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Back to Nature

Story ID:10616
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Sambro Nova Scotia Canada
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I entered the 24-Hour Short Story Contest this weekend, sponsored by Writers Weekly.

Here is the topic and word count I received.


The sweat vanished from her skin as she sank down into the
cool, blue swimming hole. The radio spread a festive mood to
the commune members, who were picnicking, sunbathing, and
laughing while dropping from the rope swing into the water a
few feet away. Everybody got silent, however, when the music
was replaced by an automated emergency broadcast network
message. Thinking it was just a test, the festivities
resumed until the annoying tone switched to a panicked
broadcaster's voice...


WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 950
words. (Your story's title is *not* included in the word
count. We use MSWord's word count function to determine the
final word count for submissions.)

Here is my submission

Back to Nature

Mikey played in the pile of dirt with his dinky toys: trucks, bulldozers, cars and
grators. He built a series of highways. Soon, a city of dirt appeared, which would be
flattened by wind and rain the next day – back to nature. +

A loud scream broke the silence. Birds took flight from the field to his left and
from the nearby trees. Mikey looked up. The siren on a pole next to his house blared.
He gathered his toys in his hands and ran home.

The screen door slammed behind him, “Mum …Mum!”

“Don’t slam the door.”

“I’m sorry, Mum. Why is the siren going, Mum?”

“It’s just a test, Michael. They do that from time-to-time.

“It’s loud.”

“It has to be.”


“So everyone can here it.”


“It’s a warning of an attack, Michael.”

“Like a war?”


Mikey played war with his friends often. It was fun, but a real war scared him.
The years passed. Mike heard the test of the sirens often, but ignored them. They
were a part of life during the cold war years. One night, during a thunder storm, the
system malfunctioned. The siren blared for hours, before they managed to shut it off.

Now in his teens, Mike jumped on his bicycle, towel wrapped around his neck,
and pedaled a mile to the brook – the local swimming hole.

The brook flowed from a lake
and exited into the Atlantic Ocean a few miles down stream. Next to the dirt road,
there was a small, circular area, where the water was calm. Known as the “Little Hole”
by all, it was the place little kids played and learned to swim.

The little ones dreamed of the day when they could graduate to the “Big Hole”,
which was upstream. It was where the big kids swam and partied.

This was where Michael headed that fateful day.

He hid his bicycle in the brush beside the rutted dirt road and walked the rocky
path beside the brook to the “Big Hole”. Towering spruce and fir trees made shadows
that danced around him. The rushing water called to him. The heat of the day would soon
be cooled.

In the distance he heard music coming from a radio. He heard his friend’s
laughter and picked up his pace.

The shadows disappeared, as he entered the open area around the “Big Hole”.

He watched a friend run along the top of a big rock, leap and land with a splash
in the middle of the dark water.

“Hey, Mike! Wanna play tag?”


Mike stripped off his sweaty T-shirt, kicked off his sneakers and ran along the
rock ledge. At the edge, he jumped and landed in the soothing water with a splash.
He surfaced, “Who’s ‘It’?”

“You are, dummy. You’re the last one in.” Justin laughed.

Michael swam in his direction, but Justin climbed a rock, and leapt over
Michael as he drew close. Michael changed direction and tagged Carmen.

The game played on. Michael sat on a submerged rock at the back of the pool. He started to smile, but then remembered summer was coming to an end. School would
start soon. The game would end, as all things do.

The game of tag wound down. Mike’s friends spread their towels on the rocks
and tanned in the sun or danced to the music still blaring from the radio. He smiled.
“This was the good life.”

Mike pushed off the rock and dove to the bottom of the swimming hole.
Light filtered through the reddish water in streams that made the rocky bottom
shimmer. He spotted a coin in the crevice of a
rock, grabbed it and pushed to the

He drifted upward, air bubbles followed him. He broke the surface, took a
deep breath, and saw everyone standing. They looked around in shock. The radio
still blared, but in the distance, Mike heard the air raid siren.

He thought it was another test, but when he looked into the sky, he saw contrails.
They weren’t jets. They were missiles.

The cold war got hot.

In time, the rubble the missiles left would be sculpted by the wind and rain – back
to nature.

Michael T. Smith