Vintage Ice: Part 2

This is part 2 of an interactive web serial. At the end, there are two options from which to choose. Vote in the comments to ensure the story continues.Read Vintage Ice: Part 1 here.

Hospitality

What sort of person has a scorpion-infested, concrete coffin sunken in their floor? What did you tell guests, “Oh, it’s fun for parties?”

I looked up at the handsome stranger crouching above me. He offered me his airbrush-tanned hand. “Did you want to stay in there longer or would you like to come out now?”

Was he serious? Were there people who wanted to be buried alive with scorpions?

My mind was a live-wire of sarcastic landmines, but I managed to keep my mouth shut. I had no idea who he was, where I was, or how I came to be there.

Worst of all, I didn’t know who I was either, only that he’d called me Alexandra.

I grasped his hand, and he pulled me out of the pit. Then, he replaced the lid and rolled the carpet back into place.

Well, that’s convenient. No need to explain what can’t be seen.

“Would you like a drink?” He walked over to the bar in the corner, off to the right.

I stood and scanned the room for anything familiar. Books filled the shelves on either side of the fireplace before me. There was a tall, raised-panel set of double doors to my left and another expanse of bookshelves lining the wall behind me. The room was a large study with twelve-foot ceilings and intricate woodwork. It was the sort of room you’d expect to find in an old mansion.

“You look more disheveled than the last time you went into that pit. If no one has found any evidence of a hidden vault in all these years, then it’s doubtful one ever existed.” He held out a short glass filled with a clear liquid, offering me a drink. “I don’t know why that thing wasn’t filled in long ago, really, it’s so bizarre.”

I took the glass and gently swirled the clear contents, watching as if it would somehow reveal the answers I needed.

“Did you want something other than water? A coke, perhaps?” Faint traces of a southern drawl laced his words.

He seemed to genuinely care, but some of what he said made no sense. Even if there was a hidden vault, why would anyone go down there without getting rid of the scorpions first? And what did he mean before when he asked me if I had learned my lesson?

My eyes met his. “No.”

The doors to my left opened. A tall, curvy brunette with large, dark round eyes entered. “Oh, Drake, you found her.” She said, each word enunciated with precision and delicacy.

She sashayed towards me and clasped both of my shoulders, a look of concern on her poised features. “Darling, we were so worried when you didn’t join us for dinner.”

Were she and the handsome stranger married? Was this their mansion?

“She was in the pit again, Nina. I heard her banging on the door when I came into the study to make a phone call. She had trapped herself inside.” Drake turned to me. “I hope you learned your lesson. You really should stay out of there. I hate to think what might have happened if we hadn’t found you in time. Besides,” one corner of his mouth lifted in a half-smile. “who knows what sort of bugs you’ll find in there.”

“Scorpions.”

“What?” He asked.

“Scorpions. That’s what’s down there. They were crawling all over me.”

“Scorpions? In this house?” Nina gasped, laying a hand over her heart.

Drake’s brow furrowed. “You weren’t bitten, were you?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Drake retrieved a flashlight from the desk in front of the windows, rolled the carpet back, and pried the square door open. “If there are scorpions in here, we need to take care of that before they find their way into other parts of the house.” He shined the light into the hole. “I don’t see anything.” He leaned over further, dipping his head inside to shine the light into the far corners. “There’s nothing in here. Are you sure you saw scorpions?”

How was that possible? I saw the scorpions plain as day. It was one of the few things I knew to be true. Were they messing with me? “Yes. I’m sure.” The room spun and my body swayed.

Nina grabbed the glass of water from my hand and wrapped her arm around my shoulders. “Are you ok, Alexandra?”

“A little woozy. My head is pounding.” I rubbed the tender spot just above my ear. Something crusty was tangled in my hair. I pulled my hand away and found bits of dried blood. “I must have hit my head.”

“Here, sit down.” She steered me to the couch in front of the fireplace, just beyond the edge of the rug. I lowered myself down and leaned over to rest on the pile of pillows at one end.

