From Zombies to Orange Chicken: The First 50 Lines Challenge

Thanks to Char at Joy in the Moment, I discovered a fun new writing contest.  If you’re in the mood to exercise your creativity, I encourage you to drop on over to TheAccidentalNovelist where this contest is being sponsored for more information.  The name of the contest is “The First 50 Lines Challenge”.  Unfortunately Round 1 is over, but today marks the first day of Round 2 and its still open to newcomers.

The Round 2 Challenge is to take the 5 winning first sentences from Round 1 (if you’re just now entering the challenge) and construct an opening paragraph for each, writing as quickly as possible without stopping.  Then choose your top 3 and submit them under the comments section of Round 2 at TheAccidentalNovelist blog.  This round is open until March 5th.  Winners will be chosen and names will be placed in a drawing for a chance to win some prizes!

The 5 winning sentences from Round 1 are:

  1. Nothing was tastier than brains, not that he could remember any other flavour.  (by Esther Jones)
  2. Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill. (by 4AM Writer)
  3. There’s no such thing as a good day in Antarctica. (By Annie Cardi)
  4. If you destroy someone’s life, they’re yours forever. (By Annie Cardi)
  5. I blame everything that happened on orange chicken. (By Char)

My 5 paragraphs in no particular order are:

Nothing was tastier than brains, not that he could remember any other flavour.  It was both the perk and the downfall of being a zombie.  Burt The Undead pondered this a moment, searching the hollow of his cranium for what troubled him in it.  It was like trying to catch a fish in a barrel.  Sure, you might lose an errant limb or ear, but the hunger for sweet, delectable, warm, rubbery brains was something you just couldn’t deny.  Unfortunately the living didn’t give them up easily and they obviously didn’t understand.  The difficulties of being the animated dead were lost on them.  A zombie can’t run after them.  And reasoning with them?  Forget it.  Humans never listened and zombies have rotten tongues.  All you can do is hobble along on rotten limbs, watching pieces of yourself drop off, and groan.  He wondered if it was this underuse that made those brains so sweet.  He drooled as a bit of his chin fell into his lap and decided to put his thoughts away for another time.  It was time to hunt for dinner.

Nobody wanted to claim the baby on the hill.  Nothing good came down from that place.  Not even the crows and coyotes ventured up there anymore, much less the townsfolk.  They all had good reason, as Billy Clements was remembering now.  No one had gone up there since the bizarre murders of the Foreman family more than a year ago.  The house had been quickly and quietly abandoned as soon as the sheriff finished his investigation.  They all wanted to forget but the hill wouldn’t let them.  Those strange lights and murmurs where there should be none kept folks turning their eyes away from it.  Still, he had no choice.  He had to go up there.  No one else would.  The moon, as if sharing his anxiety, slipped behind a cloud and darkness fell across the road like a dirty pall.  Billie took a few steps up the dusty road and the night insects fell silent.  The wailing started again, even more eerie in the strange silence.  It raised the hairs on the back of his neck and he shivered.

There’s no such thing as a good day in Antartica.  For starters, the days either stretch on interminably into white bleakness for months at a time or are nonexistent for much the same.  Then there’s the cold.  It’s not an “oh gee, we sure are having a cold snap” kind of winter plains cold.  No, not at all.  This was more like a “the skin on my face is frozen and I’m afraid if I touch it, it’ll shatter” kind of cold.  Maybe cold wasn’t even the right word for it.  Hell with a broken thermostat was more like it.  But, there I was and there was research to do.  The reports of fresh tracks had come in just prior to my arrival and it was up to me to determine what made them.  Unfortunately, the locals were about as frosty as everything else and cooperation was at a premium.

“If you destroy someone’s life, they’re yours forever.”   The words bounced around inside Samantha’s head like rubber balls as the bus trundled down the crumbling highway, heading for the coast.  Her forehead banged against the cool window glass in a steady rhythm to its rocking and it was somehow comforting.  The large woman sitting beside her had thankfully finally fallen asleep.  She had plagued Sam with constant questions the first hour; questions she didn’t want to answer.  She didn’t want to talk or think.  She didn’t want to remember Rob and what she had done.  She didn’t want the image of the stricken look on his face burned forever into her brain when she told him it was over.  He hadn’t said a word.  That horrible broken expression in his eyes was the only reaction he’d allowed her and it hurt.  She wasn’t even allowed the emotional release of an argument.  He had just stood there as she picked up her bag and walked away.  She squeezed her eyes shut as the tears pressed and burned against them.  The woman beside her began to snore dryly and Sam’s misery poured finally poured down her face like bitter rain.  She watched the performance in her reflection.

I blame everything that happened on orange chicken.  The train was late, it was raining, and dinner was condemned to be a disaster before I could even set foot inside my door.  And, of course, everything hinged on the main course.  The culmination of the last 5 years of blood, sweat and tears rested on impressing Lee tonight and that chicken, my mother’s recipe and my specialty, was going to be the soul-stealer and deal clincher.  Like the rain beating its cold insistent little fists against my umbrella, my anxiety hammered against my chest.  I looked at my watch for the twentieth time.  There would never be enough time.  All that hard work was rushing down the sidewalk and into the gutter along with mydreams.  I would just have to cancel everything.

I have to admit this challenge wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but it did give me the opportunity to stretch myself a little bit and take directions I might not usually choose.  It also opened a whole treasure trove of ideas for other writing projects.  It’s really fun!  Why not join me?