to bother.

DK – Indeed.

Margaret

Joyce shivered on the porch, red sweater, red cheeks.

“Really, Jeffrey!  Will you put on a hat?  Do you want me to worry that you’ll catch pneumonia?  Why do you do this to me?  I just…  I have to go lie down.   Make sure this is done before your father gets home.”

Jeffrey ignored her. Her version of reality always required another tranquilizer and another nap.

It was only October.  The snow was already melting with the warming temperatures, already damp and heavy.  The shovel scratched lazily across the concrete steps with a tinny growl.  Jeffrey imagined her resting in her red sweater, shuddering as each scrape pierced the middle of her back and drove into her brain.

He hit something soft.  He snapped to attention, yanking his shovel up and away from the ball of snow-packed fur that lay at his feet.  He noted with a small thrill of horror that his shovel had left a mark.  He jammed the shovel into the snow bank and crouched down to get a closer look.  Cat?   Squirrel?   Rabbit!

He picked up the carcass gingerly, hands cupped like he was drinking from a pond, and brought it close to his face.  He could see his reflection in its glassy eyes.  He expected the cloying death smell, but it smelled like metal and damp snow.

His father walked up and grabbed the shovel handle.  “What you got there?”

“It’s a rabbit!  Can we work on it tonight, Dad?  Can we see how it fits together?  Can I keep the bones?”

Lionel loved to see his son excited about science.  He tipped his head toward the house.  “How’s Mom?”

“Resting.”   Jeffrey’s eyes motioned upward to his bare head.  “I’m not wearing a hat.”

Lionel nodded.  “OK!  We’ve got some time.”

DG – I feel like maybe I have a twisted mind that I’m seeing something really dark in this story.  If that’s what was intended, the hints are really subtle, but I guess effective.  This was a near-miss for me.

DK – I like the undercurrents of something abnormal going on here.  Maybe that’s something I’m reading into it that isn’t intended, but I appreciate the ability to do that is given here.  BRONZE

Sarah

I watched him from a slit in the dirty blue curtains. Frank carved a pathway into the snow, wiping his face with a yellow dishrag. He saw me in the window and waved. He was wearing the suede choppers I bought him. We had a storm during the night.

I remembered the plastic Christmas tree we found in an alley that first year together. Frank had been unemployed for ten months then. We had laughed, drunk on squeeze-bottle gin, and listened to my dad’s old records. We made snow angels in the neighbor’s yard. I couldn’t remember the neighbor’s name anymore: her daughter was killed in a hunting accident. She always kept to herself

Three miscarriages and a house fire: at first they made us stronger. After a while I started dissecting intentions. I imagined things. Most of them were crazy but a few made sense. They still do. Sometimes he looked at me and I could feel the blame, its weight draped over us as we talked over dinner.

He sleeps in the basement. He’s not interested. I’m not interested either. I stopped crying myself to sleep six months.

I thought of my dad. I wondered if I had turned into my mother.

He walked in with dripping boots. The yellow dishrag was torn a little bit. He looked frightened: had I been a hard wife? “It snagged on a hook in the garage.” He had chew in his mouth. He’d lose his teeth but I wouldn’t see it.

Then he had told me the news with a straight face, just like he had asked me to marry him 11 years before. I don’t need the divorce. It started in his stomach, he said. It had spread and he was declining treatment.

DG – This does melancholy really well, then turns it up to 11 at the end.  Nicely done.  BRONZE

DK: Another one where I really like the darkness of the setup, but think it ends up preventing the ending from having enough space to really breathe and settle in.  That last paragraph should hit harder than it seems like it does.

Colin

William awoke clawing at his face; dissipating webs of a nightmare fell as his breath, and heart slowed. His eyes focused and took inventory of the room. He scratched at his beard.

It was day, again. Silence settled in around him, and he began his morning.

William put the last dish in the dry rack, and folded the yellow towel next to the red towel. Red is for Saturday. Saturday is for patrol. Today is the yellow towel. Today is Friday. He refilled his coffee.

The cold bit at his face as he stepped outside. He didn’t remember dressing, or grabbing the shovel. He began at the base of the front steps. Long, smooth strokes, and the snow began to pile to his right, and then his left. Even piles.

