Category Archives: Excerpt

PAIGE ANDERS CHRONICLES – ONE

What did he say?” Janet’s face suddenly loomed between the stainless steel counter and shelf. Her eyes were wide, larger than normal with her hair tucked into a cap.
I shook my head. “Nothing you need to know. I split the order ticket and slipped it over to her. “Don’t put onions on that burger. The guy is allergic.”
Come on, don’t avoid the subject.” Janet smirked, her upper lip curling in that distasteful smile. Why did I always tell her my secrets?
I clicked my tongue and tossed my hair over my shoulders. “He said he’d do it. ‘Easy stuff.’ Says it’s actually a pretty regular request.
Janet’s jaw dropped open and she gave a little yelp. “Really? Boy, I would never…” She dwindled off, her thoughts gravitating in that little head of hers.
Hey!” An old man appeared just inside the swinging doors, his face crude and unshaven. “I’ve been waiting fifteen minutes out there just to get a cup of coffee. Do you think that’s a possibility or what?” Spit flew from his mouth as he spoke.
Sorry about that, sir.” I replied, forcing a smile. “I’ll be right out.”
Good,” he grunted, swinging the door hard behind him.
I rolled my eyes and took a seat on the old wooden chair we leave in the kitchen for breaks.
Aren’t you going to help him?” asked Janet, the sound of popping grease started to fill the room.
That grump can help himself.”
Janet laughed. “Just hope that Tommy doesn’t walk in. I’m sure you remember what happened last time, “she added with a serious undertone.
I shrugged. Tommy was as horrible a manager as she was a waitress. I sat back and pulled my cell out, maniacally scrolling through my friend’s latest updates.
So that’s it. You’re really going to do this?” Janet peeked back through the counter. “Don’t you think, you know, there are other ways?”
I shrugged. “It’s gotta be done. Easy stuff,” I repeated with a grin.
Hmph!” I heard the rattle of a basket and paper as she plopped the burger in. I stood up to retrieve it, happy that at least would have one satisfied customer when I walked back out. Maybe even a decent tip for once.
Janet range the bell giving me a sharp look then slid the order over. I hated that damn bell and she knew it. As I grabbed for the basket, she kept her hold firm on the other side until I finally looked up at her. “Just remember,” she said in a low tone, “once it’s done, there is no coming back from it.”

I pinched my lips and gave her a slim nod. Janet may be nosy, but she was always looking out for me. I often wondered what I would doing if she had never moved in next to me. Probably still laying on my couch waiting for my mother to call. A few bottles on the floor, a few pills down my throat. 

She let go of the basket and turned back into the kitchen, giving out a loud sigh.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I can handle it. One more week and it will all be over. I promise.”

She looked up and gave a a weak smile. “I hope so.”

I left the counter, feeling somewhat better about our conversation.  It wasn’t until I had crossed through the double doors back into the main room that I realized the burger had onions on it. And the grump was talking to Tommy.

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AFTERNOON

Not sure where I want to go or if I’m even going anywhere on this one…but that’s just what excerpts are…

My back was aching again. I pushed the fabric cart forward trying to diminish the pain, but it kept sweeping up my spine. Pausing in the hall, I lightly pressed my fingers on the lower part of my back and straightened.

Four more hours to go. These sheets weren’t going to wash themselves.

I stooped back down and headed for the elevator.

A young girl waited there, dressed in a yellow pleated skirt holding tight to a small blue purse. Her face was scrunched as she stared down at the patterned carpet of the hall.

Hello.” I smiled warmly.

She glanced quickly at me and then brought her eyes straight back to the floor. I frowned. I usually at least get a smile back from young ones.

The elevator dinged and slid open, inviting us into it’s dull metallic shimmer. I waited for her to walk in and then shifted my weight to slide the cart across the threshold, feeling by back tighten as I pushed.

Stubbing in the plastic button for level one, I turned and asked, “What floor, hun?”

She shrugged and continued her downward look. Her right hand tightened on her purse.

