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WRiTE CLUB 2013 Play-offs Round Two - Bout #4

Continuing on with the second round of the WRiTE CLUB play-offs, our ten contestants will be battling it out with a brand new writing sample.  The bouts will be posted on Mon - Tue - Wed - Thur - Sat, but the voting will remain open for all bouts until Sunday at noon.  Today we have Bout #4.

Once again...every vote counts. 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 advance to round 3.  

Whether you've been following along from the beginning or this is your first time's just a matter of choosing the one you feel deserves to move forward. 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. 

And now...stepping into the ring with a brand new story to is Muleshoe.

On the third day, God said: Now you just stay there and think about what you did.

So Elim stood where they'd tied his hands to the posts of the main street promenade, leaning into the dwindling shade as the sun climbed higher.  The rest of the dust-choked street was long since deserted.

Which left just Elim, standing spread-armed between the beams, struggling to keep his aching head shaded and his sluggish thoughts pious as his bare back and shoulders roasted in the sun.

That was a tall order.

It was powerfully difficult to let his eyes rest on the beautiful covered walkway without thinking of the people it had been built for.  The raised wooden walk had kept their genteel boots out of the mud; the open sloping roof had guarded their reverend heads from the rude heat of the day.

They would have been fine, decent folks.  They wouldn't have left even a bastard like Elim strung up like this.  But they had long since passed on to their reward, and left him at the mercy of their brutal heirs.

He was close, though – so close his sweat dripped onto the weathered gray planks.  If he could just get past the pain in his arms and the breathtaking tightness in his chest and lean in far enough to get his head into that heavenly shaded space – just for even a minute – he would surely breathe in some of their deathless grace, and understand how to atone for himself.

That kept him busy enough not to notice the slow, rhythmic thud of hooves behind him.

Still, he couldn't miss the enormous brown face that hung itself over his shoulder.  There beside him was Molly Boone: unbridled, unsaddled, and apparently having liberated herself from the corral.  Elim’s mouth cracked in a smile.

"Miz Boone," he declared in a parched whisper, "you are a brazen hussy.  Is this you flauntin' yourself around town without your bonnet on?"  He closed his eyes as her hairy lips anointed his face with a streak of oaty slobbers.  "And dolin' out your affections to any man in the street, I see.  Ain't you 'shamed?"

No, not hardly.  Shame was for people – for creatures who could sort right things from wrong ones, and hold themselves accountable for the difference.

Elim breathed in her warm-barn smell, and steadied his resolve.  "Don't listen to any of what they said about me, now.  You know I ain't like that."

He had to get himself sure on that too.  Back home, he could have said it for a certifiable fact: he did not and never had hurt anyone.

Here, though...

Elim glanced down the empty street, past the adobe walls shimmering in the heat and the tilting burnt-out church steeple, to the black-iron manor at the end of the road. 

Maybe this place had changed him into a murderer.  Elim couldn't have said whether it had that power.  But it certainly was fixing to change him into a dead man. 

And with their own brand new piece of writing, welcome back to the ring....Emma T. Nestor.

"So, Drum, you said Dr. Flanagan and Dr. Digby were scared when the car approached. How could you tell that from where you were hiding?"

Drum, head pounding, filtered out the crime scene and focused on Detective Ajax Philemon, who sat next to him on the curb. He stared, really seeing the policeman for the first time. Hey, this guy’s not all bound up … and there’s no goop leaking out of him. He’s not a binder or a leaker—he’s … continent! Maybe I can tell him what I really saw

Drum started to open his mouth, but stopped. He’s not going to believe me. Continent or not, he’s still a cop.

"How did I know they were scared? I—I just knew.”

Drummond Witherspoon had a secret. He could “see” the emotional state of the people around him. He called them leakers and binders. The leakers were annoying, with garishly-colored trails of emotional goo; Drum’s middle school was an overwhelming swamp of the viscous stuff.

The binders were dangerous. They appeared to be wrapped in transparent cables that could snap and swing off; hurting anyone who got too close. Most binders were okay until their cables started groaning, but some of them, like his foster mother, were so tightly wound that it was never safe to be around them.

The detective continued. "Did you see the shooter or anyone else in the car?"

Drum’s mind shrieked, his stomach churned. I “saw” fear as soon as the car came into the parking lot—whoever or whatever was in that car made Dr. Flanagan and Dr. Digby leak like crazy, and it was that awful sick greenish color that comes before screaming—only they never made it to screaming. What was in that car was bad, so bad; worse than bullets... and I could not see it. The memory made him sweat.

He said, "No. The windows were tinted.”

"Okay, tell me about the car. Did you see the license plates?"

"I don’t remember the license number. I think the car was dark blue."

"And you didn't happen to see a logo or a name, like ‘Ford’?"

"No, the sun was going down. It did have a round thing on the front."

Detective Philemon swiped at his phone with his finger. He showed Drum the screen. "Is this it?"

"No. It wasn’t sticking up off the hood like that." My head hurts. I’m going to be sick.

The detective swiped at the phone again. "How about this one?"

"Yeah, that’s it." I have to lie down. I can’t talk anymore.

"So it’s a BMW. What did it sound like?"

"It thrummed … like it could go fast.” But it didn’t go fast. It just rolled out of the parking lot, leaving me alone with two dead people.

