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ZombieRockStar
2006-12-30, 04:40 PM
So here we are. A scant 600 or so words on a submarine and a county.

Arms

A submarine is a hot place. The cramped space, a boiler engine for a furnace. Not even the freezing water can cool it. Metal is warm to touch. Everything here is made of metal. Wool is hot. All navy uniforms are made of wool. It hurts to wear, especially when it gets wet. Condensation on the inside, steam from the boiler room, leaks. The sea is never seen, but it is always wet.

I had never seen the ocean until two years ago. I'm from Iowa. My dad had a farm in Buena Vista county. I signed up for the navy because the government wanted more sailors, so it opened a navy recruitment office in my county. I would've had to go three counties over otherwise.

I work in the torpedo room. I am constantly touching metal. It's warm and uncomfortable. I have blisters on my hands from so many hours of work.

We haven't been in combat, really. Just patrolling on the surface for weeks. No Japanese boats at all.

At home, in Iowa, I watched my father's aim with the axe slip and take the arm off my brother, who was holding down the chicken. This was when I was thirteen. I remember being unbelievably scared, doing nothing but screaming. My father did the same. We both thought he was going to die. My brother just fainted.

Later, my father and I both pretended that we had acted rationally and quickly, like real men would. My brother didn't die from blood loss or gangrene. We bandaged him up pretty well once we got ourselves together. But he couldn't serve in the war when it came around a couple years later, missing his arm below the elbow, so he took the axe again and up it into his own skull. He didn't do it right. When I found him, he wasn't dead yet. He wasn't dead when I got my mother. He was almost dead after my dad yanked the axe out with all force. He was dead after my dad buried the axe in my brother's head again, as if he was putting down a lame horse.

My father didn't take that too well, and later buried the axe in his head as well. He did do it right. I ran off and managed to make the officers believe that I was 18 and not 16. I don't know what happened to my mother. She may have well taken the axe too.

I work in the torpedo room. I'm not an engineer or a helmsman or a cook. My job is to put the torpedo in and pull the lever. My job is to do the killing.

Today, we've seen some fishing boats. Captain wants to sink them, but, the boats are too small for a torpedo, so we use the surface gun. I go to help. We surface, climb out, load the gun, shoot, miss, shoot and destroy one. There's three of us on the gun, one to aim, one to load, one to shoot. I aim. The shell is put in. The firing mechanism is a spring-loaded flint. It's pulled back and let go. The shot doesn't go off. Misfire. The chamber is opened and the shell is taken out. It explodes. I feel nothing but I find myself on the deck, looking down at the sea. I can't feel my arms.

The ship is passing through where we destroyed the first boat. I can see planks of wood. I see a single arm, belonging to a Japanese fisher, floating in the water.

I remember the axe. It was flimsy and the handle was beginning to rot. I often felt that the blade could fall of at any moment.

I feel nothing, really.

Cult_of_the_Raven
2006-12-30, 10:20 PM
It seems that people know very little about Iowa. interesting.

Elvaris
2006-12-30, 10:31 PM
Well, it's not exactly ideal, but I'm running out of time.
a boxer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_McClellan) and a Mississippi town (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman%2C_Mississippi)

Ghosts of the Past
Marjorie Scott looked up from her coffee as the sound of a car pulling into the diner's parking lot interrupted the steady clatter of ice pellets on the roof. A tall, lean man pulled his not-up-to-the-job trench coat over his head, climbed out of the car, and hustled his way through the front door.

"I swear, the whole point of moving south was to get away from nights like this," he said, shaking the ice from his coat.

"Well, I guess you didn't move far enough south," she smiled. "Can I get you some coffee?"

"Oh god, yes. I'd kill for some good coffee. And I did move far enough south... this time, but the college buddies still drag me north once a year."

"Oh? Which school?"

"Memphis. It sounded far enough south growing up in Ohio."

"So, you kept moving south?"

"Key Biscayne. I didn't feel like learning Spanish."

Marjorie smiled as she poured him a cup of coffee. "Sounds nicer than here," she said, "but then most places sound nicer than here."

He nursed his cup, holding on with both hands. "No offense, but where's here? I couldn't really see the signs as I was pulling off the highway."

"You are in picturesque Sherman, Mississippi. Home of... well... not much. You know, I can bring you a second cup if you want to keep that one as a hand warmer."

"No, ma'am, this one will do just fine," he said over the cup. "You don't sound happy to be here."

"I am... I'm just... I feel a little left out at times when I meet people who've done more with their lives than I have."

"Believe me, there are worse things than living in a small town. There have been times when I'd have been thrilled to be in a quiet place like Sherman here."

"Sherman isn't always quiet, you know. We're on the road from Tupelo to Memphis so everyone crowds in here on the off chance Elvis might have once set foot in the building."

"Ah, yes. The Elvis obsession. How's he doing these days?"

"Still dead."

"Shh... Don't say that too loud. It's bad for business."

"You're the only one here, I don't think I'm hurting the diner too badly."

"Well, I still don't have a menu..."

"Huh? Oh god, I'm so sorry. Here... Let me go make sure the grills are running."

With that Marjorie slid a menu across the counter and ran to the kitchen. The stranger sat reading the menu still cradling his mug in both hands.

"Okay, Frank's just making his own dinner, what can I get you?"

"Onion burger with fries, please. What my cardiologist doesn't know can't hurt me, right?"

"Something like that... Order in please."

"You could leave, you know."

Marjorie turned to see the stranger regarding her over the coffee cup.

He continued, "You're young, you could see more of the world if you wanted to."

"I couldn't... Frank needs me here."

"I'd imagine he'd find a new waitress eventually. I'm sorry. It's probably none of my business, but you don't have to feel left out."

"I guess I'm just not up to that kind of change any more. And who are you to decide what I should do with my life?"

"Jack Buckham, pleasure to meet you."

"Charmed," Marjorie said, though it was clear from her tone of voice she wasn't.

"I wasn't making any demands, I was just suggesting that the best time to make a change is when you're sure you can't."

"And what would you know about change, Jack Buckham?"

"Well, I was a professional boxer once. And unlike most boxers, I won my last fight."

"I suppose I should ask what happened. To be polite."

Jack smiled and sighed. Conversation was going to be up to him for a while, so he told his story, "When I went to college, I was considered too small to play football, so I tried wrestling for a while, but I really got involved with boxing. I spent a lot of time working out and sparring in the gym, even got a few fights here and there between classes. When I graduated, I didn't get much in the way of job offers, so I figured I had nothing to lose and went pro. I fought pretty well, paid some dues, won some fights, and was really starting to get noticed. Bigger fights, better opponents, bigger venues. I was on my way up."

Jack paused to take a sip of coffee, "Then it happened. I was in London as an under card to a championship bout. I went out, had the fight of my life. Took the guy down in the second round, I thought it was the start of my career. So I had a beer, sat backstage and watched the middleweight champ, the guy I figured I'd be fighting some day."

"Gerald McClellan, The G-Man. Quick, strong... twice the fighter I was. This guy was amazing. Dropped the guy out of the ring in the first. Did it again in the eighth. He was just taking the guy apart. Then something changed. In the tenth, he dropped down to one knee. You could tell his head wasn't right. They counted him out, but that wasn't what was important as he collapsed in his corner. He didn't just lose the fight, he lost consciousness, he lost his sight, he lost his ability to walk."

"Here was the fighter I could be, the best I could hope for, being carried on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. They carried him right past me. I quit right then and there... Never set foot in the ring again. I flew home and found a job selling exercise equipment."

"I've seen change first hand, and I'd much rather see it accompanied by fear than regret."

"Are you saying I'm afraid of change?"

"Aren't we all? It's nothing to be ashamed of. I just don't want to see you waste your life over something that happened so long ago."


Marjorie stopped cold. "Who the hell are you?"


"Back at school, I was walking back from the gym one night. I heard a scuffle behind a building... When I went to check it out, I saw three guys beating up... well, you know what was going on. I ran in and tried to help."

"They told me someone rushed in and rescued me, but they never told me who."

"They wouldn't tell me your name. They wouldn't let me in the hospital. I watched the trials, but they still kept your name out of it. Nobody I asked would tell me who you were."

"So how did you find me now? After all this time."

"I checked the list of dropouts from the University from around that time. It took me a while to think of it... I'm not exactly the quickest thinker in the world."

"So now that you've found me, what? Am I supposed to bow at your feet?"

"I just... wanted to see how you were, to see if you were okay... To let you know you don't have to be afraid."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't be this rude, but this is just too much to face... too much at once."

"I understand. It sounds like it's letting up out there. I should get going. It was nice to see you... under better circumstances."

"Wait, just a second."

Marjorie grabbed the meal Jack had ordered and slid it in a box. She came around the counter and handed it to him.

"I think my wallet's in the car, if you give me a minute I can..."

"Hush. This one's on me. I haven't had a chance to say it until now, but thank you."

"I should be coming back through here in a few days."

