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WRiTE CLUB 2013 Play-offs - Round One / Bout 1

Welcome back to the land of the WRiTE CLUB living...Vampyr14!

We've narrowed the field down to eighteen and now it’s time to move into play-off rounds – which will come at a rapid fire pace.  I will be posting one contest per day this week (Mon-Fri) and four next week (Mon-Thur).  The voting for all nine bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, September 22nd. 

Your task remains simple…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  Whether you've been following along from the beginning and have a familiarity with each of them, or this is your first time's just a matter of choosing the one you feel deserves to move forward. If you haven’t already done so in the previous rounds, please offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote (after signing up on this LinkyList) 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 September 22nd and then round 2 will kick off the following Monday 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 for a second time.....Slippery Slope

The back of my neck itched like hell. It was a crazy, annoying type of itch that made me want to peel away the skin with my fingernails. Unfortunately, mine were too short. All I could do was rub my hand up and down my nape for temporary relief.

I lifted the lapel of my lab coat over my collar hoping the friction would help. I turned to John, my research partner.

"How are the trials coming along?"

I sensed his uneasiness as I watched his lips tighten and his forehead scrunch up. His eyes darted around nervously, looking up then left as if he were trying to remember a memory from twenty years ago.

"Well... uh.... they're kind of... " His words trailed off in a mumble.

My eyes narrowed and I felt the itch intensify at the bottom of my scalp.

"What? What's the problem?"

"They've... been put on hold." John quickly shifted his gaze down at the floor, then tilted his head up slightly, watching for my reaction.

"On hold?" I barked. "Who the hell decided that? We were getting good results!" I couldn't believe it. Three years of research and suddenly some dumbass decided it was time to take a break?

John made a placating gesture with his hands.

"We were shut down by the Patent and Trademark Office, Gabby. Apparently PFX-2 presents a threat to national security and now falls under the Invention Secrecy Act. We can't patent it. We can't test it. We can't even talk about it." The words came out in a rush, punctuated by a loud sigh. "We had to hand everything over to the government. It's no longer ours."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Are you fucking kidding me? The government can shut us down and take our stuff just like that?" I ran my hand over the back of my neck, rubbing furiously as I tried to process the information. This made absolutely no sense. Why would something barely bigger than a fingernail be considered a threat to national security?

"They can do anything they want, Gabby."

An angry retort sprang to my lips but I bit it back. I knew it wouldn't change the outcome. My shoulders slumped in resignation as I looked at John.

"So we had no choice." It was a statement, not a question.


"And we gave them everything." Another statement.

"Almost." He paused. "Everything except the prototype."

My heart did a somersault in my chest. "Really?" I turned to scan the lab. Microscopes, pipettes and microplates lined the counters and tables, along with a variety of rigs and chambers.

"You won't find it here. It's in a safe place -- somewhere where we can still test it and see how well it works."

That was good news. I considered the possibilities.

"Another lab?"

"No. Better than that." He leaned over and squeezed my arm. "Just make sure you don't rub the back of your neck too hard."

And taking the spot on the other side of the ring for their second go-around...Vampyr14.

Afterward, still exhausted, we fall asleep in a tangle of limbs. I don’t think either of us moves all night. I wake, stiff and sore, my arm tingling with pins and needles as the first traces of daylight inch their way into the room. I wriggle out from under Dylan, watching him roll over and refold himself into a more comfortable position. He tugs the sheet up to his chin, cuddling it there the way a baby does a teddy. In this gray-blue light, he’s beautiful. He’s peaceful. The tense shoulders and dark worry lines that have started appearing on his face are gone, smoothed out by sleep. Real sleep. Not narcotic sleep.

I’ve been awake how long? Maybe five minutes? And already I’m thinking about drugs. It’s been a couple of days since my last hit, and I can feel it in the way my blood creeps beneath my skin. It’s not itchy yet, but I know it won’t be long. There’s a low ache in my bones. I wonder how long it’ll be before the shaking starts. And the sweating. Will I be able to stand it?

