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mr_pikachu
6th August 2007, 08:50 PM
The August 2007 Fanfic Writing Contest
Judged by Lady Vulpix and Saffire Persian



Welcome, Fanficcers, to the next Fanfic Writing Contest!

To enter the contest, all you have to do is compose a short manuscript and post it in this thread. All entries will be judged by two of Fanfic’s most illustrious members: Lady Vulpix and Saffire Persian. The winner is guaranteed fabulous prizes and an all-inclusive trip to Hawaii*!

All entries must conform to the following guidelines:

No more than 2500 words
Must somehow include the theme of "red earth."
Must be submitted by 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on August 31, 2007
Remember, post your completed entries in this thread. Don’t PM them to the judges, as overfilled PM boxes won’t make them happy with you.

Good luck to all!


* Trip will only take place in your dreams, which you won’t remember. Satisfaction not guaranteed. Side effects may include nausea, drowsiness, bloating, heart attack, stroke, bleeding from various bodily orifices, loss of motor control, death, necromancy, vampirism, and Armageddon. Offer expires August 30. Void where prohibited.

Dragonstar1715
7th August 2007, 06:31 AM
Can mountains and cliffs classify as "red earth"?

Gavin Luper
7th August 2007, 02:43 PM
Can mountains and cliffs classify as "red earth"?

If they are made of red earth, then yes.

Houndoom_Lover
23rd August 2007, 05:31 PM
Hello, everyone! Today, I've brought together a little D.grayman, and a little insane ego-manacisum, with a dash of old timey themes. Well, anyway... *leaves my story and slithers away*

---------- ----------------- ----------------- --------------


Red Earth

On the night that I found out my wife had died, I was beside myself with grief. I do not think I ever cried more in my entire life, or in fact, ever cried in my entire life.

I am Professor Pliny Viola, and I am a man of many traits and studies. I have spent all my life finding and re-documenting creatures, just as my father before me, and his father, all the way down to Pliny the Elder. Had I not been so engaged in these activity, my wife may still have been alive, but that is neither here nor there.

I was going to bring her back, I was. Just me and science… that was all I needed, or so I thought.

That night of my wife’s death, I was consumed with the desire to bring her back from the grave that claimer her far too early.

I had the all ingredients to create the Philosopher’s Stone, the pinnacle of all creations, the holy grail of chemistry and alchemy. In my many glass containers, over burners of various temperature, were different amounts of lead, mercury, blood from many creatures (including human), liquid nitrogen, liquid Hydrogen, liquid Oxygen (which, oddly enough, looks like water but tastes awful and caused bowl discomfortment), water of various concentrations, trace amounts of other elements, and red clay taken when a fishless river is low when the moon shines on it, but only after a storm.

There is nothing like simmering chemicals to put one in a dour mood. I sat over my dead wife’s body. I placed her on a low table, so that my head would rest on its inviting cool surface. Her body was so cold, so motionless.

I turned from her, in a mixture of sorrow and disgust. She was strong, once, how could she succumb? I heard a clicking noise, and turned around. There, the final tube in the maze of glass and fire, was the stone of fable, dripping at its end.

Each drop solidified on the table in front of me, as I went to it. And with each drop, the stone grew, until it was as big as an apple, and as red as they come.

Finally, the Philosopher’s Stone was finished. This had brought me joy, not only would I see if it could awake the dead, I would be immortal. It truly was a win-win situation.

I took out the book that taught me this art. Upon reading it, I realized that it had to be injected into the drinker in a liquid state. This irked me. I brushed aside the stone that had brought me joy, and quickly re-constructed the equipment (cutting my self several times) so that the final tube dripped directly into her blood stream.

And I waited.

Nothing happened! She was as cold as still as she ever was. Science had failed me! But, what was worse, I had failed me! I took the tube out as carefully as I could, before smashing the glass container.

My rage had gotten the better of me, and soon, all was left was the dripping and oozing chemicals, and the glass that was laying in it…and the stone. I went to reach it when I heard soft footsteps behind me.

I turned, and saw the oddest man that I would ever see. He could have possibly been taller than I (Maybe), wearing an old overcoat, old but very neat, black pants, funny shoes; small glasses perched upon a large nose and a top hat that had dancing kittens playing with birds around its maroon self. His ears were larger and longer than norm, and his skin a strange blue, but what I’ll never get out of my head was his perpetually smiling face.

“Do you wish to see her again?” He asked me sweetly. His mannerism was relaxed, as he gripped his pumpkin headed umbrella with his gloved hands.

I saw no harm in answering this question with an answer I saw fit, “I already see her, she’s on the table.”

The strangest of men chuckled, a hearty chuckle at that, before replying; “I can bring her back to life, I can override science. Just give me her name. You can call her back, you.”

His voice, so sweet, sung to my heart, but a rounded my shoulders and slung my head.

“No,” I told him.

“No? Are you sure? You and your wife will be happy together again-“

I cut across him loudly, “The only one who will be acting God is I and God here!”

The man, if I can call him that, was silent for a moment, before giving a tiny sigh. He lifted up his umbrella straight to the ceiling and said sweetly; “Always the hard way-“

“-with the God-heads.” His voice became cruel and his face, cruel as well. The umbrella popped open, and he levitated momentarily. I was stunned, unable to move.

“This is what happens to humans who cross the Earl of Millennium!”

The room shook violently. There were many banging noises, like shots from a well-oiled gun. These bangs were accompanied with bullets, bullets that rained down from above.

I dived quickly under the wooden table, but it did not hold. It broke in many places, the liquids and glasses pouring onto me.

I saw the stone, in the corner of my eye, and so did the Earl. We both saw it slide along the table and directly into the still on burner. With a boom worthy of a cannon, the stone exploded into many pieces. It covered me, painful as it was, with its fine red powder, spraying everywhere, destroying bullets that showered down.

I waited until my breath was regular again to venture a peek. He was gone, that Earl, and my lab was a hideous bullet hole and red powdered covered mess. But I was alive, though my wife was not.

My skin itched, so I scratched it, looking at my hand. The red stone was ruined…and yet.

I was saved by Red Earth, the Philosopher’s Stone. This is where I laughed louder than I ever had in my entire life, and I laughed loudly, and would continued to do so, because I was alive.

mario72486
25th August 2007, 10:55 PM
Red Earth


Destruction…..

Devastation…..

Despair…..

One could hear the screams of pain and terror…..

Hear the roaring of flames burning everything in sight…..

A great beast saw and heard all of this, the carnage it had caused. It was a dragon, unlike any ever seen before. Its body was over fifty feet long from head to tail. Its wings were enormous, stretching out forty feet in either direction. Several rows of spikes grew out of its back. Its limbs were long and strong, each ending in razor-sharp claws. Its scales were a dark red, with hints of ash-gray skin on its stomach and long neck. The top of its head was adorned with seven diamond-like structures.

Its most horrifying feature had to be its eyes. They were red, but a far deeper shade than its scales. The shade was like blood, as if they had the same concentration and flowing tendency. They were full of malice, all of it focused on one thing.

Humanity.

In this day and age, dragons were a rare sight. Very few remained, the beasts having little or no contact with any others of their kind. They were shunned by humans. They were hunted down and killed by the hundreds, by the thousands.

But why?

All the dragons have been doing was living out their lives, struggling to survive in the natural world like any other creature. Life became difficult for them with the loss of territory and food. As a result, they had to adapt.

As a result, they came into direct contact with humanity. They dwelled in the humans’ domains, fed on their livestock, killed them if they threatened their existences. But one must understand that it wasn’t the dragons’ faults at all.

Humans have a natural tendency to dominate whatever area they step foot in, claiming it for themselves. Anything proving to be hazardous to their health, threatening in terms of livelihood, or simply in the way of what they wanted to accomplish, had to be dealt with. Mountains were conquered to give perfect sight of the world around them; forests were cut down to make room for farmland; animals were killed for food and/or because they were dangerous. All of this had affected the dragons immensely. Loss of habitat and humanity’s fear of being ‘burned alive’ or ‘eaten in a single gulp’ had brought the beasts to the edge of extinction.

The dragon looked over the destruction. This area was once a farming village, where hundreds of humans thrived on the land. Many of the young ones dreaming of becoming knights or members of the aristocracy lived here. The land was lush and green, the soil perfect for planting crops for the yearly harvest. A river flowed nearby, providing life-sustaining water.

But now, there was nothing but chaos.

The entire area was ablaze, fires burning fiercely. Thick black smoke rose into the air, blocking the sun from shining through. It was as if the fire had swept across the land like a giant gust of wind. Any building that hadn’t collapsed would come down upon themselves eventually. The plant matter was perfect fuel for the continuing inferno. The river bordering the village was all but dried up. Any human who wasn’t instantly killed by the blast of fire was surely roasting alive, pleading to whatever divine being they believed in for death.

The dragon could swear that the earth had turned red. But it knew the fires would soon burn up the last of its fuel, leaving the plain scorched and in ruin. It also knew that it wouldn’t be long before other humans learned of what transpired here. They would link the devastation to itself, or another of its kind.

One way or another, another dragon was going to die.

