With the absence of the Fiction 101 contest in 2018 came a sense of urgency from local writers that the tradition carry on. And we agreed — it was a simple oversight but one that left a vacuum for those who look forward to this competition every year.

For 2019, we received over 60 entries, all pondering unusual and unique paths of human connection and the ethereal. It’s always quite an impressive feat what can be strung together in 101 words or less, and we were not left for wanting. We thank all who participated and for our readers, enjoy!

For our placeholders, contact editor@vcreporter.com for prizes.

FIRST PLACE

Sword Collection

by

Gabriella Shlyakh

It wasn’t the fuzzy Unicorn, pink dragon, or 6 foot tall Badger that caught Detective Edwards’ attention at the scene of the crime.

Rather, it was the replica Red Sonya broadsword pinning the victim to the comic shop’s wall that really got his attention.

“Call HQ, I have a feeling this is gonna be a weird one,” he said to his partner.

SECOND PLACE

A Drive down Creek Road

Richard Senate

by Richard Senate

It was raining hard as I drove down lonely Creek Road that night. I never come this way as a rule, it’s too dark. When I turned she came into my headlamps. She was young, wearing a wet, tight lavender dress.

She was soaked without a rain coat or umbrella. I stopped next to her.

“Need a lift?” I asked the poor girl. She nodded and got in my car.

“Thank you,” she said in a trembling voice.

“That dress isn’t good in the rain,” I told her.

“Yes, They buried me in it.”

THIRD PLACE

m e delorme

Other Peoples’ Kids

by m.e.-delorme

Sallie takes her regular seat at the bar. Pat, a person she considers a close personal friend, sets a shot in front of her. 

Nearby, Greg and Becca are arguing about their kids. Sallie cannot stand kids herself and harbors a dream to have her tubes tied. She cuts in on their conversation, “Listen, they all suck at every age. Trust me. I should know.”

Pat reaches over with a towel and wipes mustard off her forehead and asks her, “you still waitressing?”

Sallie takes a drag of her cigarette, downs her shot, exhales the smoke and says, “Yeah, Chuck E. Cheese.”

THE SOGGY AMERICAN DREAM AWARD

After the Rain Angie Gets Her Own Rowboat

by m.e.-delorme

Angie sits on the roof, grateful for the respite from the rain and the sun on her skin. She thinks back to the proud day she bought this house, the furnishings below she hand-picked at Goodwill.  Hers, finally, something that was hers all alone.

She inches closer to the edge of the roof, clutching a single photo of her grandmother. A bug swims by a few feet from the gutter, leaving a miniature wake of the last over-loaded row boat that had no room for her yesterday. 

A booming CRACK and her house, released, floats merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily…

WHEELS SET IN MOTION AWARD

Untitled

by Stephen Carrier

“What are you doing?”

Death sighed.

“That one’s yours,” Karma said, pointing to the kid. “She’s mine.” 

“But I can…”

Karma interrupted, “You know the rules. People suffer. Or they never learn. Take the boy. He’s yours.” She smiled, “I’ll be renting room in this girl’s head for a while.”

“You don’t have to enjoy it so much.”

Emergency services arrived. Karma embraced the woman. Death turned to leave when the cop approached. Death relayed the facts. The cop took notes. Looking up, the policeman said, “Boy, karma sure is a bitch, ain’t it?”

“You don’t know the half of it”.

ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END AWARD

#ITSOVER

by Joseph Valderrama

“Hey, Diddle-Diddle, you hear what Cow said to Cat?”

“What?”

“His fiddling no longer sends her over the moon.”

“He must feel terrible.”

“That’s nothing. Little Miss Muffit left Spider hanging, said the fright was gone from their relationship.”

“Him too?”

“Yeah. And Red booted Wolf. Said she was tired of him wearing Grandma’s clothes.”

“I’m afraid to ask. How are you and Alice?”

“It’s over. She yanked me outta my tree. Said my smile wasn’t genuine. How about you and Bo Peep?”

“Said she’s tired of me tagging along. Told me to get lost.”

“It’s over for all us guys.”

HUMANE SOCIETY MEMBER AWARD

Let the Cat Out of the Bag

by Joseph Valderrama

Chigger’s coming up the sidewalk, carrying a brown paper sack.

I drop to the carpet, peek from the corner of the window.

He’s wearing long pants, which means he’s not headed to the creek to smash pollywogs, but he might want to climb trees to find bird eggs and crush them.

