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

Updated on March 4, 2018

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 mouth as she heaved the foul liquid to the ground. A sudden lightheadedness forced her to lay down. The feel and smell of the warm earth were soothing. 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 sensed 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 taught her during a hike in the country. “When lost in the wild, panic kills," he said. "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. At that moment, she viewed the surrounding environment through her father's eyes. An idea flashed into her scattered thoughts, filling her 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.


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

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 them. The land was his domain; he knew every inch of the forest that was his killing ground. Like his previous victims, she had no chance of escape.


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, as 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 followed quickly in Jenny's footsteps.

As he neared the shack, he heard her loud sobs echoing from within. She's beaten, he thought. There’s nowhere left to run. He entered the abandoned structure and saw her trembling, 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.

Jenny 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 knelt quickly beside him and slashed open his pockets with the knife. Her search yielded a set of car 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, 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 echoing from the shack to perish in the wind.

© Copyright 2014. Genna East; all rights reserved.


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    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Peggy...

      Thank you. Frank gave us quite the challenge and it was fun, although not in the style with which I'm used to writing. Frank is such a pro at this; he makes it look easy. (It's not! :-) Happy Sunday.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Wow...this was intense but very good writing matching what Frank often does. So happy for Jenny that she was the first to escape that monster and put an end to the damage he was inflicting upon helpless creatures.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Frank. Thank you...this was a fun challenge and I'm pleased that it till pops up in search. That was quite a surprise. Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 months ago from Shelton

      Good morning Geena East... Thanks for the spikes.. I popped in Natures womb in google engine search and several pieces came up example...

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

      Mar 26, 2017 - 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 ... Never lose hope, and move with nature – not against it.” Jenny was ... Genna East; all rights reserved.

      I just wanna thank you for the resurficing of this old hub I even forgot about it... :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      For Paul Debbie, Margie, Martia and Kelvin:

      I'm a little surprised to see so many comments all at once from non-hubbers. I thank you for your kind interest and comments.

      Paul, can I ask what Google search led you here? I'm curious.

      The one who deserves the credit for this story is Frank Atanacio who wrote this terrific challenge and invited fellow hubbers to come up with an idea for a closing chapter. Mine is one example out of several others who also write their own chapters in conclusion to the story. There were a number of responses other than my own which I'm sure you can find by clicking on the link to his first two chapters. We carried the ball from there; but it's his touchdown. Good to see you and my best wishes for a Happy New Year.

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      Martha Rivera 4 months ago

      Paul I just finish reading this short story and found myself cheering when that bastard got what was coming I hope he bleed out and died watching Jenny get free, ha ha this was an amazing breath stealer of a story. I agree the author Genna East is a winner

    • profile image

      Paulie Santos 4 months ago

      To the author, nail biting and eyes flapping. I wish there was more to this story because I enjoyed the adrenaline rush. A sign of a great fiction writer. so much foot chase in so little words but you pulled it off.

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      Fiction Poleece 4 months ago

      Genna East I'm so sorry that the idiots who are reading your story are not realizing that Paul Gorden isn't going to see their replies because it is your page. I read this exciting story and on our chat line they were saying that they left messages for Paul on this page. Duh, Can't believe some of the readers have English Degrees. Anyway, I do apologize on their behalf. Sarah Wills

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      Margie Hernandez My-Life 22 4 months ago

      Paulie, omg! This was a thrill ride. I don't know why you haven't sent Genna East's story to us a while ago. This woman is a thrill writer. I was praying for Jenny Camacho. Wish this was longer

    • profile image

      Kelvin Little 4 months ago

      Screaming was good Paul, but this one is so entertaining, My daughter loved it. Just want to thank you for the link

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      Fast-Track2525 4 months ago

      Hey Deb there are two links on this page you can find some more there. I think this one really packs a wallop. wondering if Genna East has more stories. This was worth the engine search Paul. Thanks for sharing. I'll share it too

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      Debbie Blaine 4 months ago

      Paul tried to look for the other part of this series and only found one other. You are right, this was a thrill ride of a story. Genna East is an amazing story teller ( Deb )

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      Paul Gorden 4 months ago

      this was an amazing adventure, I really enjoyed the ride. Didn't know this was a series, caught it on Google search

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      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!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 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.


    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

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

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 4 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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

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

    • profile image

      Betty Niall 4 years ago

      my goodness, these endings are amazing, Geena, bravo

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      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. :-)


      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! :-)


      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. :-)

    • profile image

      MollyWW 4 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!

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      Mary Craig 4 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.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 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!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      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

      Audrey Howitt 4 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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

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

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

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

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Peg;

      Yes, it is definitely darker. But I am grateful to Frank for giving me this opportunity to stretch out of my comfort 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. :-)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      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. :-)


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

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      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. :-)


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


      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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


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


      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!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

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

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

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

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

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

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      dragonflycolor 4 years ago

      amazing! Great twist. Good job, Genna!

    • profile image

      DnWW 4 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.


    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 4 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:)

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

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

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Always Exploring

      Hi Ruby;

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

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      Hi Becky…

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


      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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      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”. :- )


      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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


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


      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.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 4 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.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

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

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      “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! :-)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      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. :-)

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 4 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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      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. :-)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      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 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      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.

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      Suzette Walker 4 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!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 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.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 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.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 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.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 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

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      Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Genna,

      I have been waiting with great anticipation for you to publish 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

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      John Hansen 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

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

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      Jane Arden 4 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!

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 4 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

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 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