It raised its head and gave a roar of anguish at the thought, the sound reverberating for miles. Crimson flames spewed out of its mouth with as much ferocity as the ones that caused this tragedy. Knowing that wretched humans would be its executioners made it far more enraged than anything. Its actions would bring the species another inch closer to oblivion, and there was nothing it could do about it.

It recalled how one dragon viciously killed a group of humans because they themselves had killed its one and only offspring, leading to it being slaughtered by vengeful warriors. Another had died defending its territory from invading men. That’s why it hated humans so much. These foolish creatures believed that every dragon was out for bloodlust, hungering for nothing but pain and despair. They never took into account that there could be another reason behind it all.

It had to escape, find a safe haven, a place out of humanity’s reach. It wished it could speak the language humans spoke, for then it’d be able to explain itself, explain that it was all a mistake, a terrible accident…..

Come on…..

Try to understand…..
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
……….
………………..all this dragon did was sneeze…..

darktyranitar
31st August 2007, 09:36 AM
Right. So here's a bit of something I wrote for the 50th Independence of Malaysia. Thought I'd post it here.

EDIT: Word count: 2475 words



Merdeka!

"Without moral and intellectual independence, there is no anchor for national independence." - David Ben-Gurion.


“Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two… one…”

On the stroke of midnight, 31st of August 2007…

“Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!”

The sky was then filled with firework, as the street was filled with people, noise, and – for a brief moment – insanity.


Merdeka – freedom, liberty, independence. The definition and the scope of the word is quite wide, but for now, we shall look upon the independence of Malaysia (a country formerly named Malaya).


Come, let us take a walk down a road in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia…

It was ten in the morning. The street is busy as usual, filled with so much life and activity. It was that you noticed the different group of teenagers on the street: there was the gothic group – clad in Victorian-era clothing, and a lot of make-up – and there was the biker group – they are illegal motorcycle racer, or ‘mat rempit’ as they like to be called – and some a few who positively have a punk-ish look – Mohawk style hair, or no hair at all, with mean and serious looking accessories – and an assortment of the none-of-the-above.

You approach the latter group, thinking that they can provide you a good answer for this one question:

What does merdeka means to you?

You were quite disappointed with the answers.

“What, merdeka’s on the thirty first of August-lah! Public holiday what! (the word lah is something of a local slang, which is always used as a suffix. E.g. “I know-lah”)

While some, whom you notice was beaming with happiness, answered:

“Merdeka? Merdeka was yesterday, man! We’ve finished SPM yesterday! (SPM = an exam that is equivalent to high school final exam) Merdeka! Whoo-hoo! Merdeka!”

There you go.

Well… guess it won’t make much different whether you are asking the youth of… say, American, Saudi Arabian, or French (well, that is actually untrue; for starter, the date of Independence Day for every country is different, and secondly, merdeka is a malay word).

Excuse the nonsense there.


The year is now 2007. It has been a long fifty years since Malaysia has achieved her independence. The starting point of the invasion of a foreign force took place way before that – after the reign of Kesultanan Melayu Melaka (roughly translated as Malaccan Malay Royalty), which ended somewhere in the 1400s. First, there was the Portuguese, and after that, the British. They are no more than invaders who intend on monopolizing the Malayan’s economy as much as possible, and they did a good job at that.

There were of course a lot of skirmishes that took place – attempts to dislodge them from the Malayan’s earth – but they did not prevail. We then lived under their oppression, and for a while, all is quiet.

And then there was the Japanese, an altogether different type of invader. They were the one that wanted domination and territory; they intended on making a region that is free from the control of the western force.

The Malaya land, once bloodied from those small skirmishes, is once again bloodied.


*****

Shortly after midnight, September 8, 1941. Kota Bharu, Malaya.

A group of Indian soldiers were guarding the beaches of Kota Bharu. It wasn’t clear what they were doing during the patrol – they could be talking, discussing on the possibilities of them encountering the Japanese army, or they could be smoking, trying to keep awake during the patrol.

Then, towards the distance, they saw three large shadows that were just close to the coast of Kota Bharu; they could make out that they were ships, as they dropped their anchors.

This was the IJN – Imperial Japanese Navy – transport ships, and they are landing approximately 3 Km from the coast of Kota Bharu. The ships are the Awagisan Maru, the Ayatosan Maru and the Sakura Maru, and combined, each of them carries approximately 5200 troops from the Takumi Detachment, commanded by Major-General Hiroshi Takumi, who was on board IJN transport Awajisan Maru.

But that was not all; no, there were more. And they were advancing…


It was an intense battle. Japanese casualties in the first and the second wave were heavy, but they made it through after destroying two pill box positions and supporting trenches.

Despite their heavy resistance, the Indian troops were forced to retreat.


*****

This is a story of the fallen brave hero who fought till the end of his life. This is a story about Lieutenant Adnan (1915 – 14th February 1942).


*****

The British and the Malay soldiers fought at the Battle of Pasir Panjang, at Pasir Panjang Ridge in the Bukit Chandu (Opium Hill) area for two days (12-14 February 1942), amidst enemy shelling and a shortage of food and ammunition.

Lieutenant Adnan led a 42-strong platoon from the Malay Regiment in the defense of Singapore against the Japanese invaders. The battle went of fiercely, and all sorts of weapons were used, including hand grenade and automatic weapons. A lot of soldiers died and a lot more were wounded – Lieutenant Adnan included – but with his steel will he held on and told the others to fight to their death.


According to Corporal Yaakob – one of the survivors, who was later awarded with the Medal Of Gallant – in the chaos of the battle, he fell on the bodies of the fallen soldiers. He was spared from the kill by pretending to be dead beside his dead friends, where he then witnessed how Lieutenant Adnan was killed in a horrific event. He watched how the victorious Japanese army then dragged the platoon leader away before putting him in a sack. The Japanese army then tied him to a cherry tree where he was then bayoneted to death. One source even spoken that his neck was slit.

After the fight ended, the Japanese army forbid anyone from lowering the body to be buried, and no one else dared to. A few sources even stated that the mutilated body was then burned to ash, but it was not really confirmed.


To those who died defending the country: rest in peace.


*****

The Japanese manage to triumph in the battle, as well as other battles in other South East Asian countries. They begin to rule Malaya starting from September 1942.

It was at that time that men were no different from monkey, being forced to climb up coconut trees with a katana prodding their back. You fail to climb, you lose your head. You fall down, the Japanese army will laugh for a while before they’ll either chop your head off, or, if they’re feeling merciful and manic, stab the katana down your buttock (or so I’ve heard).

As for the women, a lot of them got married early, because they know it is a lot safer to raise a family than being out there; they have heard enough stories on how the Japanese army would sometime rape young woman, and how the woman is sometime killed later on.

It is also the time when a lot of Japanese word was introduced (they even forced us to learn the Japanese language at school). One of the most common used phrase if ‘bagero’ (bloody fool). The Japanese army says this to us a lot.

It is not a surprise if a child was to say ‘bagero’ to a passing Japanese army, assuming that he can run real fast or hide real well after he had just spoken the word.


And then we received the news: Hiroshima and Nagasaki was bombed by atomic bomb. The deliverer of the instrument of destruction – nicknamed Fat Man and Little Boy – was a US bomber plane, Enola Gay. Thousands of lives perished, and those who survived to tell the tales bear scars from they received from that day (mutation, due to the radiation,

The Japanese army quickly retreated from the South East Asean countries; it was the Malaya’s citizen turn to shout ‘bagero’ to them.

One step closer to independence.


*****

And so the Japanese left the Malayan earth for good, but all’s not well, for the Communist – who were brutally hunted down during the Japanese reign of terror – had came out of their hiding place to wreak chaos. They were even worse than the Japanese; they killed more ruthlessly, and without remorse.

Some say that the earth is just as bloody as it is when the Japanese are here.

But by the combination of both the British and the Malayan force, peace was finally restored. The Communist was forced to retreat into the forest, where they slowly faded from existence.

That was when the local decided that they had enough being ruled by a foreign force, and so began the quest to achieve the independence of Malaya. It was a very long process, filled with a lot of planning, talking and compromise – after all, Malaysia is a multi-cultural country, and every race wants their rights in this country to be secured – but surprisingly, there is barely any skirmishes going about. In the end, British gave in, and Malaya was declared an independent country, starting from 31st of August 1957 and onwards. Malaya would then later be called Malaysia.

The earth definitely looked a lot greener now.


*****


Yes, that was indeed a historical event. The Malayan has managed to achieve their independence from the British – and it was done in a peaceful way, without any spill of blood. Alas, people have forgotten just how hard life was for us before we gained our independence; for them, the story of independence was something you only look upon when history’s exam is just around the corner, or during the 31st of August

Then they go to sleep and wake up late the next morning – it is a public holiday on the 31st of August, after all. After they woke up, took a bath etcetera, they will turn on the TV (there was nothing else to do, right?)

They saw that the National Day Parade at Dataran Merdeka was broadcasted live, the street filled with people – the one involved in the parade and spectators alike.

In their mind, they are laughing silently. “Good thing it’s not me out there, parading for the rest of the day, under the hot sun…”


*****

Meanwhile, in Palestin, a child has just woke up from a wonderful dream, in which he dreamt that he was living in peace with his family and friends.

His name is Fathi, and he has a dream to be a doctor, but that does not matter anymore.

