Thursday, November 17, 2016

0 Red Light/Green Light Round Three Entries

Hello, Red Light/Green Light contestants!

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for these results. At long last, I am pleased to announce our 5 third round entries. For those who didn't make it through, we strongly encourage you to keep putting your work out there! This is just one contest, and there are many other opportunities available for your words to shine and catch the right person's eye.

Kelly Barina

            As I hurried down the castle’s vast stone corridor to meet my half-brother for the first time, his name echoed around me, whispered like a curse: Mordred.
            The vaulted doorway of the Great Hall loomed ahead, hewn from stone older than the ages. Squaring my shoulders and forcing my spine straight as a sword, I marched toward the raised dais, careful to keep my pace steady—calm and collected as a Prince of Camelot should be. At least I hoped I looked that way. My muscles strained as my legs urged me forward. Every step was too fast, yet the dais still seemed far away.
            Armored knights and soldiers filled either side of the high-ceilinged hall. I passed them, focused straight ahead on the three thrones. Poisonous words infused the room, burning my ears and hardening my jaw.
            “How is that bastard Mordred still alive?” A knight to my right sneered.
            “Vermin never did die easy,” another said.
            I bit my tongue, not for the first time that day. Such disrespect, all because of an unfounded—and unreliable—prophecy made decades ago.
            Ignore them. They speak in ignorance.
            My heels clipped against the stones. No point in arguing with them; they wouldn’t heed me, prince or not. In terms of garnering respect, Mordred and I stood on almost equal ground. Though I was King Arthur’s son, my rank did not erase the years I spent as a reclusive sorcerer’s apprentice.
            Or the lies the queen had spread about me. 

Beth Wertz

            The only thing Raya Steadwell could think as she stood next to her brand new locker was how much she hoped no one would have the opportunity to step on her that day. She hadn’t had an episode in years, but, as her mother kept reminding her since they’d moved, her disease tended to resurface in stressful situations, and moving to a new town for her freshman year of high school probably qualified as stressful. Doctors called her condition narcolepsy, but given the ridicule she endured, she usually referred to it as a pain in her ass. Raya leaned against her bright green locker as she silently watched the second hand on the clock tick slowly.  She kept overhearing snippets of conversations from people around her, as friends met up to compare schedules and reminisce about their summer. The girls all looked hopeful, had dressed nicely, and were complimenting their friends on a cute dress or skirt. Raya never had many friends at her old school. She didn’t expect this school would be any different.
            The hands on the clock weren’t going fast enough for her. She bent down, brushing her long, straightened brown hair out of her eyes, and picked up her stack of books from the floor. She took out and unfolded the school map she had tucked inside the cover of her history book to find her first classroom as one of the older boys in the group from the end of the hallway approached her.
            “Raya?” he asked tentatively.

Taylor Rew

            Sloan Pepper was losing her footing. She eyed the ground, estimated about sixty feet between herself and death, and dug her nails into the cliff. Tucking her hips in close to the wall, she rested the inside of her left arch on her right calf, which trembled from the strain of the deteriorating support. Sweat rolled from her temple to her chin. She couldn’t risk a fall. Falls meant evidence, especially falls on self-belay.
            Sloan spotted a sizeable crack in the rock above. If she could just get her fingertips securely in that space, maybe she could shift that foot up where her hands rested now. Gripping hard, she inhaled sharply—drawing strength from her torso—and reached.
            “Ow!” She jerked her arm back causing a little wobble. “Damn ants.”
            Her left foot dragged along the rock, feeling for an alternate route. She couldn’t show for breakfast covered in red welts—a dead giveaway—she’d have to go around them. Mother would be out for blood if she knew Sloan snuck out to climb alone. Though fire ants were slightly preferable to her mother, she’d take the wrath and the stings over tomorrow’s agenda. Her hands went clammy. No one should have to face the guy they left brokenhearted, but that’s high school. She dipped into her chalk bag and robotically climbed through the dread, letting muscle and memory guide her. Adrenaline fueled action as she pushed, pulled, and hoisted her way to the top.

Robin Hall

The first time I met Jeremy Davies he didn’t break my heart, but he broke my ribs, and that was close enough. Since that day in fifth grade, my ribs seem to always know when Jeremy is close by. Even now, as I rush up the gymnasium steps, my Jeremy-radar goes into overdrive. I push his skinny, trombone-wielding self out of my mind and put my attention back into Devlin and all six-feet, two inches of incredible, Scottish gorgeousness. He’s leaning against the wall by the old-fashioned, white-bowled drinking fountain where he always waits for me before his basketball games.
I step into Dev’s powerful arms, brush his dark hair behind his ear, and kiss his stubbled cheek. “All right, team captain, you going for twenty-two tonight?” It’s both his jersey number and game-point average. 
“You know I am.” He gives his devilish grin, which I return, then meet his mouth with mine. 
Not only are lips two hundred times more sensitive than hands, but they also release a cocktail of hormones. They quiet my rushing, Type-A mind, and send me into happy delirium. I’m living proof that kissing is power.
Hoops, our center and Dev’s best friend, envelops both of us, yelling, “Group hug!”
We break our kiss, laughing.
“Dev,” Hoops says with a nod to the band section. 
In the sea of scrawny arms and musical instruments, Jeremy’s tall, dark head stands out as he spars with our muscled forward Ramsey. Jeremy holds his trombone case more like a weapon than an instrument, but I doubt he’ll swing it.

Kalyn Josephson

            Sometimes all I could think about was fire. 
            I’d see it in the reflection of the sun on the gray castle walls, or in a flash of red hair flickering in the wind. Or I’d see it in the swirls of burn scars creeping up my left forearm, etched there the night the Illucian Empire killed the Crows. Images of burning rookery towers and Illucian soldiers covered in blood echoed through my mind as I absently traced the edges where the red splotches met my brown skin.
            Something struck me in the nose and tumbled into my lap. I blinked at the blackberry settled on my dress, then looked at Kiva. She sat across the patio table, the morning sun reflecting off the metal buckles of her guard’s uniform, hand poised to turn the rest of her blackberries into weapons. 
            “Don’t make me throw the actual bowl at you,” she said.
            I tried to smile, but my lips only twitched. Kiva was my best friend; she deserved more than an empty shell to have breakfast with. But on days like this, when the morning sun warmed my skin and the sky was a clear blue, I always thought about the Crows. I couldn’t shut out memories of visiting the royal rookery to tickle Stormcrow chicks until they buzzed with lightning, or walking under the glow of a Suncrow in the dusky moonlight. I’d trained my entire life to become a Rider, soaring high above Aris on a Crow’s back.

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