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WRiTE CLUB 2021 - Playoff Bout #3

We are now down to just six contestants and it's time to see how they match up with ALL NEW MATERIAL.

Please pay special attention to when voting ends because a staggered timeline will be used again. Speaking of voting, it has a special significance during the playoffs. In addition to three winners advancing to the semi-finals, a fourth Wildcard winner will also be selected. How is the WC chosen? It will be the loser that garnered the most votes among all three losers. So every vote counts - win or lose.

We do ask that you leave a brief critique for all of our contestants because that is one of the real values of this contest – FEEDBACK. Please be respectful with your remarks!

The voting for today’s bout will close on Wednesday, Jan 26th (noon central time).

The piece that garnishes the most votes will move on to the semi-final round where they’ll face a different opponent with yet another 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.

Please welcome back into the ring, with all new material - 

Durden Mayhem

The worst payoff will be for the $7,000 bet I made on a badminton match. 

Yes, I bet on a badminton match.

I had a dream about playing backyard badminton with a panda who was a beast with a birdie. So, I thought this was a sign I needed to drop a major bet on whatever Chinese badminton player I could find the next day. Jeff usually doesn’t take badminton bets, but after hearing my reasons for doing so and after some research revealing my panda pick was up against the top Thai player in the world, he was happy to indulge my dreams.

When my human panda was soundly beaten, Jeff issued the payoff I dread the most: “Run naked down Rodeo Drive while loudly singing the Baby Shark song.”

But that payoff must happen later. 

First, to pop the trunk and set my young captive free. 

When I open it, will he leap out and kill me? 

Or will he be too oxygen-deprived to do me much damage? 

Guess it’s time to find out.

I set my phone to video because Jeff wants to see the post-lock-up altercation, and I back up to give myself some space. Then I hit the button.

The trunk door raises, but nobody leaps out. Just an extended arm and a voice saying, “A hand, please.”

I move toward the trunk with my phone recording.

As I reach out, I point my camera over and catch the most shocking sight.

A man about 95 years old is in my trunk.

I drop my phone.

How long did I leave this guy in my trunk?

Had 75 years magically passed?

I grab my phone and rewind the video from the night before to see if I captured a geriatric rather than a youth. No. The video shows I’m not crazy. Black-haired, college-age drunk kid begging to get into my trunk.

Contrast that with the gray-haired man who’s taken his place. “A hand, please,” he says again.


I pull him out.   He’s wearing the same clothing as the youngster from last night.

“What the hell? How…?”

He smiles. “Doesn’t matter. All you need to know is this. I’m here to help with your payoffs. I made a deposit into your account. Check it.”

I open my bank app and am shocked once again.

“There’s a million dollars in there,” I say, flabbergasted.

“Transfer 20k to Jeff, and let’s move to your other debts. Your real debts.”

“What real debts?”

“You were abandoned by your dad, right? He was a gambling fool, too.”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Now you’ve done the same. You’ve abandoned your wife and son, all to chase that rush. Well, it’s time you fix that. Do right by the ones you left.”

“And I can keep the million bucks?”

“Yes, but I’ve got five payoffs you’ll have to complete first. When those are done, you won’t care about the million anyway.”

I shrug, certain I’ll still care about the million.

“Okay. What’s first?”


Our second contestant is ch3ru

"You sure this is safe? Not gonna fry your internals or, I"

Sol is already submerged up to their chest in Leah's bathtub. "My exoframe is entirely hydrophobic, and my 'internals' are hermetically sealed within several redundancies. There is no risk of damage or injury to either of us."

"Alright, alright..."

The water is hot. Bordering on too hot, which is to say, perfect. Leah's skin prickles all over as she sinks down and gets settled, back to chest with Sol. Their exoframe is the pinnacle of android engineering: smooth and sleek and capable of withstanding the vacuum of space, among other hazards.

It had not, however, been designed for cuddling.

"Leah?" Sol says questioningly, after a solid five minutes of her splashing around.

"Almost got it. Just a sec… There. Perfect."