He had lost everything: his home was mowed down, his father was killed, his mother and sister were taken away, and his friends – those who weren’t killed – had moved out along with their family… not only that, he has also lost his eyesight after a sniper’s bullet went through his head.

He noticed that it was somehow a lot quite than usual… He began to felt his way around – he had slept in his friend’s house – and called out for his friend. There was only the echo of his voice bouncing back to him.

Even if the boy still has his eyesight, he would not have noticed the sniper that were lining up on top of the buildings. The sniper have gotten rather restless these few days; he had witnessed his fellow comrades taken out by suicide bombers and AK-47 alike, and he had took the life of those killers as well. But yet… he felt as if it was not enough. He need, no, wanted to wipe out the entire Arabian race. And the boy came just at the right time.

He grinned, and with ease, he pulled the trigger. The bullet caught the boy’s head, and the boy was killed, along with all his hope and dream. Later, only a patch of red earth remained to show that someone was killed right there.


*****

We are living in an independent country, free from the oppression of others. We are considered lucky; we do not have to be a refugee in our own country, and we don’t have soldiers patrolling our neighbourhood, with their guns pointed on our face.

But still…


The earth is definitely bloodied once again. You might not notice it, but it is starting to gain a red hue.

If you look at Malaysia, you’ll see that it is true: you can hear news of how woman and girls are brutally raped, before they are killed mercilessly. You can hear news of how sick and twisted the mind of some people, resorting to brutal killing method that includes burning, exploding, and chopping up the victim. You can hear news of how people are killed by snatch thief and robbers.

Which goes to show that physically, they are independent, but mentally, they are not.

Watch what the youth of today are up to.

What do you get out of motorcycle racing (and illegal at that)? You’ll either die in an accident – with your brain blown out on the road – or the other envious biker will beat you to death over your so-called ‘impressive stunt’. Dead.

What do you get out of becoming a junkie? You take some drugs in. Then you take some more. Then you want more. You begin stealing, robbing, begging – all for more money to get yourself more drug. In the end, you’ll either die either during your trip to steal the electrical cable (they fetch a decent amount of money) or from AIDS. Dead.

What do you get by having sex with your boyfriend? You become pregnant, he’ll disappear, and you are left with a baby and a suspicious family. You quickly aborted the baby in secrecy. Dead.


*****

Somewhere deep in a rubber plantation out of the reach of the city, not long after midnight of 31st of August…

A group of ‘mat rempit’ were taking turn in raping a girl they had just hitched with them after their ride at Dataran Merdeka. Merdeka? Yes, this is merdeka: freedom to do anything they want!

They didn’t think of the implication of their act. All that they ever thought through the whole event was how good it really felt, and how they can’t wait to do it again. In the meantime, there’s the syabu (a local name for crystal meth) to keep them company.

Merdeka indeed.


*****

They say that you’ll never miss something until it’s gone. If that is so, then it might take a war or another invasion to remind us the importance of independence and the tribulation suffered by those who strive to ensure that we earn a peaceful surrounding.

If the earth is symbolized as a canvas, this is what it would look like: a green and brown area that is barely distinguishable among blood that was splattered all over it.

Our blood.

Weasel Overlord
31st August 2007, 02:24 PM
*shazzams in* Oh, what a sorrowful turnout this is! And I thought there would be more people entering this time, too.

Yes, I am almost too late. There you go.

Word Count: 1089



Emet of the Clay






They say that I have no soul. How can a made creature have a soul, after all? I am nothing but the red, red earth that they moulded me from; streaky in places from uneven firing and with more than a few badly filled-in cracks in my bodywork.

I have no eyes that can truly be called eyes; for they are not made of flesh and ligaments.

I have no heart that can be called a heart; for in my chest lays only a lonely scrap of parchment, creamy in its oldness, its sacred charcoal lettering stark against the fade.

I have no brain that can be called a brain. All I have are my words, writ in sacred Hebrew. No heart, no brain, no thoughts.

Except for the fact that I think. I live, if you can call it living, to work. Totally unable to disobey my makers, I labour tirelessly until told to pause, to rest. For I cannot tell myself to stop, no matter how much I may crave the silence of rest – as much as a made creature can crave anything at all.

I don’t feel
I don’t eat
I don’t sleep
I don’t live *

My words mean “truth” in the ancient Hebrew tongue, for it is true that I cannot lie, or disobey, and in that respect, I suppose I am truth itself. I am immutable; the weather means nothing to me, people are as straws before a heavy gale if I am ordered to plough them down, though I have never enjoyed that task. They may think that I do not feel, and I may not be meant to feel, but how can any sentient being not feel the sickening crunch of bones cracking beneath fire-hardened red clay? How can I not see the blood staining my clay redder and redder? Though I do not have a heart to call my own, though my parchment words do not beat to send blood rushing through my body, I still know what it is to feel for a death.

I will survive for an eternity; death will never come to call for me, to take me away to some mysterious heaven while my body decomposes back into the red earth from which it was made.

I have already been alive for what seems like an eternity. Day in, day out, I work. Digging, building, guarding, smashing, busy busy busy, all for the profit of my master and makers. Every day, that is, except for this last one of mine. This yesterday, one seemingly unimportant in a long string of yesterdays, changed me – yet I know not whether to be grateful or whether to weep in anger and pain for what they did to me.

A pair of ancient-looking humans had gathered around me as the sunlight dwindled on my yesterday, chattering in excited yet hushed voices. They were careful to speak so low that I could not hear the nature of their speech, and I paid them no mind for some time. The doings of humans had never interested me overmuch, outside the orders of my master. But it was when I felt – yes, felt is the word I must use, for I most certainly did feel something – a scoring in my clay; an insistent pressure that maddened me, though I had previously felt nothing.

This new sensation crashed over me, and I lifted the affected hand to my face to see what had happened.

My eyes must have glowed most fierce at that moment, as I took in the extent of the damage to my arm.

I had new words.

Ancient Hebrew, and I could do nothing but stare and stare.

“Think,” it read, in that square script that resonated so deeply within me. Think. And below that more of the familiar writing read “feel”, and connected to that one, like some sort of spidery tree, read “know”.

I wondered who these people were who had done this to me, and I peered down at the two men curiously, and with a new awareness of my own feelings that was both amazing and horrifying in the same breath. They both held tools for carving that I recognised as knives, only these had a wider edge, for scraping out clay. I had a sudden memory of my master using one of these tools, many yesterdays ago, and I was struck by a sudden realisation of exactly how many yesterdays I had survived through. Far too many to count, that was for sure.

But I liked the look of these tools, and these old men looked as if they meant no harm, and so I allowed them to continue their work until some hours later my arms and chest looked like a lattice of complex Hebrew words; all they could think of that associated with living creatures.

When they had finished their work, they faded away into the night, and I was left to stare at my arms, my hands, my chest in wonder. I traced the words with a steady earthen finger, tasting the sound of each one in my mouth.

Speak.

Live.

Love.

Remember.

Sleep.

Think. Each word glowed red in the darkness, filling with the magic of ancient times before my own glowing coal eyes. I knew things, I could consider my situation, my life; for it finally was a life that could be called a life, and my mouth could form words as if I were human, and breathing with life. And my chest swelled with love for the brief humans I knew now, and had known, oh so achingly long ago. They were but tiny flashes of memory as they winked into and out of existence, leaving me, and just me, always alone and continuing, with no sign of age or decay.

I know that I will never die. My red clay is unending; permanent in the most truthful sense of the word. The only way I could die would be for my original words to be altered in such a way that they ended me. Emet** is so easily altered to met; they had made me that way, in case of disobedience, or if I ever outgrew my usefulness.

I know that I will forever lumber through time. Aware, completely unique and alone, oh always alone. But then, I would always have wandered alone, working endlessly as time passed me by.

But now. Now, I think.

Now I feel.

Now I love.

Now I live.

--

* Lyrics taken from the song “ATWA” by System of a Down, off the album Toxicity.
** “Emet” means “truth” in Hebrew, and “met” means dead. In the legends of golems, when the person wanted to kill a golem, they simply erased the “e” of “emet” to alter it to “met”, which stopped the golem from working; in essence, killing it.

Pichu Luver
31st August 2007, 10:13 PM
*zooms in* Weeeeeeeeee so um yeah, I'm very late but what the heck, let's give this a try.

Edit: Um guess I should put the word count in? Oo''

Word Count: 1840

Racing Lighting

"You're never gonna catch me!"

The little girls laugher carried on the breeze to her mother who was watching wistfully. A t-shirt lay forgotten in her arms and she watched an Electrike cheerfully yapping after her daughter. He bounded down the trail to the beach, and none to carefully. He tripped near the bottom and rolled down the remainder of the grassy hill. Before the child could get too worried though, he leapt to his feet and jogged over to her. The girl, relieved, collapsed into a fit of giggles at the red dirt covering his fur.

The woman smiled as the Electrike shook himself vigorously. The girl giggled some more and copied him, making her very dizzy. As she stumbled around, the Electrike jumped around her, yipping happily. Her mother went back to taking laundry off the line, confident the Electrike, for all his playfulness, would take care of her little Audrey.

