THE RULES: Fiction of any genre was eligible for submission. The challenge? A maximum word count of only 500 words (that's really short).

WINNER!  Derek's short story "Friends to the End" is presented below...

If you enjoyed the above story, please check out Derek's books available at amazon.com

Darkness surrounded Harry and George, and the creature waited below. They were safe for the moment. The thing could not get them up here, but they could not stay. It simply wasn’t an option.

Harry was afraid. He knew the stakes. As serious as it gets.

“George,” he whispered. “We can’t stay here. We have to go.”

George said nothing, but Harry knew he understood. George was his best friend, and best friends don’t always need words. Especially not at a time like this.

Harry laid on his belly and eased to the edge. He peered over the side then quickly pulled his head back. Nothing down there but darkness.

They couldn’t last until morning.

Harry sat up and put his head in his hands. They had to get out of here. If they went over the edge—if they jumped—Harry was certain they would survive the landing. But that would put them down there. With the thing.

If they moved fast? A dead run from the moment they landed?

They wouldn’t be fast enough.

Harry pushed his palms against his eyes. There was no way both of them would make it. It wasn’t fair. He wanted to cry, and he would have, if he hadn’t taken his hands from his eyes and seen the look on George’s face.

It told Harry everything he needed to know.

He embraced George and tears again threatened to come. He took a deep breath. He had to be brave. In the face of what George was willing to do, Harry had no choice but to equal his courage.

He kept his arms locked tight around his friend as long as possible. But it couldn’t last forever.

Another deep breath. A whisper into George’s ear.

And Harry let go.

George leapt over the edge in heroic silence. Into the darkness. To face the thing, to buy his friend some time, and perhaps, to save his life.

Harry backed away from the brink. And he waited. And counted.

One. Two. Three!

Harry vaulted over the edge. The fall lasted forever but took only a moment. He landed hard and bent his knees, regaining his balance and launching into a blind run.

He knew where he was going. Ten fast steps and his foot encountered the stool. He didn’t pause. Staying in motion. Climbing to the top. Reaching upward. Striving. Hoping.

His fingers found the switch.

The overhead light blazed into luminous glory. Harry shielded his eyes as brightness filled the room. He squinted.

The creature was gone, driven away by the light, back into hiding.

And there, by the bed, lay George. Unharmed. A miracle. Harry ran to him, scooped his friend up and hugged him tightly to his face.

“Thank you, George,” he said through a grateful smile. “You’re the bravest monkey in the whole wide world.”

Harry padded down the hallway toward the bathroom in his footed pajamas, his best friend by his side.


By Derek Blount