Finalists for September Writing Contest


It is that time again to announce the three finalists for the September writing contest. Once again, it was not an easy choice. Everyone contributed wonderful stories and I wish I could make you all a winner. Unfortunately, that would defeat the purpose of the competition. So three had to be chosen. Thanks to all who participated. The three whose stories will now be voted on are:

  • Goran Zidar
  • Ella Stradling (Ixtila)
  • Charity Parkerson

Below will be a review of the contest guidelines, followed by the three finalist’s stories. At the bottom will be the instructions and poll for voting. Anyone may vote for the tale they believe is best, but you should take the time to read all three before making your decision. Remember, you may vote only once.

Stipulations:

  1. The submission must be between 350-750 words. I will allow no more than a five word variance from this. Titles are required as well, though they do not count toward the total.
  2. The story must involve a fight scene with two or more characters where one side clearly wins (through death or submission).  You can use a various assortment of weapons including knives, swords, hand-guns, rifles, whips, snowballs and fists.  Do not use advanced weaponry such as nuclear missiles, grenades, rocket launchers, machine guns, etc.
  3. At least one of the combatants must be human.
  4. Include the reason for the fight, even if it is a petty one.  It could be as simple as a bear attack and a person trying to survive.
  5. Ensure the story is well-edited and broken down into paragraphs.

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Fight School  by Goran Zidar

The clean sand had been raked smooth before the two opponents stepped into the ritual combat circle and faced one another. Both men wore simple leather armour and were armed with only a single long bladed sword. They bowed to one another, then drew their weapon and assumed a fighting stance; knees slightly bent, one leg before the other with the sword grasped firmly in both hands. They were ready to begin their bout and judging by the crowd of students that had formed to watch them it was a highly anticipated one.

Palan looked his opponent Avraan in the eye and waited.

The Weapon-master’s clapped his hands together and the combat had begun.

Sword fighting came as naturally to Palan as did breathing, his technique was highly polished and the years of training had developed his endurance and speed but Avraan was the school’s most decorated student and Palan could not afford to take the man lightly.

Their swords met twice as the two combatants struggled to position themselves with the sun at their backs. Palan gave several paces of ground and his opponent charged. Their blades clashed several times as Palan tried to fend off the blistering onslaught. Avraan’s skill was evident and it was all he could do to keep the attacks at bay. The assault continued and eventually Palan was forced to spin away and concede the better position to the other man.

The gathered crowd applauded and Palan could not deny their praise.

Over the years Palan had plenty of opportunity to study Avraan’s style. It was heavily reliant on offense which ideally suited the man’s strength and speed but it meant that his defensive skills were not as well honed. Palan realised that he needed to be more aggressive if he was to win this bout. With this in mind he stepped forward, his sword arcing toward Avraan’s head. The blow was blocked and Palan reversed his swing, sliding the blade into the gap between Avraan’s sword and shoulder.

Avraan stepped aside and Palan’s blade glanced off the tough leather armour.

Well that didn’t work, Palan thought.

Palan then stepped back and drew Avraan towards him then struck low. Once more his blade was intercepted but Palan followed through with his body, rolling to the ground under his opponent’s feet.
Avraan was knocked to the ground and Palan quickly jumped upright, his blade pointed towards his prone opponent as took a few steps back and waited.

The crowd was silent while Avraan regained his footing.

“You won’t get lucky twice, half-caste!” Avraan said. He spat at Palan’s feet and once more assumed the fighting stance.

Palan smiled, he had nothing to lose by being defeated while Avraan had his reputation to protect.
After several furious exchanges Palan began to tire allowing Avraan to take control of the fight. Avraan aimed a blow high and Palan raised his arm to ward off the strike. Avraan had clearly anticipated the move and changed his swing mid-flight, turning it instead into a sweeping cut aimed at Palan’s unarmoured legs. Palan just managed to leap over the blade as it passed under his guard turning what would have been a crippling strike into a glancing blow but it allowed Avraan to get behind him.

The crowd cheered at the move, none of them noticing the blood that now flowed freely from Palan’s right leg.

