A Life Less Ordinary (Part 2): Day 30 – A Story A Day

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This is the final day of the Story A Day Challenge for September. Thanks for all your patience – there have been a lot of stories this month! I’ll leave you with part two of the story I began yesterday. A story from two different perspectives – that of father and son. I hope you enjoy.

A Life Less Ordinary – Part Two

Monty Fielding watched his son’s small frame pound against the glass of his bedroom window. For a moment he feared his boy would come exploding through the pane. Cursing, he rushed back into the house and took the stairs two at a time. He knew Michael couldn’t appreciate that Doug Jefferson was probably responding to an emergency at the hospital. During an episode, what he needed was routine and discipline. They were the only things Michael could accept.

With a heavy heart, Monty pushed into his son’s room. He was the only person who could reach Michael now. It wouldn’t be easy, but he had to try. When he caught sight of Michael, he froze in his tracks. He was rocking to and fro on the small window seat; Abigail beside him, wringing her hands in despair.

“It should be green, it should be green, it should be green.” Michael repeated the words like a chant, the words echoing around the room like a stuck record.

“Look at me Michael,” Monty said, crouching beside him.

The authority in his voice seemed to do the trick, because Michael met his eyes. Briefly. “Mrs Jacobs?” was all he said.

Monty frowned, wondering how to respond. There was concern in Michael’s voice, but there was something more. An eerie kind of knowing. He stood to peer out onto the street, and was surprised to see the green VW beetle still parked in the drive. Sandra Jacobs ran her own business, and she hadn’t missed a day of work in over three years.

Everyone’s entitled to a sick day.

The thought gave him pause. Sandra was a tough old bird, long past retiring age, but she had a strength of will; a stubbornness which meant nothing could keep her down. Michael was right about that. She was always the first to leave, and she would have called him if something was wrong.

Monty squinted, a tingle running down his spine when he saw that her curtains were still closed. Sandra had caught a bout of pneumonia the year before, and still made sure her curtains and door were open so the neighbours were free to call in.

“I need to go check on something,” he said to Abigail, turning from the window.

“Monty, what is it?”

“Sandra’s car is still in the drive. It might be nothing, but…”

Abigail nodded, and then sat beside their son. She didn’t touch him, not yet. But Monty knew the worst was over. They had been lucky this time.

As he crossed the small street, Monty hated the ominous feeling that settled in the pit of his stomach. It made him shiver and, irrational or not, he couldn’t shake it. He knocked brusquely when he reached the house, and jiggled the doorknob. It was locked.

He tried calling through the letterbox, but got no response. Feeling foolish now, Monty walked around the side of the house. He let out a relieved breath when he discovered the curtains in the dining room had been drawn back. That was until he saw Sandra through the patio window and his blood froze in his veins.

She was laying on the floor, the phone next to her outstretched hand, and her face obscured by her silvery mane of hair. He didn’t stop to think then, he whirled and grabbed the first thing to hand – a garden chair. Monty swung it at the glass, jolting as the glass exploded.

Stepping through the debris, he walked directly to Sandra and bent to feel for a pulse. His breath came out in a rush when he detected the faint rhythm. “Hang on, Sandy,” he whispered as he grabbed the phone and dialled.

A few minutes later he gently moved her into the recovery position, and sat on the floor, his hand in hers, waiting for the ambulance to arrive. As he did, he began to talk. He told her about his morning, about rising early and upsetting his family’s routine. About the odd feeling he couldn’t shake, even though he’d told his son everything was going to be okay. Monty told her about Michael, and how he had been able to communicate his fear for Sandra in just a few words. And only then did it hit him how calm Michael had been as he left the house. How he had found a way out of the nightmare all on his own.

When the ambulance arrived, he allowed the paramedics to take over. They reassured Monty that Sandra’s pulse was steady and strong. What they didn’t communicate, not in so many words, was that he had gotten to her just in time.

He waited until they had loaded her into the ambulance, and then walked back across the street toward home. It surprised him when he saw Michael staring out into the street. Their eyes met briefly through the glass, and his son’s gaze was sure and strong. For the first time in a long time, Monty was grateful that their lives were a little less ordinary than most.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

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A Life Less Ordinary (Part 1): Day 29 – A Story A Day

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As there are only two days left in the Story A Day Challenge for September, I decided to finish on a two part story – told from two different perspectives. A father and son. I hope you enjoy.