Drum’s vision tunneled and his ears rang. He slumped forward on the curb and slid out of consciousness as Detective Philemon caught him and yelled for the paramedics.
Leave your vote and we'll see you back here tomorrow for the next 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. My vote goes to Muleshoe, even though it took a couple of readings to realize it was the horse kissing him (I'll blame it on the lack of caffeine!).

    Emma - I think the story is interesting, but this scene is not working. You have a couple of "info dump" paragraphs in there that could be used to show the reader instead. I would have preferred to see Drum witness the event instead of him remembering it later.

  2. The pieces are very different - will be interesting to see the outcome of this one.

  3. Today has two of the best pieces I've read in the third round up against each other. I enjoyed both and actually wish both could advance.

    Muleshoe had one of my absolute favorite entries in the earlier rounds and follows it up with another stellar submission. The writing is engrossing, the setting unique, the character fascinating and compelling, the descriptions effective and smoothly inserted, and the story completely effective at pulling me in. The questions raised leave me eager to read more to find out: Who is this Elim? Where are we -- is this just a western or something more? The form of punishment and the way Elim describes "the brutal heirs" of those long gone really makes me wonder. Why is Elim being punished? What is going to happen next? The PoV is all inside Elim's so I dislike it when the author steps away from it to reveal that Elim DOESN'T notice the hoofbeats, but that's about the only quibble I have with an engaging, tightly written, and very entertaining piece.

    Emma T. Nestor had a previous entry that was snappy and humorous with the writer of the Bodice-ripper dealing with her characters that had come to life. Here she shows her range by going in a completely different direction. There is still a paranormal aspect with an MC who can see emotions, but now we have a tense crime scene. The mood is effectively set and I really like the characterization of Drum, although parts of it are revealed in a little info-dumpy way. The situation arouses curiosity and I would definitely read on to find out what has happened, why two people are dead, and how Drum is going to get involved in all of this.

    Honestly, I would vote for either of these over some of the submissions in the earlier bouts, but unfortunately the random WRiTE Club draw forces me to have to choose between the today. So while I really like Emma's piece and admire her range, I have to go with Mukeshoe -- their piece is just outstanding once again.

  4. My vote goes to Muleshoe in this round.

  5. Sorry I don't have time for a long comment today, but both these pieces deserve praise more than criticism, so it'll be simple from me: well done!
    I vote for Muleshoe. Just like his first piece, this oozes with confidence and great writing.

  6. I'll be honest, mule shoe had so many descriptions for every noun that it slowed my reading and eventually I lost interest and was just lost in the story.

    Emma had me in the beginning but by the middle it fizzled out and the ending was lackluster.

    Vote emma

  7. Both are good pieces, but I'm going with Muleshoe

  8. It has to be Muleshoe this time.... Fabulous writing.

  9. Only slightly disappointed by Muleshoe today. The writing is unique and desciptive. But nothing happens. And more questions are raised than answered.

    I dig this. I like that his power comes at a price (although I'm not crystal on the whole leakers vs. binders thing... or continents for that matter)

    This is the closest of the finalist rounds for me. But I'm more likely to continue reading Muleshoe's piece, and that's the best way for me to determine.

    Muleshoe gets by vote.

  10. Muleshoe gets my vote. Too much telling in the second piece.

  11. Excellent writing in both stories. I'm intrigued by both and would probably read both to their very ends, but I have to pick one. I go with EMMA T. NESTOR!!

    Anything with a horse in it usually gets my vote, but I needed something more than just a slow death in the sun. With Emma T. Nestor - I am already rooting for Drum. I want this kid to make it through this scene and I am really fascinated by the leaking and binding.

  12. I'll give this one to Emma, but it's close. On first read-through, I thought both pieces, although well written, were a little hard to unlock. Once I got the gist of them, though, I felt there was more characterization and setup in Emma's piece.

  13. I'll give this one to Emma, but it's close. On first read-through, I thought both pieces, although well written, were a little hard to unlock. Once I got the gist of them, though, I felt there was more characterization and setup in Emma's piece.

  14. For me this is one of the tightest bouts in this round and I could have voted either way. But I can only vote for one so I'll say Emma.

  15. Boy ... this is a tough one. These are two of my favorites, but since I can only vote for one, I WILL HAVE TO GO WITH MULESHOE. I gushed during Round 12 of the Preliminary Rounds, and I have to gush again.

    In this offering, the MC's resignation to his situation felt believable and the voice is just amazing. The insertion of Miz Boone into the scene was perfect with the exception of one, lone detail: As C. Fries mentions above, the only (and I mean ONLY) quibble I have with this piece is Elim not hearing the horse coming. If the town is as dead and quiet as is so wonderfully described, and even if the MC's ears were ringing and his thoughts deeper'n a fresh-water well in the middle of whatever town this here be, he'd a heard Molly Boone movin' her 900 lb. self, shod or not, down the street. Perhaps Muleshoe could have Elim hear the hooves, be alarmed that perhaps someone was on the way to mete out further molestation and then be surprised by "the enormous brown face over his shoulder" because that line and the rest of the interaction with the horse is genius. And it made me have some hope for Elim.

    I'd love to see more from Emma, and I hope this bit is, indeed, part of a work in progress. I really like the kid, Drum, and want to know more about him and how he found himself in this situation.

    Very tough round. Very tough, indeed.




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