April 2013 Writing Contest Finalists
We have our three finalists for this month’s writing contest. It was a fun theme with pirates and I enjoyed the stories everyone submitted. There were a couple of other entries that did not qualify, but are worth checking out. You can see them here. Thanks to everyone who submitted their stories. The following contestants are the ones who are up for judging. Please do congratulate them!
Below will be a review of the contest stipulations for those who did not see them, followed by the three finalists’ stories. Contestants, you are welcome to tell your friends and family through blogs, twitter, Facebook, or any other site to let them know your story has made it to a finalist spot. They are free to leave encouragement below in the comments section.
The judges will be notified to review each of the entries and send a private email to me for the two they like the best. Their top choice will receive one full point. Their second choice will receive half of a point. On Wednesday evening, May 1st, the total votes for each story will be announced. Gift cards will also be awarded to the winner and runner-up on that day.
1) The theme is pirates. Your story should revolve around them in some kind of confrontation or adventure (modern, futuristic, or historical).
2) The following words must be included in the story (they can be made plural or the tense changed as needed):
c) Rum (must appear at least three times)
3) Word count requirement: 700-1500 words
Pirates, Pistols and Dead-in Jobs
by Regina Puckett
Jill rushed through the mall but slowed down a tad when she almost knocked a toddler over in her panic to reach Chips and Fish Ahoy. She couldn’t imagine what had her best friend so upset. Over the phone there had been a longwinded rant about pirates, booty and gold. Heather was usually a very calm person, a little ditzy, but calm.
The moment Jill finally had the restaurant in sight, the movie theater located next door began emptying of patrons. Instead of everyone moving on and out of the way most of them stopped to chat in large groups as if none of them had anything better to do than hang around in the mall hallways for the rest of the evening. She had to shove her way through the crowd to finally reach the doors of the fish restaurant.
She pushed through the double doors but stopped in the entryway long enough to search for Heather. It would have been easier if the place hadn’t been decorated to resemble a tropical island. Ferns were hanging from the ceiling throughout the entire place and if that wasn’t bad enough they were also in planters behind each booth.
When she finally located her petite friend, she was waving like a manic from behind a potted plant. To stop Heather from creating so much unwanted attention Lisa hurried over and slid into the booth with her. Lisa settled into the hard bench and immediately checked out the Chips and Fish Ahoy cashier. “So that’s the guy you think looks like a pirate?”
Both Jill and Heather look over toward the medium height college age kid working behind the fast food counter. His most outstanding attribute was his teeth. They were so white that if the lights in the restaurant had gone out for any reason the place would have still had enough light to eat by.
Heather sighed loudly and rested her chin cupped between her palms. “Isn’t he adorable?”
Jill squinted to study the guy again. Maybe her contacts need cleaning because while she had to admit he was cute, she just couldn’t picture the clean cut blonde as a pirate. “Exactly which pirate do you think this fire-cracker looks like?”
Heather fluttered both hands in the air as if swatting away flying bugs. She finally choked out, “Remember that movie we saw last summer?” In her quest to think her eyes rolled so far upward the only thing visible now were the whites of them.
It was hard for Jill to admit but her best friend wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. “You might want to narrow the selection down for me a tad. We saw several movies last summer.”
Jill crossed her arms across her chest and waited as Heather tapped out an entire song with the heels of her shoes. It might have been annoying if it hadn’t been such a lively tune.
Finally, after several minutes of tapping and thinking, Heather slapped a hand onto the table top. “It was called Fire, Rum and the Gold Pistol or maybe it was called Gold Rum, Thunder and the Pistol on Fire.” She wiggled her fingers in the air like she was conducting an orchestra and nodded so hard her hair actually fell out of its ponytail holder.
To forestall any more of Heather’s unfruitful and lengthy thought processes, Jill nodded as if she knew which movie her friend was talking even though she didn’t have a clue. “The one with the sail boat. Wasn’t it stranded somewhere near Key West with a trunk of gold or something? Maybe it was just a trunk of skulls.”
That statement only made Heather furrow her brows again. That was never a good sign. They had been good friends since first grade so Jill was well aware of the fact that if her friend tried too hard to dig any information out of that tiny brain of hers they could very well be there all night. Jill waved a hand in front of Heather’s face to get her attention. “It really doesn’t matter. If you think the dude looks like a pirate that good enough for me. You should go up there and ask him his name. You’re not going to make any headway with him sitting over here behind this potted fern.”
