Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: WEEKEND AWAY (short vacation) (07/23/15)
- TITLE: Don't Go There!
By Francy Judge
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As my Ford Taurus hums and coughs, protesting the traffic jam, I crank up the radio to drown the curious noises. I search for music. Does every station play commercials at the same time? And the same commercial?
“Visit streets of gold leading to mansions made of rubies and diamonds in the most dynamic virtual tour. Bunge jump from a cloud into the River of Life. Read the original Book. Eat the most amazing organic fruit. Meet friends of the King of Kings. Learn about the only entrance way.”
Funny, I never noticed those billboards before now. The words are written in sparkling gold letters with a 3D image of water flowing. “Come to Holiday Heaven—your home away from home.” Life size pictures of the place I just heard on the radio pop up every few miles—it’s like the world knows I’m thinking about taking a mini-vacation.
I flip the station again determined to find a song I like. More commercials. “Are you bored? Sick of your usual routine? In need of some juicy, exciting getaway? Turn around and head south. Here at the Hot Spot Resort, the weather is always sizzling, so you can pack light. It’s more than a virtual tour. Come visit our famous Lava Springs, or play a scary game of hide and seek with hideous, yet charming creatures who will never hurt anyone. . . on purpose. Try our sinfully delicious fondue over flames. We promise you’ll like it so much here, you won’t want to leave. . . and we do let guests stay on forever if they choose.”
He mumbled something quickly. Sounded like, “And you will.” I shiver at his creepy tone of voice. Reminds me of hypnosis, soothing and melodic and able to influence minds. Who would ever consider that place for a vacation? But as I look in my rearview mirror, cars are lined up headed to the exit. Why does my heart feel like it’s pounding under a stampede? They’re just a bunch of people going on vacation, right? A virtual tour. But what if they can’t come back?
As if shot by a bullet, I remember the last conversation with my son. “The kids are excited to go on vacation. We never seem to have enough time together, so we booked a long weekend at the Hot Spot.”
I feel sick. Can’t recall what day they’re leaving. Did he say before Shelly’s birthday on Saturday, or after? Her tenth birthday. I pull over, ignoring a few angry honks, and call Brandon.
“Hi, Ma. Nothing, just driving to—“
“Don’t go there. Please don’t go there. I have the worst feeling it’s a one way ticket to hell. You can’t expose your beautiful children to the darkness. My sweet grandchildren.” I can hardly breathe I’m speaking so fast. “Did you even research this place?”
“Calm down, Mom. We don’t go to McDonald’s that often. Fries won’t ruin their life.”
“McDonald’s? Oh. I thought you were on your way to the Hot Spot.”
“We are. Just stopping for lunch on the way.”
“What? No, don’t! It’s a pit of fire.” I sip some water, so I don’t pass out.
“I meant the hot spot for kids—Water World Amusement Park.”
“Okay dear. Have fun. Forget I said what I said…but if you are looking for a virtual tour, I recommend Holiday Heaven. I’m on my way there now.”
My car sputters and burps as I steer back onto the highway. I feel as worn out as my car, but also charged to spread the word and put that Hot Spot out of business. And I’m ready to leap into the River of Life.
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