"You'll know where to find me."

averagejoe
2006-12-30, 11:39 PM
Ironically enough, beginnings and endings are the hardest parts. Just work at it, joe.

'S about all I can do. :smallwink:

Bryn
2006-12-31, 12:18 PM
Unless the contest was extended, this will be late, but...

983 words on a Deadly Phenomenon of Pern (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thread_%28Pern%29) and a Herb (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savory_%28herb%29).

I think I could have done better, but meh...

Death of a Dragon Rider

The wind rushes past me as I swoop and soar through the sky, the beating of Ferdis's wings creating heavy thunderclaps in the air about me. The cold of between still lies in my bones, slowly vanishing as the sun beats down upon the scene below. Wide green fields stretch across the countryside, dotted occasionally by small farming villages. Ahead lies my destination, a farmhouse next to a small lake surrounded by trees.

At least, there were once trees. As I soar down towards the destination, I can already see the fires of the battle that is beginning there. Silvery tangles plummet from the cloudy skies to land among trees stripped of all vegetation, falling as I watch to be dissolved by swarming tendrils. Thread is falling on Pern, and I am here to stop it.

With a great roar, Ferdis, my dragon, pushes forwards towards the battle. Other dragons, silhouetted against the darkening skies, release enormous gouts of flame towards the trees, and soon I have joined them, my fire mingling with theirs to create a towering column of fire, a roaring inferno to consume the thread as it falls. With another beat of Ferdis's wings, I swoop down over the forest, leaving a trail of flaming devastation igniting the remainder of the ravaged trees. Clouds of smoke boil up from among the branches, and I squint, water droplets forming in my eyes, the acrid stench burning my nostrils.

Then, I am out of the smoke, soaring back up into the sky to look down on the scene of the devastation. I feel exhilarated, diving down again among the writhing tendrils to release further gouts of flame at the falling masses.

Nearby, I notice gardens, spread out from behind a country house previously hidden by the thick forest. It stands on a small island near the edge of the lake, a small wooden bridge crossing towards the shore. As I swoop towards it, I see a clump of Thread land on the bridge, burrowing a wide gap in the wood to land, a tangled mass, in the lake below. Another gout of fire from Ferdis, and the lake erupts into steam, while we swoop away low among the rows of herbs and spices. They flash past beneath me, and an odd detached part of my mind puts names to them: savory, rue, lavender. I smile to myself – it seems I haven't forgotten the old botany classes after all.

More plants pass beneath us; lemon grass, thread.

Wait, thread?

Then, Ferdis is breathing fire again, and the herbs and spices all ignite as flame spreads across: a burning deathtrap for the thread that falls about us. We lift back up into the air, breathing fire in all directions to ignite the clumps of thread that plummet down from the skies. Scalding heat fills the air and I begin to sweat slightly.

Ferdis tells me that he is feeling tired now, but I am enjoying the feeling of flying too much. One more pass, then we can go back I tell him, and we turn again, the sun shining off Ferdis's head as he extends his neck and pulls his wings back, more fire exploding outwards. The thread falls still.

Then, a wave of agony bursts over me, and I can see the tendrils of thread right in front of me. Ferdis rolls, and I realise the thread has landed right on top of us. I scream, while Ferdis gives a great roar, releasing a scalding blast of flame over himself, destroying the thread as it tries to burrow into him. We fall, a living meteor, me screaming in agony all the way down. Then, I feel a sickening crunch, and all is still.

[hr]
I awaken, a burning pain in one leg and a fierce agony in the other. The rest of my body hurts too, just not quite as much as my legs. I try to open my eyes, only to find one won't open, and hurts more when I try to do so.
“Over here!” shouts somebody, and I hear footsteps running towards me, thudding across the ground. In my one good eye I can see columns of smoke rising from the blackened spars of a small building. The country house? It seems likely.

“He's alive, just. Looks like he was one of the Riders. Hey, Mark! Get a stretcher over here!” The voice is gruff and loud, the last words especially so. I groan, and try to say something through my cracked and burned lips.

Another voice, female this time, starts talking to me. “It's okay, you're alright now. Everything's going to be fine” she says. I try again, this time managing a word. “Ferdis?” My voice hardly sounds like my own.

I hear mumbling from all around. “The dragon. It has to be the dragon.” says one, louder than the others, heralding a wave of 'ssh'-es from the other voices. “Your dragon?” asks the female voice. I nod weakly, and I hear a rustling, as if from somebody shaking their head. “It's dead. The fire killed it.”

Suddenly, anger fills me. Who were these people to disparage Ferdis as an 'it'? Perhaps they killed him! Ferdis wouldn't have killed himself. These people murdered my dragon!

I lash out, or at least try to. Instead, there is a loud cracking sound and my arm begins to hurt even more than my legs. Turning my heads to see the wound, I wince. A piece of bone is protruding from a long gash. I decide I'd be better off not looking at my leg.

Then, rough hands are lifting me up onto a stretcher, and I'm being carried off. Still angry, I gasp Ferdis's name. They were taking me away from my dragon...

“Ferdis...” I call, weakly, and then darkness draws in and I see no more.

ZombieRockStar
2006-12-31, 03:54 PM
It seems that people know very little about Iowa. interesting.

I don't even know what the rest of the American midwest is like, much less Iowa. I guessed. A farm. Iowa has those, doesn't it? Killing chickens, since I know farms have those. Recruitment offices. Every place had those during the war. A screwed-up family, which you can find anywhere.

I realize the county in question probably didn't exist in the 40's. I took creative liberties.

Did I get anything totally 100% completely wrong?

Cult_of_the_Raven
2006-12-31, 04:23 PM
not really. you probably could find a situation like that if you looked hard enough, but it would be pretty rare. except for, come to think of it, chickens would be hard to keep in the 40s. I have a hard time keeping predators out of my chicken pen here in the 2000s. :smallwink:

ZombieRockStar
2006-12-31, 04:38 PM
I grew up on a chicken farm, so I know what that's like, sort of. (We moved off into the city when I was 5) But any farm would still keep them, especially during the depression since they are a cheap and readily available source of food and income.

As for the situation, of course it's unusual. This was totally last minute, no revision. I wrote whatever came to mind first.:smallwink:

Bryn
2006-12-31, 04:46 PM
Same here with the last minute thing. It went something like this:
"What? The deadline was yesterday?", after which there was a bit of time reading Wikipedia on the Dragon Riders of Pern and then I pretty much made it up as I went along. That is why, for example, the dragon's name is a little inaccurate... and why its so short.

Cult_of_the_Raven
2006-12-31, 05:17 PM
yeah, i wondered at that name thing, being an avid reader of pernese books. dragon names end in 'th' :smallwink:

Bryn
2006-12-31, 07:22 PM
A fact that I only discovered after I'd posted the story.

Is there any other way it differs a lot from the original books? My memories of them are so hazy they may as well be nonexistent, so I'd be interested to know.

Cult_of_the_Raven
2006-12-31, 07:46 PM
well, if you want me to pick the details, I'll tell you.
get ready for a nitpicking-

other than the 'th' thing,
1) Between is capitalized.
2) nobody ever lived on a farmhouse, only safe in stone holds.
3) there weren't many trees, except in the south.
4) dragons flew to burn the thread really high in the air, specifically to avoid catching things on fire.
5) once thread touches the ground, flamethrower crews generally get it.
6) dragons generally went through a whole Fall without needing a break, so Ferdis wouldn't have complained of tiredness.


otherwise, I think it's great. It has nice syntax, good word choice, etc. the emotional responses were perfect, and strong enough to effect the reader.
:biggrin: - Raven

Bryn
2006-12-31, 08:08 PM
Thanks :smallbiggrin:

On the last point, the Wikipedia article on Dragons mentioned that green dragons and possibly blue dragons might work in shifts. Specifically...

They are extremely valuable in Threadfall because of their agility, but they lack the stamina to last an entire Fall and generally fly in two or three shifts.

They are nearly as agile as greens, but unlike the greens, they often have enough stamina to last for an entire Threadfall.
Keyword being 'often'.

On the other hand, I broke so much else that what does it matter if one more thing is inaccurate. :smallwink:

averagejoe
2006-12-31, 08:28 PM
Same here with the last minute thing. It went something like this:
"What? The deadline was yesterday?", after which there was a bit of time reading Wikipedia on the Dragon Riders of Pern and then I pretty much made it up as I went along. That is why, for example, the dragon's name is a little inaccurate... and why its so short.

I personally don't mind, especially since I made a similar mistake, plus you were still rushed on it, so you're unlikely to get an unfair advantage with the extra time. Heck, even mine was last minute, I just thought, for some reason, that the deadline was a day earlier than it was.

Cult_of_the_Raven
2006-12-31, 08:32 PM
So what color was Ferdis? bronze? brown? blue?

Bryn
2007-01-01, 05:59 AM
I don't think I decided, actually. Probably blue, since he was both male and he complained of tiredness.

Thanks for letting me enter anyway...

