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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)

TITLE: A Postcard from the Edge
By Bill Shurkey


The line was long and it moved slowly. I stood about 100 yards from the curtain of fog up ahead. Endless swirls of the misty cloud swept past me and completely shrouded my view to the left and right. Behind me the line of people stretched out of sight. Immediately to my left, almost at my feet, I saw a manhole cover. Others spaced about fifty feet apart ran up and down the line in both directions. The one at my feet seemed to have a hinge on one side and a latch on the other. Nothing seemed unusual about it but it felt somehow out of place. Itís purpose for being there only deepened the mystery. Another swirl of mist swept by me. And another. For the first time I felt uneasy.

At the front of the line someone cheered and I jumped. I searched up and down the line trying to find a familiar face. Everyone was a stranger and all seemed preoccupied with their own thoughts. No cell phone rang and no one talked. I thought that was highly unusual in a line so long and it only raised new questions for me. The old man directly behind me read a newspaper and the rustling pages was all that broke the heavy silence. I tried to remember what brought me here. What was I doing just before I realized I was in line? My memory was vague. I do recall the lunch meeting with Fred but couldnít remember where it fit into the sequence of events.

A scream of severe agony pierced the silence and I jumped again. Then I heard a loud clunk. People up and down the line shifted uneasily. Many of the women searched their purses and hastily began to write on whatever they had available. The men scrawled in their daily planners and the old man directly behind me scribbled frantically on his newspaper. I felt in my pockets. I had nothing to write with and nothing to say if I had.

I tapped the manís shoulder in front of me to ask what was going on. He turned around. There was a frightened look in his eyes. I tried to speak but couldnít. He pointed to his mouth and shook his head, then wrote on his pad of paper. He held it up for me to read: Ďitís too late for talking. All we have left are our thoughts.í

Icy fingers crawled up my back and I shivered. What could that mean? I pondered the note but couldnít figure it out. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a commotion up ahead. I peered around the man in front of me to see what was going on. I saw a very tall man usher a woman down the line. He walked behind her with a hand on each of her shoulders. The woman struggled and screamed but was unable to get out of the manís grasp. I didnít know what the problem was but I felt sorry for her. She seemed scared to death.

As they got closer, I gasped. I recognized my next door neighbor, Audrey. What in the world was going on? They stopped alongside me next to the manhole cover. Audrey spotted me and her mouth contorted as she tried to speak. The hatred in her eyes took my breath away. She tried to speak again but no words came out. Quickly she fumbled in her purse and pulled out a pen and a tattered postcard. She scribbled hastily on the back and flung it at me. The man reached down and opened the manhole cover. A blast of heat hit me in the face. In one swift motion he picked Audrey up, held her over the hole, and let her go. When her screaming faded away he closed the lid and latched it. The man looked at me then walked back to the front of the line.

Audreyís purse lay where she had dropped it. Next to it was the postcard.
I picked it up and looked at the picture on the front. Devilís Tower in Wyoming. It looked familiar. I might have been there once but I couldnít remember. I turned the postcard over to see what Audrey had written in such haste. Her message was short and I wasnít likely to forget it: ĎWhy didnít you ever tell me?í

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This article has been read 673 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita Neuman09/05/05
Oooh, good story. Poignant & well-written. Good example of "Show, don't tell."
dub W09/05/05
Kept me on the edge of my seat, good job.
janet rubin09/06/05
Yup, a good one. Sucked me right in and kept me reading.
Anna Meadows09/07/05
oooh, gives me chill bumps! You did a very good job of slowly making us realize where we were...

Nicely written. Well done!
Jan Ackerson 09/10/05
Extremely creative! You did a marvelous job of creating a dark atmosphere, and your narrator's growing fears. Really good writing. (If you're ever going to publish it, you'll need to change the title; there was a movie called "Postcards from the Edge in 1990." Great minds, huh?)
Deborah Porter 09/20/05
Bill, just a really quick note to let you know that this terrific entry was in the semi-finals for the Postcard challenge. It's great to see you entering and really doing so well! Love, Deb