Today is the final bout in the 3rd Round of the WRiTE CLUB playoffs. There have been three bouts...on Mon - Wed - Fri...with our fighters randomly re-matched using their submissions from round two. Once again, we will have outright winners for each bout and one wildcard (the loser with the most votes), so every vote counts! How are those winners chosen? By you. Anyone can vote by simply leaving the name of the writer who resonates with you the most in the comments below. After you do that, please spread the word so we can maximize the exposure for our contestants.
The winners will be posted in the afternoon on Sunday, September 14th.
The winning writers who move into the quarter-finals (Monday, September 15th) will have the opportunity to "tweak" or edit their current submission based on the input voters have left for them. Those "tweaked" submissions will also be used to battle in the semi-finals, where only two will become finalist. No wildcard in the semi-finals. The two fighters who make it to the finals will be asked to submit 500 word writing samples for a 3rd time, and those new samples will be forwarded to our celebrity judges. Of course I'll post them here on my blog for you to comment on, but it will be our judges who make the final selection. If by chance our judges vote end in a tie, the votes left in the comments will be used as the deciding factor.
In this corner welcome back to the ring.....petrichor
Invisible strands of music drew Marina to the small pond in her backyard where koi fish turned puckered notes into a melody only she heard. Her best friend Rain was there already. On her stomach and stretched across a flat boulder, Rain trailed her finger along the top of the water.
“Rain, look what my dad made for me.”
“You’re not even looking!”
Rain twisted her body around and glanced back. Marina pointed to her sandals. Iridescent and purple, the sandals shimmered like a butterfly’s wings.
“They’re good,” Rain said without enthusiasm.
Marina grimaced. Really, she knew better than to ask for Rain’s approval. Rain’s fashion sense began and ended with running shoes.
Marina sat down on the boulder next to Rain, slipped off her sandals, and placed them next to her, where she alone would admire them. Then she plunged her feet in the cool water and let the koi fish kiss her toes.
“Pru’s granddaughter moved in,” Rain said. “Name’s Angela.”
The back of Marina’s left shoulder felt suddenly hot. She shifted on the rock, searching for shade, but there was none. The heat spread up the nape of her neck. Her dragon was restless. She dipped her hand into the cool fish pond and splashed water on herself. Steam rose off her skin.
“You want to knock on the door and say hello?” Rain asked.
No, Marina wanted to say. She didn’t feel like explaining her dragon tattoo to the new kid in town. Instead, she asked, “Do you?”
“Be nice to have another friend,” Rain said, piercing Marina’s heart.
“What if she’s a weirdo?” Marina asked.
Rain turned her head and raised an eyebrow at Marina. She scanned Marina’s floating hair, shot over to her shimmering sandals, slid down to the koi fish gathered at her feet, then raised her gaze to settle on Marina’s left arm where the dragon’s tail now swished. “Okay,” Rain said, drawing out the second syllable.
Marina tugged down her sleeve. “I’m not weird,” she said. “Lots of people have tattoos.”
Rain said, “Yeah, but they’re not twelve.”
The dragon writhed. Marina bit her lip and swallowed a scream. Never before had the dragon been so active. Usually it rose at dawn, circled once, and resettled back on her skin. But now it slipped past her shoulder and sent inked plumes of smoke down her arm that billowed then collapsed in eddies around her elbow.
“What if we can’t trust her with, you know…magic?”
Rain barked out a laugh. “Angela’s a shaman. Girl walks between worlds. Communicates with spirits. Speaks to the dead. I don’t think anything about us is going to scare her.”
Marina wasn’t sure any of this was something to brag about. “What does she do, raise the dead, have a conversation, then knock them over the head with a shovel and push them back in their graves?”
Rain snorted. “That would be hilarious.” “No,” Marina said, “that would be evil.”
And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce.... Swick
"This is no place for a little girl." The ‘coyote’ has inky hair and eyes to match and a smile that belongs on a wolf. The sort of smuggler whose fees are more than money.
I raise my bow. "Good thing I’m no little girl."
"Estadounidense." He spits my nationality like a curse word.
"Mexican-American. And I mean you no more harm than you mean me."
"Then lower your weapon."
He clutches something in his pocket, not a gun—they’re risky this close to the border. Something he won't be able to use before my arrow pierces his heart. Blood rushes in my ears and I fight to keep my hands steady. This is the sort of thing Juanito trained me for. Now that it’s real, I feel unprepared without my partner.
I lift my chin. "Leave this clearing and I'll let you live."
His wolfish smile widens.
Arms wraps around me from behind, my bow trapped at my side. Too busy twisting and writhing; I don’t see the first man coming at me until his boot collides with my torso. Sharp pain rides up my ribcage and my vision flickers in and out like bad reception. He kicks me in the stomach before his partner releases me.
A fallen branch buries itself in my palm as I stumble to the dirt, unable to catch my breath. I crawl away and turn on my back, a groan escaping my lips as I yank the wood from my palm.
"Go back to the playground, little girl." The first man spits in my hair.
His partner laughs and, together, they leave the clearing.
I crawl toward my bow, but lifting it sends stabs of pain through my whole torso.
"¡Juanito! ¡Aquí!" Black spots filter my vision as I try to sit up.
"What the hell happened?" His hard expression breaks at the sight of me lying in the dirt. He kneels beside me. "Were they armed?"
"Depends on whether you consider boots weapons. Shit, this hurts."
Juan and one of the women help me to my feet. He does some quick first-aid on my hand, his jaw twitching more than ever. The woman tries to hand me her bottle of water, but after weeks in the desert she needs it more than me.
"Can you walk?" Juan asks.
"I think so. But I can't raise my bow."
He pulls his spare gun from his ankle holster and holds it out. I shake my head. "Robyn--"
He sighs but stows his pistol, handing me a switchblade instead. I unsheathe the blade and carry it in my fist. My grip distracts me from the pain shooting through me with every step.
Juan shakes his head. "I'm taking you to the range. No arguments, or you will not come with me again."
I don't argue because we need to get the hell outta here. I'll take it up with Marian.
But I won’t use the sort of weapon that killed my father.
Remember the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!