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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)

TITLE: Hope, Just a Glimmer
By Maxx .


The ground pitches and twists like a shaken rug. I fall. The kitchen tiles pop about me, their adhesive unable to bend with the yaw of the floor.

The lights go out.

From upstairs, Candy screams.

“Earthquake, Candy! Daddy’s here!” I shout but a sound like the rumble of a thousand freight trains smothers my voice.

Cabinet doors slap open, shut, and open again as they belch china, mugs, and cookware in shattering waves. I cover my eyes as the sticky warmth of blood streams down my face.

I try to stand but am too dizzy. “Candy! Honey, get under …”

The house groans, guttural, sickening.

Powder, luminous in the flickering moon fills the room, white, choking. The ceiling … coming down. I roll, clawing my way to the stairs, to Candy.

The snapping split of a beam shredding, tearing from crumbling walls.

“Candy!” My voice is reflexive, but silent amid chaos.

She screams again, terrified, alone.

“I’m coming! Hold on! Hold …”

Something hits me from beyond the pitch and I’m weightless. For an instant the thunder ebbs and my vision fills with the softest of blues and whites. I look down and watch my body falling through the sliding glass door, shards like diamonds scatter about me.

I blink. Consciousness returns. The house warps, buckles, collapses.

I’m swallowed by hell’s maelstrom. But all I see is my precious baby, lost…



A hand grasps my shoulder. Pain, the grating of broken bones. I cry out as I awake.

A face in front of mine. Young, strong. “Is anyone in there?” He’s shouting, pointing.

Flames scar the wreckage, thick smoke billowing from the fissures in torn shingles. The gas main, it must have ruptured.

I try to move but my leg is twisted beneath me. “Candy!” I don’t recognize my voice. “My daughter!” I’m fixated on the inferno.

The young man shakes me, forcing me to look at him. “Where?”

I feel my heart, more turbulent than the ground had been. “Upstairs.”

He grimaces.

There is no upstairs. It’s gone.

“I’ll find her.” He seems confident, certain.

Hope, just a glimmer.

He hurries toward the remnants of my devastated life.

Heated timbers explode, showering us with glowing sparks. The walls tremble anew, crunching, settling in a morbid dirge.

Another figure, larger, solid, steps into his path. “No, son. I can’t ask you to go in.”

The young man pulls away. “You don’t have to. I volunteer.” He disappears into a pall of smoke.

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This article has been read 1495 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 12/01/06
For some reason I find myself commenting quite a bit on titles today--yours is perfect. Gripping and suspenseful story that leaves us hanging...but there's that title. Awesome.
Dawn Dale12/01/06
they are true volunteers...even those that are paid! thanks for making us think of them, today.
Phyllis Inniss12/02/06
What a story! The tale is left hangin with just a glimmer of hope. Great job.
Joanne Sher 12/03/06
This was so real, so vivid - as a former Californian, this brought back some memories I haven't thought about in a while. Excellent ending too - and so gripping through and through.
Jesus Puppy 12/04/06
in a word... Masterful.
Amy Michelle Wiley 12/04/06
Oh, it's so like you to leave us dangling like that! As always, powerful story. Your images are superb.
william price12/04/06
Your title is perfect for this story. The reader wants to ask what happened? But that isn't the story. A very well crafted entry, as always, that hammers the messgae home about the motive of a true volunteer and what most of them, cut from this mold, represent. God bless.
Pat Guy 12/04/06
Maxx, you sitting behind me doesn't help one bit - it never does! Can't you submit near the top sometimes? ;)

Yes it's gripping and I didn't get to breath at all - even at the end, so I about keeled over from lack of oxygen. A normal hazard of reading your work. ;)
Cheri Hardaway 12/04/06
I've been through hurricanes, but never an earthquake. After reading your entry, I think I prefer hurricanes! Incredible description. Wonderful way to write about this topic. Superb. Blessings, Cheri
Venice Kichura12/04/06
Excellent use of the present tense!
Donna Powers 12/04/06
Wow. You can really tell a story. Mesmerizing. An excellent read. Thanks for sharing it.
Ruth Neilson12/06/06
“You don’t have to. I volunteer.” That phrase sums everything up...wow...amazing.
Catrina Bradley 12/06/06
Yes, it is possible to write a significant, meaningful story in 450 words, when written by your hand. This is truly awesome.
Shanti Singh12/06/06
Very powerful. Thank you for sharing in a way that only you can.
Bonnie Derksen12/07/06
I'll add my name to the list of "well-dones". 450 words, when precisely chosen as you did, tell the story very concisely. By your description I truly hope I never experience an earthquake firsthand.
Blessings on your pen.
Debbie OConnor12/07/06
Congrats Maxx! This is terrific, as usual. A great read.
Helen Paynter12/08/06
COngratulations on yet another win, Maxx. Amazing piece - totally gripping. And those descriptions! I've never lived through an earthquake but you've convinced me that you have.