Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin (WINNERS)  (Read 1595 times)

The theme this time is the MacGuffin, an object which exist to drive the plot forward of the story it appears in. A person or creature cannot be a MacGuffin, it is an object with no explicit will of its own. Instead the MacGuffin inspires the characters around it to take action, weather it is to find the MacGuffin, steal it or destroy it. Some common examples of MacGuffins are the holy grail, the ring from the Lord of the Rings or the watch from Pulp Fiction, but any object that has an affect on the story and it's characters can be a MacGuffin.

The rules are simple:
1. The MacGuffin has to be an inanimate object.
2. It must play an important role in the story.



The entries will be judged in following categories:
Best Writing
Best story
Best MacGuffin

Deadline: March 18th

Good Luck!
« Last Edit: 29 Mar 2018, 14:04 by Blondbraid »

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #1 on: 06 Mar 2018, 03:39 »
MacGuffin, it is an object with no explicit will of its own.

I don't know....  The Ring of Sauron seemed to have quite a bit of its own will. ;)

But great topic nonetheless! (nod)

Mandle

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #2 on: 06 Mar 2018, 22:40 »
The Ring of Sauron seemed to have quite a bit of its own will. ;)

Enough to turn a mere adjective into a proper noun.

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #3 on: 07 Mar 2018, 01:39 »
The One Ring seems to be some kind of proper noun, and the adjective Ring-bearer is also usually capitalized, so I figured....  When in Minas Tirith, do as the Minas Tirithians do. ;-D

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #4 on: 07 Mar 2018, 10:47 »
MacGuffin, it is an object with no explicit will of its own.

I don't know....  The Ring of Sauron seemed to have quite a bit of its own will. ;)

But great topic nonetheless! (nod)
I'd say that while the characters do ask themselves on weather the ring has it's own will, the ring cannot roll into Mordor on it's own, someone has to carry it,
and it cannot speak directly to people and explain what it wants, merely influence their thoughts and feelings, and even then it is ambiguous on how much is the ring's
influence and how much is the characters paranoia and desire for power. The ring is implied to have it's own will, but it doesn't explicitly express it.

Compare the ring to say, Lumiere and Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast, who hop around and talk to the characters in the movie and you'll see the difference:

If an object can move or speak on its own, it becomes more of a character than an object. I hope this clears out any confusion.

Mandle

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #5 on: 07 Mar 2018, 12:03 »
The One Ring seems to be some kind of proper noun, and the adjective Ring-bearer is also usually capitalized, so I figured....  When in Minas Tirith, do as the Minas Tirithians do. ;-D

I actually meant turning something that is "precious" into "The Precious"...

I always felt that the persona of "Gollum" was actually the Ring itself, having finally found a living vessel it could take over once and for all, shutting away Smeagol into a back-room of the mind and counting him out as gone completely.

But little did it suspect...

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #6 on: 08 Mar 2018, 00:12 »
...someone has to carry it, and it cannot speak directly to people and explain what it wants, merely influence their thoughts and feelings, and even then it is ambiguous....

Got it.  A MacGuffin is some kind of human baby. :=

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #7 on: 08 Mar 2018, 06:21 »
...someone has to carry it, and it cannot speak directly to people and explain what it wants, merely influence their thoughts and feelings, and even then it is ambiguous....

Got it.  A MacGuffin is some kind of human baby. :=

Bindun!

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #8 on: 09 Mar 2018, 15:17 »
NO QUARTER GIVEN

The first memory I have is of being spilled, along with many of my same kind, into the maw of a gigantic machine.

I was raced down ramps between rails, fell into a tube, only to be packaged in plastic wrapping in a stack along with my fellow slaves.

All was darkness for some time.

A giant hand took hold of our stack and, after a brief moment out in the light, placed us in another dark place for an even longer time.

Then I felt our world sliding in the dark and light appeared again, shafting quickly over our bodies, until another giant hand snatched us out and cracked our stack open upon the corner of a massive wooden ediface.

We fell into a heap and after several of us were snatched up then so was I.

I was passed to another hand and then plunged back into a musty darkness smelling of cloth, sweat, and mothballs.

There was enough light coming through the threadbare walls of our fabric prison for me to spot a little cutey who looked like she'd been here for a while.

I called out to her "Hey, Penny, where are we? What's going on?"

She replied "Oh, he's a really nice old man. Worth millions but always makes sure to withdraw some loose change like us to spread around."

I guess she could tell from my silence that I had no idea what she was talking about.

