Jenkins felt the drag of his tractor and willed it to climb up the ever steepening hill. A still unexplained event beneath the soil had caused the hills to burst up in a single month. The once flat plain of Jenkins’s farm, now resembled sheets flapping in the wind on a clothes line.
Scientists, government representatives, and even some curious sightseers had visited his farm, each wanting to see it for themselves, each wanting to be the one to figure out what had happened. So far, none had been successful.
Some, the loonier of the bunch if you asked Jenkins, thought it was the opposite of a sinkhole. Instead of swallowing things into itself, the earth was pushing everything out.
Once again, this morning he had left visitors behind, saying, “Take all the pictures you want. If you need to, you can take soil samples from that plot there.” He pointed to a cornered off section of the field. “Just stay out of my tractor’s path. These crops won’t grow themselves.”
Because it had been almost a year since the phenomenon and because he had already successfully harvested since then, Jenkins saw no reason to forgo growing crops. People needed to eat. Hell, he needed to eat.
In all the tests by all the scientists, none of them showed anything harmful about the land itself or eating anything that came from it. Whatever had caused this piece of earth to jut into the sky, aside from its monumental inconvenience, was benign.
Jenkins took it as a miracle of sorts from the universe, or from God, depending on how religious he felt that day. An unlikely occurrence he wasn’t meant to understand. Working a field required patience. Working this field required determination.
The tractor groaned as Jenkins coerced it up the hill. It slowed with the incline, sputtering protest, but Jenkins kept strong on the gas.
Far below the visitors yelled and waved their arms in vain attempts to get his attention. What he didn’t see behind him was the field folding in on itself.
Jenkins felt the tractor pulling back, no longer fighting gravity. The giant tires spun, not catching on anything. The tractor was falling. Turning his head around he saw nothing but earth. Sliding, bubbling, hungry earth.
With nothing else to do, Jenkins turned his eyes up toward the sky. “Dust to dust,” was his final thought.
A flash fiction challenge was issued by penmonkey Chuck Wendig to write a story based on a photo we chose from a list of "impossible places." You can see the details of the challenge on Chuck's site. Be sure to visit the comments on his post to find links to other stories.
I chose a photo of Moravia, Czech Republic, that showed a beautiful steep green field with uniform tire lines in it. The original article containing the photo seems to have disappeared, but I found a copy of the image on another site.
Shadows crept across the wall. Max pulled the blanket snugger under his chin. His new room was uninviting.
Max was scared to start a new school, especially since he was beginning fourth grade. Everyone knows fourth graders are the big kids. Big kids know everything: where the classrooms are, what to wear, and who to avoid. Max felt unprepared.
Looking out the window, he could see only a few stars. The sky was blank.
What if there was a bully? He missed his friends. On their last day together they folded paper airplanes. Max’s plane had flown far until it landed in the neighbor’s hair.
Max drifted off to sleep. The next thing he knew, his mom was waking him for pancakes and orange juice.
There was a knock on the door. “Hello! I’m Kim and this is my son, Joey. We thought we’d show you to the bus.”
The moms talked the whole way while the boys shuffled behind. At the bus stop Joey said, “Maybe after school I can show you my treehouse.”
Max’s mom smiled. “Not even on the bus and already you’ve made a friend.”
Max’s fears about bullies and not finding his classroom… everything faded.
The challenge for this story was this: Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count.
For an additional challenge (optional), we could do one or more of these:
Well, I wrote my story and, seeing that it began at 570 words, I trimmed and edited and trimmed and edited some more until I whittled my story down to exactly 200 words. And yes, I ended the story with "everything faded," included the word "orange," and wrote for children/middle grades (my current genre). What can I say, if I'm going to participate, may as well take the full challenge.