TLF Season One – A link To The Outside

Illustration by Luke Spooner for the novel The Last Flag

A link to the outside

Illustration by Luke Spooner for the novel  The Last Flag

The mostly dead woman got up from the graveled ground where she had found herself kneeling, and began to walk down the road, confused as to why she had been there, and confused as to where she was. It felt as if she kept waking from a dream within a dream with shorter interludes of darkness in between. She hated these fugue moments, these blackouts, and she wondered how many she had before she had become aware of them. What happened to me? She thought. What is this, where am I, who am I?

She slowed to a standstill and focused on remembering. Closing her eyes and trying to exclude everything from her mind but memory. Slowly, with a tunnel like focus, it returned to her. The feeling consolidated to a memory. Something in the sky…she had seen something — a plastic bird? No, crazy. A toy then? No! A drone. That’s it—a drone.

Drone, DRONE, drooone, the word itself felt like a victory and she let it repeat in her mind, savoring it, attaching meaning to it. Finding joy as she understood its meaning and connotations.

She thought it had seen her, whoever had piloted it. It had returned for a second swoop, but then it had moved on without seeing her. Maybe there was something like that left in town, something that would allow her to communicate, to call for help. There had been a store. She had seen drones that looked a lot like the one that flew over her. And smartphones. Laptops. Desktops. She closed her eyes again and tried to remember. She stood blind and deaf to the world until it came to her. Schlegel’s Electric Shack and Hobbies.

“Oh God! Yes.” She shouted euphoric for having brought back the memory from the endless dark void her brain seemed to have become. Yet something was wrong…the silence, “Yes!”
No sound came out and after minutes of confusion she gasped like a fish and forced air in her lungs, and let it out as she spoke.

“Oh God, yes.”

There! There, she heard it this time. It had been barely audible, forced, but she heard it. Thank you God, she thought. Thank you God, don’t leave me know.

The crowd that surrounded her noticed too then, paid her the briefest attention before returning to their aimless existence.
The woman had no precise memory of when she had first regained awareness and no memory of her reaction to her blighted dead companions, but she was now blasé to their presence, unafraid of them. She had found them boring at first, but as her consciousness had crept back she had tried to connect. Each one of them had a story they couldn’t tell her, an explanation maybe for the situations that they couldn’t or wouldn’t share. She tried touching them to get a response but there was none, and now it was time for her to move on, and without a backward glance she left for her new goal. It took her hours to walk the relatively short distance to the hobby store. Once there she found the door locked and chained and lost even more time scavenging for something to break in. With a large rock she found a block away, she managed to smash the bottom glass pane of the front door and crawled inside, then sat on the floor of the store as she plucked glass shards from her knees and the palms of her hands. Something oozed out, but it wasn’t blood.

Not good, she thought and stood up in the darkened shop, silhouetted by dim natural light that came through the battered windows and shattered door she staggered behind the counter. A ratty office chair, an old desktop computer, and other pieces of electronics with and without their shells sat to the far side, next to the everyday debris you’d find in a small and old business. But no power; there was no life in these abandoned bits of technology, but surely there’d be a battery here.

She set about scavenging the place. Everything moved so slowly. No, no it didn’t…she was slow. Like a geriatric. Was she one? No, she didn’t think so, but that thought stopped her. Who was she? She stepped in front of a sunglasses display and looked in its mirrors.

Read what happens next!
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Illustration by artist Luke Spooner
Luke’s website
Luke’s Facebook page

How to Win our Contests, Five Tips

Darkness Wired Illustration by Luke Spooner

We want good writers to win.
We love to read too!

We want writers to win the contest or submit a manuscript to our anthology that will be accepted. Decline notices are not fun and neither is reading a piece of fiction done by an author who very clearly didn’t read the guidelines or throws random submissions in the hope something will be accepted.

In that vein let us offer some advice.

  1. READ the guidelines.
    • The Contest/Anthology is on-theme.
    • Submissions not following the guidelines will be deleted without a reply.
  2. We are readers as well as publishers. NPH created this contest, to read, love and publish original diverse voices. Gives us a fresh 21st century takes on an established mythology.
  3. Commit to the story, even if we don’t accept it, if it’s good the next publisher you submit it to, very well might.
  4. Write compelling unique characters.
  5. Submit a well edited piece.

We can’t guarantee that you, dear writer, will be the winning author, but it’ll greatly improve your odds.

Thank  you!

Notch.

Illustration by U.K. artist Luke Spooner
Luke’s website
Luke’s Facebook page

Additional Reading From the Web

Anthology and Contest Resources Pt.1

Darkness Wired is about the intersection of old monster, even older Gods and mythologies and human innovation in technology and medicine. For you writers who do not normally peruse technical sites, our CEO, Notch has grabbed some handy links that might inspire you.

Technology Resources

Intel
Ars Technica
Wired
Phys.org
Popular Mechanics
Medical Xpress
Tech Xplore

How to get accepted into the anthology, or improve your likelihood of winning the contest

Read the requirements!

The short stories should include or take place during the events in the timeline provided. Modern or future technology should be a part of it, as much as Lovecraftian mythology.

Fiction that has nothing at all to do with the theme and requirements will not be accepted.

Check out tried and true strategies!

Judges tend to know what they’re looking for and we’re no exception. These submissions must match the theme but you can still utilize recommended techniques for all story writing.  You can WOW us by ensuring there are creepy elements/atmosphere, relatable characters and appropriate twists/compelling ending.

Proofread!

Only the best of the best stories will be accepted into the compilation. You can increase your chances with excellent editing strategies. Make sure the time continuum makes sense and has proper grammar.  Minor mistakes that were missed won’t discount all your hard work but if the story requires major editing overhauls, it will be sent back to you first to correct.