(Long overdue) Time to vote for our favourite

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Total Members Voted: 6

Voting closed: November 24, 2006, 05:13:08 AM

Author Topic: Challenge 19  (Read 2795 times)


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Challenge 19
« on: November 20, 2006, 05:13:08 AM »

“Brrrr, its chilly tonight’, thought Billy. He walked slowly up to the gate that sat between the road and his Uncle Josephs farm. Heaving himself up onto the first, then second rung, he looked out onto the expanse before him.

The moon was full in the night’s sky; while a few tiny stars could be seen dancing between the clouds of the gloomy night. More dark clouds could be seen wandering toward him from the direction of the pub he had just been to with his family.

As Billy clung onto the top of the gate, he noticed something moving. He squinted, trying to get a better look. Several cows that were lying down, briefly looked up, but they soon continued their peaceful sleep.

Billy blew onto his hands to warm them up but he noticed that he couldn’t feel anything. ‘Bloody hell,’ he thought, ‘it must be really cold tonight’. He looked down to check his feet were still there. They were…although he couldn’t feel them either.

One cow looked up briefly. Billy could see its breath in the cold night air. A heat haze seemed to surround all the cows that were huddled up together trying to retain as much warmth as they could.

A bright light caught his eye again. Billy blinked and rubbed his eyes in an attempt to see more clearly. It didn’t work. ‘It must be a reflection from one of the stars or something’, he thought.
His thoughts were interrupted as a tiny squirrel jumped out of the hedge he was standing next to. It stood right in front of him, rubbed its eyes, just as Billy had done, and ran back to the safety of his hedge.

Although Billy wasn’t feeling particularly cold, he climbed down from the gate and turned to face the road again. For a split second, he couldn’t remember how he got there. Then it hit him. As he looked at the road, he saw two cars. One was upside down in the ditch on the other side of the road and his dad’s car had been smashed into a lamppost.

Tears began to fill his eyes. For a moment, he thought he was dreaming. Billy could see his sister Bethany, sitting in the back seat alongside her Mum. They both had blood trickling down their heads.

A moment later, Billy saw his Dad walking towards him. That was the first time he had ever seen his Dad cry. As he walked towards Billy, he said, “I’m so sorry son. I should never have had that last pint.”

Billy looked past his dad, only to find that both of their bodies were still sitting in the front of the car, neither of them were moving.

Billy began to sob. “How could you Dad? How could you?


Lost in thought as they stared in to the mist through the hole in the hedgerow, Sally didn’t at first hear her little brother who, pointing at some red flowers growing near the edge of the field, asked:

“What’s them called?”

“They’re Poppies” she told him.

“Oh” he said.

“They used to grow all over the fields around here,” she added after a few moments’ thought.

“Oh,” he said. “What happened to them, why don’t they grow here now?”

“Well,” she said,  “many years ago, there was a lot of fighting around here.”

James looked up at her, his eyes wide and enquiring.

“Why did that stop the Poppies growing?” he asked.

“Well, two countries had a big war.” she told him. “It went on for four years, and all the shells and mines they used blew up the fields and killed all the Poppies and all of the other flowers. They even killed all the grass; all that was left was horrible deep, sticky, smelly mud that nothing could grow in”

James looked through the hole again and thought a little, then turned back to Sally.

“Were people killed as well?” he asked.

“Oh yes; lots of soldiers on both sides died. In one big battle, over sixty thousand were killed or injured in one day.”

“What happened to all them who were killed?” he asked as he looked back through the hole.

“Well, for lots of them, their bodies just sank into the mud and disappeared.” she told him. “Some are still being found now, nearly a hundred years later, when farmers dig their fields. Most of them might never be found.”

He shivered a little in the chill of a clear November morning. As Sally wrapped his football scarf around him a little tighter, he asked “Sixty thousand?”

“Yes, that’s nearly enough to fill Manchester United’s football ground.”

She looked down at James, and wondered if these facts and figures meant anything to him. She doubted it; he was four years younger than her, and she was only just beginning to understand the enormity of their meaning.

They both looked through the hole again in silence and, as the early morning mist began to clear, the contents of the field, that stretched as far as their eyes could see, was slowly revealed. James turned to her again and, with all the innocence of a six year old, asked:

“So if all the Poppies were killed, is that why all these are growing here now, all these white crosses?”


The back door flew open of 32 Summerfield Terrace and all three members of the Longbottom family erupted from the kitchen into the pale winter sunshine on this cold December morning. 

Annabel was first, still in her brand-new pyjamas and slippers, racing excitedly to the bottom of the garden.  Mum and dad struggled after her less elegantly.  Mum was clutching at her pink towelling dressing gown; lest any of the neighbours should be watching and dad was lagging behind somewhat, as he attempted not to spill any of the tea that he was still carrying.

