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2017 Spec Faith Winter Writing Challenge

It’s time for our winter writing challenge! Winter lends itself to snuggling inside with a good book. For writers, that “good book” might be the one you’re writing. Either way, we’d like to add to your winter writing and reading […]

It’s time for our winter writing challenge!

© Adina Nani | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Winter lends itself to snuggling inside with a good book. For writers, that “good book” might be the one you’re writing. Either way, we’d like to add to your winter writing and reading joy.

As we have for the last several years, Spec Faith is holding a winter writing challenge, a type of writing exercise, with rewards. There’s feedback from other Spec Faith visitors and there’s the potential for a $25 gift card from either Amazon or B&N. And for readers, there are stories or story beginnings to enjoy. It’s all very win-win!

As a refresher, here’s how this winter writing challenge works:

1. I’ll give a first line, and those who wish to accept the challenge will write what comes next—in 100 to 300 words, putting your entry into the comments section of this post.

“What comes next” may be the opening of a novel, a short story, or a completed piece of flash fiction—your choice.

In keeping with Spec Faith’s primary focus on the intersection of speculative fiction and the Christian faith, writers may wish to incorporate Christian elements or to write intentionally from a Christian worldview, but neither is required. Likewise, I’d expect speculative elements, or the suggestion of such, but entries will not be disqualified because of their omission.

2. Readers will give thumbs up to the ones they like the most (unlimited number of likes), and, if they wish, they may give a comment to the various entries, telling what particularly grabbed their attention.

By the way, I encourage such responses—it’s always helpful for entrants to know what they did right and what they could have done to improve.

3. After the designated time, I’ll re-post the top three (based on the number of thumbs up they receive) and visitors will have a chance to vote on which they believe is the best (one vote only).

4. I’ll again sweeten the pot and offer a $25 gift card (from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble) to the writer of the entry that receives the most votes (as opposed to the most thumbs up). In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held between the top vote getters to determine the winner.

And now, the first line:

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny.

Finally, those silly little details we all need to know:

  • Your word count does not include this first line.
  • You will have between now and midnight (Pacific time) this coming Sunday to post your challenge entries in the comments section.
  • You may reply to entries, giving thumbs up, this week and next. To have your thumb-up counted to determine the top three entries, mark your favorite entries before Sunday, January 22.
  • Voting begins Monday, January 23.

Feel free to invite any of your friends to participate, either as writers or readers. The more entries and the more feedback, the better the challenge.

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89 Comments on "2017 Spec Faith Winter Writing Challenge"

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Liv K. Fisher
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry — nothing could stop him from going after his destiny… even if his destiny was a chicken pot pie.

It was all quite embarrassing, really. Kendall hadn’t *wanted* to enter an eating competition. But his mother had demanded it. Apparently, being a part of the galaxy’s lowest social class meant placing oneself against those of the like.

The wealthy, cyborg judge would watch, amused, as each citizen stuffed their face, and the person who appeared most desperate would win a six-month supply of food. This happened twice every year. Twice, every year, and it was broadcast — live — on television. And Kendall hated it.

A. Walker Scott
Guest

This gave me a giggle.

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

Hee! Loved this! I’d be interested in the world-building that surrounded it.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

This has a nice feel of tragicomedy. Hilarious and awful.

Cheri Fisher
Guest

I want to vote for this, but it won’t let me.

Mary Lou
Member

Wealthy cyborg judge! That’s awesome!

Jerry Connell
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny.

If they knew what he’d done, they might try and even succeed in derailing his ascension. But that’s the rub, they’d never know. He’d seen to that…

“Murder is a lost art form”, he thought to himself. “It’s not that no one ever does it, it’s just that hardly anyone gets it right. It’s not enough to get away with it, you must also lay the blame at another’s feet; especially if that person is your enemy.”
“They’ll find the body tomorrow with all the clues I left behind. Then while Bryson is making another speech bashing me and telling everyone to support him instead, the police will make the connection.”

