What Will You Write? #4 – Electrical Box

We had a winner for #3 announced, so it’s now time for the fourth challenge.  This time, we have a prompt and genre suggested by our first winner, Tracey Lynn Tobin.

What Will You Write? is a series of writing challenges that I am posting every one or two weeks.  How it works is, I post the beginning of a scene and give you the genre or theme.  You finish the scene and post it on your blog. Please read the challenge page for more information and past winners. The rules are simple:

  • First, read what I’ve written (or in this case, the guest).
  • Second, copy it and finish writing the scene.  Please keep your portion of the writing at less than 1,000 words.
  • Then, post your story to your blog.
  • Make sure you link back to this post so others can come and join in.
  • Make a post in the comments below with a link back to your post (it’s likely that if you use WordPress, there’ll be a pingback, but please leave a comment with the link nevertheless).

The deadline is about 7 days from today.  I’m making it a bit longer so there’s time on the weekend to write.  Let’s make that 3:00 pm GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) on June 22nd.  I’ll be going to bed after that time, so I can give you some leeway if you post it within 5 or 6 hours after that deadline.  But after that, I need to judge.

After the deadline, I’ll read all of the entries and decide on who I think wrote the best scene.  Originality is very important.  I will judge it based on which one grabs my attention the most.  Once I’ve decided, I’ll post the winning story with a link back to the writer’s original post.  After that, I’ll include links back to everyone else’s entry so you can see what everyone wrote.  The winner will have the opportunity to write their own prompt and be a guest judge if they want.

Our guest prompt is a much easier one than last week’s, I think.  Tracey Lynn Tobin won #1, so she wrote this prompt.  Her genre is supernatural.  I think this is genre gives you a lot of different ideas to work with, so it should be a good one.  So, here is the prompt:

Jerry flicked on the flashlight and pointed it into the electrical box. The batteries were dying, so the light barely illuminated the box enough for him to read the labels.

“Well?” Andrea asked, peering over his shoulder. “What’s the issue?”

Jerry frowned. “There’s no power,” he shot back with a sarcastic tone. “How the hell do I know? Do I look like an electrician?” Gingerly, he poked at one of the breakers and was surprised to find that his finger came away sticky. He shined the flashlight at his hand and squinted. It was some kind of red liquid. Upon further examination he saw that half the box was splattered with it.  “What the…”

Andrea’s hand reached out and grabbed Jerry’s wrist hard, her fingers digging into his skin. “Jerry,” she squeaked. “Look!”

Good luck with this one, everyone!  I will be judging, as Tracey is a bit too busy to do the judging.  I’m looking forward to your entries.

What Will You Write? #3 – The Winner

The third What Will You Write? has finished, and it was a tough one.  This one brought writers out of their comfort zone, and there were only two entries.  What’s funny is that both entries were from the previous winners.  So, someone is a repeat winner!

The topic was a difficult one, and you can read the original post.  This was a difficult decision.  Both of the writers went in different directions regarding style.  One used a lot of dialogue, the other relied more on emotion and inner thoughts.  But I had to choose one.  This judging thing isn’t easy.  But, the winner succeeded in doing something I thought was rather surprising.  I had background music in my mind, all from the writing.  Also, she managed to give the elephants a sense of culture.  And so, for the second week in a row, the winner is Tara Southwell.  Here’s her full entry:

“Mandisa!” I said from the bank of the watering hole. “Come now, bath time is over.” She sprayed a trunkful of water over her back, looked over her shoulder at me, and grinned. I rolled my eyes in reply, nodding. “Fine. One more, then it is time for dust.”

She finished her bath with a methodical last spray. Mandisa always dragged her feet when the time came for dust. “Mama, I do not like it. The dust itches my eyes.”

“You want the bugs in your skin, then?”

“No! No bugs! Ewwwwwww!”

Several nearby calves giggled and stomped their feet, chanting, “Get them off, get them off!” They ran around each other, spotting “bugs” and squealing with mock disgust. Mandisa saw this as an opportunity to avoid the dust and joined in, squealing the loudest of all. My sisters looked at me with exasperation. We were meant to join another tribe at midday and the morning sun was climbing higher. Before I could put a stop to the nonsense, Mama Nomuula called, a deep rumble of command,

“Enough. We move.”

None were foolish enough to dally when Mama Nomuula gave her orders. I got in line behind an elder sister, then realized that there was, indeed, one foolish calf in our tribe. Mandisa snuck, silent and stealthy, back to the water.

“Mandisa–” I began, a lecture on my tongue, but stopped. A scent of low musk hit my trunk with a change in the wind’s direction. Long tails twitched above the grass at the edge of the water. Mandisa, giggling, stomping, spraying water, didn’t sense the danger. The she-lions, the three that I could see, stopped crawling and waited.

