They Wrote the Dam Story!


A drive down a dirt road overgrown with tall weeds, honeysuckle, and goldenrod revealed an old water and rust-stained dam, a deserted factory engulfed in vines, and a secret fishing spot. In all the quiet it was easy to imagine smoke billowing from the stacks, water rushing over the dam, and a line of workers standing in line to punch a time clock. Nevermore.

Nowadays, in addition to being the spot for catfishing, the off-the-beaten-path location is a breeding ground for fictional murder, macabre hiding spots for imaginary dead bodies, and an idea prompt for a popular 200-word short story contest.



2013 Writers’ Police Academy Golden Donut Short Story Contest



The rules were simple—write a story featuring the image we provided. The catch—the story must be told in exactly 200 words.

As always, we received a mountain of entries. And, each story we received was a nicely-told tale. But there could be only one winner.

So, without further ado, let’s bring Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys to center stage to announce the winner of the 2013 Golden Donut Short Story Contest.

The Echo

by Nancy Sweetland

I told my psychiatrist I was coming back here to banish my demons, stop the bad dreams.

He said he’d come along.

I wondered why he cared.

Mama’s long dead, an unsolved homicide. But if I remember anything to identify her killer even after all these years, I know I’ll end my misery.

Inside the rusted, screechy gate, my psychiatrist says, “There’s nothing here to help you remember.”

But he’s wrong! I catch my breath. In this dingy, unkempt area behind the abandoned building the haunting memory of a deep, coaxing voice echoes off the stark cement walls.

I shiver.

“Look under the stairs,” I say. Someone huddles there, shaking, tears rivering down his face.


Six years old.

Hiding from the man that hit my mama, bloodied her face, twisted her arm, made her scream. I hear the echo of his voice, wheedling, “Come on out, Kid. I won’t hurt you.”

I know that voice, so familiar to me now. Fury boiling up from years of lies, I step toward my psychiatrist.

I know now why he cares about my memories.

Know who he is.

Know how I can banish my demons, make the bad dreams stop.

Nancy Sweetland

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The 2016 Golden Donut Short Story Contest is OPEN! For details click the link below.

Golden Donut