Benson Beach: Random Generator Short Story Challenge Advanced Edition
The Launch of the Random Generator Short Story Challenge
It's been a few months since I last uploaded a post to my favorite series here on the blog. Even though I haven't posted doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it on a daily basis. In fact, I've been working on something behind the scenes.
Over the past few months, I've been slowly figuring out how to edit, design, and format a low content book to help writers create new and exciting stories just like my Random Generator Short Story Challenges. After all the hard work, I'm happy to announce the launch of 45 Writing Prompts for Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Writers.
Inside includes 45 prompts writers can use to inspire their next short story along with 120 pages of lined paper so you can start writing instantly. It will be available towards the end of this month, on Amazon, for only $8.99. Sign up for the monthly newsletter to get all the details and updates about the launch!
Until then, I thought it would be a great idea to take one of the prompts from my book and write a story myself. While taking one last look for edits, an Advanced prompt caught my eye. Unlike my other Random Generator stories, the Advanced prompts include multiple words, sentences, and phrases. I also added an extra layer of difficulty with character names and word counts.
So, let's see how I do with my own challenge!
Words: merchant, crush, microphone
Sentences: 1) Homesickness became contagious in the young camper's cabin. 2) They called out her name time and time again but were met with nothing but silence.
Phrases: 1) Birds of a feather flock together. 2) Read'em and weep.
Characters: Jonathan Kent, Brant, Stacy Benson, Lacey Conrad, Brendon Summers
Word Count: 2744-2812
Camp Davenport July 17th, 1976
Homesickness became contagious in the young camper's cabin. At least in the first two to three summers, but at the rip age of 12 going on 13 those thoughts of leaving home became a distant memory when you had a cabin full of friends and endless nights by the fireside.
But like those first few years, where many nights were spent yearning for home and shedding tears into your pillow so the other campers couldn't hear Lacey now did the same, except spread out along the once orange, but now faded to brown couch.
"Lace, it's just a crush. It seriously can't be that bad," Jonathan rolled his eyes tired of hearing her cry. Lacey glanced up with her new obsession of blue colored mascara running down her face.
"Just a crush!" She sobbed out. "We were supposed to be end game!" Lacey threw herself back into the cushion crying louder than before. Saying it out loud sounded stupid after recent events, but she’d been so certain before. Hours upon hours spent writing LACEY CONRAD + BRENDON SUMMERS along the shore and nights dreaming he would secretly kiss her at the dock at sunset had all been a waste.
How stupid could she have been to think it was a great idea to run up and grab the microphone out of Counselor Brant’s hands and confess her dying love to the entire camp at the annual Davenport Talent Show? Clearly, the dumbest person in the world come to find out as all campers, young and old, turned their attention to the popular Brendon Summers whose face held so much disgust Lacey ran off the stage immediately, Stacey following close behind.
It hadn’t taken the boys long to find Lacey and Stacey hiding out in the main lounge cabin where musty furniture, only found at a grandma’s house, and a few board games were left to collect dust.
“Read’em and weep!” Kent threw down his hand of cards.
“Seriously?” Jonathan tossed his to the side and reached into his pocket. A brown leather pouch appeared where he tugged at the strings, turning the pouch upside down. Marbles of swirling colors plopped into Kent’s hand with little clinks as they hit each other. “That’s all of them.”
“Don’t worry I’ll give you a chance to win them back…eventually,” Kent smirked adding the marbles to his collection.
“How much longer do you think Stace is going to take? I’m bored.” Jonathan jumped up to peer behind a blind they had previously drawn to avoid catching campers’ attention who might’ve been out to taunt Lacey.
“Well, if the cute merchant boy is working then we’ll be here for a lifetime,” Kent laid out his marbles side by side and began to count.
After the spectacle Lacey performed at the talent show Stacey spent a good hour trying to calm her down assuring Lacey everything would be fine. But any mention of Brendon’s name would send Lacey into a deeper fit no one could console. Stacey was at a loss when her eyes lit up.
