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Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist Winners

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By Sherri Matthews

Well, we asked for travel stories with a twist, and we got ‘em.  Thank you so much to all who entered, 29 in all. You’ve taken us around the world (twice), to Rome and through most of Europe, to Morocco, Lima, on sun-drenched holidays including the Caribbean and Hawaii, up mountains, along the coast, to a Harry Potter conference in San Francisco, a monastery, Lake Michigan, Key West, Rock Springs and the weird and wonderful Garbled Creese. We’ve walked, ran and hiked, and travelled by car, cruise ship, plane, bus, motorhome, and broomstick.

The high quality and enjoyment of every story, however, did not make it easy for the judges.  I don’t like this part of the job! First, I verified every story’s word count and sadly had to eliminate 2, one just under, one just below 99 words. Then we narrowed it down with each of us separately selecting our top three.  Out of our new total of nine, I cross-matched those stories chosen by more than one judge.  Out of those, we deliberated and found our winner, second and third places, and we then each chose one Highly Commended.

So here goes, and huge congratulations to all:

First Place: A Visit with Grammy, by Colleen Chesebro, who wins a cash prize of $25

Jess ran. She couldn’t miss this bus, or Grammy would worry at her late arrival.

She stumbled into the queue as a woman towing a wheeled suitcase pushed past her. Jess swerved to miss it, whacking the woman’s elbow with her own. She stepped out of the way and bumped into the man in front of her.

“Sorry,” Jess muttered.

“Ouch! Who’s there?” asked the woman.

“It wasn’t me,” said the man.

Then, Jess remembered. They couldn’t see or hear her, only feel her ghostly touch. She didn’t need to ride the bus to visit Grammy – she flew.

Judges Comments:

We all agreed that this flash expertly spins an everyday setting into a wonderfully unexpected ghostly twist that we didn’t see coming and all in 99 words. A fantastic, fast-paced read showing through dialogue the confusion between Jess, the man, and the woman. Not only did the writer surprise us at the end, but Jess too, as she remembers she is a ghost. Sweet, but sad too; hope Grammy is comforted by Jess’s ghostly touch. Beautifully told, as Hugh adds, ‘It took me by complete surprise with its ending. As soon as I got to the ending, a smile appeared across my face because I loved what the author had done and the journey they had taken us on…perfect in every way.’

Second Place: By Frank Hubeny, who wins a copy of the ‘Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol I.’

James had just enough cash to fill the tank of his pickup. He started up the ramp to the interstate when he saw the couple in the dark wave him down. He stopped, but he didn’t expect them to ask to be taken to Canaan, over a hundred miles away. At this time of night there would be few cars. She was pregnant.

He brought them to their rundown apartment.

While driving back James wondered why he was asked to help those two angels in the north woods. He never saw them again, but they never left his side.

Judges’ Comments:

What immediately struck the judges is the way the writer so cleverly evokes a hint of the ‘nativity’ through its modern-day setting. As Mike says, ‘This story brings to me, a powerful telling of the unseen and unexpected reward for selfless giving by helping strangers who are lost and cold.’ I imagine James driving back home, alone on the road with few cars late at night, thinking about his encounter. Just as his angels never left his side, neither did this beautifully moving story leave us.

Third Place: Time Travel, by Faith A. Colburn, who wins a copy of Hugh Roberts’ short story collection, ‘Glimpses.’

Exploring Grandma’s house, I set a ladder into the attic. As if waiting for me, a leather-bound journal appeared in a stray sunbeam next to the ladder. Opening it, I journeyed back to 1886. With Great-Grandma, I watched workmen lay limestone foundation stones, level them, and frame the two stories with gables. She couldn’t wait to move into her very own space. At the end, she wrote that things started moving mysteriously. She heard noises. She described a ghost in the attic: brown hair, green eyes, dressed like me. She even noticed my silver barrette—her barrette I inherited.

Judges’ Comments:

We all enjoyed this story greatly, reminding me of one of my favourite films, ‘The Others’ and the question, who are the real ghosts? But it is the way the writer so beautifully crafts the story through the eyes of the young woman reading Great-Grandma’s journal that makes this such a fascinating time travel story with a twist. It evokes a sort of parallel universe, where glimpses of ghosts from the past and the future are revealed in the present.  Mike could almost smell the mustiness as he soaked up the atmosphere in Grandma’s attic.  Hugh loved the description of the stray sunbeam pointing out the leather-bound journal as if it were a signal from the past. A fantastic trip down memory lane.

