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WRiTE CLUB 2013 - Bout 13

A side note before we get started -- today marks my 500th blog post! Who'd have thunk? :) 

Anyway...a tip of the hat and bow at the waist for Emma T. Nestor for capturing enough votes in bout #11 to move into the next round. An honor well deserved!

For many, the number 13 could be considered an unlucky one.  I bet one of the two writers who step into the ring today might beg to differ...depending on its outcome.  But then again most of us realize that, as far as publishing is concerned, there is no such thing as luck.  What an outsider might call luck, I see it as the confluence of favorable events that align to benefit our own personal agenda.  There's a popular quote about luck that I'm rather fond of...Luck is where preparation meets opportunity...or in other words, we make our own luck.  The eventual winner of this bout will claim victory not because of some cosmic, supernatural concept that appears fortuitous.  No, they will have won because they possess talent and utilize a slightly better use of our written language (at least as far as these 500 words are concerned), so much so that they will entice you the reader to enter a vote of preference for their submission.  No luck...or folks!

And to prove my point....

Our first contestant of the day, randomly chosen, represents the Suspense genre with 498 words.  Let me introduce to you...Slippery Slope.

The back of my neck itched like hell. It was a crazy, annoying type of itch that made me want to peel away the skin with my fingernails. Unfortunately, mine were too short. All I could do was rub my hand up and down my nape for temporary relief.

I lifted the lapel of my lab coat over my collar hoping the friction would help. I turned to John, my research partner.

"How are the trials coming along?"

I sensed his uneasiness as I watched his lips tighten and his forehead scrunch up. His eyes darted around nervously, looking up then left as if he were trying to remember a memory from twenty years ago.

"Well... uh.... they're kind of... " His words trailed off in a mumble.

My eyes narrowed and I felt the itch intensify at the bottom of my scalp.

"What? What's the problem?"

"They've... been put on hold." John quickly shifted his gaze down at the floor, then tilted his head up slightly, watching for my reaction.

"On hold?" I barked. "Who the hell decided that? We were getting good results!" I couldn't believe it. Three years of research and suddenly some dumbass decided it was time to take a break?

John made a placating gesture with his hands.

"We were shut down by the Patent and Trademark Office, Gabby. Apparently PFX-2 presents a threat to national security and now falls under the Invention Secrecy Act. We can't patent it. We can't test it. We can't even talk about it." The words came out in a rush, punctuated by a loud sigh. "We had to hand everything over to the government. It's no longer ours."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Are you fucking kidding me? The government can shut us down and take our stuff just like that?" I ran my hand over the back of my neck, rubbing furiously as I tried to process the information. This made absolutely no sense.  Why would something barely bigger than a fingernail be considered a threat to national security?  

"They can do anything they want, Gabby."

An angry retort sprang to my lips but I bit it back. I knew it wouldn't change the outcome. My shoulders slumped in resignation as I looked at John.

"So we had no choice." It was a statement, not a question.


"And we gave them everything." Another statement.

 "Almost." He paused. "Everything except the prototype."

My heart did a somersault in my chest.  "Really?" I turned to scan the lab. Microscopes, pipettes and microplates lined the counters and tables, along with a variety of rigs and chambers.

"You won't find it here. It's in a safe place -- somewhere where we can still test it and see how well it works."

That was good news. I considered the possibilities.

"Another lab?"

 "No. Better than that." He leaned over and squeezed my arm. "Just make sure you don't rub the back of your neck too hard."


And on the opposite side of the battleground is an fighter who works in the Fantasy genre and offers us 483 words...allow me to introduce MultaPaucis.

Remington arrived at work punctually the morning after the gala. He hadn't imbibed enough to leave him uncomfortable this morning, and he applauded himself silently for that. Many new bodies awaited his consideration in the cold room of his mortuary. They required a clear head and palate.

He trotted down the stairs and locked the door behind him, whistling a merry tune as he pulled out his handkerchief, tucking it over his piercing-blue tie.

The five bodies were very dead, their skin pallid and stiff to the touch. Always good to make sure. Poor form, cutting into someone still living. Downright incompetent. There had been a case nearby where a mortician had cut into a live man, who then woke up screaming, and the mortician had stabbed him to death from fear. The whole story made Remington grimace, embarrassment he shared professions with the man, and he'd vowed never to make such a clumsy mistake.

He went over to the label station, where he jotted down a quick label for each of them, taping each label to a toothpick, which he laid neatly in a row on a plate. Next over to the fridge to pull out—Hm, which one this time? I've had too much of pears—grapes, nice and fat with ripeness. He laid the bunch of grapes beside the toothpicks, and picked up a scalpel.

