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Here's my solution to the Can You? Challenge. I've included Dave's set up and my conclusion at the end. I hope you like it!

Lance Corporal Mitchell came around slowly. He knew something was wrong but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He was supposed to be part of a night convoy between Camp Pendleton and 29 Palms California. He remembered stopping at a gas station that was roughly halfway between the two for a break, and he remember leaving after the break was over…Mitchell gave his head a shake and it banged off something hard. He also felt a lot of pressure across his chest and waist. The seatbelt!!! Now it was coming back to him. He’d bought a bottle of Mt. Dew at the gas station. After getting back on the road, he’d wedged his knee between the seat and steering wheel to free up his hands so he could open it. His knee had slipped and the HMMWV had veered into a ditch. That’s the last thing Mitchell remembered. The truck must have flipped because he was hanging upside down by the seat belt and his head was hitting the roof of the truck. Mitchell put his hands down and felt the fiberglass of the cab just in front of him. If he’d been in a canvas topped truck he’d have been toast for sure. The roof was covered in puddles of something wet and Mitchell could smell something familiar. At first, he thought that the wetness was blood from his head because his face was wet too. He brought his hand to his face to try and see it better in the dark when suddenly, the smell clicked into place. It wasn’t blood, it was diesel fuel. The fuel tank must have been punctured, and now it was draining down into the cab. It was everywhere! It had soaked the seat and Mitchell’s clothes. He was already beginning to feel light headed from the fumes.

Mitchell reached up and felt for the seat belt buckle. He pushed but nothing happened. By touch, he determined that the plastic button had been broken off and he was going to have to play with the metal on the inside to unlatch it. It might take a few minutes, but LCPL Mitchell was a mechanic. He was used to smelling diesel and working in tight spots that he couldn’t see.

“Are you alright son,” said a voice from just outside the truck. Mitchell started as a flash light shined in his eyes. The light was aimed down and Mitchell saw a California State Trooper behind it.

“Yeah,” Mitchell said, “I’m fine but the seat belt latch is broken and I’m kinda stuck. I can probably make it work, but it will take me a minute or two.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll have you outta there in no time,” the cop smiled at him. “Are you hurt?”

“I got a nasty shot to the head, but it’s not bleeding,” Mitchell replied.

“Ok, once we get some more light down here, we’ll cut you out off that belt and take a look at your head. EMT’s are on the way. Hang in there buddy,” he said.

He gave one last reassuring smile then started back up the hill. Mitchell could just see the top of the ditch. It was steeper than he remembered, but he didn’t really trust his judgment at this point. He chuckled as he saw the officer slip, catch himself with his hands, and then scramble the rest of the way up. The blue and red lights outlined him as he took something from another cop. Mitchell squinted to make it out, then he screamed. He meant to yell that there was fuel everywhere down here but only got out, “NOOOOOO!!” before the guy popped the road flare and gave it an underhanded lob toward the truck…

In a split second, Mitchell's life flashed before his eyes, his sister being born, high school graduation, birthdays, Christmas trees, army training camp and becoming a corporal.

I'm too young to die.

He watched the flare sail through the air, then it hit the ground. But before it could ignite, the flame petered out. Was it moisture from the rain or just a faulty flare? He didn't have time to answer his own question, just thanked his lucky stars.

"Don't light another one! This truck could blow!"

Mitchell wrestled with the seatbelt. With his Swiss army knife, he began to cut through the seatbelt.

The state trooper returned and tried to open the car door but it was damaged and wouldn't open. He took his gun and broke the window so Mitchell could get out. Shards flew in Mitchell's direction.

"You're only making it worse. The other window's open."

Mitchell pulled himself out of the car, trying to avoid being cut by the broken glass.

"Is the truck salvageable?" asked the cop. Before the corporal could answer, the state trooper flicked his lighter to light a cigarette.

"NOOOO!" Mitchell yelled. He grabbed the state trooper by the collar and ran with him away from the truck. The lighter flew through the air and landed on top of the truck. As they reached the slope, the cop slipped again. The corporal grabbed his arm, and pulled him behind a concrete barrier.

The truck suddenly ignited. It shuddered and bounced from the explosion. Flames licked the sky. The state trooper called for a fire truck on his cellphone.

"Close call. Do you need an ambulance?" he asked.

"What I need is for you to NOT help me anymore." Stupid cop.

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The following comments are for "Can You? Challenge"
by sandra

The underlines are supposed to be italics! So much for computer savvy!


( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: October 20, 2011 )

stupid cop
Yep, I think I've been pulled over by this cop. But, then again, we all think we're smarter than them, that we'd do things differently when not celebrating them as heroes.

All that matters in the end is that you got our fella out of the wreckage. Shame Johnny Cochran is dead. He'd be all over this: If the match wasn't lit, you must acquit.

( Posted by: toscano [Member] On: October 21, 2011 )

Thanks for your comments!

I think this challenge was a harder one with fewer options but maybe some others can come up with a more original ending!


( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: October 21, 2011 )

USMC: Uncle Sam's Misguided Children
Hmmm. Humvees. A LCpl. 29 Stumps (as we called it). Hey, did you do a crash course researching Marine Corps history? Or do you personally know MGySgt. Joseph P. Bello (USMC, Ret.)? LOL.

Very well done, right done to that terminally dumbass CHP! - Jim

( Posted by: JamesYoung [Member] On: October 27, 2011 )

Excoose de Typos
Sorry, Sandra. Also forgot a Camp Pendleton ref. Why? The PC I was on yesterday rattled me by cutting me off three times before I could hit the submit key. Had to write it over and over - and my memory is failing. And the last line should've read, "...right DOWN to the terminally dumbass CHP." Gadzooks!
- Repetitive Jim

( Posted by: JamesYoung [Member] On: October 28, 2011 )

Thanks for your humour and comments! Yes, I knew Bello personally. He's quite the character!


( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: October 28, 2011 )

Sandra's Can You?
Did she? Yes she did. Very funny, and well written.


( Posted by: HeRoCoMpLeX [Member] On: November 1, 2011 )

thanks, Dave!

( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: November 1, 2011 )

Book Release of RERUN
My novel RERUN will be published tomorrow on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 and available initially on It runs 302 pages, far longer than any of my short stories, now collected in "Time Passages."

Sorry for the long absence from Miss all you good and talented folks. - Jim Young

( Posted by: JamesYoung [Member] On: September 10, 2013 )

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