The Wedding Bells – Part 16 (Flash fiction chain # 6 )

img_9020-fileminimizer

Once again, a group of writers from different parts of the globe join forces to create one linear adventure. The theme this time? Love.

The photograph above serves as the inspirational theme for the 6th Flash Fiction Chain hosted by Jithin of ProTraBlogger. Give his beautiful site a visit and feast your eyes on the inspirational photos or read about his exciting adventures.

A comprehensive list of important characters in the story:

Main:

  • Anna Brighton- 32 year old CEO who owns and runs a publishing company
  • Alex Burns – well established author, Anna’s ex, Toby Blackwell’s cousin
  • Toby Blackwell – co-owns the Blackwell estate, Alex’s cousin

Other characters:

  • Jenny- Anna’s secretary
  • Melissa Doyle –the bride, Anna’s dear friend
  • Harrison – Melissa’s fiance.

Recommendation:

If you’re not caught up, may I recommend you to read the previous part before venturing this part.

  1. Sona
  2. Click here
  3. Priceless Joy
  4. Frenesthetist
  5. Dr. KO
  6. Sweety
  7. Me
  8. I-Read
  9. First Draft
  10. Soul n Spirit
  11. Phaena Says
  12. The Stardust Elephant
  13. Sona
  14. Click Here
  15. Yinglan

Ok, onto the next part…

Part 16

Anna stared at the limp body of Tobias. How could this happen? she found herself thinking. She looked up at Alex, his pale face a picture of emotion. She could feel him gulp from this far, and yet it all seemed somehow forced. Did he actually care?

Alex walked over and crouched down next to her, putting an arm across her shoulders and pulling her in tightly for an embrace. She dropped her head to one side and nestled into him, trying to digest the gravity of what was happening.

“AAAARGH!” cried Toby so loud both Alex and Anna jumped back. Alex flinched so hard he clattered into the coffee table and had to act quickly to avoid an antique vase falling to the floor.

Toby rose to his feet in fits of laughter, doubled over as he choked on the chuckle. Anna was frozen in part anger, part shock.

“You absolute piece of shit… how dare you trick us like this!” said Alex as he stood firm again and tried to regain some composure.

Toby handed the maid a crisp £50 note and offered her his thanks. She turned to leave and made sure not to catch the eyes of Alex or Anna. Something about the maid’s nervous energy made Anna uncomfortable, but she couldn’t explain why.

“Look on the bright side – I bet you’re not so angry about what you saw in the room earlier?” said Toby, still chuckling to himself.

“You sure know how to put things in perspective,” said Anna through gritted teeth. “Come on Alex, lets go.”

Alex held Toby’s stare a little longer than he needed to, then turned to follow Anna from the room.

Toby dipped his finger through the ‘blood’ on his chest and licked it. “Hmm, I love jam,” he said to himself. It was then that he noticed the arrow with the love heart-tip. “Where did this come from?” said Toby aloud as he started to feel dizzy. “Guys wait, come back,” he called, but by then the room was empty.

*****

Anna was furious, stomping heavily down the corridor. Alex followed closely behind, trying hard to keep pace. He was calling after her, but she seemed adamant she wasn’t going to turn.

“Anna,” he cried again. “ANNA!”

Finally she stopped, without turning. She was breathing so heavily her whole body convulsed with every intake of air. He walked round to stand in front of her and placed a hand on each arm, holding her gently but firmly.

She looked up and met his eyes. There were tears, building in size and waiting to roll down the slopes of her cheeks. Alex dabbed them away with his thumbs and pulled her in for an embrace. She didn’t fight back, merely responding to each movement from him with reciprocation. As he pulled away to look back into her eyes he saw they were bright again with happiness. She pulled him in and kissed him deeply and passionately.

Alex pulled away and looked in her eyes. She really was happy, too happy. He could feel a pain in his back, her embrace was so strong, so tight. He couldn’t pull away for long.

