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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)

TITLE: Labyrinth
By Paul Servini


Scott followed his captain up the steps the crowd’s ovation thundering in his ears. He was the youngest and most inexperienced member of the team, yet the captain had put him at number two in the parade; the captain would pass the cup to him. He was the hero of the day. His kick had sealed the victory.

His thoughts went back to the one kick that began it all. A forlorn, little rugby pitch in his home village. The sports teacher encouraging him to take the kick, taunting the opposition…
‘You guys, it’s not worth your charging. This kick is going high and straight over the posts.’

In fact, it had fallen well short, but Scott swore that one day he would make it go over, for his teacher’s sake. One day the world would hear of Scott Ridley and his inspirational teacher. Today, that day had come. He saw his captain take the cup and turn towards him. Scott held his hands out and was left clutching a pile of newspapers, the headlines of which began to kaleidoscope in his mind.

"Debut hero wins grand slam for Wales."
"Ridley kick sinks raging All Blacks."
"I owe all to teacher, declares Ridley."
"Injury blow for new Wales star."
"Demon drink makes Wales star see red."
"Ridley in nightclub gig."
"Ridley, model’s new playboy?"
"Comeback kick inches wide."
"Ridley to hang up boots?"

Lying in his bed Scott gradually became aware of a presence in his room. His eyes flickered. The nurse’s smile made him feel better but couldn’t prevent another nosedive into the nightmares of the past. It took several hours for the effects of the anaesthetic to wear off. When he awoke his time, there were two doctors around his bed, speaking in low whispers. They exited, leaving the nurse to put his leg back into the traction device.

‘You’re a very lucky man, Mr. Ridley. The doctors have been able to put your leg back together.’

Scott managed a smile. Yet, he knew there was no way back. Injuries could be overcome; he had done it before. He had believed in himself and his future. Today, the will was gone.

His mind wandered back to those early days: the hours spent in the gym hardening up his muscles; the long winter afternoons learning to make the ball do what he wanted; the lonely march to collect those balls which were still going wide; the thrill when they started to go over; the rise through the ranks of various clubs and more long, hard training. Then came fame, with fortune in its wake. How was he to imagine the helter-skelter ride with demons that was just around the corner? Suddenly, things started to get out of control. Everyone turned on him. He went from darling to scoundrel in the of two short months. But before long the press was hailing his return; a new, mature Scott Ridley, ready to conquer all. At times, it almost seemed as if he had. Now, he just didn’t want to go through it all again. It just wasn’t worth it.

So what did make life worth living? Scott needed an answer to this question. Rugby had failed him, but there had to be something. There had to be a reason to prevent him from swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills and putting an end to it all. Scott didn’t know what it was, but he was determined to find it.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 04/10/09
Love the open ending of this story!

I'm not sure how the title applies, since a labyrinth is more 'back and forth' than 'up and down'.

But your character has certainly experienced ups and downs, and you used the topic well.
Paul Servini04/11/09
Jan, thanks for your comments. My title had more to do with the ending of the story. Having experienced the ups and downs of sporting fame, my character re-enters the labyrinth of answers people give to try to find the one which really will work.
Marty Wellington 04/13/09
Welcome back to the challenge. Good story that kept my attention and the ending was tantalizing. Just noted a couple of missing words here and there, but overall nicely done. Blessings~