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WRiTE CLUB 2018 - Cage Bout #2

Reminder - You can follow along with all of the bout results right HERE, and remember, the bouts stay open for one week.

The contest started with 181 submissions from 132 writers and we've narrowed that down to 18 (fifteen 1st round winners and three that were SAVED). The DFW Conference is in less than four weeks and its time to get serious. That means - it's CAGE BOUT time!

Here's how this works. Instead of two writers competing against one another, now it's THREE. The contestants will be using the same writing sample that allowed them to get this far, and the readers/voters will have to choose one of the three to move on.  There will be six bouts (M-S) this time.

If you voted in the preliminary round, then there is no need to leave a critique this time, however, if this is your first time seeing these writers we do ask that you leave a brief critique for the writers with your vote because that is one of the real values of this contest – FEEDBACK. Please be respectful with your remarks!

Even though there will be a different bout every day (M-S), the voting for each bout will remain open for as long as possible from the date it is posted to give as many people as possible to have a say. The voting for today’s bout will close on Sunday, May 20th (noon central time).

It’s that simple. The piece that garnishes the most votes moves on to the next round where they’ll face a different opponent with a NEW WRITING SAMPLE

In case of a tie, I’m the deciding vote. I can do that because, like all of you, I do not know the real names of our contestants either (my wife processes all the submissions).

Oh yeah – for every bout that you vote in, your name (see rule #2 below) will be placed into a hat for a chance for a $40 Barnes and Noble Gift card that will be drawn after the contest concludes.

A few rules –

1) One vote per visitor per bout.

2) Although our contestants are anonymous, voters cannot be. Anonymous votes will not count, so if you do not have a Google account and are voting as a guest, be sure to include your name and email address.

3)Using any method (email, social media, text, etc) to solicit votes for a specific contestant will result in that contestant's immediate disqualification. It’s perfectly okay, in fact, it is encouraged to spread the word about the contest to get more people to vote, just not for a specific writer!

That’s enough jibber-jabber…like the man say’s –

In one corner, we have Alex T. Hilton.

Aside from the white spectral creature stalking Jude, the night was perfect. The Tower Comics theme park, curtained with scents of hot-fried dough, pinged with laughter, and clanked with climbing rollercoasters. Everyone in that park—including Jude’s friends—reveled, all unaware of the danger. Rob, his denim-clad arms crossed, smiled at Heather, the curly haired wonder, who giggled and nudged him with her hip as Jude let them walk ahead.
            Behind Jude, the feathered creature slithered through the crowd. It bumped around kids in capes, only wanting Jude. Like his friends, no one else could see—had ever been able to see—the ghostly creatures except for him. Yet, this floating mist-snake and its long, jagged teeth could take a chunk out of any of the costume clad park-goers. So, it was Jude’s responsibility to do something about it.
 Tonight, though?
Couldn’t it have chosen a night when Jude was in his room reading a comic and not surrounded by people?
            He sighed deeply. For the first time in five homes, he’d found a place where Mom didn’t move them within a year. Sure, Austin, Texas had its share of weirdos, but for two long years it’d lacked the normal—let’s say—excitement that came with being him. In Michigan, he’d watched as a fellow fifth grader’s voice was stolen by a Butterfly. In Ohio, his two thirteen-year-old friends had been sucked into the sidewalk. Compared to all that, Austin had been relaxing.
            If he tried to stop this thing, his family would be packed and running by 3:00 AM. If he didn’t, then what would happen?
Someone let out a squeak.
Sudden anxiety gripped Jude’s stomach. He turned to spot a girl with android face paint—wires spiderwebbed around her eyes. Her circuit painted hand clutched a cup of popcorn as she stumbled back. She had just walked into the creature and was mere inches from it now.
The creature rolled in on itself, pretzeling its lithe body so it could face her. It hissed, flashing rows of spiraling, screw-sized teeth. She blinked, completely unaware of the jaws hinging open in front of her face as it reared back.
Jude forced heat to snap in his chest that quickly spread outwards to his fingers and toes. He couldn’t Burn too hot right now, not with all these people. Too much, and he’d start glowing like a paper lantern.
The girl couldn’t see the monster, but she must have been able to sense the impending danger because she backpedaled. Jude imagined a thin, coiling string in his hand, felt it form there. In a flash, he tripped her. Popcorn leapt from her cup onto the bricks as she landed awkwardly on her butt.
The Snake whizzed over her head, biting nothing but the trails of her hair. The long, floating, feathered body twitched with frustration. But then the eye-less, forked head sensed through the crowd by tasting his spent energy. The creature swung its head, practically salivating.

