“Blue” Writing Prompt Results for “Did Somebody Say Murder?”

Writing Prompt Results:

Writing Prompt Time: 20-45min

RULES: Imagine you are the number one suspect in a murder investigation, (it can be old west, intergalactic, whatever), but all the investigators are concerned about, and keep asking you about is why you are wearing the color BLUE.

*   *   *

BLUE

His silver clad tail flick at the light above and sent it spinning on its tether in erratic turns in the air. Light beamed and danced throughout the room until slowly, dizzily coming to a stop as its rope ceased to move.

Buckley shielded his eyes from the light and winced at the high pitch shriek that the officer made. The sound was pain itself. There was no need for the officer to touch him. Leaning forward his near translucent fangs bared in anger he asked again, but why was he asking? The Nubulous Creed had taken up residents on earth nearly twenty years ago. They pretty much stayed out of the way of humans accept for in times of law and politics.

They were an orderly brood. They certainly did not abide things like murder. Little else was known about them.

Buckley repositioned himself and looked into the officers yellow eyes. He had done what they had brought him in for. He had even prepared the perfect alibi for it, a slippery talel just oily enough to slid right through their jagged fingers, buying him enough time to board a ship and head to the nearest planetary Confederacy.  He didn’t however have an answer for this.

He pinched the fabric of his shirt between his fingers and stared down at it. “My shirt?” He asked, his brow drawn. “What does my shirt have to do with anything?”

“Why is it blue, Buckley? Why are you wearing the color blue?!” His voice was so harsh.

“I don’t understand what my shirt has to do with anything.”

“You shirt is irrelevant! Why are you wearing blue?” The officers eyes shifted from yellow, to a sickening shade of green and then back to yellow again.

“If the shirt is irrelevant, why do you keep asking me?” He cupped his ears and then beat his fist against the table. The Officer had screeched again. He need to keep a level head, answer as best he could and get the heck out of there! “It was the first thing I grabbed,”

“I don’t care about your shirt! Humans are so foolish.” The Officer shook his head and looked at his partner. “Why are you wearing the color blue?”

On and on, the interrogation went for nearly three hours. Buckley was going mad! “I told it is was the first thing I grabbed blue was the only thing clean. I just needed a blasted shirt!”

“WHY?”

“Her blood was on everything else!” He suddenly cupped his mouth, eyes opened. How had he let that slip.

A smile crept upon the officer’s face, his silver clad tale flicking back and forth, poison dripping from its tip. “And there is the answer.”

“You tricked me!” Buckley backed away from the interrogation table. “You tricked me!”

“I only asked a question, and you answered. Why are you wearing blue? Because you murdered her and everything else was soiled.”

THE END

I took 20 minutes on this ;) The minimum but I am satisfied.

Cheers!

Chapter 19 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 19

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

            I, like any other person, had my fair share of nightmares growing up. It was only on occasion that they hit so hard that I would wake up either having wet myself or, being fueled with enough fear, that I would sneak into Mr. Albert’s bedroom and ball up under the covers right at the foot of his bed. Sometimes it was both the wetting and the running.

One night he caught me getting into his bed. At first he looked annoyed, but then he was compassionate. After getting me washed up and changed he told me that fear is a wicked enemy that we all have to face. If we can’t overcome it then we’d better learn to dance with it.

 

*          *          *

His body felt suspended, hovering within a tangent of weight and weightlessness. A strange, yet terrible euphoria washed over Clive with a rocking motion akin to waves against the shoreline. He had no control over his body, no control over his thoughts.

His thoughts. Some of them were so pleasant that his soul laughed, others were so terrifying that he wanted to cry out. He had buried down the few scattered memories he had as a child, tried to drown them with alcohol, the ones about Them, the ones about his abduction. The memories were so vague but the feelings that had stayed rooted deep within him screamed and seared his being as if they were fresh.

He could only remember the feeling and the light pulsing within thick darkness, the smell of electrical fire and smoke, and the feeling of his veins, as if each and every one of them was being individually fingered and probed, pinched and twisted, strummed like a guitar string. There was so much pain and so much fear. He remembered the pressure around him, so intense that he thought he would be crushed under the weight of it, the same way the pressure of the deep of the ocean crushed things within its darkness.

But he never was crushed, he was only broken, so much so that he found himself loosing his bowels for a long while there after. That in itself was enough to make the world laugh at a poor mountain boy who claimed he had been abducted by aliens.

Why was the Pulse making him remember? He had done what it had asked. He had told Them everything he knew about Etta Castle Teague, even the sordid details involving Baldwin Falk.

Etta had been accused of foul play, had been heavily investigated, and shunned by a great part of the Greenwich Pass community for over two years after Baldwin had just up and disappeared. It wasn’t until Etta’s new live in boyfriend, turned husband, Jørn Teague, started working in the hospital, that people began to warm up to her again. It was his charm and personable ways that had won Jørn a place in the hearts of those in Greenwich Pass. Etta was welcomed back into society by reason of association. And even that welcoming was limited. She was a hard pill to swallow sometimes.

Then there was Albert Castle, Etta’s grandfather. At the thought of him, greater fear broke out within Clive’s being. The Pulse only amplified the horrible memories of Clive’s past abduction until he thought he would die from the fright. He felt his mouth pry open and his heart racing almost with one constant beat. Energy, so cold it burned, ripped through him with the force of a lightening strike.

His body suddenly arced, releasing him to feel the hardness of the ground beneath him. The memories had ceased, but the shaking in his cells was still there. He pried his cold blue eyes open and managed to sit upright. He was still in the sanctuary of the Eaton Mall church, the stale scent of a pew bench wafted into his nostrils as he leaned back against it. Darkness had draped the windows and only the light from the street lights shown through from the parking lot.

“How long have I been here?” It had only felt like a few short moments, but the absence of the sun said otherwise. He pulled the damp fabric of his sweat stained shirt from his clammy skin.

“A day. It is now Sunday evening.” The voice of the Pulse echoed form within him as if it were his very own conscious. It was almost like they were one.

“Why did you make me remember all of that?” His mouth dipped down at the corners and his eyes stung. It was a useless torment.

The Pulse moaned with pleasure. “To open you up. To see inside of you. Fear weakens barriers. While you wallow in fear, I search the depths of your being. I see what you have hidden because you are to afraid to keep it guarded.”

Clive’s body resonated with each of the Pulse’s words. He grabbed his heart. It was beating with a strange rhythm. It was actually vibrating. He remembered that tempo, he had felt it before. “You are inside of me?” He could have sworn he felt the Pulse smiling.

“I promised you power. I always keep my word.”

Clive nodded as he pulled himself up onto his feet. This was not like the times before when the Pulse had overshadowed him. This was different. Now it had inhabited him. He stretched his muscles in the dark and let out a war cry followed by his own laughter. He felt like he was ten feet tall, like he had been remade, his youth restored but far better than it had ever been before. “I feel it! I feel it.”

He tucked in his shirt and pulled on his blazer, his mind set on doing something, anything. He wasn’t sure what, but he was willing to try anything. His mind slipped to his wife, Tilly Meeks. She had left town Friday night when she found out about him being part of the Council. She was afraid she said, but what about him? He was afraid too, and still she left him high and dry. She hadn’t even checked on him since then. He clenched his fist. It was much stronger than it had ever been.

“You wish to kill her?”

He didn’t bother responding. He knew the Pulse could see that truth.

