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

TITLE: Hail Mary
By Ruth Neilson


Eleanor struggled to reach the back of the darkened closet quietly. She could hear the footsteps and angry voices as the soldiers ransacked her house. She knew that they were looking for something, but what?

“Have you found it yet?” One voice called.
“Negative, but we will.” Another answered.

Eleanor could hear the rattle of the doorknob and she squeezed her eyes shut, gripping the family heirloom necklace tightly. She felt for the hidden door and pushed it open, propelling herself into the cramped dark room.

She could hear the searching continue and instinctively, she curled up into a tighter ball. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” She mouthed, clinging to the necklace.

“It ain’t here!” The lower voice sneered and Eleanor shuddered.

What were they looking for? Eleanor’s eyes clenched shut as she continued to listen to the pounding of the walls around her. They were looking for hidden rooms, she realized as her heart sank to her stomach. They were looking for her. Or something that she had. The pounding grew louder, and she listened for the distinctive change of pitch that would announce her hiding place.

She continued to mouth her prayer. Panic was building frantically. “Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”

Tap, tap, tap, tap... They were drawing nearer. She could hear them cursing as one of them climbed into the closet continuing to tap.

Tap, tap, tap, thud. “We got something boss.”

The man called boss said something, but Eleanor couldn’t understand it. She shuffled into the furthest corner, her breath hitching in her throat. The thudding stopped. But now, the quiet rustling filled the room punctuated by crashes.

Light flooded the room as the dry wall crumbled under a few well-placed swings of a hammer. Eleanor continued to pray, hoping that her assailants would be blind to her presence. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

A large hand reached into the smaller room and grabbed her ankle. Eleanor squeaked. With a loud cackle, it’s owner pulled her out roughly. Out of the hidden room, out of the closet, into the hallway where she was faced with three large men.

“Where is it?” The smallest sneered. “Tell us where it is, or you’re going to regret it.”

Eleanor was still confused. She didn’t say a word as she heard a gun cocked.


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This article has been read 628 times
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Allison Egley 04/12/07
Oh, a mystery all right. I wish there had been a few more clues so the reader could attempt to guess what the soldiers wanted and what happened to Elanor. As it is, it's a toss up. I would have included a few more details and brought this to more of a conclusion, personally. But a great story over all. I'd like to see it expanded.
julie wood04/12/07
Great dialogue and description in this! I felt as though I were there and could feel the main character's anxiety. I like the way her prayer was extended intermittently throughout the dialogue of her criminal pursuers. Great contrast between her grasping at faith and the corruption of the other characters. Great mood created of suspense as well!

I also wonder what will happen and would like to see this made into a complete story with a resolution.

Intriguing, unusual title--it grabbed me!
Julie Arduini04/13/07
I loved too how you wove the prayer throughout the story. This was suspenseful all right, down to the lump in my throat!
Jacquelyn Horne04/16/07
Oh my. What a story. It ended a little mysterious. I can only guess what happened to the closet dweller. I would hope I'm wrong.
Dolores Stohler04/17/07
Your story was well written and had me on the edge of my seat. I only wish you hadn't had them find her. If she had miraculously been invisible to them, it would have made a great ending.
Sara Harricharan 04/17/07
Were they searching for the necklace? What a sad ending, but a powerful prayer on Eleanor's part. A bit more of explanation would have helped in making this a little easier to read, I felt as if I watched a scene in the movie but needed to see the whole thing in order to 'get it'. But good idea and good writing!
Joanne Sher 04/18/07
I too wanted to know why she was hiding, and what they were after (my first thought was something holocaust related, but that was just conjecture!) - but you definitely kept me intrigued from beginning to end!
Catrina Bradley 04/18/07
Oh, you left me hanging! That's ok, I can make up my own happy ending, where God saves her. :) I'm guessing they were looking for her heirloom necklace? Great job with the suspense, I was hanging on every word.