“This didn’t have to happen, it was self-defense. He was the one who set me up with a woman in his employ. She would then seduce me and he would expose the affair. He even planned a news conference to release everything to the media. I would then have to resign in disgrace. However he made one mistake, he underestimated me.”
“I have to hand it to Melanie, she was smart and beautiful. However, I have chronic insomnia, and she called me Bryson in her sleep. Then I knew. I quickly rendered her unconscious, setup my alibi, and took her to an apartment Bryson once told me about that he used for late night dalliances.

The time of death was just before a late night rally Bryson was having. I found a gun stashed in his desk drawer and shot her. I then left an unsent text in Melanie’s phone implicating Bryson. He was sleeping with her. The text said she was sorry for cheating on him. That should be more than enough to finish him.”

“I’m now a shoe in for the senate. My masterpiece is now complete.”

Kat Vinson
Member

I agree with Rebecca. It’s a good scenario and I liked the first few thoughts but then it became a lot of exposition. I almost think it might work better as the raving confession of a mad man?

Jenelle Schmidt
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. He wasn’t sure what his destiny was, but it was certain it would never happen if he was not chosen as the apprentice of the Royal Wizard Oolumph. He didn’t particularly like Wizard Oolumph. The man had been staying at the inn for the past few days and was generally impatient and disagreeable, but Kendall could think of no better way to be available for destiny to find him. Surely destiny could not miss a wizard’s apprentice! Not like it could if he remained a lowly stable-boy for the local inn.

The morning of the audition was cold. Foggy breath steamed about the candidates’ faces as they waited in line. The audition swept past in a blur that Kendall could barely remember once it was over.

It felt like hours before the announcement was made.

Kendall’s spirits sank as the name was announced. It wasn’t his. Kendall could not bear to watch the winner. Disheartened, he shuffled back to the stables behind the inn. He would be sure to find a sympathetic ear in his friend and fellow stable-boy, Bernard. However, upon arriving at the stable, Kendall could not find Bernard anywhere.

“Ah, you’re back,” the innkeeper said, seeing Kendall’s face poke around the doorway.

“Where’s Bernard?” Kendall asked glumly.

“Ah, young Bernard,” the innkeeper ran a calloused hand through his hair. “That was something else. While you were off at the auditions, Sir Andrew rode through in a great hurry. He needed a page for an important mission he is undertaking for King Sebastian. Was willing to pay good money to buy an apprentice’s time. Bernard was the only one around, and though I hated the thought of potentially losing both of you, I couldn’t deny the boy his destiny.”

Yaasha Moriah
Guest

Oh, BURN! What a killer twist at the end. This made me smile. (And cringe. But I definitely enjoyed it!)

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

Awwwww, no!

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

Oooh, BURN! I like it. 😀

Grantland
Guest

Didn’t see that coming! I like it!!

Evan
Guest

Good for Bernard!

Zachary Totah
Editor

This. Ouch and wow. I loved how you took what, based on the opening line, could have easily turned into a Chosen One piece, and turned it completely on its head. Poor Kendall. I think he needs a several-year supply of chocolate.

Zachary Holbrook
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. As the first transgender candidate for the U.S presidency, he had quickly drawn throngs of exuberant supporters for his boldness in declaring himself a woman. Truthfully, Kendall wasn’t even sure he had a gender anymore. All those illegal genetic modifications he had undergone to increase his intellect and grant him unnatural persuasive powers had taken their toll on his body. But it had all been worth it. Wearing a pink dress and with his long hair curled, he looked enough like a woman to convince anyone who didn’t look to closely. This, combined with his excessive rhetorical prowess, easily propelled him through the Democratic presidential primaries.
Now it was the general election. As Kendall adjusted his sparkly butterfly earrings a few minutes before taking stage in the last debate before November 8, he reflected smugly on how well his career as a politician was going. His opposition was split between two candidates, setting the odds in his favor. He had remained consistently at the top of the polls since his confirmation as the Democratic nominee, and he had little fear that anyone else would be in the White House next year. Once inaugurated as the fifty-seventh president of the United States, he could get to work on his next goal – becoming its first supreme dictator. He had risen in the eyes of many of his supporters until he was more than just a candidate. To them, he was a god. Surely they would be eager to accept him as their overlord as well. As for those not so eager – well, they could be dealt with. He had already received letters encouraging him to imprison those who hindered the order and progress his presidency would bring. The world would be better with Kendall as its god.