A Life Less Ordinary – Part One

The day started ordinarily enough. The house was silent and solid in its job of protecting the sleeping occupants. Right on cue, the alarm clock broke through the tranquillity of the household with the subtlety of a sledge hammer. The DJ’s dulcet tones echoed through the upstairs living quarters and masked the sound of the coffee percolator set on timer to welcome the sleeping figures back into the land of the living.

As if given permission, the birds, who were housed within the conservatory, began their morning call. The central heating system came to life, echoing through the walls and bringing warmth into the tiny structure. All was as it should be.

The next few minutes passed with the same precision they had every morning. Monty slammed the palm of his hand on top of the alarm, managing as usual to hit the snooze button.

“Time to get up,” came the muffled voice of his wife. They were the same words she uttered every morning. She said them, whilst knowing that her husband would not stir until he no longer had an excuse to stay under the covers. It equated to twenty minutes, and a heavy reliance on the snooze facility.

In the bedroom adjacent to theirs lay their son, Michael. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling. Routine was his ally. He could count the seconds, and knew with absolute certainty that his father would poke his head around the door in exactly nineteen minutes. He would smile and mutter a, ‘Good morning, son,’ to which he would reply, ‘Good morning, father,’ – all without taking his eyes from the roof. In twenty-two minutes his father would make it back upstairs, after fetching his mother her morning cup of coffee. Michael could see it playing out in his head like a moving picture.

By the time he was up and in his position by the window, his father would be groomed and ready for work. Michael would count his steps down the stairs, across the hall and towards the door, before his father would call out.

“See you tonight, Abigail. Have a good day, Michael, I’ll miss you.”

Their response was somewhat varied, but by that time Michael would be busily watching the street. He would see his father sat in his car. A bright blue Toyota Corolla, thumbing the engine and waiting for his cue.

It was all about order, and maintaining that order. To deviate would upset the fine balance of the universe, or at least that’s how Michael saw it. First it would be Mrs Jacobs at number 10, then Dr Jefferson and, just before his father, came Dorothy Stokes. On an ordinary day, in a life less ordinary than most, this is what happened.

Michael bolted upright in bed when he heard footsteps in the hall; he looked at the clock in horror. Only twelve minutes had passed since his father’s alarm had sounded. He shouldn’t be up yet, shouldn’t be on his way to Michael’s room with all those minutes to spare.

Pulling the cover over his head, Michael put a barrier between himself and his father. When the door opened he mouthed the words, even though he was terrified to hear them.

“Good morning, son,” his father said sleepily.

Michael could not bring himself to reply; his lips moved in their usual greeting, but he did not voice the words.

“Michael?”

There was a long silence, whilst his father tried to figure out what to do next. “Don’t worry, Michael, I know I’m early this morning, but everything will be okay.”

When Michael didn’t answer he closed the door again on a sigh.

For the next twenty minutes, Michael didn’t move from his position under the duvet. He needed that time to collect his thoughts, and to calm his beating heart. Something had gone horribly wrong. He could usually sense such things in the air, but today had seemed like such a good day when he opened his eyes.

It took a great deal of effort to move to his seat at the window, but he needed to do it. He needed to see this part through; this would re-set the balance and calm his jittering nerves.

He looked down at his father, sitting patiently in the car, and regretted the fact he couldn’t articulate his fear. But then he saw Dr Jefferson’s car moving out of the drive and his heart froze. It had to be Mrs Jacobs who left the cul de sac first. The order was simple; green, red, yellow and blue. That was the way it had been for over twelve months.

Michael couldn’t control the emotions wracking his body; he was lost in an attack he knew would rob all coherent thoughts from his mind.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Wizards & Warriors Part 2: Day 28 – A Story A Day

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This is part two of the story I wrote in response to the Writer’s Digest prompt (see below). It’s part of the Story A Day Challenge.

You’re playing a video game called Wizards & Warriors when, suddenly, lighten strikes the house, scaring you and causing you to black out. When you wake up, you’re trapped inside the game. The only items you have is a sword, a backpack and a note attached to your shirt that reads, “Beat me and I’ll send you home.”


I was saved from a major freak out when Ally stepped from behind a tree, looking like Zena, the fricking, Warrior Princess. I mean, come on. This was my scary dream. It didn’t matter that she was totally working the outfit and, okay, she did look amazing, but I was meant to be the one in control.

“How come you get to be the cool warrior chick in this little scenario?”

