This is it

WRITE NOW PROMPT FOR JUNE 21, 2013

He took a step and heard a dull, crunching sound beneath his foot.

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Looking down, he nudged the offending dead mouse out of the way with his hiking boots. He couldn’t afford to be squeamish right now. He squeezed the tip of his boot further into the crevice in the rock, and continued sliding sideways, step by step by careful step. He needed to find the next handhold, and fast. The water rose beneath him, eddies swirling, waves of water dashing against the rock. All it would take was another couple of minutes before it swallowed him up whole.

Gulping, he kept shuffling along the ledge until he found a shelf he could latch onto. It was halfway between where he was now and the top of the cliff. He strained his arm to reach it. The tips of his first and second fingers just barely brushed it before slipping due to sweat. Now he was nervous. He looked down. Barely a minute left. The soles of his boots were wet now.

He stretched in earnest now, almost jumping in desperation. Latching on to the ledge, he pulled himself up, but only barely. From here on it was easier; grabbing ledge after ledge of rock, he hoisted himself upwards until he was almost out of danger. Alan’s head peeked out over the edge.

“Help me!” he called out frantically. “The water’s rising too fast; I won’t make it!” The waves were licking his knees now.

Alan looked down at him, motionless for a moment. Then something behind his eyes shifted, and he leaned over, extending a hand. “Grab my hand, Jared.”

Visibly relieved, Jared reached out and put his hands in Alan’s. “Okay, pull me up.”

No response.

“I said okay, pull me up!” Jared repeated, louder this time. The water had reached his waist, and was steadily rising, inch by inch.

“You should’ve listened to me when I told you to stay out of my business, Jared,” said Alan finally. “I’m sorry.” He loosened his grip, as Jared looked up in horror. “Alan, NO!”

But it was too late. Falling backwards, his feet lost their hold on the slippery rock. Scrambling to find his footing again, he came up to the surface, trying to keep afloat. Scrabbling at the wall of rock, trying to hold on, his mind blanked out in sheer panic. This is it.

Then he saw the rocks cascading down from the top of the cliff. He was too far gone to even hurl profanities anymore, or even to resist. This is it. He felt himself surrender to the water.

__________________________

He sucked in his breath, choking on the water.

“Thank God, you’re awake,” Alan heaved a sigh of relief placing the empty glass of water on the ground. “Hurry up, we’re leaving in fifteen minutes – the mountains await!” He grinned.

Jared heaved an enormous sigh of relief. “No, I think I’ll pass. You guys carry on.”

“Sure?” Alan asked, eyebrows furrowed. “Well, suit yourself. We’re going from around the lake, in case you decide you want to come.” He turned and headed for the door of the tent.

“Alright,” Jared said quietly. “Oh, and Alan?” Alan turned back questioningly.

“I’m sorry for getting you in trouble with the guys last night. I should’ve known where to draw a line.”

Alan smiled. “Hey, happens to the best of us. Now I gotta hurry up or I’ll be late. See you later!”

Jared waved at Alan as he ran out to join the others. He walked up to his mirror and looked at his face, ashen from his nightmare. This is it. He ran over to the entrance to pull on his hiking boots.

A Curious Find

Today’s Write Now Prompt by Today’s Author:

The kids must have dragged that thing out of the trunk in the loft.

“Did you hear that?” I mumbled sleepily.

“No,” mumbled Dave, equally sleepily. “Go back to sleep; what is it, six o’clock?”

“Okay,” I acquiesced with a sigh, nuzzling my husband’s shoulder.

~

Around ten, I ambled down in shorts, a sweatshirt and yesterday’s socks to put together some brunch. “Kids?”

I got no reply. I shuffled over blearily to the stove and put some water to boil. I needed tea. “KIDS!” And possibly a holiday.

Somewhere in the house, a door banged, and I heard laughing voices spill out from the upstairs corridor. “Come down for breakfast. Now!” As much as I hated their inability to come down on time, I was grateful beyond words for the extra sleep I got thanks to their disregard for mealtime punctuality.

“Mom, Mom, look at me! Isn’t it pretty?” Emma, all of eight-years old, came barreling into the kitchen, draped from head to toe in a red, flowy….scarf? Tablecloth? What was that? She spilled some pebbles out onto the counter. “These are magic,” she solemnly declared, just as Ethan poked his face around the door. “These trading cards are so cool!” he said exuberantly, holding them up in front of me. Jerking my head back an inch, I blinked. The Fool? The Magician? The Hanged Man? The cards were larger than those of an average deck and had unusual imagery on them, some verging on pornography, others graphic violence. Somehow I doubted this was part of a children’s trading card game. “Ethan, honey, give me the cards for a minute,” I said, taking them from him.

“Ooh a party! Why wasn’t I invited?” came Dave’s voice from the doorway. His grin quickly froze when he saw Emma’s new costume. He seemed lost and, somehow, nervous.

“What’s all this then?” I asked. “Dave, do you have any idea what these are? I don’t think the kids should-”

Snatching the cards from me, he walked across the kitchen, kneeling down near Emma. “Sweetie, why don’t you give that to me? ‘Atta girl!”

Still suspicious, I cleared my throat. “Any idea where they might’ve found this?” I asked Dave, voice tighter than I’d meant it to sound.

“Oh, um,  the kids must have dragged that thing out of the trunk in the loft,” he replied, standing up, still not meeting my gaze. “I’ll just go and make sure they haven’t made a mess up there.” Grabbing the pebbles in one hand, and the cloth and cards in the other, he turned and headed upstairs without looking back. As he climbed the stairs, I noticed him wrap the cards in the red cloth.

Something was definitely up.