Cult_of_the_Raven
2007-01-01, 02:17 PM
well you did really good, considering. :biggrin:

Fat Daddy
2007-01-02, 04:50 AM
Sorry that I've been away for a few days. The new baby and the toddler are a handful. I don't think I've slept in 5 days. Anyway enough whining and back to the contest...

Round 2 is closed. I will PM the judges and try to get this round judged so we can get the final round completed.

Stay tuned...

Dispozition
2007-01-02, 11:59 PM
Ummm...Is it just me or did Tanon Sharpe, VT and TheSilverKnight not post stories?

EDIT: Ok...Looking back, Tanon withdrew...But VT and SliverKnigh wanted extensions...What's gonna happen with them?

The Vorpal Tribble
2007-01-03, 12:06 AM
Probably just be dropped. Wish I could have had time to enter this time round, but just been a busy last couple weeks.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-04, 12:05 AM
Well, let's see here. averagejoe has requested that Z-Axis' entry be counted and judged so I have no problem doing that as the other author in that bracket (Tanon Sharpe) withdrew. As for Vorpal Tribble and SilverKnight, extensions are up to the other competitors in their brackets. So on that front, Zombie and Ravyn, please PM me if you want to allow SilverKnight an extension. Yawielas and Elvaris, please PM me if you want to allow VT an extension. I would ask that you don't post your request here in public view. I don't want any hard feelings if one person requests an extension and the other doesn't.
Hope you all are having a great New Year and I look forward to running the final round of this contest soon!

DArKandEViL
2007-01-04, 04:40 PM
My judgment will be here soon. I'm posting this at a different computer.
expected a little after 8:00 EST

DArKandEViL
2007-01-04, 08:15 PM
Yawiela



Your story was very good, I liked how you integrated the 2 articles.
It was very organized and clean. There wasn't very much story to it though. It had a bit of short span to it. Not really a lot happened. Otherwise, It's pretty good.



Elvaris



Your story is very interesting. It was a bit hard to read though. A little funny, serious, but I don't remember Elvis being mentioned in either Articles. :amused:
Anyways other than that your story was very suspenseful and twisting at that.
It was fun reading it. Or not




had it yesterday but my computer decided to take a nap and shut itself down and I didn't save a copy, anyways enough excuses. The winner of this bracket is Elvaris




I thought I'd finish i faster but I didn't. I'll judge the 2 other brackets and post em' on the weekend :smallsmile:

TheSilverKnight
2007-01-04, 11:11 PM
I have been busy with school. But if the other entrants in my bracket allow it I will write something tomorrow and get it in as fast as possible.

DarkLightDragon
2007-01-06, 03:00 AM
Been busy... I promise to get these judged soon! Tomorrow if not today! But I will try to make it today!

EDIT: Here they are:

Bracket 1:

Averagejoe:

I’ll forgive you for not including theadfall. Not everyone has read every book. I like how you included the herb. The characters and dialogue was good, but the ending was odd. Sometimes those endings can work, but it didn’t work as well in this story. Just leaving things at “Lily gets attacked by freaky undead armoured guys” without telling us what happened is not the way to go. However, the story was still pretty good and was an interesting read.

***

Z-Axis

The first-person view was interesting. It’s not often that I see these, but they’re still interesting. I noticed that you didn’t reference the herb very much, and would’ve liked to see a bit more, but at least it was in there. This was a good story.

***

Winner: Averagejoe

Bracket 2 (If SilverKnight is allowed in, let me know and I'll edit this):

Ravyn

I liked how you used flashbacks to reference the submarine. I like how the words are used because it made the character of the old man more convincing to me. I could actually imagine an old man like this. Well done.

***

ZRS

This one referenced the articles pretty well. The axe part was creepy, and the last line confused me, but other than that, the story was decent.

***

Winner: Ravyn

Bracket 3:

Yawielas

This was pretty good. Having all those famous people from history together reminded me of the episode of Red Dwarf where the characters found something which teleported them to another planet, and it had droids who were programmed to be like certain people in history… that episode was quite funny.

Anyway, while the article references were okay, I remember something about the boxer being blind and deaf, yet I saw none of this. Other than that, the references were creative.

This story is a good one.

***

Elvaris

A good story. I liked most of the dialogue and the way the characters interacted with each other. The articles were also referenced quite well. This makes for an interesting read.

***

Winner: Elvaris

Vaynor
2007-01-07, 03:31 PM
When is the contest over? I would really enjoy participating, but I keep missing the new contests. When the new one starts, can someone send me a PM so I don't forget? It would be greatly appreciated.

Brickwall
2007-01-07, 04:09 PM
We're still in the middle of the first one. The finals are coming up next, and after that, there will be a new contest maybe! If there is, I'm totally entering again.

Vaynor
2007-01-07, 04:38 PM
Oh, well I missed getting into the first one then, my mistake.

Bryn
2007-01-07, 04:48 PM
Bracket 1:

Averagejoe:

I’ll forgive you for not including theadfall. Not everyone has read every book. I like how you included the herb. The characters and dialogue was good, but the ending was odd. Sometimes those endings can work, but it didn’t work as well in this story. Just leaving things at “Lily gets attacked by freaky undead armoured guys” without telling us what happened is not the way to go. However, the story was still pretty good and was an interesting read.

***

Z-Axis

The first-person view was interesting. It’s not often that I see these, but they’re still interesting. I noticed that you didn’t reference the herb very much, and would’ve liked to see a bit more, but at least it was in there. This was a good story.

***

Winner: Averagejoe

Ah well, you can't win them all... Well done AJ! Still, there's always the other judge... :smallwink:

Fat Daddy
2007-01-08, 03:52 AM
First, I would like to apologize to all the contestants for my recent absence from the boards. Life got in the way. All the medical crises seem to be taken care of now (I think I spent more time in the ER than at home recently).
Anyway, the judges are hard at work and the results should be finalized in the next day or so.

I will be posting my reviews of the second round stories shortly.

Fat Daddy's Unofficial review of Yawielas' story I liked this story. It left me with a bit of a 'huh?' feeling. I wasn't sure if this was a glimpse of the afterlife or a hallucination from a man with a bloodclot in his brain. That is the way I imagine you intended. Using the small town this way had a bit of an 'x-files' feel to it which was surprising given your subjects, well done. I thought the town was incorporated creatively and the boxer was incorporated well if not as creatively and a little bland. A good story overall.
Fat Daddy's unofficial review of Ravyn's storyI think you totally captured the essence of 'the greatest generation'. I completely know this guy. His practicality, suppressed memories, implied surliness. Did you channel my grandfather while writing this? I really liked the incorporation of the submarine. Locations seem to be easy to incorporate and you did so adequately. You did an excellent job on the character. The only problem is that nothing really happened and this did detract from your story. All in all, a good story with a great character.
Fat Daddy's unofficial review of averagejoe's storyA nice little ghost story with some great imagery. The Lily's character was very believable. I could feel her fear and confusion. Well done. The incorporation of the spice was excellent, one of the best I've seen to date. You didn't include the second article at all that I could see. This is a big detractor for me. I enjoy seeing how two disparate articles are tied together into a cohesive whole and this story completely failed to do that. I mentioned before that I like endings that leave the reader wondering and this was good for that. If you make it to the next round I hope to see you try something different though.
Fat Daddy's unofficial review of ZombieRockStar's storyWhat a horrific and disturbing tale you weave. The emotionless, matter of fact tone of the narrator make it even creepier. Gave me the 'heebie jeebies' (or whatever). Good job on incorporating the articles, I thought the submarine was incorporated exceptionally well. All in all, a tale I won't be telling to my daughter's anytime soon.
Fat Daddy's unofficial review of Elvaris' storyA really good job on this story. Very creative and original incorporation of the boxer. His use as a life change event for the main character was inspired. Good incorporation of the town as well. I really liked this story. It was a fun read that kept me reading to see where it all was going. I liked the little twist at the end quite a bit. I also found myself wondering what was going to happen to Marjorie beyond the story. Would they hook-up when he came back through, would she leave and try a new life? You had me caring about the characters. Nicely done
Fat Daddy's unofficial review of Z-Axis' storyVery good incorporation of 'thread' (obviously as it was the focus of the story). The incorporation of the spice was rather weak. I almost missed it, buried as it was in a list of other spices. The first person perspective was interesting and added to the story. Having never read the Pern books, I think you did a good job of giving some basics of the world without seeming to do so. Using first person also helped me to identify with your protagonist. I completely understood his anger and anquish at losing Fergis, his comrade in arms. Overall a compelling little read. Nice job

Yawielas
2007-01-08, 08:54 AM
Thank you very much, Fat Daddy:) Well, it seems I'm out of the running, unless the other judges says differently. Good luck everyone! It's been fun.