She said "Ahhh, you are a new mint! Don't worry, you'll figure it out."

Then there was light from above as the hand came in and I was one of the ones it grabbed.

We were spilled out through the brighter light of the outside, fell, and landed in a huge tin container.

I heard a rough voice say "Thanks Mr. Lister! Us 'Nam vets can always rely on you!"

And then I heard the owner of the rough voice spit and rake us all up out of his tin cup and then the trundle of his trolley as he scraped his legless way back to the alley he called home.

I was figuring things out fast, just like Penny had told me I would.

My shiney silver circular ass was next used by Mr. Nam Vet as part of a purchase of a quart of cheap booze.

I sat in the register drawer of that liquor store for a few days until I ended up in the pocket of a certain Mrs. Nimez who took me to her home of several televsion-addicted children.

She had a change dish on a living room shelf where I sat for quite some time and learnt the ways of the world via Sesame Street at first and then moved on to As The World Turns after Mrs. Nimez started spending her days at home more often than not.

She ended up throwing me at the repo agents taking away her fridge, screaming "Take this with you too then you fucking vultures!". I pinged off the fridge and landed somewhere in the grass by the side of the sidewalk outside her house.

Time passed, rain fell, snow fell, bugs ran over me, and I guess I wasn't a "new mint" anymore like Penny had called me so long ago.

I was next snatched up out of the grass by a young man of about 19 or so. His name was Ken it seems, or at least that's the name the dealer called him by during their heroin deal. "Ken" didn't use me for the deal so I ended up in his pocket for quite some time after he died during the night some days later with foam coming out of his mouth.

I spent a lot of time after that in a plastic ziplock bag in a place called "Evidence" somewhere until I was released back into the world into bags of change going to "Charity".

Something I learnt something about "Charity" while sitting at the bottom of my bag is that is was very similar to my first experience with Mr. Lister and Mr. Nam Vet.

People sometimes give us to other people who don't have as much of us as they have.

This was confusing for me at first but eventually I figured it out.

I was taken from the bottom of my "Charity" bag, with many others of my kind, and given to a man they called "Fred".

Fred carried me to a pawn shop where he used me as part of the purchase of a handgun.

The pawn shop had a television playing in the corner via which I heard this from inside the register drawer:

"This just in: Retired Senator Bart Lister has been shot and killed at age 72 by an assailant identified as Vietnam vet Fred Wilkins. As Wilkins was placed by officers at the scene into a police car he was heard screaming "NO QUARTER GIVEN! THAT'S WHAT THE BASTARDS TOLD US WHILE WE DIED! NO QUARTER GIVEN!"
« Last Edit: 09 Mar 2018, 15:29 by Mandle »

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #9 on: 10 Mar 2018, 17:42 »
AN EYE FOR AN EYE

Children are very suggestible at six. Gregory Meggendorfer knows that from bitter experience.

**

According to his big sister Sabine, he was very fond of his little plastic Ferrari and wouldn't have parted with it for the world.

Yet he had just left it for a stupid Panini card about a soccer player he didn't care about. Why the hell did he bump? This Lucas-guy probably didn't propose it seriously. He was nice and wouldn't have pressed the trade, had Gregory refused.

But the deal was sealed and the red car gone.

Tears fell as soon as Lucas left the room.
Gregory remained disconsolate. A little too much for his mother. She had noticed the scene and felt that her child wasn't crying so much over the loss of his small toy than out of wounded pride.

Her son had been fooled and he knew it.

Instead of yielding to his whim, she considered preferable to teach him a lesson.
"It's no use crying over this. You accepted the deal. You only have yourself to blame. Pay more attention next time."

***

This mundane event was forgotten.

Months later, Lucas Scola had a birthday party at home. He invited Sabine Meggendorfer. The party went great and at 9 o'clock, Mrs Meggendorfer came picking up her daughter. Her son Gregory was with her.

Mothers chatting with mothers. Schoolmates yapping with schoolmates. Gregory was left on his own for a few minutes.

Exploring the house, he ran into a corridor leading to various rooms. Pushing each door cautiously, he examined  them one after another. The last one was smaller. A Rangers pennant, a game console and a Batman duvet cover – Lucas' room, no doubt!

It wasn't long before Greg's eyes alighted on a red car. His car. He took a good look around and stretched out his arm to reach it.

He grabbed it and was about to put it in his pocket when his fingers stopped.
What a stupid idea! This is theft! And I'll be the prime suspect once Lucas notices the car missing.

