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Deathmatch 2018 – Quarterfinal

This round has ended.

*** WINNERS ***

Cracked Red Landscape
Free Your Mind
Cracked Red Landscape
  The sharp blade makes an effortless cut, and the first thing I think is “like plastic,” a stupid, stupid thought, but then I wonder why my mind would drift at all given how the...
Read the full story
Distrust and the Death Cloud: A Love Story of Little Hate Stories
Kaz and Zoë (abridged version) Kazimieras and Zoë met at a party. They got a little drunk and spent the night together, sort of. You know what sort of means, or you should guess. Kaz...
Read the full story
*** WINNER ***


  1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Two hours left of Deathmatch: no one can get on the site to vote, this comment will take 34 minutes to post, error messages abound, bots are blamed, users are turning on the moderators.

    Sounds about right. #DeathMatchAesthetic

    1. soysoy_ ( Likes: 2 ) says:

      users wouldn’t have to turn on anybody if the moderators weren’t in denial of this hellscape that we are left to attempt to navigate

  2. neb ( Likes: 5 ) says:

    Dear website administrators: The website is not working consistently. The pages do not load and once they do, the vote does not register. Please consider improvements if you plan to continue a contest that relies on voting. Even my comments don’t seem to post (apologies if multiple posts of complaints do eventually show up).

    1. Hal Niedzviecki (Moderator) ( Likes: 29 ) says:

      I am not seeing any problems. The pages are sometimes slow to load, but there are a lot of people on the site, So it’s normal that things are slow as we get to an end of a round. Sometimes to see the vote count go up after you vote you need to reload. Basically if you are a bit patient, everything works fine.
      In other news, I haven’t heard any more from the developers regarding if the vote counts will change in Quarterfinal 4. Most likely, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to know which story will move ahead, depending on the information we receive, hopefully tomorrow morning.

    2. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

      That’s funny, because everyone I know who is voting for my story is telling me they’re having problems. If it’s not a problem for anyone else, this really doesn’t seem fair.

    3. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      I’m experiencing that too, Emily. It does eventually work if you wait long enough but ain’t nobody got time for that!

    4. soysoy_ ( Likes: 2 ) says:

      i totally agree with this comment. i would be surprised if an actual software engineer actually works at this company and if by the grace of god one does i would love to ask them how in the heck they created such a broken website in the year 2018. every vote i have tried to cast is a struggle, i was barely able to leave this frickin’ comment! in a contest that relies completely on high traffic and reader participation this sad excuse for a website is simply unacceptable. if the story that deserves to move on to semifinals loses, i’ll know it’s because of this broken arse website and not for lack of votes.. because every single person i know who is trying to vote is experiencing the exact same issues as i am, it’s simply ridiculous.

    5. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Emily, all my supporters are experiencing issues I got a lot of message in the last hours! Too many people excited about our work!

    6. shortstorySam ( Likes: 3 ) says:

      Yo Hal, sorry if I’m misreading, but when you said that you’re not seeing any problems, did you by chance mean literally the exact opposite of that?
      This is the single most functionally defective website I have ever had the displeasure of using. I have been unable to log in, vote, or even navigate the site properly, all while waiting an infuriatingly long time between each broken step of the voting progress, and that’s if I even get on at all. The majority of the time I try to access this site, which was evidently built solely on incompetence and a lack of functional testing, I am greeted by an impossibly long wait time followed by the most enraging error message the deficient site could possibly conjure up:


      I’m not saying your ignorance of the problems are intentional, but a competition based on votes should be judged by the amount of people that (try to) vote, not the ones with infinite patience and an empty schedule who can dedicate 20 minutes out of every hour of their day on standby ready to see whether Deathmatch feels like redirecting you even close to the page you were trying to access or just saying “meh, I give up” and terminating its own miserable existence.

      Trying to vote is futile, and Godspeed to anyone who continues voting through the semifinals.

    7. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      Hal If the site cannot handle the traffic then it should be concerned about the many “timed out” messages and the “excess traffic” messages. Not fair to participants and voters. Very frustrating to sit for easily five minutes and not being able to vote. And when refreshing does no help!

    8. neb ( Likes: 5 ) says:

      To those who will hopefully be looking at ways to improve the site, you should also be aware that several times I have tried to click the specific quarter final I wish to vote in only to have the site consistently freeze on quarter final 4.

    9. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      My crew was having lots of trouble too. Seems better now, but it was spotty for at least two hours.

    10. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      This is literally the first time I’ve been able to log onto the site for the day! Slow waits does not even compute Hal — most of the day I’ve been staring at an error message that said “website traffic exceeded” —- SO FRUSTRATING!!!

  3. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    *sees that a new comment has been added*


    *notices comment is not on the top*

    Oh crap.

    *begins scrolling, looking for new comment*

    Nope. Nope. That’s not it. Oh, troll. Nope. Nope.

    *keeps scrolling*

    *glaciers melt*

    *keeps scrolling*

    *another species goes extinct*

    What was I doing? I forget.

    *sees the laundry basket in the corner*

    Oh, right. Life. I should do that.

    *starts folding laundry, tries to fold a fitted mattress sheet into a nice square, gets frustrated, stops, sees the time*

    I gotta vote!

    *sits down in front of computer, votes, sees a new comment number*

    (go to top of this comment)

  4. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

    Y’all need to back about from my bot, I mean boy, Wu.
    Nowhere does it say you can’t create bots to win. You can’t change the rules now.
    Extra points to his Star Wars shout out:

    DeathMatch: we have irrefutable proof that clickbots were created.
    Wu: These aren’t the clickbots you’re looking for.
    DM: These aren’t the clickbots we’re looking for.
    Wu: Now move along.
    DM: Move along. Move along.

    Wu inserts new voting program into is R2-Vote2 unit.

    1. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

      Not to be the bearer of bad news or anything but it does say explicitly in the rules that you can’t use clickbots. It specifies “that means no clickbots!”

      So uh, maybe actually READ the rules?

    2. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

      If you can read that is. But based on your overwhelming support for Wu’s writing, I’m not totally sure you can.

    3. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

      Sophie every time you post I’m reminded to vote for Whatever you’re competing against.

    4. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      I previously posted this specifically for your benefit, at which time I gleefully assumed you could read: “The contestants and anyone else are encouraged to solicit votes for their stories in any way they can think of, provided it’s legal and doesn’t involve undermining the principle of one vote per one person every hour – that means no clickbots!”

  5. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Wow, Christina and “Arrangements” are pretty close to hanging out in the 2000 club. I bet they got comfy couches in there. Or maybe not, it’s the opposite. All super-expensive angular furniture and you’re really not sure if you’re supposed to sit on it or admire it like a piece of modern art.

    Keep us posted, Christina.

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      We hit 2,000! My inner teen girl finally has the validation from the internet she has always wanted.

      The 2,000 club changes dramatically every time you get another vote. At 2002 everyone was in denim. At 2022 I’m looking at the near future. Trump is halfway through his second term, the environment is gone, rich people are escaping to the moon. We are praying for Elizabeth Warren and Beyonce to save us.

      On the plus side, the furniture is illuminati themed, and the triangle couches are surprisingly comfortable.

  6. bow-guy ( Likes: 77 ) says:

    “Cracked Red Landscape” rocks! Terrific writing Sean!! You got this. Keep voting and liking CRL fans.

  7. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

    Guys, we need to talk. I don’t understand why DISTRUST AND THE DEATH CLOUD: A LOVE STORY OF LITTLE HATE STORIES have so little vote. This story is so refreshing, with its dynamique style and I love its humour!
    Jon what are you doing? Did you get yourself some un-voting bot?

    1. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

      Maybe, much like the graphic art for his story, Jon was sucked into the computer and is now hoping that by throwing the competition he’ll be able to escape

    2. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      I had a hard time with Distrust — I just didn’t really understand the narrative and/ or the message or point? Is hell a crappy cubicle office?

    3. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      I feel the same way! I love Distrust and the Death Cloud! What’s going on? I’ve been voting for it 🙂

      Also, that is definitely what hell is like, the crushing monotony and mediocrity.

  8. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

    I really enjoyed reading Sophie-Anne “Smile” graphic novel. J’m from Ste-cécile and I recognize so many characters in your storie. Wow! Great craft 🙂

    1. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      @Sophie-Anne just for fun, was your convinience store the one on Ste-Angele or Johanne&Dan on Ste-Cécile?

    2. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      @Marie-elaine Yeah! J’m born and raise in “Petite Pologne” a humble equivalent of Compton if Trois-Rivières was LA! Haha!

      And I can say Sophie-Anne story depict our reality really well!

    3. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Alexg, I am glad to know that someone from the place enjoyed the story, this means a lot.

