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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)

TITLE: To Race A Clock
By Amanda Brogan


Caden was pacing. Back and forth. Back and forth. Like the oscillating swing of the hand on a grandfather clock. The sound of his dress shoes on the sidewalk mimicked the ticking by of seconds.

Click ... clock.

Click ... clock.

Seconds melting into minutes.

Click ... clock.

Click ... clock.

He stopped a moment and lifted his wrist, mindful that it hadn’t been that long since the last time he’d checked. Eight thirty.

“Half an hour till our morning coffee date.” Caden wondered if his speaking aloud was a subconscious effort to reassure himself. He blew a shaky exhale through pursed lips and resumed his clickity pacing. “You can do this, Caden my boy, you can do this.” His Aussie tongue was barely a whisper, rich and robust like the scent of gourmet coffee that permeated the air outside the café.

Just thirty minutes and she’ll be here. The thought added fuel to his pacing. It seemed that every minute, every hour begged to be counted and logged at the thought of her.

His rapid pace and downward glance thrust him into an unsuspecting pedestrian. “Sorry. My fault.” The young woman cast him an accusing look and went on her way. Caden decided that leaning against the decorative tree in the sidewalk was safer to his fellow sidewalk travelers.

He scratched a nonexistent itch on the back of his sandy blond head. “Okay, so why am I here so early again?” He chuckled and raised his hands in a shrug. “Oh yeah! Maybe it’s called being overzealous. Or maybe I still need to plan out every detail of this thing.”

A glance to the watch. Twenty-five minutes.

His feet started moving again, pacing beside the tree. Toward the café a few steps and back toward the street. Toward the café and then back.

Click-clock, click-clock.

“We’ll go into the coffee house ... wait, first things first. We’ll greet each other, I’ll try not to trip over my own feet at the sight of her ... then we go into the coffee house, get our coffee, chat for a little while, and then I break her the news.” Caden paused and extended his hand as if offering a gift to an invisible person. “‘Jenny’, I’ll say, ‘I’d like you to consider being my permanent ministry partner.’ And just when she thinks I’m only talking about our job at the mission ...” He fingered the tiny silver band in his coat pocket. Its diamond middle tickled his fingertips. “That’s when I set this baby on top of her coffee lid.” He gave the pocket a gentle pat.

Nineteen minutes.

Nothing could curb his joy. Well, except maybe one thing. Jenny’s been awfully worried about the mob threats to the mission lately. But she probably won’t be distracted by that today. After all, we’ve prayed over it and we have a plan in case they try anything. She shouldn’t be worried ...

“Excuse me, sir.”

Caden turned to see a man with black sunglasses staring straight at him. “Yes?” He wasn’t expecting anyone except Jenny. Surely this guy had mistaken him for someone else.

But the man’s gaze was solid, even through the sunglasses. Caden felt the shielded eyes bore into him and he stared back. “Do you know a ‘Jennifer Manson’, sir?”

Caden’s heart froze and he suddenly felt protective. “I do.” The question is ... how do you know her?

“And you were meeting Miss Manson here at nine o’clock, is that correct?”

“Hey, I don’t know how you know these private details –”

“Your mission work has given us a reason to know ... Caden. It’s a threat to our organization.

“Telling people about Jesus is a threat?”

“When it interferes with our business, yes. And we intend to stop it. If your goal is to have future coffee dates with your girl, you’d better be at this address in an hour with a promise to put a halt to your missionary work ... before we do.” The black-shaded man slipped Caden a scrap of paper and disappeared down the sidewalk.

Caden’s heart hammered into his ribs. His mouth turned to leather.

Sixty minutes.

Caden’s shoes no longer mimicked the click-clock of a grandfather clock. Because now he wasn’t eagerly waiting for the minutes to click by. He was racing against them.

He was running.

“Dear Jesus, help me to race!”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/10/11
This took me in an entirely different direction than I thought you were going. Although it was atad show in the beginning, that helped amplify the danger. The ending also gives one, quite abut to think about what I might do in that situation.
Yvonne Blake 03/12/11
You had my pulse racing - first because I could feel his nervousness (of what I thought would be romantic), then in sudden fear and mystery. I wish I knew more of the story.
Kimberly Russell03/15/11
I agree with Vonnie: I thought we were in for a romantic interlude and all of a sudden...WHAM...off in a different direction. Made me want to know more. Good job.
Rachel Phelps03/15/11
Well-paced. There were a few places where I felt the telling overshadowed the showing a bit, but great suspense!
Noel Mitaxa 03/17/11
And chapter two is coming soon? Well-paced drama, with the twist that I wasn't expecting. As an Aussie, I was looking for a few more "sound-bites" to earth the distinction, but that's a minor point.
Caitlyn Meissner03/19/11
I agree, this wasn't what I expected it to be. I wish there had been room for more. I want to know what happens. :) I was also a little unsure of where this scene was situated. I haven't heard of many mobs attacking missions, though I'm sure it can happen.

And congratulations on another Highly Commended article! You're doing great work, and that's a great thing. ;)