His mind went into revolt as he was returning it with trembling hands.
Bummer! It's right here and I can't have it!

He stood still for a moment, undecided.

Then he heard his mum calling in the distance.

Helpless and panicked, he rushed to Lucas' desk and vengefully took the first thing he could find – a zebra fountain pen.
Hiding it in his underpants, he swiftly returned to the main hall and said goodbye to the people he was told to.

However, regrets showed up quickly when he got in the car.

Once again, he had let his gut instinct get the best of him. Once again the result was shameful and counterproductive.
What had he stolen? A recognizable fountain pen that he wouldn't be able to use without arousing suspicion - not that he had any need for it anyway. It wouldn't bring his car back and it could get him in trouble.

Biting his upper lip quietly in the backseat, he took the resolution to bury the zebra pen in a trunk of the attic and to return it when given the opportunity.

****

The opportunity in question presented itself a couple of weeks later.

One morning, Mrs Meggendorfer informed her children that Mrs Scola would pick them up in the evening.

The second he was alone, Greg was climbing into the attic and retrieving the fountain pen.
He kept it in his pocket all day long, casting furtive glances at his trousers and praying that it wouldn't leak.

As agreed, Lotte Scola welcomed them in her minivan after school.

Greg was determined to drop his burden. He hadn't foreseen that they'd be so tightly packed though.
Between two Meggendorfers, three Scolas and another unknown kid, no seat was left vacant. Worse still, Greg was placed in the middle.

He decided to try his luck nevertheless.

The guilty kid waited a few minutes and made his move. At the first sign of a general relaxation of vigilance, he dropped the pen on the floor with little movement. All that was left to do was push it under the seat with his foot – push this whole unfortunate story into oblivion.

Alas! Violette Scola, age five, caught the move of Greg's leg and tracked his gaze instinctively. A wide smile lit up her face when she saw the pen.
"Lucas! Lucas!"
Unfastening her seatbelt under the reproving back look of her mother, she undertook digging at Greg's feet.

"Look what I found!"
Violette waved the bicolor thingy to great applause.

Bemused, Mrs Scola let the joy burst into the van for a few seconds.
"How can it be? I cleaned up the van this morning..."

Greg laid low for the rest of the drive.
His name hadn't been mentioned but he could feel the suspicious look of Lucas behind him when he left the vehicle.

Not sure that his shifty eyes pleaded on his behalf.

*****

These small incidents occured fifteen years ago.

They didn't prevent the Meggendorfers and Scolas families to get very acquainted.
So much, in fact, that Lucas Scola marries Sabine Meggendorfer today.

Greg's the best man and he can't hold back a tear when they grab each other's hand.

At the end of the ceremony, the priest calls the witnesses and the newly wed couple around the altar to sign the register.

As the bride, Sabine signs first. When his turn comes, Lucas politely turns down the pen that the clergyman offers him and pulls a small object from his boutonnière. Gregory doesn't recognize it immediately but raises a quizzical eyebrow when Lucas hands him the zebra fountain pen!

With a mischievous smile on his face, Lucas slips in :
"You stole my pen, I steal your sister..."


« Last Edit: 18 Mar 2018, 11:39 by Creamy »
 

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #10 on: 11 Mar 2018, 03:48 »
Nice story, Creamy!

I sure hope

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
that wasn't his only reason for marrying the sister and that the ending comment was more of a joke but, given the story's title, perhaps not...

Creamy

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #11 on: 11 Mar 2018, 17:08 »
I love alternative interpretations that open up new prospects.

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
Sabine was contemplating her new home with horror.
Portraits of her brother had been scattered everywhere, eyes scratched off by what appeared to be a fountain pen.

I like your story too. It's dark.
Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
Nothing indicates that the coin is only a MacGuffin. It's already thinking on its own and may seize the first opportunity to roll its way out. 


« Last Edit: 11 Mar 2018, 18:12 by Creamy »
 

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #12 on: 16 Mar 2018, 15:01 »
The Feather is Mightier



High, high up in the mountains, beyond deserts and seas, stands the temple of Xilana. Some call it the last one, even though there never was another. Some call it lost, for few remember the world it still represents.

In the temple, away from prying eyes and greedy hands, in a room of light and darkness – so it is said – lies a feather on a pedestal of marble and alabaster. The colour of the feather is of the deepest, darkest black, shimmering in the light of the thousand candles of the sanctuary, as if it had a life and heart of its own.


