Monday April 29th is
the start of the competition and hard work/thought for us reader-followers:
“Over the course of the next eight weeks, we’ll hold daily bouts (M-F) right here on this blog – randomly pitting the anonymous 500-word writing samples against each other. The winners of these bouts advance into elimination rounds, and then playoffs, quarter-finals, and then ultimately a face-off between two finalists to determine a single champion.”
There were a record-breaking 189 WRiTEClub entries from 137 writers!
They received writing samples from writers around the globe that
represent 40+ different genres and sub-genres. The twenty clever and avid slush
pile readers have narrowed the entries down to the 30 contestants for the daily
Now it’s our turn. Anyone who
visits the WRiTEClub blog during the contest can vote for
the sample that resonates with them the most – leaving a critique to help
writers hone their craft.
[Don’t miss the Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]
XANTHIPPE – Wednesday Mid-morning
Xylitol, xerostomia, x-rays, xerosis? I’m confused by the
medical jargon. Wiley’s unconscious, and his skin is yellow and dry. Xanthic xerosis?
“Doctor, without the medical jargon, how is our
He glances at his watch. It’s an hour since we brought Wiley
into the A&E at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor – and another squad car took Vivian,
restrained, to Porthmadog.
“He is unconscious but breathing. All his vital signs
are acceptable. The x-rays show nothing is fractured. I cannot detect the
supposed toxin – yet. There are more tests I need to run.”
I try to breathe steadily. Hope Wiley’s okay. He has to be.
“So, his pallor? His skin. What’s that from?” asks
“Xerosis or abnormal dryness can occur in the eyes – xerophthalmia
– on the skin – xeroderma – and in the mouth – xerostomia. Of these, he
exhibits the latter two. So, we will test for asialism, ichthyosis and other causes.
“Keep us updated via our PCSO,” I say, smiling as
the same female officer who helped before.
Protection for one of our own? In a coma? But not with a
gaff. An unknown toxin? Is that what’s in the canisters? A biological or chemical
Shivers set off my tattoos.
A for Abnormal and Avenger. B for Breathing and Biological. C
for Coma and Chemical. D for Dryness and Death. V for Victim and Vigilante. I
for Intent and Identify.
Vivian or Pia? We need answers.
WEDNESDAY – Midday
“ Njörðr Hämnaren is moored at Liverpool Marina?”
Uthyr answers on speakerphone in Ffion’s office.
“Yes, within a short walk of the city. But we are ready
to stop them unloading.”
“If the canisters are biological or chemical
hazards,” says Ffion. “The Swedes can release them from the boat –
into the air or the harbour. I’ve alerted NaCTSO, but we need more
The National Counter Terrorism Security Office will rely on
us to keep them informed so they can co-ordinate the appropriate units. But we
are acting on suspicions. My gut feelings.
“Has your rogue officer said anything helpful?” asks
“She’s evasive and shrewd. Playing with us. But she’ll
“I pray it’s in time to stop whatever the Swedes have schemed.”
“It will be, Uthyr. You know my dynamic-duo and rate
them suitable for your unit.”
I wonder who leaked that. Have they discussed our future?
Ffion rings off and motions for us to follow to an interview
suite – our only one with a two-way mirror. CPS approved.
“Suggested questions? I’ve tried the vigilante angle
and DC Utkin wanting to dispense her own justice.”
Utkin. Xander. That triggered her reactions.
“Ask what drove her brother Xander to commit arson. And
what divine law guides her.”
Ffion motions to the viewing room as she steps into the main
interview suite along with the police sergeant who was inside guarding the
Vivian is sitting with the defence lawyer she has requested.
Ffion switches the recorder on.
The lawyer plays his hand. “My client will only answer
questions that relate to her arrest.”
“The attempted murder of two officers. The canisters on
the yacht. Why she’s put another officer in hospital. So – everything.”
“Circumstantial associations,” says Vivian.
“Evidence massaged by two officers that resent me and my colleagues.”
“Officers that arrested your brother Xander for arson.
Valid? Or tampered evidence?”
Vivian stares hard at the mirror. Eyes burning into ours.
” I know this room and that ridiculous mirror. They’re
listening – your pet officers who arrested him. Yes, he deserved to be put away
for his crimes. But they drove him over the edge.”
Ffion opens a file. Xander’s case?
“By ‘they’ you mean his ex-wife Dinah Quinlan and her
partner Aerona Ogilvy? What did they do to pervert the law?”
Vivienne hesitates. Her lawyer shakes his head, then
whispers to her. Does he suspect what she might admit? Vivian glares at him, at
Ffion, at us. Anger triggered.
“The Lord’s Law. 1 Corinthians 6:9 – ‘Or do
you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be
deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who
have sex with men’. This is a Christian country and I respect that.”
“So, your fellow officers become legitimate targets – even if they attend chapel like Sparkle. Or Wiley Yates who is as heterosexual as you.”
Vivian shakes her head. “He agrees with your dike pets and does nothing to correct their delusion. Unlike my friends. Their belief is firm.”
Ffion pauses and flicks through the file. Page by
page. Vivian shuffles and sweats.
“Who is next? Me, another Christian who believes in her officers? This vendetta won’t end with two or three dead colleagues. What’s in the canisters, DC Utkin? Or are you as immoral as your brother? A criminal and not one of my officers?”
Fists on the table, Vivian shakes her head.
“And if I help, what do I get? I only did this to
correct what our system failed to do – protect people. Without the police
presence, vigilantes are dangerous. I can stop that. With me involved, they will
“Help us do what? Do we need the containers? Do we want
“Xanthippe, they called me – confrontational. The
Swedes thought I wasn’t to be trusted. I challenged their aims too much. But I
know the best way to deal with misfits not them. This was my chance.”
“Now I’m offering you the chance to stop this – earn
My mobile rings. The PCSO at the hospital.
“DS Yates is recovering. The doctor says there was no
venom. Just a heavy sleeping draught. When he is well enough to talk, I’ll get Wiley
A bluff. Vivian is the fraud spinning a yarn.
R for Respect and Revenge. Y for Yacht and Yarn. A for
Abnormal and Avenge. D for Death and Duplicity.
YARD. A railway goods yard?
I message Ffion. “Wiley okay. Say he died. Not her intention. So will break her.”
Ffion sits back, shakes her head and cries.
“Wiley. Why him? Didn’t he love you enough?”
Vivian claws her head, body shuddering.
Another red herring.
C for Casualties and Cons. K for Kisses and Kudos. O for Opportunists and Objectives.