A password will be e-mailed to you.

Deathmatch 2018 – Quarterfinal

This round has ended.

*** WINNERS ***

Sophie-Anne Bélisle does not draw if her pencil does not have a hard-on. What tickles her imagination is the moments of ambiguity found in raw ordinary life or in total absurdity, and sometimes in a...
Read the full story
Whatever’s Next
We were driving. It felt like we were always driving. Dee was sucking down cigarettes in the backseat of Dad's old Volkswagen. She cranked the window down and pursed her lips into the frigid outside...
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 🙂