It is with great joy Endless Press announces the winner and runner-up for their contest!
During the course of the contest Lisa was offered a staff position with Realm Makers, and as such graciously agreed to give the scholarship to the runner-up. You can read both of their entries below.
Thank you to everyone who submitted; it was hard to pick a winner out of so many wonderful and fantastic stories. Endless Press hopes to do this again next year so stay tuned!
Choices by Lisa Godfrees
You arrive late to the hotel for Realm Makers. After hurriedly checking in and throwing your luggage into your room from the hallway, you rush to the conference hall only to be informed by the bellhop that due to a scheduling conflict the sessions are being held offsite. He directs you out a side door where you discover two most unorthodox modes of transportation: a floating broomstick and a pumpkin-shaped carriage.
If you hop on the broomstick, go to 1.
If you jump into the carriage, go to 2.
If you decide to walk, go to 3.
- As the biggest Harry Potter fan in the world, you can’t pass up the chance to ride a real broomstick. You kick off hard with both feet as any good Hogwarts’ student would, and soar into the air. Wind streams through your hair as the broomstick obeys your every whim—loop de loops, dives, turns. Life doesn’t get any better than this. Reluctantly, you remind yourself that you were late for Realm Makers before the joyride. Only, now you’ve lost all sense of direction.
If you pull out your phone to map it, go to 4.
If you keep flying, go to 5.
- Fairy tales, there’s nothing better. You’re bouncing along in a carriage pulled by four white horses, including one that might still have whiskers. Only one thing is missing—your fairy godmother. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice something blinking. A bar near your right arm houses a series of buttons. Some look familiar—music, lights, phone—but two are unusual.
If you push the RM logo, go to 4.
If you push the wand button, go to 6.
- You stomp toward the new location. Fantasy. Always fantasy. Why couldn’t there be science fic—? Before you finish the thought, a man, who looks suspiciously like Ben Wolf, steps from the shadows wearing polarized sunglasses and a dark trench coat. In each hand rests a pill: one red, one blue.
If you swallow blue, go to 7.
If you swallow red, go to 8.
- You finally arrive at a two-story building surrounded by pumpkin carriages, hovercraft, broomsticks, and a transporter. Above the entrance, a lighted marquee reads “Welcome to Realm Makers.” Your writer friends mill around inside, a few already in costume. You race through the doors to congratulate the Minors. If this is their idea of shuttle service, you can’t wait to see what they’re going to come up with next! #BestConferenceEver
- You fly around, half searching for the conference, but mostly enjoying cloud chasing. Before long, the wind picks up, and large dollops of rain smack against you. Wet and cold, you give up and reach for your phone. As you pull out the device, it slips through your fingers. You grab for it, but the broomstick lurches. Slippery hands and wet wood don’t mix, and you crash with a loud CRAAAAACK.Aside from being bruised, none of your bones are broken, but the only thing your broomstick is good for now is kindling. You’re completely lost, in the middle of nowhere, in the rain. #CallKerryNietz
- This must be the way to contact the fairy godmother! You stab the button and sparkles fill the air. When they clear, a plump woman with silver hair sits across from you. She offers you tea, which you accept. The two of you drive around and chat like you’re old friends. The conference would’ve been great, but how often does a writer get a chance to interview THE Fairy Godmother? #AWishComeTrue
- You can’t remember which pill is which, so you go with blue. A hovercraft materializes in front of you. It must have been there the entire time, but you couldn’t see it until you took the blue pill. If only you had time to go to the lab and do a quick workup on your blood chemistry! You scramble onto the hovercraft, a single-seater that looks like a futuristic sports bike. It lurches and stalls until you get a hang of the controls, and then you’re winding through traffic like a pro.
If it’s time to head to the conference, go to 4.
If you keep joyriding, go to 9.
- You’re ready to go down whatever rabbit hole the red pill will show you. The world begins to spin. Or rather, the world is always spinning, only now you can feel it. Everything vanishes, and when the spinning stops, you’re on the control deck of a space craft. Stars twinkle in the view finder, but it’s the blue-and-green Earth that has your attention. Space is more beautiful than you’d dreamed.A flashing message on the nearest console demands your attention: Emergency beacon, Sector 9. You depress a signal to rouse the crew. When they convene, you learn Sector 9 is in another galaxy. The crew can send you home, or you can accompany them.
If you return to Earth, go to 4.
If you join the rescue mission, go to 10.
- If life had do-overs, this would be one of yours. When you push the button marked turbo, the hovercraft careens out of control and smashes into a parked police car, tin-canning it. Everything goes dark. When you come to, red-and-blue flashing lights surround you and the hovercraft is nowhere in sight. A policeman with no sense of humor helps you up, then handcuffs you. He doesn’t even release you when you tell him you’re a close friend of Tosca Lee. After a short hospital visit and a longer jail visit, you’re free, but you missed the conference. #JustSayNo2Turbo
10. You write science fiction because it’s the next best thing to living it, so you jump at the chance to join the crew. No one on Earth hears from you again, but in your lifelong travels, you meet a variety of sentient species and even have a chance to aid a man in a blue police box. #SayHi2theDoctor
Steampunk Circus by K. A. Cummins
Late! It seemed as though I’d never get there, every hallway longer than the last. I only needed to travel down nine floors, cross the lobby, and I would be at Realm Makers.