Ally dipped her head, raising her brows and giving me a glare that said, ‘really?’ And, fine, she had a point.

Then her eyes dropped to my hands. “Cool,” she said, striding over on long, long legs. “That’s just the kind of accessory my outfit needs.”

I glanced down at the sword, hugging it my chest like she wanted to take away my child. “Not a chance. I found it, and I’m calling the three second rule.”

She snorted. “The three second rule doesn’t count. It only counts when someone steals your seat.”

“It counts.”

Ally clearly read in my expression that I would fight her for the damn thing and, wisely, she backed off. “Fine. Whatever. Let me have the backpack.” She snapped her fingers. “It pays to be prepared and we don’t know what’s coming.”

“Get a grip, Ally. This is just my subconscious reminding me to stop wasting time on a stupid game.”

At my words a crack of lighting lit the sky.

“Seriously?” I said, glancing up.

“Ah oh. I think that might be-”

A roar cut through the rest of her words, shaking the ground with its strength and ferocity. When it came into view, the creature took my breath away. I might have been scared and, judging from the squeak from Ally, she was on board with that, but I was mesmerised by the sheer beauty of it. Really, it had to be forty feet, and I didn’t want to think about the wing span. It was way cooler than the dragon I’d seen Ally battle from the comfort of her living room.

“RUN!” Ally screamed and hightailed it into the trees.

My eyes were still skyward, my legs frozen in place. Even when the thing turned towards me, fire shooting from its magnificent jaws in a blinding display of power, I didn’t move. Instead of dodging out of the way, I held up the sword and deflected the fiery missile as though I was Shera herself. Energy shot through me. It travelled down to my toes, shot back up and lit the sky.

“Holy shit!” Ally said, beside me again. “Did you see that?” She looked from me to the sky and back again. “That was fricking awesome!”

I grinned in response, feeling immensely pleased with myself. It was a familiar feeling. It usually followed a scuffle with one or all of my siblings. I have five brothers, all of whom like their fights to get physical, and not with a games console. I’d learned to outmanoeuvre like a pro.

“Come on,” I said, shrugging out of the back pack and handing it over. “Let’s go and have some fun.”


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Wizards & Warriors Part 1: Day 27 – A Story A Day

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I’m using another Writer’s Digest prompt today for the Story A Day Challenge. I had so much fun with the prompt, the story will be in two parts.

You’re playing a video game called Wizards & Warriors when, suddenly, lighten strikes the house, scaring you and causing you to black out. When you wake up, you’re trapped inside the game. The only items you have is a sword, a backpack and a note attached to your shirt that reads, “Beat me and I’ll send you home.”


“You know, this borders on humiliating. I’m talking, find a new best friend level of humiliation and shame. You suck at this.”

Okay, so that was a little harsh.

But that’s Ally for you. She’s the undefeated champion of Wizards and Warriors. Me, not so much. It isn’t for want of trying. Ally’s been trying to clue me in to the world of video games since we were five years old. Her patience is wearing thin.

“Get a grip. It’s just a game.”

Ally gasped. Totally over the top, like I’d offended her fine sensibilities. Wait, no, she doesn’t have any fine sensibilities. She’s about as subtle as a rock.

I was about to respond when the lights went out. Ally made a choking sound, and I had visions of someone springing up from behind the sofa and wrapping their fingers around her throat. And, okay, I was annoyed about her comment, but she was my best friend, so I didn’t exactly relish the idea of someone choking the life out of her.

“Thank the gods for small mercies.” I muttered this, actually relieved I didn’t have to play the stupid game anymore. On the heel of that nasty thought I felt static run up my arms, followed by an almighty bang and then it was totally lights out.

I awoke to blue skies and a rather splendid looking forest. Not my first choice, but I figured I must be in heaven and was kind of relieved my ass wasn’t sat on burning coals. It took me a second to process, and then I’ll admit I panicked. I wasn’t ready to die, and whoever heard of being struck down for having blasphemous thoughts about a video game?

Of course that’s when I realised the pretty green forest was the exact replica of the one I’d been staring at all evening, which meant I was either in hell after all, or God had a really sick sense of humour.

It took me another few seconds to consider the facts, and then I decided I’d probably been knocked out by Ally’s evil death stare, a look she’s perfected over the years. She uses it when she’s pissed off with me – which is a lot. Deciding I liked that idea more than the alternatives, I settled in to enjoy the trip.

