First Campaigner Challenge

For Rachel's first challenge, we had to write "a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count."


I took on the additional challenge--this is exactly 200 words, and ends with "The door swung shut."


The Bargain
             The door swung open, and I stormed past the dozen or so people’s foreheads pressed to ornate prayer rugs. None stirred.
           “What have you done? This isn’t what I signed up for!”
            The man’s ancient blue eyes smiled before his wrinkles did.
           “But you wanted a release.”
           “You failed to mention I’d become this!” I flung open my arms as if it would discharge the festering burden from my chest. Nothing changed.
           “I want out.”
           “No way out,” said the old man through the pipe clenched in his teeth.
           I spun, raking my hands through my hair. “There has to be…” My sight strayed to the candle on the man’s desk. The candle he’d told me if I blew out would free my burden.
          “It’s lit.”
          “So it is.”
           I stood for a moment, thinking it all over. Without another word I stepped back through the incense to the clean air, stopping to share one more glance with my captor. And I knew. The only way to relieve this was to find someone else. Someone foolish enough to believe that all they would have to do to be free is blow out a single, gold-flamed candle. The door swung shut.


41 comments

Alleged Author said...

Bummer for the MC! Hope h/she finds someone to blow that candle out soon. :P

Rachel McClellan said...

Love it! It made me think - that's hard to do in just 200 words. Good job!

Abby said...

Very cool. I like this. It's different and invokes different feelings than most of the others I have read. Good job. :)

Trisha said...

Wow - what a vicious cycle! Sort of reminded me of that episode of Angel where the demon thingy is looking for the 'right' body to inhabit, and is going through heaps of innocent people in the search.

Amanda Leigh Cowley said...

Hi, Cortney

I'm one of the judges for this challenge, and I just want to let you know that you have been short-listed to move on to stage two of the competition. This was beautifully written, and set such a dramatic scene - not easy with 200 words!

There will be a semi-final (stage three) and a final (stage four).

Best of luck!!

Jennifer Groepl said...

Original piece. Very tense and descriptive all at once. Loved it!

Kris A. NewMan said...

Very nice.... cryptic, even. Pulled me into the story to want to read more. Good job!

Sarah Pearson said...

Interesting, and definitely different. I like work that makes me think :-)

J. A. Bennett said...

That was very thought provoking! I really like the idea :)

Joanna said...

I found it particularly powerful how strong the old man's character is in so few words!

Jill Campbell said...

Oh very nice, very strong imagery. Great job!

Rachel Morgan said...

I love the line "The man’s ancient blue eyes smiled before his wrinkles did."

:-)

xx Rachel

Gail Shepherd said...

I agree Rachel, that's my favorite line too. I've always wanted to try writing flash fiction -- it's instant gratification!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

This made me think. Very strong imagery and you could just feel the tension between the characters. Great job!

Cortney said...

Thanks everybody! Trisha, it's been a long time since I've seen Angel, so I don't remember that episode, but I loved the show! And Amanda, thanks for picking mine!

Tanis said...

That was an intriguing read! Way to go! and congrats on being short listed, you deserve it!

Nadja Notariani said...

Congratulations, Cortney! This is really terrific. The old man is memorable, indeed. Best of luck to go to the end! :) ~ Nadja

David Powers King said...

Nice one, Cortney! And best of luck to your entry! :)

Cortney said...

Nice of you to stop by again, Tanis! And thanks to David and Nadja as well!

bridgetstraub.com said...

Interesting how you brought it around. I'm enjoying readind all the different angles we've taken. mine is #72

Jessica Peter said...

Ooh, I like this one. Very mysterious!

Deana said...

That stinks...for the MC, not your story. It is great! Sounds like the poor thing fell for it.

Maeve Frazier said...

Nice job! Congratulations on the move up to level 2. I look forward to your part.

Neil Vogler said...

Enjoyed this a lot, and very thought-provoking. Good job.

Rachel said...

Great post!! Hey, I gave you two awards at my blog, so stop on by!

julie fedderson said...

Very nice--really captures that moment of betrayal and the human tendency to still hope for a reprieve. Great job!

Danyelle L. said...

I like this! It raises so many questions, and makes me want to read more! Very well done! :D

Cortney said...

Thanks everybody!

1000th.monkey said...

Very nicely written and congrats on being shortlisted :)

Alica McKenna Johnson said...

Very cool

AveryMarsh said...

Intriguing story! I loved this line especially: "The man’s ancient blue eyes smiled before his wrinkles did." Congrats on moving on to the next round, as well. ;)

Coleen Patrick said...

Hi Cortney! Great story, made me think of Twilight Zone (which i love!).
http://coleenpatrick.com/

Len Lambert said...

Made me think. Intriguing. Great job, Corney!

Katie Dodge said...

Great job! I would definitely want to keep reading.:D

J said...

Wow Cortney! I loved it! Very beautiful imagery, and quite the tense ending as well. :D

thepatientdreamer said...

Amazing piece of writing.... congratulations on getting through to phase 2.

Lori-Lyn said...

Beautifully done!

Cortney said...

Thanks, guys! And Coleen, I've never seen the Twilight Zone (although I did go on the Tower of Terror at Disneyland--never again!). Am I missing out?

Angelina C. Hansen said...

Vivid imagery. And so much tension. We're in the same group, but I must not have checked back after I followed the initial 25. Sorry!

Doreen McGettigan said...

Congratulations! This is very dramatically well written. What happens next??

http://www.doreenmcgettigan.com

tinadchayes said...

Nice story!
I'm having so much fun reading these challenge entries :)

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