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WRiTE CLUB 2021 - Cage Bout #6

Reminder - You can follow along with all of the bout results right HERE.

Here's the sixth and final cage bout before we move into the Playoff round. Once again, here's how WRiTE CLUB cage bouts work. Instead of two writers competing against one another, now it's THREE AT ONCE. But there's a twist. All of the winners have been given the opportunity to absorb the feedback offered during their preliminary round and submit an edited version of their original submission. As a writer, utilizing feedback can be a tricky proposition - because frankly - not all feedback is equal. This is our chance to see how the contestants used that feedback (if at all).

The readers/voters are to choose one of the three to move on.

Remember, one of the real values of this contest is FEEDBACK. So, please be respectful with your remarks!

Because of time restrictions, the voting period will be less than a week, so please pay attention to the dates posted. The voting for today’s bout will close on Thurs, Jan 20th (noon central time).

The piece that garnishes the most votes will move on to the next round where they’ll face a different opponent with a BRAND NEW WRITING SAMPLE

As always, in case of a tie, I’m the deciding vote.

Here are the voting guidelines –

1) One vote per visitor per bout.

2) Anyone can vote (even the contestants themselves), but 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 cause 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!

4) Although more of a suggestion than a rule - cast your vote before you read other comments. Do not let yourself be swayed by the opinions of others.

Here are the contestants for this first cage bout (in random order) are -

Stardust Forager

“A New Page”


Dusk had just turned the corner into night when an ambulance pulled up at my neighbor’s house. Well, neighbor by proximity only. I didn’t even know his name. When I’d moved here a year ago for the crown molding and the pine floors, he’d been raking leaves, looking like the grandpa I barely remembered. I’d walked over to say hello, but he didn’t speak first and my courage failed. And that’s a moment you can’t get back, the one where the most natural thing to do is open your world to someone else. This I’ve learned from a lifetime of letting hellos pass me by. So for a year I’ve watched him shuffle out to get his mail and he’s watched me water my petunias and we’ve never said a word.

But in an emergency, that moment circles back. I ran into his yard as they brought him out on a stretcher, his white hair dissheveled, an oxygen mask over his face. His rheumy gray eyes locked onto mine and he pulled the mask down long enough to gasp, “My cat. Will you feed my–” before a paramedic secured it again.

“Of course,” I said, watching them load him under spinning red lights. Then I ducked inside to the stench of mold and kitty litter. News buzzed from a corner of the den where a can of chicken noodle soup and a spoon had fallen to the floor. I picked them up, swallowing the prickle of fear that, give or take a few decades, this would be me.

“Here, kitty,” I said, glancing at an envelope on a stack of bills that covered the counter. J. Merritt. I was that much closer to his name, at least.

When no cat appeared, I stepped into the dark hall of every horror flick. “Kitty?”

A muffled bump answered. The cat. Just the cat. Still I grabbed for the light switch at the nearest room. Inset bulbs hummed on, reflecting off the last thing I expected. Rows of glass cases. The nearest held a yellowed volume, opened to Shakespeare’s Tempest. In the next, Marlowe’s Faustus stared up as a fluffy tabby materialized, twining around my legs. “What in the world, cat?”

That’s when I felt someone behind me. I turned, hackles rising, to the portrait of a woman, elegant and accusing. Her aquamarine eyes seemed to follow me out of the room as I fled back to the kitchen, banging through empty cabinets until I found three cans of Purr Delight. I dumped one in the bowl by the sink, trying to reel my imagination in. Still my thoughts kept drifting to that picture. Who was she? And who exactly was J. Merritt?

None of my business, that’s who.

On the way out, I snagged keys from the counter. I’d come again tomorrow, just to feed the cat and drop off some real food.

Definitely not to walk back down that hall.


Contestant number two is Iradessa

The king sat at his desk, weariness threatening to drag him into sleep. But he couldn’t sleep, not yet. There were letters to answer. Problems to address. Double agents to recruit. He rubbed a hand across his forehead before unrolling the newest scroll in his stack of unread mail.

He had barely broken the seal when he heard it: a quiet cough.

The king sighed and set the scroll aside. “How long have you been there, Ace?”

“Long enough.” There was a pause, and then the form of a man in his mid-thirties flickered into existence by the door. He leaned against the mantle, arms crossed. Bright violet eyes peered out of a heavily scarred face.