Khai
Guest

You get points for cajones. But it would have been more interesting a story to me, if Kendall wasn’t a total diabolical dictator at heart. I want to know more about how the genetic modifications affect his sense of self. How more power literally makes him less human – or less a man.

Eugene Black
Member

Kendall didn’t care if the other Candidates thought he was power-hungry — nothing could stop him from going after his destiny… Craving power was for fools, revealing inherent need, utter weakness – final depravity. No, he did not seek power. He was power, and he would prevail, despite their petty games, their obscure prophecies and their so-called schooling. Too much was at stake.

The Temple of the Enlightened Machina emanated a subtle hum, susceptible only to him. Secret Light flowed through the winding maze of corridors, arcane fuel powering a device so immense that only parts of it were visible in the three spheres of existence.  Secret Light. Secret because it could not be seen. Light because it illuminated what it touched, even though its substance was the blackness that filled the entire universe. It brought clarity to the senses beyond the Six, the enlightenment the Candidates sacrificed their lives to achieve and rarely attained – that which Kendall was born with.

No one had ever been born a Machinist before.

As always it found him, swirling about him, light and darkness dancing in tension, an undulating rhythm, an inexplicable forging of opposites, attempting to entice him towards one or the other. No. He would not choose, not yet, for in choosing he would succumb to what he could not afford – submission to a power higher than himself.

“Beloved”, he heard amidst the hum that now filled his consciousness. He shrugged it off. “Return,” came the final, desperate plea.

No, I cannot – I will not. He felt the presence diminish and he breathed a sigh of relief. He had bought more time to accomplish his destiny, this singular, incessant insanity – to destroy the Apocalypse Engine, to rid creation of its dark machinations –  something only a born Machinist dared to dream.

Deep inside him another voice wondered if, by not choosing, he had made his choice already.

Khai
Guest

Yeah! Dark Matter! I love dark matter!

Yaasha Moriah
Guest

I really like your style–a broad but uncluttered vocabulary, a clean style. The final sentence leaves room for thought. Thanks for sharing!

RJ Conte
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny.
Her mouth feeling dry, Soleil read the news article aloud with trembling fingers, hiding her anxiety with a quick upturning of the lips.
“Mama, is Daddy going to win and become ‘bassador?” A tiny fairy inquired, perched at Soleil’s equally miniscule feet.
Soleil swallowed hard and turned a full fake smile toward her child’s face. “This is the first time a fairy has gone up for ambassador against a human. If he wins, it might mean peace for our people in this time or rivalry and hatred.”
The twiggy front door shook as the clomping of human boots rounding the corner meant night curfew was in full effect. Their sod and grass hillside home, comfortable and warm, lit with the tiniest drops of wax candles on pebble shelves, couldn’t bear much more of this.
“Let’s say a prayer for Daddy,” Soleil suggested, grasping the glowing hands of her sparkling little girl, whose every hyperactive motion sent pixie dust flying. Soleil closed her amber eyes and whispered inside of her head before voicing her polite prayer out loud, Please give Kendall success, Lord.
What she hadn’t told her daughter – and what she hoped her daughter never found out – was that failure meant execution, and Kendall Pixie was awaiting his chance to speak and gain votes inside of a jail cell. This ambassador position meant all or nothing. He could lose his life. But he cared enough to sacrifice it so that the big, upturned violet eyes in front of her, the mouth muttering childlike prayers to their Lord, and the little legs bouncing with never-ending energy, would have safety all her life.

