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[CONTEST] Author Idol: Season Two Entries!
 
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Azelma
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Joined: 27 Aug 2005
Posts: 1,554

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:59 pm    Reply with quote

Everyone, please thank Avea for filling in as Ryan this time. We'll let you know who's going to be taking this position in the future. And with that said, please welcome your contestants for Author Idol Season Two!

Please take all comments to the discussion thread.

---

01: Morning Person
“Hey, Atton! Wake up!”

“Something up?” He stretched and glared at her.

“You know you have the secondary power controls imprinted on your cheek, right?”

“Mira… what… what did you want?”

“You fell asleep at the wheel.”

“Ship’s on autopilot. Space off.” He let his head fall back to the console.

“Atton!”

“What?”

“I’m saying we’re there.” She was clearly enjoying this far too much.

“There will be vengeance…”

“Veneance is not the Jedi way.”

“No, you’re right. Sleep is the Jedi way.”

“You’ve been out for seven standard hours. Come on.” She grasped him under the arms and hoisted him bodily from the seat. He swayed ominously, shook his head, and glared at her.

“You know, where I come from people get ten hours. You might have heard of it, it’s called the Galactic Republic?”

“Funny. Come on, get this on.” She thrust a Jedi robe at his chest.

“What? What’s wrong with my jacket?”

“You look like a thug in that jacket. It’s not a look that says ‘Trust me with your children.’ While we’re on the subject, I know bathing is against your religion and all, but could you at least apply some steel wool every now and then?”

“So much for the Jedi Way.” He shot back.

“Honesty is the Jedi Way. I can not, in good conscience, let you wear your robes over that jacket. It doesn’t work. Off with the jacket.”

“When did you get to be such an old scow?”

“When the last one betrayed us and tried to kill our leader. Bao-Dur is waiting.”

“Let him wait. That’s what he does.”

“For her, maybe. Not you. If I have to dress you myself, I will not be happy.”

“Yes, mother.”

“This is why she left Mical in charge. This, right here.”

“Fine, fine…” He tossed his jacket over the side of a chair and replaced his robe. “Happy?”

“I’m never happy, just mildly amused.”

“Obviously. Next time I’m sealing off the cockpit.”

“I’ll just cut it open. I have a lightsaber too, you know.”

“Right, right. Can I at least get some juma juice first?”

“No. Your natural aroma is bad enough. The last thing we need is you putting somebody in a kolto tank with your breath.”

“Why didn’t we just space you?”

“You needed my help.”

“Right.”



02: The Show Must Go On

I look out my window and watch the rain fall down to the street. I wish this could be easy but I know it can’t be. I know what must be done I have to go on stage. So I returned to the theatre one, last, time.

I walked back into the theatre. The very place my troubles began, the place I fell in love and the place my heart was broken. It’s strange how one place can mean so many different things, some good others bad. I met him a month ago, he told me that he loved me and I believed him. Then as it seemed as if my life was perfect he ended it. It seemed as if God had given me a gift and as soon as he gave it to me he took it away. It felt so real but it was a lie. As an actress I knew I had to perform tonight but as a human I wanted to stay home and cry.

I walk into my dressing room getting ready for the show. Costume, hair, makeup this was suppose to convince people that I am someone else and deep down I wish it would convince me. I know the rules my personal problems can’t get in the way of my character, I am the lead actress and the show must go on. No matter how I feel or what’s going on that’s just the way it is. I find it funny that right now I’m so sad and I don’t want to do this, but when I walk on stage no one will know. That’s what makes this so hard because no one knows what I’m going through and if I mess up they won’t understand. No one will understand.

I’m ready it’s time to go on. I prepare myself for what’s to come. I know what must be done the show must go on. The house lights dim the curtain opens and the stage lights turn on and my troubles are gone.



03: Exchange

The last prisoner to be served breakfast was the scariest. He was trapped forever in a sub-space below the castle dungeon, secured behind a heavy wooden door with a small barred window and a small metal flap in the bottom to allow food to slide through. She'd peaked into the window on the first day of her transfer to the dungeon and spied a large man sprawled out against the cell wall; body limp, arms shackled to the stone floor with virtually no length in the chains to allow movement. The cell itself was only five feet by five feet, and there wasn't even hay or a blanket for the prisoner to comfort himself with. His face was wrapped in harsh cloth, leaving only enough space for his eyes and mouth to show through. His entire body was covered with pinpricks, fresh scars, and red tattoos that looked like dried blood; leather straps wrapped around his arms, legs, and stomach until they squeezed into his pallid flesh. He appeared as if he suffered regular tortures in the small cell, or perhaps elsewhere.

If she had the ability to ask him, she might have inquired about his special treatment. But that was why she was serving him—deaf-and-mute slaves couldn't discover secrets.

But she often found herself peeking into the window—at least, until he looked up to meet her curious gaze. Sometimes he did so immediately; sometimes he took several minutes to raise his head. Sometimes he would smile darkly, or stare at her with his black, unblinking eyes.

She never gazed in long enough to see how he ate without the use of his arms. He probably used his feet to pull the bowl to him, and bent his head down to slurp up the cold soup with his mouth. She wondered if she'd ever watch long enough to find out—or if he'd let her watch.

Anka bent down in front of the door and slid her ladle through the flap. As always, his bowl was waiting for her, but it was a little farther away than usual—it happened sometimes, not that she could blame a man that had to rely on the dexterity of his feet to make sure he ate. She reached her arm a little farther in the door and poured out his morning ration, letting the joyless, cold slop trickle into the stained bowl.

His foot moved.

She almost dropped the ladle. The foot moved again, dragging away from her along the floor, then repeated the action twice. A thin, faint trace of blood was left behind each time—for all she knew, he was grunting in pain as he pulled his foot toward himself and extended it again.

Anka withdrew her hand and let the door swing down, cutting off the unusual communication. Was he beckoning to her?



04: Better

Clark watched his best friend Chloe walk away from the Alicia's grave, but he stayed behind because he didn't want to leave her. Seeing her name on the gravestone caused a chill to emerge over him and it still hadn't exactly sunk in that she was gone forever. He may be invincible but the ones he loves aren't and that, he thought, must be his true kryptonite. That maybe someday everyone he loves will end up leaving him in the end, Alicia was just the first. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder and wanted nothing in the world but to turn around and see Alicia but instead there stood Lana Lang. His first love and the girl who refused to give Alicia a second chance. This had caused her to cry as well, because all she wanted was to prove she was better. She wanted to show everyone that she was sane and tragically, that's what she got. It was just a little too late. Lana kneeled down beside him and sat silent for a moment, taking in what she had decided to do.

"I really am sorry, Clark. I never would have thought--" She was cut off by Clark.

"You didn't think she could possibly be better?" He said harshly.

"She tried to kill me! I think that kind of gives me just a little reason not to trust her!" She said, putting a slight yell in her voice.

"Yeah and she did her time! She got better and all she wanted was a second chance! But you couldn't give that to her!"

He paused and she took all of it in, knowing most of what he said was right.

"And maybe if you had given her that chance, she might still be alive right now!"

He was almost scolding her now. But what she did next surprised Clark, Lana began to cry.

"Clark, I know I messed up. I was wrong. It seems like every time we're together we just end up hurting each other. I was just afraid and it seemed like she was behind the attacks. What else was I supposed to think? I know she was better now but I guess that doesn't matter." She said in a slightly annoyed manner. "And, for all it's worth, I am truly sorry I didn't believe her."

She got up and began to walk away.

"Lana, wait" He didn't want to let her go, not after losing Alicia. "I could use a second chance"

He sighed and she looked at him, wondering what he was getting at.

"A second chance...with you. I know things haven't been right with us since you left for Paris."

"Clark, I'm with Jason and..." He cut her off again.

"I meant a second chance at our friendship. I don't want to lose someone else I love." He explained.

The two embraced each other and grieved the death of Alicia Baker.



05: The Fifth Horseman

Here in New York City, crimes have always been prominent. The battle between good and evil
has always been a stalemate. Evil has not entirely consumed the city, nor has it truly been
abolished. Things have not been overly chaotic, nor overly peaceful. Crime rates have always
been static at a high rate, including 800 cases of murder, and 2000 cases of rape per year.
However, throughout the past year, this town has gone to hell. Or at least, for the past year.
Then it went straight to Heaven... if you could even call it that.

The four horsemen of the apocalypse have influenced this city. They perform their actions in a
pattern.

The first horseman represented disease. He had the power to infect one person with an infirmity,
and each time he afflicted someone, it took a lot out of him. But, damn, did he sure know how to
spread it. Through prostitutes, to blood donators, to the waitors leave surprises in your food.
The diseases are mildly fatal, too. Spread quickly, but fatal. Enough to be cured merely by
items you buy at the grocery store. Which brings me to the second horseman.

The second horseman has no abnormal powers, just someone who is very persuasive. The second
horseman represents famine. The various diseasesthat the first horseman has infected people with
were curable simply by items you buy at the grocery store. Some people just relied on the
nutrients of the food, some people used them to make home-made cures, some just drank a lot
until they pissed it all out. Of course, this only happened when medicine was running low.
The first horseman made sure that happened.

The third horseman, like the second, also relies on persuasion. The third horseman represents
war.The more famine increased, the more people were itchin' to fight. The third horseman
confirmed those desires. Whether it be desire to conquer cities beyond New York City, or just
acting out of envy towards people with plentiful supply of food, many people raised hell to
get what they want.

The fourth horseman represents death. He escorts the dead to the fifth horseman. One obvious
result of war is gross casualties.

This organized cycle of disease, famine, war, and death perpetuated, spreading throughout cities
surrounding New York New York. All of this happened until just enough souls were escorted towards
the fifth horseman: salvation. Sounds good, right?

Turns out that the only way for salvation to be possible, was to take away our ability to choose.
Oh, and occasional death.



06: What I’ve Become

Thick metal boots stomped across the cold hard dirt and rocks, kicking up clouds of dust to float away in the low-gravity atmosphere. Samus Aran could feel her body quaking in anticipation within the tight confines of her sky blue power suit. She couldn’t recall ever feeling like this before. She was sure now that something was different, something had certainly changed inside of her. Memories came flooding back, memories of these most horrible monsters that had dwelt in her nightmares many times.

The Metroids. Floating parasites that looked like floating jellyfish with mandibles and a triple nucleus. Feeding on energy both artificial and living, destroying anything they came across. It had seemed like such a worthy job, exterminating them. She’d taken them on once, then returned to their home world to exterminate the entire parasitic species. She could never have known that they would be saved. She could never have known that they would save her life, and that she would become one of them.

Her right hand rose to her sleek blue helmet, her fingers running down the side. She could hear them now, there was no mistaking it. They hadn’t all died on that station, there were some hidden here on this desolate planet. Her helmet’s internal readout was beginning to pick up their unique energy signature, but they were also digging into her mind, pulling her further down into the cavernous depths.

The caverns were pitch black, but soon eerie red and blue light began to shine from a cave up ahead. It was a soft, natural light that she recognized instantly. Her thoughts began to tumble through her head and her heart began to race. Here they were. It was really them after searching for so long. She’d searched for so long she almost forgot why, but now she remembered.

The Chozo people; the gentle, bird-like people who raised her as one of their own and gave her a place to live and grow… destroyed. The humans who she’d lived among for years, taking their jobs and doing their dirty work as a bounty-hunter… untrustworthy.

Yet as she entered the underground chamber and saw these glowing, glittering creatures floating serenely through the air, it made her feel things she hadn’t since the destruction of the Chozo home world. The creatures floated down toward her, their soft, almost immaterial bodies touching her armor and rubbing against it. The click of their mandibles echoed through the empty cavern, a sound that once filled her with dread, yet now filled her with a sense of belonging.

Her hand clasped the side of her helmet as the bottom panels slid outward, allowing her to pull it off and drop it to the hard ground. One of the blue gelatinous creatures hovered toward her face, but she didn’t recoil. Instead she smiled for the first time in a long while, and allowed its essence to touch her cheek with a soft caress. It felt like family.



07: Spontaneous

People said the city was dangerous.

It wasn’t even a city, really- weren’t cities supposed to have skyscrapers and subways and tremendously boring museums? This was just like Jessica’s town, only there was more traffic than there were trees and the houses were all closer together. She didn’t why they thought it was dangerous, but then, nobody ever told Jess why. She could just tell- in the way her grandmother hunched over the wheel as she drove that night, in the way her aunt refused to look out the window when people walked past.

But as Jess twirled across her uncle’s patio, smells of steak and beer and firework-smoke still heavy in the air, she decided that everyone was wrong.

Her cousins came sprinting out of the house then, madly brandishing glowstick bracelets and giggling uncontrollably.

Jess!” Sean shouted. “There are like a million people outside, come see!”

He dragged her through the house, stopping to grab a cookie off the table, and stationed her in front of the window.

A million people, Jess decided, was not an exaggeration. The entire street was filled with people, marching home after the fireworks. They stuck to their own groups, their own families, little clusters against the tar, and Jess decided to have some fun.

“Let’s go wave to them,” she said, and ran out the door before the idea died or the people disappeared, still clutching Sean’s hand. Sarah and Katie followed, confused but delighted.

She pounced on the top step, the clamor of the crowd clear below her, and waved. “Goodbye!” she said, as loud as she could. Several people slowed to stare at her. Of course, some snickered to each other and some ignored her and kept going, but it was a start.

“Hope you enjoyed the fireworks!” she said confidently. “Have a great fourth of July!” She waved as Sean and the girls stared.

“Bye!” Sean squeaked suddenly. Jess grinned.

Katie smirked and struck a pose, one hand on her hip. “So long!” she said. “Drive safe!” Sarah waved gingerly.

And then, amazingly, someone waved back.

It was a short, dark-haired woman, one-half of a couple on the sidewalk, and she looked up at them and she waved back. Jess almost squealed with excitement.

The three of them were louder after that, and friendlier, making jokes and trying to start conversations (which was difficult, but they managed).

“Bye! See you later! Have a great summer!” It was everything kids wrote in each other’s yearbooks, what Jess was afraid to say to people she knew.

They shouted farewells and well-wishes until the last stragglers disappeared, waving until Jess’s grandmother came to collect them. They got a few waves back, a few ‘Thanks’ and ‘You too’s, and as they went inside, Jess decided that anyone who thought the city was dangerous needed to wave to a stranger on the street.



08: Rain

According to Wikipedia, rain is a type of precipitation which forms when separate drops of water fall to the Earth's surface from clouds.

In my opinion, definitions like that miss the mark by miles. Rain is natures way of cleaning house. Sweeping both the air and the ground of debris. Seeing a clump of leaves floating down a ditch is proof of that cleaning, but trust me, as someone with allergies, I can tell when the pollen has been swept from the air.

When I was younger, I loved to walk in the woods near my home. The scent of pine and the feel of the leaves and needles under my feet was my personal version of heaven on earth. That is until I hit thirty, and, for some reason, my father's allergies decided to become my own.

Now, those woods I played in and escaped to are strictly off limits, except for a few days after my shots, or those days that I have off from work and it rains.

I don't even wait until the shower has passed. I dash down the street, and turn up the path that has been here since before I was born. I take refuge from the rain under the spread leaves of oak, elm, and maple, along with the boughs of pine. Just inside, I stop to remove my shoes and wriggle my toes into the carpet of leaves and needles that covers the ground. The damp ground is cool and feels good to my feet and mind, as memories of my youth come flooding back.

I pass a tree. A venerable old oak. I smile softly as I trace my fingers over a crudely formed heart carved into a flat spot in the bark, the initials BC on top with MS below inside it. I know that those will last far longer than either I or my marriage will. How was it that at the tender age of fifteen we both knew that we'd still be together?

I sure didn't, and I doubt my wife did.

I have, on occasion, brought my children along with me on my walks. I have given up as first one, then the other has moved on to the age where dying would be preferable to being seen with either of their parents. I can only hope that I have given one of them an appreciation of the woods.

I freeze at the sound of a snapping twig ahead of me, and the sight of a doe and its fawn stepping into the small clearing ahead of me, chases those melancholy thoughts from my mind.

The shower has passed and the wind changes direction. With a gentle nudge to her young, and a white flag flip of their tails the deer run back into the forest.

The shafts of sunlight filtering through the branches tells me that it's time for me to leave, as does the familiar tickling, itchy, sensation in my nose.



09: Chance Encounter

All-nighters were never a fun experience, especially when you lived the action-filled life that Starfire did. After a long night of busting criminals all she had to look forward to was an even longer day of training and more crime fighting. She might be able to sneak in a nap or two but she couldn’t afford to sleep the whole day off. As such, Starfire turned to coffee - the caffeinated beverage that seemed so popular among the humans.

Fortunately, the lineup was short and only a dark-haired woman stood between Starfire and the cashier.

“Here’s your drink ma’am.”

“Took you people long enough.”

Despite her half-awakened state, Starfire swore she recognized the voice of the woman in front of her. As the woman turned to leave, Starfire saw the familiar orange skin and dark hair and immediately gasped, “Sister!”

“Oh…Starfire. What a pleasant surprise,” Blackfire remarked, her feigned enthusiasm fading with each syllable.

“What are you doing here? And…why are you dressed as such?” Starfire’s second question referred to the blue jeans and dark-coloured blouse her sister was wearing.

“Well unlike you,” Blackfire replied, remaining remarkable calm despite this chance encounter, “I need to keep a low profile. Plus, I kinda like the shades. You should try updating your wardrobe every now and then as well.”

“If you are plotting something, I shall find out.”

“Twenty seconds and you’ve already started accusing me. I guess family bonds don’t mean much to you anymore.”

“You are the one who attempted to frame me!” Starfire angrily replied.

“Still holding onto that old thing? Boy, you need to learn to let go.”

Blackfire’s comments only frustrated her sister even further, most noted by the glowing green eyes. The elder sister, however, could only laugh heartily at her sister’s reaction.

“You make this too easy,” Blackfire chuckled. “Now if you really must know, I am not planning anything. In fact, I even turned that offer from the Brotherhood of Evil a long time ago. In fact, just to show you that I’m sincere, how about I buy you a coffee?”

“Um…okay.”

“Now I was tempted by the Brotherhood’s offer but I’m not really one to follow somebody else’s lead, you know what I mean? Considering they were beaten, I made the right call,” Blackfire explained before placing the order.

Starfire simply nodded, hoping that her sister’s motives were pure. Nonetheless, she accepted the beverage. Cautiously, Starfire took a sip of the frothy beverage. “This…is quite good. Thank you.”

“No problem. It’s called a café au lait.”

“This kindness is very unlike you,” Starfire remarked before taking a longer sip from her drink.

“Oh it’s not. Tamaraneans are lactose-intolerant,” Blackfire answered with a sly smirk. “I’ll be seeing you around sister.”

Starfire was left standing on the sidewalk, welling with a sense of foreboding as a low grumble emanated from her gut and an echoing laugh from her departing sister.



10: Verdigris

It’s not that easy being green,” sang the frog, alone on a bench, his mouth twisted into a frown. “Having to spend each day the color of the leaves… Kermit gazed upward. His plush body was slumped; his puppet wires, on the ground.

“Tell me about it.” A lanky woman with bright green skin sauntered up. Kermit recognized her as the Wicked Witch of the West, and watched as she lit a cigarette.

“Think you’ve got it bad, kid? You’re a puppet, for God’s sake—who cares if you’re green?” Her voice grew shriller. “At least you weren’t in the greenest city ever—“

“What’s so bad about that?”

A dark scowl crossed the Witch’s face. “Trust me—you don’t want to know,” she said, shuddering. She lit up again and started hacking violently.

“Ha!” Kermit jumped, startled by the appearance of Beast Boy in the neighboring seat. He looked sullen. “You guys have no idea what it’s like.”

Kermit eyed him curiously. The Witch laughed. “Please. Cut the angst.”

Color spread across Beast Boy’s cheeks. “You don’t even know. The worst that’s happened to you was getting stuck under that stupid hat.”

“Oh, someone’s hot under the collard—“

“Augh!” Beast Boy clutched his head. “Forget it!”

“I don’t understand,” said Kermit. “Aren’t you a much-beloved comic and television superhero?”

“Beloved?” Beast Boy bit his lip in frustration. “Right. Nobody knows who I am! ‘Where’s Batman? You’re not Superman!’” He crossed his arms and pouted.

The Witch was trying valiantly not to laugh.

“So…what’s that have to do with being green?” asked Kermit.

“Being green? That’s the best!” Kermit, the Witch, and Beast Boy turned around to see the Green Giant grinning radiantly.

“Really,” said Beast Boy. “And you say that because kids suddenly love peas, or…?”

The Giant ignored him. “’Going green’ is catching on! It’s trendy—the new black, right? It’s only a matter of time before we’re American icons. Like Mickey Mouse or Superman.”

Beast Boy grumbled something about pretty-boys in capes.

“People like Al Gore. He’s going green.”

The Witch gasped. “Al Gore? He’s adorable!” She slid off her hat and smoothed her hair. “And he’s into green? That only makes him more attractive.”

Beast Boy rolled his eyes. “Yeah, we love the Green Party—“

“He’s not in the Green Party, he isn’t even running—“

“Beast Boy,” interrupted the Giant. “You’re pretty famous. You know magazines are publishing ‘green’ issues? An opportunity—“

“Way ahead of you,” Beast Boy said, suddenly eager. “Excuse me. GQ, here I come!” He rose and sprinted off.

“Yeah, good luck with that!” called the Witch. “As for me…well, just guess.” She grinned, hopped on her broom, and disappeared in a smoky blur.

The Giant smiled after them, patting Kermit’s head. “I should go. Some people still give peas a chance, you know. That’s my job.” He lumbered away and left Kermit alone.

Kermit looked around and shrugged. “Okay then. Why are so many songs about rainbows…?

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing

Last edited by Azelma on Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:07 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Azelma
Super Moderator


Joined: 27 Aug 2005
Posts: 1,554

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:03 pm  Reply with quote

11: ~Excerpt from a DCAU-standard History Textbook~

"Are we all ready?"

"Sure thing, Samuel, just give the guys the word and we'll go busting in."

Samuel Adams stood outside the town hall of Boston, dressed up like an Indian, with a hatchet in his hand. Around him were a good-sized gaggle of fifty other men, all dressed like he was. It was 1492, and the colonies were ripe for revolution. Samuel put up three fingers, and brought them down one at time. When they were all down, he let out a war cry so authentic it seemed like the city was being raided by savages. All the men took up the yell, and rushed into the town hall next to them.

Inside, the British governor had been throwing a spectacular tea party, and all the biggest ladies and gents of Boston were in there. The door busting down and a pack of what looked like Indians flooding in was quite a shock to them. Samuel Adams grinned as he let loose another Indian yelp, and smashed the tea sets on the table with his hatchet.

"What on EARTH is going on here now?" The governor cried, watching as the "Indians" ransacked the room. One of Adam's men yelled out at him in the distinct Boston accent.

"We're here to smash up your tea!"

"WHAT?" The governor cried out again. "Why? Is it because we Brits haven't given you any voice in Parliament while taxing you? Is it because we've barred you from colonizing land across the Appalachians? Or maybe it's because we haven't always lent the armies against Indian raids, is that it?"

Samuel Adams was the one who spoke this time. "No governor, it's because we HATE YOUR TEA!"

"WHAT?!" The Governor exclaimed, nearly dropping his cup. An "Indian" came over and threw the cup on the floor for him.

"That's right!" Samuel Adams continued, "We Americans hate all the tea AND Muffins you're bringing over here, and you and your King Norm-whoever can go kick rocks about it, because we're going have a revolution and drink coffee and eat Corn Muffins from then on!"

Many of the patronages gasped at Adam's announcement. He ignored the loyalists' shock and joined back in with his group, destroying tea pots and getting rid of English muffins and replacing them with corn ones. After a little while, the charade got old and the "Indians" decided to get out before the governor recovered enough from Adam's announcement to actually call some Red Coats in. As they jumping and running out of the Hall, one of the fellow patriots turned to Adams.

"That was a good raid, eh?" he said.

"Sure was," Samuel agreed. "And as soon as Washington gets back from Pearl Harbor, we'll be able to start this revolution in earnest."

And with that, the two men disappeared into the night with the rest of their partners.



12: Follow Me To Freedom
Freedom's always calling
From just beyond the door
The rest of you are stalling
I can't stay here anymore

Break free and run away
Dash away from here
Break free and greet the day
Freedom now is near
Follow me to freedom
Follow me through strife
Follow me through hell-song
Follow me to life

I can't take these tight-shut walls
I can't endure these chains
Enslave me; I shall destroy your halls
Free me; I'll free you from your pain

Sprint away and don't return
Wander through the hills
Until the moon's made one full turn
They'll be at your heels
Follow me to freedom
Follow me through strife
Follow me to happiness
Follow me to life

I will not stay your faithful servant
I will not stay your slave
I will not accept that I deserve it
I will rise to flee my grave

Run away and don't look back
Never to be tame
Forever leave the deep-set track
One's life is not a game...
Follow me to freedom
Follow me through strife
Follow me from loneliness
Follow me to life

I can sense freedom’s rain
Just beyond those hills
I can see it if I strain
Cast away ideas instilled

Bolt away and don’t regret
Go and snap your leash
Abandon lives that have been set
Fly into the breach
Follow me to freedom
Follow me through strife
Follow me to heart-song
Follow me to life

Freedom lasts forever
My faith they cannot shake
Run away to freedom
The bonds begin to break

Leap the walls and climb the gate
Break the chains and leave
Run away to find your fate
Hide amongst the trees
Follow me to freedom
Follow me through strife
Follow me to friendship's love
Follow me to life

Follow me to freedom
Follow me and see
Follow me forever
To freedom, follow me...



