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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)

TITLE: The Mocking Cactus
By Kelly Jacobsen


15:03 In the Sahara Desert

All the strength seemed to dissipate in Ben. He felt as though he would faint. He stumbled a couple paces and fell to the ground. “Oh God!” He wailed as all of the memories flashed like a fast-forwarding movie in his mind. Some of those memories made him smile, and some made him want to cry. All this…his life, seemed so worthless now.

Through blurred vision, he gazed at a cactus in the distance. Shade! Well, a little shade! Even if an inch, it would be worth it. As he neared to the cactus, an image appeared to his left. “What?” He said, choking on the sandpaper feel in his throat. Maybe he was seeing things. He inched his way closer. Almost there!

Again, he saw the image. He looked towards where he had seen it. He pleaded, hoping that it was a person, “Help!” There was no one. He leaned his back against the somewhat shaded sand beside the cactus. For a second he felt relief. Suddenly, he felt as though he was in another room. He was well. His throat did not hurt anymore. “What?” He said, his baritone voice echoing through the room. Marble glistened on the floors, in many hues of red, blue, white, and grey. A dark stained oak staircase wound up many feet high to his right. Curiosity welled up inside of him. Was he in Heaven? Or Hell? No, could not be. Could it? He moved his feet closer to the staircase. He reached out his hand to touch it, to feel if it was real. On the other hand, was this all a dream? A very nice dream at that! The wood felt smooth and polished. He caressed his hand and fingers up the staircase

BAM!!!!! He tumbled backwards down the stairs. Only to awake from his daydream to have his face stuck in the sand. “Ohhh.” He groaned loudly. What a good dream! He looked up from the sand to the cactus. It perched ten feet above him. The sandy slope that he had fell down seemed to mock him. “Oh how stupid!” He scolded himself. The hot sun was surely getting to him.

He looked back up to the cactus. Still, it seemed as a beckon of hope. A home away from home. He wanted that shade! His mind raced. His heart beat faster. With every effort left in his body, he began to climb up the sandy slope. His foot slipped numerous times. Ah, a foot away. He could almost touch it…no, that would be painful. Still! “SHADE, HERE I COME!”

When he finally made it to the cactus, he slumped down beside it. Though being careful of the prickly ouchies that covered the green plant. For he did not really need any other obstacles. Such as, well, “booboos”. Talking to himself he began, “Why, you stupid fool! How could you have fallen for such tricks? What is wrong with you?” He bonged his head with his hand. Then, interrupting his blabbering, he saw something in the distance yet again. It looked like, a camp! Wait, he had fallen for this before; was not about to again! Even if it were yet another hallucination…at least he would enjoy his final moments. It looked as if there were a couple jeeps along with much other equipment. “Well, I’m gonna check it out. I’ll prove it’s not real! You see brain? I’ll show you!” He pointed to his own noggin and made his way back down the sandy slope.

When he finally neared the camp, he came to the first jeep. Keys still stuck in the ignition. “Ah ha! I know. You’re trying to mess with me again aren’t you?” He spoke again to himself. He was not going to fall for one trick twice. No sir. He dug his hand into his jean pocket, pulling out his Gerber top of the line pocketknife. He drew his hand up, and slammed it into the front wheel tire. “That ought ‘a do it.” He mocked aloud. Just then, he began to hear a faint “ssssssss” come from the tire. He chuckled, “Yes, I knew it! Muahahaha!”

Then he heard screaming. “What?” He looked up. A man ran towards him with a rifle pointed in his direction. The man began to shout some senseless gibberish. Possibly French. Maybe Italian? Ah, he did not know. He was never good at that stuff in school.

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This article has been read 413 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 03/12/09
Adventurous writng! Intriguing and descriptive.
Ruth Ann Moore03/14/09
Poor Ben, I hope the rifle toting man turned out to be helpful. Very adventurous.
Josiah Kane03/14/09
A very funny story. It was just as well there were a few Jeeps in the area, or both men would have been very dead! I really liked your portrayal of the MC's utter madness, as though he had wandered in the desert for days!

The scale of this story disturbed me. After all, if your MC was taking his last breaths, he would be in no condition to walk over to a camp "in the distance." It might be worth cutting a little of the drama to make it more practical. This story certainly has enough adventure to cut a little incredulity.

Allison Egley 03/14/09
This is good. Just when he thought it was another mirage...

I felt the ending was a bit rushed and didn't really end. It didn't seem to "tie up" well for me.

I loved your line "He could almost tough it... no, that would hurt." It made me laugh. :) Good job.
Catrina Bradley 03/17/09
The inner dialog with himself is great, and the action is well written. I agree about the end kind of "falling off", but I enjoyed this story.
Gary J. Borgstede03/17/09
I liked how the story engaged the reader into the drama of the story. I think briefly touching upon the reason the MC was in the desert in the first place would help improve the readers engagement. Creative story!
Sharon Laughter03/18/09
This piece is like a diamond in the rough, and is not finished becoming yet. I couldn't help keep thinking you were working on a connection like with Jonah, the shade, the worm eating it, etc. Maybe there's more than one piece here...