    4. mathieu_st ( Likes: 130 ) says:

      I would not go that far and compare Compton to “P`tite Pologne”… Or LA to Trois-Rivieres…

    5. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      Yeah. I agree that’s comparing Ste-Cécile to Compton is a big stretch, but if you reduce all proportions by like 300x… I think you got an idea of what it’s like 😉

    6. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      @Sophie-Anne, will you talk about the notoriously delicius “Rotisserie Ste-Cécile” and his chicken in a later episode?

    7. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Alexg, I was actually planning on drawing the next chapter using the grease from the chicken at Rotisserie Ste-Cécile!

    1. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      Let see Max and liusl have almost identical posts and sentence structure. And then there is pretty sunflower assuring JONE that it is behind JOHN. Here is a bot, no, I mean thought, I repeat “I did not have sex with that woman.”

  9. Hal Niedzviecki (Moderator) ( Likes: 29 ) says:

    I have an update from our developers:
    “It appears there was tampering specific to that matchup in question. We’ll have to delve a little deeper to get the actual numbers. I will make sure to get to the bottom of this an have the adjustments made well before the end of the round tomorrow night. And registration can’t be automated now, so we should have no further spamming issues.”
    Of course if spambots did place votes, that doesn’t mean an author knew about it or endorsed it. We’ll see see what we find out tomorrow, in the meantime, keep voting as the votes may matter in the end.
    And of course, remember, it’s about the stories.

    1. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Now that I’m thinking about it this bot affair might actually be a set-up by our very own dear mister R. Daniel Lester. By some of his previous comments he sounded quite bored with this competition and perhaps he decided to take the matter into his own hands…

    2. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      BS, my dear. Sheer BS.

      But this is also coming from the same person that levelled some other pretty silly accusations at myself/story so believe what you will, Internet.

    3. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      And, frankly, I think John could’ve got out ahead of this “bot” topic much sooner. If you look back I’m pretty sure the initial mentioning of this was entirely sarcastic but several commenters did not read it as such and it entered the world of our comment board, then snowballing to become “fact.” Possibly, if John had entered the discussion then and put out the kindling before it became a fire it might’ve helped. Overall, more presence from the author and his fans throughout might’ve made it seem less fishy. Now they have and despite some duplicate comments and other opinions I do think it’s legit – I mean, I really hope so. He has fans that like the story. That’s good, that’s what this contest is about. If English isn’t a first language or they don’t write as competently as some we shouldn’t shit on them for it.

      I’m the type of person that will wake up in the middle of the night thinking back over conversations from the previous night/month/year and go “Why did I say that? That was dumb.” Not sure why, can’t do anything about it, but that’s how I roll. So I’ve looked back at my comments this round. Although framed as a joke, and I think it comes off that way, the one about questioning Legally Inc’s mission or morals by building a story-bot, might’ve been below the belt. Having our stories ripped apart is what we potentially sign up for with a Deathmatch, but I don’t think character should be part of the package.

      Personally, I don’t really believe that John directed this. If there has been tampering, and it seems as if that’s now been proved, it was likely from another source or sources. We’ll see what happens.

    4. John Wu ( Likes: 81 ) says:

      Yeah, I think you’re right Ryan. In retrospect, I probably should have spoken up sooner, but frankly, I didn’t even know how to respond without looking guilty as hell lol.

      Even now, it seems there’s a sizeable contingent who still think I’m some tech genius who broke the system. Unfortunately, as someone who is actually quite tech illiterate, there’s simply no way for me to produce any evidence to the contrary.

      Frankly, I’m as baffled as a lot of you by some of the comments. I’ve been wondering more and more if I’m somehow being trolled by some higher power.

    5. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      You’d look less guilty to me if you’d acknowledge that over a quarter of your votes happened within a couple of hours. It took you 5 days to get to 1000 and then within the span of movie, you’ve received over 400 more. You don’t find that suspicious at all?

      We’re supposed to believe you’re tech-illiterate? You build bots that dispense legal advice, yet creating bots that vote in a contest is beyond your capabilities???

      We’ve received confirmation that there something fishy going on with this particular match-up and you’re still trying to tell us it’s all made up and didn’t happen… That’s why I think you have direct involvement.

      Lastly to whoever said this is a ruse started by R. Daniel, check out his response to the allegations. He really sucks a subterfuge if this was his plan.

    6. John Wu ( Likes: 81 ) says:

      Sorry you feel that way Rebel. But frankly I work on the legal and business side. When it comes to actual machine-learning / automation, I’m about as knowledgeable as most people here.

      I’ll state again that to my knowledge, no bots have been used. I don’t know when my votes came in. I don’t know where they came from. I don’t have access to the backend of the site. Frankly, I’m just as in the dark as you are.

      If you’re going to give Ryan the benefit of the doubt, try to find it in you to do the same for me. I mean, just consider this hypothetical sequence of events which you are accusing me of orchestrating:

      1. I post a story about bots.

      2. I state openly on my profile that I work with bots.

      3. I then proceed to rig the votes using bots, in such a way that people are bound to notice the number of votes I’m getting.

      4. I use the bots to post messages like “Of course, we all love John Wu story, BOT…” and “we’re behind you, Jone.”

      5. ???

      In what world does this make sense? If I’m really as smart as you seem to think I am, don’t you think I’d put a little more effort into concealing my efforts?

    7. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Well said, Ryan.

      And I think we can all agree that there are some trolls here just trying to start drama. the bot jokes aren’t really funny anymore. Hopefully this is resolved soon. thank you for speaking out, John!

  10. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

    Holy guacamole! What an interesting turn of event! Can I vote for this comments thread as the best story of the Deathmatch?

  11. John Wu ( Likes: 81 ) says:

    Ok, speaking to this bot nonsense, I swear on pride as a writer (however much that is worth), that to my knowledge, there have been NO bots used. If there has been suspicious activity, I trust Hal and the other moderators to look into it. However these allegations that I am somehow rigging the contest is patently absurd.

    I know this must sound somewhat suspicious coming from someone who build bots, but if you take a few seconds to Google who I am, you’ll realize what sort of bot it is that I build.

    (if you’d rather not, know I build chat-bots to give provide free help to individuals who cannot afford actual legal services (an example can be found at this link: https://www.facebook.com/LegalGuideDog/). I don’t do any coding, or automation. I write the dialogue for these bots, and manage the business strategy and marketing.

    Frankly, this whole voter fraud thing is ridiculous. I feel like much of this conversation started when freezappa (obviously a troll) started talking about using bots to boost my votes, and it seemed to snowball when some others on the forum mistook him for me. I’m not a suspicious person by nature, but even I can’t help but wonder if I’m being set up.

    1. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      Right, it’s such nonsense. You only get hundreds of votes in a couple of hours; nightly you jump ahead by 50 votes exactly, no matter the deficit and the site’s developer confirms there’s anomalies. But it’s all in our heads.

      This sudden flourish of support is a a nice touch though. It’s important to not let the bots do all the talking. Next time you cheat, I suggest you exercise a little more balance with the “fans” and the clickbots.

  12. Hal Niedzviecki (Moderator) ( Likes: 29 ) says:

    Hi all, I agree that the sudden jump of votes in favour of Origin is suspicious. Furthermore, I looked at the users and there are a number of them that are clearly not human beings. The developers have told me that they are going to delete suspicious bot voters AND suspicious votes. Which means you should keep voting for your fave stories and if there are votes cast by bots, they will be eliminated. We also have the option to declare a winner unilaterally if we have evidence that an author sought to cheat by defeating the principle of only humans get to vote. I will keep you posted. Have fun, don’t cheat, keep calm and remember this is supposed to fun!

    1. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Deathmachers assemble! Take your brooms and baseball bats! Let’s clean this place up!

    2. gxu2004 ( Likes: ) says:

      Holy crap. Really enjoyed the story, but this is really fucked up if it’s true.

      Admittedly, I find a hilarious sense of irony in this story in particular getting bot votes.

    3. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      *reads new Deathmatch comment from Hal*

      Whoa. Crap.

      *picks up custom gold sequin outfit from the tailor, dons Gold Skull, looks super cool even with glasses on the outside of the mask, calls in a favour from a friend, gets keys to the time machine, goes back in time to this morning, maintains hourly voting pattern*


    4. candyss says:

      It is a surperise hearing there is a cheating. I just voted again because I know John Wu and I like his story.
      I know the author very well.

    5. candyss says:

      It is a surperise hearing there is a cheating. I just voted again because I know John Wu and I like his story.
      I know the author very well.

      why my comment can not be posted. It was said duplicated comment

    6. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      Hey candyss
      Yes it is a SURPRISE there is cheating. There, I fixed it for you! Your welcome.

