2012 'Write in The Week' Competition Winning Stories

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The theme for this year's competition was '...a race against time...'

1st

The Boy Who Raced Against Time by Lindsay Fisher

Quick as quick he was. Right from the start. Arrived ahead of his day and his mother caught by surprise two months early. And Kioshi walked before he was seven months and running before he was a year. And everything he did, he did in a rush. Like it was a race against time, and maybe it was.
Always ahead of where he should be and the rest of us squinting our eyes to see where Kioshi was. And nothing or no-one could tie him down. Not Mr Akita the teacher who painted birch blisters on Kioshi’s small hands. Not the minister in church who hurried through his Sunday prayers to keep up with Kioshi’s amen. Not Sato the cobbler with his heavy and heavy wood shoes to slow the boy down.
Once, when he was almost a man, I caught Kioshi’s hand and held it tight as never-letting-go. And I asked him then what his hurry was. I put Kioshi’s hand under my blouse and on my budding breasts, and I asked again what was his hurry.
We were married in only months and I was pregnant even before, and still he was always rushing, and dragging me after him at first, breathless and tired. And I wanted to keep up. I begged for Kioshi to wait. ‘A little slower,’ I pleaded. But I don’t think he heard.
So I lagged behind and behind, and Miki the weaver caught me up and walked with me a while, and he kissed slow as slow and sweet. Then Kioshi was not a husband more. Kioshi, a man grown too old in the shortest time. Grey in his beard, his skin like wood that has stood in all weathers, and his back grown to crooked, and Kioshi not a bit slower for all that. And I felt sorry for him then and worried for the days that were left to him.
But they were not many those days and only at the last was he brought to slow, and then to stop. Kioshi, the boy who raced against time – and lost.

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2nd

Two Short by Lynn McInroy

Why do I make these bets? I always lose. Now, it's more serious, though; I bet against Time himself. You know, the old man with the scythe.
It goes back ages, this story. Five years ago I was in deep shit. I hadn't sold a word in months and thought the hammering on my door was the landlord; then it opened and this man walked in.
My heart stuttered. I was positive I'd locked the door. Then I looked at him. Faultless evening dress. Black hair. Hairline moustache. And those eyes! Deep as the pit and just as merciless.
'You don't know me,' he said, then smiled and added, 'yet.'
My lips shaped 'No.' You wouldn't want to see that smile.
Finally, I made a bargain. Five years of successful writing, and then I was his. Forever.
The five years were good. Everyone took my work. I was even doing an official biography - can't say whose, but you'd know the name.
Then, a week ago, my doorbell rang, and he was standing there.
'You've done well,' he said, looking at the Persian rugs in my hall.
'Yes,' I stammered, dates and figures tumbling in my head and coming up with the number, FIVE.
'I don't do collections myself,' he said, flicking a speck of dust from his cuff. ' I'll send my agent next week.'
He was gone. I couldn't even protest.
Tonight I opened the front door, expecting Eloise, and this old man in a black cloak was there.
'It's Time,' he said.
'Time?' I stuttered, 'Time for what?'
A grim smile split the white beard and a hand emerged. The silver scythe glinted in the light. 'I'm Father Time,' he said, 'and Time waits for no man.'
'But, I must, I mean, I need to finish...'
'Well,' he said, 'I don't like arguments, so I'll bet you can't write 350 words in fifteen minutes.'
'I win, and you go?'
So, I'm in a race against Time.
The fifteen minutes are up.
AND I'M TWO WORDS SHORT.

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3rd

The Solution by Eve Miller

The four sat in council considering a universal problem – there were simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. ‘The problem with you, War, is that too many people die at once and I haven’t a hope of collecting the souls on time. Then, Plague, you come along and make matters worse. I understand we have a contract, in which you supply me with souls, but I simply can’t be in all places all of the time.’ Death complained, throwing his hands into the air, for about the fifth time that morning. ‘I simply need more time.’
‘And because of Plague, I hardly get a look in,’ responded Famine dejectedly. ‘I too need more time.’ War and Plague cast furtive glances towards each other, from opposite ends of the table.
Just then, the door swung open and Time strode into the room. He wasn’t in a particularly good mood, because he knew he was facing a lost cause. The four of them always picked on him when things didn’t quite go their way: besides, he had better things to be doing at 10 o’clock on a Monday morning!
Knowing that previous discussions about a fairer distribution of work had fallen on deaf ears he cut to the chase, ‘We’ll have to find a way to settle this for good.’ Death was always so defeatist in the monthly briefing and this was really starting to annoy Time. ‘It would help if you, Death, came to these sessions with a suggestion, instead of just firing insults and objections into the ether. Personally, I think you just need to work a bit faster.’
Death leapt up and flung back his chair, outraged at this fiery outburst from Time – the three remaining Horsemen looked on, aware they were rapidly losing control of the situation. ‘We challenge you to a duel!’ bellowed the defiant Horseman, smacking Time across the face with a white glove. ‘You can choose the method.’
So he chose a race. He knew that even the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse couldn’t win a race against Time.

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