There was a slight chill to the breeze, a sign that winter would soon be on its way. The large fluffy clouds occasionally blotted out the sun, swiftly moving out to sea. The grass rustled in the breeze, causing flashes of light to waver down the length of the beach. Quite like the waves crashing onshore. The swishing of the long grass was very relaxing and the woman sat on a bench. She closed her eyes and listening to the sounds around her, remembering a day long ago.

~ ~ ~

The waves crashed against the red sand of the beach, the dull grey clouds very low in the sky. The air was quite cool and wet. Threatening a heavy downpour at any moment. The beach stretched far off into the horizon in either direction. A few houses dotted the land far from the water, for fear of storm surge. The wind pushed the grass flat against the ground at points. A good storm was coming but that didn't stop two teens from being outdoors.

The two girls thundered over the hill, galloping their two Ponyta's down the trail that ran parallel to the beach. They laughed and whooped, not caring at all for the approaching storm. They were without saddles as they had snuck out of their houses and had just paused long enough to get a pair of bridles.

The Ponyta's, feeling just as exuberant as their riders, tossed their heads. They jumped over simple dents in the ground in their revelry. Their riders laughed just as much at their antics, as their own joy to be out galloping on a day when they should be inside.

The trail split ahead of them and the turned their mounts toward the beach, and they happily obeyed. In two large bounds they were on the beach, the girls reining them in to a rather bouncy walk. Bouncy, as the two Ponyta were prancing more then walking and jumping at the silliest thing in their high spirits.

The red sand here was famous throughout the country. The beach stretched for miles in either directing and made it great for racing on. Many tournaments were held in this small village just for that very reason. Most of the Pokémon people kept here could be raced as it was once of the few ways to make money.

Darker clouds were on the horizon to the west, directly behind the girls as the Ponyta's jigged their way down the beach. As the girls chatted (and tried to control their mounts into a general straight line), thunder rumbled in the distance.

The brunette's mare jumped sideways and squealed, not really afraid, but taking any excuse to act like a goof. The red head laughed and her stallion just snorted, but continued to prance. He was very eager to get home now. His flames flared brightly for a moment as thunder rumbled again. The mare skittered sideways as he tossed his head.

The stallion's rider patted his neck and smiled, "Guess we really should be heading home eh Daiki?" she said and he nodded, snorting again.

"Hey Evelyn, what do you say? Race home? One last practice before the Red Dune Derby?" asked the brunette, her short locks blowing across her face in the wind.

Evelyn smirked, her long hair wisely held back into a tail. She raised an eyebrow and said, "Well sure Tamsin, not that your Akane has any hope of beating Daiki here. His father won the Red Dune Derby."

Akane reared slightly and hoped forward, looking at Evelyn with a challenging gaze. Daiki, much more dignified, just arched his neck proudly and only flicked an ear as the thunder rumbled again, closer this time. Akane crow-hopped sideways and flicked a worried glace as the clouds lit up from the lightning.

Tamsin looked down at Akane, annoyance now showing in her green eyes. She turned her mare to point straight down the beach and halted her. Evelyn halted Daiki beside her, her brown eyes showing amusement, "Little trouble Tamsin?"

"No." She said and raised her head, "We beat you last time and we'll beat you again. We'll be the ones to win the Derby this year. Right Akane?"

The mare bobbed her head, prancing a little. Evelyn just looked down the beach, and leaned forward over Daiki's neck. She could feel his muscles tensing beneath her legs, getting ready to explode into life.

"On the next thunder we go? All right?" she said, all her focus on the little house far down the beach.

Tamsin nodded and knelt forward as well.

They didn't have long to wait and as a great booming crash was heard behind them, the two Ponyta's sprung into life. Both of them reared up, their back legs digging into the sand as they rushed forward.

Evelyn felt Daiki leaping up as she heard the thunder and she grinned in delight. She leaned far forwards to keep in balance with him as he ran forwards. Once his front hooves were back on the ground she straightened a little and yelled encouragement to him. She felt his legs churning madly beneath him, each stride thrusting him forwards, faster and faster.

Evelyn's arms worked back and forth, to keep from jabbing him in the mouth as his head bobbed in time with his gallop. She could feel every vibration as his feet hit the ground; relishing the short pauses between each stride when all four feet were off the ground. The faster he went, the less noise his hooves seemed to make as they touched the earth for increasing shorter periods. A stream of red sand flew out behind them, reminiscent of the wake a boats produces at speed.

She whooped and punched the air with her hand, looking over at Tamsin who was enjoying it just as much as she. Evelyn grin widened as she noticed Akane falling ever so slightly behind Daiki.

"Come Daiki, look! We're winning! Just a little bit more!" She yelled to him, and knelt lower over him to make herself as small as possible.

He lowered his head and dug in a little more, pulling a length ahead. His breath was coming out in quick snorts, as he strived for even more speed. The grass was whipping past so fast it was nothing more then a green blur in her peripheral vision. The sand came and rushed out behind them and Evelyn felt like she could race the very lighting behind them and win.

She could see her house clearly now but she felt Daiki begin to slow a little. She shouted encouragement, but his stride faltered. She looked back over her shoulder and saw Akane starting to catch up.

"Come now Daiki!" She yelled to him, "We know how to fix this!"

Evelyn turned Daiki's head ever so slightly to the right and moved her left leg back and her right leg just a little forward, squeezing the reins for a second.

Daiki answered immediately and switched leads. There was a brief moment where he leapt higher into the air, suspended and when he came down his right leg was leading, giving his tired left leg a break.

He surged forward once more, determined to win. He flattened out, stretching as far as he could. Clods of red sand were flinging out behind him and Akane had move to the right to get out of their way.

This cost her some speed and Daiki flashed past Evelyn's house, a full two lengths in the lead. Evelyn straightened up and whooped, slapping Daiki on the neck and laughing in her joy.

She slowly pulled him up into a jog. Daiki, even though he was tired and breathing hard, pranced and arched his neck, whinnying happily. Akane and Tamsin came up beside them, a good deal more sedate. Tamsin though was a good sport.

"Bout time you finally won! Maybe you got a chance at the race tomorrow!" She said, and patted Evelyn on the back.

Evelyn smiled and laughed, "Well we won't let you get back your winning streak without a fight!"

Tamsin just shook her head and smiled. "We'll see. See you tomorrow!"

Evelyn waved as Tamsin and Akane turned and trotted a bit up the beach, headed for home. The clouds above them were a dark grey and the first few splats of rain hit the two of them.

Evelyn swung off Daiki's back as he snorted in distaste. He was still breathing hard and Evelyn could see the rain steaming as soon as it hit his back he was so hot. His flames were still strong however so she knew though hew as tired, he was alright.

He took off his bridle and kissed him on the nose before flinging her arms around his neck in a hug.

"Great job Daiki, we'll show 'em won't we?"

She felt him nod and she backed away as the rain really started coming down. Daiki was a rather strange sight as the rain was streaming away before he could get wet, and his flames had a strange halo of rain around them and the water evaporated as it hit them. The sand beneath his feet was still dry, but the earth around him had darkened to a brick colour.

She smiled and patted him once more before returning him and running for the house. Unfortunately her mother was standing there, frowning heavily, but nothing could spoil her spirits on this day.

~ ~ ~

Evelyn came back from her daydream as she heard her daughter calling for her.

"Mommy look!" She was shouting and pointing down the beach.

Two riders were running down the beach, urging their mounts to go faster and faster. The Electrike had sensibly moved Audrey back so she was on the very edge of the grass. His muscles were quivering though and he looked very much as is he wanted to join them. Evelyn smiled and looked at her daughter's entranced face and shook her head.

"Better make sure I hide the bridles on a stormy day when she gets older."

mistysakura
31st August 2007, 10:17 PM
Dusk

The first rays of dawn peep out from the horizon. A kingfisher soars overhead. An arid breeze whips by, rustling the viridian leaves, temporarily disturbing the landscape. Then all seems still again – save red ants burrowing under the shade of boulders, the slither of a snake passing between haunts, the shriek of a cockatoo kilometres away. Save she.

Her form rises from a clearing, amid eternities of sand and granite. The sands shift day by day, trickle by trickle, so slowly even the most patient observer could watch for days and remain blind. Not too slowly for she who has watched over this land since its conception, since she herself drew her first breath. While spiders have dried out in their webs, magpies have become prey to snakes’ fangs and generations of human corpses have rotted away beneath the dirt, she has survived, her sandstone exterior eroded by the winds perhaps, but still living, voicing invisible breaths beneath the echoes of the land, subtler than a hare’s paws in the sand.

She stands, a sculpture of jagged rock, spreading her weight across the sand, her majesty imposed as far as words will travel. Flock to her feet the humans do, today like every day, their grotesque forms crawling on the sand, their vehicles throwing up pebbles and dirt. Their chatter and barter deafens her ears; their artificial light burns her eyes. Although they pay no attention to the blood caking their fingernails, its metallic tang does not go before her undetected.

Blood on the hands of the slaughterers of her children and the kidnappers of her children’s children.

She gazes upon a sea of strange faces: a family of three, perspiring pink under the sun’s rays; a lone figure, face in shadow, wrinkles giving him the appearance of shed skin; a crowd of youths, dusty packs upon their shoulders, water bottles and dirty clothes escaping their pockets. In her eyes, they all merge into a haze, for one can only look into so many pairs of unseeing eyes, can only try so hard to search for specks of individuality, before oneself turns blind to the difference between one villain and the next. Some serpents allow their poison to work a quick death while others strangle the air from a victim’s lungs. All human murderers kill the same.

