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WRiTE CLUB 2012 Semifinals / Bout 2

Here’s your last chance to contribute towards choosing a2012 WRiTE CLUB Champion byvoting.  You will have until noon Sunday(Dec. 2nd) to vote on both bouts.  Theseare edited versions of the writing samples you’ve seen in the previous tworounds, so read each submission carefully and then leave your vote for thesample that resonates with you the most. If you haven't already, offer some critique for the writers benefit.  The winner of these two bouts will have theopportunity to submit a new 500 word sample to our panel of agents, editors,published authors, and last year’s WRiTE CLUB champion, for determining a newvictor.

Anyone can vote (after signing up on the LinkyList here) so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know andget them to take part in the fun.  Again,you will have until noon on Sunday (Dec. 2nd) to choose between these awesomewriters. 

Good luck to all the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner welcome back to the ring.....Eleven.

I still couldn’t believe these assholes had actually brought us to Hell.

Sulfur stung my throat as I took a quick look around. I ignored the glittering points of terror spiking through my stomach. If I didn’t panic, maybe I could get out of this. Maybe. “So, are we just going to stand here, or are you going to show me around?” I smiled my best and most dangerous smile.

“Of course. I’ll give you the grand tour.” Alexander gave a little bow, then began to lead the way up a steep hill.

At the top of the hill rose a door, just sitting there in open air, no frame or anything, not even a door handle. It was made of shiny black stone, like obsidian. Demonic runes covered it, jagged scars in an otherwise smooth surface. Backlit by a lake of flames on the other side of the hill, it made for a rather impressive sight. A sense of absolute dread descended on me when I looked at it.

Anna had reached the door. She opened it by pressing her hand against one of the runes, which glowed white briefly. On the other side lay absolute darkness. Blacker than the space above us, blacker than the tunnels we’d passed, blacker than the door itself. Without even a half moment’s hesitation, Anna stepped through, Alexander right behind her. I paused. I couldn’t see a thing. How did I know this wasn’t another trick?

“Aren’t you coming?” came Alexander’s amused voice.

What a devil-worshipping dickbag. I gritted my teeth and stepped through the door.

The darkness vanished. I stood on a beach. Milky white sand scrunched under my shoes, ocean air soothed my skin, and a sunset painted the horizon. Endless turquoise ocean stretched out to my left; to my right, rolling hills of clover. Straight ahead sat an enormous house that bridged the two landscapes. It wasn’t quite rustic enough to be called a castle, but wasn’t quite modern enough to be called a mansion. Made of warm, beige stone, it descended from the green cliffs down to the wave-lapped sand. Towers, turrets, parapets and walkways extended out over the sea. A figure stood silhouetted against the sunset.

“Please join me,” a voice whispered in my ear.

Abruptly we stood on the balcony next to the person I’d just seen.

He didn’t have beet-red skin or goat’s eyes or horns. He had golden hair, radiant pale skin, amethyst eyes and full pink lips. Devastatingly beautiful, so much so it almost hurt to look at him. Lucifer. The Devil.

“Zyan Star,” Lucifer said. His words wrapped around me like honeysuckle vines, sweet and intimate. “I’ve been wanting to meet you for a long time.”

I was speechless, for once.

He smiled. It almost seemed kind. Almost. “You’re in shock.” He laughed, and it sparkled on the air like pixie dust. “What did you expect? I am an angel, after all, not a monster.”

“Where are we exactly?” I asked.

And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring,let me re-introduce.... Snivvy Crank.

For the white-haired school janitor, Mr. Jaspers, there were only three things in life that could truly be described as “irksome”: men who wore toupees; people who spoke of themselves in the plural; and condescending new school principals with egg-shaped heads and fake smiles, who used words like “peruse” and “inquiry” and “my dear man” while implying in the most befriending tones that you were as daft as a peach pit. There was a close fourth--street mimes--but that particular irk was forgotten as Mr. Jaspers, shuffling uncomfortably from one arthritic foot to the other, watched the new principal chat idly on the office phone and imagined throttling him.