Then over to the first body, removing the cloth over the inner leg area which would be covered out of modesty during any type of funeral. A few sure slices and he removed a wedge of flesh, stabbed it through with the correct toothpick, and laid it on the plate. The other bodies received the same treatment, a tiny wedge out of each leg, until he had a plate full of flesh and grapes, neatly arranged so that nothing touched.

Then he plucked up the first morsel, a piece of an old man who reportedly suffered a heart attack. He held it up to the light, examining the color and how much light got through. It was as could be expected, a pale, thin color, hardly dimming the light. He waved it around, then sniffed. The smell of decrepitude and decay. Then he took a deeper breath. Under the initial smell lay earth, as would be found in someone who worked hard. That was more promising.

He put his teeth around the toothpick and pulled the slice off, chewing it slowly while breathing in, exhaling through his nose. He rolled the flesh all around his tongue, making sure to take it in with all his taste-buds. It was, firm, heavy, mild, and dry, with a gamey aftertaste. Brentley returned to his label station, where he spat the flesh into his small, silver bucket. Then he washed his palate with a few grapes as he wrote notes on a sheet of paper.

Good enough for basic necromancy components.


As always, anyone can vote…just register on the Linky List HERE.  Please remind your friends to make a selection as well.  The voting will remain open until noon next Sunday (Aug. 25th). 

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


  1. Slippery Slope - great beginning to a real thriller!

    The other - I simply couldn't stomach! :) Actually it was good too! This was a hard one, but I knew I could read the first, but never the second.

  2. Congratulations on the Quincentenary Blog Post, DL!!!! (and thanks to Wikipedia for the term "Quincentenary"). I hope there's at least another 5,000 posts in our blog-reading future!!!

    So on to bout 13 -- a battle of biological testing...

    Slippery Slope's piece is interesting, and I like how the itching neck is tied together with the lines at the end -- it builds curiosity in the reader. However, the overall delivery does not quite feel authentic to me -- the voice and dialog seems more like two junior high school kids hearing their science project's been cancelled as opposed to two top-level biological scientists working on secret governmental research. But the entry is still entertaining and I would likely read on, at least to find out what's up with Gabby neck -- has the prototype been planted there without the MC's knowledge somehow?

    MultaPaucis's entry hits me square in the gut. I'm filled with disgust and revulsion at the casual cadaver-tasting by the MC. But I believe that's clearly the intent -- to take something so abhorrent and make it seem like a perfectly natural thing, as if it were a wine-tasting by a connoisseur of vintages. And so the piece is clearly very effective, with smooth writing, apt descriptions, and interesting characterization. I have no idea why Remington's world involves taste-testing morticians as a matter of course, but amid my revulsion, I am intrigued and captivated, and would definitely read on.

    So I vote for MultaPaucia.

  3. Slippery Slope gets my vote. LOve the last line.

  4. Slippery Slope!

    I know a lot of people who think 13 is lucky. So it's not a number I've ever been suspicious about. Both of these entries were great!

    Congrats on 500, DL!!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  5. My vote goes to MultaPaucis. Not that I would read further, though. No siree. The piece was just too disgusting. But it was written better than the first.

    Slippery Slope - you have an interesting story here, but the first person POV didn't work for me.

  6. Both are well written - my vote goes to #1 - love the last bit :)

  7. Congrats on your 500th post! Wow. That's a lot :) My vote goes to Slippery Slope this round - I'm interested in knowing what happens next. The second one was written well, I just couldn't get past the "ick" factor.

  8. It's Slippery Slope for me. It had great flow and I knew where it was going, but it still held tension. :-)

  9. Slippery, you have a well written piece. I like the twist at the end. I was hoping to find out more about the itch. It doesn't seem like, however, a microbiologist (or some specification thereof) would ever wonder "Why would something barely bigger than a fingernail be considered a threat to national security?" Surely they'd know the answer to that.
    Also, the phrases "I sensed..." and "I felt..." push us out of the story. Remove them and see what I mean.

    MultaPaucis. Good voice, well written. I had a gut feeling that 'imbibed' had to do with alcohol. But please don't make me google a word two sentences in. Throw in another context clue. A single clue would have sufficed.
    Also, "embarrassment" should read "embarrassed." Nitpicky, I know.

    Now to vote:

    MultaPaucis, I read a good variety of things. But from the halfway point onward, your story had my face scrunched and my stomach tight. Yes, it was disgusting. But you literally controlled my physical response with typed words. Well done.

    My vote's for MultaPaucis.

    (I'm looking forward to reading all the voters' responses to the gross factor.)

