Arid Challenge Winners

An inside look into the Vocal Curation Team's favorite stories from the Arid Challenge

By Vocal Curation TeamPublished 6 months ago 2 min read

An actual desert, or a desert of the mind? This time we gave you the ending of your tale, an evocative line: "Engulfed in the desert's parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind." We couldn’t wait to see where your creativity would take you, and the entries to the Arid challenge did not disappoint.

Congratulations to our winner, D. J. Reddall, for his unusual tale ‘Bathtub Jinn’ — bonus points for the punning title. It begins with a visit to the doctor’s office and a diagnosis of MS that’s handled with a dark, wry humor. This is a piece full of nice observations, from the missing comma in Tim Hortons to the narrator reflecting on what his illness might do to his handwriting. And then it takes a swerve into Persian mythology, unexpected and yet convincing, and lit with odd details that hint at the narrator’s past: when a surprising spirit appears, she shines with a light “that reminded me of the cherished, antique lamp that was on my grandfather’s desk, long ago.” Such a nice touch.

In second place is James Leek’s ‘Berry’, which pulls us forward into an England of the future, a far cry from a green and pleasant land, thanks to the climate crisis. We loved the immediacy of the opening, the narrator longing for the sweet juice of a berry but finding it shriveled to dryness. The speaker in this story is just one human being paying the price for the desecration of the planet: that little dry berry stands for the whole world. Effectively done.

And a shout-out too to our runners-up. Brendan Donagy’s ‘Chandler Frye and the Desert of Doom!’ raised a smile with its meta-narrative of a workaholic mystery writer; PK Colleran’s ‘What Grandpa Antone Saw’ is a visitation and a moving death-dream, a chant of memory that pays tribute to a loved one. ‘The Long and Painful Death of Sandie Malone’ by Caroline Jane is also a tale couched a memorial, one distinguished by effervescent language and a gig at Coachella.

This may have been the Arid challenge — but nothing our creators put forward could be called dry. Thanks as ever for your words, your imagination, your vision. On to the next!

You can check out the full list of winners HERE and learn about our current challenges below:


About the Creator

Vocal Curation Team

Collaborative, conscious, and committed to content. We're rounding up the best that the Vocal network has to offer.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  4. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  5. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (22)

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  • Esala Gunathilakeabout 10 hours ago

    Congrats for all winners.

  • Well done to all on the list,

  • bella ding5 months ago

    Evokemuse 360-page journals offer you more writing space, ensuring that you can continue to record important moments and cherished memories.

  • D. J. Reddall5 months ago

    Many thanks to the Vocal Team for their generous assessment of my humble offering, which was entirely inspired by the ingenious, reverse engineering challenge. Warmest congratulations to all of the other, deft contributors. I have been surprised and delighted by the kind words from so many other authors. Neil Gaiman's sentiments are certainly echoed and amplified by the supportive good will of the Vocal community, of which I am happy and honored to be a part: "Everything good that happened in my writing career happened because someone, normally another writer, helped me. Suggested me for something, put in a good word, and so on. The idea was always that you help others and they help others in their turn. It's not a win or lose game."

  • Kari-Pekka5 months ago


  • Just Daniel5 months ago

    Congratulations everyone!

  • Paul Stewart6 months ago

    Congratulations to all the winners and those who made the list!

  • Mike Kumah Lott6 months ago

    Weldone guys, you're inspirational to us and we shared your achievements.

  • k eleanor6 months ago

    Congratulations guys! 🎉

  • Grz Colm6 months ago

    Congrats to all! 😁👏🎉

  • joseph lambon6 months ago

    Congratulations to all

  • Darkos6 months ago

    Congratulations to All ☺️!

  • Alex H Mittelman 6 months ago


  • MmH6 months ago


  • Ace Melee6 months ago

    Congratulations to the winners!

  • Dana Crandell6 months ago

    Congratulations, all!

  • Denise E Lindquist6 months ago


  • Congratulations everyone

  • Babs Iverson6 months ago


  • The Dani Writer6 months ago

    Mega-congratulations to all the winners, runner-ups, and ALL who entered!

  • Congratulations to the winners!

  • Matthew Fromm6 months ago

    congrats to all the winners, this was my favorite challenge yet.

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