These are the top 6 Character excerpts from the Character challenge.
Character 1: Silt and Bone by Jess Landry
Growths of moss and cobwebs littered the branches, the falling water wiping some of them away into the rising water.
On the throne sat a motionless woman who looked as though she’d been carved from a birch tree. Her delicate features and ashen skin shimmered in the struggling light; dark, horizontal lines and black knots speckled every inch of her visible surface, even her eyelids. Roots spilled from her head: five long, thick stems that thinned out as they joined the mosaic of branches behind her. Her arms lay on the armrests, strangely human yet twisted like intertwining branches, leading to slender fingers that extended into thin twigs sharp enough to slice through skin and bone. Her forehead extended past that of a human’s, ending in a ragged, broken trunk—a crown of flesh and bark. A burlap robe lay across her body, the fabric eaten away by time; its hem resting at the pedestal’s edge, nearly touching the dirty water that lapped at her feet.
Character 2: Kerry Anne by Harry Husbands
“Ok,” she said and held out a grimy hand tipped by ragged fingernails. I placed a glove on and clasped her fragile fingers. Her bare feet pattered the diner’s floor, leaving smudged prints with every step. We walked from the silent diner and I pitied the people as they began to whisper among themselves, unaware of their own fast-approaching demise.
As we stepped outside, the heat washed over me. She squinted at the empty car-park, the motorway with cars that rushed along it.
“There’s no one,” she said. I looked down at her as she turned her face to mine and grinned, revealing teeth that jutted out; crooked and covered in thick, yellow gunk. “You didn’t call for back-up?” she asked, creasing her brow. I shook my head and squeezed her hand tighter. She laughed in a chesty way that reminded me of my grandfather and belied the small, filthy face it came from. “Oh, you are silly,” she giggled.
Character 3: Changeling by Daphne Strasert
She stretched, even as she shrank. Her limbs grew spindly, the flesh sticking to her bones so that her joints protruded in bulbous relief. The skin greyed, then tinted green, turning the color of mint. Her hair grew and grew and grew, the curls unfurling as it did, until it pooled around her. The red drained from the strands, starting at the roots, as if an artery had been cut and all the color ran out leaving only a shimmering, silky lake of silver. Moss green spots replaced the dusting of freckles over her face and shoulders. The afternoon light that filtered through the gauzy curtains bounced off iridescent scales that had sprouted over her collar bones. Sharp cheekbones jutted from her face and her jaw and chin narrowed, giving her the triangular visage of a praying mantis. The fingers that held her phone in front of her face lengthened and her nails, once neatly trimmed, grew into wicked, curved claws.
Character 4: Dr. Sonya Quillius by Jonathan Fortin
The sight agitated Sonya. Cat claws retracted out from her fingertips, and she dragged them against the rooftop. It was a nervous tic. When she’d been human, she’d bit her nails when she was anxious, but after her Biotranscendence, she’d taken to dragging her claws across surfaces. They were supposed to be as strong and sharp as blades, and they certainly cut watermelons well enough. But would they cut through flesh so easily?
Sonya’s wolf ears perked up, a stomping sound catching their attention. She tried to remain calm, to remind herself how much was at stake, but this only made her more tense. Her performance tonight didn’t just determine her own fate, or that of the victims down there. It also impacted her fellow scientists—those who had helped her Biotranscend, who had believed in this crazy plan of hers even if it put their careers on the line.
Character 5: Selkie by Adele Marie Park
Selkie. Shape shifter.
He shouldn’t exist yet here he is in the flesh.
Wicked and delicious, taunting me, daring me to take the step I refuse to take.
As he watches me arrogance glimmers in his gaze. His almond shaped eyes have no colour. They are as black as a storm cloud but, like a bruised sky colours move within. Flashing with brilliance then hiding.
His dark plum lips rise at one side in a sneer I know so well.
The movement causes a strand of ebony hair to cascade over his high cheekbones with a lovers boldness.
Raising a small hand to brush it away, the gesture reveals his webbing. Nestled between his fingers as delicate as a butterfly’s wing.
He knows my eyes study him. I wish I could hide the wealth of confusion but, my emotions have always been easy to read and he is a master.
Character 6: Cerebus by Sumiko Saulson
I still recall the day we became. It was morning, first light at the brink of a new age. We arose on twisted leg and shattered hoof from the pit of charred flesh and misguided magic where the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant used to stand. Your head listed against one side of our shoulders, neck too weak to hold it up. In time, the surface of your cheek grew into the side of my jaw. It lay there for months on end, your abraded epidermis merging into an open wound on my chin until the two of us became one.
Angel lay in the crook of my arm, where he used to sleep when we lived as separate entities. A mass of fur and ligament, he purred where he rested, staring up at me with a signal yellow-green eye, as bright as a nuclear sunset. I contemplated it’s palette of subtle complexities as we lurched forward in unison towards the feeding grounds.
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