The Addison boy had always been somewhat peculiar. I’d seen him with the other children, playing with them. Oh, I don’t mean in the normal sense of the word, like joining in on a game of tag or stick ball. He’d sit on the sidelines for those, just watching. No, when he played with them, he played with them as if they was toys. He’d set them kids up against one another, make them fight. But there was always different rules, and never the same groups.
I know now he was studying them, seeing who’d cry, who’d break, who’d smile. I know now he was setting himself up, isolating them from each other, from their kin, everything but him. I know now that I should have put a stop to it. But, to tell the truth, that boy had me snared as well.
I inhaled the cool night air and looked to the east. Below, surrounding the pyramid's base and stretching as far as the eye could see, lay black jungle. Above, dawn glimmered a subtle shade of indigo on the eastern horizon. My last dawn as a human. I glanced at the old priest; he sliced the head off a snake, muttered some words and drank its blood. "Talk to me of pain, priest. Will my transformation be bearable?" The old priest stood a little taller and laughed--a quiet sound. "Yesss--but it is not your fate to become the god." He twisted at the waist to look at me. His head swayed from side to side and his unblinking eyes glinted strangely; my heart thumped in my chest as he glided towards me. "I brought you here for another reason," he hissed. Fangs slid down as he spoke.
[This message has been edited by skadder (edited April 19, 2010).]
Jeremy Damon knelt in the fresh mud to examine the dead body. The large bulb of poisoned flesh on the victim's arm was crowned by two black holes. To Jeremy's mind it looked like a snake bite, but the four-inch distance between the two punctures would make it the largest snake he'd ever seen.
Mona Hester, his detective sergeant, brought over a little wizened man. "This is the man who found the body."
Jeremy felt the hackles on his neck rise as he saw mortal fear in rheumy eyes.
The man shook as he began. "A giant snake killed the woman, but it's a precursor of Squamata, God of the Reptiles that is to come and destroy the world."
[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited April 20, 2010).]
The man in black, or Jim as we were told to call him, collected our papers while we waited for his response. Two were fired, one was ignored, and the girl in front of me got kissed full on her lips. "That's how you write a headline." He smiled at the blond and then turned to me. I gave him my headline handwritten in pencil on lined paper. Ryan Heeler dead at 33. "This is a front page story." He looked at me from my so-new-they-hurt leather shoes to my pink tie. "Are you sure you're ready for that?" "Yes, sir." I said, standing taller. He nodded and moved on. "But he's not dead, sir. It's not true." "Then make it true," He sipped a cup of coffee, "and call me when it is."
[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited April 20, 2010).]
Paul slammed the palm of his hand on the tips of the fingers. “Time out!” The Grizzly’s were on a 14-0 run. There was 3:12 left on the clock and his team was down by 17. His best player fouled out and tacked on a technical as he stalked off the floor. The Snakes needed this game. Hell, they needed to win them all. The team was in danger of being eliminated from the playoffs and Paul would be out of a job when they did. He now had to replace him but the only one left was the seven-foot freak from Mexico. “Maxtla! You’re in!” The bronzed colored man stood. The snake tattoo, wrapped around his neck and face seemed to move when he did. He palmed the basketball and squeezed. It popped like a kids balloon.
[This message has been edited by snapper (edited April 23, 2010).]
"...dear Emily. Happy birthday to you." She had been waiting all year for her birthday and it was finally here.
"Yay, you're six now," Mommy's friend Frank said. "Make a wish, Emmie, and blow out the candles."
Every night she prayed to the gods with the same wish. She blew out the candles hoping it would come true. Mommy handed her a pink wrapped box. She ripped it open;it was a talkie-doll. Without hesitation she pulled the string. "Imykgrl," it gurgled.
Frank ripped the doll from her hands. "Piece of crap," he yelled shaking it by his ear. A very irritated snake poked its head from the mouth of the doll and bit him on the neck. "I'm a good girl," the doll said as it--and Frank--fell to the ground.
Emily got her wish.
[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited April 24, 2010).]
Rafael Vargas looked out the window of his spacious thirty-fifth story office at the panoramic view of New York City below. It was time. He stood and slipped through a concealed panel into a hidden conference room. The council was already seated around a heavy wood table. Rafael strode to his place at the head of the table and stood under the logo of Quetzalcoatl, the ancient Feathered Serpent God of the Mayans, emblazoned in gold on the wall. “As foretold by the Tzolkin Calendar, laid out by our ancestors, the end of the Tenth Baktun is near. This is the end of one cycle and the start of a new one. A time the God of our Fathers assumes his role as ruler of all mankind.” Rafael said. The powerful men seated around the table, nodded assent.
[This message has been edited by Utahute72 (edited April 24, 2010).]