Laughing, Annabel reached the bottom of the garden and turned excitedly to her parents.  Now that she was here she was almost too afraid to look over the top.  When she had been younger her parents had warned her against going downstairs too early on Christmas morning in case Santa Claus was still there, unloading her presents.  “If he sees you,” they had said, “He’ll disappear taking all your presents with him”.  Even though she was now too old to believe in Father Christmas, she still had her moments of doubt.

“Is it okay to look now?” she asked her parents - just to be on the safe side.

The three of them stood together and Annabel climbed onto the small stool so that she could see over the fence.

As soon as she opened her eyes she saw him instantly and let out a huge gasp of amazement.  Standing in the field in front of them was a small sandy brown pony, his head bent to the ground as he contentedly ate his breakfast.  He lifted his head to look at them; to see what all the fuss was about.

“He’s all yours, darling, Happy Christmas” her mum said, planting a big kiss on her cheek.

Her wide eyes lit up her small, pink face as she jumped up and down with joy.  “Thank you, Thank you” she cried, hugging her parents, before she unlatched the gate and disappeared into the field.


A sultry, late August afternoon in the field beside the sluggish river, the stillness of the thick summer air weighing heavily, Sara mustered just enough stamina to climb the wooden gate.  Straddling the top bar she turned towards her Grandfather who was bending to adjust his rod; the familiar outline was all that was visible as she squinted in the dazzling sunlight. 

Her child’s eye saw him as the centre of an intense tranquillity; his quiet peacefulness radiated out and encompassed her as well as their surroundings.  The comically rakish angle of his well-used fishing hat echoed the perilously acute angle of his unsuitably narrow stool.  The bulk of his hunched shoulders hovered over the delicate rod as it lay in its rest.  The keep-net already contained proof if it were needed that his aging eyes had not lost their sharpness, his calloused workman’s hands were still deft with line and hook and his reactions quick enough to outwit the wary roach, perch and tench. 

Earlier Sara had helped to roll the balls of bread paste between her palm and fingers leaving a composite smell on them that was neither that of bread nor river water.  She’d poked and prodded the wriggling maggots then woven sticks and stems together to make a miniature raft for an artificially pink one to make its escape on.  Sara had wiped her hands on her Grandfather’s fishily scented towel and together they’d watched the comings and goings of a fluorescent dragonfly as it skimmed and hovered over the weedy water. 

Now, balancing on the gate she looked across the barley field with its splash of crimson poppies and listened to the hauntingly woeful exchange between two distant wood pigeons.  It was as if they knew that her summer was nearly over and she would have to leave them and her Grandfather and return to the city.


‘I wish I was a horse. I wish I was a cow. I wonder what it’s like to have four legs. I wonder why they don’t hurt themselves when they swish their tails like that. When I groom Trigger it hurts when he swishes his tail at me. I wonder if he thinks I’m a fly – and that’s why he does it?
Cows have really stupid tails, don’t they?
Mum says cows are stupid, full stop. I don’t think so, though. I think they’re quite scary. If I push this gate open, they’ll all come over here. Just watch. ‘Cause they’ll think it’s milking time. So they can’t be completely stupid if they know what the sound of the gate means, can they? And besides, they make perfectly roundy poo! How do they do that? Trigger can’t do that. He just poos all over the place – even when he’s walking. Cows don’t, though. They stand still and lift their tails – like that one, over there – and plop it all out and it squelches into a roundy pile that’s all steamy, like chocolate pudding. I wonder if Mum’ll make chocolate pudding today?
I’m hungry.
I wish Jeremy wasn’t sick. It’s lonely.
I’m bored.
I wonder if I’m brave enough to walk across this field on my own. It’s not that big, is it? And Mummy says the cows won’t do anything. They’ll just follow me. That’s scary, though. Maybe if I sneak past really quietly they won’t notice.
Ooo! Look at the flies on that poo. Ooo poo ooo poo foo joo soo loo. That’s a funny cloud, over there? I think it’s an elephant, with a very very long trunk. Hey, look! That’s that bird again, what’s it called? Tagpie, flagpie, magpie. Magpie, that’s it! I wonder if he’s stolen anything? I wonder if there’s a nest in that tree. I wonder if …
Coming, Mummy.’
« Last Edit: November 20, 2006, 05:14:58 AM by DwWin »


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Re: Challenge 19
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2006, 05:34:16 AM »
Forgot to say it but personally I thought all the enteries were great!

Offline Angeleyes

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Re: Challenge 19
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2006, 03:04:20 AM »
A big thank you to the 5 people who voted for my story. ;D

I loved all of them, and can't quite believe I have won. Keep a lookout for the next challenge...

May all your dreams come true.

Whether you think you can, or think you can't....you're right!
-Henry Ford.