*

Colonel Ubakre clung to the windowsill. Only a rig held by two of her man on the flat roof above kept her from sliding down the polished wall. There were five of them, the colonel and four hand-picked men that were not squeamish about the believes of some small and isolated group of people. Normally, a pair of scouts would be high up on the wall, looking down into the candle-lit hall, but the colonel felt this job was too important to leave to anybody else.

They all were tired after climbing up miles and miles over rough rock and snow, on a path that was often not wider than a man’s shoulders. Helicopters had brought them as close as possible to the mountain top, but strong winds seemed to protect this place from strangers.

Few had been willing to follow her on this mission. The superstitions and believes were still strong and Colonel Ubakre couldn’t help a shudder from running down her back. Yes, she too still sometimes thought of the old stories. And then she reminded herself that there was no place for superstition, gods and magic in a modern world and modern culture, and no time to hesitate in a world under attack.

*

Eleven priests are always close by, one from every continent, to remember a story that may never be forgotten. Eleven novices help them and learn, so that the lesson will always stay in this world.

*
She adjusted her night-vision glasses for the lighter interior two stories underneath her. The hall was huge, illuminated by candles instead of lamps, but that was to be expected in a temple so far from any kind of civilization and electricity. It looked like very few things had changed in the last hundred years or so.

As a matter of fact, the only thing that didn’t look like it was as old as the temple itself was a glass bell on top of the pedestal in the centre of the room which protected the – fairly mundane looking – feather from dust and probably not much else.

Colonel Ubakre saw nothing she hadn’t expected. When the diplomats had come her before her, to reason with the priests, they had seen this hall and every other part of the temple and later briefed her on it. But there was no reasoning with stubborn priests, and so now she was here.

She watched as a young priest or novice – she couldn’t tell – entered the sanctuary through the single door, stood in reverence before the holy and useless symbol and then knelt down in prayer. She hadn’t expected many people to come here at night, but it didn’t hinder her plans either. How difficult could it be to confiscate some old feather from a couple of priests, even if you were supposed to avoid bloodshed?

*

Often they speak of Xilana, some with awe, some with sadness in their voices, for Xilana was the last of the winged heroes of times gone by.

When the Adrak came down from the skies, from a place far higher than the Wingodo could fly, higher even than the mountain tops, higher than the clouds and the rains, then Wingodo and humans stood side by side and fought side by side.

But the cities in the clouds fell, the nests in the crevices tumbled to the ground, the bridges made from branches and leaves burned to ashes. Fire spilled out from the giant trunks in the many hands of the Adrak. Death spilled from the giant birds they rode.


*

It seemed like she could here the explosions even up her in the mountains. It wasn’t true, but the war had become so much part of her that the memories never left her. She remembered the old stories, like everybody else, and maybe she even believed them, but they seemed far from her daily life and her reality.

When they attacked, flying above their heads in ships that looked like birds of prey out of horror stories, many remembered this one story parents liked to tell their young children or during one of the few occasional power outages. It was no wonder the aliens soon were nicknamed Adrak, even though nobody remembered where the name originally came from.

Now, Colonel Ubakre put small patches of explosives on the window frame and climbed a few feet higher up. With a muted bang the glass fell down into the sanctuary. The colonel climbed back down and swung the rope into the room. There was no need to call her people up. Two held the rope on the roof, two waited at the bottom of the wall as lookouts. She could acquire the feather fine on her own.

She jumped the last few steps down, still tied to her rig, so that her man could hoist her up as soon as she had the feather in her hands. She looked around a last time.

*

The humans fought as they could, but little could they do, for their legs and wingless backs bound them to the ground. And so their cities still stood when Xilana, the honourable, led the last attack against the fiercest bird of the Adrak.

One by one, her people burst into flames, felled by enemies far too strong. Screaming and lost, no elegance and no life left to them, they fell, as their cities had fallen before, and as the cities they burned.

Only Xilana, proud and desperate, still hovered over her doom, for she was the last hope and the last stand. All hope she gave to others, for she was hope to them, but none she kept for herself, as she saw none that could change her destiny.


*

When you spend all your life since when you were just under four years old in a temple so far removed from every city and village as the temple of Xilana, then you notice even the tiniest bit out of place: a chair that stands further to the left then usual, a candle that doesn’t burn like the others in the room, a spot of dust on the carpet, or – as Orim did that day – a shadow behind a window high up in the wall that shouldn’t be there, even in the dead of night.