They gawk at her beauty, as though surprised nature’s hands, toiling in this forgotten stretch of land, have nurtured a monument to rival their concrete slabs. They have razed a boulevard to come to her, stripping the earth of its entangled gum tree roots and resilient ‘weeds’. They have rechristened her as they would an orphaned child rescued by their hands – she who has witnessed their fleeting generations, she who has borne countless children of her own. Her false name now lies crudely painted onto a signpost driven into the ground, for the world to see. That is not the worst indignity.

One by one, they approach her feet, armed with walking sticks. And they scale her. They dig their heels into her spine as they jostle to reach the plateau, her weary shoulders. Their hiking spikes cover her skin with fresh welts; their sticks disfigure years of windswept stone, leaving immutable scars. They drive their weak muscles, pant their ragged breaths, draw upon their shallow, shallow deepest reserves to reach the top, to admire the scenery – all the while unaware of the magnificent beast breathing beneath their feet.

But her spirit is yet to be conquered. Not when the bipeds scatter their trash and picnic remnants across her naked skin. Not when their picks crack her bones, not when they drill deep into her flesh, dig into her veins. Not when they impose upon her their monstrosity, a railing of dead timber, to make the conquest of her body all the easier. No; she must not abandon her domain while the trees grow and the lizards live. Besides, there is the ever-diminishing sliver of faith in her children’s survival; it lives on with every breath.

She is resigned to another day of torture, but as the midday sun blazes the skies, something catches her eye. At first it barely registers, but she finds her gaze returning to the boy. Could it be? His face, arms and legs are dyed that same brown, the colour of the muddy banks where the platypus floats. He looks up; now there is no doubt: his eyes, dark as charcoal, have the same depth as the eyes of her children did as she last saw them, being dragged away by the intangible forces of governance. Her heart leaps, though the humans she bears feel not a tremor. Do they return?

Her hopes begin to waver. With the boy are a couple and a girl-child with her mother’s sky blue eyes and her father’s sun-bleached hair. A gold watch flashes on the father’s wrist as he saunters, one hand carrying a bag of sandwiches and juices; the mother’s straw hat, threaded with wilted roses, complements her full-length dress. The boy chases his alien sister in a game of tag, she giggling when he swats his hand at her and misses. He barely notices the ochre dirt on which he is standing, which his feet kick up to form wispy clouds. Surrounded by all that flows through his veins, he knows only his little game. “Got ya!” he shouts as his hand reaches the girl’s shoulder. At that moment, his shoe runs into an unexpected rock and the two tumble to the ground together. The girl begins to cry. Her mother immediately runs over, cooing and fussing over her white smock, now dirt-stained.

She hears the father call to them from ahead. The boy runs laughing to him, out of her line of sight; the woman tugs at her daughter’s hand. The boy’s voice rings out again. “How long before we make it to the top, Dad?” he asks.

Her heart grows cold. “I don’t know, Tim,” comes the reply. “What do you think?”

“Tomorrow?”

The father laughs. “Well, I’m sure you’ll get there before me, you little sprinter.” She can hear no more from them. Human feet, moving and still, continue to weigh her down. They are all indistinguishable, save one small pair taking its first steps across her body, bounding with enthusiasm. She knows they are the boy’s. Although his soles, dancing across her soil, are physically no different from those around him, the connections between her and him, between him and her earth, are as tangible as the burning rays of sunshine. She shivers in excitement – and in rage and revulsion. Never has she been this close to one of her children.

Never before has one of her children dared to touch her.

Throughout the weathered years, she has watched from afar as her people drive spears into their prey; she has seen boys turn into men, anointed by her rituals. They have always been one with her; every movement of her children across the land touches her. But they would never dream of actually touching her, let alone violating her body with their burden. For a moment, she almost wishes she had never set eyes on the boy. She wishes she could open up and swallow him alive, feel his traitorous body lie cold in the earth.

The boy continues on, oblivious. The girl has ceased her weeping, and their voices chatter excitedly, occasionally breaking into nonsensical nursery rhymes. Her insides twist in anger. To hear a child of hers speak this strange tongue pains her ears. He ought to be belting his first chants to the sky, learning her legends, etching them into the earth. He ought to be watching his mother distinguish fruit from poison, skinning his father’s captures. He should be here with his true parents.

Yet, something in that young voice touches her. As the two break into a refrain of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, it strikes her. It is innocence, the same exuberance living through generations of her children. Perhaps even more pronounced, for in a world where food is handed to him on a platter, he has never known the price of survival. But to see him ignorant of, no, trampling on the very essence of his being…

A scream interrupts her thoughts. She can feel the boy’s tiny feet scrabbling for a hold, dislodging a cascade of pebbles. His fingers scrape at the rocks as he falls. She forgets the wounds inflicted on her as he kicks frantically, his song turned into a piercing shriek. In her mind’s eye she sees his eyes drained by terror. Her breath pauses. After all these years, waiting to see one of her children alive…

The boy’s arm wraps around an outlying eucalyptus branch. She clings desperately to it, willing it to hold, but it is futile. It is ripped from her body; splinters fly. The boy seems set to plummet again; however, the branch has slowed him down enough for him to dig his fingers into one of her quartz-lined fissures. He lays there, exhaustion overtaking his will.

She feels the pattering of feet gathering around the edge where the boy has fallen. His sister’s tears sink into the ground. The girl’s mother peers down the rocky slope, white-lipped. The crowd presses in around her, craning their necks for a better view; pushing the woman to the edge. She hears one of them mutter “Abo”, and walk away.

Her fire is reignited. Her body flares the faintest russet, seemingly a trick of the light. Everything in her longs to lash out immediately and send the man to a free-falling death, but her power is not to be used in such ways. Though the man does not know it, he is now cursed black. It is only a matter of time before the black is overtaken by crimson flowing from his every orifice. She must be patient. She smirks, the closest thing to a smile in a long time.

Perhaps the boy has sensed her energy, for his muscles tense, in an effort to drag him back up the slope. Smears of his blood seep into her soil as he crawls, fingers reaching for new holds. His foster father beckons. “Come on, Tim!” he calls. The crowd watches silently beside him, no doubt wondering when the boy’s luck will expire. The boy struggles on, the time it will take to reach the top the only question on his mind.

She feels the final exertion of his arms; his feet land safely on her ground. He looks up into the sea of faces. A few erupt in cheers, while something in his being makes others look away. He stares at the malevolent ones, uncomprehending – but this is forgotten as his mother wraps her arms around him. A moment ago, she, the upholder of her people’s ancestry, would have seethed. Now, she feels…

At the precise moment the sun touches the horizon, the four set foot on her shoulders. From this height, the boy’s eyes are open to everything. She imagines his gaze passing over the ancient bloodwoods, their branches swaying in the wind. She wonders if he hears the lorikeets laughing as they circle the trees, settling down to a night’s rest. She wonders if, when he sets his eyes upon the paintings and sculptures their people have created in a past age, he feels anything. She feels a rush of affection for him, not only for the blood rushing through his veins, but for his innocence, his ignorance, his bliss. She laments the very same things.

The sun sinks ever lower, dyeing the horizon vermillion. She begins to glow with it, a dull red tinge creeping into view. The glow grows; the sun illuminates her contours, but the emotions spill from within. The dark brown of her generations; the glittering silver, slivers of future. All of this, overwhelmed by the rusty red of the earth, of love, of bloodshed, of sacrifice.

“It’s beautiful.”

As they begin their descent, the breeze calms. The eucalyptus leaves quieten their rustling. She feels her willing burden’s soft footsteps, and wishes him well. Perhaps one day he will lead her people back to her feet. For now, she watches on, forever waiting, as her glow fades into twilight.

2048 words

Note 1: The perfect title for this is 'Woman of the Earth', but I can't steal that, can I?
Note 2: Inspired by Powderfinger's 'Black Tears'.

mr_pikachu
1st September 2007, 01:02 AM
Well, I think the deadline has passed. Now that all entries have been accepted, all that's left is to wait for the judging. Thanks for entering, everyone, and good luck!

mr_pikachu
30th September 2007, 12:30 AM
We apologize for the delay. One of our judges went missing, so I served as an emergency substitute and did the second set of reviews today.

Anyway, without further ado... the results!





Lady Vulpix's ratings:

"Red Earth" - by Houndoom_Lover

Plot: 5/20 - There weren't any contradictions, but the plot wasn't quite hooking.

Originality: 1/10 - The point goes for the Earl's strangeness. Nothing was really surprising until the "Earl of Millenium" line, which left me wondering what that meant. From there onwards, the events weren't very clear.

Writing Style: 10/20 - The story flowed coherently and was easy to read for the most part, but it was all described rather plainly, as if it were being reported by someone who was not involved in it. The Earl's identity, as well as his motives and methods remain unrevealed, but nothing in the text suggested that they were supposed to be a mystery. It's as if the narrator assumed his visit was a normal occurrence, like being robbed might be. The introduction was interestingly written, though.

Spelling & Grammar: 8/10 - Almost one grammar, spelling or typing mistake per paragraph.

