Winners of the Second Annual Ann & Dan Very Short Story Contest for People Who Don’t Pander!

Forty-six stories entered this year!  That’s more than 3x as many as last year! We had a great time reading all of these and want to thank everyone who entered for giving us this opportunity.  The final decision was  extremely difficult and again we want to stress it is COMPLETELY SUBJECTIVE. The winners  were so closely rated by us that we had to ask for some outside help in judging. The Honorable Mentions received at least one 9 rating (1-10) from us. Any of these might have been chosen as the winner should different judges have read them.

Scroll down and read the winners, already. You’re gonna like them!

(Looking for another contest to enter? Check out the Verbolatry Laugh-a-Riot Contest 2016, both free and paid entries: )


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1st Place * John Paul Davies

Comments: Wonderful, lovely stuff. You submit this to Ireland’s best fiction journal. You’ll win a prize! Thanks for submitting. It was a joy to read.


Sue, limping, placed the parrot’s cage down onto the kitchen counter, setting its hanging toys and mirrors to jangle. She craned her neck to look at the bird.

“Why won’t you talk?” Sue asked the parrot. “Do you think I can wait twelve months for you to speak, eh? I’ll have gone loop-the-loop by then!” Her head darted as she spoke, imitating the parrot’s awkward movement.

“When I was home from the hospital, Leigh came in- he’s on the two ‘til ten shift- and he goes, ‘have yer made me dinner?’ There’s me, foot in plaster, crutches under me arms.”

The parrot, not yet able to find a voice, shifted its weight impatiently along its wooden perch. Chest expanding, head twitching as if seeing everything for the first time. Its plumage was almost too colourful to bear; head of electric blue, too many greens and yellows to name.

Gripping a steaming mug of tea, Sue limped to the back door, scouring the garden from the worn step. Rain began to bend the overgrown grass double, forming pools in the ceramic bowls lining the path. It began to darken gnomes and stone rabbits and frogs.

“Come on, there’s a good girl!” Sue shouted into the garden. Then, to the parrot, “They’re all dog lovers round here, you’ve got to be careful. Get in here, you one-eyed monster! If I have to come out there…”

The saddest dog in the world slunk away from Sue, looking over one shoulder now and again as it trotted towards the safety of the undergrowth at the bottom of the garden. It eventually thought better of the idea of escape and came towards the house slowly, head bowed, looking up at Sue with its one good eye. It was a white dog with the squashed jowls of a bulldog.

Come ‘ere, frying pan face!” Red spots that could have been some canine version of measles blemished its white body. It slid in the gap between the doorframe and Sue, its body tensed, expectant of some reprisal. It lay on the kitchen floor, snout on paws, one great eye on Sue; the other a red mess, a hanging cut.

“Why are you so miserable?”

Joe let himself into the kitchen through the alleyway and the dog scrambled to its feet, claws scratching for purchase on the kitchen tiles.

Come here, girl! Has she looked after you, eh?” The dog licked the man’s hands as he tried to pat its head and stroke behind its ears. “Did she give you the good stuff, eh? The Pedigree Chum? Nah, knowing Sue it would’ve been the old shitey blue stripe.”

Sue kept her back turned on Joe. “How much should you get paid for dog-sittin’ these days?” she asked the parrot. “By the hour? Fifteen hours it’s been.”

“That bloody eye,” Joe said, ignoring Sue’s outburst. “Some kind of infection. Ninety-seven quid to get it stitched up, it cost me! They had to stitch up its second eyelid until it heals. Second eyelid!”

“Fifteen hours’ dog-mindin’ you owe me, Joe.”

“What are you on about, woman? Y’see, this is what yer get with women – the back ends of conversations. Bet your teeth are glad for the rest when you go to sleep.”

“You see, this is why Joe isn’t married,” Sue explained to the parrot.

“That’s ‘cos I choose to be single,” said Joe. “You know what? The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion all this nagging’s good for Sue,” Joe speculated to the dog, ruffling its head. “She’d just explode if she kept it all bottled up. You’d find pieces of Sue everywhere.”

The parrot began to squawk, exploring its range. Its head disappeared into green feathers momentarily. The dog collapsed back to the floor, its open eye falling on Joe. It continued to rain in the back garden, beads welling like tears then dropping from the empty washing line.

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2nd Place * Nick Andreychuk

Comments: Outstanding! Great pseudo-threatening opening and the surprise ending. Excellent.


Large teeth bit at Greg’s fingers. He shoved the furry head away, but the animal did not relent.

