Select one of the three sentences below, and begin your story with that sentence -- the rest is up to you. The winning entry will be chosen by the AC editing staff.
**Choose one of the following sentences to begin your story:1. He had not been expecting a letter.
2. Someone was knocking at the door.
3. She still couldn't shake the previous night's dream.
Note: Feel free to change the genders in these sentences, however, everything else should be the same.
Additional Guidelines-No more than 800 words.
-All entries must be 100% original, in English and cannot be previously published.
This was my entry... Enjoy!:
He had not been expecting a letter. In fact, he had been avoiding letters of any kind. The sound of approaching hoof beats caused all of his muscles to tense. It wasn’t until the innkeeper approached that he realized his fingernails had gouged the wooden table. With a furtive glance at the new divots, she gently laid the letter down beside the grizzly, one-eyed old man. Her escape was thwarted by the man’s lightening-quick reflexes. Her wrist was ensnared before she realized he had even moved. His movements slowed as he brought her to a whispering distance.
His voice was like gravel being crushed under a carriage. “Open it.” The severity of his tone prodded her to act without protestation. The letter had not been securely sealed and she opened it with ease. The closer she came to its contents, the more resigned to his fate he became.
“It’s naught but an old playin’ card, sir.” At this unsurprising and unwelcome news, the old man closed his eye, exhaled, and leaned back into his chair. Seeing it as an opportunity to escape, the innkeeper dropped the letter and scurried away.
Though he had never received the Ace of Spades, he knew that it meant death. A death reserved for traitors. He flushed with shame at the sudden memory. It was a death that could take a thousand forms: his food poisoned, a riding accident, a shot in the dark, a knife in the back. He feared each option equally.
He didn’t eat in the common room of the inn with the other patrons that night. Instead, he sat in the corner of his room with one candle lit and his pistol drawn.
The next morning, sleep-deprived and surly, he, with pistol in hand, went in search of breakfast. The innkeeper shrieked when she saw the unkempt old sailor with a pistol in the hallway. He mumbled something incoherent at her and slowly made his way downstairs. He was the last one to eat, making sure no one died from the food. His stomach rumbled its approval as he ate. The moment he finished breaking his fast, he moved with unearthly speed back to his room.
Rarely leaving his room except to eat, his suspicion of others grew. The cleaning woman knocked on his door and nearly lost her hand to a bullet.
The days passed in a similar fashion with the old man getting more trigger-friendly with every sound. Almost a week had gone by with no sign of his assailant.
Late one night, when even the sound of insects has ceased, a rider approached. Dragged from his sleepless stupor, fear seized him. Death was coming for him, and it was riding a dark horse.
In a final act of defiance, he cocked the pistol and put it to his head. He heard the knock at the inn door. Death was knocking. The hinges whined as the door opened. He felt the weight of the gun in his hand as if it was the first time he held it and pulled the trigger.