It helped that they were all nervous because of a recent visit of some diplomats and scientists. They came to see the feather of Xilana, the last remnant of a forgotten and extinct people, not to honour the hero, not to pray to the goddess whose child Xilana and the other Wingodo were, but to take her gift away.

Oh, they had reasons, they had arguments, they had pleas and offers. What they did not have was respect. Orim did not understand it. The feather was hope. For him, who had never known a different life to the one in the temple, nothing could ever be more important than to protect the feather. And then some strangers came and said they wanted to borrow the feather, to study it, to take its DNA and clone Xilana, the hero he honoured with every breath of his life.

Now, Orim waited behind the black curtain in the doorway of the sanctuary for the inevitable to happen. The explosion at the window was so silent that he hardly heard it even though he was listening for it. It was followed by the buzzing of a rope slithering through the hooks of a climbing rig and then the soft thud of a body reaching the ground.

*

Through clouds of shadows and ashes, she alone reached the many-winged bird, and she alone tamed it with nothing but will, honour and determination. Slowly, just like her feather just moments later, the bird floated down to the ground, followed by the hero of a time now nearly forgotten.

But a last burst from the bird’s beak, a last mouthful of flame, touched her and the body of Xilana, the last of the winged ones, caught fire like those of all of her brethren.

And only the one feather, black as the starless night and as the heart of the Adrak, ripped out by a powerful gust of wind, remained a moment longer in the air. The same wind, hot and full of death and decay, thanked the last of the Wingodo by catching the shadowy feather gently in its breath. It guided it to the top of the highest mountain.


*

Orim jumped the intruder the moment she lifted the bell from the pedestal. Together they tumbled to the ground. The glass shattered under their bodies, the marble pedestal fell. A gust of wind from the open window caught the feather. The flames of the candles twitched and hissed.

Colonel Ubakre punched the young priest in the face and broke his nose. She rolled him from her chest and against one of the large candelabras on the ground. Ubakre came back to her feet and kicked her attacker in the ribs. Maybe she didn’t fully believe that the feather could help them against the constant attacks by the Adrak, but she didn’t like being stopped and being surprised by a civilian. After a moment she looked around for the feather.

It gently swayed to the ground, slowed down by the hot air over the candles. She tried to snatch it out of the air.

But Orim came back up as well and again he tackled her. The feather was swirled up again and far away from both of them, it...

*

There it lay for years and years while the last remnants of what was once a powerful people turned into dust.

But some remembered her courage and sacrifice and so they climbed high up over ice and snow, past bones that were once alive like the humans now seeking out a last reminder of the dead to thank and honour.

And they found the feather, lying in a dent of a single stone, gently rocked by wind that should have blown it away. They built a temple for Xilana the great and the goddess of the wind, who had lost her people, where they prayed daily and pray to this day.

And it is said, that when the time comes and the Adrak return – as surly they will – the goddess’s breath will rumble through the temple. And Xilana’s feather, all that is left through time and change, will birth her anew, ready to protect a world she left behind so long ago.


*

… grazed one of the flames and only ashes reached the ground.

*

So the story was told for a thousand years, and many wish it could still be so. But Xilana’s feather burned to cinders, and the hall of marble and alabaster, illuminated by a thousand candles, now lies empty and cold.

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #13 on: 16 Mar 2018, 16:32 »
50 Shades of Guffin

   It's a pretty little trinket, isn't it?  Oh yes!  How it shines in the darkness and sparkles in the light!  How it swings coyly on its chain!  They all want to possess it, but it is not made to be held for long.  No!  It is naughty, and it likes to play the field.  How it gleams on the outside, but it is a dirty little strumpet on the inside.  It breaks the masters' hearts, flirting with one and then another, and then another.  A trampy little bauble, it is.

   It was young and naive once.  Its father polished it and coddled it and kept it very close.  It had no eyes but for father.  But after 13 years it began to feel such yearnings.... 

   There was a boy who worked for father.  He was young and handsome.  He laboured hard over the glowing coals, creating soft hisses as the sweat dripped from his nose into the forge.  When he sweated so much father would allow him to strip to the waist, and then it could see how his flesh was drawn taught over his bulging muscles.  How it began to ache for the touch of that smooth, brawny mass.  But father would have none of it.

   And so it glittered like a thousand diamonds whenever the boy looked its way.  No sooner had it caught his eye then he could hardly keep his eyes off of it.  How he would stare, lustfully, as it flitted in and out of view.  How his strong fingers curled involuntarily, imagining it in their grasp.  How he began to sweat even when he wasn't toiling.  How it heard him weeping softly to himself in the night, sick with longing.  It consumed his every thought, like an insatiable flame.

