MLK Writing Contest #37 [Voting!]

Which is the better story?

Poll ended at November 1st, 2016, 7:06 am

Story 1
Story 2
Total votes : 4

MLK Writing Contest #37 [Voting!]

Postby DGFone » October 25th, 2016, 7:06 am

Wow, it had been so long that the auto-fill functions on the browser no longer had any suggestions for the subject line. I don't feel bad about that. Not one bit. #lies

Well, even after... um, half a year *gulp* since the last voting round (but only about a month after the first submission), here is the next one. With a whole two entries! Yeah, kinda hard not to seem rather pessimistic about this whole thing. Let's hope the next time will be better. Enough of my complaining, these are the two stories:

Story 1:
Spoiler: show
It Wasn't Enough

His claws raked the steep wall of the ravine, his buff and powerful body working both for and against him as gravity hauled him towards the raging horde of deadly prey animals below. The massive golden predator dug his claws in more deeply, pushing against the canyon with all of his might, and began to climb. As he rose steadily higher, he noticed that his brother was approaching his position at a lope from the top of the cliff. Relief flowed through him, knowing that Scar was still okay, but he still felt a deep gnawing fear for Simba, whom he’d lost sight of after depositing him on a rock out of harm’s way. Where had the cub gone?

The lion king reached the top and was pulling himself out of the chasm when his darker, lankier, brother arrived. Panting, the two lions looked at each other, and for a moment, Mufasa could have sworn he saw something… sinister… twinkling in Scar’s emerald eyes. It must have been a trick of the light, he supposed, as he began to look about for his son. His brother had always been a bit… strange… and had done some questionable things, but he’d never shown any indication that’d he have a reason to be against Mufasa in a situation like this, and there were more important things to worry about.

“Simba,” he gasped, “Where’s Simba?”

“I thought you had him,” Scar choked, sounding slightly worried.

“I did, but I had to leave him on a rock on the wall of the gorge or we would have both died.”

Scar’s face hardened, “Good thing you didn’t, dear brother.”

Mufasa nodded, a bit unsettled by his brother’s tone, but this was no time for conversation, so the golden lion bounded away toward where he’d left Simba. He called out to his cub as he caught sight of him nearing the top up a sloping path he’d found, pebbles and dust trailing along behind him and drifting down to the dying stampede below. The large lion raced to his son, Simba scampering to his father fearfully, and the two met in a leonine embrace at the edge.

“Simba, are you alright?”

“Yeah…” the cub muttered shakily, rubbing against his father’s legs. Mufasa comforted his son for a moment and then began to lead the youngster away from the gorge, not really even noticing that Scar wasn’t behind him, and had slipped away.

“I was so worried about you, Simba. What were you even doing down there?”

“I was waiting for you. For the surprise,” Simba explained, confused.

“What surprise?”

“I don’t know. Uncle Scar said you had a surprise for me. He said it was a ‘father-son thing,’” the cub murmured. Mufasa’s jaw hardened involuntarily, and he glanced behind him to have words with Scar, only to notice that his brother wasn’t there. He’d had no surprise intended for his young prince, and it was true also that the wildebeest had no reason to stampede like that under normal circumstances. The king didn’t want to believe the only explanation for this, but he had no choice, did he? If Scar had told Simba to wait in that gorge and then had somehow frightened the wildebeest (an extraordinarily simple task) and funneled them into the gorge… This was an attempted murder. That was all that it could be. He didn’t want it to be true, but he had to accept it for what it was… nothing else made sense at all. Scar’s absence reeked of guilt. All the same, he decided to inquire further.

“What else did your Uncle Scar say about the surprise?”

“He said it was to die for.”

The lion king cringed, knowing that he’d have to somehow punish his brother should he turn back up, and hating that it had come to this. He and Scar had been at odds for a long time, but Mufasa had valued their familial bond and had always tried his best to make things work out between them. He’d even tried to get the pride to accept Scar in spite of his eccentricities and extremely self-serving attitude. All he’d wanted was for the brother he loved to be the brother he deserved, but alas, it would not, indeed, could not, be so. It simply didn’t make sense to the aging king, but at the same time, he knew it was truth… he’d picked up on the subtle hints in Scar’s demeanor, in his attitude that gave away just how deep the dark lion’s hatred for him really was, though he'd ignored it, pretended not to see it. He’d known since they were cubs that Scar had coveted his role as future king. Scar was smarter than Mufasa, it was no secret, but he was unstable—his loyalties lie to himself alone, and it was clear in his behavior that he didn’t particularly value justice. He wanted the world to give him what he felt he deserved, and he had always been bitter that it hadn’t. It seemed to Mufasa that his brother had taken it upon himself to get what he wanted from life. Had he and Simba died in that stampede, Scar would have become the king. It was what he’d always wanted, and, while not as clever as his brother, Mufasa was not stupid himself. He could see this for what it was.

