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Deathmatch 2018 – Semifinal

This round has ended.

*** WINNERS ***

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...
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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...
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*** WINNER ***


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

    Congrats to Christina and Sophie-Anne.

    Rest up (for the next 12 hours anyway) and good luck in the finals.

  2. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    I’ve placed a number of substantial bets on the hope that CRL will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with a final glorious burst of voting, which would fill me with inordinate pride, but I have a feeling my fate at this point shall be debtors prison. Not to worry though. They’re a jolly bunch and they don’t turn their nose up at much of anything. And the food’s better than what you’d find in the desert in some distant future. Carry on deathmatchers, carry on.

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      From what I’ve heard there will be no sneaking necessary. Everything is well stocked and they’ve hired the best performers. A nice little break, really.

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

    So what do you think of the 3000 club, Christina?

    I think they did a nice job. Classy, but not trying too hard. I’ll assume the buckets of Zima on ice are an ironic touch. Dress down to dress up kind of thing. Although I’m a bit surprised by the musical guest. I thought with all the JT talk on the comment board, BP might shell out the big bucks and see if they could get him out of the woods for a show. Apparently not. But this’ll be good, don’t worry. And trust me, in 1985, this was the jam.


    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      I’m enjoying the club! Not quite as similar to Club 33 as I had hoped for, but I can dig it. Definitely not woodsy enough for 2018 JT though. But I only go to clubs I can wear leggings as pants in so this is right up my alley!

      I’m pretty pleased with the musical choice too. LOL at King Tut! That’s such a culturally interesting song/performance, we dissected it in an American Studies seminar last semester 🙂

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

      C’mon Sean, join us in the 3000 club. The Zima’s cold and Eddie is still singing. Actually it’s getting a bit weird but no one wants to say anything.

      “Really, Eddie, ‘all’ the time?”

      1 hour, 93 to go. You’re gettin’ my votes.

    1. SCed ( Likes: 333 ) says:

      The rest of my tribe is glued to the TV watching it. From the noise, it must be good. Nothing compared to a good deathmatch though.

  4. SCed ( Likes: 333 ) says:

    Nothin’ like voting all day on a beautiful cool and breezy Sunday. Hang in there everybody! We’re a tenacious bunch, that’s for sure!

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

    Good Deathmatchin’ out there, everybody.

    More skulls on the comment board than a Dia de Muertos street party.

    1. jorourke ( Likes: 444 ) says:

      Well some people are making a lot of Arrangements. (His mouth curves into a wicked smile)

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

      Let me clarify: the strategy’s good. The comedy…well…please, no one quit their day jobs, okay?

  6. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Happy last ten hours, everyone! I have a question for the authors and supporters. A lot of people have called death match a ‘popularity’ contest, and while I see what you mean I do think that’s a bit reductive. I think BP intended for death match to be an opportunity for new writers to get exposure, and a big part of that is giving us the opportunity to work on our self marketing skills. From these last few rounds, I’ve learned a lot about social media outreach, engagement, and networking. Has anyone else learned anything that you think will be helpful in your future endeavors, writing or otherwise? 🙂

    1. marciaed3 ( Likes: 422 ) says:

      I believe all the authors had their own unique talents to add to each story. And yes, especially for those of us who aren’t all that social media savvy, it’s been a positive learning experience.

    2. nilabrown ( Likes: 377 ) says:

      I have learned that you have grown into a wise and perceptive young woman 🙂 I think you hit the mark here. For the record, my votes FOR Arrangements are just that–votes to support a piece and an author I like. They are not votes against anyone else. I believe this is the same for most everyone and I believe that everyone has learned something from this experience.

    3. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      No, of course this isn’t a popularity contest. 9_9 You deserve all the exposure and opportunity you get from this, but trust me, you don’t have the lead because we’ve all been waiting to see how Sweet Valley High would deal with the topic of suicide. The moment “The First Thing We Do Is Throw Up” didn’t advance, white TOOTW did, you knew this was all about the clicks and nothing more.

    4. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      It’s 100% a popularity contest! But agree that learning how to self market is a necessity in today’s publishing world. Weren’t you the one who mentioned your “millennial no shame” at asking for votes via social media? 😀

    5. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Yes Amanda, but I don’t really see it as begging for popularity (although my mom and pseudo mom are admittedly my #1 fans!). Social media literacy is a 21st century skill and it’s actually essential for a lot of jobs now. I’ve been able to learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t by promoting this contest and it’s been really cool!

      But maybe there was a little bit of begging on snapchat – LOL!

    6. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      Well those are good skills to cultivate- particularly in your 20’s since you’ll need them for all your career life. As someone who works in Career services in higher ed., I totally agree. But, at the same time it’s much easier for someone in their 20s in grad school to get the social media support than older folks with full time jobs, kids, lots of responsibilities— so in that way, yes, this is a popularity contest. Good on ya for doing it well!

    7. kogara ( Likes: 197 ) says:

      Of course this is a popularity contest! I would hazard a guess that most people voting do not have a B.A. in English or literature. Heck, I’m a fundraiser as my profession and I’m voting and helping determine what stories win. This is not a contest based on literary chops. If so, real professionals in the industry would be judging your work and not me.

    8. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Amanda I’m a full time grad student with multiple jobs and a lot of family responsibilities, everyone has a busy life! I’m sure we’ll all be at least a little relieved once this contest is off our plates haha

      And kogara I do see your point, but I think it would be elitist to dismiss you as a valid reader! After all, we’re all reaching for wider audiences. Hope you’re enjoying the stories!