Standing, I felt twin straps pull tight across my shoulders and recognised the backpack all adventurers wear in Wizards and Warriors. It actually made me feel better, because you don’t get a backpack until Level 6 and I’ve never made it beyond Level 1.

I continued to look around, familiarising myself with my surroundings and caught the glint of steel.

“Now that’s what I’m talking about.” I snatched up the sword, a little surprised by how heavy the thing was, but too excited to care because I’d only ever seen Ally wielding such a kick-ass weapon. This dream world wasn’t so bad, especially since I was apparently cool here and got to play with all the best toys.

On that thought I began to test my skills with the blade, gripping the handle with both hands and swinging it with barely concealed glee. When my arm brushed against something stiff at the bottom of my top, I looked down to discover a note. Curious I pulled it loose and read aloud.

“Beat me and I’ll send you home.”

Oh crap!


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Best Laid Plans: Day 26 – A Story A Day

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Today, I decided to use a prompt from Writers Digest for the Story A Day challenge. Here it is:

Your are going on a blind date for Valentine’s Day. In case the date is a dud, you have your best friend on standby. Your friend is to call you at 9:30 on the dot. If the date is going well, you answer and use the phrase “I already took care of that.” If it’s not, you answer and claim your friend has an emergency. The date is going well and your friend calls at 9:30 as planned—only problem is, the friend calls with a real emergency. What is it and what do you do?


“Keep it together. You’ve got this.”

The words had little effect on the nerves dancing in my belly, but a quick glance at my reflection and I had it under control. I’d spent the afternoon in the best salon in town, where I had been primped and polished to within an inch of my life. The results were astonishing. I looked like I used to look; before life had dragged me through the shit heap and I’d left my confidence behind with my ex.

This was my first date in twelve months, and considering it was a blind date, my anxiety levels were through the roof. I knew only that his name was Darren, and he would be carrying a yellow rose – his idea, not mine.

Of course I had an escape route planned. If the date went south, all I had to do was declare an emergency when my friend called at 9pm, and hightail it out of there. The nerves fluttered again when I thought about Chris; a good friend, but somewhat of a flake. No, that wasn’t fair. He’d been my rock during the past year, but he’d never been on time for anything in his life; starting, as his mother enjoys pointing out, with his entry into the world.

Brushing thoughts of Chris aside, I left the restroom and searched the elegant restaurant. In truth I’d been killing time because, unlike my friend, I’m habitually early.

I spotted the tall, smartly dressed stranger immediately, and nerves shot up into my throat when I saw the rose. This was it. It was show time.

“April. How lovely to see you again,” he said, and his face lit with genuine pleasure.

I’m not going to lie, for a split second words failed me. My mind threw an absolute blank. That was until he smiled and I sucked in a breath. I’d recognise that smile anywhere.

“Darren Johnson.” The words sounded like an accusation.

In response he hit me with a grin. I remembered that too. My blind date wasn’t a stranger at all. He was the boy I lost my heart to when I was twelve; the boy who had moved to another country just before graduation and killed my dreams. Well, okay, that was a little dramatic, but I liked him a lot. And I mean wedding bells, four children and a mortgage kind of feeling.

“I had a huge crush on you in high school,” he was saying, and my eyes grew wide.

Oblivious to my thoughts, he touched a hand to my elbow and guided me towards our table. All the while he complimented me on my dress, and I smiled and nodded like a crazy person.

Thankfully, I got my act together and we fell into easy conversation over our meal. I felt so relaxed I actually jumped in surprise when my phone rang. For a moment I considered ignoring it, but then I remembered I’d been expecting the call and snatched it up with an apologetic smile.

“How’s it going, babe?” Chris said in my ear.

I blinked, unsure of how to respond. After a few seconds of silence, I gave him the code we’d agreed on. In fairness I was completely distracted by the knowing twinkle in Darren’s eyes. “I already took care of that.”

“Really?”

This time I frowned. Chris had gone off script. He was supposed to hang up, be pleased, something. “Okay, great,” I said, smiling lamely. “I’ll talk to you soon.”

“You sound weird.”

I put my hand over the phone, feeling anger and embarrassment vying for first place. “Will you excuse me for a minute?” When I got a nod from Darren, his eyes creased in amusement, I stood up and walked back toward the restroom. “Chris, what’s going on?”

“That’s what I want to know. You sound like you’re having fun.” I didn’t miss the petulance in his tone.