William paused, breathing hard. He was at the boundary. His driveway was done. His walk. His gun was in his hand, at his temple. He was staring at the boundary, where a crisp, even line of snow held back the neighbor’s walk. He looked up, and then back in the other direction. Towering oaks and broad-trunked maples. Useless power Untouched snow, drifting against cars unused for years. Tomorrow was for patrol. The red towel.

William placed the pistol back in his coat, and turned to go inside.

DG – Did I say something about creeping horror before?  This one nails that mood, and it gets to a point in just a few words that I was invested in but unsure of the outcome.  GOLD

DK: I do like the balance of this one, it feels like it flows naturally towards unveiling the full extent of William’s mindset. Also, the opening line is really good.  SILVER

Ben

Tuesday morning

…I certainly hope you’ve all visited your local Frattalone’s Ace Hardware and picked up one of the brand new powerful and dependable Toro snow blowers or checked out their wide selection of quality shovels. The models project a record snowfall for the upper Midwest with accumulations of 27-33” between the south metro and Mankato over the next three days. In other news, former league MVP Joe Mauer and his wife are expecting …“Oh thank the Lord!”

Wednesday morning

…Well folks, we’ve been spared for the time being as an area of high pressure has moved into the region, causing the front to stall out over northwest Nebraska and the Black Hills. Rapid City, South Dakota is reporting snowfall of 1.2” per hour over the past two days….”It’s okay, just relax – there’s still time.”

Thursday morning

…Batten down the hatches, the high pressure has shifted south towards the Quad Cities and our front has swung over the Missouri River Basin. After dumping almost 3 feet of snow in parts of central South Dakota, the leading edge has reached the outskirts of Sioux Falls, continuing to pick up momentum as it heads for southwest Minnesota. I expect to see the first snowfall in New Ulm by 5 pm… “Come on. Come on. Comeoncomeonc’monc’mon. Pleeeaaase!”

Friday morning

…and well, let’s just say that my models were a little off and that front settled in over the south central part of the state last night. Our eyes on the ground in Windom tell us that it’s still coming down after racking up record amounts in Marshall. I expect to see it shift northeast by this afternoon….”OH. GOD. NOOOoooo!”

Saturday Morning

“Algebra test.” I think to myself with a grimace, “What Algebra test?” and reach for the shovel.

DG – Yep, I liked this one, it was well paced, told its story, and it mentions my hometown.  Recipe for success there.  BRONZE

DK: Another one I like a lot that I just didn’t have enough for, this is an amusing look at the twists and turns of following the hope for snow days as a kid.  Even with very little spent on the kid his or herself, it’s easy to get a sense of their perspective.

Brian

“Yeew!  Ye-yeew!”

Henry stood fast on the porch, snow shovel in hand.

“Ye-ye-yeew!”

A small animal leapt up from the yard.  It was covered head-to-toe with snow-white fur.

“Yeew!”

The animal pushed its head against Henry’s leg.  The boy smiled and scratched its head.

“Henry, don’t take too long!”  It was his Mom, shouting through the door.  “Lunch will be ready soon.”

Henry grabbed the shovel and headed into the yard.

    *    *    *

When he was finished, he rushed back to the house, anxious to tell his parents about the snow-white cat.  But as he stepped through the door, he heard his Mom and Dad talking quietly.  Henry gently pulled off his shoes and walked towards the kitchen.

“-haven’t seen Margaret for weeks,” his Mom whispered.  “They’ve called the police and his daughters are there now.  It sounds like poor Sam’s mind is going.  The say he thinks-”

“Oh, Henry!” exclaimed his Dad, finally noticing the boy.  “You’re just in time to eat.”

*    *    *

The next day Henry went to plow again.  He had gotten bored and decided to construct a maze.

The  cat was waiting for him.

“Yeew!”

The cat followed Henry as he worked.  A half an hour had gone by when the shovel hit something hard.

“Ye-ye-yeew!”

There was something small and blue sticking out of the snow.  Henry squinted and leaned over.

It was a finger!  A human finger with a wedding ring.

Henry tried to scream, but his voice stuck in his throat.  With blinding speed, the head of another cat appeared in the snow, quickly followed by a dozen more.

Henry turned and saw the first cat sitting quietly, its head tilted and its tail curled.

