The judges have been temporarily relocated here in order to protect them from outside influence. Please send food.

This judging shit is hard.  I feel like I was overly critical on some of these entries, so if I said mean things about yours, it’s only because I thought it might be spooky’s entry.

3 golds, 3 silvers and 3 bronzes from each judge.

New challenge at the bottom of this post.  Due Monday, 11/11 at 8 PM Central (note the change in time, DK’s got one of those fancy job things that require his attention occasionally)

Margaret

They slept soundly, in isolation, each one wrapped tight against the relentless sucking of the desert air.

All at once, they began to stir.  Something had pricked their most primal desire; a collective consciousness awakened.

A storm was approaching.  They perceived the dusty odor of water ricocheting off cracked earth, heard the roar of a billion droplets pounding the soil.  The temperature of the late afternoon air plunged, and the rain stained the bleached clay blood red.

En masse they emerged from deep sleep, stretching limbs that had long been bent beneath their dormant bodies.  They were invigorated by the moistening clay, the tympanic thunder.  Driven by instinct, they moved in a desperate frenzy out of the caves that had protected them against the drought.  Desire for sustenance and sex pounded through their veins as they struggled toward the bacchanal that awaited them on the surface.

They squeezed through the tunnels, grunting with appetite and virility.

But something blocked their progress.  It stood on the ground above them – unyielding, wooden.  Weakened by long hibernation and the feverish climb, they battled in vain against the rough-hewn pine.   They could hear the others chasing after desert insects, groaning in ecstasy as slick females backed up against them.

They bounded left to right, trying to find a way around the barrier, ripping their paper-thin flesh on the splinters there, gasping for breath.

Billy peered nervously out the window at the lightening sky.  The storm was moving off.  “You sure no one comes here?”

“No one.  If you come when there’s no rain, you die.”  He lifted a loose floor board.  “We can hide it down here-   Jesus Christ!  Billy!  Look at this!”

In triumphant and cacophonous chaos, the desert frogs paraded across Billy’s feet and through the open door.

Brooks – This one built well, although I feel like it spent a lot of time on the buildup and the payoff didn’t merit all that work.  I was thinking bats or insects or something.  Frogs surprised me. BRONZE

DK: So many great images and word choices here, and I really like the way the story builds up the feeling of their great struggle for freedom.  The ultimate reveal feels both logical and a little surprising, so it’s a good way to cap it.  SILVER

Sarah

           My right eye is swollen shut. Sand hisses through the knots and cracks in the decaying walls and a broken shovel sways above me. I wriggle my fingers, tacky with blood and debris, but I can’t figure out how my hands are bound behind me.

I wake up. My head feels wet. Outside, the wind surges and throws sand at the little shack I’ve been abandoned in. I hear voices in the violent gale twisting around the walls. I lose consciousness more than once.

I imagine Jack at home, pacing the floors. He’ll be smoking from the pack he doesn’t think I know about that he hid in the cupboard. He’ll be so worried he’ll call my mother. The police won’t help but they’ll get a call, too.

I’ll die, I think. I’ll die and I’m not sure if I’ll be found.

My neck is stiff and barely moves; I remember flashes of the previous night as I turn my head: I was gagged. I had been shaken and whipped against bricks. I must have blacked out when it got worse.

I am tense, remembering more: a blurry night of sand and stars and pain. I had been dragged, my back burning from the rubbing sand. Somebody laughed. Somebody else was screaming about teeth. That might have been me.

Now I’m wide awake. I remember the crowbar and the smell of burning oil. I remember pissing myself. I blink up at slivers of the honey-golden sun pouring into the shack. The morning light slices through the roof: it’s a new day. I give up and close my eyes.

Brooks – This is dark, but it’s kind of missing a why.  I feel like I know more about Jack than about the narrator.

DK: I like the present tense usage here, it increases the immediacy of the tension and it’s consistent.  A lot of other vivid images of the desperation of the situation hit pretty well too.  BRONZE

Colin

“OK how much?” John tried to stop fidgeting, but the figure was half in, half out of shadow, and eerily still. A bead of sweat trickled down his side.

