Part of our Zero to Hero challenge was to join a writing challenge or event. I looked through the list they gave us but nothing really excited me. Then a blog I follow from Chuck Wendig called Terrible Minds posted a writing challenge that sounded fun. The challenge was to take a fairy tale (our choice) then right it in a different sub-genre that we had to roll for.
So I chose Rapunzel and rolled a 5; Southern Gothic. Okay, I have to admit two things. First, I have never written for a blog challenge. In fact, I have never submitted any of my writing to anything other than my blog. So, I’m a bit nervous. Second, I had no idea there was even such thing as a sub-genre called Southern Gothic. I had to look it up. Oh, and did I mention we had to keep the whole thing to 1,000 words?
So here it is. Tell me what you think….
Jeb and I had been friends since first grade. I was used to his off-color humor and bizarre stories. But today he was even more animated than usual.
“Seth, you are not gonna believe what I saw this weekend. Guess! Come on, guess.”
I took a breath and was about to list off a few of the typical things, but Jeb couldn’t wait.
“I saw a fairy princess.”
“Oh yeah, where?”
“No chance, dude. I found her first and I’m gonna be the one to rescue her. With your help of course.”
“Whoa, who said anything about rescuin’? And if she’s a fairy princess, why does she need rescuin’.”
“Look, I’ll show you everythin’ this weekend. Get yer dad to let you borrow the truck.” I sighed.
The Marshes campground abutted an old forest with tall formidable looking trees lined with a thick moss. Jeb had been here last weekend camping with his parents.
We grabbed our packs and two hours later I was just about to give him my two scents when we rounded a corner and Jeb stopped cold.
“There,” he whispered.
I turned and could not believe my eyes. The forest was very dense and seemed darker and colder than it should. Before us, through thick branches I could make out a shack. It seemed like it had been there forever, the walls seemed to lean and the roof sagged in places. A tattered old sheet was hanging on the inside of a broken window that faced us; slightly blowing in a breeze I could not feel.
The place gave me the creeps, but I wasn’t going to let Jeb see my nervousness.
“So what. It’s just an old shack. Where’s this Fairy Princess.”
“There,” Jeb whispered again pointing up above the shack.
I could feel myself breath in quickly. In the trees above the shack was a tree house.
The sound of a truck engine startled us and we quickly ducked behind two trees. From behind the shack an old pick up pulled away along a road neither of us could make out from here. I tried to get a look at the driver, but instead of a fairy princess, what I saw were distorted features and what appeared to be a large hump on the back of the driver. Clearly the darkness of the forest was playing tricks with my eyes.
When the sound of the truck disappeared, Jeb motioned to me, “Come on.”
When I paused he smiled, “What’s a matter, chicken?”
I followed Jeb through the trees to the base of the tree house. I looked around, but there did not seem to be any way to get up.
Jeb smiled, “Watch.” He cupped his hands and whistled.
A head peaked out from the tree house window, “Who’s there?”
“Rapunzel! It’s me, Jeb”
“Jeb! You came back!”
“I said I would, didn’t I? Let down the ladder.”
Rapunzel rolled out a rope ladder and Jeb began to climb.
“Wait!” I said, “are you sure this is a good idea? What if that weird guy comes back?”
“Are you comin’ or not?” Jeb climbed. I went after him.
Inside the tree house, it was dark and musty. There was a bed in the corner, a small table, a cupboard and a small portable camping stove.
“Jeb!” Rapunzel rushed to Jeb and through herself into his open arms.
I could understand why he thought she was a fairy princess. She had fair skin, pale blue eyes and hair the color and texture of corn silk that flowed to her waist. Jeb was not the most striking guy and because of that had little in the way of female relationships. Now, here stood a young beauty who seemed to regard him as if he was her knight in shining armor.
“I told you I’d be back. Come on, we’ve got to get you out of here.”
“I’d don’t know about this, Jeb. You don’t even know her.”
The situation seemed to be getting out of hand. What started out as a way to prove Jeb had an over active imagination had quickly turned into helping a minor run away from home. Not that I blamed her, considering her attire and living conditions.
“Seth, we can’t leave her here. That monster is keeping her hostage. We are saving her.”
I was about to argue his interpretation of the situation, when we heard the truck pull back up to the house.
“We’ve got to go now!” Rapunzel was saying and for the first time I agreed.
We quickly let ourselves down the ladder. At the bottom, we hid behind the massive trunk looking for any sign of life. It was afternoon on a summer day but it felt like night was setting here in the dark forest.
We eased around the tree…and came face to face with a pitbull. The dog began to bark and snarl, he foamed at the mouth and I was sure he was rabid.
“Who’s there,” said a hard voice.
A grotesque mis-happened figure came around the corner of the house, shotgun in hand. The sight of him made my blood curdle. It wasn’t just one man. It was as if one person had been fused onto the other. What I had mistaken for a hump was a part of a second head coming from the left side of the man’s head and neck; two eyes, a nose, one ear and partial mouth.
“Rapunzel? That you, child?”
“Yes, pah! And look, I caught us dinner!” She giggled and beamed with pride at her father. Both of his faces seem to smile at once and the eyes of the second head blinked at me. For or a moment I thought I would vomit.
I turned to run as the shotgun went off. I froze and turned just in time to see the look of shock and disbelief on Jeb’s face as he fell into the dead leaves of the forest floor.