Excerpts, Short Stories

Progression

Awhile ago I posted the beginning of a story I was working on. It took me a little bit, but I finally found the motivation to work on it some more. I edited the beginning part that I’d already typed and then added a bit more development. It isn’t too long yet, but I’m hoping to turn it into a short story. I’ve got a great plot and direction for it… But if I shared it with you, that would completely spoil everything. I’d like to share what I have done so far:

Fight or Flight

How did I get here? I sprinted forward.

The glow of the city was close enough to see but too far to reach. I heard his footsteps getting louder and louder as his pace quickened and mine started to slow. It wasn’t until my chest tightened that I realized I couldn’t breathe. I tried to dig deep into my purse as I ran, but the long, leather straps tangled around my thighs and I tumbled to the ground. My lungs were being restrained by my own body, my own disease, and all I could do was lay there.

I need to get away. But how? Each alleyway is a dead end… I’m stuck.

My fingertips dug into the pavement as I pushed myself to my feet. Turning around and around, I attempted to find a place to hide: a dumpster, a trash can, even a small business with a bathroom… But there was nothing. I’d somehow gotten myself caught in a nest of back-alleys in Sandersville and I had no way out. I forced my heavy feet forward and listened to the rhythmic clunk of my Converse on the asphalt. A quickening tap, tap, tap began to get closer. I had almost forgotten I was being followed.

Looking back, I checked the distance between us, and saw that his feet were in sync with mine… For now. The steady pace wouldn’t last. With each step I took, a piercing shock of pain coursed through my side. I couldn’t hold out much longer. I looked down at my feet, dodging giant cracks and rocks that were strewn across the sidewalk.

Maybe if I focus on the rhythm of my steps, I can keep a steady pace.

I saw an opening to my left and turned, hoping to throw him off course. I just needed to hold out a little bit longer. If I could somehow manage to tire him out or find a place to take cover, I’d be—smack! The wire fence shook, echoing off the brick buildings down the alleyway, as my entire body slammed into it. I stood there, unable to move. Behind me, his footsteps grew louder, closer, and slowed to a stop. I faced the fence, staring at the alley on the other side, and contemplated my chances of escape if I tried to climb up and over. An arm reached around me, pulling me back against his rough, broad chest.

I could feel his warm breath against the top of my head—it sent chills down my spine. A sleek blade slid across my face, reflecting in the moonlight, and rested on the side of my neck. I could feel a cold hand pressing against my back as I was shoved to the ground. I heard the sirens from 8th Avenue—but they were over 20 blocks away and would never get here in time to pull him off of me. I had to think of some way to save myself.

Bits and pieces of the pavement ripped my skin apart as my face was forced down. I closed my eyes, clenched my hands, and let the sirens carry me away as the blade broke the skin of my cheek. A thick flood of warmth cascaded down my neck.

“Stay down!” His voice snapped harshly through the air and the moisture from his breath hung on my ear. “This will only hurt a bit.”

And like that, he was gone . The air felt damp and hot… I sat up, gently lifting my hand to my cheek.

There’s no cut….

I lowered my hand back down, expecting to find the pavement underneath me, but my fingertips caressed something soft, something warm, and landed on my navy blue, silk sheets. Two little ears perked up at me and my gaze was met with glowing yellow eyes.

Chester, the frail orange tabby I’d found in the dumpster outside my building, always slept against my thigh. At first, it was his way of looking for warmth, for safety. But he’d grown fatter over the years, somewhat resembling the orange cat in the comic strips I’d read as a little girl, and now I think he does it for comfort.

It became his way of making sure we’re both kept safe during the night. Only, tonight felt a little different. I had this feeling of tension, like there was something eerie lurking in my apartment. It was a feeling I couldn’t shake and one that I knew Chester couldn’t protect me from. I had to get up and look. If I didn’t, I’d never be able to get back to sleep.

I pulled back the silk sheets and swung my bare legs down to the floor. I’d made a habit of sleeping in a soft pair of underwear and one of my boyfriend’s t-shirts. After all, they were light, baggy, and perfect for humid summer nights. The bottom hem of the shirt was about an inch short of covering my butt completely, so I only slept that way when I was alone or with him.

I looked over to the alarm clock on my nightstand. Midnight. I’d been asleep for an hour and a half and was already woken up by a nightmare. Shaking my head, I slipped my feet into my ladybug slippers and opened the drawer of the nightstand. Inside was a clunky old flashlight my father had left in my apartment two years ago during the citywide blackout.

My father was the owner of Hudson and Son Construction and always had tools stashed in his truck. When we lost power, he thought it was his duty to come make sure I was protected He was constantly worried about the characters that came out at night, especially in a city like Sandersville. That’s why he’d dreamed of passing the business on to my brother, Max. Except, when Max turned 18 and was old enough to start working with Hudson and Son, he declined my father’s invitation to work with the company. By some miracle, my father managed to muster up the courage to hire an apprentice: Simeon Lockwood. He seemed, to me, like a stand-up guy. Simeon was a clean-shaven, dark-haired man with brooding brown eyes. He made it a point to wear his best jeans on the job. He had even bought my father new tools when his old ones quit working.

Simeon and I grew close to one another. Every day I’d pack my father a sandwich and bring it to the job site. When I was there, Simeon would come sit with me while he took his break. We’d talk; I’d learned that he used to work for his father’s pizzeria, but had lost interest in working with the family business. It was the same routine every day: Make dough. Spread sauce. Sprinkle cheese. Repeat. And when he finally got home, Simeon would spend hours admiring the architecture of Rome and Greece, longing to create something magnificent for Sandersville. So, when my father began his search for an apprentice, Simeon jumped at the chance to work with Hudson and Son.

But one day, out of nowhere, Simeon was gone. I brought a sandwich to the job site like I usually did, only Simeon wasn’t there. When I confronted my father, asking where Simeon had gone, he simply took my hand, looked into my eyes, and told me, “Sometimes the people we’re close to aren’t who we think they are. Simeon wasn’t right for the job. I had to let him go.” I never saw him after that.

I picked up the cold hunk of metal and switched it on. The lightbulb flickered twice before it blew out.

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