“How much do you think it’s worth?” The figure produced bone white hands from the shadow of its coat, evenly, palms up. A gesture of goodwill, or at least willingness to negotiate.

“I don’t know. I don’t know.” John struggled for a moment to bring the words he wanted forward from the depths of his mind, but the seas were rough, and it was enough to stay afloat. He covered his face with his hands.

“I understand. You are a man of action, not words.” The hands disappeared briefly, then returned to the pale winter light, holding the book. “Or rather, A man of certain words, and certain actions.”

John’s hands fell to his side. The thought had just surfaced when it came from the figure’s lips. “Whatever you want I’ll pay it I have money it’s in the bag, the black bag in the corner. This is the real book, right?”

“It is.”

John breathed and the bag was gone. The figure was gone. The book lay open in his hands. The winter wind howled as it flew unfettered over the open valley floor, battering the tiny shed. He might have to spend the night here. He looked at the pages open before him.

        The winter wind howled as it flew unfettered over the open valley floor, battering the tiny shed. He might have to spend the night there. He looked at the pages open before him. He turned to the window, eyes wide with wonder, and then fear.

Brooks – I like the bony dude.  The line about certain words and certain actions was really good, and perfectly played off the ending.  It’s even better the second time through, well set-up, proser. GOLD

DK: Although I think the scenario and maybe the characters are a little vaguely drawn to have the full impact, I like the atmosphere created here and I can get a good sense of John’s mindset.

Zack

He said we were going for a drive. He didn’t say where, he didn’t say why.

I fell asleep in the car like I always do.

I woke up when he turned off the car. I gasped at all the stars. I’d not left the city since I moved here. Being in the desert was powerful.

There was a little shack there. He said he wanted to show me it. It was the only sign of civilization as far as I could see.

There wasn’t much inside except for a dirty old blue mattress and a box of Trojan condoms. It smelled like piss.

“We’ve been friends for so long” he said. I suppose three weeks is a long time when you’re 19. “I want to be more than friends.”

I laughed because I thought he was fucking around. He started to cry. I sighed and went outside for a smoke.

We were supposed to celebrate finishing the first test in our economics class. This wasn’t very fun.

“I’ve been so nice to you. Why are you being such a bitch!?” I heard him blubber all the way out here.

I took a long drag from my cigarette. “Look, I just…”

“But I looooove you” he moaned before I could finish my thought. I exhaled and stamped my cigarette out.

I couldn’t stand to see him like this so I dropped a rock on his head. I don’t know, it seemed logical at the time. It’s really too bad I never learned how to drive.

Brooks – Maybe it’s all the line breaks, but this one felt a little disjointed to me.  The narrator also swings from being greatly affected by the stars to being distant to being a sociopath, which made it hard to get a feel for that character.

DK: I really like the mundane attitude of the narration in this context, and the way it seems to build to one of our classic house dark endings – only to swerve to another, but still fitting, dark ending entirely.  BRONZE

Eric

Joe drug his body into the shack. Spotted from afar the weathered structure seemed inviting, but inspected closely it was easy to see why it was abandoned. Layers of dust barely contained the desert’s contempt for living things. Under all of those layers, packed away in a corner Joe wiped clean a jar of an unknown crimson liquid.  Titling his head back he took a long draught and hoped the sun would soon dip below the distant peaks.

Brooks – Some people don’t like anthropomorphizing inanimate nouns like desert.  I like it, contempt is a good word.  There’s a start to a story here, but I don’t feel like it was finished off.

DK: There’s a good idea here, but for me it could use a little more fleshing out.  As it is it doesn’t keep me engaged beyond its space like some others here do.

Kelly

After a sixth straight financially disappointing quarter, Big Al’s Bait and Tackle finally closed its doors.

Brooks – I get it.  There’s a story here in very few words, which I appreciate.

DK: I really did want to give this a medal just for the humor of the idea, but I ran out of bronzes. 

