Nature's Womb...Frank Atanacio's Creative Writing Challenge

Source


Frank Atanacio issued a writing challenge for hubbers to create a third and final chapter to his Jenny Camacho story. I tried to blend the details and dark tone of Frank’s first two chapters into my finale. I only hope I was able to do justice to his pounding and compelling thriller.


Frank’s rules include the following:

1) A minimum of 300 words in length

2) More description and less dialogue

3) Dark and dreary

4) Creative/The title must come from a line in the story

5) An ending to end all endings




Nature's Womb ...


Jenny managed to take two steps forward before an intense pain in her stomach crippled her movements. The rancid pond water was poisoning her body. Falling to her knees, she stuck a finger down the back of her throat. Sour vomit burned her throat and mouth as she heaved the foul liquid to the ground. As dizziness overcame her, she laid on the ground to rest, pressing the side of her face against the warm earth. She fought to stay awake but soon drifted into a shallow sleep.

Minutes later, a whistling echo woke her into terror. The whistling sounded again, but fainter, as if the killer was moving somewhere ahead of her hiding place. Jenny suddenly realized that he wanted her to hear the sounds, to force her to run like an animal to the point of exhaustion. “You go to hell!” she whispered. Pure rage ebbed the panic from her mind. She wanted to kill him, to watch him writhe in pain like the wild dog as the light faded from his eyes.

She shook her head and calmed her breathing. Think, girl, think! She remembered what her father had said to her during their hikes in the country. “When lost in the wild, panic kills. Always travel downhill. Never lose hope, and move with nature – not against it.”

Jenny was devastated to realize that she had fled in an upward climb…every step, in the wrong direction. An idea quickly flashed into her scattered thoughts. Her blood rushed with adrenaline and a new-found resolve. The trees and vines no longer looked menacing as she slowly crept back to the overgrown path. Although the whistling sound had stopped, she pushed her mind and body forward.

Source

Keeping her movements steady, she walked with cat-like stealth over the path. The wind was at her back, driving sound and scent downward.

When reaching the pond, she noticed a patch of thick grass soaked in blood. The wild dog had been disemboweled; the head, ripped from its torso. His yellow, lifeless eyes stared into the sun. Shrieking with fear and despair, Jenny fled down the path.

The tall figure in the distance jerked his head toward the direction of the screams. His face crooked into a half smile. He wiped the wild dog’s blood from the long machete blade in the thick brush before slipping the weapon into a leather sheath. He turned to look down at the graves of the five beautiful young women he cherished. They had all preceded Jenny’s flight into his world. Soon, he would bed her down alongside of them. The land was his domain and he knew every inch of the forest. Like his previous victims, she had no chance of escape.

Source

He lingered briefly next to the graves before resuming his hunt. The natural flight response of his women was predictable. Their efforts to outrun or outsmart him didn’t matter. They always failed and succumbed in the end.

Cupping his hands next to his mouth, he whistled, trusting the wind to carry the sound to his prey. He knew the path well and quickly followed in Jenny's footsteps.

As he neared the shack, Jenny's loud sobs echoed from within. She's beaten, he thought. There's nowhere left to run. He entered the abandoned structure and saw her, trembling and cringing on the floor amid what was left of the rotting carcasses. Grabbing her by the hair, he pulled her up and twisted her face around to meet his.

She stared into him with slitted eyes and a deadly calm. Stunned, he watched a small round opening form in her lips, followed by a thin whistling sound as she sucked air into her mouth. He reached for the machete, but it was too late. The scalpel-honed sharpness of the steel kitchen knife he had used to slash the bear’s throat tore through his abdomen. She twisted the blade in deep, ripping it to the side. The searing pain shocked his brain into darkness as he fell to the floor

Jenny quickly knelt beside him and slashed open his pockets with the knife. Her search yielded a set of keys with a lobster claw clasp. She stood up and clipped the lock through a thick belt loop in her jeans. Judging from the severity of the bastard’s wounds, she knew it wouldn’t take long for him to bleed out. With any luck, he’ll regain consciousness before then, she thought.

Clutching the knife, she staggered out of the shack and into the sunlight. As she gulped the fresh air into her lungs, she was filled with a sudden awareness of life she had never before known. Every fiber of her being responded to the singular sounds and scents of the surrounding wilderness. Jenny felt reborn, as if emerging from nature’s womb. She looked up to see a magnificent Red-tailed hawk soaring overhead and embraced his freedom of flight.