Drake put the flashlight back in the desk and opened another drawer. He pulled out a bottle of pills and came over to the couch, holding out a hand with two small white capsules. “Take these for your headache.”

You Decide

What happens next? Comment A or B.

A: Accept.
B: Refuse.

The next installment will be written based upon the choice with the most votes.


Stage of War Coming January 3rd

I’m excited to share with you all that Havok will be publishing my flash fiction thriller, Stage of War, on January 3rd!

Stage of War will be free to read for 24 hours. After that, it will be moved to the members-only portion of the website. So on January 3rd, be sure to pop over to goHavok.com to read Stage of War, and, if you enjoy it, vote for it. Votes give each story a chance to be included in Havok’s bi-yearly anthology and a shot at the Reader’s Choice Award.

This will be my first ezine publication!


Vintage Ice (Part 1)

This interactive thriller is an experiment, a complete departure in process and genre.

 I have no idea how the story will end, only how it begins and the events that came before. You, dear reader, will help decide the direction it takes. 

At the end of each post, there will be an opportunity to determine which path the young lady will follow. Vote in the comments to ensure the story continues.

A Dark Place

I shivered and drew my arms to my sides. So cold. It was like standing on the New England coastline just before the first snowfall. Frigid dampness permeated the air. Except, I was face-down on a hard, grainy surface that was sucking all the heat from my body. And there was a sharp pain inside my ear. My head throbbed.

When had I been to the New England coastline?

Click. Click. Click-scratch.

The sound grated in my ear, increasing in volume as the source drew closer. The smell of decaying leaves filled my nostrils. I rubbed the ground below my fingertips, half-expecting soil, and was surprised to discover concrete.

Click. Click. Click-scratch.

What was that sound? I sucked in a quick breath and opened my eyes. But the scene was devoid of light. Darkness mocked me.

Click. Click. Click-scratch.

I strained my muscles, struggling to lift myself off the ground. The pounding in my head set off a wave of nausea, forcing me back down. The clicking sound multiplied, surrounding me.

Click-click-scratch. Click-click-scratch.

Dozens of needles pricked my fingers and toes. Converging and covering my body. As the scratching and shuffling drowned out the fevered clicking sounds. I tensed. Jaw clenched. Air trapped in my lungs. Something was crawling all over me.

I fought to rise again. The shuffling sound became angry. Stabbing, burning pain ignited. My neck. My limbs. My feet. It was like being stabbed by flaming ice picks.

I screamed. “Get off! Get off! Get off!”

I shook the creatures off of me. The pounding in my skull intensified. I swayed. My stomach lurched. A gush of bile rose in my throat, spewing onto the concrete. It splattered across my bare feet. The clickers scattered.

I stretched my arms out, feeling all around me. More concrete to the right and left. Behind and in-front seemed to be empty space. Where was I? Was this normal?

The wood ceiling was only a few inches above my head. I pushed against it and felt it give a little.

Please, let this be a way out.

I gathered my strength and shoved the wood ceiling upward. It popped open along one edge. Light peeked through.

My heart fluttered. I reached to open it further, but a set of long, tan fingers wrapped around the edge and pulled it open.

I shielded my eyes and squinted against the harsh light pouring in behind the crouching stranger. Woozy, I swayed again. A face came into focus as my eyes slowly adjusted. Dark blonde hair, square jaw, chiseled features – a classically handsome man somewhere in his mid-thirties. He was wearing a blue oxford shirt, dark slacks, and loafers.

He smiled and I felt myself smiling back.

“Have we learned our lesson, Alexandra?”

I tilted my head. Who was Alexandra and what lesson?

I glanced around the concrete cell. Was he the reason I was in this hole with dead leaves and…

Click. Click. Click-scratch.

My eyes widened.

Scorpions!

You Decide

What happens next? Comment A or B.
A: Go along with him for now and find out what she can.
B: Take her chances and fight back now.
The next installment will be written based upon the choice with the most votes.

Continued – Vintage Ice: Part 2.