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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Light at the End of the Tunnel (01/23/14)

TITLE: At the Heart of the Iron Triangle
By Elizabeth Baize
~9th Place


Adrenaline surged through my body. Every nerve screamed, “Get out while you can!” I shook my head trying to silence common sense. Focus on reality, Jim. I gripped my Smith and Wesson pistol tighter and shined my flashlight ahead. A stretch of Viet Cong tunnel stared right back. My quick glance measured the distance between me and a sharp turn in the passageway. Eight feet. Beyond that I didn’t know, nor did I want to guess.

Go! Just go! A starting bell clanged in my head. Only a year before, that sound would have sent me hurtling down a racetrack aboard a fiery Thoroughbred. Now, it helped me propel my five-six frame ahead on my own elbows and knees. Yes, I had volunteered, but this job lay in a realm beyond extreme sports. Tunnel rat.

Driving myself forward I reached the unknown turn and warily angled the flashlight beam down the continuing passage. Nothing. I shifted my weight beginning to maneuver around the turn when something brushed my forehead. Fear twisted inside me. Guerilla warfare knew no limits; death could strike before I took my next breath. Cautiously I directed my light toward the ceiling, prepared for scorpions or a two-step snake to slap me in the face. Something inched away from the beam, and I caught a glimpse of a membranous wing. Bats! I felt relief wash over me.

Redirecting my attention to the tunnel ahead, I pressed on. Jockey to tunnel rat. Leave it to me to push life’s envelope. I hadn’t even waited around to be drafted. Although secretly taking pride in my ability to resist the many vices around me, I couldn’t deny my addiction – a rush of adrenaline. Since my early teen years I had thrived on seeking out the next thrill. In reality, those years felt like one long tunnel. I continued to press toward something, but. . . right now I had to focus on staying alive.

The tunnel ceiling suddenly broadened. Shifting my beam, I caught sight of the bottom of a trapdoor above me. Cut the light! My ears strained for any sound. None came. Not even a ray of light seeped through the cracks. I could see nothing. With every fiber tensed for my one-man reconnaissance, I crouched beneath the thin board separating me from the next step of my mission. Are you ready to meet God, Jim? The thought nearly knocked me off my feet like a VC door trap. The next moment, the image of my mother praying at the kitchen table flashed into my brain. Stay focused, Jim. What a time to be sentimental! I had to move. Now!

Still holding my flashlight, I noiselessly pushed upward, my left hand holding my cocked pistol. I dared not fully expose my head above the level of the floor before attempting to clear the room. I froze. Still, nothing. The silence made my skin crawl. One, two, three, light! The ray illuminated a small bunker. Jerking the beam around the room revealed only a table and two chairs. On second glance, my eye caught sight of a paper on the table. How careless! Inwardly triumphing, I stepped into the room. As I clenched my fist around the scrap, my toe touched something else. Simultaneously I heard a pop – the pop of an igniting grenade. Four seconds, Jim! You’ve got four seconds! I dove toward the open trap door and propelled my body into the tunnel. Move! Move! Move! The explosion sounded close on my heels. I should be dead. They knew I was coming. Cold sweat dripped from my forehead. I mopped it away. Jim, God knew you were coming. For the first time in my life, I paused to consider His protection. Did I deserve it? Hardly! At that moment I knew my next mission – find and read that Bible at the bottom of my pack.

Up ahead, the filtered light of the Vietnamese jungle called a welcome. I pushed myself forward eager to reassure my waiting comrades, but inside something was different. I saw light at the end of my tunnel.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Ellen Carr 01/31/14
What a gripping and well-told story. I was carried along with the MC by your great descriptive writing. A great use of this topic. Well done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/01/14
You did such a fantastic job of pulling me into the story that my heart is pounding as my claustrophobia makes me shudder. This story is important in so many ways. We need to remind people what that war was like. Even more important is God knows... Everything. Brilliant writing.
C D Swanson 02/05/14
Riveting! You told this story so well that I felt as if I was there with the MC!


God bless~
Linda Goergen02/05/14
Masterfully told! If this is not based on a true account it would surprise me for reads like one! Either way, powerfully told! And I love the ending with the next mission being reading the Bible!
C D Swanson 02/06/14

God bless~
Beth LaBuff 02/06/14
oh wow! You had me completely spellbound by the progression of the story. Double Wow! This is excellent writing. Congrats on your Editor's Choice award, Elizabeth!