   And then, in a moment of passion, he struck poor father down.  It was his now, and he gloried in it.  At night he would lay awake, staring at it endlessly, turning it about in those strong hands.  By day he would keep it nestled between those great pectoral muscles so that it could hear how his heart skipped a beat when it jangled playfully off of his skin.  How he worshipped it with every shred of his soul.

   It revelled in its conquest, indeed it did.  But now it felt stifled in the arms of the boy, for he guarded it even more jealously than had father.  It was suffocated by the endless attention, by the merciless cloistering.  It cast about again, seeking another champion, and it found one in the guise of a stern lawman.  Older he was, with a plain manner that spoke of honest dealings and a keen eye for injustice.  It made itself visible, and the lawman was instantly drawn to it.  He sensed the egregiousness  of its captivity and determined to set things to rights.  The boy was arrested for his crimes, and it was itself seized as evidence.  How it exulted in being seized by those tough, calloused hands.  How firmly he did hold it with such a fervent sense of righteousness!

   And how the lawman struggled to balance his duty with his desire.  His inner turmoil was palpable, and intoxicating.  It never felt so seductive as when it was corrupting the incorruptible.  How it teased him along, in its distress, until the lawman's certainty had been shaken and his hardness turned to mush.  At last he took it for his own, and at that very moment it started looking for yet another master, for the lawman was now shifty and paranoid, the noble manliness leached from him like the moisture from an old flower.  How wretched he was, serving himself at the expense of his ideals. 

   But soon opportunity presented itself in the form of a slender thief.  The lawman had the thief cornered in a darkened alley when it made its move, glinting in the moonlight.  Intrigued, the thief surrendered willingly and to the lawman's great surprise turned out to be a woman.  It soon began to appreciate that the thief had her own considerable arsenal of wiles.  Her eyes sparkled in the moonlight, shimmering like the mirage of a helpless damsel.  While being frisked she accidentally rubbed up against the lawman more than once, and when he handcuffed her she assured him in a sultry voice that she liked it rough.  The lawman pretended to give her short shrift, but it could tell that he was sorely tempted.  Faithless oaf!  Dangle anything shiny or novel in front of him and he was off like a dog chasing a rabbit.  He entered the back of the barred wagon greedily intent on having both it and the thief.

   The lawman did not reckon on the resourcefulness of two captive beings yearning to be free.  The thief struck first, kicking him in the gut, then the face.  The blow threw him back against the side, where it snared itself mutinously upon a loose bolt, tying the lawman by the neck to the wall.  He fumbled gracelessly for the clasp but the thief was on him in an instant, kicking his feet out from under him.  It strained against his full weight, choking him as he flailed about for a grip or foothold, but the thief was relentless in her assault on his legs.  The lawman's nails began to claw at the chain like a feral animal, but it would not be cast aside by such a boor.  It was leaving him, not the other way around. 

   At last he fell limp, and the thief gave him such a kiss that it might have been a spider kissing a fly.  Then in a trice she had the keys from his belt and had the handcuffs off her hands.  In another instant she had it wrapped around her wrist, and she was rolling gracefully out of the unlocked door to disappear into the darkness.  She paused briefly to listen to see if her escape had been detected, and to give it a rapturous, raptorous kiss.  Then she and it stole away into the shadows.

   What a spree they had together!  The coming months were a blur of robbery, violence, alcohol, and drugs.  The thief did not hide it away like its male masters, oh no!  She flaunted it at every opportunity, luring men in like moths to a flame.  They seduced together such a horde of lowlife scum, pierced and tattooed and angry and greedy.  The wicked men lusted for the both of them, with their roving hands and swollen heads.  It was a thrilling game of bait and switch, virtually throwing themselves at the men and then snatching themselves back at the very last moment.  Some would weep and some would beg and some would try to take by force, but the game always ended the same with the creepy men slain in the moment of their triumph.  Together they were unstoppable!

   But the thief had a hidden weak spot, buried so deeply that it took even it a while to discern it.  The thief had a dead sister, once her partner in crime, and that sister had a daughter before she died.  It came to pass that an incredibly sinister man had knowledge of the helpless orphan girl, and he came to covet it as well.  Not for him was the coital massacre.  No!  He had no qualms with bathing in blood, but he meticulously avoided spilling his own.  He formed a plan and kidnapped the girl, demanding it as a trade for her safe return.  The thief was torn, and again it sensed that wretched lack of commitment that so infuriated it.  It would not be parlayed in some transaction!  It would choose its own master.

