Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
TITLE: Danger in the Desert
By Leola Ogle
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“Take my Jeep, Mandy. It’s better for the terrain here,” Dad said. Zoe planned to stay with Grammy and bake.
I glanced at Dad’s old Jeep. “No, thanks. We won’t go far. My car will be fine.”
“Well, be careful then. There are rattlesnakes.”
Danny stuffed his backpack, I packed a lunch, and off we went. We picked a spot under a scraggly mesquite tree about five miles away. While Danny collected leaves, twigs, rocks, and insects, I did some walking.
I groaned, sweat trickling down my back. It wasn’t that hot, but there wasn’t a hint of a breeze and sparse shade. “Hey, no fair,” I hollered when Danny snapped my picture. “I look awful.”
Just then one of those monster trucks that you need a stepladder to get into went roaring by, sending billows of dust everywhere. Teenagers were hollering and waving as they sped away. I felt a sense of uneasiness.
By the time we ate lunch Danny had taken pictures and bagged enough items for his science project. In the distance there had been gunfire for over an hour. “I hope they’re just target practicing. It makes me nervous. Let’s head back shortly, Danny.”
“Just a few more minutes, Mom.”
We were packing the car thirty minutes later when the truck with teenagers came barreling up the dirt road. I pulled Danny close when they screeched to a halt near us. Fear engulfed me when they jumped out and came sauntering over.
“Hey, how’s it going? I’m Derek,” the driver said. “This is my girlfriend, Erica.” He introduced four other kids.
“We were target shooting about ten miles that way,” Derek said, pointing, “and found some awesome stuff. If you’re just sightseeing, you’ll love it. Pottery shards, arrowheads, and even some hieroglyphics. You should check it out.” Derek dug in his pocket and fished out an arrowhead. “Here,” he offered it to Danny.
“Mom, please, please, please. Can we?”
No amount of dissuading appeased Danny. I felt apprehensive about the teens, but agreed to take Danny. Derek drew us a rough map, but I waited until they were long gone before taking off. I called Dad to say we’d be home in a couple of hours.
The road got rougher the further we went, but it was worth the drive. Danny was in heaven. He took pictures of huge boulders with hieroglyphics. We found more arrowheads and even a metate used for grinding corn.
We climbed a small hill, losing track of time. Danny’s backpack was crammed and I was carrying the metate. I’d forgotten my fear about the teenagers, and hardly noticed when storm clouds rolled in. In a split second, the sky darkened and rain hit with the vengeance of a tsunami.
We were plunged into a dark, raging storm that immediately soaked us and turned the hill into a mudslide. “Get to the car,” I said above the storm’s roar.
Danny and I slipped and slid down the hill, the downpour obscuring our vision. We were covered in mud when we reached the car. The next ten minutes were terrifying as I tried to maneuver on a road I couldn’t see. The next thing I knew, I was crossing a flooded gully when the front tires dropped into a sinkhole, tilting the car front down. Water was rushing past us like a runaway locomotive. Water seeped into the car and covered our feet.
“Mom!” Danny’s voice was laced with panic.
“Crawl into the back seat, Danny. We’ll be safer there.”
The back seat was drier, but the rushing water was making the car wobble. I was terrified we’d be washed away.
“Should we climb out the window, Mom?”
I had no idea what we should do. “Let’s stay here awhile longer.”
The torrential rain continued and water kept rising. We prayed and clung to each other. I tried to call Dad, but there was no signal. Minutes turned into an hour. The front seat was completely flooded, and just when I decided we should climb onto the roof of the car, we saw headlights heading toward us.
Those same teenagers, our heroes, had searched for us and rescued us. They were our angels in the desert.
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