Drats! So close!
I made honorable mention over at Nathan Bransford's ROCK PAPER TIGER Chase/Action Writing Contest Extravaganza. Five honorable mentions and five finalists were selected out of somewhere around 521 entries (total comments on the contest post).
My entry isn't up for voting since I was only honorable mention, but stop over to Nathan's blog and support the contest by voting for which of the five finalist you like best.
This is a hell of a confidence booster for me because I submitted a scene written after BONI, using some of the new techniques I learned at the workshop. This bodes extremely well for my revisions, me thinks!
Here's my 500 word submission:
A gangly man struggled against the flow of traffic, upstream against bricks, waving a pair of shoes in the air. Kumari couldn’t help but notice they were in decent shape. Soles still attached for the most part – a flapping heel, wagging slack-jawed but holding on – complete with shoe laces and not enough holes to let pebbles in. Kumari wiggled her toes against the worn insides of her own boots.
All he wanted, the man claimed, was to gamble for water. What did a dead man need shoes for, he wailed. Kumari subconsciously checked her canteen, confirming it hadn’t been lifted.
She knew what would come next. Someone was going to try and take those shoes. He was right; a dead man had no use for shoes. Kumari cursed under her breath as the crowd began to shift, the flow of the tide leaning backwards instead of away, despite the whips and threats from the arena guards.
Idiot had done himself in. She shook her head. A person could live three days without water – a few hours more if they were lucky. She knew. She’d done it plenty of times. Sure, dehydration hurt, sometimes drove a man inches shy of crazy, but he looked lucid enough that he was likely only a day, maybe thirty-six hours, without a drink.
Kumari threw an elbow at the mammoth man fixated on the unfolding drama and in her way, and caught his jaw. He grunted, rocking back, then slapped past her, heading the wrong way – the wrong way for those damn shoes. She gritted her teeth, using her smaller size to duck under arms and shimmy between spaces the bulkier men surrounding her would have found impossible to fit through. The stairs were just a few paces off.
The first gunshot fired, followed by the kind of scream made by a dying man. Her pulse sped, panic prickling up and down her skin as the crowd responded.
People snapped, crashing against two sides of ugly motivation. Get the shoes, or get the hell out before things got worse. Heat thickened, thousands of people breaking into sweats of greed or fear.
Three more shots broke out, enough to rail in her wandering mind. By Kumari’s guess, they came from three different guns: two pistols and one shotgun. What little order held at the sound of one shot – an ordinary and expected occurrence – shattered at the change from singularity to sure fire shitstorm. She padded her holster and fumbled between her belt, her shirt and own slick skin. Her hand was shaking – she’d face the undead any day, but an unruly mob inspired a rightly placed fear. Too many, too risky. Too out of control. Eyes on the exit, Kumari folded her fingers around the gun grip.
The cold metal reminded her that control was hers to take. Escape was about fifteen bodies away.
She’d get out one way or another.