WRiTE CLUB 2014 Play-offs - Round One / Bout 5









We've narrowed the field down to eighteen and we're continuing on with the play-off rounds – which as promised will come at a rapid fire pace.  This is the last posting of the first week (Mon-Fri) and four next week (Mon-Thur).  The voting for all nine bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, August 31st.  Your task remains simple…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  If you haven’t already done so in the previous rounds, offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote, so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.  Vote on as many bouts as you can get around to.  Whether that is one bout, or all nine, how much you participate is up to you. 

Here’s something else to keep in mind for this round...every vote counts. That’s because the contestant who doesn't win their bout but garners the most votes amongst all of the other losers, will become a wildcard winner and still advance to round 2. 

The winners will be posted late in the afternoon on August 31 and then round 2 will kick off the following Monday, September 1st, with all new 500 word submissions from the nine advancing contestants.

Good luck to all of the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner welcome back to the ring.....Huntress



It started as it always did, the Call burning inside my stomach like radioactive magnets. Tugging, nagging, beckoning until my whole body buzzed with it. I threw my hair into a messy bun, tugged on my hoodie, and grabbed the essentials: my Glock 42, zip-ties, gloves and keys. By the time I started up my old Honda, I could feel a taut, invisible line connecting me with that which I sought.

I headed east out of the city, my inner GPS guiding my choice of highways. Skyscrapers were replaced with suburbs, which were replaced with intermittent slashes of farmland and woods. Time elapsed, too slow, as I tried not to white-knuckle the steering wheel. The bobble-head Yoda on my dashboard mocked me as I drummed the fingers of one hand on my thigh. My nails were already chewed down, the gunmetal paint chipped. Yeah, patience wasn’t so much my virtue. One hour passed, then two. Midafternoon slid away and the sky began a sluggish burn to night. As the temperature dropped, the heater in my car started to sound like it was having an asthma attack. The land became desolate, hilly, shadowed with thick forest. Almost there.

When I found the house, I passed it and circled up and down a few gravel roads before I spotted a good place to hide my car. My breath puffed miniature clouds into the air as I trekked back to the house. More of a cabin, really. Yellow shutters stood out against the wooden planks and plaid curtains hung in the windows. Smoke twisted lazily out of the chimney. God, it seemed like something right out of a creepy fairytale. And the Call definitely emanated from inside. That’s where I’d find the girl. I took a deep breath, ran my fingers over the hard comfort of my gun, and moved for the front door.

Which opened abruptly.

I dropped behind a bush, my heart moving into high gear with a kick like my motorcycle. The kidnapper walked to his truck, whistling as he went. The engine rumbled to life and he pulled down the driveway.

It looked as if I’d just gotten very lucky.

Seven minutes later the six-year-old girl that’d been splashed on the news all day lay safe in my car. Drugged and asleep, but out of harm’s way. However, one loose end remained: dealing with the perv who’d taken her. The hunter had become the hunted. Karma sure is a bitch, and I was happy to help dole out her cosmic justice.

I ran back through the woods and crouched down between a rusty water pump and an abandoned Volvo. The Call, faded only for a handful of minutes, flared up again as I refocused it, my own internal bloodhound. The snatcher became my target now. He wasn’t far.

Plum shades of twilight seeped up around the edges of the horizon and an icy wind gnawed at my cheeks like a hungry animal. I waited.


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And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce.... NotAnna




Desperate

It’s all desperation. When she tries to look at him the way she’s supposed to. When she laughs with her friends. When she gets a new haircut just to see if anyone notices. It’s so thick you can rub it between your fingers. I can taste it on my lips when she kisses me.

She doesn’t do that very often, kiss me, but when she does, she does it right. Just pushes me up against the lockers when the hallways are deserted, pulls me into an empty classroom, drags me into the girls’ bathroom, and sets her lips on mine. The desperation helps then, because she’s trying not to think about it. It makes her stronger, faster, harder. Her hand clutches at my hair, her breath speeds up, and her eyes close. Like she doesn’t know who I am. Like that makes what we’re doing any better.

When she’s through with me, she just pushes away with a gusty exhalation that mixes anger and regret in equal parts. If we’re in the bathroom, she glances in the mirror, fixes her lip-stick, combs her long dark hair with her fingers, avoids my eyes. I always want to help her fix her hair, want to get that one strand she’s missing and feel her under my hands again. Today the feeling is stronger than ever, and as she straightens her cardigan and sticks her chin up like nothing just happened between us, I can feel my resolve crumbling. She’s not going to do anything.

I reach out, slowly, cautiously, until my hand is resting a few shivering centimeters above her back. I close my eyes for a second and go in for the kill, stroking her hair in a brief, awkward pat. She whirls around and glares at me.

“What the actual fuck?”

I tripped and fell against her hair. Or I have a disease that makes me want to touch hair. It’s like kleptomania. Maybe I want to know what shampoo she uses. It’s definitely not because-

“I love you.”

She shakes her head, shakes it hard. “No, you don’t. You can’t.”

I take a step back. “Maria.” My hands are out in front of me in a gesture my English teacher says is defensive, supplicating, showing inferiority.

She grabs her purse. “I can’t, Jamie. Okay? I can’t.”

Her hair whips my face as she turns and sprints out the bathroom, and this time it’s my desperation hanging thick in the air.

************************************************************************

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

34 comments

  1. There are things to like in both of these pieces, but I'm going to recuse myself from the voting for this round -- since the first round, I've become aware of who one of the authors is and I want to avoid any conflicts of interests.

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  2. Huntress gets my vote. Nice set-up. The *showing* is so good that when the narrative resorts to *telling* here and there ("Yeah, patience wasn’t so much my virtue"), it's unneeded.

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  3. I have to say NotAnna. I love the emotions there from both characters.

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  4. I'm going to vote Huntress because I like the action in the scene. There's a lot happening, and it feels like we're right with the MC.

    While I like NotAnna's emotional draw, there are just a few things that pop me out too much, like "What the actual fuck." and some of the descriptions.

    Still congrats to both for making it through!

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    Replies
    1. Oddly, "what the actual fuck" is my fav line in this. Different strokes I guess.

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  5. NotAnna. I'm choosing this one mostly because of the emotional impact, but also because the blunt, honest quality of the voice is very effective, even though I don't care for the use of present tense.

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  6. They're both written very well, so it's down to the details. I still have a problem with the first one watching the kidnapper ride off without doing anything. Not even a THOUGHT as to why. And if it's not important, then why the scene? Therefore, my vote goes to NotAnna. I felt the character's angst, even if it was a little bit desperate.

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  7. Tough choice, but I'll go with NotAnna

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  8. NotAnna.

    I didn't get to vote in Huntress's round, but the story felt "off." The MC lost my sympathy when she left a drugged, traumatized, six-year-old alone in a car at dusk in the middle of nowhere to go deal with the bad guy.

    I'm a real "un-fan" of the YA Romance genre, but with all its angst and emotional focus, NotAnna's offering felt more "human" to me. Plus, I thought the overall writing was a tidge better.

    Congratulations to both Huntress and NotAnna for making it this far!

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  9. Huntress. Better command of the story and there was no confusion as to where we were in time, etc.

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  10. I'm getting very subjective here and going with my gut. NotAnna

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