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[Writing Contest] - THE ARENA



  • Registered Users Posts: 14,772 ✭✭✭✭Whispered

    Just recently noticed this forum - what a brilliant thread! Some seriously talented people. I loved the death personification stories from earlier, I'm a big fantasy reader anyway so that was right up my street.

    Will be keeping an eye on it from now on a joining in the voting. :)

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 81,309 CMod ✭✭✭✭coffee_cake

    See, they all like my box

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    GalwayGuy2 wrote: »
    Oh, Rejection and Acceptance are the proposed themes :o

    Cool. See you between now and 11pm tomorrow!

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,269 ✭✭✭GalwayGuy2

    Warning: Quite violent

    Here we go.


    Angelo's skin tingled at the thought of what was to come. He had had killed the rapists to be, and now that made him a man.

    His friends, no, his family, his everything, encircled him. A smile lit every face. Their eyes were a glimmer with the white light that ran around them. That light cast their shadows into daggers that latticed him in their centre.

    The oldest of them smiled at Angelo. Warmth flooded Angelo's stomach, still giddy from the lack of sustenance, as he smiled back. Even though they stood at different heights, they met each other's eyes as equals. Rules of order dictated that the eldest went first. So, the eldest's welcome crunched into Angelo's collarbone.

    Fists thudded into him from every corner. Angelo kept his hands down and his head up. The blows spun his mind empty of that head exploding in lamplight. This punch gained him respect. That knee that hit him in the stomach cracked him into his place in the order of things. The teeth that fell out of his head smeared the floor like after-birth.

    He knew they were breaking him of weakness, and he knew they'd do worse to anybody who turned traitor against him. The beatings hardened his resolve and he knew what he did was just. What he did was right. Killing that rapist in waiting had struck a strike for their streets.

    A woman had lived in the black neighbourhood. She was one of the first blacks who had tried to stop the killings among the gangs. The local Mexican gang didn’t like that one bit. She could never speak again after they had lynched her for hours.

    That night three middle-aged pros had entered the Latin Quarter. Any man that had boasted of hurting a black had met his end that night. Some died quick, but most died slow. A form of justice rode the air, but it cut those who tried to live off it. No sooner had the wrong been righted, then news of what the three men had done to the captain’s wife had spread throughout the city.
    That was why Angelo did what he did. They needed to keep the streets brown. The gangs, though flawed, were a solution to the black problem. They had to stop them from flooding the neighbourhood with poisoned heroin and diseased whores.

    ‘It’s done. Get him up’

    Two of his brothers picked him up. They congratulated him on his bravery, and fists that had struck him but a moment ago now patted him on the back. But, he felt as if a doom from afar rushed upon him.

    As if on cue, the woman came up to him. Better than Angelo, older than Angelo, and more beautiful than Angelo could ever have hoped for. She kissed away his aches and he sought comfort in her warmth.

    After, they had burned his school-clothes and marked his face. Now, everybody, from pope to president, would know who owned his soul. They had bought him bone and blood, and they would never leave their newfound brother.

    A cemetery stood not far from the initiation spot. The new dug grave still had fresh flowers. A black schoolchild of eight t had been found at the side of the road. The bullet had splattered his head and covered the pavement in red.

    Angelo lay at the grave’s feet. His hands had been tied and his head split by a machete blow.

    On an on the gang wars go. Where it will end, nobody knows.

    A/N Bit dark, but I kind of like it. Although, one big thing bothered me. All the victims seemed to be women and, I dunno, but that seemed cliched and not very egalitarian. I had a strange desire to do a gender swap on the main character, but I'm not entirely sure it would have worked with a female view point character. Oh, yeah, and I went a 3 or 4 words over the wordcount :P

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty


    Shit like this is always happening to me. My main man, Noel, sometimes says that sunshine follows thunder. Not for me it doesn’t. All I ever seem to get is more rain. I’d quote another song, but Travis are crap. This thing that just happened though, this one rivals anything that’s come before. I’ve never felt like such a complete bell-end in my life.

    It wasn’t all my own fault.

    The Debs is coming up, right, and me and the lads said we’d go stag. It was the perfect plan: no stressing over finding a date and ending up bringing your sister’s annoying friend out of desperation. But of course, this is me we’re talking about, so it couldn’t go to plan, could it?

    Two weeks ago, John and Ryan arrived over to the house for a few rounds of Tekken on the Playstation, and I knew the second I saw their shame faces that they were going to wreck my head with something. They had dates. They made a deal with a couple of birds from the girls’ school to go to each others’ Debs. They said they were sorry, but still.

