Not everyone has the stomach for it, but these indie writers reigned victorious in their years in the Deathmatch pit. With Deathmatch 2018 now open for submissions until December 31, 2017, we’re taking a look back at the past winners of the ruthless short story contest.
Click here to submit your story.
2017 Winner: P.D. Walter
The black leather biker jacket had been a gift from his ex-wife, Josephine. She gave it to Jake right before she left him. At 16, their daughter Katie was old enough to decide who she wanted to stay ith. Now 26, she wondered if she’d made the wrong choice.
Read our interview with P.D. here.
2016 Winner: Madeeha Hashmi
The grass always wrapped around my ankles in your backyard. My skin was printed with phantom anklets whenever I was outside hanging the clothes to dry. They were little circle arguments persuading me to stay and never leave. I let my feet be convinced deep into the soil, without thinking about how I would weed myself out of your life.
Read our interview with Madeeha here.
2015 Winner: Nikola Jajic
Two plumes of smoke poured out of his leathery nostrils, as he rubbed his cigarette out on the bar. The man ordered another Glenlivet, and continued to wait. He was always waiting on that asshole, but at least he got to pick the place. It was the nature of their relationship.
Read our interview with Nikola here.
2014 Winner: Craig Calhoun
As soon as I pulled my fist from the hole that I’d put in the drywall, I knew that there was nothing that I could say to make it disappear. Instead, I pulled the loose tag of skin from off my knuckle to make it start bleeding, thinking that you might feel sorry for me. You were standing by the television with your hands clasped over your mouth. Your eyes were panicked, but I knew that you weren’t frightened. Nothing I did ever scared you. I kept my eyes locked with yours, but you just shook your head. I clenched my jaw, but nothing.
Read our interview with Craig here.
2013 Winner: Nana K. Adjei-Brenyah
We are those dudes. The muscle and the gavel, the Friday night lights. Together we run shit, because we can, because we have to. We brothers bound irrevocably by two parts popularity, two parts personality, and three parts fear, are the power at Eliot Becker High. If you haven’t spotted us already we wear cardigans.
2012 Winner: Chase Baird
I grimace as Matt’s roommate exits his bedroom and crowds the tiny kitchen space SAIT ludicrously calls a common living area.
“Great story,” he says, reading my computer screen. “Fuck fucked the fuckingly fucked-up fucker.” He laughs as he digs through the fridge. “You English majors really know how to express yourselves. I’m hungry.”
“Fuck.” I answer.
Read our interview with Chase here.
2011 Winner: David Griffin Brown
“It’s your baby too,” Lily said. “It’s only fair you help me kill it.”
She handed me the fat blue pill and wiggled out of her jeans. She climbed on the bed, rolled to her back: knees at forty-five degrees, legs parted.
I saw for the first time what I assume a gynecologist sees: the clinical stock of a woman. If Lily stripped naked at any other time I’d be aroused. My eyes would draw the arch of her thigh, her ivory skin, the black bonsai thatch. But I stared instead at female, human, mammal.
It’s only fair.
She didn’t need to convince me. She just had to ask. But that’s Lily.
2010 Winner: Nelson Eshleman
It was round about the time Winthorpe Power Corp. posted its $500,000 reward that my public spirit kicked in. I didn’t set the blasting caps on the Dyno Nobel Vibrogel that blew up four electrical shacks halting construction for two months on the nuclear plant project at Pettifer Lake. I simply told the police who did it.
2009 Winner: Natalie Pendergast
“I fucked your mother.”
It’s what a lot of people say as a mean joke. So it’s got a funny ring to it, even when it happens for real. When we were fucking last night, I had to try hard to keep from laughing. I don’t know if the pain in my stomach was from holding in my laughter, or from cumming for the fourth time in one day.
2008 Winner: Graham Parke
I can’t sleep and head out, wondering how long this can go on, wondering if not sleeping night after night after night can cause brain damage, irreversible health effects. Wondering what it’s doing to my hair and my eyes and my skin, which is beginning to look old. The night’s wet and cold and I’m not wearing enough clothing. I don’t want to go back so I walk on, along the canal, to the center of Amsterdam, where there’ll still be some life, some pale reflection of society, be it distilled and raw and craving things mostly illegal.