What I Did On My Summer Vacation
 Sep 29, 2016

This contest is about writing an Urban Fantasy story, that is, the setting has to be a large town or city, and there must be a supernatural element in it. In addition, it needs to involve a holiday, any of them. The word limit is set high, and you have a month to do it, so let's see some good yarns.

Oh, and one other twist: You are allowed to include one picture anywhere in the story. You have to create it yourself, any of the deck formats are fine (3D, chop, Illustration, etc).

Hit list: Have I mentioned Gremlins yet? ;)

Contest Rules
* Entry Fee: Free
* Prize: Advanced Trophy
* Level: Advanced
* Character Limits: 1500 to 4000 words
* Submit period: 31 days
* Voting period: 3 days
* All regular Writing Deck Rules apply.
* Multiple entries are allowed in this contest.

The character is Thorn by TheDarkerSideOfArt ;)

Good luck and have fun!
1st place

It rained the whole first week of summer vacation, my friends were out of town or lived too far away and my only company was my baby brother, Chet. It isn’t like I had a choice since mom told me. “Brian, you are the oldest and you need to watch your little brother this summer.” I don’t have to tell you that a twelve-year-old and a nine-year-old share little in common, so I was reduced to watching kiddie shows on TV or playing his stupid video games.

On the eighth day, the sun came out with a vengeance. After mom left for work I got up and changed to go outside but before I got to the door I was caught by Chet who wanted to know where I was going. No sense in denying it, considering I was wearing my bathing suit and had a towel slung over my shoulder. “Swimming hole. I’ll be back in an hour so you go back to bed.”

Chet was having none of that, he was not allowed to go there but then again, neither was I. Mom said we could go to the town pool when she got out of work but the swimming hole was off limits. There were no lifeguards or any adult supervision of any kind, just a free flowing river and big ole rope to swing from. Chet would rat me out in a heartbeat and going to the swimming hole with Chet was better than no swimming hole at all.

At the end of our cul de sac, there is a logging road that goes deep into the McCready’s property. Duck under the chain with the no trespassing sign and go two miles till you see the big granite boulder. Chet was complaining about the walk before we even got a half mile down the road but I just let him whine till we got to the boulder, then we looked around for the little path to the river and made a beeline for the swimming hole.

So, I have never been to the swimming hole and had only heard about it from older kids. Four years ago a teenager drowned there and ever since the place had been off limits. I had heard that old man McCready would shoot you on sight if he caught you, McCready was another legend, no one had seen him in decades just the odd lumber truck rolling through the neighborhood every week or two.

The swimming hole was everything I expected. Chet and I had blast swinging on the rope into the cool refreshing river. I was already planning on us doing this every day when mom left for work. This was the life and even having Chet along wasn’t so bad, in fact, it was kind of nice. When we got home, I did the laundry to cover the evidence and even cleaned up a bit around the house. Mum would never know.

We did this everyday Mom worked for the next two weeks. I worried that the neighbors would notice us but in our little neighborhood, everyone was either working during the day or off on family vacation. On the weekend, Mom took us to a movie, grilled hamburgers outside and even took us to the town pool. I should have appreciated this more but all I could think about was Monday and the next trip to the swimming hole.

Chet had long since stopped complaining about the walk and the bugs and was as eager as I was to get to the swimming hole. After a good swim, we started back when we heard a strange whirring noise, a bright flash followed by some odd noises coming through the woods. I followed the sound with a nervous little brother in tow. We arrived at a clearing and I signaled Chet to crouch down low. In the center of the clearing was a flying saucer complete with blinking lights and beeping noises. A hatch was opening with a whoosh sound and a clunk when it hit the ground. My heart was in my throat when a small creature, about the size of Chet slowly emerge. It had two legs and two arms and a head although oddly proportioned and seemed to be dressed in some type of gray protective gear.

The creature turned toward us, tapped it’s chest and turned into old man McCready; dirty overalls, straw hat and shotgun, exactly like I had heard him described 1000 times before. He looked right through us while both of us stayed absolutely still. We wanted to run but were frozen with panic and then McCready turned and walked off down the path on the other side of the clearing.

