Once again I received a great wealth of remarkable writing. This is what I imagined might happen when I came up with this concept. The hardest part is narrowing it down to just four. Ali Koomen probably deserves a lifetime achievement award, it seems her work is a constant fixture as a finalist. She deserves it, she's a terrific writer.
Okay, I'm going to let the readers decide the winner again this month. I'm posting the scenes below with a letter next to the name--go ahead and vote for the strongest scene on the poll to the right. Thanks to everyone for your submissions. Good luck.
A- Suzannah Burke:
"Oh dear, Ben, you mustn't die on me just yet. You have more to look forward to. I'm afraid I've been a naughty, naughty girl." Samantha whispered, leaning down and very gently brushing the hair back from his face. "I never did learn not to eavesdrop on phone conversations; men are such fools."
“Can you ever forgive me?” She laughed delightedly as she kicked off her high heels. She grabbed Ben under both arms, and dragged him the short distance to the creek. Two crocodiles lay close-by, silhouetted in the moonlight. She looked down into Ben's terrified eyes, and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead.
"You won't be lonesome, Ben. You see, most of the others are here as well."
Sam walked back to the table, filled her champagne glass, and returned to watch the action, standing a safe distance from the water.
"Here they come, Ben!" she called gaily. "Say hello to momma for me."
Sam turned and walked away, smiling happily as she heard his agonizing scream of good-bye.
She sat down, poured another glass of Bollinger, lit up a smoke, picked up her pen, and began to write. WANTED: Male Ranch Hand...
B- Charlie Wade:
His long hair bouncing around, Red Arrow searched for the package. Hands soaked with perspiration fumbled with the office drawer.
“Where is it?”
Slumping to the floor, he cradled his head in his hands.
“What have I done?”
Looking round the office, there was two hiding places: drawer and filing cabinet. The locked cabinet should have been its home, but Red remembered putting it the drawer.
Though paid to hold various packages, it wasn’t really Red’s thing; he preferred undercover work though never seemed to get any.
“Filing cabinet.” He looked inside. Moving papers around, stacking, separating and eventually removing everything didn’t help. It just wasn’t there.
Crashing to the floor, his own heavy breathing filled his ears.
“I’ve lost it?”
The package was only a small jiffy bag. Red didn’t know the contents, he never did. That wasn’t relevant; he was paid enough to not ask questions. This jiffy belonged to his best and most fearsome customer.
It was also his only customer.
And, he wasn’t a customer, he was a psychopath.
Red hadn’t met him, but he’d been warned: never mess up.
He’d messed up.
Gulping another breath, Red forced himself to think.
“Where is it?”
C- Ali Koomen:
With trembling fingers, Hope turned the page, then the next. Horrifying images assailed her. A sacrificial ceremony too realistic to have been drawn from imagination. A conflagration, with faces pressed to windows in a rictus of ecstasy. An eviscerated corpse being skinned. . .
Suddenly, the source of the leather cover became apparent. With a shudder of disgust, she shoved the book away from her. A page came loose and drifted to the floor. She bent to pick up the errant sheet, opened it and let out a moan.
A charcoal drawing of her son stared back at her.
It was impossible. The paper was yellowed and brittle; it had been drawn years, if not decades ago. But why? How? A noise came from the cellar, a murmuring sound, but one with cadence, like a chant heard from a long ways off. Running to the door, she secured the top bolt. The sound stopped.
Hope ran to the kitchen phone and picked up the receiver. It had no dial tone, just a faint, far-away crackling sound. Underneath it all she sensed the amusement of whoever. . .whatever. . .was on the line. Slamming it down, she screamed out her son’s name.
D- Tom Hart:
The door ripped away and flew out to the airstream beyond the aircraft, and a rush of cold air struck him with the chill scream of a banshee looking to claim its victims. Somewhere deep within him a tiny spark of hope let him believe he could make it. Colonel Lucky Larson, noted pilot, makes it three in a row. The only man alive to walk away from three major crashes. He tried desperately to scramble through the opening as klaxon horns blared from every side. The pavement outside rushed toward him with its angry, earthly fist of concrete, and Larson became vaguely aware of his involuntary relaxation followed by a spreading warmth inside his flight suit. His eyesight began to dim, then blur and then darken entirely as the cacophony dissipated and grew silent. It seemed as though he had found a way to make it three, but reality suddenly propelled him back to the interior of the doomed aircraft. He couldn’t hear himself scream as the aircraft sliced into Highway 73-75 and burst into a huge fireball.