Thursday Thriller – Warrior

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Part 1 – Intruder

She could feel his breath on the back of her neck.  She felt the shift in the air as soon as he stepped inside.  She had to think, while she had this tiny, secret moment.  If she failed, she’d be proving all the naysayers right.  The family members who said she had no business living alone, especially somewhere so remote.  That she’d come running back to mommy soon enough.

Should she run?  Somehow try and contact the authorities via her laptop without his noticing?  Then she saw it, the silver letter opener, it’s shiny handle sticking out from under the stack of mail.  She exhaled softly as she slowly moved her hand toward it, until her fingers were wrapped around its handle.  She squared her shoulders, took another deep breath, then, with a guttural cry, jumped from the floor and swung her body toward him in one fell swoop, aiming for his neck.

Later, as the man lay bleeding on her living room floor, she went outside and sat on the porch, remembering the look of fear and surprise in his eyes, and smiled.  She could see the red and blue lights through the trees.

Thursday Thriller – Descent

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Read Part 1 – Watched

Read Part 2 – Watcher

Read Part 3 – Harmless

Read Part 4 – Caught

She didn’t dance any longer.  She couldn’t.  Not after what Liz had done.   That last, violent confrontation.  A hotel maid had found her hours later, unconscious, in a pool of her own blood.  Liz was long gone.  Marley told the authorities the whole story once she recovered, but it was too late.  Liz seemed to have disappeared.

At first, it was easy to forget.  There was a flurry of activity around her.  The ballet dedicated a performance to her, honoring her onstage at the end with an award and a gorgeous bouquet of white lilies, which used to be her favorite.  She never told anyone that Liz used to send those to her too, always with a hidden, hateful message enclosed.  Friends invited her out, threw parties in her honor, her phone rang day and night.  But seasons change and people are fickle.  Marley had nothing to offer the world any longer, now that the one thing that set her apart was gone.  The attention faded, and she became something she’d never been in her entire life.  Ordinary.

She spent hours alone in her stuffy apartment, the sickly sweet smell of those dead flowers she couldn’t bring herself to throw out for some reason suffocating her.  Liz Randall.  That name swam in the darkness before her when she closed her eyes.  It had taken her a year.  A year of her slowly descending, retreating, hiding.  But she’d found her.

The door was open.  Liz was confident she would never be found.  Or just stupid.  Marley stepped into the tiny, squalid house, the oppressive heat and the stench of rotting garbage and animal waste bearing down on her.  Liz was sitting in a beat up metal chair, facing the window, her back to the front door.  She turned when she heard Marley’s footsteps.  Her mud brown hair was matted and filthy, a dribble of red sauce, from the pizza she’d just consumed Marley deduced from the greasy box on the kitchen floor, ran down her chubby chin. There was no surprise on her face as Marley approached.   She just closed her tiny, dark eyes as Marley raised the gun, knowing it would all be over soon.

*

Speeding home on a meticulously plotted route, Marley felt lighter than the breeze blowing through her hair.  She was finally free.  Somehow, she knew she would find a way to dance again.

 

 

Hope

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Everyday she watched the keys attached to his belt.   As she listened to the clanging just outside the door, the unlatching of multiple locks, she wasn’t sure how many, she fingered the shard of broken glass she kept hidden behind her cot.  It had been there for months.  It would be her salvation.

She could see it in her mind, she played it over and over.  Her brandishing the weapon, attacking him swiftly.  His shriek of surprise, then labored moans of agony.  Her grabbing the keys, opening the locks, running from the decrepit shed, the home that had been forced upon her for months.  Shouting.  Fresh air on her dirty face, jagged rocks under her feet.  Free.

He was in.  He turned and locked the door behind him, as he always did.  This was her chance.  But too quickly, he turned to face her, the doors secured behind him, wearing that same detached, sinister expression.

Minutes later, she listened to him locking the doors outside.  It began to rain as her dinner grew cold at her feet.  She reached for the shard again.  It felt so heavy in her hands.

For Sunday Photo Fiction

Thursday Thriller – Weapon

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Read Part 1 – Plot Twist

I love my husband so much.  I live for him.  I would die for him.  I’m thinking of him now as I slowly chop fresh berries on the cutting board, humming a happy melody to myself as I watch sunlight stream through the freshly-scrubbed windows.  I want to make this day, and every day after, perfect for him.  He deserves it.

I hear Thom coming down the stairs and I smile, hurrying to layer fresh berries atop the pile of syrup-drizzled pancakes I’ve prepared for our breakfast.

“Stef?”  He looks at me with his eyebrows raised, his face scrunched.  He’s so handsome!

“Breakfast is ready!”  I cheer, motioning for him to sit in the breakfast nook.  I’ve already poured his coffee.

Once I join him at the table, we eat in companionable silence for a while.  I wouldn’t dare speak until he’s addressed me first.

“Stef, what’s going on?  What is all this?”

“What do you mean, silly?  I made you breakfast!”

“I know.  I know. And the whole perfect housewife act has been cute for the past day or so.  And trust me, last night was amazing…”

I blush.

“…but I’m ready for things to go back to normal.  I miss you.  I miss my wife.”  He takes my hands in his.

“What are you talking about, dear?  I’m right here silly!”  I rise from the table, carrying the dirty dishes to the sink.  I love serving him.  “You may want to shower and change.  Donna and Chet will be here soon!”

“Donna and Chet?”

“I told you last night, remember?  They’re coming over to visit.”

“I remember you saying that, but I thought you were joking.  I thought you hated Chet.  I thought Donna hated Chet.”

“Of course she doesn’t hate him, honey.  They’re getting married!”

Thom nearly spits out his coffee.  He’s such a goof!

An hour later, we’re all sitting in the living room, sipping fresh lemonade.  Donna and I aren’t speaking because the men are talking.  I don’t really understand their conversation, but I wouldn’t dare interrupt to ask questions.  It’s not my place.  Donna and I will sneak away in a bit to talk wedding plans.

“You’re welcome, dude,” Chet is saying to Thom.

“What do you mean?”

Chet pulls a large bottle from his bag filled with a burgundy fluid as well as a clear plastic pouch full of syringes.

“Haven’t you noticed your wife is a little…different?”  He wiggles his eyebrows.

Thom’s body stiffens.  “What did you do?”

“I invented a new drug.  It makes women putty in our hands.  It wears off after two days so you’ll have to give her an injection tonight before it wears off.  I dope Donna up while she’s sleeping.”  He fills one of the syringes with the liquid and hands it to Thom.

Thom stands from his chair.  “You drugged my wife?!”

“Like I said dude, you’re welcome.”

And suddenly they are struggling with each other, hitting and punching.  Donna and I scream.  Chet pushes Thom to the ground and punches him in the face over and over.  I rise from the sofa.  I know what I must do.  My husband needs me.  The syringe Chet tried to hand Thom is lying on the ground.   I grab it and jab it into Chet’s neck.  I would kill for my husband.   I love him so much.

*

 Donna and I woke up from our Stepford slumbers a few hours later.  I remember everything but it’s almost like recalling a scene from a movie.  Someone else’s life.  Thom wants to go to the police.  And we will.  But Donna and I have an opportunity that is much too delicious to pass up.

“Chet!”  I yell into the kitchen.  I’m back at Donna’s apartment.  We have to work for nearly 48 hours straight if we’re going to meet our deadline, thanks to Chet. “Is dinner ready yet?  We’re starving!”

Chet appears in the doorway, wearing a white apron, his hair tied up in a scarf.  I bite my lip to avoid laughing.  “Almost, Stef.  Five more minutes.”