A look of horror crossed Heather’s face. “My mom would never let me date a pirate.”
Jill blinked and stared opened mouth at her friend. She finally shook the cobwebs out her head and stuttered. “But he’s really not a pirate. He’s working the lunch hour shift at Chips and Fish Ahoy. Your mom would be thrilled to pieces for you to finally be dating a guy with a job. I don’t even think she would mind very much that he smells like fish and hush puppies.”
Heather waved her arms and hands in the air as if she was directing an orchestral. “I can’t take him home. My mom would have to install a new alarm system and she wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”
Jill just knew she was going to regret asking but she had to anyway. “Why?”
It was then everything went to hell in a handbag. Heather stood and said of the top of her lungs. “Because he’s a pirate!”
Every eye in the fast food joint turned in their direction. Jill smiled and waved at a little boy with a French fry hanging out of his mouth. She was now thoroughly mortified. She stood and hissed through clenched teeth. “Will you sit down? You’re making a spectacle out of yourself.”
She almost had Heather talked into sitting down again when her friend pushed her backwards and shouted. “Don’t you see? He’s working the cash register. He’s going to steal them blind. I have to go get help!”
All Jill could do at that point was watch Heather run from the restaurant. Jill took refuge behind the potted fern as Heather pushed through the double doors and sped out of sight.
She stayed there hiding not knowing if she should hide there until the place shut down for the night or is she should wait and try to discreetly sneak out as soon as the coast was clear again. She was so busy pretending to be invisible she didn’t notice when the clean-cut blonde slid into the seat in front of her.
“Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum, Matey.” He was smiling so broadly his blue eyes had all but disappeared into a series of deep laugh lines.
All Jill could say to that was, “My friend thinks you’re a pirate and she’s gone to get the police.”
He grinned and winked devilishly. “I get that a lot.” He stood and offered his arm. “I’m off work for the night and there’s a new movie starting in twenty minutes. You want to go with me? I’ll buy you popcorn.”
She stood and took the offered arm. “The movie with pirates, pistols and rum?”
He grinned. “That’s the one.”
Lisa nodded toward the door. “Let’s get out of here before the police show up.”
They only made it a couple of steps before Heather returned with a mall cop in tow. Lisa nudged the not-pirate toward the ladies restroom and when he wasn’t moving fast enough she shoved him through the door.
The moment the door closed behind them the blonde cashier waggled his eyebrows at her. “Does this mean that I’m going to get lucky?”
Lisa stared at him without answering. She opened the door again just a little and took a quick peep around the edge of it to check to see if the coast was clear or not. All she could see through the tiny crack was the back of the cop’s hat so she quickly closed the door again. She leaned on it and studied the good looking guy standing in front of her. “What’s your name, Skippy?”
He offered his hand for her to shake as if they were at a business meeting or someplace formal instead of a dirty ladies room. “It’s Jack. Jack Sparrow, but you can call me, Hook.”
A Piratey Potion
by Charity Parkerson
Thunder rumbled in the distance, warning of the upcoming storm. Randall stared out of the front window of his shop, Cruz Apothecary, watching as his fellow business owners scrambled to haul their sidewalk fare indoors.
In New Orleans, it was impossible to predict the pop-up thunderstorms that accompanied the heat of the summer. Personally, he loved the sounds and smells of such a storm, but then again, as a wizard, he didn’t sell his goods outdoors.
A flash of lightning lit up the sky, followed closely by a loud pop, almost as if someone had fired a pistol. The street plunged into darkness as the electricity failed against nature’s fury.
With a sigh, Randall lit a few candles and gave up any hope of doing business today. The fire danced above the wax sticks and bounced off the rainbow-colored bottles that lined the shelves, causing a twinkling light display to play upon the walls.
Randall allowed his mind to empty of all thought as he stared at the show. It wasn’t often that he was able to become one with his surroundings.
The bell jingled above the door, pulling him from his meditation, and his breath caught in his throat at the first sight of the beautiful woman.
Dressed in a yellow sundress that fell to her knees was a soaked red-haired goddess. The wet material hugged her every generous curve. She fought to close the umbrella that had only managed to keep her hair dry and nothing else. With a growl of frustration, she tossed it to the side.
“Bloody thing,” she cursed, glowering at the still open umbrella, and causing him to smile.
