AS revealed last week, the Poetic Justice Productions annual short story competition attracted entries from around the world this year.

We are proud to present the two winners in the Under 18 and 18 and Over categories.

All entries had to be around 500 words and in the style of the author Edgar Allan Poe, be it horror, crime or speculative fiction

The first is Solitaireee, the 18 and over category winner by Lawrence Riggins, of Irvine, California.

I endured desperate humiliation no seated mortal had known before.

I was vanquished. A whole bunch of times. In a row. At solitaire.

Then, as I spat my lukewarm breakfast tea, I sensed the heinous computer… felt sorry for me.

Initially, I grew elated as the two-dimensional red and black images landed as needed – a long-sought victory was mine and the on-screen cascade of playing cards defied the previous cascade of losses.

My losing streak had lasted sixteen hours.

I swelled, manic in conquest. I spewed at the tea-drench screen, I mock you, mocking monitor!

Then, my perverse imp arose with dreadful thoughts I now confess to you: a ghost in the confounded device!? I was not the mocker, but the mockee! The dreaded contraption had let me win.

I suffered its electronic laughter – a soft derisive buzzing – as the apparatus enabled me like a codependent lover supplies a junkie’s sought but shunned narcotic.

You harangued me in loss, now would ridicule me in triumph with false satisfaction?

Ha! Only true victory, fair man-over-machine subjugation will satiate my craving to defeat you!

I clicked impotently for twenty more hours. Pathetic attempts compiling ghastly losses. My index finger bled hideous streaks of red-brown on the mouse pad. A day and night passed as I realized one reality and remembered another…

First: This game sucks… my soul.

Second: To enhance our romantic intimacy, Beatrice and I had agreed to try experimentation. Monday was my day as the dominant lover, she the submissive.

Alas, it was now Wednesday and my poor forgotten wife remained duct-taped in the trunk of our Mercedes!

My reverie shattered with the flip-flip-flip of electronic playing cards sliding with magical precision into asymmetrical piles for the next game – was it the thousandth? The cursor hovered over the face-down deck.

Oh, sweet dreadful choice; solitaire or romance? God! I clicked the bloody mouse button! Beatrice would have to wait…

No – NO! – I shan’t succumb! I bashed the keyboard! My tepid tea cup scattered twenty-six letters, ten numerals (and a myriad of punctuation symbols).

I ran outside – the sun blinding me for my addict’s hibernation.

Flinging open the trunk –horror! – I gazed upon Beatrice’s sweat-soaked corpse. Dehydration and my neglect her untimely end.

I tore duct-tape from her wrists and mouth. Beatrice’s tear-streaked face fluttered, hate-filled eyes snapped open!

Her emaciated corpse – no, she was alive! – emerged spider-like to confront her tardy absent tormentor.

She clutched my cheeks with jagged fingernails broken in fruitless struggles with grey tape.

Her lips pressed mine – a perfect kiss – save that her breath reeked of the grave for her mouth had not met toothpaste in three days.

Romantic success, husband, she hissed, I crave you more than ever. How, pray tell, have you busied your powerful potent self during our experimentation?

I lied: I did what a man must do.

Beatrice’s mouth curled into a hideous smile, Excellent, my love. Remember, tomorrow is Thursday and my turn to dominate you.

The horror!

Amor vincit omnia.