Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
- TITLE: Firefight
By Dawn Elwell
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With every monotonous step Adam felt the stony hardness of the road through the worn soles of his boots. He glanced ahead and noticed the way widen and disappear into a thick stand of trees before emerging again on a distant hillside. His muscular shoulders slumped, not so much from the weight of his pack as the intense weariness in his soul. A horrible dullness had settled over his heart, like the trodden earth his eyes reverted to. His small band of companions looked to him for leadership. He felt like a fraud, but straightened his shoulders and pressed on for their sakes, smothering his deep sighs.
All at once an unearthly chill crept around him. He began to tremble within, an overwhelming sense of dread running along every nerve. He glanced at the others. They seemed unaffected. He scanned the dense timber now to their left and right, suddenly alert, aware of the dangerous cloud of apathy he had been under.
Suddenly the ground gave out beneath him. He desperately grabbed for the road, but the pit widened too rapidly. He landed on the hard bottom in eerie darkness. In the same instant a huge net concealed beneath the soil had snatched the others, colliding their bodies into a tight mass several feet in the air. Adam jumped up and groped around the perimeter of his earthen cell. It was smooth and hard. He studied the opening to determine its depth.
“Will, are you there!”
Will’s neck was bent painfully, his face pressed hard into the course cords of the net. Every struggling movement causing more discomfort for them all.
“We’re here,” he called back. “Where are you?”
“In a pit beneath the road. Where are you?”
“Trapped in a net. All of us.” Will’s face chaffed against the ropes with every word.
“Can you cut free!”
Will’s arms were pinned above his head. “Michael, can you reach the knife in my boot?”
Michael maneuvered his left hand through the hard-pressed maze of limbs until he felt the bulge of Will’s knife. “Everyone freeze. I can reach it.” He slowly drew it out of its sheath, feeling for the direction of the handle, moving it against the blunt edge to avoid slicing into anyone. He laid the knife against the nearest cord with a firm grasp. “Okay, I’m ready. Grab the net as best you can. Gravity’s about to take over.”
Approaching hoofbeats. Everyone stiffened. Will’s heart pounded in his ears. He strained to push the net away with his elbows and turn his head toward the sound. “Cut it now, Michael!” Within seconds they were dropping to the ground one after the other and scrambling for cover.
A lone rider silently drew back the reins at the sight of the empty net swaying loosely.
“Will! Can you cut free!” Adam yelled again. Will cringed. The rider scanned the area and ventured to ask, “You men need help?”
Will cautiously came forward and the others followed. The rider dismounted.
“Name’s Sakal,” he said, sticking out his hand. Will took it, relief washing over him as he met the man’s steady, honest gaze. “You got a man in that pit?”
“Yeah.” Will knelt to peer in. “Adam, you okay?”
“Just bruised up.”
“I’ve got a rope,” Sakal offered. “We can roll a log over the mouth, you men steady it, and we’ll haul him straight up.”
They swung into action. Before long Adam was grasping the log, swung his leg over, and shimmied to the edge.
“This is Sakal,” Will said to Adam. “He happened along just as we were cutting free.”
Adam stuck out his hand and smiled sheepishly at the older man. “Thanks.”
“Happy I could help.”
Adam looked his men over. A rumpled bunch with a few rope burns. Then noted the sun dropping low. He ran his hand through his hair and let out a huge sigh. “We better set up camp soon, the day’s nearly spent.”
“There’s a good place up ahead,” Sakal offered. “I’ll show you.”
Adam nodded his thanks and they gathered their gear.
Later, staring into the campfire, Adam pondered his failure. Sakal looked on with wise compassion.
“Don’t grow weary on the long road, son. Remember why you started. Fan the flame that used to burn bright. Do the first things. And never stop.”
Adam looked up. Were those flames in Sakal’s eyes? A reflection from the fire? No. It was pure passion. Deepest love.
Then He was gone.
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