I've been sick for this entire week and it was not (and still isn't) fun. The bonus today is that my hubby has a couple days off this weekend and is around to help out and exhaust himself prior to having to go back on shift. I have high hopes and low expectations of being able to get done everything around the house that needs to get done, but with both of us here we'll at least make a dint in the Autumn chores that I'm waaaaay behind on.
I'm also waaaaay behind on my writing. Good thing I currently only answer to myself for deadlines or I'd never get the little sleep that I do... That said, is there really a writer who ever sleeps? I haven't met any that do on a regular basis as we're all usually cramming in the writing time around the rest of reality that supports our fiction addiction. I'm not complaining about the addiction to creating other worlds, just that reality seems to creep in and take the creative time away too quickly every day. I mean, how am I supposed to get my next book out in mid October as planned if I can't get time to work on it? So rude to just keep on leaving these little teasers... ;)
Hope you have a good weekend!
6. Moving Forward
“What’s wrong?” he asked. She just shook her head to the negative and backed up two steps. He opened his arms and leaned forward a bit in invitation. “How about like a monkey?” he asked, trying not to notice that whatever was following them was taking on a decidedly feline way of moving that made him feel like the proverbial mouse in a maze.
Kaylynd stared at him hard, and then whatever weight she was measuring him against dropped and she launched forward to slam into his waiting arms. This door was just at the beginning of a straight length of catwalk, so at least he knew there weren’t going to be any invisible corners to navigate like when going through the bathroom from his childhood. This was also a car door, and it creaked as he opened it.
“Hurry, baby! Get in, get in!”
The panic was impossible to ignore and Liam dove through into the back seat of some old beater on the side of a street that fronted a bunch of tightly packed row houses. A smaller version of Kaylynd struggled ahead of her mom to get into the front passenger seat, her mom pushing from behind while carrying some shopping bags. Something slammed into the car and then the door slammed and Kaylynd’s mom turned to fight whatever had caught up with them. The older version of Kaylynd was crying just as hard as the toddler as her mom ducked and weaved like a pro just outside the passenger window. The guy attacking them had some kind of pipe or cane and Kaylynd’s mom wrestled it away from him and smoked him upside the head with it hard enough to sprawl the guy out on the sidewalk. Her mom did this awesome seventies movie hood slide and dropped into the driver’s seat, leaving the bags of clothes and a few toys spilled out on the sidewalk.
“It’s okay now, baby,” she murmured as she slammed the driver’s door, although to Liam it sounded like she was saying it more to comfort herself than to comfort her daughter. The beater’s engine stammered to life as the guy outside sat up and little Kaylynd screamed, her small face pressed to the glass to keep a watch on their attacker. Her mom slammed the car into gear, revved the engine, and squealed the tires as the beater lurched away from the curb into a chorus of honking cars protesting the sudden merge.
The engine knocked to a stop two blocks away – the turns following the path of the catwalk – and Kaylynd’s mom snarled and slammed her hands into the steering wheel. Liam followed her, carrying her daughter the same way she was carrying the younger version, as she shoved out of the car and started running down the street. A car screeched to a halt as she ran into an intersection, the grill protector of the police cruiser less than an inch from her shins. Kaylynd’s mom stared in shock, unable to process the occurrence quickly and the cop driving already scoffing and getting ready to yell at her to move. Liam was on the passenger side, and the officer sitting there was looking down at something else inside the car, not seeing the woman yet. Liam reached through the open window and flicked the passenger cop in the side of the face.
“Help her!” he ordered. The officer looked up, startled, and saw what her partner had missed. She punched a button on the dash to turn on the flashing red and blue lights and un-clicked her seat belt in one smooth motion.
“Are you all right?” she asked, voice full of concerned authority, as she swung open the passenger door and stepped out. Kaylynd’s mom dissolved into tears.
“Help!” she whispered, hugging Kaylynd tightly, her voice choked off and nearly useless. Someone yelling profanity interrupted the next question from the cop and both officers looked over to see the guy who’d attacked Kaylynd’s mom coming up fast, blind in his rage except for the woman he was targeting. Kaylynd’s mom kissed her daughter, then ripped her away and threw her at the woman cop who was half a car length away, turning to confront the guy – Kaylynd’s dad – while Kaylynd was still mid-flight.
The cop who’d been driving had reflexes that cats would be proud of and was out of the cruiser as fast as the woman cop caught Kayland and dropped her in it. Kaylynd’s dad registered the new threat too late and was knocked on his ass and pinned there by the cop who’d been driving. Kaylynd’s mom staggered back onto the hood of the cruiser, holding onto the grill protector for balance, as she was saved by a chance encounter that just as easily could’ve killed her if the cop hadn’t braked in time.
Liam ducked into the back seat to sit beside little Kaylynd. The bigger Kaylynd in his arms reached over with one hand and brushed the hair off the forehead of her terrified younger self as the door slammed shut and the second cop raced to the front of the cruiser to back up her partner.
“We’re going to be okay,” Kayland assured her younger self. “That’s Officer Lisa who caught us, and her brother is our new daddy now, and he’s so much better. We even get a brother and a sister and you’re going to be so happy real soon I promise.”
The back seat of this car evaporated, taking little Kaylynd with it, but instead of going back to grey everything solidified into a different car. The door was hanging open out onto a sunny street. The park that Liam had been going to was just ahead, and a crowd was gathered around… him. The ambulance was here, and the attendants were working madly to find signs of life on the crumpled corpse in front of them.
Kaylynd’s hands tucked around his belt as he stepped out of the car and reached down, finding the edge of the catwalk in the middle of the solid street. The path forward was directly toward himself. The little voice of instinct that he often taunted knew that if he touched himself, that was it; he could go back. Back to the street, back to the pain, and then to the hospital and through rehab and then probably back to school. He could live again. Whatever time had passed here, in whatever this place was, had only been a couple of minutes in reality.
But if he left, Kayland would be here by herself. Just a kid, a good kid, being hunted by whatever was catching up to them.
He followed the edge of the catwalk, her fingers holding hard to his belt, every step a work of labor as he got closer to himself because each step increased the pull to the body he’d lived in for his whole life. He did want to go back, he really did. Being dead at twenty-four wasn’t what he wanted. But Kaylynd was only ten and a half and the grey was a scary place.
A weekly blog updating on Saturdays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!