We enter the 3rd week of WRiTE CLUB by congratulating another winner. Our Round 3 victor is none other than D.Rose. His/her opponent, Aurelia, will have his/her piece returned to the pool for a chance at re-selection for a future bout, and as always writers who have battled once are welcome to submit a different piece if they so wish.
Here’s an interesting question, how much does reading the other comments/votes influence your choice? Do you read what others have to say before you cast your own vote? When you go to the movies, do you read the reviews beforehand? How about when you buy a book? Do you ever wonder how much of our opinion is truly ours, and how much is simply the regurgitation of the popular view? Do you fear becoming a pariah by expressing an opinion contrary to the norm? Not a fan of the Hunger Games (I’m not – kids killing kids for sport – really?), or do you think that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo needed some serious editing (Yes!), but afraid to say so? Although the anonymity of the writers helps protect against favoritism, it still takes internal fortitude to stand your ground and make a choice that may not appear as popular if you’re reading other comments. All we ask at WRiTE CLUB is that you vote with your heart and mind, not someone else’s.
Without further ado....
Here are this week's randomly selected WRiTER's.
Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 490 words, please welcome to the ring……..Anya Harker
Blah, blah, blahbity, blah.
I suppose our tour guide used actual words instead of gibberish, but I stopped paying attention about twenty minutes ago. Meanwhile, the rest of my classmates stood entranced, staring at their surroundings like they’d never seen anything so amazing in their lives —complete with the requisite oohs and aaahs. Honestly. It’s a castle. If you've seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all. They’re big, they’re gaudy, they’re like bad leftovers (no one wants to eat them and no one wants to throw them away), and they’re places I’ve wandered about since I was old enough walk around on my own without tripping and falling — and thus breaking — some priceless heirloom.
“Excellent tapestries, blah yadda yadda blaaaaah.”
Someone please stab me in the eye with a dull spoon. Anything would be more exciting than listening to this elderly man jabbering on about this seven armed candelabra.
“And now,” I muttered under my breath, “if you proceed through this corridor, you will see prime examples of the Neo European décor.”
Tina stepped on my foot before the tour guide could hear me mocking him.
I have the unfortunate luck of being the daughter of two of the leading experts in Neo European monarchs and palaces. Mom and dad can’t get enough of anything gold leafed, gaudy, and tapestry covered. I wish I could say this obsession started when my very American father married my very Britlandish mother — but my father met my mother while on assignment at New Cardiff Castle.
It was love at first sight. Gag me. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m glad my parents fell in love and had me and all that jazz, but I wish they’d fallen in love over something normal.
If having weird fetishes regarding palaces from Versailles to Kensington wasn’t bad enough, my parents tried to shoehorn me into their bizarre life. In other words, I was one of the youngest kids ever allowed inside the secret passages inside New Windsor Castle because of a documentary my mom was working on. When I wasn’t in school, I was expected to traipse all over Neo Europe to find this rare painting or that unique ottoman with birds embroidered on it by the grand duchesses of Largania’s favorite niece. Instead of playing by beach or going to amusement parks, I stepped over bones deep within catacombs.
Which, by the way? Ew.
“Before we move on, please take a moment to explore the study,” the guide said, standing by the exit. “See if you can find the five griffins etched in the wood paneling.”
My classmates scatted like a group of roaches who had just been uncovered by moving a rock. I know it was my fault for wanting to go on a class trip to Britlandia knowing we were going to wander through castles and the like. I just wanted to spend a week in NeoEurope without my parents — especially for my birthday.
And in the other corner, weighing in with a brand new 475 word sample, let me introduce to you ……..Peanut Buttercup.
I step up behind him, so close I can count the pores on the back of his hairless head, smell the sweat from the damp patches under his arms.
The rumble of the incoming train becomes a roar. Most Underground trains do not slow down on approaching a station. They come in at line speed, which can be up to fifty miles an hour.
My palms are clammy, my fingers twitch as adrenaline shoots through my arteries. I start to pant. Stanton must have felt me breathing down his neck. He turns, ruddy face etched in a frown, expressing his annoyance at the intrusion of personal space. Beads of perspiration dot his upper lip. The sweet, sharp odor of ethanol waft from his breath.
With my hood on, it takes him longer to recognize me.
His eyes widen just as the 1 MIN on the display board disappears.
The roar of the cave beast becomes a thunderous bellow, drowning out all other sounds, so loud it seems to be reverberating inside my skull.
Despite my heart thudding against my ribs, I force a smile. I plant both hands on Stanton’s barrel chest.
Stanton stumbles backward with a strangled cry. His foot teeters at the edge of the platform for a split second, pirouetting like an drunken, overweight ballerina.
Then he slips off.
Before he can fall onto the tracks, the train hits him with a hollow THUD. The impact throws him forward like a crash test dummy. His body rolls a few times along the track before disappearing beneath tonnes of metal, as the train rolls over him. Above the rumbling of the train, I hear the crunch of splintering bone, the wet ripping of soft tissue, the squelch of crushed organs. A high-pitched squeal splits the air, but I’m not sure if it came from the shriek of the train’s brakes, or from the shrill screams of terrified passengers.
Either way, I’m not sticking around long enough to find out.
I have my escape route all planned out. Taking advantage of the pandemonium around me, I slip away, fleeing into the twisting network of Underground passageways. The further I run, the more my tense edginess slides off me, giving way to an overwhelming sense of euphoria.
I’ve done it. I’ve actually done it.
As I jog, I start to laugh, my voice bouncing off the concrete and tiles, echoing down the winding tunnels, amplified by the empty silence around me. For the first time in my life, I feel the hot surge of power, like liquid fire coursing through my veins.
And it feels good.
I turn into yet another passage, but this one is unlit. I step into the darkness, melting into the shadows.
I am certain no one will find me here.
I am Minotaur, and this is my Labyrinth.
Nope, it doesn't get any easier! Leave your vote for the winner of round 6, along with any sort of critique you would like to offer, in the comments below. Please remind your friends to make a selection as well. The voting will remain open until noon Sunday.
Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out! Want to take part in the word battles, throw your pen name into the hat anytime during the first twelve rounds by submitting your own 500 word sample. Check out the rules by clicking on the badge below…then come out swinging!