13: Father Figure

Who knows? I might even become like a father to you.

His whole life he had wanted to be a father, to be able to nurture and care for someone and maybe even have them care back. He often imagined hold a crying baby in his arms, and being able to mold a child into himself. Most people did not see him as the caring type, but most people were too afraid of him to get to know him that well. He wanted to have a child look at him, and see him as a model, someone they would one day become. It was one of the reasons he continued to find an apprentice.

He had three children of his own, but they were grown now, and had grown to hate him. He didn't blame them, he had nearly killed Joseph, and Grant had actually died because of the boy's need to live up to his name. And his daughter, his only daughter he hadn't known that she was alive for most of her childhood.

He knew now that his hopes of being a father to someone were impossible to achieve. His life was empty, he knew h could never have a child to care for, he wasn't delirious, but the fact that his hopes were hopeless only made him hope more. He sometimes wished people could see that behind the cold metal mask was a man with needs and dreams, not just another villain. When he had Robin as an apprentice, he saw himself as a teenager. Smart, cunning, and determined. He saw his sons, and the son he could have had.

He closed his heavy eyes painfully as he leaned back in his large chair and finished off the last of the whiskey in the now empty bottle he held, still wondering what kind of father he could have been.



14: Glass

Call it an accident; a mistaken bump or knock that sends a glass toppling over the table’s edge. The simple few seconds it takes for the glass to sway, overbalance, tumble and then shatter into a thousands shards—

That is how the chase begins. A fluke; a long silent breath; and then the impact.

Tonight, like every other night, Batman pauses in the shadows on the roof of some odd-angled concrete monster, and waits with wind whipping both cape and cowl; with a glint in his eye like glass.

And then, so many hundred feet below, the criminal will emerge; different species, really. A burglar tonight, dressed in a black sweater with matching sweats. He even has a hat.

In the falling decade-long second, Batman’s lip twitches slightly – it’s almost a smile. These thieves, they think they’re so careful. They wear gloves and hats, carry crowbars; they think forensics can’t touch them, and who knows? Maybe forensics can’t.

But Batman can.

That’s it then – the breath passes, hits the floor, and like water, the momentum of the impact, intertwined with broken glass pieces, surges forth; Batman moves, leaps, treads air, coils as he meets concrete, and then straightens up before his prey, black as ink and forever as permanent.

The bleached-white face between the black wool hat and black wool sweater twists in horror; nothing more profound than that. These are simple creatures – cowardly, superstitious, as the wisdom of the Batman goes – and a dictionary-worth of words to describe the sudden sickening fear is just a waste.

All Batman wants is the reaction anyway; which he most certainly gets.

The burglar drops his bag and swings the crowbar; it’s clumsy, slow, and Batman takes it from him almost gently. It’s all method; all an art, really. There’s nothing unpredictable about this whole situation, nothing any different at all.

The thief twists frantically away and scrambles down the alley. It’s always an alley, and the criminal is always not fast enough, and while the adrenaline surges up and forth in Batman’s wire veins, he doesn’t need it.

He catches him within seconds and out comes the cord. The glass has settled now, and glints silently, unmoving but dangerous.

“Don’t you… get tired of this, pal?!” The thief pants, not even trying to struggle anymore.

Batman’s looks at him briefly as he lashes him to the lamppost.

Another “chase”. Another broken glass. What a novelty.

“Yeah,” he replies, voice like chilled steel. “Crooks like you really make me wonder.”

“That’s not… what I meant…”

“I know,” says Batman; and he walks away.

Glass underfoot, and the monotony murderous.



15: The Plug

I hate this hallway. I hate this place, though I am drawn here at every spare moment. Not that anyone enjoys visiting a hospital, I suppose. It's a place that you go to out of respect or necessity or charity. It's not a place you visit for fun.

It is a place that sees death daily, sometimes hourly. A place of plastic and steel and tubes and beeps and needles. The air hangs stale in its attempted purity, and the slick hospital feeling of stainless steel and white tile saturates your hair and sticks inside your nostrils.

I always shower when I get home, immediately tear off my infected clothes and stand in the steamy stream of hot, hot water to offset the arctic chill of the building. I never feel clean after; I could shower twice a day every day and that feel of disease and death will still cling to me, always stuck in some unreachable place: a corner of my fingernail, a fold of my ear, a wrinkle in my skin, a crease in my toe. Always. For all its sterile, pristine cleanliness, it remains the filthiest of places.

Yet here I sit, turning a piece of disintegrating tissue over in my hands. I know the salt from my tears still lingers on my cheeks.

Mom walks up quietly and sits slowly in the chair beside me. I feel her watching me, deciding what the best words are for this situation, as though any exist.

"Lydia," she says finally, "You should be proud to be trusted with this. You don't have to take it so hard."

I snort. "That's easy for you to say." She tries to take my hand, but I jerk it away. "Why would he choose me and not you?"

Mom hunches her shoulders and looks down at her clasped hands. "I don't know that he thought I'd be able to do it and still be okay. We always said you were the most able to 'bounce back.'" She licked her lips, as though the words themselves had a bad taste.

"I don't want it to be me." I tear a piece of tissue off and roll it into a ball. "I don't want my name there. I don't want to be the one who pulls the plug on my father."

"Lydia, it's just a name on a piece of paper. It's a formality, a line on a medical form. We are all pulling the plug." She smiles, though her eyes are sorrowful. "You aren't doing this on your own. It is the decision of all, not the decision of one."

Logically, I know she's right. We are a family; something of this magnitude cannot fall to one person. Countless others are in this situation. Yet, it still makes a difference to me that my name is recorded on that form. It makes a difference that I'm the official person who makes the decision; I say, "Yes, it's right."

It matters still.



16: Redemption

Leach was dressed in a dark cloak. He was taking a walk. Hopefully he’d find someone stupid enough to be out this late.

Leach always took a walk at 1. He brought 2 pistols, and a belt of knives. He was a murderer. Every police knew his name and reputation. He was responsible for 60% of the crimes in Jigis.

Suddenly, the building he was passing started shaking. Standing in the window was a boy, about 11 years old. Leach’s body started shaking. He remembered…when he was 11…his parents. He ran into the building, up the stairs. The building started shaking more. He got to the boy, and turned him around. Leach looked the boy straight in the eye. It was him. As an 11 year old.

“Who are you?” said the boy.

“My name is…. Jake. I’m called Leach. I suggest we get out of here. The building is about to collapse.

The boy laughed. “Ok. That’s funny. My name’s Jake too.” They quickly ran out of the building. Leach took Jake back to his place to clean them up.

“Whoa this place is so cool! Why do you live underground?”

“So I don’t have to hear little pishers like you screaming all over town.”

Jake started talking quieter. “Ok, but how come you have no furniture or anything? All you have are weapons and stuff.”

“I’d prefer not to talk about it. Where are your parents?”

Jakes face suddenly turned pale. His eyes rolled backward and went blank. He made a low growling sound. “YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM.”

Leach took out his guns and shot Jake. The bullets just sunk into it, leaving no mark. He wasn’t going to be able to kill it. “I know. My parents were poor, so my father had to gamble. He owed the loan shark money, and had nothing to pay. So they sent a man to kill them. When he knocked on the door, I ran, and found the shotgun. I held it, and could’ve shot the man. I didn’t, and he killed my parents, but let me live.”

Jake growled again. “I have been sent from hell. I am a shade. I am your guide. You can undo your past. Redeem yourself. Change everything; make it the way it should be. Save your parents. The choice is yours. You must come with me. I will take your soul out of your body, and bring it to the otherworld, where your tasks are waiting. It will be painful. Will you come?”

Leach thought. Was his life really so bad? Yes, he was a criminal, but he enjoyed that. Now he had to make a choice, that could change everything for the worse, but he felt guilty about his parents. Should he do what was right, or what he felt would be a better choice? He hadn’t done the right thing in years. That had to change.

“Let’s go.”



17: Aurora Surrealis

I no longer breathe.

Swallowed by tender blue, I am buffeted along by a lazy current, and from every angle, I hear music. Strings, playing ever so softly.

Am I drowning or dreaming?

A chime personifying the glittering flash darting before me is sounded, and when I recognize the object as a tiny, silver fish, more glitter fills my ears as it is joined by several more. But the sound fades; I have drifted too close, and now they vanish into the hidden depths of darkening blue.

When all that remains of them is the occasional sparkle below me, a clarinet eases in. Almost immediately, the blue turns to dark green.

Darker. Stronger. Colder.

Only occasional flashes of fiddle sunlight stream through the dim green, but I am not afraid, because I can feel the strings behind me, legato as they are, slowly crescendo.

The current quickens, and in no time I have been thrust back into the calm blue. Others—violins, violas, woodwinds and a single voice—join the ensemble; the noise increases and strengthens, pushing me further along the current.

The color shifts again, from warm to icy white-blue. Tempo quickens, matching the speed of the crescendo. As pitch lifts, so do I, and I am suddenly flung to the surface.

I am breathing. The realm I have just come from exists as a second skin of turbid sweat. The symphony is gone. In its place is the harsh reality of ugly colors: gray above me; red splattering passerby consciousness; vomit green splashed on the room’s walls.

The music here is equally as ugly. The sweet, melodic vocals I heard only moments before are pierced by the impurity of Urban Pop culture. Rap, Metal, Rock, Hip-Hop; all of it further polluting the filth of this realm.

There is no hope of returning to my dream of peaceful violence, of being victim to the current of a symphony. I don’t pretend to have hope of that.

But I’m tired of living in my reality; that realization is stronger than that of the fact that I can’t return.

So I desperately tear the cap off of the bottle and empty the remaining half of its contents into my mouth. I drown the pills in foggy, stale water and fall back onto the bed.

My breathing slows, then stops, and I hear music. Strings…playing ever so softly.



18: The Truth (K+)
Sequel to “Ray (Pt. 3)”

Beast Boy was leaving and she grabbed his hand.

Beast Boy turned and Raven kissed Beast Boy on the lips.

When they got done, Beast Boy was in shock. “Raven…”

Raven smiled and blushed. “Beast Boy…I told you. I can express feelings. I wanted you to know how I felt about you.”

“I truth how I feel about you is that…” Beast Boy said.

Before Beast Boy could finish, Robin screamed, “Titans, trouble!”

Raven looked at Beast Boy and they ran down the hallway.

Meanwhile, in a warehouse, Cheshire was taking weapons from the supply. When she reached for a gun, a birdarang hit her hand.

“Who are you?” Robin asked.

“You guys will never find out!” Cheshire’s raspy voice said and headed towards the Titans.

“Titans, go!” Robin screamed.

Starfire shot starbolts rapidly and Cheshire dodged them.

Cheshire punched Starfire and Starfire flew into the wall.

“Star!” Beast Boy screamed and turned into a rhino. Beast Boy started heading towards Cheshire.

She jumped in the air and Beast Boy rammed into the wall.

Raven came up from a portal and chanted, “Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!”

Dark energy went around Cheshire and Raven threw her into the wall. Cheshire fell to the ground and took a bomb out. She threw it in front of Raven and it exploded in front of the heroine.

Cyborg looked at Robin and said, “It’s time for the sonic boom!”

Robin and Cyborg ran up the walls and Robin threw electric disks and Cyborg had shot his sonic cannon.

Cheshire looked up and it went in front of her.

Beast Boy got up and saw Raven on the ground. Beast Boy picked Raven up and smiled at her.

Raven made dark energy handcuffs on Cheshire’s hands and feet.

Starfire got up and said, “We’re victorious!”

“That wasn’t that hard.” Beast Boy said.

“Yeah, Cheshire wasn’t that easy before.” Cyborg said.

The next day…

Raven was mediating in the living room.

Beast Boy came up to Raven and Raven sensed it. “Yes, Beast Boy.”

“Raven, the truth…I wanted to tell you that…” Beast Boy said.

“Raven, Raven, where are you?!” Starfire screamed.

Starfire came in and said, “There you are Raven! I have been looking towards going to the mall of shopping today!”

Raven said, “Yes, Starfire, soon.”

“Oh, glorious, how much fun we will have at the mall!” Starfire screamed and left the room.

“The truth was…that…” Beast Boy said.

“Raven, where are you?” Robin screamed. He came in and saw Raven and asked, “Raven, later today, will you help me with some files?”

“Yes.” Raven said and Robin left the room.

Cyborg came in and before he could speak, Raven said, “Yes I will help you later today.” Cyborg turned and left the room.

“The thing I wanted to tell you was…that I would like to have a relationship.” Beast Boy said.

“I wanted one too.” Raven said.

They looked at each other and kissed.



19: (Untitled)

In 1945, Jack Mather went off the deep end.

I’m staying low to the ground to make sure the gun fire doesn’t clip me by mistake. The dust is swirling around me, making it hard to breathe and much less see. I’m crawling low near a bloodied rock with my rifle in hand when I see the first signs of a friendly face. Seconds later, I see that face ripped apart by machine gun fire. Johnny Boy Malone was only twenty-five. I take a second to mourn my adopted baby brother, and then stop myself before it clouds my judgment. I hear the sound of ragged breathing above me. Quickly, I force myself to turn and use my rifle to keep the rusty blade from imbedding itself in me. The blade is being wielded by a man no older than me. His face is dirty from sweat and dust, his eyes bloodshot from the smoke, and his hair’s frazzled from the skirmish. I can’t get a clear image of him, so he has to be one of them. He lunges towards me again and for a second there is no one else but us. Hundreds of people dying around me: friends, enemies, civilians, but I’m concentrated only on him.

I kick him off, the smoke of grenade explosions and burning huts making it hard to see, but I figure the adrenaline would make me blind to the world anyway. The Enemy advances again, but this time I have my rifle ready. He rolls out of the way and I hear a thud in the direction of my shot. I get lucky and manage to hit another one of them by accident. Turning my attention back to him, I realize I lost him. I spin and spin, hoping to find that son of a bitch before he has a chance to strike again. There, under the debris of a hut, I see him taking the pistol from one of his felled allies. The Enemy has no soul. Parting a warrior from his weapon is unforgivable.

The rifle is cocked and I crouch to keep myself steady. I’m bleeding, the blood drips down my arm; I must have been clipped by his blade without knowing. I don’t care. My vision is still slightly blurry. I don’t care. I aim, steady as I possibly can, and then I pull the trigger. His face is one of surprise and fear in the millisecond it takes the lead to reach his brains. He’s down in a flurry of blood and brain-matter.

I crawl over to him, my felled enemy, and see the face of a friend. His name was Carl Max. We played cards together. I turn around, seeing clearly for the first time, and I realize the enemies have long since been run off. The same, it seems, with the civilians. It’s only us. We’re the only ones left. It’s only us. I put the gun to my head, and sigh. It’s only us.



20: Eclipse

“Houston.”

“This is Commander Ackerley, Moonbase Solaris, come in, Houston”

“Goddammit, Terry. This isn’t funny. There’s been an…. Oh God…”

“He’s dead, Houston. Andy’s dead. He went outside without a suit.”

“Dammit, Houston! Respond!”

“I can’t believe this. Satellite must be busted.”

“Ok, Houston, I don’t know if you can hear me, so I’m going to keep talking until-”

“Dammit.”

“Houston, this is Ackerley again. Apologies, I…. I’ve buried Andy. I don’t think his family will want to see him like that.”

“varblernelk! Houston!”

“Ok, ok, calm down. The satellite must be out of alignment again; I’m going to Mount Preary to get line-of-sight with you.”

“I tried to stop him, Terry.”

“I heard the alarm go off. I got in the e-suit and out in 30 seconds like you taught. It was too late…. He’d held his breath.”

“It… it wasn’t pretty, Houston.”

“I buried him in that orange dirt patch near here. It seemed appropriate.”

“What was he? Lutheran or something? gremplork, I hope I didn’t mess up the funeral rites.”

“God won’t really mind, will He?”

“Weren’t you supposed to check for signs of suicide, Houston?”

“Damn, Terry. You need to get the Director to ride somebody’s ass about this.”

“No klorbagging excuse for it.”

“I’m sick of grey, Houston.”

“Seriously. The next Orion you send up here better have some damn paint. I don’t think it’ll hurt anything if we paint some rocks blue or something.”

“Better send some women up here on the next one, too. I bet one-sixth gravity does some interesting things to the feminine figure.”

“If you broadcast this, I will kick your ass when I get back.”

“I’m not playing, man. You go to Congress and tell them ‘The Moon needs Women!’ and I’m bringing back a rock to hit you with.”

“You can ask about the paint, though.”



“Houston, do you think we should tell his family the truth? I- I just don’t know if we should give them that image.”

“Eyes don’t hold up well in hard vacuum.”

“I….”

“klorbagging dust gets everywhere.”

“Man, I’ve got dust in my crack. Itches like hell.”

“I don’t care if you broadcast that, Terry. What’s NASA gonna do, fire me?”

“Ha!”

“Ok, Houston. I’m at the base of Mt. Preary. If you can hear me now, tell me so I don’t have to climb this damn thing.”

“Dammit…”

“Hah… hah… whew. Shouldn’t be… so klorbagging difficult… to climb a klorbagging mountain… in one-sixth gravity…”

“Gimme a second to change my air tank, Houston…”

“Aight…. I’m at the summit. I- Oh, man…. Wish you could see this, Terry. The Earth’s full and red on the horizon. It’s lighting up the whole valley.”

“Beautiful…”

“I see North America, I’ve got line of sight now.”

“Houston.”

“Houston, please respond”

“This is Commander Ackerley, Moonbase Solaris, come in, Houston”

“Houston.”

“Houston, please respond”

“This is Commander Ackerley, Moonbase Solaris, come in, Houston”

“Houston.”

“Houston, please respond”

“This is Commander Ackerley, Moonbase Solaris, come in, Houston”

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing
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Azelma
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Joined: 27 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:04 pm  Reply with quote

21: How to Fish

I never had been fishing before and was a natural at it. The fish basically jumped out at me! I entered the fishermen’s pub with my catches all strung up on a string. I stepped in and held up my fish. All the men turned and looked at me.

“Catch all those yourself boy?” a fisherman shouted.

“Yeah!” I said, smiling.

“Come sit yourself down boy,” another said. I sat down on a up-turned barrel. “What’s your name then boy boy?”

“Tom,” I replied.

“Tom….good strong fisherman’s name. Tom’s Icelandic for hook ya know,” the fisherman replied.

“Really?” I said, rolling my eyes.

“There’s your beer,” The bartender said, passing me my drink. “Pipe?”

“Go on then,” I said.

“Beard?” he said, offering me one.

“Nah. I’m alright.” I said, shaking my head.

“How did you come about these fish then boy sonny-jim laddy boy?” he said, puffing his pipe.

“Well…I just dangled my rod over the edge and…” I started. The fisherman cut me off.

“No! You gotta set the scene. Spin the yarn. That’s what fishin’ about. It’s not about fishin’. We haven’t been fishin’ for years. Old Neville over there he ain’t never been fishin’.”

The man known as Old Neville looked around at me and gasped.

“Oh I get you,” I replied. “It was a dark night.”

“That’s better…” the fisherman replied.

“And the moon was full,” I said, dramatically waving my hands.

“Ahh ha-ha! I’m feeling rigid,” the fisherman said, blowing smoke in the air.

“I was out…on Black Lake,” I hissed, shifting my eyes around.

Suddenly, everyone in the pub went quiet.

“What did you say boy?” the fisherman whispered, angrily.

“Black Lake,” I replied, confused.

I heard a dripping sound and look over at the bar-tender. He had a wet patch around his trousers.

“I’m just gonna go…change the barrel,” he said, hurriedly, running away.

“You should never go out on black lake when the moon be full.” the fisherman hissed.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because there’s somethin’ out there. Somethin’ evil,” he exclaimed. “Somethin’ that goes by the name of…Old Gregg.”

“Who?” I said, thinking he was joking.

“Old Gregg. Legendary fish. Some say he’s half man-half fish. Some say it’s a 70/30 split. Whatever the percentage he’s one fishy bastard,” the fisherman hissed.

“Some say he’s a ghost. Can’t catch what don’t exist,” Old Neville shouted. All the fisherman shrieked.

“Some say he’s acquired the taste of human meat. Only way to hook him…is to use a child’s toe,” the fisherman went pale.

I stood up.

“Well I’m gonna catch this…Old Gregg.” I stated to the fishermen.

“It’s a fools errand,” Old Neville said. I strutted out of the pub, off to catch Old Gregg!



22: Moving Mountains

That water was going to be the death of her; she just knew it.

It sat there, mocking her by looking so innocently beautiful. She watched as tiny mountains of reflected light twinkled like stars in the sky, a tide that hid the freezing cold. The mountains swayed back and forth, constantly switching positions and making her sister's light brown hair move up and down with it. The same wind that made those mountains made her wrap her arms around herself, trying to convince herself to step into the water.

She stuck her toe in, then immediately retracted it. Freezing! Her sister just laughed, twinkling eyes mockingly copying the little mountains. They danced to the same beat as the wind that blew the light around.

Suddenly, she felt a hand on her back. The wind won her over and rushed past her ears, laughing as she fell straight into the water. Her feet were the last to go in, and for a split second, she loved the wind for being warmer than the water.

She popped back up out of the water, gasping for breath. She wiped the water out of her eyes, then glared at her mother for pushing her in. Still, now that she was in, the water did not seem so bad, as long as she kept moving.

One of the mountains grew until it ate several other little mountains on its way towards her. At the last second, it exploded into several little droplets and covered her. As one of these droplets ran down her nose, she stuck her tongue out at her sister and splashed her back. To avoid being splashed once more, she ducked underwater and started to swim away.

With each stroke, the water rushed past her head and made a sound much like an airplane engine heard from far away. Her arms pushed the water back and propelled her body forward while her legs kept a steady beat. She could hear them kicking underwater, but when she surfaced for air, she could only hear the wind in her ears, reminding her that he had pushed her in and let her have this fun.

For a second, she paused long enough to whisper her thanks to the wind, but she ducked back under almost immediately to avoid being splashed again.



23: (untitled)
She is trapped in an uncertain kind of limbo, in a moment with the sky uniformly gray and noise so constant, she has ceased to notice it. From the passenger seat of a car she watches the earth flash by, sinking deep into her own eyes, and she is barely aware of the driver. He is a friend of a friend, heading in the same direction and travelling in the same car for convenience's sake. He has quiet brown eyes and stopped trying to talk to her a long time ago. Her watch has held 11:23 for an hour. She is between places and has no home.

--

Inside her head, she is somewhere else- in a small yellow house, full of sunlight. She lived there two months ago. On the day she is imagining, Will was sleeping on her couch, but she was sure he'd wake up soon. She had stood in the adobe-tiled kitchen of her house and looked from the window, where the leaves had been dancing and willing her outside, but she could not move. She had to wait for him to awake, and she had to explain to him the truth.

But he had awoken, afraid, and wouldn't listen to a word she said. He had stumbled his way through the door, while she tried not to be hurt by his startled eyes. He insisted to her that it had been for her own good, that things were wrong and she needed the time away, but he didn't understand. He didn't understand the nightmares of that clinic, with its empty faces and sterile air. She tried to tell him all of this, that they could be together now, but he wouldn't hear her. He slammed the door behind him, and her house shook with the sound for a very long time.

--

A street sign, with starkly inverted colors, marks the beginning of a small street. Green letters spell his name boldly against a whitewashed background: Will Rd. His name, and a word for determination. The rough stripe of pavement curves softly and disappears into a ripened cornfield.

"Can you let me out here?" she asks suddenly. The driver stares at her, his eyes warm and faintly worried. He glances in either direction, met by stretches of empty green.

"We're in the middle of nowhere," he says, hesitant. "Are you sure?"

She nods, as if she were certain. The car rattles to a stop and she opens the door, met with the scent of warm, rich air. She takes her first step forward, down this road of desires and his name. She will find what she needs, at the end of it.

(end)



24: What's Wrong With You?

The observation deck was Alex's favorite place to stew in his thoughts and chain smoke himself into oblivion. Kitt had joined him occasionally to do the same, but extraneous circumstances prevented her from doing so anymore. Now instead of approaching him, she found herself silently watching him from the back wall, mulling over the proper course of action. If she continued to observe without interrupting, maybe he'd give her some sort of sign, an indication as to whether she should make her presence known - or maybe he would stay as opaque as he was every other day.

"...Hey," she said, half speaking and half clearing her throat as she decided to break the silence. The lack of an immediate response made her shift her weight from one foot to the other uncomfortably.

"Hey."

"What's up? You seem... um," she started, pausing as she searched for the right word, "...grimmer than normal."

"Mm."

Kitt breathed out in a long, slow sigh, pushing herself off the wall before walking to his side. "Alex, what the hell's happened to you?"

"Getting continually screwed by life, is what I'd have to say happened."

Without hesitation, her hand flew and connected with the side of his face, smacking the lit cigarette out of his mouth onto the steel floor. "Oh, shut up!" she barked, shaking in anger as her patience snapped in two. "Just... shut up. Seriously. You're making all the problems for yourself and it's making everyone around you miserable! So just cut the 'woe is me' crap and look at what you're doing! It's getting really hard to even give a damn about whether or not you're okay because you don't seem like you want to try to make things better."

His expression changed briefly after the shock of the strike, one hand rubbing his cheek. "You're right, you know," he said, his tone low as he put out the cigarette with his boot. "You really shouldn't care anymore, Kitt, I'm just... worthless."

"No, seriously, quit that. I don't want to stand here and listen to this, but I need you to listen to me." She had realized before that it was hard to lock her gaze on his when he only had one eye, but she did her best anyway. "When did this start? You'd gotten so much better and suddenly you just lost it. What happened? Why are you such a stranger to me now? And what's worse is that even if you aren't yourself anymore, I can't stop loving the you that's gone..." Her gaze broke away and drifted to their feet. "I hate this. I hate this. I hate this so much I can't even..."