Avraan loomed behind Palan, his victory all but assured. He held his sword in an overhead chop and brought it down toward Palan’s head. Palan dropped to one knee and raised his sword above his shoulders behind his head. Avraan’s sword struck and Palan barely maintained his grip as he angled his opponent’s blade down and to his left causing Avraan to overbalance. Palan then reached behind and pulled Avraan forward over his shoulder to land flat on his back and knocking the wind out of him.
Before he could move Palan brought his blade down and held it against Avraan’s throat.

The Weapon-master clapped again.

The bout was over and Palan had won.

—————————————————————————————————

An invitation to spar by Ella Stradling (Ixtila)

With a delighted grin, Miyam copied Evelar’s move and they progressed to simulated combat. The previous work on the patterns now flowed seemlessly into active use, the moves guiding their hands, the parry and thrust of swordplay tempered by practiced technique. Beneath the cut and dodge the observers heard grunts of effort, the force of the movements peppered by the timed vocalisations that added power to the swing and brought mind and body together. This was no easy bout.

It was not an even fight. Miyam, less experienced and still raw with the left hand, could not be expected to match the artisan in his prime. He held back none of his strength, yet she matched him for a while. Still the first cut went to Evelar.

“What is he doing?” said Delsi to her husband. “He has drawn blood!”

“Hush, love,” said Ardel. “It is their way. It would not be a real test if there were not the risk of injury. Miyam knows that.”

They watched, Evelar cool and calm, Miyam holding her ground with teeth clenched and face set with determination. With a cry of triumph, Miyam slipped through his guard and scored the second cut. Evelar just grinned and she laughed delightedly.

“Don’t get cocky, my love,” he murmured.

They threw themselves into the fight for the third cut, which would end the bout. Miyam danced, light on her feet, quick and agile. Evelar stalked, his movements weaving through and around hers, accepting them calmly and answering with power and precision.

Amid the grunts and growls, laughter bubbled, the adrenalin of a wildly enjoyable bout getting the better of them both. The clash of sword on sword rang out again and again, meeting and rebounding, locking and releasing until quite suddenly all sound, all movement, stopped. They stood, swords crossed between them, pushing against each other but drawing closer in their effort. His wide grin belied the stalemate and her shrewd look from under lowered brows showed that she knew he was playing with her.

The observers murmured, thinking the fight over, but Atwin hushed them.

The artisan took his left hand away from the hilt of his sword, holding it firmly in his right. The freed hand slipped sensuously about her waist and pulled her close pressing them both hard against the swords between them.
Over the top of the crossed swords, he leant forward and planted his mouth firmly on hers. In perfect unison, they slowly drew their swords outwards and free of their bodies. At the exact same moment both swords dropped to clatter on the ground. Evelar’s arms tightened about her and her arms slipped about his neck as the kiss deepened.

Ardel began to chuckle. Atwin lifted a hand to quiet his father-in-law.

“It is not over, Sir,” he whispered. “Watch.”

Miyam’s right hand was doing something strange behind the artisan’s head. She gave an almost imperceptible jerk of the wrist and something glinted in the sunlight as it danced above them, laughing at the passionate embrace. The watchers held their breath as the tiny silver knife dipped and cut, slicing through the red sash that was wrapped about Evelar’s brow holding his hood in place.

The scarf fell between them, catching on their noses and he pulled away, one hand clutching at the red cloth as it fell. He stared at it for a moment, then his eyes widened as he felt the tiny blade at his neck. His gaze was captured by the glimmer of triumph in his wife’s brilliant green eyes.

His hand went to his neck as she held his eyes and allowed the knife to slowly and gently brush the skin of his neck, drawing a thin line of blood, a mere scratch. She had won the third cut.

Atwin laughed aloud and Ardel chuckled. Netta smiled and her mother just shook her head.

With a smile of pure unadulterated pride, Evelar caught the tiny knife between his fingers and brought it back to her, sliding it once more with a click into the ornate sheath hidden in her green sash.

“Well done, my love,” he murmured as he took her in his arms again. Then he pulled away with a hurt look. “You cut my sash!”

