Deathmatch: The Winners Revealed!
CAME DOWN like board with a nail in it. Sixteen short-stories are chosen to compete in Broken Pencil’s online arena. They’re chosen for their filth. Their chosen for their dementedness. Their chosen because to write them, the authors have seen enough blood to brave an internet comment board. The competition last three weeks. Each week is one round. Stories make past a round if they get enough votes from the internet addicted public. Now it’s over, and Broken Pencil has got bodies to clean up. (Colin Brush)
The lightning round is one swift weekend with all 16 writers fighting for their lives. On Sunday, the votes are tallied and the top eight competitors moved on to the main course while stories about gay bathhouses, computer code, drugs (of course drugs), corpse freezing, bride’s maids, buses, dogs, and schizophrenics were cut away like grizzle.
In past Deathmatches, each quarter final round was tucked away on its own webpage. Some matches were like mosh pits, while others resembled children at a library singalong. This year we tore down the dividing walls and let the moshers roam free. Each round took place on one webpage, with one comment thread, so no one could hide from the trolls or the critics.
Chaos Mckenzie, Mr. Controversy, writer of “A Night at the Fukhäus Archives,” 25 votes short of making it passed the lightning round, kept up with the competition. Getting personal with his comments, and trying out tasteless jokes got him one or two internet enemies. Wyatt Mcrea invented a new drink recipe. And, Susan Read failed to convince readers that she didn’t steal cash as a Starbucks employee.
By the semi-finals, the competition was in shambles. The website had overloaded and crashed. Conspiracy theories were rampant. Someone asked for more rules, more rules, more rules for commenters. By this time Vicky and Rachel both dropped out, pledging their abandonment, but each made their way back to the website. Someone recommended “I survived deathmatch” t-shirts, so keep your wallets ready. They’re going to cost $50 and they’ll only come in grey.
The quarter finalists all get magazine publications. This year’s are all about real people in honest-to-god possible situations. None are about UFO’S or unicorns or witches or giant cockroaches. This is a Deathmatch first, and to everyone who voted, I’m sure our print readers thank you.
The last two stories are both about failing career paths. Are they both autobiographical? I mean, something must go wrong for a person to become a fiction writer.
Susan and P.D. were both liked people so the violence got tempered. Someone gabbed about their favorite books. Chaos posted some flash fiction. Someone tried to make ASCII text art but it didn’t work. P.D. won, and for days we saw it coming.