The Writer’s Arena Tournament continues on, swallowing up its contestants and grinding them into story sausage. Another Monday is upon us, which means we must choose one story to be processed, and one to be spared.
Our authors transported us to another time and place in these tales, literally delivering the goods. Like the postal service, Tony and Tom bring the goods sleet or shine. They were tasked with transporting an object from point A to B, and both delivered handily.
Tony Southcotte took us out west with “Deadwood Run.”
Thomas Mays went Loony with “The Foghorn Leghorn Tribulation.”
Two very different stories, which will our judges pick?
Deliveries, good or bad, we all get them. From Amazon packages to pizza to junk mail, most don’t come with a tale worth telling but I am willing to bet we all have one or two of those kinds, too. What did our authors bring to us this week? Let’s see:
“The Foghorn Leghorn Tribulation” by Thomas Mays – Right off the bat, the title had me intrigued (to see later that it actually plays into the story was even better).
The opening scene here is great. With hardly any preamble we get to know what kind of story we are in for, who our good guys and bad guys are, and where everything will end up…mostly.
Chris and Andi are a great investigation/retrieval team. Complementing each other is almost every way it is easy to imagine their past successes and their standing in their field. It is not a big surprise that a billionaire would choose them to acquire his most desired object.
The Antikythera mechanism is one of my favorite items from the ancient world and I love how it was used here. The idea that it was something far greater than the portable calendar calculator that it appears to be was fantastic, as was the foreshadowing throughout of what its actual purpose is.
I also enjoyed the selection of the Dauvray Cup as the only item Ms Torson would accept in exchange for the Antikythera mechanism. It’s about as impossible an object to ask for without entering the realm of fantasy and fable. That they were able to locate the item in only a couple days speaks again to the capabilities of Andi and Chris.
After a very vague warning about Penhurst’s plans for the machine from its previous owner we come to the climax of the story, or rather, we come back to the climax of the story (I love how the format of this story works with the time travel aspect too). By now we have a pretty good idea of what the mechanism is and what Chris is going to do with it, but even so the way it plays out is written very well and held my attention throughout.
An inventive tale and a strong entry to our tournament.
“Deadwood Run” by Tony Southcotte – I liked the way this story opens, the juxtaposition of a girl’s dress and a box of TNT gives a glimpse into what kind of life our little family is headed towards. As we follow Anne in her afternoon wanderings we meet the rest of the McCoys and learn a little bit about each of them without it feeling like someone was trying to catch us up after we missed the first forty minutes of a movie.
The scene where we meet Mr Hammond is my favorite part of the tale. The exchanges between each family member and the stranger are very well written and put me right there around that fire with them listening to a ghost story in an unfamiliar land.
Ambushes and bandits go hand and hand with the Wild West setting so the meeting with Cain and his gang the next day was not unexpected. That Hammond would have so much history with them was. I enjoyed this little twist but I think we could have used a little more information here. I was a little confused about exactly what happened between them in the past and why Cain and them didn’t just attack them all while they were in the camp.
Anne’s ghostly return after fleeing with little to survive with was a nice touch as was the use of the dynamite that we saw in our opening scene (though I would have been worried about blowing up the people I was trying to rescue but I digress). When she dispatches Cain with a savage efficiency we see that she is much more than she appears to be. Her revenge sated and her resolve set it’s obvious why Hammond gave her her daddy’s gun when they reach town. I could see another story set 10-15 years in the future and focusing on the woman sheriff of Deadwood.
A great story that fits both its genre and our prompt aptly.
It has been said by many people (myself included) that the real winners in the Arena are the readers. This week is no exception. I have no problem envisioning either of these stories standing well on their own in the pages of some literary magazine or anthology. Unfortunately, I am forced to choose one of them over the other and cast my vote for the author I think deserves to move on. My choice this week came down to imagination. One story just took the prompt a little further and made me think about things in a different way that story is “The Foghorn Leghorn Tribulation” by Thomas Mays
Our second judge is Christina Durner, and she is a freelance writer based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and websites including Creepypasta, The Gunpowder Review, The Foodie Bugle, Examiner, and Fine Print. She also works independently as an editor. Christina loves to chat with readers and can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaDurnerAuthor/.