I don’t want to listen to what he wants to kill today. I stay hidden.

The head of a white kitten pops out from the sack and looks around. The kitten his sister showed me yesterday. The kitten that licked my finger. The kitten I’m letting out of the bag.

LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES AWARD

#The First One

by Joey Waltz

Sid was mad, but luckily had come into money. First trip: Akihabra, to pick up a very specific piece of tech: A real exoskeleton.

Fourteen months later is was a part of him.

 – Hey Mr. Viral! I remember you! I’m gonna shove that…

 – PPHHHOOOOMMMPP!! the custom Arm Cannon said.

 – …

 – Sorry I couldn’t hear you over the sound of MY HEAVY WEAPON! You’re done, Dudley.

 – …hhhggghhh…

That jerk had it coming. Now Sid got to work on his next task, making a list. There was more injustice in the world, and he was going to start making it right.

FEELING LEFT BEHIND AWARD

The Man with the Horse

by Zoe Murdock

I used to go running with my Dad and some of his friends. We’d be going along on the forest trail when all of a sudden John would veer off into the trees, saying, “I’m off to see a man about a horse.”

I told Dad I wanted to see the horse, but he just laughed.

The next time it happened, I stayed back and followed John. He saw me and told me to go away, then he started running so fast I couldn’t keep up. I don’t know why he didn’t want me to see his secret horse.

THE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! AWARD

Untitled

by Jason Durocher

Jake loved butterflies. He called them “his friends.” He enjoyed their delicate dance on whispers of air. As a caregiver he met many people experiencing life’s conditions. He always encouraged them to “just live.” When he spoke of butterflies his patients would calm and imagine themselves amongst the airy fliers.                          

On a breezy day hike the painted gliders were everywhere. In the salted sage mountains above the Pacific Jake stopped to perch where cliff meets air and air meets sea. His headaches had returned with painful clarity. With palms to the sky he leaned into a gust and joined his friends.

BEEN THERE AWARD

A Third-Class Indian Bus, Sans Toilet – 1982 

by Dana Macy

“RISHIKESH TO DELHI, VERY EASY,” says my Indian guide.

Midway into the 224 kilometer, 7-hour trip, I desperately need to pee.

“My friend needs a toilet,” my guide whispers to the traveler ahead.

Many turn to stare. Old women giggle. Men with betel-stained teeth whisper among themselves. Creative variations ensue.

Finally, the driver stops the bus, turns to the passengers, and booms: “American lady need urinate.”

My ever-helpful guide nods and nudges me forward.

With only my skirt for privacy, I squat on the road-side. Everyone watches.

As I rise, all passengers file off the bus, taking the opportunity to urinate.

THE OFFICIAL SNIFF TEST AWARD

A Beggar and a Dog 

by Dana Macy 

BEGGARS LINE THE STREET, hands outstretched. In the moment, I feel generous and offer a biscuit to one sad-eyed man. The beggar sniffs the biscuit and frowns.

I’m baffled. What did I do wrong? Ah…I get it. Perhaps he prefers coins. With coins he can buy what he wants. He may prefer vanilla biscuits rather than ginger biscuits.

Along comes a curious dog, all skin and bones. The sad-eyed dog eyes the biscuit and begs the beggar, who offers the biscuit to the dog. The dog sniffs and saunters away.

Miffed, the beggar grunts and throws the biscuit at the dog.

I JOHN 1:1 AWARD

Love Letter from a Hack

by Greg Harris

Dear Word, I have misused you. Other words came easily, filled pages and I used them again and again. I wrote you off, but now I miss you. I’m at a loss for Words and admit I worded incorrectly. Other words sounded similar, but none have your meaning. No mere collection of letters can replace you. I understand now that you are creation itself, Word. Save me, true Word, from straying off the page. I promise this time I will treat you with respect. No longer will empty words spew from me. Reunited, we will flow poetically. You have my Word.

I GUESS I WILL BE YOUR FRIEND AWARD

This Trunk For Sale

by Wayne Bauer

He found the elephant wandering down the street. It had a leash around its neck so he knew it had an owner.

“Come here, fella,” he coaxed, gesturing toward the pachyderm.

The elephant gently trotted over. He reached into his pocket to retrieve the last handful of honey roasted peanuts and offered them to the extended trunk. He picked up the leash and began looking for the owner.

People gave him strange looks, but that didn’t stop him from asking if this elephant was theirs. They shook their head, then nodded sympathetically.