Now Mr. Jaspers wasn‘t the type of man who normally daydreamed about throttling people. He was old--very old, kept a pet cat named Elmo in his janitorial office, and up to now his daydreams had been rather docile and well-mannered. Winning a lifetime supply of top-shelf scotch or someone inventing work boots that didn’t squeak on tile floors had been two of his favorites. But then came Mr. Heinik. Yes…even on the phone the short principal seemed to stick under Mr. Jaspers’ fingernails like sidewalk chalk, irritating the old Scotsman in a way he hadn‘t been irritated in a long, long time.

“Saturday?…Of course--I’ll bring my new clubs--and make sure they don’t make us tee off after the VFW team or we’ll be stuck waiting for them to limp from one hole to the other…great…thanks, Frank…eh-heh…bye.”

Had Mr. Heinik read Mr. Jaspers’ file, he would have known the Scotsman had been an Army sentry in both Korea and Vietnam. What the file didn’t say was that Mr. Jaspers also served as sentry in both World Wars, the Spanish-American War, the American Revolution and numerous highland conflicts and continued to march with the local VFW each Memorial Day in a kilt despite a limp from a saber wound in his left leg. Like I said, Mr. Jaspers was a very, very old man.

He was staring blank-faced at the principal, feeling the war-blood begin to circulate again through his veins and wondering whether someone could be beaten senseless from a telephone receiver, when he realized the offensive Mr. Heinik was addressing him.


“Er…sorry, sir, I was, eh, distracted.”

“Forget about it, my dear man,” said Mr. Heinik. “As we were saying, we did get a chance to peruse your file and, while it appears you have put in a few years of good service to Wickfield Prep--”

“Forty-one years, sir.”

“Yes,“ said Mr. Heinik, ignoring Mr. Jaspers completely, “the school board and I think you may find better employment opportunities elsewhere.“

Mr. Jaspers stopped shuffling. His face, a spiderweb of lines and wrinkles from which even the smallest of emotions couldn’t stir without causing a great disruption, didn’t move. Somewhere in his head he heard a voice growl, “Aye, methinks you can dent his head in with a telephone.”

I’ll be back Monday to introduce our two finalist, alongwith their final writing samples.  Itwill also be your opportunity to unveil the mask (if you choose to do so) andlet others know the real person behind the pen name.  I hope you’ll be back for that! 

Remember the WRiTECLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing,it’s about who knocks the audience out!

WRiTE CLUB 2012 Semifinals / Bout 1

Two more votes…that’s all that remains in WRiTE CLUB 2012, as far as reader participation goes. Today and Thursday you will have the opportunity to vote on two bouts, and like the previous rounds you'll have until noon Sunday (Dec. 2nd) to vote on them.  These are edited versions of the writing samples you’ve seen in the previous two rounds, so read each submission carefully and then leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  If you haven't already, offer some critique for the writers benefit.  The winner of these two bouts will have the opportunity to submit a new 500 word sample to our panel of agents, editors, published authors, and last year’s WRiTE CLUB champion, for determining a new victor.

Anyone can vote (after signing up on the Linky List here) so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.  Again, you will have until noon on Sunday (Dec. 2nd) to choose between these awesome writers. 

Good luck to all the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner, welcome back to the ring.....Ravenclaw.

A brisk gust of cool wind blew past Millie and she leaned up from weeding her black-eyed susans. The warm summer air had acquired a chill and a moist scent of rain. The clouds had thickened, billowing into dark anvils that hung low over the corn fields to the west.

The laundry drying on the line fluttered in the stiffening breeze, giving a burst of staccato applause that caught Millie's attention. Watching the clothes dance, she felt a familiar hollowness in her stomach. The line seemed so empty with only her and Jed's wash on it.

The screen door creaked open and Jed stepped out.

"Storm's coming," he said. "They cut into the ballgame with a warning."

"I figured we were in for some weather," she said. "Just look at them clouds."

He looked up, stretching. The White Sox jersey bought when he'd last taken Justin to a game was now faded and straining against a widening belly. Sometimes it seemed hard for Millie to believe this paunchy, gray-haired man had once been the eager youngster who'd carried her over the threshold.

