October 2012 Writing Contest Finalists


We have two finalists for the October writing contest.  There was a low turn-out this month, but with many gearing up for NaNoWriMo and other writing projects before the holiday season begins, I hadn’t expected too many to participate.  Luckily, we have some great entries to choose from among those who participated.  The following contestant’s are the ones who are up for voting.  Please do congratulate them!

* NyiNya
* The Travel Gypsy

Below will be a review of the contest stipulations, followed by the two finalists’ 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 both before making your decision. Remember, you may vote only once.  Contestants, please note that you cannot use blogs, twitter, Facebook, or any other site to ask for votes (I watch this very closely).  You are allowed to announce you are a finalist on those sites and link this page, but you should only tell people to vote for the best story, not yours specifically.

Stipulations:

1) The theme is Halloween (since it’s that time of the year again).  The story has to take place on the holiday and should be obvious, if not mentioned.

2) The following elements should appear in the story:

a) Mask

b) Wolf

c) Fire

3) There must also be at least one paranormal element involved.  It doesn’t have to be the highlight of the story, but it should be easily recognizable (ie- ghost, witch, magic spell, curse, alien, etc).

4) It should be written in first person through the eyes of an adult (man or woman).

5) Word count: 750-1800 Words

——————————————–

Heir of the Dog

by NyiNya

Walking the dog used to be fun. That last walk of the day, when the streets finally cool down and there’s a light breeze, is relaxing and a nice way to unwind. Until the damn werecritters showed up.

It all started about a few weeks ago, right after my birthday. The weather was hot. Autumn always is hereabouts. I took Oliver, my cocker spaniel, down to the river, hoping it would be little cooler. It’s not really a river anymore, but it used to be. About 30 years ago, they turned the L.A. River into a giant storm cement storm drain that carries rainwater, melted snow runoff from the mountains, and the occasional homeless person out to sea. We call this and the weedy no man’s land that surrounds it ‘The Wash.’ I don’t know why. We just do. A footbridge takes you across The Wash to a little enclave of houses on the other side.. The Wash itself is not for walking. It is home to raccoons, skunks, possums, rats—all the creatures that haunt the fringes of human habitation. And sometimes something else.

Oliver loves walking the footbridge and going to Stepford…which is my nickname for that weird, perfectly groomed neighborhood on the other side. Lawns are trimmed within an inch of their lives. Shrubs and hedges are so precisely squared off, they must use lasers and a slide rule. The houses are neat, the flower beds weed free, and the appropriate decorations always appear on front doors and in windows as each holiday rolls around. Looks completely normal, which right away tipped me off that something was wrong. It’s not just the anal yardwork; it’s the absence of people that made me smell something fishy. Nobody watering the lawn, no kids yelling and running through sprinklers or riding their bikes and skateboards up and down the street, no smell of hamburgers on the grill, no sounds of splashing from backyard pools. Of course I usually walk there around 10 or 10:30 at night, but still. It just seems, you know, weird.

And then I met Bonnie and it got even weirder.

I met her mid-Bridge. She was in her fifties, a little plump, not the kind of person who stands out in a crowd. They never are. She was walking a fat little Doxy…one of those bologna sausages on legs. “Hot night” she said. “Cooling off now,” I replied, while Oliver and her Vollmondy introduced themselves. Oliver took an instant shine to both of them.

I’d see Bonnie every so often, and we’d stop and chat about the weather and our dogs the way dog-walking friends do. It all seemed almost normal. Until I met her husband.

