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WCT - [COMPETITION OVERHAUL - NEED IDEAS] The Writing Competition Thread


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Here's a little poem on a topic that recently crossed my mind.

No Xenoblade?

A year ago, a

badass game

came out and it became a

definite buy for me and

everyone I know. With

familiar developers and composers like the

godly Mitsuda, among others, we could

hardly wait for its North American release, but mostly

it was I who anticipated this. And

just when it seemed like this game would become a

knockout in the gaming industry, we've been over-

looked once again.

Monolith Soft, how dare you

not release this awesome game

out here in North America. What about

Pandora's Tower and Last Story?

Quit holding out on those as well and be

realistic about earning money. These are no

scandalous games of any sort, so stop

taunting us video game nerds. When we

unite against you, you will feel the wrath of our

violent rage.

What we want is justice, and you can start by giving

Xenoblade to us. I am positive that

Yoko herself will agree to our demands. But instead you choose to receive

zero money from us, your devoted fans.

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Posted on behalf of Mirby, who is having trouble signing in to the forums.

Humanity Is Queer by Taylor Brown

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde said these words many years ago, yet they still resonate strongly today with people of all ages. But in particular, I think these words have the highest resonance with those who don’t fit into the fallacy of the gender binary, with people who are gay, bi, trans, gender variant, and anything and everything in between. Yet despite this, people get attacked for being themselves. People get raped for being themselves. And, saddest of all, people get killed for committing the supposed crime of expressing who they truly are on the inside, for being themselves. Is it society that has conditioned the approval of such violent behavior? For that matter, does society even condone such abhorrent acts?

Personally, I don’t think it does anymore. Once, long ago, it did. During a time before the legendary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many other like-minded individuals fought for their civil rights and to end racism as it was. Maybe even way back when the late President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery and started the genesis for what would become the aforementioned civil rights movement a century thereafter. Maybe during a time when women were only viewed as property, deserving of fewer rights than the family dog or even the corral keeping the livestock contained. Yet with all these advances of civil liberties, with all this acceptance towards people from all walks of life, why then do people of varying genders still get abused so? Why is it that this substantial segment of the population is still considered to be second-class, or worse?

We are no different from anyone else, be they white or black, rich or poor, or even fat or slim. And despite this, we still get shunned for things we deserve, even housing. Thousands of homeless queer youth sleep on the streets, in places where even the elements can take out some unspoken rage on individuals, each night. Something that, for some reason, isn’t really permitted by the law. I understand that cleaning the streets can make a city more appealing to tourists and potential new residents, but at what cost? Livelihood, safety, or even the sanity of a homeless youth? Since when was sleeping prohibited under the law, based solely on the fact that the location isn’t ideal? And even if we do find a place indoors, off the streets, just because a building is abandoned yet infinitely safer than the not-so-great outdoors, we still get in trouble for it. All because we’re trying to find a safe place to rest, somewhere away from the oft-vicious elements. How does this make any sense?

We live in a time where the very system that has given everyone else what they need gives us nothing in turn. A place where the things we need to live are denied to us by officials full of bigotry and hatred towards something they only fear because they don’t understand it. Even things that we do manage to get can simply cease to exist due to budget cuts, possibly for a good reason, but more often than not because some public official decided they needed a new Lamborghini or something; an object more suited to vanity than practicality, one that costs more than the simple price tag on the rear window at the dealership. What most officials don’t realize is that once they get into office, they are thrust into a game where lives hang in the balance. Take away our rights, and you’ve very well taken a life. Maybe it wasn’t by your hand, but it was surely a consequence of your actions. And even if they do know, they can easily disregard it, chalk it up to another queer youth whose life was ended by something surely unrelated to what they’ve done. Take away our safe places, and lives are endangered. Take away our housing, and lives are endangered. Take away any vestiges of security, and lives are endangered.

