The First Page Challenge 2023—3rd place
Congrats to Nicole Brooks for winning third place in the First Page Challenge 2023! Here's what our judge (Michelle Barker) had to say:
"The opening of the 100-Year Flood made great use of tension and gripped me right away. The rising floodwaters created an immediate ticking clock, and with the narrator's stepmother trapped in the valley, the stakes are high."
The rain may have stopped, but the water will continue to rise.
I know this. I tried to tell Joan as much. It’s why the evacuation order was issued in the middle of the night. But my stepmother refused to leave, saying that there wasn’t a drop of water in the creek at seven this morning. That there hadn’t been water in it for many, many years.
But knowing and seeing are two different things and I’m stunned by the sight of the flooding valley below me. I glance at the dashboard clock. Eleven. This has happened in four hours. Murky brown water is snaking everywhere. Around the barn, through the yard, embracing the bottom of the house. The garden is gone. The once dry creek is overfull. My brain is glitching, unable to comprehend how this happened so fast. I stare at the old white bungalow, with its grey shingled roof, willing Joan to walk out now and save me the grief of driving down there.
Betty barks from the backseat—a short, high-pitched yip. Her warning bark. In the rearview mirror, Emerson and Lucas are both staring out the window, eyes wide at the disaster building in front of them.
“Gramma’s down there?” Emerson asks, her voice rising in pitch.
“I think I forgot to close the back door this morning,” Lucas says. He’s now watching me, his normally bright hazel eyes—Ivy’s eyes—darkened.
“What?” I ask.
“I forgot to close the door after I let Betty back in. We should go home and check.” His gaze jumps back out the window.
Ah. I understand. “Honestly, I would love nothing more than to go home too, but we have to get Grandma out.” We are wasting time up here. I let off the brake, promising Lucas we’ll be fast, that water can’t move quicker than us. As we descend into the valley, I leave behind the safety of high, dry land and focus on rescuing the woman who once rescued me.
Nicole Brooks has a Bachelor of Science and worked as an environmental consultant before staying home to raise her children. Her first novel, Just Because We Can (2018), inspired by her former career, was a Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist. Her current novel is set during the 2013 Calgary 100-Year flood that devastated much of southern Alberta. She lives with her two daughters and husband just outside Calgary. If you can’t find Nicole, she’s probably out driving around searching for bald eagles or playing pickleball.