  7. GuylaineTurcotte58 ( Likes: 440 ) says:

    Le vote est très serré. Je vais demander à mon amie Manon de voter aussi ! Bonne chance !

    1. GuylaineTurcotte58 ( Likes: 440 ) says:

      Les patineurs artistiques sont tellement bons que j’ai failli oublié de voter.

      Tsé quand t’aimes ça, l’art!

  8. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

    Holy – soph and crissy putting an end to the comebacks. You must have gone out an really wu’d your voters.

    1. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      Agree to disagree, I really loved Smile and think it’s well crafted too 🙂 Good luck to every stories!

  9. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

    Sure hope the “coming from behind ” vote teams are helping each other. Seems appearant the teams for the “in the lead” are certainly helping each other! !!

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Thanks, team! Cappuccinos are on their way to help wake you up. Keep those clicker fingers limber. We’ve almost arrived at the last 12 hours of the semifinals.

    1. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      But, with 5 exclamation points, it can also look like a threat (!!!!). Who knows how it sounds when it’s written, haha

    2. davidc ( Likes: 256 ) says:

      Could also sound like an order! When I read this I stopped everything and made my arrangements !

  10. kogara ( Likes: 197 ) says:

    I’ve never spent this much time in my life following comments and clicking on 👍. It’s all totally 🍌🍌🍌! But I still want to see CRL in the finals. 🤞👏😻

    1. kogara ( Likes: 197 ) says:

      I would also add spending so much time clicking on cleavers but couldn’t find a good emoji for that. Suggestions?

    2. jorourke ( Likes: 444 ) says:

      Today should prove very interesting. I can’t say it’s the best way to enjoy the holiday weekend but it hasn’t been boring!

  11. DeathbyCacti ( Likes: 497 ) says:

    All these cheesy comments mentionning one’s favorite story make me Smile…
    Damnit, now I’m part of it!

    1. dbkwrm95 ( Likes: 414 ) says:

      Since we’re on a musical twist, in the words of Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton… “Sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all”. So I will stick to my one little word to sum up this contest… “UNCLE!!”

    1. Djroberts2010 ( Likes: 459 ) says:

      The last 24 hours are upon us. The intensity will continue and it will get brutal, very brutal.

    2. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by exclamation points? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    3. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Gross gif, but totally understand. I know that on my side of things my team might be experiencing so much enthusiasm after a day full of CRL Bloody Marys. Here’s hoping that momentum can continue


  12. klongwill ( Likes: 136 ) says:

    Wow–it’s really getting interesting now 🙂 Good luck to the writers AND their villagers! It’s great to see such support.

    1. marciaed3 ( Likes: 422 ) says:

      I’m feeling a little long in tooth. In my day when someone said ‘the village people”, we thought National Geographic or Mutual of Omaha!

    2. Carolyn35 ( Likes: 416 ) says:

      Hey, I remember those. LOL!! Anyway, lots of luck to everyone. They weren’t kidding when they named this site DeathMatch!

  13. Sicatar ( Likes: 417 ) says:

    Christina, I did something very similar with my kids when my husband and I went overseas. Based on your story, it struck up an interesting conversation with my kids recently. Thanks for the interesting topic.

    1. nilabrown ( Likes: 377 ) says:

      Conversation? Wait–what’s that again? Unfortunately, so many of us have our eyes glued to a screen of some sort all day instead of another human being. Of course, then this has added a bit more screen time for sure.

    2. PacBen ( Likes: 340 ) says:

      Screen time is certainly taking over one-on-one time. I enjoy technology, but nothing beats turning paper pages, making notes and dog-earring pages for future reference.

    3. Carolyn35 ( Likes: 416 ) says:

      There is something wonderful about the feel of a book, the scent of a book, and the sound of a book as it whizzes through the air towards your annoying brother. LOL!

  14. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    “Study finds voting for Cracked Red Landscape is 98.6% more effective than this year’s flu vaccine.”

    1. Djroberts2010 ( Likes: 459 ) says:

      I believe I saw the same study! That same study also said 100% of all people that vote for CRL are fantastic people! 🙂

    2. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      And, didn’t that study also say people who read CRL were 98.6% more attractive than those who did not? I think I saw that too….or maybe just think it must be true. 🙂 Reading is pretty sexy afterall….

  15. Carolyn35 ( Likes: 416 ) says:

    Coming in late since I just found out about this but what a great platform for these insightful and creative stories.

    1. klongwill ( Likes: 136 ) says:

      Not just you–looks like a lot of traffic today 🙂 Makes sense with the finish line approaching! GO ARRANGEMENTS!

    2. secpav ( Likes: 263 ) says:

      Seems to be better from a desktop than a mobile device. Of course, reading the stories seemed easier for old eyes on a big screen. The races have tightened up today…and apparently there are a lot of passionate followers for the four finalists. Good to see the interest in writing, considering today’s video-obsessed focus. Kudos to all and good luck!

    3. Mister_Pumpkin ( Likes: 437 ) says:

      2 hours to go and with the finish line approaching, everything seems to be working fine !

  16. kogara ( Likes: 197 ) says:

    GO CRL GO!!!!!!!! Setting my watch for every hour. Pound sign: not-going-down-without-a-fight!!!

    1. marieelaine ( Likes: 462 ) says:

      Still alive Mister Pumpkin? I think we’ve lost him…I don’t see any more comments !

  17. Djroberts2010 ( Likes: 459 ) says:

    I really hope that stories like Cracked Red Landscape will help shine a light to the fast growing water shortage problems. We really need to accelerate developments with water production!

    There have been some amazing advances in converting salt water; we can still do better though! San Antonio has built a water facility that produces industrial water from salt water wells, this is a great start!