It was in early October. A gorgeous night, the full moon making it almost bright as daylight outside, a little bit of chill in the air…not usual at all for this time of year. I was walking Oliver toward Stepford and saw Bonnie. She didn’t have Vollmondy with her. She was with a man…holding hands and gazing up at him adoringly. “NyiNya, you never met my husband. Werner, this is NyiNya.” He was a little on the stout side, a tangle of beard pretty much obscured his face. A knitted cap was pulled right down to his bushy eyebrows. All I could see was facial hair. He nodded and grinned. He had very large teeth. “Werner doesn’t speak much English,” Bonnie said. “He’s a captain on a cargo freighter…he only gets home for a day or two every month or so, but since this is our tenth wedding anniversary, he’s taking a long leave.” She pronounced his name ‘verner.’ “How nice, I said. “How’s it goin, Verner. Interesting name. Carpathian maybe? You from around those parts or something?” Werner replied, “Nah, I’m from Poughkeepsie. The name is Dutch.” His voice low and guttural, just as I expected. “Where’s the puppy?” I asked. “He’s at my sister’s house,” Bonnie answered. “She’s babysitting. We’re, we’re going on vacation tomorrow. You won’t see us for a couple of days.” I could see the moon reflecting in Werner-with-a-V’s eyes.

“Funny you never mentioned a sister,” I said. “Or a husband. And you didn’t tell me about any vacation either.” Bonnie looked at me strangely. “Well, no, I didn’t…I mean, I only see you once in a blue moon when I walk this way…why would I?” she asked. I stepped a little closer and said “Bonnie, are you hiding something…are you keeping something from me? Some kind of secret maybe?” The uneasy look in her eyes spoke volumes.

Okay, I’m no genius, but I’m no idiot either. It took me a hot five seconds to figure things out. Werner was a werewolf. Okay, technically a were-dachshund, but whatever. I was intrigued, having met a few of the shape shifters in my time. My first one was the old lady who lived downstairs from us when I was a kid. She was always yelling at me for jumping on the stairs and making noise. She had all her teeth and had to be 70 if she was a day. Dead Giveaway. And her name? Mrs. Wolfe. Like she was taunting me. She was the first one I had to, you know, handle. My grandmother had Second Sight. She saw things. She dreamed that her daughter Stella would wear a crown of fire. The next day, the little girl was struck by lightning and killed. She was the one who told me I had the gift of seeing the beast. My sister swore she said “being the beast,” but my sister never liked me much. I took care of her too. But that’s another story.

“Bonnie, you can level with me. I know everything,” I said. She looked at me quizzically. “Know what?” she asked. “About Werner…and Vollmondy…which means ‘full moon’ in German. That’s what I know. Your husband is a were-dachshund. It’s a full moon, so he transformed. I’ve heard about this…werewolves mating with dogs. It happens. But Bonnie, how can you stand to be around him? You’re no better than he is for harboring him. Or maybe you’re one of them too.” That’s when I noticed how pointed her nose was, how pronounced her incisors. Sure, now it was all very clear indeed. Bonnie and her husband were both shape shifters. And then the penny dropped. That whole neighborhood was probably crawling with them. Stepford was a nest of shape shifters.

Bonnie stared at me. Even Werner looked … I think … concerned. Certainly the hair on his face was moving in a twitchy way. “Uh, that’s interesting,” she said. “Look, we have to go now. Home. Um, nice chatting with you” – as she spoke, both of them kept backing away and when they reached their end of the bridge, turned and walked…well, ran, really, racing down the block and not looking back. A guilty conscience is its own accuser.

“Well, Oliver,” I said. “Looks like I outted another one.” A few days went by before I spotted her again. She was walking Vollmondy. When she saw me, she turned on her heel and hustled off in the opposite direction. It was okay with me, I have nothing against werewolves, weredoxies, werewhatevers, but I’m not going to seek out their company. But I’m certainly not going to tolerate one in my neighborhood either. It’s not personal. It’s just, you know, something you have to do. It’s three more days until Halloween. I have my costume ready. I’m going to be a clown. I have a mask, a wig, big baggy outfit. I figure I can change into it on one of the sidestreets. Won’t take but a second. And after I’m done, I can ditch it in some dumpster. Impossible to trace. And I have a gallon of kerosene and plenty of matches. Some people swear by silver, but burning them out works too. Fire. The Purifier. I used to use a silver knife, but it’s messy. And it takes too long. I had a whole block to sort out. After a while you just want to get the job done and fire is easier. Not as much fun maybe, but you don’t have to get close, win their trust, stuff like that. Like I said, it’s not personal. This is a nice, quiet neighborhood. Who needs a monster roaming around?

