Below are the winning entries in the Dark Divine Talentmania contest that was held on my blog in 2012. I was increadibly impressed with all the entries and extremely grateful that I didn't have to pick the winner. The rules were simple-- it needed to be in the same universe/settings and mythology established in the Dark Divine series, and it needed to be less than a thousand words. Oh, and while I love each of the stories below, I have been told I need to throw out the disclaimer-- these stories are purely fan-made and are not officially considered part of the Dark Divine series. Having said that, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Talentmania 1st Place Winner
Savage Beginnings by LC Piper
"Hotest guy ever?"
Angel froze at the sound of the voice. She barely heard it over the ruckus of dozens of teens moving through the halls. Her ears still hurt and her mind swam in the chaotic mix of sounds.
“No way…” another voice began.
Angel eased her locker door shut just enough to see the two girls. They didn’t look familiar, but there was something about the voice of the first that dug at her inside.
The first girl dropped her backpack and a box of pastels fell to the floor. They scattered across the industrial tile of the high school hallway. Angel could hear each stick snap in slow percussion. It was almost musical. She smiled at the clarity she now found in sound. Before it would just have been a clatter and crash, but now it was a chorus of hollow thunks, crisp crackling snaps and a crescendo of chalky tinkling.
“I wouldn’t know,” she spoke. The girl knelt down to pick up her dropped art supplies. Leaning over the mess, her hair fell into her face. She pushed it back, smudging red pastel from her finger along the top of her cheek.
It was a welcome imperfection to her smooth light complexion. Like a streak of war paint it made her look primally attractive and a little dangerous, Angel noted.
“Hurry up,” painted girl’s friend said, glancing over her shoulder.
Angel ducked back behind her locker swinging it to hide her face. She had been caught staring. Her breath stalled in her throat. She waited for a moment, both fearing and expecting she’d been discovered eavesdropping. No one came. Angel relaxed her grip on her locker door and pulled her fingers free. Three spiraled silver metal filings fell to the floor from where her hand had dug into it.
“You could help.” Painted said.
Angel peeked around her locker again. Her embarrassment at being caught lingered in her face and she blushed, but curiosity compelled her to look again.
The painted girl crouched there with her friend collecting her things. Something about this one spoke to her.
Was it her voice? How she fussed over the broken colors? Her worries are so inconsequential, Angel thought.
She had felt like her before and ached to be carefree again. Overwhelmed by the desire for her past life, her heart skipped a beat. Suddenly she was short of breath and had to inhale deeply. Things would never be the same for her. She was a fallen being now. Twisted by darkness and bathed in corruption. Doubt ruled over her. It told her she was beyond redemption and she believed.
Watching painted girl, Angel was reminded of who she had been. How similar they were! She could smell the memory of it. It’s the scent of how she was right before a single bite corrupted her.
This girl’s life was about to change.
Finished, the two stood and left. Angel couldn’t resist and crept after them. A short distance later they came to a classroom door. She stopped across the hall to watch.
Angel sensed him before she saw him. Tiny hairs on the back of her neck flared. A wave of alertness fueled by adrenalin surged through her body. A growl grew under her breath. Muscles in her arms, chest and back spasmed. Angel fought back the growing change in her, searching for her calm. There was no doubt he also knew she was there, but he didn’t show it. He knew that he was being observed.
Friend of the painted girl gestured to him. He was dressed in a ragged t-shirt and jeans. Or what was left of them. His dark black hair hung down just enough to obscure his face and hide bared and gnashing teeth intended for Angel.
Painted girl’s eyes narrowed in offense. Ever more she looked dangerous and native from the red pastel on her cheek.
“Excuse me, you’re in my spot.” The painted girl said.
Instantly he soothed himself and looked up. His hair fell back from his face revealing a small, practiced smile.
The growl quieted in Angel’s throat and her limbs relaxed. She felt her inner wolf lay to rest.
“Then you must be Grace,” he said.
Deep inside a portion of hope for herself and the savage Grace failed. There was nothing she could do here. Everything was already in motion.
Oh Grace, Angel thought. You have no idea how he’ll change you.
Talentmania 2nd Place Winner
No title by Entity Carter
“Damn it!” I heard my father shout as he slammed the front door. I quickly hid in my room and shut the door, praying he wouldn’t come in.
“Caleb! Where have you been?!” I heard my mom shout at him, from behind my door.
“None of your business!” he yelled back, angrily. I tried plugging my ears as they exchanged swears and screams, but it couldn’t block them out. I ran over to my desk and stuck my earbuds in, blasting my music as loud as it could go. I could still catch a few words though, like: “your fault!” or “he’s your son!” and“that bastard is no son of mine!”
I leapt onto my bed and buried my face in the pillows until it was over.
After laying on my bed, waiting for the fighting to stop, for so long, I’d fallen asleep. I slept for three hours, until I finally peeled my eyes open. It was dark outside now and my stomach growled, incessantly. I got up, and opened my door just a crack. The hallway was empty. I listened for voices, but heard none.