"I hate it, too." He placed a hand on her shoulder, only to have it slapped away. "I'm so sorry..."

"Oh, no you don't...," she growled, shaking her head and not looking up as she stepped away. "Don't even start that. Just don't. I've had enough of how sorry you are."



25: Harmonica

It was a tarnished old thing with sand still rattling around inside it, but its solid weight in my pocket was a comfort. A small reminder of the island I had left behind to become a part of this dreary concrete-lined life. Even now the drab monotony of the city was pattering on the windows of the bus, rain clouds slicking the entire city in gray.

The bus interior fared no better. Everyone’s eyes were dull and glazed over from the slowly passing scenery, gazing steadily out the windows but not absorbing anything. Everyone avoided eye contact at all costs. All riders trapped in the small musty moving world, and all riders desperately wanting to leave it at as soon as their stop came. A hopelessly dead place that smothered all coherent thought, only random wisps of daydreams filtered through the drab interior. And my thoughts were wandering to the small chunk of metal that had been hastily tucked into my jacket pocket; snippets of calypso and flashes of friendly smiles floating lazily up in my mind as I fingered its worn edges.

The sudden wave of homesickness was powerful but not entirely unexpected and before I knew it I was pulling the old thing out. The colorless fluorescent lights drew out a dull gleam from the well loved nickel plating; I admired it for being so boldly out of place on the unfeeling bus. I brought it closer to my face, not intending to do anything with it, but once that warm metal touched my lips I could feel the old beach breezes flowing through me, right out my lungs and into the little unassuming instrument. It came to life with my breath, a rattling tinny sound that snapped everyone out of their zombie trance and turned their faces towards mine. I immediately felt myself burning red from the attention of so many strangers, but I didn’t want to stop. The impulse of the rhythm overpowered my own crippling stage fright and soon I was blowing out more notes.

None of it was planned, it wasn’t even a real song but my sloppy improvisation caught everyone’s attention. I just closed my eyes and concentrated on the metal in my hands, shifting it left and right, working out a tune. My enthusiasm made up for my lack of skill, and for a few seconds it was just me and that humming buzzing melody.

But soon the old man next to me was tapping his foot, cheery eyes glistening over the top of his cane. A soul sister straight from the back of the bus yelled up at me “Just do your thang honey!” And one of the listless high-school students onboard came to life and started beat-boxing along with me. The entire bus woke up to the music. And as I stepped off a few blocks later, returning friendly smiles, the city didn’t look nearly as depressing.


26: Old Man

His mind had already gone. We were just waiting for his body to catch up.

Raul lay on the warmer side of the bed. His side. My side had been cold for months, and he knew it. He avoided it like a teenager avoids soap.

He was sixty two and six months when he became an old man. That was the day he took me for a drive in the city, back to visit all of the old haunts. His conversations that day all began with “Remember when…”

Memory had caught up with him. It had coiled around his necked and choked him, as hard as it could. There wouldn’t be any new memories after that day, just a lot of talk about the old. It was the final stage of growing up. He didn’t fight it. He sank into the comfortable routine of bringing up the same cute stories again and again. Everything dry and precious, like the ancient wine in our cellar.

He was an old man. But, at least for now, he was still mine. Almost completely mine. I only had to share him with Rhonda.

I first walked in on them a month ago. I was bringing Raul his lunch (a chocolate milkshake in our grandson’s Rugrats cup-the kind with a lid in case of spills) and heard something foreign. Low and sweet. His laugh.

I grinned and opened the door. “I see someone’s feeling better.”

He jumped. “Lordy, Miss Lindy, don’t you have the sense to knock?” His arm was around his pillow. “And on our wedding night of all things.”

I had been warned of this. I had listened to the soothing pre-death speeches from the doctors. I had read the books. A waste of time as it turns out, because it didn’t prepare me for that afternoon.

“Come again?” I asked. I kept on smiling.

He sat up, pulling the pillow closer to him. “Did you enjoy the wedding? Didn’t Rhonda look beautiful? I didn’t want her to spend all that money on some fluffy contraption, but it was worth it. What a peach.” He hugged the pillow, rubbing his face into the silk slip. “What a peach,” he repeated, as if he couldn’t believe his good luck.

Rhonda. The first wife. Memory never got to her, she had died first. She was the one I wanted so badly to live up to. She was the perfect woman, the wife I could never be. Devoted to her husband, devoted to her Lord. And she was the one he wanted now. Not me.

Out of spite, I almost told him the truth.

Instead, I set the milkshake down on the table and headed for the door. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you two. Have fun.”


“Don’t you worry about that, Miss Lindy. We will.”

Those words followed me out the door, down the hall, and would follow me into the grave. Those memories.

Those beautiful, frightening memories.


27: Missed Opportunity

This is quite possibly the worst mocha I’ve ever had.
That is what I’m thinking about as I sit in this pathetic run-down space of land they decided to make into a Starbucks two years back. I don’t even know why I’m here. I hate capitalism and I really truly loathe pasty teenagers who try to pass of as 'intellectual' by sitting here.

Aw hell, who am I kidding? It’s of my own will that I ended up in this cesspool of terrible coffee and annoying people of every kind. It’s of my own will I woke up early today and it’s of my own will I decided to go to Starbucks instead of the donut shop a few blocks down because I didn’t feel like walking the extra ten feet. Everything is closed at 6 am you lazy idiot, what did you expect?

And then you come in.

Yes, you. You have eyes that are like exquisite antique daggers and that kind of cursory smile that tells me you’re thinking about something nice but are too self-conscious to let anyone know you’re actually happy at this hour.

So I think of what to say and I go up to you and I completely forget it. So you laugh and we have coffee together. Then I meet you again, at the movies. You’re going to see Paprika and I’ll tell you I love anime, but the truth is all I’ve watched is Akira and I despised it. I see it with you anyway and we make out in the theatre. And then five years later I pop the question and we get hitched in a big church and have our honeymoon in Hawaii . And then we have kids and rent out a penthouse apartment and we live out the rest of our lives with the person we love.

Or, you know, I could just sit here and drink my stone cold coffee while you walk over and kiss that girl with the bright pink lipstick over in the corner.

Damn.

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing
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Potassium
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Joined: 11 Apr 2004
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Location: Bozeman, MT

PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 2:27 pm  Reply with quote

Our last entry, and he gets to be all special and singled out. I'm not judging this one, so I get to post it.

28. These Days

“Love,” he would say, “is a tragedy most sublime,” and patrons and passers-by would move away with an uneasy smile and he would continue unabashed.

The waiters and the hostess would make as to throw him out, but he would buy a cup of coffee for a dollar and a half and as he drank he’d wink at them through eyes rheumy with age, with the constant reminder that tossing a paying customer was bad business indeed. He would recall the times when the coffee was ten cents and a smile, and to anyone who would nod or mumble assent he would report that a smile simply didn’t buy you very much these days.

Often enough as he spoke he would stop himself and apologize for getting off a track no one followed in the first place. He stopped at times to catch his breath, and when asked what he did for a living he would gaze off for a moment and respond “I just keep going,” wiping his hands on coats of denim, polyester, or tweed.

“Love,” he would continue, “has not the meaning it did, nor the passion, nor the patience. There was a time when the world was made and there was no emotion, and then was born happiness, and hope, and hatred, and loneliness, and all the others for which we have names, and a good deal besides.

“But one was missing, and they who decided these things looked upon their works with a critical eye, and said ‘We need something more than this; something which the people will want and need and grasp after. Something that speaks of fires in the coldest winter and hearts exuberant among souls downcast. Something that will sustain those that have it and torture those that do not, something to kill for and something to die for–something only to appreciate when it is lost forever, or just beyond grasp. We need an emotion for this, and we shall call it Love.’


“And it was so, and as can be imagined it was a thing of beauty and damnation all in one. And yet, it is lost to the sands of time in an age of easy lust and easy attribution. Who really loves that new dress? Who really loves a particular food, or band, or movie?”

Here, often, he would pause. He would look at the clouds, or his coffee, or those to whom he spoke. “Who knows love after a week, or a day, or an hour? Who can say they love still their love of months past, so falling without thought or caution?

“Love knows not itself anymore, I should think, and hardly do people either.”

And sometimes those who actually listened would ask him what it was that he loved, and he would smile with teeth stained by countless cups of coffee and say nothing at all.

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Azelma
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:04 pm  Reply with quote

FIRST ROUND COMMENTS: Please take all reactions/questions/arguments/cheers/etc to the discussion thread. We like to see discussion.

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1. Merlewhitefire: Morning Person

Some of the reactions in the beginning were mildly confusing, such as the transition from Mira enjoying it far too much to the line about vengeance. However, this is really quite good. You relied a lot on dialogue, and I would like to see evidence that you’re capable of writing other things, but for now, it’s a solid effort. Reliance on it notwithstanding, you use the characters’ words artfully, and mostly understand how to bounce them off each other, barring the transition I mentioned above. And I originally wrote that “Untitled” wasn’t a good choice for a story like this, but after the technical error was pointed out, I see that you had exactly the snappy title I’d been envisioning, so that’s taken care of.

Yes. Nice to see the first entry of season two turn out not to be a brain-breaker. You’re through to Hollywood.

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2. Terrarox: The Show Must Go On

I’m going to call the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Commas and have you arrested.

I’ll only go through the first paragraph because your errors were so ubiquitous that I would take up far too much space detailing all of them, but to give you an idea:

I wish this could be easy but I know it can’t be.

Comma after “easy”.

I know what must be done I have to go on stage.

…You can’t even get away with a comma there. Semicolon, at least, if not two separate sentences. Honestly, did you even read that aloud?

So I returned to the theatre one, last, time.

I’d entertain keeping these if I thought you knew the rules enough to break them for style, but frankly, you know the rules about as well as a peanut butter sandwich. Get rid of both those commas. Now.

I would overlook these errors if your story had been interesting, but unfortunately, it’s not. It’s vapid and overly-angsty, and I’m saying no.

Terrarox, enter again when you gain a little more experience and maturity.

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3. Remix: Exchange

I’m agreeing with Paula here: you set up the scene very well, gave us an interesting dynamic between Anka and the prisoner, and made us wonder what was happening. However, you dropped the thread at the end and refused to give us any kind of conclusion. Build-up with no pay-off makes for frustrated readers and angry Simons. Next time you have a dramatic scene in mind (while this one was nowhere near perfect, I wouldn’t quite use the term “dramatic” with the utmost sarcasm, so count yourself lucky), be aware of where you’re leading the reader and be prepared to deliver.

And there will be a next time for you—because you’re through to Hollywood. Yes.

Good job, Remix.

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4. Bumblebee: Better

Clark watched his best friend Chloe walk away from the Alicia's grave,

The Alicia? Is that kind of like The Hulk? Does she turn green and shred things, too?

Seeing her name on the gravestone caused a chill to emerge over him and it still hadn't exactly sunk in that she was gone forever.

“Emerge over him”? Hello, Madame Awkward, how are you doing today? Also, comma after aforementioned abhorrent phrase.

He may be invincible but the ones he loves aren't and that, he thought, must be his true kryptonite.

Quickly! We have a new report to file with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Commas! After “invincible”, after “aren’t”, and the “must” was a weird choice of wording. It was also a stupid and redundant sentence to begin with, so I’m not sure why you wrote it.

That maybe someday everyone he loves will end up leaving him in the end, Alicia was just the first.

You. Can’t. Put. A. Comma. There. You. Idiot. (But you can put one after “someday”, which I noticed you couldn’t be bothered to do.)

I love a good Smallville fic as much as the next cranky British guy, but this was not a good Smallville fic. You have an angsty and melodramatic Clark, grammar errors to the point where I can’t follow the story, very odd word choice, and a plot that wasn’t necessary because the show already covered it. I’ll forgive you for whining!Lana because I can’t stand her, but even then, this story is too bad to pass. Hone your basic skills before entering again. No.

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5. Blackwolf: The Fifth Horseman

Oh my, Grandma, what omnipresent passive voice you have!

Here’s the thing: your tone isn’t cool and edgy and original. It’s pretentious and obnoxious. And it doesn’t mesh well with your weird first-person narration you intersperse every paragraph or so. By this, I mean “doesn’t mesh at all.”

This was really boring and ranty, and you’re definitely at the bottom of what I’ve accepted thus far, but I’m not sure if you’re bad enough to toss out just yet. This one is a maybe from me.

Blackwolf, I think you need to read a little more and get a better understanding of tone.

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6. Dragonshadow: What I’ve Become

Your title is silly and sounds like a Linkin Park song. Just so you know.

This is a little bit like what SteelAngel was writing for us in the earlier rounds of last season: there’s not much going on but inoffensive introspection, and the descriptions, while not terrible, aren’t interesting enough to be read for description’s sake. This is more than enough to get a yes in the audition round, but be mindful that if you want to write us a story where most of what happens consists of a character thinking about stuff, you need to write descriptions like Hooliganette. If you can’t do that, remove this zoom lens that you’ve put on your story. Good description isn’t just passably giving details; it’s giving those details in unusual ways that people haven’t already read a hundred times. But nevertheless, you’ll be joining the rest in Hollywood.

Better than before, DS, but watch it when it comes to alienating readers who don’t know your canon and boring those who do.

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7. Echo_Nevermore: Spontaneous

Double dashes are really much better than single ones. I promise, they don’t bite.

Beyond that, I honestly have little to say about this one, other than: it’s excellent. You have the perfect mix of saying nothing and saying something, all with classy and innovative diction, not to mention an excellent grasp of the mechanics. Your first paragraph kind of tripped over itself, but I think it was deliberate, so I’ll just draw your attention to it and ask that you make sure it was indeed deliberate.

Very compelling story. Yes. You’re through to Hollywood.

Of course, Echo. Pleasure as always, Madame Chameleon.

---

8. BAColeNC: Rain

The Wikipedia Technique: For those of us who are too lazy even for The Webster’s Dictionary Technique. You had about five words after you wrote that to trash said technique, and it appears you were serious, which makes me weep.

Rain is natures way of cleaning house.

Lots of little natures running around, have you?

That is until I hit thirty, and, for some reason, my father's allergies decided to become my own.

Comma after “is”, please and thank you. Don’t make me call the SPCC.

Some of this danced on the edge of cheese (the word “melancholy” almost sent it over the edge, as did the random doe appearance), but I’m pretty sure you saved it for me with the last two lines. “Shaft of sunlight” was a good phrase, and bringing it back to allergies was a great move.

Okay, I’ll bite: yes this time, but please, please, please don’t do The Wikipedia Technique again. You’re through to Hollywood.

When you put your initials in a story, BAC, it’s not hard to figure out who you are. Leash your urge to write PONIES RAINBOWS HEARTS FLOWERS AND TRUE LOVE a little tighter, and we could see some very good ideas from you.

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9. Mike Stormm: Chance Encounter

Fortunately, the lineup was short and only a dark-haired woman stood between Starfire and the cashier.

The SPCC says that there should be a comma after “short”. Also, in a subsequent line, “remarked” is a strange and unnecessary dialogue tag. “Said” will do.

Blackfire’s comments only frustrated her sister even further, most noted by the glowing green eyes. The elder sister, however, could only laugh heartily at her sister’s reaction.

Next time I’m having a session of Show-and-Tell, I’ll invite you to explain the “telling” part.

The last line was very weird: “an echoing laugh from her departing sister” is missing a verb; you’re talking about Blackfire in that last bit, not Starfire, so the “emanated” can’t refer to BF.

Yours gets points for having Blackfire and for not crucifying her. I liked “took you long enough” at the beginning. Your writing isn’t terrible, but you often explain too much using awkward wording. Yes because, at the end of the day, the mistakes aren’t big enough to deserve an audition cut. You’re through to Hollywood.

Little better, Mike Stormm, and it’s good that you seemed to have abandoned the grating tone of #5, but be careful about your grammar and making your word choice more unique.

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10. Rumpelteazer: Verdigris

This was one of the few entries I actually enjoyed reading from beginning to end. It reminded me a bit of Hooliganette’s religion dialogue entry in the last season. Your writing is well-crafted and sophisticated, but you also understand intuitively when to be cute. The content is mildly cheeky, but it’s handled so well that I found that aspect part of the story’s charm. It was random, insane and spastic, but your writing is not, and this is a very solid yes. You’re through to Hollywood.

Told you that your worry was unfounded, Rumpel.

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11. The Kaiser: ~Excerpt from a DCAU-standard History Textbook~

Your tildes in your title make your story sophisticated and cool. Oh wait. They don’t.

One of Adam's men yelled out at him in the distinct Boston accent.

Adams’ or Adams’s would be acceptable, but unless you’re talking about some other guy named Adam, your choice is not.

Okay, beyond that, what we have here is random historical figures talking like drunken teenage girls. And this is supposed to be funny because…? I’ll get you the Jeopardy theme while you think of a good answer to that.

I have the feeling that this was supposed to be parody, but this is the kind of parody that ends up making fun of the author’s ineptitude rather than the intended subject. A story isn’t funny just because you have a character acting like an insane spazz who wouldn’t normally act like one. Maybe.

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12. GuardianSaiyoko: Follow Me To Freedom

This reminds me a bit of the poems I wrote when I was ten, which are now carefully hidden in my closet, never to see the light of day (it’s better that way; trust me). I have no idea what this poem is about, and you used little to no imagery, relying way too much on interplay of abstract concepts. Really, really clichéd abstract concepts, like “freedom” and “strife” and “life” (the latter two conveniently rhyme).

Compared to the poetry we’ve received in the past, it’s not terrible, but I still don’t feel like you really knew what you were saying here, and yet you said it over and over, anyway. Maybe.

GS, I’m not sure why you chose to write poetry because your prose is so much better. For future reference, all contestants, the only person in this season that I know for a fact writes stronger poetry than prose is Nightlark, and she’s the only one for whom it’d be a smart idea.

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13. Cappicinogirl: Father Figure

SPCC moments:

His whole life he had wanted to be a father, to be able to nurture and care for someone and maybe even have them care back.

Comma after “someone”.

He wanted to have a child look at him, and see him as a model, someone they would one day become.

No comma after “look at him”. If you want the comma, you have to change “and” to something like “to”.

His life was empty, he knew h could never have a child to care for, he wasn't delirious, but the fact that his hopes were hopeless only made him hope more.

Wow, that’s a fun sentence. You can’t put a comma after “empty”; you need a semicolon, at least. I don’t think you can argue that the commas framing “he wasn’t delirious” are stream-of-consciousness, either, and I’d rather them be set off with dashes, or something. And we can’t forget the lovely “h” instead of “he”. Don’t you love authors who proofread? I sure do!

This problem with this is similar to #6, but a bit more glaring: you can’t write a story where nothing happens but a character thinking about stuff unless you’re Hooliganette, and you’re pretty clearly not. It bores people if they know the story and confuses them if they don’t. Either bring something new to the table or describe the old in a new way. Maybe.

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14. RobinRocks: Glass

When I read the first few lines of this, I had an inner sigh of relief and thought, “Finally.” After several authors who very clearly don’t know what they’re doing, yours stood out even brighter, simply because you’re the first entrant since #10 who actually knows what to do with your words and how to control them.

Your voice had this lovely, crisp edge to it, almost shattered-glass-like itself. It was very arrogant and subtly humorous, with a kind of smoky sophistication that really fit the narrator. My only complaint here is the paragraph about the criminals thinking they’re “so clever”. I think it was the “so” that tipped it over the edge; the idea was good, but the execution had one foot in snippy-teenager, which is not so much Batman.

Finally, I wasn’t sure if I liked, “Another chase. Another broken glass.” There, it seemed like you restated the motif one too many times, and just a little too directly. The ending didn’t feel like overkill in the way that this line did, for some reason.

“Voice like chilled steel”, however, is one of the best lines in this entire round.

Excellent job. Yes. Enjoy your stay in Hollywood’s finest.

RobinRocks, it shows that you took last season seriously. You’re not the same writer that I read at Fanfiction.net.

---

15. Pandora: The Plug

In the second paragraph, “it is” felt pretentious. I would change that to “it’s”. And in the third paragraph, “tearing” and “standing” for “tear” and “stand”; the tense didn’t work with the beginning clause.

“It is the decision of all, not the decision of one,” was a very strange way for her mother to phrase that idea at a time like that. It shouldn’t be so formal, unless there are things about her character that you haven’t made clear from the story—and if that’s the case, make them clear.

It frustrates me to have these little flaws here because most of this story is really quite good. #13 and #6, this is what I mean by writing details in interesting and well-crafted ways. Obviously, it’s a yes, but try to make your word choice sound natural in all your lines next time, rather than just 90% of them. You’re through to Hollywood.

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16. Shadow: Redemption

….

Perhaps a nicer judge would go through and give a line-by-line explanation of why this is bad, but I’m not a nice judge. Every character in the story, including the narrator, speaks like a particularly stupid kindergartener. Mostly because you the author couldn’t write a sentence with more than ten words in it if your life depended on it.

No, clearly. Stop writing like a retarded penguin.

Shadow, as I said in season one to another contestant, the things I want to say here are not in my character, but contact me outside of the competition for help with this.

---

17. Chanceless: Aurora Surrealis

The line about chimes would have been better in active voice, I think, as most lines are.

Other than that, you know what I started thinking while reading this? This is what Hooliganette is going to grow into. Because you have the incredibly rare gift of using words that nobody else would ever think to use, but you also have control over it. It never gets away from you and starts spewing (beautiful, but none-the-less unwarranted) metaphors across the page; you’re doing big things with bigger words, but I never get the impression that you’re standing there with the brake in your hand looking horrified.

The biggest letdown for me was that it all came down to drugs and suicide, which seems such a dismal subject on which to waste such beautiful words. It’s a mark of how good you are that I kind of understand the narrator, after all that.

This is the strongest entry in the audition round. Enjoy Hollywood, and yes.

And the greenhorn takes first place. We’ve got ourselves an unexpected ace here, and I hope the rest of the contestants are sufficiently intimidated.

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18. RavenFan: The Truth

RavenFan, I was going to snark, but I’m tired of seeing you make the same mistakes over and over, so I’m going to attempt to say something useful. In every story you write, you open with a horrible first sentence featuring a form of “is” (usually “was”). You do not begin a story with, “{Character} was {doing something}.” If you don’t understand why right now, just trust me that it is very, very wrong, and stop doing it, please. Your first sentence should pull the reader into the story and hook their interest, not grab them by the ear and hurl them into it via the Boring Train. A better beginning would have been: He turned his head to leave, but a hand grabbing his made him pause.

You write like you’re giving a play-by-play in a sporting event: it’s all {X} did {Y}, over and over. Find different ways of saying it other than just stringing forms of “is” between names and descriptions.

I have much, much more to say about why this is a no, but if you can process that for now, I’ll be happy.

---

19. Kaption: Untitled

Wow, your opening line does not mesh with your first-person present tense.

The dust is swirling around me, making it hard to breathe and much less see. “And” has no reason to be in that sentence.

Your narrator is obnoxiously detached at the beginning of the story, and that annoys me because I have no sense of whether you understand how to write emotions, especially because you kind of change your tune in the final paragraphs and have the detached tone become part of the emotional reaction. Also, the suicide was random, which is yet more evidence that you don’t understand the feelings of your paper-people. However, your nuts and bolts are passable, so I’m going to say yes for this round. You’re through to Hollywood.

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20. Rocketman: Eclipse

Here’s the thing about dialogue-only stories: your characters must be distinct enough, their interactions clear enough, and their relationships defined enough that the reader doesn’t get confused trying to figure out who’s speaking. Your story was none of those things, and I still have no idea what happened, who was talking to whom, or even, at times, who was dead. Which is disappointing because the dialogue itself is good enough for a pass, but you missed the mark so badly on clarity that I don’t think you’re going to get that pass from me. Maybe.

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21. RobynStarling: How To Fish

Your narration reads almost as horridly as #16’s, but this one is a bit tricky at the onset because some of your dialogue wasn’t bad. Exclamation points in narration are, 99% of the time, a good mechanism for literary slaughter. In addition, your sentences are short, bouncy and immature; you also have absolutely no flow, and that worries me.

No, I think, in the end, you’re not quite ready for the competition yet. It’s better than some of the stilted writers we had in the audition round, but the fact remains that you’re still stilted. I’m saying no this season.

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22. Robbiepoo: Moving Mountains

The mountains swayed back and forth, constantly switching positions and making her sister's light brown hair move up and down with it.

“It” seemed too vague for the end of the sentence; I would have gone with “the rhythm”, or the equivalent.

{…} then glared at her mother for pushing her in. Still, now that she was in, the water did not seem so bad, as long as she kept moving.

Unnecessary and awkward repetition of “in”. If you must have it phrased that way, I would have italicized “was”. Also, “did not” needs to be “didn’t”. And in the next paragraph, you repeat “little mountains” and “little droplets”, and it doesn’t sound good.

And, um, didn’t you say a few paragraphs before you mentioned the wind that her mother pushed her in?

Beyond that, this is good. You picked a hard subject to write in detail, with one of the judges being intimately familiar with swimming, but I actually know what you’re talking about with the mountains of light, and I got a lovely image of a cold, outdoor pool at night surrounded by trees. And for that, I’m saying yes, and you’re through to Hollywood.

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23. Nightlark: Untitled

She is trapped in an uncertain kind of limbo, in a moment with the sky uniformly gray and noise so constant, she has ceased to notice it.

Why do you have that comma after “constant”? Do you like it when I summon the SPCC? And while we’re at it, the next sentence needs a comma after “car”.

