Well, huh. For whatever reason, I feared that this prompt was going to be a tough one, and wasn’t going to end up inspiring people to much. It proved to be the opposite, as it was a strong slate of stories, especially for a Turbo. Concepts were high and there was a lot of rich prose and solid jokes, where warranted.

Everything is up to nonsubs, so although I’ll list the points for each team at the end, it isn’t necessarily the lowest-scoring teams that have to vote someone out since there were no-shows.

Challenge One (I guess the pre-draft challenge was Challenge Zero):

Malformed.

Your lead character has an overgrown or undergrown (internal or external) body part. Even if he or she does a good job of dealing with the abnormality, it comes into play for the purposes of this story.

—————————————–
TIME LIMIT: 25 Minutes
WORD LIMIT: 200
—————————————–


Joe Rakstad, The Hidden Legends of Temple Grandin

“I can’t believe what Josh said in class…”

Slowly, I walk through the halls of my school, hiding under a meek demeanor.

“Miranda did WHAT with Doug…”

They think me harmless, a mild freak

“Suzie has not told her parents yet, they’re gonna freak!”

They pay no attention to me…

“Makayla was with Craig last night, I swear…”

Except to make the occasional jab…

“My parents are gone all weekend… what’s up, Dumbo!”

I hear everything they say. They think I’m wrapped up in my headphones, but they’re not actually on.

After a long day of lessons and homework, I retreat to my den and write it all down. All their secrets, all their skeletons, I’m privy to everything they think they say in whispers, but my ears can hear it all the way across the room.

Jake thinks he’s got all weekend alone with Miranda. Sure, his parents won’t be home, but I’ll make sure Suzie knows just where to find him.

K: it’s cute enough although a story about the big-ears kid overhearing things is about as telegraphed as it gets; 25 minutes is a short amount of time, so as I read on let’s see if it was just too little to give you.

MN – A good start. You did a nice job interlacing the dialogue and thoughts, but I wanted the stakes to be higher. Though I did like the nice little puzzle of cluing in that our character is repaying Jake for his Dumbo comment.

Zack Sauvageau, The Devil Wear PRADAZ

The buzzing finally made Jacob open his eyes. The clock flashed 5:03. Today was the day the new colorway of the Air Foamposite dropped, and there was no way he was missing them this time.
“yo we still on for 2day?” Jacob hit send.

The one pair per person limit made his hobby real fucking difficult. Jacob would be fine with one pair, but unfortunately Nike wasn’t making pairs out of a size 10.5 and a 16.

His right foot started growing rapidly when he turned 17. It eventually settled at five and a half sizes bigger than his left. He was thankful it started once his social relationships were already pretty locked in.

His phone buzzed. “ya $75 bro see u there.” He was thankful that he had his connect for the second pair, but he wished the community didn’t shun him like this. It wasn’t his choice to have that weird growth spurt. It wasn’t like he was scalping half a damn pair of shoes.

“alright I got cash for u.”

As Jacob locked his door, the sun started to rise. At least it was going to be a nice morning to stand in a line.

K: Do we need the backstory? I think the ultra-short story might work better without spending words on it. I’m nitpicking, though, as I dig this character’s struggle with what must have seemed like such a harmless hobby in his youth. BRONZE

MN – I had a friend who was in a bad accident, and needed part of her foot replaced with a cadaver foot (we called it her “zombie foot.”). This led to one of her feet being more than a size larger than the other one, and precisely this awkwardness. So… I know someone who can relate.

Brendan Bonham, For the Love of Pete

“What do you mean bigger?”

“Like I said, I dunno, maybe double the size?”

The doctor sighed, medical school for this?

“I have to ask, why? Medical reasons.”

Dr. Sepsein knew it was morbid curiosity, so did she.

“It’s for work.”

“It’s already the biggest one I’ve ever seen. Christ, when Sherry took you for an appointment she thought it was for a reduction. I mean–”

“Do you know how hard it is out there” Rhonda shrieked, “for a back-up dancer in a Sir Mix-A-Lot cover band?!”