    1. Mister_Pumpkin ( Likes: 437 ) says:

      Do you have a link where i could find information about that water facility in San Antonio? very interesting subject ! Thank you

    2. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      Totally agreed DJroberts! It’s terrifying to think that we will see more cities going “dry” without water in the NEAR future – just read a report that London is going to have serious shortages by 2025 and be potentially at end of capacity by 2040….CRL is definitely smart to fictionalize how horrific a world without water would be!

    1. martineg91 ( Likes: 471 ) says:

      The final will be epic, if I make it alive ! This contest is killing me and my sleep pattern .

  18. Djroberts2010 ( Likes: 459 ) says:

    If I was trapped on a remote island and could only have three things, they would be water, a satellite phone with GPS, and a copy of Cracked Red Landscape!

    What would yours be?

    1. Mum ( Likes: 470 ) says:

      Daniel, If you share your satellite phone with GPS i’ll share some of my CRL Bloody Mary – deal?

    2. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      3 things? The beginning and end of Smile would be #1 & #2. The 3rd would either be water or how that little blurb even was accepted into this contest.

    3. Mister_Pumpkin ( Likes: 437 ) says:

      I’m sorry but life Lessons from Naked and Afraid …a knife, a fire starter and a stainless cup to boil water…ok maybe duck tape.

  19. Djroberts2010 ( Likes: 459 ) says:

    This race is toight! Toight like a tiger!

    Where is my cracked red landscape bloody mary ?

    1. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      I’ll get Sean to mail you one! They are delicious! Like his story – if it wasn’t about drinking blood and stuff!

    2. kogara ( Likes: 197 ) says:

      This contest is killing me. I live on the East Coast and know I have to be up early but I don’t want to sleep: I want to vote for CRL!!!

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

    Whoa, I don’t even know where to start. No daycare on Wednesdays so it was “hang with the lil’ VIP” day for me and not much chance to stay current or contribute.

    While I catch up, I’m curious about something in regards to the other stories and the creative process behind them, which I actually wanted to ask in the quarterfinal round last weekend but then it got kinda weird and I forgot. What was the first seed of story that got planted in your head? First image or scene, something like that.

    For me, I was on my way to work, 2014ish. I was a year-round bike commuter, but not in snow or ice, and it was one of the two, so I took public transit. I was a few SkyTrain stops and a short walk away from my healthcare desk job when I just shook my head, looked out the window and went, “There must be a better way. If only I could just send my body to work while my brain could stay home and be creative.” And it went from there. Actually, I think I plotted out the first beats of the story that morning, while I definitely should’ve been doing other things. I mean, at lunch. Yes, I definitely waited until lunch.

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      That’s interesting Ryan! I love hearing about artistic processes.

      I think the first seed of my story was my mom updating my parents’ will before they went to Europe a couple of years ago. It was so strange and morbid to deal with, but I also saw a lot of love in her actions. Death is such a natural part of life but it never feels that way, and there is so much physical stuff your loved ones have to deal with when you’re gone. I wanted to explore some of my own experiences while also thinking about the ways people communicate love and value.

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

      Reading this makes your story even richer!

      Working at the corner store allowed me to really get attached to the Ste-Cécile, a former working class neighborhood, and it’s inhabitants. With time I gleaned so many incredible stories that I wanted to write them down to make sure my neighbors got remembered as the area was slowly being gentrified. I think hearing about the mayor’s idea to move them somewhere else to build an amphitheater really motivated me to start writing. It’s unfortunate the chapter ‘smile’ presented here doesn’t show the brightest side of some of them but it is also part of that complex space.

    3. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      That’s a great question, Ryan! I’m always interested in how artists work and what goes into their process. Have any of you read “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Curry? It’s a fun, quick read about about a variety of artists’ processes taken from interviews and from their own notes, journals, and autobiographical writings. If anything it’s interesting to find out that Patricia Highsmith kept a bottle of vodka by her bedside and that Simone de Beauvoir wrote “I’m always in a hurry to get going, though in general I dislike starting the day,” which I’m assuming describes at least a few of us here.

      Anyway, I teach first-year college composition courses, and a couple of years ago I was having my students write their final paper in response to an article about the looming water crisis. The article described what solutions might be found, but it also offered a bleak picture of the sheer overuse of water and the depleting aquifers, particularly in California’s central valley and the American southwest.

      So that got me to thinking about hubris and our tendency to ignore what doesn’t directly affect us until it becomes a crisis, and at the same time, in another class I was teaching, we were discussing John Gardner’s “The Art of Fiction” and spending a lot of time thinking about first lines and about the whole “show don’t tell” adage. With that in the back of my mind, the first line came to me and the story took shape from there.

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

      Thanks for sharing.

      And for making me look bad, what with your intelligent, emotional, big picture, learned, community-minded inspiration.

      Me, I just didn’t want to go to work.

  21. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    First one to hit 1,000!! Thanks merpeople army <3

    Also, happy Valentine's Day death matchers!

    1. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      Random question for the writers – which celebrity would play your main protagonist in your story?

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

      That is a great question. Thanks, Amanda.

      Actually, I haven’t really thought about that before. Hmm…

      Who would be awesome is Scoot McNairy. I’ve always been a fan of his. He’s fantastic in “Halt and Catch Fire” if you haven’t seen it. Great show. And he’s in this cool indie sci-fi flick on Netflix, “Monsters.”

      But let me see who else I can think of…

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


      Sorry, got excited there for a second.

      I can just see him deadpanning his way through the whole thing.