Her smooth foreign accent rolled over his skin. He couldn’t place the origin, but he loved it.
“Are you in need of shelter from the rain?”
At his question, she smoothed down the front of her dress as if attempting to remove invisible wrinkles, and only managed to draw his gaze to her hardened nipples. Tearing his eyes away, he made a valiant attempt to look her in the face.
“No, actually, I’m looking for a potion. I’m Rowena, by the way,” she added as she moved to shake his hand.
Randall found himself mesmerized by the way her lips shaped each accented word, and he tugged the lapels of his white lab coat closed with one hand to keep from embarrassing himself as he shook her outstretched hand with the other.
“I’m sorry. What did you say you were looking for?”
Her green eyes flashed with humor at his question as if she knew the effect she was having on him. “You know; a tonic, a brew, a remedy,” she expounded.
“Ah, well,” he said, clearing his throat. “You’ve come to the right place,” he answered, releasing her hand. “What concoction do you seek?” Randall asked, making his way over the laden shelves. “I have everything from pain relievers to protective spells.”
“Pirate removal,” she answered with a decisive nod.
“You wish to remove a pirate?” Randall asked, sounding like an idiot even to his own ears.
Rowena’s curly hair bounced and her dangling gold earrings moved in time with her head as she nodded. “Um-hmm, that’s what I said.”
“As in Blackbeard, sails unfurling, yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum?” Randall acted out his question with a bent elbow robot dance that ended with him standing like the captain on the front of his favorite brand of rum.
Rowena followed his motions with her eyes as if patiently waiting for his mind to catch up with the situation.
“Exactly,” she agreed. “I’m talking the whole ‘Where has all the rum gone?’, ‘scurvy dogs,’ and ‘argh,’” she said, ending with her finger curved like a hook.
Realizing that he was still standing like he had a little captain in him, he dropped his foot and shrugged. “Sure, I have a spell for that, but you’d need a witch or wizard to perform it for you.”
Randall took pride in his ability to spot another magical creature from a hundred feet away and he knew that this woman was no witch.
“Tell me what I need and let me worry about acquiring a spellcaster.”
Pushing his glasses up his nose, Randall inspected the woman closer. There was something about her. She wasn’t a witch but neither was she mortal. It was a puzzle.
“Let’s see,” he said, relenting. “Some acorn oil and Goldenseal for protection and luck,” he mused aloud as he collected the bottles and searched for more. “Monkswood to redirect your enemy and a lemon for cleansing.”
With all the items needed to perform the spell gathered in his arms, he headed toward the register. “Would you like a lime today also, to bring peace of mind?” he asked over his shoulder.
“No. I have everything that I need right here,” she answered, snagging the back of his coat. With a tiny nod of her head, Randall found himself moving through the realms. The smell of the sea and the taste of saltwater hit him before his vision cleared. Even with those details against him, he still held out hope that it wasn’t true, but when his feet touched the unsteady deck of an Argosy, he knew his worst fears were true. It seemed he was to be the final key in ridding Rowena of her troublesome pirate, he realized as the bright red coat, shiny black shoes, and silvery hook came into his line of vision. At least she had the decency to blush as he turned his accusing eyes her way.
“You could have, at the very least, allowed me to chop this lemon before expecting me to fight a damn pirate,” Randall growled under his breath.
by Kristin Bush
Navigating the sands is a hard task indeed. The endless golden desert, billowing glow of the hot sun reflected off the sand, and the wind storms are the least of me worries. But as I gaze past the bridge, into the ever coming unknown, for a moment… I am free.
“Hard turn Right! Decker, a hand here ma’boy” And there goes me moment… A round of “Aye, Aye” goes up across the ship while I hall tail to the helm. Damned boulders are few and far, but they are a blasted pain in the ass. I grip the worn spokes and force them left, watching the bow of the ship shift right lifting and lowering over the dunes of Trifecta, the Dead Mans Dunes.
These dunes are the dead mans for a reason, none but murderers and thieves travel here by ship. Then, its only escape death or to dare it. Feeling the grin take me face over, I cant help but think the bugger can try, but Death may never take me. Nor any man, while sailing this particular ship.
Readjusting me slitted eye covers to better see, I take notice there be no boulder. Nor Spinning worm. Nor a damn pit of sinkers sand. Looking to the compass, I take in the change of direction. What the Hell? “Captain, where in the seven levels of Hell are you taking us?” Not giving me a second look, because he knows I can not march up to his craggy ass and threaten his attention, I grip the spokes harder and wait. The old man can’t avoid me forever and he knows it.
