A friend has just emailed me the following; I thought it intriguing and of possible interest to some of my fellow TBers. Basically, it is for submissions for a competition but I found its delivery to be quirky and thought provoking.
The web link is: https://literarytaxidermy.com/index.html
Deadline is June 4th at 12pm (PST, US time - so allow for different time zones)
Cash prizes, suggested voluntary (??) fee of $10.
I am pondering submitting; the three given prompts are giving me some ideas already.
The email read as follows:
"Please, miss," said the shaggy man, "can you tell me the road to Butterfield?”
Sarah put the breakfast special down in front of me — two eggs, bacon, and sliced kumquat (that’s what made it special, I suppose) — but she paused before re-filling my cup with coffee. She turned to the newcomer. It was after two in the morning, and until he’d arrived, there was no one else in the diner. It wasn’t unusual to have late-night stragglers — that’s why the diner stayed open 24 hours, after all — but it was unusual for them to arrive on foot.
“Butterfield?” Sarah asked. I’d never heard of a Butterfield, and I don’t think she had either.
The shaggy man took a step towards the counter. He wasn’t fat, but he was hefty, with a cowboy’s hat and two day’s worth of grizzle on his face. Sarah yawned as she poured my coffee, but before she finished, the shaggy man started back towards the rest rooms and jukebox. As he passed me, I swear I got a sniff of brimstone. I held my breath until I heard a coin drop into the juke. A moment later, The Boxettes started singing. I looked at Sarah.
“It takes all types,” she said. And then she yawned again.
My notebook was open beside my plate. I took a sip of coffee and then turned the notebook around, so she could read what was there. “I thought we could say this,” I said, and tapped the top of the page.
She read aloud what I’d written:
Greetings from Literary Taxidermy HQ — We’ve got three things to share with you this time: First, thanks to everyone for your engagement and support. The Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition is already an international success with submissions from around the globe. We’re super-excited by your enthusiasm for the competition, and we want to encourage all of you to send us your literary taxidermy. We really can’t wait to see what you come up with!
“Not bad,” she said. “But super-excited. Don’t you think that’s a bit over-the-top?”
“But I am super-excited.”
She shrugged and continued reading:
Second, we’ve made an important update to the Competition Rules which we know you'll like. We’ve decided that in addition to a $500 prize for the winner of each contest, we’re also going to award monetary prizes to all the runners-up. So now anyone who makes it into the anthology will receive a cash reward.
Sarah laughed. “OK — now that is super-exciting,” she said.
“I thought so, too. I mean, who doesn’t like a little extra cash.”
“Does that mean you’ll start paying for the food I serve you?”
I tapped the bottom of the page and she continued reading:
Finally, please continue to spread the word about the competition. We don’t want anyone to miss out, and we know we can’t reach every writer on our own. The competition needs your help. So please forward the link to the website (http://literarytaxidermy.com
) to anyone you think might want to join us, and share our competition posts on Facebook. We’ve also include a PDF flyer in this update. Feel free to send that around, too!
Sarah yawned again. There was a tall wooden chair on the other side of the counter, and she pulled it over so she could sit across from me. Her eyes were heavy. We’d been working on this competition for several months now, pretty much non-stop. “It’s perfect,” she said. "Let’s call it done.”
“Great. I’ll put it in email and send it to our mailing list in the morning.” I pulled out my laptop and got to work. Sarah folded her arms on the counter, and then put her head down facing me. She had the sweetest eyes.
I must’ve been typing for ten minutes before I realized The Boxettes had stopped singing and the shaggy man hadn’t returned from the far end of the diner. I glanced towards the jukebox, but he wasn’t there. I finished my coffee — there wasn’t much left — and decided to check things out. I was long-overdue for a trip to the bathroom, anyway.
“Where’re you going?” Sarah said without raising her head.
“One sec.” I took a nibble of bacon and headed back to the jukebox. I checked both rest rooms. No one was there.
I returned to the counter and climbed up on my wobbly stool. I glanced out the diner’s windows. No cars in the parking lot. No lights on the road. No activity of any kind.
“That’s weird,” I said. “He’s totally gone. He’d have to have walked past me, right? And you smelled him. I mean, how could we miss that?”
I looked at Sarah. There was a thin rivulet of drool running down her chin. She had the sweetest chin.
Presently she was sound asleep.
[Opening and closing lines from The Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum.]