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WCT - The Writing Competition Thread [Short Story Results]

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Okay everyone, submission is now over and voting has begun. You will find all 4 of our entries compiled in the second post. Also, please be mindful of the new voting rules--you can find them in the first post under, well, "Voting." You should all be aware: anyone can vote.

Anyone can vote.

So encourage them to. That is all.

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Only one entrant yet to vote. I also rounded up the names of all the people I could find in the archives that have either entered or expressed interest in doing so before and sent them PMs inviting them to vote. Hopefully we get a bit more of a turnout by Wednesday's end (there's only one non-entrant vote so far).

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Voting is now over. To everyone who was worried about whether or not they figured out the voting system, everyone did it exactly right. And thanks to that...

THE RESULTS ARE IN!

And hooo boy are they a doozy.

Runners-Up: Darklink42 AND GA Jedi Knight

1st Placers: Imagery AND Leon K.

Yep, that's right. Two two-way ties! Here's the vote spread:

Darklink42: 5

GA Jedi Knight: 5

Imagery: 10

Leon K.: 10

Believe me, when I added in my vote (since I set it aside before counting up the others' votes) and saw it all align like this, I was as surprised as any of you. We should have sig badges in short order, assuming Doulifee doesn't throw a fit about being overworked and refuse to make four badges for just one competition... :|

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Congrats to Darklink42, Imagery and Leon K! Looks like we're all getting a prize this time. :tomatoface:

This is the first time I've gotten anything for my writing, even if it is tied with another person's for Runner-Up. I don't mind. At least this is one piece of good news on this stupid day. :-)

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:D

This is like my 4th win. I'm back in the game son.

ug, I don't even have all my sigs anymore. Damn the two image limit for sigs.

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Damn the two image limit for sigs.

Contact me i can merge that properly in one pic if needed ;-)

darklinkam9.png

jedims5.png

and the last two:

imagerymp5.png

leonkam5.png

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Thanks for the badges, Doulifee.

Note: I have added the dates for March's short story competition. It begins next week!

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Hey, I was thinking. If we did an odd number instead of an even in terms of voting, would that help prevent having a double tie again? Haven't done the math or anything, but I was thinking it might help. Anyways, I'll start cooking up a story as soon as I finish this stupid essay.

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I don't think so. For one thing, the fact that the votes can be split up between anywhere from two to six different entries means each entry isn't necessarily getting an "even" number of points. For another, even if having even points to distribute were to have some effect, this would be negated by the fact that outsiders get an odd number. It was just a really huge coincidence that the votes turned out the way they did. And is that really a problem? After all, perhaps it's just an accurate reflection of evenly matched skill in the writers--writing skill is, after all, what the whole voting system is supposed to measure.

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I've been thinking about converting a comic book I'm drawing into a short story, but I not sure if it would qualify. I've been working on the comic for the past two days or so, but it's sort of a continuation of original stories and characters I had drawn in the past.

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As long as they're your original creations, if you can introduce characters and work a story with them in the contest limit (2500 words), feel free to submit it. Just don't rely on the comic book to explain the story or anything like that.

EDIT: My reasoning for this, in case anyone is going to ask, is that the regulations of the contest stipulate that "you should write something new within the time frame of the submission stage" (emphasis added). This has no bearing on whether or not your ideas are fresh during that time frame. That would, after all, be a ridiculous rule, since it's fairly difficult to a) come up with any completely original idea, no matter how long you're given, and B) do so on command within just a few short weeks (and then write a polished story with the idea). So, since it's quite a challenge to convert a full-fledged comic book (the idea) into a independent short story (writing the idea), given the time and word constraints we have here, I would allow it.

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Great. I might even set aside the comic and just devote my creative energy to the short story. I believe the idea is strong enough to carry the story through without graphic illustrations.

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My latest doomed project is a Japanese webcomic. The notion came to me around late January and I've spent most of my creative time since then designing characters. I think my entry will star them, doing their stuff.

My point is that I didn't realize we didn't have to make absoloutely everything from scratch. (oh, wait, did I submit a poem about "Avatar: the Last Airbender" one time or was that something else?)

I think it's cool that a regular to these contests could have a little author-verse that they set their writings in. Not that you'd have to be a regular to do it, but who would notice otherwise?

e: By the way, I do realize that every entry needs to be able to stand on its own.

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You didn't submit a poem about Avatar here, because that would have been rejected. ;-) But as long as the characters and setting are your own design, and the story hasn't been written before, anything will qualify (whether you make them stand on their own, without outside explanation, is of course a challenge whether the characters and setting are recycled or not; that's part of the difficulty in writing anyway).

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Just as a reminder to everyone, the last day to make a submission for this month's Short Story competition is one week from today, March 28th.

Let's hope we get plenty of submissions! I know I'm almost done with mine.

