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WRiTE CLUB - Semi-Finals Round 6

Here we are...the last of the semi-finals.  I think you all will agree that this has been a tough...TOUGH competition.  Despite the appearance to the otherwise, the opponents in each bout were randomly drawn out of a hat by me wife.  Fairness is rated above all else in WRiTE CLUB.

I will announce all six winners Sunday at noon, and then we'll match them up (using the same method) for the phase which will kick off next Tuesday (right after the ORIGINS blogfest).  Read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  Don’t forget to offer some opinions if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote, so blog / tweet / facebook / text / smoke signal everyone you know and get them to participate as well.  Good luck to both WRiTER’s!

And now…..

All the way from our very first round, here she is again.....ANNE SHIRLEY

They say that when you're about to die, your whole life flashes before your eyes.

Turns out it's true.

I sprawl in a pool of my own blood. The sky comes in and out of focus, and it's an unnatural color, like a bruised plum. Bombs explode to my right, spewing smoke tongues that smother the earth. Two men hover over me - Lieutenant Daniels and that baby-faced soldier who cried the night we got deported. I think they're trying to staunch the oozing wound on my thigh, but I'm not too sure.

My mind is going. Lying there on the battlefield, all I can see is Molly. Molly wearing her Dodgers cap in the kitchen, making breakfast, telling the dog to get down, stay there, good boy. Peter! Emily! Hurry up or you'll be late!

Wagging tail. The crisp smell of cinnamon French toast. Backpacks zipping. Sneakers skidding because the bus is pulling around the corner. Shit, I'm going to miss it! YOUNG MAN, don't ever let me hear you say that word again! Giggles. Peter said a bad word, Mom.

Little arms thrown around my neck. I love you, Daddy. I love you too, sweetheart.

The baby-faced soldier's voice slices through my delirium. "He just call me sweetheart?"
"Don't flatter yourself, son. He's feverish. Hand me that bandage."

"Yes, sir."

Lieutenant Daniels' ruddy face appears. "Jackson. You're gonna be all right, you hear me?"

A church decorated in red, white, and blue. My father lying there in his coffin. I kiss his cold forehead, the way he used to kiss mine when I was sick. I love you, Dad. My turn to fight for peace. I swear I'll make you proud.

San Francisco Bay, holding hands with Molly, heart racing because I'm about to ask her to marry me.

The doctor's office with Pat, my frat brother, my football buddy. The cancer will take me over, Jackson. No, it won't, I won't let it. You're gonna be just fine, Pat.

"He's going, going, gone," the young solider mutters.

"Don't count him out yet," Lieutenant Daniels says.

As if on cue, I sit up. Everything, everyone I love. I don't know if I'll see any of them again. But there's still breath in my body. Where there's breath, there's life. And where there's life, there's fight.

"Jackson. Get down, we need to clean that wound!"

"Where are you going?!"

I crawl out of our hideout. Dragging my bad leg, I sling my gun over one shoulder.

There's a small army of them, tongues lolling from their lifeless faces. Green skin curdled like bad cheese. Slowly, they lurch toward me with sickening hunger, moving around the mutilated bodies of my fallen comrades.

I imagine them bending over Molly, the kids cowering in the doorway.

I load my gun.

They want my brains. I want them dead. Even deader than they already are.


"Jackson, no!" Lieutenant Daniels howls.

I throw myself at the zombies.

Against our last winner, the round twelve survivor....EMMILOU HAYRISS

Late May, and it was already hot. And wet. Sweat pasted the few escaped strands of stringy blonde hair to my damp neck, and I tried not to stir up dust as I walked.

It was my last day working for Dr. Green, the only large-animal vet in Dabb Creek, but it wasn’t much different from my first. Only that day it’d been storming, and Doc said to meet him in Mrs. Blalock’s barn.

Jackson and D’Lo had to tag along, of course. They didn’t think I’d go through with it. I think even Dr. Green was skeptical, which is why he said I’d have to palpate the widow’s best milking cow before he’d agree to make me his assistant.

Palpate. I knew what that meant. Fancy word for sticking your hand up a cow’s backside to see if she’s pregnant. They didn’t think I could do it because I was so little. Years of stretching and drinking milk had only got me up to five-foot tall, but I climbed up on that stool, set my jaw, and plunged right in.

“Make your hand like a wedge, Prentiss…” Dr. Green stood close by, holding up Elsie’s tail. His man-sized plastic glove went all the way over my shoulder to my neck, and it was slathered in lubricant. It kept me clean, but I was getting the full experience of hot, smelly cow butt.

“Now slowly reach all the way to your elbow,” he said.

Thunder rumbled low outside, and the hiss of rain grew louder. I closed my eyes and followed his instructions, focusing on what I was trying to find rather than where I was trying to find it.