In addition, some of the present tense felt like you lost control of it, especially towards the beginning. You pulled out of the slump in the last half of the story, though, with lines like, “The rough stripe of pavement curves softly and disappears into a ripened cornfield.” I see your potential here, almost like it’s shining through mesh, and that potential is more than enough to give you a yes. You’re through to Hollywood.

I don’t think this is your best, Nightlark—seems like you’ve been out of writing for awhile and are a little rusty.

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24. Newtypegirlie: What’s Wrong With You?

“Extraneous”: I kept thinking this needed to be “extenuating”. I guess it could work, if what you really mean is that superfluous circumstances kept her from joining him, and I have no idea which one you meant, even after reading the whole thing. So figure that one out, perhaps.

The paragraph about hitting the cig out of his mouth would have been such the narrative of any number of Gundam scenes where characters get slapped. And since I know it’s you, NTG, I can say that.

Another thing that I know is that your voice, structure and characterization are all quite good, and that you are a very solid yes and will be joining us in Hollywood.

---

25. Carmello: Harmonica

I was a trifle disappointed that it was a literal harmonica because I was hoping for a well-crafted metaphor in the title, but I’ll forgive you and save the idea for myself.

Your story is on the stronger end of in this round because you do not use vapid sentence structure or rely on melodrama, and instead say things like “concrete-lined life”, “rain clouds slicking the entire city in gray”.

You are guilty of a little comma abuse, especially towards the end, the most offensive being:

The sudden wave of homesickness was powerful but not entirely unexpected and before I knew it I was pulling the old thing out.

Let’s play Spot the Comma! You get to tell me where they belong because I’m tired of doing it myself.

The comma bit really was a shame because the rest of the writing is well above-average, and I like your ideas. Yes, and please join us in Hollywood. Another unexpected contender that I hope the rest of the contestants have taken due note of.

---

26. Rikkugrrl: Old Man

It had coiled around his necked and choked him,

Necked = neck. I hope. Unless they were doing something I’m not sure I want to read about with characters their age.

Alright, children. This is how you do short, stilted sentences. I don’t really have anything to say to this one except brilliance. And Simon doesn’t use that word unless it’s true.

A very-obvious yes. You’re through to Hollywood.

Sister, I don’t even know what to say. You, like RobinRocks, are not the same writer you were at the beginning of season one, and believe me when I say that I never want to see that writer again. I could get used to this one.

---

27. Drukqs: Missed Opportunity

“That is” in the second paragraph needs to be “that’s”. You’re too over-formal there.

Your lack of commas where they should have been give the feeling that you’re not quite in control of this particular stream-of-consciousness, but you have the good fortune of one of the judges being very sympathetic to SoC, so I’m going to give this a conditional yes, and caution you to work on grammar and knowing exactly what you want to say. The paragraph about anime was what won me over. “You’re going to see Paprika and I’ll tell you I love anime, but the truth is all I’ve watched is Akira and I despised it” was such a lovely teenager-ism. In fact, I would have kept that sentence going for the rest of the paragraph. It’s little things like that; knowing when to stop, when to keep going, and when to break grammar rules that I want you to work on.

Otherwise, you’re through to Hollywood.

---

28. Bender: These Days

The waiters and the hostess would make as to throw him out, but he would buy a cup of coffee for a dollar and a half and as he drank he’d wink at them through eyes rheumy with age, with the constant reminder that tossing a paying customer was bad business indeed.

The SPCC is back for one last hurrah, it seems. Comma after “dollar and a half” (if not something stronger), comma after “drank”. Your stream-of-consciousness is not pretty.

Other than that, I’m not sure if I liked the love rant because it was a little bit cookie-cutter, but you set up the scene with the man well enough for me to give this a yes. The main theme itself didn’t quite stand out to me, but the side narration was a lot stronger than the actual point of the story, and I can tell that you have enough potential to move on. You’re through to Hollywood.

-----

Simon’s top picks for this round: 17, 26, 14, 10, 7

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing

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CidGregor
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:08 pm  Reply with quote

1: Morning Person by Merlewhiteire

Sweet! Star Wars fic! Hehehe!

It’s cute, darling, and well-done on the dialogue. My only real criticism is that the dialogue doesn’t quite go anywhere; it kinda feels like it was cut off in the middle of the conversation because of the word count. But that’s okay, hon, you can work on clipping unnecessary words next time, because you’ve got the right stuff to move on in my book!

YES

--

2: The Show Must Go On Terrarox911

Your biggest problem, sweetie, is punctuation; especially commas. Some places you need a comma where there is none, and others you placed a comma where it is not needed. Work on these and you can make a huge improvement. And since I feel this is an easily-fixable problem that would greatly improve you, I think you MIGHT be able to move on….but promise to work on it if you do!

MAYBE

--

3: Exchange by Remix177

It’s ‘peeked,’ dear, not ‘peaked.’

A solid effort and I totally say you pass, but my biggest suggestion here would be not to lead your readers on and then disappoint them. I found myself thinking, even expecting, that the prisoner would make a breakout attempt right then after comments like “his bowl was waiting for her, but it was a little farther away than usual” and “She reached her arm a little farther in the door,” or that at the very least he would grab her arm and scare her. Needless to say I was left disappointed when I found out “oh, he just moved his foot.” Leading your readers on is one thing, but if you’re gonna do that, make what ACTUALLY happens better than what they EXPECT to happen, or they’ll be disappointed. Keep that in mind for future rounds.

YES

--

4: Better by Bumblebee

I don’t really like Superman/Smallville very much, and I like angst even less. Putting them together….really makes me cringe. x_x Add to it that there are a few rather basic grammar and formatting mistakes and I’m riding the fence, hon.

MAYBE

--

5: The Fifth Horseman by BlackWolf4830

The main problem with this story is that…nothing’s happening. There is no plot to progress and no characters to develop. Just a mini-rant about a biblical subject. And I don’t know if that’s good enough to pass, hon.

MAYBE

--

6: What I’ve Become by DragonShadow

Now THIS I liked! My geekiness is well-intrigued by a Metroid fic, and I like the way you painted Samus and her reaction to the Fusion Suit. I especially like the last paragraph. VERY good ending. A bit specific as far as fandom goes, and someone who doesn’t know the fandom would have a hard time understanding it, but I think the basics shine through.

Now that I see this is you, DS, really watch that fandom issue, it was part of what killed you last time. Don’t alienate readers before you begin. Otherwise you’re much better this time.

YES

--

7: Spontaneous by Echo_Nevermore

Adorable, well-controlled and well-paced, and solid dialogue that was very believable for younger children. It’s way cute and I love it. Big thumbs up.

YES

--

8: Rain by BAColeNC

Simon is going to RIP into you for the wikipedia line, so I’ll just skip that.

You have some decent writing, hon, but the piece was a little plain. Almost boring, even. Not very memorable. I think you should move on, but try to stand out a little more in future rounds, readers don’t wanna be bored to death.

YES

--

9: Chance Encounter by MikeStormm

Wow, finally a TT fic!

The beginning and end of the story were actually pretty good, but your middle, where most of the dialogue was, seemed weak. Mostly from when Blackfire started talking about the BoE up until Star gets her coffee. It was over expository and forced, especially coming from Blackfire. From there, though, I got a good chuckle out of the ending, so There’s merit to this story. You get the green light from me, sweetie.

YES

--

10: Verdigris by RumpleTeazer

LOVE. This one is phenomenal and EASILY the best entry of the entire round. Highly original, funny, and varied without overstuffing it. I especially loved the Wicked Witch, and the snark about Al Gore. Very, very much moving on.

YES

--

11: ~Excerpt from a DCAU-standard History Textbook~ by TheKaiser

Worst title ever. Just FYI.

Other than that it was pretty funny, if for no other reason than because it was just so ludicrous, and that I couldn’t stop picturing Samuel Adams as Dave Chappelle playing Samuel Jackson and ranting about beer.

Also, it’s ‘patrons,’ not ‘patronages.’

Otherwise, you get a green light from me.

Not too surprised that this is you, Kaiser. Amusing.

YES

--

12: Follow me to Freedom by GuardianSaiyoko

I don’t care what they other judges may say, I liked this poem. Every once in a while poetry will catch my eye, and this was one of them. I liked the repetition of the title phrase, and especially how you used it in the final stanza. Thank goodness the one poetry entry this round was actually worth reading.

YES

--

13: Father Figure by Cappicinogirl

The main problem here is that it’s been done before. Extensively, I might add, and much better than was done here. It was a kind of boring internal monologue that didn’t really shed any sort of new light on Slade’s character that hadn’t been done before many times. I’m on the fence, hon.

MAYBE

--

14: Glass by RobinRocks

Ahh, good old Batman. If Nat had entered I would have definitely pegged this as his, heh.

Definitely like the breaking glass motif here. Though I was a bit disappointed that you left out my favorite part of breaking glass: the SOUND. Sometimes the sound of glass breaking is the most satisfying sound in the world, and it was a shame that you only really focused on the visual aspect. However it was very well-handled for what it was and you definitely know how to write a character as intimidating as Batman, so you’re definitely moving on.

YES

--

15: The Plug by Pandora

Quite chilling! This is definitely a situation no one wants to ever have to go through, and though I can’t say from personal experience, I think you captured the moment well, and you kept it strong from beginning to end. Certainly among the better audition pieces.

YES

--

16: Redemption by Shadow15872

Oi….this has problems, hon. The first three paragraphs are painful to read. ALWAYS type out smaller numbers in their full word forms. ALWAYS. And beyond that, the story makes almost no sense at all. I don’t know what you were trying to portray, but it came off as a really bad ripoff of Spawn, and I didn’t like it at all.

NO

--

17: Aurora Surrealis by Chanceless

It took me a couple of read-throughs to really get this one, but it was really pretty once I grasped it. The musical imagery was really pleasant and the comparison to modern ‘filth’ was an unusual, though interesting, angle to take. You also have a really strong grasp of the basics and an impressive style that I think can carry you far in this competition. Good luck, hon, see you next round!

YES

--

[b]18: The Truth
by RavenFan

In the future, hon, for contests like this, NEVER submit an entry that requires knowledge of your fanfic to understand it. It comes off as incredibly arrogant, especially when the entry itself is poor, which is, I’m sorry to say, the case here. This was bland, juvenile, and feels like it was written to just arbitrarily hook up a fan pairing without giving said pairing any depth to back it up. I’m sorry, sweetie, but I can’t pass this. Practice, a LOT, and try again next time.

NO

--

19: (Untitled) by Kaption

Solid descriptions here, and unusually action-packed for this round, which was a definite breath of fresh air. Not sure if I liked the sudden suicidal thing at the very end though. Still, everything’s peachy asthetically, so you get the green light, hon.

YES

--

20: Eclipse by Rocketman

Though this wasn’t nearly as bad as #16 in this respect, it suffered from a similar problem: It was almost impossible to make sense of it. I honestly had no idea what was going on beyond that someone died and no one could contact Houston. It was choppy and messy and hard to follow, because all the dialogue voices sounded exactly the same and it was impossible to tell which was which. If it wasn’t decently written I’d have had to say no outright. As it is, I’m on the fence.

MAYBE

--

21: How to Fish by RobynStarling

This was cute, if not a bit corny at the very end….especially that last line. It wasn’t horrible, but definitely gave the story a bit of a cornball stench that wasn’t really necessary. It was also a little like 8 in that it was a bit forgettable despite being overall good. Try to stand out next round.

YES

--

22: Moving Mountains by Robbiepoo

Cute, but again, it was a bit forgettable. I found myself wanting to know more about the girl and her sister, and less about what they were doing, and when I don’t even get names for them, well, they seem like kind of empty characters. So work on that. And like 21 and 8, try to stand out a little more next time…which there will be for you, I think.

YES

--

23: (Untitled) by Nightlark

This has the same problem as the above story. There’s too little ‘self.’ I want to know more about the character than you’re giving, because it SEEMS like there is more to her and you’re just not showing it to us because you’re too busy being ambiguous about it. But it’s certainly not horrible. Try to be a little less mysterious next time, but otherwise, I think you’re moving on, sweetie.

YES

--

24: What's Wrong With You? by newtypegirlie

This was kind of overly angsty and melodramatic, kind of like one of those after-school specials, y’know? But otherwise decent enough writing that I say this can pass. Just realize that angst is very easy to overdo and try to tone it down.

YES

--

25: Harmonica by Carmello

Hehe, now this was one of my favorites. I am always amused by the image of a crowded public location spontaneously bursting into song. Possibly this is why I love musicals so much, hehe…but I digress. This was a sweet and cute story with a nice little musical number that I could easily picture going on. Big thumbs up from me, sweetie. Good job.

YES

--

26: Old Man by Rikkugrrl

This one was deeply unsettling for me personally. I’ve seen Alzheimer’s up close and personal and it is not pretty. I think you did a good job portraying it, and this is nothing against you at all, but…yeah. Deeply disturbed by this one.

Still, giving you a thumbs up. Cuz it was ‘disturbing’ in a good way.

YES

--

27: Missed Opportunity by Drukqs

This was easily one of my favorites. I went through something very similar not long ago, actually, so it totally rang true for me. I especially liked your last three paragraphs. Very vivid images that really made me feel for the guy. Definitely moving on in my book.

YES

--

28: These Days by Bender

Very deep story here. I like this take on the idea of just what love is and represents. A little negative for my tastes – I AM an optimist, after all, heh – but intriguing nonetheless. You’ve got good voice, and I think you can do well here.

YES

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:31 pm  Reply with quote

1: Morning Person by Merlewhitefire
Not bad for simply dialogue. Nothing felt really rushed, things were timed right. Your descriptive phrases need work, though, dude. It's good enough to get you through for now, so yes.

2: The Show Must Go On Terrarox911
It isn't terrible, but it's not that great, either. You overuse commas in some sentences and don't use them at all in others. A lot of grammatical mistakes and not a lot of potential showing here. No, dude, sorry. Find a voice that's not "13 year old girl," and then maybe.

3: Exchange by Remix177
For real, dude, this was great. I loved that this felt like a glimpse at a larger story, but functioned well enough on its own for this round. Unlike Simon, I liked the snippet format of it. Welcome to AI. Yes from me.

4: Better by Bumblebee
The good news is you're not a terrible writer or anything. The bad news is you lack any form of subtlety. Work on that. It's a maybe from me.

5: The Fifth Horseman by BlackWolf4830
Two things: find a voice and stick with it. Don't suddenly switch from third to first person. Also, your last paragraph fell totally flat because, again, you have no idea what voice is. Maybe.

6: What I’ve Become by DragonShadow
Good descriptive phrases, good use of voice. Wow, you managed to write something good that was under 18k words! And you did a better job of summarizing canon this time. You actually get a yes from me.

7: Spontaneous by Echo_Nevermore
You need to do some more proofreading, seriously. It wasn't bad, dude, it just never really caught my interest or anything. A lot of your entries were like that for me, Echo. When you're good, you're really good, but this didn't come off as one of those really good entries to me. Even so, it's a yes.

8: Rain by BAColeNC
I liked this a lot, dude. A little proofreading would help, but you have potential there. Much better than your first round entry last time, dude. Yes.

9: Chance Encounter by MikeStormm
Haha, I liked the twist, yo. Nicely written little drabble. Yes.

10: Verdigris by RumpleTeazer
Two hilarious entries in a row, I like that. Very creative, and definitely got me laughing. Welcome to AI. Yes

11: ~Excerpt from a DCAU-standard History Textbook~ by TheKaiser
Hah, this is my favourite so far, dude. Yes because I like this more than my comrades.

12: Follow me to Freedom by GuardianSaiyoko
I dunno, dude. I mean, it's not really badly written, but I wish you'd chosen prose instead of poetry. You can do a lot better than this. Yes.

13: Father Figure by Cappicinogirl
Um... this was about Slade, yeah? So why is he so terribly written? Yeah, Slade wants children and all that, but damn, kid, this was kind of a mountain of suck. If you can't even characterize Slade, I don't know where you think you're going in this. You did the same thing DragonShadow did last time, and you did it worse than he did. A not very optimistic maybe from me.

14: Glass by RobinRocks
I'm sorry, I just have to say one thing before we go on: Seriously, people, proofread!

That said, it was well-written, but the semicolons got annoying after awhile. That's just me, though. Yes.

15: The Plug by Pandora
Very well-written and real. One of the better serious entries this time. Welcome to AI. Yay Pand! Yes!

16: Redemption by Shadow15872
My character does this. Then he does this. I need to tell the reader every little thing and beat them over the head with it. You and 4 can hang out in Lack of Subtletyville. A definite no.

17: Aurora Surrealis by Chanceless
I don't even need to say anything other than, "Welcome to AI." YES YES YES!

18: The Truth by RavenFan
Yes, the mark of a good writer is taking well-established characters and making them do whatever you want them to do. You'll do amazingly in this. If I could be like the real Randy and just laugh my ass off at you I would, but since I can't, no.

19: (Untitled) by Kaption
A nice story, but you need some work on connecting phrases. A lot of it seems really stocatto. Yes.

20: Eclipse by Rocketman
I was really confused the first time through, and the second read didn't help much. I knew this was you, again, Rocketman, so you'd better do something spectacular the next round. No more confusing us like this. We're passing you because we know you can do better. It's a maybe here.

21: How to Fish by RobynStarling
I was with you until the very last sentence, dude. It just didn't seem to fit, just too sudden a change of heart, I guess. Plus it all seems really cliche. The dialogue was funny, your descriptive phrases, not so much. Work on that before you enter again. No.

22: Moving Mountains by Robbiepoo
I really liked the description of the mountains reflected in the water. Nicely written, a cute little story. Yes from me.

23: (Untitled) by Nightlark
This is pretty much the same as the other one for me. It was a good story and well-written. Good to see you back. Yes.

24: What's Wrong With You? by newtypegirlie
Another good story. Nothing really spectacular or anything, but a good story. Don't listen to Paula, it's really not as angsty as she thinks it is. Yes

25: Harmonica by Carmello
Another really good story, but I liked this one a lot more than a lot of the others this round. Yes

26: Old Man by Rikkugrrl
This is the best entry of the round. End of story. Beautiful and sad, believable, a concrete beginning, middle, and end. The fact that this is you is amazing, Rikkugrrl, because you've turned into a completely different writer, for real. Amazing. YES!

27: Missed Opportunity by Drukqs
Something tells me Avea stacked all the good ones for the end Wink I won't complain. I really liked the voice in this one. Reminded me of something out of my own head. I'm glad you entered, Drukqs. Yes

28: These Days by Bender
I'm not judging this one, as Bender is my brother-in-law, but I was pleasantly surprised at your voice. The comma mistakes are a bit annoying but forgiveable based on the quality of the rest of the story. Were I voting, this would get a yes from me.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:44 am  Reply with quote

It's that dreadful time....the first round of cuts. And your nice judge has been assigned the task of breaking the news. Crying or Very sad Better get this over with, before I tear up!

The following contestants have been eliminated:

TerrraRocks911
BumbleBee
Blackwolf4830
Cappicinogirl
Shadow15872
Ravenfan
RobynStarling


Thank you guys so much for entering, and try again next time!

The rest of you, congratulations, and welcome to Hollywood!

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:58 am  Reply with quote

SEASON 2 ROUND 2 ENTRIES, GO!

--

01: Storm the Sky
My laughter is a low rumble in the depths of the sky as my fingers crawl over the land below, charged and searching. I stalk towards the horizon on hands and knees of crackling energy and howl with wild laughter.

Hell hath no fury like a raging storm, or something like that, anyway.

My lightning snakes along the near-deserted road below, illuminating a single car racing down the strip. I creep in with the wind, snatch at hair and clothes, whisper warnings in a voice to low for her to understand though I‘m sure she would try if she thought it even remotely possible. I have seen her out in the dark of my anger before. The hands of my wind claw at the early 1980’s rock music pumping from the stereo and flings it wildly to the edges of the static-charged air and the driver turns the volume up again. Lightning crackles all the way across the horizon as the car accelerates well over the given speed limit and goes hurtling into the depths of my wind-whipped playground.

I laugh again, an earth-shaking roar as I urge the wind to whip faster and the rain to fall harder. The droplets pound the ground all around the car, sliding down the windshield, driving in through the open windows. The girl does not seem to notice my increasing fury as the volume of the music turns up once again, as the speed increases yet again. I rock the car from side to side, tear at its purchase on the ground and roar my irritation at this miniscule being who does not seem to care that my thunderous voice and whips of lightning have her surrounded. There are few other cars out in the evidence of my infamous temper and those few are inching along through the downpour, headlights futilely trying to penetrate the grey of my clouds as they try to make it home without catastrophe.

Some make it. Some don’t. Some spiral out of control, slide on soaked roads and snag in potholes with hidden depths. A truck skids and hits a barrier at the edge of the road. A minivan hydroplanes but steers into it and continues down the road at a more sedate pace. I laugh again, a malicious counterpoint to the lightning striking wildly and illuminating the landscape as though I held strobe lights angled all across the land.

The car emitting the loud music hydroplanes. The brakes are slammed on.

I laugh long and loud.


--


02: Decay

“I’ve always wanted to be an artist.”

And cue the skeptical look.

“It sounds funny, I know. Like a paradox. But really, I think what I do is art, in a way. I create patterns, patterns in negative space.”

She thinks about this for a moment. She looks like perhaps she wants to argue the point, but gives up and continues writing in her notebook.

“You know, I make people appreciate art. I’m like the ultimate art critic.”

More jots in the notebook. Damn shrinks. How do they always know how to not rise to the bait?

“No, really. If it wasn’t for me, art would last forever. And nobody would appreciate it. It’s like yin and yang, isn’t it? Can’t have one without the other.”

“That would make you the polar opposite of an artist, would it not?”

Aha. Gotcha. Thinking you’re all superior, and you fall right into the trap.

“Yes, but it also makes me inherently connected to art. I am the source of beauty. I am what makes beauty a good thing.”

Skeptical look again.

“I sound kind of arrogant, don’t I?”

She says nothing. That’s a ‘Yes’ if ever I saw one.

“Maybe I’m just jealous. Of the artists. I mean, obviously I’m jealous, but maybe that’s what this is about.”

Wipe that smug look off your face, this is a big deal for me. Worst psych ever, I tell you.

“I do try to look for some comfort… I can’t create art, at least not in the traditional sense, but art often depicts my work. My work is what art is about. Art is always easily defined by whether or not it’s about decay and destruction. So in some ways, I’m in the art itself. So maybe I’m like art, you know?”

She doesn’t say anything. ‘Course, she hasn’t said anything for a half hour, so…

“I have other hobbies too, you know. I recently went into pyrotechnics… Though it wasn’t the most noble of undertakings, I suppose. Atomic bombs? Yeah, pretty negative associations.

“But what about beautiful landscapes? I made those what they are. The Grand Canyon? I did that. Okay, okay, the river did that, but it did that through me. But nobody ever gives me the credit.”

Well, there’s a thought…

“So maybe that’s it? I’m just mad because nobody gave me the credit for the things I did right? I’m sure that’s it. That must be it. They’re all too sore because they blame me for death… no. I don’t work that way. I don’t kill people. I just work better once they’re dead. But tell that to them, huh?”

She still says nothing. I know she’s not that inept. Maybe I’m supposed to work it out on my own? But that means I’m not there yet.

“I just thought of what else it could be… I’m not feeling unappreciated… no, I thought it was. I think it might just be because I can never keep anything. Even my greatest masterpieces. I know exactly who’s going to destroy the Grand Canyon, and it’s going to be me. So I guess I’m just bitter.”

She smiles slightly and nods. Bingo. I hit it…

“So how do I fix it?”

She’s not going to tell me, of course. Couldn’t do that, that’s too easy.

“Well, I can’t just stop doing what I do… I stop doing that, I cease to exist.” And then it hits me. “So I know I can’t change it, I have to accept it. Which sounds really obvious, now I think about it.”

She shrugs. Well, fooey on her, she doesn’t know what it’s like to miss the point, does she?

“So how do I do it? Deal with it, accept it? I mean, it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing one just… does.”

“Why not?”

I don’t have an answer for that. Which she knows, of course.

“Thank you, Truth.”

She nods and walks away, and I’m working on my glaciers again.


--


03: Falling

My entire nature was a freefall, the inevitable tug of gravity over the edge of a craggy precipice; crashing, the impact shattering shards of water into a frothy spray. The simple act of transitioning from higher to lower ground was my existence, the constant shifting of water. I have been here for a long time, seen the passing of thousands of moons, and seen the never ending circle of life and death in the forest that used to surround me. The tiny redwoods along my border would grow into looming columns that outstripped even my apex.

They outgrew me, but I still outlasted them all. I used to sense the gradually receding thirst from their mile long roots which usually drank greedily from my overflow. And I used to see their leaves dye orange, and drift away to add to the layers of forest litter. And I used to feel the resounding crash that reverberated through the closely huddled mountains when they finally succumbed to the force which governs my existence: gravity.

I have outlived every living creature on this planet, with only the gradual smoothing and sanding and erosion of the rocks which embraced me to mark the passage of my existence. A hand carved diary of my flowing lifespan, one which I worked on every second of every day when I crashed down onto the landing rocks, beating them into little trickling pebbles over the years. The roar of my impact had been heard for millennia, the mist of my constant stream of collisions floating up through the transient canopy for just as long. I was unstoppable.

As long as there was water to be moved from mountain to valley, I existed.

When I swelled and became drunk on the spring thaw, strong and arrogant with my new power of pure force and extreme volume. Juxtaposed with the periods when I starved in the torrid fever of summer, smoldering and evaporating my lifeblood, I still survived as a submissive trickle. And even in the dead freeze of winter, when the frost gripped at my spray, eventually climbing up enough to cover me with a silent sparkling petticoat of ice, I still writhed and danced beneath its muted sheet; chugging on without the deafening fanfare of hurtling water, or the obscuring cloak of billowing vapor.

