This morning we hand out another congratulations, this time to Miss Drake for winning Bout #7. The voting for Bout #8 remains open until noon on Wednesday, July 16th.
For those of you who may have miss it last time, a rundown of past and current matches, with their respective winners, can be found right HERE.
For anyone who's dropping by for the first time, here's a summary of what's going on. Back on May 3rd we began taking submissions from WRiTER’s far and wide, spanning the globe, representing all ages and multiple styles of WRiTING. We received 167 entries in all! Those 500 word samples went under careful consideration by 11 judges and that panel narrowed the list down to 32…which are the ones that are pairing off in the ring over the course of eight weeks.
Note: The submissions can be an excerpt from a larger work...or a standalone piece of flash fiction. The only rules are that they be 500 words or less, and never previously published or posted on a blog. Although I'll never instruct someone how they should choose a winner, I would recommend considering this when doing so. It shouldn't be about how much information is contained in those 500 words, but the way a contestant goes about communicating the information that is.
These illustrious WRiTER’s are not only from all walks of life, but they also occupy various levels of the publication world. But none of that matters here, because inside this ring everybody stands as equals. You know why? Because no one uses their real name…the only identification you’ll ever see is their pen name. This is not a popularity contest. The focus here is on the writing, where it should be.
Today is the ninth of sixteen bouts, two bouts per week, with a new one posted every Monday and Thursday. The winners are decided by votes left in the comment section and anyone can vote. The voting for each fight will last for one full week, so you can vote for a Monday battle all the way until midnight on Sunday, and you can vote for a Thursday brawl up until midnight the following Wednesday. And when you do vote, please let the contestants know what you liked and disliked.
Have you got your popcorn and favorite drink? Time for the fun to begin!
Here are this bout's two randomly selected WRiTER's.
Standing in this corner, representing the Adult Dystopian genre and weighing in at 498 words, please welcome to the ring……..Salome.
It was Christa McPhearson’s time to die.
Miguel Rodriguez wished all the Lifecycle cases could be this easy. The Death Squad captain and his team of three spent five minutes reviewing the facts.
The fragile eighty-one year old first presented with a case of sepsis most likely brought on by the one-centimeter-wide stone taking up residence in her kidney. This was followed by a tear in her sphincter that resulted in the loss of a great deal of blood. Her bowels weren’t moving; she suffered from severe constipation that required prescription medicine to move them. Her oxygen levels had plummeted, and she required constant infusions. She showed no interest in eating, or moving her limbs as directed in her physical therapy sessions, even in the comfort of her hospital bed. But she sure was taking advantage of the painkillers. And all those drugs were contributing to her constipation, despite other medicine given to counteract that effect.
As they always did, the Death Squad applied their logarithms to the patient’s medical history. The logarithms were the Holy Grail of medical care in the 22nd Century. They provided the most impartial and empirical way of determining an ailing patient’s future. In the case of Christa McPhearson, there was a 95% chance she’d never get out of bed again. With the cost of acute long-term patient care looming at an average cost of $3000 per day, it didn’t make economic sense to expend the resources to prolong her life.
It didn’t help Christa’s case that she was a widow. Her three daughters and son hated to see her go, but they had their own families that required immediate attention, and frankly, Christa had become clingy and whiney lately. Her family had all signed the statement appended to the medical report and submitted to the Death Squad. In fact, they'd gone one step beyond what was required, providing sworn affidavits that promised they wouldn’t appeal the Death Squad’s ruling if it went badly for Christa, as it inevitably would with her unfortunate fact pattern.
Miguel knew that Christa's children didn’t have the heart to tell their mother what was happening two floors above, in the hospital’s conference room. Instead, he pictured them gathered around her bed, the smell of hospital soap and pureed broccoli to be endured for only a little while longer. Her great-grandchildren scrunching up their noses when they thought no one was looking, and pressing themselves into the soft bodies of their mothers. The adults talking over one another, recollecting perkier times such as when Christa rescued their beloved dog from a family who was abusing him, or when she insisted that her children learn the nearly extinct art of cursive writing.
And in the other corner, representing the Science Fiction genre with 500 words, let me introduce to you……….Sapphire Eyes.
“Let me go.”
The words bounced mercilessly off the white tile floor and marble countertops. Noah froze. A scuffed multimeter was trapped within the confines of his white-knuckled hand.
Those words meant one thing. We have to start all over again.
Noah dropped the multimeter. In his haste to reach his computer, he sent a cascade of microchips and wires crashing to the floor, but the resulting clatter didn’t faze him. He had work to do.
When he first met Ariel, Noah knew she was unique. Something worth exploring. He never knew whether he believed in love before that. No one else seemed to fit. Unlike the components of a computer, people didn’t insert themselves into designated slots. Unlike computer programs, they couldn’t be tweaked to suit his needs. Companionship was messy. Unpredictable. How could he be expected to navigate the complexities of another person’s emotions when he barely understood his own?
With Ariel, something felt right. She knew when not to push a subject that he didn’t feel comfortable with. She listened to him talk about his work, and she asked intelligent questions. She sat with him whilst he toiled away on a project, handing him a screwdriver or soldering gun when needed. When he was in the midst of writing a complex program, she brought him plates of food so he didn’t go hungry.
For a short while, he had everything he needed.
Noah collapsed into his computer chair, his fingers grazing the keyboard purposefully. He accessed the files he needed, searching out the lines of code to be erased.
Unbidden, his own problematic memories came to the surface.
“Stay with me.” When Ariel spoke these words, they were laced with fear. He’d been working on artificial intelligence software when the diagnosis came. Terminal cancer. She didn’t have much time.
“Hold my hand.” He’d been at a loss. He couldn’t face it, nor could he comfort her. Instead, he holed himself up in his lab, intent on saving her. After Ariel’s body perished, she lived on in lines of code, maintained by a computer that he’d built with his own hands.
She chatted with him in the beginning, her beautiful voice projected through the best speakers he could build. It truly did sound like her, and she seemed happy to be with him.
Then she began to feel trapped. Even with the worlds Noah programmed for her to explore, she grew weary.
“Let me go.” The first time she pleaded with him to end it, tears leaked from his eyes.
He couldn’t do as she asked, so he did the only thing he could think to do. He wiped away her memories of living inside the system, restoring her to the original elation she felt at having cheated death.
Now he had to do it again.
Enjoying the words of two talented writers is only part of the price of admission, now it’s up to you to decide who moves forward to the playoffs. In the comments below leave your vote for the winner of Bout #9. Which one tickled your fancy? After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well. The voting for this round will remain open until noon Sunday. Yes, it’s subjective, but so is the entire publishing world. It’s as much about the readers as it is about the writers.