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Author Topic: 13-Line Challenge: Nature v. the Unnatural -- ENTRIES
Disgruntled Peony
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Please post contest entries here (and vote/crit when the time comes). All other discussion is best saved for the other thread.
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Jed Anderson
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Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but here we go.

#1 Move. Run. Fight.

I shivered against the tree I hid behind. Its rough bark scratched at me through my thin white shirt. My were sandals lost long ago, and my bare feet, scratched and bruised, itched from the pine needles I stood on.

A twig snapped and I had to steal a glance around the large trunk. I winced as the bark caught my long hair as I moved my head.

Silver orbs looked back at me. The light of the moon, peeking through the branches, danced across its eyes as it searched for me. I tried not to whimper, tried not to move, as I hid.

Small pieces of material, matted in dirt, slobber and blood, hung from its jowls. Joe's flannel? I pressed my lips shut as I felt tears begin to form in my eyes.

[ March 09, 2016, 05:51 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Tiergan
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Entry: #2 - No Strings Attached

Jason collapsed on the bench. “You too, Ed?”

Ed’s hand went absently to the chip in his temple, the flesh still raw around the edges. He looked at the floor for a moment, then met Jason’s stare.

“Yeah, ” he said, his voice cracking, “I had to.”

Jason wiped the sweat from his brow. "It’s not natural. Taking away your emotions and all.”

“That’s just it man, what other choice was there.” Ed fell to the bench beside him.
“Damnit man! Doesn’t this **** get to you?”

Jason stared into his locker. “Yeah, but that’s the point. Killing should never be easy.”

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Disgruntled Peony
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Entry #3: The House on Hudson Drive

The first time Sarah Richardson stepped into the house on Hudson Drive she felt ill at ease -- unwelcome, even. An aura of resentment oozed from the house's walls. It didn't want her there. It didn't want any of the Richardsons there.
Sarah’s parents loved the place, with its two stories, attic and basement. It had five bedrooms, so Sarah and her three siblings each got their own. There were two and a half bathrooms, which was one and a half more than the family had ever owned before. In short, the house was Dad's dream come true and no amount of arguing could convince him otherwise.
The Richardsons' moving date was a cold, icy February 1st. Dad slipped and fell on a patch of ice halfway through, so Matt and Andrew had to finish unloading the van. Three days later Mom hit

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telflonmail
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#5. And Yet She Would Not Sleep

When she walks, she gives off sounds like piston shaft whirls and retractable rod hisses. They are soft sounds, nearly unnoticeable, blending into the background noise of humming electrical generators and creaking crossbeam joints as the station rotates. Her movement is indistinguishable from the hustle and bustle of other tourists, mingling in fashionably with a chartreuse pencil skirt and periwinkle polka dot shirt accessorized with a black satchel handbag.

She slowly drifts past the pavilion of shops, peeking at their displays, timing her migration across the multi-level promenade with precision. She follows the flow of the tourists, keeping a low profile to the cameras monitoring the perimeter and periphery of the station. She enters the food court and

[ March 21, 2016, 12:48 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Brendan
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#6 Last Will and Testament

Some people don’t know they're being manipulated – they already are socially subsumed, personally dominated or simply persuaded into believing they're signing of their own free will. That’s why they have a cooling off period.

Me? I know I'm being manipulated. But what else can I do? The singularity is only weeks away, everyone knows that by now. And I have neither the wherewithal to become a minor demigod, nor the inclination to fight it as an outmoded mortal. Neither group will win. So that leaves me this one choice.

In five minutes, I will walk through that door and join the hivemind. While there’s still time. While I can still savor a sense of self.

[ April 01, 2016, 11:05 PM: Message edited by: Brendan ]

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Disgruntled Peony
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My votes are thus:

1st place: #5, And Yet She Would Not Sleep.
2nd place: #4, Convergence.
3rd place: #6, Last Will and Testament.

Crits follow.

Entry #1, Move. Run. Fight.: This entry has a solid concept, but the grammar in the first two paragraphs is awkward. The last two paragraphs are better, although there are still a couple of phrases that could use tweaking. The entry definitely does a good job of throwing the reader straight into the action. If it weren't for the grammatical errors, this probably would have been in my top three spaces.

Entry #2, No Strings Attached: The first paragraph left me feeling confused and off-balanced, which made it difficult for me to get immersed in the narrative. Also, Ed seems very emotional for someone who's had their emotions taken away.