Will

Erdeniin retraced his footsteps and tried to make each step without altering a single grain of sand. He enviously eyed the camels blithely relaxing in the sand. One lifted its head and prepared to stand as he passed nearby. Erdeniin retreated and gazed back to the hut.

What was taking so long? At first, he had been able to listen to Surengiin’s moans and cries of pain.

He heard the midwives coaching and comforting Erdeniin. Twice he approached, and twice he was shooed him away. Never one to question or ignore tradition, Erdeniin scolded himself for interfering and withdraw.

The hut had been quiet for several minutes. Squinting, he could see the midwives immersed in conversation a few feet away from the bed. One looked very concerned. He kept walking.

A few minutes later, he heard the unmistakable wail of a baby. Looking closely, he saw a midwife holding something in her arms. He exhaled deeply knowing it had been a success. Satisfied he had could finally approach without incurring bad luck, he strode forward.

The midwife holding his newborn stepped outside. She looked down as he approached. “There has been a complication,” she stammered while handing him his son and stepping away. He took the boy with both pride and trepidation immediately aware of just how unprepared he was for fatherhood. He tried to find the proper balance between smothering his son with love while not breaking every brittle bone by squeezing too tightly.

Nothing could deflate his joy. He carried him inside to discover the complication. Erdeniin’s olive skin was drenched in sweat, but she beamed as he approached.

“What was the complication?” he asked.

Smiling, Erdeniin pointed to the corner where Surengiin saw the other midwife holding his daughter.

Brooks – Nice.  A little on the over-explained side, but it worked out and told a good story all together. I’m disregarding the few times that the names are switched. SILVER

DK: This is another cool idea for this prompt, and I really like the ending here in our usual sea of misery.  I admit I think there could be some mixups of the male and female characters’ names through the story, which makes it somewhat confusing at first.

Ben

Kazuko squinted in the harsh sunlight after they pulled off his hood. He knew before his vision cleared that they’d lied. The ride hadn’t lasted long enough for them to be anywhere close to Manzanar; they hadn’t even left New Mexico. As the distances came into focus, he realized they were probably somewhere south of Albuquerque. No further clues were available; there was nothing to see but a small wooden hut on a concrete slab, surrounded by wires, cameras and other equipment.

Farrell measured the man out of the corner of his eye, contemplating whether he knew if the gadget would actually work. He’d watched the work for the past 6 months and his engineers mind understood the basics, if not the specifics. Even still, he wasn’t sure himself. He’d heard that the scientists weren’t convinced it would work. Worse yet, he’d heard the scattershot rumors that it might work too well.  The prospect of igniting the atmosphere was laughable…and yet, here was a device the size of a small automobile that could, theoretically, explode with the force of a building filled with TNT, 30-feet-wide, 30-feet high and the length of two football fields. Standing in this concrete bunker, just short of 6 miles from the site, he wondered if they were too close. A part of him pondered what it would do to the human body.

The men in fatigues with no insignia marched the five of them into the hut, machine gun barrels prodding the smalls of their backs. Kazuko’s face maintained its severe expression, but inside, he was almost smirking. 150 miles from anywhere, cuffed at the ankles and wrists. Seemed a bit theatrical, even for what he’d seen during the past 3 years. As directed, he took a seat at a small wooden table and waited.

Brooks – Describing a nuclear bomb as a “gadget” made me smile.  I kind of lost track of where everyone was in this one, but maybe I’m reading too far into it. 

DK: I’m inclined to say I think this idea is another one that’s just beginning as it ends.  The setting it lays out is intriguing, but I’d just like to see more of what happens.

Bret

Joe thought the shack looked a lot different in the daylight.  At night, with the coyotes howling and the stars shining clear in the blue-black sky, Joe’s little flickering gas lamp lit up the inside of the shack and made it safe and cozy, far away from the trenches and screaming and razorwire.  During the day, the building looked shabby and small, but Joe was working his way through a case of amber-colored rotgut whiskey he’d picked up in Lubbock on his way west, and he found he didn’t care much about how anything looked after a couple swigs.

