48 | 3rd Place

In this field ripe with death, I flourish – bitter nectar draws them in. We play pretend it’s mutual, but they can’t help but need the buzz.

This story was awarded 3rd place in our 48 HOUR FLASH FICTION CONTEST. Much like humans, it appears bees can’t resist a caffeinated beverage. In 2015, researchers reported that bees may select caffeinated nectar over an uncaffeinated but otherwise equal-quality alternative. In fact, flowers may be lacing their honey with extra caffeine to attract the bees. Liz Duck-Chong creates a poetic take on this research, speculating about the dark intent of flowers. // Alex Massey
  
//Liz is a writer, guitarist and photographer. She can be found at @lizduckchong, or signing photographs of random celebrities.//

Winners | 48 Hour Flash Fiction Contest

The Contest

After the success of the Antarctic Flash Fiction contest earlier this year, I ran a Twitter poll to decide our next themed story competition! Abuzz with excitement, our readers selected a much loved creature… BEES!

We asked you for your best micro-fiction, 140 characters or less, inspired by research on Bees. You definitely delivered! Thank you to all those who submitted.

Our Judges

Dr. Clint Perry Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow, Queen Mary University of London, Clint uses integrative neurobiology to explore the cognitive capacities of insects and the underlying mechanisms of memory, learning and emotion. His recent work includes teaching bees to roll balls, which gained worldwide media attention.

Dr. Eirik Sovik is an associate professor at Volda University College. He studies the function of biogenic amine systems in insects and their relation to reward processing. He can be found on Twitter @EirikSovik.

The judges kindly volunteered their services and as thanks, we are donating their $40AUD fee to the Xerces Society.

Results

Each of our winners donated their $5 prize to the Xerces Society. Congratulations to all and thank you for your generosity!

First Place: Annabelle Woodger, @yayannabelle

Second Place: Frank Hubeny, https://frankhubeny.blog

Third Place: Elizabeth Duck-Chong, @lizduckchong

Congratulations!

Congrats to all our winners and thank you to all those who submitted! The winning stories will be published next Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

We plan on doing more 48 hour competitions in future, so make sure to subscribe to our Twitter feed and stay tuned for future updates!

47

Whistle blows. Vegetation rushes upwards, racing w/ minimalist tendril-wear, pushing towards clouds, towerrunning athletes of mountainsides.

As several native plant species begin to shift their growth distribution higher in elevation, scientists have strong evidence that climate change is expected to contribute to the upward expansion of plant ranges. D.A. Xiaolin Spires places this science at the starting line and races it forward, to a future where plants have taken up tower running, a sport popular in their home city of Taiwan. // Alex Massey

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires stares at skies, pen in hand. Her works are forthcoming in Clarkesworld, Retro Future and Analog. Twitter: @spireswriter//

46

When her allergies flare, she blames words stuffed in her genome by her too-trendy parents: social media links and the full text of Hamlet.

Synthetic biologists at Harvard University have successfully encoded movies into e. coli DNA using the microbial immune system CRISPR–Cas. While the system itself is limited to one frame per cell, the potential of this discovery to create live recordings from brain cells lends itself to sci-fi worthy of a Black Mirror episode. Hal Y. Zhang takes this discovery and renders it through the lens of a world obsessed with IVF and adapting our children. What will happen when parents can edit DNA? // Alex Massey

//Hal Y. Zhang thinks DNA tattoos will be the next big thing.//

45

Altair was born a star. “She shines!” all said. But she tripped through life, feeling factory-made, dust bland, unsure what she was made of.

Until recently, scientists thought that the massive explosions of supernovae would completely destroy any molecules and dust that were already present. Recent developments in the study of the cosmic ‘dust factory’ of Supernova 1987A suggest that the aftermath of the death of stars could lead to similar conditions to those seen in a stellar nursery. Sierra July weaves this discovery with ever-familiar imposter syndrome and the haunting sense that every atom is re-used. // Alex Massey

//Sierra July @sierrajuly is a University of Florida graduate, published writer, and poet. She blogs at talestotellinpassing.blogspot.com.//

44

Thick yellow smoke belches from storm drains. The salt mines tremble. A roar shatters the walls, splitting Mack Ave as the dragon hatches.

1,200 feet below the streets of Detroit is a salt deposit older than the dinosaurs. Covering an area of more than 1,500 acres, the Detroit Salt Mine is closed to the public. Rebecca Mix grew up in Michigan, where her endless (and obsessive) fascination with the ancient salt mines that sit beneath Detroit has continued to grow over the years. // Alex Massey

//@rebeccarmix is a non-profit worker & fantasy writer living in Michigan. She wishes her cats would stop terrorizing her plants.//

43

We put everything into the ark – our seeds, our stories, our lives, our futures. But the waters kept rising, and still we drowned.

‘But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough.’ Sara L. Uckelman writes inspired by recent science on climate change and the flooding of the Global Seed Vault. The dangers of climate change are now a well-established reality. Aggressive action is required by all countries on Earth to try and slow the progression, yet, this may not even be enough to prevent devastating weather in the 21st century. //Alex Massey

//Dr. Sara L. Uckelman is a lecturer in logic and philosophy of language at Durham University by day and a writer of speculative fiction by night.  She has short stories forthcoming with Hic Dragones and Pilcrow & Dagger.//