IU Writing Contest – Timestream

photo by K.S. Brooks

You have recovered a buried memory. The scene to the right is the now and suddenly familiar image that springs to the forefront of your mind. What happened there? Was it a suppressed memory of unimaginable horror? Was it the scene of your first romance long ago? Try to remember what happened there…

In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Mountain Standard Time on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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Photograph by K.S. Brooks, used here with the photographer’s permission. Copying or reproduction of any kind without express consent is prohibited. All rights reserved.

For a more detailed explanation of the contest & its workings, please see the post called “Writing Exercises Return with a Twist” from 12/24/11.

By participating in this exercise the contestants agree to the rules of the contest and waive any and all further considerations or permissions otherwise required for any winning entries to be published by Indies Unlimited as an e-book, showcasing all the photos and with the winning expositions credited appropriately and accordingly.[subscribe2]

Author: Administrators

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7 thoughts on “IU Writing Contest – Timestream”

  1. "The Boundary" I sighed aloud.

    At last I had made it, the stream that separated the Dark Kingdom from my backyard. I bounded over the stream, not daring to glance back at the minions of his Majesty as they raced through the thicket towards me. They could cross the boundary, but they would not survive long outside of the Dark Forest. If I could just make it another hundred feet, I would be into the meadow near the woodshed.

    As I cleared the stream, my footing betrayed me and I slid through a patch of mud on the opposite bank. I was about to curse my luck when I saw the poison dart fly over my head, through the space I had just occupied. I finally gave in to the screaming in my head to look back, but wished I had not when I did. The horde of dark beasts poured through the forest like a tsunami wave of maliciousness. Fangs, claws and horns raged with howls of anger and hunger as they leaped and bounded through the woods towards their prey. Me.

    I did not take another moments pause, but picked myself up and sprinted headlong through the trees toward the yellow light of the clearing ahead. The howling grew louder as I heard the monsters splash through the once tranquil stream.

    "Almost there," I panted as I pounded the last few steps towards the edge of the wood, the terrifying screams now echoing loudly in my ears.


  2. The leather on the couch didn't creak anymore. It was as old and faded as the face of the doctor staring at me. The ceiling fan caused patterns of imagined foliage painted with light to dance on the walls as I spoke.

    ‘The sound of rushing water seeped through the forest. The spring was close. I uncapped a canteen and stepped into the patchwork light of the creek. One hand filled the canteen with the gurgling water, while the other overturned stones, in hopes for an arrow head. Something wasn’t right. Usually I would stumble on a sharp stone and would have to rub moss away with a thumb to discern its shape. These had no moss, They were… plastic?!? I looked closer and noted a number on the flattest portion of the stone. I scooped up more, they were all numbered. I panicked. The water was the only sound, where were the birds? I stepped backwards and stumbled into the brush. It left brown and green smudges against my shirt. The colors transferred to my fingertips. Paint? It was paint! I dug my foot into the ground. Just dirt. I knelt and dug with fingertips until I felt it. Metal. The gurgling ceased. When I looked up everything was still as a snapshot. The landscape had frozen. Pain and light came at that moment and then I was here.’

    The old man smiled thinly and held out a glass of water and two pills. He never spoke a word.

  3. Night Watchman

    That night I slept all night in your arms

    and all night you did not sleep, what did

    you see while you peered through my skull?

    Did I veil myself in protective dreams

    the way our stream hides its rocks?

    Did you entangle my dreams one by one,

    tie ends together like tatters of silk

    to braid us adventurous rugs

    for flying across the river?

    Or did you discover it less gossamer

    here inside this round bone,

    caverns as dark and hot as a mine,

    dangerous shafts which collapsed

    as you passed, lantern on cap,

    and no map through that labyrinth?

    Did you count layers of loves inside

    (some with whom I never did sleep),

    friendly sardines in the tin of my mind

    plus a few whales who burst these skull walls?

    Or did you see in my dim profile,

    hair tangled, damp and flung over your chest

    and little unique in the shape,

    many another girl who has lain

    in your arms through many a night,

    and little unique in the case?

    I hope you made the most of your chance,

    that single night I slept in your arms

    with the rushing stream shushing outside,

    to explore the shadowy landscape within.

    And did you find something new in the site?

    Please draw me a topographical map.