“Dad? What’s wrong?” Simba asked. Mufasa looked down at him, knowing his face was reflecting his hurt, and shook his big, maned head.

“Don’t worry about it, Simba. Not right now. I’m just glad you’re safe. Let’s get home to your mother and try to avoid any more scares today,” he said, trying to force a smile for the cub’s sake.

“Yeah,” Simba agreed, casting his gaze downward. “Hey, Dad? Nala’s gonna think we were so brave, isn’t she? Heh, can you imagine the look on her face when I tell her we were in a stampede?”

“I’m sure she’ll be very impressed, son,” Mufasa replied, forcing a chuckle. Simba continued to talk, but the king was miles away. He couldn’t believe that his brother would have tried to kill him and his young son. A line had been crossed today, and nothing could ever be the same again. It broke the big lion’s heart. All his life, he’d tried his hardest to save his brother, to make him good… but it wasn’t enough.

Story 2:
Spoiler: show
Out of the Trenches: The Great War

If there was one trait that Simba could have not taken after his father, it will definitely have to be his stubbornness. Everyone in the pride could tell that he was not well – the prince needed help, and everyone knew it. Except Simba himself, that is. For the past several days, he was unable to even get up to leave the den, but no thank you mom and dad, he would say, I’m going to be fine before you know it. Just need to rest a bit, it happened before.

That was two weeks ago, back when he could at least walk around. Still, he refused to seek help. To make things worse, Mufasa had tried to take things into his own paws by having Rafiki see him when he was asleep, but when Simba woke up, he simply went ballistic at seeing the shaman hovering over him. Displaying strength that he had lacked in days, the prince was able to emit a tremendous roar, amplified by the den’s walls, and ran off before anyone else can recover from the sudden noise.

Poor Rafiki looked like he was about to have a heart attack, but insisted that he was fine, proceeding to make his way back to his own home while Mufasa and Sarabi had to track down their son, who had managed to make his way quite far into the pride lands before holing himself inside a rather sad looking crevice. Despite being clearly worn out and bordering on passing out, Simba would still growl at anyone who attempted to get close, including his own parents. If you looked inside, all you would be able to see with any clarity would be the reflections off his eyes as he glared out at the world outside.

To make things worse, Simba refused to leave his new hiding place, no matter how filthy it was inside, and no matter how much worse he himself got while lying inside. And yet still, he refused to move out, nor to allow anyone else to help him out either.

With Mufasa and Sarabi both out of ideas, and both worried for their son, they sought Nala out for help. While as unsuccessful as the others at helping Simba, he at least was the most tolerant with her, and would at least show some signs of lowing his stubbornness when confronted by her.

“I can’t make any promises,” Nala eventually said when his parents asked her yet again if she could put some sense into the prince’s thick head before it was too late, “but you know as well as I do that I am too worried for him. I’ll see what I can do...” As much as she didn’t want to, she then added almost as an afterthought, “just… don’t go with me this time. It was something that I was thinking about, and I think I just might know what can help him.”

So with that, she went out to search for Simba, the weather outside matching the pride’s mood, with the dark clouds and the constant rain they were pouring down on the wet mud below.

Sure enough, he was still inside his little hole, unmoving except for the occasional rackety cough that shook his entire body.

Staring at him, Nala let out a depressed sigh before trying what everyone in the pride had already done many times. “Simba, you need to get help. You’re not going to get better on you’re own. You know that yourself!

“Leave me alone!”
The reply was not angry as much as dejected… defeated.

”Why are you even in here like this, Simba? At least be somewhere where the others can keep an eye out on you. Not like… this.” It was impossible not to notice that the rain water from outside had already started to seep in, leaving Simba lying half inside a steadily growing puddle. “You look like a mess, in there and all..”

“I feel safe in here, Nala. You know that.”

Nala’s jaw clenched. “You’re not in the war anymore, Simba! You don’t need… to be safe. You are safe! At home! With your family. They care about you… We can’t stand watching you wither away for much longer.”