She rose from her knees with a groan and a crack in her back. Laughing to herself, she had to admit she was no spring chicken, either.

"Help me with the laundry, will ya?" she said.

Jed followed her to the line. As they put the clothes in the basket, Millie saw his gaze drift over to the pole barn.

"You thinking about the car again?"

He shrugged. "I guess. Maybe we should just sell it. No real sense in hanging on to it."

His voice was soft, but Millie saw the tightness along the edge of his jaw. She reached over to squeeze his hand.

"There's no rush, either," she said.

He gave a faint smile.

She knew he'd once been so proud of how he and Justin had restored that old Thunderbird, back before the problems with Justin had really started. But last Christmas, Justin had come home wanting to sell it. Millie and Jed figured where the money would go and refused. It had escalated into a loud argument with too many harsh, hurtful words and Justin storming out in a rage.

It was the last time they saw him.

Now he was dead, the angry words could never be taken back, and the car didn't really matter anymore.

Jed squinted and pointed down the lane. Millie turned to see an approaching plume of dust, kicked higher by the growing wind.

A deep roll of thunder sounded in the distance as an old rusty Cavalier pulled into the yard. The driver stepped out. Millie figured her to be in her early twenties. She was short, pretty, and very pregnant.

"I'm looking for the Culvers," she called out.

"We're the Culvers," Jed said.

She waddled over, breathing hard. "I'm Ashley Robinson. Justin and I..."

She paused. Millie held her breath.

"...were friend, I guess." Another loud burst of thunder rumbled, much closer this time.

And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce.... RingGirl.

Annie watched the headlights disappear, the beams flickering one last time before the trees swallowed them. Her breath hung in the air, draping the chain-link fence before her in a ghostly veil. Now that the other girls had driven off, the sounds of the night filled her ears with eerie precision: a rustling of leaves, a creaking of trees, an owl’s lonely voice.

She eyed the padlock on the other side, barely visible in the moonlight.

Gina, of course, had been the one to lock it. “Just to make sure you don’t chicken out,” she had said, tucking the key in her pocket. The others had clustered behind her, smiling at Annie from the other side of the fence, content in the knowledge that they had already earned their spot in the group.

“I won’t chicken out.” Annie had been proud of how certain her own voice had sounded. “I’ll stay here until you get me in the morning, just like you said.”

Gina had given her an approving nod. “Good girl. Happy initiation.” One flash of perfect teeth and then they were gone, the Jeep doors slamming, the engine roaring to life.

Annie turned away from the fence. The land stretched before her, a vast emptiness in which countless members of Pi Delta Epsilon had spent the blackest hours of the night, awaiting dawn and peer acceptance.

She shivered, rubbing her hands together for warmth. She decided to walk around to get her blood moving. Maybe she would find some shelter for the night, like a shed or something. She also didn’t want to be seen huddling like a coward at the fence, just in case the others crept back to spy on her.

Twigs crunched beneath her boots as she picked her way along the ground, the occasional pits making the walk tricky. She was so focused on her feet that she came to the house before she even realized it. It loomed before her, its shadowed gables and porches steeped in silence.

It was more like a mansion, really, Annie thought. The darkness had obscured it from view back at the fence, but she guessed that it would be visible in daylight. What was this place, anyway? Gina hadn’t mentioned anything about an abandoned house.

Annie had no desire to enter a creepy old house, but she approached the steps, thinking she could at least wait on the porch for morning.

But it seemed that someone had other plans, for when her foot hit the bottom stair, a light flickered on within.

“Hello?” she called. “Who’s there?”

The door creaked open, and what she saw within made her breath catch in her throat: a feast lit by pale candles, fruit and bread and a turkey with coils of steam rising from its surface. As she stared, she realized that the table had been set for one. One goblet, one plate, one set of utensils, one chair pulled back and ready. Someone had been expecting her.



Bout #2 will be posted on Thursday.  Tell all you friends to come on out at vote.

Remember the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!



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