Characters: 2/15 - The characters didn't inspire any strong emotions towards them, and the narrator's own emotions were only reported in a detached manner. About the Earl, we don't know anything (or at least I don't).

Settings: 10/15 - Good descriptions of the setting. Not very original, but very well depicted.

Overall: 4/10 - It was consistent and had all the parts a standard story's supposed to have. It was properly written for the most part. But I felt it lacked something important... the aspect of writing you can't find in a textbook, and which makes the reader get involved in the story and want to read more.

A couple of questions:
1. The last ingredient of the formula didn't sound very scientific to me. Was comedy the intention?
2. How was it a win-win situation? 2 advantages in the best-case scenario is not the same as an advantage in every possible scenario.

Total: 40/100 -

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"Red Earth" - by mario72486

Plot: 5/20 - A few twists, but there wasn't much of a plot, was there? This was hard to rate, as it was mostly static. It had a lot of reflection, but nothing actually happened.

Originality: 8/10 - Still, the perspective and the issues it raised were quite original. Interesting view of both dragons and humans.

Writing Style: 20/20 - Good descriptions and overall writing style. It flowed smoothly and kept me interested.

Spelling & Grammar: 10/10 - No mistakes found.

Characters: 8/15 - I think the view from the dragon's perspective was nicely done, even if there wasn't much character development.

Settings: 11/15 - Interesting setting. No big surprises there, but it's easy to get dragged into it.

Overall: 7/10 - It could be a great beginning for a story, but as a one-shot it looks rather incomplete. There were no events, no changes of pace, no character interaction... as an introduction it would have been perfect, but as a stand-alone story it leaves me with a bit of an empty feeling.

Total: 69/100 -

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"Merdeka!" - by darktyranitar

Plot: 4/20 - Another tough one. This looks like an essay rather than a story. A strong and touching work of social criticism, but there's no clear plotline, just short fragments.

Originality: 6/10 - I think the images and the way you linked them were quite original, even if there were no plot twists and little personal creation outside the way of presenting the subject.

Writing Style: 20/20 - Interesting writing style and descriptions. Terrible images, but well described.

Spelling & Grammar: 7/10 - There were several grammar mistakes and changes of tense, but not enough to make it hard to follow.

Characters: 10/15 - I could relate to Fathi. The other characters were well described, but more like parts of the background than like people. If I may ask you a personal question... I was shocked at your description of the sniper. Was that taken from reality? Are there really people who shoot Arabian children, and who want to wipe out all Arabians? I know there are many who treat Jewish people that way. Do we really have that much in common?

Settings: 12/15 - Very good. Nothing really new, but very well described.

Overall: 8/10 - I wouldn't call it a story, but as an essay or critique I think it was very good.

Total: 67/100 -

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"Emet of the Clay" - by Weasel Overlord

Plot: 20/20 - Compact, but it has everything I would look for in a story. You've done it again!

Originality: 8/10 - The main plot twist was unexpected and exciting. I liked the conclusion too. The reflection about immortality and loneliness has been done many times, but this one had a positive tone, which gave me an idea of how important life was to Emet.

Writing Style: 20/20 - The writing style was really fitting, if a bit slow. But even the slow rhythm had a positive effect, in that it made me think of the way in which Emet must perceive things, and the way he perceived them before. The changes of pace were good for conveying emotions. I think this is a great example of how the phrasing and choice of words assist in telling the story and add strength to the content.

Spelling & Grammar: 10/10 - No mistakes found.

Characters: 15/15 - I liked the main character and especially his way of thinking about himself and about everything (I'm using male pronouns because I don't like using 'it' to refer to sentient beings, and Emet sounds more male than female). The other characters were vaguely outlined, but it was clear that the mystery was intended, from the wayEmet thought about them all once they were gone.

Settings: 9/15 - Not much is clear about the world this story is set in, except for the parts of it in which Emet was directly involved. Emet's view of it is interesting, and it's clear he's only just beginning to take an interest in most things, but as a consequence we don't get to know much.

Overall: 9/10 - Great story. It would have been interesting to learn more about that world and how things went on afterwards, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Total: 91/100 -

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"Racing Lighting" - by River

Plot: 10/20 - Nice introduction, nice rounded ending and good shifts between scenes, but I couldn't find any climax or plot twists.

Originality: 3/10 - There was creation involved in the characters and the settings, but the story introduces no original concepts and there were no surprises. I liked the title, though.

Writing Style: 11/20 - Good descriptions of the landscape and the motions, and the scene changes were nicely handled, although I think there was a bit too much (or misplaced) description inserted in the dialogues; it broke the flow of the conversation. And this is a vague impression, but I felt the speech used in the narration was much more formal than the situation it was describing. I felt a contrast between the content and the form of the narration. And I think there were too many paragraph breaks; that too broke the flow of the story: there were sequences of very short paragraphs which seemed to have been cut arbitrarily and I think they'd have gone better as one.

Spelling & Grammar: 9/10 - A few mistakes here and there.

Characters: 10/15 - You were good at conveying emotions, but I was still left with the impression of not knowing much about the characters.

Settings: 12/15 - Nothing really surprising or thought-provoking about the settings, but I think they were well composed and nicely described.

Overall: 6/10 - The story has some nice images, but it didn't leave me thinking (except for thinking of how to rate it). I enjoyed it, though.

Total: 61/100 -

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"Dusk" - by mistysakura

Plot: 12/20 - The story has some good images and touching parts, but some parts were confusing, especially the one about the curse. For most of the second half I didn't quite understand what was going on.

Originality: 10/10 - I must admit I'd never read anything quite like this. Interesting perspective, too.

Writing Style: 13/20 - The first few paragraphs were intriguing.The story in general was beautifully worded for the most part, even if I found it a bit gorey at some points, and a bit too confusing. I loved the paragraph that started with "But her spirit is yet to be conquered".

Spelling & Grammar: 10/10 - Once more, no mistakes found.

Characters: 8/15 - Interesting characters, but the distant perspective makes it hard to relate to the humans, and the main character's the most confusing of all in spite of her well-described emotions.

Settings: 7/15 - Interesting, but mostly unclear. Sorry!

Overall: 6/10 - I think it could have been a great story if the setting and the ending had been clear.

Total: 66/100 -

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mr_pikachu's Ratings




Red Earth
by Houndoom_Lover


Plot (11/20 points): Interesting. So the guy wanted to bring back his wife, huh? Can't say I blame him. The one thing that really confused me, though, was why the guy refused the help of the Earl when his own technique failed. Perhaps his pride as a scientist was at stake, and maybe that was more important to him than his love. Or perhaps, in keeping with the philosophy of equivalent exchange, he was worried about what it might cost him. But either way, it wasn't fully explained, and it really needed to be. It also might have helped to have a little more information about what exactly he did in the procedure, but the inexplicable plot twist was really the bigger problem.


Plot Originality (3/10 points): Sorry, but I have to give a low score for this one. This is far too similar to the premise of Full Metal Alchemist, despite the addition of this “Earl of Millennium.”


Writing Style (12/20 points): Not bad. I liked the overall tone you set, especially the scientific approach to resurrection (and, in some sense, to love). But the pace was far too fast at critical points. I know there was a word limit, but you might've been able to spend a little more time with moments like Pliny's eventual failure while removing some less important elements (like his identity and maybe some of the backstory, neither of which proved to be significant).


Spelling and Grammar (5/10 points): The errors here wouldn't be a big deal in a long piece, but there's not really a good excuse for errors like “these activity” (plural or singular?), “claimer,” “discomfortment,” and so on in a one-shot. A little more editing would've been very helpful.


Characters (10/15 points): The characters weren't all that important, but then again, they didn't need to be. The acts in question were the point of this story, so you probably could've gotten away with never naming anyone. Frankly, the only real problem I had was that the characters were given meager identities. It's fine to go with total anonymity or to fully establish a character, but splitting the difference by setting up a one-dimensional character really doesn't work. I would've preferred that they were never identified, because then the incomplete picture wouldn't have been such a big deal.


Settings (13/15 points): This was shown well enough to give us an impression of the work area; no major complaints here.


Overall Appreciation (7/10 points): Not a bad piece, but the emphasis probably should've been different. See my closing advice.


Final Result: 61/100 = % (as a percentage).


Closing Advice: When you're limited in the length of your writing, it pushes you to emphasize only the aspects that need emphasis and cast aside the rest. In this case, do we really need to know about Pliny's lineage? Do we even need to know his name? And is his initial sorrow important (especially considering how he eventually rejects the help of the Earl)? Had these aspects and some others been cut, you would've had far more room to set the mood of this piece, to explain what he was doing, to delve into his thoughts (which really could've been dramatic), and to show why exactly he rejected the help of the apparently willing savior who came before him. So remember, trim the fat, and give us only the meaty goodness that remains.


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Red Earth
by mario72486


Plot (18/20 points): Ooh, I like this premise! Great transition from humans' fear of dragons as stereotypically destructive beasts to a realization that the creatures are simply misunderstood. I find it very interesting how the humans are eventually portrayed as the antagonists, especially now that we have ever more movies coming out with a “humans vs. dragons; who will survive?” theme. Very good twist. My only complaint is that the sneezing at the end does throw the whole “humans are misguided” thing into question. If the dragons are unable to control their power, can you blame people for wanting them gone? Maybe that was part of the point, but it does take away just a bit of this piece's power.