    1. Oh, and also, congratulations, DL for 500 posts!

      I'm with you on the luck concept. Your theme brings the film The Dark Knight to mind. "I make my own luck," Harvey Dent

    2. Agree absolutely!

      Slippery's piece has a terrific premise and will be fantastic with a little more polish and subtlety, but MultaPaucis' entry is so tightly written that I think I would be ensnared even if s/e hadn't chosen to wrap it around such a... visceral subject.

      Put me down for MultaPaucis!

  10. Slippery Slope, I love how the itchy neck tied in at the end :)

  11. Slippery Slope for me, ever since I read the excerpt in the preliminary judging round. I need to know more!!!

  12. At first I wasn't so sure of slippery's till the voice got more comfortable towards the middle. Like the pace finally picked up. I really liked the tie in of the ending to the beginning.

    Muleta, just the repetition iof the word label so close together was an eye sore. Granted the piece was grotesque just as intended, but the writing style lacked emotion all around.

    Vote: slippery slope

  13. Both pieces freaked me out, and both pieces were very well-written. However, I think I would be more interested in continuing to read the first one, so today my vote is for Slippery Slope.

  14. Both of these were really interesting and I'd happily keep reading either. However, the second one grossed me out--I know, I know, that was the point, but even so--and I felt like the first one, perhaps because of the dialogue, flowed better. So, my vote goes to Slippery Slope.

  15. Congrats on 500 posts, DL! That's awesome! :-)

    I felt #1 dragged a bit. The movements are overly detailed. The para starting "I sensed his uneasiness..." is redundant because the uneasiness is told and then show/described in the next two lines. Also, bookism tags take attention away from the the content of the dialog. It was all interesting; it just needs a good edit.

    #2 was very well-written with great character voice and fun black humor. However, the author chose an excerpt where the subject is so repugnant that few will vote for it (or read on if it starts a novel). But, it didn't bother me since I write horror, so...

    I vote = MultaPaucis

  16. Going with #1. I liked the twist at the end and it was well paced.

  17. The second one had a great sense of humor, but the first was easier to read and with a great twist at the end. My vote is for Slippery Slope.

  18. This time I had to read the other comments first. These were simply that good. I had to get other opinions. It's much harder to choose between two great pieces of writing than from between two mediocre pieces.
    The first piece was much easier to read, but the writing was better in the second. As the horror of the piece developed, I felt like I had a noose around my neck pulling toward something I did not want to see. Great stuff. MultaPaucis.

  19. This vote kind of kills me, because Multa's piece grossed me out so much that I really really don't ever ever want to read any more of that story. Seriously. Please pick a different story in the next round. I'm not joking. If this was a book, I would never buy it, let alone check it out from the library.
    But, while Slippery Slope's is a good, straightforward entry, I don't think it shows the same level of writing that Multa Paucis' does. (There aren't any major problems, but it isn't striking. There are some lazy lines like "My shoulders slumped in resignation as I looked at John" and other "eye/hand/heart/etc. actions" that could have conveyed so much more with a little originality.) So I have to vote for #2.
    (And I am going to beg you once again here to use a different story for the next round!!)

  20. The first one had a nice twist at the end. It would get my vote if not for the fact that the second piece actually made me gasp when the mortician ate the flesh. Yes, the story is not my cup of tea. The morbidity completely grossed me out, but the writer HAD me the entire time. I don't want to know more. In fact, I don't want to know what I know, but I can't stop thinking about it.

    So, my vote goes to MultaPaucis.

  21. Both are excellent pieces. Slippery Slope is well written - clarity, flow, imagery. My criticism concerns the lack of expressed emotion. I expected these scientists would have been a lot more disappointed, frustrated, etc. In the second piece, Multa Paucis, I was thoroughly disgusted with the character's activity - so well written. The scene is well written in that I felt present at the morgue. My vote is for Multa Paucis. Thank you

  22. My vote is for Multa Paucis. It's a better written piece, and it got a real, visceral reaction from me that the first piece just didn't offer.

  23. ew Ew EW! My vote goes to MULTA PAUCIS. This piece was disgusting, but (other than a bit of sloppiness: "The whole story made Remington grimace, embarrassment he shared professions with the man," "I've had too much of pears;" and who the heck is Brentley?) very well written. The writing seems effortless, like many darlings had to be killed (and eaten!)

    This scene from Slippery Slope felt stilted, as if Slippery is just "itching" to tell rather than show. One minute the MC is trying to scratch her neck and the next, her research partner is telling her their project is shut down, but only after she asks. In a real lab, this would be a huge deal for anyone involved at the level where they oversee trials. I WANTED to vote for this one. The writing is good and the story is a heck of a lot more "palatable" than Multa's.