“Alex, I love you!” she cried before pulling him in again. This was so unlike her. They hadn’t been passionate people, even as a couple. Their love was built on respect and admiration by the end, never lust nor impulse. That was the mark of their youth, something he had assumed was consigned to the past. Her eyes, something about her eyes. Why had he fallen in love with her? That’s right, he loved her sad and thoughtful eyes. He wanted to cure that sadness, and for a time he’d felt that he had. She was always so ‘elsewhere’, never in the moment, her mind wandering off and never present. Her melancholy was her sweet charm, and it’s depths of feeling and affection were where he found himself hooked on her.

Where was this happiness coming from?

He pulled away from the powerful pull of her kiss, and held a hand on the side of her face. “Anna,” he said, “you know I still love you too.” He was looking deep into her eyes, trying to find that sadness, that sweetness, and he could see it, distant and flickering. She pulled him in to kiss again, and this time he stopped his urge to fight. He succumbed to her warmth, her grip and suction. They were clasped in a caress, moments melting away. He felt his arms run riot across her body, wanting desperately to touch every part.

It had always been an acquired beauty; never obvious but always worth looking for. She always tried so hard to hide it, never wanting to hide behind her natural beauty like her friends such as Mel. She had almost wanted you to struggle to see it, like only the truly worthy would notice. It was like squinting in the dark, and he had wondered as a younger man whether her beauty even existed in a classic sense, but he’d always reached the same conclusion; a few seconds in her company and the warmth from within permeated the air and enveloped him, forcing impulses and emotions he had never expected. It was happening now. Fireworks, dancing, screams and steam, the sizzle and pop of fresh love, of teenage lust, of stolen kisses. He rubbed his hands in appreciation along her back, chasing her curves. Where had these emotions been hiding all these years?

Then he felt a prick, and pulled himself away from the embrace. He held his hand up to look at his finger. There was no cut. He looked over her shoulder down her back, searching for the source of the feeling. He saw a glisten amongst the fabric of her shirt.

“What is it?” asked Anna.

Alex wasn’t sure as he gripped it between thumb and forefinger. He plucked it from the clothing and held it up between them both.

“Is that, is that an arrow?” asked Anna.

Alex’s face grimaced in perplexity.

He looked around the room, and off down the corridor over Anna’s shoulder he saw Sara, the flower girl, duck into a doorway and disappear.

Stay tuned for part 17 by Dr. Ko

© Itchy Quill and ItchyQuill.WordPress.com, 2015

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The Wedding Bells – Part 7 (Flash fiction chain # 6 )

img_9020-fileminimizerOnce again, a group of writers from different parts of the globe join forces to create one linear adventure. The theme this time? Love.

The photograph above serves as the inspirational theme for the 6th Flash Fiction Chain hosted by Jithin of ProTraBlogger. Give his beautiful site a visit and feast your eyes on the inspirational photos or read about his exciting adventures.

A comprehensive list of important characters in the story:

(Main)

Anna Brighton- a 32 year old CEO that owns and runs a publishing company

Alex Burns – well established author, Anna’s ex, Toby Blackwell’s cousin

Melissa Doyle – the bride, Anna’s dear friend

Toby Blackwell – co-owns the Blackwell estate, Alexis’ cousin

(Supporting characters)

Jenny- Anna’s secretary

Adam – Owner of Adam and Eve’s

Harrison – Melissa’s fiance.

Percy Tuppence – Owner of the ring shop

I am entrusted to write  Part 7 of the story… To know what has happened already, check out the previous six parts below…

PART 1 by Sona

PART 2 by Yinglan

PART 3 by Priceless Joy

PART 4 by Frenesthetist

PART 5 by Dr Ko

PART 6 by Sweety

Part 7

Alex stared off into the road. His mind was running at a hundred miles an hour while he chewed the inside of his lip; contorting his face in grimace and frown.

What had he hoped for with Anna? He didn’t feel that way any more, did he? They had been good together once, but breaking up had been for the best. Was it pride? She had cut their relationship short claiming she couldn’t stand not being the thing he loved the most in the world. Unusually for him, he’d had no words in response. He’d felt she was right, even if he didn’t like it. But recently…

He felt a gentle tug on his trousers. Looking down he saw the smiling face of a little girl. It was Sara the flower girl. She had a gap toothed smile, resting peacefully under bright eyes.