Sepsein stared at the wall. Rhonda stepped up the indignation.

“I got kids to feed. I got bills to pay. I got a husband who don’t wanna work, and we’re kickin’ off the next tour in Duluth in three weeks. I’ve been around showbiz long enough to know that if I don’t step up my game someone else will. This roast beef,” she thumbed behind herself, “don’t work at no Arby’s.”

“I just…” Sepsein rubbed the bridge of his nose, “I just—it seems wrong.”

“Wrong?” Rhonda stood up “your office is above Stuff’n Fur Fun Taxidermy. Ain’t no right and wrong here.”

“Fine,” Sepsein muttered, “will you pay cash?”

K: Mmhm, mmhm. I do like big butts. The commitment does a good job of driving home the joke in what could be a pretty lame set of jokes if the writer had done a few lazy, obvious punchlines. The little touch of this tour starting in Duluth, of all places, is my kind of pathetic humor. BRONZE

MN – I’d say the reveal might have hit too soon, but I really enjoyed the last few lines. Introducing Sherry for just that brief mention gave me a moment of confusion, but I got over it quickly enough. Very good dialogue.

Pete Bruzek, PRADAZ

Travis trudged home from yet another dreary day at work. The smell of the carnival still clung to his clothes. He’d gone noseblind to the elephant shit long ago, but the sickly sweet scent of rotting junk food stayed fresh in his senses.

Usually, he avoided 3rd street this late at night, but right now, he needed a glass of shitty whiskey and enough television to pass out, and he needed it now.

He’d made it about halfway when two kids sauntered up to him laughing between themselves. Travis regarded them suspiciously, then kept going. Then they jumped him. A sucker punch to the ribs dropped Travis to a knee.

“Your money! Now!” one of them said.

“I haven’t got any” growled Travis through a tightly clenched jaw.

“Bad news for you, then” the other laughed, pulling a knife.

“Just let me go” Travis hissed.

“You talk funny, man. You got some sort of problem?”

Then Travis opened his mouth. Then he kept opening.

“What the fu…” the first kid muttered as Travis bit off his hand.

“Holy shit! Get out of my way!” the second kid fled.

Travis tucked his jaw back. Then he went home and had that whiskey.

K: This one may have held on to its secret too long, as a little foreshadowing can work wonders to build tension even in a short space. As it is, it’s fine, if a little by the numbers. BRONZE

MN – This is the most creative strange body part we’ve gotten so far, and I enjoyed what you did with it. Another strong dialogue entry. The final line could have been punched up a small bit, but that’s the only detraction I can think of. GOLD

Jordan Graham, Hidden Legends

The silk sheets massaged his back, but his stomach rumbled.

“$40 OK?” asked the man, whose own thin frame lay in contrast to Jim’s.

“Yeah,” Jim replied.

He rose and hovered over the fragile client. From the corner of his vision, he saw his overflowing trash bin.

Disgusting, he thought.

He couldn’t empty it quickly enough. Too many Chinese delivery boxes. Too many burger wrappers heaped upon doughnut boxes. They came faster than they could be thrown away.

“Insatiable. Distended,” the doctor had said. “A stomach made of iron!” he had declared. He would become famous with the paper he wrote about Jim’s un-retractable gut.

But Jim had to live with the damn thing.

Far from the pillowed gut of his pudgy youth, this was different. An ottoman-sized lump, protruding from his waist. Solid like brick.

Jim eyed the man’s freckled thighs, his ginger hair trailing up to a flat abdomen. And a special treat below it.

And so Jim gobbled.

“Heavenly,” the man said, rising from the bed. “Quite satiating.”

A pounding on the door. That would be Fred, Jim thought.

And the thin man slipped out the back as the pizza delivery boy shoved another pie through the door.

K: Wow…it’s like Rusty never took the season off. The “special treat below it” bit was a great way to deliver the, uh, “meat” of the story. SILVER

MN – There is a lot of character packed in here. I’m appropriately appalled but can’t quite look away. GOLD

Shawn Ashley, Hidden Legends

If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Swift Foot, the horse with the black spot above its left eye. But these people didn’t see it; the glimmer in her eye. The maliciousness hidden in obscurity. Everyone bet on Princess. She was the fastest.