Bryn
2007-01-08, 10:44 AM
Fat Daddy's unofficial review of Z-Axis' storyVery good incorporation of 'thread' (obviously as it was the focus of the story). The incorporation of the spice was rather weak. I almost missed it, buried as it was in a list of other spices. The first person perspective was interesting and added to the story. Having never read the Pern books, I think you did a good job of giving some basics of the world without seeming to do so. Using first person also helped me to identify with your protagonist. I completely understood his anger and anquish at losing Fergis, his comrade in arms. Overall a compelling little read. Nice job

About that herb, I thought it would seem a little cheesy to emphasise it - it's weird enough to be thinking about herbs during a threadfall, but to think 'Ooo, savory!'...
Apart from that, :smallbiggrin: (which is becoming my favourite smily along with :smallwink: right now...

Ravyn
2007-01-08, 03:53 PM
Fat Daddy's unofficial review of Ravyn's storyI think you totally captured the essence of 'the greatest generation'. I completely know this guy. His practicality, suppressed memories, implied surliness. Did you channel my grandfather while writing this? I really liked the incorporation of the submarine. Locations seem to be easy to incorporate and you did so adequately. You did an excellent job on the character. The only problem is that nothing really happened and this did detract from your story. All in all, a good story with a great character.


Depends on how you define nothing happening, I suppose. As you may have noticed, I tend towards the introspective. As to the rest... thanks very much. I wasn't sure I could pull it off, given how much older he was than I and the fact that I've never had anything to do with submarines or the Midwest. Wouldn't even be surprised if I was channelling; the whole story came off of a strong burst of inspiration while I was sitting around my aunt's computer room.

averagejoe
2007-01-08, 04:00 PM
I’ll forgive you for not including theadfall. Not everyone has read every book. I like how you included the herb. The characters and dialogue was good, but the ending was odd. Sometimes those endings can work, but it didn’t work as well in this story. Just leaving things at “Lily gets attacked by freaky undead armoured guys” without telling us what happened is not the way to go. However, the story was still pretty good and was an interesting read.



Fat Daddy's unofficial review of averagejoe's storyA nice little ghost story with some great imagery. The Lily's character was very believable. I could feel her fear and confusion. Well done. The incorporation of the spice was excellent, one of the best I've seen to date. You didn't include the second article at all that I could see. This is a big detractor for me. I enjoy seeing how two disparate articles are tied together into a cohesive whole and this story completely failed to do that. I mentioned before that I like endings that leave the reader wondering and this was good for that. If you make it to the next round I hope to see you try something different though.

Why is everyone putting their responses to these in spoilers? Ah, well, I guess since all the cool people are doing it...Well, to start, thank you both for your comments, both positive and negative. I had intially decided to put thread in, but it seemed rather forced when I did so, and I favored a more fluid narrative. Maybe I made the wrong choice there, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. This is one that I would have liked to edit a lot, in things both mentioned and unmentioned by my critics. I still haven't been able to come up with a good ending.

Elvaris
2007-01-08, 11:42 PM
Because I feel left out:

Elvaris

Your story is very interesting. It was a bit hard to read though. A little funny, serious, but I don't remember Elvis being mentioned in either Articles. :amused:
Anyways other than that your story was very suspenseful and twisting at that.
It was fun reading it. Or not

He wasn't technically mentioned in the town's article, but the Google Maps link in the article clearly placed Sherman between Elvis' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis) birth town of Tupelo and Memphis, where he started recording. I... um... extrapolated a bit.


Fat Daddy's unofficial review of Elvaris' storyA really good job on this story. Very creative and original incorporation of the boxer. His use as a life change event for the main character was inspired. Good incorporation of the town as well. I really liked this story. It was a fun read that kept me reading to see where it all was going. I liked the little twist at the end quite a bit. I also found myself wondering what was going to happen to Marjorie beyond the story. Would they hook-up when he came back through, would she leave and try a new life? You had me caring about the characters. Nicely done


Thank you. It's funny, I haven't re-read the story. I didn't have time before posting it and I haven't taken the time since, so all I remember is the rush I was in to finish. I thought I rushed the ending and really botched the relationship between the characters. Apparently I'm my own harshest critic.

For the record, I think she goes back and finishes college, and I wouldn't be surprised if she transfers to a school in south Florida.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-09, 12:33 AM
Why is everyone putting their responses to these in spoilers? Ah, well, I guess since all the cool people are doing it...Well, to start, thank you both for your comments, both positive and negative. I had intially decided to put thread in, but it seemed rather forced when I did so, and I favored a more fluid narrative. Maybe I made the wrong choice there, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. This is one that I would have liked to edit a lot, in things both mentioned and unmentioned by my critics. I still haven't been able to come up with a good ending.
I can't speak for everyone but I put mine in spoiler to try and deter the judges from reading anyone else's opinion before they post their results. And I would just like to state, for the record, that I have never been considered one of the 'cool' people. It's just not my style...:smallamused:

Dispozition
2007-01-09, 12:43 AM
Ok...First two brackets done! Third one in a little bit...Sorry for being so late :smallbiggrin:

Braket 1

Z-Axis
Good story. The ending was a little abrupt, but suitable. The articles were worked in well, but not too much. I don’t normally like first person stories, but this worked well and wouldn’t have been as good if it were third person. All up, good, solid effort, good work.
AverageJoe
Once again, a brilliant story from you. The description of the mountains at the beginning was detailed and almost made me feel like I was there. The middle was a little slow, but good none-the-less. The ending was good, and I like the mob didn’t get her. Savoury was used more than well enough, but I didn’t see any reference to Thread, other than that, a great story.
Verdict
Aside from the fact that he didn't include one of the articles, AverageJoe's story was the better. It had a better feel to it, and seemed to flow more smoothly. Z-axis, don't give up, your story was great, you just got beaten on the day.

Bracket 2
ZRS
Not bad, a few grammatical errors, but nothing too bad. The ending was a little strange, I’m not sure what happened to the ‘main character’ and the reference to the axe confused me. The last sentence however, has great effect. Not too bad a story, but I’m sure you could do better.
Ravyn
Great story, the use of the articles were different to what I was expecting. The beginning was good, but the ending a little lacking. The main body was also very good. I like how there was only one person in the story, but a lot was able to be conveyed. All up, great work.
Verdict
Like I said in the judging, ZRS could have done much better. The His story was too short, and it was a little hard too follow. Ravyn wins this round. Good work, both of you.

Bracket 3
Elvaris
That was good, very good. The articles worked well together, and the story flowed well. The content itself was good as well. At the start, you think you can see where the story is going, but it takes a rather unexpected turn. Great story.
Yawielas
Great! A lot of research must have gone into that, or you know your history really well. The articles were worked in well, especially the idea that a sleep little town could really be heaven. The end was a little confusing, but the rest of the story was superbly written. Just great.
Verdict
This one was very hard to judge...Very hard. Elvaris' had a good twist, but Yawielas' is also rather 'not of the norm'. I'll have to say that Yawilas wins this one, based soley on the fact that I enjoyed it more. It was very close though. Elvaris, you still did a great job.

All done!

Fat Daddy
2007-01-09, 01:37 AM
Woohoo!! We have our 3 finalists. Congratulations to averagejoe, Ravyn and Elvaris. I will post the links on Friday night (January 12th) and they will be due Midnight (EST) Friday January 19th. Good luck!

Ravyn
2007-01-09, 02:21 AM
Sweet! Thanks to the judges, and I look forward to seeing what the next round brings. Good luck to all!

averagejoe
2007-01-09, 02:58 AM
I can't speak for everyone but I put mine in spoiler to try and deter the judges from reading anyone else's opinion before they post their results. And I would just like to state, for the record, that I have never been considered one of the 'cool' people. It's just not my style...:smallamused:

I meant the authors who were responding to comments. I didn't mean to imply you were cool. :smallbiggrin:

Thank you all for your kind words. I'll see you in the final round.

Yawielas
2007-01-09, 05:40 AM
Hi:) Not to be difficult, but it seems like our bracket is not done, unless there was a third ruling that I missed, it's a tie between Elvaris and me. If I missed it, I apologize and congratulate Elvaris, of course:)

Fat Daddy
2007-01-09, 06:08 AM
Hi:) Not to be difficult, but it seems like our bracket is not done, unless there was a third ruling that I missed, it's a tie between Elvaris and me. If I missed it, I apologize and congratulate Elvaris, of course:)
I double checked. DArKandEvil and DarkLightDragon ruled in favor of Elvaris and Dispozition ruled in favor of Yawielas. That makes Elvaris the winner.
Some of the judges go back and edit their posts adding new judgments if they don't have time to do them all at once.

I meant the authors who were responding to comments. I didn't mean to imply you were cool. :smallbiggrin:
Well okay then. I was worried for a moment there :smallsmile:

Yawielas
2007-01-09, 06:13 AM
Found it! Sorry, was just checking. Good luck in the finale, everyone! :)

Bryn
2007-01-09, 03:59 PM
Well, you can't win them all. Well done to AverageJoe, it's been a blast (whatever that means), and I'll be glad to have my life back :smalltongue:

Good luck to all in the next round!

ZombieRockStar
2007-01-09, 08:09 PM
Aww..nuts.

