"I know what you're thinking, punk," hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, "you're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' - and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' - well do you, punk?"
Christy, lounging in the gondola which slipped smoothly through the enveloping mist had her first inkling that something was afoot as she heard pattering hooves below (for our story is not in Venice but Switzerland with its Provolone and Toblerone) and craning her not unlovely neck she narrowed her eyes at the dozen tiny reindeer, pelting madly down the goat trail.
She looked at her hands and saw the desiccated skin hanging in Shar-Pei wrinkles, confetti-like freckles, and those dry, dry cuticles--even her "Fatale Crimson" nail color had faded in the relentless sun to the color of old sirloin--and she vowed if she ever got out of the Sahara alive, she'd never buy polish on sale at Walgreen's again.
It was a day, like any other day, in that Linus got up, faced the sunrise, used his inhaler, applied that special cream between his toes, wrote a quick note and put it in a bottle, and wished he'd been stranded on the island with something other than 40 cases each of inhalers, decorative bottles, and special toe cream.
The cold, cynical wind molested the auburn tresses of the fair damsel clinging to the steel of the rail trestle, from which vantage point she could see that it was a long way down to where she would land if she fell, which, given the velocity she would attain and the unfriendly pavement leering up at her, added to soft tissue's low tolerance for sudden impacts, would be a very bad thing.
Gripping his six-shot Colt Python with 8-inch barrel and Royal Blue finish, and tightening the straps on his Paratec Speed 2000 parachute, Jake leaped from the left aft hatchway of the tumbling, green-and-silver, twin-engined Embraer Lineage 1000, which had seating for nineteen passengers.
Todd languished there, neck deep in the pumpkin-hued Amargosa Desert sand like a long forgotten cupcake in an Easy Bake Oven gone hellishly amok, and it finally made sense . . . "ooohhhh, DEATH Valley.
Winner: Children's Literature
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe who had so much equity (because our story, dear children, is set in Miami's hot real estate market) that she upgraded the exterior to blue suede siding as a tribute to her idol, Elvis, moved her kids to a bootee out back, and then reopened the place as the "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" motel (but you'll have to wait until you're 18 to read any further).
Sierra Madre, CA
Winner: Detective Fiction
It was a dreary Monday in September when Constable Lightspeed came across the rotting corpse that resembled one of those zombies from Michael Jackson's "Thriller," except that it was lying down and not performing the electric slide.
The victim said her attacker was nondescript -- 5' 10 and 3/4", 163 pounds, with Clairol #83N hair (a hint of #84N at his temples) -- and last seen wearing Acuvue2 contacts, a white Hanes 65/35% poly-cotton t-shirt with a 3mm round Grey Poupon stain on the neckband, Levi's 501s missing the second button, and Nike Crosstrainers with muddy aglets.
Nick Stiletto, a three-inch ash hanging from his generic P&Q-brand cigarette, squinted through the wispy smoke across the nicked linoleum-covered table at the man in the blue suit, wondering why he had gone into private detection when he could have easily inherited his father's cat-stretching business in Peoria.
Dawkins leaned against the building to avoid both the November wind and his prey and quietly congratulated himself for selecting his calf-length, double-breasted trench coat in a 60 cotton/40 poly left-hand twill weave with its wool felt collar, snug fitting belt with gun-metal fittings, reinforced buttons and inverted back pleat for repelling thugs and inclement weather.
Glen Rock, NJ
"Christmas Eve fell upon the piazza, and the pealing, the tintinnabulous pealing, (perhaps not a pealing but an incessant tinkling, albeit an appealing incessant tinkling) of the street performers reached my ears, masking the shot, which would have rung out had not the tintinnabulations raised such an incessant tinkling that the sound died as dead as the musician who fell like Christmas Eve at my feet - his bell having been rung."
Detective Otto Slugbert liked to compare himself to a legendary chess master, but his arch-enemy Bert Boswell often sneered that at best he resembled a merely average player of Mille Bornes (r) or Tri-Ominoes (r).
Winner: Fantasy Fiction
It was within the great stony nostril of a statue of Landrick the Elfin Vicelord that Frodo's great uncle, Jasper Baggins, happened to stumble upon the enchanted Bag of Holding, not to be confused with the Hag of Bolding, who was quite fond of leeks, most especially in a savory Hobbit knuckle stew.
