We made it past unlucky #13 are are now on the fourteenth week of Spookymilk’s WGOM writer’s challenge. This week’s for you, Andrew. The challenge? Present a dialogue-free confrontation between two people, in 200-500 words, ending with one of the two in a much better position than at the start, and the other in a much worse position.
Another one that was more work than I would have liked, but I was moderately pleased with how it came out (results), but you know it’s getting down to the wire when The Winner Group as a team scores a solid 4 and still has to eliminate another writer.
The non-speaking confrontation, as I pictured it:
At the sound of the starting gun, Jerome launched into the huge plate of bratwurst with both hands, stuffing the one in his left hand into his mouth, while the one in his right awaited its turn. Now that the competition had started, he found he had no time to be nervous anymore, even though this was his first public contest. Jerome’s friends on the HS football team were always amazed at his eating “powers” and had finally egged him on to go pro, even if this was only the quad-county fair. And actually, he had a pretty good feeling he could win.
Continuing to munch-and-swallow his seventh brat, he was too nervous to look for his friends in the crowd, but he did take a few furtive glances at one of the other six contestants on the stage, Contestant #5, who had travelled over 200 miles to participate – an obvious ringer. The guy was short and wiry, with mousy black hair – nothing like Jerome’s 6’2” 225 lb frame. Where does this guy pack it all in? Jerome took a swallow of water to lubricate his throat, then dived into the next brat.
Number 23 going in, number 24 in hand – Jerome was in the zone. As the oldest of six, he had learned to eat quickly, and it was paying off now; Contestant #5’s plate was noticeably higher than his own. It was going to be all Jerome could do to finish his plate (36? Yes, it looks like “just” three dozen were on the plate to start), but with his current lead he knew if his pace flagged a bit, he should still safely finish as the winner. Jerome ignored the crowd noise. Keep chewing! Keep swallowing!
As he began laboriously working the last couple of brats, Jerome once more eyed Contestant #5, who, though he continued to chew unabated, still had four brats left on his plate! Jerome had done it! As he carefully chewed the final brat (36!), he raised his fists in silent victory. He was the first to polish off his plate — and thankfully it ended when it did, because there was NO WAY he could have eaten more; as it was, the last swallow in his mouth was taking its sweet time to engage.
In turning to back to Contestant #5, a puzzled look came over Jerome’s face as the dripping corners of Contestant #5’s still-chewing mouth turned up into a grin, two brats still remaining on his plate. A motion in front of Jerome brought his attention back, where another plate of brats had just been placed. Jerome never did finish that last swallow, as the reality set in: it was not a timed contest, but an endurance contest. Crestfallen, he willed his over-taxed stomach to subside…at least until he could track down his friends and share a generous portion of semi-digested bratwurst with them.
I half-heartedly fiddled with a couple ideas before I came upon the reason for the two combatants to be in a non-speaking situation was because their mouths were full. I decided that within the limits of rules there could be more than just the two main characters, but I intentionally did not refer to any other contestant, judge, assistant, crowd attendee, or friend specifically. As a matter of fact, I also intentionally only referred to the opponent at “Contestant #5” to give him a more unknown quality.
What ended up as difficult for me was the use of names and pronouns; I had to walk through the story a couple times and swap “Jerome” and “he” or “his” in places to I didn’t get too redundant. As far as whether the situations of the two main characters shifted significantly enough from start to end, that’s a matter of judgement. I was just happy to get the thing done and out the door.