    So that left Derek and me. Still grand, less craic, but grand. Then he only goes and gets landed with glandular fever. How a fella who’s never had the shift gets the kissing disease, I’ll never know.

    I wasn’t going to go at all then. I was going to sit at home and work on my song lyrics in my room like a loser. I suppose if I ever get famous like Noel G, I can put it down to missing the Debs. Actually, most of what ended up happening is Noel Gallagher’s fault.

    The other lads, they’re mad for Oasis too, and they all think Liam’s the dog’s bollocks. But me, I think Noel is it. All Liam does is stand there in his parka. Yeah, he’s cool, but Noel he’s got the talent. And he’s the reason I started learning guitar in the first place.

    I went to my lesson on Saturday morning, right after hearing about Derek’s poxy glands. I was already feeling crap, and then I went and broke a string without a spare in my bag. One of the girls in the class, Julie, gave me one of hers. She’s all right, Julie, pretty cool, like. She wears a jacket from the Army&Navy and her hair over one eye. We were sorting out me giving her a new string after class, and that’s when my genius idea struck.

    Next week before the lesson, I’d tell her about the Debs, then I’d play her Acquiesce on the guitar. When I was finished, I’d ask her if she would acquiesce to coming to the Debs with me. And, like, not many people know what that word means, so when she asked, I’d explain it meant to agree to, or to accept an offer. I’d look like a right deep bastard then.

    Everything went brilliant. I nailed the chords and the high bits, as she sat listening. Then I asked her, like a right smooth fecker, “Would you acquiesce?” and she just stared at me. I started to tell her what the word meant, and she cut in telling me she knew what it meant, “to reluctantly agree to.” Then she said, “You really like Oasis, yeah?” I asked her if she didn’t, and then she said it. “I’m more of a Blur fan.”

    For. Fuck’s. Sake. A Blur fan! I asked out a Blur fan. And worst of all, the cow said yes. She acquiesced. I’ll never live this down.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,269 ✭✭✭GalwayGuy2

    I like how you tell the narration through his tone. It's a nice type of narration for characterization. I'm trying to do the american halfway point between that and the whole journalistic thing at the moment.

    I also loved the corniness of his plan :P That was pretty good. You got across that what sounded perfect in his head, was imperfect in reality.

    Also, it has a nice beginning and end format.

  • Registered Users Posts: 628 ✭✭✭hcass

    Ah Das Kitty - loved it. Made me laugh and remember my sad teenage years too...

  • Registered Users Posts: 628 ✭✭✭hcass

    I'd love a story if anyone's biting - haven't written in what seems like forever...

  • Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭The Pooka

    hcass wrote: »
    I'd love a story if anyone's biting - haven't written in what seems like forever...

    I'd be up for that! (I know I'm much more a lurker here, but have entered a couple of the VOATs and have been wanting to do this for a while...) No worries if you'd rather someone else obviously :)

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    Off ye go. :) I was going to abdicate anyway. :p

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  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    Ooh, can I give ye the topic, as my last act? :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭The Pooka

    Great idea DK! (seeing as it's a bit unclear who exactly's challenging who :D ) Do we say 24 hours from when we both accept it?

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    Yeah, when the second person accepts, go 24 hours from them. I'll be back later on with your topic. :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 628 ✭✭✭hcass

    Oh thank you DK - I hate picking a topic. Whenever you post it I'll get started.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    The topic is...


    Good luck!

  • Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭The Pooka

    Challenge accepted - see you tomorrow hcass!! :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,551 ✭✭✭Rubecula

    I am looking forward to this :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,269 ✭✭✭GalwayGuy2

    Now that's a nice topic :P

  • Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭The Pooka

    She is the Charles Dickens to my Barnaby Rudge.

    I first see her standing next to George Orwell, sipping Swedish cider. Perhaps I’d have spotted her even if she hadn’t been my match, though admittedly this name-tag game – which perfectly legitimises spending the entire evening staring at women’s chests – calls for a rather narrow focus. As he sees me approaching, my rival barely manages to suppress his scowl before turning away, and although the book tent at an arts festival isn’t exactly the most sexually charged of places, I feel no great guilt at having interrupted their pleasantries. The rules are clear: you can make the rounds only after completing your set, which for him means seeking out 1984 – or, since they seem to be pairing well-known authors with their lesser-known works, that one about the plant.

