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Ghost In The Woods. Illustration: The Real Estreya

Demonic Tale From America’s Coal Country Takes First Honors In The Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition


Kurt Newton, of Woodstock Valley, Connecticut, is the winner of the 2018 Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition and the contest’s $300 cash prize for his sudden fiction piece, “The Coal Mape.”

Honorable Mention and a $100 cash award went to Robert Perchan, an American living in Pusan, South Korea, for his piece, “Compression: A Very Short Story.”

Second Honorable Mention, with a $50 prize, was taken by Carie Juettner, of Austin, Texas, for “Hindsight.”

All three 2018 Screw Turn stories will be included in the paperbound anthology, 21st Century Ghost Stories—Volume I, scheduled for publication in August by Wyrd Harvest Press (Durham, U.K.).

The Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition is for supernatural stories of 1,000 or fewer words. Our next fiction contest is The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award, for which we begin accepting submissions on February 15, 2018. Prizes are $1,000, $250, and $100 for full-length short stories of between 1.500 and 10,000 words. Good luck!


The 2018 Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition


We were sitting around the dinner table when Poppa told the story of the coal mape. Momma told him right away to stop, but Poppa just smiled and said, “It’s all right, Lottie, the kids are old enough to hear.” Momma shook her head to let everyone know she disagreed, but she let Poppa speak.

“Working in the mines, there are times we see crazy things,” Poppa said. “A lot of it is just shadows on the wall, or our brains getting drunk from not enough wholesome air. But sometimes, when the same thing is seen by more than one of us—it can’t be no trick of the mind.” Poppa glanced around the table to make sure he had our attention. Momma fidgeted with her napkin, her unease brewing. Poppa continued.

“It’s been said that coal is the stone of living things. Millions of years of living things. Trees, grass, plants, animals. Even people. Now, I would imagine that sometimes in one of those stones—one of those clumps of coal we chip off and toss in the bin—there’s a spirit of something trapped for more years than any of us can count. Maybe some kind of creature that graced this fine Earth back before people first walked out of the jungle. Back before dinosaurs even. Way back, after the war in Heaven, like the Bible says, when Michael fought the serpent and the serpent was cast out along with his dark angels. A creature that fell to Earth when it was more like a living Hell with its rivers of fire. A creature that didn’t obey God’s laws, and, instead of dying held still, its body turning to dust, but its spirit still alive, waiting patient for that day when someone would come along and release it from the Earth’s grip. [click to continue…]


The 2018 Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition


I ran into H. at the Closerie. It was early in the afternoon. A gray winter day. He had his notebook and three sharpened pencils in front of him on the table. But he was staring off into space. He was not writing. He looked stumped. He had gotten a few words down. Maybe a whole line. But no more than that. He looked stumped. He had on that hat he sometimes wore when he wrote. But it looked a little bit too big for him today. It kept slipping down over his eyes and he had to push it back up again in order to stare off into space properly.

H. was a big man but he did not look quite so big today. Maybe he was having problems at home, I wondered. He was famous for having problems at home. No, he wasn’t having problems at home. Wife’s fine. So is the baby. It’s this shirt. And these damn trousers. Too loose.

Good for the circulation, I said. Blood flow. Free flow of thoughts. Ideas. Impressions.

No, he said. Opposite. I got this iceberg inside me. Iceberg in my heart. [click to continue…]


The 2018 Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition


It’s Sunday morning, and I’m in the center lane of Mopac, driving with one hand and digging in my purse for lip balm with the other, thinking about how there’s no such thing as rush hour in Austin anymore, just a steady stream of hours and cars, when a silver Civic just like mine pulls in front of me.

It’s not often I see a twin of my eleven-year-old hybrid anymore. When I first bought it, they were everywhere. I remember once, a few weeks after I got the car, trying desperately to unlock it in the parking lot of HEB and cursing my fob for breaking. It wasn’t until I was fumbling with the key in the lock that I saw the baby seat in the back and realized it wasn’t mine. My car was one row over, flashing its lights in exasperation.

But here is a long lost sibling traveling the same road as me. [click to continue…]