“Isn’t that the point? You’re supposed to be happy.” I glanced over my shoulder, and when I caught sight of Darren I forgot I was angry with Chris. “You’ll never guess who my date is.” At his silence I pressed on. “Darren Johnson.” The silence went on so long I thought I’d been disconnected. “Chris?”

“There’s been an emergency and I need you,” he blurted.

“That’s very funny. Stop raining on my parade and let me get back to my date.”

“April. I don’t want you to…I mean…I need you to come home.”

Completely losing my patience, and aware I had an audience, I dashed around the corner away from prying eyes. “Chris, what the hell has gotten into you?”

This time the silence grated along my nerves, and I was about to disconnect when he spoke. “April, I…I love you.”

“I love you too, you goof.”

“No. I mean, I love you.”

The phone dropped to the floor with a resounding thwack.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Witch in Training: Day 25 – A Story A Day

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Today, I decided to use a prompt from Writers Digest for the Story A Day challenge. Here it is:

You wake up one morning and find that you aren’t in your bed; you aren’t even in your room. You’re in the middle of a giant maze. A sign is hanging from the ivy: “You have one hour. Don’t touch the walls.” Finish the scene.

It probably reads better if you’re familiar with my character, Maddison Wood. She’s a freelance hunter, and now a Watcher. She’s also a witch (sort of). I hope you enjoy.


It took her a second, okay more like thirsty seconds, to realise she was no longer in her bed. There was a reason Maddison didn’t open her eyes during that time. She assumed she was back in the attic; cold and alone on the hard, wooden floor. When she realised her mistake, she didn’t berate herself for the poor reaction time – Riley’s special brew could be blamed for that. She knew better than to accept a drinking challenge from a wolf. Riley’s metabolism burned off the nasty quicker than he could drink it.

So when she at last opened her eyes and realised she was in trouble, she settled on being pissed. It took her less than 30 seconds to understand she’d been hijacked; dumped into someone’s idea of a sick game. And then she was really pissed.

Maddison’s gaze roamed the maze. Its thick walls, designed to intimidate and subdue, were covered in something akin to ivy. And that’s when she saw them, neatly formed letters in the stone.

You have an hour.
Don’t touch the walls.

She growled, a sound Riley would appreciate, and slammed her palm against the stone in simple defiance.

The maze dropped away and Maddison found herself staring into the cold, laughing eyes of Orion Reece.

“This is a new form of torture, even for you,” she said, and watched the gold ring around his iris flare.

His voice was barely controlled when he spoke. “You get one pass, and you just used it. Do not touch the walls again.”

Maddison blinked, startled when she found herself back in the maze. “What’s this about, you son of a bitch?” She shouted it at the wall, wishing she could pound out her frustration with her fist.

In response she heard the unmistakable sound of ticking. It echoed around her, filling her mind until she wanted to howl. But she would never give Orion the satisfaction, so she began to walk; following the path he had forced her to take. She didn’t hurry, though the tick, tick, ticking of the clock taunted her.

Four wrong turns later and the sound changed; its beat grew faster, more urgent. Her time was running out, and she knew better than to disappoint a god. But she didn’t run. Instead she stopped walking, gathered her thoughts and considered her options.

All her attempts at magic had failed, which didn’t surprise her. Orion didn’t play fair. Yet she knew there was a way to beat the maze because, despite the fact he was a total ass, Orion wanted her to win.

On that thought, her gaze shifted to the creeping plant. When she took a step closer, she felt the unmistakable hum of power and knew it was the key.

Think, Maddy. Think.

She began to chant, forming a connection on pure impulse. Her powers at controlling nature were sporadic at best, but they were growing stronger.

“Shit.”

Maddison looked down at the pile of ash on the ground. She’d killed the damn thing. In disgust, she kicked at the closest patch, then almost laughed when the scattered remains reformed in a straight line.

Not a brick road, but it’ll do.

She did run then; eyes on the ground and attention on the trail she’d created by accident. Her feet pounded the earth, the ticking coming loud and fast, drowning out the pulse in her ears.

The moment she reached the elegant archway leading out of the maze, Orion stepped into her path. “Next time,” he said, in a bored tone. “Don’t kill the messenger.”

Maddison almost laughed at the poorly disguised joke. She didn’t. That would be encouraging him, and she’d had enough of his games. “What was this about?”

“You need to channel your earth power and learn to use it.” He paused. “Wisely.” She was about to respond when he ploughed on. “And you need to contain your anger. You behaved carelessly.”