Alrighty,” I whispered under my breathe. “Hopefully one it is.”
A strange, nas
al whine began to come from the corner where she stood as the elevator began it’s descent. Her face wrinkled and tears began running from her eyes.

Surprised by the girls reaction, I asked, “Do you have a fear of elevators or something?”

She shook her head violently, wiping her hand across her nose. “No….it’s just…”

My eyes widened as I waited for her to finish the sentence, which took some effort as she struggled to composed herself.

I’m pregnant,” she finally said.

The elevator dinged as the shiny doors slid open. Unsure of how to reply, I stood at the doors motionless. Do I comfort her? Or should I be looking for her parents? Why was she by herself anyway?

But before I had decided on the answer, the girl rushed past me in a daze and began sprinting down the hall. I watched as she ran out the glass door and turned towards the street.

RENDEZVOU

The fly crawled around the lantern. It’s furry, thin legs sticking to the thick plastic, marching with the slow cadence of the light’s hum. A dark shadow bloomed on the tent’s walls, chasing the fly’s short path.

Stephen lay silently on his mat, watching the insect move around. It had almost become a nightly activity with an occasional moth or mosquito joining the quiet march.

He took a peak at his watch and met it with a loud sigh. Not even eight yet. Another long night to look forward to. The fifth in a row in this rolling wilderness.

He couldn’t deny that he was starting to doubt the plan. Jill had begun to fear that they were discovered back in the city. Too many shadows and apprehensive stares were finding them. Then best thing to do was split. It was the best chance of survival.

That was Jill. Always thinking about the end. Stephen tried to convince her otherwise; they were so close to the goal. Two more days and they could have sacked him. But she was firm. They would meet again after the heat cooled. Give it a week, she said. Just a week.

And so he took the first flight to Washington and drove out to the Pasayten wilderness. The first day he spent analyzing supplies and packing up. Soon he was deep into the forest, finding his favorite spot. Stephen took laying low seriously. No contact with anyone and leaving no variables to chance. He controlled everything, even down to drinking water.

Stephen kicked off his light and began to settle in. It may be lonely, but at least it was peaceful.

A pattern of footwork began to become prominent through the night air. Stephen froze, listening closely to the sound. Likely it was just group of backpackers that had made their way off the trail. There was no chance he could be traced here.

Silence followed as the unknown visitor paused just outside the tent.

“Can I help you?” Stephen called out, unsure of what the visitor might want.

The visitor gave no reply but what Stephen couldn’t mistake was the click of the safety sliding out of position. His chest tightened as he flung himself towards his bag and pulled out his gun.

He had barely just flattened himself on the floor as a barrel of bullets began pummeling thought the tent’s walls.

CATCHING UP WITH LIFE

Like a rushing current, she wailed on and on. Drowning out all sounds but the screech of her own voice.

Miranda tapped her head on the steering wheel. A repetitive motion to keep her steady. God knows she needed to keep steady.

She didn’t have time for this right now. She looked back her daughter who had begun thrashing in the car seat. She beat her legs wildly on the chair.

A stiff tinge of a headache began fogging Miranda’s mind. She sighed.

A shoe flung by her, hitting the dash.

“Riley! Enough!” she yelled. Her irritation grew as she recalled the hour she just spent dressing her. Pulling that golden hair into adorable pig tails that were now a monument to static electricity.

“Why do I even bother?” She fixed her gaze back towards the placid grocery store in front of her. They would just sit here until the tantrum ran its course. Judging by the gurgle scream stage that just kicked in, it wouldn’t be too much longer.

Every time this happens. She’d told Tom about it, but he wouldn’t hear her out. He would shake his head, “You’re a stay-at-home mom. We’re not paying a sitter for a few hours just so you can go to the store. Besides, if it is such an issue, just drop her off with my mom. She can handle her.”

She can handle her. Miranda bit her lip. What was that supposed to mean?

Just two hours a week, that’s all she asked for. For two hours of peaceful shopping with no screaming. No clothes pulling. No offhanded stares from strangers, with their smug faces.

Tom always scuffed at that notion. “How can you be alone with a hundred others parading around the store?”