Zachary Totah
Editor

Talk about a unique story. I definitely didn’t see the twist coming. Great writing, lots of vivid imagery to build a picture of the storyworld in my mind. I would have preferred a faster pace, but it fits well with the story’s tone. And Kendall’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his daughter is moving.

RJ Conte
Guest

Thank you very much!

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

Awww, love it! <3

RJ Conte
Guest

Thank you!

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

Cute! 🙂

RJ Conte
Guest

Thanks!

Yaasha Moriah
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. It was not a destiny he wished, but one he dared not shrink from.

The other would-be heroes jeered when he presented himself before the city officers.

The mayor surveyed Kendall’s slender frame with open skepticism. “Step forward. How would you fight the Lost Boys?”

Kendall lifted a wooden bell-flute, a many-piped pan-flute whose longest pipe flared into a distinct bell-shape at the end.

“A tinker’s son, against the entire army of the Lost Boys?” Jack, one of the candidates, sneered behind Kendall. “What will you do, play them to sleep? They’d slit your throat before you could play a note! Or they will transform you into a mindless killing machine like them.”

He grasped for the instrument, but Kendall pinned him with a scalding glare. The instrument was all Kendall had left of his father and the only chance he had of succeeding in his quest.

“Speak up, boy!” the mayor barked. “What is your plan?”

Kendall summoned authority to his tone, upholding the instrument. “The tinker’s ‘bell’ is magic. If a certain song is played upon it, it will separate my shadow from my body.”

“So that’s your plan?” Jack spat vehemently. “I know this magic. Without the weight of your shadow, you will be able to fly. You will not age and remain alive for three hundred years before you fade into death. With power like that, you could lead the Lost Boys yourself.”

“That’s what I plan to do,” Kendall replied. “Under a different name, of course.”

The mayor tilted his head and regarded Kendall thoughtfully. “Lead them? You should destroy them.”

Kendall shook his head. “No. I will redeem them.” He swallowed, his hands trembling, and added in a near-whisper, “One of them is my brother.”

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

Yes, please.

Jason Cooper
Guest

I like clear definition of candidacy; it feels like you took ownership of the sentence and have already crafted something akin to the first third of a book – that your comment is functionally a summary of the book itself – something you’d find as a teaser on a book jacket.
I like the twist at the end – how the character’s choice functionally redefines what the candidacy actually means, and that he’s willing to do it the right way (through the authorities, as it were) instead of simply jumping in adolescently (is this a word)?
I like your inclusion of magic; it is light yet powerful AND it is a “given” thing that is nicely introduced by someone else in a “oh by the way” manner.
It has the feeling of an existing world from which we are given the option of a favored viewing. Nicely done.

Zachary Totah
Editor

This was fantastic, Yaasha. At the first mention of the Lost Boys I was hooked. Excellent worldbuilding, revealing key details that hint at a larger world and pique my interest to learn more, without overtaking the story.

Kendall’s motivation and his brother’s situation sealed it for me, and you managed to weave in mystery and surprise. Top-notch story. When’s the rest of it coming out? 😉

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

This is awesome!! 😀

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

So cool! Love it. All of it. Great opener.

Kat Vinson
Member

Very interesting – I’m so curious about the Peter Pan connection.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. Not the sleet pounding his eyes, not the wind loosening his nail-tearing grip on the rock face, and certainly not the wails of the loser dangling one-armed below him.

Trey was deadweight from the start, in Kendall’s opinion – he’d told the others – and if he fell, the team would only be stronger for having been weeded. They’d been told the challenges couldn’t be completed without teamwork, but Kendall didn’t believe that. So far he’d completed each physical challenge alone, and while the sorting puzzle initially stumped him, once he’d seen how Liz organized the others, he’d managed to work a good bit on his own. They’d insisted he help them, but what if one of them made a critical mistake? Working alone, he shared neither risk nor credit.

He knew the looks the other teams gave him – not grateful, not exactly, but faintly pleased. Like they were glad he worked alone. Just showed how they underestimated him.

