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Jessica Cambrook, 28 Jun '12

Her eyes, frozen wide open, never stop staring. They break me, accusing me of not doing enough to save her. What could I do, Sarah? My mind thinks back. We were just a day away from the summit before the snowstorm hit, and we found shelter in a cave. The ice fell and formed an unbreakable prison wall that locked us in. Sarah died two days ago, shivering violently and unable to breathe. I fear it won't be long until I'm joining her. The shadows seem to suffocate me with their solid blackness. The only light is from a patch of clean ice on the roof of the cave.

There's nothing to do but wait to die in here, the intense mixture of grief, boredom and fear have me breaking down almost constantly. We... I have a knife in one of the backpacks. The knife was supposed to be for opening our tins of food, not as a temptation for how to relieve myself of this situation. A means of cowardly escape from the cave and Sarah, an empty shell of the person I knew I would be with for the rest of my life.

Voices tell me to get the knife. Other voices tell me to keep going for as long as my body will allow, in Sarah's memory. I hear them arguing but I don't know who to believe. For now, I remain motionless.

The knife calls. So do men trying to break through the ice. Or are they in the ice? I ran out of food two days ago, I eat the snow for water. They call to me. Or am I shouting at myself? There's someone in the shadows. I can see him. No! My fingers curl tighter around the knife I refuse to let go of. They try to make me but I keep it with me always so they can't get me. Someone's shouting that they are near, they're almost about to break through. I can see shadows dancing on the other side of the wall of ice that blocks me in this hell, taunting me with their freedom. Loud bangs frighten me awake during the night and I resent them. If they manage to get through, my knife will have its first taste of blood. Sarah doesn't like them either. Not long now.

Comments · 10

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  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    What do you think about ambiguous endings? I use them in a lot of my stories, but I don't know if a concrete happy ending is sometimes better? Anyway, not sure where this idea came from but let me know what you think as this is my first post :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Hi @Jessica Cambrook - Great debut, I liked the introspective nature of the character's conversation with herself. At the end I wasn't sure if she was imagining what she was describing, or confusing potential rescuers, or genuinely in danger.

    BTW To add a paragraph just use the return key to add a blank line, if you want to add a section break add a blank line and put a tilde at the start of it, sorry if the hint on the right hand side wasn't clear. Any idea how I could better explain it?

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Timothy Johnson said...

    I love the ambiguous ending, it really adds to the confusion and delirium.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    Oh thanks for that! Looks loads better now. *Obvious Newbie* :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    @Anthony Blackshaw I think it was just me being stupid, but I thought it meant enter wouldn't work to make breaks in the text. Maybe a little mention of that would have helped more, or if I'd actually tried that... Thanks again, this site is great! :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    @Jessica Cambrook - I agree with you, I think the text should be reviewed to clarify what I mean by a break - the term is too ambiguous. Thanks for the feedback, and the kind words :)

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jamie Thomas said...

    Forgive the tasteless pun, but this was chilling. You are very talented, and this burst is frighteningly good. I loved it.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Drew Ewing said...

    @Jessica cambrook. I like the tone of the story. It is somber and sad but had a tension to it. And you quickly build on it by adding the people coming for him. And then you don't know if they are there to help our to hurt him our if they are even there at all. Great tension. I enjoyed the ending. Almost all of my stories end with ambiguity.

    • Posted 4 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    Thanks @Drew Ewing! Me too, ambiguity gives the reader choice.

    • Posted 4 years ago
  • David Taylor said...

    I think ambiguity is always good as well. To use an apt quote from Stephen King: "writing begins in the mind of the author, but ends in the imagination of the reader", which I think is saying that a piece of prose it better if the reader can 'run with it'. It's certainly worked well here! Well done! I've loved not knowing whether the men at the end are actually there or are just in the character's head.

    • Posted 4 years ago