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May 4, 2012 / scottbwilbanks

Writer’s Voice Contest: Entry #123

Oy!  My foot is so accustomed to my mouth it has a standing reservation.  I woke up to a frantic message from my writing partner to post my Writer’s Voice entry ASAP–living in New Zealand, for all its beauty, does have some disadvantages in terms of the date line.  So, I cut and pasted a draft I’d been fiddling with the prior night lickety-split, only to notice this morning that it had a couple typos.  My life wouldn’t be complete without them.



In 1894, David Abbott unwittingly traps a rogue demon in the stage prop he designs for his acclaimed magic show… and it wants out.

A hundred years later, the stage prop has found its way to Annie—an antique door she’s installed at the rear of her house in San Francisco’s museum district.  Stepping through it the following morning, she finds a curious thing in her rose bed—a letterbox perched atop a picket fence, pretty as you please.  But, stranger still, behind it sits a wheat field.

The note inside the letterbox makes a simple request, “Get your damn house off my back forty!”  And, with that, Annie finds herself waging a war of epistolary wit with a cantankerous, retired schoolmarm living in nineteenth century Kansas.  Elsbeth doesn’t care that Annie is, in her own words, ‘a twenty-something bibliophile with a passion for Victorian dresses,’ but she does want to know what caused the hiccup in the flow of time, planting Annie’s house behind her barn.  As they trace the source of mischief to the door, Annie stumbles upon a more pressing concern.  She has five days to unravel the century-old mystery surrounding the famed illusionist’s death, and find his missing daughter, or Elsbeth will be tried for a murder she didn’t commit.

A story in which time conspires with a willful stage prop to create a family of two women at odds with the times in which they live, ABBOTT’S DOOR is adult science fiction with a dollop of mystery for flavor, and is complete at 105,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration.

Scott Wilbanks

Chapter One

“Something Slumbers Within”

March 18, 1895

Kansas City, Missouri



    I have not forgotten our quarrel, but I’m asking you to put that aside for the sake our shared scholarship.  You were right, I fear.   I meddled in something beyond my understanding.    The conduit works—I’ve shaped it as a door—but not, I suspect, by science or by my own hand.  You are the only person who won’t think me paranoid should I put words to my suspicion.  Something slumbers within it.  Something with an agenda of its own.

    Words have power.  As a priest, you know that.  And I should have been more careful, heeded your warnings, but I thought those the old shaman gave me to repeat were only a formality—a superstition.  I erred.  They were an invocation.

    Please come soon, I beg you.  Or don’t come at all.   And, if you don’t come, then pray for me, father.  Matters are coming to a head, and my instincts say this will not end well.




The grifter lay awkwardly in the muck of the alleyway, legs akimbo and face tilted to the side.  His eyes—cold, glassy and frozen in surprise—looked down the length of his outspread arm while his mouth opened and closed in a macabre imitation of a fish on the chopping block.  Blood dribbled from his nose, collecting in a syrupy puddle that haloed his almost unrecognizable face.



Leave a Comment
  1. Jennie / May 5 2012 12:00 pm

    Whoa. This sounds like a great read! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything similar, which is seriously impressive! Good luck!

  2. Noelle / May 5 2012 5:31 pm

    This is really intriguing…sort of like the Lake House, but without the romance. I’ve always loved epistolary stories, even though I can’t write them for nothin’. You, however, have a knack, if the first 250 words are anything to go by. Good luck with the contest!

  3. T.L. Bodine / May 5 2012 7:45 pm

    *snags first comment* This is awesome 😀 Totally up my alley. Good luck to you in the contest!

  4. aewelch / May 5 2012 7:55 pm

    Good luck in the contest! -April, #61

  5. scottbwilbanks / May 5 2012 9:22 pm

    I am such a blog neophyte–having, literally, started this blog to enter the writing contest three days ago. It’s a lovely Sunday morning here in New Zealand, and I just wandered into the kitchen for my first cup-a-joe. I opened my mail, and immediately shot off a note to my writing partner, saying, “I have some email from WordPress that reads, ‘(scottbwilbanks) Please Moderate.’ What does that mean?” First, thanks for the kind words! Second, can anyone tell me how to switch off the pending approval format? lol ( Looks like I need to bone up on blogging etiquette.)

  6. Matthew MacNish / May 6 2012 12:27 am

    Hi Scott, I’m visiting your blog from the Writer’s Voice Contest (entry #58), and I wanted to wish you the best of luck! Nice to meet you.

  7. Becca / May 6 2012 8:27 pm

    How very interesting! Time hiccups and demons and just a touch of The Prestige. I love it!

  8. Aldrea Alien / May 6 2012 11:47 pm

    Good to see another NZer in this comp. And with an adult story. I stayed up until 1am on a thursday morning to get my fantasy in. ^_^
    Good luck!

  9. SC Author / May 7 2012 3:01 am

    I think I’ve seen this query before! AQC, maybe? Or QT? Not sure, but I love the concept! Love the humor that can come out of going back in time 🙂 Nice job, and good luck!

    • scottbwilbanks / May 7 2012 8:57 pm

      Good call! I sought a critique on agentquery for a prior draft, then made adjustments to mirror the plot change.

  10. nicolezoltack / May 7 2012 1:29 pm

    Oh, sounds interesting. Good luck!

    ~entry 68

  11. Betsy / May 7 2012 2:27 pm

    Really interesting plot, and your first 250 words hooked me! Glad to see a “demon” story with a different twist. My second book has a character named “Elspeth”, and everyone botches her name. (In real life, and in the story!) My 3rd book is set partially in KC, MO, in 1901. Kindred spirits? 🙂 Best of luck – #197

    • scottbwilbanks / May 7 2012 8:55 pm

      Definitely kindred spirits! I can’t believe the parallels! Would love to hear more about your book. Maybe a little show and tell? As an aside, everyone kept telling me to change Elsbeth to ‘Elspeth’, but I’d already become so invested in the ‘b’ by that point. And the use of the word ‘demon’ was a little frustrating, because the antagonist is actually a hybrid critter–the bastard child of a rather unusual tryst.

  12. KrysteyBelle / May 7 2012 5:32 pm

    What a fun idea! Good luck!

  13. Jessica Lee Parsons / May 7 2012 10:48 pm

    This is captivating! I have this thing with antique doors….. Sounds fantastic! Good luck to you! #163

  14. Carrie Butler / May 8 2012 1:15 am

    Great concept here. 🙂 Best of luck!

  15. C.G.Ayling / May 8 2012 2:17 am

    Like your premise, understand the typos (being a 3 finger hacker myself) and really like your voice in your first 250. Good luck, and take a word of advice – don’t use the portal! You’re right – there really is something in there, and I supect it is beyond the ken of mere men…

  16. Issy / May 8 2012 3:37 am

    Interesting! Like Narnia meets a letterbox meets time travel. ❤

    Good luck!

  17. J Smith / May 8 2012 5:21 pm

    LOVING this…am totally compelled by your premise and your first 250! best of luck to you!

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