Death­match: The Win­ners Re­vealed!

Broken Pencil - - Table Of Contents -

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.

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