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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: The Last Train
By Aaron Morrow


“Don’t you even think about gettin’ on that train!”

Dottie’s words echoed through my mind as I locked eyes with Caleb Stone. He squinted slightly as a droplet of sweat lost its purchase from his brow and streaked down the arch of his nose. The July sun was high over the train, and the air was thick with the rancid smell of steaming vengeance.

“You do what you think right, darlin’, but I have unfinished business.” I knew my bride Dottie would never forgive me for getting on that train bound for Mexico. But I also knew that Caleb had no choice. After the bones of his victims, scattered in a criss-cross pattern over the plateau, had been exposed…he had to be on that train.

“Make yer move…” Caleb hissed. He had me cornered. He knew it and I knew it.

It had been one year, to the day, since Caleb had killed my daddy in Chickenfoot. My daddy, a lawman in Missouri, had come into town to see his brother preach at South Street Baptist, and to visit with his kin at the Fourth of July family gathering.

What he found was the very heart of darkness…Caleb Stone, the preacher’s stepson.

It was about four o’clock that dark day when I turned the corner into the parlor and saw Caleb beatin’ my daddy. He showed no mercy at all. Every time it looked like my daddy would start to get back up, Caleb would get a malevolent grin on his face and mark ‘im again. It was a bad beatin’, and all I could do was look on, held in place by the horror of the massacre.

I vowed that day that I would avenge my daddy.

Caleb’s gaze dropped to my hands as I reached down and stroked my sixes. I knew they were likely useless against him, but a shadow of doubt briefly crossed his pockmarked face. He tapped the pearl on his piece, caressing the pits worn into its surface.

We locked eyes again, both of us knew that the train was about to make its last stop for one of us.

Caleb’s eyes flicked to Dottie, and then to Janet. It was almost imperceptible, but I jumped at the opening.

Bam! I fired my double six on the Mexican train. Caleb gasped. Dottie let out a half groan…and before the haze of confusion could clear, I drew again. I knew that this would be my one shot at either avenging my daddy or being Caleb’s next victim.

I closed my eyes for a moment…

Bam! A six – three, I finished unloading my hand. The domino Caleb had been clutching dropped with a dull pank on the picnic table.

“NOOooo! Four points! You beat me by four stinkin’ points”

I looked smugly into Caleb’s defeated eyes, “Looks to me like there’s a new dominoes champ in the family, scuz.”

Caleb raised his sweating unibrow comically, “Next year it’s back to Chickenfoot! I’m gonna go grab a cold one before the kids light off their sparklers, you all want one too?”

I nodded my affirmation for the heart of darkness to grab me another Sprite, but Caleb knew what I really meant.

Oh yes, my scuz knew. The stark terror in his eyes told the story.



Author’s disclaimer:

“Chickenfoot” and “Mexican Train” are variations of dominoes play.

No dominoes were harmed during the writing of this article.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 837 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 05/29/08
Clever story. I had to read it twice to see the clues you left at the beginning. Well-written.
Beth LaBuff 05/29/08
You beginning really got my interest with the "bones of his victims, scattered in a criss-cross pattern" and "air was thick with the rancid smell of steaming vengeance." I had to smile at your place-name "Chickenfoot." I've heard of Mexican Train dominoes, but not chickenfoot. It all made sense after I got to the end, "bones", "double six", "caressing the pits". Love your disclaimer. Your story is amazing and your writing is excellent with your word choices and descriptions! Love it!
Ann Marie Lindenmeyer06/02/08
Thanks for the disclaimer, I know nothing about dominos. Very interesting, it caught my attention and made me want to read to figure it out.
And the last line was very witty.
Cheri Hardaway 06/02/08
Very clever! What a surprise ending; never saw it coming! I have heard of the game Chickenfoot, but never The Mexican Train game, or I might have clued in earlier. Cute endearment, the word "scuz," to refer to the step-cousin. Nice work, Cheri
Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
Hilarious, Aaron! And very clever of you to make your readers re-read the thing immediately, once they get the twist! One of my absolute favorites this week!
Lyn Churchyard06/03/08
Man, you are somethin' else Mr :-) I really was expecting to see blood and guts any minute.

"Caleb’s gaze dropped to my hands as I reached down and stroked my sixes." okay, sure... we got a pair of six guns here fer sure! You really had me going Aaron and even your clue Take a humorous ride with me! in your hinting post slipped my mind.

Great writing my friend, great writing :-)

LauraLee Shaw06/04/08
Aha! Well done!!! Very clever and entertaining.
Debbie Wistrom06/04/08
Very very clever and you are right-FUN.

Well written as well.

Sara Harricharan 06/04/08
ROFL! I absolutely loved this! It was such fun, and so hilarious to see all that suspense and everything come down to a good game of dominos. The disclaimer had me chuckling though-awesome writing! ^_^
Joshua Janoski06/04/08
Oh my! This story was awesome! I loved how you made it seem like a western, and then you surprised the reader at the end with the domino play.

You sir are well on your way to some ECs and a move up to masters if you keep crankin' out writing like this. This one is going on my favorites list. I sense a placer here. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/05/08
Congratulations on placing with this masterfully written entry.
Lyn Churchyard06/05/08
1st Place AND an EC Award. Super, super happy for you my friend. Well done!!
Cheri Hardaway 06/05/08
1st Place and an EC! CONGRATULATIONS on a well-deserved win! This was a delightful article! Blessings, Cheri
Sharlyn Guthrie06/05/08
Oh, this is excellent, and sooo humorous. You had me going for a while. COngratulations on your well-deserved EC!
Kelli Young06/05/08
I just learned to play Mexican train this past year. It was fun before but I am certain I will never look at it the same. Clever writing and a well deserved win.
Lauryn Abbott06/05/08
Aaron, this is hilarious! Great job! Never played Chickenfoot, but I love to play Mexican Train. Very clever telling of a story. Well deserved win! :)
Lollie Hofer06/05/08
I LOVE being blind-sided. What a hoot! I can hear you chuckling while writing this piece, knowing exactly where you wanted it to go. Congratulations on a VERY well-deserved win.
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/06/08
I started catching on right before you revealed the twist, but I couldn't figure out how the beating fit in until I read it again and realize it wasn't a literal beating. Ha, good one!
Betsy Markman06/06/08
Wow...this was amazingly clever. I was confused for a while, but once I got it and re-read it, I was amazed at all of the word-play and puns and misleading descriptions. Excellent!
Peter Stone06/06/08
So clever! At first read, it seemed like actual murders, a dead father, and a gun-duel taking place. But once I got to Mexican Train, dominoes, etc, the 'pieces' started falling into place. His father was not killed but beaten at dominoes.
Debi Derrick06/07/08
Congratulations! Fabulous piece of writing...loved it, loved it.
Chely Roach06/07/08
AH! This was SO good! I loved the line, " He tapped the pearl on his piece, caressing the pits worn into its surface."
Very cleverly written...loved it. Congrats on the win!
Helen Dowd06/10/08
Sure glad I'm not the only one who had to read this story twice. In fact, I read it three times. And it is a good thing you put the explanation at the end. I know nothing about dominoes, except what they look like...After reading it a third time, I was relieved that there was no actual killing of your daddy... Congratulations on your win. I usually don't read comments first, before giving mine, but in this case I am glad I did. It helped me clue in...It is a cleverly written piece of prose...Helen