    “Found you!” I open – feebly – but Dickens is too preoccupied squinting at the adhesive label on my shirt to really listen.
    Barnaby... Rudge... It’s by Dickens?”
    “It is indeed.”
    “Huh, there you go. You knew? Or you Googled?”
    Her voice has got to me now – that affable verve, that sing-song inflection – and I feel a surge of panic at having to respond without betraying my thrown composure.
    “Oh, no, I don’t, er, Google on the go. I take that whole ‘wireless fidelity’ thing pretty seriously.”
    “Oh? What’s that?”
    “Um, just a joke – a bad joke.”
    “I see... Well, what’s the saying: don’t give up the day job?”
    I let out an involuntary snort, then rush to apologise as I see her flinch. “Oh, sorry! Sorry, it’s just – well, that sort of is my day-job.”

    It feels almost grubby to admit it, but yes, I am indeed yet another aspiring wannabe peddling my wares at Edinburgh’s bloated Fringe festival: a solid month in which the best and worst alike of live comedy, music, theatre and the arts descend on the city’s famed cobbled streets in a veritable orgy of unfettered culture.

    “I’m Ian, by the way. Kinda my stage-name too – Comedy Ian, it’s... well, pretty terrible. But nice to, y’know, meet you.”
    I stretch out my hand, realising only then that she’s holding her drink in her right and so has to swap it over to shake; this is not going well.
    “Mathilde,” she lilts in return, adding in the same breath: “With an H, and an E – after Brel, not Dahl. My parents were big fans.”
    “It’s a... book?”
    She giggles and shakes her head. “A song. You don’t know Brel? Or the Walker cover – that, you might prefer.”
    “Ah, right. I’ll, um, definitely check those out...”
    “Looks like we’re learning a lot from each other, Ian; me about Dickens, you about my namesake – without having to Google.”
    “Aye, ’tis been a most enlightening evening... You’re a musician then, I take it? What kind of stuff d’you play?”
    “Melodic death metal, mostly.”
    “Oh. Oh, well, that’”
    She giggles again. “That’s my bad joke for the night. Nah, I’m just one gal with her guitar – like all the rest of ’em.”

    And then, just as our conversation has finally settled into a more natural rhythm, the call is sent out for Authors to gather at one side of the tent and Books at the other so that we can start a new activity. With an apologetic smile, she turns to go.

    And so, my dilemma: tonight’s rather contrived events are intended purely as an ice-breaker – a chance for the various artists from across the festival’s spectrum to get to know one another via party games and an open bar (I suspect most have come solely for the latter); after this, we will go our separate ways and get swallowed up by Auld Reekie, every man and woman for themselves. If we plan to meet again, we truly have to plan it – but how to suggest this without coming across as a sleaze?

    Suddenly, Mathilde swings back around and, setting her drink aside, tears a strip off her own label and scribbles something down.

    “Here’s that song. And the singers. So you can... learn.”

    And she has indeed written Mathilde. J. Brel. S. Walker – while underneath, in cramped but legible digits, is her mobile number.

    I set about educating myself as soon as I get back to my hostel; never have trumpets’ flourishes seemed more appropriate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 628 ✭✭✭hcass

    The Festival

    They’re having a great time. All nodding their fu*king heads and chewing on their lips. Look at me. What about me? I’m freaking out here. I want to leave. I think I’ll leave. I’m going to leave. Should I tell someone? But they’ll make me stay. I’m just going to go.

    I leave, passing through the exit, down to The Salty Dog Stage. I could stay here for a while, on one of those hammock things. The music is crap though, couldn’t listen to that sh!t for long. And people will want to get in the hammock. They’ll be queuing for it and I won’t be able to enjoy it cos they’ll be like; “he’s been in there for ages, when am I getting a turn?” And the whole time you’re swinging in the hammock, supposedly relaxing, you’re actually feeling guilty thinking they all want the hammock. Can’t cope with the pressure of being in the hammock. Of being in charge of the hammock. It’s my say, I get to decide when the next person has a go. Where is the fun in that? Can’t do it, can’t take that on. Keep walking.

    Nearly there now. Head down. Step over the blue rope, walk through the maze of tents. Tripping on guy ropes, tripping on pills. Nearly back. I hope they’re not there. Hope they’re all still at the gig.

    Could take a Valium, have to go searching though, have to ask people. And they won’t give me the Valium: “You only took the pill an hour ago? That’s thick. What a waste. Come on out and we’ll get high. You’ll be grand.”

    But I won’t because this is different. It feels different. It’s bad. It’s scaring the sh!t out of me.

    Here’s my tent. But there’s people.

    “Alright, what’s the story?”

    They smile.

    “I’m freaking out.”
    “I don’t know, just… freaking out.”
    “Come on we’re going the gig, you’ll be grand.”
    “I’m gonna get something in the tent.”