This one hooked me. I wanted to know more about this boy. The problem is I don’t see any part of the prompt at this point. No snake or gods (even if there is an allusion to an omnipotent power). You’d get high praise form me if this was in F&F but I am afraid you get minus points for criteria # 2 in the rules.
quote:reflects the prompt
Entry 2 The Jaguar Warrior
Great opening. Creepy, compelling, and got me hook, line, and sinker. My only complaint is it is too familiar. As if I read this before. Nice job.
Entry 3 Squamata at the End of the World
Another good opening. Great prose and nice start. Good use of the prompt. My only problem is the last line sounds more silly than compelling.
Entry 4 Freedom of the Press
Loved this one, especially this line…
He looked at me from my so-new-they-hurt leather shoes to my pink tie.
Just the type of thing I wished I thought of. This had the same problem #1 had. Failed to see the prompt in the opening. Too bad because I really liked it.
Entry 5 The Sssssub-sssstitute
What a stupid title. Who reads stories about basketball anyway? Isn’t the game dull enough? At least they are until the end. I’d turn to the last page to find out what happened.
Entry 6 A Birthday Wish
Yeah! Frank got it! Most Frank’s I know deserve it. Prompt is there but the story is over. Too sudden for my tastes.
Entry 7 Feathered Serpent Cabal
Written well. Fits the prompt. But has that been there, done that feeling to it.
Tough choices, tough choices. What to do? Let me look again with my most critical eye.
Lacks the prompt, I’m sick of him always winning, gag-me-with-a-spoon last line, lacks the prompt, it sucked, too brief, too cliché…
All are wonderful and I can’t decide!
Okay, if it wasn’t for the rule #2 I would place Entry 4 first and Entry 1 second, but all deserved (except 5) a prize because of the high quality of writing so…
First Entry 2 The Jaguar Warrior
Second Entry 3 Squamata at the End of the World
Third Entry 7 Feathered Serpent Cabal
Best title Entry 4 Freedom of the Press (no reason other than I just like it)
Now let me post this before I change my mind.
[This message has been edited by snapper (edited April 25, 2010).]
1. Quite liked this one. It's a little like a summary, but I think it works because it teases you with what the child actually is doing.
2. Reminds me of one of the vampire entries in the last competition. I think people could at least try to be creative!
3. I don't like the name 'squamata'. The guy's dialogue (who found the body) seems strangely knowledgeable--coincidence?
4. I like this one. the prose was good. I have a problem with the trying-to-do-too-much format--I've seen it a little too much. Good last line. Not sure where the prompt is, though.
5. Not being from the US I didn't understand all the sporting technobabble (that it was basketball). I understood it from the line 'he now had to...' Good premise with the sports, though.
6. This was like micro-fiction. A beginning middle and end. Fun, but no ongoing hooks as far as I perceive.
7. There was too much Aztec/Mayan references that I didn't understand in only a brief bit of prose. I did like it but the boardroom fantasy thing I have seen before. (Blade's vampires).
Votes--and this is hard-:
1st: Number 5 -- I like the potential mystery that this guy may be a basketball god (with a snake tattoo) or an actual snake god. The prose is snappy.
2nd: Number 4 -- the prose was great and forced me to vote for it despite the lack of prompt visible. I suspect it lies in the last line. It would have got first place if the prompt was more visible--it was a judging criteria.
3rd: Hmmm....1 or 3? 1 has a great voice, but 3 is more immediate. The last line of 3 feels a little forced, so I will go with 1.
[This message has been edited by skadder (edited April 26, 2010).]
Entry 1 The sideways child. This one hooked me. The voice is great, and when accompanied with the trigger, I get the menace. I also love the title. Keep writing this one, it's neat.
Entry 2, The Jaguar Warrior. I like this, and it fits the prompt, but seems familiar...
Entry 3, All of the elements are here, but there is nothing really unique about it. It reads like the beginning of a really bad movie, and because of that, I wouldn't continue.
Entry 4. Totally fits the prompt. It seriously does.
Entry 5. The Sssssub-sssstitute. Come on, you gave it that title just so we would count the S's, right? The issue I have with this one is I don't know how serious this game is, or how old the players are. I got the impression that this was a high school game, or maybe a junior league until an grown man with a tattoo stands up. Maybe you could have the coach say to the offical "He's in seventh grade." Hilarious. Also it seemed strange to me that a coach who needed to win to keep his job wouldn't put a seven footer in until the last resort. But I did really like it. I liked the name, and I liked the characters.
Entry 6, A birthday wish, I like it, but I don't really see where this is going. I would suggest changing the last line, or adding to it make some kind of step towards a plot of something else happening.