“Hello little princess,” he said, squatting down to meet her at eye level. “What’s that you got there?” he asked, gesturing to the cone and flowers in her hand.

“Cupid chose me to carry the flowers.”

“The perfect choice,” Alex said, smiling.

“He left the flowers outside my door. Mum says it’s because I have a loving heart, and that my spirit is pure. I think you have a pure spirit too,” she said.

“Thanks very much Sara, it’s nice to know someone does,” he said, mussing her hair and smiling at her.

Sara blushed and looked down, giggling excitedly.

“Now come on, let’s go and find your mother. I reckon she’ll be missing her princess.”

*****
The speedometer revved past 50 and Anna felt a thrill in her stomach; part fear, part ecstasy. She hadn’t had a chance to cut loose and let herself feel out of control for so long. Work, relationships, family, friends; all were tied to a fierce distance she maintained for a feeling of control.
She had memories of the girl she was before the publishing, before the stress and the meetings and the packed schedule. She’d been a dreamer, a free spirit ghosting from place to place in search of feelings and experiences. She would read and learn and chase and dream. She had Alex, and they chased this together.
Somehow it had all changed, suddenly and painfully. He had become a different man, tuned into new feelings that weren’t programmed into her, alien and electronic, foreign and coded. They stayed as robots, connecting in only words – not touch nor soul. She had felt him drift away from her, his touch metallic and slowly his words became so too; the scripted auto cue of embrace left them both unloved and unloving, forging escape plans and exit strategies until the warmth left them both fully, and she closed the door for good.
She’d never imagined they would cross paths again. She definitely didn’t expect it to be this way. He’d taken the words from her, and so she had made her own. Now she had the power to take his words back…
“Are you ok?” asked Toby, changing gear to pull up at a red light. He glanced at her and she felt her body blush. Those dimples.
“Yes, I’m fine. I am enjoying your driving,” she said.
“That’s great darling. Let me know if I am going too fast, I can always go slower,” he said, his voice implying a wink.
“Tobias, you’re so bad,” she said, giggling.
“You don’t know the half of it. Give me a bottle of wine and some massage oil and I’ll show you how bad I can really get,” he said with a smirk as the light changed and he revved off.
They sped down the high street, past the Greenacre pub and the Landsdowne village hall. The sun was shining brightly and Anna was enjoying the feel of the wind in her hair again; had it been so long since she’d felt this?
They pulled up at another traffic light outside a café, and Toby glanced over at her.
“So many red lights. It’s like someone wants us to have a lot of time together,” he said. He was looking at her like she was a lolly on a hot day.
“Or they want to slow us down,” she said, returning the look. His shirt, taught over sinew, was making her heart drum with hunger for an embrace.
“Who would want to slow us down? We need to get that ring or the wedding is ruined. This isn’t some bad romantic comedy,” he said, bellowing a laugh and placing a hand behind her head on the head rest. “Though I guess, if the universe wants it,” he said, leaning in, “we could give it one.”
She felt herself leaning toward him, but as she did she noticed something out of the corner of her eye.
“Wait, is that Harrison?” she said. Toby turned to follow her gaze. Harrison was inside the café holding the hand of a tall, slender and rather beautiful woman.
“What’s he doing here? And who the hell is that?” she asked.
“The bloody blighter’s just having some tea darling, nothing to worry about.”
As Toby said this they both saw Harrison lean in and kiss the woman on the cheek, then mutter something that made both him and the woman laugh.
“That piece of shit,” she yelled.
Toby was staring open-mouthed. “I’m sure there’s an explanation. Harrison is a stand up guy, straight as an arrow that lad, never been the Casanova type” he said.
“Yeah right! It’s so rare to see wealthy men betraying their wives and girlfriends!” she said. Her voice had been raised, and she realised she was letting her passions get the better of her. “I’m going to confront him,” she said, as a car behind them beeped it’s horn. Toby hit the accelerator and sped off down the road before she had a chance to open her door.
“Stop right now, we need to turn around and confront him,” she said.
“Look Anna, right now we need to get that ring. I’m not saying that what we just saw isn’t odd, but there’s got to be an explanation. Harrison just isn’t like that.”
“I don’t care what you say, I know what I saw. We have to got back,” she said.
“Let’s make a deal,” he said, turning to face her. “Once we have the ring we can go back and say whatever you want. I will back you up and support you, no matter what you want to do. We can kill him if you’d like.”
“That’s so sweet of you – wait, kill him?!”
“Yeah, if you want,” he said, his face straight.
“Are you joking?”
“Of course I am,” he said. She let out a huge sigh of relief. “I mean, unless you want to?” he said, smiling at her.
“You’re right, it’s probably nothing,” she admitted finally, as they pulled up outside the ring shop.
“Like I said, let’s focus on getting that ring first and then worry about mysterious women. Now, where were we?” he said, leaning in to kiss her.
She could feel her heart racing again, desperate for his lips. She could smell him as he leant in, a mixture of masculine musk and subtle aftershave. She put her hand up to touch his stubble on his cheek, she could feel his dimples, this was it…

