As you know, January 31st was the official deadline for the D&D writing contest to tell a Faustian Bargain story. We were happy to receive over fifty entries that met the criteria for the contest, and the caliber of writing blew us away! Thank you all for entering, and giving us the pleasure of reading your wonderful work. We were so amazed to discover how talented you are, and in fact, the job of choosing finalists was much harder than we had imagined. We received stories set in modern times and ages past; stories about animals and humans, gods and monsters; love stories, action adventures, comedies and tragedies. The entries were set in places all over the world and beyond: Alaska, London, Oklahoma, California, a Germanic village, a school in the middle of a big city, a concert hall in centuries past, heaven, hell, and alternative universes… Needless to say, we had fun reading! Best of all, we had such fantastic interpretations of the Faustian Bargain! Bravo to all of you for being so creative with such an old concept.
Now, we won’t keep you waiting. Below are the five finalists for the contest, as well as our middle school winner. We had a few entries from middle-schoolers and we decided that those entries should be judged separately from the work of older students. For each finalist, we have included a short excerpt from their work and a reason why we loved their story. Feel free to tell us what you think of each one. The grand prize winner will be announced in about a week, and as promised, we will post their FULL STORY, followed by an interview, photo and other fun information! The winner will also receive a signed ARC of ANOTHER PAN, as well as a signed copy of ANOTHER FAUST with a deleted scene.
The Finalists (in no particular order):
“CASINO” by CALEY SCHEPPEGRELL:
We chose “Casino” because of the clever take on the Faustian Bargain. This story is full of tension and Caley closes the story in a brilliantly ambiguous way. (Here is a sample:)
He ushered me to a table with an empty chair to begin a game of blackjack. In a blur of introductions and cards I had suddenly won, and was being cheered as I collected a handful of green chips marked One Day and two or three blue chips that represented five days. And then I was at another table and another and another, and faster than I could think I lost and won and won again. I knew I should stop, quit while ahead, but I couldn’t; it was so addicting to have that power, to be able to gamble with my life, so incredibly addicting and achingly wonderful. I could see it in their eyes, the feverish, blazing eyes that looked right through me and mirrored my own; we were all drunk on the game. And then before I knew it I was seated at a poker game with the hundred-and-fourteen-year-old and five other people, with a pile of chips amounting to almost forty years on the table in front of me.
With a smirk, the ancient blonde folded, and a man with a backwards baseball cap and three gold teeth followed her lead. I didn’t know much about poker, and to be honest sheer luck had handed me most of my previous wins. I swallowed, wondering if what seemed like a good hand was really a few crap cards that would doom me. A woman in a cocktail dress with a birthmark by her eye raised the bet slightly, and with a twinge of nervousness I laid my last five-year chip on the table. I was left with just twelve days as a grey-haired grey-suited man folded and the rest of us revealed our cards.
“Disillusioned” By Amy Dickerson:
This story is not only wonderfully written and full of great characterization, it has a twist ending that will send chills up your spine!
Choices, choices. I could be good, D4 Apple. Or I could be bad, B5 king size Milky Way. If a night like tonight didn’t call for a candy bar, I didn’t know what did. I put in my change and pressed the buttons. The wire coil holding my lifeline turned, but not enough. The candy bar teetered, stayed put. Suddenly tears sprang to my eyes, flooded down my cheeks. Surely anyone passing by would think, what a pathetic person, crying over a candy bar, but they’d have been wrong.
Summer’s headaches had started just before they got the letter congratulating them on their selection to compete on Illusions. She’d complained to me and I’d brushed her off, told her it was stress. When she told me her eyes were acting funny I’d told her it was stage lights. I’d been wrong, and now she was maybe dying because of me. Now she was in a hospital room and doctors were trying fervently to break up a blood clot in her brain.
“A Blessed Soul” by Ninfa Hayes:
The twist in this story is that it is the opposite of a Faustian Bargain, in that the Faustian element is in getting (instead of losing) a soul! How clever!
Humans would call it Death,and Hell,but Immortals could not die in the same way. They could be killed by other Immortals,or by magical means,but did not die like humans do.
They would pass into Oblivion,and she would be the one to make sure of it, as it was her duty. She knew them all by name and deeds.
Zeus, father of all, wielder of thunder,who now lived as a bachelor in a mansion full of human females, ready to please his every perversion for the promise of a wealthy husband. If only they had known his wife, glorious Hera, was behind their embittered divorces, running the largest international firm of Divorce lawyers in the world.
Untitled by Sabrina Hua:
This story was not only well-written, but it was well-researched and full of intriguing period details. The ending was also very gripping!
With a sweep of the baton, the concert began with the violinists’ calloused hands gently coaxing rich notes from their instruments. The baton twirled, and the strings slowly died down like embers as the horns’ soft murmurs became more vibrant. The conductor’s grip tightened on the baton and with another wave, the violins revived with loud trills. Delicate clinks soon joined the pool of sounds, mirroring the melody made by the sweeping bow; the pianist played the black and white keys like a lover.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Leben, was without a doubt, one of the century’s finest masterpieces. Music, thick with emotion and obviously composed with genius, filled the orchestra hall. Even the hardest of hearts were moved, albeit reluctantly, by the swelling sounds. This, the members of the audience had thought at least once during the lengthy piece, is the sound of life.
Untitled by Ethan Carter:
This story was just plain exciting and had a great voice. But, Ethan, we have to hand it to you for quoting one of the best lines in movie history. Long live Princess Bride.
As far as I can remember, Mitch and I were friends in Junior-high and High school. He was always the big and tall, pale, blonde kid with an attitude. He had some anger issues at first, but with a little help, learned to channel that hate. The football coach called his the bull-dozer, because he ran over the defensive line like nobody’s business as the middle linebacker. All the other Oklahoma City schools were afraid of us because of him. We went to John Marshall High School. When he took Mary, he hadn’t changed much. He still looked the same, only stronger. And that didn’t help my case, because I could never pick a fight with him for fear of losing.
So Mary left me for him, and I wanted revenge. But I was smart enough to know how not to get killed by a six foot four mountain with a vengeance, as he was called. Instead, I walked around the city, looking for an easy way out. Then I thought I found one. An old woman found me. She was the type of person that one didn’t want to meet in daylight, for fear of their reputation. So I talked to her, and found out she was an Atheist. Which was alright with me, because I really didn’t care for all the religious Devil is evil God is good, and those who don’t believe end up in Hell jazz. So I let her lead me back to her “Church”, but I don’t remember why. Maybe I had had a few drinks, or maybe I was possessed. I probably won’t ever know. But I do remember going into the basement because of a tornado warning that went through all of downtown.
GOOD JOB EVERYONE!
We’ll be back in about a week to announce the final winner. In the meantime, these finalists deserve a big congratulations on some very well-written stories. Also, we should mention again that all of the entries were so good that we had a very tough time choosing. Whether or not you were selected, please keep producing wonderful work!!
FINALLY, OUR MIDDLE SCHOOL WINNER IS:
Felipe is 12-years-old and he wrote a touching story about a boy and his dog in WWII. Good job Felipe! We will email you with details about your prize!