Muleshoe vs Philangelus
Before turning this over to our celebrity judges to determine who will be the last WRiTER standing this year, I want to pause and thank all of the WRiTERs who were brave enough to submit their work. Such courage does not go unnoticed and should be recognized as well!
Before I reveal the new 500 word submissions that were submitted for this final round, let's take a moment to refresh our memories of just who those judges are.
Kendare Blake – is the author of the highly acclaimed Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares teen horror series. She is an import from South Korea who was raised in the United States by Caucasian parents. She received a Bachelor's degree in Business from Ithaca College and a Master's degree in Writing from Middlesex University in London. She brakes for animals, the largest of which was a deer, which sadly didn't make it, and the smallest of which was a mouse, which did, but it took forever. Amongst her likes are Greek Mythology, rare red meat and veganism. She also enjoys girls who can think with the boys like Ayn Rand, and boys who scare the morality into people, like Bret Easton Ellis. Her first novel, Sleepwalk Society is a college story which she says falls into that no man's land they call, "New Adult". She has a new novel, Antigoddess (Goddess War #1), slated to be released this fall.
Katie Grimm – Katie joined Don Congdon Associates in 2007, where in addition to maintaining her own client list she also acts as business manager. She focuses on vivid literary fiction, transportive historical fiction, up-market women’s fiction, cohesive short story collections, and lurid mysteries & thrillers with exotic or historical settings. In young adult, she is actively seeking both contemporary and fantastical high-concepts with a touch of romance. In middle grade, she looks for heart and humor with a strange or creepy twist. Most importantly, she is hooked by fiction with emotional resonance and longevity, and in her opinion, this requires an authentic voice, relatable characters, and a twisting plot that keeps her intrigued. For non-fiction, she is looking for narrative non-fiction about history, popular science, off-beat topics, and counter-culture. She is also a member of SCBWI.
Alex J. Cavanaugh – Alex is a science fiction writer on a journey of discovery...and blogger extraordinaire! Online he is known as Captain Ninja Alex! He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He minored in music and plays several instruments, including guitar. Alex is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games, and those passions are reflected on his blog. He is the founder of the Insecure Writer's Support Group and co-host of the A to Z Challenge. His first book, CassaStar, was released October 19, 2010, and is an Amazon Best Seller. The sequel, CassaFire, was released on February 28, 2012. His third book in the series, CassaStorm, is scheduled for release later this year.
Tiana Smith – Tiana was the first ever WRiTE CLUB champion back in 2011! She grew up in Montana where she learned how to build a fire better than her husband, though she’s never ridden a horse. She graduated with an English degree with a creative writing focus from Westminster College and writes YA/MG books. Tiana is currently querying her YA Fantasy novel – Dungeon Duty. She also likes to design blogs, so if you're interested in getting one of her premade designs, please visit her shop @ The Blog Decorator.
Mark Hough – Mark was last years the 2012 WRiTE CLUB champion. Mark and his wife Faith live and work in Southern Connecticut, a short drive away from the music centers of New York City and Yale School of Music in New Haven. Mark is not only a talented writer, but he has been making violins, violas and cellos for 13 years, since he completing his 3-year apprenticeship with Lawrence Wilke in 1998. He is a member of the Violin Society of America, which has awarded Mark's violins two Certificates of Merit for workmanship.
Our judges have their work cut out for them, because these are two OUTSTANDING pieces of work.
First, from the writer who has seemingly be destined for a spot in this round from the start... Muleshoe.
Look, I'm not saying it was the brightest thing I ever did. But it's me telling the story, so lie still and let me get on with it.
Anyway, what I was saying was, it wasn't anyplace special: just a shoddy old ranch-house skirted around with some raggedy little peach trees that probably wouldn't fruit if you paid 'em. I was just saying to old Pete that it probably had been a mistake to turn down that road. Then we heard that almighty roar – you know the one. Like if an avalanche could moo.
Now, I expect you're thinking the same as I was: "James, how in blazes do you get a giant all the way out in Quintanilla County?"
I'm getting to that part.