Entry #4, Convergence: I'm not really sure where this story is going in the long term, but the description of what's happening is well-written and intriguing. I would definitely read on to find out what's going on.

Entry #5, And Yet She Would Not Sleep: The opening line of this story really grabbed my attention, and my immersion was strong throughout. I would love to read further on this entry.

Entry #6: I'll be honest, this story opening didn't particularly appeal to me. However, that was more a personal preference than due to any actual issues with the opening. It's solidly written. There are a couple of minor grammatical tweaks that could be made to smooth the prose out, but nothing major. I think the reason I wasn't overly fond is, quite simply, because I don't understand what would drive someone to willingly give up their sense of self (although I'm sure the story would explain it in time).

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Brendan
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#1 Move. Run. Fight.: I liked the immediate immersion into action and had a command of the forest setting due to the description. Improvements – I’m lost a little with who the main character is (e.g. male or female) and what the relationship is with Joe, so I couldn’t feel empathy yet for the situation. Also “were sandals” reads as a typo so early.

#2 No strings attached: I liked the intriguing ambiguity of the last statement/punchline. Improvements – I wonder if it needs a greater a sense of setting – I couldn’t understand how a locker was found near a park bench (that’s where I initially imagined the conversation, given the only early setting was the word “bench”).

#3 The House on Hudson Drive: I liked the clear POV and a recognisable voice coming through within the entire opening. Improvements – the dilemma (centered on the subjective impressions of a yet unknown and potentially unreliable POV of Sarah) was a probably insufficient to sustain a move to an information dump or background so early. I would have preferred that this created a stronger character or better proof of the impending conflict first.

#4 Convergence: I really liked this one, it transported me very quickly into the time capsule, or event horizon, and promised a science fiction story starting at the right moment. The psychological interactions were an extra layer for this story. Improvements – Just a small one: “sensor feed” seems like a cliché given the original description surrounding it.

# 5 And yet she would not sleep: I loved the setting, so strongly created in the first paragraph. Improvements – the dilemma is low, just a hint associated to keeping a low profile. But it is certainly enough to keep me reading until I find out what the real dilemma is.


My votes:
1st - #4 Convergence
2nd - #5 And Yet She Would Not Sleep
3rd - #2 No strings attached

Title - #2 No strings attached

[ April 10, 2016, 07:39 AM: Message edited by: Brendan ]

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telflonmail
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#1 Grammar issues aside, this first person doesn't give me any emotion to hold on to. Shiver, itched, winced and whimper give me motion, not emotion. It would be better in third person. Someone use to say never use the word 'orbs' and they would reject the story outright.

#2 Banal locker room talk doesn't make good interaction. I don't get a true sense of a locker room - they are simply standing around - have them undress, describe some of the surroundings. 'Killing should never be easy' is an acceptable hook to satisfy the Nature v. the Unnatural requirement.

#3 I enjoyed reading this beginning of an urban horror story the most. A smart alec house is an intriguing concept, although it has been done many times before. Is Sarah the oldest? Who is the third sibling? You need to strengthen Sarah's point of view at the beginning.

#4 It's a little all over the place in its journey toward union or uniformity. A biological being is transferred through some mechanism that causes distortion to its senses. I like the basic setting although some cliché platitudes such as 'My lungs starve and burn' should be changed, but overall a respectable idea.

#6 The preachy opening with nothing happening with everything of importance expected to happen in the future is not a story opener. I see no motivation for change and as the title implies it sounds like a log of the past before going into the future.

1st place: #3
2nd place: #4
3rd place: Tie #1 and #2
Title: Convergence

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Tiergan
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Sorry I am so late, darn near forget we started this thing.

1st place - 5
2nd place - 6
3rd place - 4

I will try and stop in late this week with crits.

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Disgruntled Peony
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The challenge breakdown ended up a little strange--there was a tie for first place *and* a tie for second, perhaps because of the low vote count.

Ahh well.

1st place: #5, And She Would Not Sleep; #4, Convergence.
2nd place: #6, Last Will and Testament; #3, The House on Hudson Drive.
3rd place: #2, No Strings Attached.

I am happy to note that all stories got at least one vote, and there were a lot of well-thought-out critiques. I may well try to host another one of these in a few months, when work stops attempting to consume my soul.

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