He would beat them all in the end.

Trey shrieked, swinging over the chasm, scraping for toeholds.

“Kendall!” Liz ordered through the sleet. “Help him!”

She hung about twelve feet above Kendall, clinging like lichen. Ordering him, as if she were in charge. Kendall’s frustration and disdain burst free again. “We can’t lose the time!”

“Kendall, go back for him!”

A fist-sized stone broke loose in his hand but his toehold saved him. He observed the stone and realized, I could end this argument. Without Trey, there’d be less deadweight.

He twisted to judge the necessary arc. Trey’s eyes stretched in comprehending horror.

A scrape of stone interrupted Kendall as Liz half-climbed, half-slid down the face – directly above him, against all protocol. “What are you doing?!”

Her eyes sparked against his. “Weeding.”

She kicked into Kendall’s face, tearing him free from his climb.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

300 words EXACTLY, after the 20 of the prompt. I danced the line. 😉

Nan Van
Guest

Oh my gosh! I don’t know what I’d expected to happen, but that wasn’t it! Good sudden-twist end point. 😀

Zachary Totah
Editor

Wait, that’s not how it’s supposed to end. 0_0

The beginning could have been more gripping, but that last part…Well done. You did a good job of making Kendall interesting. Someone we can certainly sympathize with, since he’s clinging to the face of a cliff, but also with a rough edge.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

Fantastic, Laura!! Eeek, the suspense!

Jenelle
Guest

Whoa! Did not see that ending coming! First time I read it, I thought Kendall said “weeding” but now I’m not so sure who said either of those last two lines… which is creepy cool.

Jenelle
Guest

And I feel your pain. My first version of the story was around 550 words!! I am at home in the epic fantasy genre as well. But flash fiction like this is always a good learning experiment.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

OH! The unjoy of stripping words…. I meant for Kendall to ask “What are you doing?” and Liz to answer, “Weeding.” But now I completely see how it can read the other way, without tags and with cut-down action.

This is why I need a bigger word count. 😉

Jenelle Schmidt
Guest

I actually love that it’s hard to tell who says what at the end. Chilling.

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

Nice job! Kept me riveted the entire time. 🙂

Kat Vinson
Member

Excellent twist. He’s made himself unlikable and untrustworthy. The irony being the dead-weight himself!

JD Cowan
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. This was the last stage of the competition, and he’d come so far.

His jet-pack roaring, Kendall passed the fifth place racer with ease. The neon-colored cyber-track had many vicious hairpin turns, but he knew them all. He could flip, barrel-roll, and body-check with the best of them. This time he would win first place, beat the other candidates, and get what he’d always wanted.

The flashing tunnels of the racetrack allowed the racers more than enough room to safely pass, but Kendall wasn’t having it. He checked the fourth candidate into the tunnel’s side, easily eliminating him.

Third and second were just as simple. He only had to interrupt them on a sharp turn to send them out of bounds. Their distraught howls brought joy to him. Kendall was so close to the prize now.

Up ahead was his arch-rival– and the goal! Kendall boosted at top speed, lining up neck and neck with the enemy.

“It’s mine!” Kendall shouted. He slammed against his rival again and again.

There wasn’t much time left, the other candidates were eliminated, and there was no chance he would lose again. So Kendall went for it.

He fell behind the blind-spot on his enemy’s left hand side, and charged. One good hit would finish this.

And it did.

Just before hitting his rival, Kendall met thin air. The enemy dodged! A full weight struck him from above, sending him careening downward. He screamed as he plummeted through the neon border below, and was eliminated from the race.

Kendall threw down his VR helmet and pouted. The other candidates glared at him.

“Fine, Gary. You win,” he said. “We’ll get Thai food this time.”

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

Ha! Love the Thai ending.

JD Cowan
Guest

Thanks for the comments. This was fun!

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

Enjoyed this! Loved the lighter take and the description of movement.

Kessie Carroll
Member

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny.