“Mmek!” it barked.

The rest of the animals started yelping in reply.

“Mek!  Mm-mek! Mek mek!”

Their eyes turned a jet black.

DG – I kind of hate myself for liking killer cats this much.  SILVER

DK –  I really like the buildup here and the use of this perspective.  Doling out the hints like the snippets of parents’ dialogue keeps the suspense and the mystery nicely calibrated, and the ending is a…killer.  GOLD

Erik

Weather’s the same as it’s been for the last month: Cold.  There’s rumors of the Earth still revolving around the sun, but I’ve seen little proof of it.

Once we moved into the Ardennes, I thought the dense coverage would give us a bit of respite.  Can’t bomb what you can’t see right?   Not quite.  Jerry’s doing a bang-up job regardless.

This forest has a funny way of changing on you.  When all’s quiet, it’s silent as the grave.  The fresh snow acts like a pillow, muffling all sound.  It’s the most peaceful place in the world.  You marvel at the ancient beauty of the woods and take in what sounds make it through the trees and your wool cap.  Then, everything starts fucking exploding.

Those picturesque trees start issuing forth like hornets, dismembering and maiming.  Or, they’re simply tossed around like matchsticks.  That’s fun.  Back in France, we dug deep, comfy foxholes.  Here, I spent 4 hard hours digging and barely displaced a foot of frozen ground.  Sure, that can still do the trick, but it’s unsettling knowing you’ve only got an inch of clearance if the world starts collapsing.

I finally came across his tracks this morning.  The snow’s held off, but that won’t last.

This damned Kraut’s been picking us off for weeks.  Me and a spotter were ordered to track and neutralize the threat.  Some help they sent.  That little pissant ran off with his tail between his legs shortly after we left our position.

No matter.  After stalking him for 3 days, I’ve got the bastard in my sights.  He’s bigger than I’d have thought; got at least a foot on me.  Once I pick him off, I’m sure he’ll start going on about how unfair it all is.  He always does.

Well, son, war is hell.

DG – This one just didn’t click for me.  I’m having a hard time describing why, but maybe it lacked a direction?  At first it seems like the bombers are the enemy, then it’s the sniper. 

DK: Really great descriptions here – the trees, the setting.  The tension and exhaustion of the character really shines through.  So I have to apologize again for running out of medals – this was a strong week.

Zack

The snow just won’t stop. The meteorologist said we’d have “a light dusting of snow tomorrow.” That was six days ago.

It was five days ago that I killed him. He was drunk again. I saw him come careening into the driveway at 11pm. The snow had started five hours ago. Five hours, five inches. I told him if he needed a ride he should have called me, I didn’t want him to drive drunk again. He laughed and told me that he was tired of me telling him what to do. I was just worried for him, I tried to explain.

I killed him because I was scared of him. He punched me again, in my right eye.  I blacked out and woke up covered in his cool, sticky blood. He was paler than normal. His hands were covering the wound on his throat. Or trying to, anyway. It was far bigger than his hands. I threw up.

In a panic I drug his heavy, limp body outside. I covered it in snow so the neighbors couldn’t see. I didn’t realize there would be another four feet of snow that would cover him.

I can’t open the door now. And I’m not sure I even want to. I don’t want to see his frozen body. I don’t know what I’m going to do when the snow stops and starts to melt. I don’t have a clue.

I hope the snow never stops. I’m glad he’s gone. But I don’t want to deal with this.

DG – I considered giving out 12 medals this week just to see if anyone would notice, there were that many good stories.  I think this was the only character hoping for more snow, and the reasoning behind it is pretty good. 

DK – I like the pacing of this one.  Revealing the death near the outset prevents this from being setup-heavy and resolution-cramped.  The beats of describing the effects of abuse – and of killing – are really sharp, too.  SILVER

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DK and I are both complaining about not having enough medals to give out, so you guys must be doing something right.  Keep up the awesome work.

Congrats to Pete on his double gold this week.  Do that consistently and you’ll end up with a lot of gold medals.

Link to the spreadsheet (it’s standings!)

Your prompt for Monday (due at 8 PM Central again) is the picture below.  Let’s try a new word count, 279 this time.

PWTP4-4

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