Twin Falls, ID
Winner: Historical Fiction
While Hector and the heroes of Troy trembled behind the ramparts as cowboys below the walls raced up and down the beach, six-guns blazing and cries of "yee-hah!" filling the air, other cowboys across the sea were laboring gamely but in vain to throw a palisade around Wichita, Kansas, thereby adding veracity to the old homily of history that it is easier to cow a fortified city than to fortify a cow city.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
The McCain boys strode off proudly to fight in the Civil War, one for the Union and one for the Confederacy, neither of them giving a single thought to who would play them in the television movie of their story, which would be decided more than a hundred years later by 20-something casting agents who kept getting the Civil War and World War II mixed up.
Diamond Bar, CA
When Debbie decided that Salt 'n' Pepper Beard was the most attractive pirate on the ship, she realized that choosing him was due to the advice of Sylvia, her new Life Coach, to be realistic about her own age and to open herself up to romance where it lay, unlike the troublesome past where she would have wished that only the younger pirates take advantage of her.
If Gilbert had known then what he knew now, he would have seen that the dilemma facing him--to do a good deed for the wrong reason or to do a bad deed for the right reason--had long ago been shown to be two sides of the same coin by the philosopher known as Theragora of Crete even though he was not from Crete at all, but from Malta, which of course was not called Malta when Theragora was there.
The king's men breathed heavily under their thick black hoods as they secured the wrists and ankles of prisoner William Tumey of Kent and as the rack's handle began to turn the ropes tightened and William's limbs were slowly stretched in opposite directions until his spine began to pop much like a bag of Redenbachers in a microwave and for something like the time it takes a hummingbird's wings to complete one cycle William smiled and euphorically languished in perfect lumbar alignment.
Winner: Purple Prose
A single sparkling tear fell from Little Mary's cheek onto the sidewalk, then slid into the storm drain, there to join in its course the mighty waters of the Los Angeles River and, eventually, Long Beach Harbor, with its state-of-the-art container-freight processing facilities.
Bill Mac Iver
Her angry accusations burned Clyde like that first bite of a double cheese pizza, when the toppings slide off and sear that small elevation of the oral mucosa, just behind the front teeth, known as the incisive papilla, which is linked to the discriminatory function of the taste buds except, where Clyde was concerned, when it came to women.
Pamela Patchet Hamilton
It had been a dark and stormy night, but as dawn began to light up the eastern sky, to the west the heavens suddenly cleared, unveiling a pale harvest moon that reposed gently atop the distant mesa like a pumpkin on a toilet with the lid down.
Gerald R. Johnson
Lisa moved like a cat, not the kind of cat that moves with a slinky grace but more like the kind that always falls off the book shelf when he's washing himself and then gets all mad at you like it's your fault (which it wasn't although it probably was kind of mean to laugh at him like that), although on the bright side, she hardly ever attacked Ricky's toes in his sleep.
Wichita Falls, TX
Words cannot describe the exquisite loveliness of the brilliant azure sky with its cerulean striations of periwinkle, cornflower, and cyan.
As he saw his master approach, his tail wagged severely like an elderly lady fanning herself with a cardboard fan with a Bible verse on one side and a picture of Jesus on the other while singing hymn 567 from the Common Book of Hymns on an August afternoon revival in southern Indiana.
He rose quickly when she entered, not like the flag being raised at the American Legion in a jerky fashion, but more like the light red Creme Soda in the straw of a teenage girl or boy on the back porch of his mobile home late in the evening.
As I watched the sun rise through the wisps of smog like an angry Scandinavian sumo wrestler clad in a gold lamé muumuu, riding an arthritically slow escalator through the smoke of his own cheap panatela to the linens and beddings floor at J C Penneys, I realized that upon the orb's overtopping the horizon, simple geophysics would deal that metaphor a quick and far less painful death than it deserved.
The nervous and untried exotic dancer seemed to cling protectively to her brass pole like the edge of a roll of plastic wrap when you are looking for the beginning of the roll and it seems like it's healed up or melted into the rest of the wrap until finally you just give up and use foil or wax paper instead.
