Friday, January 16, 2009

5 Minutes

What a great contest, no? The participants have been incredible! You all are really reading and supporting each other wonderfully. And keep those Readers' Choice votes coming!

As always, I like to join in the spirit of the contests and share my own vision of the contest photo. See you guys back on Monday night when I'll let you know when the winners will be announced. Have a great weekend!


5 Minutes
by Jason Evans

He saw his heartbeat.

Not red like blood. A frayed white throbbing at the edge of his vision.

You have five minutes. Only five minutes.

He tripped onto the escalator. His hand smeared sweat onto the railing.

Don't hold this in your hand. Security will see you.

The urge to keep walking snaked around his throat. Squeezed. But he drifted up slowly. Already half way there.

People will congregate around the train schedules.

He puffed, trying to breathe.

Opened and closed his hands.

Shoulders aching from the weight.

Walk quickly. Don't run.

He pushed against his choking heartbeat.

Pushed against gnawing memories.

Take out the detonator only when you are there.

His brother's body. Broken mouth yawning.

Bile from his exploded father pooled on the apartment floor.

Don't hesitate. Press hard. Detonate.

The escalator delivered him. He bumped shoulders with a man. Wove around a crying child. Security faced away with their weapons tipped downward.

He remembered their bodies.

Beating his head with his hands.

Throwing himself on them as he wailed.

Choose one target. Walk straight.

In the crowd, he drew out the detonator.

The explosives under his clothes itched.

His hand shook.

Have your revenge.

But all around him, he saw his brother's dead, marble eyes.


"He didn't do it!" the van driver said.


"They captured him!"


The road beneath the tires rumbled. A white cloud billowed behind them.

The man gaped. "How? They captured him!"

"Insurance," the passenger said, tapping his watch.

Five minutes.


harshad said...

cool! love the way his thoughts and actions complement each other. and the end was perfect...his change of mind even after what he has gone through...and the persistence of terrorism (this im assuming).great read.

Terry said...

Jason, my palms were all sweaty by the end of your story! Your blunt sentence structure effectively conveyed the urgency of the situation. You masterfully detailed the vicious cycle of victim/violence in which no one wins. Your writing draws the reader in like someone trying to get a closer look at an exquisite piece of art.

Sarah Hina said...

Furious combination of pacing, tension, and modern horror. The sureness of his orders wrestling with his body's panic and memory. And the Nothing left to chance, not even a belated resurgence of humanity.

Thanks for showing us how it's done, Jason. Again. ;)

Anonymous said...

Much tension throughout. Subtle and straightforward.

It took me a while to get the "insurance" part, but I did get it.

Nice work.


BrownPhantom said...

I couldn't believe so much could be said in so few words. "Insurance" has never been so ironic.
This piece has more than all the qualities you that you mentioned in your tips on judgement. It grips you right from the begining & leaves you gasping at the end. :)

-Prashant Dhanke

Geraldine said...

Wow, what a fast-paced and intriguing take on the prompt Jason. I enjoyed reading this very much.

This contest was just wonderful! Thanks for your hard work, hosting these contests. I have made some new blog friends this past week and have truly enjoyed reading many of the excellent entries (haven't had time to read them all, soooooo many)

Have a great weekend, G

Jennifer said...

I love the story, but I love love love this line:

"Not red like blood. A frayed white throbbing at the edge of his vision."

Prose like that is a great reward for the reader!

Jaye Wells said...

Jason, I could picture the movie of this tense story very clearly. Once again you manage to combine beautiful word craft with edge-of-the-seat storytelling.

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

That was mind blowing!Could imagine every word.The flashes of the past were so dreadfully visual!What a realistic insight into the mind of a suicide bomber,makes me actually pity them.

Need I say I loved it? :)

Catvibe said...

Scary, tense, terrorist activites, well developed characters, you are truly a master at this art Jason.

Nothingman said...

that was totally cool and totally evil man...too much to understand in one reading. Brilliant!


Terri said...

You like to make us look into the dark side, don't you? I think my palms may have been a bit sweaty too, accompanied by a touch of disbelief and a strong voice in my head saying, "Don't do it!"
Not a bad result for 250 words ;-)

Lena said...

wow! That was brilliant. Keeps hooked from the first word till the last one.

Karen said...

After reading Sarah, Jaye, and you, I feel like a fool for sending an entry! There's writing...and then there's really WRITING.

You had me from the first line.

Meghan said...

Whoah. Talk about intense! As usual you manage to grip the reader all the way to the end.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Intense indeed!
Excellent piece.

peter said...

Breathless and tense, you took us inside a mind no one can ever know.

Charles Gramlich said...

Very tight piece.

Aniket Thakkar said...

This one had everything The pledge in the start and the turns in between.... all that is left now for the magician is The Prestige! The lord has taken the stage and all we can do is marvel at the masterpiece! :-D

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

My heart is beating hard, too, after reading this! The pacing is a marvel. Excellent writing, every word counts. You truly know how to generate a story in just the right way!

Thanks so much for hosting yet another fantastic contest. ;D

sawan said...

:) i was sure tht you wudn disappoint me! good one Jason.

one more believer said...

jason, a worthy read so appropriate for today's world... who would have thought in a shopping center, on an elevator.. time would stop and forgiveness would win.. almost too painfully real the effects of terrorism on everyday people doing everyday mundane tasks... tho timely i love the 5 minutes aspect...

JR's Thumbprints said...

I visualized a guy with an ear piece being given orders. This read like an action scene in a movie.

Aine said...

You need to leave your day job.


Ello said...

That was brutal. Really effective but brutal. I loved it.

The Preacherman said...

ok you win ;-)

Tiffany said...