She laughed delightedly, snatching it from him. “I guess I’ll have to mend it now!” she said with a grin.

—————————————————————————————————

Just one of those days by Charity Parkerson

Jane Hughes could remember over the years, having heard several stories of people who claimed that they had not thought about the consequences of their actions, before tossing themselves into the fray of an ongoing fight. She could claim no such virtue. While walking to her car after a little late night shopping at the Clearview mall, she came across a mugging. She would like to say that she jumped straight in helping the hapless woman, but that is not what happened. Instead, she carefully catalogued each item of her clothing wondering how easily it be ripped off. After all, no one wanted to end up like one of those women shown on Cops, handcuffed with one boob hanging out. Deciding that her cotton shirt and Reebok running shoes would most likely withstand the assault, she flung herself bodily onto the woman’s attacker.
The sight, sound, and smell of a fight was completely different in real life, she noted absently, as the woman she’d been trying to help landed a sharp elbow to Jane’s gut. Sucking in a sharp breath, she drew the sickly scent of cheap perfume, mixed with blood into her lungs. She had known there was a chance she’d get her butt handed to her, when she made the choice to step in. The tiny brown haired woman seemed to be holding her own against the sleek muscle of her attacker, but Jane knew it would only be a matter of time before he would wear her down. After several long moments of trying to force her way between them, she landed a few solid kicks to the attacker’s shins, only managing to elicit a grunt from him.
Jane backed away reassessing the situation. Never once did it occur to her that she should call 911. Her only thought was of winning. The longer she thought of the plight of women everywhere who were denied the right to shop alone at night, and not ruin their jeans, the more outraged she became. Rage rolled through her veins, and with a warrior like roar, she launched herself bodily into the man’s side like a linebacker. He went down hard. Unfortunately, the forward momentum sent her sprawling as well, her forehead cracking his jaw solidly on the way down. All thought came to a screeching halt, as she rolled to her side clutching her head in pain.
The sound of heeled feet slapping the pavement, alerted her of the woman’s final escape. Gentle hands tugged at hers.
“Did I win?” she asked, between her fingers.
He chuckled lightly. “Yes, you did. Now, let me see.” The concern in his voice caused her to drop her hands, meeting the eyes of the supposed attacker for the first. His eyes were the greenest that she had ever seen, and the gentleness she saw in them seemed so at odds with what she witnessed him doing earlier, that the question fell from her lips unbidden.
“Who the hell are you?”
Reaching behind him he quickly flashed his badge. “Lt. Robert Hall. You just let my shoplifter get away.”
Taking note of his perfect smile and manners, her mind accepted her fate as her lips admitted it aloud. “Well crap. I guess I’m going to have to pop a boob out after all.”

—————————————————————————————————

Congratulations to the three finalists.  You did a wonderful job and I wish you all the best of luck during voting.   I will keep the poll open until midnight (EDT) Monday, October 3rd.  That is approximately three days for voting.  Tuesday morning, I will announce the winner.   The contestants are welcome to announce their story being up for vote on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. but I do require that you DO NOT tell people to vote for you specifically.  Ask them to simply visit and select the story they think is best.  Please make this a fair contest.  Once I close the poll Monday night, I will email the winner to coordinate getting their $20 Amazon gift card to them.  Thanks to everyone for their participation!

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~ by Suzie on October 1, 2011.

8 Responses to “Finalists for September Writing Contest”

  1. Great stories everyone! Hm, I’m not sure who to vote for!

  2. All are well written stories. Great imaginations and fast-moving plots ! Congrats to all three authors.

  3. Congrats to Charity – job well done! And thanks again to Susan for hosting the contest.

  4. Thank you so much!! I really appreciate everyone for voting, and taking the time out to read my story.
    I had some tough competition, and I didn’t expect to win. Thank you, Susan, for allowing me to post. I’m over the moon.

  5. Good story!

  6. […] of the other contestant’s entries can be viewed here.  I am truly pleased to see so many people were inspired to write under the tough guidelines.  […]

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