NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

Nothing Good Happens after midnight

April 2022 (Round One)
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Word: Think
Action: Borrowing a Tool
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 100 words

The doorbell rings again as I stumble through my dark apartment. Bleary-eyed, I open the door to find Nate in a dripping windbreaker.

Weird, I didn’t hear the rain.

“Dude, it’s three a.m.” I squeeze my temples, barely able to think after our boozy night. “Weren’t you staying at Mia’s? Did you fight?”

His gaze darkens. “Dylan, we’re friends, right?”

“Yeah.” I stifle a yawn. “You can crash on the—”

“I need to borrow something.”

My skin prickles in the balmy night. “What?”

“A shovel.”

My eyes finally focus, and I realize it’s not rain on his jacket.

It’s blood.

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed third in my group and got me to the next round! The feedback is below!


{2195}  The word choice in this is precise, each description carrying weight to further the story. Moving plot onward using conversation can be challenging but it’s done effectively here.

{1936}  This story had me riveted. The first line shows us the urgency of the doorbell as it’s clearly not the first time it’s rung. The dripping windbreaker and the fact that it’s not raining – again, eerie clues that something is not quite right.

{2230}  What a compelling read! I must say, I love this title — very clever, and it offers great foreshadowing as to what kind of events may unfold. I like how descriptive this story is; I could easily envision this playing out in my head while I read it, almost like a scene from a spooky short film. It’s very visual, and that reveal at the end is great: the jacket was wet with blood, and not from the rain.  


{2195}  Suspense thrives on what is left unsaid, and in this case I might prefer to leave out the last two words and leave the reader’s mind to figure out. Instead of using italics for thought, it may do double duty to have Dylan, for example, look up the cloudless sky and also let the reader make that inference.  

{1936}  I honestly don’t think that last line is needed (the age-old “show don’t tell” rule). Possibly consider ending it with the line just before it (“My eyes finally focus, and I realize it’s not rain on his jacket”). Trust the readers to draw their own grisly conclusion.  

{2230}  While I love this clever use of the prompts — particularly, “borrowing a tool” — perhaps there could be a quick line buttoning everything up at the end. Maybe something almost comedic, like: “And, uh, mind if I use your washer, too?” (Referring to his blood-soaked clothes.) Also, any chance there could be some foreshadowing earlier on? I like Dylan’s dialogue; however, instead of asking if there had been a fight last night, perhaps he could experience a brief flashback revealing that there in fact was one. It could all come flooding back to him. This is just some food for thought — excellent work on this story!