Last December, we decided to put your skills to the test with our brand new Winter Writing Competition!
Our challenge to write a 500-word retelling of The Snow Queen was not an easy one, but you certainly rose to meet it.
We were blown away by the qualities of your entries and the sheer range of directions you all took your stories in.
Congratulations, Aline Yasmine!
You won with your story ‘Code Blue‘! Keep scrolling to read Aline’s winning tale:
“This is extraordinary!” said Professor Andersen, scanning the radiographer’s report with his expert eye. “And this patient is still alive?”
It was more a statement than a question, but Dr Hans nodded. “That’s not all, Prof.” He cleared his throat, looking a little nervous. “There seems to be no… visible entry point.”
The professor stood up decisively. “I must see this for myself.”
The heart monitor was beeping, slow and steady. The glass shard made not the slightest difference to its flat, oblivious rhythm. Detective Gerds sat perfectly still in his armchair. His eyes were closed but his face was tense. The last few hours were playing back in his mind: the 999 call, the rush to the scene. The sinking feeling when he recognised the unconscious body lying face down on the riverbank. And the cold. The stinging, unseasonable cold. He could feel it again now. His right palm, especially, was growing numb, as if he was holding an ice cube in it. But it was only his brother’s hand. His brother…
“Kyle!” Gerds opened his eyes in a panic. He was straining to make out his surroundings in the pitch-dark room. Then a speck of light caught his eye, in the furthest corner, near the shuttered window. Two specks, in fact. Horizontally aligned, almond-shaped, glistening like rubies. As they came closer, Gerds felt a paralysing gust weigh down his limbs. With great difficulty, he swung his arm round, aiming for the red emergency button by the bed. His hand found a light switch instead, and in an instant the room was flooded with an aggressive neon light.
It was a magnificent beast. Gerds wanted to reach and touch the soft, impeccably white fur, but found he could hardly move, only watch as it came towards the bed. There was something solemn about its walk: slow, deliberate steps, head held high, eyes fixed on Kyle. It stopped by the foot of the bed, and brought its two front paws up onto the sheets. From this close distance, Gerds could swear that there were tears in its eyes. As he looked to his brother and back, he realised that he alone was breathing steam out into the nippy air.
“He’s in here, Prof.” Dr Hans opened the door to let the professor in.
“Who left the bloody window open in here, it’s freezing!” Professor Andersen tripped over something and cursed. “Switch the light on Hans, will you? It’s like walking into one of Dr Demison’s fridges.”
“The light switch is not working. I’ll try the…”
“Are you sure we have the right room?”
“Positive, why?” asked Hans, as his hand fiddled to find the light switch in the adjoining bathroom.
He finally did, and professor Andersen saw what he had stumbled on.
“Hans, call security.”
“That’s Detective Gerds!”
“So I gathered, and he’s not our only problem”, said the professor, pointing to the empty bed.
Comment from the WriteFiction Team!
We asked for your wildest stories, and we got just that!
A frame story within this word count is really tricky to pull off, but you balanced two separate narratives without losing the tension in either.
We loved the twist on the characters, plus the references of Hans Christian Andersen himself were a lovely touch! Code Blue really had us feeling the panic and confusion when the mysterious monster appeared, and we were constantly asking ‘what happens next?!’.
Aline has won an Amazon Kindle and a copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales! Congratulations!
The standard was extremely high, and we had such a difficult task in choosing just one winner. So, we also wanted to send another giant ‘well done’ to our runners-up!
Azazel's Mirror by Clare Opwell
By my father in Heaven I was damned. In darkness. In emptiness. My cage lined with obsidian daggers and lost inside the deepest cavern. Bound by wrists and ankles with unbreakable bonds that cut in deep.
Vile deformities twist my angelic frame. My wings are reptilian, the feathers burnt away. I am The Beast, with bull horns and twinned tails. I am the snake who deceived Eve, lying with a forked tongue. I am the red devil of saintly nightmares.
Only devious hobgoblins make the immoral pilgrimage to hear my voice. They are my eyes in the world. They tell of debauchery, sorcery, murder and all other sins I taught to Men. I count the sins, as do my archangel brothers, who trapped me here.
Why was I the scapegoat? There were five of us who led the Fall. Two hundred angelic Watchers protected the World from the dawn of time, but we were drawn down to be with the beautiful daughters of Men. Our Heavenly influence was too strong, morphing God’s evolution project like fire near a ice. God’s punishment was swift.
This prison inflamed my need for revenge and the mischievous hobgoblins were eager to assist. They collected the liquid glamour of the vain, melding it with the villainy of the damned. I taught them to forge a sheet of living crystal taller than any man and wider than the table at the last supper. This wild power, wrapped in a gilded frame, reflected good as wicked and beauty as the deformed.
The mirror enchanted every village in turn. The best of saints fell as stones pelted their sinners facades. The bonds of marriage broke and the inept endured in places of power. My winged minions were addicted to the chase. I sent them higher, to where the Watchers were born, to the gates of Heaven itself.
The power of the mirror was carried up into the atmosphere by one hundred tiny hands. I felt the coming time when I’d be at God’s side again, no more the Preacher of Hellfire.
Then I felt the mirror falling. Out from the hands of the hobgoblins, their despair spiralling around the world. Down and down the mirror tumbled. The living crystal itself screaming for me to catch it, but my hands were bound. From my obsidian tomb I heard the mirror shatter upon the tallest summit. Fractured shards and ground up dust sleeted down across the World.