The water is nearly up to her ears and her toes are braced on the far wall of the tub. The back of her head rests on a dip in Sol's sternum. It's more good enough than perfect, but she's not complaining. It'd been her idea, after all.

Sol's exhaust vents cycle at regular intervals, churning steam into slow-moving spirals. The occasional kssst sound acts like white noise, lulling her to sleep.



"It would be inadvisable for you to lose consciousness."

"M'not sleeping...swear," she lies, stifling a yawn.

Kssst go Sol's vents. Water sloshes, little waves stirred up by Sol moving their—

"Sol!" Leah yelps, but she's too late to stop them from standing up, or from bringing her along for the ride. "I'm freezing!"

"Your body temperature will regulate shortly."

Her bedroom is warm, but not that warm. Leah whips a towel over her body and dresses in record time before diving into bed.

Sol slides in beside her. "If the object of cuddling is sustained and uninterrupted physical affection, and you require sleep, then this..." they tuck one of her many pillows against their side, "...would seem to be the superior location."

This is exactly what she'd signed up for, dating an android: logic, with a side of charm. Never mind whether Sol's logic was sound, it was the principle of the thing. You didn't interrupt a girl in the middle of a relaxing soak!

She glares at the inviting little nest Sol has made.

"You win this round, circuits," she says, and curls up under their chin.


 Sol's half-shuttered optical lenses pulse a dull, empty amber.

Since they'd woken her up last time, Leah had missed this sight. Talk about unsettling. She'd get used to it eventually. Probably.


Amber flickers, brightens to familiar electric blue. "Good morning, Leah. Did you sleep well?"

"Never better," she says, honestly. "You?"

"Forty-seven reports graded and returned to students."

"Productive," Leah snickers. She plants herself on Sol's chest, prepared to explain the importance of lazy, decidedly unproductive mornings, when their arms press into her back without prompting.

"I may have also researched cuddling further."

Oh yeah, she would definitely get used to 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.

That's the last playoff bout and the decisions aren't easy. The semi-final round will kick off next Thursday. 

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 today is going to ch#ru.

    Durden Mayhem - the twist of the old man was intriguing, but I felt like some of the unique and humorous voice that I liked in your last piece was lost here, and without that, this piece fell flat for me.

    ch3ru - maybe I'm just being dense, but it wasn't completely clear to me why Leah was suddenly freezing. I still like this concept, but this story didn't GO anywhere, it felt like there was nothing to push it forward. The purpose of your first piece with Sol and Leah was to have the conversation of their relationship, and something was decided by the end. This felt like it sort of meandered, but there was no real purpose to it. That said, for the character work alone, I'm voting for you, because I feel like Leah, in particular, comes through quite strongly as a character and I think she's intriguing and well done.

  2. My vote is for Durden Mayhem.

    Durden Mayhem: I still want your pieces to be funnier, more humorous, more of your character shining brilliantly. Bump up the voice of the characters (main character as well as 95-year old man), bump up the humour, bump up the emotional content. Right now, I read this as situations that should be funny but sort of fall more flat. The concept here is intriguing, with the addition of the 95-year old man. While it was fun, the first part about the badminton panda really has little purpose for this piece; I think you could have used your word count more wisely for this competition. I also think perhaps you may want to work on creating some paragraphs that are more than one or two sentences long, so your work feels less choppy and flows more smoothly. You get my vote today primarily for your ability to move the plot along and create some tension here. Also, you've added to your previous piece and done something slightly different (moving plot along a bit, more description of pulling the man out of the trunk), though this does seem like more of the same...for each round, as a reader, I'm looking for writers to show some range and to do a bit more with their work, not show consistency in doing the same thing with slightly different material (consistency is good, of course, but it's a bare minimum).

    Ch3ru: I wasn't quite sure what was going on in the piece or what the purpose of it was; there doesn't seem to be a plot. You've shown your ability to create characters and emotion; this doesn't shine through here.

  3. A decisive vote for ch3ru from me <3

  4. My vote goes to Durden Mayhem in this round

    ch3ru is obviously a good writer, but I don't see much of a plot - congrats on creating interesting characters, but I don't see them going anywhere interesting...