Yet even with all these actions endangering the homeless queer youth, nothing is done about it at the highest levels. Endangered animals whose habitats are ritually destroyed by deforestation and urban development are more protected under the law than we are, yet we face an even deadlier foe. Hatred, bigotry, and ignorance among those who are human just like us. Too often do people focus on what makes us all similar rather than the beauty of what makes us all unique, and that is usually the root of the problem. We’re all different, and thus we are all a bit queer. After all, the dictionary entry for queer states that the world simply means strange or odd. And we as humans are rather strange compared to the rest of the animals. We have many different languages, we walk upright and can build things, we have the mental capacity to do anything we set our minds to. All in all, rather odd creatures we make indeed.

Yet people use these words as insults, which usually fails because by now we’ve taken that word back and it’s no longer derogatory. Similar to the infamous “n-word” which simply means “ignorant person.” Which is ironic, because in using that as an insult only shows that the user is the truly ignorant one, which in turn makes it hilarious to hear. To summarize, too many queer youth are attacked for being who they are. To quote the band Audioslave, “To be yourself is all that you can do.” Yet just for that we’re attacked, shunned, and denied basic needs all too often. Just because we’re homeless doesn’t make us any better or worse than those that are housed; just because we’re queer doesn’t make us any less deserving of anything than those who feel they aren’t; just because we’re youth doesn’t mean we lack the experience or drive to get everything together. In fact, we’ve probably learned more living on the streets than those who have had steady housing, income, and/or work for their whole lives. I’ll leave you all with a poem, written by yours truly.

We’re all a little bit queer,

If you’re not, then you’re not really here,

No need to be snide or to sneer,

Or even to glare or to leer,

Whether you’re far or you’re near,

There’s truly nothing to fear,

So pull up a chair and a beer,

And let’s toast! To being a bit queer!

Here here!

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Nothing I read in the rules said that the freeform entry can't be about games or music... so here I go.


I am only a couple of years younger than the commercial video game, and I've been a big fan of the activity ever since I discovered the joystick. (You with the filthy minds, knock it off.) I have played a great many games from every genre from the days of the Atari 2600 to the present day and I have no plans to stop playing. I feel rather knowledgeable about the hobby and wish to share a couple of viewpoints.

One of my favourite genres is and has always been the role-playing game, abbreviated RPG. There are a lot of games described as having RPG elements, and whenever I hear/read this phrase I have to wonder exactly what elements are meant. I've given this a lot of thought, and now I am going to strip down "RPG elements" to the most basic rule, to compare and contrast with what others may insist upon.

To many people, RPG elements include a story with a modicum of depth, defined characters with history, multiple-character parties, magic or similar abilities, methods of saving the game, and number-stuffed battle sequences - some of which pause between turns to allow the player to plot strategy, grab a snack and a drink, get laid (unlikely as that may seem for a hardcore player), or even *GASP!* go to work. While these aspects certainly help a role-playing experience, they aren't absolutely necessary. There are many games, RPGs and otherwise, that have these features in various combinations, but all RPGs have one element in common: the player's character/party undergoes some sort of noticeable permanent change in the course of the game.

Due to that definition, I tend to consider some games RPGs that others would argue are not. From the start, as an example, I thought of the entire Legend of Zelda franchise as a series of action-RPGs, and significant amount of industry pundits disagreed. Many still do (perhaps you as well) but I defend my position, alone with a BFG-9000 and the Master Sword if need be.

This basic element is found in many games that some do not consider RPGs. It takes several categorical forms, sometimes in the same game. The two most common categories are item-based growth and experience systems. Item-based development is a long-standing aspect of Zelda: every time the player acquires a Heart Container or the necessary number of Heart Container Pieces, Link's maximum health meter extends, thus enabling him endure more damage before death and game over/retry from last save.

When most gamers discuss RPGs, they tend to stick to vanguards of the genre such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Phantasy Star and Pokémon. These and many others share experience systems; by participating in combat and surviving, the characters win experience points. When enough points have accumulated to reach various plateaus, the characters then gain levels and, in turn, generally enjoy enhanced statistics including but not limited to greater physical strength, magical talent, speed, defense, and eroticism. It is not uncommon for the characters in question to undergo a graphical alteration as well. In the case of Pokémon, many characters even undergo a change of identity, evolving from one creature into a related one.