    4. martineg91 ( Likes: 471 ) says:

      Hannibal Buress YESSS PLEASE ! Love him in BroadCity! (and this one episode from High Maintenance)

    5. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Good question. Who first comes to mind might be Hannah Murray (she plays Gilly in Game of Thrones)

  22. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

    “Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated.”

    ~ Margaret Atwood

    Christina, you referenced her in your other argument. Curious what your thoughts on her are. What the hell Sophie, your thoughts too.

    Atwood is catching a lot of heat for her recent essay. Here we have literature that was referenced in defence of women. And then you have the very author who appears to be out of touch with the current feminist movement. A movement she was once a leader in. She’s trying to stop the infighting amongst women, by picking fights with women. This after the UBC open-letter debacle.

    Can you seperate the message from the messenger? Or has a Handmaid’s Tale lost all meaning? The reverse CRL as it were.

  23. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

    I have a question for Christina. The story you are promoting deals with suicide. Going by Sophia’s stellar logic you are therefore promoting suicide. Did you struggle with trivializing such an important topic?

    1. Eric Henderson ( Likes: 79 ) says:

      What logic are you talking about? This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with what she wrote.

    2. Eric Henderson ( Likes: 79 ) says:

      These are two stories that have men being shitty to women in them. Whether or not that’s a topic that interests you personally doesn’t matter.

    3. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      Eric I have no clue what you’re talking about. Show me where I said topics have to interest me personally. You don’t even have to show the whole sentence. Just point to a single word that suggests such a stupid notion.

      Personally I find it vile that sophieanne suggests that since a story contains abuse towards women then that means the authors support the abuse and inequalities that women constantly face. It’s disgusting that she use this platform to trivialize such an important and heartbreaking topic.

    4. Eric Henderson ( Likes: 79 ) says:

      Yeah, but I don’t see where she’s doing that. At all. And you just seemed to go off the rails a bit, like “No, this is crazy!” and I don’t understand why. Then you wanted to bring other stories into it, and I was wondering why you didn’t want to talk about what we’ve got here. It’s in the stories and worth talking about. You can bring up your own metric to compare the two, but it’s one point they share, and seems like an interesting conversation to have.

    5. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Thank you, Eric. I appreciate your comments!

      Rebel Sneeze, YOU’RE the one trivializing this topic. Not Sophie. And I’m not going to dignify your first troll comment with a response. Get a life.

    6. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I believe the topic of rape is too important to use as a tool to win an internet contest.

      Eric you still haven’t showed me where I insisted topics need to please me personally. I’ll wait.

    7. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      Christina, that part was for Eric. As indicated by the seperate paragraph and indicated with his name.

      I’m not surprised you found a way to take exception to it, however. I have a different opinion than yours and that’s an uncomfortable feeling. It’s a shame we live in a world where someone might disagree with you. Hope you make it through this trying time.

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

      When I first wrote the initial separation scene in FYM I didn’t even consider it as a man being shitty to a woman, though I suppose I can see how it could be interpreted that way. But I had to ask myself what a body might do in that situation, after suddenly being removed from thought, reason and memory, from everything it had ever known, from the millions of years of evolution that put it on the top of the food chain. And I thought that might be to resort to animal behaviour. And animal’s hump stuff. A lot.

      On read throughs and edits, when I did wonder if someone could perceive it as condoning assault, I hoped they’d see it as a statement, that it’s only “okay” within the realm of the story (though he does get the crap beat out of him, pepper sprayed and strapped to the chair the next time), because a body just had the brain removed and now had more in common with a chimp in a tree. And not even the smart chimp. The idiot chimp that all the other ones throw poop at . It’s speculative fiction and mind/body bifurcation is not possible in real life so every asshole walking around doing that kind of stuff knows better and there is zero excuse.

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

      Thank you Ryan for sharing this I appreciate understanding your train of thought a little better regarding this part of your story.

    10. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Hi Ryan,

      I actually got all of that from your story, I think you carried out your intentions very well 🙂

    11. Eric Henderson ( Likes: 79 ) says:

      Ryan, when i mentioned 2 stories with men being shitty to women, I was talking about CRL and Smile going head to head. I wasn’t thinking about your story at all when i wrote that. But reading and writing are complicated processes, and I get you seeing my comment, thinking “oh shit, is that in there?” and then maybe finding it. But that wasn’t something I noticed reading your story.

    12. Eric Henderson ( Likes: 79 ) says:

      Okay, yeah, I forgot about that part, Is a man separated from his consciousness still a man? Do we blame the monster for throwing the girl in the water in Frankenstein?

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

      That’s good to know that my intention with that scene also read like that to others here in this competition. think it does to most. But it was brought up on the FYM page in the quarterfinals so I wanted to make sure I got that across again.

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

    There’s a conversation I would like to bring on the public place. I just went through Cracked Red Landscape and blame it on my english-as-a-second-language but I didn’t noticed the rape scene when I first gave it a quick read at the beginning of the competition. I thought it was just a fight scene and I was just too excited to see a female protagonist in a science fiction story… anyway the point is that I would like everyone to take a minute and go read Christina’s (fantastic) arguments in the comments section of CRL. Then here is my question, is the thought of equality so absurd that we can’t we imagine a future or a parallel universe where women don’t have to suffer abuse from men to survive or have to accept the pseudo male basic instinct (see Free Your Mind)?

    1. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

      I wouldn’t imagine a world that is in such severe drought, that it drinks and harvests blood, is able to successfully obliterate such a horrific act. I doubt this world has solved the common cold either. It is lame to suggest that since a rape scene occurs in a story, it means the author thinks the idea of equality is absurd. It’s laughable that you cheapen the issue just to win this contest.

