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Seattle Winners

Congratulations, The Word Millers! Your story, “Appearance,” won Sledgehammer Seattle. The top two teams from Seattle and the top three teams from Portland will now compete for the grand prize. That winner will be announced the week of October 5.

Stay tuned!


2009 story submission by “Misanthrope” (Ryan Kelly, Natalie Walker, Sarah Fonnesbeck, Arthur Ross)

The crowd of mingling people coalesced into a line and looked attentive down the street at the approach of the bus.  Foremost among them was a man in a worn but pleasant brown jacket, holding a large book in one hand and smiling in the warm weather.  He greeted the driver as he ascended the few stairs into the bus.
“How you doin’ hon,” she said.

“Oh, you know me Lori, still standing.”

She busied herself taking the fares of the other passengers and the bus lurched into motion a moment before he had sat down, bringing him hard into the seat and against the elderly woman sitting next to the window.
The bus pulled away from the stop and as it did so a young man on a bicycle came racing along side, yelling, “Hey, wait, hold up! Hold the bus!”
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2009 Story Submission by “The Word Millers” (Jason and Karina Miller)

Friday Evening

“How much longer?” Samantha asks impatiently as we wait at the crosswalk for permission to cross the busy intersection. Her hand grips mine tightly in anticipation, her eyes fixed on the dance studio across the street where her friends wait  to start practicing plié’s and whatever 8-year-old girls do in ballet studios. It’s only been a week, and she is already standing out amongst her peers. I’m not in the least bit surprised but I can only think one thing.

This can’t end well.

The little green, walking man appears and Samantha nearly tears my arm out of its socket as she takes off like an Olympic sprinter from the blocks. After regaining my balance, I try to walk at a leisurely pace through the crosswalk.  I’m not weak, just average, but she’s pulling pretty hard, requiring me to take long, fast strides in an attempt to match pace without running.

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For Ecological Reasons Alone

2009 story submission by “Insolence” (Jason Rizos)

Jackie said that her mother would “simply adore” a bike tour of downtown Portland. I wondered why Jackie picked these words, and why she articulated them with a Southern drawl, but upon meeting Sheila, it made perfect sense. She flew in from Austin along with Jackie’s geeky young brother Steven, ostensibly to see Puget Sound, but the true agenda was obvious–meeting her only daughter’s now serious boyfriend. That would be me. I brought the rental bikes, along with my trusty, custom Quixote three-speed touring bike, to the Silver Cloud where Jackie’s family was staying. After waiting a full forty minutes for Steven to get out of the shower and dress, we embarked down 23rd Street.  Jackie left the Bicycle Tour trip planning to me, seeing I was commuted through the metro area just about every day, en route to my job at the Oregon Public Broadcasting PSU annex. This happened to be the very topic of conversation at our first destination–Rose’s Bakery.

“Who would have ever guessed radio stations would hire writers?” Sheila asked as we sat outside eating delectable pastries. She had the impeccable, rock-solid manner of a true Midwesterner and the quaint naiveté to match.

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The Mysterious Grilled Cheese Left in the Night

2009 story submission by Amber Hatt

Carol Johnson eyes the clock and closes the link to KGW.com. Today’s high is a predicted 82 degrees; perfect sleeping weather.

At two minutes past seven, Sue enters the vast maze of cubicles. Carol squints her eyes against Sue’s perky morning energy.

“Morning Carol,” Sue sing-songs setting her BIG GULP diet Pepsi down on their shared desk, “anything good happen?” she teases.

Carol works the graveyard shift at the Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Line. The day shifters never get the good calls. They mostly get people asking for referrals and phone numbers. The overdosing, bridge jumping, knife wielding calls happen during the grave yard shift.

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Catch the Blues

2009 story submission by Bob Ferguson

My windows were down on a balmy August night. I’m ecstatic that my critique group finally liked something that I submitted. I had just left St. John’s Pub and was headed east on Lombard going home to the Couve to tell my wife of four decades, Karla about the groups reaction.

“What was that incredible sound,” I say out loud to no one.

The breaks on my ’97 Camry squeak as I round the block. This time I’m looking for where that sound came from. The music of a mandolin, guitar, harmonica, and bass blend into a heavy beat that rushes out the open front door of the Mock Crest Tavern.

The outdoor blackboard sign reads, “Johnny Ward and the Eagle Riding Pappas.” With a name like that I expected to see a motorcycle gang playing music. The Pappas consist of an old timer wearing a newspaper boy hat, Hawaiian shirt black shorts and sandals. He plays the steel guitar with a harmonica frame around his neck. He sings the male vocals and plays the jug for some of their tunes.

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Dead Air

2009 story submission by “Ignatius and Myrna” (Josh Gross and Carly Nairn)

No matter how many electricians were called in to address the problem, the lights had flickered in the news writer’s pit at CWBC for more than twenty years. People joked that it was the ghost of the former nightly news anchor Reed Bancroft, who was every bit as dedicated to the network in death as he was in life.

“Copy for Bancroft!” they’d shout out ceremoniously when the lights flickered near deadline. A white sheet with eyeholes that was hung on the makeup room wall had been there for so long that it had eventually been framed.

And though none of the trained skeptics that worked in the newsroom actually believed the building was haunted, they kept the folklore alive as a form of reverence for a man who’d practically built the Country-Wide Broadcasting Corporation, winning more Peabody’s than the rest of the network combined. His reporting on the Korean War was a standard part of broadcast journalism curricula at universities across the country, and many claimed that his steady reassurance had helped steer the nation through the turbulence of the sixties. They never spoke of his decline into alcoholism and senility, or his claims that the network and the news in general were under attack from evil spirits and that he and he alone could do anything to stop it, only that he had eventually had died of a heart attack at his desk one night while preparing copy for the evening’s broadcast, a dedicated newsman to the bitter end.
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