There are literally hundreds of other games with this basic RPG element. Modern games have a tendency to blur the line between genres. There are plenty of platform-RPGs both in 2D and 3D (notably the recent Castlevanias), shooter-RPGs (Borderlands), puzzle-RPGs (Puzzle Quest), and even a pinball RPG (if the imaginatively-titled Pinball Quest can be counted).

One wonders if the RPG or its basic element has reached its ultimate limit. I am doubtful. Game developers are incredibly creative people, so there will almost always be a new stle of game to be invented, and the idea of the changing character/party is too valuable to leave behind. As a matter of fact, I have come up with a variation I have not yet seen produced...

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In lieu of a more dedicated submission from me, here are the scripts for my comic strips of this week.

CRACKTON, August 1-5

PATIENT: So I was at the dentist's office, and on the TV there was this familiar-looking teen actress, right?

SHRINK: Okay...

PATIENT: I knew I had seen her in a film, but I couldn't remember where, exactly.

SHRINK: I follow.

PATIENT: Then it hit me, and I yelled out the title in front of the patients in the waiting room.

SHRINK: How did you feel after saying that?

PATIENT: Well... How would you feel if a five-year-old in braces gave you the stinkeye?

- - -

PATIENT: Hey, you know what this session could use? Some incense.

SHRINK: Incense? I'm allergic.

PATIENT: To what? Fragrance?

SHRINK: To smoke.

PATIENT: Incense isn't smoke. It's a pleasant scent.

SHRINK: It burns, irritates me and makes me terribly ill.

PATIENT: All that, and it comes out smelling like a rose!

SHRINK: A burning rose.

- - -

SHRINK: You know, we've had these sessions for quite some time now.

PATIENT: Years at this point.

SHRINK: Well, I don't think I've gotten to know you well. Or at all.

PATIENT: How so?

SHRINK: I really can't tell if you're being sincere. Whether you're revealing parts of yourself, or spinning tales.

PATIENT: Sounds like something my ex would say.

SHRINK: You have an ex?

PATIENT: No. I just thought that would be a cool reply.

- - -

PATIENT: So I was at this store and there was this woman. She totally likes me.


PATIENT: Yeah. She smiled at me, but then avoided me when I tried to talk to her.

SHRINK: Well, maybe she's just smiley, and doesn't actually like you.

(stunned pause)

PATIENT: Nah, she totally likes me.

SHRINK: (scribbles notes)

- - -

PATIENT: Where am I?

ADMIN: The hall of shrinks. You do not belong here.

PATIENT: Hall of what?

ADMIN: It is a place of official business. Only shrinks are allowed.

PATIENT: But I know a shrink. We've been pals for years.

ADMIN: You are a patient.


ADMIN: Shrinks are not to converse with patients at the administrative level. Now, see your way out. I'm off for a hot date.

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Right. So job hunting is kicking my ass. No time to actually finish my entry, so once again I'm left not participating. I really wish my life would stabilize so I could get shit done again.

Four entries this month!

No Xenoblade? by Capa Langley

Humanity Is Queer by Mirby

The RPG Element by Jax Mandrake

CRACKTON, August 1-5 by JH Sounds

You have until the end of the 23rd to vote! Get to it, don't delay, or else you'll forget. Trust me.

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I hearby submit this entertainment literary context as a PART 1 for the FREEFORM SUBMISSIONS as per previous arrangements and void where prohibited.

Simon and Garfunkel: Cops Undercover! II: The Deep North! Part 1

Warning: This story contains puns.

"You're a loose cannon, Simon!" screamed the Chief of Police.

"Only in bed, chief." Paul Simon responded with his signature cool tone.

