Wow. When you're doing 3 challenges every 2 weeks or so, they sort of pile up.
Anyway, the challenge before this past one was to make a story about a fortune cookie coming true.
I let my voice trail off as the laughter dies around me at the table.
“What’s wrong, honey?” Sarah asks.
I’ve read the words on the fortune ten to fifteen times, but they
didn’t make any sense. Nothing seems out of place in the restaurant –
other than the slip of paper in my hands.
“But we can’t…”
She doesn’t persist. I mumble my goodbyes and toss money on the table
and we leave. We’re blocks away by the time she’s able to stop me to
ask what’s wrong.
“Read for yourself.”
She looks over the slip of paper before reading aloud “’You will kill Dante Collins tonight.’ Who’s Dante Collins?”
“I’ve no idea” I tell her.
“It must be a sick joke. Some dumb kid. Probably laughed his ass off.”
“What kind of…” my words are cut off by the sound of the payphone.
We both stare awkwardly at it. It stops, then starts ringing again.
We evacuate. Lightly jogging, then running. By the time we stop, we’re
ten blocks away.
It starts snowing. I can tell that Sarah is tired, terrified, and
cold, so we duck into a coffee shop to warm up. We’re there for a couple
minutes when the barista motions me over.
“What?” I ask him.
“I dunno, the guy on the phone wants you.”
I feel as if I’ve been punched in the gut. “He what?”
“I told him we don’t do that sort of thing. He was pretty insistent about it.”
I pick up the receiver.
“You didn’t think it was a joke, did you?”
“What do you want” I mutter.
“Kill Dante Collins. He’ll be in an abandoned complex on 12th and
Nokomis. Hurry, Mr. Mitchell. The night is slipping away, and you’ll
want to be getting the lovely Ms. Davis home safely tonight.”
I don’t even hang up the phone. Grabbing Sarah, I flee into the snow.
“Why do they want this Dante guy dead?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where are we going?”
“12th and Nokomis.”
I can’t answer that. What will I do? What if Dante Collins is a trained killer? How can I prepare for that?
A couple of blocks away from our destination, I see a few dumpsters
and tell Sarah to hide amongst them. I feel like a fool bringing her
this close, but I can’t shake the feeling that she needs to be somewhere
where I can see her.
I arrive at 12th and Nokomis. I wait around for fifteen or twenty
minutes, but there’s still no one. I check my watch – twelve ten.
I sprint back as fast as I can toward the dumpsters. I’m a hundred
yards or so away when I hear the gunshot. Sarah’s feet come into view.
My mind disappears.
I find myself on the ground, covered in Sarah’s blood.
“Oh, God” a voice says.
I look up. Before me stands Dante Collins. My target – the man who
has just murdered the love of my life. He drops the gun as if were about
to bite his hands off.
“They had Sue…” he begins, trembling and falling to his knees. “They said I had to…”
I get to my feet in a daze. The world is spinning, but I find my
attention fixed on the ground beside the sobbing Mr. Collins. I stagger
over to the gun and pick it up.
“They were going to kill her.” he pleads, “I’m so fucking sorry.”
I say nothing. There’s nothing left to say.
Two shots later, three bodies lie in the slowly accumulating snow.
Well isn't that... touching. How'd the judges like it?
Beau: While some of the prose is awkward here, I really like how
much plot is crammed into 600 words here. This kind of reads like the
plot of a Koontz novel (minus the golden retriever). The only criticism
I really have here is that the motivation for Mr. Mitchell to follow
the orders is never quite explained, but then I can intuit it as the
reader to a point. Anyway, great work here. GOLD
DK: This has a relentless, engaging pace, and I like the way the tension builds throughout the story as a result. BRONZE
Medal Count: 6
Okay. better than it's been lately. I really liked the story I came up with for this one, but the word count really shredded it. I needed to remove 300-some words in about 15 minutes. I started getting desperate toward the end, and I'm not sure the story's backbone could really support what I did to it. I really wish I would've saved the original, because if the word limit was 1000 words, I could've done great things with it.