This week’s winner is Amber Butler. Check out her winning story below.
The original photo and prompt can be seen here: LINK.
The liquid was warm, almost imperceptible. He forced his eyes open and nearly gasped at the blinding light. He shut them again and was plunged into darkness.
His lungs felt big and sharp as he kicked, hard, downward. His chest seared with every slowing heartbeat. He struggled to maintain consciousness as one last, fleeting picture swam in his mind: Sam.
Sam’s yellow curls bouncing. Sam hitting me in the arm for a stupid joke. Sam throwing a dirt clod at my bike. Sam lying face down. Sam, bleeding. Sam, dead.
His hand had found an empty place where there was no more concrete and he pulled himself down through the bottom of the water. He fell to solid ground, gasping, choking, coughing, and opened his eyes. The world was dim once again. He looked up and the black water floated above his head. The moonlight shimmered through it and cast a barely perceptible glow on the vast concrete slab.
In the corner was a shape. He knew it, even with half its head missing. He knew those curls, still clinging to the remaining pieces of skull. He knew that back, hunched, arms wrapped around knees, feet bare.
He stood up. He could no longer feel the pain in his chest. There was only one thing he could think:
He walked and sat down next to the figure. He put his arm around him, and the boy turned. Even with the hole where his eye used to be, the eye the bullet had ripped out, Sam looked like Sam.
“Alex?” The boy’s voice was familiar, though odd and distant. “Is that you?”
Alex let his lips touch the boy’s cheek. “Yes,” he whispered.
“Can I go home now?”
“No,” Alex said. “But I can stay here.”