Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WEP: Bridges


I have three separate story starts labeled WEP BRIDGES in My Documents. At the last moment (well, over the last few days of looming deadline) these two little boys nudged their story into my wandering attention as I listened to a book I lost interest in during a looooong drive. I kept telling the kids I already had a story start for this challenge, but when I opened the story I decided to finish and post - this is what actually/eventually got written. You know how demanding children can be sometimes? If not, you know how demanding ignored characters can be?

Its been through three days worth (intermittently) of editing, deletions and revisions; to the point I'm not sure I even see it anymore. All that for a thousand word flash!?! I should be this dedicated to my novel writing, lol.

(Mutant ninja space monkey's are winging their way to Denise and Yolanda to shower them with crappy ideas for 20 minutes to extract retribution.)

Ok, onward. . .

Below is my 996 word contribution to Write..Edit..Publish BRIDGES challenge. Click here for details on the challenge, links to other participants, and to meet and greet the WEP hosts.

full critique acceptable


Jack and Carl huddled together in Carl’s bedroom closet. Jack cradled his six year old brother as their father’s tirade beat through the downstairs rooms. Their mother screamed and cried. Carl whimpered with each crash and curse.

“Shhh,” Jack whispered urgently. “He’ll forget us if we’re quiet.”

“Not this time,” Carl said between hiccups. “Aaron said so.”

Jack cursed and hugged his brother tighter.

Aaron wanted to say something, encourage Carl to get out. He’d shown Carl where he would be safe. But Carl couldn’t hear Aaron when anyone else was around.

Their mother’s screams abruptly ended. Jack’s whimpers rivaled Carl’s in the sudden silence.

Aaron tried again to contact Carl. He advanced through the bunched clothing and knelt among the mismatched shoes. He merged one hand with Carl’s, and in desperation and fear, laid a hand on Jack’s shoulder.

“Run. You know where to go Carl.”

“Run where?” Jack asked, leaning back in surprise.

Aaron couldn’t believe Jack had heard him. “Come to me Carl. I can save you.”

“And Jack?” Carl removed his hands from his head and looked directly at Aaron.

Aaron nodded. “It seems so. He heard me just now.”

Carl hugged Jack, pulling their heads closer. “I know where he can't find us.”

“Jack? Where are you Son?”

“Shit,” Jack said. “Your Dad only calls me ‘son’ when he wants to hurt me.”

The door to Jack’s bedroom crashed against the wall of Carl’s closet and both boys screeched in terror.

“You have to go now Carl.”

Carl nodded and untangled himself from Jack as furniture crashed in the other room. He stood and tugged his brother’s shoulders. “Come on. Aaron says we have to hurry.”

Jack stood as his step father called his name again. “Aaron? Your imaginary friend? Go where?”

“I'll show you.”

They could hear their father still searching Jack’s room. Carl stepped over Jack and pushed open the closet door. He grabbed Jack’s arm and tried to get him on his feet. Aaron was at the bedroom window beckoning them to hurry.

Jack jumped to his feet and looked to the locked bedroom door. “Dad’s in my room. We can sneak down the stairs, find Mom, and call 911.”

“No!” Aaron and Carl said together.

Aaron relocated to Jack and again placed his hands on Jack’s shoulders. “She's dead. You and Carl will be too if you don’t come now. Please Jack.”

“Please Jack,” Carl echoed from the window.

“Jack!” Their father called from the hallway.

"That deadbolt won't hold for long," Aaron warned.

“Help me Carl,” Jack said as he ran to the dresser.

Carl raced silently across the carpet in his bare feet and helped Jack teeter-push the four foot tall dresser towards the door. Then the banging sounded, the door almost caved in, and Jack ran around to Carl’s end. He bent down and tried to lift the dresser. Seeing what Jack intended, Carl also bent down and added his weight to the lift. The dresser toppled and they shoved it in front of the door just as another crash nearly buckled the door off its hinges.

“Hurry,” Aaron yelled from outside the window.

