Writer’s Digest Story

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     A couple months ago, I decided to submit a short story to Writer’s Digest. There was a 750 word limit and a simple premise: “A man who lives alone sees a set of footprints leading away from his house the morning after a heavy snowfall.”

Here is my submission. (I didn’t win, but that’s ok because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and dog doggone it, people like me!)   

Rick “Gator” Truman waited for his best friend to climb into the cab of his pickup truck before jumping into the driver’s seat. Bud, the four year old bull-mastiff was given to Huron, South Dakota’s new fire chief by the men in his company.

“If the weatherman is right, we’ll get at least a foot of snow tonight.” Rick said.

“Woof!” Bud responded.

Rick purchased a modest house, on a dead-end street, barely within Huron’s city limits. He enjoys the quiet, but the serenity comes with a major disadvantage; the fire chief was left to plow his long driveway. Rick drove through the sleepy town and pulled into his garage. The warmth of his king-sized solid oak bed was calling him, but one task remained.

“C’mon Bud, let’s get the plow onto the front end so we can get an early start in the morning.” Rick said.

The morning sun invaded every corner of the small bedroom, waking Rick from his nightly hibernation. The moment he opened the room door, Bud rushed in and jumped atop the quilt.

“Get down from there!” Rick ordered.

Bud quickly complied and landed on the ground. “Maybe I’ll try jumping on your bed and see if you like it.” Rick teased.

Bud ran and pawed at the exit to the garage as if he knew what was on his owner’s mind.

“Let’s go move some powder.” Rick said.

The garage door opened and God’s baby powder covered the landscape. Rick began to turn towards his pickup when a strange sight caused him to halt.  {I didn’t include the quotation marks when writing the word “god,” because I wasn’t sure how the publication would react to my atheism!}  

Inexplicably, a set of footprints leading away from his house seemed to have appeared from nowhere.

“Where the heck did those come from?”

Rick walked closer to investigate. The first track began in the middle of the driveway and trailed off into the street. Strangely, the print was clearly made with a pair of department issued work boots. The more startling fact was the shoe size; Rick was the only fireman who wore size eighteen, and his pair remained locked in the cab of the pickup.

“I knew we had ghosts. I can’t wait for the guys at the fire house to hear that I finally found proof.”

Endless jokes about the mysterious tracks filled much of the morning hours.

“C’mon Gator, the footprints are obviously not from a ghost.” Chuck Hose said.

“Ok Mr. Know-it-all, please explain where they came from.” Rick responded.

“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you…the Lord said.” Chuck teased.

The room erupted with laughter. Countless conspiracy theories were suggested and Rick planned on debunking all of the legitimate hypotheses.

“I’ll find even more proof. You guys can laugh, but I know there is a ghost on my property.” Rick said.

News travels through Huron faster than a tide rolls in Alabama. Two days elapsed before the fire chief earned a new appointment; Chief Paranormal Specialist. True to his word, Rick investigated every possibility for an explanation to the eerie footprints. There remained only one truth; a ghost walked from the driveway to the road. Rick couldn’t wait to reveal his findings.

“Regardless of what Chuck thinks, it sounds to me like you did some great detective work, Gator.” Kenny Manning said.

“Thanks Kenny.” Rick replied.

Chuck stood from his seat and commented. “Don’t thank him yet!”

“What are you talking about?” Rick asked.

“We have to tell you something.” Chuck continued. “Hey Mike, do you want to do the honors since it was your idea?”

Mike nodded his head and began to explain. “The footprints were just a silly prank.”

Visibly disappointed, Rick spoke. “Are you serious?”

“Sorry Gator, but we had to do it.” Mike said.

“It might be me, but that smile on your face says you might not be sorry.” Chuck quipped.

“Nonetheless, we all know how crazy you get about the supernatural, so we couldn’t turn down this opportunity. Once the snow stopped, we jumped into old Ladder 13 and made the extensive excursion to your property. I hopped into the bucket and Chuck extended the ladder out to the middle of your driveway. I’m sure you can piece together the rest of the story, Sherlock.” Mike said.

“That doesn’t explain the size of the footprints.” Rick challenged.

“Oh yeah! We ordered another pair.” Mike informed.

“You can keep them for being such a good sport.” Chuck added.

“I’ll get my revenge!” Rick threatened.

[THE END]

@PeteTeix617

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