Quickly, and quietly, I made my way downstairs to get something to eat. In the kitchen, I opened up the fridge and peered inside. There wasn’t much. I grabbed an apple and headed back up to my room, but stopped by the front door when something on the floor caught my eye. It was red. I swallowed the fears that grew in my chest, and looked closer.
I knew it was blood. I could smell it. But, what it was didn’t bother me. Where it came from, did.
He was always doing this. I’d seen him do this. They way he shook, and screamed, then transformed into an even greater monster than he already was. The way he bit into his kill, ripping and tearing innocent people to shreds. I shivered, and slowly backed away from the blood. But, then I heard a gravelly voice behind me.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” my father grumbled. I turned around quickly, not meeting his eyes.
“Nothing,” I said, quickly. “Just going up to my room.” I tried to make a dash for the stairs, but my father caught my arm, jerking me back towards him.
“Not so fast boy!” He flung me onto the ground, with impossible strength. My head hit the tile and I tried not to cry out, as I sat up.
“What?” I moaned. My father glared at me, practically seething. He was angry about something. But, what? What had I done to piss him off this time? Suddenly my dad jerked something from out of his pocket. My eyes widened in fear.
“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!” he demanded. How? I thought, standing up slowly. How did he get them? In his hands, my father was holding all of my drawings of him. Except that in every single one of them, he wasn’t human.
“I-I-” I stuttered, but he didn’t wait for my answer. He slapped me, harder than should have been possible, and I staggered backward.
“YOU IDIOT!! BURN THEM!!” he screamed, flinging my drawings at me. “ALL OF THEM!!!” Then he leaned down towards me, grabbing my shirt. “And if I ever see them again, trust me when I say, you’re going to wish you were dead.” He released me, and started walking away. I looked down at my pictures, then back up at my father, glaring at him.
“No,” I stated, coldly. He turned around slowly, nostrils flaring.
“What?” he hissed, walking towards me.
“No,” I repeated. “These are my drawings, and I’m not going to get rid of them.” Before I could say anything else my father screamed and punched me. I clutched my bloody, broken nose, and glared with all the hatred in my body at the man who couldn’t possibly be my father. “I hate you.” Then, Caleb Kalbi did probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life...he smiled.
“The feeling is mutual.” Then he turned and left.
“I told you,” I repeated to Jude, for the millionth time. “I fell.” Jude scowled at me.
“I know you’re lying Daniel. Tell me what happened to you! You don’t get a broken nose from just falling!” he exclaimed. He was right. I sighed, then looked him in the eye.
“Fine. But, you have to blood-brother swear that you won’t tell your parents!” Jude nodded.
Talentmania 3rd Place Winner (1)
No title by Whitney Gibbons
“…and after she took the knife out of his chest there was only one heartbeat! We’ve been searching for a cure for hundreds of years and it shows up in Minnesota a week ago.”
Hope sighed in envy as she stared up into the afternoon sunlight filtering through the forest canopy. Fingering the moonstone beads on her bracelet she tried to ignore the proximity of her families’ mansion behind her, instead pretending that she was deep in the mountains that surrounded it. Far away from her pack and her curse, being alone with Chance was worth the isolation.
“Grace Divine.” Hope said. She caught the stone Chance had dropped to her and tossed it back up with a powerful flick of her wrist. “I bet she’s blonde.”
“I thought Brother Mooney said her hair was black?” Chance said from his perch high in the oak above her.
“She’s the Divine One, her hair is probably whatever color she wants.” Hope pointed out.
With a slight rush of wind Chance jumped out of the tree, the superhuman strength in his legs steadying him after his twenty-foot drop. Hope jumped to escape the burst of leaf litter heralding his decent.
“Do you know how long it takes to get this stuff out of my hair?” Hope said in mock indignation. Smiling, Chance delicately picked a leaf from her brown tresses.
“You look beautiful with or without leaves.” He said, taking her hand in his. A shivery warmth spread up Hope’s arm as she looked into his green eyes.
A snapping sound killed the moment. Chance’s head jerked up in the direction of the disturbance, away from the house.
“You hear that?” he whispered.
“Yeah, it’s coming from the edge of the property.” Hope said, reluctantly taking her eyes off Chance to listen as the shuffling noises grew closer.
“Want to check it out?” Chance asked, cocking an eyebrow playfully.
“We aren’t really supposed to, it’s probably just a deer.” Hope said hesitantly.
The noise suddenly resolved into human muttering, like a radio dial had been nudged. Chance’s playfulness disappeared and Hope’s muscles tensed.
“Still think it’s a deer?”
“No, let’s go.”
Yes, go punish the trespasser.
Hope gritted her teeth as she and Chance silently sprinted through the woods at an inhuman pace. Just shut up, she thought fiercely. This was no time for the wolf to distract her.
Hope saw the source of the noise and skidded to a halt, holding a hand out behind her to stop Chance as she realized what they were up against; a man with shockingly blonde hair, a cleft chin, and a perfectly malicious smile.
Hope desperately tried to back up but she just ran into Chance. The man looked up and his grin grew wider.
“A couple of Sirhan’s flea-bitten pups I presume?” he sneered.