Now to our Highly Commended stories.   

Hugh’s choice:

Untitled by Tracey Robinson

The greenhouse effect was brutal in the car and Lindsey’s three year old howled with misery. It was a long drive from Montana to Arizona. Spying a park at the next exit she found a deserted, shady playground. Soon Katie was worn out. “Want ice cream?” Lindsey asked Katie.

As Lindsey strapped Katie into her car seat she felt dizzy and decided to find a place with air-conditioning. She closed the car door and collapsed, her head bouncing off the pavement. Katie’s wails went unheard as the temperature in the car climbed and then she too succumbed to death.

Hugh’s Comments: This is a story about what many of us in today’s’ world believe is happening. Although it had a brutal twist, it is so near a situation that could well be just around the corner, and a truth that many of the people of today will experience whether they become victims themselves, or hear or read a story about the events that unfold in this story. It had me smiling while I read it because it was a lovely, happy story about a mother and her new baby on a typical day out. I was comply astounded by the ending, even though it’s an ending that has hints of real truth consequences of what is happening to our planet.

Mike’s Choice:

Untitled by Nidheesh Samant (The Dark Netizen)

This was it, the conclusion of my long journey.
I was tired of the slum I was living in. It was suffocating, seeing the same sad faces every day. I could not continue living in the darkness as my family did. One day, I left my home and decided to travel to the glamorous big city. I managed to hitchhike at a highway diner.

As I reached my destination, I thanked the man in the only way I knew how. I drank his blood. Now it’s time to live my dream of spreading dengue and malaria in the city.

Mike’s Comments: I enjoyed this very well written story greatly for its stealthy, surreptitious mood. Concise and punchy, the writer took me on a journey that filled me with a sense of foreboding from the start and concluded with its wonderfully doom-filled twist.  This is one hitchhiker I hope never to encounter out on the open road.

Sherri’s Choice:

Homeward Hike by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Above the timberline, stunted trees of high altitude are little more than memory. As far as the eye can see, reindeer moss is sparked with tiny white flowers and golden clusters of cloudberry. My boots crunch and drag across sharp gravel. I should break for steaming tea and chocolate squares, gather cloudberries, and save my orange.

The final peak stands stern above the clouds.

No stop, berries abandoned, I emerge, eyelashes ice-coated, blinded by sunset. I’ve made it from filthy city to purified mountain top, in time for transport.

I lift my hands to the pulsating beam of light.

Sherri’s Comments:   This beautifully crafted story has an ethereal, dream-like quality.  Through its highly defined description, I imagine a woman hiking up a mountain, which is ordinary enough albeit challenging, but the key is in the title: she’s going home. But where is home? My intrigue grows as she hikes ever higher, not stopping, at last reaching her destination. But then the writer mentions transport.  At the top of a mountain? The answer lies in ‘the pulsating beam of light.’ In the final ten words, the writer reveals that the woman’s home is otherworldly and her spaceship awaits.  A fantastic travel story with a twist I did not see coming.

You can read all the entries at Carrot Ranch under the Rodeo tab.

And that wraps up this Travel with a Twist contest.  Time to unpack and attack the laundry but first: Thank you so much, Charli, for honouring me with the privilege of leading a contest at the Rodeo for a second year running. Big thanks also to my fellow rough writers here at the Ranch and my wonderful community at the Summerhouse, for all your amazing support throughout of all the contests.  And of course, a massive thank you to my lovely, stalwart co-judges, Mike Matthews and Hugh Roberts – couldn’t have done this without you, no way. Congratulations, one and all; let’s ride and write like the wind until the next time!


151 Comments

  1. Ritu says:

    Congratulations to the winners!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. […] Source: Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist Winners « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

    Liked by 2 people

  3. dgkaye says:

    Congratulations to all winners – especially my Fey Sister Colleen Chesebro. ❤

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Reblogged this on Colleen Chesebro ~ The Faery Whisperer and commented:
    What a wild ride it was at this year’s Carrot Ranch rodeo! Check out the fabulous stories from the “Travel with a Twist,” category. I’m thrilled to have won first place! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Wow! Congratulations to all the winners. These were some fabulous stories. I’m still in shock that I won! Great competition and I’m thrilled. ❤

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Congratulations to all winners, first place Colleen, second place Frank and third place Faith and all the mentions. Colleen, you’re wearing many gold metals!! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Fantastic. Congratulations all. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  8. olganm says:

    Congratulations to the deserving winners! Great stories! ♥

    Liked by 4 people

  9. olganm says:

    Reblogged this on Just Olga and commented:
    If you love flash fiction, you should not miss the winners of the lates Carrot Ranch competition

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Charli Mills says:

    Sherri, Mike and Hugh — thank you for your diligent work of judging! What a fine collection of stories your contest created, Sherri! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:
    With great excitement, it’s time at last to announce the winners of my flash fiction contest, Travel With A Twist. Thank you so much for your support here and at the Rodeo and for a fantastic response to this and all the contests. My co-judges, Mike and Hugh, and I, greatly enjoyed every story, which made our task that much harder. Read on for the three winning and three highly commended flashes, travel stories with a fantastic twist in just 99 words. Huge congratulations one and all!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. calmkate says:

    Congrats to these ‘other worldly winners’ … off to travel the globe with the other entries 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. calmkate says:

    Nope can’t find the other entries, just the initial post outlining the competition … my lack of tech skills again 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Liz H says:

    Thanks to the judges, for the inspiring prompt and their thoughtfulness and great explanation of how they went about choosing! Honored to have been mentioned, and really wowed by the clever artistry of the winners, Colleen, Frank, and Faith. A lot of heart, with a twist and shout!
    Looking forward to reading the other entries!

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Congrats to the winners…thought the judges chose well. Read a few of the others, but now, to return to the others and finish reading all of the other entries as well. ~nan

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Frank Hubeny says:

    Congratulations to all those selected and thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Aweni says:

    Reblogged this on Aweni and commented:
    So many talents on display here. I absolutely adore every story and I had to share. The competition was stiff.
    Congratulations to Colleen on winning first place! I didn’t see the twist coming at all.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Congratulations, Colleen. A wonderful story. The other runner up winners here also had marvelous stories. Really inspirational.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Annecdotist says:

    Congratulations all, these were marvellous stories with such clever twists and your prizes well deserved.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. These were all great stories, what a talented bunch! Congratulations to the winners.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Many congratulations to Colleen, Frank, and Faith, but also to everyone who entered the Travel with a Twist contest. You’re all winners for not only giving the contest a go, but for also entertaining us with your storytelling in so few words. Keep on writing and captivating us with your gift of creativity.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. […] via Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist Winners […]

    Liked by 1 person

  23. joylennick says:

    More congratulations to Colleen, Frank and Faith. Keep up with the creative work folks! xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  24. What excellent stories! I couldn’t even think of one to submit. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide and commented:
    Congrats to the winners! Excited to see Colleen Chesbro here in the winner’s circle!

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Thanks so much for the honorable mention and congrats to the winners and everyone who participated! 😀 🙂
    This is truly one of the best events I was a part of! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  27. jjspina says:

    All wonderful stories that each deserve their own accolades. Congrats to all! Loved your story Colleen! Well done my friend! 🤗 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Norah says:

    Congratulations to Colleen, Frank and Faith, the honourable mentions, and all the entrants. What fabulous stories that took us on journeys to places before unexplored. Thank you to Sherri, Hugh and Mike for selecting the winners in a task that is not to be envied. What a tough job, but you did. Thanks, Charli, for a safe spot for writers to write.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Norah says:

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    The results of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo #3 Travel with a Twist are in. Congratulations to the winners! Well done to all the entrants and the judges!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. floatinggold says:

    Just a side note, Charli – Did you mean to put the hyperlink to the initial call for submissions? It doesn’t go to the tab with all entries. Just FYI (Yes, I know to manually navigate to those.)

    Liked by 1 person

  31. […] Visit the announced winners list and view some of the entries HERE […]

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Congratulations to all the winners! 🏆 And an added “Yay!” to first place winner, Colleen! 🎉

    Liked by 2 people

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A 5-Star Readers’ Favorite!

Thank you, Writers of Carrot Ranch!

Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills

Inspired Quill Publishing

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TUFF Judge Cynthia Drake

Continental Fire Company

Solar Up

readilearn

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M J Mallon

Colleen Chesebro

Miriam Hurdle

Rodeo Leader Geoff Le Pard

Rodeo Judge Esther Chilton

Rodeo Leader Irene Waters

Rodeo Leader Sherri & Judge Mike Matthews

Rodeo Judge Hugh Roberts

Rodeo Judge Anne Goodwin

Rodeo Judge Robbie Cheadle

Rodeo Leader D. Avery (Soon to be released new book)

Rodeo Judge Bonnie Sheila

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