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2001 Hallowe’en Drabble Collection
Results of the 2001 Drabble Contest!
Sponsored by Stuart Willliams

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, welcome! Here in this arena, in its first and only appearance anywhere in the world, the Greatest Pen Site on Earth presents for your enjoyment the one, the only, the World Famous...

2001 Hallowe’en Drabble Collection

We received a gratifying number of entries for the Hallowe’en Drabble Contest, and they were a varied and interesting lot. (Just as a reminder, a drabble is a short story that is exactly 100 words long, not including its title; and our contest asked for drabbles with a spooky theme and a connection to pens or writing.) Our three judges, all of whom are voracious and eclectic readers, were:

  • Barbara Hauck Binder, a librarian and tax accountant, and a longtime lover of mystery stories and tales of the macabre
  • Kate Binder, a professional writer, editor, and compositor, author of several computing books including Teach Yourself QuarkXpress in 14 Days, Easy Photoshop 6 and, most recently, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mac OS X
  • Don Fluckinger, a pen collector and professional writer, author of the sports card trader’s guide Score Big and of monthly columns for a broad variety of publications, including Tuff Stuff, PDF Zone, and The Antiques Road Show Insider’s Guide

With a figurative flourish and in the color of dried blood, we present first our winner, a truly chilling snippet that garnered an impressive 32 out of 33 points from the judges:

Grave Engravings
by Janine Palley

Myrna's hand covers mine as I write.

"Someone murdered me," appears in my diary in red, though my pen holds black ink.

I press the barrel where Myrna Green's name is engraved. "No, Myrna," I say, but she selected me when I won her Sheaffer Lifetime for a dollar on eBay.

She writes again, bearing down, almost breaking the tines. My elbow locks against her attempted revenge, then she's gone. I throw the pen into my desk and start my computer.

"Re: Item #1234567 - Dear Seller, There's a small problem with the pen I purchased, rather hard to describe..."

Janine has won a brand-new paperbound copy of the Penguin edition of Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Our congratulations to Janine, and thanks to Stuart Williams, who proposed the contest and provided the prize. We cannot offer prizes to the second- and third-place finishers, but those two stories were also very good, and their authors deserve a hearty round of applause.

Coming in a close second in the judging was this offering:

by Robert Rothman

FOOLS! They call me mad, the Bic-toting asses who run this institution.

I should have honored Nicholas Warren's wishes. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to dissuade him from demanding, in his will, that he be buried with his Patrician. When the time came, I couldn't do it. I stole my dead friend's pen.

Two nights after we buried him, Nicholas appeared in my study. I fainted. When I woke, the pen was gone—and on my desk was a sheet of paper. It contained, in Warren's familiar hand, in lines that bespoke that wonderfully flexible nib, the single word "Mine!"

And here is the third-place finisher:

Special Report
by Karmann Goff

"I need to finish this Special Report for the District Officer tonight!" Rose thought as she slammed the Duofold to the desk and left the room. Rose returned with her tea and placed her cup on the desk. The Duofold was across the desk—not where she had left it! These brutal rituals, murders and tales of the "undead" were getting to her. Next, these villagers would be seeing Vlad the Impaler. The pen felt oddly cool in her hand as her dog began to growl. A scream lodged in Rose's throat as the searing pain and coldness overtook her.

And here are the rest of the entries, in no particular order.

by Ed Poremba

Details. That one unrelenting obstacle that until now had prevented completion of the final project. Yes, it had taken some time, torturous introspection, and more planning than would have been thought necessary. The carefully written letters with their generous payloads were already finding their way to their recipients - friends and relatives who would have better use for the modest sums. Paperwork, duly drawn and notarized, lay face up across the smooth wood surface of the desk, its purpose fulfilled and shortly to begin anew.

Caliber. Something quite unlike that of Hemingway.

Pen in pocket, a jasper Parker Duofold. Black ink.


by Andy Deering

A figure, in black, sat at an ornate desk. He dipped his pen in the gold hinged skull inkwell. On antique parchment he wrote, in flowing script, three names. The silver snake coiled around his pen seemed to writhe. On the highway, a car roared into a curve—too fast—with a shriek, it spun off the road and rolled, spilling bodies. The dark figure dipped his pen in the now blood red ink. He scratched a line through each name. Each time, a spark and the stench of sulfur. Cloven hooves beat a wild tattoo on the hardwood floor.


Jason’s Night
by SansSerifXXX

"Harry, come to the door and just look at this little monster!" They gave Jason an extra handful of candy, appreciating the time he obviously took getting made up. So it went, all that Halloween night. Momma looked up from the table, as Jason came bounding into the small apartment. Excitedly, he told her about all the goodies he'd collected trick or treating. She tried to smile, but couldn't. Her tears smeared the ink, and her Waterman ran dry from filling out all the forms; begging the insurance company to pay for the plastic surgery her son so desperately needed.