That missing window, though… Joe did care about that.  He had just put in a big sheet of plate glass, then the damn army had let off some big explosion somewhere to the east and blown it right out.  Then he’d picked up a cough from the chill night air and ended up bedridden for two days right after the blast, and he still didn’t have his strength all the way back.

Joe had decided to try his hand at making his own stained-glass window, like he’d seen over in Italy.  It took him a week, but he impressed himself, using the yellow glass from the whiskey bottles and green glass he’d found in the desert to make a beautiful tree, shiny lead seams holding the whole together.  He’d been careful handling the lead- he’d seen people poisoned by that stuff before.

Joe swept out the shed, cussing the dust that kept blowing through the broken window.  He had to sit down, his body aching all over and out of breath.  Damn cold.  Maybe a little soup would be good.  Then he’d work at getting his beautiful window put in.  He couldn’t wait to look at the distant mountains through it.

Brooks – I like this one.  The first paragraph was perfect setting of the scene.  Maybe the references to the blast and the ensuing sickness came on a little strong, but the story doesn’t rely on that being obscured, so it works.  SILVER

DK: Another one with an ending that I appreciate just for its relative positivity, and I also think Joe here is a strong character drawn in a short space.  The descriptions of the environment are also pretty sharply drawn.  SILVER

Pete

Even as blind dates go, Jimmy and Sarah’s date went poorly.

He was rude and had reprehensible table manners. She talked about her cats incessantly and insisted that they listen to old 90’s boy bands in the car.

“This sucks” Jimmy said, breaching the topic in his subtle-as-a-sledge-hammer way, “You just wanna call ‘er a night and have me drop you off?”

“Yes, please.”

As the truck approached Sarah’s house, the two of them noticed a crowd forming in the middle of the street. Jimmy slowed the truck to a crawl, when suddenly, one of the crowd threw himself at the car, colliding with the door in a sickening crunch.

“What the…” Sarah began, only to fall silent as she began to take in the situation.

The streets had fallen to pandemonium. The living dead were tearing apart every living soul.

“I been tellin’ ’em all along!” Jimmy hooted, “they said I read too many comic books! Look at ’em now!”

He quickly turned the truck around and started driving.

“Where are we going?” Sarah asked.

“Got me a shack out in the plains” Jimmy smugly asserted, “lots o’ guns and canned food. Perfect hideaway from the rest of the world for as long as it takes.”

As long as it took… living in a shack with someone she was quickly growing to hate.

Maybe being torn apart by the cannibalistic living dead would be preferable.

Brooks – I feel like this story is just getting started.  I sympathize with Sarah, though.  Jimmy doesn’t seem like an ideal end of the world companion.

DK: I actually thought we would get more zombie stories with this prompt than we did, but this use of one is pretty amusing.  In particular the various poor aspects of each character from the other’s view were pretty funny to me.  BRONZE

Joe

Who really won that fight?

Chris answered Jennifer’s call and showed up at her apartment right on time.  Two steps in, the world went dark.

Some random amount of time later, he heard the sound of rolling tires over rough terrain.  By the sweat and air in the trunk, he surmised that they were driving him to a place so remote even buzzards couldn’t find him.  He waited in silence, dark, and throbbing pain for them to stop the car.  Odds were, there were two of them, if he was lucky, only one.

An abrupt halt, car doors opening, slamming shut, ten seconds, then daylight.  Two men — damn odds.  The bigger one bent down to pick up Chris’ body.  Chris’ arms dangled down along the big man’s back.  He felt hard steel, grabbed the piece and shot Biggie in the leg.  Stupid move.  Chris landed hard on his hip.  Chris recovered quickly enough to raise the gun and shoot the other one before the surprise wore off.  Headshot.

Biggie then grabbed Chris’ arm, half attacking, half reaching for help. Chris fired but hit the tire.  Damn.  Biggie lunged again and the gun was knocked away.  Biggie started reaching for Chris’ face.  Chris reacted with his feet, kicking like a wounded animal.  One to the chest, another to the neck, finally one to the nose and the man finally fell away.  Deep breath.  He picked up the gun and gave Biggie one extra shot for good measure.

