We’ve wrapped up the judging of the Third Annual QSF Flash Fiction Contest, so we’ll be sharing the top stories – first the top three, then the individual Judge’s Choice stories – something new we are doing this year. We had some fantastic submissions this year – congrats to everyone! All stories were limited to 300 words max, with the theme “flight”.
These stories will all appear in the forthcoming “Flight” anthology – more details soon.
Our third Judge’s Choice story is B.A. Brock’s pick: Missy Welsh’s cool futuristic tale with a great ending – congrats, Missy! Here’s the story – enjoy it, and see B.A.’s comment at the end.
by Missy Welsh
Bud didn’t mind scavenging in the swamps and sticky heat because he liked being alone with big, tough Hadley. Most people looked and thought Hadley was more Cult than Colony, but he’d always been sweet to Bud. So when they ventured out that afternoon, Bud took only his breather and hustled after the weapons-laden Hadley.
“Where we going?” Bud asked. He took two steps for every one of Hadley’s.
“You find something?”
Some days Hadley went out with the scouts to keep an eye out for Cultists. Even if Hadley brought back good stories, Bud hated those days. He’d huddle in their box and read all the books and try not to worry.
“Said I did.”
“No, what’d you find?”
Bud double-timed it to walk along side Hadley and look up into his face. The breathe mask couldn’t hide that craggy, weathered face with a secret smile.
“C’mon,” Bud said with a grin. “Tell me.”
Bud didn’t bother to beg, but he did poke Hadley in his meaty flank.
They didn’t talk much after that except when Hadley advised Bud on how to get over or around or through something. This part of Clevnd had lots of the pale, broken stones with the weird flat sides and the sucking mud bogs were plentiful.
“Through here,” Hadley said as he pushed aside some vines. “It’s over there.”
Bud tiptoed under and around only to stop and stare. “What is that?”
Despite being slowly reclaimed into the earth, covered in vines and other greenness, broken and listing, it looked like a great bullet-shaped bird. Could it be? Bud’s pulse raced.
“I’m thinking you were right.” Hadley held Bud’s shoulder. “Weren’t fantasy. Those is the airplanes.” He gave Bud a squeeze. “We did once fly like the birds.”
B.A. says: The voice struck me, and the rich character detail. I could hear Bud and Hadley yacking in my head as they worked through the swamp. The setting was heavy and sticky, but with the revelation at the end, the characters soar with excitement and hope–up and up and up! This piece made me feel it all.