Good job, Ravyn.

As you said, that really wasn't my best work. Oh, well.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-12, 03:58 AM
I went ahead and posted the final round a little early. It is up on the first post. Good luck to our finalists!!

averagejoe
2007-01-12, 07:42 AM
Oh, come on, you've got to be kidding me. All I know about the West Wing is from this one Colbert Report when he was saying that when the show was going off the air it was kinda like the president of TV was resigning, and traditionally when presidents resign they pardon a few people, so the West Wing guy should pardon the A-Team. Yeah. I've never even heard of the show beyond that... *grumble grumble*

Ah well, no matter. This shall simply be my greatest challenge yet.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-13, 02:42 AM
Oh, come on, you've got to be kidding me. All I know about the West Wing is from this one Colbert Report when he was saying that when the show was going off the air it was kinda like the president of TV was resigning, and traditionally when presidents resign they pardon a few people, so the West Wing guy should pardon the A-Team. Yeah. I've never even heard of the show beyond that... *grumble grumble*

Ah well, no matter. This shall simply be my greatest challenge yet.
I hear ya' Joe. I've never seen the show either. All I can say is good luck. :smallsmile:

TheSilverKnight
2007-01-18, 08:30 PM
Well taking it that no one responded to weather I could have the extra time I never wrote anything. So I take my bow and await the next contest. I think that the first round kind of killed it for me as I had no contest.

If we had many more judges I think it would be cool to place loser rounds in place. If you are not familiar with this rule its where the losers of each round face off and the winners of those matches get placed back into the brackets. Or as an extreme to this you can also take the losers of each round have them face of till there is only one and have that person vs the similar loser of the following round until you come out with a loser finalist to go with the grand winner. This way even losers can continue to compete in multiple brackets and won't have to wait a whole month or 4 to join the contest again.

Elvaris
2007-01-19, 12:17 AM
Well, I'm going to be away from my computer tomorrow, so it looks like I'm first. Before I post, I will suggest that those who haven't seen West Wing find a copy of season 1 on DVD and invest a little time. It's well written stuff.

Here it is:
Blood Pressure Sounds (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korotkoff_sounds) and A West Wing Character (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deborah_Fiderer)

Nothing can ever be easy, Lily Tomlin thought as she looked at her watch. When the production company had requested an interview to discuss a project, it hadn't even occurred to her she had a doctor's appointment that day. So of course, by the time she tried to reschedule the appointment, the office was booked solid for two months, leaving her with the choice of being late for her meeting or getting a lecture from her doctor. And she had had enough lectures from doctors. So here she was sitting in the waiting room, checking her watch, and hoping this would be as quick and painless as possible.

"Lily... Oh my God."


Lily cringed. There hadn't been a new nurse in this office in years, which was why she was so comfortable here. It had to be today, of all days. This girl looked about 15, though being dressed as a registered nurse placed her well beyond that. Lily hoped she'd been prepared for dealing with celebrities, though the 'Oh my God' didn't bode well for that.
"This is just a checkup, I'll take you blood pressure and a blood sample and the doctor will perform a few basic tests." the new nurse -- Jennifer, according to her name tag -- said.
"Thanks, I'd really like to get this over with," Lily said.
"Have somewhere to be?" Jennifer asked.
"Yes," Lily was trying not to be deliberately rude, but was also trying to keep from getting dragged into a conversation that would delay her interview. Time was tight enough as it was.


As it turns out, she needn't have bothered.


"Is it a production meeting? I bet it is. It's a new Aaron Sorkin project, and you're going to be fantastic, just like you were in West Wing, and my father loves that show, and he's so sorry it went off the air, and he even said 'trust Aaron Sorkin to make even me like Lily Tomlin,' and I guess he didn't like you before, but he just loved you as Debbie Fiderer, and I loved how you just took charge of everything when you got in there, even though I loved Mrs. Landingham, I thought you did a really great job, and I just loved watching you put all those guys in their place and..."


By this point, Lily was surprised to discover she was in a chair with a blood pressure cuff on. Trying to keep up with the flurry of chatter had distracted her somewhat from her surroundings.


"...and then it's the end of the poker game, and you're piling up all the money you've taken from them, and you're just..."


It occurred to Lily she wasn't the only one distracted, as she realized her arm was starting to ache from the cuff. She looked at the scale of the meter, and it had crept all the way to the top of the range, well above what was necessary.


"Isn't that a little excessive?" Lily hoped that would derail the runaway train that was nurse Jennifer.
"What?" Lily gestured at the meter. "Oh, I'm sorry. I got a little distracted. I should probably stop pumping this up."
"Probably, yes." Lily cringed, the cuff was extremely tight around her arm.
"Korotkoff, Korotkoff, Korotkoff," Jennifer repeated as she opened the valve to release the pressure in the cuff.
"I'm almost afraid to ask, but who or what is Korotkoff?" Lily ventured.
"Oh, Korotkoff is this Russian doctor who first described the sounds you hear when you're taking someone's blood pressure. I mean it's all 'thumping' and 'muting', and this is the part that gets me, the fifth 'sound' is silence. I mean how can a sound be not a sound? It's all just so silly," Jennifer rambled.
"Well, that sounds fascinating, could I hear those sounds? If you're not going to listen for them, that is," Lily prodded.
Sure enough, the meter had drifted to its bottom during the explanation.
"Oh my God, I'm so sorry. I'm just so excited to meet you, and I'm just all over the place. Oh my God. I'm sorry."
"It's all right. It was my fault for asking. Just take a deep breath and take my blood pressure like I'm sure you've done for many other people," Lily soothed.
"I have, I'm just embarrassing myself. My father would be so disappointed in me. I just..." Se stopped, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. "I'll get this right this time, I promise."
Lily just nodded and closed her eyes, letting the poor girl do her work. She felt the cuff inflate, and then deflate in a far more timely manner than the previous attempt. She opened her eyes as Jennifer marked some numbers on her chart.
"140 over 80, but I knocked a few off, since I'm sure dealing with me was responsible for a few of those," Jennifer smiled.
"No dear, it's fine. You're not coming near me with a needle, but it's fine."
Jennifer blushed, "I'll find someone to get the blood sample for you. God knows I've held you up long enough already."


Damn doctors, Lily thought as she made her way up the stairs to her interview. After the blood pressure incident, the blood sample had gone smoothly enough, but the doctor had been behind schedule and left her sitting in an examination room for half an hour. And when he did show up, he looked at her for two minutes before telling her to watch what she eats and come back in six months, drifting on to the next patient.
It was a good thing they took her blood pressure before the appointment. If they had taken it after, it might have taken the entire scale to get a reading. But that was behind her now, and she just had to hope that being late wouldn't affect her chances of getting this job.


The secretary waved her straight into the office with a perfunctory "He's expecting you." Lily swept through the doors, prepared to apologize, but much to her surprise she never got the chance.


"Let me guess, you had a doctor's appointment that you couldn't cancel and he was so far behind schedule that you couldn't make it on time."
"How did you..."
"My daughter Jennifer just called me to tell me she had met Lily Tomlin at her new job, and how gracious you had been in dealing with her girlishness."
"She's a fine young woman. She just got a bit carried away."
"Tell me about it. I love her to death, but oh, can that girl talk."
"You must be very proud," Lily smiled.
"I am," he beamed. "I know she's grown up, but she'll always be my little girl."
"So..." Lily said as she changed the subject. "I understand you're a Debbie Fiderer fan."

Ravyn
2007-01-19, 12:55 AM
It's been way too long since I last watched, so my characterizations might be a little off, but I hope I at least got the unifying metaphor thing down.


The Pulse of the Press

“Now, where is he?” Deborah Fiderer stalked down the halls of the West Wing of the White House. Leo was being elusive again. Of all the days. There’s the Paulson bill to worry about, C.J.’s got a conference in an hour… here's hoping that goes well. She seemed off her stride earlier.
President Bartlet was out to lunch. Leo was nowhere to be seen. There was a new batch of aides who seemed to have gone missing, and she needed to find Leo because nobody else seemed to be doing anything about it. C.J. was off getting ready for her conference, Donna and Josh were…. Was the entire staff avoiding her, or was this just absolutely rotten luck? Why now? Especially with C.J. a bit unsettled...