Chris’ head started to throb again and for the first time saw where he was.  The middle of nowhere.  The closest anything was an old shack reminiscent of the Unabomber’s pad.    Odds were, no phone.  He waited for night and the coolness before changing the tire and heading back.

Brooks – A good action sequence here, but again, I wish there was more why given.  BRONZE

DK: Great tension and atmosphere here, and what also hit the mark for me was the precise descriptions of the fight and the action that ensued.  GOLD

Brian

There was a body laying at the side of the road, its skin and clothes a uniform dull gray.  The road disappeared into the distance, followed in parallel by a series of electrical wires strung between wooden posts.

It would have been completely, unnaturally silent if not for the occasional breeze – and an strange tapping sound.

Tch, tch, tch. . .Tch, tch, tch . . .

A tumbleweed was rolling down the asphalt, bouncing in rhythm.

Tch, tch, tch. . .Tch, tch, tch . . .

It danced past the body and down the road, until it turned and kicked its way toward a one-room shack.

Sitting in front of the only door into the shack was a dog.  The animal was ghastly thin and breathed slow.  Upon seeing the tumbleweed, the dog exploded into a string of barks and snarls.

The brambles on the front of the tumbleweed parted slightly, revealing a camera lense.  Next to the lense was a small light, blinking red.

The dog leapt forward.  A small puff of smoke leapt up from the tumbleweed, accompanied by a high-pitched whistling.  With a soft thump, a red dot appeared between the dog’s eyes.  Whimpering a little, the dog laid down, gently setting its head on its forearms.  A stream of blood flowed from the dot, and soon the dog’s slow breath ceased entirely.

The tumbleweed rolled into the shack.

Inside, a man sat at a table.  In front of the man was an open Bible.  Easing to a stop, the tumbleweed  once again revealed the camera.  The light was blinking green.

The man did not move.  He did not breathe.  He was as silent as eternity.

The light changed, now blinking red.  The tumbleweed concealed the lense, bounced out the door and down the road.

Tch, tch, tch. . . Tch, tch, tch. . .

Brooks – Interesting world.  Also an interesting choice of interactors/non-interactors with the tumbleweed.  The tumbleweed becomes the only sentient thing around and really ramps up the alien feel to this world. SILVER

DK: This is one of my favorite ideas for the prompt usage, and it has the right balance of mysteriousness and explanation to be engaging and not offputting.  GOLD

Annette

“I thought we agreed that I pick the next location?” Eddie adjusted his glasses irritably. “The cabin was an epic fail.”

“I couldn’t have known those kids were going to party up there.” Ian snapped. “Otherwise, it was perfect.”

“It cut us short two full days!” Eddie returned. “And the desert? I don’t know . . . .”

“It’s perfect.” Ian insisted. “Look how remote. The desert sky at night will be spectacular. You got the right camera this time, hmmm?”

“Whatever, dude, the camera I brought last time worked just fine.” Eddie pulled his camera out of its case and shot a picture of the starkly beautiful landscape.

“And we can stay in this little shed during the hot hours of the day. Don’t want to fry your lily white ass.” Ian smirked.

“Oh, fuck you.” Eddie grumbled companionably.

They climbed out of the sedan and ambled over to the shed, peering into a pane-less window.

“Nothing much to it.” Eddie remarked.

“Yeah, but at least it keeps us off the dirt and the snakes out of our sleeping bags.” Ian said cheerfully.

They opened up the car and began pulling out their gear and stowing it in the corner of the wooden shed. It was blistering hot outside but the breeze blowing through the window and the door made it almost bearable inside.

“We have enough food and beer for three, maybe four days.” Ian said cheerfully, punching Eddie’s shoulder. “That is, if you don’t go all ‘Dahmer’ on us again.”

“Oh, shut up!” Eddie grumbled, opening the trunk. The mascara-streaked woman inside began hopelessly struggling against her duct tape bonds, her waitress uniform hiked up around her hips. The strings from her apron protruded from between her bulging cheeks. “Come on, darlin’, time to pa-a-artay!”