There was a knock on the window. Anna looked out and saw the helpful and pasty face of Percy Tuppence, the ring maker. He didn’t look like he had been aged but rather, had been pickled. His thinning grey hair was gently being lifted by a slight breeze in the air as his tiny eyes tried to focus behind thick glasses. She wound down her window as Toby straightened up in his chair.

“Hello folks, sorry to interrupt. Miss Doyle called ahead and said I should wait outside with the ring for a red Mercedes,” said Percy softly.

“Thanks,” said Toby sarcastically. Even grumpy he was sexy. Anna felt frustrated she had been so close to getting her kiss, she wanted it more than ever now.

“I appreciate it. Can I have it now,” she asked.

“Oh of course, where is my mind,” he said, reaching a hand into his pocket. “It’s right here,” he said, rummaging around. However, when he retrieved his hand there was no ring. “Oh silly me, I’ve left it inside,” he announced in a croaking voice to the street. “Please bear with me one second while I fetch it,” he said before turning and shuffling back into the shop.

“Is he for real?” asked Toby. Anna found Toby’s subtle anger a little exciting. His attitude, she supposed, was not just from the frustration at the ring maker but also from his desperation to kiss her. It felt nice to be wanted, she hadn’t felt it for so long.

Percy appeared in the doorway with a ring box in his hand and was stepping cautiously on the pavement. As he was about two steps from the car a tramp ran over to him, grabbed the box, and pushed him to the floor.

Toby was out of the car in a flash and straight after the tramp. They disappeared down an alley and out of sight. Anna got out of the car to help the fallen Percy.

As she stepped onto the curb her phone began to ring. She answered instinctively, not giving herself time to see who it was.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hi Anna, it’s Mel. Where are you?”

“Just at the ring shop now.”

“Is everything ok? Is it Toby? Has he stolen your heart?” she said.

“Things are definitely getting stolen here.”

“You sound distracted. Are you two planning on running off with the ring?”

“Not both of us…”

“Are you joking?”

“We didn’t plan it…”

“Anna, are you coming back with the ring?”

“Sorry Mel, I can’t hear you, there’s a tunnel, an… rain… engine”.

She crouched down and helped Percy to his feet.

“How easy would it be to replace that ring?” she asked.

“Not very, it’s one of a kind. I had to get stuff specially shipped in.”

“It’s ok, I’ve got a plan.”

 

Stay tuned – part 8 coming next from Ruth

Part 9 by Austin

Part 10 by Rashmi

Part 11 by Phaena

Part 12 by Manvi

Part 13 by Sona

Part 14 by Yinglan

Part 15 by Yinglan

Non-non-fiction – Absolute lies you’ve believed for years!

title

Children are just terrible, aren’t they? Ok, so maybe they are actually lovely little bundles of joy that just happen to also slip into patterns of annoying behaviour, but still, we can all agree they have the potential to be a nightmare at times.