You don’t know any of them, that’s how. You disconnect. You are just a woman in a grocery store. No more than that. Not a mother. Not a wife.

“Are you done yet?” she asked blatantly to the burping child in the back seat. He eyes were now red and puffy, her adorable blue dress soaked at the collar.

Miranda jumped out of the van and opened up the back passenger door. Her daughter who had so angrily screamed at her only moments before now reached out with longing arms. She unfastened the belts and gently lifted Riley from the seat, wiping her face with the spare pack of wipes she always kept in the back. Riley nudged her head into the nape of Miranda’s neck, curling her fist into small balls against her chest. Miranda smiled at her deeply. If only it would stay this way.

NAMELESS (Part II)

The sound ripped from her lungs, reverberating inside her. It had been long since she had last screamed. Her throat felt hinged and odd to the noise.

But she couldn’t stop, not with what was before her. Even with her eyes closed the images would reappear from the mist in her mind. She had been trying to stop them for so long only to be defeated by their physical presence again.

A warm drop slid down her face as the scream turned to a gurgle. She fell onto he knees when Blue Eyes burst into the room. She could see the nurse’s lips moving. Settle, they said as her big arms wrapped tightly around her. Her scream had been replaced by an indefinite ringing that tightened in her ears.

She caught a glimmer of a flashing red light outside her door as more nurses scrambled in.

Why so many? Blue Eyes, Fog Breath, and White Face was on her at once. She realized the answer too late.

In Red Lip’s hand she caught the glimmer of the needle’s end, its cloudy liquid spurting from the tip.

“Hold her down!” she heard Red Lips yell. She began to kick and thrall and even tried a bite at Blue Eyes, to which she received a sharp slap.

She could feel her fear bubble to anger as they brought in the clamps. “No!” she screamed at them. “It’s his fault! Not mine!” She tried to lift her hand to point towards the toned glass. She knew he was behind it, hiding in the darkness. He brought forth the memories. It was his fault.

She gasped when the needle broke the surface, stabbing into her side. She could feel the cold metal ripping at her and depositing the foul liquid it held inside.

They called it the Happy Serum, but it never resulted in such an emotion. Mostly it made her sleep, in one sweeping motion sucking all the energy from her. All the time under its dark spell would be forgotten. She would be left with just a bleak page of nothing for hours of her life, and the comfort of cold and emptiness to hold her.

She tried to look up at the glass knowing he was staring back, waiting. Her eyes began to narrow. She thought she saw flicker of light but her body betrayed her as the muscles in her neck gave way and the Happy Serum took over.

 

DANCING WITH HOURS

The coffin was black. A solid one with only a ribbon of silver along the boning. The rain spilled onto it giving it a murky shimmer.

Fitting, he thought.

He gazed across the earth-gutted hole, catching the faces of her family. They stood erect and solemn, their eyes cast into a distant dream.

“And so we are here, on this day of mourning to say our last goodbyes. Dear Becca was such a kind soul….”

Liza, the mother, was wailing. Her face was puffy and red. Her black dress hugged her unwillingly, revealing gentle bobs of fat that giggled as she cried.

He had never liked her.

“…loss was sudden…tragic…and not to be forgotten, as in our hearts she will always be….”

He let his eyes roll towards a much younger woman standing next to Liza. Her golden red hair curled tightly around her heart-shaped face. Hair just like her sister’s. The tips ended at the fringed lace just above her breasts. Her pale skin was smooth, complimenting her fine figure.

I will have her now.

“..please bow with me in prayer as we bring this soul back to our God.”

He lowered his head, pretending as he had always done. Prayer had never worked. It was just a motion.

He let his shoes sponge the ground, leaving imprints on the surface. This day had come so quickly. He hadn’t noticed Blue Bones. Did he actually miss today?

A small victory. Maybe he finally grew a heart to fill those bones.

“Alec, is there anything you would like to say?” the preacher asked, bringing him back to the moment.

The crowd was staring at him. He felt their eyes piercing at his thoughts. Hesitant, he nodded towards the preacher and move towards the stand. The soft mud squished beneath him.

