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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)

TITLE: Little Shack of Horror
By Anita van der Elst


The window seat of the second story farmhouse bedroom allowed Darla a perfect view of the three kids in the grape arbor. Through the screen she could hear them quite clearly, even when they whispered. Never looking up, they were clueless about their audience of one.

For Darla, quarantined with mononucleosis, it was the only entertainment she had other than a few books. Her aunt and uncle, with whom she lived, were hard-working farmers with little interest in modern diversions such as televisions. Tiring of the books she’d read at least twice, Darla found amusement where she could.

The farm, a successful blueberry growing business, offered an opportunity during the month long harvest season for neighboring kids to earn money for school clothes. Three of those kids, adolescents about her own age, were the objects of Darla’s attention. She even knew their names.

At lunchtime every day Mona, Bradley and Barbie sat in the shade of the grape arbor. For an hour they talked and laughed, threw corn chips at each other and the birds, and occasionally argued.

Darla watched as the trio opened their lunch boxes on a warm, overcast afternoon.

They ate in silence for a while.

Then Barbie stuck out her lower lip, puffing so that her bangs fluttered. “I have to go to the bathroom. But I hate using those icky outhouses. They’re hot and dark and so stinky and full of flies.”

Mona twirled a long braid. “I know. But we can’t hold it all day. And it’s too far to bike home and back.”

“I’m afraid the door will stick and I won’t be able to get out,” Barbie complained.

“Oh, you are such a baby,” Bradley teased. “A big old ‘fraidy cat! Maybe you’ll fall down the hole!”

Mona slapped at him with her braid. “Oh, shut up, you! Don’t make it any worse than it already is!”

Barbie sighed again. “Well, I can’t put it off any longer.” She trudged off towards the offensive shack.

Bradley snickered and jerked on Mona’s braid. “I dare you, I double-dare you!”

“Wha-a-at?” Mona’s tone of voice indicated she knew what he was double-daring her to do.

“Sneak after her and bar the door so she can’t get out!”

Mona retrieved her braid. “I don’t think that would be very nice.”

“Who said anything about nice? It would be hilarious!”

“Uh uh! Not me!” Mona shook her head fiercely. “That would be all it takes to send her over the edge!”

“Well, I’m gonna do it!” Bradley jumped up and took off after Barbie.

“No!” Mona shouted, and she took off after Bradley.

Darla’s eyes bugged out and she covered her mouth as the action played out below.

Bradley, moving stealthily, picked up an old plank lying in the dirt and propped it against the outhouse door, lodging it in place with a big rock at the other end. Within seconds Darla saw him disappear into the thick blueberry bushes and heard his mocking laughter as he ran away.

Immediately, terrified screams and loud banging erupted from inside the shack. “Let me OUT! I can’t see anything but…I think there are bees in here too! Ple-e-e-e-ease! I can’t breathe in here! Oh, I HATE you, Bradley!”

Mona shoved at the rock. It took her a few moments to move it sufficiently. Bradley wasn’t that much bigger than her but he sure was stronger.

The door flew open and Barbie emerged, red-faced and screaming bloody murder. “I’ll never use an outhouse again! I don’t care if it takes an hour to bike back and forth, I’m going home to use a proper toilet!”

Mona tried to persuade her to stay. “Mom’ll be mad that we stopped working just because you wouldn’t use the outhouse! And you know I can’t let you ride home by yourself. We are gonna be in such big trouble. She won’t believe what Bradley did. We’ll be the ones she punishes.”

But Barbie would not be convinced.

As the two girls pedaled off down the road, Darla questioned herself, “Should I tell my aunt and uncle what I saw? But I know they’ll tell the kids they can’t come back to work here. And it will be so boring not to have them to listen to and watch. Oh, what should I do?”

What would you do?

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This article has been read 683 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beckie Stewart09/04/08
This was good. I like the way you left if open for the reader to think.
Sunny Loomis 09/04/08
Good descriptions. Typ[cal childrens' behavior. You captured it well. Good job.
Robyn Burke09/04/08
Very descriptive with authentic dialouge coming from the kids. Nice job.
Lisa Keck09/04/08
I really like this piece. The setting reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books. I too like the ending although I'm not sure why the grandparents wouldn't let the kids come back.
Janice Wood09/04/08
I'm not sure the last sentence fits. It might if it was framed as a devotional with a third party sharing the tale to the reading audience. As it is I think the point of this self examination provides a compelling invitation for the reader to think about this as well. Very engaging tale!
Marlene Austin09/07/08
Good writing; intriguing action. Personally, I would have preferred to read the ending as envisioned by the creator of the characters and setting - waiting to see if there was some unexpected turn which I might never have thought of. :)