Whoa! You guys went GONZO with this batch of creepy crawly crazy and we loved it! Thanks to everyone who wrote, commented, and tweeted. 🙂
Honorable Mention | Soldier | Bill Engleson | @billmelaterplea
Cara Says: We’ve followed this story since its inception, and this week took a sharp turn at the end that left me yelling, “NO!” at my screen.
Ruth Says: This story has more twists and turns then a water slide and I enjoy every one. I love not knowing where the story is going to go from one moment to the next!
Second Place | Underboss | Kel Heinen | @Aightball
Cara Says: This costumed delight tugs at the heartstrings, and I love Papa Jimmy’s willingness to brave distaste for spiders in the face of his daughter’s eight-legged joy.
Ruth Says: Man, I have such a soft spot for this one. Everywhere you turn, it’s all treats and no tricks. Sweet and heartwarming! 😉
Winner | Boss | Silver James | @SilverJames_
Cara Says: What is it about these bikers? They’re intense, violent, and fiercely protective of their ladies. Score another win for the Nightriders with this great intro to Gravedigger. The last line is gold, Silver (see what I did there?)
Ruth Says: With so many characters in a story, it’s easy for a writer to settle for cookie cutter or cliche, but that never happens here. Strong clean writing and distinct engaging characters are what keep my keen interest in this piece (and the story it is part of).
The Winning Story: REGRETS by Silver James
The Russian faced the room, flanked by Hardass, Easy, and me. Representatives from every local chapter of the motorcycle club stared back at us, waiting. The alpha Wolf energy in the room electrified the atmosphere and the air stank of burning tires. Rage. The Nightriders were entitled.
Russki glanced my way. “Show them.”
I grabbed the corner of the plastic tarp covering the conference table and jerked it off. Nobody made a sound but the fury ramped up so high the temperature in church turned frigid.
“This is Spider, sent from the Hell Dogs as a warning.” Russki’s deadly voice dropped into the well of seething anger.
A man rose to his feet. “I’m Ripper, president of the Mizzippee chapter,” he drawled. “Spider was mine. Went missin’ from Biloxi ’bout two weeks ago. Dropped right the fuck off the radar. Now I know why.”
Ripper’s face was devoid of emotion as he struggled to keep from shifting. Growls and snarls edged in around the silence. I covered the body. Spider was a brother. We would treat him with respect in death.
“The Hell Dogs are without honor. They attack our women. Our children.” Every eye remained glued on the Russian’s face as he spoke. “We keep chasing all Hell Dogs and every club that thinks to align with them. We will not stop until we wipe them from the face of the earth. Until Fallen Angel is strung up for my personal attention.”
A low murmur ran through the Wolves. The Russian—before he challenged and killed Brick McIntire, the former national president of the Nightriders—worked for the Russian mob. He’d been an enforcer, assassin, a Wolf well-versed in the intricate art of torture. No one wanted to be the focus of Russki’s talents.
My nose flared as more scents wafted in the closed air—the acrid sulfur from matches struck and blown out of frustration, the hot pepper sauce of determination. Every man in this room was an Alpha Wolf. Not one of them would hesitate to fight to the death.
Another fragrance tickled my consciousness, a teasing memory not even ten years could repress. Violets and brown sugar. I shoved thoughts of her away. I had no time for what-might-have-beens. My brothers and I were in a life-and-death fight. Too many innocents had already been hurt. Even if I knew where to find her…I severed that train of thought, grimacing as the stench of rotten eggs—my own guilt—washed over me.
Easy’s gaze cut to me, his brows pulled together. I gave him a headshake to divert his concern. Carolina. She might as well be dead to me. It had been my fault. All of it.
The Russian caught my attention. Time to do my job. I raised my fist. “We ride. We hunt. We kill. Nightriders forever. Forever Nightriders.” A hundred voices echoed my challenge.
My name is Gravedigger and I come by it honestly.