She continued her rounds. One time to the far end, one time back. And the second time through, she noticed a door cracked, and a few people’s backs inside, and heard the tail end of a sentence in what was quite distinctively Leo’s voice. Without knocking, she pushed the door the rest of the way open. “Leo. Don’t you know we—”
There he was, leaning on a media cart, the TV paused in the middle of what looked like an old conference recording. On the other side of a small group of youngish people she barely recognized. Oh. That explains him being gone. And the aides.
“They followed Donna in, and she wanted to know if we could keep them.” Leo cracked a smile. “Given the circumstances, I thought I’d get them used to the Korotkoff sounds of press releases.”
Deborah raised an eyebrow.
“Just watch.” He smiled and pressed play on the tape as Deborah settled herself into the last empty chair. An old conference, it looked like. Early last term. It didn’t have the usual feel to it. The reporters weren’t exactly a live bunch. She could feel it go downhill.
“Which part’s missing?” Leo asked the aides.
The towhead in the second row raised his hand. “The thumping and muting.”
Deborah rolled her eyes. “Can I borrow you a sec, Leo?”
He nodded to the towhead. “Exactly.” Clicked on the video again, let it start running, stepped outside, waited for Deborah to join him. “At least that one’s a long one. What do you need?”
“Korotkoff sounds?”
“Haven’t you ever taken the blood pressure of the media before?”
“Leo, if this is a joke….”
Leo smiled. “No. Old trick my predecessor taught me. You see…”

It made sense, in an odd sort of way. She was less surprised than she could be. Anything that could possibly happen, she thought, someone in here can find an analogy for. Admittedly, she’d been responsible for a few. Murmurs between the systolic and diastolic… snap out of it, Debbie. Why did it have to make sense?
She returned to her office, saw a note on the desk. Last-minute details. Talk to C.J. before the conference. Couldn’t sit down for more than a minute, could she?
At least C.J. was easy to find. Logical. You’d know there was trouble if you couldn’t find the person the newsies were going to want to talk to fifteen minutes before showtime. “C.J.?”
The press secretary was going over her lines, and took a moment to notice her. “And we have to remember, the press is the lifeblood of the… oh, hi. Can you tell me who wrote this?”
Deborah took it and looked it over. “Not another blood metaphor. I swear, the circulation on these things….”
C.J. raised an eyebrow, though it wasn’t quite clear whether she was responding to the sentiment or the pun.
Deborah started ticking them off on her fingers. “Well, yesterday everyone was talking about that proposed freeway as being a new artery. Then there was the line about the aides being a transfusion of new blood. And speaking of the aides, Leo going on to them about the Korotkoff sounds of a good conference. And now this. Either someone’s been hanging around the lobbyists too long, or…”
“You’re thinking we have vampires? At least that would get everyone’s attention. I can see it now: ‘I’m sorry, ladies and gentleman, but from now on nobody is allowed to eat garlic within five hours of a conference.’”
“They’d probably be thankful. Except maybe the back row. What did you need?”
C.J. looked down at the notes, then back at Deborah. “Mostly for you to find out who chose this metaphor. But also to go tell Leo that once we’re done here and the president gets back we need to meet and put our heads together on the Paulson bill. Josh and Donna already know.”
“Do I look like an… oh, wait, all the aides are with Leo now. All right, I got it. Good luck out there.” Deborah turned and walked away.

Leo hadn’t moved; when she showed up to give him the message, he was in the middle of a barrage of aide questions. He beckoned Deborah in, and she sat down and let them finish. After all, they didn’t need to meet until after the conference; there was time.
When the last question died down, and after she’d delivered the message, he looked at his watch, then smiled, saying “All right. Last thing for today: let’s use the principle on a live one.” A few button-pushes later, the TV crackled to life, just in time to catch the beginning of C.J.’s conference. “Can you hear them?”
It was silly. Then again, what was politics if you couldn’t laugh at it? And it did make sense. Debbie remained as silent as the aides, though for a different reason. They had the pressure of needing to catch these things; she was just listening to see if Leo’s crazy analogy was anywhere near spot on. Snap, murmur, thumping and muting, silence. On the screen, C.J. took the podium…
And there they were. The sounds of a healthy press conference. The snap of the notes onto C.J.’s podium. The murmurs from the crowd when she finished her opening comments and opened it for questions: “C.J.!” “C.J.!” “C.J.!” The thumping as they sat back down in their seats when she chose someone, the muting as the question was answered. Rinse, repeat. And finally, the silence as the pressure from the various newsies dropped below the pressure on C.J. to get the information out, and the conference ended.
And the pressure in the room dropped. For now. Someone shut the TV off, and the aides filed out to the next point of their orientation, leaving only Deborah and Leo in the room. It had fit. She half-smiled. Korotkoff had probably never even dreamed of this.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-19, 09:24 PM
Where's averagejoe? He's cutting it close for the final round.

averagejoe
2007-01-19, 11:31 PM
Here he is, at 3000-ish words. I hope y'all like sci fi, because that's what this is.


Osira was not a desert planet. The very notion that a life-sustaining planet might consist of only one environment is laughable at best, a throwback from the days when fictional heros would travel in their rocket ships to planets filled with spider-people or bird-people in order to shut down their various death rays and doomsday devices. Even a single desert does not have so simplistic an environment or landscape, and even the most skilled terraformers from Spirago’s most prestigious schools couldn’t hope to reproduce such an environment on a planetary level, even given sufficient funds and desire. One might, however, make the argument that such things are meaningless in the face of practicality. After all, the human brain cannot really grasp the size and scope of a whole planet, or even the size and scope of a single desert. When such distances are incomprehensible to the mind then the difference between terrestrial and planetary travel is just a matter of the time and energies involved; that is, the only real difference between taking someone who has lived in a desert all their lives to a forest on their own planet, and in taking them to a forest on a different planet, is that one requires something so simple as a car or horse, while the other requires a starship drawing from enormous power reserves. Either forest would be equally alien to the desert-dweller, one would just take hundreds more years. So, to reiterate, Osira was not a desert planet; it contained vast, blue oceans; snow-capped mountain peaks; white, barren tundra; and dank, moist swamps. To Ilra, however, Osira did seem very much like a desert planet; for all practical purposes it was.

The vast Osiran desert was said to swallow up anyone who entered. This was an exaggeration, but only a slight one. If a person wasn’t killed by the desert, which had sandstorms the likes of which could bury most vehicles with little trouble, then you were probably stuck in the town of Ota-ka with little prospect of escape. Only the destitute, the desperate, and the criminal even attempted to go there, and what precious few transports dared to travel the desert wastes charged high prices for transportation, which most people couldn’t afford. The best hope that most had to get out of Ota-ka was for a naive young spacer looking for adventure to land in their port and take a lucky young maiden, "away from all this." They did have a spaceport, which was the only thing to put Ota-ka on the map; it was mostly the cargo ships that docked, however, to trade for the few precious materials that could be mined out of Ota-ka. Of course, all the mineral wealth served to do was make more powerful the crime bosses and politicians who chose to rule in the hell that was the Osiran desert instead of spend their wealth to serve in the relative heaven of anywhere else.

Luckily for the people, Otaka was built over a wealthy underground river, which carried more than enough water for the town to run a surplus most years. For this Ilra was most grateful. After all, without a surplus of water, getting plastered out of her mind could be fatal; or, rather, more surely fatal than usual. She didn’t even remember leaving the bar that evening, much less passing out. As she awoke from her stupor she hoped in some vague, far off way that she hadn’t been robbed. Then, slowly, her mind began to grasp the fact that she was being shaken. Her eyes shot open, and Ilra immediately regretted it as the light pierced her eyes and seared through her brain. She groaned and tried to push herself to a sitting position. She sat there for a moment trying to shut out the sounds that she was gradually becoming aware of. She felt a cup being placed in her hands. Ilra’s confused mind assumed it was more liquor, so she drank it greedily, almost downing it in one gulp. She immediately regretted this when she realized the taste was that of very strong coffee. She coughed and sputtered but she had already ingested half the cup. She felt someone thump her on the back as her body tried to reject the liquid.

"Come on. You’re getting behind on your work. You can’t do this every night."

"Shuddup," Ilra slurred irritably, "Who in Debo-ra’s name are you to tell me how to live?"

"Your sister."

The final wheels in Ilra’s head clicked into place. "Sahra?"

"Who did you think it was? Lady Ovid?"

Ilra allowed herself to be pushed and pulled back to her garage by her younger, yet much more responsible, sister. Ilra had nearly eleven years on the girl, but Sahra seemed to be the one holding their family of two together. Though only twelve, Sahra took care of the ledgers, customers, and Ilra. All Ilra did was fix things. That was their business, fixing machines. Ilra was a brilliant mechanic and a smart girl, when she wasn’t reeling drunk.

When the sisters got back to the garage, Ilra pretended to work for about five minutes. Then, Sahra left and Ilra was free to simply put her head down on her workbench and slept. There she stayed for about another fifteen minutes, resting peacefully, until Sahra came crashing into the room. Ilra ignored her sister for a few seconds, assuming that Sahra was shouting at her to get her work done. Then, Ilra absorbed her younger sister’s words. "There’s someone in the desert. A foreigner." Ilra’s eyes shot open and she sprung into action. "Stay here," she shouted to Sahra as she donned a loose, khaki robe which protected her face and body from the sun. Ota-ka had been designed with cloths stretched between many of the buildings, so even outside one was relatively free of the sun, but out in the open desert one had to take precautions.

