Monday, 20 February 2012

Platform-Building Campaign - First Challenge

This is my entry for the First Challenge of Rachael Harrie's Fourth Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. Many thanks to Rach for such an excellent prompt. I hope you enjoy it - my first short story in over a year, yikes!

Here are Rach's guidelines:

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, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
  • end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)
  • include the word "orange" in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly!
I'm pleased to say that I met all the criteria!

The Camping Trip

Shadows crept across the wall. One slightly resembled a rabbit, and the other a shark.

“No! Don’t eat me!”

“This is silly. Rabbits don’t live in the sea. What other ones do you know?”

“Rabbit’s my best one.”

Jamie and Claudia thought they’d got a good deal on this holiday. Their parents were in the caravan, whereas they got to stay up in the tent, eat sweets, and make shadow puppets with their hands. The glow cast by Jamie’s torch made the side of the tent an ideal canvas.

“Hey, that’s a good one, Jamie. How’re you doing that?”

“I’m not doing anything!”
 * * * * *

The Rottweiler was making his nightly patrol of the farmland surrounding the house. Finding intruders made for a change from the usual tedium. He was nonplussed by the impenetrable caravan, but didn’t want to bark – there was a tent too, and he wanted to take the occupants by surprise. He approached slowly, then used his claws to tear through the material.

 * * * * *

Jamie instinctively shielded his sister when he heard the ripping sound. His mind screamed when he saw a dog with orange eyebrows leaping towards him, then there was a split second of pain and everything faded.

96 comments:

Jaye Viner said...

Hello Nick. You're right on the ball with this. I haven't even looked at the challenge yet. Now I'm very intrigued to look and see what inspired you.

Jess said...

Aww that was sad!! I love how he protected his sister when the dog attacked them. Great job :)

I'm #19

Bess Weatherby said...

Ah! That's awful. Not the writing, just the ending. So sad! Poor kids. You took a happy mood and tore it apart very quickly. Excellent.

David P. King said...

A very nice opening with a gut-wrenching conclusion. That was masterful. Nice one, Nick! :)

Jenny said...

Wow! What a tearful and very brave ending. Well done!

Alynza Smith said...

What a playful opening with such a sudden twist at the end! Way to pull out some emotions there. Nice job :)

Tara Tyler said...

ah!
gruesome & scary for unsuspecting campers!
nice job!

Carrie Butler said...

Wow. I love how you interpreted the prompt, Nick. Very nice! :)

Nick Wilford said...

Jaye - Sorry, I should have included more details about the challenge - sorry if you were confused! It's too late to sign up as a campaigner, but you can still take part. Prizes only for campaigners though.

Jess - Thanks!

Bess - Thanks. Yes, I wanted to create a bit of a contrast.

David - Thank you very much!

Jenny - Thanks!

Alynza - Thanks, it's always nerve racking putting something out there because I never know how it'll be received.

Tara - It's kind of the parents' fault for camping on someone's land. I just hope any rottweiler owners weren't offended!

Carrie - Thanks. Shadow puppets were the first thing that came to mind, for some reason, then I wanted a sinister twist.

Margo Kelly said...

YIKES! Loved the playful opening and the POV of the dog! Well done. :)

Nick Wilford said...

Margo - Thanks! The dog was defending his territory, I think it's important to remember that. :)

Humpty Dumpty said...

What a twist! Nicely done! :)

Ann Cory said...

What fun! Spooky, suspenseful, and fast-paced. Well done! :)

Kevin Hiatt said...

Really enjoyed where you took the story.. I enjoy stories that make me wonder where thing go from there, and this one does that. Very cool... but now I'm left to wonder about Jamie. lol

Nick Wilford said...

Humpty Dumpty - Thanks!

Ann - Thanks for those adjectives. Glad you enjoyed it!

Kevin - I'm glad it inspired that reaction. It's probably not a happy ending for Claudia either...

Lady Gwen said...

I enjoyed the MG feel very much. I hope the Rottweiler realized his mistake. Yikes! Well done:)

Ashley Nixon said...

I really liked how you used the first line! Shadow puppets are awesome! Wasn't expecting the ending. So sad! :(

Morgan said...

Duuude... the dog with the orange eyebrows freaked me out! :D Nice work here, Nick... and new follower here ;)

bridgetstraub.com said...

