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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Discern (08/12/10)

TITLE: The Stranger
By Sandra Petersen


Ginny twisted the key in the ignition once more. There was no answering thrum from the car engine. Just the same rapid tat-tat-tat she heard the last time. She sighed and craned her neck to scan the dark road ahead and behind her.

She was twenty miles from home. Even if she could walk that distance, the midnight hour made it a foolish choice. She flipped open her cell phone, her finger poised to press buttons on the key pad.

Out of network?

Ginny slapped the phone closed and moaned, pressing her head against the steering wheel. She could wait here until morning brought some traffic down the deserted country road or she could walk. Maybe she could flag down someone once she got to the main road.

With another frustrated sigh, Ginny pushed open the car door and reached for her satchel beside her. As she swung her feet onto the asphalt, a beam illuminated the bushes and trees on either side. The approaching headlights slowed and halted beside her.

The passenger side window on the ghostly white pickup opened with a hiss.

“Need a lift, little lady?”

Ginny felt an uneasy swirl in the pit of her stomach and she hesitated before answering. The male voice that offered help sounded friendly and concerned. But something did not seem right.

Dismissing her thoughts as over-weary imagination, Ginny stepped up into the truck and closed the door.

“So where you headin'?”

“Connorsburg. My parents own the Top of the Day Cafe.”

“How 'bout that? I'm headin' the same way myself. Jim Tyler's my brother. I'm visitin' him for a spell. Know him?”

Ginny struggled to remember the Tyler family. She knew there was a brother and sister not much older than her. She shivered. Every hair on her arms stood erect and she could not rid herself of her discomfort.

“My name's Lon.” He flashed a smile at Ginny and tipped a cigarette out of a pack on the dashboard. He offered one to Ginny but she shook her head again.

“Fair 'nuff. You mind?” He tossed the pack onto the dashboard and held the truck's lighter to the cigarette tip.

“So what brings you out here so late at night?” The smoldering tip of the cigarette bobbed as he spoke.

“I'm a recital accompanist for a musical at the Fayette High School. Tonight was the dress rehearsal.”

“Musician, huh?” His eyes squinted against the smoke. “My brother's a musician. Plays guitar in a rock band. Maybe you heard of the group. The Slammers?”

Ginny managed a weak smile. Her stomach churned for no reason. She wanted to get home without further conversation.

“So where in Connorsburg do you need to be . . . say, I didn't catch your name.”

“Wendy. Wendy Morrison, and I live at 423 North Broadway Avenue.” Ginny bit her lower lip, wondering why she had lied. Her friend Wendy lived closest to the edge of town.

She glanced at Lon and caught his appraising gaze.

Her cell phone buzzed with an incoming text message and Ginny jumped. Opening the phone and pressing the button revealed a message from her older sister.

Aunt June called. She's been praying for you for a half hour. R U OK?

“It's my sister.” Ginny began to press buttons.

I broke down north of town. Got a ride from Lon Tyler, Jim's brother.

A pause and Ginny imagined her sister hunched over the keyboard, composing her message.

The cell phone buzzed and she eagerly read the text.

Jim Tyler doesn't have a brother. Where R U?

Ginny swallowed. The truck was nearing the first set of traffic lights. Their green-yellow-red pattern had changed at midnight to a flashing red. Wendy lived on the next corner. If Lon or whoever he was did not stop at the stop sign and cruised on by, what then?

“I live in that white house over there.” She pointed.

Lon frowned as he pulled to the corner and parked. He seemed to be struggling with his thoughts. As Ginny reached for the door handle he gripped her arm. She gave a small shriek.

“You shouldn't really accept rides from strangers. You never know who they are.” He squeezed her arm, then released it.

Ginny nodded and gulped. She clutched her satchel and stumbled from the truck. Lon waved as he pulled away.

“Good night. Stay safe, Wendy Morrison.”

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This article has been read 637 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 08/19/10
We all need Aunt June's in our lives who follow the nudges of God. Glad this had a happy ending along with some good instruction.
Betty Castleberry08/20/10
This really held my attention. I read faster and faster, waiting to see what was going to happen next. Great job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/21/10
OOhh This was exciting! I found myself holding my breath and wondering how she was going to get out of this mess.
Caitlyn Meissner08/22/10
Never, never get out of the car. Sit tight and pray for a rescue party.

Still, I'm glad she stayed safe. Good storytelling.
AnneRene' Capp08/22/10
This had me holding my breath...FOR REAL! Great story that left me with many "what ifs". I also actually let out a sigh of relief when Ginny got out of that truck! :)
Margaret Kearley 08/23/10
Brilliant and gripping. The thing that stood out to me most is this amazing connecting truth -
'She's been praying for you for half an hour' .... 'Lon waved as he pulled away.' How much we are saved from through the miracle of prayer! Thank you.
Margaret Kearley 08/23/10
Brilliant and gripping. The thing that stood out to me most is this amazing connecting truth -
'She's been praying for you for half an hour' .... 'Lon waved as he pulled away.' How much we are saved from through the miracle of prayer! Thank you.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/23/10
Wonderful suspense here. The last line is great.
Marita Thelander 08/23/10
Thank goodness for cell phones...when they are in signal. Well paced .
Carol Penhorwood 08/24/10
Suspenseful, entertaining, but right on topic as well. This one kept me reading.

It always amazes me (but shouldn't) when God has someone praying for me at exactly the right time. We must listen to those "nudges" of the Lord.
Mona Purvis08/24/10
Lots of suspense here. A situation most of us have found ourselves in one way or another and know that feeling.
I wanted a little something more to be revealed at the end.
Good writing.

Cheryl Harrison08/25/10
Ooooh... had my attention. I wanted to find out what happened next. Will wait for the next chapter. Good job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/30/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level and in the top 30 overall.