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Winter, 2011
24-Hour Short Story Contest
1st Place Winner!

TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:

The feet of her pajamas offered no protection as she trudged through the deep drifts. She had been crying throughout her ordeal and, when she lowered her head for protection from the wind, she almost missed a light piercing through the trees. As she instinctively turned in that direction, she heard a train whistle...

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.



1ST PLACE!

A Minor Sacrifice?
by Carrie Ott, Meadville, PA

So windy...

The trip from Leningrad had been lengthy - the cold front sure took its time in getting her into the skies above Germany. She had been crying throughout her entire ordeal; no one had asked her if she wanted to leave home! Nice, cold Leningrad...but it was so far away now.

She lowered her head for protection from the whipping winds, hoping that she wouldn't be swept even further away. Her crystalline body twirled and danced as she struggled. It was useless ñ other snowflakes bigger and stronger than her could do nothing to defy the chilly current driving them relentlessly through the dense pine branches. Amid the countless evergreen needles, she almost missed a light piercing through the trees. Turning quickly toward the flash, she heard a train whistle echo faintly in the distance.

For a moment, the wicked wind plastered her solidly against a cluster of branches and she was able to listen. What a long whistle! It seemed never-ending, and it grew louder by the second. Finally, the shrieking grew so loud it became unbearable and it seemed the pretty snowflake would be ripped to pieces by the sound.

The air vibrated angrily. Suddenly a streak of gleaming steel roared through the grove and shattered the earth in a huge explosion of fire and heat. The fierce current ripped her from her branch and sucked her toward the flame. She could feel her delicate lacey pattern melting, dripping away.

For a moment, all existence seemed to pause. Only the fading echo of the bomb's explosion proved that time still continued. Suddenly, the ground near the missile's crater sprang to life and filled the air with claps of thunder from the barrels of frozen guns. The sentiment was returned from the stand of trees on the eastern horizon.

The little snowflake stumbled over the cold corpses of countless victims as the bullets screamed around her. Bodies riddled with bullets slumped helplessly into the heavy drifts of snow while comrades, powerless to help, simply soldiered on. Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the commotion ended.

She floated lazily over the horrific scene, which had painted her glistening brothers the color of blood. A soldier clad in muddy green and brown coughed quietly. His chest heaved and his blood sent waves of heat wafting into the air. She dared not approach him for fear of melting her gorgeous frozen dress.

The wind caught her up suddenly and brushed her across his hand, chapped and discolored with the cold. His fingers clenched a crumpled piece of paper tenaciously, as if he were grasping hold of his own life. She hovered hesitantly. His blood was leaving him; his fingers weakened and slowly relaxed. She saw in his hand a picture, crumpled and torn and covered in mud. A happy woman held the reins of a chestnut horse as a small girl gripped the saddle happily.

The snowflake glanced quickly at the soldier, the picture of his family, then back at the soldier. Would they sell the chestnut horse to pay for his funeral? Would someone find him at all, in this wasteland? She knew what to do, yet she faltered.

Is it greed, to want to live? Selfishness? It was decided then, in the blink of an eye. She lifted herself into the cold night air and drifted silently toward his ragged breathing. She quietly fell and alighted on his lips, chapped with thirst and cold. Immediately, flaming heat consumed her body, melting her lace and her shining crown. She knew she could not mend his wounds, but at least she could satisfy his thirst. The water from her veins poured into his mouth. One, single drop was all she could manage. As his final breath of life steamed from him, one single drop from the corner of his eye was all he could manage, too. But dying with the relief of pure mountain water on his parched lips - that was more bearable.


What Carrie won:

$300 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

ENTER THE NEXT 24-HOUR SHORT STORY CONTEST HERE!
Contest guidelines are HERE.


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