Contest Update

Dear *cough*Eliza*cough*,

Congratulations!

You’ve successfully made it through First Round Judging in the WOW! Winter 2013 Flash Fiction Contest. Your entry has officially been given the thumbs-up, and you’re well on your way!

In the sections below, you’ll find information on first round judging, your contest schedule, the new flash fiction contest, and information about your guest judge for the Winter ’13 contest, literary agent Jennifer DeChiara. Enjoy!

Q: What exactly is “First Round Judging”?

A: First Round Judging means your story has made it through the first cut. Our round-table of guest judges have scored all of the contest entries, and based on those scores, we have narrowed down the entries to the top 50 or so. That means your story beat out over 200 other stories. That’s quite an accomplishment!

As you know, we have 20 winners total. So making the first cut does not necessarily mean you will automatically win a prize. We send out this email to inform you where we are in the process, and to let you know your story is excellent and you have a very good chance of placing.

What happens now: From here, we go through another round of judging, and final judging by our prestigious guest judge of the season, to get the entries down to the Top 10, and 10 Honorable Mentions. This is when we send a second email notifying you if your entry placed in the Top 10. We also try to notify Honorable Mentions, if time permits.

Next, our guest judge carefully selects the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Winners. When we find out who the top 3 are, we begin assembling the contest winners’ feature for publication in the next issue of the WOW! ezine. At this point, we do NOT notify the top 3 winners, since we are working as swiftly as possible to get the webpage up.

Congratulations!

I sent Indian Paintbrush in this time and just got the notice back today I’m still in the running.  What a feeling!  😀

Last contest I made it in the top 20.  Maybe this time I can hit the top 10?

The Exodus (Part II of Collision Course)

[Collision Course]

Tanner glanced at Amir, then back to Ella.  “We’re on Thelmis II.”

Ella understood the words he was saying but she struggled to make sense of them, only because taking them at face value seemed so very impossible that he must mean something else by it.  “But what did we crash into?” she repeated, hoping for a sensible answer this time.

Amir gave a snort and Tanner shot him an irritated look.  Ella glanced between them, picking up on their silent disagreement; the tension was obvious even if its source was not.  Amir left the doorway, heading back to the living room.  Tanner huffed and turned his attention back to Ella.

“The city went down, Ella.  At least, that’s what it looks like.  We’re on the surface of the planet.”

She blinked and looked toward the window, but it was still too dark to see anything.  “That’s impossible.”

“Well, apparently not.”  He wiped a fresh tear from her cheek and tried to give her a reassuring smile.
In response to her still puzzled look, he added, “I don’t know what happened, either, but I don’t think we have much choice but to accept we went down.”

She nodded at that.  Reality was finally settling into a more comprehensible form around her as the shock started to recede.  Looking at Tanner, she frowned and touched the side of his face, her fingers coming away red.  “You’re bleeding again.”

He took her hand and wiped the blood away.  “Yeah, knocked my head against the counter when the first jolt hit.  It isn’t bad, don’t worry.”

Tears began to flow again as the grief of losing Sam tried to once more take over.  Dean was still cowering under the bed and she worked her way under, pulling him into her arms and speaking softly to calm him.  He burrowed into her shirt, forming a frightened lump.  Tanner helped her back out, the angle of the floor being a bit harder to overcome with only one hand.

“So what do we do?” She looked to Tanner, expecting him to have the answer.  He always seemed to have the answer.  But this time he only shook his head.

“I don’t know.”  After a long pause, he continued.  “I think we’d better get out of here, though.  Get some warm clothes, whatever food we can carry…  You still have that backpack?”

“Leave?”  Isn’t that always what you aren’t supposed to do?  “But isn’t the whole city going to be a mess?  Where would we go?”

His frown deepened.  “There are going to be some very not good smells soon, not to mention other unpleasant side effects of having no sanitation and – I hate to be the one to point it out – but people will have died.  It’s not just this building, we need to get out of the city.”

