I wrote a short story for the Writer's Weekly Fall 2014 "24-hour Contest". They give you a topic and word count and you have 24 hours to write a story. 1st through 3rd places range from $300 to $200. So here's what I submitted at only 880 words (just under the 950 limit). Now I wait only six short weeks to see how I did!:
Amanda zipped her coat and pulled her collar up tightly to try and brace from the onslaught of the cold November wind. She looked back as her sister Janet emerged from the tarot reader’s shop. They looked at each other in a sort of shock at what they were just told. Janet shivered and started to ask, “Do you think we should talk about the warning…”Amanda cut her off, “I don’t want to talk about it. She’s just a crazy old woman who told us a crazy tale about the crazy things we told her.” Amanda began to walk, trudging through the piles of dried up red and orange leaves covering the sidewalk. Janet walked along side her insisting, “Amanda, c’mon, why don’t you want to talk about it? She told you not to go home tonight, to move out.”Amanda reached her car and stared at Janet. “Janet, we saw something. But it wasn’t a horrible, murderous ghost like the old woman claimed. I’m not leaving my home or running in terror.” With that she began to unlock her door and get in. They drove separately so she waved goodbye to Janet.Janet didn’t wave back. She was staring at an elderly man that was slowly walking by that stopped to lean over to Janet and put a finger to his lips as if to shush her. Janet looked at him oddly, “Well, hello to you too!” she exclaimed. The strange, old man smiled and walked on, tipping his old, worn hat. Amanda watched the moment and briefly forgot about the cold wind biting at her cheeks. “What was that all about?” she asked Janet.Janet shrugged, “I don’t know. I guess I’m either talking too loud or he doesn’t want to hear what I have to say.”Amanda waved bye again and got in her car and promptly started it to turn on the heater. As she drove home she reflected on what she’d seen around the house. It was just a dark figure out of the corner of her eye occasionally. It wasn’t scary to her. She just sometimes didn’t appreciate the bumps and sounds in the night or the random hushed voice that seemed to be coming from somewhere. After Janet screamed from the kitchen one evening while over for dinner, Amanda was convinced by her sister to go to the fortune teller. Janet swore she saw a dark figure behind her that disappeared when she turned around. She arrived home as it was getting dark and found the front door unlocked. That was strange since she obsessed about locking it usually. She turned on the living room and kitchen lights and began to heat up some leftovers from the fridge in the microwave. The phone rang suddenly, cutting through the quiet of the house.“Hello,” answered Amanda.“It’s me. Are you alive? What’s happening?” asked a worried sounding Janet.“I’m fine. Sheesh. It’s just a fortune teller. Let it go,” Amanda exclaimed. “Amanda. Listen. She said someone would die. Tonight. This is ridiculous. I’m coming over,” and the phone went dead. She knew Janet had set her mind to it and there was nothing she could do but endure the night with her.A small noise came from the bathroom down the hall. Amanda looked around the corner, seeing into the dark bathroom and shrugged it off after seeing nothing. She went back to preparing her leftovers for her measly dinner she’d concocted. She turned slowly blowing on the hot food and there it was. The dark figure. At least she thought it was. She looked up quickly and there was nothing to see. Just a glance from the corner of her eye. As always. She sighed and went to sit down at the kitchen table. After a few bites, while expecting Janet at any moment, she heard a noise again from behind her. As she turned around to see what it was two large hands belonging to an even larger, scary looking man wrapped tightly around her throat. She looked at him in panic and tried to scream but nothing came out of the closed windpipe. After a moment of struggling and fighting she began to fade. A cold blackness enveloped her and she slipped away…When she came to she was on a stretcher in her living room surrounded by EMT technicians and police. She lifted her head in confusion and noticed the blood. And the frantic weeping coming from the kitchen. There was blood all over Amanda and the kitchen floor she noticed. And there he was. The scary man was laying on the floor in a crumpled, bloody mess. Janet noticing she’d woken ran to her side, “OH LORD AMANDA!” she cried. “Thank goodness you’re alive. The burglar is dead!”“What happened?” she weakly asked.“What do you mean? I came in and found you on the floor next to this man, thinking you were both dead!” Janet sobbed and couldn’t continue.She gathered herself and looked at Amanda, “She was right! The old woman was right! Someone died tonight!”Amanda looked over to the corner of the kitchen suddenly remembering seeing the dark figure as she passed out. And she knew. She had to stay in this house. Protected.