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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hotel/Motel (09/12/05)

TITLE: Familiar Characters
By Anita Neuman


It was a dark and stormy night. The proprietor of The Swamp Cottage hurried in out of the rain and draped his yellow slicker over a chair in the lobby. The weather was getting worse; he doubted that any more guests would be arriving that night. Bud was headed towards the kitchen in search of some iced tea when the lights went out. He paused for a moment, waiting for the generators to kick in. They didn’t.

Trying to avoid the tables and chairs in the dining room, Bud made his way back towards the lobby. He knew there was a flashlight in one of the drawers behind the front desk. Lightning flashed and lit the room for a full second. Thunder rattled the windows. Bud reached the front desk and waited for more lightning to aid his search for the flashlight.

Suddenly a bloodcurdling scream pierced the night. A figure, barely visible in the darkness, stumbled through the door from the stairwell.

“Somebody, help me!” the woman shrieked. “I think he’s dead!”

Terror gripped Bud’s soul. He tried to calm the woman down while he felt around the last few drawers, but his words didn’t penetrate her hysteria.

“He was such a gentle, misunderstood soul! Why would someone do this? Why?” She began to sob.

Bud’s hand finally closed on the elusive flashlight. He flicked it on and hurried to the woman’s side. “Miss, you need to tell me what happened. Who’s dead?”

“Dustin. I’m sure it’s him.” She pushed Bud ahead of her towards the stairwell. “He’s on the floor in there.”

Bud pulled the door open and shone the flashlight ahead of him. The body lying crumpled at the bottom of the stairs was definitely the mysterious young man who had checked in earlier that day. Dustin McKyley. He’d said he was researching a story on teenage suicides. His dark demeanour had made Bud uneasy.

Bud bent down and checked for a pulse. He found none and stepped back away from the body.

The woman behind him shrieked again. “You can’t give up on him! We can still save him!” She fell to her knees beside the body and dropped her head to his chest.

Bud pulled her back. Her pale face came away crimson with blood. “We shouldn’t move him. We need to call the police.” He pulled her with him back to the front desk to place the call, but the phone line was dead.

Assessing the situation quickly, Bud realized that the other guests would need to know what was going on. Even to his untrained eye, it was obvious that Dustin had been murdered, and not knowing who or where the murderer was, Bud decided to gather his few guests together in one place. He sat the still-sobbing woman in the dining room, lit a few candles, and got her a napkin so she could wipe the blood off her face. Then he grabbed the registration log from the front desk, stepped carefully past Dustin’s body and went upstairs.

Three of the guests were huddled in the hall, chatting by the light of a candle. One more was curled up on the bed in her room. The last guest couldn’t be found.

Bud led the four patrons down the stairs, wishing he’d covered the body first. He blocked the view as best he could, shining the beam of the flashlight through the open doorway so everyone could see their way across the lobby to the dining room.

“Could somebody please tell me what’s going on?” a small, birdlike woman asked, once everyone was seated.

“I’ll tell you what’s going on!” Dustin’s friend wailed, flinging her dark hair behind her shoulder. “There’s been a murder!”

“Oh my!” the bird-woman chirped.

“I need some fresh air,” another woman said. “I can’t catch my breath.”

The only male guest in the room didn’t say anything. He just leaned over and banged his forehead on the table in front of him.

Bud tried to calm the group down. “We need to stick together until we’re able to contact the police. Is everyone okay here?”

The fourth woman pointed to Dustin’s friend, who was still crying uncontrollably. “I don’t think she’s doing very well, God love her.”

Just then, Bud heard a distant knocking. He followed the sound through the lobby towards the elevator. “Is someone there?”

A muffled voice called out through the elevator doors. “My name is Maxwell and I’m stuck inside this box.”

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This article has been read 1176 times
Member Comments
Member Date
terri tiffany09/19/05
LOL!! I'm afraid to comment (Max?) Well done!!!
Maxx .09/20/05
First.... I've seen this movie! Maybe 300 times! lol!

Second.... Did this story really start with "It was a dark and stormy night..."? That deserves an honorable mention all by itself!

Third.... I need to know... was Miss Scarlet stuck in the elevator with Maxwell?

Fourth.... Where's proprietor Dub in all this? I've always thought him quite suspicious looking.

Fifth.... Beyond that, I'm afraid to comment (Dust?) Well Done!!!
Kyle Chezum09/20/05
Very clever story. Ahem. ;-) I liked it!
Jan Ackerson 09/21/05
I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that you might have squeezed one or two more cliches in there, if you really tried. Honestly, this is masterful writing, and as funny as all get-out.
darlene hight09/21/05
This all seems so familiar to me....Dejavueish ;) Well done and way to much fun!
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/21/05
hahahahaha! The bird-like girl is laughing too hard to say anything!
Debra Brand09/21/05
LOL. Funny read. How cool!
Shari Armstrong 09/21/05
That was awesome!!!! BRAVO!!! I felt like I was watching "Mystery" on PBS :)
Pat Guy 09/21/05
Way too much fun to read! This is great! Poor Max. I bet it was torture to be stuck in that box! :)
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/21/05
Now that I've stopped laughing long enough to comment--That was great! Especially the ending. The only thing it was missing is a reference to fuzz. :-)
Alexandra Wilkin09/22/05
Lovely! Got a huge smile all over my face and it will stay there all day. Great stuff, lovingly done, CONGRATULATIONS!:-)
God bless.
Karen Ward09/22/05
Oh! I think I'm in there too! Brilliant! I loved the last line! Very good humor!

:) God Bless, 'God love her' aka Karen
Lynda Lee Schab 09/22/05
Too fun! Hope Deb has caught her breath by now. LOL. Fun and clever writing.
Blessings, Lynda
Linda Watson Owen09/22/05
What a trip! So much fun! Thanks for the laughs!
Suzanne R09/22/05
Cute! Well done.
Benjamin Stephens09/22/05
Ibuprofin please. :o)

Jan Warrick09/22/05
Hope you had as much fun writing it as I had reading it. You did a great job weaving these "characters" together! Loved it.
Brandi Roberts09/22/05
This was all-too awesome Anita! I loved it! I like how you intertwined everything together from their personalities in writing and on the forum. Great job! Thanks for sharing!
Julianne Jones10/12/05
My family's looking at my strangely because I'm laughing uncontrollably and totally incoherent. This was so well done! Glad I found it - eventually!