Around the corner, the elevator waited. It arrived a moment after I pressed the button, packed with clowns. Their costumes various combinations of shirts, dresses, and one-piece suits in black and white patterns paired with black vests, trousers, tutus, or bustiers. Some wore top hats. Others sported dark bomber caps.
There was no way I was getting in that elevator. How would I even fit?
The tallest clown stood in the middle. His brightly colored red wig poked out from around the aviator goggles on his head. He reached out and honked his horn at me. “Guess, you’ll have to get the next one.” The door started to close. “Remember, kids; reading is fun.”
After two more elevators full of clown passed, I gave up waiting and squeezed into one. I exited into the lobby. It looked like the backstage of a techno-punk circus. The smell of cotton candy and popcorn saturated the air. Clowns were everywhere.
Spotting a bellhop in a red uniform near the conference hall entrance, I pushed my way through the crowd. “Excuse me, where are the Realm Maker sessions being held?”
“Sorry. We had to move them offsite.” He pointed to a tinted glass door, trimmed in brushed chrome. “Take the side door. Outside, you will find the complimentary transportation we have arranged for you.”
“Thank you.” I exited, unprepared for what awaited me there. A half-dozen clowns surrounded a three-story tall red and yellow stripped cannon.
A female clown approached me, dressed in a black and white striped dress with cap sleeves. Several layers of tulle made the short shirk look like a tutu. Her face was painted white with a cogwheel circling her left eye. She couldn’t have been more than nineteen. “Hiya, hon. You need a boost?”
“You’re looking for a ride to the Realm Makers conference, right?”
“Great!” She handed me a pair of brown leather aviator goggles. “You’ll need these. Remember, no matter what keep your hands by your side and your body rigid until you hit the net.”
She turned around and spoke to a man dress in a black and white, polka-dotted, one-piece outfit with a vest and a bomber cap, “Moe light the cannon. Let’s get this lady locked and loaded.”
I looked over the cannon again. They must be joking. That couldn’t be the transportation to the conference center. I tapped her on the shoulder. “You don’t really intend to blast me from a cannon into the conference center, do you?” I smiled, sure it was a mistake.
“Oh, no, sug.” She laughed, and I relaxed a little. “We’re gonna blast you into a net hanging off the airship as it goes by. They’ll drop you into the conference center.”
My jaw scrapped the pavement. “You can’t be serious?”
“Don’t worry. It’s a lot of fun. You’ll be begging to do it again.” She turned around again. “Moe is everything a go?”
“Yep.” Looking past me, Moe motioned for someone to come forward. Before I could say another word two more clowns, dressed in the same one piece as Moe, picked me up and carried me up the black metal staircase next to the cannon, feet first
I could feel the blood rushing to my head. I tried to wriggle loose, but they had a tight hold on me. “Put me down! Put me down, now!”
“Sure thing.” They both laughed as they stuffed my body into the cannon. “This won’t hurt a bit. Just keep your arms tucked in and your body rigid.”
They disappeared from view. A moment later, an explosion reverberated inside the barrel. As my body passed through the opening of the cannon, launching into the humid air, the last drop of air rushed out of my lungs. For a moment, my heart stopped beating, sinking deep into my chest. I managed to hold my position, not daring to move a muscle. Faith was my only option. I had to trust that the clowns knew what they were doing.
I shot through a thick cloud that obscured my vision. One the other side, as if materializing out of thin air, the airship appeared. I panicked, breaking formation. A split second later, I dove face first into the bottom of the net, held by more clowns. Great.
There were dozens of other people like me, on the deck. All of us looking towards the helm, to the man holding up his hand. He wore a three-piece suit and top hat. The sun was glowing behind him in hues of red, orange, yellow, and purple.
When the crowd grew quiet, he lowered his hand and spoke, “Ladies and gentleman, I am Captain Grimaldi. We will be arriving at the conference center in a few minutes. I ask that everyone form a single file line behind the gangplank to my right here.” He pointed towards a four-foot-long wooden board attached the side of the ship like a diving board. “Thank you.”
The clowns secured a yellow tube slide to the plank, inflated it, and motioned for people to step forward. Those who didn’t line up were corralled by the clowns. One by one, we all entered the slide.
At the bottom, a woman dressed in casual business attire waited. “Please follow me, and we’ll get you checked in. I apologize for any inconvenience with the change in venue. The Clown Convention had way more attendees show up than anyone would have guessed. Fortunately, the hotel was able to secure another venue for us, and the clowns offered to transport all of our conference attendees for free.” She smiled at me. “Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.”
“You don’t say.”