Oh, shit.

In the other corner, we have Jett Jaguar.

The great fish, whose name is a melody days long, broods in the depths. The frigid current chills his pain. All the creatures marvel at his song, and weep.

The fish follows the sailing ships of the land walkers. He drives away any of his kind who seek to breach the ships’ hulls. They sense regret clinging to him like remora.

The fish nudges the woman’s body. Her golden hair billows about her head. Her skin is pale like moonlight and swells from her bones. The sea has rinsed the color from her face. Her eyes stare without sight, and her lips part without words. The fish mourns.

The woman stands on the beach, gazing out over the sea. She does not play. The shaggy four-legs prods her feet. The fish watches and is terrified. After many days, she walks into the water. The fish has grown too great to swim over the reef to push her back to the shore.

The fish finds the copper-haired man among debris from the ship.  His coverings drag his body into the depths. The fish fears for the one he loves.

The land walkers sail to hunt the tuna, the mackerel, the hake, all those creatures the great fish and his kind must eat. He feels anger at their intrusion and the hunger of his kind, and attacks their ship. The men fall into the sea, dragged downward by their heavy coverings. The fish feels unease, but this puzzles him.
The woman and a man with copper hair play on the beach. They throw sticks to shaggy four-legs, splash water at each other, chase seagulls away.  She chooses seashells, and he washes them in the surf.  Later, their bodies lie together in the sand. The fish watches them and feels joy.

The fish hunts cuttlefish in the tidal pools. He grows.

The fish watches the woman play on the beach. She throws sticks to a shaggy four-legs, chases seagulls into the sky, gathers seashells and washes them in the surf. She sits by the water, dragging a stick through the sand.  She gazes out over the water with her eyes far away.  The fish loves her.

The tiny fish flees a cuttlefish with angry dark stripes and waving tentacles. He is foolish for swimming in the shallow pool, so close to shore. Just as the beast strikes, a woman with golden hair plucks him from its grasp. She holds him in her palm and speaks to him:
“Oh, you are a fine fellow. Do not fear, little one. You will grow to be great and mighty, and all the creatures of the sea will harken to your song and marvel.”

The fish feels wonder, and believes.

And finally, FoundMissing


It was a game he used to play with his wife, back when she was still around. They’d walk the neighborhood with Sir Lancelot, their regal Chow Chow with its blue-black tongue and lionlike looks. They’d create stories of what was going on behind closed doors. Lori developed the narrative, having spent her youth in this neighborhood and knowing the history behind some of its houses. Liam provided the dialog—male and female voices.

Especially in the evening, when houselights hinted at which rooms were in use.

The genre shifted as the houses changed—a sitcom where a family sat for dinner; romance when the upstairs lights dimmed; and mystery when the windows were dark, yet the door sat open. For Liam, every house represented a romantic comedy. But Lori’s narrative often veered off into dark corners, blind alleys, and serpentine pathways.

The night she crafted the story of a dark affair as they walked by Nils Eriksson’s house, Liam didn’t chime in with dialog. He wondered, instead, about the excitement in Lori’s voice. Anticipation, even.

The sexy Swede with a confident swagger grew tired of his wife’s so-called business trips. He took a younger lover—

“How much younger?” Liam interrupted.

Lori shrugged. “Five years, let’s say.

Lori was five years younger than Nils Eriksson.

She continued her tale, lingering, letting Sir Lancelot smell every bush near the Eriksson’s Saab.
He and his lover grew bolder, unable to stay away from one another. Even when his wife was in town. They found places—the back seat, the park, the library, once. Places his wife would never—

“What about the lover’s husband?”

Lori smiled, playfully tapped Liam in his chest. “You’re changing our game.”

