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It started with the large, black clouds. They came racing over the horizon, and like giant plumes of smoke, they appeared to be folding over themselves. But unfortunately these clouds were not alone. With them came the heavy winds. They arrived just as the massive thunderclouds blotted out the sky above me, and they blew dead leaves, litter and sand in swirling, circling patterns.

The rain followed shortly after.

This was no ordinary rainfall. Each droplet seemed to be the size of boxing gloves, and they fell with such force, that the water stung when it hit you. The rain started slowly but immediately turned into a torrent, and any area that was not paved quickly filled with puddles.

Finally I had seen enough, and with my feet squeaking in my shoes, I raced toward my house. Within the cloud, a low rumble was born and it slowly grew into a large thunderclap. It's sound was so intense I nearly fell to my knees, but somehow I kept running.

Which was a good thing because the storm didn't just bring wind, rain and clouds. Something far more fiendish came with it.

As I approached my house, I heard the scream. At first, I thought I imagined it, but a second one soon followed. Somewhere, someone was in pain and I knew I had little time to waste.

Leaving spraying rooster tails of water behind in my wake, I reached the back door and went crashing into the kitchen, oblivious to any danger to myself. All I could think about was my eight year old daughter, alone in the storm darkened house.

I heard another scream and continued my sprint through the house in panic. The last scream sounded like it came from upstairs so I bound up the steps, three at a time. I burst into Louise's room and stopped dead in my tracks. My worst fears were confirmed.

"Daddy, daddy!" Louise cried.

"Hold still baby! Just hold still, everything is going to be all right." I instantly hated myself for telling her what I thought was probably a lie.

"Do you know who I am?"

The man had a handful of my daughters curly golden hair and was holding a knife to her throat. "There was an escape down at the court house this morning. You fit the description."

"That's right 'Daddy'! So you know I'm pretty good with knives right?"

"Yes, I know."

The man had been on trial for murder. He was accused of molesting and butchering four little girls, just like Louise. He managed to grab a troopers gun this morning and made a miraculous escape, killing two policemen in the process.

Louise was crying uncontrollably, streams of tears rolling down her face. It was tearing my heart out. The anger in my voice was apparent as I spoke to the killer. "Why don't you leave her alone, take me instead. I'll drive you where ever you want."

"I don't think so Daddy! I think little Goldie Locks here will do just fine, won't you darlin'?" As he spoke he gave Louise's hair a vicious yank causing her to cry even harder.

I had no choice. I told him where to find my keys and he shoved me in the closet and jammed a chair against the door knob. I heard him stomping down the stairs.

I couldn't wait any longer. I started a brutal assault on the closet door. There was no room to make a running charge at it, so sitting on the floor, I placed my back against the wall, and with my feet against the door, I applied pressure. With a growing rush of adrenaline, and continued increasing pressure, the door finally gave away and I was free.

I picked up the phone to call for help, but the storm had knocked it out.

The roads out here were nothing more than twisting, winding cow paths really, having been built around the various farmers fields so as not to disturb their property. If I could determine which way the killer had gone, I was sure I could catch up with him.

I ran out the front door to see if I could catch a glimpse of my disappearing car, but it didn't matter. In his hasty departure, the escaped killer had ran over my mail box and pieces of it were strewn several hundred feet down the road heading south.

As impossible as it seems, the storm appeared to have increased in intensity. This would work for me and against me. It would slow the killers get away, but also have the same effect on my pursuit. It hardly mattered at this point. As I ran around the house and headed to the barn, the hail started falling. Seconds later, I shot out of the barn on my four wheeler and headed across the field as fast as I could while still maintaining control.

The hail pelted my body and dime sized ice balls littered the ground in my path. The pain hardly registered even as the bruises and welts rose on my skin. I crossed the field and took a trail through the woods that would lead me to the cut back of the road the escapee had taken. Ahead of me was a creek, normally just the gentle flow of a lazy country brook. But now, after being fed by the downpour, it was a raging torrent of broiling madness. My only chance was to jump it so I increased my speed. In a spray of flying mud and debris, I was airborne and hanging on for dear life.

I didn't make it. As the four wheeler was being carried away by the current, I managed a quick grab for my rifle that was sticking out of the utility bag strapped to the side. Holding it out of the water the best I could, I scrambled up the bank of the creek to safety, choking on the water I had swallowed.

It was only a few hundred yards further up the hill where I would make my stand. With low hanging branches scraping my face and thorn bushes tearing at my jeans, I finally crawled to the top just as my car appeared coming around the bend. Gasping for breath, I stumbled to the center of the road and tried to calm myself enough to take careful aim with my rifle.

Time slowed down... I could see the rain splashing off the barrel of my rifle between the forward and rear sites... The child killer had spotted me and I heard the roar of the engine as the car accelerated... The wiper blades throwing rain off the windshield in slow motion... I took a deep breath... slowly my finger tightened on the trigger... The rifle barrel bucked in my hands as the bullet flew... The windshield exploded in thousands of glistening fragments... I flew through the air as the car hit me...

I woke up in a ditch with something dripping on my face. The rain had stopped, but the tears of my little girl were falling in place of what the storm had offered. I opened my eyes and Louise saw that I was alive. As she lay there, sobbing and hugging me, a police car pulled up to my overturned car and I knew that everything was going to be all right...

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The following comments are for "Write Off - The Escapee"
by The Hal

Write Off

This was a great story that kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through. It had good pace, good feeling of anxiety and a happy ending...what more could you want. I would give a slight edge to Virtex, although it was a tough choice, but we must choose. It's not to take away from your tail of a father desparate to save his daughter. Good job.

( Posted by: Jeff [Member] On: February 18, 2002 )

So close
This was such a tough call, but I'm giving this one the edge for it's use of water. I know that sounds silly, but I like little touches like that. For instance, when the water was bouncing off of the gun's barrel and the switch from rain to tears at the end. Super!

Alright, we need at least one more person to vote to break this tie. Let's go people. Stand up and be counted.


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: February 22, 2002 )

Vivid imagery
Hal, you can paint quite a picture. I loved the descriptive nature of your story, it strikes a chord with my style of writing. I think it is the details that help a reader get a feel for the writers world, and you did that masterfully in this short span of words.

( Posted by: kross [Member] On: February 22, 2002 )

First i want to comment on this story, and then i'll let you all know which one i preferred.

Hal, the story was great, again simple plot and great pace, a few grammatical points, but again nothing major (no one was kidding when they said it was very difficult to choose).

As for the story itself? it was good, but for some reason just didn't grab me the way Virtex's story did... so I'd have to place my vote with his. Again i mention, it was really difficult to choose, all in all i enjoyed both stories very much.

humble regards...

Ju =*_*=

( Posted by: De`esse [Member] On: February 28, 2002 )

I would say it's more emotional, deeper, and all around better written, though Virtex's is extremely awesome... There's something about stories like this that make me remember what I want to be like as a father, when I grow up. ;) Anyway, that was confusing. Let's just say I want to be a good father, and stories like that always reawaken a really passionate side of me that nothing else does.

This one wins, in my eyes.

( Posted by: Death Blade [Member] On: February 28, 2002 )

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