The village’s men lined up on the beach that chilly morning, the wind whipping up the gooseflesh on their legs. The ocean spread before them, gray-green, fathomless, mysterious. Kendall was the smallest boy there, his scrawny arms like toothpicks beside the muscles of the others. One of them would succeed in drawing a hippocampus from the water. They would kill the monster, collecting its precious blood with its healing powers. The one who had summoned it would be graced with the first drink.

Barbaric.

A man at the end of the row let out a braying call.

They waited. No response from the curling breakers.

Each man called, one at a time. No horse-headed sea monster appeared. Finally, it was Kendall’s turn.

He walked into the water until the breakers foamed about his knees. Instead of a call, he trailed both hands in the water. Green scales sprang into being, covering his skin everywhere the water touched.

The ocean boiled. A hippocampus boiled out of the breakers, jaws wide, yellow fish-eyes seeking a target, the sun gleaming on its sapphire scales. The men sprang forward, spears aloft.

Kendall leaped onto its back, screaming, “Go! Now!”

The hippocampus dove into the water, whipping back toward the depths from whence it had come. As he rode it downward, the scales covered Kendall’s body. He opened his mouth and inhaled the free, wild sea water, gills opening in his neck. He had reclaimed his merfolk heritage.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

That was fun! I really like the hints of the world (what’s the history of a braying call for an undersea target?), and I confess I’m always a sucker for carnivorous sea creatures.

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

You had me at “hippocampus.” I (heart) monsters and misfits coming into their own.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

Great story!!

Lake the Pondling
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. After all, the Heroic League of Tampa only admitted one young superhero to their ranks every year. The process was designed to push the candidates to their physical and mental limits. At the end of it all, Kendall stood with three other finalists. The only thing between him and his destiny was a ten by ten foot platform surrounded by a moat full of…something. He focused on the costumed man hovering in the air as he told them “Last one standing is on the team. Good luck and fight clean.”
He grinned as he felt the familiar sensation as plates of metal covered his body and his muscles surged with strength. Piece of cake.
He lowered his head and rushed at the redhead chucking fireballs, colliding with his gut and sending the scrub backwards into the muck, breathless.
He felt the tingle of electricity on his back as the blue haired girl arced bolts of energy at him, trying to stun him long enough for her to get the upper hand. He spun and strode over to her, watching the panic grow in her eyes as a thrust of his hyper-strong arm in the center of her chest sent her into the moat.
Two down.
The final obstacle was a petite girl. Maybe one hundred pounds if she carried a gallon of milk and wore a soaking parka. Just standing there, not moving. Easy Target.
Or not. As he charged at her, he realized something was wrong. She didn’t panic, but sweetly smiled. As he charged through her intangible form, he realized what it was. And as he felt the surprisingly firm impact in the center of his back and saw the muck rapidly approaching, he realized that just maybe…he wasn’t as good as he thought he was.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

“Maybe one hundred pounds if she carried a gallon of milk and wore a soaking parka.” Excellent line.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

This was really fun!

Audie Thacker
Member

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. “I’m telling you, my song will really spread the message.”

The Marketing and Propaganda Director looked very doubtful. “That’s nice.”

“I mean, you could put it in TV spots, radio ads, maybe get a pop star to sing it. Or is that too much evil?”

“I’m waiting, Mr. Kendall.”

“Oh, sorry.” Kendall cleared his throat, then began singing. “Cthulhu fhtagn, what a wonderful phrase. Cthulhu fhtagn, ain’t no passing craze. It means no sanity, for the rest of your days…”

He was immediately interrupted“Are you daft?”

“What?”

“You’ve just taken “Cthulhu fhtagn”, and inserted it into The Lion King song.”

“But I’ve changed other lyrics, too. You might have noticed I changed “worries” to “sanity”.”

“That’s not the point. It’s absurd, it’s…it’s…”

“Catchy.”

“No, it’s not!”

“You’re already bopping your head to it.”

“No, I’m not!”

“Yes, you are. I see you there.”

“No, I’m not!”