The desert was bright, too bright even for those without a hangover. The sand dragged at Ilra’s footsteps as she tried to hurry toward the distant figure. It was very loose, and walking over it made Ilra feel like she was taking baby steps. A soft, hot wind pulled at Ilra’s clothes. When she finally reached the man, she was panting and thirsty. Even so, she offered him water from her canteen before she quenched her own thirst. The man was nearly passed out, so Ilra had to prop him up and dribble the water over his lips. She couldn’t see his eyes, for they were covered by big, heavy, tinted goggles, but she supposed his eyes must have come open because he moved a bit and gave her a grateful smile.

The going back was slow, but the man seemed to have found renewed strength from the drought. He was well covered, wearing black, which seemed odd to Ilra because it would have been at least a bit more comfortable if he had worn a lighter color. She couldn’t see any of his features, because of the goggles and the strange hood he wore on his head, almost down to his eyes. He carried with him only an empty canteen and a black stick or pole of some kind, the purpose of which Ilra couldn’t decipher. He said nothing on the journey back, presumably to save his strength.

As soon as they got back in the relative cool of Ilra’s garage, the man collapsed into the nearest chair he could find. Sahra was waiting with another container of water, and the man drank deeply, letting the liquid spill down the sides of his face. Once he was done he sat back and said, "Ah! Sweet life, I never thought I’d see you again." He lowered his hood and pulled off his goggles. Then he began to undo the clasps on his rather bulky clothes. "M’lady, even if you throw me on the streets upon the next moment, I will be your eternal servant. I swear upon my honor, not even the honey-spiced wines of the famed lords of Kresha tasted so sweet as this." He pulled off his cloak and jacket, exposing his bare arms and a sleeveless garment made of a light material worn over his chest. It was still black, like the rest of his clothes.

Sahra stared at the man wide-eyed. Ilra kept forgetting how childlike her sister could still be. "Where are you from? I’ve never heard anyone talk like that," Sahra told him.

The man laughed. "And I would like to know where you desert folk learned your strange speech. The harshness of your dialect matches the harshness of the desert, little sandling."

"What’s that?" Sahra demanded, pointing at the man’s stick.
"A symbol of my order, as well as a tool that finds its uses, even in this age." He grasped his stick in two places and pulled it apart. A sort of long knife came out of it. Ilra could see that the stick was just a sort of illusion, and that part of it was like a knife sheath, only cunningly disguised to be continuous with the hilt.

"Won’t a knife that long give you difficulty?" Sahra asked.

"It’s not a knife," Ilra said, "It’s a very old weapon, called a sahward."

The man looked at Ilra with curious eyes. "Yes, that’s right. It’s properly called a sword, although your desert tongue seems to twist everything to barks." He addressed Sahra, letting her examine, but not touch, the slightly curved single-edge blade, "It is not for shaving or cutting leeks, little sandling, but for cleaving men, as your beamers do today. This is much more beautiful weapon, if less useful, though perhaps I am just a sentimentalist." The man sheathed his sword and said, "Now, you have already done me a great kindness, but I must beg one more off of you, as unworthy as I am. I require seeing the leaders of this settlement. This is Ota-ka, is it not?"

Ilra nodded. She didn’t precisely mistrust the man, but she didn’t like that he used such flowery speech. He had a smoothness and grace about him that set him apart from the desert folk, as did his eyes, colored a very pale, electric blue. "There is a festival tonight at the Ovid temple. You can meet them there."

The man nodded, content with the offer. "Very well. Oh, but I’ve forgot manners. I am called Lieutenant Stanley Brellas by my people. How are you called?"

* * * * *

The Ovid temple was a great underground structure in the center of Ota-ka, and where most of the town’s important meetings took place. Stanley asked Ilra why it was called that, and what it was a temple to, and Ilra told him, "Long ago, before anyone else can remember, the first priests of Ota-ka found an old data disk, the old kind that used a sort of primitive set up with a laser to read them. The data was badly damaged, but they were able to decipher a small amount of the data. It contained information about the life and deeds of a personage who was very important to the ancients, called Debo-ra Fider, angel of the west and servant to the Ovid temple, contained in the home of the White Lord. The data disks informed us that she was the bookkeeper and messenger of the gods. It is said that even the White Lord himself feared the sting of her words! Now she watches over us, and guides our village with her wisdom."

"You must have her full attention, then," Stanley answered, "For in all my travels I have never heard of such a god. Do not think me a poor guest, however, for I will treat her with all the proper courtesies."

"Debo-ra doesn’t demand much from us. She can’t. We work most of our lives."

The festival soon got underway. There were lanterns strung up in the temple, and the great statue of Debo-ra in the middle of the temple was dotted with lights. First there was a sort of feast (though not a feast by the measure of many places). People sat and ate and laughed and talked together. Stanley made light conversation with Sahra, and Ilra said little; the elder sister was lost in thought, and she merely stared into nowhere.

After the food was finished some musicians began to play and people started to dance. Ilra leaned close to Stanley in order to be heard. "Now is the best time to talk to our mayor. Come with me. Stanley trailed behind Ilra, weaving her way through the crowds of people until she reached the dais at what was obviously the head of the temple. There sat a handful of people, all wearing fine clothes-at least by the standards of the rest of the town-and all sitting apart from the rest of the crowd.

"Ah, hello Ilra. Everything is good, I trust," one man said jovially, "And this must be the stranger I’ve heard about. I’m impressed. Not many survive the journey through the desert. I am called Hamra, and I’m the political leader of this place."

Stanley bowed, "Your graces are very much appreciated, sir, and your welcome honors me. I am Lieutenant Stanley Brellas, of the Sirian navy. Well met, sir."

Hamra motioned for Ilra and her companion to sit. "So, what brings you to these parts, Lieutenant?"

"Well, sir, that’s what I want to speak to you about, and I will be frank about it. I would like to request asylum here. I am on the run from the colonial government, and hope to find shelter here."

Hamra studied Stanley with a careful eye. "Well, we don’t have any dwellings
free. However, I may be able to pull some strings and get you a spot with the indentured servants up in the mining camps."

Ilra said nothing, but her eyes widened. She knew of the place, and it was practically slave work. Stanley would be broken by the mines. "Wait," she said, before Stanley had a chance to speak, "I... He can live with me and Sahra. The house has seemed empty since our parents died, and I could use the extra hands around the garage."

Hamra’s gaze never wavered, but he didn’t speak for awhile. Finally, he said, "Is this satisfactory, Brellas?" Stanley nodded, then Hamra said, "Very well then. The blessings of Fider be upon both of you."

Stanley and Ilra rose and moved off from the dias. Stanley said to her, "Please, would you do me the honor of a dance?"

"You know the steps?" Ilra said, surprised.

"More or less. I’ve been watching the dancers since they started." He lead her down to the floor and they stared to dance the slow, almost lazy, dance of the Ota-kans. "That was a brave thing you did," Stanley said as they danced, "I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully repay you."

"It was nothing. I wasn’t lying about needing help. I need to take care of Sahra, but she ends up taking care of me most of the time." They turned slowly about the room to the beat of the music, step-step-step-step-rest, step-step-step-step-rest.

"This is a very unique style," Stanley commented, "I don’t think I’ve heard music quite like this. Was it developed here?"

Ilra shook her head. "No, but close. It became very popular here, anyways. I don’t remember who first brought it, but the music is very nontraditional. It isn’t based on the mathematical scales, as most music is. Actually, what it most resembles is certain forms of more traditional music, which was modeled around the human heartbeat."

"Oh?"

"Well, you see, it has to do with blood pressure. I don’t know the full of it myself, but when you check for blood pressure you listen for four sounds, and then the fifth sound is silence."

Stanley grinned. "Clever. Because, after all, silence is just as important to music as sound. You are more intelligent than you seem, Ilra. I think I shall enjoy living with you."

* * * * *

The seasons passed, and they grew easier with Stanley around. He took on many of the responsibilities that Ilra couldn’t, taking the burden off the sisters. Ilra even saw Sahra begin to laugh and play again. The oppressive desert began to seem somehow less.

Ilra was out to market the day she heard that the ship arrived. While such a thing was not uncommon, no one had ever seen a ship quite like the one that had landed. It was no bulky freighter, but a sleek, powerful military ship; it contained one man.

Many people were curious, but Ilra went the other way, to tell Stanley about it. She found him on a high outlook in one of the public buildings; it was shaded, to provide comfort, and had a view into the desert. The view actually was quite beautiful, and made the savage, deadly place seem almost desirable. Ilra had never stopped to consider it, and she found it strange that she should notice such a thing now.

"Stanley," she said. The lieutenant stood staring out into the expanse, and didn’t turn his head. "Stanley, another ship arrived."

"I know," he said simply.

"Is it..." Ilra couldn’t bring herself to say the words. Stanley straightened and turned.

"I have to go now. I appreciate everything you have done, and wish it could be another way, but it cannot be avoided. Not without putting all of us in danger." He began to walk out.

"Will I ever see you again?"