   And so came the fateful meeting where the swap was to take place.  The thief held it aloft and demanded to see the girl.  The girl was shown but the meeting had been a trap all along.  The thief was mown down in a deluge of bullets.  Or so it seemed, for the devious thief had her own plan, and her demise was nothing but smoke and mirrors, for she had no intention of giving it up after all!  Nameless minions were quickly dispatched, and the thief and the sinister man stood face to face in a showdown to the death.  How they grappled, kicked, and scratched, like two starving rats in a sack! 

   They each thought they had the other's measure, but they each left one critical factor out of their equations.  The little orphan girl was tired of being abandoned or a pawn in the scheme of others.  She marshaled all of her sociopathic genetic endowment and grabbed a machine gun.  Laughing maniacally she gunned down both her aunt the thief and the sinister man.  This was unexpected, even by it.  Should it reveal itself?  Or face the indignity of being salvaged by the first slovenly oaf to stumble upon the scene?  It quickly made its choice, glinting tentatively through the gore.

   But such a mistake that was!  How it loathed the little orphan girl, who used it as play jewelry for her headless dolls.  For years it was subjected to interminable make-believe tea parties with a ghastly array of misfit guests:  legless bugs and tailless cats, gagged and tied social workers, and the occasional scientologist.  It would pass the long hours pretending to eat mud cakes and sipping fake tea brewed in a light bulb oven and steeped with the orphan girl's toenail clippings and nose hair pluckings. 

   At last it was able to flirt its way to freedom with a greasy scientologist.  It wasn't proud of stooping to that level, but misery does acquaint us with strange bedfellows.  Soon it was off again with a circus freak who could squeeze himself through a catdoor, then a gangster who liked to break thumbs in his spare time.  Then there was the bank robber who would ride a horse right into the bank with careless bravado, then the aristocratic playboy who won it in a high stakes card game.  Such a parade of egos and base ambition, all of them slaves to its glittering charms!

   Then it came to pass one day that the magician with whom it gleefully hypnotized victims up and died of a heart attack.  The executor of the estate was such a cold man that he auctioned it off in a batch lot to a flea market dealer.  How viscerally it hates to dangle on the jewelery stand, exposed to the gleeful tuts of every broach-wearing old lady with a day off from bingo, tried on by every Hallowe'en costume shopper with a dollar in their pocket.  How it cringes when the toddlers reach at it, their puppy breath reeking of tea party and venom!  Such a depressing end it seemed, demoted to knickknack status in a glorified junk yard.

   And then it heard the ominous tapping of a metal cane stabbing the concrete floor like a weapon.  Shyly, not daring to hope, it turned to look into the light.  There loomed an unmistakably sinister silhouette, a little bent for all the years, but exuding all the more wicked energy for it.  The incredibly sinister man reached out a mechanical hand that bore the telltale smells of gunpowder and blood.  It flashed him a calculated glimmer of seductive menace.  The sinister man cradled it gently in his cold, iron grasp, and all was well with the world once more.

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #14 on: 18 Mar 2018, 21:23 »
Looks like we have some great entries!
Is anyone else still working on a submission or shall the voting begin?

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin
« Reply #15 on: 19 Mar 2018, 21:16 »
Let the voting begin!

Entries:
NO QUARTER GIVEN by Mandle
AN EYE FOR AN EYE by Creamy
The Feather is Mightier by Sinitrena
50 Shades of Guffin by Baron

Entries will be judged by following categories:
Best Writing
Best story
Best MacGuffin

Voting ends on March 24th.
May the best story win! :)

Sinitrena

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin (VOTING)
« Reply #16 on: 21 Mar 2018, 23:23 »
I so enjoyed all three stories - which makes it so difficult to decide. It's interesting that we have two stories from the point of view of the MacGuffin.

Mandle: TvTropes defines a MacGuffin as "A MacGuffin (a.k.a. McGuffin or maguffin) is a term for a motivating element in a story that is used to drive the plot." and I wonder if that really fits your story. Nobody does anything because of the quarter. It's not motivating the human characters in any way at all. It is more like a neutral viewer. Stuff happens to it but not because of it. It's still an interesting perspektive you take and I kind of like the quarter as a character, even though it has little agency.