Greg finally managed to remove the leash from his dog’s collar. It hadn’t been an easy task, seeing as how his black lab had jerked, strained, and nipped playfully with excitement the whole while.

He smiled as he watched his pet run off to chase a smaller dog. Greg looked around the dog park. There were only a handful of other owners around, and they all seemed to be congregating by an ice-cream cart at the other end of the park, a good hundred yards away. The noonday sun was warm and Greg knew he had lots of time before his dog would even come close to being worn out. He walked toward the other two-legged animals, with visions of an ice-cream sandwich in his head.

Greg absently watched the foam on the slow-moving river to his right, until movement amongst the trees to his left caught his attention. He turned and spotted a boy about ten-years-old digging in the shade. The boy abruptly let his shovel fall to the ground, and he sat down next to the hole he’d dug.

Curious, Greg approached the boy. When he neared, he heard crying. The hole looked like a shallow grave. And indeed, once he could see into it, Greg discerned what appeared to be a lump at the bottom under a thin layer of fresh dirt. The job of refilling the hole was nearly done, but the boy seemed too weary to go on.

Greg stopped at the foot of the hole, and the child finally became aware of his presence.

The boy wiped his tears away and focused his big blue eyes on Greg. He stared steadily at the man as he stood and wiped the dirt off–or rather, smeared the dirt into–his t-shirt and jeans.

Hello,” he said. “I’m Billy. Who are you?”

My name’s Greg Roebuck.”

Are you here with your dog, Mr. Roebuck?”

Yeah.” Greg pointed in the direction of the river. “My dog’s playing down by the water.”

The child’s face brightened momentarily. “Do you think I could play with him?”

Well sure, but what about your dog–do you have one?”

Rags–” Billy’s voice choked, and fresh tears shimmered across his eyes. He blinked hard, then said, “Rags is dead. My stepfather Doug ran over him with his truck.” The word “Doug” sounded the way most people would say, “damn,” when they were angry.

Greg looked down at the hole, and understanding dawned. He looked at Billy with sympathy. It was always tough for a kid to lose a pet. Heck, even at thirty, Greg had been beside himself when his dog had recently suffered through a bad case of intestinal worms.

He ran over him, twice,” Billy said. “He said it was an accident, but he never liked Rags–said he chewed up all his shoes and stuff.”

I’m sorry to hear that, Billy.” Greg picked up the shovel. “Would you like me to help you?”

Would you, Mr. Roebuck? I’d sure appreciate that.”

No problem, kid,” he said, though he couldn’t help but think that the careless stepfather should have been there. Greg dug into the piled dirt, and set to filling in the remainder of the hole.

You know,” Billy said out of the blue a little later, “he tried to run me over too. He was drunk again. He yelled at me to get out of the way, but I think that was just in case anyone was around. He always said that I was an annoying kid and he wished I wasn’t around so that he could F-word my mom.”

Greg paused long enough to smile warmly at Billy. “I’m sure he didn’t really try to run you over,” he said.

Yeah, he did, because I stopped bringing him his beer. He said he’d only keep me around if I got him his beer and corn nuts when he hollered, and never ever opened my ‘yap trap.’”

Greg wondered how much of Billy’s story was exaggerated. Young boys weren’t exactly known for their honesty. Still, there were jerks like Billy’s stepfather in every neighborhood, and the boy did seem truly upset. Perhaps he’d walk Billy home and have a few words with this Doug. He shoveled faster, not wanting Billy to get any ideas about leaving the park without him.

Billy sighed. “Rags really loved this place,” he said. “I sure wish I could’ve brought him here one last time.”

Greg stopped shoveling. “Well, uh…” He cleared his throat, not quite sure what to say. “Rags is here, sort of,” he said, though he knew it sounded lame.

No, he’s not here. Doug brought Rags to work and threw him into the wood chipper. He told me all about it afterward, about how Rags got what was coming to him for chewing up all his things. He laughed and laughed and told me that if I didn’t stop crying that he’d throw me in there too.” Billy stared into the nearly full hole and a strange smile twisted his lips. “Doug will never laugh at me again.”

The sweat on the back of Greg’s neck turned icy, and his legs went rubbery. “Billy,” he said, “what’s in this hole…?”

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3rd Place * Michael D. Winkle

Comments: Love, love, love the plot. Very well done as well as original. I might remove a word here and there to tighten it a bit, but much enjoyed it.


