Sunday, March 13, 2016
1st 5 Pages March Workshop - Barnes Rev 1
Name: Joel Barnes
Title: The Zipper
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
The pre-dawn blackness quickly swallowed Kelly. The night loomed dark and scary, far scarier than she’d expected. A few widely scattered stars dotted the dark sky; the sliver of a quarter moon hung low in the horizon. Menacing silhouettes—trees, bushes, a chain link fence—closed in around her.
A shiver of fright shot through her stomach. Kelly hesitated, glancing back at the house where a faint light glowed through the kitchen window. Why did I ever leave my bedroom? She fumbled with the camera slung around her neck. The photography contest. Capturing a portfolio of pre-dawn pictures might give her a shot at the first place prize, a to-die-for Nikon camera.
She’d better get going. She pulled a piece of watermelon bubblegum out of the back pocket of her shorts, shoved it into her mouth and hurried away from the house.
Kelly’s pencil-thin shadow stretched out beside her as she covered the hundred feet of patchy grass separating the shadowy house from a white storage barn. Her ears found the sounds of the Florida night—the shrill chirping of crickets, the eerie screech of a wood owl, the distant croaking of a frog—creepy. She passed the storage barn, and her feet met the narrow path leading into the dense woods that surrounded the house.
She had traveled this same path hundreds of times, but never before alone in the dark. Her heart raced as a canopy of leaves closed over her and the sky faded from view. She wished she had her flashlight.
Her fears multiplied as she ventured deeper into the thick darkness. Dried leaves crunched beneath each tentative step. Low hanging branches whipped across her face, stinging her cheeks. She wrinkled her nose at the pungent odor of decaying leaves.
She reached a temporary break in the tunnel of darkness when the path curved into a small grove of short trees. When her gaze shifted upward to welcome the glimmer of moonlight that penetrated onto the path, her sneakers caught on the rough edges of an exposed root. Her hands shot out as she tumbled onto the path.
Her anger boiling up, she kicked the root. She jerked the black Marlins baseball cap off her head and slammed it against the ground.
She could have been asleep in her bed, safe and comfortable like any normal thirteen-year-old. But no, normal wasn’t good enough for her, not for Kelly Thomas. She had to crawl out of bed at the insane hour of . And why? To be scared out of her socks? To fall flat on her face?
Hands shaking, she ran her fingers through her hair. Could she go on, this frustrated and this scared, with the woods ahead looming so dark? But, the contest. Without the pictures she could kiss any hope of winning that camera good-bye. No, she couldn’t leave the woods empty-handed. She had no other choice but to suck it up and go get the shots. This was no time for a pity party.
She walked on, resolved that neither fear nor darkness would stop her from taking those pictures.
Her fears walked with her as the path twisted beneath a canopy of interlacing limbs. When her gaze darted toward the dense jumble of dark shapes and shadows on both sides of the path, her mind envisioned a dreaded something silently stalking beside her. Without warning, it could explode onto the path, all dagger-sharp teeth and flesh-slashing claws.
To her relief, the unnamed something never materialized and a couple hundred yards into the woods, she reached her destination, a dense clump of short bushes.
Ahead of her, on the other side of the bushes, stretched a sizeable clearing filled with low-growing grasses, the grazing grounds of the white-tailed deer. She sank onto her knees and tucked herself in tightly behind the bushes, making certain she had an unobstructed view of the clearing. Settled in, she crammed another wad of watermelon gum into her mouth and readied her camera.
Then she waited in the silence of the clearing and the darkness of the woods for dawn to arrive.
Soon Kelly noticed a tiny red glimmer hanging just over the tree-tops. Its jagged edges gradually expanded until the sun’s first light began to penetrate the woods, sending shimmering rays reflecting off the gathered dew. The sunlight revealed six or seven white-tailed deer grazing in the clearing. Kelly quaked with excitement and her fingers shook as she raised the camera to snap her first photograph.
First she zoomed in on a large buck with light brown fur, surprised at the size of its antlers. Next her focus shifted to a doe. Beautiful. She was careful to capture the white patches of fur on its throat and underbelly. A thrill shot through her when a fawn scrambled up on spindly legs from its hiding place in the grass. She focused her camera on its huge, soft eyes and the white spots that dotted the reddish brown fur.
The buck shattered the tranquility of the moment when it whipped its head around and snorted, shaking its antlers and stomping its hooves. Then, raising its pointed tail, the white underside flashing in the dim light, it bolted into the woods and out of sight, the rest of the herd streaking close behind. She snapped frantically, realizing she’d probably get nothing for her trouble but blurry backsides. Great! Her prime-time photo op had just evaporated like the morning mist.
Kelly lowered her camera, her hopes of capturing any more deer dashed. As she began previewing her pictures, a rustling in the foliage caught her attention. She peered across the clearing in the direction of the noise. Tree limbs were bending and then splintering with loud snaps and with cracks that sounded like rifle shots.
A blast of wind surged across the clearing. A split second later a huge shape exploded out of the trees. Kelly gasped as an immense creature materialized near the edge of the clearing, shaking the ground and stealing her breath.
Kelly found herself staring at a beast that stood taller than a house and stretched out half as long. The behemoth crouched on two powerful legs as thick as tree trunks. Her gaze locked in on the huge teeth and the flesh-ripping claws. Her shocked mind reeled in disbelief, reluctant to accept what her eyes clearly saw. Across the clearing stood a T. rex. As in Tyrannosaurus rex. The most feared predator to ever walk the earth.