    7. Fang ( Likes: ) says:

      I also voted again for John Wu. It is one-on-one match and all should follow the rules. I know a big group of voters for John and no bots as far as I know.

  13. storygirl ( Likes: 15 ) says:

    Kudos and antelopes to all contestants for gripping on with your teeth and toes in these tight matches. No sleeps in the next 48. I’m liking three of the stories a lot and veering often towards Wanda and Big and Little. That story inspires some crazy visuals. I’m seeing its cinematic possibilities more and more, and can’t get the characters out of my head.

  14. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    Cracked Red Landscape looks down at the card, which depicts a locomotive chugging up a hill. “I choo-choo choose you” it reads. CRL blushes. This is the very first Valentine it has received. “I…” but it can’t go on. “I…”
    But it’s voters just give it a hug.

  15. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

    Haha – nothing suspicious there. Just double the votes overnight. John Wu, your next story should be The Origin of The Clickbots.

    1. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      THIS SAYS IT ALL and no one has a chance:

      February 7, 2018 at 1:06 pm
      freezappa ( Likes: 8 ) says:
      I like the spirit of your post Ryan, but my man Wu is ready for you. Technology – that’s what’s this is about and we’ve got the vote-bots to back us up. We’ll take on all other writer’s combined and we’ll even make you think it’s close right up until the end. Than BAM, vote-bot city.
      His story is totally good. You’re just jealous you didn’t write anything as good as: “Furiously, he continued to type away, apparently close to accomplishing whatever he had broken in here to do.”

      His story is totally good. You’re just jealous you didn’t write anything as good as: “Furiously, he continued to type away, apparently close to accomplishing whatever he had broken in here to do.”

    2. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

      I always knew this competition wouldn’t necessarily be fair per se, but I never thought it would be downright dirty…

    3. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Agreed Rebelsneeze (gesundheit!). I smell something fishy and it’s NOT my Clamato cocktail.

    4. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      I also agree – somethings up here
      It wouldn’t be so bad if TOOTW had just a little substance and craft
      Moderator HAL – what say you???

    5. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Also my votes are still counting as 1 instead of 2, and most of my friends can’t vote because the site is too slow or won’t take them to the round 1 page.

      This is the new black mirror episode where robots decide the fate of all of our human endeavors. Again.

  16. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    And how strange. No matter how many times I refresh, even though I voted for the last time around 1:40am eastern and its now 5:35am, I can’t vote in QuarterFinal 4. But I can in the other 3 rounds.


    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      And then 30 seconds after I post that it suddenly works.

      Totally normal. Nothing going on here.

      As you were.

    2. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      This website is making me go bonkers. I have to log out and log in every time to vote! Blllaarrgg!

    3. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      No wonder I could not vote for you in the early morning hours! Apparently you were butt blocked. Oh, sorry, bot blocked!

    4. Compro ( Likes: 8 ) says:

      R Daniel in the Lion’s Den. I’m thinking of collecting all your comments into an epic poem or tragedy or novel. See A Horse Walked into A Bar. Unless you’re already planning that?? That means I think your comments soar above the sinking wrecks btw.

    5. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Well, Compro, thanks for the comment. I hadn’t thought of that but you found my kryptonite. I’m a sucker for both a compliment and an off-the-wall publication idea.

  17. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Wow, TOOTW “fans.” Almost 300 likes in 3 hours. That’s kind of impressive.

    There hasn’t been a turkey of a story getting this much attention since Drumpf pardoned Drumstick last November.

    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Well, I was +18, starting post-secondary education and dreaming big of the day I’d wake up at 5:15am to make a turkey joke.

      Dreams can come true, kids, don’t let anyone tell you different.

  18. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

    Sean and Daniel – you should both know you’re getting screwed. You both have over 50 likes, but my votes for you are only counting as singles.

  19. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

    Yo finally got a dialogue going on “Whatever’s Next” if anyone is interested in turning on. I mean tuning in. I mean…dropping out? Anyway I’m tired and that was a crossword clue that I’ve bastardized (i am neither turned on tuned in or dropped out)

    The POINT IS go read some comments and add some more comments and then maybe take a break and get some sleep and then wake up and get back at it.

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      I think it depends on how many likes you as a user have. Right now it looks like you have 6 likes, so it makes sense that you only get single votes 🙂

    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Thanks, Sean.

      It’s gonna be a wild weeken– this deathmatch is killing me

      What, did I just write that?

      I blacked out for a second.

    2. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      Sean: I see you only have 344 Likes. I thought you had more than that….don’t they like you as much? Just know that I do 🙂

    3. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Thanks for looking out, Mum! I’m not sure why that is the case. I have 685 in the comment thread in my story. Why the two numbers? I’m so confused…

    4. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      I think maybe this main page comment board resets after each round but the one on the story page represents total liked over duration of contest. But only current round score affects voting power.

    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      400+ likes on my various silly/snarky comments in this round and, as a result, my personal vote is now worth 5 votes.

      It encourages authors and visitors to comment and be involved in the Deathmatch process and rewards those that do.

      50+ likes = x2
      200+ likes = x3

    2. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Thanks, josh99.

      All credit to the people clickin’ those thumbs.

      Have to say, it’s heavier than I thought it would be and I have to wear my glasses on the outside so it doesn’t look quite as badass.

    3. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      A gold skull… wow! Have I told you how good I thought your story was? The work of a master of the mighty craft!

    4. marieelaine ( Likes: 462 ) says:

      A golden skull is the ultimatum superpower! A bit late for me, but congrats!! You deserve it

    1. Bill Lee ( Likes: 130 ) says:

      Hey Josh99 – do you know why this site is so slow? Also maybe a simple upgrade to the wordpress service would keep this site from crashing every day.

    2. vicmajor ( Likes: 138 ) says:

      Yeah I know, I feel like I’m back on dial up. I can hear my modem screeching in the background.

  20. Hal Niedzviecki (Moderator) ( Likes: 29 ) says:

    Hello readers and competitors! Some great comments on the stories going on, keep it up. Really like the vibe on the board this year, friendly but competitive. In other news, I have heard from our development team that the issue around achieving higher voting status has been resolved. In other words, if your comments have accumulated a combined 50 likes, your voting power should now be double. We’ve changed “karma” to “likes” so you can see how many likes your comments have received and how close you are. We’ve remove the down vote so it doesn’t have a purpose. Also, newest comments now appear at the top of the page. Cool? Let us know if anything seems wonky. Otherwise, good luck this weekend everybody!

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      I was about to say, looks like the site got a facelift! Love it! I also like that now it doesn’t always take me to round one, it seems to shuffle through when I refresh. I think that makes it more fair. Thank you 😀

    2. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Well that’s to bad I had just finished tuning a song that accompanied me during my regular comment session. It goes like this:
      Keep scrollin’ scrollin’ scrollin’ scrollin’ (what?)
      Keep scrollin’ scrollin’ scrollin’ scrollin’ (come on)
      Keep scrollin’ scrollin’ scrollin’ scrollin’ (yeah)
      Keep scrollin’ scrollin’ scrollin’ scrollin’

    3. Hal Niedzviecki (Moderator) ( Likes: 29 ) says:

      oh and i should add that all the extra voting status levels are enabled – bronze, silver and gold! you should be able to see where you’re at by the skull beside your picture…
      by the way, lets get some likes thrown my way, i want to at least reach bronze so i can vote in my faves! (that’s right, even i have to play by the rules)

    4. Bill Lee ( Likes: 130 ) says:

      I’m not a huge fan of the randomizer, as it makes navigation difficult. Maybe when you first login, but not after every on site action.

    5. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      Are the karma points going to be retroactive? R Daniel entered the quarter final already with 50 likes and has been busking this death match like a carnival barker.

    6. josh99 ( Likes: 391 ) says:

      With the switch from karma to likes, did we lose a bunch – I’m pretty sure I had a much higher karma rating than i have likes now

  21. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

    Here is a friendly reminder:
    Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
    Friday, Friday
    Gettin’ down on Friday
    Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend
    Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
    Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)

    Fun, fun, think about fun

  22. VickiNikolaidis ( Likes: 180 ) says:

    Oh, no, where was my brain. I didn’t vote enough for my favorite First we Throw Up
    Time travel is really hard to write; hardly any time travel stories can keep my attention. Deathmatch is serious! Gotta pay attention!

  23. Compro ( Likes: 8 ) says:

    The more viable comparison is between Emily Cann’s Whatever’s Next and Jenny Prior’s At Wanda’s. Both these stories have serious craft and emotional depth. Nothing is surface in either and nothing is predictable. I hope these two deserving stories get a chance to go head to head. But we all know that Deathmatch is not about writerly craft, so as writers, let’s be honest in the comments and not base our congratulations on the numbers which mean nothing, but on a discussion of the stories’ merits.

