Step into the Wayback Machine with me

Posted: Friday, September 26, 2008 by Travis Cody in

I happened across a bit of writing I originally posted back in March 2007. Some of you may have read it before. The link to the original post is in my sidebar.

I'm kind of proud of this piece.

It didn't have a title when I first posted it, and it still doesn't. It's just a little slice of fiction I did for a writing exercise.

I hope you enjoy.

"Hang on Toby!"

Toby couldn’t spare any breath to answer. It took all he had to keep squeezing his fingers around the exposed root. He knew he was going to fall. He just didn’t think he should give in so easily.

Such a stupid thing and he’d known better. Just last summer he’d nearly slid over the edge chasing jack rabbits. That’s why Papaw had the fence built. Papaw always shook his finger and grumbled on and on about mule-headed boys.

“Three hunnerd acres,” the old man groused. “Still y’all rush on out to that soft pack yonder, like some stubborn ole jackass grazin’ after the sweet grass.”

It hadn’t always been so loose up on the bluff behind the sprawling ranch. Toby’s Daddy and uncles had played out there as boys, when the blue spruce had grown thick. Back then you could sit beneath one of the dense trees and gaze out over the bay, listening to the waves wash against the cliff face 200 feet below.

The rains had come earlier and more intense over the years. The bluff turned muddy. Disease had taken most of the trees. The rest had gone into the bay as the edge of the cliff eroded and the bluff became a dangerous place to walk.

But as often as you can tell a boy to mind the edge, that point doesn’t seem to settle until he catches up against it. And even then, the lesson doesn’t always hold.

A small avalanche of loose dirt and pebbles washed over Toby’s head and down his back. He heard a muffled oath and the sound of scrambling above him. All that rain that Papaw had praised over the winter…this spring it was about to cost the old man his youngest grandson. Toby reckoned there was no way they could get to him with the ground so soft at the ledge. That’s why he was in this mess.

That, and not wanting to lose the new baseball. Chris always threw it too hard. Toby was learning to catch better, but sometimes he just ducked out of the way and then ran to fetch the ball. Toby got a good giggle as he ran too, because he knew his big brother would be annoyed. But then Chris would throw it a little softer so Toby could catch a few before he started winding up for high hard ones again.

Then the baseball rolled under the fence. And Toby skittered beneath the rails, running to get the new ball without a thought. And the ground evaporated beneath his feet.

By chance he caught the root, and now Toby dangled by one hand about 20 feet below the new ledge, with Chris yelling at him to hang on. Toby had watched his new glove tumble through the air and hit the water. The splash looked so tiny. He didn’t see what happened to the new baseball. He’d saved his allowance all winter for that glove. It’d take him another six months to save up to replace it…if he didn’t fall.

It wouldn’t be so bad to fall, would it really? Like the glove…just floating down and down and down. Flying. And then a little splash in the water.

The ground shifted. The root bent and creaked. Toby tightened his grip. His hand was starting to cramp. He didn’t really want to fall. He tried again to dig his feet into the cliff face, but they just scrabbled at the loose rock. His shoulder strained and he felt his fingers slip.

“Help Chris!! I’m gonna fall!” Toby's thin voice cracked as the panic started.

Toby tried to reach his other arm up so he could grab the root with both hands. The stabbing pain reminded him why he was dangling by just one hand. Tears of fear and frustration burned in his eyes.

Something dropped past him. He gasped and cringed. His fingers let loose of the root and he screamed.

But he didn’t fall. He felt a strong grip around his waist and heard his Daddy’s deep voice.

“It’s ok now. I gotcha.”

Toby opened his eyes and looked at the waves crashing against the rocks below.

Nope – it wouldn’t have been so good to fall.


  1. Phew! Thank goodness he didn't fall

  1. Dianne says:

    Wow! The suspense built up beautifully and the imagery was fantastic.

    Great story. And thans for a happy ending, I couldn't take any more bad news this week :)

  1. You packed a lot of suspense into this one.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Good grief Trav I was holding my breath!!