    As for Durden, you might have spent too long on the first bit, but it was still funny. You might have used those early words to pack a better punch at the end.
    I have a feeling you are a screenwriter - The way you write helps me see your plot moving and I sense a potential redemption for the MC - This would be a great first 15 minutes of a movie I would want to see -

    Great job to both - But Durden's is far and away the more intriguing...But this is subjective - DM is just more my style...

  5. Again, both writers chose to continue their stories, and again, I wish they hadn't.
    Durden Mayhem, the super-long badminton windup followed by the reveal of trunk guy being old all of the sudden felt forced, as though the author tried to inject first voice, then plot. Pacing was off and the end result was a less entertaining story than the original.

    Ch3ru - The writing was fine, but there was just no momentum to this piece. It started nowhere, and it went nowhere.

    I would have loved to see what these authors are capable of in original pieces. It forces the writer to start with a hook, tell a good story, and stick the landing. By just continuing, these pieces were robbed of that immediacy and weight.
    Vote goes to Durden Mayhem.

  6. My vote goes to Durden Mayhem. Very original and funny.

  7. I'm disappointed in both of these, to be honest.

    Durden Mayhem: This feels terribly underdeveloped. You wasted all those words to tell us about another bet when you should have slowed down the man-in-the-trunk reveal, which could have and should have been bursting with energy and emotion. As it is, you sped through the scene so quickly, I had no time to marvel at the mystery of the man's aging or what he might mean for your protagonist. There's so much potential, but this story just isn't there yet. This submission reads as more off a plot outline than a full-fledged story. Flesh it out. Go deep into the scene with description, internal monologue, and VOICE. Your first piece had so much voice. This, not so much. Please, please, please... Slow down, flesh it out, and amp up that humorous voice.

    ch3ru: This submission feels like little more than a reiteration of your first submission, which boils down to "Human-Android romance is awkward." There's no new conflict, nor any new revelation about your characters. You've convinced me that you can write a decent interaction between a human and an android exploring the possibility of a romantic relationship, and that you can apply feedback marvelously (I was genuinely impressed by the improvement between your original entry and its revision, if I didn't mention that in the last round), but I wanted to see what you could do with these characters in a different situation or what you as a writer could do with a different story.

    My vote goes to Durden Mayhem for at least advancing a plot.

  8. My vote goes to Durden Mayhem. I'm intrigued, and I want to know the next chapter in the story!

  9. Another round of continuations??? Phooey.

    I wasn't thrilled with either piece this round, however, Durden Mayhem gets my vote this round.

    I'm still hoping to see something different and fresh from all the playoff winners.

  10. My vote: Dunder Mayhem. I kinda agree with the other comments. Even though this is a continuation from the last bout, it felt disjointed to go from a guy in the trunk (end of last bout) to badminton and then back to guy in a trunk who is now miraculously not a drunk college kid. I am super intrigued by the 95 year old who gave the narrator a million bucks though. I also agree with the comments that you are super dang funny and write like a screenwriter and I would love to see this in a movie.

    ch3ru-you are a great writer but for me there was something lacking in explanation in the end. I felt like I couldn't quite tell if Leah was happy or not and if the android was annoying or not. the story itself had an awkwardness that leant itself really well to the inherent awkwardness of human-android romance. But ultimately, my vote came down to which i would rather continue to read, just like it did last time and Dunder has my vote.

  11. My vote goes to Durden Mayhem. It comes down to plot and genre preference for me.

  12. It's Durden Mayhem for me. I enjoy the creativity and style of his writing. Plus, I think I actually saw him running naked down Rodeo Drive singing the Baby Shark song once. Hard not to vote for that.

    1. And again, I am displaying as Unknown even though I am logged in when posting. My feelings are starting to get hurt a bit. You may not know me, Blogger, but God knows me! Take that!

      Kyle McNutt -

  13. Both of these stories were continuations, and I don't like that most of the time. One of these two will go on to another round, and I hope they don't continue with the same story.

    In my opinion, the good thing about new stories is to demonstrate different writing skills. I am seeing nothing new with either.

    My vote goes to Durden Mayhem for a more enjoyable piece.