After what seemed like an hour, we dared to move. I know any sensible person would have run for home but I just had to get a closer look. I was looking every which way but heading right for the saucer; then up the hatch and right inside. The inside was larger than it looked from the outside, with four seats and some kind of yellow glowing blinking dome in the middle. From the outside the hull was a dull tarnished silver color but from the inside it was totally transparent.

I watched as Chet slowly made his way to the hatch. I could see the fear in his face as I reached down and pulled him in. Chet stared at the glowing dome then put both hands right on it. Bang, the hatch slammed shut as Chet’s hands flew off from the dome. I reached out hoping that if I touched it again it would open back up but the minute my hands touched the glove we took off like a shot. Way faster than a speeding bullet and in less than 10 seconds we were high above the earth in space.

I kept playing with the dome until I figured out sort of how to control it. This was so fun. We made it to the moon in minutes then shot to what I think was Mars and back to near earth again, all in less than an hour. My fear was gone, this was so much fun. I just wanted to do this all day long. I looked toward Earth but could not figure out where we should be heading for. I guess I should have paid attention in geography class.

Suddenly the glowing dome went from a soft yellow to purple. The craft started hurtling toward Earth at a high rate of speed. I was sure we were crashing, The hull went from transparent to black and the only light was the dim glow of the globe. As soon as it went dark, there was no sensation of movement until I heard the whoosh of the hatch opening and the dull thud of it hitting the ground.

The hull remained black but I could see light coming in around the hatch. “Let’s get out of here” I shouted to Chet and we both ran out the hatch. Standing to greet us was old man McCready, shotgun raised and pointed right at us. “Did you boys have fun?”

My throat went dry as I tried to answer. “Uh, we didn’t mean to do, I am so sorry.”

McCready didn’t flinch, we were right square in his aim and he asked us again, “Did you boys have fun?”

I mustered up all my courage thinking I would have a big hole in my chest in short order, “Yes sir, it was fun. Real fun. The most fun I have ever had in my entire life.”

McCready lowered the shotgun and a grin came over his face. “I like when people tell me the truth. It is fun, the most fun anyone will ever have. You know my secret and what you don’t know is I can read your mind. So, I know you can be trusted to keep my secret. If you and your brother come every morning and work in my garden, I will take you places you only dream about and you can use the swimming hole whenever you like. Plus you will get $50 a week. But you must keep our little secret.”

I looked over at my baby brother who was shaking his head yes as fast as he could. “You betcha, Mr. McCready.”, the words just flew out of my mouth.

Over dinner that evening, I told mom we met Mr. McCready when he was driving by with a load of logs and that he offered us a job for the summer and maybe even some weekends once school started. I expected more questioning but I guess mom was relieved that we would not be home alone for the summer.

Every day for the rest of the summer mom dropped us off at McCready’s farm in the morning and picked us up on her way home from work. We would spend the morning filling a huge bin with the odd vegetables growing in the garden. Precisely at noon, old man McCready used the saucer to grab the bin and took off like a shot. Chet and I would cool off at the swimming hole and then the rest of the day was magical.

The saucer returned and Chet and I would get in. Inside, Old Man McCready was now the little gray creature that we now called Zon. Zon took us to places all over the world. China, Fiji, London, South Pole; the list goes on and on. Sometimes we would just fly around in space and we even went to the moon, Mars, and Venus. It never got old and every day was over way too fast.

Now that school is starting, we are going to work every other Saturday in McCready’s greenhouse. School seems so boring compared to my secret life. I can’t turn this paper in, it is a secret you know. I’ll either have to claim the dog ate my homework or make something up about my boring summer babysitting my brother.

I bet I ace geography this year.
2nd place

My vacation started out like you would expect. For the first month there were enough kids around that we had a regular baseball tournament (I play third base usually). The second month though, we were barely able to make two teams to play, and by the third, There were only Tom (who never played baseball, just watched) and me left in the neighborhood.

I didn’t realize how rich our neighbors must be, to be able to take off and travel, or send the kids to camp. Maybe they just wanted to get rid of them for a while? But my mom is holding down two jobs just to make ends meet. She says it’s to make sure I will be able to afford to go to college though. Anyway at night we would occasionally watch a movie if she wasn’t too tired.