    2. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      Sophie, interesting and point and I agree fully.

      In your you advocate the murder of kittens. On this board you have created an emoji of a cat that is now obviously roadkill.

      My question is, do you hate the existence of animals or just love torturing small things?

    3. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      In a contest such as Deathmatch, it is inappropriate (imho) to construe the liberties an author takes in her or his writings as if those same liberties are the author’s social beliefs, or to use them as a public soapbox platform.

    4. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Hi Sophie-anne,

      Thank you for bringing this conversation up! I think it’s an important one to have. As I stated in my comments on CRL, I don’t think Sean is intentionally doing anything harmful in his story, but it’s important to talk about how different readers interact with your work during workshop spaces. I’m a 22 year old woman who lives on a university campus and is constantly bombarded with a) notifications about sexual assaults that happen on my campus, as well as others, and b) men who think it is ok to make me feel unsafe or uncomfortable because they’ve been taught by our social systems that it’s their right. My (valid and extremely common) experiences inform my perspective, and to me CRL doesn’t do enough to demonstrate the dystopia Sean is working to build. But I do think it could, and I do think his intentions are good. It’s a difficult space to navigate.

      This is not to say that we can’t write about issues like sexual assault or suicide, we absolutely can and often must. I would love to hear more non-troll thoughts about this.

      To freezappa, RebelSneeze, and GaryS1360 – YOU ARE ALL PART OF THE PROBLEM.

      Specifically Gary: These are not social beliefs, these are valid concerns about the safety of our bodies in the world we live in. Shame on you for trivializing that. Do better.

      Keep one keepin on, Sophie. I don’t know why these trolls are here. But my merpeople army eats boys like this for brunch. I’ve got your back <3 (and I think it's safe to say the same of Sean and Ryan. Deathmatch finalists have honor).

    5. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:


      “Struggle and I’ll knock you out,” he says, and I must have moved because I come-to and my brain’s throbbing and the giant is driving and it’s almost night. I’m roped up in the backseat and he’s hunched forward in order to see, and there’s a stinging between my legs that I refuse to believe.

      YES, RAPE IS IMPLIED. The narrator was unconscious, and she comes-to after a period of time has passed. Can I imagine a more egalitarian future where the ramifications of the #metoo movement and, hopefully, future movements and action have helped us eradicate sexual harassment and sexual violence completely because we’ve evolved beyond “the psudo male basic instinct”? YES, I CAN. IT WOULD BE IDEAL.

      Can I also imagine a future where things get much worse and people, especially in remote areas, become more violent and primal? Sure. That’s kind of what the story is about.

      Christina’s “(fantastic) arguments” are premised on the notion that the main character is not well-developed enough. BUT A CLOSE-READING offers enough details about both the character and the world that she inhabits. All of the quoted material below comes from the story:

      In the opening scene, she’s killing her husband. He was not a nice guy, and the “stupid, stupid” thought she has in the middle of slitting his throat, as well as the other self-abasement, the “stupid novice” comment later in the paragraph, as well as the fact that he leaves her alone for long stretches (“all she can do is sleep through the days to forget about the empty freezer”) and his “digust [for her that] won out and he put me up out here and lived his real life in town” –ALL OF THIS SIGNIFIES ABUSE. I DO NOT CONDONE ABUSE, BUT I’VE DEPICTED IT.

      So she makes an impulsive decision. She kills him because he finally angers her enough to act out despite her apparent lack of self-esteem and self-worth. She “was too quick to think through what killing him meant I would have to do.”

      We next see her in his rather new car that is conspicuously caked in blood (I know that much of this is revolting and gross–that’s ALSO KIND OF THE POINT since the ways we sometimes treat each other are as figuratively disgusting and awful as literal cannibalism.)

      We enter the hotel, she’s tired, and now she’s faced with an even greater danger in that it is entirely unknown, which she reacts to (I broke down the nuance of her reaction in the comment thread below my story in response to one of Christina’s other comments), and when she wakes up again she is tied up in the backseat of his car. She doesn’t have many options, and as hard as it might be to do–as hard as it might be to imagine–she suppresses her true feelings (something she got very good at with her former husband), and she tries to appeal to her captor based on what she thinks might make him stop the car, and as horrific and painful as it would be to try to seduce him, her plan–her hope–is to kill him.

      Is she defined by the men in her life? In a sense, yet she repurposes these definitions and what she thought were flaws in order to succeed. Is it irresponsible to write this? No. I spent a lot of time thinking about who she was and supporting it with concise details that signify her fraught and desperate position.

    6. GaryS1360 ( Likes: 475 ) says:

      Hi Christina, your specious referencing to someone not part of the contest as a troll is typical of someone who does not accept a differing opinion. Actually, from the beginning of the competition, I continue to vote every waking hour for the two stories I support. I am not a troll.

      The point in my previous comment is do not rebuke authors for the liberties taken in their stories in competition like Deathmatch. Base your comments on analytically reading the stories.

      This forum should not be used for public soapbox lecturing. Yet, you found it necessary to promote your agenda. The problems you have on campus have nothing to do with the competition here on Deathmatch. Furthermore, you are confused; a person’s social belief does not mean a lack of valid concerns about the safety of our bodies or any other concerns in the world we live in.

      Enjoy the stories and inspire the authors!

    7. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      Because of events in their stories, Sean and Daniel think that equality is absurd.

      What kind of discussion are you hoping will follow a statement like that.

      You carelessly gloss over over-dosing in your story. Is dying by suicide such a breezy, non-chalant act to you?