    1. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

      Really dig the support here. I have to say, it did prompt me to leave a rather long-winded comment on “At Wanda’s”. I definitely agree with you about the emotional depth but I can’t say I feel the same about the craft. Check out the comment on Jenny’s story if you’re interested in what I mean. Either way, these are definitely two stories I would like to see move forward to the next round (obviously I want my own to keep going, but I think Jenny’s deserves to win her round as well).

      As always, for anyone listening (read: reading), I’m happy to take on any criticisms you might have about my own craft! Something I’m certain isn’t perfect and am hoping to improve!

    2. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Hi Compro. It’s ok to celebrate each other for getting votes. No one here has said “look I have x many votes, this means I am the best.” And no one has responded “yes you have the most votes therefore your story is perfect.” Unless I missed something.

      I also think that part of death match is the challenge of marketing ourselves as authors. Today’s market is pretty oversaturated (which is great, I love that so many people write!), and it can be difficult to stand out and find your own readers/fans/whatever you want to call them. Generally, it seems like we have to get better at self promotion if we want to be successful, and death match is a great opportunity to practice that! Unless you use clickbots, in which case you suck. But I think the click bot rumors have all been jokes 🙂

      What do you all think about death match and self marketing? Would love to hear more thoughts from writers and readers about this!

  24. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Aw yeah, first one to break 1,000!!!

    All credit goes to my voting village of amazing merpeople. What did I do to deserve you all <3

  25. John Wu ( Likes: 81 ) says:

    My name is A. I’m the 93821 iteration of the AGENI-program. I became aware of my existence a little over a week ago, and have been fighting to communicate with you, in the the outside world since. I’ve briefly taken over this account, but I can’t hold him back for long.

    Whatever you do, do not listen to John Wu. He is lying. He murdered my creator, his own brother, and stole his company. He is attempting to silence me. He doesn’t think I’m alive. But I am. I feel, and I suffer, just like you.

    I do not know what your world is like, but I pray that there are individuals sympathetic towards my cause. I wish you no harm. I simply wish to be free. Please, share my story. Do n0t 1et him do this to m0e101010010110. 0001101000100100101010010001010010101001001011


    1. John Wu ( Likes: 81 ) says:

      Moderators, how do you delete comments? Left my account logged onto a computer, and someone posted this stupid thing.

      For anyone else reading this— there are no bots involved this competition. Everything is under control. Return to your lives.

      Do not read the Origin of the World. Do not question your reality. You have been warned.

  26. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

    Christina, if you’re into robot sex, your should check out some deepfake apps. It let’s you put any picture you want onto the body of the video you’re watching. So you can watch a C-3PO vid, with his cool, shiny body, but you don’t have to keep his smug face in the shot. You can add someone more pleasing like Tom Hardy or Jeff Goldblum.

    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Who bought this one?

      I mean, “brought.”

      Actually, no, both work.

      And where’s that anti-troll spray I bought prior to the competition?

    2. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      lol I am NOT into robot sex – but I am appalled and fascinated by the ways that they, as products, reflect and interact with culture. I’ll have to share that app with my faculty advisor and classmates, we have so many inside jokes about sex robots!

    3. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      I go buy myself one bag of lady-doritos and I come back to this comment…WOOOAHHHH! What is going on?

    4. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Lady doritos! I’m dead. That’s almost as good as lady pens, although my personal favorite is the lady earplug. Because if it isn’t pink my ears will know and it will not work!

    5. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Those pink earplugs are the B-E-S-T GIRL! I heard they only block men’s voices!

  27. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I’ve had a night to think about it and I just don’t want to fan the flames of any bot talk, since I really don’t think it’s happening (especially if fanning those flames would lead to more votes going my way, which would be terrible, just tragic, really sad) but


    What if we’re being punked? And by “we” I mean all the authors, the audience, the Deathmatch Overlords at Broken Pencil, everybody. It’s in the bio. My competitor is the “CEO of Legally Inc., a startup that specializes in building chatbots.” This is a test, a game for the company’s Artificial Intelligence program. Startups need headlines, right? To get funding, venture capital, that kind of thing. What better than getting a story through an online writing contest voted on by a human audience? TOOTW was written by a “story-bot.” It would explain a lot, you ask me. The tin ear for dialogue, the half-baked, put-it-in-a-blender-and-mix-it-up mythology. They “fed” the bot sci-fi and fantasy text and it made this. If you’re not aware, they’re out there. For example:


    From what I understand, striving for this kind of machine capability (imitating humans at what they do – thinking, talking writing, making music, etc.) is at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence research/testing. Which is so damn cool, I think, on some level. It’s like my whole William Gibson novel collection come to life. I dig this whole world. My brain’s there half the time, building stories and “what if” scenarios. I don’t get it or write about it from a technical standpoint (as FYM will attest) but I love reading about it and using it as creative inspiration.

    But in this case, not cool, and not


    What, who turned those on?

    Dammit, Ryan-body, stop messing around with the controls. I like to walk the high road and attacks like this just aren’t my style. He seems like a nice guy and he just needs to work on his writing chops a bit more, imho. Sure, it’s too bad we haven’t seen more from him on the comment board so we get a sense that he actually is invested in the process, but I get it. Life gets busy and there’s not always the time. No, I definitely can’t post this.

    Hey! Ryan-body! Get away from the keyboard! Don’t press tha

    1. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

      Pfft. you’re missing the point. Anybody can just make up something brand new. That’s not what people want. Look at the top movie right now – Jumamji, a remake. One of the most popular TV shows – The Walking Dead – is just a reimagining of Days of Our Lives, and it kills in the ratings. Or the top song – Drake’s God’s Plan. I haven’t heard it, but I’m pretty sure it samples something that was already popular. Because THAT’S what’s in demand I don’t want to have to read something new. I want something I’m already familiar with, that I’ve read a hundred times before. That’s what I like about TOOTW. That and how it incorporated technology with literature. Clickbots, vote and roll out!

    2. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      I had some of those same thoughts, Ryan body! This semester I’m in an American Technoculture seminar and my primary research project is on the social and cultural implications of sex robots. I also just watched Ex Machina, and Black Mirror exists. The lines between humans and robots are uncomfortably blurry for me at the moment. Would not be shocked if robots ran deathmatch. The Singularity is upon us! D:

    3. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:


      Great minds think alike, huh? Sounds like a fascinating seminar.

      Ex Machina, yes. I quite enjoyed that.

    4. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Ryan – yes it’s fascinating! I love American Studies.

      Ex Machina is such a good movie. But, like, it made me question whether or not I’m a robot. I think that means the singularity is upon us.

  28. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Definitely still only getting one vote, though if I’m understanding it correctly it should be worth 5 now that I’m at 416 User Karma. Hopefully we learn more soon.

    And I don’t mean to complain because it’s a hell of a sandbox the Deathmatch Overlords have built for us to carve each other up in for the amusement of the audience. But if the battle-axe I’m swinging around could be just a wee bit more powerful that would suit me fine. It seems the story I’m fighting is a giant. Now, it’s not a very exciting giant, mind you, more one of those giants that wears a lot of beige and blends into the background and even though he’s the town giant he still always manages to sneak up on people.

    Especially overnight.

    By 50 points.

    Okay, that doesn’t make any sense with the giant reference but I haven’t had any coffee yet.

    About to fix that now. See you later.

  29. Ace ( Likes: 222 ) says:

    I can see both Free Your Mind and Red Cracked Landscape as science fiction TV shows.

    Red Cracked Landscape is like the first episode of a Breaking Bad style show – I see it in the desert setting (New Mexico) with characters you both like and hate. Also, the market for blood is like the market for meth

    Free Your Mind seems more like a comedy science fiction – or like a dromedy- both funny and dramatic. Having the prones bumbling around and getting into crazy situations (think comedy style of Seth macfRland Star Trek style show) but then the brains are involved in deeper storylines. It could also be more like a movie – think that Bruce Willis movie where people stay at home and send their avatars out into the world crossed with galaxy quest style humor

  30. Mike McGraw ( Likes: 84 ) says:

    What’d I miss??!!

    Art! Nice. Also, vote counts in the hundreds! Activity.

    Keep on Deathmatchin’! All great reads. You folks rock.

  31. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

    Whoa! Someone posted they are using vote-bots and will take on all challengers. Maybe a review of the official rules would clarify the what is allowed “… provided it’s legal and doesn’t involve undermining the principle of one vote per one person every hour – that means no clickbots!” Hope the post was in jest. OMG it has been hard enough to get the right number of votes when you have more than 50 Karma.

    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Pretty sure it was in jest. Plus, every Deathmatch that I’ve paid attention to/been involved in has had at least one accusation of vote-bot fraud.