A tremor shudders through Dylan, making the bed quake. He groans and digs his head deeper into the pillow before settling back into sleep. He’s facing me and I let my eyes travel the familiar planes of his face, reading them, memorizing them: the knifelike cheekbones, the fine, sensitive mouth, the pointed chin, the magnificent beaklike nose. He thinks I’m beautiful. Doesn’t he know how stunning he is? His narrow frame barely makes a wrinkle in the bed. How can someone who means so much take up so little space? My heart swells as I crawl from the bed, tucking the sheet around him. I love him so much. Too much.

I leave the sheet music puddled on the floor. I leave my clothes in the closet. I leave my phone in the creases of my pillow. I bend over and leave a single kiss on his cool, damp forehead. It’s that kiss. The one I hoped I’d never have to give. The one that can only mean goodbye. The words to the song swirl through my head and tears spring to my eyes. Yes, I love him. No, it’s not enough.

The early morning air is cool against my skin. I clutch my violin as I hurry down the disintegrating sidewalk, knowing only it can share my regrets. Each tear that splashes against it paints a bitter, salty message. I’m not alone. These sidewalks have seen and heard worse. Each scar holds a secret; each crack a broken promise. I add my own, leaving them behind when I duck into the womb-like darkness of the subway.

Leave your vote and we'll see you back here tomorrow for the next exciting match-up!

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


  1. I'm going to have to go with Vampyr14. I like them both but I found Vampyr to be a little more smooth and lyrical, while the first one, while well written, was a little too obvious.

  2. Vampyr14 for me today. There are some things that need tweaking, but I think it is the better piece of writing. Slippery Slope has an interesting premise, but the dialog and delivery just don't feel realistic to me. Vampyr has a much more familiar and mundane situation, but the emotion and mood are more smoothly developed in the writing. By the end, I am more interested and involved in the violinist than I am with the research scientist with the itchy neck.

  3. I think you said I don't get to vote until the final round so I'll just check in to catch each round and the winners.

  4. I'm so glad that Vampyr14 was resurrected (ba dum BUM!!!) because my vote is going to them today. It hurts a lot not to vote for Slippery, who has been one of my favorites since the beginning, but when the two pieces are put side by side like this, I have to vote for the one with the gorgeous writing.

  5. Vampyr14 for me today. I think i left critiques on all the entries the first round, so no more blabbing from me in this round

  6. I love suspense. Slippery Slope gets my vote!

  7. Both entries are so strong. I really like Slippery Slope. I feel it needs only a little bit of tweaking to be perfect. However, side by side, I think Vampyr14 is a bit stronger of the two. The entry could also use a some edits but I felt a stronger emotional punch from the piece.

    Vote for Vampyr14.

  8. I've got to go with Vampyr14, because it is hard for me to imagine that any scientist does not know they can be shut down by the government.

  9. Vampyr14. The writing is very moody and dark, but it's lovely.

  10. Wow, this was a hard choice, but the finals will be that, won't they.

    Vampyr14 gets my vote today!

  11. Both great submissions. My pic is Vampyr14; got slightly more of an emotional feel in the writing. Thanks

  12. The first seems very familiar. Perhaps it's the same as the last round...or just my imagination. There's nothing really wrong with it, but the second was emotionally hard-hitting, yet beautiful.

    My vote is for Vampyr14

  13. My vote is for Vampyr14. Heartbreaking.

  14. Both are excellent, but I'm voting for Vampyr14.

  15. Slippery Slope is the one I'd most like to continue reading.

  16. Vampyr14. (I'm not going to leave comments this time around, I think, as I already hashed out all my thoughts in round 1!)

  17. First I want to give a hearty "Congrats!" to all the talented writers who made it to the next round. Such great material all around this year. Well done!

    I really like both these pieces. Such a hard choice. I'm going with Vampyr14 this time around.

  18. Well yahoo -- I'm so glad you've kept the voting open long enough so that even blog-slackers like me get a chance to weigh in on all rounds.

    Vampyre14 gets my vote. I still really like Slippery's piece, but Vamp's was stunning.

  19. Oh shoot! I feel like there's a great plot kicking off with Slippery Slope's piece, but Vampyr14's got such tremendous polish and poise. This 500-word gig makes it so tempting to start with a shock and end with a bang, and I love Vampyr's ability to sell the story and the characters without either one.




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