Smiling through tears of release and wonder, Jenny made her way down the path toward the stream of fresh water and breathtaking beauty she had passed only hours before. Behind her, the hawk’s screeching calls smothered the screams that echoed from the shack to perish in the wind.




© Copyright 2014. Genna East; all rights reserved.

More by this Author


49 comments

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

wow, just wow... I just have to keep saying wow.. I am amazed.. I would never have put Jenny in that situation and a creative mind just did..:) Ill stick this into my fan page later in the evening... Great job.. all the endings have wowed me and this is right up there with them in the wow factor Frank


Ghaelach 2 years ago

Morning Genna.

Another great ending to Franks story.

I like how she remembered what her father had taught her as a young girl about survival. Drawing the monster back into his den was good and the nice surprise Jenny gave him.

Have a great week .

LOL Ghaelach

Europe 10:10am


Jane Arden 2 years ago

I loved this ending. I'm a sucker for happy endings. I liked that you used the knife from the bear killing. Had to re-share!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

This was a great ending Genna, loved it from start to finish. Every word gripping. Brilliant!


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Genna,

I have been waiting with great anticipation for you to publish this...you did not disappoint!

Your version teaches us the power we can draw on from our inner resolve and the lessons we have learned in childhood, while pointed in the face of evil.

You have unexpectedly turned a horrific chase into a story of empowerment. Brilliant writing, girlfriend! Love, Maria


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Eeks!!! You created a world of visual terror with your great writing, Genna! Love your title too and especially the wonderful freeing ending, with the bonus being that the madman got a good taste of what terror feels like! I am so glad you were able to do the challenge and write an unforgettable alternate ending to Frank' s story. Up and more and sharing. You are awesome, Faith Reaper


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

You got him Genna, good for you, that is what I would have had to have done. Just a story true, but very real too! Shows women are not cowards. Loved it.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Genna, Genna, Genna, I am not exactly sure what you do for a living, but I know with your writing talent, millions could be entertained. (Now, don't quit the job and then blame me if it does not work out. lol) Your story fit all the requirements, length, darkness and presented a strong woman.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Nicely done Genna. Your word choice and the flow of your writing is very good. Great challenge by Frank and you met that challenge.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

Genna, I enjoyed reading your ending but I should have waited until after eating! LOL. Great description and I'm glad Jenny killed her tormentor in the end. Great suspense buildup!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Frank. Thank you! I wanted to use all of the details you included with your first two thrilling segments, beginning with the line, “…since she escaped her captor.” You provided the rest of the action with the dark tone, and the elements she had to use that were at her disposal.

What was especially challenging for me was that my fictional short stories always have more dialogue. (And I don’t go this dark. :-) ) Thank you, again, for this fun challenge, Frank. I learned so much with this exercise, and look forward to reading more fascinating and awesome endings by other hubbers. Hugs and blessings.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Ghaelach

Thank you. Those were the lessons my father taught me. We write what we know. Putting aside any chance for a rescue from the outside world, I wanted to give Jenny courage and the ability to outsmart this maniac. I didn’t want her to meet with any demise. Much too often, stories in real life have the same consequences where young women meet the same fate as those buried in the forest. Have a great week, Ghaelach, and my sincere thanks for your comments.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Jane Arden

Hi Jane. Thank you! I thought that someone else might use that kitchen knife before I wrote this ending. I truly appreciate your encouraging comment and sharing. Good to see you. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Jodah

Thank you! I especially enjoyed your ending as well, and Faith’s and others. I so look forward to reading more! Have a wonderful week, Jodah. :-)


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 2 years ago from Hereford, AZ

I love your take on this Genna. Don't be a victim, be your own hero.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Marcoujor

Hi Maria. I couldn’t let Jenny fail, and suffer at the hands of her captor. There were a number of possible endings, many of which had already been used and brilliantly. Frank gave me the tools to write this alternative. When Jenny saw the dog near the pond, it gave her the final resolve to do what she had to do. I don’t know if I would have been this brave under these circumstances.