It made sense.

Me, I cleaned the stables. Have since I was a boy. Pop never thought it was a good idea to put me out front where people could see. Said I didn’t look the part. That’s why Chip was the face of the family, with his blond hair and freckles.

I was sick, or so Pop said. My heart was too big for my body, said he, and one day it would just grow right on out of my chest.

My Gramma said it was a metaphor or somethin’ like that. For who I was. How I took care of the horses.

I placed my hand on Swift Foot’s neck and whispered to her that today was the day.

I wouldn’t see her win that day. The last thing I ever saw was the beautiful black spot above her eye as I fell to the stable floor. My heart, finally, too full.

K: See, there’s a strong ending. In a very short space, we have a character with real emotions and struggles who found a sort of love in his life despite it all. The story smartly avoids the trap of trying to do too much in too little time, and stands tall as a result. GOLD

MN – I didn’t see it coming, and it packed an impact. The line with the Gramma gave us something to the character that hadn’t quite been there with the rest of it all. GOLD

Brooks Maki, Long-Distance Phone Call for Friendship

Kylene ran on, her breath now coming in short gasps. Always as she ran, she listened, her long earlobes grazed the ground, alert for any footfall behind her. Hearing nothing in that direction, she slowed. She heard a village over the next hill that would shelter her. This far from the capital, loyalty was easily shifted. Doubly so once they learned what she had heard.

An explosion of sound caused her ears to retract, and she saw ahead of her the earth rending itself into dozens of plateaus. She ran to the nearest rise in time to see the village folding over itself as it slid into the newly yawning canyon. An army marched toward her in the distance, easily within her range of hearing, but no tremors reached her ears from the separated plateau.

She was isolated, the magicians had won. She sagged to the ground, folded her ears neatly in her lap, and closed her eyes.

K: Even if you missed a semicolon, this is very tight, engaging prose. It’s not a bad idea to write a bit less and strengthen the hell out of it rather than hit the maximum and hope it works. Interesting concept and lovely prose. GOLD

MN – This is a neat world. I very much want to see more of it. Conceding defeat didn’t feel quite honest to the character, from the rest of the descriptions, but the world building here is excellent. GOLD

Melissa Diamond, Phone Call

A needle impaled her abdomen, hot and sharp. Rita heard her mother’s voice in her head telling her to breathe through the cramps. Not so many were as blessed as she. Hold it close. Others will want it.
Wrapped in her mother’s arms, Rita would listen songs of life and death; birth and renewal. Rita had laughed at her mother’s warnings then. Why hide such a blessing?

The needled slipped out of her body, and Rita’s memory skipped forward. Her mother’s face changed. A deformed skull bloodied by bullets. No one should remember their mother that way.

Would her children remember her at all?

Rita awoke next to the chain link fence. Home. She didn’t remember going to sleep, but each day bled into the next these days. The only difference was the growing bellies of the women who visited.

“Thank you for your sacrifice,” they’d say, and Rita’s womb twinged at the words.

The woman today offered her an endearing smile. “Your sacrifice will always be remembered. When all else went barren, your body overflowed.”

Rita cried. Right there, in front of that monstrous belly, she cried.

When all else went barren, her body overflowed.

K: Good God, now. If a concentration camp can appear here, it can appear in any challenge, right? The prompt worked as an inspiration for a fairly straightforward “malformation,” and that’s fine; I always want people to play around with ideas. This is more fine prose and a strong – and impossible to foresee – concept. SILVER

MN – Sometimes the reveal comes too soon. Here, I think it came a little too late, and the first part was a little tougher for clarity. Still, the underlying concept here is dynamite, particularly in light of the prompt, and working with a body part that naturally becomes overgrown. I appreciate that kind of twist. SILVER