"So, I've learned! The stains on my bed will never come out... I got word today my daughter is pregnant with five babies. Three of them yours, and two of them..." the chief's red-hot glare drifting towards Garfunkel, " ...are yourrrrssssss...!" he sneered at long last. His cheeks swelled as though his rage had formed acorns and he was gathering them up for a long winter. He sneezed acid and leaned forward with a menacing gout forming in his eyes.

"That's it, boys. Hand 'em over."


"Your badges, motherfucker! Hand 'em over! That's right, an dale! Hand it over, you curly haired, toe headed freak!" He pounced and collected the iconic Tallahassee City Police medallions from sweaty Jewish palms connected, at length, to heads that looked at each other with mild confusion and amusement. The chief, less of a man now than an embellished pastiche of the human condition overflowing and bursting from the seams, dislocated his ribs and widened his throat like the froggy little fucker he was for the next event, "I swore I'd do this one day and now I'm glad I left the house without eating anything. Twenty fuckin' hard years in the making! Harrumph! Munch! Grommph! Hmm! Munch..."

And Simon and Garfunkel watched, in genuine alert and surprise, as the chief finally made good on his age-long, constant promise to have their badges for breakfast. Simon, a man whose prowess of libido is singularly responsible for Carrie Fisher's lesbianism and the Rwandan Civil War, and Art Garfunkel, a man who once had sex with his own mother because he literally believed doing so during the menstrual week would cure his herpes, shared the same wide-eyed look and suppressed giggling as they watched the show. Teeth broke, blood and bones cracked and spit between gorges of Sweet Lady Justice on the desk, the floor, and the chief's brand new tweedy sports jacket, but the deed was done.

"huff.... huff... you see? I'm not fucking around here! I mean business!" The chief said as he was still technically choking down their emblems of honor, trying to hide leviathanian pain from the sudden injection of bronze into his blood stream. "Now listen up, you two double dumbshits. You gotta plane leaving in ten minutes for Montreal. We gotta crack this case today! Today! It's gotta be done today!" he pointed a finger at Simon, "You screw up this case, and so help me God, next time, I'll have your butt for breakfast!"

"Would you like seconds, sir?" Garfunkel asked and farted a mighty Jewish fart.

"Get the hell out of my office! Take your free-wheeling, folk-singing, Central-Park-reuniting ass on the road! Get your...." The chief stopped short and clutched at his chest, breathing shortly but heavily. "Ack! Ackkk! My chest is burning...! The bronze in the badges are oxidizing! Oh shit! Oh shiiiittt! Call an ambulance! Ack! Acckk!!"

"Sorry chief, but we have a plane leaving in ten minutes..." Simon said as he donned the signature sunglasses that he had never worn until he still thought mimicking David Caruso would somehow attract women (instead of simply David Caruso himself). The chief dropped to the floor in agony while his mortality leaked out in the form of bubbly man-suds as he foamed at the mouth. He gargled for help, begging Allah not to take him twenty-nine minutes before retirement.

"Let's roll, Garfunkel..." Simon said as he kicked Caruso off of sucking his ankle. Garfunkel drank the last of the chief's brandy from his brandy cabinet and followed his main man out the door. The chief writhed in agony and screamed for help until he lost his voice - the oxidizing pressure causing him to shart his vocal chords and make enough police chief haggis right there for all the city to enjoy if they wanted.

When his secretary found him, it was already too late - she had completely lost interest.


The next day, shortly after 2:00 PM, Simon and the Garfunkel woke up early in their disheveled apartment/detox center on the rough side of Tallahassee where they both grew up, went to school, went to college, went to police academy and eventually started experimenting with each other together. Simon was the youngest son of his oldest sister, Nancy, and Garfunkel was somehow Simon's biological father, though neither were completely aware of it. Both men had lived in this tiny shack-within-a-shack for the whole of what could only esoterically be considered their "lives", and they both hoped to grow old in it as well - spending their golden years remembering their incredible adventures out in the world - fighting crime, recording music, becoming irrelevant, winning throwaway humanitarian awards and inventing the taco salad corndog cake which they dreamed of marketing to underprivileged children who couldn't smoke crack. Yes, the American dream lived on in the hearts they swiped from the evidence locker and they proud to be alive in all these generations both were singularly responsible for destroying.