      Now, with this criticism levelled against you, how open are to discussing suicide?

      Calling me a troll is such a lazy way to shut down an opinion you don’t agree with. You have no interest in meaningful conversation, you just want to stand on your soapbox.

    8. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Just wanted to clarify – when I say that I think I can say the same for Sean and Ryan, I am calling them allies and decent humans. They’re both here to talk about literature and we’ve had some productive and interesting conversations. I respect both of them, and am sure they are also opposed to random internet people being mean to Sophie for no reason. I also think that both of these authors are trying to raise questions about existing problems regarding violence against women, which is important and difficult work. Sean, thanks for weighing in. And Ryan, would love to here your thoughts on this. Not trying to speak for either of you!

      Gary, in regards to your comment “This forum should not be used for public soapbox lecturing. Yet, you found it necessary to promote your agenda. The problems you have on campus have nothing to do with the competition here on Deathmatch”:

      Guess what? Sexual harassment and assault happens everywhere. In every space. All the time. I am under NO obligation to feign scholarly distance from it, and we have the right to talk about it in every space.

      Voting doesn’t make you less of a troll. We have had discussions about suicide in my story already, but if you have anything productive to add you’re free to do so.

    9. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      Being mean to Sophie?!?! She’s accused the authors of supporting rape culture and finding the idea of equality absurd based on 2 moments in their stories. That’s literally like saying you dismiss suicide attempts as cries for help, because of your causal handling of the over-dose scene. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? I especially love how she “wanted to have a conversation” yet she’s nowhere to be found after making these baseless accusations. Poor poor Sophie.

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

      First of all, I want to thank Christina, Eric and Sean for contributing in a positive and constructive way.

      Now, let’s not leap to conclusions I did not reach Freezappa, let’s make this clear I am not accusing Sean or Ryan of anything and I am certainly not bringing this up to win more votes.

      If I am taking the subject of equality in litterature, more specifically in science fiction, to the main comments section it is because I believe it is important that we all take a minute to reflect on it and try to discuss it.

    11. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      “It’s called rape culture, looked it up! That is if you can see anything from your white male high horse.”

      Your words Sophieanne. In what world is that not an accusation???

      You both keep saying you want to have a conversation, yet all you do is make false accusations, thank each other and avoid any meaningful response.

    12. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      Sophie, you raise a good question — “is the thought of equality so absurd that we can’t imagine a future or a parallel universe where women don’t have to suffer abuse from men to survive or have to accept the pseudo male basic instinct..”. I would wonder how you might answer given your story’s depiction of men being gruff, banal, threatening and disgusting?

      I think it’s a really good question to ask, particularly because three out of the four stories in this semi-final discuss on some terms inherent issues underlying relationships btween women and men.

      On the topic of this nonsense about the “rape scene” in CRL — I put that in quotations and call it nonsense, because there is not in fact an ACTUAL rape scene as Sean has already pointed out. We are forgetting that this scene was first targeted by Christina in defense of Sean’s comments about a detail related to the suicide attempt depicted in Arrangements. It seems like the outrage around this tiny aspect of CRL has more to do with wanting to pick apart the story for deathmatch purposes, and does not offer any *constructive* critcism of the story or it’s writing. I would offer that all authors and readers could benefit from close readings of the pieces — literal readings — in order to appreciate all of the hard work that no doubt went into creating them all.

      Ultimately what bothers me about this competition is that it really has less to do with actual writing and merit of the stories than it does with having the ability to beg your social networks to vote for you or others and incites negativity towards the craft of writing in order to win a prize….just my two cents. I’ve enjoyed reading comments where the writers are supporting one another more than tearing each other down. And, I don’t think there are ANY trolls on this site — just people’s supporters who may or may not agree with particular points of view.

    13. kogara ( Likes: 197 ) says:

      I really wasn’t going to chime in here, but well, I guess I did anyway. I think it’s great that Sophie-anne and Christina are trying to hold discussions about sexual assault and its portrayal in literature. I would also caution that some of the responses seemed more attacking than were maybe necessary from all sides (I am new to Deathmatch, so maybe that is just typical). I get it, it is a tough topic for all sides. I have spoken passionately about sexual assault and have taken the discussions personally, because as a woman, it is personal, but when I first read Gary’s initial comment, I did not think he was saying anything negative about the topic of rape or sexual assault. I really just read his comment to be a caution that we should not judge the author’s character or personal beliefs based on his/her fictional story. From following this deathmatch and the comments that people have made over the days/weeks, if I were to guess based on Gary’s previous posts, I would guess that he knows Sean personally. I know Sean personally and he is an amazing man. When you know an author, it probably changes the way one might read or interpret a story. When I read CRL, I realized really quickly that Sean was setting up a world and scenario where humans are absolutely desensitized. If you think TV has desensitized us to violence, imagine dying from thirst and food and giving up your body to be used as “nourishment” because you have no hope and are dying anyways. Imagine eating/drinking other humans and not thinking twice. That level of desensitization completely explains to me the protagonist’s lack of thought or remorse for killing her husband or not taking too much time to think about the rape she just suffered (that it was just a brief mention did not trigger me or make me feel that the author was minimizing the situation when I read it). It also explains to me the man’s behavior: if you live in a world where many humans have no value, then sexually taking what you want is not a stretch of the imagination (again, not saying it’s right, just trying to understand the psychology of the story). Additionally, when our stress systems are triggered, and we are in fight or flight, we don’t have too much time to think deeply about a situation or process it or feel it or any of those things one might want the protagonist to do in this version of the world. Plus, I know Sean and know he is not condoning or minimizing or promoting rape and violence against women (and I know he and Christina have already established that fact and that this discussion originally was not an attack on Sean’s character). At the same time, I don’t think the future Sean painted is so outlandish. We are running down our natural resources and despite the #metoo movement and other breakthroughs, there is still quite a bit of acceptance for the “pseudo male basic instinct” in our world, even from other women. As an author, one is allowed to explore all scenarios, including a really shitty possible future world where things have just gotten worse. Do I hope that Sean is wrong and that our world will one day respect all people, all races, all genders, all personal boundaries, etc.?! HELL YES. Maybe this discussion can motivate someone else to write a different science fiction story exploring a totally different world where women don’t have to suffer abuse from men to survive. In some cases, aren’t stories like Sean’s meant to be a cautionary tale: One that is visually revolting and shakes us to our core, only to hopefully wake us up and demand that we make some changes?!