Plot Originality (7/10 points): Okay, so dragons killing people isn't exactly original. And maybe the whole “misunderstood creature” thing is also a bit ordinary (think of Pokémon's Absol, for instance). Still, it was different enough to still be good and surprising to a fair degree. It wasn't as if it was used as a big twist in the end, but the unusual take on dragons was very good for setting the tone.


Writing Style (16/20 points): Pretty good overall. You did a great job with the dragon's imagery as well as the backstory of the species in general. I was kind of thrown off by the series of ellipses at the end, though. That wasn't necessary at all, and it made the piece look much more amateurish than it had previously. First of all, even when you use an ellipsis, it only consists of three “dots.” And second, you almost never want a series of them like this in a textual piece; it certainly wasn't warranted here. That hurt, if only because it damaged the overall dramatic tone.


Spelling and Grammar (6/10 points): You faltered a little here. While there weren't any persistent problems, I did notice several occasional errors like shifting to the present tense, mixing singular nouns with plural verbs, and other assorted issues. It was enough that a even a casual reader could well take note of it, so a little more proofreading might be warranted in the future.


Characters (13/15 points): Good characterization of the dragon. You did a particularly good job with using that point of view to also characterize both the people and dragons in general without ever having to show them. You made us sympathize with the dragons despite their incredibly fearsome appearance, and the people's character almost made me think of an environmentalist perspective (i.e. “Stop destroying the planet for your own ends!”). Again, the degree to which we should detest the people was called into question at the end, but this was otherwise strong.


Settings (13/15 points): This was good enough. Aside from knowing that the dragon accidentally turned a village into a wasteland, we really didn't need to get more than a glimpse of the setting. You did a good job with providing that. I did think the explicit statement that the earth appeared red seemed a little odd, almost like a blatant attempt to justify the entry under the theme (which, I might add, wasn't really necessary; the thorough imagery of the land burning was more than enough). But still, you did a pretty good job in this area.


Overall Appreciation (9/10 points): It was a good read. Pure and simple.


Final Result: 82/100 = % (as a percentage).


Closing Advice: You lost far more points than you needed to drop on spelling and grammar alone. Every little thing is magnified in a short piece, so it would help to make sure there's nothing obvious like that in the future. In contrast, your imagery was excellent, and the plotline made your characterization all the more profound. You certainly chose the right points to emphasize, and that's half the battle in a one-shot. But make sure your plot doesn't clash with your purpose (i.e. the reason this village was burned in the first place), and try to refine everything a little more next time. Very strong entry, but it was on the verge of magnificent.


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Merdeka!
by darktyranitar


Plot (14/20 points): Okay, this was a pretty good idea. We don't see many historical commentaries here, especially with such strong dramatic sentiments, so this was a nice change of pace. And nice work in showing the difference between the heroism of years past in contrast and the poor character of individuals today. Still, there weren't really any twists; from the start, most of the story was pretty clear. That's not such a big problem in this sort of piece as it might be otherwise, but it's still worth noting. A bigger issue was the general disconnect between segments of the plot. Each story was impressive on its own, yes, but at times the work seemed more like a collection of short stories rather than one cohesive piece. It may not have been possible to tie them together completely, but some greater sense of flow would have been nice.


Plot Originality (9/10 points): Again, this isn't the sort of thing we see very often, and it's a tale that most of us would never hear at all.


Writing Style (9/20 points): A lot of points were lost here, some of which was due to the influence of the spelling and grammar (see next section), which made the piece difficult to read. Additionally, there were several unnecessary phrases and sentences that were encapsulated from the rest of the text by parentheses in the style of author's notes. To put it bluntly, author's notes really shouldn't be used. Not only was the information given in these examples largely unnecessary, but even if it was useful, it should probably be shown in the text itself rather than using artificial constructs. Additionally, as mentioned in the plot section, the various stories seemed to be a little disconnected from one another. You're obviously giving a wide range of tales about these characters, but it seemed it all probably could've flowed a little more smoothly.


Spelling and Grammar (1/10 points): This was... a problem. The piece was actually quite difficult to read at times because of the myriad of errors. Individually, things like switching tenses, flip-flopping between the second and third person, substituting incorrect words, forgetting end punctuation, and using singular nouns/verbs in place of their plural forms (and vice-versa) might not be such a huge deal. But when all of those things and more are put together with a high degree of frequency, especially in such a short piece, your reader's eyes begin to glaze over no matter how good the work might otherwise be. Again, in a short work, every slight error is magnified. When mistakes appear every few sentences, they tend to overshadow the writing itself.


Characters (12/15 points): Because of this piece's style, it wasn't as important to describe individual characters in depth as it was to give a broad range of people across the country and throughout time. You did a pretty good job of that here.


Settings (13/15 points): While the physical setting wasn't described extensively (to be fair, it didn't need much description here), the overall culture of Malaysia and its past was demonstrated well. Since that's what mattered for the content of this piece, you'll get a high score here.


Overall Appreciation (6/10 points): It's a good idea, making a statement about the present by looking into the sacrifices that were made so that today's world would be possible. But it still needs quite a bit of refinement.


Final Result: 64/100 = % (as a percentage).


Closing Advice: Definitely work on the spelling and grammar. If you're writing a long piece, individual errors don't stand out quite as much because the other aspects have more time to develop and entrench themselves in the mind of the reader. But in a short story, you need to deliver a powerful point fast. If your reader is distracted by various missteps, you've already missed your opportunity. And make sure your plotlines flow well, too. It may have just been a one-time problem in this case due to the very nature of this piece, but if you find yourself jumping between unconnected plotlines in your other work, try to establish a greater connection between them or at least make each section last for a significant length of time.


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Emet of the Clay
by Weasel Overlord


Plot (17/20 points): Very unusual piece overall. It seems like most of the texts focuses on establishing the being itself rather than developing a plotline (although that's not a bad thing, especially since the imagery you developed worked hand-in-hand with the one event of the piece). Furthermore, the shortened plot was heavily emphasized so that the one thing that did happen was cast in great importance. I only have two small critiques: the carving itself could have been shown in greater detail so that we saw more of the process itself (and perhaps the changes within the clay beast as his exterior was being altered) instead of just the eventual aftermath, and you might have been well served to add some sort of a conclusion, whether it was the end of the golem or some great realization he drew from his experiences. But it was pretty good as it was.


Plot Originality (9/10 points): The concept of a golem is something you'll see from time to time in fiction, but it's not an extensively explored subject. I've personally never heard of giving a golem new life by writing new words on its body... nice twist!


Writing Style (17/20 points): You did a pretty good job here. I do think the notes at the end were unnecessary. If you were genuinely concerned about copying the lyrics, you could've mentioned that before the piece rather than making the note part of the work itself. As for the latter note, it was already pretty clear what you meant from the context. Aside from that, it was fairly solid.


Spelling and Grammar (9/10 points): Aside from a few very insignificant slips (such as overused commas), this was just about perfect.


Characters (13/15 points): The only character that particularly mattered here was the golem; even the odd carvers were relatively insignificant by comparison. Both the physical and mental aspects of the creature were portrayed quite well. Maybe you could've gone into a little more detail about a few choice humans, like the golem's creator, but other than that you did a good job.


Settings (11/15 points): This could've been stronger. While showing the setting wasn't entirely necessary, it would've added another layer of depth to this piece, and it could've been done easily by looking at the golem's work in greater detail. Still, it wasn't vital, so it's not too big of a loss.


Overall Appreciation (10/10 points): This was a very enjoyable piece to read. Nice imagery, and great introspection.


Final Result: 86/100 = % (as a percentage).


Closing Advice: I thought the idea behind this was very interesting and the imagery was quite good. Overall, a solid piece. It might've been helped to have a slightly more definite conclusion at the end, and packing a little of the setting into a few choice sentences might have pushed you over the top. But still, nicely done. You clearly put a lot of work into this piece.


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Racing Lightning
by River


Plot (14/20 points): Heh, that's Parenting 101 for you. Think of what you'd do and don't let your kids get away with it! It was nice how seeing her daughter playing triggered that happy (although perhaps a tad worrisome) memory. A solid plot overall. The main critique I have here is that it was a tad predictable... from the start, it was pretty clear what was happening. Now, if one of the characters had been caught in the storm, even if it hadn't ended disastrously, that might have made for a more intense story. A couple of twists may have helped.


Plot Originality (7/10 points): Overall, this was pretty standard fare. Mother sees child, reminisces, and learns something (or maybe just enjoys the memories). Sure, it's not as common as something like a trainer fic, but it's not original enough to really be remarkable either.


Writing Style (17/20 points): Pretty good. I liked the references to the wake of a boat and the emphasis on racing as both leisure and a way of making a living. The whole memory idea itself was also quite good. The need to train and win also contrasted nicely with the carefree present.


Spelling and Grammar (6/10 points): This could've been better. Simple mistakes like using an apostrophe for plurals and leaving it absent from possessives, switching homonym forms, and other one-time errors were scattered throughout this piece. Once again, small mistakes are magnified when there's not much text, so you really have to do your proofreading.


