Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction Contest “Flight” – Judge’s Choice – Carole Cummings
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 fourth Judge’s Choice story is Carole Cummings pick: Liz Fury’s FF sci fi story – congrats, Liz! Here’s the story – enjoy it, and see Carole’s comment at the end.
by Liz Fury
Siler knew six ways to sneak into the Old Library.
She still got caught.
The burat before Si was big, mangy, and irritated. Originating from a resource-less planet, burats populated slums and space dumps. Street trash herself, Si knew burats weren’t violent, but being cornered by one was still terrifying.
Lek — according to her nametag — perused the book she swiped from Si. Athena-Class Engineering.
“Why?” Lek pinned Siler with a glare.
“Studying for exams.” Si’s fear-filled voice made it believable.
“It’s two-thirty. In the morning.”
“I have a stalker. It’s dangerous, please–” Si begged as Lek shoved her against a bookshelf, “–I need this.”
“There’ve been threats,” Lek said.
Si glanced around, trying not to inhale sewer smell. Under the alien’s claws, escape was impossible.
“…against Athena cruisers,” Lek continued.
“I didn’t know.”
Si squirmed. That was true. She thought nobody knew her plans.
“Expensive cruisers. Who don’t tolerate my race.” Lek’s eyes were sharp. “You taking them down, human?”
Silence stretched for heartbeats.
“I have to,” Si whispered. “It’s the only way I can rescue my wife.”
She felt like someone let out all the air. Mentioning Justinia sliced her open: after initial pain, only emptiness followed.
Lek leaned in.
“Hyperion.” Vacation resort for hedonists. Includes complimentary slave.
Athena-Class Engineering slammed into Si’s chest.
“They took my friend.” Lek’s snarl rumbled like an avalanche. “Save her. Get them all out.”
Siler’s righteous fury sparked. “That’s the plan. No innocents die.”
Lek appraised her.
She returned a moment later and handed Si How Not To Blow Up Your Ship, For Dummies.
Si swallowed. The books were heavy with reality.
“I’ll return them,” she stuttered. “If I can.”
“Better pass them on. Others will need them.”
Carole says: This is a difficult thing to do, writing a full story with developed characters the reader cares about, and all in 300 words. Add in the theme, and the LGBT+ content, and the spec fic elements, and it’s *really* hard. This author managed to do all that wonderfully, and with a writing style that made me grin and nod along. The story was immediately involving, admirably detailed, and so clean it almost squeaked. Liz Fury did a fantastic job, and I’m so pleased I get to single this story out for special mention. I hope we see a lot more from Liz in the future.