Arc’s winning stories: Polenth Blake’s Through the Hoops

21 Nov

Polenth Blake (@Polenth) has had work published in Nature, ChiZine and Penumbra. Her story “Through the Hoops” – a runner-up in our recent short story competition – was one of the few entries we received that addressed the theme, “the future of pleasure” by cooking up a wholly new pastime. Polenth’s strange, AR-enhanced breed of parkour catches in the memory as much for what is not explained as for its fine detail. It also captures the moment when a commercial sport becomes something else, with its own, much fuzzier rules.  

Click here to read the story. There’s also a short extract below.

We stood together at the base of the steps. There were no hoops or messages. Just a series of cracked stones and weeds. There could be anything up those steps. They might give way any moment. I could take falling, but I always knew when it would happen. Here, there were no rules.

Rita took the first step. We went up slowly, watching for any signs of danger, but the steps turned out to be solid enough. At the top, a stone arch led onto the building’s roof. We bundled through the arch and into paradise.

Once, this must have been a rooftop swimming pool. Walls surrounded the roof, to give some privacy. The pool was laid out in the centre. But with no one caring for it, plants had taken over. A few small trees had grown up in the cracks. Grass and flowers covered most of the rest of the surface. The pool was murky green, with clumps of pond weed.

Animals had also colonised the roof. Birds called from the trees and other things scurried in the undergrowth.

Rita peered up at one of the trees. “This is so cool.”

I tried to think of a snarky response, but nothing came. It was a different kind of tracing, going to places people had walked by for years, yet never seen. “Yeah. Yeah, it is.”

Read all our winning entries here

Click here for details of our new competition!

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