Sun City, CA
The steam rose off his sweaty red flannel shirt like cotton candy on a cardboard cone, if cotton candy were transparent in a misty sort of way and didn't actually stick to its cone, but instead rose upwards something like steam rising off a sweaty flannel shirt in the twilight of an early winter Vermont afternoon.
T. Edward Lavoie
Essex Junction VT
The widow Hasha Brown, whose agrarian husband had died from an unfortunate accident involving a hoe, leaned on the filigree railing of her balcony, overlooking her lavish, ornate Idaho estate, her dewy breasts protruding from her Pucci-print dressing gown like subterranean tubers saturated and distended from the vernal rains.
Jennifer G. Liggett
David loved Marisela's voice, which was like fresh honeydew melon wrapped in fine prosciutto, and pierced with a round, teal gourmet toothpick, set on a Lenox Fruits of Life serving plate upon a mahogany table in a brilliantly sunlit (albeit in need of redecorating) dining room, but he wasn't very fond of anything she said.
Stephen V. Masse
The sun, which much resembled the yolk of a sunny-side up egg, set over the slight hill like a cheerio falling off the back of a spoon when a spoon is upside-down on a table and a cheerio is set on top of it.
When he heard the woman upstairs scream, the Maytag man's heart thumped in his chest like an off-balance washer full of heavy bath towels.
Elk Grove, CA
Gray hung over the morning like a gauze bandage, the kind you wrap loosely over an oozing wound to keep it covered but still let air in, but the eastern sky reddened slowly, like the first signs of blood poisoning moving up an arm.
Russ Winter Janesville, MN
Despite the vast differences it their ages, ethnicity, and religious upbringing, the sexual chemistry between Roberto and Heather was the most amazing he had ever experienced; and for the entirety of the Labor Day weekend they had sex like monkeys on espresso, not those monkeys in the zoo that fling their feces at you, but more like the monkeys in the wild that have those giant red butts, and access to an espresso machine.
Sex with Rachel after she turned fifty was like driving the last-place team on the last day of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, the point no longer the ride but the finish, the difficulty not the speed but keeping all the parts moving in the right direction, not to mention all that irritating barking.
Los Altos Hills, CA
Our story begins with Raul, gently stroking Priscilla's raven hair, gazing into her coal-dark eyes, eyes that reminded him of the blackness of the inside of a size 11 1/2 D shoebox, which in turn reminded him he needed to get his Bass Weejuns re-soled before that job interview next week with the owner of the janitorial service.
Ramon kissed Juanita hard and fast, his tongue probing her mouth like an urologist's finger searching for a lone polyp on an engorged prostate gland, which reminded Ramon that he needed to get a colonic irrigation to make next week's annual physical more pleasant for both him and his doctor.
Sylvia leaned seductively back in her chair and downed the shot of cheap gin that Brad had poured for her, and speculated once again that, even if it did taste like something you'd rub on a horse, it had the pleasant side effect of softening Brad's facial symmetry which had always reminded her of the collapsed, pocked surface of a cheese quiche that's been cooked at too high a temperature.
He loved her like no other, their romance developing quickly, like the rapid growth of farm swine which grow from 2 to 4 pounds daily until they're fully grown and put to market for slaughter, or like the rapidly growing cells that produce moose antlers until they fall off in early spring, and suddenly Bill sensed the imminent doom of his romance lying in wait.
Like a baleen whale inhaling krill--a collection of small marine crustaceans of the order Euphausiacea--or an anteater sucking up Formicidae-- characteristically having wings only in the males and fertile females and living in colonies that have a complex social organization--her lips sought out mine in a passionate kiss.
Michael J. Sheehan
Winner: Science Fiction
"Send a message back to Command Central on Earth and ask for their advice, which we will be able receive immediately even at this great distance, thanks to the ingenious manipulation of coherent radiation through a Bose-Einstein condensate and the bizarre influence of the Aspect effect, which enables us to impart identical properties to remotely separated photons," Captain Buzz told the feathered Vjorkog at the comms desk, "and tell them our life-pod is going to explode in eight seconds."
