Here we are. Two writers...but only one crown. Who will make a favorable impression on the judges and be left standing?
Let me start off by congratulating not only Ravenclaw and Snivvy Crank for surviving nineteen weeks of grueling competition and landing here in the final round, but every single writer who was brave enough to submit an entry to my contest. This is the part of WRiTE CLUB where...if you so desire...the masks come off. I encourage everybody (except our finalist) to use the comments below to let us see who the person behind the pen name is. I know there are a lot of fans who really want to find out more about you and your writing story. It would also be helpful to us know what number you were on the linky list, so we can follow the link back to your own blog.
I've already emailed Ravenclaw's and Snivvy Crank's new 500 word writing sample to our panel of judges (if you forgot who they were, check out the list HERE) and I'll post the results, along with any critiques they provide, next Monday (Dec. 10th). But that doesn't mean you don't get a say. I've also posted our two finalists pieces below so you can have one final chance to vote. If by some remarkable chance our judges come up with a split decision, your votes in the comments below will decide the tie-breaker.
I will be back on Wednesday to post some takeaways from this season's WRiTE CLUB, and I'll also be asking for recommendations for what you'd like to see be different for next year. Make sure you stop by for that.
And now...for one last time this year....
In this corner, welcome to the ring our first finalist.....Ravenclaw. Here are links to his original entry, the edited version, his 2nd submission, and the edited 2nd.
The cilia on Overseer Moros's forelegs undulated in a display of arrogant irritation, and all six of his bulbous eyes rotated to focus their full attention on me. The piercing shaft of his whip-tail hardened; thick drops of neural poison forming at its tip. The deadly ooze glistened in the faint light of the Overseer's chamber.
His vocal aperture vibrated. "Please continue your report, Agent Dolos." His tone was gentle, but the underlying menace was palpable.
Trying to hide my terror, I chose my words carefully -- the previous agent had not lived long after admitting his failure.
"I have successfully infiltrated one of the planet's centers of power, Overseer. Our conquest is merely a matter of time."
"Yes, you have already expressed this opinion. But what facts do you present to corroborate it? I need more than empty promises."
The Overseer's whip-tail began to sway. The air of the chamber filled with the sharp, vile odor of his anger.
"Success is assured," I said, "although there are challenges. Our pre-landing information was..."
"In what way? Does the form you inhabit allow you to walk among the natives?"
"Yes, Overseer. The basic design is flawless. I am projected into the bio-shell with full control and I pass easily for an inhabitant of this planet."
"Is the shell in any danger while it is empty?"
"No. The inactivity of the bio-shell is taken as normal sleep by all who see it."
The whip-tail swayed wider, its dripping poison splattering onto the Overseer's command platform.
"Then I hear no reason for failure. You will succeed or suffer the consequences."
I fought the panic erupting in me. "But, you see, Overseer, the form we chose--"
Moros raised his voice, his vocal aperture throbbing in violent waves of sound. "The form seems sufficient to accomplish our goals, Agent Dolos. If there is failure, it will be because you are to blame."
The whip-tail swung past me, much too closely.
I stammered a reply. "Yes, Overseer."
Four of his eyes turned away, signaling my dismissal. I turned and fled, pushing my way through the membranes that surrounded the command chamber. My instincts screamed at me to keep going, to leave the ship immediately, but I knew it would only lead to a painful death in this world's oxygen-rich atmosphere.
I had no choice but to return to the projection chamber. There, I strapped myself into the projector and pressed my gripping digits onto the control pad. It glowed in response. The machinery whirred to life and I felt the disorienting tug as the process began.
Then I was swallowed in a burst of blinding light as my awareness shifted to the bio-shell.
I found myself curled up on top of the seated form of one of the planet's leaders, his giant hand almost covering my body.
Another native standing nearby spoke.
"Mr. President, I just don't understand why you allow that damn cat to sleep on your lap."
And in the far corner our other finalist, let me re-introduce.... Snivvy Crank. Here are links to his original entry, the edited version, his 2nd entry, and the edited 2nd entry.
Mr. Jaspers tossed the school board’s “parting” gift unopened onto the truck’s vinyl seat. The truck--a rather smart fellow for a pick-up--groaned a warning about the package...a warning that unfortunately went unnoticed by Mr. Jaspers. The Scotsman was busy feeling old and defeated, staring up at the school with a sadness only another ex-janitor could appreciate.
“I dinna understand,” he sighed. “Who’ll be watchin’ the windows an’ keeping the latches shut against the wee devils now, I wonder?”
Jaspers sighed again and turned his attention to the brown paper parcel, which sat tauntingly on the seat. The truck groaned again but Jaspers’ vein-streaked hands were already fumbling with the twine and delving through the mass of tissue paper.
“Well,” he said, pulling out a Scotch bottle, “at least the auld numpties know their liquor--but what is this?”
“This” happened to be a pocket watch.
Jaspers examined the thing, his wrinkled fingers brushing over the engraved surface. It was old--very old--and rather nice: not something you’d find in a typical trinkets-and-chains jewelry store. But Jaspers couldn’t help feeling there was something decidedly off about it, a sort of sensation it gave of--
The Scotsman frowned. That was the problem: he couldn’t give the sensation a name, but it felt akin to peering over the edge of a crag…when time seems to stop….
He examined the image on the lid more closely. It certainly was a strange picture to have engraved: the hooded figure of Death holding an hourglass.
“Well, that’s a cheery send-off, if I do say so. I wonder if they’ve written anything inside.” Mr. Jaspers clicked open the lid and noticed with some surprise that the face had no hands. It did, however, have eight words elegantly inscribed in a language Mr. Jaspers had not seen in a very, very long time:
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust--
Mr. Jaspers’ frown deepened as a scorching cloud of ashen smoke began to billow out of the face.
“Well noo, that cannae be good…” he thought; and then Mr. Jaspers blinked.
Slowing time was a particular talent of Mr. Jaspers’. It was much easier than it seemed; like stretching a piece of silly putty. He did this, pulling and tugging with his mind until the seconds grew thin and wispy and seemed to stretch on and on. Then, at the very edge of infinity, Jaspers dropped the watch...and ran.
He could see the watch in his mind, floating where he’d left it, as he limped faster and faster, feeling time sway and bounce under his bad leg. From somewhere behind him there was a piercing blast of white light.
Jaspers knew he was in trouble long before the wall of light hit him. The thread of time, already stretched to its limit, snapped around him and in a flash Mr. Jaspers was gone, his last lingering thought echoing into perpetuity with him:
Ach! Should have opened the damned Scotch first…
Has anybody forgotten the WRiTE CLUB motto? It’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!