There be only one destination, by port or dock, we could be headed and its not somewhere I ever thought to set eyes on again. Somewhere I never want to set me eyes again. The thought alone dredges up the memory of sweet smelling blossom, overpowered by the poison of black smoke from factories blighting the city. Hearing a babe’s laughter and the ghost of soft grass on me feet as me and me young sister run through the fields is a pain lacerating through the dried up organ that used to be me heart.
Once the Sling Blade settles in her new direction, she cuts through the sand like her namesake. The worn maroon sails ripple and snap into place as the wind pulls her onward and I release my white knuckled grip on the helm. Reaching for a flask of rum, I make way to Captain Addon. Me boots beat the deck like thunder and I feel eyes settle on my person.
“Addon, a word… In private.” I bite the words. With out seeking reply, I turn on me heel and thunder the way toward the captains quarters. If a man can call a five by eight rats hole, stinking of rum and piss a quarters.
Pushing through the door, one that needs no key, I see the familiar stained cover tossed aside on the maroon feather stuffed mattress. A barrel at its side to be the table has empty bottles tossed aside and a half rotten apple rolling from lip to lip. A trunk in the far corner, likely full of gold and other booty, sits below the only true treasure Addon holds displayed on the wall. His late son’s pistol.
I raise me eye cover over the rag on me head so he can see the full fury on me face. Hearing the swish thump of Addon’s walk I turn just as he shut the door. Ready for battle, I brace meself for answers.
“Why?” Near silence, just the muffled noise of a crew working ship, a dog scrabbling across deck and his breath forced through the grog blossom on his face. He raises his own covering and I see one cloudy eye and one blazing amber. One, two, three minutes pass with nothing.
I stare into his eyeball, the one he see’s with, and watch the play of emotion on his face. Coming to a decision, he reaches into his pocket and pull’s out a sheaf of paper. Handing it in my direction, I just stand there wanting to hear the words. Hear him speak his treachery aloud.
“Decker, take it and then give me that look. Take it and read and I’ll hear you thank me later, boy.” Thats it? The carouser thinks booty will take me back to Traledod? I look at the parchment, the leather tie keeping them together.
Instead of seeing worn dirty paper, I see a group of men dressed in black. Feel the grip of me sisters tiny fingers slipping through me own. Smell’s assault me, burnt flesh at the fore, turing me innards to deck splinters and piercing through me naval.
Shaking the memory away be like shaking the infernal sand and hoping for water. I’ll not be getting any water but I can dust the sand from me fingers regardless. With shaking fingers, I pull the knotted tie, careful not to lose the wrappings. Reading through the parrot scratches makes me eyes ache, but read it I do.
Softly, so quiet as to be a whisper, only one word can leave me weather damaged lips. Word be not the right thing to describe the importance of it, no dare even it be a prayer. “Sarafina.”
Wobbling on me legs like the untried youth I was when Addon found me, I stagger back to the bed. The rolling sway of Sling Blade, once a comfort, has me feeling like I’m in a cage swaying over Hell’s inferno. And I had thought me mentor, a man closer to be a father than me Captain would take me back for booty alone. Blimey, but all the gold, rum and wenches in the world could never compare to a treasure such as this.
And here I hold the map to it in me hand, as if it were nothing I ever wished for and everything I ever dared to hope for since boyhood. Or better yet the end of it. “You’ve found me sister?”
“Aye, I’ve found your sister.” Raising his hand to the swath of fabric covering his head, he pulls it off slowly, and I know this is real. But still, I can hardly believe it, we gave up looking long ago. Assuming she died in the fire with all the rest, I buried the hope of finding her deep down as the mating nest of a spinning worm and kept it there.
Until now. Holding the greatest treasure map in all the sands, seas, lands and skies I solidify me determination. A single minded goal, made ready by the twelve years of pirating with the most feared and revered. This time, we sail to Traledod, to me home, me beginning.
This time… The Deadsteel will not be facing a boy of eleven. No, and God above help them. This time I will save what remains of me family, and rain Hell’s Fire while I’m at it.
This should be fun.
Congratulations to the finalists. You all did a wonderful job and I wish each of you the best of luck during judging. This will be the last writing contest held for the blog. It has been a privilege to have these as the final story entries.