“The Game of Life”–our first contest entry by Monica Brinkman

The Pit and the Pendulum
Illustration: The Pit & the Pendulum, by Harry Clarke, 1919

Literati, let me Edgar Allen Poes the question: Can you create a dark mystery with just 350 words? Monica Brinkman proves it can be done, if you’re game.

The Game of Life

by Monica Brinkman

Jordan clinched his eyes, mouth agape; the pain so great he was unable to utter a single word or omit a mournful sound. The insistent clanging echoed within his head and bounced off each nerve, its agonizing tone of abundant volume escalating until it reached one long aching throb.

He opened one eye, arched its brow, yellow teeth peeked through curled lip as dribble ran down his chin, eventually landing on his brown hairy chest. He smirked, knowing what was to come, or was it? Some nights were ripe for invitation, others fought with trauma and on the rare occasion, the deep silence of eternal slumber. One never knew.

Once in a lifetime is surely enough to satisfy even the most depraved of spirit. To live it, breath it, and obey it was unbearable, yet what could one do against such power.

Ha. ha ha, oh yes he’d recalled how strong a man he was when first approached; how he’d fought, certain he would conquer. Foolish idiot! Ha ha ha, oh what a cocky egotistical individual he had been, to believe he was exceptional in character and fortitude. Simpleton!

As expected, the throbbing changed its rhythm and course, becoming less prevalent until it was bearable in tone. This time, he thought, let it be different. I beg of you.

“Let me sleep, please,” he beckoned. “Allow me finality.”

He felt his lungs fill with warm air. Jordan sputtered, coughed and drew in a breath as life entered his body. Blood pumped through his heart, bringing warmth and movement of limb.

Yes, it felt wonderful to be alive! His mind awakened the thoughts and sensations long forgotten. It was a magnificent, glorious moment in time. He was truly alive! Then he heard it, the cackling laughter as the footsteps drew closer.

A large hand cupped his mouth while fingers pinched his nostrils, stopping the breath of life, again.

24 comments

  1. Wonderfully evocative and shows a real skill to conjure so much in such a small amount of words. Nothing wasted on anything that would detract from the heart of the piece. It left me breathless.

  2. Parisianne Modert says:

    “The Game of Life” for me is a vivid, hands on, disturbance both felt and impossible to escape. Writing does not always need an answer as to why, where, who from or purpose to succeed. Ms. Brinkman brings us a Poe mystery which pounds the reader’s breath on the razor’s edge of both a lust for life and a begging for a death-like sleep. I was captured and tortured as if I were Jordan from beginning to the last drop of agony which makes this entry into “Again” a captivating beginning to what will undoubtly be a spirted contest. Tick tock, game on, tick tock, take a breath for there is much more woe and wonder yet to come.

  3. Diane Cresswell says:

    Inhaling lots of air here Monica and then I will fill my lungs again after holding my breath from reading this story. Top form my dear – top form.

  4. Dr. Van Heckling says:

    To be alive, pain and suffering, longing for an easy way out, sleep! To die, a scary thought indeed. The gleeful torturing…..breathe!!!

  5. Monica Brinkman

    Hello all my wonderful friends and writers! So nice of you to stop by and comment. I can’t wait to read the rest of the entries.
    Woo Hoo – Onward and forward we go with A Word With You Press.
    Welcome back all!

  6. Anna Mullins says:

    Yikes! Was holding my breath at the end. Great job Monica! Your descriptions paint a horrific true to life picture. Made me remember the morning I was waking up dazed and felt hands around my neck squeezing and the struggle to break away woke me wide awake trembling with fear. Not a good way to way up…but very happy I did.

  7. I can see a humorous side to this well written story on the one hand there is a dark, menacing & salicious side & on the other when I look at the illustration accompanying this piece it makes me smile as though the character is saying “life’s a bitch, this is the last time I allow myself to get myself trussed up like this” lol. To me the mark of a really good writer is to be able to evoke in the reader a multitude of scenarios, the writing is not like a static piece of literature which locks your mind into a particular theme it is free to make of it what it will fabulous.

  8. I don’t tend to read ‘dark’ stuff but wanted to read this to show my support. How do you manage to draw someone in with so few words? You are certainly a talented writer! Bravo!

  9. Christian Murray says:

    It harkens back to times of old indeed. The prose flows in a smooth manner and the plots set to unveil itself enough that one wants to read more.

  10. Tiffany V says:

    FINALLY! I get to read these awesome submissions. I wouldn’t let myself until I had submitted, knowing I will never qualify to win, still… what a rush, to join in readings like this. (Side note: This space is where I met Gary Clark and Peggy Dobbs).

    I love the laugh at the end. How cruel a destiny, and how fun a read! Jon Tobias said it best. Your character made me squirm, and Mike Casper needs way more than just a walk in the sunshine to get over the futility of his hopeless situation… The horror of repetition. Great job!

  11. Kerry Hall, It Matters Radio says:

    Horrifying but brilliant! The question remains, what if it were you, forced to live and die again, over and over?! BRRRR! Frightening concept! Once again author Monica Brinkman brings thrilling characters, and human, as she did in her latest book, ” As The Wheel Turns”. Excellent story Monica!

    • Monica Brinkman

      Kerry, thank you for stopping by and I had to laugh. I thank you for mentioning my new book release but it is not a soap opera and the name is The Wheel’s Final Turn.
      Too funny. Appreciate your kind words though.

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