“She is a reject, not fit to ascend. Should you wish to dispose of her, I will not stop you. However, we have more pressing business to tend to.”

Clive suppressed the frustration. Suddenly glad that the Pulse had told him in so many words to hold his peace towards Tilly. He didn’t think that he could go through with killing her. He had never killed a thing. “What is it that you want me to do, now?” He was far more eager than before.

“I want you to arrange a meeting with the Etta-beast, and her man, Baldwin. I want them in my presence before the sun sets tomorrow.”

“On it,” He pulled out his dying cell phone and clicked Albert Castle’s name.

*          *          *

Jørn didn’t know why he had bothered to make dinner. It was a quarter till 10pm, and he wasn’t even hungry. He turned the chicken over in the bubbling grease before pulling a jar of honey from the cabinet. The waffle batter was ready to be ladled into the waffle iron and then covered in salted butter. He had even found a half full bag of crushed pecans. This was nothing short of a calorie overload.

He typically didn’t eat like this, but he was feeling the need to break in habit. He shook his head, looking at the golden grease. He had put in enough food for Etta. Etta. She had had been gone since that morning. She had tried to talk to him through their bedroom door, but he finally turned on the Bose stereo, blasting World’s Anchor, his favorite worship band, to drawn her out. He was still playing it hours later.

He left the chicken to sizzle while he poured the waffle batter into the waffle iron, all the while singing the words to the song, Live High, completely out of tune. “I’m not where I want to be but I’m not who I used to be. Your wings give flight, I breath you in, Jesus, I live high,” He was still shaking on the inside from his earlier confrontation with Etta and was doing everything to ignore it. He had not gotten any real answers, but then he was still so blindsided that he didn’t even have the mind to ask certain questions, or maybe he had forgotten to on purpose, too afraid of the answers.

If he was certain about anything, he was certain that if she would have given him her blasé expression while telling him Baldwin had known all along about the two of them that he would have put his fist through the wall. It was obvious that Baldwin had to have known, or maybe he didn’t and Etta was just crafty enough to keep this truth out of his sight with the same tact that she had used to keep the truth about Baldwin from him.

“Sweet Jesus, help me. Help me, Father.” His head turned towards the front of the house. The doorbell ringing like someone’s finger was tap dancing on it. The bell only made his brow crease. It had to have been Etta. Everyone else had the sense to ring once and wait for an answer. She must have lost her key along with her mind.

The bell kept ringing like an erratic heartbeat. “Are you serious right now?!” Frustrated, he went to open it. “Did you leave your key at the Yard with your phone?!”

*          *          *

Mr. Albert stood outside of Etta’s apartment door. He felt like he had been there for ages but some how felt like he had only just arrived, like he was reliving the moment on a loop. He stared unblinking at the door. Did he already ring the bell? He pressed the button again, still staring. Did he ring the bell, yet? His finger went to press down upon it when the door snatched open. A less than welcoming Jørn Teague stared him hard in the eye.

Mr. Albert shook his head as if he had been locked in a daze. A serious look grew on his face. “Hello, Son. May I come in?”

*          *          *

Jørn felt his nostrils flaring and his eyes narrowing. He clenched his jaw and hovered in the doorway debating whether or not to let the man in. “What do you want, Albert?”

Mr. Albert cocked an eyebrow. “Is that how you great me now? What have I done to you?” Albert’s gaze darkened. “Oh, I imagine that you and Etta are in this together. It stands to reason. And so now I am the enemy? Is that what this is?”

Jørn ground his teeth. Lord, help me. “No, I am afraid that only you and your granddaughter hold the team player badges for deceiving people. That is not my angle. You being on the Council and her with,” He waved his hand hoping to catch the word he was reaching for. “Whatever.” He shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “Baldwin Falk from what I am told.” He offered an insincere small.

Mr. Albert sighed, changing his posture into one of neutrality. “Can I come in? I won’t take up too much of your time.” Jørn stepped out of his way. “I am actually here to see Etta. Etta, can you come out here, please? I need to have a word with you.” He hollered over the music as he walked towards the sitting room.

“She is not here.” Jørn rolled his eyes and turned off the stereo.

“What?”

“I said she is not here. She has been gone for hours.”

Mr. Albert looked completely annoyed. “Well where in the world is she?”

“I couldn’t tell you.” He walked into the kitchen and plucked the chicken out of the grease, laying them on a towel to dry. The waffle iron buzzer went off as well. “She left early this afternoon and has not been home since.” For once he was glad about her absence.

He turned around to see Mr. Albert pulling out his cell phone. “Don’t waste your time. She isn’t going to answer. Actually, you shouldn’t even waste your time here. I doubt she will come home anytime soon, and frankly I am not in the mood to entertain. You understand.” He gave Mr. Albert a curt smile and carried the waffles and chicken to the table before grabbing the carton of milk from the fridge.

Mr. Albert studied him for a moment before folding his arms over his chest. “What’s this about, Jørn, this cold shoulder you are giving me?”

Jørn put a glass and plate on the table with a lot more force than was necessary. “You know your granddaughter asked me the same question? So I am going to tell you like I told her. This is about the fact that the only family I have here in Greenwich Pass have done nothing short of lie to me, you with the Council and Etta with Baldwin,” His voice had turned into a growl at the mention of Baldwin’s name.

Mr. Albert nodded his head slowly. “Listen, what happened with the Council was a mistake. I did what I thought was right. All three of us did. Now I may not have agreed with Clive on everything or the Mayor for that matter, but they, just like me were trying to keep order for the people of this Junction. You understand?

“That was not, and is not an easy task. And now Etta has gone and done what she has done and there is no telling the level of consequences and repercussions that are in the wind for her or for us.” He shook his head.

Jørn sat down at his table, bowed his head in prayer and then began to build his greasy master piece. “Well where I sit, seems like Etta is the one that stopped the ascension and that is far better than anything the Council has ever done. What is it exactly that you all did in the first place?”

Mr. Albert tilted his head to the side. “We did what was necessary.”

“And so did Etta and Baldwin.”

“I thought you weren’t on her side with this?”

“Not sure where you got that from, Albert. I am on the side of anyone who stops an ascension, I just find it hard to choke down deception.” He drank a full glass of milk and poured up another one. “I don’t like that any of you have kept me in the dark when we are supposed to be a family.”

Mr. Albert chuckled. “Oh, please, Jørn. Family? You and my granddaughter have all but shunned me over the last couple of years.”

“That was Etta, not me. Clearly she and I are not on the same page about a lot of things and a lot of people.”

Mr. Albert fanned his hand. “You don’t seriously think that Baldwin Falk had anything to do with what happened yesterday?” Jørn shrugged his shoulders. Mr. Albert scowled. “Well I don’t buy it, not for one second! I know he was your cousin and all, but that boy is long gone. Now, if you ask me—”

“I am not asking.”

“Well I am going to tell you anyhow.” He gripped the back of one of the dinning room tables. “You are the one griping about being left in the dark. Here is a bit of light. I don’t believe for one second that Baldwin Falk has anything to do with what Etta is doing. I believe the one she has been fooling with is that Kyle Hime boy from the shop.

“That is the one you ought to be grinding your teeth at, not me. And you should definitely check your wife for what it is that she did to the mayor.”

Jørn shook his head slowly. “Etta didn’t do anything to the mayor.”

“The hell she didn’t! I was right there when she shot her with whatever it was she had. I was there, in Etta’s face when she did it! Baldwin Falk wasn’t there!”

“And Kyle was? This is nothing but a bad round of the blame game.” Why was he feeling so defensive for Kyle all of a sudden?

“No, son it is not. And Kyle may not have been at the Yard yesterday, but he was up in the hills with Etta not long after. I wonder what that private meeting was about?” His smile was dark. “And might I add, there was no Baldwin Falk present there either.”

Jørn didn’t flinch. He already knew that Etta had been on the trail with Etta. The way Mr. Albert was saying it was making it sound like something more and Jørn had heard enough. He wiped his mouth with a towel and stood. “Albert, it’s late. I have to work in the morning. Etta is not here so,”

Mr. Albert raised his palms. “Fine, fine. I said I wouldn’t keep up too much of your time. Can you at least tell Etta that I stopped by? Tell her it is imperative that she get in contact with me. That her request has been granted.”

Jørn made his way towards the front door, pulling it open. “I can tell her you stopped by should I see her before me shift. But I suggest you tell her yourself at the shop tomorrow. I don’t want to be dragged into whatever web you two are weaving right now.”

Mr. Albert strolled towards the door, a self satisfying smile plastered on his face. “Perhaps you are right in your stance, but please don’t be naïve.” He stood toe to toe with him, his head tilted slightly back so that he was looking down his nose at Jørn. “You sleep with the thorn of Greenwich Pass. If there is a web to be spun, you are already in the center of it. Goodnight, Jørn.”

Jørn shook his head and closed the door with his foot. He wracked his fingers through his hair and walked back to the table, plopping his weight down in his spot. As much as he didn’t want to, he couldn’t help but gnaw on the little tidbits that Mr. Albert had left for him to chew on, the bits about Kyle Hime and Etta, the thought that Baldwin may just be an alias. He took another bite of his meal before shoving the plate aside. He suddenly had the urge to have a one on one with Kyle and an unfortunate loss of appetite.

*          *          *

Oh how the Pulse hated mankind. They had their place and they had their purpose, but that was as nothing more than chattel. When they thought they had any real value beyond that was when they began to think above their station.

Clive Meeks was only a means to an end, a baited fish on a hook, waiting to be scaled, cooked and devoured as was the way of primitive mankind. But he was already displaying the folly of his ways, the truth of that was evident in his dreams.

Power? The Pulse had promised him power and They had filled him. The taste would be short lived and the conduit for action disposed of the very moment the Etta-beast was done away with, she and her Baldwin. But until then the Pulse would do what it had sworn not to do, remain in the fleshly state of man until They had completely destroyed their enemy and all of Greenwich Pass if need be.

Writing Prompt: Did Somebody Say Murder?!

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Writing Prompt Time: 20-45min

RULES: Imagine you are the number one suspect in a murder investigation, (it can be old west, intergalactic, whatever), but all the investigators are concerned about, and keep asking you about is why you are wearing the color BLUE.

*This prompt can be serious or quirky, it really is a matter of your imagination.

Cheers!

And as always, REMEMBER, if you participate in the challenge, please add a link back to this page and share your results!

I shall have my results posted next Tuesday.

Little Canary: Freewrite of a Novel

“Don’t you want more, more than this?” There was a evident level of controlled strain in her voice. She was clearly trying to hide her anxiety, the need that had been beating in her chest like a caged bird. She wanted out, she had always wanted out.

Florian twisted the cranks on her golden cage, lowering it down just low enough for the two of them to be eye level.  She had gotten down on her knees, her hands gripping the bars of her prison. He had shrunk her down considerably. She was no larger than canary, but her eyes, her lovely dark eyes had not lost any of their luster. He tried not to look at them. He was hypnotized whenever he did. He felt like he could see the whole of the universe within them.

He stared at her for only a moment and then pulled his gaze away, rolling his neck and shoulders as the familiar rush rolled over and through him. He didn’t understand what it was about her, this foreigner, this unauthorized merchandize who had come through just as he was called to be the Governor of Commerce. He couldn’t help but blame Jamima for it. She hated having to turn over rule and had most likely brought this young woman in just to make him look the fool, incompetent.

But it had not worked. Florian had done what was necessary. The woman was condemned and put in a cage until she could be properly disposed of.  Disposing of her made his chest constrict. “What I have,” He said, his back to her, he too pretending to care little when in all truth he cared much, very much.  “Is a gift. It is an honored responsibility. There is no more that I could have wanted than to be Governor. The influence my decisions will have, not only here but in the dimension you claim to hale from, will be dynamic.”

He faced her again, careful not to look into her eyes, his arms folded across his solid chest. “What I let pass through this place, what I choose to withhold, will change the course of histories to come. Men will dream dreams, women will invent marvels, all because of what I keep or release. Who wouldn’t want that honor, this trust?”

He watched his little woman-bird, her countenance shrinking, her eyes dropping. “I wouldn’t.” She looked up at him again, the fire in her eyes like a thousand suns over a thousand years. ” I wouldn’t want the responsibility of ending an existence just because someone got lost. If that is what being Governor means, Florian, if it means no mercy. I would think you were more cursed than blessed. You have been given a burden of sadness.”

 

THE END…For now

This is another story that I have jotted down the idea for but have yet to sit down and write it. Sometimes I wish I had  several clones who could sit down and write out these stories while I got the necessary work of the day done. Or, better yet, they could do the work, while I enjoyed writing. Alas, there is but one of me and a girl can only write when she can.

Cheers!

Join Us in the Fight For Net Neutrality

Candice Coates:

ffnn 2This is a VERY important subject matter. Net Neutrality is being threatened and we all must be informed to know what we can do to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

“Net Neutrality” is the simple but powerful principle that cable and broadband providers must treat all internet traffic equally. Whether you’re loading a blog post on WordPress.com, streaming House of Cards on Netflix, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your internet provider can’t degrade your connection speed, block sites, or charge a toll based on the content that you’re viewing.

Net neutrality has defined the internet since its inception, and it’s hard to argue with the results: the internet is the most powerful engine of economic growth and free expression in history. Most importantly, the open internet is characterized by companies, products, and ideas that survive or fail depending on their own merit — not on whether they have preferred deals in place with a broadband service provider. Unfortunately, the principle of net neutrality, and the open internet that we know and love, is under attack.

Net Neutrality under…

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Chapter 18 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 18

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

 

I found that I liked to watch Jørn wake up in the morning. He was so predictable in the mornings. He was predictable, period. Something about that was comforting. The way his face would contort like he was about to sneeze, but never did, squeezing his pillow near to death, before completely relaxing. I think I liked the way he looked most once he relaxed; the hardness of the muscles in his back flexing and then smoothing out into a state of nirvana.

            Sometimes he would turn to me no matter where I was in the room once his eyes had opened, and then he would say my name as if it were a question. “Etta?” It was almost as if he was trying to make sure he was awake and not stuck in some reoccurring dream, a dream where I wasn’t really there.

            The sad thing is he doesn’t realize that I am not really here…not in the way he thinks.

            One of us is living a lie.

*          *          *

Jørn rolled over, groaned and hugged his pillow to his face. Relaxing, he shifted again under the sheets before lifting up slightly and resting his weight on his elbow. His dark eyes immediately wondered the bedroom until finding her, as if drawn by magnets. He narrowed them sharply once they had met their mark. He said her name through the fog of waking and waited for her to answer.

For several seconds, far more than was necessary, Etta stared at him silently, barely blinking, her mascara wand dangled in her hands, locked at the ready. Her expression was blank, exposing nothing of her thoughts.

As if the awkward silence had not taken hold of them, Etta turned her back to him, shoving the wand back into the black pigment and began to pull it through her lashes. “Long night? Too much to drink?” She typically didn’t bother herself with the details of his binges, but since she couldn’t help but be the least bit irritated with his calling all Friday night only to go incognito on Saturday morning. He wasn’t even home when she had come looking for him. The bandages on his forearms also taunted her. It had been a while since he had physically hurt himself from drinking.

She knew when she asked him about his escapade that he wasn’t going to be able to answer. It was that or he chose not to. All she knew for sure was that he drunk to a point whereas he could make it home by himself. Yesterday was a shock to everyone in Greenwich Pass. She was certain it was no different for Jørn. The fact she couldn’t get him on the phone and had not heard from him since Friday attested to that.

The narrow slits of Jørn’s eyes only deepened. His lips tightened beneath the black hairs of his beard. Cold tension began to fill the atmosphere around them. The reflection of his shattered aura was a fan of many colors. A pinkish orange hue was the most dominant. Baldwin’s was the same way when he was angry with her. It stood to reason that Jørn’s would be no different.

So he’s angry? What the heck does he have to be angry about? She thought to call him out on it but decided on a different course of action. She was the one who had the right to be angry. Arguing about it would have been nothing but a waste of time.

“You should cut your hair.” She said, leaning back from the mirror, waiting for his usual response—shut down and retreat.

Jørn’s eye twitched. The marble stillness of his body and stare shattered like a broken glass. He grunted and pushed the bed linens away. Standing ramrod straight, the muscles in his shoulders and back tightening again, he walked towards the guest bathroom without a single word.

Etta watched him in the mirror as she applied her lip gloss, her eyes following his retreating frame until they locked onto the other being in the room.

Baldwin gave her a reproving look. Etta responded in turn.

“Why do you torment him, Etta?” He ran his hands down his face.

Etta waited until she could hear the shower running in the other bathroom before she said anything. She let her eyes shut for a moment, allowing the strain upon them to loosen. Her eyes felt like she was wearing contact lenses and both of them had flipped or folded at the same time. She was still getting used to the sight gift she had received from the incident at the Yard. The colors were still intense but far less volatile, the sounds and frequency she had all but pushed to the background, blocking it off as white noise.

She said, “I am not trying to torment him,” Baldwin cocked his brow. She raised her hand. “Okay, I don’t generally try to torment him. But he does need to cut his hair. Besides that he is all riled up this morning—”

“He didn’t even say anything, besides your name.”

Etta tapped her temple with her finger. “Did you forget about my recent development? Jørn was angry, I don’t know what about, but he is angry. His aura was all fiery like yours was yesterday.”

“Both of us have our reasons.”

“Whatever. Did you see the way he scowled at me?” She huffed. “If his eyes were razors I would be bleeding to death.”

Baldwin moved towards the hall way. “Etta, he has been left in the dark for years. So let’s just assume he received second hand information about what happened yesterday. Or let’s make it something as simple as the fact that there was chaos yesterday and you failed to make contact with him.” He looked at her over his shoulder. “I would be livid if I was worried about you, trying to find you, and 24 hours passed without a word. And then the first thing you say to me when I do see you is something snarky or just out right hurtful.”

Etta grimaced. Why was everything that seemed to go wrong between her and Jørn somehow always her fault in Baldwin’s eyes? She didn’t bother asking. Instead she headed towards the guest bathroom. She doubted that in his state last night he would have had the mind or the ear to hear anyone out her on stopping the ascension. Addressing that would have to come later. The least she could do was talk to him about the phone calls or the lack there of. He had been worried about her on Friday night. She would just have to let that be her reason for apologizing.

*          *          *

Jørn sat on the closed toilet seat, his knees bobbing nervously and his hands over his mouth. He was running the shower to buy himself some time. He was hiding. The angry awkward cloud that hovered around him had made him retreat. Etta telling him to cut his hair again, reminding him of Baldwin again, had made a sickening fire rise up in his belly.

He felt like he had caught her cheating and she did not know he was on to her, like he was holding on to life changing information and she was none the wiser. He was, and she was. Etta had lied to him and had been lying to him, so had Baldwin, wherever he might have been.

He heard her knock on the door and his stomach lurched. He sat up straight but did not make any attempt to move towards the door. He wasn’t ready to confront this. Not yet. Why had the sense of betrayal stolen his tongue away?

*          *          *

Baldwin peeked his head through the door and then looked back at Etta. “He’s just sitting there. He hasn’t even gotten in the shower.”

            Etta pinched her eyes closed. “I am married to a rabbit,” She whispered suddenly feeling irritated at his retreat. She rather he yelled and fussed than hide away. She knocked on the door and then shook the doorknob. They needed to hash it out and move on whether he liked it or not. And if it came down to it she was going to suggest he go to Alcoholics Anonymous. The world was hitting major speed bumps. It was best he be sober than sloppy and in the way. “Jørn, I know you are not in the shower. Stop hiding in there. Open up! Let’s talk.”

*          *          *

Jørn stared at the bathroom door with utter offense. Etta’s tone was nothing but that, offensive. Generally speaking, he understood her ways. He had come to know her as guarded while everyone else simple wrote her off as rude. Right now she was just being plain hurtful.

His brow furrowed and his eyes stung. She thought he was an idiot, a stumbling drunk idiot, in need of pacifying. And now she wanted to talk. She had not given him the privilege or lent him the trust to let him know what she was up to. She had not thought him worth the effort to lie to rest his fears about Baldwin, not knowing what had become of him. She was there when he filed the missing person reports a few years after Heidi had ascended, and never once did she tell him not to waste his time.

He stood up, and turned off the shower before walking to the door, letting his hand hover over the doorknob. He was suddenly so enraged that he could have crushed it with his bare hand. She had heart him, cut him so deep with all of this and now she was accusing him of playing the role of coward just because he needed time to processes.

He laughed inwardly but it was rich with sarcasm. At least Etta was being consistent in her treatment of him. She was the same way when it came to him dealing with ascensions; emotionally detached and simply disinterested. He wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction, not this time. He had prayed for this moment and now it was at hand.

He snatched the door open guns blazing.

*          *          *

The door swung opened so quickly that it slammed against the adjacent wall. Etta leaped back, totally unprepared. Jørn glowered at her when he pushed forward, careful not to touch her. His eyes seared into hers just long enough for her to stumble back completely off guard. He had never looked at her like that. His jaw was so rigid and the shards around him were a dangerous color of red, almost violet towards his skin.

The veins in his forearms stuck out against the flexed muscles of his arms as he clenched his fist, protruding past the bandages. He stood in front of the window in the sitting room, one hand on his hip and the other over his mouth, his stance wide like he was ready for a gun fight.

Etta swallowed down the knot that had leapt into her throat. The colors around Jørn had decreased in fire but he was still far from calm. He suddenly turned to face her, his round shoulders raised like a charging bull.

“You want to talk, Etta? Fine. Sit. Let’s talk!” He pointed to the couch and waited for her to come forward.

She spared Baldwin a confused look, but he was playing the part of possum himself. Obviously he had not seen this side of Jørn either. Etta tapped into her secret place, tucking the sudden panic that had hit her between the ribs away from sight and emotional contact. If the Pulse ever looked for it, they would never find it, they would never find any of her hearts thoughts. They would never know, just like Jørn would never know.

Jørn was upset, so much so that his predictability had gone down the drain with the shower water and all Etta could think to do was comply. She sat down on the couch painted on her cool expression and waited for him to join her.

Jørn stared down at her before he too sat down, his posture still very rigid.

Etta studied his face, the set of his jaw, the ticking in his muscles, even the dark liquid brown of his eyes. He was going to cry. She sighed and shook of the sudden discomfort that had smacked her between the eyes. His posture, the threat of his tears, them sitting, made her think of Heidi Flagg, and the night she and Jørn had first been together. It had changed her whole world.

She steadied her voice. “What’s this about?”

Jørn’s head snapped towards her. He looked as if she had slapped him. “What’s this about? Seriously?! Oh, I can name off several things, but I will start with a question first.”

“Okay,”

He shifted his body so that he was facing her. Even with the space between them the tension was suffocating. “Where were you yesterday? And who were you with?”

Was this a trick question? She gave the obvious answer. “I was at the Yard, like I told you I would be,” She watched the shards around him shift in color. The deep red was rising again. He clearly didn’t like that answer. “Is this, is this about the phone? Are you angry because we didn’t talk yesterday?” She thought about Baldwin constantly nagging about it. Maybe he was on to something.

That only made things worse. Jørn’s face contorted. “Do you think that I am that petty to be this upset with you over the phone?!”

“But you are not upset, Jørn, you’re practically enraged.”

“I have the right to be! But I will address the phone issue that you want to make out to be so darn small. I called you 19 times. Nineteen!”

“You did not call me 19 times,” She chuckled.

“Check your phone, Etta, or did you lose it at the Yard?”

She sighed and raised her hands. “I am not going to argue with you about this. I am sorry if you felt like I was ignoring you—”

“You have done enough of that for me to be resigned to it! This is about the fact that I didn’t know what happened to you—”

“Nothing happened to me! And I don’t ignore you.” Her voice had far less starch. She did ignore him. She did it often. But hearing him say he had resigned to it, that he had settled for it, plucked a nerve.

“How was I supposed to know that?! How was I supposed to know you were okay? And. Yes. You. Do. You have been ignoring me for a long time.” Silence settled for a brief moment. Jørn covered his mouth and reigned in his tone. “One call, that is all I wanted from you. But you didn’t even think that much of me to give that.”

“That is not fair. I do think about you.”

“You think I am an idiot. That’s what you think about me.”

Etta leaned back and turned her head away, shaking it in shear disbelief. She refused to make eye contact with Baldwin. She was grateful that he had refrained for throwing in his two cents for once. She turned back to Jørn. His gaze had not left her nor had it lessened in intensity. The evidence that he truly believed she thought him an idiot resonated all over him.

It frustrated her to no end. Yes, she thought he had his flaws, she had flaws. But she certainly didn’t think idiocy was one of his. She thought he was brilliant, but if she said that now she doubted he would receive it. She tried a different course of action. “Jørn, I don’t think you are an idiot.” He snorted and rolled his eyes and made the attempt to stand. She grabbed his hand with both of hers. “Will you please tell me where this is coming from?”

He slid his hand from hers. “This is coming from the fact that for the last decade you have looked me in the face and lied to me. You have pretended. What else are you lying about?”

Etta’s brow came together. What had she lied about? She hadn’t lied to him. “I haven’t lied to you about anything.”

He finally stood. “You haven’t?”

She stood with him, shaking her head no. “No I haven’t, and quite frankly I am lost here.”

His eyes narrowed. “If you haven’t been lying to me, treating me like some idiot, or worse some stand-in guy, then tell me who was it who helped you stop the ascension yesterday.”

Her jaw locked. This was about Baldwin. She should have been prepared for this. She had imagined how this moment would be, had played it out in her mind several times, but she had never imagined it like this, this volatile. In her mind she had pictured it happier even if bittersweet, tearful even, but enraged? The thought had never crossed her mind.

If she wasn’t mistaken, Jørn was not only angry but jealous. You betrayed his trust, that is what he thinks. That is why he said you think he is an idiot. She thought about the conversation that she had had with Baldwin yesterday. He had accused her flat out about the mistake. Jørn had called her a liar. That stung a whole lot more.

She steepled her hands under her nose and sat down again. Very little she had said to Baldwin about her decision to leave him in the dark had pacified him. She was less convinced that she could pacify Jørn. “I know what you are thinking,”

“You don’t know what I am thinking.”

She looked up at him. “You think I betrayed your trust, left you in the dark.”

“You let believe that my only cousin was dead or missing, that you didn’t know where he was or what happened to him, when all this time,” His voice cracked. He clenched his jaw. “All this time you knew he was alive. You have known where he is, you have been communicating with him. Imagine how I felt, how I feel, having to get that information from Doris and not from you! My wife said nothing to me.”

“Doris? When did you see Doris?”

“Yesterday when I was going out of my mind looking for you, only to be told that not only were you okay, but that you and Baldwin had stopped the ascension. And don’t change the subject.” His voice was strained, the shards around her were a sickly blue color, with hits of red and yellow. He dropped down on the couch next to her. “Where is he, Etta? Where has he been?”

Baldwin stood next to him, his head down and his arms around himself as if he was the thinking man, sadness was evident all around him. Etta reached for Jørn’s hand again. Again he pulled away. “Please, hold my hand.” She said, her brow drawn. She was more frank than compassionate. She needed him to understand. She needed not to get drawn into a whirlwind of nostalgic emotions and lose site of the course ahead. Too much was at stake.

He did not give her his hand. She took hold of it anyway and scooted closer to him. “I am sorry. I am sorry that you had to find out like this—”

He tried to snatch away but Etta gripped his hand even tighter between hers. “I didn’t have to find out like this. You could have told me! You should have told me.”

“I couldn’t. Just like Mr. Albert and the others didn’t tell anyone that they were on the Council.”

“But you knew he was, didn’t you? That’s why you stopped talking to him.”

His tone was so accusatory but she was going to have to suck it up. “Yes.”

“Did he tell you?”

“No, I figured it out. Don’t ask how.” She saw the question right on the threshold of his lips. “As a matter of fact, don’t ask anything else.”

“How can you tell me that?! Don’t ask anything else? Where is my cousin, Etta? What have you two been up to? How did you stop the ascension? What in the hell are we dealing with!” He would have kept going had she not put her hand over his mouth.

“Jørn, stop!”

He growled and went to stand again. Etta leaped on to his lap. Straddling him, she cradled his face with her hands. He grabbed her waist, ready to eject her from his lap.

“Jørn just listen! LISTEN!” He stopped struggling, though he could have easily moved her aside with very little effort. “I am sorry I hurt you. I am sorry I made you feel like an idiot. I don’t think you are an idiot.” His flesh was hot against her palms. “I know that sorry may not be good enough.”

His nostrils flared again. “Where is Baldwin, Etta?”

“He is safe.”

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked you where he is.”

She shook her head. “I can’t tell you that.”

“I have the right to know.”

“I can’t tell you that.”

His teeth clenched. “What can you tell me, then?”

“I can’t tell you very much, but I will tell you what I can, and that is going to have to be enough.”

“You don’t trust me.” Another statement, not a question.

“This is not about trust. And if it is, then you need to trust me.” She pointed to herself. “Do you trust me?”

*          *          *

Jørn held on to her waist, the feel of her hands upon his face, the weight of her on his lap was almost suffocating under the circumstances. The confrontation had gotten him nowhere. The only knowledge that he had gained was that Baldwin was not dead. He was not missing. He was just missing from action and the only person who knew anything about him was like a tomb.

Etta wasn’t going to talk. No matter what she said, Jørn couldn’t bring himself past the hump of her actions. She had lied. She was still lying. She didn’t trust him. What did that mean in the long term? What did that mean about them?

He closed his eyes and dared not ask the question. He knew full well he would not get a straight answer or an answer at all. “No, Etta,” He tightened his grip around her waist and lifted her from his lap. Ignoring her protest he sat her on the couch beside him and stood, making his way to the bedroom. “No, I don’t trust you. I don’t even know what you are saying right now.”

“Jørn, just listen,”

“Listen to what? You aren’t saying anything. You’ve lied to me all this time. He has lied to me all this time. Jokes on me.” Saying the words was like a fist to the gut. He turned again and went into the bedroom.

Etta called out behind him. “Jørn, you are thinking micro when this is a macro issue! This isn’t some joke!”

Jørn closed the door and slid down to the ground, sitting as if he was completely exhausted, and he was. This was a macro issue? No, Etta had gotten it wrong. This was a micro issue, it was their life, his life, his small little world that he had built with her. But he didn’t even know what that meant anymore. He didn’t even know if it was real or ever had been in the first place.

The Many Realms Of Romance

Original Greeting Card by Candice Coates.

Original Greeting Card by Candice Coates.

 

The beauty of Romance is birthed from the thought of what could be.”

In light of some of my recent poems, all revolving around romance in the “love” sense, I felt lead to share this quote that, like countless others, came to me several years ago.

The meaning of it is pretty straight forward, although I believe that that concept of “romance” is often secluded into a singular pocket of expression. Whenever most people hear the word, “Romance” they initially think, girl lonely for guy, finds guy within the cliche environment and then they are in love, DESPERATELY in love. Romance.

The thing is, romance is far more broad than that. If you look up the definition of the word you are going to pretty much get what I described above with this grand definition lost in the shadows and often over looked:

Romance: spirit of adventure: a spirit or feeling of adventure, excitement, the potential for heroic achievement, and the exotic
Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Romance can be anything and can happen anywhere. The thought of some grand potential, the joy and excitement that it breeds inside of you is romantic. Your writing is romantic, your cooking, your art, your singing, etcetera. Your perfectly created self happens to be ROMANTIC just because you exist and you have limitless potential.

Allow yourself to embrace the romance of every moment of your day. Look for the romance in each step, and let the thoughts of what could be, romanticize you into action!

CHEERS!

 

 

Tibiny’s Discovery: Freewrite for a Future Novel

The  luster in her eyes was unmistakable. She had done it! She had finally done it! Tibiny walked around her work table, one hand on her impossibly slim hip and the other over her mouth. It all seemed so unreal.

Twelve years of labor, laughter from her cohorts and the constant din of discouragement from her family members had only fueled her to press even harder. She was certainly going to enjoy the moment of well deserved gloating during the holiday dinner.

Richlan Olser, Tibiny’s father was throwing an engagement party for her younger brother and had even invited all of his employees. The wedding of Richlan Jr to the Eldswealth family was a union of the century. The funding that Osler Inc was going to pull in was beyond their wildest dreams. The Eldswealth didn’t have “wealth” in their name for nothing.

Tibiny had not been given the same kind of lavish celebration when she was engaged and wed three years ago. She had not the head for marriage but her father had given her an ultimatum, either marry the chap he had chosen or kiss her projects good-bye.

Tibiny had almost given in and settled for a futile life filled with a pack of pets and a mass of regrets but Prinrow Hinlen convinced her otherwise. Her father’s choice in Prinrow had convinced her of one solid thing, he did care for her even though he did not care at all for all of her failed attempts in the science of time.

But now she had indeed done it, she had managed to isolate time in a single bubble. She had tested her creation on a fixed habitat of ants, and it had worked perfectly. She did a leaping twirl in the air, her skirts fanning out like the peddles of a flower in bloom.

She stopped when she heard her lab door slide open. Prinrow entered, his brow drawn and his lips a tight line. The smile on Tibiny’s face slowly melted away like ice on a warm day. This couldn’t have been good news that Prinrow was bearing.

THE END…for now.

Its been a while since I have sat down and done a free write but I am so glad that I did today. If you don’t already know, I have over 100 different storyline ideas that I have stored away on my computer. I do like must people with new ideas, I jot them down and I wait for something to come of them. Within the span of time for the creation of this blog to this very moment, I have come to learn about the power of free writes.

Initially I used them to clear out the clutter in my mind, dispel the “writer’s block.” But lately (when I have done a free write) I have found bits of the stories that I have stored away start pouring out of me. Granted I don’t know what is going to come out at any given time, nor do I recognize the piece for what it is until I am a paragraph in. That being said, this 15 minute free write is the start of a story that recently came to my mind about a month ago. I literally woke up with this in my head:

Oh I wish to leave behind the maddening hustle of the daily grind. Board a train and twist and wind into the mountain town of Darnby.”

From this vantage point I am sure that the quote and the few written paragraphs above seem completely unrelated but I assure you they are. One day soon,  when other stories have been completed, I will take the time to show you how. But for now you are just going to have to take my word for it.

Cheers!

Chapter 17 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 17

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

“Etta, you have the knowledge of the truth of the past. This truth is the power to propel you forward, never backward. Never retreat no matter the cost. Know what is behind you, use it to strengthen your forward movements. “ Mr. Albert used to say that to me all the time. I didn’t fully understand its application until Baldwin was gone and I had no choice but to push myself forward even in the face of knowing his condition was completely my fault, even with knowing I may never get him back again.

*          *          *

Rachel stretched her arms and downed the last bit of coffee from her Styrofoam cup. It was ice cold but she didn’t mind. She was in it for the caffeine. It had been a long day, not really any longer than her usual shifts, but far crazier.

Greenwich Pass had a propensity to be either black or white. Either things were as easy going and uneventful as the next mountain valley town, or it was full of bizarre occurrences. The people of the area didn’t need to have a full moon to behave like they were lunatics. The vein of crazy that ran through the valley clearly coursed in the blood of the locals as well.

Rachel wouldn’t have it any other way. She didn’t know any other way.

She rubbed her tired eyes with her knuckle and stifled a yawn as she leaned into her computer screen. Her shift had ended a few hours ago but she was too tired to drive. She took a cat nap in her office before diving right into Vanessa Wong’s case. Under other circumstances, knowing that her patient was stable would have been enough for her to head home, get some sleep and attack the “giant” of the unknown another day. But this wasn’t any other patient. This was the mayor.

The prodding of pride and the hope of being able to play passive aggressive while gloating in Wong’s face when she eventually came too, if she came to, was just too much for Rachel to handle. She had no proof that the cause of the coma-like trance she was in had anything to do with her contusions and head injuries from the week before, but then she had no proof of the contrary.

“Yes you do, Rachel. None of the test you had done proved conclusive.” She growled and glanced at the clock on her desk. It was nearing midnight. She had been at the hospital since five am. She needed to get some real rest if she was going to be worth a dime in figuring things out. She needed to figure things out for her own ego if nothing else.

She turned off her computer, grabbed her things and headed out her office door. She did a quick primp before heading to the nurses lounge. Dr. Michael Baxter and she had had a good evening of conversation between rounds. He like many others, wanted to know what had happened to Vanessa.

Rachel took her time in telling him. After a few well played hands of cat and mouse flirting, Rachel had landed herself a coffee date with the handsome doctor. He had even asked her to stop by the lounge before she left, a request she was more than willing to oblige.

Michael smiled warmly when she came into the lounge, he even stood. “I hoped you hadn’t forgotten about me. Do you have a quick moment?” He pointed towards the chair next to him.

“Sure,” She smiled but another yawn escaped her.

Michael’s eyebrows rose bashfully. “I won’t keep you too long,”

“I am sorry,” She blushed. “It has been a really long day.”

Michael smiled again. “Okay, I will make this quick then. I was thinking about your case with the Mayor and I might be able to give you a bit of a lead. No promises, but there is a possibility.”

“Oh?” Rachel perked up. She was all about making some grand conclusion of her own, but she was not so prideful to ignore help, especially when Michael Baxter was offering.

“Yeah, I don’t know if what I am thinking of is at all related but it sounds a bit similar,”

Rachel leaned forward. “You going to tell me already or are you going to make me work for it?”

“Work for it.” His grin broadened. “How about instead of coffee, we do lunch on Monday to go over what I am thinking? I will collect the information needed for your case and bring it along with me, and then we do dinner sometime soon, no work only play. Deal?” He extended his large hand to her.

“Deal.” She had obviously worked her magic on him. Graciela had helped a bit as well. She owed her. She owed Jørn more for calling off.

She hoped she hadn’t blushed again when she took Michael’s hand but she suddenly didn’t care. The way he kept hold of her hand and even helped her to stand was well worth the embarrassment.

“Alright then I will call you tomorrow to confirm. I know this great place on the Square called Dahlia’s. Have you been there before?”

Rachel shook her head.

“Excellent. Dahlia’s it is. I’ll walk you out.”

*          *          *

Jørn felt like he had been hit by a Mack truck. He sat in Doris’ front room staring forward as he inwardly gnawed on every word that she had said. Never mind the fact it was nearing midnight. Doris had been talking for hours and had only recently slowed her pace. Andrea had even given her perspective on things.

Jørn had all but completely tuned them out, their voices falling into the background of his pounding thoughts. Etta, his Etta, his wife had stopped the ascension.

How in the world had she done it? The whole idea of it seemed utterly impossible. What hit him even harder was hearing his cousin’s name. Baldwin Falk was apart of it. Where the hell had he been all of this time?! Hiding somewhere only Etta could find him, that’s where! Etta knew all along!

“You want some more coffee, Jørn?” Jørn snapped out of his thoughts, his eyes glanced down into the dark liquid. It had been neglected the same way the Sheppard’s Pie she insisted he eat for dinner had been, a few bites here and there, a few sips, but otherwise his appetite was completely gone.

Doris’ held the coffee pot in hand, tilted at the ready. Jørn shook his head. “No. No, thank you, Doris.”

She handed the pot the Andrea and sat down in the chair next to him, rubbing her hands against her knees. A sudden calm and solemnity filled the room. Only the sound of the grandmother clock’s ticking on the mantel could be heard. Jørn remained for almost a complete ten minutes longer in silence before finally speaking.

“I should probably go now.”

“Oh, honey you don’t have to rush off.”

He stood. He wasn’t rushing. He needed to change environment. “It’s almost midnight and you need to get some rest. Today was intense.”

“I hadn’t really given any mind to the time.” She stood up and eased into his stiff embrace. Andrea came back out of the kitchen with a bag filled with leftovers. Mark was right behind her. Thomas stayed glued in front of the television.

Mark took his place beside Doris and squeezed her tight, kissing her temple and rubbing her back. Doris rested her head on his shoulder and her face grew pink. She was having a moment. They were having a moment as husband and wife, partners, friends, trusted confidants. Jørn looked away from them and his eyes collided with Andrea’s. He smiled and took the bag from her hands.

“Thank you for, dinner.” He chanced a quick glance back at Doris and Mark. His head was beginning to pound. He had had enough. He wanted to run, needed to run, clear his head.

Mark extended his hand and shook Jørn’s vigorously. “No, thank you Jørn, and thank that wife of yours.”

Jørn nodded but his jaw clenched. He needed to process what he had heard before he said anything to Etta. He needed to find Etta in order to say something to her. But he suddenly had no desire to find her, not now, not with all of this in between them.

Mark continued, a tear streaking his cheek. “You tell her thank you for giving me my life back. A man is nothing without his heart. Doris is mine, just like Etta’s is yours. You understand what I mean. And that Baldwin fellow, whoever he is, if you see him, you thank him for me too.”

Jørn gripped the bag and forced a smile before saying goodnight and pulling off on his bike. He drove towards the hills, his mind on auto pilot. He had not packed any running gear with him but he was going to run anyway. He couldn’t go home and he could think clearly. He was inwardly imploding.

He didn’t know what was putting his guts in the meat grinder more, the fact that not only had Etta kept this ability or whatever it was that she had used to stop the ascension from him, but she had kept it a secret that she knew where Baldwin was. She had known he was alive, had been in contact with him, and had not said a single word!

It had been over a decade since he had heard from him, almost that long since he had moved his life into collision with Etta’s before completely intertwining with hers, all on the pretence that Baldwin Falk, his first cousin, her fiancé, was gone.

But that wasn’t true. Jørn stayed because he loved her, didn’t know when he had started to but he knew he did, but he was suddenly questioning if she ever loved him back.

He felt like it was a stupid thought but he just couldn’t shake it. The realization troubled him so deeply that he began to doubt everything about himself and Etta.

He came to a rough stop upon the hills, his tires kicking up dust and rocks and shooting them like bullets into the darkness. He flung off his helmet, leather jacket and even his scrub top, tossing them on his bike and without a second thought ran off into the darkness.

He could hardly see a thing in front of him, but he kept on running. The imagery of it all was reminding him of his life: he could hardly see anything, not with the ascension, not with what they were about, not with Etta, not with Baldwin. He had been running in the dark all this time.

“Father God, where are YOU!” He shouted into the black, his growling voice echoed into the shrouded tree line. He heard no answer and felt no peace only the intrepid role of howling questions and a thousand wayward thoughts as he considered everything Doris and Andrea had said.

 

“She just rolled in out of nowhere like John Wayne, bullhorn a blazing!” Doris had said. She smiled and even lifted up off of her seat with elation. Her arms and shown signs from her fall as she fought to get out of harms way once the human stampede began. “She said, as of today no more ascensions,”

            “No, she said from the order of Baldwin Fawn,”

            “Falk, honey. Baldwin Falk.” Doris gave Jørn another strange look after she corrected her niece. “That’s the other good news. Your cousin is alive. Did you know that?” Jørn did not move. “None of that nasty stuff people used to say about Etta doing something awful to him was true, not one lick of it. I never believed she did anyhow. And neither did you. You married her.” She smiled. Jørn stayed corpse still.

 

He kept running, picking up the pace, the impact jarring his knees. He felt heavy, and rightfully so. He was carrying a massive load on his shoulders. Etta had looked him the face day after day, night after night, and lied to him. Each time they made love, when he was feeling hit with guilt, not just for breaking his faith covenant with God, but for breaking the unspoken oath to his cousin, she lied. He would ask her what they would tell Baldwin about what was going on between them, or what about Baldwin period. She would change the subject or give the same old cryptic response, “Don’t worry about, it’s all my fault.”

Now he understood why. What had she told Baldwin about them? He had to have known. She had clearly not broken contact with him. The memory of finding Baldwin’s picture in Etta’s drawer made fire burn in his chest and again he picked up his pace. He wanted to smash it to bits the same way Doris described Etta’s Lotus destroying the ascension pods.

 

            “Jørn you should have seen it! Those things could walk! They came out of nowhere, just like Etta had and they flanked her like this,” Doris gestured with her hands. “Then Etta told them to break up the pods. I didn’t hear her say it, but I could tell because she didn’t look at all shocked with they smashed those stupid things to smithereens.”

            She laughed. “There was also that strange wind that knocked all of us down too. I think it gave me whiplash, it hit so hard.”

           

The tip of Jørn’s sneaker rammed into a rock and he went tumbling head first into the darkness. He braced himself for the fall, his forearms sliding across the unforgiving terrain, stopping him completely in a wash of painfully torn skin, blood and sweat.

Gasping for breath, he rolled over unto his back and waited for the pain to ebb away. Silence again flooded around him. The chill of the night air slid across his pebbled chest. He thought about Vanessa Wong as he lay still. Doris said she had been laid out too.

 

“Did Etta,” The words seemed to escape him. “Did Etta shoot her, did she?” Jørn winced as he asked the question.

Doris looked confused. “There was no gun shot. I mean I didn’t see one.”

            “There was that Lotus that had cornered her though.” Andrea added.

            Doris grabbed Andrea’s arm. “Yes, there was that!” She turned her attention back to Jørn. “But that thing didn’t do anything to her either at least not from what I saw.”

            Andrea spoke again. “Etta, your wife, she stuck out her arm like this, and then the mayor fell flat. I can’t say that she shot her because that is all I saw, but then who knows. As bad as it sounds, I don’t even care. The mayor was trying to make everyone ascend and because of Etta my auntie is still here.” She kissed Doris’ check and wept.

 

Jørn pushed himself up from the ground. The fire in his chest and arms had lessened but the pain in his foot and heart was another story all together. He rotated his ankle and checked for a sprain. Then he checked his toe. He could thank God for that much. He was intact enough to head back to his bike and then back home.

He slowly walked back down the trail, taking his precious time. He was still in less of a hurry to face Etta. His fear for her had morphed into something else. He didn’t know what it was, couldn’t describe it. He just knew he wasn’t prepared to face it, not yet.

 

It was easing into three in the morning by the time he made it home. The apartment was quiet and eerily still. He crept into the bedroom and peaked in. The bed was completely empty. He suppressed the anger that was rising up in him again and settled for a shower instead, and then bed. He could do those things at least, get clean, get bandaged, and then get rest. He would settle for getting understanding some other time.

*          *          *

“I think my ankles are swollen.” Etta leaned back in the coolness of the hidden room, wishing for some heat. Her feet were screaming from all the walking she had done over the past few hours and she was damp and smelled less than pleasant from all the digging and burying she had to do in the woods. She suddenly wished she had let Kyle do it as planned.

She rubbed her hands together and blew into them. It was always cold in the secret room, it didn’t matter the season. Whoever had built it obviously didn’t give a thought to heating. The only thought they had in mind was reinforcing it like a bomb shelter—sound proof and virtually escape proof.

Etta had her speculations about the mysteries room. She had heard rumors as a child, that years before she was born, there was a serial killer who lived right in Greenwich Pass. It was said he worked as in usher at the movie theater. At least five people in Greenwich Pass were abducted and killed having been last seen at some slasher flick. Their bodies were found but no one could ever locate the actual murder scene.

The man who was the number one suspect had no family, and no friends so when he disappeared from Greenwich Pass without a trace no one really put two and two together. That was until the killings stopped.

It all made sense in Etta’s mind, this creep of a man killed people and used the secret room to do it. It was all just wild guessing on her part. Nevertheless, the serial killer did exist and Etta hoped the Towes got him.

“You’ll live.” Baldwin poked his head through an adjoining wall. “You have some sweat pants and a hoodie in there. You should get changed and freshen up before you catch a cold.”

Etta limped away and did as instructed, letting the hot water from the bathroom soak into her hands. She wished she was at home so she could take full advantage of a bath but she was too exhausted to drive. It didn’t help at all that her car was parked several miles away from the mall, hidden away from sight.

She had started replacing the stationed Lotus throughout Greenwich Pass right after her encounter with Mr. Albert. It had taken her several painful hours, not to mention the backbreaking dig and recalibrating she had to do in the woods. She would have killed to have had a helping set of hands, but using Kyle wasn’t worth the risk. If Mr. Albert suspected him of being involved with Etta, it was only a matter of time before he let the Towes know.

She needed to give Kyle the heads up on that one.

In the end, swollen feet, and smelly flesh aside, it had been a fruitful day. She unrolled her sleeping bag and dropped her weight upon it. At least she had planned ahead in that regard. She had only closed her eyes for a brief second before Baldwin started talking to her again.

“Show me what you used on Wong today.”

Etta pealed open one eye and stared at him. He was serious. Rather than argue she pulled the thing out of her sweat pant pocket and showed it to him. It was no larger than his thumb, curved slightly like a claw, and was white in color. When he looked away from it, she tucked it back in her pocket and closed her eyes again.

“How does it work? What is it, exactly?”

She didn’t bother opening her eyes. She wasn’t even certain she could if she tried. “What it is, is an isolation of Lotus frequency. You know, the stuff they use to put people in a trance while they scan them? This is that in a more pressurized volume.”

“So its concentrated coma in a spray bottle?”

“Baldwin, it is necessary is what it is.”

“How do you know its safe, Etta? How do you know Wong will wake up from that?”

She mumbled something under her breath but forced herself to sit up. “I know its, safe because the Towes use it on humans every pre-ascension both on the ascenders and the rejects.” She thought about Heidi Flagg, how the Lotus had put her into a sleep she never woke up from all those years ago. Doing so to Wong was like getting revenge for her.

She continued, “I know it can be reversed because I have used it on a raccoon or two or five. The point is it that if I hadn’t used it today on Wong the Lotus would have rippled her apart. So technically I saved her life.”

Baldwin studied her. “That’s not all of it. There is something else to it.”

“What Baldwin, did you want me to get shot?”

“I didn’t say that!”

“But that is the reality you seem to be missing. Everyone was watching me. If I would have let the Lotus kill Wong, Rick Henley would have opened fire on me.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Don’t be naïve! Be mad about me leaving you in the dark about it, but don’t play dumb. It would have been a blood bath out there. But because I put the mayor to sleep for a while, everyone else backed down. Gosh Baldwin! Wake up! And let me get some sleep!”

“When do you plan on waking her up?”

“When it is necessary. Goodnight.” She dropped her head back down on the sleeping bag and pulled to top layer up to her ears.

*          *          *

She was out like a light. Within minutes she was breathing heavy and a slight snore was coming from her nose. She only snored when she was exhausted. Baldwin had many more questions on the tip of his tongue but it wouldn’t profit to wake her up with them.

He was still tense about earlier. No matter her explanation, no matter how absurd it was, he just couldn’t get past the betrayal. It had brought back the first time she had ripped out his heart with Jørn. He comforted himself with the knowledge that that time her betrayal wasn’t planned, but it had still caused a fisher in their relationship, today only brought the fishers back to remembrance with a threatening vibration of widening even further.

He sighed. “Goodnight, Etta.” He laid his body next to hers and closed his eyes, knowing full well he wouldn’t get any sleep. He had not slept in years, had never felt tired.

He was beyond surprised when he woke up in the midst of a dream.