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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)

TITLE: A Chance of Death
By David Johnston


Click. Here is an empty chamber in the Russian made gun. Sat on a rough wooden chair, my hands are bound behind me as the rope grips my skin. Here is a silent room with only the echo of his laughing footsteps surrounding me; the blindfold cutting against my skin; the noise; the click. He's moving faster. His footsteps keep on retreating and then approaching. A laugh. A click. Is that three or four? How many chambers are there in a gun? Why me?

As the sun had begun to light my usual journey to work, its harsh light had fallen onto the crumbling cobbles. From my quiet flat I turned right onto the narrow pavement, walking past boarded up, decaying shops heading towards the big corporation that had only recently trusted its glass windows to this downtown neighbourhood. Here was a homeless man; chance leaving him lying there, fate abandoning him to the elements. Rain had etched pathways across his face; wind had ripped and torn at his heavy jacket. I knew his story: an echo of that corner shop - a dream that had died destroying all in its path: a business, a relationship, an all-consuming obsession that took him down to the streets when the building would no longer do what he'd hoped. He sat there as he always did: a reflection of the decaying shops, a reminder of my vulnerability. His legs were crossed beneath him; his long hair an image of my youth; his hands reached out close together as mine now gripped the back of the chair and a rough strap whipped across my face.

Click. Another empty sound, a void waiting to be filled the next time he fires the gun at my exposed forehead. At work are my colleagues; my friends are in their offices looking out over a quiet park. Here, I am pressed to this hard wood; the trees aspiring to heaven cut down and used to support my weight. Chance has decreed that I am here and that they are there, and chance is all that I have left. Maybe there will be no bullet; maybe a mistake, a heart attack. His words are English; his accent French. Product of a revolutionary history, result of the student uprisings. His parents must have fought in the riots; his mind must have been formed by those he never knew. His unique ideals are ubiquitous; his sole purpose is the same as his friends', his family's, his forefathers'. That which he believed to be his, given by eternity, decreed by God, is merely circumstance playing in his life.

As his heavy foot falls on the wooden floor, I can hear the sound of the radio reading its news to an empty room next door. As his hand brushes against my neck, causing my nerves to tingle and my eyes to close beneath the blindfold, I can hear the police cars driving beneath the window ledge. As his breath stings my ear, filling it with smoke and curses I can hear the room starting to move, the sound of the door opening, closing, the floorboards creaking, my chair scraping across the floor. I wish that I were elsewhere: the street, the office, the factory where this gun was made. I wish I were Russian. If I'd been born there, I would no longer exist. My values and opinions, desires and dreams will die with me. The room creaks and I can feel life acting on me; the gun presses to my throat and circumstance affects me.

Click. Somewhere beneath this blindfold and rope, deep within my body lies a me who is wanting to escape, who is refusing to accept that this room, this gun, this actuality is my destiny, that although circumstance may act on my life, I have a life on which it can act. Eternity is working through circumstance as his footsteps pause behind me. Eternity is working in this situation and my soul quietens, the noise of his nervous breathing all that separates us from each other. God is here as I feel the gun rising, pressing to my ear, my throat, my forehead. This is not me, my destiny, my eternity. This is circumstance and I still exist. Click. Here is a Russian bullet.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/18/08
You have excellent description in your suspenseful story.
Allison Egley 09/20/08
Ooooo. Very good. I almost took a similar approach to this week's topic.

I was a bit confused about how he got there in the first place, but that may just be me. :)

Great job with this one. Keep up the good work.
Marlene Austin09/21/08
I would have preferred more information given in dialogue. It was difficult to understand how the MC's thoughts knew the captor's origin, riot history, etc. Also, not enough info to know how and why the MC became captive. The descriptive, tension-setting writing was very good, I would just recommend focus on clarity of plot. :)