Daniel Caouette, PRADAZ

Damn it. Not again.
Phil pulled his hand out of the dolphin’s mouth. He just started to get the hang of his new job at the aquarium, but now and then the animals reminded him of his long fingers. It wasn’t like they stopped him from doing normal things, he just had more people gawk over his hand than the average person.
Phil put away the extra fish, wiped his hand clean and turned out the lights. On his way out, he walked toward the office and knew something was wrong. His boss, the zoo manager, was sitting on the steps in front of his office, crying. An amber light flickering and dancing in a mad frenzy through the window. The office was on fire.
“Sergeant Galahad, my cute adorable kitty!!!” Phil’s boss sobbed. “He’s locked inside!!!”
Phil looked over his boss’ shoulder and saw the cat with large pleading eyes, pawing at the window. The window was cracked open, and the lock wasn’t far away for someone with long fingers. Phil slid his fingers in, unlocked the window, and pulled the cat out. The office burned to the ground, but Sir Galahad lived. Phil was a feline savior.

K: When people are bringing the fire in a challenge, I get to nitpick: this spoken line is pretty stagey, as the boss wouldn’t have to announce that Sergeant Galahad is a cat. That might seem small, but any time a character announces something that those around him would already know, it hurts the story on the whole. Beyond that, it does have decent structure, as the fingers are established in action before setting up the payoff.

MN – I laughed. I expected more humor along these lines this time, and this delivered. Why does his boss have the cat there? It doesn’t matter. It’s a funny situation, so I accept it!

Colin Woolston, Phone Call

Automatic rounds were pinging, buzzing and thwap-ing all around, and an explosive dart detonated behind. Kyle slid behind a broken wall, turning over as he did, and came to rest with his K7 shouldered. A tiny head materialized through the window of a blown out car, and Kyle sighted and fired with amazing efficiency. A pinkish mist blossomed. Two more of the federation grunts went down in quick succession, their screams short-lived.

“This guy is bullshit. How can he move like that?”

Kyle vaulted the broken wall, spotted movement in the corridor leading under the reactor and sprinted for cover, turning and leaping and firing at the same time with lightning speed. Three more soldiers convulsed and then were still.

“Total bullshit. I mean, it’s like doping or deflating a ball.”

Kyle watched with a fading smile as the Final Kill Cam showed the pixelated mayhem he had caused.

“They shouldn’t let that freak compete.”
“Seriously. Freak.”

“Go home FREAK!”

Kyle didn’t see who yelled it, but only because he kept his head low, his freak hands deep in his pockets as he made his way to the champion room. As far as he was concerned the game was too easy, but the prize money was the best around and surgery isn’t cheap.
He slid into the seat and picked up the controller, trying to ignore the stares and snickers from the other players at his giant thumbs.

Last round motherfuckers. Get some.

K: I suppose I have to ignore the fact that giant thumbs wouldn’t necessarily give a guy the upper hand in Call of Duty, but all the same, it’s a decent dramedy leading up to an amusing final line. SILVER

MN – Oh, the O’Henryesque “using his talent so he can have surgery to get rid of his talent” bit. Just a small line, but it helped give the story some purpose and structure that otherwise would have been missing. I like the way this waits on the reveal, and really lets Kyle inhabit the character. SILVER

Brian David, Hidden Legends

“I’ve had a fun time tonight.”
Janis pressed her hand against Malcolm’s chest.
“Oooo,” she said, pursing her lips. “You must exercise.”
She leaned in and pressed her lips against his. He allowed himself to enjoy the sensation for just a few moments before grabbing her shoulder and gently pushing her away.
Janis grinned slyly. “Strong grip, too.”
“Look,” Malcolm said, blushing. “We should do this again, you know. Get to know each other a little better.”
Janis lifted an eyebrow. “Alright. I understand.” She grabbed her purse and headed toward the door.
“I’ll be waiting for your call.” Her hair flipped gracefully as she stepped into the hallway.
Malcolm shut the door behind her and hung his head for a moment. Then he walked to the bedroom of his Manhattan condo and looked in the mirror above his dresser.
“I need to get out of this suit.”
He pressed one of the gold cufflinks on his shirt, and steamed emitted in streams from around his neck, hissing. Malcolm pulled his head up and away, revealing a tiny, almost baby-like body dangling from a regular-sized neck. Malcolm examined his miniature form.
“Money can’t buy you everything, I suppose.”

