Louisa De Lange, freelance copywriter and editor, and author of three thriller novels generously gave her time to adjudicate our April 2021 Competition.
For the thriller, crime, mystery and suspense authors and fans, Louisa suggested a revenge focused competition. The brief this month was:
In 300 words: Describe a situation where someone has taken revenge. What was it for? How do they believe they were wronged?
And the winners are:
First Place – Joanne Dennison with Blood Moon
Second Place – John K Miles with Mistress of the Sea
Third Place – Moira Beckett with A Knock on the Door
Louisa said she enjoyed adjudicating and we hope you all enjoy the winning stories below.
First Place: Blood Moon by Joanne Dennison
I loved this story for its distinctive style and originality: it was clear from the beginning who the characters were, what they believed, and where their loyalties lay, but it wasn’t obvious about it. It made these distinctions subtly, without a wasted word. And at the end, I especially liked the way the tables are turned, that it’s the humans with the taste of blood in their mouth, howling at the moon.
‘You come home without the dog,’ you always joked, ‘then don’t bother to come home at all.’ And I’d laugh, reaching out to muss your hair in the way I knew made you crazy. ‘Get.’ you’d tell me, swiping my hand away, and Jack and I would get. We’d get ourselves to the park, or the match, or for a pint down the pub, where our gentle giant always got himself an ear scratch or a slurp of someone’s beer.
Until the day the odds in the bookies’ window drew me in, just for a moment, and you’d beaten your fists into my chest and told me, ‘Get out’, an emptiness to your voice. And I’d got. I’d plastered the neighbourhood with pictures of Jack, the one you took of him the day we’d pulled him from the shelter. I’d hounded the police and got a caution for telling the desk Sargent he was a complete arsehole and punching a hole in the wall by his head.
I started hanging out in the seedier parts of town asking about dog fights and getting into plenty of my own; leads taking me to abandoned warehouses full of screaming men, watching dog after dog get torn apart. It made me sick to my stomach, but none of them were ever Jack.
One night, coming in from taking a piss on some wanker’s Jag, a mean looking Rottweiler called Tiger stood in the ring surrounded by the baying crowd. A beat up, red bullmastiff was dragged in on a choke chain to face him.
When I was pulled off the mountain of a man who’d held the chain around Jack’s neck, the guy was missing an ear and I had the taste of blood in my mouth. I grabbed Jack as the sound of police sirens sent everyone scattering, and we ran. We ran until we could run no more, howling at the moon as we made our way home to you.
Second Place: Mistress of the Sea by John K Miles
A really well written story. Some wonderful imagery. As I was reading it I could clearly see the storm and the beach, almost feel the salt in the air. And I liked the double revenge aspect – after one act is carried out another retaliatory revenge occurs.
The forked lightning strobed across the rocky beach, exposing a snapshot of natural violence. A brutal storm under a purple sky, generating twenty foot waves that were ripping huge chunks of sedimentary rock away from the cliff.
Seth made his way to the shrine, sideways rain washing away fresh tears, as he cursed the gods for the hand he’d been dealt. Deep set anger and grief spurred him on. He broke into a sprint, pushing through the wind, towards the tidal cave that housed the totem.
‘Curse you!’ he said, as he reached the entrance, his hot temper directed at the manifest image of the goddess. The wooden statue stared back at him nonchalantly.
‘You’ve taken everything from me! She was my life!’
Another streak of lightning ripped across the beach, lighting up the quartz gems which decorated the face of the ancient water deity. She was mocking him. Gloating. Impulsively, he unbuckled his axe and flew at the idol, desecrating it with short, powerful, relentless strokes. It took several minutes, but soon all that was left was the decapitated head of the goddess, lying face up in the wet sand. The remainder of the totem, had been smashed into hundreds of tiny fragments. For one brief moment Seth felt at peace. Revenge had been served. The goddess had drowned his love and now the price had been paid.
His tears flowed freely.
‘Why did you take her from me so soon?’
The mistress of the sea looked back at him with uncaring eyes, as a powerful wave crashed into the cave, lifting him off his feet. He was trapped. No escape. And as the full force of the ocean broke him against the cave wall, the head of the goddess was pulled back through the entrance into the deep.
Third Place: A Knock on the Door by Moira Beckett
This was a beautifully clear, concise story. I liked the precise ending: we’re in no doubt about what’s going to happen and why.
The clock ticked. Sally’s thoughts tunnelled inward.
The death of her beloved mother had meant abrupt removal
to a children’s home, near the beautiful Manor where she had just started work.
As she had blossomed into a pretty teenager, she became desperate to leave the home,
dreading the heavy footsteps at night that stopped at her door.
No-one would believe the word of a young girl, that’s what
Mr G said, so she counted the months till she could leave.
Training to be a nurse had offered a fresh start and she particularly enjoyed her work with
the elderly, her surrogate family.
The delicious aroma of coffee pulled Sally out of her reverie. She reviewed the night nurse’s
Mr Green had been restless again; luckily his sudden decline was giving no cause for
Just then, Vicky on reception rang. “Mr Green’s nephew is here.”
Minutes later, Sally was discussing her patient with Joe, who seemed to think his Uncle had
been a paragon of virtue.
“All those years he looked after those homeless children. It’s good to know he’s being
well looked after now. “
Sally nodded stiffly as though in agreement, but her face remained resolutely frozen, her
mouth a tight line.
Just then, Mr Green’s bell rang, the red light blinking balefully at
Taking the cold steel tray, laden with tablets and liquids, she walked down
the hushed, carpeted hall. Sally knocked at his door. Of course, he was unable to
speak, but it was still the polite thing to do.
Entering the dimly lit room, an involuntary smile broke across her still attractive, lined face
as she looked down at her patient, recognising the look of fear in his eyes.
“Time for your medicine now, Mr Green.”