So the beginning of the third month saw Tom and me biking out to the zoo, but they had raised the price of admission, so we couldn’t afford to go in. On the ride home we talked about different ways we might be able to sneak in there, or something. After all, that’s a two hour ride each way you know.

Well, we soon forgot about the idea of breaking into the zoo, and just decided to try out the county bike trails, I mean at least they don’t charge for that. So we spent the rest of that first week trying out different trails. That was fun, and went through some nice forest and such, but we saw by one of the park boards that the really good trails; those that went by lakes and deep into the mountains, required camping stops. Some for upwards of a week. How could we do that? I picked up one of the maps from a pocket on the board, and we headed home.

Well, we came up with a plan. I told my mom that I was invited to go camping with Tom for a week. As long as she didn’t check up on us, we could head out on our own.

I filled a knapsack with what I figured was enough food to last us, but also packed my fishing gear. Can’t be too safe you know. With my sleeping bag and tent, my bike now was carrying a pretty good sized load, but it’s one of those early sturdy models, not one of those new-fangled, skinny, ten-speed jobs. Yeah, it’s only one gear and you use the pedals to brake, but it can take a beating.

We started out bright and early the next day, and by the time we stopped for lunch we were already well into the wilderness. No noise except for nature, and not even any other bikers around. Nice and peaceful. After lunch we continued on and when it was finally time to stop for the day and make camp, we were on the banks of a nice-sized pond with a beaver dam at one end.

It wasn’t until after I had set up the tent, and was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for supper, that I realized Tom had brought no food. Good thing I brought fishing gear; would just have to wake early to catch some breakfast.

The next morning while fishing, I saw that Tom was not very helpful at all. Even after I asked him to start a fire to fry the fish I was going to catch. I figured he must have just gone behind a tree to do his business. By the time I had caught my second fish, he was still not in sight.

I didn’t have time to worry about him then though, because I saw a bear cub coming my way. I knew from reading that where there’s a cub, there is usually a mother, and not to approach the cub, as the mother could take that as a danger sign to her cub and attack.

So I unhooked the fish I had just caught and tossed it over the cub figuring it would go after the fish and away from me. Worked like a charm, and not a minute too soon, as the mother appeared from the trees a little way down the bank. I picked up the first fish I had caught and threw it after the first. The mother bear looked at me, but followed her cub to the fish, and they chowed down.

I breathed a sigh of relief, hoping they would not come back my way as I gave up on trying to catch any more fish, and started packing up my gear. It wasn’t until I had finished stowing my tent that Tom finally showed up. I didn’t even bother asking him where he had been; I just climbed on my bike and started out down the trail.

It was a nice ride all that day though, even though I was starting to get tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I finally finished another one for supper. That night there was no pond to camp by, so I knew what was in store for breakfast.

The next day we came across a split in the trail that didn’t seem to be on the map. The one trail seemed kind of narrow, but it looked like it might wind up at the top of a hill (we could just make out the top of) over the surrounding forest. Being adventurous, we went for it. And sure enough it climbed; I could tell by the extra effort it took pedaling.

After we had cleared the tree line, we came to a bunch of boulders and decided it would be a good place to stop for lunch. The view was spectacular! We could see a couple lakes, and mountains in the distance, all surrounded by forest.

I was just about to unpack my knapsack to make a sandwich, when I heard a growling noise almost directly above. When I looked up, there was a mountain lion, looking right at me. Good thing I had read about what to do in a situation like this too, and I raised my arms to make myself look larger than I am. Since I could not back away without possibly falling off the cliff, I started waving my arms and shouting. This was enough to get the lion to decide he didn’t want anything to do with us and leave.

When I looked back toward where Tom had been, he was not there. He must have done what you should never do, and ran. I figured I would find him back down on the big trail when I got back down myself.

I never saw Tom again after that though. Not when I got back to the main bike path. Not when I stopped to camp that night. Not all the way back home. I didn’t even recall if he had ever even told me where he lived.

Kids had started returning from their trips/camp and we started playing baseball again, but Tom never showed up to watch. It was as if he had just ceased to exist.

