TWA 88 – Man’s Best Friend – JUDGEMENT!

twa-88-main-judgement-01Well this is still a little awkward. Monday dawns and we still only have one story, so you know the outcome but let’s have some fun with this anyway. Also, Phil Melchers decided to invent a cocktail for his story and that’ll be out tomorrow. We’ll need our booze loving friends to report back on Phil’s mixological creation.

Pet’s have a way of endearing themselves to us in a way that most beings can’t. They give us undying, unearned love and adoration. They cover us with licks, cuddles, and often times, sneeze inducing dander. We forgive these pesky animals because in a lonely world, who doesn’t want to be looked at like a god?

So we asked our authors to take a moment to write about pets.

Joseph Devon pulled a classic from his archives in “A Meeting in the Bends.”

Phil Melchers rescued us with “One of Nine.”

Despite this not being a contest, Rich Alix loved the story and wanted to give his feedback.

Rich Alix is our first judge. He is a patron of The Human Echoes Podcast, and an all-around awesome guy. He is the voice of the common man in this contest, and here are his thoughts:

I have had a number of different pets in my life, from goldfish to rabbits to more than a couple big dopey dogs. Often, they can become a person’s best friend. Non-judgmental, loyal, loving, and even protective; pets can display the best qualities we would want in a human companion. Training in the other direction can turn our animal friends into four-legged weapons of war. How did our author choose to tackle this prompt? Let’s see:

“One of Nine” by Phil Melchers –  I love the way this story starts off, the descriptions of the decrepit surroundings contrasted so wonderfully with the main character of this story. Princess is not the name you would expect for someone who sleeps on a pile of old dirty laundry in an abandoned factory.
There is a fantastic level of worldbuilding here that seems so effortless. I’m not sure if it’s the way with small interactions and gradually move out or if it is the “normalness” of the situation to our main character but it all just works. I never felt jarred out of the story by some new person or happening.
I like the way that Princess’ age is hinted at but never quite revealed. She wavers between natural wariness and forced bravado in a way that tells us a lot about her life to this point. When we get the flashback towards the end, we pretty much already know what happened but it works to cement the relationship between her and Big Man and to show that the love and caring was mutual between them. Which only makes the ending that much harder to take.
I liked her naming Sir George, it worked on a number of levels and knighthood seems to suit a white cat who wants only to serve a master. If I were to have a complaint about this story, though, it would be about this cat. I am not much of a cat person and that’s mostly due to the fact that they never act quite the way George does in this story. He seems more like a dog than a cat to me, but it’s a very minor thing.
The ending is incredible, the innocent reasons for her to approach the beacon and the unseen soldiers while carrying the rifle are known only to us and they can’t really be blamed for what happens. Her laying there dying while remembering how she met Big Man and then imagining how he would get rescued and returned to his family where he could read them stories like he did for her was powerful. When George returns and comforts in the only way he can while she passes away in the imagined arms of her protector and guardian it was like a gut punch.
This story now occupies a spot in my personal Arena Top Ten. I know it had no competitor this week but as well as this is written, and as emotionally powerful as it is, I don’t see how another story could have beaten it. (If I were voting, I would even vote for this over Mr. Devon’s bear story.)
“A Meeting in the Bends” by Joseph Devon – As this is not an arena story I won’t go to in depth with this story but I did have a couple comments about it.
I’m not sure but I may have read this story before. I say I am not sure because I can’t find any evidence I have, but it feels very familiar.
The writing here is done well, especially Puck. So much of his character is exposed through his actions that I feel he could be a class for “show don’t tell”.
I found it very amusing that both stories featured “knighted” pets.
I really wouldn’t mind reading more from this world. This, like many other arena stories, feels like it was plucked from a novel and hints at so many other stories to be told.


It’s pretty safe to say that with the quality of Phil’s story he would have been a winner this week, and we are looking forward to having him back in January. We’ll make sure to give him a rousing return. Congratulations on writing a fantastic story that will no doubt endure in the Bear Pit and amongst the best stories entered into The Writer’s Arena. Be sure to come back tomorrow to learn how to make a “One of Nine.”

Now, on the horizon, The Writers Arena Tournament looms. Will Donald Uitvlugt repeat? Or will we have a new champion? Only time will tell.

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