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Sudden Writing Challenge: The Campout

This is a piece of fiction written for the Sudden Writing Challenge from Joseph Craven and Ricky Anderson.  Follow the links to their Twitter accounts for some much better stories from other writers.  This was fun.  They gave us about 48 hours to write these stories.  It had to involve a caper and there were three rules: 1) A rooftop had to be involved 2) A custodian named Glenn appears 3) The line “Well, that’s not  how I would have planned it” is spoken. I hope you enjoy it. I know I did.

Dave and Steve doubled back toward Dave’s house.  They had been running full-out since jumping out off the church roof.  Though Dave’s house was only two minutes from the church they were growing up in.  They had both been brought to the nursery within two weeks of each other, two weeks after they had been born, and had been practically inseparable since.

As far as their parents knew, they were camping in the woods just across the highway.  This is how they spent their summer breaks, sometimes spending more time camping than at their homes.  They knew how to build a fire and put it out.  No one bothered them and they didn’t bother anyone either.

Until this night.

They finally saw Dave’s porch and slowed before approaching the front.  They stuck to the shadows and crept around back.  They would be able to enter under the premise of needing some food.  They would stay the night here and let things settle down.  Tomorrow things would be back to normal.

As they slipped up the back stoop, Steve looked at Dave and said, “Well, that’s not how I would have planned it.”


“Hey, let’s do something different to kick off the summer.”  Dave threw his backpack into the far reaches of his closet, where it would be destined to remain until the fall.  He would need a backpack for his and Steve’s summer adventures, but he had one for those purposes.  He grabbed the camouflage pack that held and assortment of flashlights, canteens and, soon, beef jerky.

“Whatcha’ talkin’ about, Bo?”  For some reason Steve had started calling Dave Bo about the time the Dukes of Hazard had come on TV.  He seemed to think that Dave would call him Luke, but that never happened.  Bo had stuck, though he was the only one that actually called him that.

“Let’s spend the night in the church.  We can explored and climb up in the belfry.  My mom says there are bats up there.  That would be cool.”

Steve looked at him dubiously. “How are we going to be able to stay in the church?  You know Glenn Myers always walks through after everyone clears out, turning out lights and stuff. ”  Glenn Myers had been the church custodian for as long as either one of them remembered.  He lived across the street from the church and kept an eye on things when no one else was around.

“Sure, but we can hide until he goes through.  Then we have it made.  We’ll slip out before anyone else is up and head home.  It’ll be easy.”

Steve gave him that look again.  He always hated it when Dave, or Bo, said anything would be easy.  That normally meant that it would actually turn out to be hard.  He knew it would be futile to argue and he would end up going along.  He just hoped this one wouldn’t blow up in their faces.


They put their backpacks in the prayer room.  They didn’t really pay any attention to the sermon, not that this was anything new.  Time went by slower than normal.  They were watching everyone and their watches.  For their plan to work, they would have to move quickly when the benediction started.  They had to get to into the old part of the church while everyone else milled around in the new building.  Everyone had seen them bring their packs in and assumed they would be camping for the first time of the summer.

Finally, the invitation came and the boys were chomping at the bit.  They were set on go and as soon Shirley hit the first notes of the benediction on her organ.  That was when the first wrench in their plans occurred.  The preacher decided to  have everyone hold hands and sing The Family of God to end.  Dave looked at Steve and Steve looked back.  They tried to position themselves near the door so that they could still hit it hard, but they had to move to the side to reach Mrs. Winstead.  She wasn’t moving and the pastor motioned them in that direction.

Finally, The Family of God was finished and the boys headed out the door.  Standing there in their way was Dale Davis.  Dale was their Sunday School teacher and he decided that this night was the one to talk to them.

“Where you boys headed tonight?  I saw you come in with your packs.”

“We’re headed over to the woods camping.  We’ve got to get moving.”  They tried to move past Dale, but he followed them out.

“You boys have plenty to eat?  You ought to ask Mike sometime.”  Dale stood there expectantly, as though they would ask him tonight.  Mike was a kid that didn’t really have any friends.  He kept to himself and all of the other boys were happy to let him.

“Yeah, we’ll do that sometime, Dale.  Hey, we’ve got to go.”  They kept walking past Dale toward their packs in the prayer room.

“Do you need a ride or anything.  I can give you a lift across the highway.”

Steve looked at Dave.  He wasn’t good thinking on his feet.  He hoped that Dave would take the lead on this one.

“That’s ok.  Half the fun is walking in.  It’s kind of our yearly tradition.”  Dave said this so easily Steve almost believed it.

“Sure thing.  Maybe when you take Mike with you.”

Dave hoisted his pack up on his back.  “Sure, Dale.  We’ll do that soon.”

With that, Dave and Steve headed down the stairs.


Dave peeked out from the old furnace room. He and Steve had decided to wait thirty minutes after they had hidden, then thirty more before they slipped back out.  The last thing they wanted to do was come out and get caught immediately.  They did a quick recon to make sure that no one was in the church.  Everything was found to their satisfaction.  They did sneak a peek out a window to see if any cars were there.  They grinned when they saw none.

“Everything looks good, Bo.”  Steve said this as convincingly as he could, but Dave couldn’t help but hear a bit of a shake in his voice.

“What’s wrong, Steve?  You still good with this?”  Dave gave him that grin, the one that had gotten him over the hump countless times.

“Do you think God is okay with this?  Do you think He’ll be mad at us for camping out in His house, Bo?”

Dave gave him the look, the one everyone has been given.  “Of course He’s fine with it.  Don’t you remember that story from Sunday School where David ate the show bread?  If God was cool with that, He’ll be okay with us sleeping in his house.  At least, sleeping when it isn’t during a sermon.”


“Let’s head to the belfry.  Let’s get a look at that bell.”



