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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)

TITLE: Sammy's Secret
By dub W


Two magnets bounced off a metal flower vase and fell into the open grave, the rattling of the metal on metal caused a funeral home worker to turn his head, but a buzzing fly broke his concentration. Sammy Licken shuffled his feet between rows of flowers and walked toward a black limousine. Sammy was only twelve years old but he held the secret that had been a precursor to a parade of death in his family.

After a year of tragedies Sammy was tired. He was tired of funerals, tired of questions, tired of grownups period. The social worker slid into the seat next to him.

“Sammy, we have a nice place for you to stay tonight. Then we can talk tomorrow.”

He had seen her before – the same ruffled white shirt under a gray dress. He had heard about dresses when his mother scolded his older sister, now both the scolder and the scoldee were in the ground with Papa.

A year ago he had never been in a graveyard. A year ago he was a Cub Scout carving cars for the Pinewood derby. He wondered if his Scout uniform got burned up in the fire too.

The limo suddenly started rolling forward. The social worker looked over at Sammy and smiled. He could feel her eyes burning into his cheeks. He folded his hands and looked at the floor. “Who gonna take me?” His voice was faint, and over the rumble of the car engine the social worker had to strain to hear.

“Oh, a nice couple in Doryville, they have two children, I think you’ll be happy there.”

She thinks. “Okay.”

He closed his eyes thankful she wasn’t asking him to understand words like court appointed, and guardian ad something. “Will I be safe there?” he blurted out.

“Why yes, Sammy, they live in a nice neighborhood with lots of trees and flowers.”

He hated the way she said nice neighborhood. He hated flowers. His old neighborhood was alright, at least in his mind. His momma took him to church, and his neighbors went to church, and until a few months ago nobody got killed in his neighborhood.

“Do they have Cub Scouts?”

“I’m sure they do Sammy.”

It started with the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby, an activity where Scouts carve tiny light weight pine cars and then race the cars down a slotted track. His father was an electrician during the day, but once per year he was the Pinewood Derby chairman. Sammy could still his father’s voice.

“Look Sammy, if we put these little magnets in here,” his father turned the car over, “and put this resistance panel over here, then put this battery here,” Sammy’s father worked wires and batteries around while Sammy watched with interest. “There let’s try this.”

His father set the experimental car on the flat kitchen floor, and then pushed a tiny lever backward. The car wheels started spinning, and then the car flew across the floor, knocked open the screen door, flew off the steps, and buried its nose in mama’s flower bed. The rear wheels were still spinning.”

“Wow,” was all Sammy could say.

The next Saturday, Sammy’s father took the car to the Pinewood Derby; all of the older men were fascinated by the experimental car. Mr. Johnson, a lawyer, even offered to help Sammy’s father with some government papers for the car.

A week later two men came to the house and offered Sammy’s father money for the toy car, but his father said it was not for sale. Then someone broke into their house and stole a whole bunch of Cub Scout stuff. The Police said it was kids. Then Sammy’s dad came home all scared and told Sammy’s mama and sister to move to Omaha and take Sammy along. Then, when Sammy was at school his house blew up, the Police said it was a gas leak, but it killed Sammy’s mama and sister. Then someone ran into Sammy’s dad at an intersection and shot him. Police said it was a hit and run drive by.

The limo stopped in front of a large brick house. Bright flowers lined the walkway. A smiling man and woman came out to the car and opened the door for Sammy. The woman smelled funny to Sammy.

The man held out a hand, “Say, young fella, I understand you like to carve Pinewood Derby cars. I sure would like to learn how to do that.”