      (Officially stepping down from soap box now.)

      Anyway, best of luck to everyone!

    14. kogara ( Likes: 197 ) says:

      One more quick thought, CRL keeps being referred to as science fiction but when I read the story it screamed to me of a Vonnegut style satire. Am I alone here? I am also no literary expert so it might technically be more of a sci-fi work. To me it just feels more like a satirical commentary on our society.

    15. ebwheat ( Likes: 8 ) says:

      I totally agree with you Kelly! I think CRL is better depicted as satire vs. science fiction (but maybe that’s cause you and I took the same satire class in high school?!?) Or….great minds think alike?

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

      No gifs, but you can do this!

      / /
      / /
      _ _//
      / * @@ =
      | |Y/
      | |~
      /_ /
      ( / )-

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

      Oh crap… it was supposed to look like a cat but I guess the layout changed when I posted it…

    3. davidc ( Likes: 256 ) says:

      With eyes like that… Has it been run over by a delivery truck or did it fall off the roof of the corner store?

  25. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Happy Tuesday, death matchers! You know what that means…everyone gets a cupcake!

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

    Anyone else feel like they’re using up all of their 2018 allotment for shameless self-promotion? Like after all the social media posts, texts, phone calls, emails to that old family friend you met once when you seven and the “Hey, you, nice barista, you like to read and vote in online story contests?”s it’ll be time to lay low for a while, save up and re-stock the supply.

    For me, post-Deathmatch, no telling anyone about my writing/projects on the socials for a long time. It’s going to have to be all hearts, shares, retweets, random musings about life, funny cat videos, likes of my friends’ random musings and funny cat videos and, natch, lots of comments about how delicious their Sunday brunches look.

    I mean, have you ever seen poached eggs like that? I haven’t.

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      This is where being a shameless millennial comes in handy! I have no issues bombarding my friends with death match posts, but I am spending way more time on social media than I’m used to. I’ll be ready for a cleanse after this!

    2. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

      This is where Sophie has the upper hand.

      All her efforts campaigning to have the title changed to “The People-churian Candidate” are all coming back to her.

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

      Dear Mister/Ma’am Freezappa, I wish I could reply to you but I have no idea what you are talking about.
      Your friend Sophie-Anne

  27. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

    @Sophie-Anne Talking about convenience store stories, I’ve heard a great one.

    A friend of mine, when he was in high school was doing the “Two ten challenge”. You have one night to drink 2 Black Label 10% 1L beers. Really difficult (and stupid, haha).

    A couple years later he became a policeman. One day je received a call from a convenience store in Ste-Cécile. A totally drunk man was screaming to buy more beer at 8am.

    My friend entered the store to stop the man, and save the poor employee who was refusing to sell more beer to that old drunk.

    This man explained he had drink two 10% Black Label during the night and he was still thirsty for another one.

    My friend cannot help but feel a great respect for that man who not only accomplish the difficult “Two ten challenge” but was trying to explore a new frontier with a third one.

    My policeman friend refused to tell me what he did next. Haha!

    Si much stories in Ste-Cécile 😉

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

      Alexg, thanks for sharing this anecdote, I am always up for a good corner store story! I can’t help but wonder what I would have done if I had been the policeman in that story. Perhaps I would have kept in my pocket some medals for ‘not recommended but remarkable achievement’. The amount of liquid alone in one evening is astonishing. What would you have done?

    2. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      I can’t say for sure, but I imagine that guy would fell asleep at some point during his drinking… and stop causing trouble. Haha!

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

    I’ve posted in a thread down below my quarterfinal #sadtoseeyougo but my semi-final #sogladyou’restillaround is ol’ Gold Skull.

    Not only because I now have that custom gold sequin outfit to wear with it but also because I thought the comment likes might reset between rounds, thus reducing our power in the Deathmatch gladiator ring much like Spartacus, the Thracian warrior, lost his title, house and ranking in season 1 of Starz’s “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” when, after surrending to Crixus in the arena, his owner, Batiatus, punished him by demoting the Thracian to fight in the “pits of the underworld,” a hellish, vicious subterranean battle arena where the crowds are frenzied and anything goes and Spartacus had to defeat a series of opponents in brutal, bloody combat in order to have his gladiator status restored.

    Am I right?



    Yeah, me neither.

    A friend watched it.

    I was reading. A big book.

  29. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    OK, so I know it’s going to be a long week, and I want to be sure my voters are stocked for the apocalypse. As promised, here is my original recipe for the Cracked Red Landscape Bloody Mary. Have it before dinner, have a brunch this coming weekend, or simply enjoy it whenever you’re feeling like being a “tipsy clicker.”