Detleff Comes Home
by Len Provisor

Detleff comes home... letters sealed in wax beckoned him to visit his ancestral home in Romania. Walking past log homes and rutted roads, his yearning grew strangely intense. A warmth welled within, an unsettling anxiety grew. He tried to remember why, but could not. It was growing dark but hasten he must.

Over there, the old home, how safe... fortress from the living world. His eyes moistened, he approached the massive beam door, deeply grooved and faded traces of scarlet.

Aged yet smooth faces greeted him, their parting lips smiling. Suddenly he remembered... as the fangs plunged into his neck.


Paulse, Reflect
by Ray Hull

Last Friday morning, I strode up Fifth Avenue to hit a few stores before my 1:45 train. At St. Patrick's Cathedral, I was blocked by a funeral honoring a World Trade Center policeman. Having visited Ground Zero Thursday, I welcomed the chance to pause and reflect. Leaning against Saks' windows, I watched hundreds of backs face hundreds of cops, at attention, across the Avenue.

There was no sound.

The funeral moved down the Avenue, followed by the muffled Police Pipe Band drums. Then, the Band about-faced, and played patriotic marches. A voice called out "Detail Dismissed.'

There was sustained applause.


The Poe
by Stephen Herman

He went to Father's grave to assure Mother the stone looked proper. "I'll humor her," he thought. He knew it wouldn't be long before she would be joining Father. He figured out how to fix things so that his sister would get much less than half of the estate. Back home, he wrote in his journal, with his favorite fountain pen, the Edgar Allan Poe: "Went to his grave. Told Mother everything all right." Suddenly, something gripped his arm. The nib seemed to flex under some force not his own. The pen was writing! "You're next. You're next. You're next."


In the Pontejos Store
by Jimmie Cockburn

To the Pontejos store in Madrid, Spain, customers arrive by the thousands every day. The store, founded in 1870, specializes in sewing materials: threads, fabrics, and tools. The store has two doors; customers enter and exit from both. The police station is by the west door. The store is packed solidly with people. The noise level from the conversation is soaring. At closing time a clerk screamed, "Come look here." The clerks gathered around two women who had been stabbed to death with needles in their eyes and scissors through their hearts. Blood was everywhere covering the old wooden floor.


The Tsar
by Vivek Narayanan

Clouds obscured the full moon, and I fancied werewolves amid the trees. A long howl made me hasten involuntarily. Suddenly there appeared before me the ghost of Tsar Nicolai, decked in Platinum armor with Malachite scepter. "Hand it over!" the voice boomed, referring to my pen case. I slowly reached for my breast pocket, as though to cross myself, to mocking laughter from the spectre. Out came my trusty vintage LeBoeuf Holy Water asperge, with crucifix clip. "Begone noxious succubus, thou art now Limited Edition!" said I, thrusting the sprinkler in full view. He dissolved, and so did the clouds.


Although ineligible for the competition since he was providing the prize, Stuart Williams did submit the following drabble for your enjoyment:

A Close EnCounter
by Stuart Williams

"Stoker, I bid you welcome—you have the final draft?" Dracula stared hungrily, eyes red in the firelight.

Bram laid the manuscript upon the desk. "Ready for signing." The Count handed him an ornate pen. "You shall sign first - in blood!" Dracula swooped, fangs bared. Thrusting instinctively, Stoker was enshrouded in dust as the wooden pen, still in his hand, entered the vampire's undead heart. He was no more.

Sitting, Bram dipped the pen and replaced "Autobiography of Count Dracula" with "Dracula, by Bram Stoker." Smiling he pondered. "Enough ghost writingat least now I have a fine new pen!"

And lastly, we present this morsel, penned after the judging by one of the judges:

Snow Caps
by Don Fluckinger

The man with the treble staff looked intently, smoke wafting above his head, emanating from somewhere behind. Menacing orange flames surrounding us both made for frightening shadowplay on his face.

"So in exchange for your soul, I shall make your fountain pen a luxury marque above all, surviving, nay flourishing, in jewelry stores, flea markets, and stationery shops across the land! Your brand shall survive the current competition by decades, be it Waterman, Eversharp, Conklin, Parker, or Sheaffer! By this covenant, I shall make it so!"

Wait'll the other guys in the Montblanc marketing department get a load of this.

Thanks and congratulations to all who participated in this, the first Pentrace Drabble Contest. Another contest is in the planning stages, but we won’t inflict it on you immediately; we’ll at least give the Hallowe’en dust a chance to settle.

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