The king suppressed a shudder at Ace’s sudden appearance. The man’s ability to watch from the shadows was unnatural and unnerving, yet it had come in useful more than once. “Have you Seen something new?”

Ace frowned. He crossed the room and lowered himself into the chair opposite the king. “You won’t win this war sitting behind your desk.”

“Is that a Seeing, or just advice?”

A brief smile tugged Ace’s lips up, making his scars seem that much more gruesome. “Both.” He hesitated before continuing, “I see…beasts of old. Power bounces back and forth, but there’s no finality, no conclusion. The only clear thing is the opening of the sixth Vault. But I’ve been unable to identify if it is our enemy who opens it, or us.”

The king remained silent, afraid his voice would tremble if he spoke. For centuries, his family had guarded that Vault, protecting the power that rested within it from those who would use it for evil. He’d sworn an oath to only open it and use the power within if there was no other choice.

The time was coming to make that choice.

Many difficult decisions blocked his path forward, but now one rose above the rest, a question that nagged every time he met with this man.

Did he trust Ace enough to commit the entirety of his resources based on the man’s word alone?

Ace had appeared out of nowhere nearly a decade ago. He had unnatural power, more than any human should ever have, but for years now, the man’s visions hadn’t steered the king wrong. Those visions had allowed the king to stay a step ahead of the enemy.

Yet still, it worried him. Ace’s motivations were a mystery. He appeared not to have family or a life, nothing to fight for. Yet if that was the case, why lend his aid at all? There was something that the man was hiding, and the king feared that secret might be his own undoing.

The entire Erminian kingdom hinged on his choices here and now. On his instincts. He couldn’t afford to hesitate, couldn’t afford to waver. It was a time for decisiveness.

The king rose to his feet. “It’s time to assemble our forces. The Vault will not be breached.”


And finally, number three is Durden Mayhem



Five minutes in the bank line, and I’m hoping I get the attractive woman as my teller. Landing in front of the older, married fella would be odd for both of us. 

It works out. I approach the smiling Jillian, who certainly didn’t wake up this morning expecting the kind of deposit I’m going to make.

“Can I help you?” she says to me as I get to her plexiglass.

I make sure my phone is angled correctly, and while looking at her nametag, I get straight to it. “I’m in love with you, Jillian.”

Her lips curl into a scowl.

“Excuse me?”  Her face defines dumbfounded.

I respond. “Sorry. I know we have never met, but when you know, you know. I saw you when I came in, I watched you while I was in line, and yeah, I’m definitely in love with you.”

Jillian looks side to side at her colleagues to see if any of them are responsible for me. When she realizes nobody at her workplace put me up to this, she looks back at me.

“I’m going to get my manager.”  She makes a determined move like she is going to have a higher-up come over to bring me down.

“Wait. Hold on, Jillian. You don’t need to get anyone. I’m leaving. I just needed to say what was on my heart.”

I leave her there with a smile and a wink.

As I make my way out the front door, I turn off the video on my phone and quick text it to Jeff.

Jeff is the guy I lost the bet to, and he always insists on video proof of my payoff.

“Express your love to a complete stranger in a public place” was my bookie’s demand since I couldn’t pay my debt with cash.

I bet $500 on the Cowboys.

Never smart. 

Especially when you don’t have the money to pay.

Thankfully, Jeff is not a knuckle-breaking sort of bookie. He’s got a YouTube channel with a million followers, where he features fools like me shaming themselves in various ways to pay off their debts. He makes more money from advertisers than he would if I had paid him actual dollars.

Works out for both of us. 

As I step into the bank parking lot, I approach my car, which has some worried people standing near it, pointing at the pounding coming from my trunk.

The sounds of my second payoff.

“Put a drunk stranger into your trunk for an hour.”

That was for the $4,000 bet I made on the Lakers.

And I do have video proof it wasn’t kidnapping – dumb, hammered college kid just climbed into my trunk thinking it was his pub-crawl Uber, I guess.

I comfort the onlookers. “Stupid, drunk fraternity dare.”

They buy it.

I’m sure glad the guy knocked. I had forgotten about him.

He’s been in there since last night.

I’m a jerk and an idiot -

With three more bets to pay off…


That's it. Please leave your votes and critiques in the comments below. Again, be respectful of your remarks and try to point out positives as well as detractions.

Finally, in order to keep this contest going AND GROWING, I'm asking folks to donate to the cause on my Ko-fi account (shown on the sidebar). Let me assure you, 100% of the donations will go towards the contest prizes for this year and next!

In order to give everyone enough time to digest and vote, the playoff bouts will not start until next Wednesday, January 19th. 

Please help all our writers out by telling everyone you know what is happening here and encourage them to come vote.

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


  1. My vote is for Stardust Forager. I would like to see you doing more to bring out the emotions of the piece in a consistent manner. Your writing is smooth and has a few nice turns of phrase. I particularly like the first paragraph. I felt that the piece lost a bit of appeal around the "When no cat appeared..." part; the switch to horror/fear/apprehension didn't quite take for me. As a reader, I also missed the transition from the hall to the room. I suspect the word limit for this competition may make it difficult to doing as much as you could with this scene.

    Iradessa: There's a lot going on here, but the character of the king and the feelings of the moment aren't coming through clearly. I feel there's too much being explained and too little being demonstrated to the reader. The writing is solid but falls shy of sparkling. I want to love this--it seems like part of a larger work--but I'm just not drawn in yet.

    Durden Mayhem: You've corrected some of the plot holes; good job. I want this piece to be funnier and I want a reason to like the narrator, not just be intrigued by the concept of the story.

  2. My vite today goes to Iradessa. The revisions you made were fantastic and really upped the stakes and strengthened the piece.

    Durden Mayhem, I think you made some really good edits too, and you were a close second for me.

  3. I still really enjoy Durden Mayhem. You get my vote.

  4. My vote today goes to Durden Mayhem

  5. Vote goes to Stardust Forager. Not a fan of the change at the end, but the writing is still the best in this bout.

  6. My vote in this round goes to Durden Mayhem, well done all for making it to this round.

  7. Congratulations to all three writers!

    Some nice revisions to all three pieces, Iradessa gets my vote for sharing more of the world and what is at stake.

  8. My vote this time goes to Stardust Forager.

  9. Wow, strong revisions on all three stories!

    Iradessa, I'd say yours was the most improved. You delivered much more insight into the King's motivations, Ace's backstory, and the world we're being introduced to.

    Stardust, the tweaks in the first paragraph were spot on. I still sensed the genre shifting between contemporary, thriller, and magical realism, like we were about to enter a portal fantasy through the basement. It was difficult to pin down where this story would go, which is certainly okay, but left me feeling a bit ungrounded in this short piece.

    Durden, this piece is clever and the concept relevant in this age of viral video. The casual, witty writing style was a good fit the genre.

    Voting for Iradessa here, which really comes down to personal taste.

  10. My vote is for Durden Mayhem. All about style for me. And I want to see what happens when MC opens that trunk.
    The other writers were great - created very intriguing stories - congrats.
    But Durden is my kind of writer...

  11. Replies
    1. Hmmmm... even though my email was in the "Publish As" box, it shows me as "Unknown." Not sure what is up there, but I am a real person, and I desire to be Known rather than Unknown. :)

      Kyle McNutt -

  12. My vote is for Durden Mayhem.

  13. If I am voting based on which story I want to read more of, then my vote goes to Dunder Mayhem 100%. If I am voting based on which story is more engaging, easiest to connect with, etc, then my vote would go for Stardust Forager. If I was grading this as a teacher, I would probably give Stardust Forager a 98 and give Dunder Mayhem a 95. The reason for that grade is because the way that Stardust uses adjectives to create feeling and engage your senses is really well done. I think Dunder could do that more without changing their voice. Like why was Jillian so beautiful? So I still see some room for improvement in Dunder's story. That being said, I want to read the rest of Dunder's story but wouldn't necessarily lose sleep if I never finished Stardusts story. So maybe a tie? Probably Dunder should edge out Stardust simply because I want to read more?!? Tough one.

  14. Oohhh, Stardust got better...
    Iradessa I guess has a choice and the choice is made, though if it's a good or bad one I don't know.
    Durden Mayhem I imagine would liked by fans of Bam Margeria who also read.

    But Stardust gets my vote.

  15. My vote goes to Durden Mayhem: The revisions told a more complete story. Good work.

  16. I liked all of these stories, but my vote is for Durden Mayhem.

  17. Stardust Forager -- I'm very drawn to the setting you're presenting here. You have my vote.
    Iradessa -- This eludes to potential.
    Durden Mayhem -- This is such a fun story. If I could vote for two people, you'd be my other choice.

  18. My vote goes to Iradessa because I enjoyed being pulled into that world.




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