So, how do you go about addressing their behaviour but also making it seem like you are on their side, and therefore it’s not you punishing them, but the world? You lie, of course!

When I was a small boy, my grandmother used to love telling me ridiculous lies in her effort to try and curb my naughty behaviour. For this reason, I used to have a fear of eating chewing gum as I didn’t want to be digesting it into my teens. When I wouldn’t finish my carrots, she convinced me that James Bond ate all of his and that was the reason he could see so well in the dark. And date beautiful women. And always survive. She even showed me scientific studies… studies!!!

This all reminded me of some of the other factual errors we have been fed as gospel, or statements we have taken as truths. They aren’t all told for children, but I just cannot take the lies any more! So here you are people, an Itchy Quill knowledge bomb coming your way.

Sugar is natures turbo booster

Ok, so we all know about this one, right? This has to be true, I mean, I saw Kelsey’s boy Jeremy eat a bag of skittles at his birthday party last week and he was just crazy! It can’t be the parents fault, because they are such wonderful people. It must be all the sugar!

WRONG.

Sugar does not, as commonly believed, lead to hyperactivity in children. The way the body breaks down sugar just doesn’t work like that. Some kids are just innately hyperactive, lest we forget. If they do seem extra hyper, it could be from eating chocolate, and therefore by extension caffeine. Kids on caffeine; now that would be hyperactive.

lamalamalamalamalamalamalama

lamalamalamalamalamalamalama

Swimming after eating can kill you

I might be exaggerating a little on the lie here, but we all know this one don’t we; give yourself thirty minutes to digest your food before you get in the pool, otherwise you could get a cramp and drown. This isn’t true, simply because the human body is more than capable of both digesting and swimming at the same time. It’s had plenty of practice in multi-tasking, after all. Of course, if you eat a big meal and then jump in the pool and vigorously paddle, you run the risk of discomfort. But that could happen during other activities such as working out or running. If you get into the pool and take it easy, you’ll live to eat another day!

It could be the cheesecake that's drowning me... or it could be the fact I can't swim!

It could be the cheesecake that’s drowning me… or it could be the fact I can’t swim!

George’s Marvellous Molars

As sexy as it would have been, George Washington did not have teeth made of wood. His gnashers were in fact made from a combination of walrus and elephant ivory, lead, gold wire and brass. That’s right, the original president was keeping it real with gold (wired) teeth. It is not clear whether he also had a hip hop deal and 50″ rims, but he was famous for popping a few (British) caps…

What's up b**ches!

What’s up b**ches!

Blind as a…

Narwhale? Giraffe? Monkey? Of course, everyone knows the expression, blind as a bat. But here’s the thing, bats can see fine! It’s not known for sure where the myth comes from, but I believe that it is jealousy from humans at the fact bats developed such excellent echolocation. We chose to accuse them of blindness to give us a feeling of superiority at being able to do something they can’t. Well, they can. So I guess we lose. It’s only a matter of time before the bats come to take us all away and get their revenge (citation needed).

"Oi, I'm watching you"

“Oi, I’m watching you”

The Arthritic Bully

Yes, it’s odd that there aren’t a bunch of old men who used to be bullies walking around with arthritis, is it? Not really. Cracking your knuckles, as popular as it is to believe, does not lead to arthritis. Anything from family genetics, your job, previous injury or even obesity could make it more likely you will contract it in later life.

While not causing arthritis, cracking the knuckles can affect your hand’s flexibility and ability to function.

Other side effects are claws and fur... maybe

Other side effects could include sudden claw onset and possible fur… maybe

Forgetful Fish

Anyone who has ever seen a little goldfish swimming from side to side in a fish tank has every right to think that fish must have a short memory purely for the reason that anyone who was aware they were trapped in such purgatory would probably take their own life. Fish, it seems, are actually much better at remembering than we as humans have realised. In fact, there are fish that have shown they can remember information for up to five months!