She didn’t tell him about the special brew, though he could use a little happy juice himself. “That doesn’t really answer the question.”

Orion narrowed his eyes, but the chill had left them. “Consider yourself in training. This was your first test, and you almost failed it.”

With that, he clicked his finger and Maddison was back in her room at Merc Hall. She groaned, thumping her head against the soft pillow. She was being plagued by a god, and she had absolutely no idea why.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Changing World: Day 24 – A Story A Day

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A Story A Day – Prompt (24/9/15): Three Micro Stories. Flick through the gallery and pick the first three pictures that catch your attention. Now, write a short, 50-100 word story for each. No more than 100 words each.

I used the prompt today, and wrote a short piece for each photograph I chose. But I broke the rules, because I’m way behind schedule and almost didn’t make it today. I went over the word count, and continued a theme (which I’m sure is not the point to this exercise). But, still – there are words 🙂


slide

Day 26

Today was a good day, a jewel to be treasured in this quagmire of crap.

It’s strange, but when you’ve faced Armageddon, looked that bitch in the eye and come out the other side, somehow you can still appreciate the little things. And it has to be said, it’s all about the little things. How many times are we told to stop and smell the roses? – It still applies when there are no longer any roses to smell. Even if that shit was never meant to be taken literally.

So, here I am watching a group of kids I somehow found myself responsible for, clamouring over a slide as though this were just an ordinary day. And I’ll give it to them, the ordinary. I’ll give it to them as often as possible.

foxDay 40

We saw a fox today, an honest to god fox. Just strolling down the road, as easy as you please. It had this crazy-assed look on its face, as though it were none too pleased by what it saw. Sure, we’re looking a little rough around the edges, barely recognisable – but that shit was funny! Denny drew a picture, Carlos sang a song, and Duncan threatened to eat the poor little bugger. That’s what hunger does to you, I guess. But it raised our spirits some. I’m not sure what we’ll find next, but whatever it is, we’ll face it. Just like we’ve faced everything else. And, sure, the world is an unfamiliar place, but we can still laugh about it. We can even sing.

playground

Day 53

Today we stumbled upon a town almost untouched by the troubles. It scares the hell out of me. Not because it resembles a ghost town, but because it’s frozen. Unreal somehow. A step out of reality. The others decided we should stay a while. I’m not down with that. Not even a little bit. We found food, and a shit ton of supplies we’ll never be able to carry. We also got ourselves clean. But, I’m anxious. I got a bad feeling as soon as I saw the bike in the playground; shiny and new and parked as though someone would be back to collect it any minute. I just don’t trust this place, and the sooner we leave the better.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Connections: Day 23 – A Story A Day

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I wrote the following story as part of the ‘A Story A Day September’ challenge, but instead of using the prompt, I used a poem for inspiration. The poem was written by a blogging friend, Callum McLaughlin, and you can find it here.


Gabe peered around the thick, velvet curtain into the room beyond. The colour and texture reminded him oddly of his mother’s living room set; a pair he’d once feared as a child. They cast a heavy shadow across the cream carpet, like someone was waiting patiently behind the folds. Waiting to pounce.

Shaking his head, and wondering why he was thinking of an old set of curtains, he examined the shelves to his right. Gabe worked up a shiver when he realised the shelves were packed with jars; colourful jars that were lined in neat rows to resemble candy in a sweet shop. But Gabe wasn’t here for candy, and he didn’t care about sweets, he didn’t care much about anything anymore.

His gaze roamed the room to land on a high counter, behind which an elegantly dressed gentleman stood. The man’s face was creased in a frown of concentration, but he had a friendly air which Gabe found encouraging.

“Excuse me, kind sir,” he said, stepping up to the counter.

The man’s head snapped up. “Yes, what is it?” His green eyes were cold, impatient. Not friendly at all, Gabe realised. The opposite in fact.

He hesitated, unsure of how to proceed.

“I don’t have all day,” the man snapped. “What is it you want?”

“I…I’ll be needing a new heart,” Gabe said, pressing a hand to his chest. “This one is broken.”

“Sign here.”

