Prompt 33-Turning Point

Write about a time when everything changed in the blink of an eye.

Jack looked around frantically for his big brother. One minute he was there, the next he was gone. “This isn’t funny, Todd!”

Todd had been acting weird since waking Jack up before the sun had risen. Todd had told him to get dressed, and quickly, and to meet him at the back door. “There isn’t much time,” he had whispered, cryptically.

Thinking it was just a practical joke, Jack trudged down the stairs, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He was still in his pajamas.

“What are you doing?” Todd asked frantically. “I thought I told you to get dressed!”

Jack still wasn’t totally awake. It was barely 4:30. He shrugged and slipped on his shoes. “Wuzgoinon?” he mumbled.

Todd sighed. “Never mind, we have to get moving.”

And so Jack had trailed after his brother for twenty minutes before becoming fully aware of his surroundings. They were cutting their way through the woods behind their house, but they weren’t on the beaten down trail they usually used. He tugged on his brother’s large pack, taking notice of it for the first time. “Todd? Where are we going?”

A hand reached behind him, waving him to silence. “Not yet,” Todd said softly, trying to keep his voice from carrying far. “It’s not safe yet.”

“But why do you have the camping gear?” Jack insisted.

Todd spun around and gripped Jack by the shoulders with firm hands. His eyes were wide, and even in the dark Jack could tell he was paler than usual. “I promise I will tell you, but not yet. We have to get to high ground so we can lay low.”

Jack shook his head. Lay low? For what? “Todd I don’t understand,” he began to say. But Todd had already turned around and was walking away from him again, with more determination than before. Jack had no choice but to try and keep up. He was fully awake now.

He watched as Todd climbed over a small ridge into a gully but when he crested it himself, Todd had disappeared. “Todd?” he called out, his whole body on edge. If he was going to jump out and shout and make Jack wet himself, Jack was going to kick him in the nuts.

It wasn’t like Todd to take a joke so far. He liked to taunt and tease, as big brothers are wont to do, but he never scared Jack on purpose. His odd behavior led Jack to believe there was something really wrong, and now that he couldn’t find him, Jack was growing ever more nervous by the heartbeat. The woods were no place for a 12 year old boy alone.

Worse still, they hadn’t traveled by any marked trail, so Jack wasn’t certain he could make his way back to the house to wake up mom and dad and warn them that something was wrong with Todd.

There was a sudden flash of light followed by a deafening cacophony of voices. Jack spun around, disoriented from the flash. There were armed men all around the gully. They were shouting unintelligibly and waving their weapons.

Jack threw up his hands instinctively and swallowed a scream that threatened to rip from his throat. There was more unintelligible shouting, but the frantic waving of weapons ceased. “Please, I want to go home,” he cried.

A pair of soldiers – he assumed their body armor and weapons meant they were soldiers – nearest him spoke quickly to one another. He still couldn’t make out a word of it. Were they foreign? Had they invaded? He swallowed hard again. Where was Todd?

The smaller soldier approached him. Jack thought it might be a woman, but he couldn’t tell with the thick armor and clouded helmet obscuring her face. She brought her arm up as though she were checking the time, and tapped her wrist several times with her other hand.

She spoke again, this time to him. Her lilting voice mesmerized him, but not nearly as much as the smooth robotic voice that spoke after her on a half second delay. The robot voice was in perfect English. “Please repeat your last statement.”

Jack trembled. He wished she would take off the helmet. He wished they would all point their weapons elsewhere. He wished he had never followed Todd out of the house. “I want to go home,” he whimpered.

The robotic voice echoed him, translating his plea back into whatever language these strangers spoke. A nod came from the woman as she processed the translation. She spoke back to him and his body turned to ice. The robotic voice relayed her message. “Home is gone. You are now a servant of the Galactic Empire.”

Notes: Whew, got this one out with no trouble. The storm was making my power do wonky things. Kept flickering and threatening to go out. A tree branch fell on my neighbor’s truck so I’m sure there are other downed branches elsewhere causing a disruption to service. A friend of mine a few miles south had no power.

I had no idea where I was going when I started this story and somehow I have another intriguing prospect. I’m not disappointed with this fact, but goodness I have so many stories to work on. These prompts are a blessing and a curse!

There are lots of ways this prompt could play out. Throw a wrench in your characters plans. Make it a literal blink. Get your notebook out and jot down some ideas!

Thursday’s prompt: Write about a souvenir you have bought or received.

Souvenirs are an interesting starting point. They usually hold some sort of sentimental value, they’re memories after all. Well, I’ll figure something out. Have a great night! Stay safe! See you tomorrow!


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