After many months (and some tense voting), we can finally reveal the reader-voted winners of our annual short-story competition. We had a record-breaking year, with more than 6,000 entries.

Adult winner: Travel Broadens the Mind

by Mark Clementson, 45, from Hertfordshire. He wins the first prize of £2,000

pig shooting

Having invented a time machine, and tested it by sending Charles the hamster one minute into the future, Henry wondered where to go first. After much thought and a bacon sandwich, he decided two thousand years forward would be interesting.

Whir. Whizz. Coloured spirals.

Things look different. The buildings are gone. There is only grass and trees and flowers. And a pig, wearing dark glasses. Knowing nothing of the 41st century, Henry approaches.

The pig stands on two legs, holds up a laser rod, and shoots Henry between the eyes. His family will eat well. Humans are scarce in these parts.

 

The judges said: The highest compliment we can pay Mark’s story is that everyone laughed when they read it and it stuck in all our minds. 

It’s easy to strain for effect when writing short stories, but this one had a simple, surreal charm that appealed to the judges and clearly to our online voters as well. We only hope that Mark’s vision of the future isn’t prophetic…

Mark said: A hundred words felt restrictive, not enough to say something earth-shattering. So I Googled: “What are the biggest questions in the world?” The stimulus was: “What comes after Homo sapiens?” I can’t claim to have entirely answered the question. 

My reaction to winning? Joy. The only thing better than writing is knowing that something you have written is enjoyed by others.

 

12–18s winner: Beauty

by Jaimie O’Connor, 16, from Somerset. She wins a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 and a Samsung Gear 5 watch, plus £150 for her school 

beauty

I swept the sticky crimson gloss across my lips, applying the finishing touches. Fluttering my golden lids, I stared as they danced in the light, awakening my dull brown eyes, my thick lashes kissing my rouged cheeks. 

I grinned at my reflection. I was beautiful. I was practically glowing with radiance. This was how I wanted to look every day of my life. I had fallen in love with the glamorous beauty beaming back at me.

The front door slammed, and my heart tore through the skin of my chest.

Dad joined my reflection, “Thomas… what the hell are you doing?”

 

The judges said: This story manages to be both sensitive and suspenseful. It’s always difficult to make every word count in this competition, but Jaimie manages it very effectively here, and it was the runaway winner in its category.

Jaimie said: I got the inspiration for my story while doing my make-up in the mirror. After watching me put it on, my little brother asked me if I could make him “look pretty too”. It was then that it came to me; I began imagining a young boy in my place, aspiring to be as beautiful as the girls we see in magazines. 

 

Under-12s winner: Hugh

by Isabella Hudson, 10, from Ashmead Primary School, London. She wins a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 plus £100 for her school

hugh

I woke up at my desk, unable to remember anything about last night. 

Detective Inspector Lewis was pounding on my door. “Hugh, we’ve got a murder case, I need you to go to the crime scene in Camden.”

The police car drove me there—I recognised it, but I didn’t know where from. I could immediately see the weapon, a shard of glass. I saw a CCTV camera on the wall. 

“A camera,” I shouted. We tracked the tapes down and searched for the crime. The murderer looked straight at the camera. I saw my face. 

Now I remember.

 

The judges said: The Under-12s category was particularly strong this year and attracted a huge number of online votes. So it’s even greater credit to Isabella that her story emerged the winner.

It manages to pack a neatly symmetrical narrative into a small number of words, and the twist at the end is subtly handled.

Isabella said: I was inspired to write my murder mystery story by detectives and how they’re shown today.   

When the email came through, my initial reaction was to look to see if it was real. When I realised it was, I was extremely excited. People have made a fuss, but it’s been great winning the competition.

 

Special commendations:

 

Tender

by Michelle Williams, 44, from Cambridge. She wins £200

porch

Ivan and Edna sat close together on the porch, the ancient swing seat creaking under them, peeling shutters thumping dumbly with every breeze. Wrinkled like sphinxes, silent, motionless; neither looked at the other. They sat.

Their gazes travelled around the neighbourhood, watching children wailing in their buggies, teens skateboarding on the kerbs, young mums and dads flying along, frantic, never still. Life in all its frenetic pace passed them by. 

Ivan and Edna sat. Silent. Motionless. 

Passersby must’ve thought how dull their life looked. They couldn’t see the hands clasped together, the warm pressure of old love between the two.

 

One Step Forward

by Dan Forrester, 37, from Lancashire. He wins £200

space

The astronaut watched the wormhole collapse. In the moments before he had witnessed Truth, revealed to him through the light, and now he was enlightened. It was a small step to becoming one with the universe, but a giant evolutionary leap for mankind.

He spied the Earth through the porthole, a brilliantly illuminated hemisphere of greens and blues and swirls of white, and for the first time measured the distance from his home in dimensions rather than kilometres.

He was a butterfly looking at his own chrysalis, he thought, as he struggled to open the silver sachet containing his dessert.

 

The Silent Messanger

by Ellie Welbourn, 14, from West Park School, Derby. She wins £100

doves flying

The dove swoops gracefully amongst the clouds. He flies miles every day, catching the watchful eyes of humans, delivering messages the world over, a slave to the words on the printed sheets. He had never flown this far before. Landing on the rusty rooftop, he watched in confusion at the tragic scene below.

Men with hardened faces stood poised with rifles; barrels aimed at… a man. His face shrivelled, tears drying in the sun as the bullets rained on his back. Reluctantly the dove turned away, flew down the street and dropped the yellow telegram outside the red front door.

 

Trapped

by Tallie Blanshard, 15, from Colyton Grammar School, Devon. She wins £100

plug hole

They were coming. They had killed Michael’s wife yesterday—her death, painful. He hurried through the house, followed by footsteps and cries.

“Quickly!” “Before he escapes!”

Backing into the bathroom, Michael saw no escape. He darted for the only hiding place—the bathtub. Michael crouched inside, trembling. The footsteps got louder. “There!”

Michael scrambled to escape but it was too slippery. He heard the whirring as their machine fired up. It was held above him, pulling and he was suddenly lifted. He braced his legs against the opening—all eight of them, but it was too powerful. “Spider’s gone, kids!”

 

Olly the Octopus

by Ben Luca Frattaroli, 8, from Forthill Primary School, Dundee. He wins £75

octopus

Olly was an octopus whose best friend was a dolphin called Sarah. Sarah had very shiny white teeth, which glowed every time she smiled, but Sarah had a problem. She was no good at hide and seek. 

She hid under a big rock, in some slimy seaweed, then behind a whale. But every time her beautiful teeth would give her away. 

“It’s no good, I just can’t play.” 

Olly had an idea. He squeezed a drop of ink from a tentacle and Sarah smeared it on her teeth. After that they were the hide and seek champions of the sea.

 

A New Home

by Edward Thomas, 9, from The Crescent Primary School, Croydon. He wins £75

snail

A snail slithered across the pavement, he was desperately looking for a new home.

First, he found a can that had been deserted on the pavement. “Could this be my home?” he said. “Ouch! Too cold,” he complained. Next, he found a shoe. Could this be my home, he thought. “Too smelly,” he sighed.

As the sun was setting he saw a broken glass bottle. He looked into it and saw a round brown oval sitting on his back. He tried shaking it off, but it wouldn’t budge. Then he realised it was attached to him. “MY HOME!” he exclaimed.

 

Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest and voted for our winners. Thank you for taking part. 

 

Read more 100 word stories here

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