It's week #2 of the WRiTE CLUB play-off rounds – which I promised would come at a rapid fire pace -- and we have four more bouts scheduled. I must say I'm a little disappointed with the participation we've seen so far. Last year we averaged 31 votes per round one bout in the playoffs, and this year we are averaging 27. Yes, it is early, so the numbers could rebound, but it is also up to all of you to help make that happen. Please help out in any way you can to ensure that the work from these wonderful writers is seen by as many readers as possible.
Last week I posted five bouts (Mon-Fri) and this week are the last four (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, or 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!
In this corner welcome back to the ring.....Karmann Ghia
I’d come all this way looking for him, but now, standing this close, I’m at a loss. I had hoped we could just leave, but two women flank him while a small army stands nearby. They all look vaguely alike; tan skin, dingy brown pants and shirts, chestnut brown hair held back by makeshift hide bands.
“How did you find us?” the one on his left asks me. She steps forward, two long strides until she’s uncomfortably close. Her bright blue eyes search my face, and though I can tell she’s done this before, I’m not sure why I deserve this scrutiny. Didn’t he tell them about me, to let them know I existed, and that I would come for him?
My mouth is dry, the dehydration and exhaustion of my journey finally caught up with me. I try not to pull away, to step back from her – I can’t let her know how uncomfortable it is to have her so close. I swallow, hoping to moisten my mouth enough to speak.
“I found a traveler with a map,” I explain. “Another girl – she looked like you. She was headed in the opposite direction and said she wouldn’t need it anymore.” I don’t mention that the girl laughed, a relieved, bubbling laugh, and wished me luck. It was weird enough when it happened, I don’t like to think of what she could have or should have warned me about.
The leaves on the forest floor crinkle beneath my feet as I adjust my stance, my legs threatening to give out. Seemingly satisfied with my answer, she steps to the side, calling over her counterpart on his right. They bow their heads together, their voices incomprehensible against the sounds of the forest.
My eyes find Steven, finally relaxing enough to focus on him. His jet hair is chin length now, waving around the side of his face. His cerulean eyes, always kind, watch me, and as our eyes meet, he smiles hesitantly. I take a moment to relax – relieved that I finally made it to their compound, finally found Steven.
“Thank you,” he mouths, unwilling or afraid of speaking out loud I don’t know. I nod and look away – I know if I keep looking at him I’ll cry, and I can’t look weak, not in front of these girls. They can’t know that he’s all I have, that I’m terrified of losing him. My eyes shift to the forest canopy, watching the bright light of day dim as it filters through the leaves.
“We’ve decided,” the first girl says. She’s back at my side so quickly and silently it’s unsettling. “You can stay here with us.”
“And what if I don’t want to stay? What if I want to take him and leave?” I’m still faking bravado.
She grins, her lip peeling back over her teeth like a wild animal. “Then we’ll give you a six hour head start to run. And then we hunt.”************************************************************************
And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce.... Twilight Sparkle
I fell ass-first onto the concrete, which sent a delightful sting up my spine, and the last few sparks disappeared into the closing rift above me. The ache in my arm faded since the crystal had finished its primary job.
In an alley between two tall buildings, rusted dumpsters straddled the narrow opening. The garbage hadn’t been emptied, and the sun baked the smell into a distinctive meld of leftover Chinese food and rotten fruit. It could be any city, looked American though.
I slid against the wall to the end of the alley. Pedestrians hurried down the sidewalks engrossed in their phones while drivers sped through a roundabout, hopefully not doing the same. Humans, that’s good. One jump to a world filled with lizard-people was more than enough for a lifetime.
A river of cars flowed around a familiar metal-work globe and concrete statue, Columbus Circle. So, good ol’ New York City after all, but the iconic skyline had reclaimed its missing crown…the towers. Nine-Eleven hadn’t happened here, or at least not yet.
On the sidewalk, the people passing by wore ordinary clothes; coats, scarves, and such. Not like some of the weirder realities that had spandex dress codes, my jeans and leather jacket wouldn’t stand out. To blend in, I joined a group and headed around the circle to the left till I reached the entrance to Central Park.
A young girl wearing a worn teal parka sat cross-legged, playing guitar for tips. Next to her an older woman peddled small bouquets of flowers, some mixes with lilies, but she had mostly roses. A twenty-something man with dusty hair and a trench coat bought one of the bundles of red roses. Some lucky woman would have a surprise tonight.
I passed by the girl playing guitar on my way into the park—not half bad. I bobbed my head to the music and then frowned. She grinned in return. She understood I didn’t have cash on me, not that I wasn’t sure my currency was good here. You never know who the right dead presidents are.
As I strolled down the pathway, footfalls scuffed behind me. I stopped.
The sound stopped.
I took a breath and walked forward, keeping a slow pace. If I ran, I’d lose my advantage; I knew they were there. Who would be following me anyway? I just got here.
The stalker gasped and muttered something. The tingle that precedes the adrenaline rush ran through me, pulling my stomach to my shoes and tickling my fingers. I took another careful step. Run in three, two—
He knew me? That’s impossible. I pivoted to see the young man with his bouquet of roses. He looked a few years older, but I’d know that face anywhere—Quin. Not my Quin…not my world. He shouldn’t know me.
“Oh my God…how is it possible?” The roses slipped from his grip and he bent to catch them.
Remember the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!