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I was going to post that. :razz:

I'm almost done with my submission as well. Just fleshing it out from my last barebones draft so the subtext comes out more effectively.

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Not a lot of spare time right now, but I thought I'd try to do at least something.

A Soulless Proposition

"A million?" The boy's eyes grew wide as saucers.

"One million dollars," Ferris replied evenly.

"But," the boy stuttered, "But, I don't understand. Why?

"Why not?"

"Because it doesn't make any sense! You'll pay me one-million dollars to have a car wreck? And then what? That just doesn't make any sense. It endangers my life, the lives of others, and it accomplishes nothing! There's nothing in it for you!"

"Sure there is."

"What?"

"My own amusement."

"Your own amusement?" The boy was taken aback. He didn't say anything for a minute. "That's sick," he finally breathed.

Ferris only grinned as if he had expected such a response. "Yes, that's right. You help me with my sick amusement and I'll help you with yours," he said, and extended his bill-fold.

The boy glanced to the side, at the green, rusting car, which was his. It was an '87 Toyota Camry, not worth a dime anymore, except that it was worth a million dollars.

"I'll have the news on tomorrow around four o'clock," Ferris said, then turned and left.

"Doug, you've hardly touched your food tonight. What's wrong? It's Thanksgiving dinner." She was leaning over the table, arguably too small for the family of five seated around it, and frowning at the boy's plate.

"I guess I'm just not hungry tonight," Doug replied, and winced at the cliché he knew wouldn't be accepted as a very suitable response. He stuffed a potato wedge into his mouth, though, and began to chew it laboriously. That seemed to please his mother, and she sat back on her haunches and began commenting on the weather, or some such pointless subject. Doug couldn't hear a thing that was being said. His mind was elsewhere.

When it happened, there was a collective gasp from the entire community. An eight car pile up, file miles north from connector three on I-75. Two dead-on-arrival, three critically injured, and another hospitalized for the shock of the accident, alone. Doug had been one of those critically injured. His kidney had ruptured with the initial impact of the crash and three of his ribs had broken with the successive impacts of the cars piling-up on the wreckage. He had been pried from the mashed-up pile of green, rusty metal which had once been his vehicle, and had been rushed to the hospital, incapacitated, by the paramedics.

He woke to the slowly methodical, high-pitched beeping of the cardiogram, and rolled over onto his side. He twisted back with a wince of acute pain and gritted his teeth. The feeling was slowly returning to his body, but it was perhaps the most unwelcome visitor he would see all day. His injuries were confined to his abdomen, but for some hellish and mysterious purpose, it wasn't his abdomen which screamed at all, but his whole body, and his mind. They raved, "You fool! Look what you've done to yourself! Was this worth it? Was all this pain and trauma, these deaths that you've caused, these injuries, these funerals...! Were they all worth it!?"

He grunted, and clenched his fist, half in pain, half in anger. Anger at what, he had no idea. Something crunched and crackled within it. His interest piqued, Doug tore the IV from his forearm and lifted his hand to his face. It was an effort, but when the blur of his vision cleared, the small slip of paper in his hand suddenly began to make sense. It read, "Pay to the order of Doug Johnson..."

"Was it worth it? The deaths, the pain...?" The raving hadn't stopped.

Doug smiled and let his arm fall back to the bedside. He laughed, ignoring the tearing pain it sent in ripples up and down his body. "Yes," he said, "yes, it was worth it..."

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Finished with time to spare:

More Than Human

“Initiating experiment 5E: Equipment set, recorder on. Hope I look good on camera.” The empty corner of the laboratory housed a video receiver that focused on the professor Zed Cecil Horkuff. The inventor proudly proclaimed to be the most handsome great thinker of his age, despite wearing inch-thick glasses and a hairstyle comparable to a soggy pineapple. His logic lay in the notion that most scientists are quite ugly beings. He looked to his vanity mirror a final time before resuming. “The Matter Constrattor is finely tuned to properly manipulate and reconstruct subject B, i.e. the westward wall.”

Indeed, Horkuff’s experimental device had been set to face one side of his apartment, with the intent to re-form it to a handy bureau for his trinkets. Whether it was worth a sizable portion of his life savings to fund such an impractical device was kept off the record. Glancing once again to the wall, he noted: “The landlord probably won’t mind.” His precaution in the event that she in fact minded was simple, as Horkuff had built the Matter Constrattor into the very camera used to record the experiment for easy disposal. He pressed the “Play” button to fire the wave cannon.

Although the Constrattor was relatively quiet, the yawning, crumbling hole created by the psychedelic energy blast was far from inconspicuous. There was also the matter of the person standing directly behind the wall at the time of its destruction. Whether this individual could be considered a “person” was still a matter of debate. He exuded a masculine personality, but otherwise failed to meet the definition of “male”. His head was essentially an oversized bowling ball that, like the rest of him, cast a withered sheen. Below the neck, he appeared as a metal pole with thin arms and bellbottomed legs. His entire body was singular element unmatched to any in the explored universe. As Horkuff surmised, he was a living stick figure.

