Below is a short story I wrote a little over a month ago based on the prompt “Two people make a bet about how long it’ll take to get home” (Prompt courtesy of Demarée)
I’ve broken it into parts for ease of reading.
Part 1: The Bet
As his stone sailed in a long, slow arc out over the open air, Gus watched it fall and imagined it was a flaming arrow fired from an English longbow hurtling toward the enemy. Every boulder below was a rock troll waiting to charge up the ramp and out of the pit into battle. He pictured cauldrons of boiling pitch rolled up to the edge of the pit in a desperate bid to defend the homeland from the trollish invasion.
“C’mon Gus, are you just going to sit there all day shooting rocks into the quarry, or are you going to show us what you’re made of?” jeered Jeremy from the top of the rock pile.
Gus got up and set down his slingshot. His brother Jeremy was two and a quarter years older than him and almost a foot taller, so there was no way Gus was going to take the “mountain” from him, but if he didn’t at least try, they’d start in about his shoes again, and he didn’t want to give them even one more reason to single him out.
Gus ran at his brother, and as expected was promptly dispatched down the other side of the rock pile, where he slid to a stop next to Billy, who stood over him laughing.
“Nice try, Guster Buster! Maybe next time you should try sliding with your feet instead of your face!” she said.
Gus sat up quickly, pulling his feet up under him so that his knees would hide the blood rising in his face. It was one thing when his brothers made fun of him, but being picked on by a girl was the worst. Gus got up, dusted himself off and stomped resolutely back around the rock pile to the lip of the quarry where he’d left his slingshot.
As he looked out over the pit, he suddenly realized that the sun was beginning to set. Panicking, he snapped up his slingshot and tossed it into his backpack, along with his sketchbook, glasses case, and the copy of The Hobbit he’d picked up at the school library.
“What’s the matter, Guster Buster, little girly hurt your feelers?” said Jeremy.
“No, we have to go, remember. Mom said I have to be home by sundown or it’s no Minecraft for a week!”
“Maybe you have to go, but mom didn’t say anything about me. I’m staying!”
“C’mon Jeremy, don’t be a jerk. I don’t want to ride home alone.”
“I’ll go with you,” said Billy, “but there’s no way you’re going to be home before dark, so you might as well hang around.”
Gus looked at the sun as the bottom edge dipped below the horizon.
“What’ll you bet me I can’t make it?” he said, challenging Billy.
“Bet you?” she said, furrowing her brow.
“Yeah, what’ll you give me if I can make it home before dark?” ”I don’t know,” she said. “What about my hat?”
“What about that fancy new pocket knife you’ve been showing everyone?” said Gus.
Billy shook her head. “No way, my dad got me that.”
“Chicken!” shouted Gus. “You’re just afraid I’ll win.”
Billy peered at the sun again, making up her mind. “You’ll never make it… You’re on! Now, what do I get if I win?”
“I dunno, what do you want?”
Billy smiled deviously for a moment. “Your slingshot.”
Gus was taken aback. “No deal. I got that for my birthday. My mom would kill me if I lost it the same week.”
“Then don’t lose,” said Billy. “or are you just a big old chicken after all.”
Gus flushed. “Fine.” he said. “You’re on.”