Friday, March 9, 2012

Story Dam: So Done

Okay so I've said it before: I'm addicted to writing prompts. Through others, I have come across Story Dam and I have been haunting that site for a few weeks to get a feel for the community. Well, this week I've decided that it's time to cast aside my ghostly cloak-n-dagger foolishness and actually participate. A generous 750 words (yea!) is allocated for these prompts which brings with it a unique set of challenges.

This week's Story Dam Challenge is themed as follows:

Dam Burst - Write a piece in which you or your character takes a stand and then takes action. SHOW US YOU MEAN BUSINESS!  
Wet Feet - You may not be an Alpha male or female, but you still have a boiling point. If taking a stand is too far outside of your comfort zone, write a short story in which your character is reaching the end of their rope. (NOT literally… please…unless you must…) Be sure to work extra hard on your character’s feelings, emotions, and the physical breakdown caused by them.

I offer the following in response: Jungle Fevered

Everything baked in the afternoon sun as invisible waves of heat distorted her vision. Ivy, sick and dismayed, gripped her camera. Butchered corpses, animal and human, lay intermingled in the village square; the sweet, sticky smell of blood clung to the heavy equatorial air. She stood frozen in the sea of death, fighting tears and the urge to vomit. Slowly, she adjusted the lens, swallowing the lump in her throat. Her finger twitched and the shutter fired as rapid as an automatic rifle.

Broken familiar faces had met their demises with terror and pain. The spark of life was long departed from their dull eyes, their mouths trapped in the last words of their screams. Through the lens she spied Etsula, her little hand still gripping tightly to the cornhusk doll Ivy had given her only a week ago. 

“No,” she whispered, willing the nightmare to end, no longer able to contain the tears. “Who murders children?”

“This is the work of Tobago,” a deep voice rang out as a man emerged from the surrounding jungle. He sported army fatigues, but the pack on his back wasn’t military issue and neither was the double-barrel shotgun slung across his shoulders. “You hurt, Lady?” he asked, his tone lacking the concern his words implied.

“No,” she ventured hesitantly, unsure of his intentions. “I wasn’t here when…when this…”

He nodded, slowly approaching. “Name's Mitch. You Ivy Tanner, that reporter they were looking for?”

Her stomach lurched into her lungs. Was she the reason the whole village was massacred? Ivy dropped to her knees, no longer able to stand under the crushing weight of her emotions. “God,” she uttered. “Forgive me.”

“Look,” he rushed the last few steps to fetch her up. “I don’t mean to be an ass here but we’re too exposed. Tobago doesn’t abandon a hill he’s conquered. He’ll have men around here still.”

She held the unseeing gaze of the sweet little girl not even old enough to understand the evil that brought an end to her simple world. “This was my first foreign assignment,” she said, her voice broken. “My first and I br-brought doom to…”

The chopping sound of an approaching helicopter echoed in the distance. He grabbed her arm and dragged her to the undergrowth. “You didn’t do this,” he growled. “The devil did. We’ve got to get to that to that landing strip.”

Adrenaline kicked in, moving her legs when her heart couldn’t bear to leave. She ran after him across the jungle floor. The helicopter was uncomfortably loud even muffled from the leafy ceiling. Mitch gave it little pause, moving like a jaguar through the vegetation. She stumbled, a stick lacerating her leg, but she pressed onward as the distance between them grew rapidly.

Ivy tried to get her bearings as she lost sight of him completely.  Her leg throbbed, distracting her concentration. She chided herself for being a clueless reporter lost in the middle of the jungle without a survival kit. She crouched near a massive tree trunk, wondering how sensible it was to hide when she had no idea where she was.

The helicopter eventually moved on, the percussive din dissipating rapidly. A chirp of her camera indicated imminent power down due to exhausted batteries. She didn’t have time to react, freezing at the sound of nearby gunfire. Peering out behind her trunk, she caught Mitch winning a standoff. Believing the coast was clear, she ran to him.

Someone grabbed her. She felt a blade’s cold sting at her chin. Mitch was instantly boxed in by materializing guerillas, and he looked pissed. Her camera bag was stripped from her shoulder as her captor threw her forward.

“Batteries dead,” said the man with her camera.

 She made eye-contact with Mitch, willing an apology to be silently communicated in the gesture. Without warning, he took them all out, catching a bullet to his shoulder during the blitzkrieg of gunfire. She stood awkwardly, moving slowly in comparison to her savior, who had already looted a couple of his victims and was ascertaining the condition of her camera. “How did you…?” she breathed.

“Later,” he answered. “Here’s the SDcard?”

“Thanks,” she said, securing it in her pocket.

“Now let’s get you to that chopper.”

“Your shoulder,” she started.

“Isn’t important,” he cut her off. “Right now, your pictures are the only hardcore evidence we’ve got against Tobago. I want to bring him down, don’t you?”

She abandoned her protest and they raced to the rendezvous.


  1. That was chilling. I couldn't have written about the dead child at all. Her escape and rescue also felt powerful and real. It makes me want to hope her pictures will get the job done.

    1. Dead children and more specifically the murder thereof isn't a topic I'd ever thought I'd write about either. I'll admit it pushed my boundaries as a writer. Worse though, is the fact that it happens everyday.

      and that's all the doom and gloom I'm going to allow on Saturday morning. :)

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  2. Riveting storytelling. I'm hooked. I follow many blogs, but always have room for one more. Amazing! I want the story to go on and on.

    1. Thank you Terri for the follow and the support! I'm thrilled and truly touched. You've made my morning! Thank you for your time and feedback!

  3. I am with Terri, I would love to read more! The only critiquing I would do is on the paragraph "Without warning, he took them all out..." I felt like there was something missing, maybe the how he took them out; I think I would have liked seeing a little of the action it took to take them out. Other than that small piece I thought it was wonderful writing; it pulled me all the way through and left me with wanting more.


    1. Thanks Morgan!

      Yeah to be perfectly honest, that whole paragraph didn't work for me, but I left it there as a "place-holder" if you know what I mean.

      And thank you for the critique. i love feedback always and I value different perspectives. Thanks for your time and for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Great, great, GREAT first paragraph! Wow, I could smell the decay. Yuck! :)

    This is a great line: "... the sweet, sticky smell of blood clung to the heavy equatorial air." Just that line tells me where your character is without actually spelling it out. I love that.

    I have to agree with Morgan about that one paragraph, but still, what a great story! Bravo and stuff :)

    1. Thank you for stopping by. I'm so thrilled you enjoyed your stay! I'm still re-working that whole trouble spot and I'm still not entirely pleased with it. Thanks again for giving me such wonderful feedback.