Oh my goodness you took us down some crooked story paths this week and we loved it. Thanks to everyone who wrote, tweeted, and commented. 🙂
Honorable Mention | Soldier | @SWathen_Author
Cara Says: This story took an unexpected turn to a dark and violent ending.
Ruth Says: Wow! This went from nostalgic to a punch to the gut. Great twist.
2nd Place | Underboss | @callthewriter
Cara Says: This ghost story with shades of Lady Macbeth is intense and creepy.
Ruth Says: I don’t usually go in for ghost stories but this one was deliciously engaging!
Winner | Boss | @SilverJames_
Cara Says: This excerpt draws me in as a reader. The overall writing is solid and interesting, with tragedy, intrigue, and a hint of romance to come.
Ruth Says: Everything worked in this piece. The writing, the storytelling, the characters. I’d love to read more. Absolutely wonderful!
FEVER DREAMS by Silver James
Cold. Shuddering, teeth-chattering cold. He survived Arctic training. Could take down a Russian soldier at two miles. But he wasn’t in the Arctic. Africa. Fucking Africa. The mission. His team. Eye-searing light. Ear-bleeding Thunder.
Pitch black. A voice singing in the distance. “Hello, darkness, my old friend.”
Floating, borne on the wings of the Valkyrie. Warrior. Valhalla. Home. Heat. Searing, bone-melting heat. The desert. No. Fever. A cool hand, a soothing voice.
“I’ve done all I can.”
“You stay. Keep him alive until I bring help.”
“Yes, all right. Go.”
Murmurs in the shadows.
Cool hand. Soft. Feminine. He pressed into the touch, groping in the dark.
“Shh. Rest easy.”
Shaking, sweating bodies, his sliding in and out of hers. No light. No sound. Only her touch, the feel of her to keep him anchored, firm thighs cradling, round breasts pillowing.
Sound and fury. Scorching wind.
“Chief Reagan’s lucky.”
“Why do you say that?”
“But at what cost?”
Darkness. Beeps. Whooshes.
Her hand in his. Fingertips brushing hair off his forehead, lingering to trace his cheek and jaw. Lips pressed to his, breath mingling. Tears. Hers. “I’m sorry.” Long fingers squeezing his. “I couldn’t save you. I tried. I’m so, so sorry.”
Don’t cry, princess. Whatever it is, we’ll survive.
“Damn, Duke. Welcome back to the land of living.”
“Where the fuck am I?” His voice grated like rusted hinges.
“You’re in Brooks Army Medical Center.”
“Fuckin’ Army. I’m a Navy SEAL.”
“Damn straight you are.”
“What’s wrong with my eyes, Tank?”
“Yes, about that. I should let the doctor explain.”
Retinas. Burned. Explosion. Scarring. Blind. Nonsense words tumbling on a hamster wheel.
“Where is she?”
“Princess. She was here. Where’d she go?” She would explain, fill in the void of memory and experience.
Days melting into nights, time’s of no consequence when sunlight and moonlight are interchangeable in the dark.
Strong hand gripping his shoulder. “Cali Boy.”
“Are you real?”
Snickers. “Yeah, dude. I’m real.”
“Did everyone get out?” Long silence, the tick of a clock, tense breaths. Dalton didn’t want to answer. He knew. Duke knew then. “How many?” Heavy breath. Slight shake in the hand still gripping his. He waited. He was a sniper. Snipers could wait forever, even when the world went to shit.
“Tank n’me. We survived. And you.” Rustling cloth. “That’s it.”
“Where’s the princess?”
“Princess? Who’re you talking about?”
“The doctor without borders. She was with me there. Here, too.”
“There wasn’t a doctor, female or otherwise. Maybe she isn’t real. You’ve been way out of it, boss. Fever dreams. They brought you out a week after us. Alone.”
Alone. No. Not so long as she was with him.
“Gotta go, chief. Tank n’me. We’ll be back, now you’re awake.
Silent and in the dark, he’d wait. She’d return, ignite the sparks to light his way.
She was real if only in his dreams.