“I’ll be back,” she tied her laces.
“Where do you think you’re goin’?” Jonathan butt in.
“To... the shop,” she muffled through the hoodie she struggled to pull over her head.
“What for?” Jonathan crossed his arms. She couldn’t be thinking of leaving them now especially when Lacey was going to be a laughingstock the second she stepped out of the lounge.
“I think this situation calls for some cigarettes. My mom and dad always smoke one when they’re upset, and I think this might be one of those times,” Stacey gestured to Lacey whose chest heaved for air between the bouts of crying. Jonathan hesitated, then nodded in agreement.
That was over two hours ago.
Unlike the rest of them, Stacey didn’t enjoy camp. Forced to come against her will every summer since she was 9 Stacey would often sneak off to the local shops found in the nearby town. Most times hitching a ride from random strangers while the rest of the group covered for her. There were a few close calls with Counselor Brant who always seemed to pop up at the most inconvenient times checking to see if they were having fun.
Her most recent find was a little shop just over a mile from Camp Davenport. Apparently there, she met a boy a few years older than them, who Stacey took a liking to. She’d been sneaking off more and more this summer to visit him. If Stacey was going to get cigarettes at their age it would definitely be from the boy.
But she should’ve been back by now.
Still peering out the window, Jonathan spotted Counselor Brant making his rounds. A pep in his step as he greeted fellow campers. “Time to go.” Jonathan turned to Lacey and Kent.
“We can’t leave! I’ll be eaten alive out there,” Lacey went to wipe away her massacre but instead smeared it further across her cheek. Kent nodded.
“Brant is on the move, okay. He’ll find us in here and you’ll never hear the end of his pity. Do you want this to get worse?”
Kent chimed in before Lacey could reply, “Where in the heck are we supposed to go? Campers are everywhere.” It was true. Every summer, for three glorious months, Camp Davenport was filled to the brim with children ages 9-15. Everywhere you went kids were participating in some sort of camp activity including canoeing, fire starting, to the classic camper’s craft of building a bird house. The only peace anyone got in this place was the second you closed your eyes to sleep, but even then, one would wake to someone getting pranked in the middle of the night. Kent had recently been subjected to the hand in warm water bit. His cabin mate’s hysterical laughing woke him where he found his bed wet with pee. Since then, Kent no longer drank water after 7 pm to avoid future bed wetting situations.
Jonathan watched again as Brant waved to a younger group of campers with a clown like grin on his face. How could anyone be so happy all the time?
“What about Benson Beach?” There was a silent pause as his words set in.
“Are you crazy!” Lacey burst sitting up fully for the first time in hours, the tears instantly gone.
“Dude, really?” Kent slid the last of the marbles into his pouch. “You know no one goes there.”
“Exactly my point. You said it yourself, Kent, there are campers everywhere and what better way to avoid them than by going to the one place everyone, including Brant, won’t go.”
Lacey and Kent looked to each other for support in protest, but both knew Jonathan was right.
“Ugh, fine. I guess potentially dying to a mythical skinwalker is a better outcome than showing my face to Brendon Summers ever again,” Lacey stood heading for the back door. Kent, with mouth agape, glanced back and forth between both of them not sure how this was agreed upon so quickly.
Jonathan grabbed for his pocket knife etching into his leather pouch he clearly no longer needed.
“Let’s go,” he said to Kent tossing the pouch onto the massive wet spot Lacey left behind and followed her out back. The pouch blended perfectly with the aging of the couch, but he knew Stacey would see it there if she came looking for them and receive the message he left behind.
Camp Davenport had been around longer than their grandparents. Back then it only housed a handful of campers. But slowly, new cabins were built one by one as the demand to send misbehaving kids off for the summer became more popular. Butted up against the forest edge, the cabins gazed upon a picturesque view of purple shadowed mountains laid out before a lake so large you couldn’t see the water’s edge.