Stanley turned. "Remember, sweetling," he said, "the sound of silence is just as important as sound in music. Your life will have silence for awhile, but that will give meaning to the music yet to come." He began walking again, "May Debo-ra smile upon you. And tell Sahra goodbye for me."

It was unusual for Ilra and her sister to share any sort of a tender moment together. They loved one another, but they rarely felt affection. Even so, they sat silently together, holding one another as they saw the ship rise out of the desert and speed out of the atmosphere.

Edit: Oh, and, just to be sure, am I judging the next round? I assume so, because I'm one of, like, three people who volunteered, I just want to be sure.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-19, 11:43 PM
Here he is, at 3000-ish words. I hope y'all like sci fi, because that's what this is.
Yay!! joe made it in time!!

Edit: Oh, and, just to be sure, am I judging the next round? I assume so, because I'm one of, like, three people who volunteered, I just want to be sure.

Crap! I knew I forgot something. Yes you are a judge for Iron Author 2. I better PM all the judges since I posted the brackets.

EDIT: ATTENTION IRON AUTHOR 1 JUDGES: For the final round rather than just declaring a winner, I will actually need 1st, 2nd and 3rd place judgments. Sorry for the extra work but our talented artists have created trophies for 3 places. Thank you.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-22, 10:23 PM
Hate to double post but...

Judges, where are you? I didn't get any responses to my PM so I thought I would bump the thread to try and get your attention. I have trophies yearning to be given good homes with deserving authors. They are just sittin' here, all sad and lonely, waiting for the judgments to come in...

DarkLightDragon
2007-01-24, 12:15 AM
I felt impatient while I was judging because there are other things I want to do. I hope the comments don't seem too rushed.


ELVARIS

It was okay. I liked how easily the characters seemed to interact with each other. And the references were brought in pretty well.

RAVYN

To me, the story seemed to suddenly switch from doing one thing to another. Maybe I'm interpeting something differently, but this confused me. There references were okay though, and this is an okay story. I found the vampire joke amusing.

AVERAGEJOE

Bringing references like these into a sci-fi story must've been difficult. But it was interesting.The ending was okay as well.


***

THIRD PLACE:

Ravyn

SECOND PLACE (cue drumroll):

Elvaris

FIRST PLACE:


Averagejoe


Congratulations to whoever ends up winning!

Brickwall
2007-01-24, 01:22 AM
WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Glad to hear that my threats worked! I motivated him to victory! No, no, I need not your trophies nor your accolades. The knowledge of my rightdoing is good enough.

averagejoe
2007-01-24, 01:41 AM
WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Glad to hear that my threats worked! I motivated him to victory! No, no, I need not your trophies nor your accolades. The knowledge of my rightdoing is good enough.

Erm, yeah, couldn't have done it without you. Hopefully the other judge agrees. Then I can sleep safe knowing that Brickwall won't kill me for not winning.

It would be even worse than just dying too. He'd probably drop a ton of bricks on me, or something, thinking it's really clever. Then he'd say something like, "That was a pretty AVERAGE way to die." Then I'd be double dead, because of the awful, awful jokes involved.

DarkLightDragon
2007-01-24, 01:46 AM
I wasn't paying attention to any threats...

...What are we talking about?

averagejoe
2007-01-24, 01:50 AM
I wasn't paying attention to any threats...

...What are we talking about?

Oh, awhile back Brick told me something about killing me, or something, if I didn't progress, because I'm the one who beat him in the first round. There was something like two threads spent on the topic.

Edit: No, wait, I just looked and acutally Brick just said I would have him to "answer to" if I lost. That's actually much less scary. I must have built it up in my head.

Brickwall
2007-01-24, 11:02 AM
Edit: No, wait, I just looked and acutally Brick just said I would have him to "answer to" if I lost. That's actually much less scary. I must have built it up in my head.

And that's the mark of a good Intimidation skill.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-24, 07:47 PM
Thanks for getting your judgment in DLD. Dispozition tells me that though he has not been well, he will try and get judgments posted within the next day. I am still trying to contact DarkandEVil.

Dispozition
2007-01-25, 02:07 AM
Yeah...Read them all, liked them all...Hard to judge...

Well...Suppose I should get the comments out of the way first.

Elvaris
This was a good story. I like the real life feel to the story, it's something that a lot of people could relate to. The ending was rather amusing and didn't feel like anything more had to be said. The inclusion of the articles was fine. Some of the spacing in-between paragraphs was strange, using a double enter just for a line of dialogue isn't the way I would do it, but I suppose it works.
All up, a good story, with a nice real life feel to it.

Ravyn
Now, having never seen the West Wing, nor knowing how the U.S parliment works left me a little confused after this story. You mention characters who I don't know from just reading the article, C.J. being the most predominant. I was lost after the first few sentances. Aside from me not knowing anything about the show, the articles were included into the story the best out of the three entries and the ending was rather fitting.
Apart from leaving me very confused, this was a great story.

Average Joe
Well, this story was just great. I love how you used Deborah Fiderer as a god. The fact that a dvd could be considered a sacred relic was also rather amusing and the blood pressure article was incorporated well. The beginning of the story was maybe a little too long winded, but it was a rather nice bit of text. The ending was a bit lacking, but had a nice sentimental feeling too it. The main body of the story, however, was very, very good.
Over all, one of the best stories I've seen in this competition.

Now, for the placings!

Thrid Place
Ravyn
Second Place
Elvaris
First Place
Averagejoe

Good work to all the contestants. You provided me with a fair bit of entertainment over the last few weeks.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-25, 10:26 PM
Thanks to all our contestants and judges. And now....[drumroll] it is time for the awards ceremony.

Taking 3rd place in the first ever Iron Author Contest... Ravyn! [applause]

Taking 2nd place in the first ever Iron Author Contest... Elvaris [more applause]

And in a surprise come back (you owe brickwall bigtime for allowing your story after the deadline in the first round, with your silly, 'oh you meant Eastern standard time?) our winner and a judge in Iron Author 2... averagejoe! [standing ovation]

Please check your inboxes as the playground's very own Sneak has created 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies for you!

Also, though this wasn't announced I have special award to give out. The creater of my avatar(s) our very own Ceika has created a special trophy, "Fat Daddy's Choice" for my favorite story of the competition. I thought a lot about this and then re-read all the stories and thought some more. In the end, The Northman by The Vorpal Tribble really stuck in my head. So...VT check your inbox for the Fat Daddy's Choice Trophy.

And lastly our contest's very own Dispozition is hard at work creating a special award for all our contestants who entered a story. It's a special trophy for having competed in the inaugral Iron Author. Check you in-boxes in a few days for that one.

Congratulations and more importantly, Thank You! I have really enjoyed running this contest and hope all of you had a great time too.

averagejoe
2007-01-25, 10:51 PM
And in a surprise come back (you owe brickwall bigtime for allowing your story after the deadline in the first round, with your silly, 'oh you meant Eastern standard time?) our winner and a judge in Iron Author 2... averagejoe! [standing ovation]

Hey, give me a break. People from California are stupid. Don't you ever watch TV? As if I didn't have enough problems, being from California and all.

...

Thanks Brick. And thanks everyone else for restraining themselves from making "average" comments.

I should also say, Ravyn and Elvaris, after reading stuff you had submitted to previous rounds, I went into the last round biting my nails. I may have won this time, but I could certainly see myself losing to either of you, were conditions different.

I would also like to compliment Dispozition on the trophy. The concept was fairly simple (because, you know, it's basically a stick figure) but his expression and pose made me laugh nonetheless.

Fat Daddy
2007-01-25, 11:06 PM
I would also like to compliment Dispozition on the trophy. The concept was fairly simple (because, you know, it's basically a stick figure) but his expression and pose made me laugh nonetheless.

Actually, thank Sneak. He made the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies. Dis is working on a special trophy for all the contests inaugral entrants at my request. I am looking forward to giving that one out as well.

averagejoe
2007-01-25, 11:09 PM
Well, good job to Sneak as well, then, and thank you.

Elvaris
2007-01-25, 11:51 PM
Congratulations Joe! You did a fabulous job in all the rounds. You weren't the only one biting nails going into the finals.
A big thank you goes to Fat Daddy for starting this whole mess, and keeping it moving along. It's been a lot of fun, with a number of fantastic stories told along the way.
And kudos to Ravyn... whom I may see again soon in IA 2...
*mumble* *mumble* sandwich *mumble*
Thanks to everyone involved, authors, judges, prize artists, all. Thankyaverymuch.

Ravyn
2007-01-26, 12:25 AM
All I can say is well done to everyone. Particularly my fellow finalists; congrats, both of you.

(And I never want to see another pop culture article again. I swear, if familiarity with a show backfires that badly, I'd hate to see what happens when I hit one of the innumerable shows, movies or what-have-you I've never touched.)

Om
2007-01-28, 01:50 PM
I just want to say that even though I was unable to take part in this contest I throughly enjoyed reading the entries.

Bryn
2007-01-28, 02:11 PM
Well done to those who won! It was certainly an enjoyable competition!:smallsmile: