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Monthly Short Story Winner: Plot Twists

Plot twists are often a specialty of short stories and you find them there more often than in other forms of writing. The most famous examples I can think of aren’t in literature, though. I guess most of you have seen one or more of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies: The Sixth Sense, The Village, Signs, The Happening, or She’s All That are perfect examples of cool plot twists – usually in the end of the story/movie.

Book vortex by schaduwlichtje

So this month our contestants wrote a story containing one or more (but too many will make the reader feel like riding a roller coaster and not everybody likes them 😉 ) plot twists and/or a surprising endings.

Rules:

1. This can be prose or a poem.
2. Must contain a plot twist and/or a surprising ending.
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
5. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That’s why they’re called limits.
6. Your entry can’t be published somewhere else.

Our winning story was by Malcolm Pope and is called “A Twist Too Far”. Congrats on your win, Malcolm!

You can find all our entries here. You can also get updates on our monthly contests on Twitter @FFWritingComp.

And now on with the story!

– – –

“A Twist Too Far”
by Malcolm Pope

The warehouse was dark. Gloomy. Silent. The only sign of life was the occasional rat or cockroach scattering across the floor, dodging between the many stacked crates littering the room.

A loud clank cut through the silence. The warehouse door creaked open and Welshy Simmons crept in, a flashlight in one hand and a crowbar in the other. He scanned the shadowy room carefully before creeping over to a crate surreptitiously tucked away in a corner. He quietly placed the flashlight down before beginning to pry the crate open.

His heart was beating fast. The detective must’ve been lying. There was no way he could’ve seen Michelle walking around. But if he wasn’t… If that blow to the head hadn’t been fatal…

He finally managed to rip the lid off the crate and peek at the contents. He let out a relieved sigh. She was still there.

“So this is where you hid the body then?”

Welshy spun around at the sound of the voice. Behind him stood Tex Taylor, the private detective who had so rudely stuck his nose into Welshy’s business. The detective had a flashlight of his own and a gun aimed directly at Welshy.

“Put the crowbar down,” Tex said. “It’s all over.”

Welshy did as he was told with a resigned tone.

“This was all a trap wasn’t it?” He said. “You never actually saw Michelle alive.”

Tex nodded. “And I know all about the smuggling operation you ran behind the books. The only thing I needed was for you to expose yourself and show me where you hid her.”

Welshy gave a weary smile. “Looks like you worked it all out then.”

“Almost.” Tex smiled back. “The only thing I couldn’t work out was ‘why?’ What made you decide to kill Michelle? Did she stumble over part of your operation?”

Welshy began to chuckle. “That’s not something I can so easily tell you.” He took a step to the side and gestured to the crate with Michelle’s body in. “Perhaps it would be better to show you instead…”

Suspicious, Tex took a step forward and shined his flashlight into the crate. What he saw shocked him. A mess of slimy purple tentacles. Six black, lifeless eyes. A humanoid form that absolutely could not be human.

“Wha… What is this?”

“I could tell as soon as I saw her.” Welshy slowly let out a low laugh. “That so-called Michelle was none other than a Venusian spy, sent here to foil my dirty deeds! My internal mecha-scanner confirmed she was wearing a fleshsuit!”

Tex could scarcely believe the words coming out his mouth. “She’s an… alien?”

“Not just she…” Welshy reached up to his neck and began to tear away his own skin, revealing a horrific green fleshy substance beneath. “For today, detective, you deal not with a mortal human vagabond.” In a single smooth motion, he ripped off his fleshy outside to reveal a mound of wriggling inhuman tendrils that vaguely consisted a face. “I AM GLARTOK, THE DEVASTATOR!!! VWAHAHAHA!!!!!”

Glartok’s eight glassy eyes focused on the stunned detective as his laugh turned guttural and grating.

“WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY NOW, TINY HUMAN!!! YOU FACE A BEING FAR BEYOND ANYTHING YOU CAN COMPREHEND!!!”

Tex stared up with his jaw dropped at the humanoid monstrosity, a creature far beyond his own lifespan and comprehending. Then he asked one simple question.

“What the hell do you think you’re playing at?”

Glartok laughed at this. “I AM HERE TO LAY WASTE TO YOUR PALTRY-”

“No, not you,” Tex interrupted. “You. The writer. What do you think you’re playing at?”