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
It was just another day at the office aboard "StarCruise" until David spotted a tiny speck in his passenger window, approaching from the direction of the Masai Nebula and making a right angle with bisector of the isosceles formed if you joined Bendy's Star, Planet Anet, and White Hole 14437-5A, but sighed peacefully as it turned out to be the reflection of the fluorescent light swinging loose above Captain Mudlove's head.
Talha bin Hamid
carcely three months after he had promised Purity that he would stand by her no matter what, and a bare two hours after he had witnessed he unorthodox birth of her pointy-eared alien child, George somewhat dazedly approached the information desk at the public library and sent the matronly attendant into paroxysms of mirth by asking for a baby care book by Mr. Spock.
Lionel Monash Hurst
Winner: Vile Puns
As Johann looked out across the verdant Iowa River valley, and beyond to the low hills capped by the massive refrigerator manufacturing plant, he reminisced on the history of the great enterprise from its early days, when he and three other young men, all of differing backgrounds, had only their dream of bringing refrigeration to America's heartland to sustain them, to the present day, where they had become the Midwest's foremost group of refrigerator magnates.
Circle Pines, MN
Herr Professor Doktor Weiss' reputation was made when he conclusively proved the fraudulency of the Mayan codex that claimed to show that that ancient people knew the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter to an exactitude unknown until modern times, in his article, "Bye, Bye, Mesoamerican Pi."
John L. Drost
Those who commit crime made the little rodent angry and sad so he decided to dedicate his life to fighting them by making himself a little costume and becoming a super crime fighter, but, because he was so small and wouldn't be noticed, he nonetheless was able to carry the fight to the miscreants by letting the air out of their automobile tires during the commission of a crime, thereby earning himself the honorific of Deflator Mouse.
Brian D. Gregory
Cheralynn posed before the unblinking mirror, panting weakly, as her private surgeon hovered around her, tightening the straps on her custom-made girdle, and it dawned on her for the first time in her pampered, overindulged 49 years, that it was only a matter of time before she would succumb to Furniture Disease, and her chest would fall into her drawers.
Antigonish Nova Scotia
His mistake, Shut-eye McBlamaway reflected, was not in standing up to a gang of desperadoes and rustlers on the high country, but in standing up to a gang of desperadoes and rustlers who had just left the set of a Sergio Leone shoot, and were thus equipped with those guns that never run out of ammunition.
Los Angeles, CA
Butch glared balefully across the saloon at Tex, who had been stone dead since the scorpion he had unwittingly sat on had bitten him on the butt some half an hour or so ago, little suspecting that this was going to be his toughest staring contest since the one against old Glass-eyed Juan, during the great sand-storm of '42, at the height of the Arizona conjunctivitis epidemic.
Bundaberg QLD Australia
Special Salute to Breasts Category
As she sashayed out of the police station, her high heels clicking a staccato rhythm on the hard tile floor, like a one-armed castanet player in a very bad mariachi band, her ample bosom held in check only by a diaphanous blouse, and bouncing at each step like a 1959 tricked out Low-rider Chevy with very good hydraulics---she smiled to herself as she thought of the titillating interrogation from Detective Tipple about the Twin Peaks Melon Heist.
Wayne Spivey, Major, USAF Retired
When she sashayed across the room, her breasts swayed like two house trailers passing on a windy bridge.
Although Brandi had been named Valedictorian and the outfit for her speech carefully chosen to prove that beauty and brains could indeed mix, she suddenly regretted her choice of attire, her rain-soaked T-shirt now valiantly engaging in the titanic struggle between the tensile strength of cotton and Newton's first law of motion.
Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions
Getting the performance rating of highly successful, although clearly nothing to be ashamed of, left Blevins somewhat oddly dissatisfied, like when you realize, upon having the triage nurses greet your ambulance, that your underwear, as far as you can determine, is in pretty decent condition, but you'll, nonetheless, never pull through the surgery.
The goose waddled slowly, heavily, across the road, exactly the way my mother-in-law would if she were a goose.
Kathy, who had bound her breasts and cropped her hair, and lied about her gender to join a monastery of Jesuits in northern Kentucky, until she was discovered one night in the shower, winced as the dentist pulled her tooth.
A Lodgepole Pine grew straight and tall in front of his cabin, sort of like a lodgepole, only with branches.