Gabe flinched, then looked down at the thick wad of paper the man slammed onto the counter. “What-”

“Look,” the man said, his green eyes frosting over. “I don’t need to know your life story. I’m not interested in your broken heart. I just need to know you’ve thought this through.” He paused, but when Gabe said nothing, he waved an impatient hand toward the stack of paper. “Sign this and we’re good to go. But, understand this. Everything you’ve felt with that heart,” he pointed to Gabe’s chest, “will be gone. The highs and lows, triumphs and disappointments. All the connections you’ve made. Gone.”

Gabe swallowed, torn between his desire to rid himself of the heartache, and the knowledge of everything else he had to give up. His gaze flickered to the wall behind the angry man, to a sign above his head.

He cleared his throat. “What about…what about the memory wipe?”

“Fine, but you still need to sign on the dotted line.”

Gabe looked down. He could see no such line among the rows and rows of text; it made his head hurt.

“Just remember,” the man continued, annoyance coating his tone. “It won’t cure what’s broken, you’ll just have no memory of it.”

Gabe stared at the man, and an unfamiliar buzz of irritation travelled along his skin. It was suffocating. His vision began to blur an instant later, until the scene faded to an ominous, empty black. That at least was familiar.

“Come on, buddy. Rise and shine.”

Colour exploded again and Gabe found himself staring up into eyes of startling green. Only these weren’t the eyes of a stranger. They belonged to his best friend, and they were shadowed with concern.

He felt disappointment claim him. There was no cure. It had all been a dream.

“I didn’t know if I should wake you,” Sean said, stepping back. “I know you haven’t slept in days, but you were babbling about some crazy shit and you scared the hell out of me.”

Gabe sat up, fighting off a wave of despair. “It was just a dream.”

“Yeah, well, it sounded like a nightmare to me.” Sean sat beside him on the couch. He motioned toward the widescreen television set. “Do you want to help me kill a few zombies?”

“Not right now.”

His friend shrugged and kicked his legs up onto a beanbag. “Okay, buddy. Whatever.”

Gabe turned his head. “Don’t you have a class today?”

“Probably.”

Silence hung between them. Gabe wanted to tell him he was okay, that he should go to class. But he couldn’t. So instead, he relaxed back against the cushions and considered his dream. Gabe didn’t really believe a new heart would fill the emptiness inside him, or that it would sever the attachments he’d made. But, he wouldn’t have signed on the dotted line, he decided. Some connections were too valuable to give up.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Awakening #BlogBattle Writing Challenge

Organised by Rachael Ritchey - http://www.rachaelritchey.com
Organised by Rachael Ritchey – http://www.rachaelritchey.com

#BlogBattle is a weekly writing challenge organised by Rachael Ritchey. You can find more information about it here. It’s a fun battle, and a supportive group – a great place to hang out! The theme this week is ‘ORCHID’

I feel the need to add a note to this story, mainly because I have no idea where I’m going with it! But that’s the fun in Rachael’s challenges – the freedom of going with the flow. You’ll be glad to know it doesn’t end on a cliff hanger, as such, but it will probably continue. So, although it feels strangely like a game of Balderdash, I hope you enjoy!


Charles stumbled along the overgrown path, his eyes burning with unshed tears. The final part of his journey was always the hardest, and this time was no different. He kept his head down and his weight forward, using the momentum to keep his legs moving. They were numb, all but useless, and still he pushed on.

His head came up the moment the trees began to thin. He was close now. He could see the well; a glint from stones he had placed there himself.

At the thought of what lay ahead, Charles felt his hand spasm. He almost crushed the token in his sweaty palm; the most precious of gifts. He didn’t look down, his fear was too great. The responsibility of his task weighed heavily in his heart. It was his turn now. His turn to honour his family in a tradition which spanned thousands of years. Too many to count.

For centuries his people had remained dormant, their power hidden beneath the earth; waiting for their next rebirth. Charles had no idea how long they were required, but a war was coming, so they could sleep no longer. He was their protector, like his father before him, and soon he would be reunited with his ancestors.

Eventually he would pass the mantle to his own children, and in doing so he would sleep. It was not their destiny to remain among the living. They had not roamed freely in this realm since the dawning of time. They existed in another place, and revealed themselves only when there was no other choice.

Charles fell to his knees beside the well, his fisted hand hovering above the opening. For one brief moment his hand remained locked in place, and then, slowly, it opened. He watched in awe as the seed pod slid from his palm, the unearthly glow illuminating the land even as it travelled down the well.

The earth began to shake, the vibration rattling Charles’ bones. But he wasn’t afraid. He was ready for it. Acting quickly now, he withdrew a dagger and scored a line across his palm. His hand curled around the wound and squeezed tight, the small droplets of blood falling into the light and sealing the ritual.

