“CHANGING MENTAL CHANNELS (So You Don’t End Up in Podunk When You Wanted Emerald City)”
by Glenn Younger
Creating a story from reader’s input—rough first draft.
Chapter 7: Snapshot Mystery
The street lamp in front of her apartment building is out and she’s walking in the dark when she notices the light mist of rain. Her first instinct is to lift her face and let it softly caress hot cheeks. Habit, however, makes her lift her purse over her head to protect her hair from frizzing.
Sounds of the city are up ahead, but right here so close to the Park, there’s a pocket of quiet that allows her a mental warmup before facing the bustle of Columbus Avenue. Her heels on a glistening pavement make small echoes in the night. Click… Click… Click.
They remind her of the shutter clicks her camera makes when she’s taking photos. Click. She mentally takes a photo of the wet pavement in the streetlight up ahead. Click. A chocolate candy wrapper laying near the gutter. Click. A battered child’s doll laying limp on its side on the first step of a brownstone. Click.
The visual focus sobers her up enough to notice the sounds of fast approaching male footsteps behind her. She speeds up. Click. Click. Click. Click.
The footsteps behind follow suit.
She speeds up a little more with the goal of making it to the next street light. Click click. Click click. Click click.
The footsteps gain on her.
Tandy throws a quick glance over her shoulder. It’s too dark to make out facial features of the man wearing a trench coat and short brimmed fedora. But he’s big enough to pose a threat should it come to anything. Why didn’t she sign up for that self defense course like Jana? Adrenaline coursing through her cancels out the evening’s alcohol. Her senses heighten. Puts her purse back on her shoulder, and hugs it to her side. Click click click click click.
She’s in the darkest part of the street between two streetlights now. The danger zone. Clickclick clickclick clickclick. She’s precariously close to breaking into a run, but where would she run to? There’s no one around. Better to act like everything is fine. Just fine.
His steps are longer, more decisive as he elongates his stride to catch up.
The mist turns to fat drops of rain that splat down onto the pavement, adding a percussion counter beat to the click of her heels.
Still keeping pace, she digs into her purse for her phone to call for help. It’s too dark to see clearly, and rain is falling into her eyes. She does her best, anyway. Getting help is the only thought on her mind now. Karl’s number is still on her phone screen, her recording forgotten. She presses send thinking it’s the call button. No ring.
His steps are almost on her. Nothing to do, but face it head on. Her intention is to be like women she’s seen in action movies. Put her whole body into it. Use the surprise factor to her advantage, and knock him down flat. She makes a fist balled as tight as she can. Readies her shoulders. Forward step. Pivots. And throws her best punch, the only one she’s ever thrown in her whole life.
Before it reaches its target, long meaty fingers wrap around her wrist and hold it suspended in mid air. Her forward momentum collides into the freeze frame of her fist, ramming her arm deep into her shoulder socket. Ensuing waves of pain shoot through her, and suck away the last vestiges of any advantage her short burst of determination could have brought her.
When her vision clears, she mentally processes in small snapshot impressions. Enormous bulk. Click. Rain falls from the brim. Click. Wide mouth. Click. Full lips. Click. Everything else obscured by shadows and more rain coming down harder now. Click. The mouth moves. Click. Heart pounding in her head drowns out his words. Click. He’s pulling something out of his pocket. Click. Is it a gun? Click. A flash of white. Click. He’s handing something to her. Click. His voice breaks through her wall of fear.
“I was told to give this to you.” His voice is deep. Calm. Matter of fact. “You’re going to need it.”
“What??!” She doesn’t break eye contact with the shadows under the brim of his fedora.
“It’s time to find your true courage.”
Tandy doesn’t move.
“Take it.” His hat brim drops towards rolled up sheets of paper. “And go home.”
When Tandy lowers her eyes and takes the roll from him with her free hand, he lets go of her wrist. She looks up. He’s nowhere to be seen.
Goose bumps all over. Her hand reflexively crunches the rolled up papers as if to hang on to some kind of tangible proof that she isn’t losing her mind. Despite appearances, the pain in her shoulder reminds her how real it is. Suddenly, everything around her takes on a surreal quality, like the opening sequence of a film noir where she’s the protagonist standing in the dark of the great unknown. Fear shoots up her spine, and it releases her to sprint back to the safety of her empty apartment as fast as princess heels and a hiked up skirt can take her.
Back at home surrounded by her circle of aromatherapy candles, she has no idea what to make of it all as she cautiously unrolls the now crumpled papers. They look like a manuscript of some sort. She tilts them towards the candlelight to get a better look, and starts reading.
COMMENTS are open for business. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and ideas. Or just cheer me on in this NaNoWriMo challenge of getting a rough draft of a new novel finished by November 30.
**What sense do you get from this scene? Do I describe it well enough to make you feel like you’re there? Who (or what) do you think he is?
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