  4. It happened so long ago, I had completely forgotten about it until now. Walking through the woods, seeing the creek with the rippling water and cascading waterfalls brought it back like it was yesterday.

    My brother and I had made boats out of plastic, cardboard, tape, anything we could find. It was a race to see who could get to the end in one piece. We ran through the woods with our homemade boats, he with his GI Joe and me with my Barbie, were ready.

    With passengers strapped in, we let them go on the count of three. It started out slow and calm, neck and neck, or maybe, bow and bow. We walked, then ran alongside laughing and giggling, encouraging our boats to go faster, poking with sticks if they got stuck on a branch or rock, yelling at each other if one or the other helped too much.

    The boats twisted, turned and spun around in the current. The creek got wider and faster. We couldn’t poke anymore. Both boats flipped upside down and back again. They went over a small waterfalls, passengers toppling out of the boats and boats coming apart in pieces. That was the last time we saw any them.

    Last year, when we said goodbye at the airport, as he headed off to Afghanistan, I gave him a GI Joe and he gave me a Barbie. We both laughed until we cried. I will never see him again except in my memories.

  5. I’d been warned against going; on more than one occasion, my uncle Buddy had told us kids that the deep woods was a place filled with ‘haints and spirits.’ But, did I listen? No, not me; I had to see for myself.

    So, early this morning, Saturday, so no school, and it’s my usual time for exploring places I’ve been told I’m not supposed to go, I put some cheese and crackers and a couple cans of orange soda in my old Boy Scout backpack, made sure my momma wasn’t paying any attention, and set off.

    Getting to the creek was no problem, and then, it was just a matter of following it upstream. As I walked, the way got steeper and the woods got thicker. But, it was peaceful enough, nice and cool under the overhanging branches of pine and hardwood trees. Guess I should have been paying attention; the trunks and branches of the trees were gnarled in strange shapes, almost like skeletal hands and fingers waiting to grab some unlucky thing passing beneath.

    I was guessing the sun was low by the time I came to where the creek took a pretty sharp turn to the east, and the trees grew right down to the mossy banks. It’d been pretty dim all day, but was getting dimmer.

    But, it was the sounds that made my blood run cold. Instead of the whispering sound of the wind through the leaves and needles, there came a moaning sound.

  6. The memory came like a movie scene in horrific slow motion.

    The smell of the lush green forest had been wiped out completely by the coppery scent of blood, now so fresh in her nostrils that it made her stomach roil. “How could so much beauty be the scene of such horror?” she wondered as she tried to grasp onto more of the memory. Why she was driven to see all this was beyond her. She didn’t want to be here, but didn’t seem to have any choice. It just all came rushing back—one horrific detail after another.

    It had been such a beautiful day before…what? Yes, it was clearer now. There had been pain…so much pain. As suddenly as the pain had come, the sounds of the forest, its creatures and the rushing water had gone silent. Then the water had turned red.

    The sound of the rushing water she loved so had gradually became louder than the scream; that scream that had caused all the forest’s creatures into fearful silence. Their chattering and scurrying about had slowly returned while she stood there taking in that horrid scene. The girl’s body as the rushing water tried to sweep away the horror of all that blood.

    No, it wasn’t a memory. The girl was dead…she was dead and looking down at her own body.

  7. “I’ve been here, but when?”

    There’s no one to answer my question but the gurgling brook and the birds singing in the trees. Only my empty memories keep me company. It could have been days or even years since I passed this way last. It looks so peaceful, yet that tree leaning over the water fills me with dread.

    Visions swirl through my mind and I feel the world begin to sway. I have to look under the tree, under the pine boughs and moss. I wade into the water, feeling the slippery stones beneath my bare feet. My hands shake and I rub them on my ragged pants as I go, ignoring the icy chill that isn’t from the water.

    Webs part as I push my hand into the dry hole, trying not to think about what might be lurking in the dark hollow. Shivers run down my back as my hand touches something cold and hard. Smooth sides and sharp edges greet my dirty fingers.

    Holding my breath, I pull the object out of its hiding place and am nearly blinded by the red light that gleams off its surface from a stray sunbeam. I stagger back and fall into the water, barely keeping my grip on the fist-sized stone. My head throbs with remembered pain. I touch the scar on my head. It runs deep into my heart. Tears stream down my face.

    They hid this here.

    Before they shot…


    Even each other.

    For a rock.

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