Her impish grin was too much for Liam. Was she the co-star in her own story? This was her way of confessing?

Two evenings later, Lori added another chapter in front of Nils’ brick home.

His wife returned early from a business trip and discovered the lovers on the back porch. Devastated her. As one last act of revenge, she vowed to expose the woman who stole her man. She’d find the woman’s husband. She’d—

“Nils’ wife has a name,” Liam said. “Ana.”

Lori looked Liam in the eye. Tilted her head. Ashamed? Ready to make an admission?

“I don’t know Nils or Ana. Let’s cross the street to that dark house. We’ll tell a horror story.”

“This is a horror story.” Liam walked away, leaving Lori and Sir Lancelot to create stories without him. He’d seen Lori talking with Nils once in the grocery, possibly a second time in a restaurant.

Nowadays, walking the dog alone, Liam avoided Nils Eriksson’s house. To be clear, the game had lost its charm before he lost Lori. A laugh needed a conspiring ear. A mystery required a sidekick to bounce ideas off for solving the riddle. And a romance, of course, demanded a willing partner.

Leave your votes and critiques in the comments below. Again, be respectful of your remarks and try to point positives as well as detractions.

This is WRiTE CLUB - the contest where the audience gets clobbered!


  1. Here's another difficult group of three to choose from. While all of these are well-written and grabbed my attention, I think the unique structure of Jett Jaguar's piece and the way the story unfolds wins my vote today. Best of luck to all of you!

  2. I vote for Jett Jaguar
    for the unique structure which worked well in this piece and the resonance it leaves behind.

  3. Why why why are these pitted against each other? *sobs in corner*

    My vote goes to Jett Jaguar...this entry reminds me of the beginning of Richard Bach's Illusions.

  4. My vote goes to FoundMissing!

  5. Jett Jaguar and FoundMissing ... two of my very favorites! **pulls hair and wails** If I must, vote goes to ... Jett Jaguar.

  6. All so good. Argh!
    Because i think the other two need a bit more tweaking to totally land, and because his piece had me sucked in with the first line, I vote for Alex T. Hilton.

  7. Jett Jaguar for sure. Pulled off 2 difficult-to-do feats - unusual POV and reverse story structure - and did them hauntingly. This is a piece I wish I had written. Love, love, love.

  8. My vote is for Jett Jaguar as I felt it was the most self contained story.

  9. I think I have to go for Jett Jaguar today.

    JoAnne Turner

  10. I enjoyed all three, but Jett Jaguar's brave entry wins. It's not what I'd read, but I can't help admiring it.

  11. My vote goes for FoundMissing, although all three had a lot of merit. I just like the idea of a story within a story. I'm a sucker for that!

  12. My vote goes to Alex T. Hilton. Loved the sensory details, tension, and the question left hanging in my readerly mind.

  13. Alex T. Hilton wins this one in my opinion. I can picture the scene and feel the monster that no one else can see.

  14. All three were great but I’m going with Jett Jaguar.

  15. Vote is Jett Jaguar. Quite the clever structure and works so well for this story.

  16. I vote Alex. T. Hilton. The story sucks me in with characterization and immediate stakes.

  17. I love Alex's work! I missed the original voting for this piece, but I will definitely say Alex T. Hilton this time around.

  18. Jett Jaguar's my pick for this rumble, Jim. How can you fight when the enemy has already walked off the ring, victorious, before the bell even rings?

  19. This is HARD! All three of these were my original picks. I have to go with Jett Jaguar, though. It's never really left my mind since I first read it.

  20. Oh man, some of my favorites here! Arrrgh! FoundMissing by a slim margin.

  21. *whimper* 3 of my favorites. I don't want to have to choose just one. Waaa ... But vote I must. Jett Jaguar, but only for the unique story structure. Truly, the other two are amazing pieces of writing.

  22. My vote is for Alex T. Hilton for good character.

  23. I vote for Alex T. Hilton for the good description!

  24. This was tough for me, but I'm voting for Jett Jaguar.

  25. One vote for the sultry prose of Jett Jaguar

  26. I vote for Jett Jaguar for style and story.




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