Thank you for those wonderful comments, Maria. Writing this dark tale wasn’t easy. As always, you make my day. Love and hugs. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@FaithReaper

“Eeeks!” is right, my friend. That’s exactly what I felt while writing this dark tale. But it pulled me into a genre that is unusual for me, and that made this writing challenge, challenging. I’m so grateful to Frank for giving us this unique opportunity. I love all of the endings thus far -- including your awesome tale, dear Faith -- and eagerly await more. Thank you for your encouraging comments! :-)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Wow! You can write a real horror story! Steven King move over.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

So many WOWS but wow, this is your very best. I was spellbound throughout this thriller. Your writing is so vivid. I loved it. Thank you...I agree with Mike. I see books with your name inscribed as the author.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@JackieLynnley

Hi Jackie. I agree with you in that not all heroes are men, Jackie. Thanks for those great comments! Good to see you. :-)

@Mckbirdbks

Hi Mike! Thank you! I am in awe of authors like Frank who write in this genre so well. It’s a bit dark for me. Some of the credit for this ending goes to Stephen King (the irony of which is that Will mentions him below). If I had to go down the dark side, I kept thinking, what would King do? He’s brutally candid and graphic, but with elements of surprise and poetic justice. My favorite line in the story: “With any luck, he’ll regain consciousness before then.” And of course, he did. I gasped when I wrote it, but being thrown in that unimaginably horrific situation, I can easily imagine Jenny thinking this. Have a great week, my friend.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Billybuc

Thank you, Bill! Frank did a wonderful job with this challenge…I think we all learned quite a bit. Of course, I caught two typos in my ending because I didn’t edit it properly before publishing. Sheesh. When will I learn? (Feel free to give me a “D”. :- )

@Suzettenaples

Hi Suzette. Oh my goodness – I’m so sorry. You’re right; this finale doesn’t go well with food. Lol. So good to see you, and thank for the comments. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@BeckyKatz

Hi Becky…

I kept cheering Jenny on, thinking, “C’mon Jenny – you can DO this!” Thank you!

@WillStarr

Hi Will…

(I mentioned King in my comment to Mike, above.) Thanks for those generous comments. I have to confess that originally, I thought if anyone would come to rescue Jenny, it might be a Park Ranger due to the shack and cars. But I thought that someone else had probably already picked this theme. I was so pleased it was you! How very cool! I loved your ending. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Always Exploring

Hi Ruby;

What a wonderful compliment...thank you! I truly admire wonderful writers like Frank who write so incredibly well in this genre...it's not easy to do. Your comment made my day. :-)


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

That was different - and an unexpected ending with a happy release. A good write.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 2 years ago from Los Angeles

Bravo, Genna! I have enjoyed reading this and all of the other creative endings by our talented writers who took on Franks's challenge. So glad the lanky villain went down when he was so overly confident that he would win. I especially loved the last line! Great title, seamless flow, and a realistic chain of events from the water sickness until your unexpected twist. Great writing. Loved it! My best, Cat:)


DnWW 2 years ago

Wow! You met Frank Antanacio's challenge head on. I read the first two chapters and you tied everything in brilliantly to a gripping thriller and a great ending with a poet’s eye. This is writing.

Dana


dragonflycolor 2 years ago

amazing! Great twist. Good job, Genna!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Thanks for the information and the share on the challenge. Wow, what an intense story!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

I have to echo Frank's wow...great writing from beginning to end, I love your style.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Incredible! A real intense and gripping tale. Well done!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

BlossomSB

Hi Blossom. Thank you. Frank’s first two chapters are magnificent, and gave us the tools to write creative endings. Good to see you. :-)

@CatonaSoapbox

Hi Cat! Good to see you. Frank deserves the credit…his Jenny Camacho story is just amazing, and a writer’s dream in terms of having the opportunity to try to come up with a creative ending. We all had fun, and were faced with a significant challenge to do his story justice. I am truly grateful for your encouraging comments, Cat. Thank you!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@DnWW

Hi Dana! Thank you, kind sir. I think Frank is a genius with this genre. It was a privilege to able to join him, and Jenny, in this exciting thriller. Hugs to you and Molly. :-)

@Dragonflycolor

Hi there. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

@Teaches1234

Thank you! This was quite the challenge. Thanks to Frank, several of us had fun in writing the ending to his mesmerizing thriller. All of the endings are so well written and creative! Good to see you. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@ToBusiness

Thank you! Coming from you, that’s quite a compliment as I loved your ending! I appreciate your supportive comments…they helped make my day. :-)

@GypsyRoseLee

Thank you! Frank deserves a lot of kudos for creating this terrific writing challenge. It was quite an experience. :-)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Fascinating read, Genna. This one is definitely darker than your writing usually is and met the challenges of Frank's guidelines. I like the idea that you stretched your talent to a new level. Another Wow to add to your well deserved collection.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Peg;

Yes, it is definitely darker. But I am grateful to Frank for giving me this opportunity to stretch out of my comfort zone...it was an experience I will long remember, along with reading the talented story endings by other hubbers. There are several hubbers whose stories I follow religiously with great anticipation: You, Frank, Mike (Mckbirdbks), Jodah, Weestro, Will Starr, and Ruby (Always Exploring) to name a few, help make the hub experience very special. Good to see you, Peg, and thank you for those thoughtful comments. :-)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

ooooh Genna--you do creepy so well--you knew???


