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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ADVENTURE genre (05/24/07)

TITLE: One Hundred Twenty-Two Steps.


One Hundred Twenty-Two Steps to the Floor of the Rainforest: the sign read at the beginning of the narrow track.

My husband looked at his cell phone. “Are you sure about this? There’s no reception up here, so I doubt if there is any at the bottom.”

“I’ll be fine. We can stop and rest as many times as I need. We have all day. Look! There’s a rope handrail. Honest, I’ll be fine.”

“OK,” he sighed. “I’ll go first. If you fall, I’ll save you.”

“My hero!” I laughed and tightened the laces on my walking shoes and adjusted my leg brace.

The descent was steeper than I thought and the steps carved into the dry crusted earth, twisting over exposed tree roots and around broad tree trunks and small boulders. Using the rope to steady myself, I made my way down the slopping path. My encouraging husband restrained his usual pace and stayed close.

Deeper into the bush, it became shady and cooler. The steps dropped away at sharp angles and I noticed the overhead canopy had thickened. An old stump that had split lengthwise made an ideal resting place near vine entangled trees. The silence was intriguing.

“Can you hear that?” I whispered.

“Hear what? It’s so quite here.”

We continued silently, stopping once to let me catch my breath beside a trickle of a waterfall. We stepped onto the forest floor where a sign gave information regarding a bushman who once lived in the area. I wiped the sign to read the remainder of the text. “Wow! Imagine living here. It’s so peaceful.”

“Don’t touch the leaves of the red nettle tree—they sting,” Norm warned, reading a small rusted sign by a mysterious tree with an enormous red trunk.

My curiosity about the bushman increased when I observed a wooden structure beyond the red nettle tree. The fireplace and chimney were entwined with thick vines. Three walls remained standing, although I wondered if it originally had a fourth wall—or a door. Located near another path, the hut’s open section faced a dried-up waterfall and stream. A memorial plaque erected above a crude water tub detailed the life and death of this bushman of the wilderness.

Norm wandered around the immediate area, taking snapshots. “Wait here. I’ll see where the other path goes.”

“OK,” I replied, studying the hut in more detail.

Sitting on one of the two tree stump seats, I leaned back against the simple wooden table and closed my eyes. The sweet bird calls resounded through the bush as I breathed in the clean, crisp air. I wonder what it was like to live here.

The sound of whistling and running water interrupted my thoughts. On the path where Norm had left minutes before, a young bushman entered the small clearing. He ceased whistling, removed his weather-beaten hat with a row of corks hanging from the brim, and stood staring at me. “G’day Ma’am. Um’, where’d you come from?”

Without taking my eyes off the bushman, I stood and pointed to the other path. “Where did you come from?” I finally managed.

“Ma’am, this is me ‘ome. I ... um ... was goin’ to make a pot of tea. Would ya’ care to join me?”

“Yes, thank you. Sorry, I didn’t think anyone lived here anymore, Mr ... er ...”

“John Wilson, Ma’am.” He dipped his head before replacing his hat.

He filled an old billycan with water from the waterfall, which had suddenly begun to flow freely. Weird. I watched in a dazed silence as he placed the billycan on an open fire.

“How long have you lived here, John?”

“Oh, since early 1890, I sp’ose; I came down ‘ere lookin’ for me ‘orse and fell in love with the place. I nev’r did find me ‘orse, though. I go back in tar Vacy evr’y three months or so to get me some supplies.”

John placed tin cups on the table and poured in the hot tea. We talked about the town of Vacy and his home under the canopy. The afternoon air seemed to tug at my eyelids. Crossing my arms on the table, I listened with interest to his friendly talk.

“Hey, wake up sleepy head. We have to start the climb if we want to get back before dinner.” Norm’s voice drifted down the path. “I got some good photos for your journal about John Wilson. Are you OK? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

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This article has been read 1162 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 05/31/07
Great atmosphere! I love being places where I have never been!

An adventure within an adventure - great take on the genre and well done too!