They left a note for the girl they shared until brunch as well as an open bottle of pills and a glass of water to down them all with. Simon locked all doors and windows from the outside; Garfunkel tossed their bags into the Cadillac as they rode into the sunset for northern territory just in time to escape carbon monoxide poisoning!

Ah, the adventure of the dusty highway! The thrill of the wind whipping through their wigs! The fresh air of freedom blowing their fatty jowls and turkey necks clear back to the trunk of the car! This would be the first time they ever got to go on a real road trip together to solve a case. Back in their touring days, they were always too busy playing in the troubadours and folk clubs and recording hit singles that you had to turn the volume all the way up even for a hint of sound to prove you didn't just spend good money on a blank record with their name on it. There were tough days on the road back then; plucking super-soft acoustic guitars and whispering into the microphone to stoned audiences and the ugliest multi-gender hippies you've ever seen when all they really wanted to do was solve murder crimes, bring justice back to the streets and knock up those same hippies.

"Where're we headed again, Simon?" asked the Garfunkel behind the wheel as he jammed both hands down the front and back of his pants for a little personal "pick-me-up" to keep himself awake.

"The Deep North, Garfunkel, my good man. An area in far upper United States along the Atlantic Coast; descriptive of a complete lack of plantations and Mexicans; plus opportunities for cultural allegiances to Canada. A land accented by beautiful mountain landscapes, deep gorgeous lakes, moderate temperature all year long and long held by superstitions of political liberalism, open-mindedness, and New England charm."

"Sounds like a real shit shack." Garfunkel responded as he lost control of the vehicle, violently shaking his stalk and screaming like a constipated banshee as he beat it against the car horn.

"God, I love driving through the country on a road trip. It reminds me of America. In fact, I'm going to write a song about it. Right now." And Simon reached in the back of the now-runaway caddy as it veered off the road and plunged off the cliff into a deep canyon for his acoustic guitar so he could write his past hit, America.

"What do we do once we get there?" Asked Garfunkel as he pleasured both of his private parts simultaneously in tremendous free fall towards the center of the Earth.

"We're supposed to get to a town called El Condor Pasa. There've been three murders there under mysterious circumstances. The investigation report says there is evidence of foul play and possibly conspiracy to commit murder one." Simon explained as he finished recording the song while the caddy crashed through the glass roof of the main lobby at the bottom of the gorge where luckily there was a retirement community and several retirees to break their fall. The car smashed two former radio promoters who worked for Alan Freed during the heyday of the American Revolution or whenever it was that he was popular and bounced steadily off the ground with the wheels still turning. Upon landing for the final time, the caddy burst forward and drove through the crowded hallways of helpless old people whose prayers of euthanasia had now only met them halfway.

"What kind of mysterious circumstances?" Garfunkel, still masturbating furiously to the rhythm of the "bumps" they were driving over, asked as he ducked gunfire by resort administration staff.

"All three victims were found dead with a crystal-like substance smeared on their nostrils. Investigators who looked at the scene earlier didn't find any signs of foul play initially and no one was seen with them. However, now they suspect foul play as they started connecting the deaths together."

The caddy plowed through the wall and a set of elderly twins into the game room where the car only sped up and not a single person was left standing. It drove out a window onto the gardens, dragging some of its victims behind and destroyed the fountain in its lust for carnage. They made doughnuts in the main yard (which soon after became a graveyard) until one of the old people becoming one with the soil had interrupted the force and caused the car to flip over at twice the gravitational lift of an Ariane 5.

"How could they not think it was foul play, initially?" Garfunkel said, shouting so he could hear himself over the tidal wave of dying moans and last rites washing around them as they bulldozed head-over-heel through the on-site church; disturbing a wedding, a funeral, a circumcision and every one who was present to watch the onslaught unfold like the foreskins that were now launching into the punch bowls.