K: There’s another pet peeve of mine: a character providing exposition by speaking aloud to himself. Do people ever say “I need to get out of this suit” when there’s nobody around? Outside of that, I like this one quite a bit, as it makes me hunger for more; the baby-man has had a successful first date that he ended gracefully, but where does he go from here? GOLD

MN – Finally someone who went small! You get love from me, because, well, because you’re the only one to do it so far, and there is no other reason at all that I appreciate smallness. Good descriptions and believable dialogue, but could have used a bit more impact compared to some of the stories this week.

Eric Schapp, For the Love

Benson surveyed the area as he trotted toward the commotion. There appeared to be plenty of people to help. Strewn along the edge of the pool as water was quickly filling the depression. None could reach the lip and pull themselves out. He was already imagining all of the accolades and words of praise he will surely receive if he helps.

With a lick of his lips and a bit of a pant, Benson scampered over to get their attention. They all looked up with shock as he turned around and uncoiled his magnificent tail. Six feet long and strong the beige coil certainly looked like a life line. It had not served him well in the past, but as he braced his legs he knew that was about to change.

The water had risen considerably; he could feel how cold it was from tip to nose. One by one the people grasped his tail and pulled themselves up out of the liquid nightmare. He didn’t know how or why they found themselves trapped, but as the patted him on the head Benson knew he was a good boy.

K: Hmm…I WOULD appreciate knowing why they were trapped, as it comes off as a pretty clear device without that bit of information. Cute idea and story, if a little predictable.

MN – The canine reveal was handled well. The tense jump and the fragmented sentence in the first paragraph caused a bit of a hiccup in getting into this, but another very clever approach.

erik sunshine, for the love

The situation began to deteriorate rapidly.

Phil had had full control of the situation. The bank was exclusive, prestigious, and most importantly, small. With his back comfortably to a brick wall, he was able to keep all of the petite lobby in front of him. The crowd had been small and submissive.

It was that bitchy teller. She totally threw him off his game. Yes, this was a swanky Manhattan bank, but her rudeness was impressive. Out of pure frustration, Phil withdrew the pistol from his pocket and pointed it directly at her face. This did little to temper her acrimonious disposition.

The crowd, once passive, had begun to murmur and fidget. He was losing control. Sizing up his options, he impulsively decided to flee.

He bolted to the exit just as an executive and his client were exiting a nearby office. The client sized up the floor and situation and acted quickly. A tree trunk of an arm shot out in front of the door, and Phil was clothlined hard to the floor.

As consciousness faded, Phil saw a freakishly large index finger wagging in his face.

“Like I said, Mr. Mutombo,” the exec said, “You’re my favorite customer!”

K: Oh dear…all this to set up a Dikembe Mutombo joke? Lucky for you, I love Mutombo in general, and the commercials he did a couple of years back. This seems like the kind of thing a writer would come up with to hide weaknesses, but the prose is pretty strong, and Phil is coming into his own as a character by the time he gets stuffed. SILVER

MN – Ha! This was a decent enough story, but then to make it about a real person, and then to have Mutombo actually stuffing someone? Very funny. BRONZE

Jonathon Pope, For the Love

“Does it hurt?”

“Not really.

Rebecca was starting to regret taking off her headscarf in front of Donny. He had been so curious about her religion, asking all kinds of questions about Allah and Mohammed, until she had exhausted her store of information. She had decided to finally come clean with him, admit that she wasn’t a muslim, that the headscarf just helped conceal the fact that her brain was too large. The unusual bulges that she was so sensitive about would vanish under the scarf, and being the only muslim in school was easier than being the girl with the weird shaped head.

“Can you like, read minds?”

“No! Don’t be stupid, Donny!”

She started to put her scarf back on angrily. Donny reached out and touched her hand.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I just… I’m curious. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

Rebecca mumbled ” S’alright” and finished the job. She wasn’t really offended by the question that he asked, so much as the one he didn’t ask. Well, he could let himself be proud of himself for talking her into removing her headscarf, if he thought he could convince her to remove her bra so easily, he had another thing coming. “Still,” she thought, “I’d like to see him try.”

