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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)

TITLE: The Broken Fence
By T. F. Chezum


Sabrina flinched at the unexpected sound. She raised the corner of her curtains, peering into the moonlit yard.

“It was supposed to be fixed already.” Her dad’s voice escalated; he gestured toward a gap in the fence. “You’ve had the boards for weeks.”

Mr. Winthrop leaned between the slats. “It’s not my problem, Kincaid.”

“It became your problem when you broke it with your riding mower.”

Mr. Winthrop held his hands up in a defensive manner. “This doesn’t have to turn ugly, William.”

“You’re making it ugly. Now fix the fence tomorrow before it gets uglier.” William turned and stormed toward the house.

Sabrina flopped onto her bed, burying herself under the covers. She clutched her favorite stuffed kitty and squeezed her eyes shut.

“He was freakin’ me out.” Sabrina flicked her auburn curls from her forehead.

Mattie swung her backpack over her shoulder. “Well Mr. Winthrop is a jerk.”

“But I thought my dad was going to hit him or somethin’.” She hoisted her bag off the ground. “Oh wait, I forgot my laptop. I’ll meet you at your house.” She darted into her home, bounded up the stairs to her room.

“Are you sure Bri’s not here?” Her father’s voice echoed.

“She’s at Mattie’s,” her mom answered. “They’re planning an Easter party for tomorrow.”

Sabrina grabbed her notebook computer and stepped into the hallway. A small commotion downstairs caused her to pause.

“Help me get him into the attic,” her father barked. “He’s putting up more of a fight than I expected.”

The young girl ducked into her room and pressed her body against the wall.

“Keep a hold of his legs.”

“I’m trying, Bill. He’s squirming too much.” Sabrina’s mom gave an exasperated groan.

The cacophony of grunts and thrashing paused outside her door.

Sabrina trembled, the urge to cry relentless.

The attic door opened. The commotion muted as her parents worked their way up the steps.

Sabrina fled the house, tears welling in her eyes.

“I’m serious. I think he did somethin’ to Mr. Winthrop.” Sabrina tugged Mattie’s arm. “What am I going to do?”

“Calm down.” Mattie clasped her friend’s hands. “We’ll talk to Mr. Winthrop; I’m sure he’ll clear things up.”

The two girls walked up the street.

“Everything’s okay. Go, knock on the door.” Mattie nudged Sabrina.

Sabrina froze.

Mattie grabbed her hand. “Oh, c’mon.” She dragged Sabrina to the porch.

Sabrina reached toward the doorbell. “Why don’t we…”

“Just push it.” Mattie stretched and pressed the button.

No response.

“Mr. Winthrop?” Sabrina knocked.

No response.

“Maybe he’s out back,” Mattie stated.

“Let’s check it out.” Sabrina jogged into her yard, stopping near the fence. “It’s been fixed.” She examined the new planks. “Oh my gosh,” she gasped.

“What’s wrong?” Mattie inquired.

“It looks like blood.” Sabrina gestured at the top of a board. “I’ve got to know what’s goin’ on. You with me?”

The girls walked through the back door. “Hi mom.”

Mrs. Kincaid spun around. “Why are you here?”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She dropped the dishcloth. “You just surprised me.”

“W-w-what’s dad doing?” Sabrina shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

“He’s busy.” She fiddled with the spice-rack. “He doesn’t want to be bothered.”

“What’s upstairs?” The daughter’s eyes widened. “I-in the attic.”

“You weren’t here…” Mrs. Kincaid gasped, covering her mouth.

The girls ran to the stairs; they gave a quick glance, then proceeded. A noise from above startled them. Their eyes riveted on the door. The knob rattled.

“What now?” Sabrina whispered.

The door inched open. Sabrina’s father hesitated, looking up the stairs. “I don’t want to tie you up, but…”

Sabrina gasped.

“Girls.” William slammed the door. “I didn’t know you were here.”

Mattie nudged Sabrina, gesturing to a bandage wrapped around his hand.

“Daddy, your hand.” Sabrina stepped closer. “What happened?”

“I cut it getting the wood from Mr. Winthrop.” He tucked it into his pocket.

“W-w-who’s upstairs?”

He let an exasperated sigh. “I guess we couldn’t keep this a secret for long.” He twisted the knob and pulled the door.

Sabrina and Mattie crept closer. A blur bolted past.

The girls screamed.

Sabrina stumbled back, falling to the floor.

The warmth of a wet tongue swabbed her face. “Hey that tickles,” she shrieked. She pushed herself away, gazing at the large grey and black dog nuzzling up to her. “Where did you come from?”

“His name’s Smokey.” He grabbed the dog’s collar. “He’s your Easter present.”

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This article has been read 854 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita Neuman04/12/07
I think this was pretty well-written. I had an idea of where it was going, but I think the word limit really limited how much suspense people can build. You did well!
Linda Germain 04/13/07
Agreed. I was so hoping it really was a dog! :0) Well done.
Sara Harricharan 04/13/07
Aww! Cute mystery! I love the character of Sabrina and especially glad that it turned out to be a dog and not a murder victim. ;) Nice work with the suspense though, I wish it'd been longer.
Myrna Noyes04/13/07
I really enjoyed this realistic story with good suspense! Many people jump to wrong conclusions, because they have some information about a situation, but are missing crucial pieces! I can easily see how Sabrina could have thought her dad had done Mr. Winthrop harm! Good job! :)
Joanne Sher 04/16/07
I was pulled along for sure - great suspense and I love the resolution!
Jan Ackerson 04/16/07
Extremely clever, a full plot arc AND character devolopment in 750 words. Masterful!
Val Clark04/16/07
You set up the mystery well pointing the reader in one direction while the real mystery was enacted and revealed. Well done. yeggy
Sheri Gordon04/16/07
I kinda guessed where this was going, too -- but I thought it was a surprise Easter rabbit they were struggling with rather than a dog. Even though I was pretty sure there was no real harm done to anyone, it was fun to see the story unfold.
Joanney Uthe04/16/07
The suspicious mind of the daughter was well protrayed, although the ending was predictable. Very cute story.
william price04/16/07
Very good. I liked it. I didn't guess a dog, but I enjoyed the ending. God bless.
Jacquelyn Horne04/16/07
Surprise! Surprise! I was certainly hoping it wasn't Mr. Winthrop. Good suspense.
Cassie Memmer04/16/07
Cute! I thought it might be an animal, but was expecting a fighting, scratching cat! Nicely written, I enjoyed reading it.
Rita Garcia04/17/07
My kind of mystery! Great story! I loved the characterization of the young girls!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/17/07
I loved how the misunderstanding turned into a good surprise. This was a very well told story.
Julie Arduini04/17/07
Great suspense build up and one of those that could have ended very very well, or not. So glad it ended well!
CeCe Lane04/18/07
Ooooohhh buddy that's good. I was riveted to the end.
Loren T. Lowery04/18/07
Clever and convincing. The suspicions held by the children were age appropriate and made the story credible and fun to read.
Catrina Bradley 04/18/07
Ah ha! Love the end, now we know why he wanted that fence fixed so badly! Great writing, great mystery.
LaNaye Perkins04/19/07
Delightful story! I love the way you strung us along with the suspense!