Jack lifted the lamp off the nightstand and aimed it at the window. His window was nailed shut; but Carl rushed to the window and unlocked the latch.

“Open this door NOW,” their Dad yelled.

Jack dropped the lamp as a fist sized hole burst through the door. He ran to the window as Carl scrambled out onto the roof of the porch.

“We have to hurry Carl,” Aaron advised. “I can’t hold the portal long.”

“I won’t go without Jack,” Carl yelled.

“I’m coming,” Jack said as he slid on the slate roof. He stopped himself just short of sliding off the edge. It was eight feet to the ground. “How we gonna –“

“Like this,” Carl said. He hung onto the gutter, then swung his legs over and disappeared.

Jack leaned over the edge, scared his brother had fallen. But Carl was shimmying down the post and was nearly to the ground.

“Hurry,” Aaron called from the fence. “You can both make it.”

Jack saw the flash of blue and red Spider Man pj’s as his brother disappeared through a missing slat in the wood fence. He looked back as his step father crashed through the bedroom door. Carl was safe for now, but he might still be able to save their mother if he could get to a phone. Jack swung easily over the edge and wrapped his legs around the pole.

"Little creep, stop right there," his step father yelled, leaning over the gutter.

Jack screamed and slid down the pole, his hands and forearms stinging from splinters. He let go and let himself drop half way down. He heard more cursing and crashing of furniture as his father thudded back into the bedroom. It wouldn't take him long to get down the stairs.

Jack ran to the front door and twisted the knob. It was locked. He shook the handle and banged on the door but it wouldn't budge. Giving up, he turned and sprinted for the hole in the fence. He ran down the wooded path towards the ancient oak tree, barely noticing the sharp rocks digging into his bare feet. He and his friends had traded stories about this area, but Jack had never seen anything weird. Seeing his brother’s imaginary friend made him rethink the impossible.

Ahead, he could hear Carl calling his name. Rainbow lights filtered through the leaves, and the sound of music and laughter. He burst through the trees and shaded his eyes against the brightness.

Carl was in the center of the rainbow, smiling. He waved at Jack as he slowly disappeared into the lights.

"Run Jack," Aaron called.

Jack hesitated, torn between rescuing his mother or following his brother. He glanced behind him, then turned back to tell Carl to wait.

Aaron and the magic had disappeared also.

* * * *

If this writing inspired you to undertake some prompt writing of your own, please visit the WEP Upcoming Challenges page to plan your future participation.

Have a good weekend everyone.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Great story. The pacing kept me wanting to read more. Not a point where the story dragged. And I'm so curious at what's going to happen next at the end. Thanks for taking the extra effort to finish this.

Pat Hatt said...

Indecision can sure leave one stranded. Hopefully his step father falls down the stairs and breaks his neck. Great story indeed.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Donna,

WHOA that was intense. Gave me the same feeling as my own BG with the IRATE and psychotic step dad. Really enjoyed the magical element of this piece. Like Natalie said, the pacing was spot on and kept me going wanting to know more. Nicely done!

Yolanda Renée said...

Mutant ninja space monkey's - just the excuse I needed!!!! :)

It's a great piece, heart in the throat kind of great piece! WOW! Jack's fate has me wondering though, and I really dislike you for that!!!! LOL

Whatever it took to get this done, was worth it from your audience's point of view! Excellent!

Thank you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - squabbling kids ... if only no squabbles they'd have been alright - but perhaps all will turn out well and they can rescue their mother ... portal in and portal out ... clever writing - cheers Hilary

Nilanjana Bose said...

This was gripping and intense and so clever, Donna. Great tension and fast paced and edge of seat reading - I kept thinking it would make a great film scene, very visual, excellent imagery - mismatched shoes, splinters in forearm, could see and feel it all. Such a cliff hanger ending too. I want to know what's next for Jack! Hope the mother survives. Can't say how much I love your subtle use of the prompt! Brilliant.

Pat Garcia said...

Oh, what a sad story of abuse toward women and children. My heart ached as he missed the chance to run through the portal.
Excellent story about abuse.
Shalom aleichem,

Toinette Thomas said...

This is a fast-paced and heart-pounding story. There's so much emotion here. Abuse and terror, a child's need for an imaginary friend, the hope of an escape, the regret of having to leave someone behind... Wow. Good stuff.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Great little story, WILD THING. But Jack really frustrated me. I just wanted to grab him by the shoulders and push him into the magic mushroom patch-- er... I mean, into the magic rainbow.

~ D-FensDogG
Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...

farawayeyes said...

YIKES, this is good. Really good. I too hate you for leaving me hanging. But, I can't stop thinking 'bout it. Sign of a truly great piece of flash.

Elephant's Child said...

Scary. Tense. Too true, for too many.
Wonderful flash.

Laura Clipson said...

Oh no, did he miss his chance? This is a fantastic story, I had to stop myself from yelling at him to hurry up! It felt like I was right there with them.

Olga Godim said...

Great story, sad and nostalgic for the lost childhood. So much truth in it: about abuse in families, about siblings love, and about the power of fantasy. I hope Jack finds his safety in this world. I hope he meets his brother again one day.

dolorah said...

Natalie: it was fun to get out there :)

Pat: that would be justice indeed.

Michael: thank you. I hope you are still shopping BG. It is a great story.

Renee: lol, I figured you could use an excuse for a break. And that is exactly the dislike I love to read as a writer.

Hilary; hope can sometimes be debilitating. Thanks for stopping by.

Nila: it was a great prompt. As you can see, it inspired many story starts, so thank you for the challenge.

Hi Pat; thank you for stopping by

Thanks Toi.

Saint Mac; that would have been violence he could live with, lol.

FAE: don't you just adore cliff-hangers? Thanks for the compliments.

EC: yes, as I social worker I saw way too much of this type story. Without the magical ending, unfortunately.

Laura: thank you! I love when a story moves a person to yelling encouragement :)

Olga: I hope he finds his way too. But later, I have other things to write on, lol.

Denise Covey - Author said...

Mutant ninja space monkey''re too funny, Donna. But you've gotta admit, all this driving and thinking is good for your creativity. Loved this story and would love to read more about these two, or has their sad little story ended? Like Pat said, I hope the father falls down and kills himself, the DV perp. So sad for mostly women and kids everywhere.

Thanks for the torture of seeing this through for our reading pleasure. Great entry for BRIDGES!

Denise :-)

Blogoratti said...

Great and delightful read, very nice writing indeed. Thanks for sharing and warm greetings!

Deborah Drucker said...

Always very tense mood when kids are in danger. Interesting take on imaginary friends. Good description of their escape from the bedroom.

Anonymous said...

A fast-paced tale of danger and choice between taking the bridge to freedom, or family.

Chrys Fey said...

My heart breaks for them. To have to experience such fear in a home, it's horrible. You did a flawless job with the pacing and emotion. Well done!

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Wow, this was a tough read, but so powerful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Nick Wilford said...

Wow, this was full pelt. Great job. I can only hope for a positive outcome for Jack and his mother.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Oooh! Excellent work with this. Great detail, full of an emotional punch. Very nice.

DEZMOND said...

all them rainbows, purrfect for the Pride month :)

Sally said...

You've captured the abuse in a family - hopefully they can find peace and solace somewhere and the stepfather gets what is coming to him! Great writing.

Pat Garcia said...

Congratulations on your honourable mention. Your story touched my heart. I hear of lot of abuse of women and children here in the country I live in and it breaks my heart.
Shalom aleichem,

A Beer For The Shower said...

I'm very, very late to the party, but I loved your story! So dark. Those poor kids. Poor Jack, especially. That's why you don't hesitate.

klahanie said...

Hi Donna,

Well, I'm even later to the party! A chilling tale that haunts with the profoundness of it all. Very well done, my kind friend.


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roth phallyka said...

Thanks for taking the extra effort to finish this.