Several docks filled with canoes, jet skis, and a large blow-up blob, which launched camper’s several feet in the air, were scattered across the sandy shore. But Lacey, Kent, and Jonathan weren’t paying attention to those things now. Instead, they sprinted from cabin to cabin, along the forest edge, avoiding being seen by the other campers.
There a few hundred yards from the last cabin stood a massive rock wall several meters high. Only the brave dared to come this far as sandy Davenport Beach ended, split by the massive boulder, while on the other side laid the forbidden and rocky Benson Beach. Supposedly, when Camp Davenport first opened the camp director’s son went missing after a disagreement. Other campers had seen the boy climb the rock wall and make his way to the other side. Some kids followed, witnessing him flee into the nearby forest as screams of a women pleading for help were heard coming from within. The boy, Benson, was never seen again. The only explanation, he had come in contact with a certain type of witch, otherwise known as a skinwalker, whose ability to poses the power of transformation of a distressed animal or loved one had accrued.
The tale, often told to the campers to keep them from wandering off did the job as most of them stuck to the beach and cabins while some of the older kids were brave enough to endure the forest for a quick make out session. But none of them dared cross over to Benson Beach. No one had in years, until now.
Jonathan hoisted himself over the first rocky edge giving himself enough momentum to scale the rest of the moss-covered rock formation. Once at the top, he peered over a little scared of what he might see but to his astonishment a quaint little beach, similar to Davenport, laid out before meeting with the forest. Jonathan could hear Kent’s grunts coming up behind him and decided to descend quickly to the other side before he or the other’s changed their minds.
“Isn’t this a cute little beach,” Lacey stated, collecting dry twigs scattered about the shore. Kent, the best at fire starter in the group, had already pushed small rocks into a ring like mound positioning some kindling in the middle. Striking flint, sparks began to fly.
“Don’t get any ideas. Birds of a feather flock together. Or is it birds of a feather stay together?” Kent looked up questioning his thoughts. Lacey shook her head and squinted her eyes in annoyance. “What?”
“I’m saying just because it’s cute doesn’t mean we should get comfortable and start wandering off. We need to stick together.”
“You’re such a dipshit,” she threw her collected bundle next to him but instead of going to get more she stuck close to Kent’s side taking in her whereabouts. Instead, Jonathan went to gather more. The sun would be setting soon, and they needed to have enough wood to keep the fire going until the rest of the campers were fast asleep. This would allow them to sneak back, get some sleep, then reconvene in the lounge come early morning.
After a good assortment of burley twigs and with the fire now roaring, the group settled in.
“Do you think Stacey is back at camp?” Kent questioned. He thought by now she would've joined them. He didn’t like that she was always sneaking off especially with a boy who was older than them.
“She’s probably making out with that merchant boy. It’s fine,” Lacey let out a sigh exhausted from the day’s events, “I didn’t even want to smoke a cigarette anyways.”
They sat in silence for some time, the fire flicking shadows across their faces as the sun began to set. Jonathan watched as the sun dipped below the water for the night.
“HELP MEEEEEEEEE!” a high-pitched voice screamed out for help.
The group grabbed for each other stumbling closer to the water as a bone chilling fear sank in. Eyes wide and heavily breathing they all turned their attention to the forest.
“LACCCCCEY! COME FIND ME PLEASE! I NEED HELLLLLP!” The voice ran out again from the darkness.
“Stacey?” Kent squeaked out gripping the others harder.
A last crying yell rippled out, “Please help me,” and faded into a silence. They stood, fear holding their stance. Jonathan and Kent jumped as Lacey finally broke, “That was Stacey right? That was her voice, her scream.”
“STACEY! STACEY! WE ARE HERE!” She screamed back taking a few steps closer. Kent chimed in, “YES WE ARE HERE! STACEY WHERE ARE YOU?”
They called out her name time and time again but were met with nothing but silence. Jonathan watched the forest’s edge only slightly illuminated by the fire for any sort of movement. Lacey stepped towards the last place Stacey’s voice had been heard.
“Come on,” she coaxed getting closer to the forest's edge. “We have to find her.”