Aww I was loving the whole atmosphere right up until that dog attacked. Great take on this. mine is #71

Sherri Lackey said...

Bad Rottweiler! I loved it. Hope the kid wasn't hurt by the dog too badly and he just fainted!
I'm #62 if you care to read mine.

Nick Wilford said...

Lady Gwen - I'm not exactly sure what MG means (sorry, I'm British!) Middle grade, right? About 9-11? Yes, I also hope it didn't end too badly, but who knows? :)

Ashley - Thanks, I got that image pretty quickly then the "orange" was going to be an orange tent. Then that dog snuck up!

Morgan - Thanks, your story was great! There's an urban myth that I don't know you've heard, "Never trust a dog with orange eyebrows". It's rubbish, but it's probably because they're seen as aggressive - a lot of them are guard dogs.

Bridget - Thanks, I'll definitely check yours out!

Sherri - Thank you! I'm hoping the parents managed to wake up. I'll check yours out!

J.C. Martin said...

I love how you started with shadow puppets. "Rabbits don't live in the sea." That was cute! But oh dear, what an ending!

S.P. Bowers said...

This kinda freaked me out. I REALLY don't like dogs. So well done.

Honey said...

I liked the beginning. It was so cute and believable:)

Mina Burrows said...

Shadow puppets rule! And the creepier the better. Well done. :)

Nick Wilford said...

J.C. - I'm glad you appreciated the contrast.

S.P. - I do like dogs, but some definitely make me nervous. It's all down to the owners I think.

Honey - Thanks!

Mina - Thanks. I can't do them to save my life though!

Theresa Small Sneed said...

Nice blog! I'm in the USA, but have ancestors from Scotland, Ireland and England. I'm in your group for Rachael's 4th Campaign! Great to get to know you! ~Theresa Sneed, author of No Angel (and angel with an attitude) and its forthcoming prequel, From Heaven to Earth. http://theresasmallsneed.blogspot.com

AveryMarsh said...

You lured us in with a sweet, innocent moment and then, BAM! Rottweiler attack! Talk about a twist. Nice.

Stuart Nager said...

Nicely done with the twist in emotions. Cute/funny, then to basic horror of dogs gone bad.

Tale Spinning: Wednesday's Child

Siv Maria said...

Really nice twist to the story and you worked in the challenge words very well. Extremely well written and easy to read. I enjoyed this but in my imagination I made this a dream. LOL, I hate the thought of children getting hurt.

Alyssa said...

I loved the twist at the ending! Nice work! :)

I'm #37

KSCollier said...

Ouch! Reminds me of the dingo that ate that baby in Australia. How sad. Great story. I like the mixed feelings of joy and innocence and then the unexpected moment of fear.

Great story!

Charmaine Clancy said...

Oh the horror! I liked this, thought it was a kid's story... at first.
#83

sue said...

Love the build up - perfect arc
I'm #103

RaeAnn said...

Oh! What happens next? What happens next?!

holessence said...

Way to rip the heart right out of a gal!

Laurie Buchanan (entry #92)

Nick Wilford said...

Theresa - Nice to meet you! Varied ancestry you have there. I have Irish and Welsh too, and a hint of Greek from further back! No Scottish at all - I just live here.

Avery - Thanks, glad you enjoyed the twist!

Stuart - Thank you sir.

Siv - Thanks for the kind words. That's a nice way to think of it. Hope I don't give you nightmares!

Alyssa - Thanks! I'll check out your entry.

KS - Thanks. Interesting comparison. I didn't mean to stereotype Rottweilers - they're not all bad (as I'm sure not all dingos are!)

Charmaine - Thanks! I was kind of going for an element of surprise.

Sue - Thank you.

RaeAnn - That's up to you, though I may well expand on it at some point!

Nick Wilford said...

Laurie - Sorry about that!

Jennifer Chase said...

That's so creative! Great job :)

Nick Wilford said...

Jennifer - Thanks! I like being creative. :)

alexia said...

Ack! That was so cute, and then suddenly intense!

Nancy Thompson said...

That went in a totally different direction than I anticipated. Poor kids. Well done, Nick!

I'm entry #96

Carrie said...

Wow - freaky twist. Great job!

Gwen said...

