The stories floated into our slush pile like feathers from a pigeon shot in mid-air. They made a bloody mess of our Submishmash queue. It was like one of those horrible dreams: you’ve bashed in your protege’s melon with an axe handle, there’s DNA evidence everywhere, the cops will arrive at any moment. No way you can clean it up in time.

And yet, here we are. No traces of gore anywhere. Our hands are clean, even under our fingernails.

In other words, we’ve done the bloody work of reading all the submissions we received in our Hard Boiled-Down Noir Fiction Contest, and we have winners. They are:

Steven Woods, for “Billy.”

Nik Korpon for “Gold Teeth.”

Alex Mattingly for “Marbles.”

Mimi Brooks for “Out Like A Lion.”

Richard Thomas for “Jimmy Five Ways.”

All of our winners will appear next week in Punchnel’s. We think you’ll like what you read.

And we hope you’ll join us next Friday, February 10, at Service Center for Contemporary Culture and Community in Indianapolis, for Writer Night: an evening of conversation and general hanging out with Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana. The night is sponsored by Punchnel’s and Vouched Books, and our winning authors are invited to read their works at the event. It’s free to get in–and all proceeds from the night benefit the work of Second Story to introduce kids to creative writing.

Congratulations to all of our winners–and thanks to everyone who submitted. You made our Hard Boiled-Down Noir Fiction Contest a bloody good time.