Four writers, four random set pieces, three days, five hundred words, one winner, and no mercy. This is the Iron Writer Challenge, a no-holds-barred online event that smashes the bodies of writers and grinds them up for the entertainment of the crowd, and the only thing the winner walks away with is the right to live for one more day…
And now Kyle B. Stiff’s name has been drawn from the black box. His fate is sealed. He will take part in the Iron Writer Challenge near the end of April.
This is the first time he has been granted the honor of fighting and shedding blood for the pleasure of the crowd – on this world. But he has seen arenas in other eras, other lifetimes, even other worlds far from Earth. Many, many times he has put on armor dented by the kiss of blade and hammer. Many times he has lowered his helm and strapped it tight and heard the shouting muted by layers of gauze and steel. Many times he has walked along a row of weapons – sabers, nets, spears, shields emblazoned with corporate logos, shining crystalline axes, even chainsaws that drink gasoline as well as blood. Many times he has passed signs and gestures to his comrades before the gate is raised and he enters the killing grounds. Clowns and wild beasts caper in between shows, but when the light hits his armor he lifts his weapon and the roar of the crowd grows and grows, rippling and ululating like a single giant monster crying out in anguish. The crowd is dressed in the finest manner, each a respectable representative of his era and his nation; the faces, usually composed and respectfully stifling emotion, are now drawn out and shaking with pure insanity. He clangs weapon against shield but the sound is impossible to hear over the roar. He knows that untold wealth rests on his name, entire fortunes depend on him either killing his foe or dying in a pool of gore-caked wet sand.
The opponent steps forth and cuts a strange jig before the gladiators turn and face one another. They are similar in manner and temperament, but each opposes the existence of the other. All conscious thought withdraws; they cease to be human and become pure Entertainers. The crowd draws and holds its breath, then a bell or gong or electronic tone is sounded – and then the Game begins.
What I mean to say is: I can’t wait.
Post-script: What to know find out how Kyle B. Stiff fared in the competition? You can find out HERE.