I love making hand shadows.

I'm 109, if you wanna pop over.

Rek said...

You changed the pace of the story with a brilliant twist! Enjoyable read.

Nick Wilford said...

Alexia - Thanks!

Nancy - Glad you were surprised. It's what I was going for!

Carrie - Thank you!

Gwen - I like them but I can't do them. I'll check out your entry.

Rek - Thanks for your kind words!

digillette said...

Nice take on the prompt! At first I thought it ended before the first break and I was like, wow, cliffhanger! Would have worked either way. Nice work!

Jay Noel said...

Whoa, I didn't see that coming!

Fantastic job, Nick. I'm posting my Campaign Challenge tomorrow (Thurs)

Arlee Bird said...

Oh gosh, and it all started out so merrily. I liked how you handled the shadows part of the prompt.


Lee (#126 on the Campaign Challenge List)
An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out
Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge

Melanie Fowler said...

HoLy, that was great!

Traci Kenworth said...

Good job!!

Nick Wilford said...

Digillette - Thanks! Nice to know it would have worked as an even shorter piece.

Jay - Thanks! Look forward to reading your entry. Cool pic, by the way!

Arlee - Thanks! Yours was a good idea too.

Melanie, Traci - Thanks! I'm glad so many liked it.

Jamie McHenry said...

Nice job on this one. The alternate points of view make it work. Good luck with the contest.

Cortney Pearson said...

Eeek! I like your alternating view points. Well done with so few words. And those poor kids!

Doreen McGettigan said...

I cannot get the picture of the rotty with the orange eye brows out of my head...great job!!

C.M.Brown said...

I was also going to mention the orange eyebrows on the rottweiler, but Doreem and Morgan beat me to it! Adds a comical feel to quite a serious story! Good job!

Melissa said...

Sheesh. A 200-word limit and you managed to switch POV - twice?! You definitely get a vote from me. Good job!

Melissa Maygrove
#149 on the Campaign Challenge list

Ainsley Shay said...

Devastating and great - all in 200 words!!! Great job!

Rachel Morgan said...

Orange eyebrows?! Lol! A good story. Interesting that we get to see from the rottweiler's POV too.

Jessica Salyer said...

When I started reading this I thought it was going to be a nice innocent story, but no. Nice job. I love how you pulled us in with a false sense of security.

Krista M said...

Wow.... yikes!

Laurie Dennison said...

You squeezed so much into 200 words! Great take on the prompt!

Nick Wilford said...

Jamie - Thanks. I wasn't sure about using the dog's POV at first (or whether to call him "it") but thought it important to show he had his own doggy reasons for his actions!

Cortney - Thanks. I hope they got rescued.

Doreen - Don't have nightmares!

C.M. - I do admit, I wanted to come up with something that would be quite different for the orange part, so that's where the dog came into it.

Melissa - Thanks for your kind words and vote!

Ainsley - Thank you!

Rachel - I always thought the eyebrows took something slightly away from a rottweiler's hard look.

Jessica - Thanks, I'm glad it was effective from that angle.

Krista - Indeed!

Laurie - Thanks! It was about 250 to start with, the hard part was cutting it down.

Treelight said...

It started so sweet and then ... WOAH!

Deniz Bevan said...

Oh no! I wasn't expecting that twist at all. Poor kids.

Jolene Perry said...

LOVE it when the unexpected happens.

You gave us all the warm fuzzies with shadow animals, lol.
Nice job

Nick Wilford said...

Treelight - Woah indeed! Glad you were surprised.

Deniz, Jolene - Thanks. I might have to try these sort of twists/contrasts more in stories.

Christy Farmer said...

Wow, Nick! Those poor kids! I love how Jamie tried to protect Claudia.

Naresh Khoisnam said...

Great story-telling technique. I can't fail to recall those days I'd do the same with my brother. Loved going through your blog :)

Why don't you go through mine? #159 :)

Mark Koopmans said...

Dude,

Great writing - didn't expect the twist, but I hope Jamie makes it... otherwise I'm sic'ing the Blogmen on you :)

Ps. *Thanks* for the follow - am doing the same.

Claire Hennessy said...

Loved the first line - made me laugh, so I really wasn't expecting them to get torn to shreds at the end! Excellent entry. Really enjoyed it. New follower :)

Stacey said...

