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 unluck...here 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.
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!