He fell backwards, scrambling to safety when the ground began to break apart. Charles thought he could hear the rumbling from every corner of the earth; he could certainly map out the connections in his mind. The underground system was vast, a system which began with a million seeds.

Charles tried to imagine that first gift, the power it contained. The plant was not meant to survive in this realm and yet, because it did, his people were granted the blessing of travelling through the ages.

It was impossible, though he knew there were thousands of species which descended from the Loamirar. Even bereft of power, the seeds produced spectacular results. One day he would glimpse the beauty of the Loamirar, and he would rejoice in the sight. Until then he would look upon the orchid, and remember where he came from.

Not that he needed a reminder. His people were emerging, and the beauty of it made his eyes overflow. They were tears of joy, of gratitude. He was witnessing an awakening.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Missing – Part 18 (Conclusion) -Day 21 A Story A Day

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Missing is part of an ongoing story, which I aim to turn into a novella – a prequel to Brothers in Arms (Book 3 of the Morgan and Fairchild Series). I’m taking part in the StoryADay September 2015 challenge, though, as I’m working on a continued tale, it’s not strictly a story a day. It’s more a story within a story.

Today is the final instalment of Missing. It will evolve in the editing stage, and the final ending will be written in a way that complements Brothers in Arms – Andrew’s story. I hope you enjoyed the tale, and are satisfied (at least for now), where I ended it. For the remaining days of the challenge the stories will be standalone. Thanks for taking the journey with me.


Recap: Justin Chambers, part of the team at Morgan & Fairchild, is approached by a friend who needs a favour. Justin accepts the missing person case, and agrees to look into it in his own time. Elsewhere in the story, Holly wakes in an unfamiliar room with no memory of how she got there. She soon discovers she is being held in an abandoned airfield, and her life is in danger. But Justin isn’t the only one with a mission. Andrew Butcher has been assigned to find Holly and, though he has strong ties to Morgan and Fairchild, he has his own team.

Justin stared at the sleeping girl through the door, and felt a barrage of emotion flood his system. Relief that he finally had answers, helpless anger, fear, and disappointment he hadn’t been the one to find them. The last surprised him – the arrogance of it. Justin was under no illusions he could save the world, and yet he’d wanted this win.

It embarrassed him, made him question where the compulsion came from. Since joining Morgan and Fairchild he had watched his team succeed time and time again. He’d been happy to play his part, to watch from the side lines; be the joker, the geek, and the one they trusted behind the wheel.

So why did he want more? Why had this case gotten under his skin and made him want to step up his game.

Justin turned in surprise when he felt the presence beside him. JJ didn’t say a word, and Justin knew his friend, his brother, could keep up the strong and silent act until he cracked under the pressure.

“Why don’t I feel better?” he asked, and felt JJ’s gaze swing his way.

“Because it’s not over.” JJ waited until Justin met his gaze. “There’s always something in this job that will haunt us, one case we can’t let go – or one cause we’re drawn to. This is yours.”

Justin felt something settle inside him. “What do I do now?”

“All you can do. You go with it. You see this thing through, and don’t forget we have your back.” JJ turned to look through the glass; his posture both relaxed and alert at the same time.

Justin had always admired the stillness in his friend; the quiet confidence few could replicate. “Thanks, man.”

They stood in silence for a few minutes, until JJ turned and disappeared the way he had come. He’d said his piece, and Justin knew he would be somewhere close by. In a lot of ways JJ was the voice in his head, a thought which brought a smile to his lips. Justin remembered the first time they worked together. He had babbled incessantly through his mic, knowing JJ could hear him and not expecting a response.

But over the years they had found a connection through the one-sided conversation and it became a habit neither one wanted to break.

On a sigh, Justin pushed into Holly Carpenter’s hospital room. Thanks to Susannah he knew that six teenagers had been rescued by an independent security team, and delivered to the local hospital for medical treatment.

While he’d been chasing his own tail, trying to find a lead to the missing kids, the team had their finger on the pulse. They were out there right now, chasing down those responsible.

As he dropped into a chair beside Holly’s bed, Justin swore to himself he would learn the identity of the team and help them in any way he could.

But first, first he would ensure Holly and the others got the help they deserved. He didn’t question the need to protect them, because JJ was right. This was his case, his mission, and he was going to see it through.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel