Big Muddy opens Volume 14 Number 1 with the winners of the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Award and the Mighty River Short Story Award. Here's a glimpse of each:
Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Award
Robert Garner McBrearty's "What Happened to Laura?"
I'm in a coffee shop on an afternoon in spring when a man at a table near the creamers picks up his smart phone and says in a loud voice, "John? Doug here. Laura is back. She's pissed off. She's a really pissed off person...I don't know what she's pissed off about...Yeah, that's right...I'm taking her to the doctor today...It's a hard call, they might...That's good, that's good...She's real angry, she's real brutal, she's real cutting...Yeah, that's right...I don't know if I'm going to have to hospitalize her or not...It's brutal, it's real brutal, I'll call you after we see the doctor...Okay, thanks, right...That's good."
Doug signs off. But he's back on a moment later. "Bob? Doug here. Laura came back...Well, she's pissed off, she's real pissed off...That's good, that's good...Well, she's real pissed off...We're going to see the doctor in about twenty minutes...Obviously...Excellent...Good idea...I'll hide everything..."
He hangs up. We all look up from our tables to meet his widened eyes. A tall man rises up. He points a finger at Doug's chest. "I want to know what's wrong with Laura," he says.
Mighty River Short Story Contest
Catherine Browder's "The Canine Cure"
Some days there's a bit of a flurry when I step on the elevator with the girls. Lola takes the lead, followed by Rusty, and then Didi. I bring up the rear. As we assemble inside, an orderly wearing hospital scrubs pulls himself up to his considerable height and scowls, never taking his eyes off my trio. A young Asian woman in a lab coat takes a small step back. I raise a finger. My three promptly sit, and I punch the button for the third floor.
"Believe it or not," I tell my audience, "these girls are here to work." I give them my broadest professional smile. The man cracks a joke while the young woman titters uncomfortable. Neither has noticeably relaxed. The girls remain seated, their great brown eyes traveling from face to face and then back to mine. In the enterprise that looms ahead I am certain of only one thing: My troupe is obedient and well trained.