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Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction Contest “Flight” – Judge’s Choice – J. Scott Coatsworth

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 final Judge’s Choice story is Scott’s pick: Zev de Valera’s great little shaker story – you’ll see what I mean – congrats, Zev! Here’s the story – enjoy it, and see Scott’s comment at the end.


by Zev de Valera

He rubbed his temples and squinted at the soft light of his surroundings through the fans of his thick eyelashes. The last drink had been a mistake.

Was that a shaker he’d felt, or the onset of a hangover?

He clutched a silken pillow and waited.

Suddenly, he felt his home tremble; a few pieces of glass and ceramic ware teetered and then fell to their demise.

Shit. This is the real thing.

With an effort, he hauled himself from his bed.

How many years had it been since the last one?

Sixty? Seventy?

The shaking ceased, and he looked around his small dwelling.

A model unit when he’d purchased it. Now filled with the result of years of collecting: a gramophone, a first generation television set, a water clock.  And much more. All of it all had sentimental value – as did the photos of the various men that sat atop or alongside the items in his collection.  Some of these men had loved him. All of them had once owned him. Now he owned their memories. That was the bargain.

Another shake. Followed by several unnerving tilts. He willed his cherished possessions to remain in place and willed himself into sobriety and a more becoming appearance as he prepared himself for work.

What to wear?

He selected a red brocade tunic and pants. A classic look always worked best for the initial consultation.

A resounding thud.

He  peered up into the small shaftway at the center of the ceiling.

A pop.

Then a small circle of light at the end of the shaft.

He sighed, folded his arms, and transformed into a cloud of red smoke.

Up and away to meet his new master.

Scott says: I loved this story. It’s a classic example of the twist – but done very well. I was sure it was an earthquake, or, given the nature of the contest, maybe an alien invasion. But the endding snuck up on me and was a great “gotcha” moment. Well done, Zev!

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3 thoughts on “Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction Contest “Flight” – Judge’s Choice – J. Scott Coatsworth”

  1. Yes! Great story! I didn’t see it coming (and I’ve seen every episode of a certain Cocoa Beach-set TV show!) I would have bet on the setting being an interstellar spaceship. Nope!

    • Thank you, Jeff. Sorry for the late acknowledgement, but I have not visited the QSF site in months. It’s really nice to know that you enjoyed the story.


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