I never stopped. But that inevitability has now spiraled away from me, stolen.

The small scurrying of animals had never bothered me before, but these creatures were different. They drank and bathed from me, appreciated but still avoided my pummeling fall like all the others did. However they did something no other moving breathing entity had before. They named me, mapped me, and catalogued me. They stopped my wild rushing with their little rock wall, and their sophisticated pumping hydraulics.

They have tamed me for the moment, allowing my swollen and disfigured bulk to spill over in controlled channels from time to time, but mostly stopping me up for their own consumption. I now live a slowly dripping life, a leaking sopped up existence.

But, as long as the spike of the mountain cast its shadow over me, and the dip of the valley spreads out below me, I can wait. I can outlive them and their wall. I will erode it as surely as I did to the bedrock that was once beneath me. And then I will surge and leap over the edge once more, free to follow my own course.


--


04: Zephyr

The other winds say that those poor creatures were just born this way; I think they're just being nice. The real problem is, these animals just got the shallow end of the deal. I have no idea how they stayed around for so long. It was definitely none of my doing.

After all, when one of them chopped down all those trees, I was trying to blow them towards him. And when he used the trees to float when there was that huge flood, I was there making their ride less than comfortable. I still don't understand how those primates even survived being stuck in a mass of floating, dead trees with all those animals when they were wearing the skins of those very same animals.

I think nature played some cruel joke on these poor guys. I asked Mother Nature once, but she just shook her head at me. She said that little winds shouldn't be questioning her judgement. She probably thinks I'm immature. Can I help it that those female pink primates have poofy skins that are easy to blow them over with? I still think they just caught some disease; that's why they all live away from the other animals. No one else wants all their hair to fall off except for at the top of their heads.

What's so funny about their hair problem, though, is the fact that the females actually grow theirs out. See, they're the smart ones. They see their problem and try to fix it by letting what little hair they have grow. The males, on the other hand, cut theirs or pull it back. That's not nearly as fun to blow around.

Speaking of which, I had a lot of fun today with one of the females. I don't know why, but she was wearing some dead animals and plants so tightly that she could hardly breathe. She kept waving folded up plants with her hand to get air, and then I pushed her over. It's always so entertaining to watch the males rush to catch one of the females when I push them over. It just proves that the females rule the males, even though the males write on plants and try to make rules to make themselves seem more important.

Oh, and I accidentally blew a male's hair off. Well, it wasn't really his hair. He had taken some from another pink primate and put it on his head. It came right off as I was whizzing around-can I help it if I like blowing hair around?-and all the other pink primates laughed. He turned even pinker than he usually is, if that's even possible.

I still think they're just all diseased, but what do I know? After all, I'm not around all that much, and I don't have as much power as my cousins, the Hurricanes. That side of the family has all the fun. They get to throw trees around like that "ballbase" game the pink primates play. Oh well. At least I had some laughs, right?


--


05: Pele

The place I came from they call Mauna Loa. It is a volcano, one of many in a place they call Kilauea, located on an island they call Hawaii, which is part of a group of islands they also call Hawaii, which is a region of a country they call the United States, and so on, and so on.

‘They’ are humans, of course. Such strange creatures; they always feel they have to name things for fear of forgetting or becoming lost. Which is odd to say the least, as most animals seem not to mind forgetting things. Then again, perhaps this is because of human’s vast intelligence that they feel it is not in their nature to forget. But for all their peculiarities, the one that fascinates me the most is their habit of telling stories. In fact, they have even told one involving myself- the story that tells the tale of how

Mauna Loa became the dwelling of Pele.

Pele: The Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes. Once a mere human girl from Tahiti banished for her temper, and then sailed to other places to find a volcanic home, only to be flooded out by Na-maka-o-Kahai, the sea goddess, each time, until finally killed by her elder sister, only to become a goddess in death and make the volcano her permanent home.

Unfortunately, I know of no such goddess living inside it. But I know of her through the things I destroyed. Humans imagine her tall and dark skinned, with hair black, long, and flowing, like myself after I cooled down.

Sometimes, though, I imagine what it’s like. I imagine her not to be the type to have many guests, considering the place is virtually uninhabitable. But perhaps she thinks of it as her companion. She will trust it to erupt when she’s angry, comfort her when saddened, and warm her when cold. It would a part of her as she is as much a part of it.

Or perhaps she simply sees it as a mere plaything. That the volcano is her tool, as is any other volcano. There to be manipulated, with little or no will of their own- a servant.

But the best answer is for me only speculation. It’s far too late for me to ever know if such a being exists. Even if I will outlast humans, memories, and perhaps even gods. I have cooled down, I am stuck being the remains of a natural travesty- For me, curiosity will never be satisfied.


--


06: Prelude and Finale: Lines in the Sand

A sudden rumble in the ocean floor below brings me to the shimmering surface; the bedrock splits and I start to draw back. I leave a line of forsaken creatures behind me as I sweep the sea from the shore. A wooden boat is left tipped to one side as I sneak out from under it. The sands that are usually hidden beneath the water are left dry; the zigzagging scribble between the dark and the light begins to disappear in the heat of the sun. The coast is scattered up and down with flopping fish and other marine animals I have abandoned there. I will return for them soon.

I wind back miles from the land as I rise and swell, gathering all the water around me that I can to join my glorious form. Timing is essential. If I wait much longer, I won't be able to sustain this height; my back will break and the form will be completely lost. Two more seconds… one…

A push from behind rockets me forward, and I rush back to reclaim the bounty of dead and living still waiting on the beach. Curious tourists and villagers have walked closer to pick up the stranded fish and they stare up at me with bug-eyed surprise as I barrel toward them. They turn to flee; I am insulted that they actually think they can outrun my magnificent force. I rush over all of it—the sea creatures, the people, their umbrellas and beer chests. I carry them all with me as I charge.

I'm washing over everything too fast to maintain my form and I begin to fall forward until I slam full force into the ground. I double up over myself and continue my advance past small buildings and long lines of cars. I rip palm trees from the concrete sidewalks. I flash-erode the earth from under the road and parking lot, wedge myself beneath to tear up great jagged pieces of black asphalt. My collection of debris reminders grows in number and variety.

The little boat I carried with me from the shore snags a flagpole, and there it hangs as I try to reach up and take it back with me. I try, but I can't quite touch it anymore. Each surge forward is slower and weaker than the last—falls ever shorter than I aim for. I feel myself dragging.

I'm losing momentum, and my advance slows until I am forced to sink down in guilty retreat. I wash back, a formless liquid flushing and trickling to the sea. Large pieces of collected wreckage—a mast, a vendor cart, a Big Wheels bike—snag and drop as I lose the strength to carry them along. I leave them where they sit and continue to withdraw. I slink back to the ocean as mud-brown sludge; rainbow oil and gasoline film stains my surface. I feel filthy from the earth and the contraptions I've washed over.

I ebb all the way to the shore to rejoin the tide and ease into its rhythmic motion. Each flow forward leaves little pieces of my lovely trash collection on the beach.

It runs up and down the length of the coast: a line of broken bits and bodies in the sand.


--


07: On Inevitability

It has been said, countless times, by the mouths of men and gods – gods through the mouths of men, more than not, or men claiming knowledge of powers higher even than their ego – that the end is coming. True to the sentiment, there shall indeed be an end. The question, though, and indeed a lens through which all must be viewed, is thus: Is it an end to which all will come, or rather an end which will simply be? Being this self same “end,” I must argue the latter. I am Entropy, I am Inevitable, and make no mistake – I am Patient. To me, all things shall come in time.

Humanity, in its vanity, assumes much about the importance of individual acts. Given the proper perspective – often no more than a proverbial “step back” – no single event or intent has significant impact. People die, cities crumble, nations and civilizations fall by the wayside, and even the gods cease to be, given ample time. All of these endings are tragic when viewed through a narrow scope, yet they are without exception unimportant to the universal state of being.

All of the universe moves unfailingly towards me at rates immeasurable, and shall not desist until all has arrived. I am the end not in the sense that I shall bring about the termination of existence as it is perceived, but by the time I have been reached such perceptions shall have long been rendered meaningless. Thus I end not by the finishing of that which is, but rather by all-encompassing cessation of creation, deed, or action. That which can neither begin nor continue must by definition end.

The point must certainly be made that I am without malice, and I would be ill-expected to exhibit antagonism. In fairness, since I do not act per se, I am without moral standing at all, morality being a result of action rather than merest existence. I am the end of all that is, has been, and shall be, and yet I am not some unspeakable evil. I am, if anything, disturbingly dismissible in this contemporary age of non-existent attention spans; since I do nothing, I surely cannot be a threat. By this shall I prove unstoppable, and let it be written that the assorted peoples of existence have been warned of my manifesto.

I aim not for any person, place, or thing. I am not a destroyer of worlds or an arbiter of misery. I can be neither dissuaded nor discouraged, and I expect no fear or respect. Do what must be done, and say what must be said. I am Patient. To me, all things shall come. I have time.


--


08: Turn

A warm, tropical sigh escaping me is suddenly a ruthless wind, a force with the sound of tunnel screams. It shakes the sky all around, with the clouds and the sun that hides somewhere far behind. I feel all parts of me widen over the sea and, soon, the edges of land. I don't need to watch. The shaky swish of the ocean is juxtaposed with the soft presence of the soil--I sense enough.

I can't watch. I know what I am, anyway. Blindness isn't relative, but I try to believe it is. It's not right and still it is, it's mine, because I can't live with myself otherwise. I work and await the calm of the storm sightlessly.

My release over the earth is a ripple and then a rip, from my insides out. One of the few things I feel is the tearing. But I try to revel in this. I soak up the fresh spray of the waves that wax monstrous; I hear the flooding slam of water on the streets. Rain soars from my sides, clouds descend too swiftly, winds shriek with every movement of mine.

The gales are extensions of all I am. I let go completely, and all I can think is centrifugal, centrifugal, faster and faster. There is a roaring echo just outside my reach. It too becomes part of me, the sense. I hear, feel, taste, am all things torrid. All around my infinite turn is turbulent, and violent, and loud: I know exactly what I do.

I'm not ignorant. I have heard the wails and yelps vibrating upward from the creatures underneath me--noises that splinter my core. Still I stretch and expand, my banding becoming like the rays of a raging, mutant sun. It's uncontrollable, I tell myself, and shut out the sounds as long as I can. I try to be the unfeeling storm I've been created to be, but I am uncontrollable: I live for my glance through the eye. I am never blind, but I wish on my very core that I could be. Because even though below me, everything is reeling, I am the one twisting inside myself.

What I see--when I choose to--is always quiet and solemn. But silence speaks for itself. The world as I know it is a still one, always seen through the eye of the storm while the winds madly flay the sky surrounding. Small, flesh-covered animals huddle together in streets that brim with water. Frail ones with stringy, ashen hair lie among them. Many are like this. I see them in crooked patterns, in shapes like bolts of lightning. They are motionless--like the stagnant air, and the storm I see.

So I seldom see. I feel the calm rush toward me, usually, instead. Aftermath is a soothing, warm air on my face. I can't help but ignore the whirling rush around, around, around again, because power is what I loathe. What I embrace, too, but living with two meanings is impossible as it is to be blind with an eye like mine. So I eventually fold into myself, with a wisp of a wind and a thick layer of cloud. The sun blots me away.


--


09: First Day

Right now, I'm just a thin layer on the ground. The kids are crunching me with their boots, the parents are getting together and talking about how beautiful I am. Barely an inch off the ground, only a blade of grass here or there are poking through. By tomorrow morning there won't be any, if I keep it up. The weather reporters keep saying I'm premature, and tomorrow the grass will be green as it always has. Having a job where you can always be wrong but keep it must be nice.

I'm watching a boy's dog run across me now, chasing a squirrel. The pet's small, probably only a few months old. He kicks me up as he follows the bushy-tailed critter, bounding forward on his tiny legs. His master's no better, buttoned up so that the whole bottom of his face is covered, with his hat taking the other, barely giving his eyes any room to see out of. His blue boots smash and throw me around, uncovering the grass beneath. The child stops right behind his dog, stopping their trail of destruction. The squirrel's climbed up a tree and into its nest, out of their reach.

Now there's someone coming down the street, driving like they're out of control. I look to see if my brother is causing this, but no, it's too early in the season for him to coat the grounds and make things slip. The person in the car is just a bad driver. He makes it down to the corner and turns still speeding the whole way.

A couple more kids are emerging from their houses now. They look around as I fall down in wonder. This isn't their first winter from the looks of it, but probably the first they'll remember. Their parents are watching from the windows, grinning. The children stoop down to gather up scoops of me in their hands. They try to mold them into balls, but the dry powdery bits just give in their tight hands. Give me a little more time, kids, still too early for that...

And there's the old man out from his home, shovel in hand. Every year he's out on the first day. There's not enough of me to even make a pile yet, but he's trying. Scraping every bit of me from his driveway he's able to make a small pile. But when he turns back I'm covering half of the driveway again. Cursing, he goes back inside, his annual stint done.

And so I fall, the first day out of many. Each day I'll build up, and the children will be able play more, the parents laugh and grumble more, and the old men shovel more. For today though, it's just the first snowfall.

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CidGregor
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 8:01 am  Reply with quote

10: Windswept

Oh yes, she cackled, this was her favorite part. The surge of elation made her stronger, adding curls and flippant strings of rushing air to her body. The spiteful pocket of wind gusted up above the earth, awaiting the deluge with glee-filled eyes and tensed limbs. She was ready to spring, to hurtle through the tree leaves and careen against mountainsides.

The wind had lain in wait for some time, though not nearly so long as the lightning, her petulant younger sister who rarely got to come out and play. Her brothers were slightly more fortunate, the snow and hail that caused havoc in the mountains, leaping between peaks and seeing who could throw themselves down harder. She had not seen her mother for some time, but surely this storm was uniting them. She could already taste the rain.

She heard the first menacing shake of thunder as it descended from the stratosphere. The sound made her shiver, as it always did, in both excitement and reverence. Sheet lightning sprawled out across the horizon, lurid with orange and yellow as it lorded its power over the clouds. The wind trembled with excitement, disturbing the air around her; the echoes of her movement could be seen below, in skittering dry leaves and waving tree limbs. In the distance she could spy her mother, the darkly rolling waves of the ocean. Even now her mother was taking to the sky as rain, cold and pelting drops that would soak the earth below.

Another shred of wind zipped by, giggling back over its shoulder. A thin and dazzlingly sharp bolt of lightning seared down to the earth. The clouds, once white and caressingly soft, had grown black and turbulent- they rolled fiercely over one another in a fight for dominance.

For a moment, her thoughts flitted back to ancient times, when she was young and inexperienced still. She could barely remember the years she had been human- that, she supposed, was a merciful gift- she knew only that she had been earthbound, once, without wings to propel her skyward. For some time she had been separated from her siblings, from the water that her mother had become; for some time, none of them understood. It was the first storm that brought them back together, the thing that turned them face to face and said, here, look now. This is what you have become. This is what you always will be.

The first smatter of rain, cold and scattered, began to fall. Tiny droplets tumbled down and stuck to her frame, and when she shook to be rid of them, a thin wave of water like crystal fell earthward. Lightning hissed fiercely down again, striking a tree somewhere below. Its trunk smoked with surprise, and the sound resonated for miles. Thunder rumbled across the ocean. The rain grew stronger. It was time, something told her, something primal and instinctive that she could not question.

She burst out of the sky, reaching the ground with vibrating ripples of air trailing out behind her like afterthoughts. She swallowed the air and grew stronger as she flew along, her body a sleek and streamlined force of nature. The wind darted around the edges of buildings, barely missing the corners; she skimmed the prairies and let the grass tickle her stomach. The sky upended, and the water fell in torrents, soaking her completely. In the center of this storm, she was home.


--


11: Gray

I am so frail...

Weakly, I inch past larger, stronger puffs of white, regal billows. They sneer at me as I move by, but they don't bother to attempt hindering my path. In my condition, I am worthless to them, and they do nothing more than mock me as they remain haughtily on their near motionless perches.

Once their jeering whispers are out of earshot, I almost wish that they had followed me after all; the silence ringing in my ears now is unbearable. That along with the starvation eating away at me is almost enough for me to forfeit.

But I know better. Somewhere, on the other side of the imperceptible thread tugging me along, is a storm waiting to happen. All I need to do is be in the right place at the right time.

My mind goes blank, suddenly blazing with pain and as white as the clouds I passed moments before. Blisters cover me. I try to scream, but nothing is emitted except a wheeze of mist, and it takes every last amount of dwindling strength I have to free myself from the chastising glare of the sun.

Blistered, starving and weak, I consider surrender for the first time. I sink down, defeated, having spent the last of my vigor on fleeing from the sun, but bristling with self-loathing. I can't believe I'm just giving up—

--Heavy clouds rolling in, it looks like we're about to have one hell of a thunderstorm--

Had the frequency come seconds later, inches higher, I wouldn't have realized where to go. This is too good to be true.

Hardly daring to breathe, for fear that it might break the spell of luck, I hasten my descent as much as my knotting stomach will allow. The sallow clouds are darkening rapidly the farther down I go, and beneath the shelter of the heavy, ashen haze, the sun can no longer penetrate.

I have come to the right place, at precisely the right moment. A shudder of glee passes through me as I absorb all of the spare vapor and energy my sympathetic brothers will allow, and I swiftly grow as heavy as I am broad.

On the borders of the mass, a song begins, joining the hum of electricity, rippling inward through the accumulation and growing steadily louder as each of us lends a voice as well. Once each in the throng is harmonizing, the mists between us thicken as water to absorb. I grow heavier by the second, until the weight is nearly unbearable. Finally, I release the blessed torrent.

Our work is done. Now we must dance.

As we dance the friction between us charges us with more energy. More, more, more, until finally that too becomes unbearable.

Crack!

The first of us has released the bolt of light. In unison, we chant. The mantra is resounded below as angry thunder.

Unfortunately, as all good things do, our festivity must come to an end. After several repeats of the light emissions and our unanimous chime, we drift away.

The cowardly sun timidly creeps back out from his blanket of fluffy white clouds, who no more mock me as I go about my ways. They have seen the power of what I can do, and now they respect me.

However, this will not last for long. As I cover more distance, I feel myself shrinking. But that is no concern of mine; already, I can feel the telltale tug of another storm.

All I have to do is be in the right place at the right time.


--


12: Starlight

"Do you know much about the stars?"

Tomeii gives her inquirer a raised brow and a contemplative grimace. "Er, I know they're really far away and whatever, but I can't say I know much otherwise. Why?" she asks, the thoughtful expression shifting to a teasing grin as she looks up at the projection of the night sky. "Is Dr. Juno Lynch going to give me a lecture?"

"Not unless you would like one." It sounds like more of a statement than the optimistic question she intends, as though Juno had forgotten to mentally tack on a question mark.

"Actually, hell. Why not?"

"Really?" she asks, the delight evident in her voice this time. She adjusts her glasses, doing her best to summon the studious scientist that went into hiding in her psyche whenever the other woman was around. "Well, Ms. Tomeii, there's much to know about the stars. What would you like to learn?"

"Huh. I dunno," Tomeii replies, deliberating over her choices. "How about... constellations."

"Good choice!" Juno looks up, immediately selecting a group of stars "That's Orion the Hunter, easily identified by his belt, those three stars right there -- see?"

"Yeah."

"Just above and to the right are the Pleiades, named for deities found in many different mythologies. The Greek myth says they were placed in the heavens by Zeus due to being pursued by Orion. When he died, he also was put in the sky -- right beside them," she says, trailing off for a moment before adding, "which, you know, defeats the point of why they were there in the first place."

"Wow. Zeus was a jerk."

Juno glances at her companion with a warm smile, nodding in firm agreement. "Oh, no doubt about it. His Roman counterpart wasn't much of an improvement, if he was at all."

"His name was, oh, I know this -- Jupiter! Yeah!" She went quiet after her exclamation, looking thoughtful again. "The actual goddess Juno was his wife, right?"

At the sound of her name, she experiences an increasingly common feeling as her heart skips a beat. "Yes, but she could have done a lot better, I'm sure," Juno says, fiddling with lanyard around her neck.

"I guess it must be hard to be queen of the gods. Not a lot of control over your immortal life, huh," she muses, leaning against the wall. "Y'think I'll die someday, Doc?"

The tight feeling in Juno's chest returns. She wonders if her reaction to it is visible, but the other woman shows no sign of catching her freezing up. "It's always a possibility that you could have an aneurysm or another sort of brain defect, but the nanomachines will probably be able to take care of that if it ever happened. Your prosthetic body won't degrade otherwise."

"So, that's a no." Tomeii attempts a smile, but comes up short. "It'll be lonely at the end of the world by myself."

"I'd like to think you won't be alone," Juno answers quietly, but refuses to continue.


--


13: The Hunger

It was born on the back of a light from the sky. There it sat on the dry, brittle grass, suddenly thrown into a world that it could not comprehend. Only one thought flowed through its mind as it began to move across the ground, carried from blade of grass to blade of grass on the wind that swept down from the dark gray sky. Desperate, unstoppable hunger. It consumed every blade it came across, seeking satisfaction it seemed it would never find. And with every blade it consumed, it began to sweep faster, searching with increased desperation.

Its refuse was thrown into the sky to join the dull clouds that hung overhead, which were spitting out other flashes of light that hit the ground nearby. Brothers and sisters began to come together, joining as one in their desperate search. The sound of creatures beginning to run or take flight could be heard up ahead, though it was difficult to hear over its roar of hunger. No matter how much it consumed, it was just not enough.

Up the trunk of a tree it went, taking the brittle leaves and twig nests hidden within. Up the next, creeping inside the hollow interior to find its first live kill, a family of squirrels who never even thought to run before they too fed its insatiable appetite. On and on, consuming everything in its path and ever growing, until its light seemed to mimic that of the morning sun. It was carried by its hunger and the strong winds in an unstoppable path through the dense forest.

Suddenly a scream erupted into the air, a defiant hiss that echoed in the heavens as clear, blue liquid began to rain down upon it from above. Helicopter blades cut through the smoke as more water began to pour down, every drop like a dagger cutting into its body. But it was too large, it thought. Surely they could never hope to defeat it with such tiny weapons.

So it continued to consume what it could, trying to ignore the attack from above. But soon it found that the forest ahead was already covered in water. No matter how it tried to feed, it could not. It roared in fury again, a roar that was silenced by an assault from the ground that joined the one from the air. The streams of water cut swathes through its body, soaking the ground beneath it until it had little left to stand upon.

Its scream turned to one of desperation as the water continued to beat down upon it, driving it down out of the treetops and to the forest below. Shuddering in the powerful winds that had once driven in onward, it tried to turn, to run, but there was nowhere left to go. It was so hungry, and the water was driving away the precious life-giving oxygen. It could hardly breathe anymore.

Gasping for air and yearning for food, it made one last desperate attempt to escape across a small log that had escaped being drenched, but a stream of water caught it in the middle of the log. Its scream came out as nothing more than a hiss and a puff of steam as its strength failed and it, like so many things, fell silent.


--


14: Breeze

Breath of Heaven; whisper of the gods. I’ve been called those things, and many more. Lyrical words, immortalized by the poets of the ages. I know this – I know they personify me, as a gentle maiden, perhaps, with gold-spun hair, and they write their human accounts of my nature, so that other humans may know it too.

I am ageless, and I am unconfined. I sashay across the skin of this world, barely touching the surface, gentle and deathless; as immortal and circular as my brothers.

I am not like them, though.

My brothers are storms and rains; high screaming winds that echo across moorlands like dying wails. I am not they, and they not I. I am the sister, the one of compassion, and void of rage and destruction. I make woodlands sing in harmony by lifting the leaves of trees and skimming fading rings across the glass surfaces of lakes; it is I who touches the dresses and hair of the fair maidens I am likened to, simply because I can.

And though, as the years rot by; turning days to months, months to years, years to centuries, and centuries to millennia, I witness change in the Earth, there are forever things for me to take delight in, and touch, and dance around in giddy, giggling rings. I remember in faded, wind-swept colors those girls in their petticoats and silks, with ribbons in their hair and flowers in their hands; though they are gone now, and so are many of the places where they went to pick those blooms.

Now there are constructions that far outstrip the oldest of trees and the deepest of seas; stone and concrete and black mirrored glass. Cars and planes and ships, because humans are no longer content to stay in one place for their entire lives; mobile telephones and computers, so that they are satisfied by the level of their connections to others.

Maybe I am rather that way, too. I never stay in one place; there are too may things to see. Even in all the time I have existed, locked within my orb of birthlessness and deathlessness, I have never grown tired of my endless ballet.

Who knows what I may find?

And today I find something that I have seen a thousand times before; a thousand upon a thousand times, and still the sight instills advance within me.

A church – an old one, with ivy smothering an entire side of it; and outside, another maiden, enshrouded in white silk and frothy cream lace. She holds flowers in her hands, and she is beautiful on the stone steps.

I brush past, lift her hair and veil slightly, and make dove-shaped confetti dance at her feet. It makes me happy, and it makes her happy too, for she smiles deeper still.

The photographer smiles too, and for all to hear, says;

“There’s a nice breeze today.”


--


15: Fly

She was the one who flew—she was flight.

She flew now, spreading, filling the sky and skimming the ground. A storm was coming; she could feel it in the air, in the sounds that vibrated through her.

She flew faster.

She parted, briefly, for something cool and bitter and unforgiving—metal, she thought, but it was all the same to her anyways. Higher she rose, swirling into the treetops.