Gone? Gone! It is not gone. We will find my mirror! We will keep searching until the end of time. Enough to shield my father’s face, or even an eye, to cover the truth and help him see the angel in me. Then I will return home.
The Snow Princess by Madeleine Proom
The single word echoed around the throne room. The queen looked up, into the shadows by the door.
“Who’s there?” she called, her tone cold and authoritative.
A figure stepped into the light and the queen raised an eyebrow.
It was a child. She had short black hair with white streaks around dark skin, with light blue, almost white eyes, and all she wore was a threadbare dress and a pair of tattered shoes. There was a red rose tucked behind her ear.
“Mother,” said the robber girl softly.
“Anna. It’s been… a while. Should I assume you were the one that brought the girl?”
She gave a little nod.
The queen tilted her head to the side. “May I ask why?”
“Because we both know that boy wasn’t your heir. I am your daughter, the throne is my birthright.”
“The Snow Throne doesn’t go down the bloodline, and you failed the test. You know that it’s not yours.”
“Yes it is!” The girl began to walk towards her mother. “I know you don’t want me, you didn’t even want me to know about you!” The queen said nothing, just stared blankly as Anna got angrier. “But I’m still your daughter, even if I am just a mistake!”
“Yes.” The word was soft, but it stopped the girl in her tracks. “You are. You are just the consequence of a… regrettable, if enjoyable, incident. The personification of a mistake.”
“You…” the girl said, her eyes glistening. “You’re a monster.”
“And you,” the woman replied, “are nothing.”
“I wish you were dead!” she spat, striding forward again, anger in every step. “And maybe I should kill you myself!”
There was a crack under her feet, and she halted, glancing down at the word written out in ice beneath her.
The girl looked up, shocked. “You… said he wasn’t your heir.”
“He wasn’t.” The queen spoke in a cold, emotionless voice. “It was that girl you helped get here. Gerda.” Finally the woman began to walk down the ice steps by her feet. “She is the Snow Princess.”
The child paled. “It’s… not possible.”
“Rather poetic really.” The queen glided forward over the ice. “She didn’t even mean to.” She halted just a foot or so from her daughter.
The word stood between them.
“I followed her every step of the way…” the girl breathed. “That bitch wouldn’t have reached the end of her street without me.”
“Then I suppose I should thank you,” said the queen, looming over her daughter. “You brought me my heir.” She reached out a pale hand and gently took the girl’s chin, tilting her face up. “So, little Anna, you can kill me if you want, but it won’t make any difference. The Snow Throne will never be yours.”
“We’ll see about that. But if I were you, or that girl, I’d be watching your back. Like mother, like daughter.”
Return of the Snow Queen by Steve Walters
The middle of winter: snowy, blowy and cold. The desk sergeant looked up as the man entered the station. He saw an elderly gent, stooped, walking with a stick, in a hurry, agitated. A lost pet, or maybe a noisy neighbour.
“She’s back!” The vehemence was a surprise. Strength of feeling usually associated with a tirade against immigrants, or youths.
“She is. Ruined my life. Now she’s back.”
His wife, no doubt. Same old story.
“Shall we start at the beginning, sir?”
“Child abuse. That’s what they call it now isn’t it?”
You don’t make procedural mistakes with child abuse, even if it is historical.
“I’ll get someone to take a statement, sir.”
Ten minutes later in an interview room with a WPC.
“Now, can you tell me what happened?”
“I saw her in the street, just now. That woman.”
“Which woman is that, sir? Could you start at the beginning?”
“She abducted me. Held me for over a year. Gerda rescued me.”
“Who abducted you? When?”
“I told you. She did. I was 14.”
“When was this, sir?”
“Did you report it at the time?”
“Of course not. Nobody really thought anything of it in those days. But I’ve just seen her again. In the High Street.”
“So, you were 14 at the time. And how old was she?”
“I don’t know. At that age everybody looks old. Maybe mid thirties.”
“I see, sir. So you’re, um, 82.”
“Yes, yes. What’s that got to do with it?”
“And if you’re right about her age, she would be about 96. Can you describe her?”
“Yes. Tall, maybe 6 feet. Long, white hair. Slim. Dressed in white fur.“
“No, I mean can you describe what she looked like when you saw her just now?”
“That’s what I am telling you. That’s what she looks like now.”
“And she would be in her mid-nineties?” A pause. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
“No! I don’t want a cup of tea!”
There was a silence in the room as the absurdity of what he was telling her hit him and the anger left him.
“No, thank you. I don’t want a cup of tea.”
Another silence. His age, his imagination and a painful memory had betrayed him.
“I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”
He left the interview room and found Gerda waiting for him.
“Are you alright, Kai? You dashed off. I haven’t seen you move like that in years.”
They left the police station. Slowly, arm in arm. An old couple wrapped up in themselves again. They were almost knocked over by a young woman, but they scarcely noticed her.
She was as agitated as the old man had been half an hour earlier, as eager for action as he had been.
“My son has gone!”
“I see madam. And how old is he?
“He’s 14. This tall woman just grabbed him and took off with him.”
Each of our runners-up will receive an eGiftcard for the writing course of their choosing.
Don’t forget to head over to our WriteStorybooks and WriteRomanceFiction blogs to see who won these contests too, but thank you to everyone who took part! We hope it gives you an extra burst of inspiration to kick-off 2019!