Back at the beginning of a summer, I heard of a contest being run by Owl Canyon Press, for their 2018 Short Story Hackathon. It was open as far as genre went, and had a fairly interesting set up. The story could only be fifty paragraphs long, but the contestants could only write forty-eight. The first and last were provided, and were not to be amended in any way. To keep people from turning it into a very tall, slender flash fiction, there was also a requirement that paragraph be of a minimum number of words. I imagine that an urge to keep from padding that word count with “umm, well, you see, errr” led to the final restriction, which demanded that there be no directly quoted speech. One could write He began the opening oration from Shakespeare’s Henry V but He took a deep breath and said, “Oh, for a muse of fire…” would be a disqualification.
The prize was publication, and an invitation to attend a shindig… even in a small town with a somewhat mysterious name. Well, heck, I like shindigs and getting published, and there was no entry fee, so I joined something like nine hundred other writers in offering a story.
I did not win!
Given the size of the field, and the relative infrequency of any given writer impressing any given editor, this is not unexpected. I do not mourn, nor tend a bruised ego. Indeed, I built a silver lining into this whole affair. Even as I was writing the story, I resolved that if it failed to capture the prize, I would not put it into the submission carousel, but I would directly pass it along to the readers of this enterprise.
So, here we are. Prolonging the Inevitable is a bit of a frolic in the region of weird that butts up against both fantasy and horror. It is, ironically enough, a bit of contemplation on what the real nature of life’s defeats might be. Remember the old saying– every time a door closes, the things outside start wriggling down the chimney.