Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fiction Train I: A Quest For Gifts

Yesterday I introduced you to my new The Fiction Train contest.  Below is the opening of our first story A Quest For Gifts.  Read the opening, jump in, and good luck.  I hope you win, but more importantly, I hope we all have fun.

If you don't know the rules please, please scroll down to the post just prior this one and read them.  Then jump in.  You have 90 days (or 30 entries) to participate in this story:

When Yolanda Thompson was in the third grade she bet a boy in her class twenty-five cents that she could put her entire fist in her mouth.  Upon losing the bet, Yolanda realized she should have tried putting her fist in her mouth at least once before making a wager.   But Yolanda had convinced herself that she could do it, had convinced herself that this, perhaps, was her gift.  She had to be gifted at something—right?  And thus began Yolanda’s quest for gifts.........


  1. Yolanda tried everything; whether it would be jumping over a fence, or running faster than the boys in her class. - But to no avail, every time she thought she might have found her ability - her gift - she just wound up horribly disappointed.

    One day though, she met a boy - Kaspar was his name. He was a shy little fellah who didn't speak much. In fact, before he approached Yolanda - she thought he couldn't speak at all.

    "Why do you always compete with guys?" he asked her one day.

    "I need to find my gift," Yolanda replied, then continued, "You could help me."

    "How so?"

    "Well, you don't speak much. Perhaps my skill is to be quiet."

    Kaspar rolled his eyes at her proposal, but decided to humor her. They both sat down without a word, and attempted to beat the other one.

    Finally, Yolanda gave up.

    "This is boring," she said, "I must have another gift."

  2. So Yolanda decided to go on a trip to the Colorado Rockies with her parents for a well deserved vacation. In Vail, Colorado she boarded the gondola at Lion's Head and rode to the top of the mountain to see if she could get some inspiration from God himself. When she arrived at the top of the mountain, she stepped out of the gondola and was awestruck. The mountains were covered with snow as far as the eye could see. As the chilly wind blew across her face, she could hear a small still voice speaking to her heart. "Gifts are not found in what you do but what I have placed in you when you were born. Look inside yourself to discover your gifts" the still small voice whispered.

  3. "Am I..." Her words were cut off by, firstly, the look her mountain guide gave her but also the memory of Kaspar whispering, "Determination?" with a doubtful expression. She didn't believe him entirely but it was better to think you were determined than be considered stupid and believe you were trying to find something nonexistent. Oh, Yol did believe in herself. Enough to climb mountains & break a tooth trying to eat her fist! But was determination a gift or a curse? And from whom had it now come? And why?

  4. With a shrug and a bit of a dismissive air, Yolanda pulled her orange-tinted ski goggles over her eyes and poised herself at the top of the ski run. Long and winding, the white path sliced between trees and launched over miniature cliffs. Yolanda didn’t stop to think about what made her head straight down the Black Diamond slope. Embracing the rush of adrenaline, she pushed off and rushed down the steep mountainside. With the wind in her hair and adventure flooding through her veins, Yolanda figured even if she never found her gift, she would have an amazing time searching.

    Just ahead lay a huge boulder half covered in snow. Too late to angle herself for a jump, she tried her best to steer away form it. The slender planks beneath her feet wobbled as she fought for control. A yelp escaped her before she was blinded by white followed by black.

    When she came to, her childhood best friend, Laura, was standing over her. Her dead childhood best friend Laura.

  5. Yolanda thought she must be dreaming. Laura had passed away some time ago. But the aches starting up all over her body told she was awake, along with the pounding headache. Yolanda blinked but Laura remained by her bedside. Looking at her with worried eyes but a smile on her lips.

    “If I hurt this much, I can’t be dead can I?” Yolanda whispered softly.

    Laura shook her head. “No, your not. Thank goodness you have a thick skull” Her expression became worried then. “But oh Yolanda, what were you thinking? Skiing down the Black Diamond like that! You could have been killed!”

    Yolanda started to sit up but dizziness overcame her. She lay back down, looking over at Laura again once the world stopped spinning. “If I’m not dead, then how come I can see you? Talk to you?”