Entry 7. I realy like this one, but would suggest adding more at the beginning. What was he doing other than waiting for the story to start. Maybe he could call his secretary to hold his calls, and then lock the door. Before opening a secret tunnel. In fact I think the opening of this doorway should be a huge twist. Maybe if you establish the world to be a certain way, and then you shift the perception with the open door.
Voting 1st number one, The sideways child. 2nd entry five, The Sssssub-sssstitute 3rd Entry six, A Birthday Wish
Good job all! ~Sheena Sorry skadder. I was making a poorly timed joke.
[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited April 27, 2010).]
1. Sideways Child. Although the opening was intriguing, I didn't see a strong enough link to the trigger. Also it was all set-up with no action, which for me dilutes the hook. Perhaps with a different title, the trigger link could have been reinforced.
2. The Jaguar Warrior. I expected more of this kind of opening. Tropical tribe with snake god appearing. The problem with this is the first 13 is self-contained. The MC with the POV is snakebit right out of the chute. It is a nice twist, but you'll need a new POV in the next paragraph.
3. Squamata – this is mine. FYI, squamata is the genus name for reptiles. I was hard up for something that sounded different. I apologize for the title. But, Sheena, it would have made a great movie. It's all in the cast and the dynamite screenplay.
4. Freedom of the Press. I couldn't get a good read on the trigger. Again the title would have to tie it in for me. I liked the concept, but I thought the fates of the other applicants overcomplicated the opening and distracted me from trying to figure out who the MC was. The last line was a great hook.
5. The Ssssub-ssssstitute I'm sure the story would portray the snake god as the local sports heartthrob. I didn't like the first name of the MC without immediately identifying himself as the coach. It made me work too much when I read. However the voice was very good. Although this is a speculative fiction environment, I just didn't buy the popping of the basketball. I'd rather see him break the backboard on a dunk. Nice set-up for the story to follow, though.
6. A Birthday Wish. Mean spirited in every way. I thought the Western tradition of blowing out the candles and the present didn't work with Emily (western name) praying to the gods. The rest was fine, but there really wasn't a hook. Was the demise of Snapper her wish or was it the snake or was it the doll? I didn't know.
7. Feathered Serpent Cabal. The opening was mostly tell and that didn't do anything for me. Nodding assent isn't an adequate hook. Although as a story, I'd probably read on, but the story has the promise to be rather predictable.
Voting Criteria – desire to read on, trigger related, writing
Winner SSSSub-ssstitute. I wanted to read more, good hook. The snake prompt was there and I liked the voice.
1st Runner-up The Jaguar Warrior. Only because I didn't want to believe the author of this killed of the POV character of the opening. Plenty of drama and a good setting.
2nd Runner-up Freedom of the Press. Best hook. Writing was good. Voice was good. Would have finished higher except for the disdain of the prompt. The editor needed a snake tattoo or a lisp or something.
A rather nice set of openings. Now they all need to be worked on as stories.
Hmm... I'm in danger of being the last one! Ack!
1. The Sideways Child -I like pie
2. The Jaguar Warrior -Well written. I like the description of the priest with his serpentine movements. It doesn't hook me though. Nothing wrong with it, just not my thing.
3. Squamata at the End of the World -It starts out well. The detective theme promises mystery... right up until the last line, at which point the mystery is largely dispelled by the old man.
4. Freedom of the Press -I like the premise: A group of journalists that go out and make the news to get their stories published. I tried to figure out the theme here: definitely got something rising, and the God thing is strong in the Hebrew and Christian sense (they say the words then make it so), but the snake eluded me. I'm thinking den of vipers, but beyond that, it's tough.
5. The Sssssub-sssstitute -A sports story. Neat. My question is why the coach was put off by the player's height, instead of thrilled by it? Could seven feet be short in this world? Maybe, but it doesn't strike me as a speculative piece...
6. A Birthday Wish -I liked this one. It could be read as ending on the last line, but the story could continue on. There is a slight problem with the voice. It's largely third person, but the "Mommy's friend Frank" bit reads like first.
7. Feathered Serpent Cabal -Much like entry 2, I can't find anything wrong with this, but it's just not my thing.
So... rankings... let's see...
1st: A Birthday Wish 2nd: The Sssssub-sssstitute 3rd: Freedom of the Press
Ok, for those who didn't get the hook in mine:
I decided to go with something inline with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent was a manipulator that fragmented Adam from Eve (he tried to put all the blame on Eve when God called him out), and both from God, just as the child does by isolating all the kids around him from each other and all other sources of authority. Eden is, of course, represented by childhood.
As for the title, that comes from my favorite line in Serenity: "They'll come after you sideways." Nothing to do with snakes really, but it seemed like a great way to describe them.