Without further ado, here are two of my favorite submissions from the challenge:
From Teresa Szandtner—“Push”
Champagne could feel the air seeping through her blouse and under her skirt. She couldn’t see, since a school tie covered her eyes. She could hear her captors arguing with each other, but she couldn’t recognize their voices. She was trying to conceal her terror by being angry at them. Anger was far easier than fear, as it allowed her to function.
“She looks scared,” said one of the voices.
“About time, if you ask me,” said another.
“Let’s get on with this, O.K.? Who wants to go first?”
“I will,” said a voice. “I testify that you made fun of my clothes.” A pair of hands pushed against her chest into the rest of the members of the circle.
“I testify that you made fun of my acne,” said another, joined by another push.
“I testify that you made me feel invisible.” Push.
Champagne noticed that the pushes were getting faster, and stronger. Then it happened. After one particularly hard push, she missed the landing pad of the other bodies and broke through them like some twisted game of Red Rover. Suddenly she was falling and rolling down the side of a hill. She heard someone swear from above her. As she rolled down the hill, she could feel the impact of every pebble and branch tearing into her skin.
“Is she dead?” someone shouted from above.
“I just saw her move. She’s still breathing.”
The voices receded and she was left alone, shivering in her school uniform.
From Natalie Ward
..would you kill to save a life?
..would you kill to prove you’re right?
I should have been able to protect her.
I should have been able to protect her because I loved her and she was everything to me.
But they should have protected us.
They trained us, taught us, sent us in there and then they abandoned us when it all went wrong.
Now they were going to pay. All of the hatred and anger and rage and guilt that I held for failing her was going to be taken out on them.
She was pregnant when it happened. Pregnant with my child and they carved her up and ripped it out of her like it meant nothing. I had come home to find her like that. Broken, bloody, lifeless. Everything I had wanted, everything I had needed, gone.
I had hunted them down with a vengeance. All of them. I spared them no mercy.
It felt good. The pain I inflicted, the last breathes that I stole, the blood that I leeched. Everything they took from me magnified by every piece of pain and betrayal I felt and then thrown back at them.
If only I had known what it would do to me. What it would turn me into, what I would become.
It would have destroyed her to see me like this, but I had to do it.
But in doing so, I knew I had become one of them.
And below you'll find my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE SUBMISSION from this challenge--with a fabulous twist-ending, to boot. Valerie will be receiving a Revenge Is Sweet T-shirt courtesy of Paper Lantern Lit. (Check out the design here.)
From Valerie Armour
“If we love him, then why are we going to hurt him?” I ask her cautiously--she’s been so volatile lately and the last thing I want is for her to be angry with me.
“Dear god, do I have to explain everything to you, like you’re a baby? Look, he hurt you first didn’t he? He said he loved you and he hurt you-“
“Yes I know that, but I don’t want to hurt him” I interrupt her. I know what she’ll say- I always know what she’ll say next.
I feel her anger boiling in my blood, a foreign and yet exhilarating experience. The rush of adrenaline makes my head feel clouded, like I’m dreaming. There’s an edge to my depression that I never noticed before now, and I’m beginning to see for the first time what she’s been driving at.
“You do want to hurt him, see? You understand now why this is so important?” I hear her words from a distance, like I’ve fallen into a hole somewhere inside my mind, and her voice is echoing off the walls down to me.
“Yes.” I reply, because now I do understand, she will do what I can't. She’ll kill him for hurting me.
“Ashley,” I hear my Mother’s voice in the hallway, “who are you talking to in there?” She pushes the door open and pokes her head in.
She looks into my Mother’s trusting eyes, and replies honestly, “No one, Mom. I’m just thinking to myself.”