It finally sunk in, his full meaning, and she stammered out an objection.  “But the planet wasn’t supposed to be ready for another two years!  How will we even survive?”

He pointed to the cracks in the wall.  “Well, we know there’s air.  Everything else, we’ll just have to wing it.”

[next]

Collision Course X

[previous]

Ella woke as she was flung from her bed.  She hit the floor and continued to roll to the opposite wall, then tucked herself up small as the bed came sliding after her.  She just fit in the space beneath it as it slammed over her, acting as a shield against the rest of her room’s contents.  A terrified cat scrambled in with her and she wrapped herself around Dean as the world began to shake itself apart.

She choked on the dust that poured in through the growing cracks in the walls, the roar of destruction drowning out all else.  Minutes passed like hours, and a half hour like eternity as the building shook and undulated.  Just when it seemed as if one second longer would destroy everything, the city gave a last rippling shudder before the momentum shifted back the other direction with a jerk and the city fell still.

Sounds carried through the infrastructure; the distant echo of booms and the screech of twisting steel gave the whole scenario an eerie, dream-like feeling; but this was no dream.  Ella stayed where she was, afraid to come out from under the shelter of her bed for a long while.  Not until she realized Tanner wasn’t there with her did she convince herself she had to do something.

“Tanner?”  Her voice was hoarse and it cracked as she called out for him.  “Tanner, can you hear me?  Anybody?”

When she did try to move, pain shot through her hips and shoulder, and her wrist felt twisted.  Holding back whimpers of pain, she pulled herself through the ruins of her room into the middle of the floor.  Her hands touched a metal cylinder, closing around it with a prayer as she felt for the switch.  The cover was cracked but the bulb intact, and beam of light that cut the darkness was a questionable blessing, allowing her to finally see the destruction.  The whole building was pitched at an angle and the dust made it too slick to get a good footing, but she sat up, taking stock of what remained of her surroundings.

The wall had cracked from the corner of the window; that was where most of the dust had blown in.  The thick pane of glass was intact, but the continued sounds of the city settling made it seem as if it might fall in and crush her.  She pushed herself back to the bed and sat up on the edge of it, sweeping the beam of light across the room.

From a pile at the foot of her bed where her bookcase and nightstand had been thrown together, she saw a tuft of orange fur.  With a cry, she pulled the nightstand away, shoving books aside to pull Sam’s broken body from the wreckage.  She clutched him to her chest, petting him, hoping he was only knocked out, but the way his neck hung it must have been broken.

Her body shook as she sobbed, grief overwhelming her.  She didn’t register the sound of voices; not until she felt hands on her did she realize Tanner was saying her name.  She blinked a few times, bringing his face into focus.  He had one hand on her cheek, the other smoothing her hair back out of her face.

“Ella?  Ella, come on, sweety, tell me you’re alright.”

“He’s dead,” she cried, hugging the lifeless form in her arms.  “He’s dead!”

“I know it hurts, I know; but you have to tell me if you’re injured.”

She choked on her tears but shook her head.

“Alright.”  He sighed, relieved for that.  “Come on, try to calm down.  Take some deep breaths.  I’m sorry about Sam.”  Her eyes closed and she sunk into his arms as he wrapped her in a hug.  He repeated how sorry he was and she nodded.  They sat for a time, silent but for her tears.

When she had managed to calm herself down a little, Tanner eased Sam’s body out of her arms and wrapped him in her pillow case.  He promised they’d bury him properly when this was all over.  That nice spot in the park she liked to go, near the bench under the maple tree; they’d bury him there.

Her heart ached like it hadn’t in years, but much as she wanted to retreat into herself, she knew this was not what she should be focusing on.  It took a while, but her mind at last moved to the bigger question.  She swallowed down the lump in her throat but couldn’t keep the waver from her voice.  “What happened?”

“We crashed.”  It wasn’t Tanner who answered, though.  She looked to where Amir was standing in the doorway, propped against the jamb to keep his feet.

“Crashed?” Ella echoed.  It wasn’t sinking in.  “Crashed into what?”

[next: The Exodus]