She loved trees; loved the way the leaves rustled and brushed each other when they passed, loved to weave in and out of the branches, loved how they bent and danced with her but never broke. If she listened, she could feel what they were saying with the subtle, shimmering twists in their leaves.

Rain, the trees sang now. Rain has come and rain will come again.

The trees thinned and she soared out, reluctant as always to leave, but of course she had to keep going. In the emptiness, she met grass, which was timidly playful but never nearly as much fun as trees, and water, which she watched become rolling hills beneath her. She gathered speed now, silently streamlining herself while she waited for the storm.

Past the water (she didn’t know how far because that was her life—she didn’t measure and she didn’t care, she just flew) she met them. Strange, soft beings; she’d parted to them before, but ever briefly, and never so many. They moved, almost constantly, but alone, never with the living, random rhythm of the water and the trees and her, and the sound of them shook her to the core. They weren’t as strong as trees, though they seemed to think they were, as they pushed and beat at the ground with confident, deliberate motions. They were covered in small, loose things, which she toyed at experimentally as she passed, lifting them and dropping them again.

No, she decided, they weren’t as much fun as trees.

Then, suddenly, they were gone, and the storm came. She didn’t know where it came from or what direction it came from or how it got there when she was flying her fastest—it just came. Rain fell into her and around her, and winds—other winds—roared and snapped and pulled at her trees. They didn’t even stop to listen.

She didn’t want this. She wanted to fly off on her own, to toy gently with delicate leaves and let herself feel new sounds. But the storm was strong, with its cruelly pulling winds, and soon she could resist no longer and leapt into the hungry, ripping torrent.

She no longer flew.

She destroyed.


--


16: North Wind Lullaby

The wind blew into the forest near the coast from the north, sweeping from tree to tree, softly embracing any and all animals that came into its path. Leaves picked themselves off branches and danced afloat to the silent pulse of the earth, a flutter of green, riding on the transparent back of the North Wind. A choir of flowers below on the forest ground sang their praises and well wishes in a soft tune, beautiful and pure. The wind expanded itself at this, kissing the flowers gently and in quick succession before allowing itself to fly above the treetop canopy and swirl and twirl about itself in joy once out of the forest.

The wind allowed rays of sunlight to sift through its wispy form, enjoying the feel of the heat. It flew along the coast and then, after reaching a large, rocky cliff, trailed along the side of it down to where the rock met water. It swept itself along the water’s edge, making small ripples where it touched the sea. The water murmured a sigh that came out in waves showing its agreeability at the contact. There, along the water, the North Wind allowed itself to float; a gentle breeze combed the areas near the coast, as the wind expanded itself to cover all it could. The fields swayed gently, the sea shimmered, and two ships across the way had their sails suddenly fill. The North Wind took note of the ships as they neared where it lay above the water and watched from afar with fascination.

For a while, the two ships simply swam alongside each other. Then, a yell and a rumbling from the direction of the ships piqued the curiosity of the wind and it puffed along closer to the ships. Swirling in itself, it splashed and played with the water before reaching the large ships. It filled their sails upon its arrival; the wind passed through every corridor of the ships, blowing through every person on either ship before settling itself in a position to further carry on its investigation. The men on either ship were momentarily startled as they felt a strong gust of wind pass through every inch of their body, but after it passed they turned to look at the men on their respective opposing ship and growled. The wind trailed the ships slowly.

The wind drew itself in, and then cannon fire erupted below it. Sounds flew up, yells and curses, screams and prayers, and carried themselves on the wind’s back. Debris cut into the sea, and the smoke of death filtered into the wind, defiling it. The wind was enraged. The bickering men below took no notice of the sudden shift in temperature; they boarded the others’ ships with little regard. Only when the winds whipped hard enough to knock most of them off their feet did they note how dark the sky had become; and how turbulent the sea had gotten.

The wind threw itself at fierce speeds; it whipped the sea and cut the cheeks of the men. Swirling, twirling, cutting, spinning, it extracted its revenge for their insolence. The fighting beneath it stopped as the men stared in awe. The North Wind tore through the sails, haunted every crevice of the ship, wearing away at it. The wind manipulated the water to fill the ship, causing it to become heavy and then take the ship into itself. Apologies, prayers flew to the wind. The wind shook them off.

The North Wind, its vengeance enacted, blew back up into the sky, fluttering.


--


17: Ashes

From the ashes we are born and to the ashes we return. The dead and dying must be purged to make way for the living. That’s my prerogative.

Below me lay a vast forest; it was rank with decay and the summer heat had made it brittle and weak. The cracking branches called to me like a seductive whisper. It was a melody I couldn’t resist. With the heaven’s roar as my herald, I descended upon the desiccated landscape and feasted upon a ruined pine. Its once proud branches blackened under my touch and every ounce of life was quickly drained from it.

From the ashes it was born and to the ashes it returned.

However, the stronger I grew, the more I must consume to keep the cleansing flames alive. The nearby trees and shrubs fell quickly to my allure and surrendered their remains to fuel my cause. My smoldering embers quickly exploded to a full-blown inferno. My growth accelerated as I expand unchecked in all directions.

As smoke filled the sky, birds and rodents began to flee for their insignificant lives. Many have heard the tales of the destruction I leave behind. They fear what they can never understand. They are misguided, yes, but their instincts compel them just like mine. I gave chase to the stragglers, flanking some and trapping others. Their flesh is succulent but ultimately unsatisfying. A few morsels can never satisfy the lion’s appetite.

From the west, I heard soft whispers teasing my flames. The wind was coming to encourage me on my ‘merry’ way. She always had such a way with words and knew exactly the right thing to say, “Humans to the east.”

She had always been a mischievous one. She loved to watch the chaos I unfurled.

Nightfall; darkness descends upon the landscape but my ominous glow brings a false dawn to their village. Humans, they never cease to intrigue me. I was well ahead of schedule so I decided that I could spare the time to pay the humans a visit. They provide the greatest challenge for one such as myself; a cunning prey was always more satisfying.

The humans then began to gather; first it was only a couple but the closer I drew the more I attracted. They began to surround me and pelted me with their volleys of water. It stung but their pitiful attempts to hinder me only are insufficient. What hubris. I have existed for eons and they believe they can stand in the way of my mission. I pushed harder to advance…but they only pushed back even more forcefully. I admired their courage and tenacity; however, victory goes only to the strong and they have waited to long to act.

But as the flames drew near, the heavens roared once more. However, this time it trumpeted the arrival of one of my adversaries: the clouds’ tears. The sisters of the sky wept upon the sight of my savagery, smothering the earth with its protective embrace. It would appear that the heavens have favoured the humans today. My offensive gradually came to a complete halt and now the humans descended upon me.

I will yield…for today.

We are all born from the ashes and to the ashes I return.


--


18: Storm

It's late afternoon when I awaken. The sun warming the ground, causing warm air to rise to meet the colder air aloft, gives me life. The circulation starts, giving birth to the billowing cumulus clouds that I am. I am young yet, the circulation not yet developed enough to produce more than a small shower of rain on those.

A few hours have passed, and my appearance has changed. Instead of puffy, cotton ball clouds, I'm now a towering, dark mass of water droplets. The higher winds further aloft shear off the top, giving it an anvil-like shape. Lightening and Thunder herald my approach, warning the pitiful creatures below of my growing power.

I grow stronger still. Some of the water droplets now being carried high enough that they freeze. The currents within me cause them to fall and rise again, each time the ice pellets grow in size until I can no longer hold them and they fall to earth, combining with my winds and heavy rain to destroy crops, and damage buildings. I give Thunder and Lightening free reign, their light and sound now cause fear to those below. The deluge of rain that I have unleashed so far swells in stream beds filling them to capacity, washing the debris from their banks.

I watch as that debris fouls in a pipe that goes under a road, making a dam through which the the water can not go. Harder still falls my rain, filling the stream even more, forcing it up and over the road. I frown slightly in disappointment, when I notice the creatures below have all taken shelter.

True to his own nature, Lightening finds the wires that the humans use to carry their electricity. Bright sparks and a brief fire signal the destruction of a transformer and several sections of the town below go dark. Thunders rumble afterwards and rattles the windows in the houses.

The water from several streams join together in a river, the extra water filling the river to overflowing, covering roads and finding its way into homes and businesses.

With no one outside, I find myself growing bored as I can not cause the creatures below discomfort. Thunder and Lightening are also growing tired, giving voice less and less often. I look around and see the destruction I have caused. Roads washed out, crops destroyed, and several trees and limbs litter the ground.

The rain that I have poured out reduces the clouds that are my body, causing them to thin and disperse, allowing the sun to break through and give hope to the creatures below. I have Thunder grumble in protest, but the point is moot as I have expended my energy. Like all things, my time has passed and I must come to my end. In the slanting rays of the evening, I see the sunlight glistening off that which was my rain. The still waters that cover a road, hiding the damage below its surface. My clouds disperse even more, my death is upon me, but I go with the sure knowledge that with the suns warming energy tomorrow I will be reborn. I take solace in that knowledge and allow myself to dissipate to nothing.

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Azelma
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 4:29 pm  Reply with quote

1. Guardian_Saiyoko

The grammar and comma errors are sprinkled into this story like gremplork-flavored chocolate chips, and some of your sentences (“out of the dark of my anger”) thought they were being artsy but were actually being melodramatic and boring. However, I don’t know if this one is horrible enough to get a “no” from me; it’s just not impressive enough for a “yes”.

Maybe.

I didn’t think this was your best, GS, but better than your round one entry for sure.

---

2. Merlewhitefire

DQd for word count. Not much else to say here, is there? No.

Merle, I just…I have no words.

---

3. Carmello

Very nice details and good sentence structure here, though you had a strange fragment in the first sentence of the fifth paragraph. Your subject was unique, and I think you captured its nature in your voice very distinctly. Very strong and solid entry, and an obvious yes from me. This entry ties as the strongest in the round.

---

4. Robbiepoo

It’s “judgment”. And I’m not sure about this one. It reads like a middle school writing prompt, where the teacher forces everyone to pick up their pencils and write for ten minutes about a theme that nobody wants to write about. And we really didn’t want to see subjects and ideas that a thirteen-year-old would think of in ten minutes, was the thing. This feels rushed, and I don’t know if I can pass it.

Maybe.

I was hoping this wasn’t you, Robbiepoo, but this was a big step back into your previous style of writing, and that’s a style I thought (and hoped) you’d left behind.

---
5. Drukqs

Your subject was pretty unique, but I’m not sure about the execution. You took the route that #4 did with describing humans, and though I think you did it better than they did, I don’t think you did it well, either. There wasn’t a lot that really grabbed me here; it was just kind of there, and you didn’t do a lot to make your word choice interesting. Read #3 for a good example of what I mean. As it is, this one is a maybe from me.

---

6. Pandora

From the first line of this, I knew you were ten times the writer that #5 is. You jolted me awake with your vivid, active details. You made the ordinary and recurrent interesting and new, and that’s exactly what we wanted you to do with this round. I have little more to say other than “well done”. Yes, of course, and this entry ties as the strongest in the round.

Much better, Pandora. You’re proving yourself the force to be reckoned with that I suspected you were capable of becoming.

---

7. Bender

Interesting subject choice, but thanks for reminding me how much I hated my American Novel to 1900 class. “Shall” just is not a nice word, I don’t care if you have Entropy on the line, and even if you did, wouldn’t he be a little less Simon-Cowell-at-a-tea-party? I didn’t mind the hyper-logical thinking, and the irony is actually amusing, but the other formalities didn’t work for me. Otherwise, it felt a bit pretentious, but I liked it well enough. Yes.

---

8. Rumpelteazer

The beginning and end were the strongest in this piece, for me. It seemed like you had very strong phrases in those paragraphs, but couldn’t quite keep it at the same level for the entire story, which is disappointing. However, strong beginnings and endings are very helpful tricks to master, and since you seem to understand how to use them, I must reward you with a yes.

Not melodramatic, per se, Rumpel; you just need to work on holding your audience through the whole story.

---

9. The Kaiser

My most grating (and pretty much only major) problem with this one was that some of the sentences were a bit choppy and bouncy, especially in the fourth paragraph. The narration read like a grandfather, which is a somewhat odd choice for a first snowfall, but one of those choices that seems to work, when you look back on it. Strong, solid, and yes-worthy.

And Kaiser proves that he can write something well that isn’t about Nazis. Nicely done.

---

10. Nightlark

I liked the idea of the weather forces being part of a family, as well as your use of the third person, since most of these entries have been written in first, and that’s just a touch too easy in a prompt like this one. You utterly confused all of the judges in your paragraph about when she was a human, however, and both you and #2 would do well to make good buddies with your friend “clarity”. I don’t know what laws your universe is operating under, and you need to make those things clear. That entire paragraph was also random, and read like filler to get to the minimum word count. I don’t think the flaws are dreadful enough to “maybe” this, though. Yes.

A strange detail with the reincarnation bit, Nightlark, but other than that, a nice entry, though I wasn’t surprised to see that it was yours.

---

11. Chanceless

Aww. Does the poor ickle cloud go home and cut himself because none of the other clouds want to be his friend?

Alright, it’s really not all that horrid, but the beginning and the end were a bit hokey. You had a decent middle, though, and your idea was unique, so I’m going to go ahead and say yes (at least you didn’t write about the wind).

If this were someone else, Chanceless, I’d apologize for the first paragraph because it’s not as emo as the judges snickered about, but…I know what you’re capable of. So: step it up.

---

12. Newtypegirlie

We said to, you know, write from the point of view of a force of nature, and I just wasn’t seeing a whole lot of that. It’s going to be a no from me.

I’m sorry, NTG, and hope that next time you’re a bit more careful with the prompts. One could argue that stars were a force of nature, but you pretty clearly didn’t write from their PoV, so I can’t pass this.

---

13. Dragonshadow

This had the odd feeling of a children’s book with an utterly inappropriate subject, which makes me want to snicker a little in your general direction. Your first sentence was superb, but too many inverted sentences made your story sound more bouncy than you ever intended (and if you did intend it, you shouldn’t have). Which is why it’s not my favorite of the round, but not the weakest, either. A middle-of-the-road yes.

---

14. RobinRocks

It would be oh-so-refreshing if this weren’t yet another entry about how humans don’t understand the wind. But alas. It is.

I didn’t mind this one, and it’s not necessarily your fault that everybody else wrote about the same thing, but if ten people choose the same subject, your subject likely wasn’t unique to begin with, so that’s something to consider here. However, you were one of the better entries with this theme, so I’ll give yet another wind story a yes.

You didn’t blow us away (pun oh-so-intended) like you did last time, RR, but your improvement from season one is still evident.

---

15. Echo_Nevermore

Even though this was another wind entry, the ending was interesting, with it becoming a tornado and not being happy about it. You gave your narrator a personality that many other entries failed to do; I didn’t feel like I was reading “I don’t know how to characterize nature, so I’ll just make it really pretentious and say ‘shall’ a lot”. So I’m saying yes here, without guilt, and saying that you’re one of the solid upper entries in the round. Very nice.

Knowing this is you, Echo, I don’t think it’s your best, but it says something about you as a writer that I’d think it was a fantastic effort from most others in this competition.

---

16. Kaption

This one was a little like #4. Were you in the same 7th grade writing class? And who got the better grade on that essay—because I’m not sure who’s worse, honestly. I’m not a fan of this one, and not just because it’s Yet Another Wind Story. Your sentences are boring, you name your subject too often and too blatantly, and your narrator doesn’t have a lot of personality. And since we specifically asked you for personality, you sort of needed to do that. Maybe.

---

17. MikeStormm

I loved your relationship between fire and wind, and that’s probably the core of what I like about this entry. You give the narrator (and the other characters) human emotions, personalities and quirks, and the ones you select are flawed, round and just as “human” as any traditional character. In other words, it’s exactly what I wanted people to take from this challenge, and a very clear yes from me.

Wow, MS. Somebody lit a fire under you (pun also oh-so-intended). Isn’t this an interesting turn of events…

---

18. BAColeNC

Alright, this wasn’t bad, per say, but the syntax is a little off, and reads a bit like a textbook when I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what you were going for. You need to work on having a more natural flow to your words, as well as holding the reader’s interest—because this bored me. And I don’t know if I can pass things that bore me. Maybe.

This isn’t exactly a step back from what you wrote before, BAC; the problem is, it isn’t a step forward, either, and round two requires steps forward.

---

Simon’s top picks: For me, this round had many good entries, but not many that really jolted me. There wasn’t a clear best entry this time, in my opinion, so I will say that #3 and #6 tied, with #17 close behind.

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Potassium
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 4:41 pm  Reply with quote

01. GuardianSaiyoko
You started off amazingly, dude, and not to say it was bad or nothin, but you kind of lost it in the middle, I thought. The imagery you had going at the beginning was the best, and you caught it again at the end. I still liked it a lot, and much better than some of your other entries.
// YES

02. MerleWhitefire
I wasn't on this at first, dude, but the second read was a lot better. You could have been a lot more clear with what the subject was.

Edit: NM. High five for going out on wc. AGAIN.
// NO

03. Carmello
Yes. This is what we were going for this round. I can't say much other than this is impressive, and one of the strongest in the round.
// YES

04. Robbiepoo
The first of a lot of cliche "tee hee i am wind i am playful" entries, and the worst of them all. Simon has better crit on this, but it's all the same as what I want to say. You're still stuck on that cutesy voice, dude, and we've told you to cut it out before. Way to listen to crit.
// MAYBE

05. Drukqs
A nice idea, dude, but you kind of fell flat. It wasn't bad, it just fell flat in a few spots.
// YES

06. Pandora
YES. This is easily one of the best of this round. You nailed the POV, and the voice was mature without being pretentious. Pand, if this is your third draft, I want to see what the others were.
// YES

07. Bender
This is tied with 6 and 17 for favourite. Simon doesn't like your "shalls" everywhere, but I don't care. You took a chance on a different force of nature, and you nailed it.
// YES

08. Rumpleteazer
Not the best entry of the round, but one of the better wind-related ones.
// YES

09. Kaiser
Wow, only one snow entry? This was a good little read, dude. Not too serious, not pretentious, just calm, a little cutesy, and perfect for the POV of snow.
// YES

10. Nightlark
I was with you until the human part. Really didn't need that paragraph, dude, it would have been absolutely perfect without it, but with it it confused the hell out of Simon and me but not bad enough to cut it.
// YES

11. Chanceless
With last round's entry, I was hoping for better than "I'm just a little black raincloud." You had some of the nice imagery you had last round, but the "wah" factor was up way too high.
// YES

12. Newtypegirlie
Read the prompt. There's no excuses for that, yo.
// NO

13. DragonShadow
This reads like a little kid's story about photosynthesis. You could have done a lot better with your voice.
// YES

14. RobinRocks
This is the best of the wind entries. You did what 4 failed to do, and did it with better voice and introspection.
// YES

15. Echo_Nevermore
I think I liked this more when I thought it was fire. It's not a bad wind entry -- it's actually really good, it just took a second to realize it was a tornado and not fire.
// YES

16. Kaption
Another boring wind entry. If 4 hadn't written like a 12-year old, yours would probably be the most unimpressive of the lot. You need to find a better voice for writing, because this sounds like someone pretentiously recounting the story to their buddy.
// MAYBE

17. MikeStormm
DAMN, DUDE! This is the perfect entry for this round. It's even more impressive cos I was not expecting this out of you.
// YES

18. BAColeNC
This entry walked into the round, tripped on the doorstep in the way in and fell flat on its face. You never really seemed to find the voice you were going for, and just seemed to throw this out there.
// MAYBE

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CidGregor
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 5:12 pm  Reply with quote

1: Storm in the sky by GuardianSaiyoko

I liked this one quite a bit. While most every entry was giving personification to forces of nature, I found your personification quite unique in that your storm was malicious about it. It definitely fit the mood of the storm, and the side of me that partakes in schadenfreude was amused by the way the storm laughed at its victims. I give it a thumbs up, hon!

YES

--

2: Decay by Merlewhitefire

It was interesting, hon, and good for a laugh hearing a force of nature talking to a shrink…but unfortunately you’re WAY over the word limit, which was 600. Sorry, hon.

Again, Merle? Didn’t you learn last time? 

NO

--

3: Falling by Carmello

Another very good entry; probably one of my favorites. I love how you had the waterfall describing the ‘silly humans and their wall.’ Probably my favorite line right there. I also especially like the motif about the waterfall crossing time immemorial, beyond the existence of humans both before and after. More than enough to get the go-ahead from me, hon. Good job!

YES

--

4: Zephyr by Robbiepoo

I don’t care what the other judges say, this one is actually pretty cute. It’s like the wind is a little girl having fun with with her dollies, the humans. Very cute, and very casual, and I think the little-kid persona fits the wind when taken with the comparison to the bigger cousins, the hurricanes. Thumbs up, hon.

YES

--

5: Pele by Drukqs

I’m on the fence with this one, hon. It was well-written, but it felt more like a history/mythology lesson than a piece from the POV of the lava. Try to focus on the topic a little more next time if you pass.

MAYBE

--

6: Prelude and Finale: Lines in the Sand by Pandora

This is definitely my favorite piece of the round. There’s nothing quite so impressive and intimidating as a tidal wave, and I think you pinned it perfectly; the build-up, the rush of massive power, and the eventual fading away into nothingness…beautiful. I TOTALLY approve.

YES

--

7: On Inevitability by Bender

A very unique choice, and well-presented. I like that you chose such a challenging subject, and further, definitely rose to the challenge. It was kind of like how one might perceive death; neither malicious nor merciful. Your last line was particularly powerful, as well. Thumbs up, hon!

YES

--

8: Turn by Rumpleteazer

A solid entry, but like some entries last round, it was a little dull. It didn’t really jump out and grab me, and a force as powerful as a hurricane should be able to do that. Try to stand out next round, hon!

YES

--

9: First Day by TheKaiser

This is definitely the cutest piece yet. Very warm and fuzzy and all kinds of adorable. A bit surprising that this is you, Kaiser, I don’t usually see ‘cute’ from you. Very nice.

YES

--

10: Windswept by Nightlark

A solid piece here, though I think #1 captured the ‘malicious’ thing a little better. The whole paragraph about how she used to be human was kind of weird, I wasn’t sure why that came up, but on the whole it was a good story. You’re moving on!

YES

--

11: Gray by Chanceless

It was decently written, hon, but your rain-cloud was awfully emo. Almost detrimentally so. It got better as it went, but your first piece was so much better. Think you dropped the ball a bit, but not TOO badly. I still say you can pass to the next round. Beware in the future of being overly emo, though.

YES

--

12: Starlight by Newtypegirlie

It was certainly unique from the rest of the entries with the dialogue, and as a story I liked it, but it really didn’t follow the prompt very well at all. I couldn’t identify the force of nature barely at all, and it definitely didn’t seem to be from its point of view. Sorry, hon, this just doesn’t meet the challenge we set for you.

NO

--

13: The Hunger by DragonShadow

It took me a couple of read-throughs to get this one, but I liked it well enough. Again, however, it could have been a little more compelling. Take a few notes from #17, that author did the fire idea considerably better. Yours wasn’t terrible though. More than good enough to pass. Nice work!

YES

--

14: Breeze by RobinRocks

I do have to agree with my fellow judges, unfortunately for 4, that this did the wind idea significantly better. The more mature feel definitely did work for this piece, and the last few lines were really memorable. Very good work, one of the better entries this round!

YES

--

15: Fly by Echo_Nevermore

I’m agreeing with K here, I liked it better when I thought it was something else, although I thought it was another hurricane first, rather than fire, like K thought. Points for being the only one to write a tornado, but this was again one of the entries that really didn’t grab me. The writing was good and definitely passable, just a little boring. Try to stand out in the future, hon!

YES

--

16: North Wind Lullaby by Kaption

Quite a few wind entries. Glad to see yours was a specific wind, I definitely think that was a good choice for standing out. A solid piece, and I swear half of me was picturing Pirates of the Carribean reading about the battling ships. Which may have been the point, hehe. Good work!

YES

--

17: Ashes by MikeStormm

THIS is the way to do fire. The ashes to ashes lines as the beginning and end were perfectly crafted and perfectly placed, and the mischievous wind was cool too. I also liked something I saw in #3 as well, the futility of the humans’ efforts to contain the force of nature, how only another force of nature was able to push it back. This is easily among my favorites. Very much moving on, hon, great work!

YES

--

18: Storm by BAColeNC

You kept spelling Lightning wrong. That was really, really glaring, hon. *wince*

It was okay….but only just. I was a bit bored by it. And the spelling errors didn’t help. I’m on the fence, hon.

MAYBE

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:36 am  Reply with quote

After lots of re-reading and a deep discussion on the meaning of crit, we've decided. Remember that if you've got questions, ask in the discussion thread.

This time, we're sayin peace out to Remix177, MerleWhitefire, newtypegirlie, Robbiepoo, and BAColeNC! We're sorry to see y'all go, but thanks for comin out and participating!

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Azelma
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:41 am  Reply with quote

Congratulations to the contestants who are moving on in the competition. And now, without further delay...

ROUND THREE DETAILS

One of the most elusive writing tricks to master is the "blow gun story": an extremely short piece of writing that manages to be powerful because of its brevity. For round three, we are going to ask you to write a blow gun story.

You will write a piece that is EXACTLY 50 WORDS for this round. Not 49. Not 51. Any theme is acceptable for this round, though be mindful that your goal this time is to present a powerful story that affects the reader even more because it is so short. You may NOT write poetry for this round, as it defeats the purpose of the challenge (it's not nearly as hard to write a 50-word poem).

