We'll be honest, Atlanta. Sometimes you freak us out. Particularly when our annual Fiction Contest rolls around. Y'all have some, uh, wild imaginations. But we love you for it. Your crazy ideas, sprawling narratives and outlandish scenarios have fueled this contest for a decade now. This year, we asked that your stories incorporate "X" as a theme, metaphor, whatever, and you turned out some of the most innovative approaches we've seen yet.
"Drone," the winning entry from Lucas Church (yeah, yeah, he won last year, too, for his story "Clothes Lines" — next year, he judges), examines the intricacies of the mundane — family, friends, small towns, ex-girlfriends. Judge John Holman loved its "great atmospheric detail, rendering a hope for magic in a relentless reality."
Brian Bannon's second place story "How Superconfederate Smashed Into the Side of Big Rock Mountain and Became Petrified" is a crazy quilt of Southern mythologies. It's at once clever and ridiculous and full of X, from the confederate flag to the XXX sour mash drunk by its characters. "Funny, historical, strange, and of its own branding," said judge Blake Butler.
Third place goes to Dionne Irving for her whip-smart parable "Jesus Stalks," a portrait of the savior as the most overbearing of ex-lovers. Judge Terra Elan McVoy praised its "great opening, pitch-perfect humor and tension that moves throughout."
A big thanks to all who entered, to this year's three judges, and also to local artist/designer Sanithna Phansavanh, who did the incredible illustrations for the winning stories as well as the paper's cover.