One night after I got back from my adventure, mom and I watched an old movie called “Harvey.” It was made way before even she was born, and was about a guy who had a six-foot invisible rabbit for a friend. Can you imagine anyone believing something like that in this day and age? Anyway, that’s what I did on my summer vacation.
3rd place

Mom and dad sent me to summer camp this year as usual. I never much liked it, there are always bugs everywhere, the food is, well, we will not go into that, but my biggest issue was the bathroom, by which I mean the large smelly building with the wooden seats.

I like the bathroom at home, it is clean, white, and when you get done with the toilet you flush it and everything goes away. At camp, it all just drops down a hole, and I don't like to think about what's at the bottom of it; at least until this summer, when I met the Latrine Gnome.

I was just sitting on the seat looking at the flies buzzing around (I mentioned bugs everywhere already, right?) when I noticed a brown cone emerging from another hole on the bench, two holes down. It startled me, and I jumped up and screamed pulling up my pants. The cone was followed by a little face, the cone being apparently a hat of some sort, and the little man said "don't have a coronary boy; I'm just with latrine maintenance."

I finished fastening my pants, and then replied. "I wasn't scared, just startled!"

"Sure you were boy," the little man said, jumping off the seat and onto the floor.

He couldn't have been more than two feet tall including the hat, and well didn't smell of lilacs. He put his hand out to shake mine. "Glad to meet you boy."

Under the circumstances I really didn't want to touch him, but I also didn't want to seem rude, so I shook his hand, vowing to fully wash it as soon as I could. My hand that is, not his.

He looked up and grinned at me. So tell me boy, have you ever wondered how the latrine gets cleaned.

"Frankly sir, I've tried not to think much about it."

He just laughed. "I'll bet, but I'm going teach you anyway."

I gasped as I realized I was shrinking and he jumped into the hole with me since he was still holding my hand. Amazingly enough we didn't drop straight down, but sort of floated, coming down, I'm happy to say, on a little dry wooden platform.

What was at the bottom wasn’t as utterly hideous as what I expected it to be, actually it didn’t smell much worse then up top, though it may be because I was getting used to it.
There were a number of gnomes working the “field” with rakes and shovels. They had little tiny wheelbarrows they filled, and then carted off down a tunnel.

“What do they do with the stuff?” I asked my guide.

“What was supposed to be done with it to start with boy, they spread it around the roots of plants to help them grow. Don’t you people know about that?” he asked, somewhat gruffly.

“I don’t know sir, I’ve never thought about it,”

“Seems to me there are a lot of things you folks don’t think about…”

Just then somebody yelled “INCOMING!” and all the gnomes took shelter, as an object came down with a wet “plop”.

“Wow, they sure move fast!” I said.

“Either you move fast or you go home and take a shower,” my guide said.

“So you guys usually get out of the way in time?”

“Most of the time, there was that one time the mess hall, always wondered how it got that name, fed you boys something that didn’t agree with you. Every seat was filled, stuff was flying everywhere, and it was darned difficult to find shelter.”

“Oh yeah, I remember that night,” I said, turning slightly red at the memory. “I’m sorry if we caused you problems.”

“Hey, it wasn’t your fault, the cook on the other hand I would like to have words with.”

“Um, yeah, we all would like to have words with that guy. He’s made himself scarce since that night.”

“I’ll bet…”

“Just then somebody yelled “INCOMING!” again, and this time something hard fell, scattering, um, “stuff” everywhere.

“What the heck is that?” a gnome asked as he picked himself up.”

“Gumdrop, I think you earned a shower,” my guide said gruffly.

“Yeah boss, I think you’re right,” the gnome said looking down at himself, and started heading towards the opening.

“What is that thing, anyway?” my guide asked.

“It looks like a canteen sir. Someone might have dropped it by accident.”

“Think he wants it back?”

“At this point, no,” I said truthfully, looking at it covered with… well, I’m pretty sure whoever it was wouldn’t want it back.

“Well, we’ll just stick it in the ‘Lost and never found’ with the rest of the stuff that got down here ‘accidentally’ “ my guide said.

“What, you think people drop stuff on purpose?” I asked.

“Some do boy, when they’re curious about how deep the hole is, or what’s at the bottom.”

Well that was my adventure with the Latrine Gnome, a short time later he took me back up topside, shook my hand one more time, and went back to work. I took one of my more thorough showers I had at camp, and went to bed.

I think I am going to ask my parents to send me to computer camp next year instead.