    This is the first time I've voted for an entry that I most assuredly do not want to read more of, and I hope I never have to do it again.

  24. Slippery Slope gets my vote even though I saw it coming. The writing was much more polished. Plus, ew. I mean I admire the idea but... just ick.

  25. My vote goes to SLIPPERY SLOPE.

    First I should say that I'm suffering from some sort of stomach virus and Multa Poncis piece just about put me over the edge. But, aside from that, although the writing and descriptions are tight,it's way too much telling for 500 words.

    Slippery Slope did a much better job of showing in their 500 words and IMO is the strong er piece.

  26. I found Slippery Slope's ending too predictable. I guessed it from the moment the itch was followed by a mention of a research lab.

    I have to admit that I didn't finish Multa Poncis's piece at first. Come on, I was eating breakfast!!! And I don't think I'd like to read any more, even several hours later.

    But I couldn't predict where it was going -- so it gets my vote.

  27. I liked the subject matter better in the first one, and especially liked the ending, but as much as the second one grossed me out, it was also very well-written, and included an undercurrent of humor. Gross humor. Ack! I've gotta vote for Multa Poncis.

  28. Congratulations on 500 posts DL!
    I vote for Slippery Slope.
    Writer In Transit

  29. Multa Paucis gets my vote. Creepy and gross, but effective.

    Slippery-I struggled with the voice and the setup of your piece. The setup didn't feel authentic. Why didn't the research partner admit their project was put on hold earlier? It seems like it would be the news of the day. The voice lacked emotion and the action felt a bit mechanical. It had a nice, twisty ending, but it was somewhat expected, as the neck scratching bit was very prominent. It's a great premise though, and I'd like to know what happens next, and how the experiment ended up in Gabby's neck.

    DL, congratulations on your 500th post!

  30. Congrats on the 500th post DL. I'm going with Slippery Slope today. Good luck guys.

  31. Hi Don .. yes congratulations on 500 posts - ooh yugh .. I'll go for Slippery Slope - don't think I could face more mortuary tales! The itch sounds an interesting story ...

    Cheers Hilary

  32. Congrats DL!

    Multa Paucis I'd love to know what prompted that idea. Or, maybe I wouldn't because oh God. Ew. Gross. I saw it coming and wanted to not read it but felt compelled to. Then I wished I hadn't. I wouldn't read the book, but it was a very well written piece.

    Slippery Slope I felt some of your descriptions were a little overdone. Unlike some of the others, I didn't see the ending coming and I think that last line was just awesome. In fact, it's the part that is making my decision so hard tonight because it absolutely makes me want to read more.

    But I really do have to vote for Multa Paucis.

  33. My vote is for Multa, as the writing is tighter and the tension is consistent throughout and allows for forward progress of the story. I do have two critiques for Multa:
    1) There is a drastic POV shift from 3rd to 1st with "Hm, which one this time? I've had too much of pears—grapes, nice and fat with ripeness. He laid the bunch . ."
    2) The piece starts with the POV character as Remington and ends with him as Brently.

    Nice story building despite the editing needs :)


  34. So I'm not sure why in Slippery Slope's the lab assistant implants it in the MC (or how without him noticing) instead of himself. And the mentioning of the itching is too heavy-handed. Vote for MultaPaucis.

  35. Wasn't thrilled with either piece but at least Multa made me feel something---YUCK!
    Vote Multa

  36. I thought these were both very well done with nice atmosphere & intrigue, and I love the *gasp* factor at the end of each. They’re similar in medical setting and not terribly different in tone, but totally different in the telling. This vote is based purely on personal preference. The quicker pace and emotion of Slippery Slope’s piece appealed to me more, so it gets my vote.

    I have a few nitpicks for each author, and I’m sorry if I’m duplicating, but I don’t like to read the other comments before I vote.

    Slippery Slope:

    “I sensed his uneasiness” - not necessary since you to an excellent job conveying his unease through his actions.

    “trying to remember a memory” – sounds weird. I’d either change “remember” to “recall” or “memory” to “something.”

    You can eliminate “I couldn't believe it.” You convey the character’s disbelief in the dialogue so it’s not necessary, also “I couldn’t believe” is repeated just a short bit later.

    Multa Paucis:

    First, I'd like to say that I'm SO glad I wasn't eating when I read this, hehe. Really, really nice sensory detail. It kind of kills me not to give you a vote. :(

    You say “label” three times in first sentence in fourth paragraph – I’d whittle that to one.

    Also, a slip in POV in that paragraph: “I’ve”

  37. Missed the voting on this I think, but both so creepy and shivery!
    I'd like to see where the first story goes...




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