Congratulations to our 2015 Autumn Writing Challenge winner: Lady Arin. I’ll be contacting her privately to arrange her gift card from either Amazon or B&N.
For those interested, voting results should now be visible in the poll by percentage (see below).
Special thanks to all of you who participated: the entrants for sharing their stories with us, the visitors who commented and gave YES votes for finalists, and those who voted in the poll to select the winner.
Contests like this are fun. The thing that continues to amaze me is how varied the stories are even though they all begin with the same first sentence. What a creative bunch of writers we have participating in these challenges! Hope you all enjoyed the stories.
For those who may have missed it, here is Lady Arin’s winning entry:
Jennah knew how the government Supervisors worked since she’d been one last year, but that didn’t mean she had to comply. Whatever force the law might still have behind it, it meant nothing in the sewers.
She had to admit, she felt a little sorry for the man. With his nice suit and neat hair, talking to a sewer runner had clearly not been his idea. He was making an admirable attempt to keep smiling, but from the way his nose kept wrinkling and his feet kept shifting, Jennah knew that his insides were wriggling like a mass of night worms.
“I’m not surfacing,” she said. “Not for all the berries in Green End.”
The Supervisor visibly wilted. “Please, it’s only a few questions. It won’t take long, I swear.”
She rocked on her heels, and gripped the wall next to her with a gloved hand. The whistling he couldn’t hear was getting louder, and if he had the authority to force her, he would have already used it. “No.” Unable to wait any longer, Jennah started to back down the tunnel. “And if you knew how little it would help, you wouldn’t ask.”
Last year, Jennah would have given him a supportive pat on the shoulder. Now, she wanted to laugh at the idea that he could learn anything from a runner. The Supervisory Office still wanted to believe in the world that had existed before the Crisis, and while Jennah couldn’t really blame them for it, she wanted nothing more to do with them.
The Supervisor was not following, so she turned and broke into an easy jog. Water sloshed over the tops of her boots and soaked the hems of her jeans, but the tunnels were relatively dry, and would stay so until the next eclipse. Almost automatically she closed her eyes. It was easier to hear the whistling that way.
When she first started hearing it a year ago, she had known instinctively there was no way she could explain it to her superiors. She had left for the sewers without even turning in her resignation. The runners had welcomed her. Even if they didn’t hear the same music she did, they understood. They had become runners for similar reasons.
The whistling reached its peak, and she halted abruptly. The tunnel to her left was unusually dark, even to her eyes, and she couldn’t remember the last time she had seen someone use it. She dug into her pockets, pulled out a piece of red chalk and drew three vertical marks on the entry arch: a warning sign. As she returned the chalk to her pocket, the whistling faded into silence.
Jennah remained where she was, staring into the void-like blackness of the tunnel. After a year of running to the whistling in her head, marking tunnels for the benefit of those who didn’t have their own warning system … maybe now was the time to find out what dangers she was protecting others from.
She pulled out a piece of white chalk and drew a triangle under the first mark, then entered the tunnel.