Brooks – This might just be me, but the ending keeps this from medaling for me.  The dialogue was good leading up to the reveal, and the Dahmer line had me thinking, but then the last bit is just … there.  I’m interested to see what others think of this, because I could be wrong.

DK: This is among those I thought reached for a level of darkness and didn’t quite grasp it.  Eddie and Ian don’t work for me from the start as interesting characters and so I’m not particularly engaged in whatever depravity they’re about to act upon.

Christina

Thwack! Thwack!

God, he had to pee. He didn’t want to stop working for even a moment. But better now than after nightfall. There were scorpions and coyotes out there for sure. Possibly other, more sinister things too.

Watching the stream of yellow liquid fall to the parched dirt, he felt something akin to pleasure. He was, in fact, still composed of skin and bones and blood and piss.

Back to it. Thwack! Thwack! The westering sun hit him square in the eyes. Shoulda known better than to leave without a hat. He raised a hand to shade his face, but it provided no relief.

The lumberyard had been his last stop on his way out of town. Quiet place at 3 a.m. He hoped all those years as the quiet kid hogging the Legos were finally going to do him some good.

The high school had expelled him. Thwack! Then the priest called him a violation of the natural order. Thwack! His own mother said she wasn’t comfortable around him. Thwack!

Someone could follow the tire tracks out here, but he didn’t expect anyone would. They probably figured the some creature or other would smell him, and that would be it.

Thwack! Thwack! Even he had no explanation for his affliction. Of course the reason didn’t really matter at this point.

A dull ache began to creep down his right shoulder. Time to start on the rafters.

Thwack! If he did die, at least the shack would remain. Someday someone would discover it, and word would get around town. Thwack! From that point on, they would always wonder if he was out there. Waiting. Watching. Biding his time

Brooks – I’m in for this one.  It walks a line of telling us enough to give us a picture of a character who wants to be found, but at the same time doesn’t want that at all.  GOLD
PS – I’m imaging this guy as having a hatchet for a hand, is that weird?

DK: This one, however, does a stronger job of setting up its protagonist subtly and drawing out its darkness in a measured manner, and it’s a more effective headspace piece because of it.  The repetitious effects help effectuate that sense of unease throughout the piece.  SILVER

Jonathon

“Hezekiah, I’ve been thinking.”

Hezekiah rolled his eyes and braced himself.

“Why are we here?”

Hezekiah exhaled loudly. Four weeks had passed since he had been paired with Joshua on the desert border that they were guarding. Four weeks of nothing but Joshua’s thinking.

Four weeks with just the droning voice of his unasked-for partner. Hezekiah had thought that it was a good idea to make sure nobody spent the length of their assignment alone, but he was re-thinking that now. At this point, he was starting to think that there wasn’t a coyote out there that he couldn’t deal with on his own. Being out-gunned might be better than any more of Joshua’s thoughts.

“We’re here to protect our resources, and to keep our country strong, son. You know that.”

“I know that, Hez. I mean, why are we here at all. In this country. On this planet. Why do we exist?”

“Josh, will you pay attention to the job? We don’t want to miss anything.”

“Oh, Hez, nothing’s come by here since we got here, not even a real coyote. This isn’t a route they use. That’s why I’ve been thinking. Why are we here?”

Hezekiah didn’t respond immediately. An irregularly used route was just the place to make a big catch. When someone finally did come by, he would be ready to prevent the greedy aliens from stealing the ungrateful citizens of the greatest nation in the world. He was ready to send them back to their jobs keeping the country’s infrastructure strong. He was a patriot, and Joshua would just have to keep his questions. Finally Hezekiah machine gunned his response.

“We’re here to do our jobs. Pay attention and be quiet.”

Brooks – This one is hard to comment on for some reason.  There’s something in Hezekiah’s thoughts that is hinting at a skewed world (or a skewed worldview) but it’s not coming all the way through for me. 

DK: The existentialist xenophobe did get a chuckle out of me, and this stands out as a unique concept for sure.  I think the ending got a little shaky, but again I like the idea.