Chance stepped in front of Hope, between her and the lunatic pack-reject. It had been a while since anyone had seen Caleb Kalbi, but his name was still spoken with disgust.
Kill him. Do it now! You and Chance together. The wolf screamed. Hope tried to stifle the furious indignation simmering in her chest, the fumes were drifting up and stifling her mind. She could practically see the hair on the back of Chance’s neck prickling with hostility.
“What are you doing on our land? This is private property!” Chance growled, taking a step forward.
“I don’t have to justify myself to you.” Caleb snarled back. Hope didn’t see a speck of moonstone on him, nothing to prevent him from going wolf and ripping them to shreds. She suspected the only thing keeping Chance from going ballistic was the moonstone stud in his ear, she hoped it would be enough.
Hope heard thundering footsteps from the house, others had heard Caleb too.
“Come and get me, or are you a Gabriel pacifist poodle? Are you wolf enough?” Caleb jeered.
Chance roared and leapt at Caleb, Hope screamed and vaulted against him, throwing him off-course and into a bush, she wasn’t going to lose him to the wolf! She heard crashing underbrush as the cavalry arrived, but she only had eyes for Chance.
“Are you okay?” she asked, checking to make sure his stud was in, his eyes were horrified.
“It was so easy to give in.”
“Not on my watch.” Hope said, helping him to his feet, Caleb was gone, the others in pursuit.
“Who needs Grace when I have you?” Chance smiled and pulled her into a hug.
Talentmania 3rd Place Winner (2)
No title by Annie Boytim
The ground crunched under my feet. The dead leaves turning brown as winter began to brew and the air grew icy. A few birds and squirrels lingered in the forest trees, calling out to others every so often. More than a few leaves were still left on their branches and fluttered in the cool breeze.
My hair lifted gently with the breeze, causing me to shiver involuntarily. I padded along the forest floor leaving soft prints in my wake. Pacing and circling tree after tree I finally settled down.
The sun in the late afternoon was a brilliant orange glow across the plain, giving the land a distinguishable sparkle. I sat down and leaned my back against a tree looking out into the sun. A memory creeping back into my mind....
Grace, Jude, and I were in the backyard throwing a baseball back and forth. Grace was out to the side and Jude was standing directly across from me, making us a triangle.
“Hey, Grace!” Jude shouted. “Bet you can’t catch this."
Jude hurled the ball into the forest and Grace sulked. “Jude! I’ll never be able to find the ball now!” Grace had whined.
“Come on, Gracie, I’ll help you find it. Jude, tell your parents that we’ll be back soon. And me and Grace will do dishes tonight after dinner,” I grinned.
“What? No!” Grace protested.
We waited for Jude to go in the house and then walked into the woods. It was early summer, school had just ended but it didn’t feel warm out. It was unnaturally cool this year and I could notice Grace shivering.
“Grace,” I spoke. ‘Gracie.”
She tensed at her name. “What?”
She rubbed her hands up and down her arms, trying to keep them warm in the crisp wind. “Do you want my jacket? You look cold.”
She shook her head no but her teeth slightly chattered. “No. I’m fine. But thanks, though,” she said and smiled sweetly.
I shrugged and kept walking next to her trying to stay as close as possible. I could smell a sweet scent coming from her hair and inhaled deeply, shutting my eyes and focusing.
“What are you doing? Are you smelling my hair?” Grace asked incredulously.
A smirk spread across my face and I stepped away from her. “Of course not. But if I was I would say that your shampoo is divine… but then again, so are you, Miss Divine.”
She hugged herself and gave me a small smile that light up her violet eyes. “You are just too kind.”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Bet you knew I was going to say that.”
Now she rolled her eyes. “Of course I did. You are just too predictable, Daniel Kalbi.”
I stopped under a big branch full of lush, green leaves. “You think I’m predictable? You liar. You know how spontaneous, and outright I can be. For example, what of these leaves?”
“What of those leaves?” She laughed.
“If I am so predictable, then what am I going to do with those leaves?” I raised an eyebrow at her, beckoning her to tell me.
Her eyes grew wide in disbelief. Was I really asking her this? She couldn’t fathom my question, leaving it answerless.
I jumped in a flash and leaves rained down around us, engulfing us. Grace twirled around, helplessly lost in the sea of the green. She flailed her arms hopelessly scattering the leaves and accidentally hitting a low lying branch, sending even more leaves raining down upon us. I pushed through the leaves and wrapped my arms around her waist from behind and scared her even more. Grace twisted around in my arms until she was facing me. Her palms resting gently on my chest, her face tilted upwards.
“Are you still cold?” I asked softly.
A slow flush crept up her neck and onto her face, giving it a soft pink glow. “I’m never cold when I’m with you. You’re like my own personal bonfire,” Grace whispered.
My stomach twisted and my face got hot. Grace took a hand from my chest and cupped my face. I took one of my hands and slowly caressed the side of her face.
“Daniel!” Her voice rang out through the forest.
My head perked up at the sound of her voice and I began running back to the Divine house, remembering along the way, why Grace could never love me because of what I was… a wolf.