 

——————————————————————

Fire and Chardonnay

by The Travel Gypsy

It was my ‘Me Day’. Once a month I dedicated an entire day to doing whatever I wanted to do! I had wine and waffles for breakfast! My self-done pedicure was perfect, and my mud mask was just starting to harden. I strolled to the kitchen to refill my glass of chardonnay, grabbed the latest Shades of Grey novel off the counter, and headed to the living room to curl up with my new favourite book. The bookmark took me to page 97, and after only reading one sentence, panic struck. I jumped off the sofa, threw my book aside, ran to the back door and yelled “FIRE! Again, I screamed…”FIRE!” Just then my little Yorkie came running up the stairs and jumped into my arms. “I’m sorry Fire. Did I lock you outside?” my comments were met with lots of wet kisses and a tiny little bark. “We can’t have you outside when all those trick or treaters come by. No we can’t” I said in my cutesy puppy voice. “You don’t like strangers, and you’re so little someone might step on you! Too bad you weren’t a wolf. That would scare away those annoying kids, wouldn’t it?”
I took Fire back to the sofa where she quickly fell asleep, and the book took me away to another world. As I tilted my wine glass all the way back, hoping to taste that very last drop, Fire jumped off the sofa, ran to the kitchen and started barking.
Barking, barking, barking. What was she barking at? Nobody was there? Fire kept her eyes keenly focused on the counter near the sink, and paced and barked and paced and barked. She wouldn’t stop. Then, she started growling. It was a little growl, because she was a little dog, but it was still a growl. The same growl she made when strangers came to the house. I tried to shush her. I even tried locking Fire in the bathroom, but the barking and growling persisted. As soon as I opened the door, Fire ran straight back to the same spot in the kitchen and growled and barked.
This is ridiculous. I thought. This has totally ruined my Me Day. Not knowing what to do, I called my sister Casey. She was good with animals; maybe she could help. Casey, who lived only two blocks away, climbed on her cruiser style bicycle and rode right over. Growing up, the kids in the neighbourhood used to call us girls, the princess and the hippie. Me, who loved pink and sparkly things, was a sharp contrast to my older sister, who became a vegan at the age of seven, and opened a dream analysis booth during the science fair. But right now, Casey was my only hope.
Ding Ding went her bicycle bell as Casey pulled up the drive way. I could barely hear it over Fire’s incessant barking. I just had enough time to remove my mud mask and get dressed, when my sister walked through the door. “Hey Sis” called Casey as she shut the door behind her. “Hey Fire!” She said in a sweet melodic tone. But Fire didn’t even acknowledge her. “Fi-re” she sung. But the dog didn’t even look.
“Well that’s strange” Said Casey, “what did you do to her?”
“Do? Nothing!” I defended “Wait, she was locked outside while I had breakfast and put on my mud mask. But she was fine when I let her in, she just curled up and went to sleep on the sofa.”
“Another me day? Didn’t you just have one of those last month?”
“I have them every month. That’s why I look 25, and you look 40!”
“Funny!” Looking around, Casey walked towards the counter where Fire was focused. A sudden chill ran through her. It was like the room temperature dropped 10 degrees. “Woah! Feel that?”
“What?” I asked, as my eyes darted around the room.
“It’s really cold right here, just in this one spot.”
“Quit messing around.”
“I’m not, come over here, feel”
I rolled my eyes and crossed the room into what was definitely a cold spot. “Must be a draft.” I said shrugging and walking away. “After all it is October”
“Actually it’s Halloween. They say it’s the day when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest.”
“Oh Right, you believe in that crap. Maybe she saw a spider? She knows I hate spiders.”
It was Casey’s turn to roll her eyes. She looked around the kitchen. She laid on the floor next to the yappy Yorkie trying to figure out what Fire was looking at.
An empty wine bottle?
“Interesting” She said, as stood up to examine it closer. “You had wine for breakfast?”
“Ya, so?”
“Chardonnay? Since when do you drink Chardonnay?”
“ I thought it would go good with the waffles; and it did! Un-oaked! Perfectly aged! Fantastic!”
Casey shook her head, grabbed the cork and put it back in the bottle. At that very second, Fire stopped barking, sat down wagging her tail.
Casey turned her head looked at the dog and paused. She took the cork back out.
Fire jumped to her feet barking and growling again.
In went the cork, and the barking stopped.
“What the?” whispered Casey. “Did you see that?”
“See what?”
“Where did you get this wine? It’s not like you to buy a chardonnay?”
“I don’t know, I think it’s a bottle left over from Grandmother’s wake a few months back. Remember, you took the flowers and I took the wine?”
“Holy shit, it’s Granny in a bottle!” blurted Casey.
Just then the cork popped out of the wine bottle and landed on the floor, where Fire secured it in her mouth and ran to hide it.
“What do you mean Granny in a bottle?”
“Grandma used to drink Chardonnay all the time. It was her favourite. Maybe she was trapped in that bottle, and couldn’t be released until the very last drop was drunk.”
“Actually, Fire only started barking once I finished the wine and she never did meet granny!”
“That must be it! Fire is a ghost sniffer”
“So you’re saying that having wine for breakfast on Halloween, freed granny’s spirit from her favourite bottle of chardonnay and Fire can see ghosts?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
“Hmm.” I huffed. “Well, cheers to you Granny! Lets crack open another bottle!”
“Wait! What if that wasn’t Granny? What if it was an evil spirit? Do you really want to take a chance and set another one free in your house?” rattled off Casey.
“You really believe in ghosts?” I had to roll my eyes, my sister is so strange. Heading towards the wine rack I teased back “That’s so stupid.”
On the last syllable of my last word, every cork popped out of every wine bottle in my wine rack. As the corks flew everywhere, we ducked behind the island in the centre of the kitchen, panting, trying to catch our breath.
“You were saying?” shot Casey.
“Spirits in a bottle.” I had to pause to let it soak into my brain. “Fine, you win. C’mon Fire! Leave Granny alone, let’s go buy Casey a coffee! I’ve had enough spirits for one day”
The End!