  14. Durden Mayhem sounds like this took a turn toward heart warming. Maybe his future self coming through time to get him to be a better person? So maybe it's not a comedy? Intriguing.

    ch3ru ... 🛁 I can believe in androids and space and quite a bit of suspension of disbelief... but a tub two people fit in THAT well??? Next you're gonna tell me the outfits have pockets, real ones, ones that could hold a whole socket wrench or something. 😅
    Anyway. It's a well painted scene. It just feels slightly short on emotion to me. Like I could almost connect, almost care about either character, but something is missing.

  15. My vote goes to Ch3ru

    Ch3ru: very gently funny story, and an extraordinarily smooth voice. Terrific description. I got stuck, in the middle where you say 'but she's too late to stop them from standing up' - it took a while to understand that 'them' meant Sol. Perhaps Leah can decide Sol is a 'he' and you can use the 'he' pronoun. Thinking there's suddenly a group of people in the bathroom is confusing. I don't know if this is intended as a full story or is just some musings, but there doesn't seem to be a plot.

    Durden Mayhem: I just don't like stories about unpleasant people - why am I giving them my time?

  16. My vote goes to Durden Mayhem bc I would like to know more.

  17. Congratulations to both writers on your new pieces.

    Durden Mayhem - interesting twist with the old man and offering the take care of all his money troubles - after a few tasks. Seems a bit like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire to me! I appreciated the backstory of how he’d gotten himself this far into debt, it helps to round out your character.

    Ch3ru - Your characters are enjoyable, especially about navigating expectations and learning about each other in a new relationship. This piece doesn’t move the plot terribly far forward, and it’s hard to tell how long after the previous selection this takes place. I’d be interested to see more backstory on how they met - and what makes Leah so interested in Sol - are there no other humans?

    My vote today goes to Ch3ru

  18. Congratulations, writers!

    Not sure how to vote on this.

    Durden Mayhem
    Mayhem indeed. Intriguing continuation to the story. I think it was a mistake to open the piece talking about a totally unrelated bet. It would have worked better if you’d stuck with the guy in the trunk. Perhaps given us more clues about who the guy is and how he changed the way he did. There’s a promise of an intriguing plot here and it would have been better to stick to that.

    I didn’t really like the switch in POV to Leah. What I liked most about it last time was watching a machine process human emotions the way a machine would. I wasn’t as interested in seeing a human get turned on by a machine. Too icky. There was some tension in the last piece, but I didn’t feel any conflict in this. Just an awkward love scene.

    I got the impression from before that Sol was an android that looked human, but now it seems the android has a different shape and I wanted a small clue what that was. Using the “they” pronoun made it confusing for me. I understand why you did it, but it did throw me out of the story every time I had to figure out what you meant.

    My vote goes to Durden Mayhem because at least there’s a hint of an actual conflict and story to come.

  19. Congrats to both!
    Durden Mayhem gets my vote this time. Durden, I loved the first bit (badminton, etc.) even though it didn't really advance the plot. It just made me giggle. I also like the crazy reveal of the old man in the trunk. From then on, it felt less fresh. I'm not as excited to read about our main character making up for his transgressions. I really love your humorous, sarcastic narrative voice in general.

    ch3ru, what you're doing is very imaginative, but I have to agree with many other commentators above. This feels like a continuation of your original piece, but the original was stronger. I, too, was confused as to why Leah is freezing all of a sudden. Almost seems like Sol injected freezing water into the bath, but I see no evidence for that. I also think making Sol a "he" would make the piece easier to follow. I hope you continue the piece.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Both are great pieces that I would love to keep reading!

    Durden, you have left me dying to know what the payoffs are and what the million bucks won't matter at the end.

    Ch3ru, I loved how you began this in the tub and explained how Sol can withstand it. I also really like the part about Sol's resting eyes. Very clever and a solid work all around. I still find the use of they and their jarring. Ending is satisfying and I would love to read more about these two.

    My vote goes to Ch3ru.

  22. My vote goes to Durden Mayhem. Anything that makes me laugh out loud on the bus has got to win.

  23. ch3ru for me. I like the odd romance going on here.




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