"Well, the northern area has been plagued with drugs for years." he said as the car finally came to a horizontal stop and drove straight forward again at Mach II, hurtling like a flaming, four-wheel drive asteroid through the AARP dinner banquet and liquefying the surviving members of "Gunsmoke!" who were to be honored. "It's not uncommon to find three or more people dead at an isolated period of time with traces of narcotic residue around them."

"So they think it was drugs that killed them?" Garfunkel asked, his arms getting tired from hyperbolic masturbatory labor. He decided to compensate by getting his feet in on the action too. His knee knocked the steering wheel to the right and they swerved across the battlefield to the caretakers' dorms where the resort staff trained the lasers on their turret cannons to fire.

"Undoubtedly, but when investigators took the residue to the lab and found they all contained the same uncommon chemical properties, they started looking into foul play. That's why they called us."

The car careened on a dime to the extreme right just as the turret cannons fired everything they had at the caretakers' dorms. Their nuclear weaponry demolished the series of buildings in a high-grade fission flash; making martyrs of every caretaker on site and fusing the souls that escaped to heaven with unstable plutonium that combusted them and poisoned the air with radioactivity forevermore.

"So why did they call us to investigate?" Garfunkel asked, accidentally wedging his foot into the fun part of his coccyx again as United States Air Force Bombers circled above.

"Apparently because we've personally handled over five thousands metric tons of recreational narcotics - more than any other investigation team in the U.S."

"Really? I thought we smoked most of that."

The bombers locked their targets and dropped the bombs on the Cadillac below. The eruption of force lifted the car from behind and carried it up through the air in geosynchronous orbit. It would stay sky-borne for three full minutes and rotate ninety five times before pulverizing its next target.

"Hey, let's stop and get something to eat." Simon said as he pointed toward the cafeteria they soon drilled into. The car sliced through the metal frame of the building from above and crashed volitantly into a dining room next to a hot buffet table. At least half of the post-elderly patrons died of shock while the other half envied their now fallen friends and made extravagantly immediate efforts to join them. Simon pointed to his friend a sign, "Oh, hey, it's Pancake Thursday!"

Garfunkel rolled out of the wreckage and rested his eyes on a morbidly obese, one hundred and fifty year old woman. He looked her in the glaucoma and screamed, "Hey, baby. Want a fuck-and-a-pancake?"

To be continued

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  • 4 weeks later...

Voting's over, and the results are in for the July 2011 Freeform Competition!

1st Place: The RPG Element by Jax Mandrake

Runner-Up: Humanity Is Queer by Mirby

Here's the vote spread:

The RPG Element by Jax Mandrake - 8

Humanity Is Queer by Mirby - 6

No Xenoblade? by Capa Langley - 5

CRACKTON, August 1-5 by JH Sounds - 5


On a serious note, I'm not pleased by the decline in participation these days, particularly on the voting side. Only ONE of the submitters actually voted. ONE. The rest of the votes came from myself and a few people that haven't shown their faces in this thread as of yet. Without those people, we'd be looking at another no-vote situation.

So, I'm asking everyone for their opinions on the state of this competition currently and suggestions on how to improve it. I'm all ears at this point. In the meantime...


The September 2011 Short Story Competition is underway! Now accepting submissions until the end of the month! Don't forget to read the rules in the first post if you are unfamiliar with them or have forgotten.

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  • 1 month later...

Bobert's Boredom

Bobert Billiamson was bored. There was quite some time before he'd reach the next planet on his quest, and his previously-obtained badges sparkled silently in the corner of the cockpit. He needed something to do... He checked the GalaxyNet for any new games or movies... Nothing was available that he hadn't seen or played a million times before. Then, a thought occurred to him.

He decided... he'd make something of his own. He went to the Replicator 9000 on board his ship, and started off with something simple. After putting on his glasses and pulling up an overlay of origami directions, he created some paper. However, he completely lacked the dexterity required for a task. Even something as simple as a paper airplane was out of his reach. Each time he threw one, it exploded once it hit the wall! Frustrated, he looked up another activity.