    Laura sighed. “You found your gift. I’m happy for you, happy to have my friend back but Yolanda…. be careful. Others will want to use your gift now and not always in a good way.”

  6. "Wait, I see dead people?" Yolanda figured there could be worse gifts if not stranger ones.
    Laura scowled at Yolanda, trying to hide the small twitch of her lips at the cliche comment, " Yolanda, I'm being serious. Many beings, alive and dead, know about your so called gift." Laura diverted her eyes to her lap before going on, " besides I'm not the first dead person you have seen."

    Yolanda just stared at her best friend, not sure what she was getting at, but a faint tingle at the back of her mind trying to dislodge the information she knew was important. Who had this living impaired person been? Yolanda thought to herself.
    Just then, Kaspar walked in smiling at Yolanda. Then it all clicked.

  7. "No way!" Yolanda couldn't believe her own eyes. Kaspar was dead too? - No wonder she couldn't beat him in being silent.

    "I'm sorry that I didn't tell you," he muttered. Yolanda narrowed her eyes and looked at the boy. How had she not noticed that he hadn't grown along with her? She was not a simple fourth grader anymore. She should have known.

    Agony ran through her as she attempted to stand up, Kaspar walked forth and helped her up. His long-sleeved tee rolled up, and Yolanda saw the four little numbers carved onto his forearm.

    "What's that?" she asked and looked at the numbers. '64 65 61 64' it read. Intrigued, she looked up at him, "Is it a phone-number?"

    "No..." Kaspar started and looked away, refusing to say anymore.

    "It's our codes, Yol," Laura said.


    "It's the hexidecimal code for dead," she answered and held up her arm, "We all have them..."

  8. ***
    Henderson didn’t believe in dead people. Well, he believed in them alright. He believed they could be found in cemeteries and crypts and mausoleums. He was not a religious man and had no use for thoughts of the afterlife.

    “When you’re dead you’re dead, and that’s all there is to it,” he’d said on many occasions when the subject had come up at the pub during a night of drinking. Yet, what Conner was saying on this night intrigued him.

    “The dead are getting up and walking,” he said.

    At first Henderson thought the man must have had one too many. “Go home and sleep it off,” he’d said. “And when you wake up, they will all be back in their graves.”

    That’s when Conner showed him the photograph. It was of his sister, Yolanda. She’d been dead some twenty years, died when she was a child, and yet there she was sitting on the high wooden stool in Conner’s kitchen.

    “There’s more like her,” said Conner, with a grave expression. “I’ve seen them.”

  9. Yolanda decided to be practical. If she could see dead people, use them to her advantage.
    "I need a talent, to show off." She explained. "Also The Gong Show is coming to my town, and I want to audition."
    "What's a Gong Show?" Laura asked.
    Yolanda sighed. Being dead meant you missed out on a lot. "It's a show where anyone can come on and perform. Maybe I could tap."

  10. Yolanda was full of questions for Laura. "Why would anyone care if I could see dead people?" she asked. "People have been claiming to see the dead for ages. Nobody ever believes them. What makes you think they would believe me?"

    "You are different." Laura explained. " It's not just that you can see the dead. There's more."

  11. Fear erupted in Henderson, but he shoved it deep down into his belly so it wouldn’t show across his face.

    “Conner, I wasn’t born yesterday. I know all about that photoshop stuff.” He signaled the bar tender to cash him out. He’d had enough of Conner’s shenanigans for one night. As he scribbled his signature at the bottom of the receipt he added, “That’s pretty messed up. Not sure what’s going on in your head.” And with that, he left Conner to his own twisted game of tall tales.

    But in bed that night, Henderson tossed and turned, his mind awake with possibility. When he woke, he blamed the bags under his eyes on the three fingers of whiskey, but he was rattled to the bone. As badly as he wanted to believe Conner was bluffing, something inside of him knew the truth was far more disturbing than fiction.

    As Henderson rounded the doorway into his living room, he froze at the sight of the figure reclined on his couch.

    “Hey Hennie!”

  12. The Fiction Train is now closed for entries. I will announce a winner in the next few days. Thanks to all who participated.