——————————————————————————

Congratulations to the finalists.  You all did a wonderful job and I wish both of you the best of luck during voting.   The poll will stay open until midnight (EDT) Friday, November 2nd.  On Saturday, November 3rd, I will announce the winner and runner-up.  They will receive their Amazon gift cards that day via email.

Once again, the contestants are welcome to announce their story being up for vote on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. but I require you DO NOT tell people to vote for you specifically.  Ask others to simply visit and select the story they think is best.  Please make this a fair contest.  I really do not want to disqualify anyone.

Also, for those interested I have posted the stipulations for the next writing contest.  It will cover both November and December and be a holiday theme.  The prizes have been increased for it as a bonus.  Check it out if you are interested by clicking here.

Advertisements

~ by Suzie on October 31, 2012.

10 Responses to “October 2012 Writing Contest Finalists”

  1. Oh wow, the stories are so good 😀

  2. Most of my story is missing from here. I posted it in its entirety…what should I do?

    • I see what happened. When you posted your story the first time on the Monthly Writing Contest page you put the whole thing. Later, when I had you re-post it to the October Contest page you didn’t get that last part pasted in. I didn’t re-read it from there and didn’t realize what had happened. Unfortunately, that is where I always copy the stories for the finalist post. I’ve gone back in and added that last part here so everyone can see it now. You’re all set.

  3. Great stories!

  4. Thank you, MOTDP. It sort of made no sense without the ending. And to show my gratitude, i will not be visiting your house tonight. Heh heh.

    • That’s too bad. I can’t believe you won’t travel half-way across the country to visit me and have some of this tasty Folgers coffee I’m drinking. Nothing but the best in my home 🙂

      • FOLGERS??? Well why didn’t you say so. I’m on my way. And I promise to use my company manners if you know what I mean.

        No, you know, mayhem.

        • Yep, the Folgers lure works every time. As for behavior, what fun would it be if you held yourself back? It’s Halloween. There’s plenty of trouble to be getting into…

          • Hah, like I didn’t see the pictures. You are a dangerous woman and I am a mere maniac. Not getting close to your house. Nah ah. Unless the cookies are like really good.

  5. Both awesome stories – and it’s neck and neck late in the contest!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: