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Checkmate

l-Checkmate

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“Don’t blame the sinner.”

“Don’t fear for him sister, I promise his death will be as swift and painless as possible.”

“It wasn’t his fault, he was being manipulated. Please, hasn’t there been enough killing already?”

“Another of the Black Queen’s pawns, is that it?”

“No, he’s much more than that.”

“Yes he is, a knight disguised as a bishop, very clever.  But I saw through your little trick, didn’t I?  I’ve always been three moves ahead of you.”

The White Queen and the Black Queen, Luminous and Caliginous, locked in a battle that had been going on for decades.  They were the twin daughters of King Stalemateous, who ruled over a vast empire.  Upon his death his expansive kingdom was divided in half and split between his two daughters.

Everything to the west of Lake Isongard; the golden fields of Adelphia, the orchards of Kalipula, the rolling plains of Surmanthia where the horse lords bred steeds for the royal patrol, and where seldom a cloud was seen in the sky, along with all the people who lived among those lands, now fell under the rule of Luminous, the White Queen.  The lands to the east of Lake Isongard and the few people who still lived there became the kingdom of the Black Queen, Caliginous;  these were the lands filled by the nearly impenetrable Dimwood Forrest where nothing was said to live except for the twisted and gnarly trees that were as old as the world itself, the tar pits of Undoora that were told to have swallowed entire regiments of knights, and the rocky peaks of the Heltermonth Mountains which reached up to snow-covered heights.

After their father’s passing Caliginous implored her sister that they should reunite the kingdom, and rule together.  Luminous, however, had other plans.

Being born minutes before her sister the White Queen believed herself to be the rightful heir of all that her father had, and she struck out violently in an attempt to rest control away from her younger sibling.  The surprise attack was devastating, and sent Caliginous and the few people loyal to her into hiding in the depths of the Dimwood Forest.  The family feud raged on for years, the Black Queen and her armies battled back, and at one point seemed poised to win the war as they toppled one of the White Queen’s castles.  But then on that same night, as the fires among the remains of the ruined stronghold were still burning, the Black Queen and her followers fled back to the safety of Dimwood Forrest.

Luminous, blinded by her fury, sent wave after wave of her soldiers into those cursed wood, none of them were ever seen again.  Unsuccessful at flushing her sister out, the White Queen withdrew and lived secluded from her kingdom until her sister came out of hiding and asked for a meeting to discuss the fate of the knight that had been captured sneaking into the White Queen’s castle.

“Please sister, you don’t know what you’re doing.  He was not sent there to kill you, he came with an offering of peace.”

“This war will end when I reunite father’s kingdom, only I am his rightful heir, and after I rid myself of your assassin I will send my armies across the lake to end this once and for all, even if I have to burn that entire cursed forest to the ground to do it.  Until then, this is what I think of your peace.”  and with a flick of the White Queen’s wrist the young knight was flung over the castle’s wall, his body snapped to a stop as the rope tied around his neck went taut.

“Nooo!” the Black Queen screamed out to late.  “What have you done.  He was no killer.  He was your son, the secret child you hid away in the castle I destroyed all those years ago.  I found him among the rubble and took him back to Dimwood Forrest.  I taught him of our father, and of our feud, and I sent him to you to beg for peace.”

Luminous turned and looked into the eyes of the now dead man who hung from her castle’s wall, and as the heavy realization of what she had done sunk in she collapsed to her knees.

Caliginous signaled her army to attack by removing the black veil she was wearing, and as she turned her back on her grieving sister she uttered, “Checkmate.”
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written for: The Speakeasy #149
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Second Chance

alarm-clock-ringing
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If I could do it all again,
I know just where I’d begin.

I would have avoided the boss,
When the day got late.
And not be stuck at work,
Missing my date.

Or I would have skipped lunch,
Oh I made such a mess,
When I spilled spaghetti,
Down the front of my dress.

I would have avoided that hole,
I didn’t see.
That broke my heel,
As I stepped out of the taxi.

On second thought,
I change something else instead.
I think I would have,
Just stayed in bed.
—————
written for: The Daily Prompt – Do Over


Paris

paris_tour_eiffel_bw
—————
The warm early morning sunlight peeking through the curtains and falling across Avery’s face woke her from a blissful sleep.  She laid on her side for a moment, staring at the veiled glass of the french doors that lead to the balcony, able to tell there was a bright clear sky behind its shroud.  Colin laid with his body close behind her’s, one arm wrapped around her slim waist; he was still asleep.  Avery took his hand in her’s and pulled it up to her lips where she softly kissed his fingers; the two had only been in Paris for a few days, and there was still a dark line of grease under his nails from the years he had spent working as a mechanic in the shop across the street from the diner where she worked as a waitress.

Avery slid out from under Colin’s arm and slipped out of bed, she pulled the sheet away from her sleeping lover as she tip-toed across the cold marble floor of their penthouse hotel room, wrapping it around her naked body as she went.  Colin grunted behind her; uncovered and no longer with the warmth from her body next to him he slowly began to wake up as well, blinking the sleep from his eyes and entranced by her every step until she arrived at the double doors.  Avery pulled both doors open fully at the same time, a corner of the sheet in each outstretched hand, the bedroom behind her flooded with light as a warm gentle breeze blew past her causing the sheet to ripple.  Colin could not take his eyes off her body as she stood there,  silhouetted from him by the sheet, and completely revealed to the outside world on the other side of it.

Avery let her exposed body bask in the warmth of the sun as it rose up into a cloudless sky, she heard the faint sounds of traffic forty stories below, and looked at the Eiffel Tower in the distance, glad that the rain from the previous few days seemed to be over, the world now smelling fresh and clean.  As if she could feel Colin’s thoughts behind her, Avery allowed the sheet to fall down her back to just above her waist before wrapping it around herself once more and turning to face him.  Avery looked at Colin laying on the bed, he was still naked from the night before; she didn’t need to ask what he was thinking, his body told her exactly what he wanted.

She smiled at him playfully as he watched her cross the room; Avery’s movements graceful, as she passed the bed Colin continued watching, her hips gently swayed with each step.  Avery placed one hand on the doorway and let it trail behind her, the sheet falling to the floor just as she disappeared into the bathroom, “Get dressed.” Avery called out to him as the sound of the shower spit to life, “I want to go see the city.”

Colin ignored what she said; instead he joined her in the shower where Avery acquiesced to his desire once more before they both dressed and headed out to explore their new surroundings.

It was hard to believe that it had been just one week since that man with a northern accent broke into the house Avery’s grandmother had left her, he had tied her up as he searched under the floorboards for hidden riches.  Colin had stopped by unexpectedly that night to surprise Avery, and nearly had his head bashed in with a crowbar for his efforts.  Avery had barely been able to free her hands in time to pick up the man’s gun from where it had been dropped during his fight with Colin, and shoot the maniac through the back.  With his dyeing breath the man issued an ominous warning, that he was not alone, that there are others looking for the same thing he was.

The man died in Avery’s foyer, after which she took Colin upstairs to the bedroom and showed him the money he had pulled from the floor as she sat tied up in the corner.  Colin went over to inspect the opening, and when he did he found that there were still more bundles of the money left inside.  The two removed more of the floorboards and continued to pull out more and more money, when they finally finished in the early hours of the morning they had found nearly a million dollars, but as Colin pulled the last of the bundles out of the floor he found something else underneath it.

The luster of the silver necklace that Colin pulled from its resting place below the final bundle of one hundred dollars bills had been faded by tarnish for quite some time.  The necklace’s chain seemed impossibly thin, and at its end hung an intricately woven Celtic cross not much bigger than his thumb.  “There’s something written on the back.”, he told Avery as he passed her the necklace, it was so delicate it felt nearly weightless in her hand.

Avery furrowed her brow as she examined the tiny inscription on the back.  She could tell that there were two words, but there was too much tarnish covering the second word to tell what it was.  “The first word’s Dues, that’s Spanish for two right?”

“Yeah.”

“I can’t tell what the second word is though, it looks like it starts with a ‘C’…maybe cats.” She offered jokingly.

“Two cats.” Colin replied thoughtfully.  “And here I always pictured Jesus as more of a dog person.”  The two shared a laugh as they sat among the torn up floor boards and looked around at the small stacks of money piled up throughout the room.

“Now what?”  Avery asked, there was a hint of desperation in her voice not to be the one to have to answer her own question. In just one night her entire life had been turned upside down. She wasn’t sure why she trusted Colin so much, or why she felt so comfortable with him.  Maybe it was all the afternoons they had spent flirting as she served him grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries at the diner where she worked the counter.  Colin had asked her out several times during the years that she spent caring for her ailing grandmother, but Avery denied him every time.  She worked at the diner six days a week and barely made enough to keep the lights on at home and afford the many medications that were helping her sick grandmother cling to life.  Now she sat amongst more money than she knew what to do with, and she was glad that she wasn’t alone.

“Is this the only room your grandmother used to rent out?” Colin asked as he fanned through a stack of the hundred-dollar bills before tossing it into one of the piles with the others.

“No.” Avery answered him, “She told me she used to rent out the room across the hall too.”

Colin looked through the doorway and into the smaller bedroom across the hall.  “Do you think we should check it?”

Avery looked around herself and then shook her head, “I don’t think I could handle uncovering anymore secrets tonight.”

Colin wasn’t sure why he felt so strongly about Avery, but he knew there was something special about her the first time they met at the diner across from the auto shop where he worked. Her eyes spoke a language that his heart understood, even if the rest of him didn’t; and every time that Colin asked her out and Avery told him no, he would simply tell her that it was okay, that eventually she would change her mind, and that he was willing to wait until she did.

Colin wasn’t supposed to be at Avery’s that night.  It was only Thursday, and their first date was still another night away; but Colin was excited that Avery had finally agreed to go out with him, and he had stopped by to give her the bouquet of supermarket wildflowers he had impulsively picked out when he got off work earlier that day.  As he stood on her front porch waiting for her to answer the door he thought about how corny he must look, and contemplated leaving before she could open the door.  He would have had plenty of time. As Colin continued to wait he began to feel a bit uneasy; he looked through the window next to door to try to discern if there was any movement coming from inside, and wondered if Avery might be in the back of the house and unable to hear his knock.

As Colin looked into the foyer he noticed a briefcase setting in the floor, the rug by the front door was bunched up as if it had been kicked, and a small table that had been holding a potted fern of some sort was knocked over on its side.  Colin tried the door, and found it unlocked, he stepped inside and called out for Avery.  Avery’s reply came from upstairs, she had shouted something about a man that Colin couldn’t quite make out, but the fear mixed with anger in her voice was easily recognizable.  Then out of no where the stranger appeared, rushing down the stairs with a crowbar in one hand.  In that instant Colin was ready to sacrifice his life to keep Avery safe, and he did his best to fight off the intruder, but it was Avery that killed the man and saved his life instead.

“What about the guy downstairs?” Colin asked.

Avery had let herself forget about the dead man down stairs, but Colin was right, it was an issue that had to be addressed.  Avery answered, “I guess it’s time to call the police.”, as she sat there gazing into his steel-blue eyes and silently thanking God that Colin was there with her, and that she wasn’t having to face this ordeal on her own.

“You know they’re going to take everything when they come, right?”  He sat there looking back at her, and into the warmness of her chestnut eyes.

“Of course they are, but what other option is there.  It’s not like we can hide all of this and hope they don’t find it.”

Colin sat quietly for a minute before offering his suggestion, “We could do what you said before, we could just leave.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes.  You heard what that guy said.  He’s got friends that are looking for this money too, and it won’t be long before they end up here, and what then?”  Colin waited for Avery to answer, but she had no response for him.  “Instead of calling the police we should bury that guy deep, somewhere in the trees out back, clean all this up, leave town and never come back.  We could start in Paris, and when we get tired of that we could go somewhere else, anywhere else we wanted.”

“You are serious.” Avery said, she carefully crossed the room full of missing floor boards and sat beside him.  “You would do that?  Leave with me and never come back.”

“With you, yes.” Colin answered her, and then cupped Avery’s face in his hands and pulled it in close to his own, their lips met and they shared a long passion filled kiss.  When their embrace parted Colin said to her, almost breathlessly, “I brought you flowers.” referring to the flowers that now laid strewn about the floor downstairs.

“I saw them.” Avery replied, her voice shared the same anticipation that Colin’s did, and her lips trembled slightly as they longed to be locked with his once again, “They’re pretty, but I’m not going to have much time to enjoy them.  I’m leaving town soon.”

They left the room and went downstairs; Colin drug the dead man’s body out into the woods, and Avery began scrubbing the floor of the foyer where the blood had pooled.  It was hours later when she finally finished, and when Colin came back inside he was covered from head to toe in dirt.  “How deep did you bury him?”  Avery asked as she watched Colin, leaning exhausted against the wall.

“Lets just say you won’t have to worry about any stray dogs diggin’ him up.”

It took the two of them most of the rest of the day to replace all the floor boards, and to put the furniture back in place.  The sun was starting to go down Friday evening when they finally packed the last of the money into the back of Avery’s old Jeep Cherokee and headed out-of-town.  They didn’t stop driving until they reached Cincinnati where they holed up for the weekend in a motel on the outskirts of town. First thing Monday morning they went from bank to bank, renting deposit boxes and stuffing them full of money until they had it all stashed away.  On Tuesday they boarded a flight with a small bag full of money, and flew first class to Paris.

The first two days they were in the City of Love the rain never stopped.  Avery had spent hours staring out from the balcony at the Eiffel Tower in the distance.  She had also bought a tourism book at the airport as they waited for their flight, and now as they sat in their room at the top of the Napoleon Hotel and the rain continued to fall; Avery told Colin about all the things she wanted to see as soon as the weather cleared.  Colin promised to take her to see them all; The Mona Lisa at the Louvre, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and anywhere else she wanted to go.  They spent their days wrapped in each others’ arms and talking about the future, and they spent their nights passionately making love.

When the weather finally cleared on the third day, and they stepped out of the hotel, hand-in-hand heading for the Eiffel Tower, they never even noticed the man dressed in a black suit and trench coat that followed them.
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written for: Goodreads – Week 200 – Free-for-All, write any story you want.
photo by: Stephan Edelbroich


The Visitor

The_House_on_the_Hill_by_nineblind

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Lots of communities have an old house on the corner, or an old house at the end of the street, or an old house down a lonely country road.  It’s always an old house; usually with an unkept and overgrown front yard; its backyard fenced in, and if a ball is accidentally thrown over, well that ball is just lost forever.  The old house’s occupants, if there are any, are almost always quite old themselves, and they’re often shut-ins that are only seen outside once or twice a year; if no one lives there then it’s a house full of ghosts, or Bloody Mary, or the boogeyman.

In the small town of Paris, Kentucky, it’s known as the old house on the hill.  The hill is on the south side of the little country town.  It’s not the only hill in Paris, but it is the only hill with a straight road.  The road that runs up the hill coming out-of-town is straight as an arrow, and when the snow comes each winter so do the children with their sleds. None of them go all the way to the top though, because at the top of the hill is where the old house sets. There’s a large yard around the old house, but not many trees, and on clear nights when the moon is full the old house gives off an eerie glow.

The old house was just that, built well over a hundred years ago it was home first to the manager of a horse ranch that raised plow horses for the farms in the area.  The ranch shutdown long ago, the land sold off to local farms, the area around the house on the hill bought by the ranch manager himself who took his own try at farming and was not at all unsuccessful.  His grandchildren though had their own ambitions, and sold the land to a developer that wanted to build houses for people who prefered to commute to nearby Lexington.

The ranch manager’s great-granddaughter was given the house when the land surrounding it was sold off.  She was a widow of thirty something at a time when no man of any real prospect would take a woman of that age for a new wife.  Childless, it was thought that the house would be sold and most probably demolished when the spinster finally passed away.  However, some years later she had a child, and there was much speculation as to who the father could possibly be.  The rumors were quite harsh, some saying she had taken a liking to the town drunk, and others saying she had conjured a demon to father her child; mostly the women of Paris did not want to admit to themselves that it was likely one of their own husbands that had stepped out to visit the widow lady.

The truth was the woman had taken to renting out rooms to travelers, and it was one of these men that she had spent a passionate night with as he made his way from Ohio to Georgia.  She never saw the man again, and now treated as even more of an outcast she raised her fatherless daughter mostly in seclusion.

It was when the old spinster died, and her recluse daughter inherited the house that the gossip of what went on there became the subject matter for not just the sewing circles, but the town’s children too.  The old house’s new owner carried on her mother’s business of renting out rooms to make ends meet.  But small towns never trust outsiders, and that’s what these travellers were.

The stories the children came up with were quite fanciful, full of bank robbers, murderers, and mobsters from the big cities up north on the run from the law.  The gossip of the town’s women was probably more accurate.  That the daughter had not only taken up the business of renting out rooms, but of also spending the night with the various men that passed through.  This seemed especially true since the woman ended up having three children of her own, despite never marrying.

The woman’s three children wanted no part of small town living though, and they all left Paris the first chance that they got. None of them caring that their mother was getting older, and sicker, and was all alone in the old house on the hill.  It was the woman’s granddaughter Avery that returned to care for her in those final years, the daughter of her youngest child.

By day Avery worked as a waitress in a small diner downtown, after which she would return to the old house on the hill to feed and bath her grandmother, and help her into bed.  There were not many people who stopped to rent a room for the night at the old house anymore, but when there was Avery would prepare a dinner and clean up after them as well.  There was no TV in the old house, so most nights Avery would read to her grandmother until the old woman fell asleep, and then retire to her own small room in the back of the house.

This routine went on until one morning when the old woman did not wake up.  Avery sat next to her grandmother’s bed that morning and finished reading the last few chapters of the book they had been sharing together, before shedding a single tear and calling the police.  She knew her grandmother’s time was drawing to an end, and Avery was thankful that she passed away peacefully as she slept, but she already felt a hole in her existence knowing that this chapter of her life was over before she was ready to have it end.

It came as a shock to everyone when the woman’s three children returned to Paris for the first time in many years to hear the will read to find that their mother had secretly changed the document, and left her entire estate to Avery.  The old lady didn’t have much, mostly just the old, run-down house on the hill, which the three greedy siblings had all hoped to sell and split the money from like they had won some sort of morbid lottery.

Avery was not at all surprised when her aunt, and uncle left town without saying goodbye; but she was taken aback when her own mother left too, and wouldn’t return her calls.

Unsure of what else to do Avery returned to work at the diner during the day. She spent her evenings tidying up her grandmother’s house, and sitting in the rocking chair next to her grandmother’s bed to read before retiring to her small room at the back of the house.  At night she would lay in bed and wait for sleep to overcome her as she thought about Colin, the strapping, dark-haired mechanic at the shop across from the diner.  She wondered if he could really be the man of her dreams.  Someone funny, and smart, and that hopefully knew his way around a tool belt.

Everyday Colin would cross the street, sit at her counter, and do his best to make her smile as he ate his grilled cheese sandwich and chocolate shake.  And each day she would smile, and flirt with him, but tell him that she had her grandmother to care for.  Today, two weeks after her grandmother’s passing, Colin asked her out again, this time she was able to say yes.

Avery was giddy the rest of the afternoon, she knew the stories in town about her grandmother’s house, and she had no desire to become known as the next old spinster to live on the hill, or worse to be known as some witch that ate children’s souls for breakfast.  There was even a lightness in her step that night as she danced around the house, dusting her grandmother’s old knickknacks and wondering just what to do with this house full of stuff.

“Coming.” Avery called out to the knock at the door, as she swung the door open she still had a smile beaming across her face, “Hello.”

“Hello, I was wondering if I could get a room for the night.” The man on the other side of the door was middle-aged, lean and at around six-foot tall much taller than Avery, he had steel-blue eyes, and his mostly dark hair was just beginning to show hints of grey.  He wore a trench coat over an expensive looking suit, carried a briefcase in one hand, and had a backpack slung over the other shoulder.

“I’m sorry, we don’t rent rooms anymore.” Avery apologized, she felt uneasy around this man for some reason and couldn’t bring herself to look away from his eyes. “There’s a really nice hotel in town though.”

“Are you sure, I was told you rent rooms, and I’m willing to pay cash.” The man took a half step forward.

“I’m positive.” Avery gripped the knob of the door she stood half behind tighter, “I’m sorry for the confusion, goodnight.” Avery began to shut the door, but before she could the man stuck his foot inside.

“Please, my grandfather told me about this place.  He said he rented a room for a couple of nights on the second floor, and that if I ever found myself in this part of the country I owed it to myself to stop by.”

“I don’t care who told you what. If you don’t leave now I’m calling the police.”

“Now that’s the one thing you shouldn’t have said.” and with that the man threw his shoulder into the door knocking Avery backwards and onto floor of the foyer.

Avery got up to run for the kitchen, and the only phone in the house, but before she could take the first step her head was yanked backwards as the man grabbed a handful of her wavy blonde hair and pulled her back down from behind. Her head hit hard against the floor when she fell, and everything almost went dark as she heard the door slam shut behind her.

“Now, now.  Where do you think you’re going?” the man playfully asked as he grabbed a handful of Avery’s hair once again and began to drag her up the stairs backwards.

Avery clawed at the intruder’s wrist and arm, but couldn’t do any damage through the thick trench coat.  The back of her head was on fire with pain as she felt like her scalp was going to be pulled off.  She kicked her feet wildly trying to keep up as she was being pulled along.

When they reached the top of the stairs the man yanked Avery to her feet and shoved her through the first doorway on the right.  Avery stumbled forward into the bedroom that, until recently, had been used for decades as the room to house travelers.  He dropped the backpack he had been carrying onto the floor as he stepped in behind her. Avery spun and tried to run out of the room past him; as she did he punched her hard in the stomach, knocking the wind out of her, and pushing her back to collapse on the bed in horror.

“You know, I was really hoping we could do this the easy way.” he told her, “I didn’t come here intending to hurt you.  I really didn’t.  But you haven’t been giving me much choice.” The man opened the backpack and pulled out a length of rope as he was talking.

“Please, don’t do this.” Avery begged as she tried to regain her breath, and watched in terror as the man stood up holding the rope and came to stand in front of her.

“Please believe me, I really don’t want to.  But you’ve brought this on yourself.”

The man grabbed Avery’s right wrist and flipped her over on the bed before pulling her arm behind her.  Being much stronger than the girl, who was only half his size, he was able to quickly get her other arm pinned behind her back as well where he tied her wrists together, before rolling her onto her back once more.

The man who had just minutes ago pushed his way into Avery’s home now had his face just inches from her own.  “Now, you’re going to do exactly as I say, or I’m going to have to hurt you. Do you understand.”

Avery was to frightened by what she thought was coming next to answer, and as the tears began to stream down her cheeks she was only able to manage a slight nod.

“Good.” The man told her as he pulled her up off of the bed, and sat her in the corner on the floor.  “You stay very still, and very quiet, and this will be over before you know it.”

The man returned to his backpack, and this time pulled out a short crowbar.  He then went back to the bed, and pushed it from the middle of the room all the way against the far wall.  He then started counting floor boards until he reached a place that would have been under the bed’s original position.  He counted a second time, and then kneeled down in the floor and used the crowbar to pry up a loose floor board.  It took him no time at all to remove the board, and he had several more were pulled out before he was done.  With the boards out of the way, he reached into the space below the floor, and with a big smile on his face began to pull out stacks of rubberbanded one hundred-dollar bills.  When he finished there were ten stacks in all, each about four inches tall.

“Just where Grandpa said he left it.” the man proclaimed in triumph.  “I left my briefcase downstairs, I’ll be right back.  Don’t you go anywhere.”

But before the man could get out of the room there was a knock at the front door. “Shhh.” the man hissed at Avery as he held his index finger in front of his pursed lips.  The knock came a second time.  “Who is that?”

“Untie me, and I’ll go check.”

“Nice try.”

They heard the door creak open, “Avery.” the voice downstairs called out.

Avery recognized it immediately, “Colin!  I’m upstairs!  There’s a man that bro….” The man backhanded her hard across the face splitting her lip before he made his way out of the room and headed for the stairs.

Colin wasn’t supposed to pick Avery up for their first date until tomorrow night, but he couldn’t wait, and had decided to drop by and bring her flowers as a surprise.  Colin was the one surprised though as he watched a man charging down the stairs with a crowbar in his hand.

“You picked the wrong night to come by Romeo.”  the man said as he reached the bottom of the stairs and began to draw back with the crowbar.

Colin wasted no time though, and quickly swung the bouquet of flowers at the man’s face; its pedals exploding off in every direction as they smacked into the man’s head.  The force of the blow wasn’t hard enough to do any real damage, but it did cause him to pause briefly; which was all the time Colin needed to pick up the briefcase he had seen setting in the floor and use it as his second weapon.  As the man blinked off the flower attack, his eyes went wide just as his own briefcase was reaching the side of his head.  This blow was much more devastating, and sent the man toppling backwards.  The hit was also hard enough to knock the briefcase open, sending the papers inside scattering everywhere, but it was the thud that caught Colin’s attention.  Colin couldn’t believe his eyes as he spotted the gun that had fallen to the floor.

Colin had swung the briefcase like he was trying to hit a home run, and when it slammed into the left side of the intruders head, catching him flush on the temple and ear, it made the man’s eyes roll back in his head.  Time seemed to briefly slow after the impact, and he dropped the crowbar as he stumbled back a few steps, instinctively grabbing the side of his now injured head with one hand, and blindly trying to wave off anymore attacks with the other.  The house was almost completely silent during this lull in the fight, except for the sound of something hard hitting the floor, which caused the man to shake the cobwebs from his head.  The intruder found himself frozen as he spotted the gun on the floor between himself and Colin.

The two men went for the gun at the same time, reaching the spot where it laid simultaneously they grappled with each other.  The intruder tried ducking down to grab the weapon, but before he could Colin managed to kick it away across the room.  As the man stood back up Colin caught him with a right hook to the jaw, and then he hit the man a couple of more times for good measure before he went to retrieve the gun himself.

The scream that came from behind Colin was the yell of a wild man, and he was able to turn around just in time to see that the intruder was charging him before the man’s shoulder slammed into Colin’s gut and he was driven back into the wall.  Colin laid dazed on the floor as the man straddled him at the waist and once again wielded the crowbar.  The man had a delirious look in his eyes as he raised the metal bar high above his head with both hands, ready to end this fight once and for all.

All Colin heard before the warm spray of blood covered his face was a pop, and then two more, he had closed his eyes tightly after the first noise, but as everything in the house went still and silent again he slowly reopened them.  The crazed look in the man’s eyes was gone, replaced with a blank expression, the crowbar dropped harmlessly from the man’s hand to the floor beside Colin, before the intruder’s body went limp and slumped to the floor.

The man gasped in one last breath, looked at Avery standing there holding his pistol, the smoke still curling up out of the barrel, and with his dyeing words warned her, “This isn’t over…I’m not the only one…looking for…”

Colin rushed to Avery who was still holding the gun in outstretched shaking arms.  “Are you okay?” he asked.

She nodded silently, then looked from the dead man’s body to Colin’s warm loving eyes.  “What are you doing here?”

“I came by to surprise you.”

“He surprised me more.”

Colin wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her in close to him.  Avery dropped the gun to floor and slid her arms around his waist.  Their lips met as they shared their first deep, lustful kiss, and then she buried her face into his chest, wanting to just melt into him.

“Who was he?” Colin asked.

“I don’t know.  He said he wanted to rent a room for the night, but I told him no.  Then he broke in and took me upstairs, said something about his grandfather, and started digging money out from under the floor boards.” Avery explained.

“We should call the police.”

“He said he’s not the only one.” Avery pushed back from Colins embrace, and looked up at him, fear in her eyes.

“They can protect us.” He tried to sound as reassuring as possible.

“Or we could just leave.”

“What?”

“We could take the money and go.”

“Where?”

“I’ve always wondered what the real Paris is like.”

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written for: Good Reads – Week 198
photo by: nineblind

 


Three Words

Screaming_by_jasminaa
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Bring It On.
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written for: Trifextra – Week 99.  Michael Hess inspired us with his three word New Year’s resolution – just be nice.  We’re asking for your own resolutions in just three words.  Make it count; we’ll be checking back in come 2015.

I plan on making my 2014 my best year yet.  I’m setting all my goals high, and going after everything with a vengance.

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photo by: Jasminaa


Shadow Tower

Big Ben UK

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The clock tower at the heart of the city had not always been a clock tower.  Long before it was a tourist attraction,  it was the last place on Earth that anyone would willingly go; and long before the clocks were installed, the four walls of the chamber at the top of Shadow Tower had one very small window each.

Shadow Tower was built during one of the darkest periods of the kingdoms past.  King Heckleford had ordered the tower built, and upon its completion he locked away his unfaithful queen and her secret lover, they were never seen again.  The tower would go on to be used by many kings, as an unspeakable way of dealing with many problems.

Shadow Tower had become synonymous with death, until many hundreds of years later when revolution relegated the royal families to a much more pagent-like figure-head role.  During one remarkably brilliant renaissance the darkness of the tower’s past was debated, and there were more than ever that wanted to see the tower pulled down.  But fears of disturbing the evil that once took place within the stone walls kept such talk from going very far.

It seemed that the light, and goodness of the renaissance would be marred for the kingdom, until one exceptionally talented tinkerer appeared and offered to transform the tower.  No longer would it be Shadow Tower; it would be renamed The Timely Tower, the largest and most accurate clock tower in all the world.

It took the tinkerer seventeen years, eight months, three weeks, four days, and eleven hours to complete his work; and once done he left the kingdom forever, nearly blinded from the job, and his hands so struck with arthritis his fingers were permanently curled.

* * *

When Brent broke the news that he would have to work on New Year’s Eve, Kira was none to happy, but when he reminded her that he had keys to everything in the museum, including the clock tower, her mood improved.

“No one gets to see the clock tower like this.” Brent told her as he slid an old iron key into a lock that had not been opened in decades.

“Do you think it’s really haunted?” Kira’s voice betrayed the fear that she was trying hard to hide.

“No, those are just old stories….I’ve never seen anything, and I’m here five nights a week.”

They made their way to the room at the very top, it was full of gears and pulleys, clicking and twirling away.  In the center of the room sat a table made of solid iron; it was cylindrical and perfectly smooth; it contained no handles, buttons, or switches.

Kira sat on top of the table, “Come here and kiss me, it’s almost midnight.”  Brent was more than happy to oblige.

“Mhmm, I’m getting hot.” Kira said, as she ended the lustful embrace.

“I bet you are.” he replied full of swagger.

“No, I mean I’m really getting hot.” and she slid off the iron table just as the clock tower struck the first chime of midnight.

The large iron table began to give off a faint eerie glow.  With the second chime the light that was being emitted became more defined, it was coming from the smallest of openings that encircled the top of the table.  The third, fourth, and fifth bells of midnight rung out as the two lovers watched in awe.

“It’s a lid.” Kira knelt before the table and reached out tentatively.

“What are you doing?”

“What do you think, I want to know what’s inside.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Don’t be such a chicken.” she mocked.

The ninth, tenth, and eleventh bells rang out.

Just as the twelfth bell was rung, announcing the arrival of the new year, Kira lifted the lid.  As soon as she had every movement of the clock came to a grinding halt, and the light that flashed out from the container blinded her and Brent, and sent them reeling.  The room at the top of the tower was filled with shrieks of terror, and then everything was deathly still and quiet.

As Brent and Kira reopened their eyes, huddled together in the nearly complete darkness, the only light that remained came from the underside of the still open lid, from the words that were inscribed in scrolling letters upon it, and that were now glowing, ‘There Is Only Peace and Rest Inside, The Outside World Holds Nothing but Destruction’.

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written for: The Speakeasy #142
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Merry Christmas

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season.  I’m away visiting family, so I’ll be mostly inactive for the next week, but I’ll be back to writing next weekend (and may try to sneak in a little writing during the week), and until then I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating with your families, and friends.

Merry Christmas,
Mandy