 The short-leaf pine grew wide at the bottom in the best Christmas tree fashion, the largest and lowest branches jutting out a bare foot off the ground. Mutt stretched out between the roof of shaggy limbs and the carpet of brown needles.

A tick floundered through the dog’s short fur. Mutt kicked at his black shoulder and nipped at his brown flank. He snorted and settled himself again.

An ancient station wagon rolled along the street, rattling like a load of beer cans. Mutt perked his ears, listening — but not to the noisy vehicle. The dog did not hear what he hoped to hear, so he lowered his head to the dry needles. The station wagon passed unmolested over the railroad tracks just beyond the yard of the short-leaf pine.

Mutt dozed. Rabbits and squirrels ran and died in his gray-crimson dreams.

Another vehicle approached. The dog under the pine snapped awake. A Toyota pickup rolled down the street from the same direction as the station wagon.

This time Mutt heard what he was listening for: a distant rumble, low as morning fog and thick as storm clouds. The sound was very distant, however; the dog did not bother to rise. The little pickup passed, unchallenged save for an involuntary “Ruff!”

Mutt bristled as the rumbling grew louder. The Other approached, and he wasn’t prepared. He whined in frustration —

Then he jumped to his feet, shaking the roof of bushy limbs. A third vehicle — a small hatchback — followed three blocks behind the pickup. When the hatchback reached the yard, Mutt charged, yapping jackhammer fast.

The man in the hatchback saw a crazy dog intent on diving under his front tires. He stomped the brakes; the car’s rear bounced as its wheels locked.

Mutt skidded to a halt at the curb. He bobbed up at the driver’s window, looked him in the eye, and dropped out of sight, barking all the while. The driver swore and stepped on the gas. Mutt ran beside the car, so close his floppy ear brushed the door. The driver glared down at the canine as he accelerated.

Mutt rocketed along at thirty miles an hour, panting between barks. He kept up the noise even as strings of foam trailed from his mouth. It was important that he be heard rather than the Other.

Car and dog passed the thick hedge at the western limits of the property. The railroad crossing lay only a dozen yards away. Mutt glimpsed the huge, dark shape of the Other out of the corner of his eye. The driver of the hatchback did not; at least, not in time.

The dog set his paws into the gravelly shoulder. His hindquarters rose high in the air as he scraped to a stop. He felt as well as heard the Other’s deep rumbling. There came a brassy trumpeting louder than the rumble, and a metal-glass crunch louder than that.

The Diesel engine, horn blaring, smashed the hatchback like an egg. Mutt cringed as glass and chrome and popped rivets hailed around him. The car’s left rear wheel hit the street and bounced high like the tennis balls Mutt fetched for Boy.

A steel strut clanged on the road, a ten-inch shred of cotton shirt fluttering like a banner from one end. Mutt seized the strip of cloth and ran back to the yard. He dove under the bushy pine.

Behind Mutt’s tree stood a white wood-frame house. The door flew open and Boy jumped down the concrete steps. He stopped halfway across the yard and gaped at the scattered wreckage. Most of the hatchback lay wrapped across the locomotive’s bow like aluminum foil. The train’s rumble gave way to the hiss of pneumatic brakes.

“Damn! Another one!” cried Boy as Mom and Dad stepped out on the porch.

“Jeff! Come back here!” called Mom.

“When are they gonna put a warning light there?” Dad asked rhetorically.


Mutt’s hackles rose as the sirens drew near. He sniffed the cotton strip inch by inch, flaring his nostrils over dark stains. He held down one end with his forepaws and methodically tore the cloth to bits.

The sirens reached a crescendo and ceased. Men walked around muttering. Radios crackled. Mutt ignored them.

“Where’s Mutt? Here, Mutt!”

Boy whistled. Mutt emerged from his hiding place and trotted toward the house, tail wagging. He was much happier here than in the city. After all, Mutt had been chasing cars since he was a pup, but he didn’t start catching them until Dad and Mom and Boy moved into the house by the railroad crossing.

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Honorable Mentions

One Crazy Heart * Erin Hancock

Comments: Can’t put my finger on it, but something in this story really pulled me in. It felt true. Great job.

Man on Fire * Elliotte Rusty Harold 

Comments: Brief and beautifully to the the point. Very well done.

Hell to Pay * Mark Johnson

Comments: Loved it. I had no idea where it was going. Beautifully done.

The Perils of a Vegan Diet * Wendy Klein

Comments: Original and very entertaining. Enjoyed this one. Great job in making it work with so few words.


