In Competition No. 2911 you were invited to submit a thriller in three text messages.
This one seemed straightforward enough but it turned out to be a tough assignment that stretched veterans and newcomers alike. As in all forms of micro-fiction — the mini-masterpiece attributed to Hemingway, ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’, springs to mind — it’s all about the reader filling in the gaps.
Many entrants went for the mistaken-identity trope, which became rather monotonous after a time. But while I applauded those who attempted a more original twist, most of these didn’t quite come off.
The standard was somewhat disappointing, then, but there were some creditable exceptions, printed below. They earn their authors £15 each.
The good news: your cyber-temporal experiments succeeded. You won the Nobel for your Paradox Amelioration Algorithms. This message is from your 2055 self.
And the bad news?
You’re a wanted man in space and time. Weapons training starts now. You’re about to hear an explosion.
Wassup Jezza? Job done innit! Polonium-210 in Yvette’s gin as U wanted. Go whn U’ve necked yr whisky!
OMG! YFI! Yvette is whisky. I is gin.
Soz bro :( 4get fee! IOU1.
Hey hun just woken up. Appreci8 u takin the bbe out 4 a bit
Actually just gone 2 buy pot8os. have solvd cryin problem 4 gud btw
Yeah? Cool. Sumthin smells gud in the oven. What r we havin?
Did you just hear me calling you down for dinner?
Yes Mum! I’ll be down in a second!
Stay in your room. I’m in the upstairs bathroom. And I heard it too.
You sweet lover man, what a time we had. But not a word to anyone, Jim would kill us if he found out.
You got that right. One down, one to go.
Jim darling! I think my phone’s been hacked.
Darling! Thanks for anniversary gift. Went down a treat!
They’re poisoned. Will swap antidote for frozen embryos. Can be there 30 minutes.
No rush! I fed chocolates to your mistress. Embryos in an oven starting 30 minutes. Give me ALL the diamonds, I’ll give you ONE location!
Hi Hon, had a good day?
Stop texting me. You’re still dumped. Got more important things. My sister got attacked last night. Might not pull thru
How terrible. BTW ...your sister’s tears taste sweeter than yours
These steaks look great! Haven’t seen Toby though, is he with you?
Yes I’ve got him. We’ve been having fun. Enjoy your lunch!
It’s John. Lost my phone!!? Bringing dinner home now. Don’t forget to feed Toby xxx
Darling, let’s keep the money our little secret. Dinner’s on me.
OK. Tyres sorted. Great garage. Cheap! Never guessed he’s your ex. Also fixed the brakes ...for free! Didn’t even know they were faulty. Driving now. See you at Carlo’s — bottom of that steep hill.
I don’t think so
Amy, why aren’t you answering your phone? Are you still coming over to dinner?
Sorry Brad, I was walking to the bus stop but then your cousin pulled over and gave me a lift. Shouldn’t be long now xx
What? Amy ... I don’t have a cousin.
Hi — You need to pack! Meet usual place Heathrow. 2 hours?
Can’t do that! Sat. night party. House full. What’s the urgency?
We’re tomorrow’s front pages!
No 2914: bennboozled
Forty-five years ago, after a speech by the late Sir Keith Joseph in which he said that the government was trying to ‘Bennboozle’ the country, competitors were asked to supply their own coinages. The time has come to revisit this challenge. You are invited to submit coinages inspired by today’s politicians, supplying full dictionary definitions and illustrative examples of their use. Email entries (up to three each) to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 2 September.