Erik

They had spotted the shelter some hours before; a sharp-angled blemish against the encroaching dawn.  They’d abandoned caution along with other possessions during their flight north, but the desiccated earth surrounding the structure showed that nothing living had visited in some time.

He judged they were roughly in the middle of what had once been a large lake (Flatiron, Fathorn, or something, the toppled sign had been too faded to read).

Empty lakebeds are peculiar places.  They continued to unnerve him.  The pressure from the weight of the water seems to do unnatural things to the land.  He wondered if the water’s presence warps its environment, like a star bends and perverts space and time around it.  And could the subsequent lack of water leave a vicinity hallow and empty?

Maybe it just felt that way since the Great Salt Lake…

He had shared his curiosity at finding such a recently built, sturdy, but abandoned structure out here.  She had just shrugged her shoulders.  Inside, he was impressed by the architect’s work.  The beam ceiling seemed durable and exact.

After they’d spread their dusty blanket, she had mounted him without speaking, shedding her graying, tattered dress into the corner.  He winced at the profile of her ribcage against her dirt-smeared skin.  Her breasts, which had never been large, were reduced to nothing.  Her long and bent nipples were continued reminders of the party member they had buried at the center of the Spiral Jetty.

Their bodies stiffened in climax.  She climbed off and laid down with her back to him.  She wept softly.  He stroked the dry skin of her arm, but felt no warmth in the escalating heat of the day.  He continued to caress her naked hip and marveled at the precise, perpendicular angles of the beam ceiling.

Brooks – Nicely done.  All the descriptors worked together to give us the entire story.  GOLD

DK: Here I also found the situation a little vague to get a good grasp on.  There’s a distance in the tone that holds me off from getting invested fully in the characters, although some of the descriptions are quite strong.

Melissa

Down in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl

The song looped through his brain.  It soothed the impatience and bolstered his strength.  Felina was heavier in death, limper, though she folded perfectly over his shoulder.  Her breasts were soft against his back.

The sun, though.  It was trying to weaken him.  He couldn’t even sweat because it evaporated so quickly.  Felina’s fingers prodded at him to keep going, brushed against his lower back so that he gasped.  It was loud in the stillness, the desert so quiet he could hear the wind rattle the yucca.

Could a body cool down in heat like this, or would she be hot to the touch?  Her scalp warm under all that hair?

Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina, wicked and evil while casting a spell.

The shack had no windows or doors.  It just slumped there, sagging under the heat, chipped wood crackling when Felina’s legs brushed the doorway.  He dropped her on the floor and a cloud of dirt shot upward.  It salted her hair.

He knelt beside her and cut out her eyes.

Black holes now, projecting nothing.  No rebuff or indifference.  No passion.

My love was deep for this Mexican maiden.

He’d cherish that last intense moment he’d had with her, though, when she’d finally admitted she loved him.  He’d stabbed at the armor she’d put up, sliced at the shields until she could no longer deny the power he held over her.

Now, he pulled aside the tatters of her blouse, pressed a hand to her heart.  Yes, the sun had warmed her.  She’d make it a few more days.

Plenty of time to prove herself.

I was in love, but in vain I could tell.

Brooks – Well written, in true CdL style it had to take a dark turn.  I saw it coming, which perhaps deadened the impact that the author was going for.  BRONZE

DK: Whew, another really harsh piece with a solid undercurrent of emotion stirring beneath it.  I mean, it’s pretty gross, but the use of the framing and the care taken to illuminate the protagonist’s mindset keep me from pulling away.  GOLD

———–

Well, there it is, 17 entries from 17 people.  Yes, Can of Corn has joined your ranks and made a liar out of that cheeky judge who was saying there would be 16 people left after the regular season.  On the plus side now one of the people who were on the end of that line has someone to look at when they look in that direction.  Told you it would work out, Novak!

Full results in tabular form.  No double golds this week, DK and I like to spread the wealth.  Actually only one person got two medals of the same denomination.  Well done, Bret!

Your prompt for next week is the following picture.  Your word limit is 300 again.

PWTP4-2

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