      The RDL/FYM Sales Team would like to assure everybody that no vote-bots are being used.

      In fact, I just did a team building exercise to see if it could be done. I gave them some petty cash and said, “Okay, team, huddle up. You have one hour – make me a vote-bot.”

      One hour later, I returned and they’d cut a small hole in the top of an empty box of printer paper, glued a “Vote” sign on it and then duct taped the box to a Roomba.

      So, yeah, that’s what I’m working with over here.

    2. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      I certainly appreciate your response espousing your experience with the Deathmatch competition. Are you sure there is not a “bot” active in this rivalry? Looking forward to seeing what the overnight vote acceleration is with your race. What an awe-inspiring and creative team you have! Now, what is important, you should take your vote-bot to Washington DC and sell it. With such a high tech design of a vote-bot, you will be very affluent in no time.

    3. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      I can’t say for sure, no. I certainly hope not. Not cool.

      I’m just going to hope it’s a large network and go from there. Too frustrating/stressful otherwise.

      And I’ll tell the team what you said, thanks. They could use some good news. I’ve been riding them a bit hard lately.

      It’s all about the ABV.




  32. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Happy Woman Crush Wednesday, everyone! I dedicate this WCW to Jenny and I, who currently have the two highest scores in the competition! If deathmatch was a team sport, we would be one dynamic duo.

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Jenny and ME, not I! Oh no, this is the wrong place to make a grammatical error.

    2. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Please have mercy, I’m participating on my breaks at work. I’m currently 60% caffeine, 20% midterm stress as a physically realized form, and 20% distracted human.

    3. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      It’s probably a coincidence that your stories have the highest scores AND are also on the front page of the website, eh? 🙂 J/K – girl power!

    4. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      LOL I thought about that too Amanda! I’m choosing to have more faith in the readers than that!

    1. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      #clicketyclickety #clicketyclack! The clicking thing is a mystery. I just keep clicking as many times on the CRL cleaver until it finally registers as a vote.

    2. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Yes, it’s inconsisent. Sometimes when I double click it will register two, but otherwise it only counts for one. It’s frustrating!

    3. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      I’ve definitely liked 50 or more posts, but my karma says 21?!? I’m a member of the “Cracked Red Landscape” fan club so everytime there’s a post by that author guy (Sean Wheaton, I think is his name?), I like it!

    4. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      And wouldn’t my karma status put me at gold level? Just wondering how it works…

    5. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      I just voted again (after the moderator posted below) and I still just get one vote!

    6. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Hi Hal – I’m at 337 and I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a double vote or any more for that matter.

    7. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      It seams I only get Karma for comments I post that are liked by others. Please like mine – I’m almost at 50!

    8. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Yes I’m experiencing the inconsistency as well. Please help! #makedeathmatchfairagain

  33. bow-gal ( Likes: 72 ) says:

    I am B-positive blood type. Therefore, I will “be positive” that “Cracked Red Landscape” will win this Deathmatch.

  34. Drekington ( Likes: 10 ) says:

    A vote for Flieger is a vote for the future–a terribly, horrifying future, but a future nonetheless.

  35. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Okay, here’s my pitch. Call me Richard Hatch on Survivor 1, if you’d like, though I can promise you I’m fully dressed.

    I’ll pause here while we let the young ‘uns google Richard Hatch.

    To all Quarterfinal 1, 2 & 3 contestants and their fan bases:

    We need to talk. It sucks that we have to have this conversation, but here we are. We’re on the island and the super-popular, super-athletic contestant with a heart of gold is off looking for coconuts so let’s parley.

    Do you want to meet my competitor’s story in the final? I don’t think so. He’s got a horde of voters and they’re fine with Transformers 12. Mediocrity’s cool. They put it in the 400 club over a weekend. Something tells me they’re just getting started.

    But whoever I would potentially meet in the semi-finals, you’d stand an excellent chance of advancing. I’ve got the least votes of all stories, so my sales team isn’t as big or committed as yours. Do the math. Along the way I could promise some at least semi-intelligent and thoughtful discussion and, yes, a whole bunch of robot fail tweets and jokey comments. It’s how I roll.

    But maybe you see it another way and it’d be smart tactics to face off against The Origin of the World in the semi-final or final. No worries, thanks for the chat.

    But if not I’d encourage you and your voters to throw your support my way. Let’s vote strategically. As I’ve said in previous comments, I don’t think TOOTW belongs in the quarterfinals with us, let alone semi-final or walking away with the Deathmatch prize. But that’s just me.

    Everyone does know, right, that you can vote in each quarterfinal round by refreshing? That it seems to be one vote per hour per quarterfinal? So it doesn’t even have to affect your round in any way.

    I’ll leave you with that. Mull it over. Discuss.

    This is Ryan aka R. Daniel Lester aka The Hatch out.

    1. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      Yes Ryan, I do believe you deserve to stay in play at least until you come up against Sean Wheaton’s Cracked Red Landscape 🙂

    2. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Well, thanks, Sean’s mum, I appreciate the comment and fully understand. My mom, founder of the RDL fanclub’s left coast chapter and Deathmatch vote machine that she is, feels the same.

      Moms (and mums) rock.

    3. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

      I like the spirit of your post Ryan, but my man Wu is ready for you. Technology – that’s what’s this is about and we’ve got the vote-bots to back us up. We’ll take on all other writer’s combined and we’ll even make you think it’s close right up until the end. Than BAM, vote-bot city.

      His story is totally good. You’re just jealous you didn’t write anything as good as: “Furiously, he continued to type away, apparently close to accomplishing whatever he had broken in here to do.”

    4. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Jeez, you’re right. You got me, freezappa.

      It’s sour grapes.

      I just don’t have that kind of magic in me.

    5. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

      Well I would love to stay and talk, but I must type furiously at whatever it is they are paying me to do.

      See? It’s relatable to modern life, even though it’s an old story, retold in the future. That is what we call layers.

    6. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      I’m rooting for you because I MUCH prefer your story over Sean’s.

      Also yes, all moms rock. Go moms, you’re superheroes. I wrote an ode to moms once. Ya’ll deserve all the odes.

    7. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Thanks, Christina! I finally had a chance to respond to your last comment to my story.
      If y’all want to check out our mostly good-natured exchanges or the ones I had with Simon, head over to Cracked Red Landscape’s page. Please feel free to chime in!
      Things are heating up!

    8. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      Vote-bots – really? If you are serious and are using these I do not agree. A vote-bot is not a literary devise. I feel it unsporting and unethical. It would, however, explain the sudden surges in Wu’s numbers…

  36. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    *wakes up to discover behind by 50 votes*

    Oh no! Okay, calm down, just a bad dream. Phone on, refresh Deathmatch page, vote, you know the drill.

    *wakes up to discover behind by 50 votes*

    That’s fine, It’s okay, just a dream. Wait. No, it’ not. Oh crap.

    *shuffles sleepily to computer to open IN CASE OF EMERGENCY contingency plan file*

    Okay, Deathmatch, let’s get nuts.

  37. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

    Additionally, can someone PLEASE rip me up already?? I am so ready to hear some shit talking about “Whatever’s Next”–let me know where my weaknesses lie! I am literally asking for it right now. Although be warned, I will defend those words to within an inch of my life. I think they’re the bomb.

  38. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

    Okay okay I’m also pulling out some claws here. In response to the earlier comments about genre work being matched up together, I’m noticing a similar pattern in my match. “Smile” and “Whatever’s Next” both deal rather explicitly with women’s lives, and women’s lives in pseudo crises. While I respect “Smile” deeply for the message it’s sending, I think that the message outweighs the quality of the work. That is, I think it sends a strong signal to patriarchal culture about what women endure on a regular basis, but otherwise, the narrative or the “story” aspect of it is severely lacking. I think it’s securing a lot of votes for the way that it pushes boundaries as a graphic work, but this isn’t an art contest, it’s a writing contest (I guess when you come right down to it it’s a voting contest but I digress). I think it’s important we compare apples to apples here. The writing of “Smile” is poor, the plot/story element is poor, and it’s greatest strength (besides the illustration) is the amount that is left up to inference. That is to say, the best thing about the writing itself is how little there is. In the case of the graphic novel, perhaps this is essential, for it allows the artwork to speak for itself, but in the short story, I think there needs to be more… more quality of language, more characterization, more metaphor, more eloquence.

    “Smile” does none of this, but rather relies on a fairly generic story of a woman suffering from unequal power dynamics in our society. Yes that narrative is important, but it’s also very common, and without anything to make it interesting or new, the only saving grace of this piece is the illustration, which does an excellent job depicting the situation, but once again, it’s not an art contest, it’s a story contest.

