Time to announce our finalists! Just a reminder. This is NOT a popularity contest. We really do want to acknowledge writers who have honed their skills and demonstrated their ability in this little exercise. So, those who vote in the poll, please be sure you read all the finalist entries and give a fair assessment.
Also, I want to give special thanks to all who entered this year’s winter writing challenge and all who gave their feedback in the preliminary round. Your feedback is invaluable.
Because we had two ties, we have four entries that made the finals this year, based on visitor responses over these past two weeks. I hope the writing challenge has encouraged and inspired all the writers.
So here, in alphabetical order by last name, are your 2018 Spec Faith Winter Writing Challenge finalists:
- Esther Brooksmith
- Melinda K. Busch
- J. L. Rowan.
- M. A. Zeller
All that’s left is to select the winner, and that’s in your hands. Choose from these finalists and vote in the poll at the end of this post for the one entry you think is best.
Voting will last until midnight (Pacific time), Sunday, March 4.
And now the finalists’ entries:
By Esther Brooksmith
Jenni fidgeted with her ring – the one only she could see – while she waited to hear the verdict.
“You are quite certain there is a garnet ring on your finger?” Ian’s feet were planted firmly on the ground in a no -nonsense manner.
Jenni nodded. “With inscriptions that I can’t read.”
Galin shifted his weight, unable to hold still when invisible rings were at stake. “Epic!”
“And you want us to follow you into another world to return it?” A serious expression masked Ian’s thoughts from Jenni.
“I didn’t mean to take it. The girl handed it to me…and then these crazy warriors were chasing me…and I sort of tumbled back through the portal.” Jenni shuddered. “I’d take it back myself, but I…”
Ian sighed and looked at Galin. “She wants bodyguards.”
“Yes! So we’re going, right?” Galin pulled a battle axe from his belt, the one that he used in re-enactments and role-playing games.
“This isn’t a game, Galin. We don’t know what could happen in there.” Ian took a deep breath. “You have to think about what you are leaving behind.”
Galin shrugged. “College finals?” He waved his axe in the air. “I’ve got my axe. You’ve got your sword. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Jenni and Ian looked at each other.
“Don’t answer that,” Jenni ordered.
Ian shook his head, looking from Jenni to Galin to the sky and back to Jenni again. “Okay. Let’s do it.”
“Rrrrahhhhh!” Galin shouted. “We’re going to rock their world!!!”
“But…” Ian held up a finger. “We’re just returning the ring and then leaving, right?”
“Right.” Jenni and Galin agreed.
Jenni fingered the ring again. How hard could it be?
– – – – –
By Melinda K. Busch
Jenni fidgeted with her ring—the one only she could see—while she waited to hear the verdict.
The doctor sat behind his desk. His delicate fingers skimmed through pages of notes. “Ms. Lucien.” His words came in a sing-song as if he spoke to a small child. “You have one last chance to recant your claim to have sight. If you do this, I could discharge you immediately.”
She remained silent, staring at the ground. His empty eyes frightened her, almost made her wish she were still blind. But she could see. She had found the ring while feeling through her late grandmother’s possessions. When she slipped it on, the dark haze that had surrounded her since she could remember began to lift. Soon light flooded her consciousness, revealing a beautiful world. She shivered with delight at the memory of her first sight of a sunset, tendrils of colored clouds stretching across the sky.
When she did not respond, the doctor continued in his condescending tone. “Sight is a fairy tale, Ms. Lucien. If you will not recant, I can only conclude that you must be admitted for reprogramming.”
She twisted the ring and considered how to answer. To deny she could see would be a lie and Mother had taught her to value honesty; to speak the truth would doom her to remain a prisoner until she embraced darkness again.
Her decision made, she raised her head. Whatever may happen, she would rest on the truth. “I can see, Dr. Teneborn.” She slid the ring off her finger and let it clatter onto the desk. He felt for it and pulled it into his hand. “Put that on; see for yourself.”
He held it a moment, then set it back on the desk. “Foolishness,” he crooned, “to think a ring could grant sight. Do not fear, Child… we will cure you of your madness soon enough.”
– – – – –
By J. L. Rowan
Jenni fidgeted with her ring—the one only she could see—while she waited to hear the verdict. The foreign silver burned cold against her skin. She couldn’t read the strange, scarlet etchings that decorated the band, but she knew by heart the poesy inscribed within. Long ago, a mysterious jongleur from a far-off land had given her the ring, admonishing her to use it well.
And so she had. She feared this time would prove no exception.
For twenty years, she had dispensed the Lady’s justice as Temple representative to the various shire courts. She adjudicated most cases brought before her, but where guilt required death, the shire councils determined the verdict.
She glanced at the defendant, Collan, a forger by trade, accused of a series of murders he could not have committed. Slow of mind and tongue, he had not the sophistication to slay by furtive poison. Nor did he have motive, but frightened and angry, the village had turned upon its newest member, the one unlike them, the one most readily blamed. Human justice was not always wise or fair.
She rose as the council returned. “What say you?”
Of course. She beckoned for Collan to approach. She took his hands and pronounced the necessary sentence, slipping the unseen ring onto his finger. As the guards led him away, she whispered the poesy. In a flash of light, he vanished, and the ring returned to her finger.
Cries of alarm filled the courtroom as council and villagers alike scattered—some in fear, some to search for Collan. They would not find him, securely kept as he was within the ring’s etchings, but she played her part and commanded pursuit. In the days to come, she would find a new home for Collan, one that would offer welcome.
She brushed her thumb over the ring. Rest, dear one. You’re safe now.
– – – – –
By M. A. Zeller
Jenni fidgeted with her ring – the one only she could see – while she waited to hear the verdict. Surely her ward, Meeka, would not be chosen. But as the clan leader’s voice rumbled like thunder throughout the room, the slight hope Jenni had clung to was destroyed.
Her breathing stalled as Meeka, along with four other gifted, were selected. A bitter taste flooded Jenni’s mouth at the thought of their lives being sacrificed in the Eastern War. “No!” she cried, her words pushed from her mouth by the panic rising within her. Her plea shattered the silence that had fallen after the clan leader’s grim announcement.
“Who are you to object?” the clan leader thundered. His voice carried an ominous tone laden with currents of anger.
Jenni drew herself up in defiance of the oppressive tension that filled the room. “I will go in Meeka’s place. Her gift has not matured enough for her to be sent to war. It would be suicide.” Her voice, although heavy with desperation, seemed suspended in air.
“You?” the clan leader did nothing to hide his derisive snort as the other villagers muttered amongst themselves. “You are blind and ungifted, and would only be a hindrance. What could you possible add to this mission?”
The ring’s surface was smooth under Jenni’s fingers as tendrils of worry squeezed her throat. If unveiling her long-kept secret ensured Meeka’s safety, then so be it. “I am blind,” she heard herself say, “But I can see what no one else can.”
“That is like saying that the easterners are not threatening our lives,” the clan leader scoffed. “What sort of fool are you, woman?”
Jenni grimaced. It was only because of the ring that she could see the darkness that consumed hearts. Drawing in a breath that tasted like dirt and stale sweat, she whispered, “I can see the very presence of evil.”
– – – – –
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