Deathmatch 2017 – Finals

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Back to the Lightning Round Results , Round One, Round Two

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TopComment

And then there were two

Out of the wild flock of wordsmiths unleashed
Washed ashore by winds from the north-east
Making it here has been no feast
A constant war with a mighty beast
But the two of them are alive at least.

In the ocean behind, those who didn’t pull through
Lizards and poets who went down as they knew
That they wouldn’t stand among the last few
And others would drink the victor’s brew
But the two stand tall as they start anew.” – Hege Lepri

-admin

Failure to Cooperate

By Susan Read

I arrive for my second last scheduled day of work at, well, let’s call it Tarsucks.  This is only based on a true story, after all.  I don my green apron, punch in my seven-digit code, and get called to the back office before I can make myself an Americano.

In the crowded back room, four folding chairs are arranged in a semi-circle, three of them occupied by well-dressed, smiling people—a man, and two women.  A plastic cup of water and a pile of napkins sit on a desk beside my empty chair.

Read on...

Sick To Death Of Stories

By P.D. Walter

The black leather biker jacket had been a gift from his ex-wife, Josephine. She gave it to Jake right
before she left him. At 16, their daughter Katie was old enough to decide who she wanted to stay
with. Now 26, she wondered if she’d made the wrong choice.

Read on...
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25 Responses to “Deathmatch 2017 – Finals”

  1. Susan Read ( User Karma: 975 ) says:

    Welcome Peter, readers, and rogue voters who prefer to judge us based on author’s pics or just play numbers games (I know you’re out there, Larry)–Congratulations on hanging through a tumultuous, dramatic, but damned if it wasn’t entertaining month. To the fallen word warriors, I wish you all the best and will keep my eye out for your names in print! That’s not just lip service, I think you all proved yourselves both insane and courageous enough to “succeed” as writers. If you figure out how to make money doing it, you have to let the rest of us know.

    I just wanted to thank, again, the voters who came out of the woodwork to save my ass. As always, your anonymous donations are greatly appreciated. I’d love to know who all or at least some of you are. The comments have fallen rather quiet, and while I have no doubt that Peter and I can keep ourselves entertained, I expect it will be more enjoyable for everyone if others join in the conversation.

    We promise to be nice–unless you’d rather we not.

    Looking forward to spending one more week with you crazy bastards.

  2. Vicky Savage ( User Karma: 831 ) says:

    Greetings from Paradise! Congratulations to the finalists, Peter (aka P.D.) and Susan! We who have fallen by the wayside salute you! Best of luck to you both! I will be abstaining from voting in the final round because I love your stories equally, and in my opinion you are both quality people in addition to being very fine writers. I wish to thank everyone who voted for and/or commented on “Fogger.” I appreciate your support more you will ever know, and I relish the comments I received from my fellow writers. Even though I did not respond to them all, I did read them and have taken them to heart. Please forgive me for choosing not to alter my schedule or lifestyle in order to be more engaged in this rousing but somewhat dubious competition. I will say in hindsight, even after the frustrating website glitches, the senseless negativity in the comments, and the inane voting system, I will look back on the Deathmatch as a mostly positive experience because of the opportunity to read your amazing stories and meet such a diverse group of talented writers. I did indeed gain a great deal from that, and I thank you all. Anyone interested in continuing the exchange of ideas, please drop me a line through the contact page on my website, http://vickysavage.com/contact/ . I’d love to stay in touch! In parting, I once again borrow words from that eloquent silver Terminator guy: “I know now why you cry. But it’s something I can never do. Goodbye.”

    • P.D. Walter ( User Karma: 1305 ) says:

      Aww, thanks, Vicky. This is a very heartfelt and much appreciated. Your story is beautiful, original and evocative of something quite profound. It’s one of the stories I would most like to have seen expanded into a longer narrative. All the best in your further adventures! 🙂

  3. P.D. Walter ( User Karma: 1305 ) says:

    Well, let me be the second (that Wyatt, he’s a quick draw!) to congratulate Susan on her huge victory yesterday! Wow, it was crazy watching the votes come in over the weekend. You did spectacularly well. A hearty CONGRATULATIONS!

    Also, to say THANKS (hopefully not goodbye!) to our competitors, Rachel and Vicky, both great sports, both great writers, both great stories that will surely live on here, in the pages of BP, or somewhere else in the ever-widening physical and virtual land of Arts & Letters.

    I think everyone would agree the tone of the discussion was much better last week, if also quieter as people slip away, their chosen candidates already eliminated, perhaps. (Come back to us, you gentle souls! We miss you! 🙁 )

    So, I don’t know, Susan, it might be a lonely week for us! It’s a funny result: two teachers, both in their 40s (I gather), both of whom have been working for years to break through in various ways (correct me if I am wrong about any of this!!).

