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Friday, January 30, 2009

The New Friday Challenge - 1/30/09

In response to The Last Friday Challenge, which was posted over on The Ranting Room, we've received the following entries:

Vidad: "Amidst Twisted Tresses"

Ben-El: "He Hasn't Got Shit All Over Him... Yet"

Arisia: Untitled

Al: "The Prince and the Curse"

As always, even if you have not entered the contest this week, we invite you to read, comment on, and vote for your favorite(s). The winner(s) will be announced either Sunday night or Monday morning, depending on some logistical details we haven't quite work out yet.

I now turn the microphone over to Henry.

Welcome to my first Friday Challenge! I'm thrilled to be here and hope you all enjoy the challenge I've got lined up for you.

I'm a big fan of pulp fiction. Not Pulp Fiction, the movie. I hated that. I'm talking about the kind of stories you could find in dozens of magazines back in the 1920s and 1930s; all of them printed on pulp paper. We're talking stories with rock-jawed heroes, reluctant but ultimately indispensable sidekicks, dastardly villains, large numbers of nearly useless minions, nefarious plots to take over the world and, of course, a beautiful woman who loves the rock-jawed hero but is also the object of the unnatural affections of the dastardly villain. That's the kind of challenge I have lined up for you. Grab your Royal typewriter and a ream of typing paper and let's get started!

Working the biplane’s controls with the practiced ease only possible from a former flying ace, Cliff Hanger pointed to the hilltop farm ahead.

“Cote? Are you sure that’s the place?” Cliff yelled over the roar of the aeroplane’s engine.

Cliff’s younger brother struggled to keep the map open against the buffeting wind and yelled back, “If the little bit Beth managed to say over the telephone before she was cut off is correct, then that’s the place!”

Giving Cote a thumbs up signal, Cliff was about to turn back toward the hill when he saw the other aircraft. Swooping down out of the sun and the clouds came half a dozen black-painted aeroplanes. Minions of the evil Doctor Darkness!

As he went into a barrel roll, Cliff hollered, “Doctor Darkness has sent us an unwelcoming party. Hang on, little brother!”

Machine guns chattered from the pursuing aeroplanes as Cliff dived, climbed and rolled, putting on such a flying exhibition as had not been seen since he last flew his Spad on combat missions during the Great War. But back then he had machine guns of his own and could take the fight to the enemy. Now, he could only play this airborne game of dodge-ball and hope to reach the farm before one of the dark doctor’s minions got lucky. Even as that thought flitted through his mind, the gods of chance turned against Cliff. A stream of bullets stitched the little aeroplane’s fuselage, the last one plowing into the engine!

On the hilltop below, Beth Key, plucky reporter for the Denver Sentinel, cried out in dismay as black smoke sprouted from Cliff’s aeroplane. At the same moment, it began rapidly losing altitude.

“Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!” crowed Doctor Darkness. “So much for the Hanger boys! Your precious Cliff and his little brother Cote are doomed! Doomed! Now nothing stands between me and the power I deserve!”

Looking directly into Beth’s eyes, Doctor Darkness added, “And the woman I desire!”

Struggling in the evil man’s steely grip, Beth declared, “My heart belongs to Cliff and will for as long as he lives!”

Turning back to the plummeting aeroplane, Doctor Darkness said, “Which should not be very much longer, Miss Key. Not much longer at all!”

Even as he spoke, the little aeroplane seems to pull out of its dive, leveling off. Beth’s hopes lifted as Cliff fought to land the mortally wounded craft. But just as it looked as if Cliff had the aeroplane under control, skimming the ground at terrible speed, it flew into the farm’s big, abandoned barn. Seconds later, an explosion rocked the hilltop and the barn burst into flames.

Are Cliff and Cote doomed? Will the evil Doctor Darkness be free to pursue ultimate power? Who will save Beth from the amorous clutches of Doctor Darkness?

Write the end of the story, answer the questions and, in the tradition of the pulps, give us a happy ending. As always, we are playing by the loosely enforced Official Rules of the Friday Challenge and playing for whatever is behind Door #2. The deadline for this challenge is midnight Central time, Thursday, 2/5/09.

Well, what are you waiting for? Cliff, Cote and Beth all need you! Get started. Now!
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