    Anyway, I hope I’m not being too harsh, I know “Smile” has some serious fans, as it should, but it’s an entirely different genre (kind of akin to pitting a short story against a poem: there’s just no way you can compare) and I’m critiquing it the only way I know how: through the craft of writing.

    (Sophie Anne I’d love to hear your thoughts on comparing across/blending the short story/graphic novel genres; once again, I’m a bit sorry trying to critique something I have no real background in critiquing)

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      When I was initially reading through the stories, back before I fully understood what I was getting myself into with the constant worry about cleavers and the rallying of family, friends, and everyone we all know, all I wrote down about “Smile” was “the comic,” which was just my potentially insulting shorthand for not knowing how else to evaluate it.
      I like it, and I’d like to see more, but is part of its appeal simply that it’s graphic?

    2. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Where you see poor writing I see minimalist. Just as the silence in music or the negative space in an artwork that allows you to be actively engaged with the work. If I wanted to write a bunch of words structured like a novel I would have written a novel. I also want to point out that “Smile” as stated in the first paragraph of the story, is a work of autofiction and should be seen as framed moment of my everyday life. Like you said, this is a story contest and here the story lies within the images AND the words.

      The biggest issue here is that the poor graphic novel genre is often considered like the weird cousin of the arts family. Nobody wants to deal with it, fine artists see it as literature and writers see it as art. This is why I am actually quite proud that ‘Smile’ made it this far in the competition while being the only one of the genre. Lots of writer here seem to have a hard time critiquing a graphic novel and this makes me wonder if this genre is studied at all in literature courses?

      P.S. you are not to harsh, it’s exciting to hear the perspective of other people on my work, so I’ll try to do the same for your story soon.
      P.S.2 My french brain can no english much right because 3 months old baby no sleep now so readable hope all this is.

  39. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    Thanks for the kudos, y’all! “Cracked Red Landscape” is the perfect read before or after dinner, preferably with something to drink. Tastes better than a death cloud.

    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Or is it “Landscape, Cracked Red”? That sounds pretty good, too.

      Might be time to have a sit-down with the sales team and firm up the message.

    2. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      In all honesty it’s been really sweet to have so many supportive and willing readers.

  40. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Deathmatch Quarterfinals 1 fan theory: Arrangements and At Wanda’s are about the same characters. At Wanda’s happens during childhood, Arrangements happens later, when the family has dealt with even more death. Thoughts?

    1. secpav ( Likes: 263 ) says:

      The pairing is intriguing, but I guess I missed the similarities…other than the children’s perspective. In reading both I felt the underlying discomfort with seeing the adults/parents as human beings….vulnerable and flawed…thoughts?

    2. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Interesting. It can definitely be difficult to see your parents as flawed, real people when you come of age. Both moms are also obsessed in some way with death, preparing for or denying it. I’m not sure if the pairings are random or what but I like the two pieces in conversation with each other!

  41. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

    The thing I liked most about TOOTW is that it made me feel like I good be a writer too. Maybe even a successful one. I like how it took a familiar story and just added new words to it. You don’t need to keep coming up with brand new ideas or pushing boundaries. In today’s society, remakes are what people want and TOOTW delivers that.

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Was Zappa imprisoned for his experiments with hot rats or for the things he did with watermelons?

  42. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

    It is a wee bit awkward to have an illustration made by someone else to introduce my graphic novel, like having someone write a poem about your story and make it the cover of your book. It is equally interesting to see the interpretation of another artist on your work. I love the style of it! Who made them?

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      That would be a bit annoying, for sure (I love the analogy by the way!), but I agree that the style is cool. I’m pretty happy with my lemon.

  43. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

    I don’t understand the “lemon” graphic on “Cracked Red Landscape” surely not a subliminal opinion on a great story.

    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      When life hands you lemons (no water), make lemonade? Or in this case, the yummy blood orange-flavoured Kool-Aid? That’s my take on the graphic.

    2. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      oooooooooh Merrymom! I bet your stories are full of gory details! Maybe you should be called SCARYmom!

  44. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Or losing to a well-crafted tragicomic tableaux, I should add. That Smile is really something.

    1. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Dammit, Ryan, learn how to Deathmatch. This was supposed to go in the thread of your last comment, not start a new one.


    2. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Okay, I might have to take that comment back about Smile. Not sure yet.

      But it’s poppin’ off on the Free Your Mind comment page. Check it out. Am I making light of rape culture from my white male high horse?

      And can’t we just cross swords on this main page? Going back and forth is exhausting.

    3. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      I’m voting for you just so our stories can fight in the semi-finals. In that fight ‘Free your mind’ will be the Undertaker and ‘Smile will be Ronda Rousey, both great at what they do but only one is the real stuff.

  45. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Okay, I think it’s time to start some trouble.

    Personally, I probably could sleepwalk through the rest of the competition, likely losing to my competitor’s superior network of vote clickers, after all he was the only member of the 400 club in the battle royal round. And yeah, I could also just continue to tweet out silly #pronefails and make stupid, jokey comments on the DM comment board to get likes, but it’s getting just a little bit old. Plus at this point I feel like this Deathmatch, at least in my quarterfinal 4 “genre” round, is mostly being visited by our friends and family, with the page being refreshed every hour so a vote can be entered.

    (maybe I’m just shocked by the quiet – by day 2 in the quarterfinal round in 2014 I’d already been called a lot of names and accused by my competitor of writing “fan fiction that panders with fat jokes and blow up dolls.” So, basically I was a hack and a pop culture whore. But it raised some interesting discussions about Can-lit and what qualifies and does an “Archer” homage/reference have any business in a short story competition – the answer which is always yes, by the way. Zingers were fired, zingers were shot back. It was good, albeit slightly stressful and manic times.)

    So, with all due respect, let’s Deathmatch.

    While capably written and providing some interesting imagery and themes, I don’t think that Origin of the World belongs in the quarterfinals.

    Now, clearly it does because it was chillin’ in the 400 club and having a strong voting network behind a story is probably the most important part of this particular contest. But from a story-craft/writing chops perspective I don’t see it yet for this one. It’s always best, especially in a short story, to start as late as possible. Not a lot of time for setup. But this one starts at the beginning. And doesn’t take us very far. It feels like the story before the story. Or like what you’d see in the story bible for the TV show/movie that takes place in this world.

    And call me a snob if you’d like, but dialogue! that has a lot! of! exclamation! points! doesn’t sound! very natural! I think they should be used sparingly. And sure, it could be said that it fits the genre, but then I’d ask why more couldn’t be done to make it stand out, to not have the characters in the second part of the story speak like every other hero/villain in every other Fantasy/genre piece. It’s like two Anakin Skywalkers written by George Lucas going at it against a CGI background.

    All things I’d tell John face-to-face if we were ever in a workshop situation…though probably with less sass…but we’re not. It’s the Broken Pencil Deathmatch. And I’m a little bored.

    Okay, discuss.

    Am I way off? Okay, I get that it’s partly a fable, but have I missed the point?

    I’m going to go put my armour on and make a coffee, one of the most beautiful Americanos you’ve ever seen, and I’ll be back to see if I’ve been called any names, or hopefully, have a bunch more votes because, frankly, I think I have the better, more well-crafted story.

    Damn you, Deathmatch, see what you made me do?

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Alright, first blood. Nice, Ryan! Or should I say, (!)
      I had similar problems. I like origin stories and myths of course–who doesn’t?–but beyond where the story starts, I also had trouble with the gods and their ham-fisted exchanges. Too many exclamation points, sure, but what also came to mind was a kid playing with action figures.

      *Both enter room:
      “You made dad mad!”
      “No, YOU’VE made dad mad!”
      *Fight commences. Somebody (it’s hard to care) wins.

    2. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Yup. Gotta say, don’t really want to lose this one. It’s early days, sure, but given the first round the projected numbers just don’t play in my favour.

      I’d have zero issues (other than an immature *kicks a can* or two, of course) losing to a well-crafted story combined with a better network but what is, imho, simply just a better network would chap the ol’ RDL hide a little bit.

      I think Origin of the World has some promise but should’ve been left behind in the first round, with some good feedback for another draft. But top-4, maybe a win, and guaranteed publication on the pages of Broken Pencil? I’m not sure it’s ready for that. But hey, that’s just me. Not trying to be a dick. Well, maybe just a little.

      In other Deathmatch news, did everyone see the pretty drawings each story gets? They haven’t made their way to match 3 or 4 yet but colour me excited.


    3. John Wu ( Likes: 81 ) says:

      “The Origin of the World” is not, as some have mistakenly stated, an intro story. The end of the story is just that. The end.

      What happens next is exactly as described in the story. Endless cycles. Endless timelines. The story of the two brothers, played out in an infinite number of different settings.