He came tearing out from behind the house: a whole half-ton of hairy brown desert ape, all mangy and rangy and crusted over with yellow quartz tumors. Then he reared up at the sight of us, eight feet tall and surprised, that was what – like he was expecting somebody different.
Well, there was plenty of that to go around. Pete's ears went flat, and we agreed between us that it was high time to excuse ourselves.
That was when we heard the lady's scream.
Or maybe it was more of a shout. I couldn't make out the shape of what she said, but I saw her plain enough – running out from behind the house, wearing an apron the color of a fresh marmalade smear – and the giant did too. He turned and barreled right for her.
That was when I allotted on trespassing. I kicked old Pete up to a gallop, and we jumped that fence good enough to leave six-inch skids in the dirt. And I tell you what: when your hind-end is half up out of the saddle and the marmalade girl is waving her arms and hollering and you already know you are a worthless shot with the pistol you're pulling, your only notion is to run your horse up alongside that wild-minded woollybooger, draw your bead, and fire.
Well, it was the messiest clean miss I ever made. The girl shrieked, the giant ducked, and old Pete – why, he chucked me ass over ears and tore off toot-de-sweet, as the hellbenders say.
Me and the dirt meditated on that for a bit.
"Merciful heavens, are you all right?"
I sat myself up by breathless busted inches, anxious to assure her that I was –
– but she wasn't talking to me. No, she was fussing over him, who'd huddled up there like some huge rancid haystack. Patting his arm. Soothing him in the tone you'd use for a child with a strawberry knee.
Did you ever notice that little moment, when your foot's missed the step but the rest of you still don't know it?
"What on God's earth is WRONG with you, mister?"
And our other contestant, similarly on a collision course with her opponent from the beginning, Philangelus.
Back in the waiting room, I call, "Mr. Davis? I have your vehicle."
The moment he's within arm's reach, I smell alcohol.
I force a smile. "Were you able to find lunch?"
Back in college we'd have called it a malted barley salad.
The man says, "Sure did. Thanks, Miss."
I stand corrected: that's no barley salad. It smells stronger than beer.
"Oh! Look at that." I try to sound breezy. "Sorry, but I'll need you to wait while I check out something we found."
The man says, "What is it?"
I fight nausea. "A potential problem between the front seat and the steering wheel that could cause an accident."
As proof that he's drunk, he accepts this.
I return to the Dodge. Maybe I can keep him sitting long enough to sober up. But Max already made me look over the thing for even the smallest billable fix. The CV boots, the axle, the rotors: they're fine, all disgustingly fine. Other than it being a Dodge, there are no problems.
Max stalks over. "What's going on?"
"I can't give him the keys. He's drunk."
Max glowers. "What the hell do you care?"
I grimace. "I think we should care about people dying."
"I'm not getting involved." Max folds his arms. "Give him back his car."
"I'm going to find some other problem and fix it while he waits."
Max turns away. "Get the guy out of my shop. Park it on the street so it's not our problem, and then get back inside. I'm ticketing him out right now."
I call after Max, "We'd be liable."
"Not if you didn't notice anything."
I'm wedging the car into the narrowest space in the heretofore known universe, two inches longer than the car itself. It may actually be two inches shorter. No drunk guy will be able to pull out without hitting the cars in front and behind, and better to hit a parked car than a moving one. I hate this, but it's the best I can do. It's not my job to keep drunks off the road.
That's when I realize: It's not my job to keep drunks off the road.
They say you shouldn't use the phone while driving. Despite that, I find in the 911 dispatcher a very interested listener who wants to know exactly where I am, the license plate, the make and model, and the driver's name. All of which, hey!, are right here on the intake form.
I take a long time parking.
Max waits at the desk, hand extended. I present the keys to the Deathmobile, and he encourages the customer to have a nice day. I issue directions to the spot fifty feet down the street. I have to do it three times. As the customer wanders away, Max says, "Good girl. Never get involved. Here, take an oil change."
Although your vote does not count towards the final decision, everyone (and I mean everyone...no Linky List restrictions this time) is welcome to offer an opinion in the comment section below.