Wow! That was riveting. Excellent writing.

iLL Man said...

It's one of those stories that needed a second reading. Then again I am fairly remedial at times......... ;)

Cracking good interpretation Jason.

laughingwolf said...

love that twist, jason :D

bluesugarpoet said...

Yeah, that blew me away too! Wow. Wow! - jana

McKoala said...

Some beautiful lines (I also particularly liked the 'frayed white throbbing at the edge of his vision') and a fascinating look into a pained psyche.

September said...

I am constantly amazed at the way words flow from your pen. This was great. I felt as if I was watching a movie - and getting an inside look into the terrorist's thoughts.
You had me hooked from the beginning.

Margaret said...

Jason, you had me gripped right from the beginning. Don't think I blinked once!
An excellent piece, so much said with only 250 words.
We couldn't have got any closer to the terrorist's mind.
A masterpiece...

RiverSoul said...

I read that two times. It was just awesome. A masterpiece.
Gr8 work.
Loved it.

Anonymous said...

Harshad, Terry, Sarah, Strugglingwriter, BrownPhantom, Geraldine, Jennifer, Jaye, Sameera, Catvibe, Nothingman, Terri, Lena, Karen, Meghan, Leatherdykeuk, Peter, Charles, Aniket, Kaye, Sawan, One More Believer, JR, Aine, Ello, Preacherman, Tiffany, IllMan, Laughingwolf, Bluesugarpoet, McKoala, September, Margaret, Riversoul,

Thank everyone for the feedback and kind words! From a writing standpoint, I like to set challenges for myself. With this one I wanted: showing not telling, convey a high state of agitation, pace the words consistently with the action, weave backstory into the moment in real time, and provide a twist. These short pieces really make us better writers. We have to understand what can be accomplished within the word count and execute very carefully.

Also, I was thinking about human nature with this piece. How we as humans seem to have conflict and brutality woven into our very nature. When I see war, I don't see good and evil, right and wrong. Those are the traps that fuel wars in the first place. I see humans compelled to act by the messy undersides of their nature. Here, the bomber is in a fury of pain and rage. Regardless of the political climate or which side you're on, you can understand his individual pain. Yet, even when he realizes he doesn't want to continue the cycle of bloodshed, the power play of larger forces nevertheless use him as an unwilling weapon. There will be many more brothers and fathers and wives hungering for the taste of blood now because of his actions.

War is the foulest of messes and ends not when the other side is destroyed, but when all sides lose the appetite to fight. I just wish that feeling would come a lot sooner than it does.

Bobbi said...

Cool! Great tension and fear!

RachaelfromNJ said...

Wow! Fantastic piece. Loved it.

ayomorocco said...

Tension Packed, Edge of Seat Narration. I Like...A Lot!

JaneyV said...

Jason, you have outdone yourself here. To show us the motivation for a suicide bomber, his fear, the genesis of his hatred even his redeeming nature AND to get us into the mind of those pulling his strings in only 250 words, man that takes some skill. Nobody is born a terrorist. The consequences of brutality and collateral damage are always going to be uniquely human. We have great capacity for love but also for violence. You have created such a rich and thoughtful piece here. I am in awe.

Thanks for running this. I screwed up my right shoulder half way through commenting so I have a lot to catch up with. It's been an amazing turnout. I have closely read your comment above and it's been so helpful. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

ceedy said...

Liked the story. Well written for 250 words. And your comment summarizing the thought process makes it more interesting.

You exemplify with this example that we are puppets but with rational thinking - we can break those strings.

K9 said...

short pieces make you (all) better writers...and dogs like me happier readers. well done.

Ÿ∂ Μ Î ŋÎ said...

The readers choice award goes to you, jason!! ;)
it kept me glued till the end... excellent flow... :)
great job!!

Anonymous said...

So much can happen in five minutes. Complete edgy despair and desperation in 300 seconds. Awesome!

Vesper said...

What a raw, tense, powerful 5 minutes! Excellent, Jason!

mukta said...

You have conquered this 'little space' of the word limit.
Very good work. When we write, we have so many choices, what aspect to focus on, what to highlight, what takes precedence , what doesn't.
And within this space you do justice to a really essential aspect of it all- the vicious circle of hate.
Really enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Bobbi, RachaelfromNJ, Ayomorocco, JaneyV, Ceedy, K9, Yamini, Selma, Vesper, Mutka,

Thank you all for letting me know how you reacted to this piece! I see many sharp eyes out there. I appreciate being able to join in the fun. :)

c.s. said...

excellent pacing! it gripped me til the end when i could hear myself finished with a 'WOW'.

Hiren said...

exceptional piece ... you have amazingly and aptly captured the sensitive theme of suicide bombers in just 250 words ... kudos !!!

It was a good insight into what exactly drives such beings to such extremes ... the devil's voice as some call it ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much C.S. and Hiren!

Terry said...

Well, that was a lot of fun! I met some really great people here, too. So, are we able to keep accessing these works and commenting for awhile? I haven't been able to read through all yet, and I'd really like to. Thank you for being such a gracious and conscientious host. I hope you can relax long enough to enjoy the scope of what you've created here.

gel(Emerald Eyes) said...

Oh my, Jason, my lungs were almost in my throat while reading this. Excellent suspense!

Aniket Thakkar said...

The city where I live just got a threat of terrorist attack... I wish some of the terrorists find their way to this post and regain some sanity!

Anonymous said...

Terry, feel free to comment and interact as long as you'd like!

Thanks Emerald Eyes! Great to see you again. :)

Aniket, I'm so sorry for that. I hope that sanity does prevail and no one was hurt.

Marcia said...