Still, Dory from Finding Nemo wouldn’t have been quite so cute without her short memory.

"Sharon, I'm sorry! You know I can't remember our anniversary!"

“Sharon, I’m sorry! You know I can’t remember our anniversary!”

Life after Death

There are many stories of corpses that have kept growing their fingernails and hair, and it makes for nightmare fuel. You can rest easy though as it is all a lie. In truth, as the body starts to decompose the skin tightens and shrinks, causing it to give the appearance of nails and hair getting longer.

So while this has obviously answered the question of whether we continue to grow after we die, it has raised the new question of which is more terrifying; growing hair or shrinking skin?

So this is less scary?

How about no hair or skin?

The Penny Assassin

I went to Paris on a school trip in 1998, and was adamant I wanted to drop a penny from the top of the Eiffel Tower for no other reason than you’re not supposed to. A teacher caught me as I was about to let go, and a slapped wrist stopped me from doing it. I got a scolding about dangerous behaviour, and it’s a good thing too. I spent the rest of my teens believing I had nearly caused a death!

It turns out that in actuality a penny dropped from that height would only reach 50mph, which  would not be fast enough to kill someone. Injure, definitely, but kill… nope. Now, am I saying you should go and drop pennies from high places? No, of course not. I am older and wiser than I was as a young boy, and now know how ridiculously stupid it would be to do something like that. I am just saying that it won’t kill someone if it does happen. Looks like kids will have to find another way to murder…

It's ok, I've got some ideas

It’s ok, I’ve got some ideas

Mars is Red

Turns out the red planet isn’t so red after all. I told my friend this and his response was “you’re wrong Itchy, I can see it’s red. Look, look up in the sky.”

Well, that is just the point; it does look red. But that doesn’t mean it is. See, the reason we all know of Mars as the red planet is because of oxidized iron in the soil. For the layman; Mars is rusty. In reality it is more of a butterscotchy/orange hue. Of course, Hollywood perpetuates the myth as a red planet looks a damn site more menacing than a cute butterscotch one would.

Of course, movies wouldn't be quite as scary on a butterscotch planet, would they?

See – spooky!

This is just a smattering of the ‘facts’ that exist out there. What others do you know? Do you have a favourite myth or fact you want to openly criticise or prove wrong?

As always, comments are appreciated. Come and join the conversation.

Special thanks to arztsamui, farconville, fotographic1980, hinnamsaisuy, panuruangjan, SOMMAI, stockimages, vectorolie and Victor Habbick @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net for use of their photos in this blog.

© Itchy Quill and ItchyQuill.WordPress.com, 2015

The Tiny Soldier, part 7 (Flash Fiction chain #5)

flash fiction monkey

This is part 7 of  flash fiction chain #5 hosted by photrablogger and inspired by the amazing picture above.  First time doing this, please be nice and kind.
To get the context of the story, please read the first five parts
Part 1by Abirami
Part 2 by Sona
Part 3 by Yinglan
Part 4 by Dr. KO
Part 5 by Austin

Part 6 by Phaena

Character List:
Rick-10yrs Old
Jenna-Rick’s Social Worker
Mrs. Montgomery
Jake- Mrs. Montgomery’s son
Sun- The Monkey
***Elaborated Characters*** (The Other
Kids Sorted By Tables)
Table 1-
Mesa-Boy, 14 yrs old
Toro-Boy, 12 yrs old
Wheeze-Boy, 8 yrs old
Table 2-
Danus-Boy, 11 yrs old
Makaya & Kumba-Boys, Twins, 7 yrs old
Table 3-
Marilyn-Girl, 11 yrs old
Britney-Girl, 8 yrs old
Kanya-Girl, 6 yrs old

 

Mesa put a finger to his lips, gesturing a hush to Toro. They had followed the trail of eggs and food parts, and now they could hear voices ahead. The bush was thicker here, overbearing, and both boys were anxious to see what lay ahead. They turned a corner and saw the backs of Moses, Rick and Danus. All three were silent, staring up at a figure in a tree. The sunlight was struggling to break the canopy above, and visibility was poor.