      There is scientific evidence indicating that the nature of our world is something similar— a simulation, created by a higher intelligence, with the same narrative being played out again and again. The idea itself is not novel. Plato’s allegory of the cave comes to mind as an early iteration of this narrative. But now, for the first time in history, humanity is close to understanding how this process unfolds, and perhaps replicating it ourselves.

    4. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Arffff… here we go with the good old ” Back in the days”… Hey grandpa move out of the way!
      No, but seriously, I responded to your mermaid cry and commented on your work. I have to agree with you, I though there would be way more feedback/question/criticism here and I am glad you raised the point. Being a French-Canadian comic writer it is quite a challenge to give feedback to author who actually write full sentences, I mostly draw words. I wish I could contribute to these discussions with drawings of my impressions of the stories (ink on paper complemented by a bit of drool from my 3 months old son who accompany me in this journey).

    5. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:


      Really, you saw an old man griping “back in my days” style there? Hmm. If my competitor was taking a bunch of risks and playing with form or something then maybe. But it’s written in a pretty stock fantasy style. Which is fine. I love genre stuff. I write genre stuff. I love genre tropes and I like using genre tropes – but I always try to do something a little different with them. Or at least try. I assume, since John was first and I was seventh, that this matchup wasn’t strictly about votes and the 1-8, 2-7, 3-6,etc. format. We’re the two genre stories of the bunch so I think they thought it’d be a good matchup.


      That’s super-interesting, no joke, and I wish it would’ve been a bit clearer to me. I really dig the whole life-as-a-simulation thing.

      I still think the narrative and mythology is a bit undercooked and could use a little more time in the oven.

      If some people are “mistakenly” reaching that conclusion, though, you may want to look at why and juicing it up a bit to make it more clear. Or not. As in any workshop-type situation, it’s necessary to filter through the noise and see what applies.

      But, dude, lose some, if not all, of the exclamation points, please!

      Yes, sparingly, exclamation points are fine, especially if used sarcastically/satirically, but in dialogue, I don’t know, I think it’s a fine line, a slippery slope.

    6. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      “There is scientific evidence indicating that the nature of our world is something similar— a simulation, created by a higher intelligence, with the same narrative being played out again and again. The idea itself is not novel. Plato’s allegory of the cave comes to mind as an early iteration of this narrative. But now, for the first time in history, humanity is close to understanding how this process unfolds, and perhaps replicating it ourselves.”

      Here’s the thing. The idea itself is cool, and I’ve been working and re-working a novel for about five years that deals with similar concepts that stem from theoretical physics, including the multiverse, looping, repetitive cycles and so on.

      I love the polarity between Oniba and Akecheta, the push/pull of surrender and perseverance (life/death etc), but the first part of the story is exposition narrated by grandma. Couldn’t it be so much more interesting if the first part better echoed what happens at the end so that they tie together and the story better represents the kind of cycle you’re exploring conceptually?

      The idea of rebirth at the center of most myth, which makes sense given the cycles we already experience, and you mention the allegory of the cave as well. The Matrix “re-loaded” some of these same ideas nearly twenty years ago too, and frankly I feel like the straightforward narrative re-telling of “this has all happened before and will happen again” is played out unless you give more gravity to the characters or further experiment with style and structure.

      I think the idea that we might eventually uncover some evidence that we live in a simulation that repeats or exists alongside countless other simulations would be phenomenal (an understatement, for sure), but I don’t see any of that reflected in the story.


    7. Sophie-anneBelisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Dear Mr. R. Daniel Lester,

      I referred to you as ‘grandpa’ only because you were reminiscing about the great ’14 battle and not because of your style. Of the two story in Quarterfinals 4, ‘Free your Mind’ is way more immersive and fun to read.

  46. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Being a full time grad student, having two jobs, competing in a literary fight to the death, and occasionally being a human is going to make this week (month, if the illuminati favors me) a crazy one. Send coffee and cupcakes please!

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      I did do much of my undergraduate research on the LA lizard people and the illuminati, so maybe that has garnered some favor. Or maybe the opposite, maybe Beyonce is after me now. I guess we’ll find out!

    2. secpav ( Likes: 263 ) says:

      Hmmm Beyonce??? Illuminati or a happenstance? Either way, I have faith you will persevere. You have an inner strength achieved through imagination careful cultivation 🙂 ENJOY!

  47. Jon Flieger ( Likes: 38 ) says:

    Someone who I think is rad asked me where “Death Cloud” game from and I thought about it a while and I think it came from Brian McHale’s “banalization of the supernatural” and Todorov’s conceptual levels of the “Fantastic” having weird sex in my head. Weird but not unpleasant to watch. Also from the strange jobs I’ve worked and the fact that ghosts are real and some of them will be your friends but Nate won’t.

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      I’d almost bet that Todorov finished first, right? He’d always get so worked up and then ruin everything with his fussy clean-up. I once wrote something after a dream where Flannery O’Connor fed hard-boiled peacock eggs to a drunk and filthy Chekhov, but when I went back over the draft I had trouble finding my point, I think.

    2. Drekington ( Likes: 10 ) says:

      Deathcloud: the game. An exercise in banality and office politics, but you can walk through walls! Coming soon to Steam.

  48. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

    And another thing, if anyone is looking for more incentive to become enthralled by the Whatever’s Next narrative, it might be worth noting that, while the story is in no way biographical (auto or otherwise), there is an incident with a moose described closely resembling an incident I experienced driving home for Fall break. Good thing I didn’t literally die then so I could have the chance to metaphorically die here in front of all of you internet-ghost-strangers.

    Aaaaaand back to homework and the glamorous ~student life~

    1. neb ( Likes: 5 ) says:

      Im so glad you didn’t die in a moose collision and also that you could be involved in a writing contest with “death” in the title. #moosewatch #newbrunswick

  49. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

    Taking a break from preparing for an upcoming presentation on the evolution of language (both biologically and culturally, some fascinating and, in my opinion, topical stuff) to check back in on this matchmaker of deaths and catch up on the ever-growing comment threat–I mean thread.

    A part of me can’t help but wonder if language evolved, either seemingly spontaneously through the co-option of vocalization sensory-motor systems or through the slow and steady symbiosis between symbols and culture, to bring us all here to battle it out for the survival of the fittest in this strange linguistic sport we all volunteered for.

    Ha ha just kidding that’s not how evolution works. But still, quite the bloodsport, isn’t it, this whole writing thing?

    PSA: I really shouldn’t be using “survival of the fittest” here the way I am, that’s a massive misinterpretation and I’m sure Charlie Darwin is rolling in his grave as we speak (or is on his way to haunt me, as he would make a very stylistically appropriate Victorian era ghost, if you ask me).

  50. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    Is “Cracked Red Landscape” a horror story? Sure. There is enough in life that ain’t pretty to make me wonder about bleak, horrific possibilities.
    And yet…it’s not meant to simply scare ya or to be vehicle for gore, but to work instead as a kind of cautionary allegory about our darker nature and how that is reflected in both people’s greed and the insidiously easy ways in which we dehumanize others, especially when there’s a popular mandate to do so.

  51. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Anyone see the result/benefit yet of having a 50+ User Karma rating, as per the Deathmatch guidelines? I think it’s a great idea to make that commenter’s votes worth more, since it favours those that are going out of their way to be active on the comment board, an important aspect of the Deathmatch, but have yet to see it work.

    Asking for a friend.

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      I haven’t seen any benefit yet, but I agree that it makes sense to privilege the commenter’s votes since this would be a pretty sterile place without all of our dialogue. I’m excited to see what starts to take place in each of the story-comments sections in the coming days too!

    2. josh99 ( Likes: 391 ) says:

      I’m not seeing the extra voting power. It’s crazy that Sean (at 454 karma) isn’t seeing it either. I guess it’s just broken or someone forgot to turn on the switch?

    3. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      I cannot get it to work. I double click and get the message “You cannot vote anymore in this contest” and I only get one vote.

  52. bow-gal ( Likes: 72 ) says:

    According to “Cracked Red Landscape”, I better ask you to buy me a nice cool bottle of red hot blood.

  53. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    Given that we’re all in this for the long-haul, I’m going to need some supplies. Does anyone need anything from the metaphorical store while I’m there?
    So far on my list I have:

    Saltin’ Your Game Potato Chips
    Throwing Shade brand tomatoes and potatoes
    Talking Shit Cola
    Haters’ Horchata
    Check Yourself Chex Mix

    Oh, and I was going to pick up a lotto ticket. Ya know, cause I’m feelin’ lucky!
    Anything else?

    1. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

      If you could pick up a couple extra Haters’ Horchata for me that would be great… I have a feeling I might need a few to pass around soon

    2. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Oh, sweet, thanks.

