Meet the finalists of "America's Writers Got Talent"
Manuscript First Page Contest
Voting is now closed (Saturday, August 30)
Winner will be announced on Sunday, August 31
And now . . . drum role please . . .
Here are the finalists~
ONE: from Lyn~
Jenny couldn't be still. She straightened the slipcover on the couch for the third time. She must have checked the bolts on the doors a dozen times. Outside, another gunshot paralyzed her mid-step. Terror filled her dry mouth with cotton, but every drink of water sent her scooting to the bathroom.
Where's John? He's never this late. It's after six.
Jenny peeked in at Connor napping.
I can't believe that riots are erupting in the cities. Can this madness be starting in Albany, too? People are angry at the government. Like John, most the neighbors work in one capacity or another for the state. It only takes twenty minutes to reach the government mall. Oh, my God, does that make us targets?
She opened the desk drawer, picked up her i-Pad, then tucked it back into its cover. Cell phones and i-Pads became useless when the federal government turned off the public access satellite connections. The television and radio were dead, too.
TWO: from William~
"My name is Buddy Price, and I died twice yesterday."
The nurse didn't react; instead, she focused on switching my IV bag.
"I like to hit them with a good first line. Gotta hook 'em or you're toast."
She tossed the old one into a nearby trash can. "Mmm hmmm."
I couldn't wait until Stacey showed. At least, she'd pay attention.
"The first time I died, I was gone for over two minutes."
The nurse hung my new IV, wiped her hands on her uniform and peered down at me over her granny glasses. "You need to take it easy, Mr. Price. You're lucky to be alive."
"No, it had nothing to do with luck."
"If that's what you say." Her clogs made an annoying squeak with each step toward the door. "I'll check back in a little while."
"Not the least bit curious?"
Apparently, she wasn't. She left me to ponder my continued existence in the antiseptic-white hospital room, devoid of all sensory stimulation except for a bedside table,
THREE: from Carol~
Joe and Chug burst out of the woods behind the clapboard barn. Huffing, they flattened against the weathered boards and crept toward the open door.
"Damn cat." Joe kicked at the orange tabby lounging in the doorway. The animal hopped up, growling. "Scram, fleabag!" Joe shouted, then caught Chug's glare. "What, bro?"
"You stupid shit. If anybody's home, they mighta heard you."
"So?" Joe pulled his eight-inch hunting knife and wiped its blade on the leg of his denims. "We're gonna do 'em like the others."
Chug grabbed a fist full of his brother's bloodied tee shirt and slammed him against the wall. "We been on the go for three days and I need sleep. We need food, money, and a change of clothes if these yokels got any. Keep your yap shut or I'll shut it for you."
Joe raised his knife and pressed the point to Chug's neck. "You're forgettin' who's got the blade."
"And you're forgettin' who's got the brains. Threaten me again and we part ways."
FOUR: from Siv~
Akir picked up a pebble, then squeezed it until he felt the sting of broken skin. Hope was for daydreaming fools; pain was reality. He welcomed the pain, needed it, to fight off the images flickering in his mind.
Pain usually helped against that.
He opened his hand. Blood trickled down his palm. Red, like Sara's lips when she painted them with edemmi, to demand his attention. Sara, with the bright smile and glittering eyes. Sara, the lock that held his heart, and the key to open up all that he was.
Sara, who he might never see again this side of Death's River.
With all his might he threw the bloodied stone over the wall, almost hoping to hit one of the Tarien guards outside. The desire to fight burned like an itch he couldn't scratch, but pick a fight with a guard and you'd be lucky to get away with only a whipping.
Not that he was sure that life was worth living anymore.
FIVE: from Judy~
One hundred one, one hundred two...
Exhausted, terrified, ten year-old Emily stumbled down the overgrown path from her father's ramshackle cabin hidden in a dense forest. She tripped, but managed to grab a trailing vine.
One, two, three...each step took her farther from the man she hated. Could she get far enough so when he awoke from his drunken stupor and freed himself from the handcuffs she'd used to secure him to the bedpost, she'd be safe?
It didn't matter whether he yelled at her or not when he came through the cabin door. As soon as he started drinking...She'd pray he'd pass out. If he didn't, no matter how quiet she tried to be, he'd come after her.
Today had been no different. He drained the bottle and threw it across the room. She flinched as it shattered against the stove. One, two, three. Maybe if I count high enough, he'll leave me alone. Five, six...If I don't look at him, maybe he won't see me.
SIX: from Robert~
Beirut Lebanon Airport
October 23, 1983
Since the bombing of the American Embassy on April 18, 1982, Lieutenant Rick Dalton, USMC, attempted, at least every two weeks to visit his friends from Intelligence School.
Before sunrise, he would share in a few cups of coffee, hop into his sweats and do a three mile run around the perimeter of the Marine Barracks, a four story, concrete structure, housing over three hundred servicemen.
Rick felt that his early morning run, as the city Mullahs called the faithful to worship, would be safer than making himself an easy target during the daylight hours, especially on the west side of the barracks. The area was surrounded by an eight foot high chain link fence topped with rolls of concertina wire. The fence faced a busy highway and the Mediterranean, making it a ripe area for a local fanatic desiring to kill off an American serviceman.
At 06:10 hours, he quickly grabbed, by mistake, his ball cap with his lieutenant rank on the front and exited the Marine Barracks for his run. As he entered the crisp morning air, his thoughts took him to Hala, his Lebanese girlfriend, who, as usual, would be waiting and ready to fix him a great breakfast.
Eleven minutes into his run, and on the west side of the barracks, he glanced to his left and, to his surprise, saw a yellow truck heading straight for the front entrance to the Marine Barracks.
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