Yes, I entered another short story competition. This one was different though. Run by Lesley Galston at Sloanwriter, it was a nice friendly competition. Maximum 500 words on the theme of 'fifty'. My entry placed fifth, and I promise you I have stuck to the theme, although you might not think so at first! If you go to Lesley's blog you can read the eight placed stories.
Just one more thing before you read my story. That other competition I entered? I have another reason, as if I needed one, for being annoyed with myself about my poor entry. The top eight entries have been invited to Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate where the winner will be announced. I found out today that Rebecca Bradley from Life in Clarity is going. I really like Rebecca's writing and it would have been awesome to be able to meet her. Ah well, maybe next year!
Anyway, here's my story. Feel free to tell me how I could have improved it but don't mention that flowers bud and THEN bloom. I spotted that stupid mistake as soon as I saw it on Lesley's blog. D'oh!
The Last Snows of Spring
Although it was almost the end of March there was yet no hint of Spring. Roger leaned forward and tried to catch a glimpse of the passing scenery from the car window, but in the pre-dawn dark there was nothing to see but his own eerie reflection. The man on his right pushed him roughly in the chest.
“Sit back,” the man shouted.
It was not his native tongue, but Roger understood the man well enough. After all, he'd had a long time to learn. He sat back.
“I wonder where we'll end up this time.” He turned to his left and spoke quietly to his friend Bernard.
“Who knows?” The other man gave a shrug that indicated he wasn't really interested in such matters.
Slowly, lazily the first hint of dawn tapped the sky with frost-dazzled fingernails. The snow outside became visible, and the road ahead was deserted. In another time this journey could almost have been pleasant. He wondered where he would be when the first green shoots of Spring deigned to make an appearance. What flowers would he watch bloom, bud and ultimately die? How long would it be before he could observe nature's annual miracle at work in his own garden? Not too much longer now, surely?
Roger felt the full throated roar of the car slow to a gentle purr and realised they were stopping. He turned again to Bernard. The Frenchman indicated with the merest lift of one eyebrow that he didn't know why. All became clear when the other two passengers alighted and fumbled with cold hands for cigarette packets. Moving a few feet away from the car, their chatter drifted idly towards the two men left in the back seat.
“Damn, I could do with one of those.” Roger muttered.
Bernard just laughed. “Soon enough my friend, soon enough.”
There was a shout from one of the men outside and the driver climbed out and joined them. After a brief conversation he returned to the car.
“Out.” He said, as he pulled the back door open. “You can relieve yourselves over there, ” he jerked his head towards a clump of snow-kissed bushes, “but don't go too far.”
As the two men hesitated he continued. “I suggest you do so. We have a long way to go.”
Roger felt it prudent to do as he was told and headed toward the bushes, Bernard following.
For a fraction of a second Roger didn't recognise the sound, so familiar yet so alien in this tranquil landscape. Then, as he felt the pain and saw Bernard collapse next to him, he understood.
Roger Bushell had no way of knowing that he was one of fifty men who were to become famous for being illegally executed for what they had done. He would also never know that he would live on in history as the mastermind behind what would forever be known simply as 'the great escape'.