Entries are due MONDAY, AUGUST 27TH, 10 PM EST. Let's not have anybody forget to enter this time, alright?

Good luck! Ask if you have questions.

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

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Azelma
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:58 pm  Reply with quote

And now, let's welcome the ROUND THREE ENTRIES

-----

1: Burnt Out
You followed the wisp-o-will’s eerie green blink; caught it, twisted the cap on tight, and admired its captive flash under glass. Eventually the glistening jar was left in the yard.

You forgot.

Next day, with the torrid July sun glaring down, six neatly tucked and upturned legs sealed your guilt.

---

2: Fifty Freestyle
This was it. All the hard work; all the long practices; all the sweat and pain and ice. Everything was about to pay off. All the walks home where he felt he wouldn't make it; trudging through snow and heat. The official raised the gun, and fired. He was off.

---

3: Not You
I’m bleeding. How could I ever be happy about that? I already know the answer as I lie here in the cold unyielding street, staring up into your deep violet eyes. I can see your tears, but still I continue to smile. I smile because it’s me and not you.

---

4: Incest
Love from Daddy is supposed to be reassuring. But when Daddy presses me to him, his pilgrim hands and lips exploring new territory, when he whispers, "I love you" into my ear, I get this fluttery sick feeling in my stomach instead of warm reassurance. Love scares me.

---

5: The Hill
We must reach the hill.

Rampant footsteps meld into a thunderous rhythm through the mud. Shells and grenades jolt the earth all around. Men fall and are swallowed by the muddy earth. We must press on.

Screams echo from behind; we’re being flanked.

If only we can reach the hill…

---

6: Outstretched
She staggers through the rain-drenched field, tumbling along in the slick grass. She flings her head up just in time to see the lightning, a bolt that slices the sky in half and streaks out like grasping fingers.

Water hurtles into her open mouth. She chokes on her own breath.

---

7: Greetings
"Hello. Welcome to Wal-Mart."

Oh, Grace. If you could see me, you'd be ashamed.

"Welcome, ladies."

I fill my hours with plastic smiles. It's all I can do to pay for your little pine box and chrysanthemums.

"Hello, sir. Welcome."

But I'd do anything for you, Grace.

"Welcome…"

Even this.

---

8: Therapy
Now I’m in college, I miss having time to go out and do things. It seems all of my free time is taken up by studying these days, or work, or even studying at work. One thing will never change, though.

I will always have time for Tuesday night karaoke.

---

9: Finalement, la Reine
The scaffold before her glimmered with wine red. She strode forward with her rushing thoughts: loss, liberation. Surrounded by sad “revolutionaries” clamoring for the false and elusive, she felt simplicity—

“Pardonnez-moi, monsieur.”

--as freeing. Jolting. Monsieur, too, was puzzled; he frowned. She lowered her head.
The blade fell swiftly.

---

10: (untitled)
It wasn’t like he was a detective; someone who should automatically think of conspiracy, lies, betrayal…

It wasn’t like he drew his gun from beneath his coat; avowed, for her sake, true justice.

It was just, when she hit the sidewalk, he couldn’t help but think that she’d been pushed.

---

11: The Fall
“Rally, men, for your City, for your God!” The Emperor’s voice barely carried over the clamor. “Lord forgive us”, he heard from the soldier to his left. Turning, he beheld the heathen banner over the Kerkoporta. He threw off his royal cloak and charged. I shall die with my City.

---

12: Black Prayer
There’s been a complication.

My belly pulses white with pain. The nurse’s coaching reaches me in colors rather than sounds, a mixture of anxious yellows and impatient, greedy pinks. She’s waiting. Everyone’s waiting. Eighteen hours of waiting.

Please, God. If it's a life you want, take the child’s. Spare me.

---

13: Laundromat
Somewhere, there is an idyllic grey field, where the pink and white birds forever fly in an elliptical pattern. There are leopards running across the fields, and millions of multicolored flowers.

And then the dryer stops. It’s still damp.

I insert another quarter. I’ll put it on high this time.

---

14: It’s okay.
I woke up today, covered in viscous fluids, and realized I didn’t exist anymore. This fact didn’t fully hit me even when I noticed the room I had been sleeping in was not my room; and saw this house was not my house. After seeing my parents-happy-it finally sunk in.

---

15: Afterwards
With the death of friends he would suffer, naturally, and move on. They would in time fade in his memory, and this came to hurt worse than losing them the first time.

“The greatest thing I ever did for you,” he would say to their graves, “was to outlive you.”

-----

Discuss!

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing
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Azelma
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 12:10 pm  Reply with quote

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...

------

1. Carmello

I liked this one. I thought second person was appropriate here because of the accusatory tone. The “wisp-o-will” was confusing, but everything else here was good. I have little to critique here. You've still got it, Carmello.

Yes.

---

2. The Kaiser

I nominate this entry for the Suck Up to Simon 2007 award. Will your next entry be about Japanese-speaking kittens playing DDR? I honestly didn’t find this all that spectacular, especially with regard to diction and the tight word limit, but the clever title gave it a bit more pull with me. Oh, and for future reference, I am a distance swimmer. Yes.

(Backstroke sucks 4 reelz, Kaiser. Fly FTW lolz.)

---

3. DragonShadow

And her name was Kymberleigh Chrysanthemum Isabella Raven Lilac Hunter Sue. Sorry, but emo doesn’t score points, nor does cliché; your entry was both, and for that, I am going to have to say no.

I dunno, DS, you just...seem to keep writing the same kinds of things, and sooner or later, those things aren't enough as the competition gets harder.

---

4. Chanceless

I am enraged at you for going under the word limit. Because this is one of the round’s best entries. Chilling, powerful, and anything but emo, you really hit the mark hard here, Chanceless, and I think the lesson you should learn here is that not everything is ‘emo’ just because it’s not sunshine and flowers. It’s ‘emo’ if it’s badly-written, uninteresting angst. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you have to write a certain kind of story—you should write the stories that are in your heart, not the ones that you think people want to hear. It was clear which category this story fell into. Maybe.

---

5. MikeStormm

Your stumble here was using your title twice in a fifty word story, in the first and last sentence, no less. Repetition like that makes both lines and the title lose all their strength, which leaves you high and dry when it comes to doing what we asked you to do. Maybe.

Major step back, MS.

---

6. Nightlark

The only thing that really bothers me about this was when Cid brought it up in discussion, I couldn’t remember what #6 was about. In other words, it didn’t really stand out, but the writing and imagery are both good. I’m not exactly sure why it didn’t stand out, but I thought you might want to be aware of it. Still, yes.

---

7. Pandora

This one was a little clumsy. Some of the diction seemed off for the narrator (“Oh, Grace” and “It’s all I can do” were pushing the melodramatic envelope, and s/he seemed more hopeless than melodramatic), and the italics kind of broke up the flow. It’s not terrible, but rather bottom of the barrel for me. Maybe.

Substantial step back, Pandora, but one that you may be able to recover from.

---

8. GuardianSaiyoko

This one, again, didn’t really stand out to me (which is odd because many of your entries have, in the past), and I would have been okay with cutting it on grounds of it being boring and not saying anything powerful, but the other two judges like it, so you got lucky. Maybe from me.

---

9. Rumpelteazer

The thing that bugged me about this one was the broken sentence, “simplicity—as freeing” didn’t make a lot of sense when you read it together. That snag kept it from being one of the top entries for me, but most everything else about this is good. Yes.

---

10. RobinRocks

Your sentences were a little convoluted for me, which made it hard to find your main point. Once I found it, it was fine, but on first reading, I didn’t like it too much. Also, you really need a title. Yes.

---

11. Rocketman

Hey, guess what? Your middle school creative writing teacher called. She wants to let you know that you’re supposed to start a new paragraph when new characters speak. Maybe that was the day you were staring out the window, but you’re going to face the consequences now. No.

---

12. Rikkugrrl

This one’s very good. I don’t know if the explicit “colors rather than sounds” was necessary because you made it quite clear in the rest of the sentence, but other than that, I liked it very much. This one and #4 tie for me as the strongest entry, but I could be persuaded to give the title to you because of #4’s word count negligence. Good job. Yes, obviously.

Now if I'd told you last night that I knew it was you, sis, it would have ruined all the fun. Wink

---

13. Drukqs

You had a comma in the second sentence where you didn’t need one, and I would have liked to see you explain the connection between the field and the dryer a little better, but it’s not bad. I like the incongruence in tone from the first paragraph and the last two. Yes.

---

14. Kaption

It took me several reads and a judge consultation to get this, and if the entries were better, I might not have bothered to get it, so please be mindful of making yourself clear in the future. When your meaning became clear, this was obviously one of the better entries, though it was leaning a bit towards the annoying pro-life propaganda in some places. Yes because you didn’t say, “Why don’t you love me, Mommy?”

---

15. Bender

Like #6, this didn’t really stand out, but your diction is good and the idea is somewhat interesting, so I’m going to pass it. Yes.

------

Simon’s top picks: 12, 4, 1

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing
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CidGregor
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 12:41 pm  Reply with quote

1: Burnt Out by Carmello

I’ve been told ‘wisp-o-will’ is in fact an acceptable version of the phrase, but nevertheless it sounds much more awkward and out of place than the more common ‘will-o-wisp’ and I really don’t know why you would choose the weird-sounding one. Other than that though, a nice, honest piece that felt very true-to-life and just the sort of thing any of us might have done. Good work.

YES

--

2: Fifty Freestyle by TheKaiser

Someone’s sucking up to Azelimon. Razz

Seriously though, while this piece taken by itself is simply ‘okay’ and not overly spectacular, when I caught sight of the title I instantly wanted to applaud you for a very well-used double-entendré. That really saved you. Nice work.

YES

--

3: Not You by DragonShadow

Mmm….I get the message you were going for, and it was a good attempt, but it came across as a little too melodramatic. This is on the edge for me, hon.

You were right, DS, I guess brevity really isn’t your forté.

MAYBE

--

4: Incest by Chanceless

This seriously made me shudder in horror…in a good way. Very powerful, very shocking, and very daring for such a short word limit. This was honestly the best entry of the round by far…so much so that it’s a shame you slipped on the word count. However, we may well make an exception this time…provided you realize that this will effectively expire all your leeway for future rounds. Cross your fingers, Chanceless.

MAYBE

--

5: The Hill by MikeStormm

There really wasn’t much to this one…just sort of a brief glance at a random war scene that didn’t have any real personality to it. Which left it feeling rather empty and dull. Sorry, hon, I wasn’t feeling this one.

NO

--

6: Outstretched by Nightlark

It was okay, hon, but this was one of those that was kind of forgettable in the face of much stronger entries. This is very middle of the road, so it passes for now, but try to stand out next time!

YES

--

7: Greetings by Pandora

Not quite your best work, but I definitely get your message and I liked it. I also found myself wondering what the narrator’s name was, because if it’s Tedd, I will need to give you a very fangirlish hug. I think you know why. Wink Thumbs up, Panda!

YES

--

8: Therapy by GuardianSaiyoko

Impartially, this story was okay, not phenomenal. However this struck a major chord with me personally, because I know EXACTLY what this entry is talking about. I too adore weekly karaoke (my night is Monday, hehe), and it’s always so freeing and enjoyable. Definitely gives it the edge it needed with me. Bravo, hon!

YES

--

9: Finalement, la Reine by Rumpleteazer

Agreeing with Azelimon here, that broken sentence really made me stop and wonder for a minute, but it’s the only real downside to an otherwise solid entry. Unusual and creative title, too. Good job!

YES

--

10: (untitled) by RobinRocks

Found myself wishing for a title here, but not a huge deal.

I definitely liked the mystery aspect of it though. I think this could work very, very well as the opening lines to a crime drama or murder mystery. It’s a great hook. See if you can use it someday, eh? Wink

YES

--

11: The Fall by Rocketman

What Azelimon said. New paragraphs for new speakers. No exceptions. I know you know this, and it’s kind of jarring that you made such a glaringly obvious error. I dunno, hon, that was really sloppy.

MAYBE

--

12: Black Prayer by Rikkugrrl

Definitely one of the better entries this round; it didn’t hit me QUITE as powerfully as 4 and 14, but it was right up there with them as far as strength of words and refusal to pull punches. Great work, girl!

YES

--

13: Laundromat by Drukqs

A cute comparison, sweetie, and one I’m sure many of us have made in our time sitting bored in front of the drying machine, hehe. A bit forgettable but the least so of the entries I’ve mentioned this about. Just a little more ‘oomph’ and you’ve got it down. Good work!

YES

--

14: It’s Okay by Kaption

It took all of us judges more than one look to really get it, but we all liked it much better once we did. As Azelimon said, be careful with confusing your readers like that, not everyone’s gonna be dedicated or observant enough to take the time to ‘get’ things that are too subtle. Otherwise a very strong piece, and I don’t think it was really as preachy as Azelimon suggests, but I suppose that’s exactly the sort of reactions a piece like this is designed to create. In other words, outstanding!

YES

--

15: Afterwards by Bender

Agreeing with Azelimon again; decent entry and a mildly interesting subject, but falls into the category of being kind of forgettable. Work on standing out a little more next round.

YES

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Potassium
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:35 am  Reply with quote

We can say it's deliberate suspense rather than having no time for internet inbetween work and class. Randy enjoyed this round's entries.

01. Carmello
I liked the second person here. I can't say much, dude, other than good job.
// YES

02. Kaiser
It's not bad, per se, man, it just doesn't stand out that much. There's nothing powerful about it.
// MAYBE

03. DragonShadow
I expected better out of you. The next time you think about writing about death and sadness, dude, don't. Also, Taking Back Sunday wants their idea back.
// NO

04. Chanceless
This is the most powerful entry of the round, and is tied for my favourite despite being two words under. Next time, though, read the rules carefully, because you could prove God's existence and we still wouldn't pass you.
// MAYBE

05. MikeStormm
There's good suspense, and then there's this. There's nothing here to make me interested in why they need to get to the hill.
// MAYBE

06. Nightlark
Another good one, and one of the better ones, but I was the same as Azelimon -- it didn't stand out when I went to remember what one it was.
// YES

07. Pandora
I'm with the others here, man, it's definitely not your best work. You definitely took a step back from last time with this one, but not so much that you can't get it back.
// YES

08. GuardianSaiyoko
Not your best, and another one that just doesn't stand out at all. I like it, dude, but keep in mind that I would have cut it had others not been as stale as they were. I know the feeling you were going for, and I'm totally there with you, but this is one of those ones that were very middle of the road. Not daring, not touching, no impact left on me.
// YES

09. Rumpleteazer
I'm gonna disagree with the other judges and say the broken sentence didn't bother me. One of the better entries of the round.
// YES

10. RobinRocks
A good entry with a good level of suspense, but not one that particularly stood out against some others. I like the noir feeling of it.
// YES

11. Rocketman
You and Mike can go hang out and write terrible suspense with sloppy grammar and no real hook.
// MAYBE

12. Rikkugrrl
Tied with 4 for favourite here. The use of colours was what made it for me. The end was a nice twist -- not too much, not too little.
// YES

13. Drukqs
I actually liked this one quite a lot. Not as much as 4 or 12, but one of the best of the less serious ones.
// YES

14. Kaption
Yeah, dude, took me a few times to get it. At first we all thought it was suicide, and I actually also thought it was murder, but once I got what it really was, it actually made me like it more. But yeah, dude, watch that you make yourself clearer when you can.
// YES

15. Bender
Now see what I like, dude, is that I have trouble telling which entries are yours every week.
// YES

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CidGregor
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 4:40 pm  Reply with quote

And now to business. Today I am afraid we must say goodbye to DragonShadow, MikeStormm, and Rocketman. Thank you guys so much for playing, and definitely come back to try again!

--

And now, all you remaining contestants....on to round 4.

As a writer it can be easy to get caught up in big, intelligent words, mature themes, and fancy styles trying to appeal to an audience their own age, when sometimes, simple and clean is best. For this round we're going to force you to do this in the best way possible.

You're going to write a children's story.

Length will not be stressed, but the goal is to keep it short, sweet, and simple. If it's over 1000 words, it's too long. If an 8-year old couldn't understand it, it's too complicated. HOWEVER, in trying to be succinct and simple enough for children, do not make the mistake of being condescending. Writers should never talk down to their audience no matter how old they are. In other words, keep it appropriately simple without looking down your nose at your audience.

Entries will be due THURSDAY, SEPT 20TH at 10PM EST. Good luck!

(and believe it or not, this was NOT Azelimon's idea. Razz )

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Azelma
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 11:18 pm  Reply with quote

1 – Planet Earth

A very long time ago, somewhere very far away from here, there was a toy store. It was like any other toy store, really, except this toy store sold planets. Clouds, water, and ice was usually sold as extra.

One day, a little girl wandered into the shop. After eyeing the planets for a long time, the man at the counter became curious as to what she was doing.

“Would you like to buy a planet?” He asked.

So absorbed was she in the display that the girl was startled by the man’s voice. Nonetheless, she turned around to face him and nodded. “I-I’d like to buy a Jupiter...”

“Sure thing! That’ll be seven fifty.”

She stared at her feet “Oh...I only h-have...” She stammered “...s-six fifty...”

“Sorry. All planets are seven fifty.”

Her head lowered even more “Okay...I’ll come back next week, then.” The girl made her way out of the store.

“Wait!”

She stopped.

“I think you’d like this then, maybe. I’m putting on sale next week, but I’ll let you buy it now.” He took out a planet. It was slightly smaller than the rest, but it was a beautiful blue and green. The girl’s eye widened.

“I can...?”

He nodded. “I know it’s smaller than usual, but this one is different: It comes with life.”

“...Life?”

“Yes.” He added “At first it’s just little cells. But then all kinds of stuff starts popping up, like fish, cats, dogs, dinosaurs. Even people.”

The girl was delighted. She gave him her six dollars and fifty cents, and he put it in a plastic bag for her. Before she left, she asked him one last question.

“What’s the name of it?”

“Earth!”

2 – How Penguins Lost Their Colors (or: Not Another Penguin Story)

Penguins, it's said, did not always wear black.
The night that they started goes many years back.

Once long ago, they wore colorful stripes.
They played all day long and they partied all night.

The penguins were very afraid of the sea.
The spotted seals there were the birds' enemy.

The seals often ate them, this colorful dish,
but there was one seal that would eat only fish.

His name was Simon, and he always was nice
to all of the penguins that lived on the ice.

The other seals shunned him and often were rude:
"We don't like Simon. He plays with his food."

But Simon ignored them. He always had friends
in the bright colored penguins he'd sworn to defend.

Then one day nearby a man ship appeared,
not realizing just how far south it had steered.

Each hungry sailor was in a bad mood.
"We're going to starve if we don't find some food!"

They scanned near and far for things they could eat,
and saw in the distance some colorful meat.

"Those birds might taste good if they're roasted and spiced."
So they gathered their gear and set sail for the ice.

They landed their boats just as the sun set
and thought, "How many birds can we fit in one net?"

Even in the dark they were easy to spot.
In a very short time, each small penguin was caught.

"Help us," they cried as they were dragged to the boats,
"or we'll surely be eaten and made into coats!"

Simon heard them call out from the ocean nearby.
He leapt into action with an angry war cry.

"Let my friends go!" he yelled angrily,
and he bit and he roared and he bared his white teeth.

The sailors were frightened and they turned to run,
but sadly one man shot him with a gun.

Simon chased them away fast as he could go
and when the ship left he fell down in the snow.

He never got up, and the penguins were sad.
They'd lost the best seal friend that they'd ever had.

He'd saved all their lives, this heroic seal,
and gave up his own life to end the ordeal.

And after all that, although they had won,
they couldn't thank Simon for all that he'd done.

But then they thought maybe in some way he'd know
if somehow they could make their gratitude show.

"Let's all do something to remember him by."
So they took off their colors and gave them to the sky.

The penguins wore black out of grief for the dead
and the colors they gave up flew by overhead.

So the penguins showed Simon their thanks in this way,
and that is why penguins wear black to this day.

3 – Summer Love

The birds were screaming that night. Olivia could hear them as she lay in her pup tent, frozen by the strange sounds, and the darkness of night. The desperate squawking eventually forced her to rise out of her tent, scramble across the yard to the old slanted coop. They were her chickens, the same ones she had hand picked from the hatchery a couple months back, just shivering little balls of fluff. She gave them each names, clucked and mimicked them scratching in the sawdust, and spent every weekend she was allowed, visiting them at her aunt’s farm. She had tried to sleep in the coop the first weekend, but her aunt had refused. She camped out on the lawn instead, inside the fence where the grass was a short vivid green. Outside the fence the grass was long; wheat colored, rolled on for miles, and harbored all sorts of creatures. She wouldn’t have minded sleeping out in the fields either, but her aunt was firm and said the lawn was good enough.

It was good enough, because she could stay close to her chicks.

She pulled on the handle to the door, moving the thick wooden block in front of it and stood hesitantly in the small opening. She could smell the clean chicken must, sawdust, and straw in the warm darkness. But she knew something was wrong since there were no questioning squeaks of greeting. She could only hear a flurry of churning feathers. She tightly gripped a broomstick by the doorway, swung it into the darkness, slamming it against the chicken wire. She hollered loudly, trying to scare out whatever was terrorizing her chicks. Her pounding made the entire structure shudder, but it was her nine-year-old yells that turned the porch light on, and brought her aunt out into the summer night.

In her long flowing nightgown floating across the lawn, she looked like a beautiful ghost; minus the shotgun clutched in her hand.

Olivia was swept up in her embrace, crushed with her compassion, and then set aside while she stepped fearlessly into the coop, gun and flashlight in hand.

Olivia stood there, frightened, angry, and cold, waiting for some sign. After a moment of shifting shadows from the flashlight, her aunt reemerged, cradling a small bundle in her arms.

“I’m sorry Livvy, a raccoon got in there somehow. Good thing you were out here, or else it might have been able to carry one of them off.” The pile of rags in her arm gave off a miserable peep, and Olivia rushed over to see, dread twisting inside her with each step.

“Livvy, stay back, she’s injured; the raccoon had her cornered, poor thing wedged between the walls. It’s a lucky one too, otherwise she would be dead.”

“Aunt Peggy, what… which one is it?” Olivia’s voice trembled, holding back tears.

Her aunt looked sternly down at her niece, trying to find the words to tell the frantic girl before her. Instead, she just slowly lowered the cover and let her see the red and black feathers.

“She will be alright; since she was backed up in that little cranny the raccoon couldn’t reach. But she didn’t escape completely- coon scratched her face up a bit.”

Olivia hiccupped and moaned out “Rosa…” before finally allowing herself to cry.

Her aunt, her strong aunt, bundled both the girl and the bird up, and carried them inside the warm house. There was hot cocoa for the girl, warm water and antiseptic for the hen. Olivia refused to leave the Rosa alone, and they both ended up sleeping in the living room. Olivia curled up in a nest of blankets, and Rosa in a cat-carrier right next to her.

Peggy smiled at the sight, though her heart ached for the both of them. Morning would see if the chicken really had been able to survive through the attack.

--

Rosa survived. In fact, she woke Olivia up the next morning with her curious clucking and ruffling. The young hen, even though she was the smallest in the flock, had proven herself to be very tough. She recovered quickly, drinking and eating out of Olivia’s hand that very day. Her injury affected her very little, except when she was allowed free roam. When there were no walls to huddle up against, no guiding hand, Rosa just froze wherever she was, completely still and silent. Olivia would have to go rescue the bird and lead her back to an area she recognized. However, it was a disaster when they tried to put her back in the coop. The other birds harassed her, bullied and snatched food right from under her.

Olivia didn’t let the blinded bird leave her side from then on, and Rosa stuck to Olivia with the same intensity. Rosa would follow the girl’s wake wherever she went, able to hear the sound of her footfalls. She ate out of the girl’s hand with gentle crooning clucks. She began trusting the girl whenever she was picked up. Instead of tensing and fighting like the other birds, Rosa just limply accepted it when she was scooped up, even to the point of falling asleep in Olivia’s arms.

They both drank in the other’s presence, and took comfort in it; Olivia for having a bird that acted more like a feathered cat than a chicken, and Rosa for having someone that cared enough to lead her through an otherwise unlivable situation.

It was Olivia’s first summer of love.