A low growl emanated from inside the crevice. “My family's gone, Nala. Torn apart... blown up, and for what? Sometimes... I feel like I need to join them, or at least want to. It’s not like they have to live knowing that they were the only ones to survive. Just let me be alone, Nala. These walls remind me of them, and you’re getting the way...”

Despite what Simba had just told her, Nala felt that if anything, he was finally allowing someone to get close to him. Slowly crawling inside, she knew that there wasn’t enough room for the two of them, but she would tolerate being uncomfortable for now. Pressing up against Simba’s side, she could feel just how violently he was shivering, despite that even with the rain outside, it wasn’t actually cold at all.

Sure enough, Simba didn’t try to force her out. If anything, he seemed to relax for the first time in a long time as she tried to settle down next to him. “Hey, Nala, you know what this really remind me of right now?”

Nala didn’t particularly feel like finding out – Simba had yet to really tell any good stories from after he came back from the war., but she felt like she could indulge him somewhat. “What, Simba?”

“We were stuck in some trenches we had to dig up, in that frozen ground and snow... We were surrounded on all sides and couldn’t escape,” Simba seemed to grin slightly, despite a cough that decided to get to him at that moment, “we all though that it was only a matter of time before they attacked us. But they chose to take their time. Probably knew that time was all they needed anyways… We were out of food, out of supplies. Half of us or more were sick, much like I am now...”

So apparently Simba was aware of how bad of a shape he was in right now, even if it didn’t explain his carelessness about his situation. “Otto was nearly dead by that point, but he had already told us that even if he could, he didn’t want to survive. He had done something early on in the war that he couldn’t live with, and yet after all that, he was still probably the nicest guy there was in those trenches.”

Simba closed his eyes in memory. “We were just lying there in the ice, bored to death… One of our guys suddenly found us. Hadn’t seem him for days. We all though he was gone by then, but here he was! Apparently he thought that it was us who had all been wiped out by then, but there he was, staring at us like we were ghosts, and Otto...”

Next to Nala, Simba had to pause due to a combination of a chuckle and another cough. “He just wore this big grin on his muzzle and simply said...” Then, in a tone that was completely care free, Simba recited:

“It’s so nice to spend time together dying!"

Nala didn’t know what to reply to the comment. While it had been clear to the entire pride that Simba did not come back the same as he had left, this was really the first time he had made it clear that he didn’t care if he lived any longer or not. It was rather stressing to hear such words coming out of him, when not long ago he was so full of hope and optimism.

Eventually, it was Simba who broke the silence again. “I don’t know… I don’t know what to think anymore,” he muttered quietly, “at least over there, we were constantly busy, if only with simply trying to survive. But here, now, all I can do is think, and try not to remember… Been failing at both, Nala, and I want it to stop...”

As another series of coughs interrupted him, the lion seemed to give up trying to continue the conversation. “So tired... and cold,” he mumbled as he closed his eyes, “Let me be, Nala, please. Just for now.”

Concerned, Nala began to make her way out of the whole. “I’m going to fetch Rafiki, Simba.” He even managed a reply, but she wasn’t sure if he had even heard her or not.

“You’re too good to me, Nala.” Well, compared to his previous arguing against help, Nala wasn’t entirely sure if she should be worried or not.

“He will know how to get you to feel better. You need the help, Simba. Please realize it.” As she turned to run off after the shaman, his voice caused her to pause, if only momentarily.

“I know… I’m just not sure if I want to...”

Looking behind her, Nala was able to see Simba staring back at her, his eyes clouded with fatigue and pain.

“Then I guess it will be up to all of us to make up your mind. I’ll be right back!”

The weather, it seemed, agreed with her as the rain gave way to the sun’s rays as they began to penetrate the clouds above. Breaking off into a run, Nala tore off towards Rafiki’s home, already planning to fetch Mufasa and Sarabi immediately afterwards.

It was time to let their son to live again once more.

These are the two stories, so vote on them for the following week. Voting will run until Monday, October 31st!

Usual voting rules apply: Don't vote for yourself, and don't vote for a story that you simply know was written by a friend. Don't ask others to vote for your story either. Read each one carefully and give all the stories the same consideration before you make your decision.

And since there are only two stories:
Got wings

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Re: MLK Writing Contest #37 [Voting!]

Postby Ninaroja » October 25th, 2016, 8:57 pm

Voted :D Good luck to the two of you :)

I have not entered in a suuuper long time - if the next one runs in November I probably won't be able to take part (I'll be focusing on my NaNoWriMo novel during that time) but SOMEDAY I will get back into this :lol:
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