Glartok looked confused at the simple human detective. Obviously the shock of meeting a being from another world far beyond his own had-

“Hey, don’t ignore me! I want an answer!”

Wait, are you talking to me?

“Yeah, you.” Tex nodded. He gestured at the confused Glartok. “What the hell is this?”

He’s Glartok the Devastator. A member of an intergalactic race bent on world domination and-

“No, I don’t care about that. What I want to know is what the hell is he doing here? This is a detective story, not Battlestar Galactica! Admittedly, it’s not the most original detective story, but at least it was vaguely consistent. Why did you introduce aliens out of nowhere?”

“FOOLISH MORTAL!! GLARTOK COMES WHEREVER HE PLEASES!!”

“Shut up, Glartok!” Tex snapped. “I want an answer!”

Um… I thought it would make a neat twist.

“A neat twist?” Tex gestured to the giant alien. “This guy? Really?”

Well, you didn’t see it coming.

“True, but that doesn’t make it a good twist. If everyone in the world suddenly turned into gummy bears, I wouldn’t have seen that coming. And it would’ve been equally stupid.”

Now you’re just exaggerating. It’s not that bad.

“Really?” Tex raised an eyebrow. “Name one piece of adequate foreshadowing you laid for this scene.”

Er… Well, when you investigated Welshy’s room, he did have that space planet mobile hanging from his chandelier.

“So?” Tex said. “My 5-year-old nephew has stars painted on the ceiling of his bedroom! That doesn’t mean I’m expecting him to turn into a crazed Martian in Act 3!”

“ACTUALLY, I’M FROM A SMALLISH PLANETOID ROTATING THE LESSER MOON OF-”

“Nobody cares, Glartok!”

All right, look, you may have a point. But what do you want me to do about it? It’s already happened.

“That’s not my problem,” Tex said. “But you need to fix it and fast.”

“IF IT’S ANY CONSOLATION, I THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD TWIST.”

Shut up, Glartok. Okay, how about this? He’s not an alien, he’s a demon king or ghost or something supernatural. We had some weird cult elements in the first third as a red herring remember?

“OOH! A DEMON KING! I LIKE THE SOUND OF THAT!”

“Hmmm.” Tex thought on this. “It’s better, but it’s still a fairly big shift in tone. We didn’t really have any kind of supernatural elements before.”

How about some kind of powerful hallucinogenic gas?

“What would a petty smuggler be doing with powerful hallucinogenic gas?”

He was… smuggling it?

Tex scratched his chin. “I suppose it could work. The whole Glartok thing still seems a little on the nose, though. Even as a hallucination, it’s impossible to take that walking cliché depository seriously.”

“SNIFF. YOU GUYS ARE HURTING MY FEELINGS.”

Maybe if I made him like an internal reflection of your own latent personality traits? If I throw in some psychology-sounding mumbo-jumbo, people will probably praise it as ‘deep’.

“Do you actually know anything about psychology?”

No.

“Are you just going to use the word ‘Freudian’ a bunch of times?”

A little.

“Then I’m going to pass.”

“WHAT ABOUT A COMPLEX ANALYSIS AND COMPARISON OF BOTH THE ENVIROMENTAL AND BIOLOGICAL FACTORS THAT LED TEX TO BE THE MAN HE WAS TODAY AS A WAY OF EXPLORING THE IDEA OF NATURE VS NURTURE.”

“…”

“WHAT? I TOOK AMATEUR PSYCHOLOGY ON GLOVOK IV.”

Okay, this is all getting to be too much of a pain. I know exactly how to sort this.

“Why do I have a bad feeling about-”

* * *

Tex woke with a start. He sat up and looked around. He was on his apartment couch. The entire place was quiet except for the dull chatter of the TV in front of him.

“And that concludes this week’s adventures of Glartok the Galactic Conqueror.” The announcer blared. “Please tune in next week where Glartok will-”

Tex switched the TV off and sighed. Obviously he must’ve accidentally fallen asleep on the couch and accidentally dreamt about that TV show. After all, the idea of aliens existing was just silly. Absolutely ridiculous.

But there was no point dwelling on it. For now he was going to have to put his mind back to solving that important case. He lay back on his couch, deep in thought.

Finally, he spoke. “You know, this is still a fairly cheap twist.”

Bite me.

– – –

Congratulations again to Malcolm Pope! If you’d like to enter our monthly writing contest, check out our forum for more information. Happy writing!

Title image by schaduwlichtje.

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