“You’re even humming the tune.”

“I like The Lion King.”

“You’re the Marketing and Propaganda Director for Great Cthulhu, how can you like The Lion King?”

“Great Cthulhu has a great respect for Disney.”

“Oh. Really?”

“He’s working on remodeling R’lyeh now. Hastur thinks he could make some wicked roller coasters, what with all the Noneuclidian geometries all over the place.”

“Oh. That’s…I like that.”

“So, please, Great Cthulhu doesn’t want to honk off Disney just yet.”

“Oh, I see, sorry about that. How about my song based on Old McDonald? E, I, E, I, Cthulhu fhtagn?”

The Marketing and Propaganda Director looked at his watch. “No. Just. No. And it’s “ia”, not “E, I”. Thank you, have a wonderful day. Next!”

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

I’m a sucker for humor and bad interviews, so this hit my sweet spot! 😀

Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Guest

I really liked the Lion King earworm as Cthulu evil, to start, but the non-Euclidian roller coasters nailed it for me.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

Hilarious! 😀

Kat Vinson
Member

This was too funny. I could hear the entire conversation (& song) in my head. 😀

Zachary Totah
Editor

Ahhh. Late to the party, but here it is.

>>>>>

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. By the Shadowrealm, he would be free of this burden forever.

His feet churned the sand of the arena as he dodged a blow from the ivory shaft wielded by his bald opponent. Pivoting, he swung his own Taaka upward.

Crack!

Shaft connected with bone. A shock raced up his right arm. His opponent slumped to the sand, joining the nine others Kendall had defeated. Kendall stood over him, sweat dripping from his face, chest heaving.

Silence blanketed the arena.

Finally. Soon it would end.

Kendall lifted his gaze to a slate sky, outlined against the ebony wall encircling the arena. From their seats atop the wall, the five Predecessors gazed down on him.

“Well earned, Kendall,” the Eldest called out.

An image flickered through Kendall’s mind. A young girl dead upon a mountainside, blood staining the white snow. He sucked in a breath. “I have proven my worth. Grant me the mantle.”

A clap of thunder, a flash of light that seemed to stab through his skull. Kendall stumbled backward. When he blinked the afterimage from his vision, the Predecessors stood around him, eyes fixed on him as if peering into his soul.
Let them.

“Are you prepared to undertake responsibility?” the Eldest asked.

“Yes.” It came out sharp, boiling up from the pain cemented in his heart. Kendall gripped his Taaka, drawing energy from the gems embedded in the shaft. “I will don the mantle of Destructor, the shadow parents warned their children of. Nations will quake before me.”

At last, the chance for which he’d yearned. To be free from the guilt gnawing at his soul since the day he’d been broken. The day he’d failed to save his precious, innocent sister.

He had robbed her of life. Now let the world rob him of his.

Karisa Noble
Guest

Wow Zachary. That was thrilling and moving. You have a way with words that calls to ones soul. Great story!!

Zachary Totah
Editor

Thank you, Karisa. I really appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed the story. 🙂

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

Ooooooh, Zachary…so good!!

Zachary Totah
Editor

Glad you enjoyed it, Bethany.

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

Nice job! Thrilling use of action.

Zachary Totah
Editor

Thanks, Janeen.

Julie D
Guest

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry — nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. “We can’t afford to lose any more mages,” he told Alain
Both men glanced at the map. Each red pin marked a disappearance.
“Without that information, we’re heading in blind.” Kendell insisted.
“The last man to try–”
“I know. But we don’t have another choice.”
“I can’t ask you–”
“You aren’t asking.” Kendell grinned. “Besides, it’s only a book.”

The study door closed behind them with a heavy thud. Alain locked and barred it as Kendell headed to the proper section. “I’ll set the wards.”
“Don’t you trust mine?”
“I’ll not send any pupil of mine into unmitigated danger.”
“Former pupil,” Kendell insisted, but the old routines blunted the worst of the terror.
He almost thought he might succeed.