“Mandisa.” My command voice was pitched too low for the she-lions to hear, but I didn’t dare cry out and startle her. “You must come to me.”

She shook her head, pretended not to hear. One of her silky ears flapped too close to a she-lion, who could not resist taking a swipe. My baby trumpeted her pain, wheeling away.

“Mama!”

“Swim, baby, swim!”

She made for the opposite bank without delay, trunk held aloft, the rest of her below water. The she-lions, with the scent of blood on the air, broke cover and revealed their numbers, eight in all. They ran away from me and toward where Mandisa would gain her feet on the shore. They were too many to fight, but not too many to distract. Breathing strong, I let out a trumpet, a blast of sound as good as a blow to the head for the she-lions. Before they could recover I charged, kicking dust in their faces, brandishing tusks too short to be fatal but long enough to gore. These she-lions were braver than most; after falling back they regrouped to encircle me.

I looked away from them, unwise but not to be helped; my baby, my sweet Mandisa, was already galloping through the long grass, calling a wordless alarm.

Motion near my right flank. I wheeled, but the she-lion was already in the air and her aim was true. Teeth popped through the skin of my neck, claws sought purchase along my spine. I bucked, whipped my trunk at her, screamed my rage in her face, yet she would not be thrown. I could not think through the pain, could only feel more teeth popping through my underbelly. I stumbled under their weight. If I could not keep my feet I would not keep my life.

One of them, overconfident, went for my throat. Her mistake was my reward; with trunk clamped around her throat, I leaned forward. The musk stung my nose, I wanted more than anything to throw this revolting thing away, but throwing would give her a chance to rejoin her sisters. I took a risk and fell on her writhing, scratching body, my full weight on my knees. Whatever was left of her after the crunch of breaking bone, I did not look to see. Four she-lions were still attached to me and now I was on the ground. I breathed, calmed myself, gathered my strength.

I prepared to heave myself to my feet when a trumpet that was longer, louder, and more menacing than any other, echoed to the far reaches of the long grass. The she-lions, all but the one clinging to my neck, scattered. I looked up, expecting to see one my sisters, to find a brother instead. His tusks were thick, yellowed with age, scarred and sharpened. His muscular form bore down on us and the she-lion let go her hold, then bolted.

The brother charged them down, lashing out with those glorious tusks. Nearby many voices were raised in anxious conversation, descending upon me. Trunks ran over me from head to tail, comforting themselves and me. A tiny trunk slipped into the side of my mouth, quivering with fear.

“Mama. My Mama.” Her voice was laden with guilt. I ran my trunk across her back.

“It is nothing. The brother saved me from the worst.”

Our eyes collectively sought the stranger. He regarded us from a respectful distance, sides heaving. Before I could venture a greeting or thank him, Mama Nomuula joined the crowd.

“Tumelo, can you stand?”

“I think so, Mama.”

“Make room! Let her rise!”

I gained my feet at a cost; my wounds reopened, leaking blood down my flanks. Moaning, I walked a few steps to the watering hole to drink, and the strange brother followed.

His voice was warm when he asked, “You are called Tumelo?”

I offered him my trunk for a friendly touch, but he wrapped his around mine. Such quick intimacy would have been rude under other circumstances. “Yes. I thank you for your courage.”

“It is not courage, when one can do a thing when need arises, which others cannot do. I am called Kopano.”

“We are well-met, Kopano. Would you . . . care to travel with me?” I motioned toward Mandisa, hovering close behind us. She still sucked, but not for much longer; I desired a calf by one such as Kopano.

He laughed, a bright sound that glittered against the anxious muttering of my sisters. “I am meant to travel south. There is a group of brothers, alone and unruly, which needs me. But . . .” His ear flapped playfully along my cheek. “If we should meet again, I am yours.”

I watched him take a drink, then begin his trek south. Mandisa huddled close for a suck while Mama Nomuula corralled the tribe in preparation to continue our journey. When I entered the line she sidled up to me.

“Will you be well for this walk, Tumelo?”

“Yes, if it is a slow one. I am not badly harmed.”

“Then it is well.” She took a few steps, then turned. “And Tumelo? We shall certainly meet Kopano again soon.” It was a promise, not only to me, but to my sisters. The tribe is always stronger when the blood of Unity runs in its veins.

Congratulations again, Tara!

The runner up was also quite deserving for giving a realistic impression of the lion attack.

Tracey Lynn Tobin – Very difficult choice I had to make.  Tracey did a great job, as well.  It was more realistic, as I said.  Far less dialogue, but there was some.  But great job and well worth the read.

So, this means that Tara has the honour of doing two prompts in a row.  However, since this is a second win in two weeks, she has the option of passing on the prompt writing back to me, so she can make another entry the following week.

The fourth edition will be announced very soon, and this time it’s Tracey Lynn Tobin with the prompt, though she won’t be judging.