    CRL Bloody Mary:
    Salt the rim of your class (garlic salt preferably) and fill it with ice.
    2 oz vodka (or to taste)
    4 oz tomato juice
    1 tsp sambal oelek style chili garlic paste
    a few dashes soy sauce
    a squirt (or three) or Sriracha
    A generous squeeze of lemon juice
    Stir well and garnish with “cracked” black pepper, a lemon wedge, and a piece of beef jerky

    1. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Of course I meant “glass” not “class,” although, to be honest, things usually taste better if you’re drinking them out of a classy glass.

    2. davidc ( Likes: 256 ) says:

      Great recipe, thank you for sharing! You can also replace the soy sauce with tamari sauce if you wish to have a gluten free drink

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Insert Justin Timberlake: “I’m bringin blood thirst back….yeah….and all of Death Match don’t know how to act…yeah?” There’s something there! lol

    2. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      Ha! Cue JT’s MJ-style popping and sliding across the dance floor, and I’m starting to think we’ll have some entertainment on our hands!

    3. freezappa ( Likes: 52 ) says:

      Jesus Christ, did I stumble into broken pencil’s mutual hand-job match?
      I wanna see screaming and blood and vase thrown. Like an unwanted hand-job.

  30. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    Now that the quarterfinals are over I do want to say that I was sad to see Flieger vanish into the void. What happened there? I know I was that story’s “opponent,” but my heart sank last week when I was paired against it because it was so funny and he seemed to have so much support.
    Not to say that I wouldn’t have passionately defended CRL against any of “Distrust and the Deathcloud”‘s fans….

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

      I completely agree with you I was also sad to see that one go… Whatever’s Next was also a strong work that I really enjoyed and looking forward to see more works from those author in the future.

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

      I agree with both of those.

      My quarterfinal #sadtoseeyougo is the brief, albeit spectacular visit from JulianInCahoots on Friday night/Sat morning who, much like a comet zooms across the night sky atmosphere, swept through the Deathmatch comment board, illuminating the dark and firing off little gems, none more sparkling and mysterious than “Purple Dogs uber alles” or something to that affect. I’d hoped for more enlightenment on the subject but, alas, twas not meant to be.

      Like I posted at the time, and barring any other further outside information, I can only assume he meant this and I have to agree.


      That dog is absolutely loving life.

    1. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      C’est vrai! En plus, de la manière dont c’est dessiné, on dirait qu’on entre dans les souvenirs de l’auteure.

  31. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Aw yeah, first one to hit 100!

    Also, has everyone see the Black Mirror episode Nosedive? Whenever I get excited about votes I think of that.

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

      Ouh! I love that club! What’s more appropriate to celebrate the 100 club? Pabst? Champagne? Mountain Dew?

  32. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

    Congrats top 4 friends! And bittersweet farewell, quarter finalists. Jenny, it was an honor to compete with you and your awesome story <3

    We'll always have Cupcake Tuesday.

  33. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

    Congrats final four! And congrats Ryan! Good to see you made it and that the moral arc of deathmatch swings towards justice.
    Sunday seems like a long way away. Steeling myself for another week of voting. More coffee needed….

    1. amandawheaton8 ( Likes: 329 ) says:

      Congrats to all the writers! I’m SO glad that FYM is still in the running — good job DeathMatch for making the right call! Now, into the fray!

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

      Thanks, Amanda and Sean. It’s good to be here.

      Strange weekend and I wasn’t sure I had another round in me after waking up this morning, like Saturday, and again doing the whole “oh no, damn, too bad, that sucks, I lost, no it’s fine, that was fun, time to move on” dance

      But, yes, once again into the fray.

      Sean, time to make that CRL sales team work for those sweet performance bonuses.

    3. Sean Wheaton ( Likes: 1184 ) says:

      I know! I’m going to try to get them mobilized again with all sorts of campaign promises that I’ll (mostly) be able to keep. This contest is definitely a marathon, but I’m glad I’m still in it.

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

      Dear Freezappa, I am glad you can find a meaning to your life in this friendly competition.

    2. Rebel Sneeze ( Likes: 96 ) says:

      I’m just glad to see you weren’t deeply offended by a post. The round has already been a win for me.

    1. martineg91 ( Likes: 471 ) says:

      This competition is crazy, voting while watching the olympics ! Any chance I’ll get a medal ?

    2. Alexg ( Likes: 436 ) says:

      *Avec une voix suave qui murmure* Ce sont des artisans des mots… les artistes ,de l’impossible!

    3. marieelaine ( Likes: 462 ) says:

      getting funky in the comments here… but i must admit, i’m watching curling like there’s no tomorrow!

    4. Mister_Pumpkin ( Likes: 437 ) says:

      So glad I’m not alone. I must admit, i skipped a vote watching Japan vs. Canada in women’s curling. I feel terrible. Tired, and terrible.

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

    I will call this grey hair, “Deathmatch.”

    Let’s have fun out there, my fellow top-4s.

    1. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      Congrats Ryan! My merpeople army was voting for FYM too, we all really like it. I’m glad you’re in this round with us! It will be an honor to deathmatch with you.

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

      Thanks, Christina.

      Tip of the hat to your merpeople army for the quarterfinal help.

      But they are going to keep voting for me, right?


      Yeah, probably not.

      *puts party hats away, googles “how to return 75 pounds of kelp bought off Ebay”*

    3. Christina Brown ( Likes: 1414 ) says:

      LOL seems unlikely. But we will continue to support you in spirit! Keep the kelp, you just might get invited to one of our land parties! #honorarymerperson

    1. GuylaineTurcotte58 ( Likes: 440 ) says:

      Une excellente histoire, très vrai Marie! Tu as une fille dont tu peux être fière.