  1. Jeni says:

    Great story, Trav. Had my heart in my mouth there.
    Thanks too for commenting on my blog about the reader-updating issues. I've been having this problem since the end of July with my reader. My new posts do finally show up as updated on my reader but only have several hours of waiting. And, I've had others tell me too that my posts simply do NOT update on their readers but I have no clue what the heck to do to get this fully operational again! I use feedburner now -couldn't get the rss thing to update at all when this problem began. Add to all this mess what a dummy I am when it comes to computers/readers/blogs, etc., and I'm lucky it's working even half-way now!

  1. Anndi says:

    Travis and the Amazing Story factory!

    Happy endings.... need more of those lately.

  1. Bond says:

    Gosh Travis...Thanks for bringing this one back...I loved it the first time you posted it and it kept me gasping for breath again this time.

    Have a tremendous weekend.

  1. Merelyme says:

    I like this very much...very suspenseful!

  1. Travis says:

    Terra: I did have an alternate ending, but I prefer this one.

    Dianne: Thanks. Now if I could just translate that kind of impact into my longer fiction...

    Charles: Even my breath still catches just a bit when I read it.

    Akelamalu: I wish I could get this kind of inspiration back and write more. I think I keep psyching myself out though.

    Jeni: There's another blogger I enjoy who has the same problem. I may have to go very carefully through the blogs in my reader and see who else has been silent awhile due to the same issue.

    Ann: The save at the end was the right choice based on the assignment of renewal.

    V: It's getting close to NaNoWriMo and if I want to have any chance to try it, I need to find the good pieces and figure out how I was inspired to write them.

    Merelyme: Thanks!

  1. Ok that made me all tense :P

  1. Linda says:

    I must say Mr. Peabody that was a fantastic story and I am so glad you produced it from the Wayback Machine. Got anymore?!?

    Funny thing is, as I was reading this I was picturing the Mohegan Bluffs that I just wrote about out on Block Island! Perfect timing!

  1. jennifer says:

    WOW. A really good story. I knew/hoped that you wouldn't let him fall.

    I still remember a book that I read over 15 years ago where the hero did not show up and it was a BAD situation for the story's main character.

    I tore the book to shreds.

    I am so glad that didn't happen here. :)

  1. Lizza says:

    I remember reading this one...I enjoyed reading it again!

  1. Trav, this is really good stuff! I was completely drawn in. Talk about a cliffhanger!

    p.s. I use to love, love, love Mr. Peabody and Sherman!

  1. Rick says:

    Nice work, Travis! You should post more of this type of writing.

  1. I've always been a fan of sudden fiction...wait...I think I said that first time I read this!


    Well, I AM, and you did a tremendous job with this: suspense, details, believability. Great job, Trav.

  1. Jeff B says:

    This was worth a rerun. Gripping suspense that catches on right out of the gate. Good job my friend.

  1. Travis says:

    Starr: Excellent!

    Linda: I don't have many more. I'm trying to get more organized so I can write a bit more.

    Jennifer: I do prefer a happier ending if it fits the story. This time it did.

    Lizza: Glad you enjoyed one more time, and good to see you out and about the bloggosphere again!

    WT4W: Mr Peabody rocks! I'm glad you enjoyed the story too.

    Rick: I should. It's just a matter of time and ideas.

    Songbird: Well, I think that a repeated comment works very well for a repeated story. LOL!

    Sanni: **bows, tips hat**

    Jeff: Thank you Sir. This is what I need to be doing with the various writing prompts I'm seeing around the bloggosphere. I just need to get inspired and make the time to write.

  1. Marsha says:

    Now, believe it or not, I've nominated you for a blog award so check out my Saturday post. And keep up the good work!

  1. Kimmie says:

    Oh Goodness Trav, you had my heart beating very fast with this story! What a wonderful gift you have. This is my first time reading it and I have to tell you I could vision it all through your words. Please keep are very good. :-)

    Thanks for sharing and for the happy ending. :-)

  1. cathy says:

    Regret for the loss of something valued.The pain of hanging on versus the fear of letting go...

    ... but daddy isn't always there to save us, some never were.

    There's a thousand stories in this concept.

  1. Dana says:

    Thank you...that brought tears to my eyes. I needed that story.