In early April, the ever creative Laird Sapir suggested a collaborative fiction writing project that would unfold across the blogs of writers from various genres.
The only rule is that each writer must continue the story at the point the last writer left off, beginning their chapter with a link to the previous entry and ending with a link to the next writer on the list.
The complete list of participants with links to each installment is available at The Octopus Knows.
Thanks Laird, for creating and hosting such a delightful and entertaining Round Robin.
The latest entry by Veronica Valli left off here:
The air crackled with tension as Marguerite wondered which way he would go.
Would he trust her?
What did he know?
Could they both get out of this alive?
He relaxed first his hand emerging empty. “Marguerite, if the octopus knows then we don’t have much time. I’ve got to get to him. Will you help me? For old times sake?”
His eyes smiled briefly at her, for a second she saw the old Simon, memories came flooding back. It was too late, too long ago. She would kill him if she had to, she would do whatever it took to protect the secret.
She felt her heart harden again; she couldn’t be distracted by the past.
“Marguerite, you have to help me!” He was becoming frantic.
She was about to answer when they heard the sound of screaming coming from the apartment above them…
Simon looked up to the fourth floor balcony of the apartment in question. All he could see was the skeletal husk of a long-dead houseplant and a section of cream-colored drapery billowing out the open patio door, a ghostly tethered spirit straining skyward.
Before he could turn back to Marguerite, he felt the ground shake as brick and glass rained from above, several large pieces landing on the roof and hood of a newer model Lexus parked at the curb. He grabbed Marguerite by the arm and roughly dragged her into the dimly lit, deserted lobby.
He wasn’t leaving without Ninja and he wasn’t about to let her out of his sight. The building continued to shake in fitful, spasmodic tremors as clouds of dust and debris battled daylight outside the lobby doors.
Simon felt Marguerite’s nails dig into the back of his hand as she tore loose from his grip. Eyes narrowed, trembling with anger, she met his gaze with hostile defiance.
“You pompous, simple-minded idiot! You’re going to get us BOTH killed. Have you even thought about what happens then?”
“No, actually I haven’t”, he said. “Because what happens to us isn’t worth a tinker’s damn if Ninja’s lost? And we don’t have time to stand here arguing now, do we?”
Marguerite stepped out of her heels, bent over, grabbed a shoe in each hand, and thought what an effective weapon they would make. She could easily plant the sharp end of one heel between Simon’s eyes and solve part of the problem where it stood.
But what if she wasn’t privy to every critical piece of information? She felt her growing paranoia justified since her most recent conversation with Mr. Jones. She was fairly certain he had no idea of the extent of her betrayal. But what if he suspected? Perhaps death wasn’t the worst alternative.
Two screams of varied pitch and tone reverberated down the elevator shaft as Simon and Marguerite glanced from each other to the stairs. Even though he knew Mr. Jones owned the building and Braden was the only resident, he still half-expected to see the lobby fill as the shaking building dislodged and regurgitated hordes of horrified occupants.
No. Other than Braden, only ghosts walked these halls; restless, unsettled spirits who had no intention of leaving the scene of their earthly demise.
Simon shuddered at the thought and felt the hair on his arms and neck stand at attention. He reached for the left sleeve of his jacket with his right hand and withdrew his wand just as Marguerite’s hand disappeared into her purse in search of her own.
“See you on the 4th floor,” he said and disappeared before she could respond.
“Well, I guess we had the same idea,” Marguerite said as they stood in the hallway outside Apartment 4A.
“Only fools rush in without a battle plan,” Simon whispered. “So, what is it?”
Both strained to hear any sound of movement from the room beyond the door. The screams had stopped before they left the lobby, and the only sounds Simon could hear were the agonizing groans of a distressed building resettling on its foundation.
“Stay here until I give the okay,” Simon warned her. “At least one of us needs to make it out of here alive.”
For once, Marguerite conceded without argument. She was about to voice her stipulations when she realized she was alone in the hall.
“Holy mother of …” Before Simon could issue further expletives, Marguerite was beside him, mouth open in abject horror, searching for words she’d never find.
Ninja had wedged his body into a corner of the wall, tentacles grasping baseboard, doorknob, and any projection that might prevent him from slipping into the bottomless fissure that now divided the room.
Clicking his parrot-like beak in agitated consternation, he looked from Simon to Marguerite, his words clipped and precise: “I don’t know which of you is responsible or what you’ve unleashed, but it’s not from this world…”
“And it has Mr. Jones.”
To be continued by Tami Clayton