K: That payoff is a little out of left field, as if this concept was created and an ending had to be tacked on. The money bits here had everything to do with the Muslim angle. What difficulties did she take on by trading her deformity for a “taboo” religion to some in this country?

MN – I’m guessing she actually can read minds here, and if so, that’s a great twist. It’s not entirely clear from that last paragraph that that’s what’s happening, but the idea is clear enough throughout the rest that I’m going with it. If I’m wrong, that’s what you should have done. I like the concept of being the only Muslim being easier than being the weird headed kid. BRONZE

Roxanne Lewis, PRADAZ

I remember being a nine year old girl in a bookstore with my book enthusiast mother; I tried my hardest to be as like her as I could. I mimicked her movements, pick up a book, look at the back for awhile, flip thru the pages, put it back down… repeat with a different book. While doing this I happened upon a book for preteens coming into their bodies, my mother saw me engulfed in it and promptly purchased it.

I read that night that eating fatty foods could help your boobs to grow, for two weeks I ate nothing but pasta and prayed for a bust to appear; little did I know I what I was getting into.

Fast forward five years, I am 14 and I have a big old set of 36 double e’s. That is not what you want as a shy girl in a sea of hormonal wild boys and the sharks that are young girls. As I grew up it never got any better, the teasing became cat calls, the girls became women with accusations of promiscuity.

Now as I dance exoctically around my center stage, money fluttering around me, I know that I won…

K: Wow, we rushed through an entire lifetime in short order there. Size 36EE breasts would have to be difficult to work with onstage, right? That might be fun to explore. Starting in the strip club and doing a couple of flashbacks would’ve made the story less jarring. There aren’t enough words allowed for us to digest the bits before we move on.

MN – Seeing the whole development, from 9-year-old to adult-entertainer, in such a short time frame is kind of neat. It’s held back a little by some of the missing “ands” and the tense changes. I like the causal relationship that’s suggested though – it isn’t resolved that eating the fatty foods actually did this, but it’s out there and unresolved, and I like that fact.

Bret Highum, For the Love

Maria had just picked up Starbucks for her and her co-workers and was walking through an alley back to the bank when blood-curdling screams almost made her drop the cups. Recovering from her shock, she leaned closer, only to feel heat radiating through the rusty steel door and see a wisp of dirty gray smoke escape from between the frame and the door.
Maria realized she had to act. Drawing back her size 18 (men’s) Dr. Martens, she unleashed a thunderous kick right under the smoking doorknob. Three more kicks in rapid succession and the door slammed open and a cloud of ash and smoke puffed out as two soot-coated figures tumbled out onto the ground. Maria grabbed them both and half-pulled/half-led them away from the building as they coughed and hacked and sobbed in relief..
Maria and her boots were front page on the Beebeetown Gazette the next day.
K: Wow, there’s got to be a better way to word the first couple of sentences. It’s a nice skeleton of a concept that lacks bite because we just don’t have any motives. We don’t know where Maria works, we don’t know who the perps are and we don’t know what they want. This story is a little absurd, but absurdity works best when you go all the way.

MN – A more subtle ending could have helped this tale of heroism, but I liked the action. It’s really tough to write action, and have it move quickly and be true to the pace, and be clear at the same time. So well done with that.

Will Young, For the Love

Most doctors would never want to operate on a family member, but Dr. Astor was unlike most doctors. Plus, his son was already dead. The kidneys of the Astor children were legendary. All three kids had already donated a kidney. While the New England Journal of Medicine refused to run his article about the diet and pills he gave his children (something about peer review ethics), he was thrilled a fourth life could be saved.

Now that Ned was dead, Dr. Astor was going to remove that other kidney to save yet another life. Shit, thought Dr. Astor, as he began reaching into the incision. His wrist reached the crevice, but his diminutive fingers could not locate the scalpel. As he stretched desperately to reach intestine, kidney, or liver in the hopes of tapping that device, he came up short. Of course, he only had one scalpel in his laboratory. He stared at his other devices, but realized none of the other ones could be used to widen the incision to find the actual tool.