Dave flip on the lights to the baptistery.  Up in the ceiling was the opening to the attic.  They set the ladder up.  Dave quickly climbed up and slid open the door in the ceiling.  He grabbed his flashlight and climbed through.  Smiling, he waved Steve up.

They quickly made their way across the rafters to the belfry.  They saw the rope that silently fell from the bell to the prayer room.  It was there that the bell was rung every Sunday morning.  Once upon a time it had been used to signal folks in the community for many reasons, anything ranging from birth to death.  Older farmers told of how many times they would stop what they were doing in the field to go dig a grave.  Death, birth, marriage, it really didn’t matter, they all brought the community together.

“Let’s get on up there and see the bell.”  Dave was always eager to move forward in their adventures.  If it hadn’t been for Steve, there’s no telling what he would have done.

“Isn’t this good enough?  Let’s get back down before something goes wrong.”  The look of trepidation was one that Dave had rarely seen.

“What could go wrong?  C’mon, let’s do this so we can go eat.”  Dave started climbing the makeshift ladder that led to the bell.

“Alright, I’m behind you.”  Steve started up behind Dave, slowly.

Dave was already standing on the platform that stood slightly below the bell.  He was standing there looking at the church bell that he had heard ring so many times in his life for the first time.  He felt like he had just climbed Mount Everest.  He felt on top of the world.

That’s when Steve made his way on the platform and, indeed, something did go wrong.

Steve tripped and slammed straight into the bell.  Suddenly the bell began ringing louder than either one of the boys had ever heard it.  They looked at each other with a look of panic on their faces.  Suddenly they felt the entire night crashing down on them.

“Let’s get out of here.”  Steve was about to head down the ladder when Dave stopped him.

“Slow, be careful.  Let’s keep our heads.”  They eased down the ladder and were about to head back across the rafters when they saw a light.  Quickly, they stopped.

“Who’s up here?  C’mon out!!!”  Dave and Steve heard Glenn Myers’ voice at the bottom of the opening.

“What do we do?”  Steve looked at Dave with real panic now.

Dave sprung into action.  He flipped his flashlight on and pointed it around.  He saw a small door just a few feet away.

“Let’s check that out.”  The last thing Dave wanted to do was get caught.  It would be the end of his adventures.  He knew that his dad would have to put an end to them if they were caught.

“What is that?”  Steve stared with a dumbfounded look.

“I think it goes to the roof.  If we can get there, we’ll be okay.”  Dave hopped from rafter to rafter on his way to the door.

By the time they got there, Dave and Steve could hear a commotion.  It seemed that Glenn was heading up the ladder.  They were going to move quickly.

They found the door was slightly stuck.  How long had it been since it had been open?  They had no idea.  They pushed a couple of time without the door moving.  Finally, Dave reared back and kicked it.  It opened and they were halfway home.  The roof was pitched, but immediately below was the flat roof of the educational wing.  They slid down and took off running.  They new what they had to do.

The reached the ladder and started down.  It would only go down halfway.  From there they would have to jump.  Dave and Steve could feel their hearts in their throats, but they had to go own.  To go back was to get caught by Glenn Myers.  Dave went first and made the jump.  He didn’t have to coax Steve this time.  Once they were both on the ground, they ran with everything they had.  Steve fell in behind Dave.  At this point, both wanted to get as far away from the church as possible.


Dave and Steve slipped into the kitchen.  Dave’s mom was sitting there and was mildly surprised when she saw the boys.

“What are y’all doing home?”  This was not their normal behavior.

“We were hungry.  We decided to come back home and get something to eat.”  It worried Steve just a little bit how easy it was for Dave to lie, but he knew that Dave had been working on this story from the moment they began running.

“Okay, Let me fix you something to eat.”  She got up and began making each of them a sandwich.  Everything was going well until the phone rang.

Dave and Steve looked at each other.  Had someone seen them?  Were they caught.  They exchanged glances and began to sweat just a bit.

Dave cold hear his dad answer the phone.  A few muffled minutes passed before his dad came into the kitchen.

“Oh, I’m glad you boys are here. ”  Dave’s dad looked at his mom.  “That was Glenn Myers.  Someone broke into the church and wrecked the place.  He said that he caught the guy up in the baptistery climbing up the ladder into the attic.  He managed to catch him and hold him until the police got there.  I’ll be back in a bit.”  He leaned over and kissed his wife.  He rubbed Dave’s head and punched Steve in the arm.

Dave and Steve put their sandwiches down and started for Dave’s room.

“I though you boys were hungry?”  Dave’s mom looked a bit ticked with them not eating the sandwiches.

“Not anymore, mom.  We just want to go to bed.”   Dave and Steve headed to Dave’s bedroom.

“Okay.  Sleep tight.  Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

With that, Dave and Steve fell on the bed without a word.  They couldn’t believe how lucky they were.

  1. August 23, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Glenn must have been younger than most of the custodians in the churches I’ve been to being able to climb like that.

    Good story, bro.

    • August 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Thanks….think the custodian from The Breakfast Club

  2. August 23, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Great job! I’m really glad you joined in. 🙂

  3. August 23, 2013 at 9:33 am

    You have a way with fiction. Good on ya.

    • August 23, 2013 at 9:34 am

      Thanks Rob…..I have tons of stories to tell…I just need to let them out

  4. Ricky Anderson
    August 23, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Well done!

    Thanks for joining in.

  5. August 23, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I grumpily shushed the boys about seven times so I could read this all the way through – great job! Loved the ending.

    • August 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you….not sure how you get anything done with all of those boys full of adventures.

      • August 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm

        Well, I’m going to have to polish windows now since they got out the water guns while I was reading 😦

  6. August 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    That’s outstanding, Larry! Well done!

  1. August 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

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