I loved the start and was not expecting that ending at all! I like how different it is from a lot of the other entries :-)

JEFritz said...

Oh no! Very well done but not it's going to drive me crazy that I don't know what's going to happen next.

Nick Wilford said...

Christy - Thanks. I'm not sure what would happen next, but I do hope they got away. I'm not completely evil!

Naresh - Nice it evoked some memories (pleasant ones, presumably!) Glad you enjoyed the blog. I'll check out your entry.

Mark - OK, Jamie made it - the Blogmen seem pretty creepy judging by your story!

Claire - Glad it made you laugh. I wanted to go for an innocent scene that then switches to mortal danger. Your story definitely made me laugh - it's the funniest out of all the entries!

Stacey - Thanks, I'm glad it was different. Yours is too!

JE - Thanks. That's what's great about this campaign, it exposes everyone's writing and gets people interested in it.

Fairview said...

Ooh, way to twist an ending! Good job. I liked how you used Orange too!

Jodi Su said...

great work with setting and the dialogue is authentic. Thank you!

Komal said...

Hi, Nick! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm following you now. :)

Wow! That was a great piece. I like the light beginning with the dark twist at the end. Nicely done!

Nick Wilford said...

Fairview - Thanks, I hoped it would be different.

Jodi Su - Thanks for your kind words, I never quite feel that I nail dialogue well.

Komal - No problem! Glad you enjoyed the story.

J. A. Bennett said...

So scary and sad, great job!

Caitlin said...

Wow, very intense! I love how it turned dark so quickly.

James said...

I hope they survived.I though it was unique what you did with the rottweiler's perspective.
I'm # 121. Check it out some time if you want.

Liza said...

The dog's POV was a real twist. I loved the visual you conjured up with the shadow puppets.

Lynda R Young said...

Ha, great entry for the challenge. The change of POV was a little different too.

Sarah Pearson said...

I wasn't expecting that! So sad, but an excellent turn from the innocent beginning.

Amber Clites said...

I loved the carefree beginning, but now I'm so sad for the brave little boy who protected his sister! Hope they survived the Rottweiler…this is exactly why I'm afraid of them! Great writing and excellent twist!

Melissa Sugar said...

Despite the sad ending this was an awesome story. I felt the suspense building and building. You are an excellent storyteller. I have not written mine yet (long story). I wanted to let you know that I tagged you. Please check it out on my blog. http://fictiontoolbox.blogspot.com/2012/02/ive-been-tagged.html

I look forward to reading more during the challenge

Nick Wilford said...

J.A., Caitlin, James, Liza, Lynda, Sarah, Amber, Melissa - Thanks for the great comments everyone, especially about the dog's POV which I wasn't sure about (and whether to use "it" or "he").

Melissa - Thanks for the tag! I've got a post planned for tonight but will definitely get to it this week. I hope you get a story up, even though it is past the deadline. I'm still getting through them all too...

Cynthia said...

A relaxed opening with a startling conclusion! I certainly hope there's more to the story so that we know Jamie is okay. Very sweet of him to protect his sister.

E. Arroyo said...

Yeah, I've been bit by one very scary business. Great job!

Nick Wilford said...

Cynthia - Thanks. There might be more some day, but I'm pretty engrossed in my WIP at the moment. I wanted it to be clear that she was his little sister, but that got cut in the chop down to 200 words...

Elizabeth - Oh no! Hope you weren't too traumatised.

Lori Ann Freeland said...

Awesome! Thanks for commenting on my blog, too!

Dawn Malone said...

*Hi Nick! Great entry. Loved the camping setting. Yes, I thought I was clever with a shadow puppet entry also. Like 'they' say, there's no such thing as a new idea, only a new way to execute it!
So glad you stopped by! It's very nice to meet you.

Nick Wilford said...

Lori Ann - No problem! Thanks!

Dawn - Thanks! Nice to meet you too. I enjoyed the other takes on the shadow puppet theme!

C.B. Wentworth said...

I love idea of shadow puppets! The end was quite a surprise, but nicely executed. :-)

Marcy said...

Oh,,,,,,,,, no. What a twist and what an ending. Great writing

Nick Wilford said...

C.B., Marcy - Thank you very much! Appreciated. :)