Characters (7/15 points): This could've been quite a bit stronger. None of the characters were really heavily emphasized; the only one who really came into the spotlight was Evelyn. And aside from her hairstyle, we only learned that she was a caring, wistful mother who used to ride horses. There wasn't much beyond that... unfortunately, most everyone was fairly one-dimensional.


Settings (14/15 points): This was easily the aspect that received the most focus. If anything, it may have been mentioned a little too much, as the dirt, rain, or thunder seemed to be reiterated every few sentences. But overall, good job with this.


Overall Appreciation (8/10 points): An enjoyable piece.


Final Result: 73/100 = % (as a percentage).


Closing Advice: This was the sort of fluffy piece that doesn't need the drama to be too serious (although a twist or two certainly would've helped). But characterization is still pretty important. It would've been nice to see more of the girls than just their rebellion and love of competitive riding. It's hard in such a short piece, but some aspects probably could've been trimmed a little. Slightly less emphasis on the setting, for instance, may have given you enough room. Also, make sure you don't let spelling and grammar get in the way. Every time your reader notices a problem with that, it wrenches the focus away from your writing.


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Dusk
by mistysakura


Plot (16/20 points): Nice developments. From the mystery of the figure's identity to the her resentment, from her love of her children to her irritation at the boy's betrayal, and from her efforts to save him to her hope for the future, you built a good plotline here. Most of it was fairly cohesive; however, some of the purposes seemed a little unfocused. For instance, the perceived racism seemed to arise from nowhere, and it didn't help that it was rather extreme. (Would those onlookers have preferred that he died?) Also, the mystery of her form may have been held for a little too long; I was starting to think that we were talking about Stonehenge, or perhaps an Egyptian sphinx. But still, it was quite good overall.


Plot Originality (8/10 points): I liked the twist of having the kid slip and fall; that was very unexpected, and it was also a good way to bring the mountain back to motherly love. Still, pieces that focus on treating the planet with kindness aren't uncommon, so you'll lose a few points as a result.


Writing Style (13/20 points): Great descriptions of the throng early in the piece. The portrayal of them as a faceless mass was particularly insightful. Still, as I mentioned before, some of the later material didn't add up quite as well. In particular, I had to reread the part where the boy fell several times, because I didn't know what happened. At first, it seemed like he fell down some of the walkway. Then I thought he fell a bit off the path, but not too far. I'm still not sure exactly what happened, and considering how dramatic that moment was supposed to be, it's a problem.


Spelling and Grammar (9/10 points): This was quite good, with only a few unnecessary commas and the like to mar your work.


Characters (12/15 points): Good job with the main characters, especially the mountain. It was interesting to see her many moods: frustration at humanity in general, rage at her “traitorous” son, and desperate love for him when he got into trouble. The part about trying to “hold on” to the branch was particularly good. The boy, in turn, was described as well as necessary. But some of the minor characters really needed a little more, particularly those who reacted badly toward the boy. A little more information about that, even if it was just a few lines, would've helped quite a bit.


Settings (12/15 points): Comparatively, the setting was very well described. The problem is that, since the main character was the setting itself, we probably needed even more description. That would've also helped clarify what exactly happened to the boy.


Overall Appreciation (8/10 points): A good piece overall, even if I wish a few choice aspects had been explained a little more clearly.


Final Result: 78/100 = % (as a percentage).


Closing Advice: I liked this piece overall, and I think works of this nature have quite a lot of potential. But it wasn't clear what point you were trying to get across; in one-shots, it's hard to convey more than one critical idea without losing some of the work's power. Also, the crucial plot twist was partially lost in a bit of confusion. Make sure that such important moments are perfectly clear; otherwise, it takes away the drama of the moment.


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Lady Vulpix's Score + mr_pikachu's Score = Total Score (Average)
40 + 61 = 101 (50.5%) - Houndoom_Lover
69 + 82 = 151 (75.5%) - mario72486
67 + 64 = 131 (65.5%) - darktyranitar
91 + 86 = 177 (88.5%) - Weasel Overlord
61 + 73 = 134 (67.0%) - River
66 + 78 = 144 (72.0%) - mistysakura




Congratulations to the winner of the August 2007 Writing Contest, Weasel Overlord! I have to say, Emet of the Clay was truly a strong piece. It was a pleasure reading your work, and that of all the participants. Well done, everyone! And congrats again to the big winner!

mistysakura
30th September 2007, 01:14 AM
And here's a plaque to go with it:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v287/mistysakura/august.jpg

Congrats to Weasel Overlord for winning the second consecutive contest! Some mean writing there. I really like the idea of the words giving the golem life. The writing style was beautiful. I wish we could have found out more about the men who carved the words on the golem, and what happened to the golem as a result of his revelation, but the scene in itself was perfect. I enjoyed reading everyone's work as well. In particular, I loved the twist at the end of mario's work and the solemn political commentary Faiz did. As for my own work, it has become really obvious that just because I know what I'm talking about doesn't mean the reader won't sink into a state of confusion :P I agree that the racism wasn't thought out well and took away from the major message. I still think it was necessary to show that life wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, but not so glaringly. Will work on describing things more specifically as well.

Thanks for getting the reviews done, guys :)

Weasel Overlord
30th September 2007, 03:30 AM
*dies* oh my sweet bejebus on a motorbike... Um... I dunno what to say, really. I totally wasn't expecting to win at all, especially not with all the contestants this time. And especially since it was so short too... Bloody hell.

What an awesome thing to restart my second year of creative writing with. :D

Brian, you did a prompt job of judging, well done you!

And that banner is sweet! *yoinks, resizes then runs before anyone can change their mind*

Lady Vulpix
30th September 2007, 07:28 PM
Yes, there were very good pieces of writing on this contest. It was difficult to judge them. I guess it's obvious that Brian and I use different scales, if I give a story a score above 50 it normally means I liked it. Maybe someday we'll have more precise scoring parameters. In any case, I liked the stories so much that I regretted having to dissect them in order to give them numerical values.

Weasel's story really surprised me. As I read it, it kept getting better and better! I think that's an example of how a story doesn't have to be long in order to be good. I, too, would have liked to know more about those men; but the story was written from Emet's perspective and he didn't know, so I guess we can't always get what we would like.

Ada, I liked your story even if I had to read it 3 times in order to understand most of it. Would you please tell me what the curse was? I feel a bit stupid about not getting it, but I'd like to know.

Mario's story was also great, and Faiz's work was shocking.

Houndoom_Lover's story was a bit more cohesive than her previous entry. It still didn't make much sense to me, but I think that if she keeps up her efforts she'll soon be writing enjoyable stories as well.

As for Racing Lightning... I can't think of anything to say that I haven't already said, so I'll opt for not repeating myself.

Oh, and congratulations to Weasel for winning 2 contests in a row!

mistysakura
1st October 2007, 02:38 AM
The curse wasn't a specific one... it was just the rock unleashing her anger on the man for insulting her people. Poorly thought out, I admit, as was most of that section.

Lady Vulpix
1st October 2007, 07:17 AM
Ada has informed me that my ratings were all messed up. I've fixed the bug in the program (at least they were fine in the database) and edited the post. Thanks, Ada!


Brian, you must have noticed. Why didn't you tell me?

mr_pikachu
1st October 2007, 03:02 PM
Wait, your ratings were messed up? How so?

(Mine were probably fine, since I copied them straight from my Word file to preserve my preferred formatting, but...)

Lady Vulpix
1st October 2007, 06:04 PM
The notes didn't match the categories. Anyway, I've fixed them now.

Houndoom_Lover
1st October 2007, 06:33 PM
Hehe! ^.^ Aaaw, last place again. Oh well, that was fun, anyway. One day I'll hit something that pleases me and everyone else. I found it enjoyable...Um, can't wait until the next one ^.^ *squeeks*

Pichu Luver
3rd October 2007, 08:16 PM
Thanks muchly for the review you two. ^^ Yeah I'm a bit of an overloader on description. --''' Heh, I'll work on characters as well, sort of the reason I entered was just to see where I need to improve. Thanks again and I will endevour to fix my problemos. Also, well done on ya WO. ^^

mario72486
3rd October 2007, 09:37 PM
So close, yet so far away.

The critiques were appreciated. Every writer has more than enough room to improve, and it's things like this that help out a great deal.

I would have added more to my entry, but at the time the ideas simply weren't flowing. What I submitted was all I could think of. Hopefully the next contest will allow the floodgates of creativity to open wide...

darktyranitar
11th October 2007, 11:19 PM
Haha, yeah, I admit I am very terrible with grammars... I guess I kinda rushed in writing it, plus the fact that I had to cut down words to fit the words limits... Alright. Grammar errors. Gotta work to fix them up...

And as to your question, Gabi: the sniper killing the child was something based on the Palestin invasion by the Israelis force, although unlike in my essay (I agree it was more of an essay), the childrens were pelting the soldiers with stones; frustrated, one of the sniper shot the child. It's not only one child or two; I heard that quite a lot of child died that way (and in one case, a child went blind when the bullet went into his skull)

Okay, slightly getting out of topic here... Thanks for doing the review, guys; I really appreciate them. I enjoyed reading the rest of the entries, and once again, congrats to Weasel for taking coming with first place!