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This article has been read 1254 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth Muehlhausen10/10/05
A suspenseful story. Although the topic (flowers) is woven in, I didn't feel it was integral. Left me wanting to know what happned to the poor kid. :-)
Val Clark10/11/05
Oops for Sammy, looks like a rocky road ahead. A well crafted story in which you made me care for the character very quickly and gave me the information I needed to join the dots as to what's going on and what will happen. Yeggy
Maxx .10/11/05
Great imagination and story line. The only problem here is pacing. There's so much stuffed into the 3rd to the last paragraph that it completely overshadows the rest of the story. Better to mix in a few elements during the course of the piece and then bring it to a conclusion. But, excellent content and a very clever approach!
Garnet Miller 10/12/05
Wow! What intrigue. I really liked this article. I sure would like to know why the woman smelled funny to Sammy. Could there be a part 2 to this?
darlene hight10/13/05
Ok I really loved the intrigue here! I was swept right into the feelings of Sammy and I love the way that you brought the magnet in from the very beginning.Admittedly, it's a bit of a stretch that a pinewood car could cause people to be offed but I totally believed it :)
Suzanne R10/13/05
You drew me in very quickly and thoroughly. There had better be a part two to this ... I can't believe you've dropped Sammy into a potential hornet's nest and left us hanging!
Jan Ackerson 10/13/05
Well-written with a keen ear for realistic dialog. I didn't understand the bit about dresses: she wore a shirt under a dress? Sammy wasn't really familiar with dresses? Kinda lost me for a second.

But...I loved the way you wrote this from inside Sammy's head. That was masterful and writerly.
Brandi Roberts10/13/05
I really enjoyed this fun, intriguing article! Thanks for sharing!
Anita Neuman10/13/05
I can't believe I found a typo!!! Hurray for me - but a much bigger hurray for you - GREAT story!
dub W10/13/05
This is a mystery and there are a number of clues.
1. The flowers - Sammy saw flowers as things or family that are buried.
2. The magnets, indeed these are the clue to the whole mystery.
3. The smells, why would he notice the smells. They are associated with bad things.
4. Sammy's age - he is 12, long past Cub Scouts - why does he ask about Cubs then - could it be fear? Note: He blurted out about Cub Scouts.
5. The combo paragrah (3rd. from last) is a clue in itself, were it spread out you would never see the mystery.
6. All the adult and government interest in a fuelless car...hmmm
7. The man greeting Sammy had no way to know about Pine Wood Derby cars - they were from a distant past - EXCEPT Sammy's knowledge of a fuelless prototype.
8. Finally, the flowers on the foster parent walkway - a symbol of a new tragedy ready to happen.

Just thought you might be interested.
Lanre Ajetunmobi10/13/05
intelligent work,deserves a second reading reading if not more!
Dixie Phillips10/13/05
Okay..... I've got to know what happened to Sammy......... This is too good to stop here. INTENSE APPLAUSE... please write a sequel.
Linda Watson Owen10/13/05
By all means, dub! We've got to know what comes next! Great story!
dub W10/14/05
Sorry, Sammy's fate is sealed, the story points the way, as soon as he sees the flowers he knows that he is doomed. Note: he smelled the danger.

No sequel planned.
J. C. Lamont10/14/05
OK, so you write a story about a poor kid, whose family gets offed by the mob, or the corrupt government, have the kid sent to live with his family's killers, and will shortly be killed himself...and yet you want us to figure out the mystery behind the magnets? If Sammy had lived (hint hint) I would work on this, however, since i am too busy crying while dropping flower petals on Sammy's grave, i will pass.

Now seeing as how I he was still alive in the end of the stroy, i can imagine my own ending - which is HAPPY - and can honestly say, Very intriguing, susupenseful story! :)
Cassie Memmer10/14/05
Being a blond most of my life till middle age, mysteries are over my head. But I believe this is well done. The combo paragraph, sure has a lot of 'then's. Given a bigger word allotment, how much more could you intrigue us?! Thanks
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/15/05
I thought the combo paragraph had a lot of "then"s too. I didn't pick up on a couple of things, but I got most of it and figured out what was going on. Cool story!
dub W10/16/05
Thank you for noticing the repetive "then's", and old trick to solidify the POV, as in this case, to the mind of a child as the possible narrator.
Shari Armstrong 10/16/05
What a sad story - I could almost see the little boy and scary that someone would do that over a toy car!
Shari Armstrong 10/16/05
Ah - I read Dub's info after leaving my comment - now some of it does make more sense -I knew there had to be more to it LOL
Crista Darr10/16/05
Suspenseful. I've always liked a good mystery. Great writing Dub!
Nina Phillips10/17/05
I also spotted one typo-but oh well--still a great suspense story. Dub, you definately have the hang of hanging us on. I knew from the first this was going to be very interesting and fun to pick through to find the clues--one of my favorite things. Very nice job!!! and great plot. Hope to hear more. God bless ya, littlelight