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.//


Word was spreading, the heartless empress’ firstborn had perished. The colony knew a child would soon go missing, but didn’t dare speak out.

The emperor penguin is often perceived as stately and dignified, mating for life, and being sweet parental figures. In reality, studies have shown that kidnapping the offspring of other penguins is a common behaviour for penguins who have recently lost their own chicks. Liz Duck-Chong takes this concept, and combines it with the familiar construct of a tyrannical empress, to create a fantastical view of Antarctica that you may have never considered. This story was awarded 3rd Place in our ANTARCTIC FLASH FICTION CONTEST.

//Liz Duck-Chong is a writer, guitarist and photographer. She can be found @lizduckchong, or occasionally behind unsuspecting large rocks.//

Winners | 48 Hour Flash Fiction Contest

On June 7th 2016, Story Seed Vault celebrated our first month on Earth by checking our stats. I was truly astonished to see that we had managed to reach almost every continent on Earth!

Without you, our readers, we could not have done this. Not content with half measures, we decided to see if our site could be read from Antarctica. We reached out to @AusAntarctic and they agreed to pass on our request to their Antarctic colleagues. Less than a week later, success!


Story Seed Vault has now been read on every continent on Earth. Congrats to all our authors!

The Contest

To thank the Australian Antarctic Division for their contribution to science and to celebrate virtually reaching Antarctica, Story Seed Vault held our first 48 Hour Flash Fiction Contest. We were honoured to receive several submissions and are so grateful to all the respondents for conducting their own research on Antarctica and providing fascinating stories.

We can now reveal to you that your stories were not only about Antarctica – they were also judged by two Antarctic expeditioners from the Australian Antarctic Division! I’m so grateful for Eliza Grey for passing on our request to the expeditioners. Once we removed all identifying details, your stories were passed onto our judges for their consideration.

Our Judges

Robert Bonney  is a Communications Technical Officer based at Davis research station. He enjoys reading about all things related to Antarctica but especially science.

Leon Hamilton is the Engineering Technical Officer working for the Bureau of Meteorology. He is based at Mawson research station.  3 winters on ice so far and looking forward to the next mad idea.


First Place: Bex Shea @bexshea, Blood Falls

Second Place: Hester J. Rook @kitemonster, Training for Space in Antarctica

Third Place: Liz Duck-Chong @lizduckchong, Kidnapping Emperor Penguin Chicks

Honourable Mentions: Kit Beard @thebeardlessone, The Colour of Snow; Bex Shea @bexshea, BICEP Telescope; Ada Quinn, Covert Polar Bears

Each of our judges were asked to list their top three choices and given one honourable mention each. One honorable mention was awarded by selected Story Seed Vault readers. The final results were moderated by our editor Alex Massey.


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!


After years of request procedures, we’d finally encoded emotions for the AIs. They returned the next day, pleading we roll the changes back.

Liz Duck-Chong has considered the potential effects of programmed emotions and affective computing. Systems and devices recognise human affects, with the obvious extension that AIs will recognise and portray “human” emotion. Will AIs ever understand human emotions? 

//Liz Duck-Chong is a writer, guitarist, and visual artist. They can be found on @lizduckchong and @loveletterpod.//