“Becca stole my heart the first day we met,” he started. “And she never let it go. She was a beautiful woman, thoughtful and giving. She gave so much that…” He searched the crowd for him again. He wanted to be sure.“…often times, I believe she cared more for others than herself.”

“Yet that very spirit is what has brought us here today. She…” He stopped. There he was, in the back, his blue uniform standing out from the drooping black clothes in front of him. He was smiling. God, he hated that smile.

No victory then.

Alec cleared his throat. “She would of never believed what that man was truly capable of. All she could see in him was a broken soul that needed mending…and so she let him in.  Into our house….into our hearts…and painfully into our memories.”

He was still smiling. At the funeral. Smiling.

“I loved her so much. And now…now she’s gone forever.” He looked back down at the black coffin; the white orchards that laid on top were drenched, flattened on the wood.

A hand grasped his shoulder as a murmur began rippling through the crowd.

“I think that’s good enough,” the preacher whispered to him.

Alec shuffled back to his spot, little relief filling him. He hated speeches. And he hated Blue Bones’s smile.

NAMELESS

He had watched the girl for some time now; through the dark toned glass. She loved walking a circle around her rug, like a zoo animal making their daily path.

Her dark hair had grown longer, the edges splintered and ragged. She had refused to have it cut, instead letting it tangle and droop lazily around her small face.

She sat on the bed and began mutely reading a children’s book that the nurse had given her. Her legs dangled just inches from the ground.

The room they had given her was rather large. They had thought that a child needed places to play. He still believed that she was no child.

The room instead forced a false innocence on her. A bed spread with pink squares and smiling flowers. Walls painted a cheery yellow. Colored boxes for toys neatly stacked in a corner. Framed photos of rainbows and horses dotting the walls.

He smirked. This room was too clean.

He sat down at a table, still facing the glass and began reviewing the nurse’s log for the day. What she had eaten, what she had said, any strange behavior that was noticed. All was standard, just like the day before and sure to be like the day next. One day she would slip, he knew it. They didn’t call in one of the top psychologists just to pamper the public’s opinion.

He lightly tapped on the cool glass top watching how she would read each page. Her small hand tracing the book’s lines, her eyes gazing deeply into its pages. Every few minutes the page would flip and anxiety would cross over her as if the split second was too long to wait for the next word.

She had been found wandering the local park alone. A woman on a late evening jog had crossed paths with her and was quickly disrupted by the exterior state of the girl.  Her only clothing item was a thin white dress. The girl’s bones were visible under her dirty skin, making her figure angled and sad. She carried nothing with her and would not speak. The woman had embraced her and told her she would take her to a safe place. When she had let go, she pulled back to realize that her hands were drenched in a ruby liquid. The whole backside of the girl was covered in blood.

Everyone wants to know what happened. What happened to that poor little girl? That poor little girl that the news painted as a tragedy?

He huffed, thinking of what he had heard over the last week. All of the ridiculous past stories that the world has discovered from the woodworks.

She was doing it again, staring at the blank wall. The book had been carefully laid on her bed and she had slowly walked over. She stood tall patiently watching the surface. Her hands crossed behind her back, left over right.

He noticed the time, five in the evening exactly. Every day she did this little ritual, placating herself for an hour with the wall. He had talked to her about in their sessions, but she would never budge. She would avert her eyes to his window and bite on the interior of her lips. She would ignore him from that point on, refusing to speak again until the next day.

But today he was ready for it. During her lunch hour a few days before he had had a projector rigged on the ceiling. He had known the change would alarm her, even if she showed no outward signs. So he waited until she would forget, having the staff explain that it was just another camera.

He pulled out a remote and clicked the projector on. He had set up pictures from the night she was found to project right in front of her. It was daring to do this to a patient and likely against some overall moral code, but he needed to get to her. To rip her open and expose the ugliness that he believed she had buried inside.

He dimmed the lights in the room and watched as her eyes widened. He could see the weariness ripple across her face. This was already more than he had hoped for.

Then, without warning, she let out a piercing scream.