Nobody Left to Blame
Owl Canyon Press presents: A fiction anthology featuring the winning entries from the 2023 Owl Canyon Press Short Story Hackathon team challenge. The collection contains 27 stories chosen from over 100 entries from more than 20 countries. These stories represent a mix of both seasoned and emerging writers whose astonishing and entertaining works present a wide ranging collection of themes from fear to euphoria.
Redeeming Angel Shaw:
Team: Redrum & Mehyam's Excerpt:
Writer A: Lisa H. Owens
Writer B: Dawn DeBraal
*No coverage, not even one bar; the battery was dead anyway. It was still daytime, but there was an overcast and the sky had a perfectly even dullness, so there was no way to tell what time of day it was, much less which direction was north or south or anything else for that matter. A two-lane blacktop road snaked up into the distance and disappeared into some trees, or a forest if you wanted to get technical about it. It also snaked down toward some lumpy hills and disappeared there as well. What sounded like a two-stroke chainsaw could be heard in the distance, but it was impossible to tell whether it was up in the forest or down in the lumpy hills. This had been happening more often lately. Two different ways to go, with a dead battery and no bars, and nobody left to blame. [*opening prompt paragraph]
I clapped the book shut before I even made it to chapter two. It was the beginning of nearly every cliché horror novel I’d ever read. Two ways to go and a two-stroke chainsaw? A dead battery? No one to blame? I thought of Cousin Larry and his nightly shenanigans. Where a dead car battery was concerned, Larry the numskull would always be the one to blame. He had a penchant for sneaking out to the garage to hide in the car for a shot of rotgut whiskey and some righteous weed—every night. And most nights he whacked it to porn by the dashboard light. And some nights, he ironically listened to Meatloaf wail about doing it by the dashboard light on side-one of his worn Cool Songs mixtape, which brought his thoughts back to the porn, which brought him back to the righteous weed, which ultimately led to another shot of rotgut whiskey—Larry’s Circle of Life. [Writer A]
My cousin, Larry, the issue of my father’s older brother Leonard, was an embarrassment to the family. One day his daddy took off, leaving him with our Meemaw, after his mama headed for parts unknown. Growing up, Meemaw’s isolated house in the woods kept my cousin from having any redeeming social graces, hence the dashboard lights fiasco that carried well beyond Larry’s puberty years. We all thought he would grow out of it, but never having the opportunity to find a girlfriend after quitting school in the eleventh grade, Larry clung to the “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” vibe on the Cool Songs tape I made for him as a gift on his seventeenth birthday. Who would have known that the tape and his Fleshy Girls Magazine, hidden under the front seat, would lead to the trouble it did? Larry picked the time I needed that old wreck of a car the most to fall asleep with the cassette tape playing repeatedly, resulting in an almost dead battery. But that wasn’t all that was nearly dead. [Writer B] [read more in the anthology]
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