“Let the contractions pass,” he said, referencing the muscle spasms I felt around my forearm. “Now feel downward to locate the uterus, not forward. Careful… see if you can detect the embryo.”

I heard D’Lo snorting behind me, but I wouldn’t look at him. I wouldn’t look at anything. My throat was constricting like I might throw up, but there was no way I was doing that.

“Feel it?” The doctor asked.

I shook my head, eyes still closed, unable to speak. The cow seemed as tense as me, but whether it was from the growing storm or my arm sinking deeper into her hindquarters, I couldn’t tell.

“Keep feeling… gently,” Dr. Green urged. “Anybody can learn palpation. It’s the most accurate procedure for determining pregnancy in dairy cows. And the cheapest…”

“I got it!” My breath rushed out in a gush.

I did. I felt a definite lump spilling over the pubic bone. Elsie’s calf.

“Now. Make a mental note of the size,” he said. “She’s about 90 days along.”

“I feel it,” I repeated, my muscles starting to relax. “It’s about the size of my palm.”

“Good…” Dr. Green smiled. “Now ease your arm out…”

As I walked down the dusty road, I remembered Jackson’s smug look and D’Lo’s expletives of praise.

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


  1. They are both good contenders. I love the piece by Anne Shirley. I felt like I was right there with him.

  2. Good grief. This again. We have such good writers all over the place--LOL! These are both fantastic.

    I'll vote for #2. :o)

  3. This is really, really hard, because it doesn't seem fair to pit a piece about veterinary medicine against a life or death action scene. (I know, I know, random selection ...)

    Clearly, #1 was more exciting, but I didn't want to pick it for that reason. So, I considered voice and style and then I considered time.

    Selection #1 moves us effortlessly through time and space, recapping Jackson's life while he lies dying on the battlefield.

    #2 doesn't do it as neatly. It's the last day working for Dr. Green, then suddenly it's the first day working for Dr. Green. The switch is too abrupt, and I think I would've preferred the piece just start with that first day and skip the introduction.

    So, ultimately, I have to choose #1.

  4. Wow. Both of those are amazing. I have to vote for Anne Shirley, though. That last bit gave me chills.

  5. Never thought I would vote for ZOMBIES but this piece was compelling.

    Number 2 was very good also.

    My deciding vote comes based on the very last sentence. #1 was simple but extraordinary. #2 lost me in that last line.

    MY VOTE IS FOR #1.

  6. Tough choice. I like them both. My vote goes to #1

  7. I agree this is a tough choice, pitting two completely difference pieces both in tone and subject matter - but I have to go with #1. However, #2 should consider writing for some of the veterinary mags!

  8. I loved the one by Anne Shirley, so my vote goes to #1, but really, they were both excellent and I'm not just saying that to be nice.

  9. I'm going with #2.

    A few things distracted me out of #1 that bothered me--the "bruised plum"--plums are already bruise colored, so I had to think about that for a while. And "Lieutenant Dan" is the name of the guy from Forrest Gump, so that was a major distraction. Sorry!

  10. Wow -- for me this is the toughest choice yet. Both were very, very good.

    #1 is an extremely compelling scene, filled with tension, drama, and exotic situations. It gives a life-and-death situation with smooth insertion of emotional backstory of the dying character as he remembers his life. The writing is excellent -- I had no stumbles over the craft at all. The only thing is that -- for me -- it felt just a little over the top. Zombies, the dying moment, the life in flash-back, the soldier grabbing his gun and screaming as he goes down fighting, etc.

    #2, on the other hand, is also written very well. It has tension, emotional content, and a compelling character. But it's about the birth of a calf -- pretty mundane compared to #1.

    While I wish I could vote for both, I'll pick #2, simply because it made me care about the familiar and the mundane. I think that's a harder thing to do.

  11. So wished I'd been around for the beginning of this. Awesome idea.

    Not sure if I can vote or not, so won't. Enjoyed them all!

  12. An THIS is why I could never be an agent or a judge...or anyone who has to make these kinds of decisions. I like these both for different reasons.

    The first because the rapid flow of thought was well done and cool, and the second because the description of the simple act was vivid and touching.

    So...*sigh*...I will have to base my vote on a nitpick. There was a bit of confusion on the second entry right at the beginning with the jump back in time whereas the first one handled the flashbacks more smoothly. So, I vote for #1.

  13. This was an awesome idea for a blog series. So much fun reading the entries!

  14. I liked both of these, but I think I will vote for Anne Shirley. It was gripping.

  15. #2 gets my vote. I loved them both, but I liked the tone of Emmalou's narrative, and the feeling of accomplishment.


  16. I'm going to go with the piece by Anne.

  17. I'll go for #2. *Shivers* May I never learn palpation!




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