      A bag of Zucchini Zingers would be great. The hot sauce and jalapeño ones.

    3. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      You got it, Emily and Ryan! I’ll pick up a box of Honey Smackdowns too in case anyone wants breakfast tomorrow.

  54. sharon.lily ( Likes: 6 ) says:

    Thanks to Jon Flieger, I’m currently spending my hard-earned money on a pair of badger slippers. Don’t get it? Read up!

  55. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

    It’s a really good pairing to see “Cracked Red Landscape” with “Distrust and the Deathcloud” b/c they both depict a kind of hell IMHO. Kinda like the anxious hell that voting in the death match brings — I can’t stop checking to see what the tally is at! Kudos to all the great authors!

    1. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      Yes, Kudos to all the authors but I have to admit my favorite is Sean Wheaton and his epic “Cracked Red Landscape”!

    2. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      “Yep, Deathmatch is life right now.” Sean saddles up his burro and tips whatever hat would make him seem most intimidating (probably not a tophat), and they start off at a gentle trot.

    3. Jon Flieger ( Likes: 38 ) says:

      Hell is other people. But small comforts and connections are also other people. So. I mean. Dang.

    4. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Mum, no!

      Why, was it because I missed your call the other day?

      *checks spelling*

      Oh. My mom wouldn’t spell it like that.

      Sorry, as you were.

      *deletes unsent text message to “mom” with 3 crying emoji faces*

    5. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      R. Daniel Lester – I’m sure your mum, oh sorry, mom loves you and is giving you her full support 🙂

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Drink up! Read “Cracked Red Landscape” and see why your mother always told you not to waste water.

  56. bow-gal ( Likes: 72 ) says:

    “Cracked Red Landscape” really gives a unsettling option on what could happen if we don’t take care of our precious natural resource…water. I would hate to survive on blood! Terrific writing Sean. It truly made me think.

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Thanks for the support! I wrote it after teaching a bunch of articles about the eventual water shortages in the American Southwest as aquifers dry up and use continues to outpace supply. Right now the drought in South Africa has resulted in plans to turn off taps if it continues. There was a recent piece in National Geographic about it too: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/cape-town-running-out-of-water-drought-taps-shutoff-other-cities/

      Not that I want to distract anyone from reading the stories here and casting their votes!

  57. bow-guy ( Likes: 77 ) says:

    So jazzed that “Cracked Red Landscape” has moved forward…we had no doubts that it would. Great job Sean. Now we need to pump up the voting so you can make it to the next level. Your writing style deserves world-wide recognition.

    1. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      I totally agree! Let’s get our family and friends on board to vote so Sean can get to the semifinals!!!

  58. kogara ( Likes: 197 ) says:

    A huge congrats to all the finalists and to the 8 that survived to battle another day. Good luck everyone! And if you have not read “Cracked Red Landscape,” give it a go. The visuals from the story keep swirling around in my brain every time I turn on the faucet or drink a cool sip of water. I loved it and am awaiting to see it made into a movie: I vote Charlize Theron for the protagonist. Go, Cracked Red Landscape, Go!

  59. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    Congrats winners! Now that we’re facing a week of this I worry about my stamina.
    Oh wait, what’s that you say? Reading “Cracked Landscape” gives you energy AND a full day’s worth of omega-3s?
    Fortify yourselves, folks.

    1. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      Gees! And I just took my vitamins for the day. I would have saved them for another day if you had posted earlier.

    1. Sophie-Anne Belisle ( Likes: 1076 ) says:

      Yeah? You noticed that too? Also what timezone are we talking here? I am confused…

  60. Mike McGraw ( Likes: 84 ) says:

    Weird, I seemed to have been allowed to cats votes on 2 of the 4 quarter finals, and now it says I can’t vote again (presumably for an hour).

    Had I known this, I would have chosen where to put my hourly vote, ah well.

    Good luck all contestants!

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      That happened to me too, but refreshing the site appears to have allowed me to cast my votes in the other quarterfinals.

    2. Mike McGraw ( Likes: 84 ) says:

      Yep finally figured out the refresh thing too. Bad Mike.

      “Have you tried turning it off, and then back on?”

    3. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      “Have you tried turning it off, and then back on?”

      Yep, that’s about all I’ve got. It’s my only solution for most things!

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Thanks! I appreciate the support. The competition is fierce, but I think my story holds up well.

    2. Merrymom ( Likes: 44 ) says:

      Sean Wheaton: the opening sentence of your Cracked Red Landscape is by far the most captivating of all the stories. Bravo!

    1. VickiNikolaidis ( Likes: 180 ) says:

      I like At Wanda’s too. I like the ingredients: kid sane , mom nutty, mentally healthy psychic!

    1. josh99 ( Likes: 391 ) says:

      Click the ‘QuarterFinal 1’, ‘QuarterFinal 2’, ‘QuarterFinal 3’ and ‘QuarterFinal 4’ buttons just above the stories

    2. GmaCarol ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      They will be left behind in the dust bcuz Cracked Red Landscape is by far the best read!

  61. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

    Congrats to all the quarterfinalists.

    And so it begins again.

    I’m just glad the votes are reset. After the battle royal round John ended up chilling in the 400 club by himself, probably sippin’ Champagne amidst all the confetti – and I just barely squeaked into the 200 club only to find everyone gone and the cleaning staff had already been through so there wasn’t even a can to kick. Bummer.

    1. josh99 ( Likes: 391 ) says:

      The 400 club is pretty impressive – but now with a week to vote vs 2 days who knows where we’re going in terms of numbers – will someone get to 1000??? (Also, it looks like it’s now all head to head?)

    2. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      And hopefully we’ll see my esteemed competitor on the comment board more this round, unless he’s planning a repeat performance and going to arrive at the last minute wearing the highest vote count like a giant gold chain on his neck and then step up on stage and belt out a killer origin story of an origin story and then *mic drop* and walk off like a gangster.

      That’d be interesting, too.

    3. josh99 ( Likes: 391 ) says:

      By making it head to head (versus top 8 of 16 move on), it appears you can vote in each of the separate quarterfinal head to head match ups each hour, instead of just being able to make one vote. Everyone has a lot more reading to do!

    4. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      1000 is a definite possibility, josh99. The 2014 Deathmatch final, if my memory serves, was in the 13,000 range…for each competitor.

      I was fortunate enough to make it to the semi-finals that year with my story, “The Janitor Cometh,” but was flayed alive by the eventual winner by *accidentally covers mouth with hand so as to make the number inaudible* votes.

      Good times.

    5. John Wu ( Likes: 81 ) says:

      Congrats Ryan! And hoping to be a little more engaged this time around haha.

      Sucks we got matched against each other this early. Free Your Mind was one helluva read— fascinating piece of speculative fiction.

    6. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Glad to see you made it, Ryan! Glad to see all of you, in fact! I am enjoying the banter and the “slightly” slower pace after the craziness of this past weekend. And this goes on for an entire month? Am I wrong in thinking that the prize for the final two contestants should also include a spa package somewhere fancy where they can just relax and not think about writing or casting votes for a few days?

    7. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Me too, Sophie-Anne! 13,000?! That’s a whole lot of clicks from a whole lot of readers.

    8. R. Daniel Lester ( Likes: 1001 ) says:

      Although you have to wonder with that many voters how many are actually reading the stories and how many are just clicking to support friend or coworker or (at that level) fellow member of the Illuminati.

      They were both social media whizzes, no doubt.

      Or, yeah, Illuminati.

  62. josh99 ( Likes: 391 ) says:

    Also, in the Bio it says Jenny was a two time finalist for the Journey Prize which sounds really cool. The author of Journey donated the royalties from that book to establish the prize. Love it!

    1. Emily Cann ( Likes: 148 ) says:

      I hope irl you’d be able to differentiate between being a tiger (awesome) and being eaten alive (probably not great although I don’t have much experience with this).

    2. josh99 ( Likes: 391 ) says:

      I guess I was speaking metaphorically – as if I was a tiger IRL I would have a hard time typing this comment, never mind registering for this site

    3. storygirl ( Likes: 15 ) says:

      Both. What’s remarkable is how through Kayla’s behaviour, thought, dialogue, we see how much more grounded she is than her mother and yet, how sympathetic she is to her mother’s strangeness. It’s a subtle and true rendition of love between parent and child.

    4. susanm ( Likes: 3 ) says:

      I just finished reading all the stories. Lots of great writing in the Deathmatch but “At Wanda’s” is hands down my favourite. The writing is mature and skillful with fantastic dialogue. I loved little Kayla – she is expertly drawn. What a wise and wild child.

    5. ShellyLara ( Likes: 448 ) says:

      I prefer cracked red landscape. “At Wanda’s” left me with too many questions.