    I zip it open, climb in and zip it shut. Wellies need to come off. Start to pull but they’re not moving. Using one foot to push the bottom of the wellie, I keep pushing and pushing but it’s not moving. I pull, it doesn’t budge. I start to cry. They’ll never come off. I gonna have to sleep in the fu*king things. They’re never coming off and I can’t ask anyone for help. Sit on the ground with my head in my hands. My fu*king wellies. I fu*king hate them. I’ll just get in the sleeping bag with them on. No, that’s thick. I start to pull at them again. I’ll get them off. Get them off if it kills me. They start to come off. One is off. Yes, I can do it! The other is off.

    Get into the sleeping bag. Lie there. Hear them all; going the toilet, smoking a doobie, putting on jackets. Tents open zzzzzzzip. Tents close zzzzzzzzip. Can hear everything. Talking sh!te, blah blah blah. Just fu*king go! Leave. I’m fu*king freaking out man.

    “Yis heading in soon?” It’s Sully. He’ll ask where I am. I hide inside the sleeping bag. Go away. I pray to something. I need to be left alone; please don’t let anyone look in the tent, please.
    “We’re just about to leave.”
    “Where’s Liz?”
    “She’s in the tent. Think she’s freaking out.”
    “She’s freakling out? In the tent?”
    “Yeah man.”

    Zzzzzzzip. Leave me alone, I curl in a ball, go away.

    “Lizzie, you there?” I don’t answer him. “What are ya at?”

    I peer out from the sleeping bag.

    “I’m freaking out man.”
    “You’re not staying here. Come on, we’re going.”
    “I can’t, I’m freaking out.”
    “You’ll get worse in there, get out ya fu*king mentaller.” He looks safe. He’s right. I will go fu*king mad in here.

    I get out and pull me wellies on. We go outside. Everyone asks am I alright.

    “I’m freaking out”.
    “You’ll be grand”.
    “She was going to stay in there all night.”
    They laugh. We start to walk.
    “Want a pill?” I ask Sully.
    “Yeah, man, sweet.” Sully takes the pill.
    “I’m still freaked.” I tell him.
    “You’ll be grand, we’re gonna have a savage night.”
    I smile.

    We step over the blue rope and walk towards the Salty Dog.

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  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    What a brilliant pair of stories.

    It was very difficult to choose, but I went for Pooka's. I like the details. I loved the opening and closing lines so much, I thought my face would break from smiling.

    I also loved hcass' character and the way she wrote the paranoia so well. The battle with the wellies gave me a giggle.

    Well done folks.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,551 ✭✭✭Rubecula

    Two absolutely fantastic stories. I would be fiercely proud to have written them. Wonderful stuff but I had to choose one. So hard so hard. Could be either or.

    Toss of a (mental) coin and it came down Pooka but hcass could just as easily have got it.

    Damn it can I vote for both?

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 81,309 CMod ✭✭✭✭coffee_cake

    wow. those are brilliant!
    Similarly loved the wellies battle, loved the bad joke chat up situation... so I voted for pooka. but it was close.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,269 ✭✭✭GalwayGuy2

    Tough call.

    I like the tone of Hcass's one more, but the Pooka had more of a narrative, and objective than, hcass's.

    The dialogue was more realistic in Pooka, and that welly scene was hilarious, but Hcass's is more consistent.

    Very, very tough call. I want to vote Pooka's, but I've leant towards hcass's because of the narrative tidiness.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,252 ✭✭✭echo beach

    Once again two great stories and so hard to choose but Pooka's first line swung it. How could anybody not read on after that?

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,016 ✭✭✭Blush_01

    I can't believe I've been missing this.

    Really enjoyed both stories, I think Pooka's probably pipped hcass for the simple fact that I read it first and wanted more. I possibly should have gone away and come back to be fair... Very impressed!

  • Registered Users Posts: 628 ✭✭✭hcass

    Well done Pooka - I loved your story too. The dialogue was perfection...

    Thanks everyone for voting and feedback - it really helps and even though I totally bombed, I love being part of The Arena - it's so much fun.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    hcass wrote: »
    Well done Pooka - I loved your story too. The dialogue was perfection...

    Thanks everyone for voting and feedback - it really helps and even though I totally bombed, I love being part of The Arena - it's so much fun.


    You would have blown me out of the water had I stayed on, that's certain.

  • Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭The Pooka

    Thanks guys :o

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,016 ✭✭✭Blush_01

    So who's up against Pooka next? Can't wait to read the next round!