And the freakiest FREAKS are...

You guys! I didn't know what I was in for, having a contest challenging you to write about FREAKs. Every single entry was a contender, and no, I'm not exaggerating. Your stories far exceeded my expectations, and I appreciate your efforts and all the support you've given me.

Thank you so, so much.

Unfortunately, I had to disqualify three entries due to slightly high word counts, even though I absolutely cringed over one of them. But it wouldn't be fair to break the rules. I admit, I kind of wanted to give everyone a prize, but I know that would defeat the spirit of competition.

And please remember, just because you didn't win doesn't mean your story wasn't excellent! The only criteria was to MAKE ME CRINGE, which is purely subjective, and these were the stories that FREAKed me out the most:

First Prize
Winner of $50 Amazon Gift Card, an ARC of FREAK, and a hardcover of CREEP

The woman gazed down at her husband dangling below her. The rope had saved him, but he couldn't get a foothold on the sheer rock face.

She sighed. The climbing vacation had been her idea. It had taken all her powers of persuasion to get him up here, but she couldn't decide which was the harder battle: overcoming his vertigo, or getting three full days out of his schedule all to herself.

He was taking it all very calmly. Remarkably so. No sign of his terror of heights. Maybe high-powered – and wealthy – vice-presidents were made of sterner stuff than she'd given him credit for.

"It'll be over soon, honey," she called. She fingered the knife at her belt. "But, if you're going to, this would be a good time to freak."

Second Prize
Winner of an ARC of FREAK and a hardcover of CREEP

They never try to hide the names. Loser. Weirdo. Freak. Their voices follow me down the hallway, a constant buzz in the background, like the TV tuned to a dead channel, like the tide sucking at my feet, drowning me an inch at a time.

Weirdo. Freak.

It's my own fault. I know I bring it on myself. Long blonde hair dyed black over a sink in the girls' bathroom, cut to just below my ears with scissors stolen from art class, not caring when the roots start to show.

Not caring when the cuts on my wrists show.


It should bother me more: the names, the voices. But it's so much easier to ignore them than the others, the voices no-one else hears, and for a little while after the cold metal splits my skin, they go quiet.

Third Prize
Winner of an ARC of FREAK:

The bleachers were on fire. The football team lay scattered across the field, blood staining the Astroturf beneath them. Coach Edelman dangled from the goal post, a thick string trailing from his slack mouth. It took me a minute to realize it was his whistle. Someone had jammed it down his throat.

A group of cheerleaders lay in a pile near the end zone. Their skinny legs with orange spray tans stuck up at odd angles making it impossible to tell where one ended and the other began.

It wasn’t until I caught sight of the mascot that something inside me broke. We were the Shadow High Eagles but the costume looked more like a freaky chicken. It was upended in a giant cooler of Gatorade. Bright yellow feet drifted slowly from side to side as the green liquid sloshed and spilled over.

I screamed my anguish at the sky.

Honorable mention goes to:
for submitting a fabulously original poem

Hot, weak, young, and twisted;
Wore a wig, number unlisted.
Snuff film madame,
Real name, Adam;
Transvestite joke,
Gave head for coke.

Six lines down, rock star clown;
She'll make you laugh in the worst part of town.
She'll show you hers and leave a scar;
You won't make it home if you get in her car.
She'll get you high, she'll make you cry,
She'll freak you out, and then you'll die.

This was so much fun. Thanks for participating, everyone. You rock!

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