Mesa looked at Toro and they exchanged shrugs.

Rick was the first to move, yelling “I don’t understand… What do you mean I will?”

Moses and Danus turned to stare at Rick.

Mesa, wiping food from his hair, disturbed a branch and a snap echoed across the clearing. The three boys turned to look for the source of the sound. It was then that Toro saw the eyes in the tree above. They were red, almost glowing, scowling and conveying messages that Toro couldn’t fathom. He was gripped, by fear and by fascination.

Someone shouted run, and soon the eyes in the tree had vanished, along with the three boys. Mesa was about to give chase when Toro grabbed his arm.

“I know those eyes,” he said.

“What eyes,” said Mesa, clearly oblivious to what Toro had seen.

“Years ago, on the street, I heard about it. All the vagrant kids told stories about it. They said it was a monkey, and only its victims could see it. They called it Sunne and said it tricks children into doing its bidding, bewitching them into its army. They harvest souls for their master, so that it might live forever.

“I had a friend, Jonah, who believed he saw his father returning to take him away from the streets. We were all so jealous, thinking that one of us was going to escape the street life. But that night, when we returned to our shelter down by the river, we saw Jonah there, but he was different. He looked into my eyes and I saw it – the evil. Seeing that… it’s the reason I found my way off the street. I’ve been trying to forget it, ever since I saw it. Please, Mesa… don’t follow it,” said Toro.

Mesa stared at the ground, his lips twisting and brow furrowed in deep thought.

“I’m sorry, but if this thing is a danger, we must stop it before it does something to Rick,” said Mesa.

Toro’s heart sank. He knew Mesa was too kind, too weak. Toro had lived a life no child should ever face, and knew the importance of thinking only for yourself. He wished so painfully that his friend could be the same.

“My greatest friend, I have no choice but to follow Rick and the boys. I will do it, with or without you,” he said.

“Then if that is your choice, I am sorry but you must go alone. I cannot take that risk. Who are we to face something like this?” he asked.

“If this is how it must be…” said Mesa, letting the words hang as he turned to follow the boys.

Toro slumped against the tree. He had lost so many friends over the years, the harshness of existence no stranger to him. Mesa was his first true friend in a long time. How could he let this friend march on to his death?

“Wait,” cried Toro. “I can’t let you go alone. If we are going after Sunne, we need to make sure we have a plan,” he said, sprinting after Mesa.

“If we can trick it by manipulating what it thinks is out deepest desire, we might be able to defeat it” he called as he gained on Mesa.

*******

Jenna took her time pacing again around the Post Office, this time looking even harder, checking the silly places we always look the second time around; under chairs, behind baskets. Had she missed her? There was absolutely no sign of ma. She asked the clerk at the counter, but he was adamant he hadn’t seen her all day.

Jenna went back to her car and sat there staring at her steering wheel. Where was ma? Why had she lied about going to the post office? Had the kids lied about her whereabouts?

She felt her gut twinge, some primal instinct sounding a warning. Without wasting another moment, Jenna made the decision to return to the house. She sped all the way, worried about the mysterious happenings, and feeling overcome with concern at leaving those children unattended.

As she pulled up outside the house, she twisted out of her seatbelt and ran up the front path. She called around the house, but nobody answered. She checked the garden, the kitchen, the bedrooms… nobody. She cried out, again and again. Her heartbeat was a drumroll, so intense she could taste the iron of her blood in her throat. Her eyes were hurting with fear. Why did she leave them?

She stepped into the dining room, the detritus from the morning’s fight still evident. There, amongst the eggs and biscuits she saw it; a half-eaten banana.

She took out her phone and called a number on speed-dial.

The phone answered with a click. It was a man’s voice on the other end.

“Jack, it’s happening.”

 

Up next, part 8 by Priceless Joy

Part 9 by Rashmi

Part 10 by Manvi

Part 11 by Sweety