Entry by Austin Gunderson
Afraid? Bri couldn’t say she was exactly afraid. What a funny question. The supersonic freight train wouldn’t crush them for another seventeen seconds. Her new contact must be a paranoid sort; judging by the proportion of time he’d spent glancing over his shoulder, his head might’ve been screwed on backward. Bri rolled her eyes, tossed back her hair, and extended a hand. “Don’t worry about the mop-up crew. They might not be aiming for us, but they can’t miss. Just upload the package.”
The man faced her and, with a nervous shrug, yanked off his right glove. Bri had expected to grasp a sweaty, trembling palm, but the fingers which engulfed her own were pleasantly dry and firm. That was the first red flag — one too many. Bri tried to snatch her hand back, but the man simply kicked her in the shins and was suddenly the only thing holding her upright.
Seven seconds left.
The man slid a fingertip down his narrow implant from elbow to wrist, and Bri shuddered as the upload commenced. Then she screamed. All she could see was blue. The package was a Trojan. Her scream choked off as motor functions abruptly stalled.
By the time the train passed, Bri had lost the ability to sense its sonic boom. She knew she’d been hauled clear of its path only because she was still alive.
This could not have gone any worse.
– – – – –
Congratulations, Austin! (Contact me at rluellam at yahoo dot com to arrange your gift card prize!)
What a close contest this turned out to be. We had a great selection even before we boiled the challenge down to the three finalists. That less than four percentage points separated first and third place is a testimony to how hard it was for readers to choose a winner. Congratulations to all the finalists. I wish we had prizes for everyone.
But now, I have to ask. How many of you writers (not just those who entered this contest) would be interested in participating in a short story contest if you were required to pay a $5.00 entry fee?
I’m thinking perhaps we could offer prizes to more than the first place winner. There’s also the possibility that the winning entry might be published online as part of the prize. But before we can go much further, we need to know if there’s sufficient interest in and willingness to participate in a contest with a minimal entry fee.
So I’d appreciate your vote in yet another poll, and please share this liberally with other speculative writers. Thanks in advance.