I really enjoyed this read!
Esther Gellert05/31/07
I loved the descriptions of the rainforest. It sounds like a beautiful place and I wish I could visit it. I also would love to know more about John Wilson. I really enjoyed reading this.
terri tiffany06/01/07
You have a nice way with words - detailed and flowing. I could tell from the first sentence it would be interesting and it was. Only thing I noticed was theh word "quite" should be "quiet" and I bet you saw that as soon as you clicked send:) Very nice!
Pam Carlson-Hetland06/01/07
Very interesting, a wonderful story. Loved the "Accent" of the bushman and the whole setting. Excellent writing.
Shari Armstrong 06/04/07
Very entertaining, and what a gentleman :) Having been to the indoor rain forest at the Cleveland Zoo really helped this come to life for me... :) Great details!
Jan Ackerson 06/04/07
This is rich and thick with atmosphere...very nice.

I think you meant "sloping" instead of "slopping."

The John Wilson twist was intriguing, but I'm not entirely sure I "get it." Was he a ghost? A dream? Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed this rainforest trek--it's the sort of story this armchair adventurer really can get into.
Joanne Sher 06/04/07
Excellent description and atmosphere. I was definitely transported.
Sandra Petersen 06/04/07
Excellent description! I could almost see and hear it all. Liked the dialect.

Won't say anything about the typos.

I almost wish I could have been there, too. Sounds beautiful. The one additional thing I thought was how much time and effort would be involved in ascending the path again. Ugh!!
Sharlyn Guthrie06/04/07
I can definitely relate to this. I've had some very realistic dreams, and I love this type of adventure! Nice job!
Benjamin Graber06/04/07
Creative adventure story; I liked this one!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/04/07
Your lyrical descriptions are wonderful, and I love your story line.
Sara Harricharan 06/04/07
I loved the accent! This was one adventure that I had me waiting for the last line. At first I thought it was some time travel thing...but then the ghost line was pretty plausible too...or dreaming...whichever. ^_^ A very fun and enjoyable read.
Edy T Johnson 06/05/07
You sure are a great yarn spinner. I love the atmosphere you created, laced around the conversations. I'm always a bit leery of strange (especially jungle) places, wondering what might be waiting to bite or devour me, so I was ready for anything, except a dream! Good job, Friend!
Betty Castleberry06/05/07
Good job with description. I could feel the coolness under the forest canopy.
I really liked the ending,too. Well done.
Pamela Kliewer06/05/07
This is great! I love your descriptions. The ending is wonderful. I thought more of time travel, than dreaming, though. LOL
Sherrie Jackson06/06/07
This was such an enjoyable read! The descriptions were simply awesome; you made it so easy for the reader to place themselves at the scene.

There was also, to me, some palpable suspense leading up to the arrival of the bushman, and that was done very well. (I was kind of waiting for her to wig out when he mentioned the 1890s, lol)

Excellent job!
Jacquelyn Horne06/06/07
Sounds like an interesting adventure. I was right in the story. Good job.
Kristen Hester06/06/07
Very fun. I felt like I was there!
william price06/06/07
You set the scene very well. Great descriptions and writing. I enjoyed the journey. God bless.
Myrna Noyes06/06/07
I really enjoyed this! The descriptions were excellent, and I was able to picture the whole story in my mind! I loved the part where she "met" the bushman! Good job! :)
Dee Yoder 06/06/07
I love this story. I was there with you! Very descriptive and imaginative.
Loren T. Lowery06/06/07
This story held me captive - such good, descriptive writing placed me right there! Great job.
Leigh MacKelvey06/06/07
I was taken up immediatey into the story. I loved the atmosphere and can beleive the dream, as your MC was so emersed in the surroundings and the history! Great job.
Rita Garcia06/07/07
Thanks for inviting me into a great adventure! Love it!
Val Clark06/08/07
I could see you and your surroundings so clearly in this story as you courageously determined to get down that dangerous path. A most enjoyable read.