    I’m delighted to be here with you and look forward to more interesting discussions this week, though I’m not sure what they will be about – we’ve already covered so much territory!! 🙂

    For now, then, another poem…
    __________________

    The (Slightly Mournful) Ballad of the Round of Two

    “Now we enter the round of two
    Feeling ever so strangely blue
    With two more fallen comrades out
    What is there left to talk about?
    Like lonely sheep we graze these fields
    Pondering our last-ditch appeals
    Forlorn survivors of the herd
    Who’ve already spilled so many words…”

    • Susan Read ( User Karma: 975 ) says:

      I’ll be 34 for in April, but since we haven’t met in person I’ll take that as a COMPLIMENT rather than a slight lol

      The rest is pretty spot on though, it is interesting. We’ll have to see who pops in to join us!

      • P.D. Walter ( User Karma: 1305 ) says:

        Ee-gads, my apologies, Susan! 🙁 I thought you had said something about your age in an earlier post.

        I can think of lots of pleasant ways to pass the time this week. We could probably have a pretty great back and forth about teaching and how it does or doesn’t help or play into our writing?

        I also thought it might be fun to run a kind of informal FLASH FICTION ‘contest’ this week, where we post very short fictions each day based, perhaps, on themes/titles/opening lines suggested by other participants. (No worries if you don’t have the time!)

        I just suspect that neither your story nor mine reflects the full breadth of our writing abilities, and I feel like our job in this competition is, in part, to be dancing monkeys! So, why not have some fun writing FICTION here instead of blathering back and forth in boring old non-fiction essay, missive, gripe, personal essay or invective form?! 😉

        Other who are still paying attention could jump in with their FLASH fictions too.

        What about you, PARTICIPANTS? Any fun suggestions to inspire some 300-600 word FLASH FICTIONS? 🙂

        • Susan Read ( User Karma: 975 ) says:

          This is a nice idea Peter, I’ll have to wait and seem how my week shapes up. As a substitute teacher, I won’t know if I’m busy until it happens! Extra rough because this website is blocked at most public schools due to “profane language” so I can’t even vote when I’m working.

          Hopefully I will have some time to contribute more creative pieces with you here–though, on the other hand, it’s been snowing for two weeks and Mama needs to pay for the Blondie/Garbage tickets she just bought, so I really need to work!

          I’ll let you know as the week goes on, and we’ll see if there’s any more feedback

          • P.D. Walter ( User Karma: 1305 ) says:

            Oh, no! Those f&%$ers! They don’t think kids have seen/heard that language? They’re marinated in it, no? 😉

            Can’t you vote on your phone? (It is killing my data plan, so I might have to stop too!) 🙁

            I may post a funny little bit of flash fiction I wrote this weekend (really just an exercise in one of my writing groups), but yeah, we’ll see if there’s time, energy or enthusiasm for flashing our skills, as it were. 😉

            I also have a few more comments I’d like to make about your story (constructive, respectful, like you’d get in any well-run writer’s group), along the lines of your last few posts in Round 2, but I don’t necessarily want to get into that unless there’s an appetite for discussing the stories. How about you? Are you up for more feedback?

            And the offer of a chat about teaching remains on the table. I gather you did your B.Ed. in the past few years? I did mine in 2010/2011, but the Toronto Board has basically fired High School teachers every year since I graduated, and my teachables are very generic (English, Social Studies – no French, no Physics, no Math!), so I have mostly taught in the private ESL world, which is a different, much more relaxed kettle of fish. Anyway, pluses and minuses. It does give me a good amount of time to write, which I am thankful for. You? Must be hard to plan your schedule around teaching gigs that you don’t know are coming or not.

        • Susan Read ( User Karma: 975 ) says:

          I just remembered that I wrote that “My friends are too old” in a poem, so that would be a good way to throw you off. But you know, 30 is the new 60, I’m pretty sure

          I should have written “My friends have babies and early burgeoning careers”, that would have been more on point

        • Hege Lepri ( User Karma: 873 ) says:

          If you write flash fiction – I’m not sure you should burn your pieces on a message board. Geist magazine has extended their postcard fiction contest deadline to the end of this month, so get out there guys, and participate. (And if you get published, Geist has one of the largest print runs of all Canadian literary magazines, so your reading really gets read by a lot of people.

          • P.D. Walter ( User Karma: 1305 ) says:

            Oh, I wouldn’t post anything worthy of Geist! Just some fun exercises to pass the time…

            But thanks for the heads-up about the submissions. Much appreciated. 🙂

  4. Wyatt McRae ( User Karma: 1020 ) says:

    Good luck to these two Gladiators!

    Much blood has been spilled (both human and lizard), but such glorious violence has left us with worthy contenders!

    Now FIGHT! Fight for glory and a place amongst the stars!

  5. Rachel Rosenberg ( User Karma: 979 ) says:

    Morning P.D. and Susan,

    I just wanted to say good morning and good luck to you both. Remember to eat and sleep and all that tomfoolery, I am going to go do something zen, like flying a kite or dancing naked in the woods. Actually I’m not super into nature, so I probably won’t do that second one. Especially because if I’m naked I could get scratched or people could take pictures and post it online, so there’s a whole bunch of problems with that scenario for me. But something. Something good.