After replicating an artist's easel and some paint, he thought he'd try creating the next masterpiece. He looked around the drab environment for inspiration, but nothing seemed to strike him as useful. While he was looking around, he noticed the unusual solar system outside the viewport, and decided to try painting that. However, the colors seemed to just melt off his easel, and he ended up creating a massive mess of paint.

He decided to try one last thing to ease his boredom. His stomach had started to growl, so he headed to the kitchen. He found an assortment of various foods and seasonings, and looked up recipes on the GalaxyNet. He found one that seemed rather appetizing, and set about making it. He was very precise on the measurements, and didn't have to substitute a single thing. After letting it cook for the required amount of time, he took it out of the oven. The scent was tantalizing, and he couldn't wait to dig in. And dig in he did.

After the meal, he leaned back in a chair. It was a rousing success; however, all that work had made him a little sleepy. His boredom eased and hunger satiated, he headed to his quarters. He was out before his head even hit the pillow. Actually, it didn't; upon landing on his bed, he bounced off and onto the floor. But he was completely unaware of this; sleep had taken him completely.


There. Written right in the Quick Reply box. That work? ^.^

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Permit me to give you an excerpt from my most recent thriller en potentia: NOBODY.

"I'm gonna take a walk to Paulsen's," Jaicyn announced. "Anything you'd like, Ciaryn?"

"See what he's got in chicken tenders," echoed Ciaryn's voice.

During the quarter-mile walk, Jaicyn noted how unusually quiet main street was. It was as if it were suddenly Sunday, when most of the townsfolk were either in another city or at church. He thought little of it as he walked, preferring to enjoy the music in his mp3 player. He also thought little of the fact that there were no cars at the local Letsgo gas station, aside from the possibility that it was just a slow day.

It wasn't until he reached Paulsen's, his favourite local grocery store, that something began to feel out-of-place. Even then, it took more than a few seconds for the oddities to register. There were no cars in the parking lot, and no empty shopping carts outside.

Things only got weirder inside the store. Jaicyn was used to being greeted by at least one of the cashiers unless the lines were particularly busy, but as he walked in he realized that there were no cashiers present. The aisles were as empty as the checkout counters. He saw no movement behind the deli counter. As the song in his earphones ended, he paused his player. The overhead speakers were still playing the usual selection of store music. Curious, he risked venturing into the stockrooms and manager's office, only to find them just as deserted as the rest of the store.

He could still buy what he wanted, as there was one automated cashier. Its electronic voice, with which Jaicyn had never truly been comfortable, somehow sounded creepy as he rang up his selection of chicken tenders, cottage cheese, a half-dozen eggs, and powdered drink mix.

On the way back home, Jaicyn found himself looking more closely at the other places he liked to stop. The Letsgo station remained empty. He decided to get closer to the building and look inside, and saw nobody: no attendant behind the counter stocking cigarettes, no customers deciding on bags of snacks and soda. The small old-fashioned food stand known for its ice cream was also unpopulated. That seemed unlikely for a warm summer morning, Jaicyn thought, especially as lunchtime was drawing near.

He began to subconsciously pick up the pace of his walk. Noon was approaching, and he wanted to see if there was something on the midday news that might provide some insight. His eyes darted into every window he passed. He looked inside the bank as he passed by and saw no tellers. There was nobody he could see in any of the houses, and even stranger, there was no sound from any of the dogs that he always heard.

When he got home, he tried to stop thinking about it. "I'm home, Ciaryn!" he called as he entered.

"Welcome back," she answered. "How are things out in the big wide world?"

"No idea," Jaicyn replied. "I stayed in town."

"Did they have any chicken tenders?"

Jaicyn rustled the bag. "Your lunch is secure."

"Bless your heart," Ciaryn said, rounding a corner.

"Ciaryn," Jaicyn began, "have you chatted with anyone today?"

"On the phone or on the computer?"