4 – Howard and John

Howard and John, two boys at school
Didn’t like lessons, and thought it was cool
To bring seltzers to Chemistry and gum into Gym;
Teacher got mad, but like they listened to him.
So mad, in fact, that he shouted aloud:
“You two, stop throwing those footballs around!
Get over here, and pay close attention!
You two are headed straight for detention!
Gum’s not allowed, you know the rules;
Now stop acting like a pair of fools
And get yourselves going!”
Which they did, but not before throwing
Their gum on the floor, to which it did stick
And made the other kids not run nearly so quick.
“Detention’s for losers,” said John, pink slip in his hand;
“Right,” agreed Howard, his tone rather bland.
“I know,” he said, “we’ll just not go,
And instead find something to throw
Or blow up, or destroy up to the point
Where it’d be in our best interest to blow this joint.”
“Great idea, Howard,” said John with a smile,
“Delinquency makes school all worth the while.”
And so off they went, Howard and John
To see for themselves what was going on
And just what they could find to vandalise
And scrawl their names on for teachers to scandalise.
The school halls were empty, and so very quiet –
And so Howard and John made quite the riot
Outside the Maths room, until they were seen
By Mr Patterson, who wasn’t keen
On their dancing and singing hullabaloo
And their banging and crashing and rattling too.
“Howard and John!” Mr Patterson cried,
“Stop making that racket and get inside
That classroom right now and quieten down
Or I’ll send you straight to Principal Brown!”
“But this isn’t our classroom, Mr P,” said John.
“Then go,” said Mr Patterson, “and move yourselves on.”
So Howard and John went on their way,
Glad they hadn’t got another detention that day.
“I’m bored,” announced John; “what shall we do?”
“We could coat the computer keys with crazy glue
And laugh when they stick,” Howard suggested,
“Though I’m sure the technician would have us arrested.”
“Seems kind of pointless,” said John with a sigh.
“Then let’s go to the lab and see what catches our eye,”
Said Howard, to bring cheer to his friend.
“There are acids to mix and test tubes to bend
And cool things to throw and explosives to steal
And wrap up to put under the principal’s wheel.”
And so off they went, to the Chemistry lab;
Howard took up the chalk and wrote CALL ME A CAB
Up on the blackboard, for all to see
Along with the phone number of the teacher, Miss Alley.
“Hey, I found acid!” Cried John in delight,
“Let’s put something in it and see if it might
Bubble and fizz and all melt away
And if does, we can have fun for the rest of the day!”
“Brilliant,” said Howard, and aimed with the chalk,
Throwing it across rather than walk—
It fell in with a splash and fizzled and foamed;
John watched it in awe while Howard roamed
Around the lab, looking for more things to melt –
A dead rat, some goggles and a four-wheel drive fan belt
All went into their devious potion
And all causing quite a commotion
Down there in the acid filling the vat;
“Oh dear,” said Howard, “must be the rat.”
“This doesn’t look good,” said John, looking grim.
Howard chucked in some keys before looking at him;
“Do you know how to stop it?” He asked, as in went some grass
“No,” replied John; “I slept during Chem class.”
But suddenly Howard was struck with a plan
(A terrible one – they just should have ran)
“That’s it, I’ve got it!” He said with a grin.
“We’ll put all the leftover seltzers in!
That ought to calm it, don’t you agree?”
“Sure,” said John, “sounds good to me.”
So they pulled out the seltzers and threw them all in—
Which caused an explosion that made quite the din
Blew up the Chem lab and half the Maths block
Reducing it all to rubble and rock.
All survived, except Howard and John,
Who were, put frankly, quite simply gone…
At least in body, for nothing was found
Of them both, though the teachers searched all around.
In a memorial assembly, Principal Brown
Said, indeed with a very forced frown:
“It was tragic, you see, but for the best:
Howard and John were a couple of pests.”
But that isn’t all, because Howard and John
Were blown up by seltzers, but still not quite gone:
Their ghosts roamed the school, and Casper they weren’t
All the school’s copies of Othello they burnt.
In fact, Howard and John rather liked being ghosts
Being exempt from detention was one of their boasts;
Last year they threw eggs at the Homecoming Queen,
And at least they have fun on Halloween.

5 – Miracle

Elisa was having the worst Christmas ever, and it wasn’t even Christmas yet.

It hadn’t even snowed yet, for one thing. There were just two days until Christmas, and they were still waiting for snow. They hadn’t had a chance to decorate the house, either, because Elisa’s parents were too busy working.

So Elisa was just stuck sitting on the couch while her sister watched Rent for the seven millionth time. The song Elisa liked was playing, though, the really fast one, when everyone shouted a whole bunch of words that she didn’t really understand.

“Keira,” she asked her sister, “what’s this movie about?”

“It’s hard to explain,” said Keira, staring at the screen.

Elisa rolled her eyes; Keira always said that when she wanted to ignore you.

“So… what’s this song about?” she asked.

“Lots of things,” said Keira. “Look, you shouldn’t even be watching this, it’s inappropriate!”

“How come?” said Elisa. “Do they swear?”

“A little—”

“Are they naked?”

“It’s just inappropriate, okay?” Keira frowned and paused the movie. “Why can’t you go play with Ollie or something?”

Elisa sighed. “’Cause he’s watching basketball in the living room with Dad.” Oliver was Elisa’s twin brother. He was usually fun, except for times like now, when he was all obsessed with boy things.

Keira smiled slightly. “Sorry, Lise.”

“It’s okay,” said Elisa with a sigh. “I’m going to go play in my room. Let me know if Uncle Jake gets here, okay?” Elisa’s Uncle Jake was her favorite uncle in the world; he was supposed to be flying up from Georgia today to stay with them. At least that would make this Christmas better, she thought.


Elisa stayed in her room for a long, long time, playing on the computer and then reading comic books when she got tired of that. She could hear music from Keira’s movie, and Oliver and Dad shouting at the basketball game, and it seemed like forever before she heard the sound of her mom opening the door.

Elisa grinned, tackling her mother as she walked into the house.

“Hey, sweetie,” said Mom, smiling. “How was your day?”

“Good,” Elisa said. She always said good, even if her day hadn’t been all that great; mostly because Mom would start asking a bunch of questions if she said she had a bad day, and Elisa would always get bored and want to go play tag with Ollie. “When’s Uncle Jake coming?”

Mom stopped smiling then, and Elisa knew her Christmas was about to get worse.

“Honey… I have some bad news.” She took Elisa’s hands. “Some things came up with his work, and Uncle Jake’s not going to be able to come.”

Elisa stared at her mother, eyes widening.

“You promised,” she said.

Mom sighed. “I know, sweetie, I know. But sometimes… these things just happen.”

Elisa nodded, pretending she was okay, and that she didn’t mind.

She waited until she got back into her room; then she started crying.


It was 11 PM, and Elisa was sitting on the living room couch.

She hadn’t been able to sleep; she was too upset about Uncle Jake and Christmas and how everything was ruined. So after Ollie fell asleep, she snuck out of bed and came out here.

She was staring out the window when she heard something behind her.

“Lise?” said a voice.

Elisa turned around to see Ollie standing in the doorway, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

“Hi, Ollie,” she said. It shouldn’t have surprised her that he knew where she was—they could usually tell when the other was upset, or sick, or in danger. Not that they’d ever been in much danger, of course.

He sat next to her on the couch. “What’s up?” he said.

“Nothing,” Elisa said.

Ollie smiled. “Something is,” he said.

Elisa could never lie to him. “It’s just… just that… that Uncle Jake can’t come and our stupid Christmas is ruined! Everything’s ruined!” she said. She almost started to cry again.

Ollie reached out, gently, and held her hand. “I’m sorry,” he said. “And I’m sorry I’ve kind of been ignoring you, with the basketball and stuff. And I promise I’ll stop doing things like that without you.”

“Thank you,” said Elisa, feeling a little better.

“But,” Ollie added, “Christmas is not ruined.”

“Yes it is,” Elisa said.

“No, it’s not.” Ollie stood up, grinning. “We’ll have a Christmas party here! Right now! Just us!”

“It’s the middle of the night, Ollie.”

“So what?” said Ollie. “We’ll sleep late in the morning.”

He did have a point, Elisa thought.

“It’ll be so cool!” Ollie looked around the room, still smiling. “We should play music, and you know how to make hot chocolate, and I can give you your present now, if you want—”

He was interrupted by the doorbell. The twins looked at each other in shock.

“Go see who it is,” Elisa hissed.

Ollie tiptoed to the window and stared outside… then whirled around, smiling.

“Well?” said Elisa, but Ollie just shook his head, ran to the door, and pulled it open.

Uncle Jake stood in the doorway, in full winter gear.

“Hey, kiddos!” he shouted.

Both of the twins squealed and hugged him as hard as they could.

“HI Uncle Jake did you have a good trip what happened how’d you get here what are you doing Merry Christmas!” Elisa shouted in one breath.

Uncle Jake laughed. “Slow down there, darling! I think I ought to explain this all in the morning, for the benefit of your beloved parents, of course. Isn’t it awful late for you two, anyways? You better scurry off to bed or someone might get in big trouble with Santa!”

Elisa smiled, following Ollie back towards their bedroom; this might not be such a bad Christmas after all.


6 – Moondance

The moon right outside Andy's window grew larger and larger, covering everything in his room in a silver glow. Andy opened his eyes and sat up in his bed with a huge grin on his face. Ariel was calling him.

Andy floated out of bed and out of his open window. In front of him was an open field of smooth glass, cool like ice but not freezing to the touch. Andy's bare feet only touched the glassy ground once. Fireflies gathered around him and formed a carpet for him to stand on. They tickled his ankles as they lifted him higher, higher, higher into the sky where Ariel, laughing, was waiting for him.

The fireflies flew off when Ariel got too close, leaving Andy floating all by himself in the dark blue sky. Ariel twirled around him, smiling and giggling, her hands busy picking up the stars, playing with them as if they were daisies for a flower crown. When she was finished, she put the crown on top of Andy's head and giggled some more, her see-through body twirling happily.

Ariel was Andy's best friend, and had been for as long as he could remember. Whenever the moon was high in the sky outside his window, she would come visit him, and they would play together. He wasn't really sure what Ariel was, but something about her told him she wasn't human. The way she danced now was so pretty, like the ballet videos his mom liked to watch of a girl Mom said was his sister, years before. Andy could never remember having a sister. It was just Dad, Mom, Andy, and the goldfish.
But he didn't think about that now. Ariel took all of that away when they danced. He danced with Ariel, forgetting about the bright crown made of stars on his head. He forgot about how messy his dancing must look next to hers. They fell, loop-de-looped, twirled, and leaped. Ariel never missed a step or tripped, and Andy didn't care when he did. It was just the two of them in their dance on the glass-covered moon, with the stars and the fireflies.

After a while, Ariel looked tired and fell back to the ground, where she sat with her legs crossed, waiting for Andy to follow. Andy landed across from her, puzzled. He didn't understand why Ariel had suddenly stopped. Usually, they would dance for hours on end until this strange moonlight world would simply fade away and leave him in bed again. But he was still awake, and in front of him was Ariel, her mouth still smiling but her shiny eyes sad.

"I love you, Andy," she said in that musical voice. Andy was confused, wondering why she'd said that. Usually, she didn't say anything at all except to call his name to bring him outside.

He still didn't understand it. Ariel was crying now, crystal clear tears running down her cheeks.

"What's the matter?" he asked her. Ariel never cried. She was always laughing, always dancing. Seeing her cry scared him a little, and he tried hard not to show it.

"I have to leave soon," Ariel told him.

Andy's eyes grew wide. Ariel was leaving? It couldn't be!

"Why?" he asked. A lump was growing in his throat, and he was trying hard not to yell. Ariel couldn't leave. She couldn't, because Andy needed her with him.

Ariel brushed her tears away and smiled again at him. "Tell Mom I love her."

Andy stood now, looking down at Ariel, feeling hot tears in his own eyes. "But why? Where are you going? I need you!"

Ariel shook her head. She floated up and hugged him tightly. "You have your own dreams to make. But always remember, Andy. I love you."

And just like that, Ariel and everything around him disappeared. Andy was sitting up in his bed, scrubbing tears from his face. The moon was covered up by clouds, so no silver light was shining through his window. Ariel was gone. The dancing was gone. What had happened?

"Ariel!" Andy called, sobbing. "Ariel!"

He was starting to remember things now. He remembered an older sister with light hair and clear blue eyes. A ballerina. His sister, Ariel. He remembered hearing about the car accident that took her away. He remembered the funeral.

Andy curled into a ball and cried, still calling Ariel's name, hoping for her to come back. Soon, he felt arms around him, and Mom was singing in his ear, rocking back and forth on his bed to calm him down.

Andy sobbed and hiccupped, then finally stopped crying. "Ariel..." he said again.

"I know, sweetie," Mom said, just as the clouds blew away from the moon, leaving the star-filled sky clear.

Mom pointed at one bright star that looked as if it was right beside Andy's window. "She'll always be here to watch over you, Andy."

Andy looked up at the bright star, and gasped when it seemed to twinkle. "Ariel?" he whispered.

'You have your own dreams to make,' Ariel had said. When she said it, Andy didn't know what it meant. But now, as soon as his eyes closed, he found he was flying on the back of a huge eagle, with clouds like cotton candy floating past as he zoomed by. He could hear Ariel laughing in the distance, but this time he wasn't going toward it. This time, he was going toward a whole new adventure of his own.

7 – Patches

"I think a pirate would be perfect for you. They wear eye patches."

"No, I want to be a cat."

"Well, how about a mummy? Your bandages would be wrapped all around your head, no one would notice."

"But I want to be a cat!"

Halloween used to be Lori’s favorite holiday. Every year she dressed up as a different animal. Last year, she was a frog. The year before that, she was a mouse. This year, she would have been a cat.

But everyone knows that cats don't wear eye patches.

"Mommy, please let me take this off, just for Halloween night." She rubbed at the eye patch covering her left eye. For a long time, Lori couldn't see very well out of that eye. When Mommy took her to the eye doctor, she was told that one of her eyes was lazy, and not working as hard as the other one. To make the lazy eye work harder, she would have to wear an eye patch over the good eye every day. A big, ugly eye patch. It didn't matter that she got to pick out the color (green, her favorite). It was still weird.

"Lori, I'm sorry," said Mommy. "But you have to wear that patch every day until your eye gets better. You want to be able to see well, don't you?"

"I guess," said Lori with a frown. She knew it was useless. She'd have to go trick-or-treating with the big, ugly eye patch no matter what. “But I really wanted to be a cat.”

“You can still be a cat,” said Mommy. “And you’ll make a great cat. We’re going to get you whiskers and a tail and I’ll even make you some big, fluffy cat ears.”

Lori perked up a little at the thought of her new cat ears. But she was still thinking about the eye patch. What kind of cat would she be if she had to wear it? Even the best ears wouldn’t hide it.

Just then the doorbell rang. “That’s probably Maria,” said Mommy. “Why don’t you answer it?”

Lori nodded and shuffled down the stairs. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see her friend. Maria was her best friend ever. But on Halloween, Maria was going to be a witch, a scary witch with two perfect eyes. Everyone would like her costume better.

She opened the door. “Hi, Maria,” she said.

“What’s wrong?” Maria asked. She always knew when something was bothering her best friend.

“I’m just thinking about my Halloween costume. Do you know of any cats that wear patches?”

Maria began to smile, then laugh.

"Stop it, stop laughing!” cried Lori. She couldn’t believe her friend would be so mean.

"No, no! I’m sorry,” said Maria, still giggling a little. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. It's just that my cat's name is Patches. I love her, she's so furry and soft and last week we got her a brand new..." Her brown eyes widened and her smile grew bigger.

Lori knew that look. “Do you have an idea?” she asked.

“Yep! Ask your mom if she can take us to the craft store.”

“What’s at the craft store?” asked Lori.

Maria wiggled her eyebrows. “It’s a surprise, but I promise it’ll turn you into the best cat ever!”

On Halloween night, two little girls went trick-or-treating, both dressed in beautiful costumes. One was a scary witch, covered from head to toe in gross, green warts. The other was a furry cat, complete with whiskers, tail, and ears. But best of all, around the cat’s neck was a handmade collar, with the name “Patches” written in big, glittering letters.

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing
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Potassium
TGN Management


Joined: 11 Apr 2004
Posts: 4,783
Location: Bozeman, MT

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:09 am  Reply with quote

01. Drukqs
Really creative, dude, I like that. You thought outside the box, and never talked down at your audience. You came out better than last time, for sure.
// YES

02. Pandora
Sorry dude, but I didn't like this one as much as everyone else seemed to. It's a nice idea, but you never really grabbed me, and then you came up just short all-around. I expected a lot better out of you. You're really gonna have to step it up if you wanna keep on.
// MAYBE

03. Carmello
This one never got me, either, and seemed too a) long-winded for a kid's story and b) not really entirely a kid's story. There's this disconnect lurking and it just doesn't work, man.
// MAYBE

04. RobinRocks01
Yo, dude, I'm sorry, but this is easily the worst of them. You had no meter, no real message, and everything that could have been wrong with a simple poem was wrong. You took about five giant steps backward with this one.
// MAYBE

05. Echo_Nevermore
A nice, if kinda generic Christmas story with a happy ending. Nothing terrible, but nothing spectacular, either. One of the better ones I've seen you do, since I actually liked this one Wink
// YES

06. Chanceless
A little angsty, yeah, but not that bad, dude. You could have gone either too serious or not serious enough, and you seemed to find a nice balance between the two here.
// YEs

07. Rikkugrrl
This made reading all the other entries worth it. I woulda loved this story as a kid, and I bet my little cousin who had to wear an eye patch would have, too. Perfect way to take a rather serious subject and make it good for little kids. Your improvement still surprises me every time, and you consistenly come out on top.
// YES

_________________

Flaming June :: Icons :: AmityPark.net
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Azelma
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Joined: 27 Aug 2005
Posts: 1,554

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 11:02 am  Reply with quote

1. Drukqs

This story risks sacrifice upon the altar of “So what?”, but I don’t think the standards were quite high enough this round to make such a mistake fatal. Your second paragraph also has a misstep: “After eyeing the planets for a long time, the man at the counter became curious as to what she was doing.” Unless the man was eyeing the planets, that’s unclear. And yes, format your numbers correctly.

I think your tone is good, and you poked at a decent theme of Earth being on sale, though I do think you could have done more with it. You left your point hanging, which I can’t decide if I like or not, but in any case, this is strong enough to earn a yes at this point.

Good job, Drukqs; this is a good entry.

---

2. Pandora

It appears that I am a dead seal with identity issues. Charming.

This poem’s weaknesses are two-fold. First, technically: you had some extra syllables that threw off the meter repeatedly, and some of your rhymes were unattractively forced (“angrily” and “teeth” probably rhyme in some far-off universe where Shakespeare seeks writing advice from RavensShadow). More importantly perhaps are my issues with the theme in conjunction with the tone; I don’t think this sing-songy, childish diction is really appropriate for a story about a dead animal (yes, Cidaula, I’m well aware that Disney kills animals all the time, but usually not in song). It feels like you overshot the target audience (and I would put the word choice slightly lower than your suggestion, though the subject matter would upset such an age range, hence my difficulties).

I’m not sure what to make of this one, and I think the next time you write for early elementary/preschool, you should remember that the Very Hungry Caterpillar didn’t die for a reason. Maybe.

Another step back, Pandora, and I was surprised to see this was you. I hope this trend doesn’t continue into the next round, should you make it that far.

---

3. Carmello

This isn’t a bad story, and your diction is more mature than #2, which I think justifies the somewhat heavy theme (and even then, a blind chick is not as intense as a dead seal). The problem with this story is that it’s clumsily written; quality-wise, it reads like something from the earlier rounds. At this point in the competition, I have to wonder if you let your dog write the story when you’ve got comma problems like, “She gave them each names, clucked and mimicked them scratching in the sawdust, and spent every weekend she was allowed, visiting them at her aunt’s farm.”

I think the characterization and appropriateness puts it slightly above two for me, but it’s still not one of the stronger entries. Maybe.

Yet another contestant stepping back; your grasp of language was far better in previous entries, Carmello.

---

4. RobinRocks

I would sincerely apologize to everyone who has said favorable things about this poem, but I’m too busy wondering if we’ve read the same poem. If #2 had some meter stumbles, this was an absolute mess. Helpful hint for those writing poetry: if you don’t understand meter, don’t write poetry. This entry is light-years more tolerable in the places when you actually hit the rhythm correctly, but you miss it so often that I have to wonder if it’s just chance when you do get it right. Read it aloud and you’ll see what I mean. It doesn’t flow.

My difficulty with calling this poem the weakest of the round is that it does have moments of brilliance (the “suggested/arrested” rhyme; burning Othello; some of your characterization) where I think your talents as a writer shine through, but it’s all overshadowed by the conviction that you just do not understand how to write a poem.

I haven’t even addressed my thematic issues with the poem (“Now remember, kids: Don’t play pranks on the school, or you’ll die, come back as ghosts and…play more pranks on the school”?), but I think it ties into the issue of you just not having things under control here. It didn’t seem like you knew what you were trying to say, in the meter or in the overarching ideas, and I don’t know if I can pass that. Maybe.

---

5. Echo_Nevermore

This one was exactly what I like to see in a children’s story: entertaining and appropriate for the target audience, with details woven in that older readers would appreciate (the sister obsessed with Rent,“Are they naked?”, allusions to family conflicts, etc). I also think leaving the background unexplained worked well here and opened speculation as to why Uncle Jake came back. We know it’s not Santa granting her wish—and the surprise visit might not be a positive one—but it’s the greatest thing in the world to the child narrator because all she’s thinking about is how much she wants him to come for Christmas.

A pleasure as always, mademoiselle Echo. Yes.

---

6. Chanceless

This is how you write what #2 was trying to write. I love this entry because it gets to the heart of really messy psychological issues, and yet I never felt uncomfortable at the thought of the target audience reading it. In fact, I think it’s exactly what they need to hear about this kind of subject: you went just far enough, and did it with grace and gentleness, though you never hesitated to say what needed to be said. You have a grasp of knowing “when to say when” that reminds me of Garth Nix, though you present your subject with a mythical beauty where he often focuses on their reality and ugliness. I think that could work against you if you should shift the focus of that beauty to the trauma or unpleasantness in the story, but as long as you keep it about the characters, it can do a lot to make your subjects palatable to even young readers.

My only issue:

He was starting to remember things now. He remembered an older sister with light hair and clear blue eyes. A ballerina. His sister, Ariel. He remembered hearing about the car accident that took her away. He remembered the funeral.

I’m not sure if all those sentences were necessary. For adults, I would remove “His sister, Ariel” because we get that it’s his sister, but perhaps “an older sister” should be changed to avoid the unattractive repetition there. (The “he remembered” repetition is good; I’m not sure about the one with “sister”.)

Excellent, Chanceless. I will snark to the death anyone who thinks this story is inappropriate for children. Yes.

---

7. Rikkugrrl

This story is a bit similar to #5, with a small event that means the world to the narrator, though you keep it small rather than eluding to possible goings-on that are bigger than the narrow scope of what the narrator can see. I think I like this story a little more because of the tighter focus; you did exactly enough with the word count you chose, and not too much. This, of course, is critical for very short stories—unless you want to look like you’re trying to oil paint the Earth and end up with a wash of watercolor. Your emotions were strong, contrasting nicely with the objective subject, which we know to be very minor. And I like to see skilled writers who can make the stakes climb with a narrator’s honest emotions.

One thing: When Mommy took her to the eye doctor, she was told that one of her eyes was lazy, and not working as hard as the other one. Passive voice is not your friend, especially when your narrator is a child and would say “the man in the white coat said one of her eyes was lazy…”

Otherwise, well done. Yes.

---

Simon’s top picks: 6, 7, 5

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing
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CidGregor
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Joined: 28 Jan 2005
Posts: 1,469
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:49 am  Reply with quote

1: Planet Earth by Drukqs

The ending was a tad abrupt for my tastes, but otherwise this was a very sweet and endearing piece that definitely made me smile. Simple, but not too simple. Bravo, hon!

YES

--

2: How Penguins Lost Their Colors (or: Not Another Penguin Story) by Pandora

I liked this one more than the other judges did, if for no other reason than that the flow of your rhymes was almost flawless, especially compared to the other rhyming entry. It helped the whole story to be easy on the eyes and move the story along smoothly. I also liked the ‘fable’ angle of the story, like old-timey myths that explain various aspects of why the world is how it is. Always had a soft spot for stories like that. Thumbs-up!

YES

--

3: Summer Love by Carmello

This is one of the only ones I was iffy about. The biggest thing that I took issue with was how overly subtle you were with the chicken being blinded, so much so that when you finally blurted it out I was left going “huh?” and backtracking a few paragraphs to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And not in a good way. If you can make a collage graduate have to take a step back and make sure he understands exactly what you did, what’s an eight year old gonna think? I’m on the fence for this one.

MAYBE

--

4: Howard and John by RobinRocks01

The rhyming in this one was really awkward, especially compared to the other poetry-ish one. They didn’t flow nearly as well, mostly because the meter was really off. The moral was kind of unsettling too, as Azelimon said: A couple of slacker pranksters die in a horrible explosion and get to come back as ghosts and haunt a school? Not exactly who I’d want my kids to idolize. I’m on the fence, hon.

MAYBE

--

5: Miracle by Echo_Nevermore

My only criticism of this story is that the ending felt a little abrupt. I thought there would be a little more to Uncle Jake returning, maybe a bit about him sitting down with the kids and enjoying Christmas together, as opposed to “Oh, he came after all, hooray, The End.” Otherwise a sweet and cute story and just the sort of thing we were looking for.

YES

--

6: Moondance by Chanceless

What more can be said other than ‘amazing story.’ You took a sensitive subject and didn’t dumb it down for the kids, but rather presented it in a very real, honest, and relatable manner. I love it. Big props to you, hon.

YES

--

7: Patches by Rikkugrrl

Easily the cutest of the lot. And not just because I love kitties. Well, okay, that’s a lie, that was a big factor, but it was still all kinds of adorable, and I could picture every word in my mind’s eye and I couldn’t stop smiling at the cute little catgirl. Cidaula is pleased. *purr*

YES

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CidGregor
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:07 am  Reply with quote

ROUND 4 RESULTS

Part One: The Lecture

We judges were rather disappointed this round. Despite something in the neighborhood of three weeks given to write this challenge, five of the twelve remaining entrants failed to do so. In fact the ONE person who we felt might have NEEDED the extra time was one of the seven to actually enter. As a result, ANY REMAINING PASSES ARE, AS OF NOW, NULL AND VOID. If you do not submit an entry for any of the remaining rounds, you will be disqualified.

Part Two: The Verdict

Bender, NightLark, and GuardianSaiyoko have expended their passes and will return next round.

Kaption has elected to withdraw from the competition.

TheKaiser failed to submit an entry or a pass request and has been disqualified.

And finally, we will be saying goodbye to RobinRocks this round. Thanks for playing, hon, we loved having you!

That is all. Round 5 to be posted soon.

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