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WRiTE CLUB 2013 Playoffs Semi-Finals Bout #2

This is the last of the open voting rounds for the WRiTE CLUB playoffs.   

The fighters have been given the opportunity to "tweak" or edit their current submission based on the input voters have left for them, and that is what will do battle before you Monday and today.  No wildcard in this round.

The two fighters who make it to the finals will be asked to once more submit new 500 word writing samples, and that will be what is forwarded to our celebrity judges. Of course I'll post them here on my blog for you to comment on, but it will be our judges who make the final selection.

Our writers are ready, the crowd is restless, lets get this show on the road!

Stepping into the near corner, please welcome back to the ring...Alone.

Thanksgiving 1972 

Darkness blanketed the trees along the lane as the truck’s headlights dressed the bottoms of them in its glow.

“Um…how much farther, Mister?” I searched his grizzly face. His emotionless eyes glared into mine, smearing on a sly grin, then focused back on the road.

It was that very smile that coaxed me into his truck, promising me a ride to the nearest payphone to call a tow.

But since a year ago…that smile haunted me.

The man’s hand reached to my exposed leg. I flinched against my seat, inhaling. He stopped a moment, then redirected, turning the radio dials till Loretta Lynn bellowed through the speakers.

I exhaled, closing my eyes. “Um….”

“Soon, honey…soon.” He cooed through dried lips, turning the radio up.

“My-my parents are expecting me for Thanksgiving dinner anytime now so…at least they know I’m on this road.” I tried to sound as convincing as possible, while a nervous sweat escaped my pores. “I…um, called them from a payphone before the car broke down twenty miles ago.”

The man broke his eyes from the road again, lingering them on me. His smile drew wider, exposing tobacco-ridden teeth. “That’s good, honey…that’s good.”

In the distance, a green rectangular sign reflected the next gas station to be fifteen miles away. A deep breath escaped me, trying to calm my nerves.

Just a few more miles.

“See, honey? Almost there,” he comforted with a Cheshire grin. “Thirsty?”

I relaxed in my seat. “Yeah…yeah, I am.”

The man pulled a flask from his jacket’s inner pocket, unscrewing the top with one hand, and offered it. Taking it to my parched lips, I tipped my head back, and returned the top to the flask. I handed it back, coughing, letting it trickle out the side of my mouth. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, honey,” he chuckled gruffly. “You’re welcome.”

The music continued playing in the background as he turned it up more.

“Mister.” My eyes fluttered, my head tipped back and forth in a drunken stupor. “I can’t…I ca….”

Dropping my head to my chin, I closed my eyes, feeling the truck swerve hard down a dirt road.

“You’ll make an excellent addition,” he sneered as I lifted my eyes, seeing the broken-down barn up ahead.

Swaying left, I moaned, reaching into my jean pocket. “This is for my baby sister!” I yelled flipping the switchblade out and stabbing hard into his throat. The truck veered off the road, as his hands flailed, his neck streaming blood. I jerked the steering wheel hard, his body falling into my lap, shaking erratically, as the truck ran through the barn doors and slammed into a metal wall dangling bloodied shackles.

My head thrust forward into the dashboard, knocking me back. Smoke slipped through the smashed hood. Blood streamed down my face, my heart beating hard. I looked down to see the man lying on the floor under me quivering still. I lifted my spiked boot, and drove it hard into his skull.


And in the far corner, their willing opponent....Muleshoe.

On the third day, God said: Now you just stay there and think about what you did.

So Elim stood where they'd tied his hands to the posts of the main street promenade, leaning into the dwindling shade as the sun climbed higher.  The rest of the dust-choked street was long since deserted.

Which left just Elim, standing spread-armed between the beams, struggling to keep his aching head shaded and his sluggish thoughts pious as his back and shoulders roasted in the sun.

That was a tall order.