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Audrey. Thank you! I'm not sure why you meant by "you knew??" Have a great week, Audrey. :-)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

sorry--"who knew?" and I meant that I never would have thought you would do creepy so well--you are so lovely a person!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Audrey. I took a clinical approach and thought, “what would Stephen King do?” It helped! For example, we can’t put ourselves in the mind of a serial killer; it’s impossible, so we have to be clinically aloof in defining him. There was no way I would let Jenny perish, and there weren’t many possibilities left with how she would save herself that hadn’t been already written. I couldn’t let him off scot free for the horrible things he had done and would undoubtedly do again; this gave Jenny the justification and the courage she needed in what she felt she had to do to survive. And I knew I couldn’t tiptoe through this. So I sort held my breath and wrote the ending, with more than few gasps at the end. It was a real challenge for me, and I sure wouldn’t want to do this every day. :-)

Thank you for that nice comment. :-)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

It feels to me as though you have found another something special in your writing in this--well worth thinking about--it is a part of me that I would keep if I were in your shoes I think--really superb writing!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

My only regret is it took me so long to find this! I always know when I read anything you write I will love it. You have a way of really making us feel what you want and this is no different.

Quite the heroine our Jenny and quite the interesting ending. Superb as always.

Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting.


MollyWW 2 years ago

Dana told me this was a ‘must read’ . Wow. I read Mr. Atanacio’s chapters and the other endings listed on his story web page. There were a variety of fascinating closures to Jenny’s plight. Three I especially liked --- yours is one. How did you come up with yours aside from the other possibilities already written? I ask because this style of writing is a departure for you and you did it well. Good job!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@AudreyHowitt

That is so sweet, Audrey; thank you for the wonderful encouragement and kind comments! But to be honest, I’m in over my head with this genre. Hugs, and enjoy the day. :-)

@Tillsontitan

Hi Mary. It’s good to see you. I thought your ending was excellent. “He never knew what hit him.” I loved it! :-) Thank you for the visit and wonderful comments. I hope you have a great weekend! :-)

@MollyWW

Hello Molly! Yes, this was a departure, and a great challenge.

Nature is beautiful, but unequivocal. We can’t negotiate with it any more than Jenny could have negotiated with the killer. I think Frank addressed this, in a sense, with his first two chapters, and very creatively: The juxtaposition of the beauty of nature, and the monster that was hunting her -- the same way one animal tracks another in the wild, or the manner in which the hawk plucks his prey from the sky. I was quite struck by the contrast, as well as the simile.

If it hadn’t been for the kitchen knife none of this would have worked. The bear was also situated between Jenny’s hiding place and the shack…not farther down the path beyond the shack. Those details provided me with the idea for this ending. Still, I thought it was a bit predictable so I tried to ramp up the tension in keeping with the darker tone of the story.

Thanks so much for the visit, Molly; for reading all of the stories and your encouraging comments. I think all of the talented authors who participated in this challenge would enjoy hearing from you as well. Hugs to you and Dana. :-)


Betty Niall 2 years ago

my goodness, these endings are amazing, Geena, bravo


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Betty. All of the hubwriters who participated in this challenge did such an amazing job with Frank's story. :-)


Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 2 years ago

wow! Stephen King has nothing on you! This is really, Really Good!

I am glad I was reading this during the day. What an awesome job! :-)

Shared and definitely Up!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Jo. It was a terrific challenge by Frank and one that opened up new doors for me.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

This is absolutely stunning! I don't think I've read any of your hubs yet and I somehow missed this when the challanged was issued - what an omission! You grip us from the beginning and it's all so plausible. Brilliant!

I'm off to follow you now.

Ann


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Ann. This was a fun project and a change of pace for me. It's good to see you, and I look forward to reading your recent contribution to Frank's new challenge!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working