Flustered, Dr. Astor left the lab and ascended the basement stairs. Surely a kidney recipient would not mind his use of a steak knife.

K: Wow. I mention going “full absurdity” after the last one, and here we are. “Plus, his son was already dead” is a frigging hilarious line on its own, but also does a fantastic job of providing exposition that would otherwise be boring; we know what Astor is all about thanks to that observation and it gets us in the right mindset for the story. GOLD

MN – This is two stories in a row that give us a parenthetical commentary that is a small, funny addition, but that standing alone doesn’t do enough to warrant it. That’s a small item to point out, but since it was two in a row, it seemed like I should comment on it? This is funny, and the last line got a legitimate laugh, as I really didn’t know where this was going to go.

Joshua Longman, Hidden Legends

Hazel never knew life without her deformation. She was used to an existence on the margin of society, to the scraps at the end of a meal. Too far an outcast to hold any status amongst her ilk and too young to realize that nothing risked is nothing gained, she suffered.

One hoary morning an ochre sun crept into existence and without the communal warmth of her pack, the warm fingers of dawn shook Hazel out of dormancy before her brothers and sisters. She decided to explore the reaches of the pack’s nomadic encampment.

Beige twitched on white and her body tensed as she crept forward in a hesitant prowl; a silent ivory explosion erupted and a hare sprinted out into a welcoming dale. Hazel’s developing juvenile muscles sprang into motion as she flitted multidirectional until she found her moment and pounced upon her shrieking prey. Her petite, hideous, rose of a tail vibrated in delight for the first fresh meat she would ever taste.

She felt a violent nip on her hindquarters; her brother had followed her. She circled to face him, her lips curled into a virgin menace. His blood would be some consolation for the past.

K: This is a pretty good concept, even if I’m not the biggest fan of the “gotcha” ending. The first paragraph lays out some exposition that could literally begin almost every story this week if you change Hazel’s name, and as such, it can go. There’s something odd about the prose that’s hard to put my finger on; I think it has to do with purple prose alternating with matter-of-fact speech.

MN – Another animal story. Another well-done action scene, very well-paced. The language is maybe a bit much at times, but I think that’s because there’s just so much of the description. Each individual description is great, but the sum isn’t greater than the parts for me in this instance. SILVER

Annette Barron, PRADAZ

“Twelve?!” Nick’s voice rose and cracked. “How is that even possible?”

The doctor reluctantly pulled her fascinated gaze from the ultrasound display. “I’ve read of it in journals, but . . . .” Seeing our pale faces, she curbed her obvious enthusiasm. “Nancy, you were probably born with an abnormally large ovary. Instead of releasing one egg, the larger, crowded ovary will release a spurt of eggs, sometimes over 20 or 30. You now have a dozen fertilized ovum in your uterus.”

I laid my head back and waited for someone to jump out and yell “PUNKED!” Nick seemed frozen in place, gripping my hand so hard my fingertips were plum. Dr. Vinca sharpened the image on the screen. “They are all viable right now, but obviously, they are going to run out of room before too long. We have to decide right away how you want to proceed.”

I yanked Nick’s hand to get him to let up. “Nick. I don’t want more than one baby at a time.” Nick released my hand.

“You want to kill eleven of our children.”

I tried to shrink into the hospital bed, away from his words and judgment, but I couldn’t escape it.

“Yes.”

K: Huh. That’s some very blunt dialogue, free of subtext, and it hurts the drama of the scene quite a bit. The PUNKED reference also felt extremely out of place, given the tone of the story. The concept is certainly a worthy one; 25 minutes proved to be unforgiving here, I suspect.

MN – Something about this doctor explaining the cause and effect seems so realistic to me – like that’s exactly how they’d explain something like this. I think this piece really rang true. BRONZE

Danyel Logue, Phone Call

Bo’s nostrils burned as the pressure mounted in his head.

Fucking ragweed.