“I was just about to knock,” spoke the Stick, unfazed by the mechanism that had inadvertently shot him. For a moment he considered staying in the hallway and ringing the doorbell, but resisted the impulse. “Let’s cut to the point.” He leaned against the still-smoking edge of what was left of the wall. “I’m at an existential crisis. What exactly does someone like me expect from immortality? I need a solution, Horkuff.”

The professor, still slightly stunned at the failure of his experiment, took several seconds to respond. After switching off the world’s most expensive camcorder, he elaborated: “Stick, I’m sure you feel quite depressed being a sentient piece of indestructible mandantium, but you really don’t have anything to complain about.” The Stick looked down to his hands, shaped like stony mitts. His usually-morose face frowned deeper.

Horkuff continued, “Besides having a cool name, you can do things and go places no man has ever dreamed of.” This made the Stick briefly recall his adventures, respectively, with his own psyche, in deep space and (most peculiarly) within a parody of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. “You, my friend and scientific enigma, should be proud of what you are.” He quickly added, “Not that I know what you are, exactly. That would be best left to minds greater than myself.”

Just then, the meticulous cogs whirred within the inventor’s head. In light of his less-than-successful Constrattor, he could devote the leftover funds from the project to something more sociological. While the transformation would rob the world of its greatest mystery, it could potentially answer many lesser ones. The look on Horkuff’s face as he pondered this pleased the Stick to the point where his crumpled forehead raised slightly.

“Actually,” the professor said at last, “the unique composition of your metallic structure could theoretically allow for a stick-to-human conversion. All I’d need is a DNA sample to start the transition.” Regardless of the hole he had in the wall, he motioned toward the door. “Go get one.”

***

This was it: a chance to finally live the life of a human being. A chance to have a real head and shoulders, knees and toes. Genitals. A chance to mate, have offspring, and die. The words “screw mandantium” fell out of the Stick’s mouth as he left the apartment building. Slowly surveying the environment, he spotted several males to potentially sample on the street. The details of how Horkuff would initiate the procedure were beyond his understanding, but he at least knew that the sample would have a bearing on his human appearance. It was therefore a shame that so many unattractive people were about.

At the same time, he knew that choosing the most eligible template was the least important decision he would make. The most would be to choose life itself, rather than an unending existence. At this point the Stick had found his sample.

***

Horkuff’s eyes glinted with pride. “Introducing the Humanitizer! This should set you right.”

The Stick took a few moments to absorb the image that lay before him. The machine held a promise so great, so mystical to him, that the very idea of it existing in physical form was astonishing. Contrary to this promise was the actual look of the device, which was that of a kitchen appliance. “It’s a refrigerator,” muttered the Stick, “with a freezer, at that. Is this supposed to let me live, learn, love and pass on?”

“Yep,” said the professor, ignoring the criticism. “I got the idea from an early draft of the Back to the Future script. Way better than the finished version, in my opinion. Now just hop inside.”

The Stick stooped down slightly to reach for the machine door, but it swung open before he could do so. Horkuff smiled as he pressed a toggle on what looked like an RC car controller. “Any last words? Hee-hee!”

The refrigerator bulged outward when the Stick fitted himself into it. “At least two come to mind.” His knees pressed against his face while he squirmed into position.

The scientist set a code sequence on his controller. “While you’re in there, try to put some pants on, won’t you?” The Stick gave a barely-audible “right” as Horkuff shut the door. “Okay, this won’t hurt a bit.” He flipped another switch. “…except maybe for the searing flames.” The resulting roar of combustion subsequently set a dark ring of soot on the ceiling. Below this the fridge spun once on the spot before emitting a thick, foggy plume. Horkuff quickly checked his hairdo for any aesthetic damage. “Ooh…That was smokier than expected. You okay in there?” After receiving a “yes” from the Stick, the professor pulled open the scorching mechanism with the help of industrial steel tongs. “Welcome to the human race!”

The Stick pushed his way out of the smooth, white boundaries of the device. “Oh brother…” The first thing he felt was a shooting sensation in his eyes. He quickly realized this was the pain of having one’s knees shoved into the face while being superheated inside an electric ice box. It would not be a common, everyday feeling. Slowly balancing himself, he wiggled his fingers. He had fingers. His hands suddenly raced from his hair to his nose, chin, neck, elbows, and anything else he could reach. He sensed the taut muscles in his cheek while his jaw lowered in awe.

“You’re beautiful!” yelped Horkuff. “Er… and I mean that in a purely scientific way, of course. How does it feel to be shuffled onto a mortal coil?”

“I’m glowing.”

“That’s a side effect. It should wear off later.”

