Updated: Jun 22, 2020
At the end of 2018, I saw an ad for a writing contest hosted by a group called "NYC Midnight." They have a variety of writing contests that circulate throughout the year, and for the hell of it, I decided to sign up for their Short Story Challenge. I, along with thousands of other writers, were randomly assigned a genre, a situation that needed to happen, and a character that needed to be included within the story in some capacity After a week, I submitted the story, waited patiently, and found out... I didn't make it to the next round. (We'll explore this in another post.) It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I still found myself glad at the fact that I did something so different and challenging as this contest.
Around September of 2019, I saw that NYC Midnight was gearing up for their next contest: the Microfiction Challenge. Microfiction is very difficult to write because the story can be no longer than 250 words. This sounds simple, but a writer must create a story, characters, a problem, and a solution of sorts in 250 words or less while still being entertaining. It's actually quite hard. To add to the difficulty, this challenge asked that writers only have 24 hours to write their piece and submit it. So, of course, I said "Okay. Imma do it."
I had the lucky opportunity to take a micro fiction class while in college, and I had quite an enjoyable time. My professor was an amazing writer, my classmates were amazing writers, and we all were able to create some fantastic pieces together. Due to these memories, I figured this contest would bring with it some fun and nostalgia, and I figured it would help give me something to do while the husband is overseas once more.
My first round assignment was this: write a horror story in which someone swallows a pill and include the word "prestigious." It was difficult, to say the least, especially since I had about 4 different ideas swirling around my head, but I finally chose a piece and submitted it. My part was now done, and it was in God's hands. Well, after waiting about a month and a half, the first round results were posted, and I was both amazed and delighted to find out I had made it past the first round, placing in the top 10 within my division.
I have since written and submitted my second round submission, but I would like to share my first round submission here. I highly recommend any writer check out NYC Midnight (not an ad) and their competitions as they are fun, exciting, and challenging! I also believe that, even if you don't win the competition, you still win by trying something new and putting yourself out there. Any chance to improve and hone your skills should always be attempted, even if it's scary and hard.
Now, I present my first round piece.
Your eyes open sluggishly, looking around the room in a stupor as you breathe shallow breaths. You try to think of the last time you felt like yourself, truly yourself, but the haze in your mind is too thick, and you find yourself drifting back under its ministrations. Lobbing your head to the right, you focus your attention on the window beside you, forcing yourself to concentrate on anything that will keep you from its embrace. You cannot live in the haze.
As you try to stand, finding little strength left in this shell of a body you inhabit, the door opens. A woman who prided herself on being prim, proper, and prestigious walks through the door, a smile gracing her perfectly made-up face.
“It’s eleven! Time to take your pill,” she sings as she saunters over to you. She holds the small tablet between her fingers, expecting you to open your mouth. When you don’t, her fingers push past your lips, forcing the pill into your mouth which she then covers forcefully while also pinching your nose, ignoring your muffled cries.
“The doctors don’t believe you’re sick, sweetheart. We need to show them you are,” your wife whispers in a sickly-sweet yet baleful tone, forcing the bitter pill to pass down your throat as you cry. After a minute or so, she releases you and walks out the door.
It shuts, leaving you in silence. Your head lulls back, the pill taking effect, and you wish for deliverance.
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cover photo credit: Alejandro Ortiz