Bo must resist the urge to expel streaming snot. His nostrils were already on fire, a pH issue, really.

Focus…

He jerked his head erratically like a feral rooster, trying to scratch the invisible itch.

A sharp moan.

He looked up between two supple calves— his partner Sasha’s head locked back in ecstasy. The camera leaning over her oiled body for the perfect POV shot.

Bo sniffed, but kept working in and out of her.

Do not blow this…

Bo channeled the painful memories of his seven-inch Gonzo nose. This deformity had nearly destroyed him. He’d been a mutant.

Bo could be a porn God if he delivered on this shoot. He was working with acclaimed director Pauly Voyas. An artist who refused to shoot more than one take. If Bo could deliver, he would be a worldwide sex God.
The moaning reached critical mass. Bo buried and twisted his face into Sasha. He couldn’t hold out any longer. As the moans crescendoed, he lost control and sneezed hard into her. She shrieked.

As she caught her breath, she laughed, “I’ve never cum that hard in my life!”

K: What with this being a porn backdrop, it needs to avoid an obvious porn gag at the end, and unfortunately it doesn’t. Also we have an instance where the time limit robbed you of a necessary edit (the first and third sentences of the second-to-last paragraph are almost exactly the same). I like the idea of the hook nose being a source of strength for him in this arena, but the last bit could be punched up. Otherwise, the prose is enjoyable throughout.

MN – I expected more sex stuff. I’m kind of glad this is the sex stuff we got, because it’s genuinely interesting. “Feral rooster” is excellent. BRONZE

Beau, Hidden Legends

The last of the fair goers climbed into their seats. Jarrod always enjoyed the final Ferris wheel ride of the night. Using his good hand, he pulled the lever to start the trip.

Jarrod was cursed with a right hand the size of a four slice toaster. It made him popular, and kids would project their fantasies about what an awesome quarterback or power forward he would be. But his hand was useless. It couldn’t grip a pen, let alone a ball. He couldn’t type. He could pull a lever.

The ride ended and he helped each couple get on their way. A mother and son were the final twosome, and their exit proved more cumbersome.

“Again! Again!” the boy cried, slamming his hands against his knees.

“Sweetie,” Mom tried to interject. “We have to…”

“No! Again!” screamed the boy. She sat back, defeated.

Jarrod knelt by the boy. “Hey, kiddo,” he smiled, raising his hand. The boys eyes grew two sizes at the freakish appendage. “Awesome job up there. How about a high five?”

The boy grinned, reared back, and let Jarrod have it.

Mom took her son’s hand and led him out the gate. “Thank you,” she whispered.

K: Now that we’ve seen a regular Joe with a deformity being gawked at by children, it seems obvious to the point where I almost think there should have been more of it. It’s a very small story, but it’s touching without being too manipulative. BRONZE

MN – I like the realization lines “he couldn’t, he couldn’t, he could.” Very concise but effective. To see what else he can do, which is to say, anything anyone else can, is good. Leaving it at this little interaction was a great idea, instead of going too big by having him realize his calling, or trying to get with the mom, or something else like that. This was just very honest. SILVER

————————————————————————————-

Well done to our double-golds, Shawn Ashley and Brooks, and the eight-point-getter, Jordan. I wish I could say your work wasn’t in vain, but one of you has to vote someone out now anyway.

Let’s see some points, eh? Normally it’ll be average number of medal points per person, but since you all have the same number of people, I won’t math it up. As always, golds are worth five, silvers get three and bronzes are worth one.

The Hidden Legends of Temple Grandin: 30
Long-Distance Phone Call for Friendship: 23 (two nonsubs)
For the Love of Pete: 11
The Devil Wear PRADAZ: 8 (one nonsub)

Phone Call and PRADAZ, get elimination votes to me by 9pm tonight and we’ll toss the first two corpses into the grave, and a challenge will follow immediately.

Nonsubs were Angela Moore (PRADAZ) and Rene Pare and Jesse Vance (Phone Call). Rene ordered the prompt but I never got a story; if this was an internet snafu, let me know.

Cheers, Survivors.

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