It was powerfully difficult to let his gaze rest on the walkway without thinking of the people it had been built for.  The raised wooden walk had kept their genteel boots out of the mud; the open sloping roof had guarded their reverend heads from the rude heat of the day.

They would have been fine, decent folks.  They wouldn't have left even a bastard like Elim strung up like this.  But they had long since passed on to their reward, and left him at the mercy of their brutal heirs.

He was close, though – so close his sweat dripped onto the weathered gray planks.  If he could just get past the pain in his arms and the tightness in his chest and lean in far enough to get his head into that heavenly shaded space – just for even a minute – he would surely breathe in some of their deathless grace, and understand how to account for himself.

That kept him busy enough that the slow, rhythmic thud of hooves took him by surprise. Startled, Elim glanced back over one shoulder –

–just as an enormous brown face hung itself over the other.  There beside him was Molly Boone: unbridled, unsaddled, and apparently having liberated herself from the corral.  Elim’s mouth cracked in a smile.

"Miz Boone," he declared in a parched whisper, "you are a brazen hussy.  Is this you flauntin' yourself around town without your bonnet on?"  He closed his eyes as her lips anointed his face with a streak of oaty slobbers.  "And dolin' out your affections to any man in the street, I see.  Ain't you 'shamed?"

No, not hardly.  Shame was for people – for creatures who could sort right things from wrong ones, and hold themselves accountable for the difference.

Elim breathed in her warm-barn smell, and steadied his resolve.  "Don't listen to any of what they said about me, now.  You know I ain't like that."

He had to get himself sure on that too.  Back home, he could have said it for a certifiable fact: he did not and never had hurt anyone.

Here, though...

Elim glanced down the empty street, past the adobe walls shimmering in the heat and the tilting burnt-out church steeple, to the black-iron manor at the end of the road. 

Maybe this place had changed him into a murderer.  Elim couldn't have said whether it had that power.  But it certainly was fixing to change him into a dead man.

Please leave a vote in the comments section for the one who you believe deserves to move onto the finals. Voting for both semi-final bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, October 13th. Help me spread the word about what is happening here.  Anyone can still vote, as long as they register on the Linky List.

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


  1. Last one!! It's been a heck of a journey.

  2. I like both of these entries, but I have to give the edge to Muleshoe.

    1. Oh, and I should definitely add -- the revisions to Alone's piece were compelling and completely changed the whole piece. Where the previous submission just had the MC as a passive victim making stupid choices, now we her as the real stalker, out for revenge. This adds a great twist and gives complexity and interest to the situation. This made my choice today much tougher, but in spite of the significant improvement to Alone's story, I still had to go with Muleshoe.

  3. Muleshoe gets my vote.

    Alone's piece did indeed have twist, but I felt it came out of nowhere, especially with it written in first person. I think it might have played out better in the villain's POV, but that's just my opinion...

  4. I liked the new twist in alone. Vote alone!!

  5. Muleshoe knows how to write a great piece, but I love the twist in Alone. So, I will vote Alone.

  6. I'm back in time for the finals. Missed not being able to chime in, but the choices readers have made are good ones. I'm going with Muleshoe.

  7. Sorry, but I did not like the additions to the Alone piece, so it's Muleshoe for me.

  8. Congrats to you both on getting this far. My vote Muleshoe

  9. I vote for Muleshoe! Excellent writing, both of you.

  10. Both are excellent, but I'm going to go with Alone.

  11. I like the changes to Alone. I'm going with that one. Alone.

  12. Bravo to the changes, Alone. I dig the new "victim".
    But my vote must go to Muleshoe. z

  13. I vote for ALONE! Muleshoe's was excellent as well, tho.

  14. I vote Alone. Muleshoe was really great, too. Close round!

  15. I liked Alone but when I read Muleshoe, I was totally pulled in. My vote goes to Muleshoe.

  16. Wow so very close! I think I have to choose Alone.

  17. Although I liked the new twist in #1, I think #2 is stronger so it gets my vote.
    Well done to both writers though!




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