Kent grabbed for Lacey’s shirt pulling her back, “Now you’re being the dipshit. Hell no.”
“Are you kidding me? She’s our best friend. We can’t leave her in there,” and with that she ripped herself from Kent’s grasp heading into the darkness.
“Lacey what did I say earlier?! Stay together!” Kent called out running after her and disappearing in the dark.
Jonathan stayed put still processing what was happening. Why had he suggested Benson Beach? He jumped again as Lacey’s voice rang out, “OH GOD! OH GOD! NO NO NO!”.
“HELP!” Kent screamed. “JONATHAN!”
Not sure why Jonathan sprinted in after his friend’s cries, but instantly found himself stumbling over tree branches as the light of the fire became complete darkness.
“OVER HERE!” Stacey’s voice sounded from the right. “THIS WAY PLEASE!” Kent shouted from the left. Jonathan kept pushing forward not sure what to do when his foot caught causing him to stumble forward. Unable to brace his fall his knee came crashing down smashing onto a sharp log.
“JONATHAN! I NEED HELP!” Lacey sounded close by. He peered into the darkness unable to see anything. Jonathan held his knee and could feel the warmth of blood pour from his newly fresh cut. “NOOOO!” Kent screamed out, “NOOO!”. Jonathan tried to get up but instantly feel to the ground in anguish. The pain of his knee unbearable to stand on. He heard Stacey crying in the distance.
From every direction he could hear their voices calling for help. Uncertain and scared, Jonathan laid down, tucking his knees in close and covered his ears to drown out the screams. He didn’t know how long he laid rocking on the cold earth with the unceasing screams, but the touch of a hand brought Jonathan to his senses. He scrambled backwards kicking his legs in protection until he laid eyes on the person staring down at him. Counselor Brant. Without words, Counselor Brant scooped Jonathan onto his side supporting his injured knee while holding a torch to light the way. Even though his friend’s screams echoed around them they pushed forward until they saw a clearing. Benson Beach.
Jonathan and Brant scurried to the last glowing embers of the unattended fire. “How?” Is all Jonathon could say.
Counselor Brant pulled Jonathan’s leather pouch from his pocket tossing it at Jonathan's feet. There etched in the leather was his note to Stacey…Benson Beach.
Benson Beach July 17th, 1997
Jonathon moved his hands closer to the fire. It was getting late, and the cold was settling in. Just as the last rays of sun ducked below the lake’s surface, he heard whispers of a soft voice drift out from the dense forest.
The hint of the soft voice quickly turning into a shrilling scream, “HELP ME!” it echoed from the treetops. Another cried out, “JONATHAN, I’M HERE! PLEASE HELP ME!”. Jonathan gripped his knee scarred from his fall so many years ago. The screaming and voices continued sometimes overlapping into unidentifiable shrieks. His friend’s faces replayed in his head and eyes filled with tears as their screams grew louder and louder the pleading growing more heartbreaking as the night wore on.
As the sun broke through the treetops, Jonathan heard the crunch of footsteps approaching.
“Hey, Brant,” Jonathan glanced up to see the old counselor standing close by with concern in his brows. He hadn’t seen the clown smile on that man’s face since that night in the forest.
“How much longer are you going to do this for Jon?”
Jonathan paused taking one last look toward the forest, “Until I get all my marbles back.”
I did it! This was seriously one of the hardest stories I've written to date, but I love the outcome. I wasn't sure how I was going to tie it all together, but as I was rereading through the beginning parts of the story it hit me with the double meaning behind losing the marbles.
The idea of the skinwalker came to me as a friend and I had somewhat of a funny encounter after hanging out in a cemetery one night just a few weeks ago. It brought the whole plot together.
As you can see, I used all the character's name but in a slightly different way than intended. I loved being able to grab from the already listed names and use them as I saw fit. Word count had me worried the most as it seemed to take forever to get the first 1000 words down, but the closer I got to the intended word count the more I realized I was going to have to take out some more descriptive parts.
Is this how you would have written your story if given this prompt?
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