Delivery. The word itself means to surrender. Typically, one does not associate the delivery of goods or services with power. But when it comes right down to it, the person in possession of the object, being, or assistance holds the greatest power of all: the decision to relinquish or maintain. That is precisely what both stories this week tapped into but in two very different ways.
“Deadwood Run” by Tony Southcotte transports readers to the old west as we follow The McCoy family, a family with aspirations of mining as they make the journey to Deadwood in search of a new life. Along the way there are ghost stories, murder, vengeance, and finally the delivery of the remaining McCoy’s to Deadwood.
The campfire story told by Hammond, the stranger who comes upon the family at camp and ends up being their deliverer, is fantastic. It’s the stuff that real life urban legends are made of. Additionally, the way that little Anne played off of the superstitions of Cain’s gang through the use of such a legend was brilliant.
Each individual character was illustrated vividly. I could see each of them clearly in my mind. Anne, Hammond, Thomas, The McCoy parents, Cain and his gang, even the poor squirrel who met a terrible demise via rock impact at the beginning of this tale. The attack on the travelers is depicted in such a horrifying way that it will surely get any reader’s heart racing. The ending was a satisfying one, fitting of the western genre where our dark and mysterious stranger delivers the remaining family members to their destination then takes off to parts unknown.
I enjoyed this story and found myself wanting to learn about what happened to both the McCoys and Hammond after they parted was in Deadwood. Reading this, I was pleasantly reminded of the film 3:10 to Yuma, another western focusing on a special kind of delivery. Tony Southcotte did the western genre justice with this suspenseful tale.
Next up was “The Foghorn Leghorn Tribulation” by Thomas Mays. A tale of ancient relics, double crossing, and second chances. Having researched both the Antikythera Mechanism and Dauvray Cup after reading this story, I found that Mr. Mays is on point with all of his facts. He was also on point with the relationship dynamics in this tale and balances the story out perfectly with the right amount of heart vs. horror. I very much enjoyed reading this story.
“The Foghorn Leghorn Tribulation” tugs at the heartstrings while educating the reader on rare artifacts and the human desire to turn back time and right a wrong in our past. This story shows that no matter who you are, if you are a rich man like Penhurst, or an everyday working stiff like the Trents, we all wish that we could change one pivotal moment in our lives to prevent a tragedy or take back a missed opportunity.
The mission of delivering the Antikythera Mechanism to Penhurst is original and thrilling. It reminded me of Johnny Depp’s mission to deliver an authentic copy of “The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows” to a man who wishes to open the gateway to hell in the movie “The Ninth Gate.” Thomas Mays manages to blur the lines between the possible and the impossible with his story. The ending was magnificent. I was enthralled by the characters, setting, and plot from start to finish. There are both loveable and loathsome characters. But overall, “The Foghorn Leghorn Tribulation” is an amalgam of terror and tenderness.
Two completely different takes on this week’s theme but also two exceptionally strong stories. Both stories managed to provide characters and scenarios that hit readers in the heart as well as the mind. Choosing one story is rather difficult under any circumstances. But making the choice between two strong tales such as these is a difficult one. Ultimately, I will give my vote to the story that I felt was the most adventurous, polished, and compelling. That story is
“The Foghorn Leghorn Tribulation” by Thomas Mays.
There you have it folks! Thomas Mays has won the Judge’s Decision and will be moving on in The Writer’s Arena Tournament. Another Arena regular has been struck down. We’ll be seeing Tony again in a few short months.
Let’s see if our audience agrees with this result.
A close match but Thomas Mays has won in all three phases of the tournament! Congratulations Tom. Next week’s battle will determine who you face in the the semi-finals.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for a bout between the former champion Donald Uitvlugt and contender Hannah Newell. You’ll never look at your neighbors the same way again.