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Contest Winners Selected

Hi Guys,

We finally got together tonight and wrung out the winners.  Very difficult process as there were about 10 very strong contenders.  We will publish the results on Saturday and contact the winners to arrange payment.  Thanks to all who participated, we will send everyone brief comments.


Ann & Dan.

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Contest Update!

Hi Guys,

What can we say, sometimes life happens. You do whatever is required and then go back to the fun stuff. We are back to the fun stuff… reading your stories.

We received more than three times as many entries as last year and we are about 3/4 of the way through.  There are some AMAZINGLY creative stories. It has been a pleasure to experience them.

OK, we will be finished reading and choosing winners by the end of the month.

We apologize for the delay.

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Year 2! Submit your original, unpublished stories of between 200 and 1000 words

Contest Rules

Our rules for the Second Annual Ann & Dan Very Short Story Contest for People Who Don’t Pander:

Entry (Periods and Fees)

Contest Period: The submission period is from February 1st, 2016 to March 1st, 2016. This contest is limited to the first 100 valid entries. There are only two of us and we wish to give these stories the proper attention; hence, the limit. Any entries received after March 1st, 2016 will be rejected.

Entry Fee: Free! This year, there is no entry fee.


Submission Type and Length: Your stories -must be fiction, and must be a minimum of 200 words to a maximum of 1,000 words in length

But my story is 1,024 words, and it is perfect! I really CAN’T cut anything!”

Wrong. You can. Please stay within the limit so we don’t reject your story without reading it. If your story was 1,001 words and it could have made us laugh until the coffee poured from our noses, it wouldn’t matter. Our limits are firm. We will not read anything over 1,000 words.  Tighten it up. Ditto if it’s too short. Yes, it may be perfect as it is, but not for the Ann & Dan Very Short Story Contest for People Who Don’t Pander.

Number of Submissions: People, please, only one submission per author.

Submission Format (Electronic): Entries must be sent by e-mail. Send entries to us at with the words “Contest: Story Title” in the Subject line. All entries must be attached to your e-mail as a .doc, docx or .rtf file. Put your Contact Info (name, address, telephone number and e-mail address), story title and word count.

Response Time for Submissions: We will acknowledge your submission within one week of arrival. If you have questions, e-mail us with the words “About my story” in the Subject line. Please include the date sent.

Judging process:

We will divide the stories between us and read them for an hour or more with our morning coffee. We will add one or two lines of comments, and exchange our favorites after the initial reading. We will then choose the top three… We expect this process to take about two weeks. The the entry deadline is March 1st, 2016. We hope to announce the winners on March 15th, although it might take a few days longer. Winners’ names will be published on the blog along with their stories.

We want to emphasize that we are not judging the objective quality of your work. We are judging it by how much it entertains us. This criterion is completely subjective. We have been repeatedly accused of being ‘quirky’ and occasionally as ‘odd’, so by all means, if you do not win, don’t take it as a criticism of your writing ability. Keep writing!

Prizes and Payment

1st Place – $25

2nd Place – $15

3rd Place – $10

Winning stories will be posted to the blog.

Payment: Winners will receive payment within a week of the judging. After we notify you of results, it is up to you to provide us with preferred payment method. You are responsible to provide accurate information, as we do not wish to interrupt our morning coffee to do it twice.


You do not relinquish any right, copyright, or ownership of your story to us at any time.

We are not interested in stealing your ideas. Is it possible that we might have a giant grasshopper on a spaceship orbiting Alpha Centauri mention something that vaguely resembles what you had a truck driver utter at Waffle House in your story? Yes, but not intentionally. We are all influenced by everything we see, hear, touch, and taste every day.


Entries should be original, unpublished work.


Want to read about our adventures in an alternate universe inside a TV show very much like The Bachelor?

Go see:

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Winners of the First Annual Ann & Dan Very Short Story Contest for People who don’t Pander!

Many thanks to all who entered the fourteen stories.  All were very enjoyable to read.  The final decision was difficult and again we want to stress it is COMPLETELY SUBJECTIVE. The winners  are the ones that moved us most or made us laugh the hardest. Please scroll down or click the links to read them, and also to view comments and contact info for the Honorable Mentions. 

1st Place * Dina Leacock – Notches      

2nd Place * Silvia C. Schneegans – You´re Welcome

3rd Place * Christopher Hivner – “It’s Bassbinder, Sir”

Honorable Mentions

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1st Place * Dina Leacock AKA Diane Arrelle

Comments:  Love the way you set the scene. Put me right there by the beach. Also, masterful ending. Excellent the way you created the tension with the knife.


