Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the FANTASY and/or SCI FI Genre (10/16/14)
- TITLE: The Ultimate Victory
By Pauline Carruthers
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He was there, yet not there. A shadow in the night beckoning him. He felt the icy chill smashing against his face, the pristine white glare of freshly fallen snow softened only by the darkness of eye protectors. The exhilaration of speed and danger as he made the near vertical descent, body tense, thrilling with the anticipation of victory. Only on rare occasions did he allow the fears to surface; the horror that had put an end to reality.
Jack stirred and flicked on the bedside lamp. A gentle glow invaded the darkness as he reached under the pillow and pulled out the silver framed photograph, damp eyes devouring the remembered exuberance of success. There were three people in the picture. Two faces long forgotten. The third, a jubilant young Jack, scarlet ski suit a splash of blood coloured glory against the stark whiteness of the snow. The winner’s trophy raised high above his tousled head. It had been the penultimate victory, the ultimate yet to come, desperately longed for and anticipated. Until the accident.
It was only 5am, but sleep had long since gone. In one swift movement he activated his I-pod and knelt to pray. The words of a well loved hymn wrapped in a gravely voice and haunting melody, whirled its tendrils of thankfulness around his heart, energising the praise that lay deeply buried. The answering tenderness of the God who had saved him melted his inner turmoil, filling the void of unachieved ambition.
His days were filled with the ever increasing demands of a popular pastor. He loved his small Alpine village congregation, to whom he had given the last fifty years of devoted service. His regrets were few. Yet he still failed to master the tide of emotion that captivated his soul, whenever his glance alighted on the majesty and enticement of the glistening snow capped mountains.
In the silence of the nights Jack still dreamed of the ultimate victory. In his scarlet ski suit he ascended to the heights of the glittering snow covered mountain, feeling the surge of adrenaline as he prepared for the perfect descent. Reaching for that ultimate victory that would give him the champion’s crown. But the dream’s end always evaded him, robbing him like a thief in the night. Turning his ambition into nothing but an unreachable fantasy.
The accident had caught him unawares on a practice descent. Exhilaration closing his ears to the soft, almost silent swish of the impending avalanche. Ignoring the warning signs he was alone on the sheer slopes of his beloved mountain. Jack felt nothing until consciousness brought the intense pain of twisted limbs and ski‘s. In the frozen depths of a crevice he lay, snow covered and petrified. The arrogance of disobedience bringing a subliminal longing to pray forgiveness. When he awoke the pain had eased. Dulled voices permeated his mind and a warmth enveloped his body. Physical recovery had been slow, but his heart had throbbed with an unfamiliar longing to share his thankfulness to the God he had believed in, yet never acknowledged.
“Evening Pastor Jack. How you feeling?”
“Oh I’m fine Rosie, just fine.”
She tucked the feather duvet lovingly around his frail body, reached into a drawer and, taking out the old ski suit, wrapped his thin arms around it. Rosie had known and respected Jack all her life. After the accident that had destroyed his ambitions he had trained in the Ministry and pastured his congregation with love and self-sacrifice. She empathised with his intense love of the majestic mountains that towered above and of his inner torment for the loss of the coveted trophy that would always elude him. Knowing it wouldn’t be long now she brushed away a single tear.
The evening sun languished over snow capped mountains, casting a russet glow over crisp white snow. A sprinkling of tiny stars spattered the darkening sky and a silver moon blinked through shuttered windows, emerging to replace the sun’s fading light.
A smile lit up Jack’s wrinkled face. He stood poised on the pristine slope, scarlet ski suit a splash of blood red against the skyline. Thrusting forward he felt once more the thrill and exhilaration of the challenge as he masterfully eased his ski’s in swift descent. This time there was no thief in the night to steal away Jack’s victory. Just his Lord to place the winner’s crown on tousled head and to raise his hands to grasp the ultimate trophy.
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