2023 Flash Fiction Contest Runners-Up

The three runners-up in the 2023 Creatives Flash Fiction Contest, kindly supported by Fort William Mountain Festival and the Highland Bookshop.


by Ellie Stewart

Clenched, her right hand is a ridge of four peaks rising from spurs and levelling out onto a plateau. I trace contours round the knuckles, making a map. This finger is Fiacaill Ridge; that hollow, Coire an t-Sneachda.

These fingers hold memories of children and lovers, of rock and ice, of teeth and instruments. They are her bread and butter; her daily grind. Strong fingers and well-kept nails. I’m surprised again at her perfect nails. ‘Part of the job,’ she would say.

If she could.

Stretched out on the blanket, her left hand is an alluvial fan with bluffs, braids and ripple-marks. Bones, veins, tendons; her pulse beating gently at the wrist.

The welcome thrumming rises in a crescendo, and we are awash in the wake of the helicopter. 

Everything leaves ripples.


Contours – A Cartographic Fiction
by Keith Horner

The proposition that Charles Hutton inadvertently invented the contour on Schiehallion in 1774 whilst calculating the weight of the earth is a mischievous deception orchestrated by the scientific establishment of the Enlightenment era.

The contour actually originates from the life-long activity of Highland shepherdess Miss Con(stance) Tour who, like the proverbial haggis, had one leg longer than the other. Over decades, as she tended her flock, she established continuous horizontal trails across the hillsides that became highly visible.

Early cartographers quickly recognised the value of her lines of horizontal delineation in depicting the three-dimensional quality of the landscape on maps. However, whilst maps contain symbols that represent actual physical features, you will find no visible evidence of lines of constant height extending across the landscape. After Con’s untimely death at the age of 103 following a severe bout of dizziness, her trails became overgrown and contours assumed a cartographic fiction.


by Hilary Tresidder
Collage and ink, black and white

Lead image