Ninth Annual Fiction 101 Contest 

Telling tales in just 101 words

It's not a matter of how many words you use but which words you use. That's a statement that is as true in fiction writing as it is in journalism, and one that is proved by the multitude of entries in this year's annual Fiction 101 contest.

Once again, readers stepped up to the literary plate with stories that captivated, challenged and intrigued our esteemed panel of judges, who evaluated more than 100 entries to select the cream of the written crop. From the funny to the heart wrenching, and the ridiculous to the slightly disturbing, this year's entries didn't disappoint.

--Deanna Darr

2011 Judges

Rick Ardinger: Executive director of the Idaho Humanities Council and owner of Limberlost Press. | Laura DeLaney: Owner of Rediscovered Bookshop. Alan Heathcock: Board member of The Cabin and author whose first book, Volt, will be released in March. | Michael Faison: Executive director of the Idaho Commission on the Arts. | Christian Winn: Adjunct professor of creative writing at Boise State and frequent BW contributor.

First Place, $400

Jesus Silveyra Tapia , Juarez, Mexico

Radio Sound Designer

click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

He was famous for his uncanny depiction of two lovers at the beach. Legend says he recorded the introductory stroll using salt and eggshells; the tide was warm club soda, wood pipes and pebbles; he formed the kisses with a complex rubbing of his wet hands.

Last night his body was found inside his apartment, murdered with two halves of a coconut clapped together. The culprit left behind a broken transistor radio, an old spy glass and a trail of sand leading to the bedroom.

When drawn, the sketch of the murderer sounded like the wild sea under a full moon.

Second Place, $250

Michael Prenn, Star

Shoot the Dog, Burn the Truck

click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

The old man finally punched out.

The tires caught first. We drank his beers as black smoke piled into the desert sky. Hank spat. "Should've sold it."

"Shut up," I said. "Get the Winchester."

Hank tried running them off, but the run was gone from these dogs. They were part of this. He put them down. I dug the graves.

Two church kids pulled over, looking like FBI agents in white shirts and black ties. Their eyes were like soft jelly candies. We jumped in the back, smelling like burnt carrion.

Life folded over the dead and the story moved on.

Third Place, $150

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta, Boise

Milk Traps

click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

Todd trapped a sow and four piglets at the ranch.

"Will you shoot the mother first?" I asked.

Todd answered: "They make moon-craters in the cornfields," which was not an answer.

The next day blood streaked the dirt and red clay. One of the piglets escaped, and Todd cursed as he dragged the bristly mother to the fire-pit next to her babies' ashes.

I was pregnant at the time but didn't know it. That night I dreamt of milk and hunger and corn.

Months later, when Todd said, "All my traps catch nursing sows," I finally knew enough to know why.

Honorable Mention, $50

K. Tyler Christensen, Boise

The Anniversary

The bag next to Christina was pink with crunchy paper stuffing inside. Alvin pecked at the leftover food on his plate.

Christina reached into the guts of the bag and pulled out a toy polar bear that pooped jellybeans when pressed on its hind legs.

She squinted, "I don't get it."

"It's funny." He loaded a jellybean into the gullet and the bean plopped down onto the table linen, "See." He grinned.

They both grabbed for the candy at the same time, but Alvin had it half chewed, sugar exploding between his molars.

Arms folded, Christina said, "This isn't working, Alvin."

Honorable Mention, $50

Daniel Clausen, Boise

What a Shot Can Do

He knelt on his stiff knee. It was not a day for absolutes, though it was as cold as ever, and the sky said nothing. The black rocks and the bitterbrush had the same motions, same softs overlain with angles. He wondered about Ruth, as his finger nudged the leather strap. He willed some doe to wander up from the dry wash. She would be eating breakfast in the grey which would linger. And when the moment came, if it came, he would be able to see nothing. He would never touch her, even if he opened her. The gulf returns.

Judges' Pick, $25

Chris Ullery, Boise


One day, Daniel Day Lewis will part the clouds like a hurricane. He'll come down from the heavens on a chariot of guts, asphalt and bone. Unmoved by the pleas of man, he'll cobble a shoe from this earth and slip it onto his left foot.

"I will find you," he'll say.

"I'm an oil man," he'll explain. "I'll teach you to speak English with this fucking knife!"

And this is how the world ends. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a thin, mustachioed actor screaming "Drainage!" as he eats the Milky Way like a Milky Way.

Judges' Pick, $25

Sarah Langer, Boise

Life in a Smoking Jacket

Oswald stood at the edge of the mud bank with his back turned to his fellow pigs while they rolled around in delight. They called out to him and tried to convince him to join their dirty games, but Oswald could not conceive the thought of mud on his perfectly shiny pink skin. Rather, he imagined dressing himself in a French smoking jacket and puffing circles high into the air while standing on a balcony overlooking the spoiled city. His dreams proclaimed this to be the perfect life. "Pigs don't wear clothes," his lady pig interrupted. "Now get in the mud."

Judges' Pick, $25

Margaret E. O'Neil, Boise

Dolls for Giants

I remember most my Daddy's feet. His feet would stick out from under the sheets. Momma would constantly pull the covers back over them, but he'd just kick his feet free again.

I was just a girl when he came home to die. Leukemia. The combination of cancer and chemo had made his body frail and small. I felt like a mighty giant beside his bed.

"What do you want for your birthday, Kiddo?" he'd asked, though my birthday had passed months before.

"I don't know, maybe a new dolly."

He looked pleased. "One new dolly, it is. Maybe even two."

Judges' Pick, $25

Greg Likins, Nampa

Alternate History

Lucinda whispered her own sermon from the pew behind me. "Men built a tower, that part's true. But they reached heaven's shore, found it teeming with beautiful girls."

My cheeks burned.

"In the excitement, God's loveliest daughter snuck to Earth. She roamed the countryside teaching new kinds of love, but jealous men who couldn't possess her sought to silence her instead ..."

Deacon Boreman shushed her, but my ears--my heart--longed for more.

That night I dreamed I beckoned Lucinda across the waters of the baptismal pond. Ripples rose to support her feet while her disciples, drunk on naked moonlight, rejoiced.

Judges' Pick, $25

Alex Thatcher, Boise


Rhodes Skatepark--the gloomiest of days. A stranger appeared looking all retro. He sat and stared at the city. He drew a crowd. As we looked hungrily at the "Wheels Down Zone" he spoke.

"There is a thing there. A thing that is older than time itself. They don't want you there because of it and what's under."

Everyone broke into laughter, but the laughter faded. His eyes told us his words were true. There was death behind those eyes. Fear crept in and he was gone. No one ever saw him again, but the story still echoes under the overpass.

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