Creamy: Mandle's lack of a MacGuffin is compensated by you offering us two: Both the car and the pen motivate the characters and drive their decisions. The children act very much like children would do in the given situations, especially dropping the pen in the car felt very real. I'm not so sure about the actions as adults. That seems like a very late reaction to basically a childhood prank.

Baron: Good writing as always. Intresting that you mentioned the One Ring and than more or less wrote something very similar. The trinket wasn't created to be evil but it certainly acts that way. You can read this story in two ways: either the trinket really has persuasive powers or it's just so beautiful that people react to it. I think you went a bit overboard with the evilness of the characters, especially the orphan girl. There really isn't anyone who could resist the trinket when it tries to influence people?


Best Writing: Baron
Best story: Creamy
Best MacGuffin: Creamy

Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin (VOTING)
« Reply #17 on: 22 Mar 2018, 00:16 »
Stuff happens to it but not because of it.

"Fred carried me to a pawn shop where he used me as part of the purchase of a handgun."

Granted, it didn't need to be that exact quarter. I guess in my story money itself is the "ultimate" MacGuffin.

Baron

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    • I can help with voice acting
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    • Baron worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin (VOTING)
« Reply #18 on: 22 Mar 2018, 03:09 »
Best Writing goes to Creamy.  Your choice of words and minimalist style combine effectively to make a very compelling read.   Having said that, I thought Lucas' motivation at the end was exceedingly immature.  I think back to my own precious childhood objects now lost (a shiny hotwheels car with opening doors, a seal stuffy), and I can't even remember who was responsible for their demise or what even happened to them.  Of all the petty things that happen, inevitably, to all of us as we grow up, why obsess over such a trivial event to such an extent?  What about that kid with slick hair who stole his crush in grade 7?  Or the smart-mouthed bully who made fun of his scrawniness in front of everyone in grade 10?  And then, to avenge such a petty, trivial act with such a life-altering decision such as marriage?  What about the tens of thousands of dollars a wedding typically costs?  Or a divorce, for that matter?  Or alimony?  Or the acrimony that will be generated from other relationships, since the families are so close?  All to avenge a stupid pen?!??!!  No one can be that sheltered or petty, it's just unbelievable.

Best story goes to Sinitrena.  I loved how you wove the past and present together with such a captivating myth.  The folly of mankind's lack of trust in others was poignantly illustrated by the MacGuffin's unnecessary ending.  I thought you could have tightened the writing up a bit: the crack team of hand-picked soldiers were wallpaper and could easily have been cut out entirely, for example.

Best MacGuffin goes to Mandle.  Obviously the "no quarter given" line had a double meaning (no mercy, but also no handouts), but I respectfully disagree with Sinitrena that the quarter had no role as a motivating factor.  The rich senator (representing both a class that didn't get their hands dirty in Viet Nam but instead sent in the lower classes, and a specific cadre of law-makers who would have actually made the decision to send in troops) actually possessed the MacGuffin that symbolised his false charity, but didn't give it (the quarter, or metaphorical mercy) to his murderer in his hour of need, directly driving the action of the story.  But then, the actual same MacGuffin provides the impetus to buy the gun that kills the senator.  It is the motivating factor, because without the quarter there is no story.

I think you went a bit overboard with the evilness of the characters, especially the orphan girl. There really isn't anyone who could resist the trinket when it tries to influence people?

Yeah, I fell in love with the idea of the wayward trinket as a MacGuffin, and had a lot of fun at first with it consuming its worshippers like a femme fatal.  But after a while it's the same story again and again, isn't it?  To shake things up I tried to invent a character that would both guard it jealously but also frustrate its designs.  But who is truly incorruptible?  A priest?  A hero?   A villain?  The best I could up with was a psycho with the perpetual mental state of a small child (because toddlers frustrate everyone, no matter how powerful (roll)).  I felt I had to show her as extra-deranged, since to show her conforming to any standard of human behaviour would be to concede that her character could be moulded, her impulses directed.

Frodo

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: MacGuffin (VOTING)
« Reply #19 on: 22 Mar 2018, 14:34 »
Fantastic entries all around. Well done to everyone.  :smiley:


BEST WRITING:  BARON.  You really made the trinket seem alive... choosing when to reveal itself, when to get a new master etc.  Just wonderful. 


BEST STORY:  SINITRENA.  Fantastic story, and very clever how you combined the myth of the past, with the desire to own the feather today. 


BEST MACGUFFIN:  BARON.  Wonderful writing.  Really loved how 'it' influenced people to  be it's master, and how it changed hands over the years.  Even when 'it' got frustrated by events beyond it's control.