“Oh. Anyway, since you qualify as a social human, tell me—how do I go about finding a mate?”

“Well, technology has afforded a great deal of avenues one may use to seek a kindred spirit, my good man. You could also go out in the street and ask.”

***

On the sidewalk, the Stick found himself peering at all sides once again. “Geez, this is tougher than choosing a man to sample,” he said to himself. He had chosen a decent-looking subject to be a rough model of, so having a woman physically attracted to him would be no problem. Selecting one that would be his life partner was something else entirely. In his view, the only one here that came close to an attractive female was—

“Lady, you just may be my mate!”

The woman jumped back in fright and surprise. She was plain, but workable, the Stick saw. Her thick, straight hair barely went past her ears. She wore no makeup and donned clouded glasses that rivaled Horkuff’s; he couldn’t even see her eyes. The potential mate did however seem to be single.

“How about dinner with me?”

“What?! I—I never…”

“Don’t worry, procreation is not expected of you. Not immediately, anyway.”

“I-I… um, no. This is awkward and sudden, you know?” She gave a brief, slightly embarrassed smile before turning away.

“Hang on, there,” he called. “You’ve probably never been asked something like this in such a direct manner. But don’t you think you’ll eventually wonder whether you missed a valuable opportunity? Isn’t it worth exploring more of the options provided in life? Please take a moment to consider this.”

She looked back to the Stick and stared, as if she could see the metallic figure he once was. After a moment, she asked, “What’s your name?”

“Stick—Er, Fred… Fred Stickly.”

“Hello, Fred. I’m Shella, and I’d like to take you up on your offer. Where would you like to bring me?”

***

The overcrowded restaurant did its best to ruin the mood of the occasion, but the Stick and Shella didn’t mind. He had put on a tie for the date while she wore a frilly blouse and necklace. The two sat at opposite ends of the table, separated by a candle and the bare dishes. “You know, gassy food certainly has its up sides,” he said.

Shella gave a faint grin. “You consider breadsticks gassy?”

“Somewhat. My body isn’t really used to this kind of stuff yet. I suppose it’ll get worse once the main course arrives. It should be fun though, along with the after.”

“What do mean, ‘after’?” Her face tightened with concern.

“Oh, er, after the meal goes through me, of course.” He twiddled his fingers. “Marvelous. You know these things are quite useful for buttoning shirts and knotting shoelaces.”

Shella’s mouth formed into a horizontal line. “You’re a very strange man, Fred.”

“Seems to be turning out that way doesn’t it? I mean, I expected certain things to happen with me, but it’s all going quite uncharted. I thought my neck was supposed to hurt, for example. It so happens that this tie is adjustable, however. I also sneezed a few times, and that’s quite something.”

She stared at him silently again.

“That the second time you’re done that, Shella. Is something on my nose?”

Her broad smile showed itself for an instant, followed by a mild frown. “No. There’s just something about you, that’s all.” She tapped her fingers rhythmically on the plate in front of her. “You remind me a lot of my dad, actually. He always seemed to see life in an unusual way. You’d probably love the things he spoke about.”

The Stick beamed. “How very nice. Please share to me some of his anecdotes.”

Shella turned off to her side. “I… I don’t recall much of what he used to say. I’m not really like that—like him. I never really believed that was a proper way to live life.” Her hands fell flat on the table. “You’ve made me remember what my father’s point was, though—that to wonder beyond the mechanics of living is to be more than human.”

The Stick’s lips suddenly found themselves crunched beneath his nose. “You’re saying he tried to be more than what he was? What would be the point of that? Humanity is something to be cherished, not deserted.”

Though her eyes could not be seen, the Stick could tell that Shella had closed them. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It makes me feel like…” She gave a sigh.

“Like what?”

Her head tilted as she turned back toward the Stick. “Like I’ve never really been human in my whole life.”

***

Results of experiment 6A: Subject appears to have found a female companion, but a long-term relationship may become complicated. Subject relates that transition to manhood is happiest moment in his existence, and would not consider turning back if he could. Wonders what death will be like, though he is certainly not the first one to. Subject finds it difficult to handle carbohydrates, but is otherwise normal. On the other hand, he may have to change up that hairstyle…

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Lab work has, unfortunately, caught up to me, so I won't be able to get a submission in time. Unless we have more entrants show up before tonight, I was thinking it might be beneficial to extend the deadline. However, it's really up to you two who have entered so far, since doing so might affect your own submissions. What do you think?

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Just something to keep in mind: I have something to submit for this competition. However, work has also caught up with me, so if I were to make a submission right now it'd probably be a rough draft of what I want. I'm going to try to finish it up before the deadline today, but whether that happens or not depends on several college-related factors. So I could use an extension, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, I have signed up for a Creative Writing class here at VT taught by Nikki Giovanni. Am I excited? Yes, yes I am. :-D

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