He and the elephant walked into the setting sun.

NOT THE FORTUNE I WANTED AWARD

Driving

by Patrick Squires

It had been a long day for Al. Driving home in the late night darkness, he was grateful for the lack of traffic, when suddenly his phone alert went off, “Major accident in 2 miles.” He was puzzled, he could see quite a distance, and no emergency vehicles or activity was visible. Must be a phone malfunction. As he relaxed, “major accident ahead” announced his phone, followed by “major accident in 200 feet.” Al’s last thought was how he needed a new phone as the moving van plowed through his car door.

THE SAY WHAT?! AWARD

Untitled

by Cyndy Taschman

As the Sabins drove cross-country, Marge told Johnny and Joey, “Stop fighting!  Play the license plate game!”

The twins had their own version.

“UCMYPL8”

“SNAAAAB”

“It’s a long drive.”

“NTRST90”

“JOURNEY”

“101HWY”

“So many cars!”

“SLOPOKE”

“LTLOLDY”

“2FAST4U”

“MOOOVER”

“LOOKOUT”

“BROKDWN”

“This will be a good change for us.”

“LAIDOFF”

“WERPOOR”

“HUNGRY”

“SPAGETY”

“TNRFISH”

“A new start.”

“RBNHOOD”

“ESCAPED”

“NTGILTY”

“PLS4GIV”

“A bright future.”

“PSYCHED”

“INSANE1”

“HLFKRZY”

“AYEBLVE”

“NVRMIND”

“This will be like a vacation.”

“MCKYMWS”

“HRYPOTR”

“SNAKEIS”

“CIRCUS2”

“XSQUARE”

“INDY500”

“DODGERS”

“YANKEES”

“CUBBIES”

“Not so much noise!” Dick complained, behind the wheel.

“THUNDER”

“LYTNING”

“IMLOST”

“Police,” Marge whispered.

“1ADAM12”

MAYBE FAKE NEWS AWARD

The Lizard People

by Robert Best

“The lizard space people are here, among us!” the bearded speaker cried to the audience.

“He’s a nut,” I whispered to Amanda my new girlfriend. “Alien lizard people here, now? He’s crazy.”

“Maybe not,” she said with a strange look in her green eyes. “Its possible.”

“You can’t believe that nonsense,” I told her.

At that she smiled, blinked and stuck out her forked tongue.

DOING WHAT UNICORNS DO BEST AWARD

A Unicorn Pickle

by Miss Ahjanee

A unicorn’s life may be fanciful, however, they are always on the run. Conscious

in their breeding is the focus on being chased and the dangers of being caught. A 

rare moment to see just one, two an exaggeration, yet none more rare were 

Princess Sprinkles and her Mother.

“Come Sprinkles, we mustn’t dally.”

“I’m tired.” The Princess whinnied.

“Ok. A quick pause. No looking back. We must never look back.”

Sprinkles neighed, “How do we know we’re moving forward if..?”

“It’s not all sunshine and rainbows back there,”, Her Mother stomped,” but 

Tomorrow is.”

They dashed ahead, where everything sparkles.

WHEN THE FACTS DON’T MATTER AWARD

I SAW THE BULLET IN THE CHAMBER

by James Wortman

Everyone froze. A cricket chirped once. The hooded one waved his weapon, motioning all of us to the floor. Nervously the clerk emptied the register stuffing a bag. Then he was shot. With his back to me I mused. Take the hooded one and there’s paperwork, missing my dinner. The hooded one turned, pointing his weapon. I saw the bullet in the chamber. Someone coughed. He looked away. I lifted my pant leg and pulled my pistol. He looked back at me. He took aim to fire. I fired. He fell. I’m black. He’s white. Evil exists. I’ve got paperwork tonight.

JUST HOW IT IS AWARD

Civil Dawn

by L.N Penemué

Outside the skirts, gods only work nine-to-five in tender law. Bar lights stay lit, reminding some to Christmas. Another double, tipping the glass to yet another drought. A white light spots a freshly polished piano. Church candles on its dash.

Keys went into labor, viciously correct. The crowd cheers, laughing angelically with an aftertaste of aged fruit.

What a linger. What a resort.

Miles down, inside the skirts, tire graves grow. Mattresses are stacked, making igloos for huffers and turpentine drinkers howling around wild box-spring fires, celebrating a whole moon lighting the entrance to nowhere.

What a resort. What a linger.