Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GREEN (01/19/17)
- TITLE: Verdant Valley
By Amy Gaudette
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My palms sweaty, my body tense, I am perched uncomfortably at the edge of a straight-back chair. Shades are drawn. I wait.
The only sounds in the dimming light that penetrate are the rasp in my breathing and the irritating drip, drip, drip of the kitchen faucet. The cell phone's jarring ring sets off the fight or flight response, and my heart rate rivals the speed of a cheetah. Oh, why did I do it? I never meant to cause such trouble! I mean . . . I never even got a detention in high school. I liked being a wall flower. Invisible.
Now I'm here in the midst of the most horrifying of nightmares I can imagine.
The cell phone continues to ring. I grab it and run to the kitchen, not at all thinking clearly. I thrust it inside the garbage disposal and flip the switch. Hot tears race to break the dam. Almost hyperventilating now, I see evidence of my crime all over the counter. No, I must hide this.
But it is too late for that. They already know . . . and they're coming.
I know what I must do. I grasp my backpack and, with trembling hands, clear the countertop of my guilt. The backpack will hide it. It must.
What's that? I make haste to the window. Torchlight silhouettes an approaching mob. With frightened gasps, I back away from the scene. There is no fight left inside me now. Now, it is only flight.
I grab my jacket, hoist my pack onto my shoulders and set out in a dead run along the road. I pray my legs will carry me.
In dread, I glance back. Inconceivable. They are gaining! God, help me, please. Give me wings! I realize now that most the mob is on bikes. They are closing in despite my frantic pace. Their chanting reaches me. What is that they're saying?
“Green, green, green . . .”
Chills dart up my spine. What will they do when they reach me?
Closer . . . closer . . .
I am running out of air. Their voices grow louder as in unison they pursue me with their threatening word.
“Green, green, green . . .”
Then . . . it happens. In my exhaustion, I trip and collide with the ground. My skin scrapes harshly against the rough road. Pain shoots through my knees.
“We got her!” a nameless voice shouts through the darkness.
The chanting reaches deafening decibels. “GREEN, GREEN, GREEN!”
They surround me. My backpack has fallen from my shoulders. I see flames. Someone's torch has set the pack on fire.
Above the roar, a voice calls out, “Quiet!” It's the Mayor of Verdant Valley.
Silence. I face my accusers.
The Mayor's stony eyes glare at me. ”What is that smell?”
“W-What?” I stammer weakly.
“What is that delectable, mouthwatering smell?”
I look at my flaming backpack. “I-It's my hamburger. It's burning.”
The mob's fearless leader glances from one person to another and, before I can even imagine what will happen next . . . something happens. The Mayor takes a leap, lands on the backpack and squelches the flames. By now, half a dozen others have gathered around him, tearing into the smoldering meat and devouring it.
“This is like nothing I've ever tasted!”
The aroma of barbecued hamburg floats over the mob, sending them into a food frenzy. Without anyone noticing, I crawl through the crowd and limp home.
It truly was a miracle. Some will say I've corrupted Verdant Valley, bringing disgrace to the leaf-eating village, but I will look at it this way – I have assisted in adding a little more flavor to the green leafy diet. And now, I have a feeling that the only herbivores you'll find here in Verdant . . . are the cows.
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