"No," Ciaryn said. "Not even mom. Why?"

"Just curious." He shrugged. "Just a weird feeling, I guess."

"Well, I haven't been on the computer at all this morning. I've got to get over to work. See you later."

"What, I don't get any chicken?" Jaicyn protested.

Ciaryn smiled. "Stop by during my break and I'll share."

"Okay, see you in a couple of hours." He blew her a kiss as she headed for her car.

He turned on his computer and the TV in a single practised motion. On the TV was an episode of one of the crime dramas. He immedately changed the channel; he'd seen every episode of every such show too many times to enjoy them anymore.

The news was not just disappointing, it was... there was no news. Jaicyn looked several times at the several clocks in the vicinity, and all of them agreed that it was a couple of minutes after noon, when the midday news was invariably on the air. The local stations, though, were all black, the condition that broadcasters referred to as dead air. He went to a national news network and found the same thing: dead air, not even commercials to fill the time. The sports stations were also dead air, excepting the ones that showed prerecorded games.

Jaicyn turned the TV off and signed on to the computer. His internet browser was set to start on a news page, and he saw instantly that nothing had been updated since he had signed off the previous night. He surfed to a couple of other news pages and found the same results. The forums he frequented all showed no new activity.

That was when he began to grow truly concerned. There was always something going on in most of the forums. He surfed to his favourite social network site and found no updates since the previous night. He had plenty of online friends, and for nobody to post anything new in several hours was unheard-of.

Where the hell was everybody?

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We washed in the lake, letting the sunset wash over us. We felt like angels, naked in the savanna, rulers of the land. We held each other, sharing our bodies, feeling alive in the dying heat of twilight. We laughed and kissed, and pretended that the rest of the world had washed away, that we were the only ones left. We imagined ourselves living the rest of our lives here, befriending the animals and never seeing anyone else, because we were all we needed.

We lay out in the grass, letting the soft wind dry our skin as the stars slowly peeked out from behind a darkening blue veil. We looked at each other, seeing the universe in the other’s eyes. We breathed into each other’s lungs, filling the other with our heady perfumes. We could’ve lived a lifetime with each other that day, dying in each other’s arms at midnight as our entwined souls floated up into the aether, forever dancing among the fireflies and trees, one with each other and nature and all the earth.

But as the moon rose high in the dark night, we knew our time in the savanna dream was done. We gripped each other’s hands, kissed one last time, and departed from our wonderland.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The voting period starts now*! We have three** entries:

Bobert's Boredom by Mirby

NOBODY by Jax Mandrake

Savanna Dream by Simplicity

Voting period ends on the 29th. Please, if you read this thread, do everyone a favor and vote.

* Would have been earlier... like, a week ago, but... yeah, I have no excuse besides bad memory.

** Would have been four, but I 'completed' my entry just a little while ago, well after the deadline. Le sigh...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Results are in for the September 2011 Short Story Competition!

1st Place: Savanna Dream by Simplicity

Runner-Up: NOBODY by Jax Mandrake

The vote tally:

Savanna Dream by Simplicity - 10

NOBODY by Jax Mandrake - 6

Bobert's Boredom by Mirby - 2

Good job, all, and I hope to see more submissions in the future! Tomorrow starts the November 2011 Poetry Competition! Also, NaNoWriMo 2011 is starting again tomorrow! Feel free to post what you write here.

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  • 1 month later...

I wrote a story, but since it's not a poem...

Here, I'll write a quick limerick.

There once was a writing contest,

All would choose which was best,

But nobody wrote,

Not even a note,

That was the start of a quest.




A man wandered all over the land,

Searching for writers at hand,

He found a few,

And formed a crew,

And the contest was saved by his band!

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No, but you only have a few days left to submit if you're going to. Submission ends on the 14th, and only because I don't want to see this competition wither and die; it should've ended on Nov. 30th. Regardless, we need two more submissions to even have a vote this round, and I'm too bogged down in job applications to even think about something to write. Not that I write poetry, anyway.

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