Stephen E. Moore
As diaphanous curlicues of tobacco smoke tumbled gracefully in the honky-tonk air-like double-jointed gymnasts from the spirit world-Buck was reminded of his lifelong dream of becoming a brilliant veterinary surgeon, a dream he'd vacuum-packed to his heart since watching a crime show about a rash of unsolved tail dockings on the Isle of Man.
Withdrawing his hand from her knee, the English professor stormed, "Ending a sentence with a preposition is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put," although she had merely looked at his hand and asked, "What are you doing that for?" in a sentence intended to end the proposition.
Carl C. Partlow
Frank took one look at Tina's moderately shapely legs, her adequate waist, her decent bosom, and her not-unattractive face, and said to himself "Well, hello Miss You'll-Do-Until-Something-Better-Comes-A
Yet again Imelda was exacerbated, or at least she assumed she was, as she was never sure exactly what the term meant though when she felt bloated and crampy as she was now, she was pretty sure she was, exacerbated that is.
Twas brillig, and the toves were not just slithy, they were stinking drunk.
Richard A. Polunsky
"Please Jeffrey, don't tell him this time" a beautiful woman, with eyes like cobalt fire, implored of me as she staggered obviously a bit tipsy, if not completely obliterated, out of the Wagon Wheel Tavern and onto West Fourth Street and blinking twice from the afternoon sun managed to slink past me and into the arms of a fellow who I'm guessing was Jeffrey.
Spokane Valley, WA
Ah, yes, it was a beautiful face with skin smoother than pumice and breath fresher than a twenty-five-day-old tuna sandwich stored for safe keeping in a Wichita schoolgirl's lunchbox, and I found myself beset, nay, overcome, with twin urges: to ravish her there and then on the cash register, or to slough off the skin of my calloused feet on the stubble of her chin.
Kaleen, Canberra, ACT
Houses dotted the landscape in the small village where Hans lived . . . somewhat resembling a Monet painting . . . although he wasn't really the father of pointillism . . . but since it did directly offshoot FROM impressionism, it would still be appropriate; plus, the fact his name was Hans, made it seem all the more in keeping with the overall theme.
The day was like any other, except that this was a Wednesday so it was really only like 1/7th of the other days.
New Albany, IN
Her romance ended, not a quick separation but like the gradually fading white dot on one of those old black-and-white vacuum tube TVs when it's turned off; and she was glad, because she felt uneasy in his arms and required as many adjustments to the "horizontal hold" and "vertical hold" as when she would stay up late watching scary shows like "Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits" long ago.
Maybe it was because he was feeling dizzy after the four litres of crème de menthe he'd drunk, or perhaps it was because the day had started with his slippers exploding completely unexpectedly as he ate his cornflakes, but, as Anthony looked behind him for the fortieth time, walking home from the bar, he could have sworn he was being followed by a large silver-backed gorilla.
Gripping the handle of the knife carefully, Vanessa made a nervous incision in the body on the table, wondering vaguely if she was anywhere near the heart as the surgeon, her work-experience supervisor, flicked vaguely through the latest "Who magazine" that was placed over the head of the patient, and in taking a deep drag of her filtered 16-milligram noticed that, if the Oscars were anything to go by, orange was back in again.
I saw her from across the room and knew I had to meet her, not because of her ample bosom, or her full lips, or her beautiful creamy skin, or the way her hair was twisted into a nice tight bun, or the buttoned-up blouse that begged to be torn off her body, or the skirt that was perhaps a size too small, but because she was my kid's teacher and I was here for the parent-teacher conference.
Her eyelashes fluttered like the windshield wipers of an eighteen-wheeler on the Ohio Turnpike when the weary-eyed driver is trying to have at least some vision in a heavy August rainstorm that is like an appaloosa urinating on solid asphalt.
Hardly a day passed without poor Matilda looking back on her life and ruing that fateful day she decided that to cut her toenails with her father's scythe to make up that extra four minutes she had wasted listening to "Muskrat Love" by the Captain & Tennille.
"Grasshopper, the three secrets of life are as follows: first, keep your eyes and ears open; second: don't tell everything you know."
Frenchs Forest NSW