Fiction Friday – The Dark

The prompt from Write Anything for today’s Fiction Friday is –

A boy and his father awaken early to watch the sunrise from their mountain campsite, but they begin to panic when the sky remains dark long into the afternoon.

The first draft of my story which, along with the guidelines for Fiction Friday is completely unedited, is here –

 ‘Ok dad, We’ve had lunch now what?’

‘I don’t know son, I don’t know.’

‘Are you scared?’ Frank looked at his son and didn’t know what to say. Yes of course he was scared. The sun should’ve come up hours and hours ago, and it still wasn’t there. Toby was too ill to move yet and there was no phone signal or other people this far out. He was terrified. But he couldn’t tell Toby that. It was his first camping trip, he didn’t want to put him off for life. Although if the damn sun didn’t come up soon, he wasn’t sure there would be any more life.

‘Dad?’ Toby whispered.       

Frank ruffeled his son’s hair. ‘There’s nothing to worry about, this happens sometimes.’ He inwardly winced at the lie, but knew he had to keep Toby from getting too scared.

‘Why?’

‘No one really knows Tobe. Something about the sun spinning too fast round the world.’

‘You mean the earth spinning round the sun?’ Damn Toby for being so attentive in class.

‘Course yeah. Was just testing you. You passed.’ Toby wasn’t sure, but at eight he thought his dad was god – he’d believe him if he said anything – so he shrugged and pulled the sleeping bag further over his shoulders.

‘Are you cold again Tobe?’ He didn’t want to worry his dad too much so shook his head.

‘Nah I’m ok.’ He was a big boy, he wasn’t going to moan that he was cold on top of everything else. He couldn’t believe he’d got so ill they couldn’t move, couldn’t go home. He had to start feeling better soon. They had to find out his mum and sister Becky were ok. Although he and Becky argued constantly, right now he was so worried he’d never see her again. He had to get better so he could tell her he loves her. And where her Malibu Barbie was.

They fell into silence and after a while Frank fell into a fitful sleep. Dark shadows flew across his dreams, nasty echos and screams made him crouch and cover his ears, burry his head in his lap.

He woke suddenly feeling a bear pulling his arm.

‘Get off. Off!’ He shook his arm vicously before too late realising it was Toby on his arm. He knocked him off balance, but the boy was ok – better than ok, he was smiling.

‘Sorr…’ he started to say before Toby jumped up and knocked the wind out of him giving him a hug.

‘Look. Look Dad.’ He followed his son’s outstreched arm and nearly fainted with relief. Hardly visable in the distance behind him was a hint of a sun.

‘YES!’ he couldn’t help shouting and pulled Toby up so they danced round together.

Before they could stop their celebration dance they heard some clattering behind them. They stopped and looked between the trees where the noise was coming from.

A man was striding towards them followed by what was presumably his two sons. They both looked to be teenagers, but the excited chatter between them showed they were still young enough to enjoy a camping trip with their father.

‘See. See Tobes, I told you everything would be ok. There’s other people around, the sun’s coming up. You seem like you’re feeling better?’ Toby nodded his head and jigged a little to prove he was ok.

‘Morning campers!’ the father shouted towards them as his family got closer. Frank and Toby stayed rooted to the spot. Morning? He’d just said morning? But it was 5 in the afternoon.

‘Don’t mind if we join you do you? This is the best spot to watch the sun rise?’ Without waiting for a reply the father set his stuff to the right of their bags and fire. His sons followed swinging their bags happily.

‘How did you know the sun was going to rise now?’ Frank asked warily.

The father looked at his sons who laughed immediately at this.

‘Well, my man,’ he obviously was hiding his own laugh, ‘The sun rises every morning at five am in the summer.’ He looked back at his sons who had got over the joke and were now getting out the camp fire and food. He looked back at Frank and Toby and their stunned faces. For a second he looked puzzled, then he broke into raucous laughter.

Frank and Toby looked at each other while Frank but a hand on his son’s shoulder indicating him to take a discreet step back. They didn’t know this man, and he was acting a little mad. They had to be careful so near to the edge. 

‘Sorry, sorry,’ the man said, his laughter subsiding. ‘You don’t understand sorry. I’ve been where you are now, it’s just so funny to see someone else do it.’ Thoughts flew through Frank and Toby’s heads – where you are now? Do it? What? They took another step back in time with each other.

‘Let me guess,’ the father started, ‘You had a campfire last night?’ They both nodded. ‘And you used the wood from the forest behind us?’ They nodded again, Frank wondered where he was going with this. ‘You didn’t by any chance get some wood from that large tree over there? The one with the purple flowers?’ Frank looked at Toby, who nodded at them both. ‘I’m sorry to tell you then, you poisoned yourselves. The bark from that tree is highly toxic when burnt. Have you been ill?’ He asked just Toby.

Toby nodded again. Frank went white. He’d poisoned his son. Oh no, and he’d thought he’d just picked up a bug from school. Tracey would never forgive him.

‘Don’t worry. The toxins go out of your body within 24 hours. I bet you’re feeling better already aren’t you champ?’ Toby felt like a nodding dog he was repeating the movement so much.

‘But that doesn’t explain why you were laughing at us,’ Frank said. ‘You can’t think an eight year old boy getting sick is funny?’

‘No, no I don’t. But he’ll be fine. I was laughing at the other side effect of the toxic fumes. They knock you out totally. Even burning the smallest amount of wood will send you to sleep. Judging how much you’ve got there,’ he pointed to the dead fire behind them, ‘You burnt enough wood to send you to sleep for…’ he closed his eyes and flicked his head from left to right.

’22 hours!’ One of his sons shouted from their stove. No one had realised they were listening.

‘Yes. 22 hours. So you woke up at what you thought was 8am – I’m guessing you both have analogue watches? – but you’d actually woken up at 8pm. That’s why it was so dark.’

 Please, let me know what you think. I can’t wait to read other people’s stories, see if they had the same idea as me!

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12 thoughts on “Fiction Friday – The Dark

  1. I like it, it was a nice change of pace from the spooky sci-fi / fantasy ideas that kept popping into my mind. The twist was fun, even if it was poison that caused all the problems.

  2. I like this piece. You seem to enjoy writing real life-relationship stories, so kudos to you for making this prompt fit in with your writing style. It couldn’t have been easy. I think you should polish this piece up. With a little work you could flesh out the father-son relationship.
    Nice work.

    • Thanks Chris, I actually found it easier than you would’ve thought. My brain automatically finds a relationship story from anything – months ago there was a prompt to take a paragraph from a book you wouldn’t usually read and write from it. I took one about space travel – and turned it into the beginning of a love story. Where there’s a will there’s a way 🙂

  3. The subtle humour works well for this piece when you realise what has happened and it is all a misunderstanding. With an edit you could foreground the fear of the two a bit more.
    Adam

  4. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever had so many comments on a piece of writing before. Thanks all for them. I think I’m going to have to listen to you and do something else with it, maybe adding a little more fear and paranoia… Watch this space.

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