Once again I want to express my appreciation to all who entered this year’s summer writing challenge and to all who gave their feedback in the preliminary rounds.
As in other writing challenges, we had a lot of entries that received a high number of thumbs up. Clearly these were strong submissions, many from writers who haven’t entered this contest before. I hope the writing challenge has encouraged and inspired each to continue developing their storytelling skills.
As always, we’ve selected the three finalists whose submissions received the most positive responses over these past two weeks. So here, in alphabetical order by last name, are your 2017 Summer Writing Challenge finalists: Lisa, Melinda K. Busch, and M. A. Zeller.
All that’s left is to select the winner. Choose from these three entries and vote in the poll at the end of this post for one entry you think is best.
The entry receiving the most votes will be the winner, and the author will receive a $25 e-gift card from either Amazon or B&N. (In case of a tie, I’ll draw for the winner).
Voting will last until midnight (Pacific time), Sunday, July 9.
And now the finalist entries:
Elijah wanted to run—to hide if not to get help—but he couldn’t leave the kids alone. Not if he wanted to get paid.
Being a bodyguard to two werewolf cubs was bad enough. Being a bodyguard to werewolf cubs whose ticked-off dad was approaching in full fang-out mode was worse.
Dad—whose name was Sven—loped closer, his eyes shining red, lips pulled back over his impressive teeth in a snarl.
The kids, seeing Dad, began a shrill keening sound that at least was partially muffled by the bullet-proof glass in the hover-car. But Sven’s ears twitched and he broke into a run. Not muffled enough, apparently.
Elijah straightened his backbone, tried to look unconcerned, even as he surreptitiously thumbed the gun’s power switch to “on”. He was suddenly grateful that he had loaded it with the silver bullets this morning. Just in case.
Elijah lifted the gun slightly as Sven scrambled to a halt in front of him, a low rumbling growl emanating from his throat. “Loaded with silver, Mr. Jorgensen. So be careful.” He tried to ignore the howls that were coming from the hover-car behind him.
Sven’s eyes narrowed, but he cast a wary look at the gun. “My children. I’ll take them now.” His voice came out in a distorted growly rasp.
“I can’t let you do that. Your ex-wife has custody. And a restraining order. I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You have a problem with that, take it up with the judge.”
Snarls were coming from the car, now. Great. Seeing dear ol’ dad had triggered the change. The car would be a mess. Again. He stifled a sigh.
Just another day on the job. 5 PM couldn’t come soon enough.
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By Melinda K. Busch
Elijah wanted to run—to hide if not to get help—but he couldn’t leave the kids alone. Besides, who would want to help a bunch of orphans? That morning, they had arisen to find their caretakers had fled, leaving them like an offering to an angry deity. They could have run too, but not without leaving the weaker ones, Elijah’s sister among them.
For days, rumors had swirled through the countryside that the enemy was coming. According to the caretakers, the foreigners delighted in cutting off fingers and toes of small children before killing them. Now they were at the door, and soon they would force it open and scour every inch of the orphanage… unless… Perhaps they would be satisfied with me? He trembled at the thought.
At 15, Elijah was the oldest. In the past, he loved to lord it over the younger ones, but today he felt the weight of responsibility and was not sure he could bear it. Make up your mind. Six years since Mother had been lost and he could barely remember her face, but he still knew her soft whisper in his head. Decide, then do. And he decided.
“Adi! Dan!” he called in the loudest whisper he dared. The twins—a skinny boy and a timid girl–scurried over. “Get everyone to the crawl-space. Keep them quiet and don’t come out until you hear the soldiers leave.” He laid a hand on Adi’s quivering shoulder. “You can do it. Take care of Tala.” With a solemn nod, the twins hurried to obey.
The children moved fast, and in under a minute, Elijah stood by himself in the common room. He breathed in deep, straightened his shoulders, and walked forward to meet his fate just as the door began to creak open.
– – – – –
By M. A. Zeller
Elijah wanted to run—to hide if not to get help—but he couldn’t leave the kids alone. Not after witnessing what would happen to them.
His fingers tightened around the hilt of his sword. The ominous cadence of the approaching evil echoed though the shadow-immersed catacomb.
His gaze fastened to the door in front of him, he knelt, his fingers brushing against damp cloth. Blood. Suppressing a wince, Elijah plunged his hand into the bag, his fingers curling around parchment. He yanked his hand out and motioned for the oldest child to take the object.
“It’s a map that will lead you to the exit,” Elijah explained, his heart thumping in time with the footsteps overhead. The boy took the map, his hand shaking with fear. Elijah glanced at the other three children. Their faces were pale and drawn in the candlelight.
“Go,” Elijah’s voice was raw with urgency. “I won’t let them catch you.”
The boy nodded and led his siblings into the dark tunnel of the catacomb. After they disappeared from his sight, Elijah blew out the candle before snapping his attention back to the door. There was a wrenching sound, and a sudden burst of blinding light assaulted his eyes.
Soldiers rushed in, torches and spears in hand. Pain numbed Elijah’s fingers, as two of the soldiers gripped his shoulders, seizing his sword and pushing him forward. “Is he one of them?”
“Yes,” a familiar voice drew out as a man entered the catacomb. “He is.” Elijah jerked against the restraining hold as his arms were drawn behind his back.
“Traitor,” he spat.
“Spare me the drama, Elijah, and tell me where the rest are hiding.”
“And condemn those who are innocent?” Elijah glared at the man. “I’m not a traitor like you.”
The man cursed at him before something smashed into Elijah’s head, dragging him into a chasm of darkness.
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