    I’m Audi 5000. Have fun!

  6. Susan Read ( User Karma: 975 ) says:

    So, Peter’s entertaining with flash fiction, Hege’s rockin’ ballads… Me, I like to write rhymes.

    Test test
    This is not a
    Click click
    Cos I gotta big
    Dickensian dilemma –
    What’s’a matter?
    Take your pick:
    Lotsa chatter,
    Thoughts too thick,
    Sky’s too grey,
    Book’s too wordy,
    Days too plain,
    and nights absurdy.
    Never had
    great expectations
    for success,
    or any patience,
    just a penchant
    for expression
    fuelled by tension
    and depression.
    Not my fault
    the world’s all endin’,
    Add some salt
    and try to blend in.
    Exhausted,
    as the authors of this mess we’re in,
    Final question,
    Can a writer ever really win?

  7. P.D. Walter ( User Karma: 1305 ) says:

    Fun with Flash Fiction

    This piece (just an exercise, really) was inspired by a playing card from the game ‘Dixit’, which some of you may know. (If you don’t, it’s a great game you can play with your 8 year-old-niece or your 80-year-old grandma.) You can see the card in question by clicking here: http://pdwalterbooks.com/flash

    _____________________

    THE ENCHANTED FOREST (NOT SO ENCHANTING)

    So I’ve been standing here for – oh, gosh, how long is it? 91 days. (I’ve been marking little notches into the bark on my arm to remember.) And I gotta tell you, while I may only be 16, I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff going back and forth through this forest playing my drum over the years. Wolves and bears, naturally, but centaurs too, sinister gingerbread houses, kids jammed into ovens, witches and equally wicked stepmothers behind every bloody tree and shrub, and too many dwarves to count!

    But what they don’t tell you when they’re scaring you to death with morbid, really pretty violent, scary folk tales that – let’s be honest with ourselves – transparently use fear to manipulate kids into being good (it’s just like some religions, but don’t get me started on that…) – no, what they don’t tell you is that IF you happen to bite into a poisoned apple (they’re everywhere; it’s ridiculous! Really, if we had any kind of reasonable government out here there would be big signs up on every third tree warning people: ‘DO NOT EAT ANY APPLES IN THIS FOREST: They’re ALL poisoned, just FYI) – but IF you happen to bite into one, and it just happens to turn your arm into a tree branch and your feet into gnarled roots (I mean, really, as curses go – that’s not the worst; I consider myself to have gotten off pretty lightly there) – but IF this happens to you, and you simultaneously are NOT thrown into a state of suspended animation or dreamless sleep or whatever it is – WARNING, PEOPLE! – you STILL need to go to the bathroom!!

    And yet here I am, 91 days later, stuck in place and absolutely ready to burst. I can’t even tell you how many times I have tried to reach over and pick up that drum of mine to tear the hide off it and squat down, but I just can’t reach the goddamn thing.

    Living in an enchanted forest really does leave an awful lot to be desired. 🙁

    ___________________

    Anyone have a fun image link, title, opening line or theme for a new piece of (low-stakes) flash fiction? Feel free to jump in with your ideas, or your own short pieces! 🙂

  8. emi ( User Karma: 5 ) says:

    I have to admit I haven’t gone through all of the comments in previous rounds, so forgive me if this topic has already been broached.

    I’m wondering if there have been any discussions about the writing process: how do you get to know your characters and what inspired you about them to begin with? Did you start with the characters or the situation? Do you like the characters in your story?

  9. EmilyS ( User Karma: 3 ) says:

    Congratulations to both authors. I enjoyed reading both stories, and wanted to share my thoughts on them with the authors.

    PD, I loved your story and thought it was very clever. I felt the emotional weight of the characters, and it was surprising to read a short story of this length with characters that were as fully developed as yours. I would enjoy reading about these characters interacting with other people in future stories. There is something cathartic about Katie’s decision, even if many of us would never leave the people we love and who we have responsibilities to.

    Susan, your story had a nice thriller aspect to it. Did she or didn’t she do it? Your writing of the interrogation reminded me of the twisted logic in books like The Circle (a book I loved), where they try to convince the employees that they are a family and “sharing is caring”.

    Thank you both for sharing your work through this contest! Good luck 🙂

  10. Hege Lepri ( User Karma: 873 ) says:

    And then there were two

    Out of the wild flock of wordsmiths unleashed
    Washed ashore by winds from the north-east
    Making it here has been no feast
    A constant war with a mighty beast
    But the two of them are alive at least.

    In the ocean behind, those who didn’t pull through
    Lizards and poets who went down as they knew
    That they wouldn’t stand among the last few
    And others would drink the victor’s brew
    But the two stand tall as they start anew.

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