Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ROAD TRIP (vacation) (07/02/15)
TITLE: An Alternate Agenda
By Holly Westefeld
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"About an hour and a half, Garret."
"Do ya fink it'll be fpewing any fmoke?"
"No talking with your mouth full, Greg," his mom chided. "Our manners are not on vacation."
Greg swallowed his last mouthful of pancake. "Okay, but do ya think there'll be smoke?"
"You never know till you get there," his dad replied.
The twins pushed their chairs back in unison.
"Whoa, boys. Your mom has not quite finished her breakfast."
Garret and Greg rolled their eyes at each other. "At this rate, it'll be lunchtime before we get there."
The boys launched in to an animated game of rock, paper, scissors, that did not miss a beat as they followed their parents out of the hotel's restaurant a few minutes later. Back at their room, Garret covered Greg's rock with his paper as he reached for his camera. "There. Now we're even."
The twins hopped in to the back seat of the jeep, while their parents stowed a picnic basket and first-aid kit in the space behind them. As a doctor and nurse, they believed in being prepared for anything.
"There must be a lot of people going to the volcano today," Dad muped. "Look at the traffic."
As they approached the turnoff, however, they saw a barricade with a sign that read "Road closed due to volcanic activity."
"I thought that was the whole point," Greg intoned indignantly.
"There's activity and activity," his dad replied. "A little smoke is one thing, but ash or oozing lava that could burn someone is another thing altogether."
"So now what," Garret moaned.
His mom was already consulting the guidebook. "Look. Up this other road is a 200-year-old church. That should do for an alternate agenda."
"There's got to be something better than that!" the twins protested.
"It should still be a scenic area for a picnic, and will probably have some superb artwork," their mom wheedled.
The boys put their heads in their hands. "I have an alternate agenda," Greg offered. "Spending the day in the hotel's pool."
"You guys spend most of the summer in our pool at home. We are on vacation to have experiences we can't have at home," their dad coaxed.
"whatever..." The twins slumped in resignation.
The grey stone church was not much to look at from the outside. "Can we go climb up to that ledge over there," Garret asked.
"Not now. We are here to see the church. Perhaps we will have lunch up there," his dad offered.
The boys trudged after their parents in to the church's cool interior. As their eyes adjusted to the dimness, they saw that alcoves lined the walls, each possessing a statue depicting some ancient carver's portrayal of biblical characters or traditional saints. Some visitors, and many locals were buying candles to light and place before their statue of choice before offering up a prayer.
In the back corner, a door opened to a steep flight of steps with tapers in sconces on the walls. "I wonder what's down there," Greg whispered, tugging at Garret's arm. The boys slipped away and down the stairs. There were no statues lurking in the dim basement, but rather carved plaques noting the names and dates of birth and death for those deemed worthy to he permitted inclusion in the church's crypt. The twins looked at each other, shuddered, and headed for the stairs.
After their refreshing picnic on the wonderfully bright, airy ledge, the family resumed their positions in the jeep and headed down the mountain, only to find their path blocked by a car on fire. A tour bus driver was using the bus's fire extinguisher to douse the flames. The twins parents sprang in to action with the first-aid kit.
The boys squeezed together to make room for the couple who needed to get to the hospital. As they passed the turnoff for the volcano, Garret nudged Greg. "Looks like God had the best alternate agenda for the day."
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