        The newsvendor looked at the world through sightless eyes, enjoying the warm breeze and salt tinged air. The gulls mewed loudly overhead and the ship horns blared in the distance. He could tell by the angle of the sunlight warming his face that it had to be about 4:00.  She’d be here soon.

He bantered casually with his regular customers, they were always amazed that he could remember the smallest details, even ones they couldn’t remember sharing with him in the past. He loved to explain that when life takes away one of its gifts, it gives you another. He smiled that these faceless, formless people bought into that. The truth was that he had a photographic memory before the accident and now that there was nothing to see, he’d switched it to audio.

Well, he smiled, today was the day and if all went as planned, tomorrow would bring him another notch. Lissa had been coming to his stand daily for about a year. She was fresh out of college and working here in San Francisco at her first job. She was so young, so fresh, so innocent, and so perfect for tonight.

He heard her melodic voice next to him, “Afternoon Henry.”

“Good afternoon to you, Lissa. Beautiful day, betcha the sky is blue and cloudless.” He loved adding comments like that because it seemed to make some of the customers feel superior toward him and that added to his day. He’d adjusted to being blind, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t angry about it. He’d lost his entire lifestyle, and he’d had to create new forms of entertainment for himself.

“Got the new Astrology Today Magazine?” she asked.

They were under the counter where he’d shoved them when they came in.  “No, sorry Lissa”

“Darn,” she muttered. “I wanted to know how to plan the month. Now I’ll have to go get my cards read.”

He smiled at her, “I can tell you your horoscope, you will have a wonderful evening full of love and will never have to worry about tomorrow.”

She gushed, “Oh Henry, how sweet, hmmm, an evening full of love. Sounds great.” She handed him exact change and said, “For the paper.  See you tomorrow.”

His smile turned into a sad one, a skill he had spend hours working on. He turned his head away after waiting just long enough to make sure she had seen it.

“Henry what’s wrong?”


“No, I can tell, something is wrong.”

He said, “I don’t want to ruin your night… especially this night.”

He figured she frowned, turning down those young, pretty lips that someone had described to him as her best feature. “Oh, all right, then maybe we can talk about it tomorrow. See you then.”

Still smiling that practiced smile of regret, he replied, “No, no you won’t…”

She grasped his hands, “Henry, what’s the matter? Why won’t I see you tomorrow?”

“Well, Lissa, I really really like you.”

“I like you too, Henry.”

“Well, you know there is a newly discovered prediction by the ancient Sumerians that almost matches the Mayan calendar that predicts the end of world as we know it. The discovery was just was announced this afternoon that the experts all agree both cultures actually meant tonight not 2012. I’m sorry Lissa, we are all going to die.”

She gasped and he heard a sob. “Really? Are you sure?”

He nodded. “Lissa, would you consider spending our last night on Earth having dinner with me. I really regret never getting to know you better.”

He waited a beat, and when she didn’t answer added. “In friendship, I know I’m just a blind, lonely, old man, but Lissa, I have always felt nothing but the highest respect for you. Please, if you don’t have anyone else special in your life, spend this evening with me. I don’t want to die alone.”

She touched his face, “I have no one either. No family, no boyfriend, not even any girlfriends worth calling. Oh Henry,” her voice caught, “yes, let’s go get some dinner.”

He smiled and told her to pick the restaurant, go there and get a table and he’d follow.

After she left he called his wife and said, “Don’t come get me tonight, I’ll stay in town at the motel.”

Then he called the motel and said, “It’s Henry, set up the usual room, I’ll be in with a guest.”

Later that night, after dinner and a long walk on the wharf, as she softly sobbed on his shoulder, he whispered, “Don’t cry, I know you are too young to die, but so am I. I’m only 53 and I’m just as scared as you. Let me get you a cab so you can go home.”

Right on cue she lifted her head and kissed him on the lips. “I… I don’t want to be alone. Henry, take me home with you.”

He returned the kiss. “All right.”

As dawn broke, Henry tiptoed into the kitchenette. Taking a sharp knife out of the drawer, he went to the bed and stood by where she slept. He nodded to himself thinking, I didn’t really lie, at least not all that much. After this, you will never come to see me again.

Then he raised the knife with one hand and with the other fingered the cuts in the wooden bedpost. Finding a clear spot, he took the blade and carved another notch. Leaving her sleeping in the motel room, he went to open the newsstand.


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