Along the Primrose Path – #Thursday Threads

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Raindrops splatted, plonked and plopped on the leafy canopy as we made our way forward on the squishy trail. Lightening flashed in the distance, I sucked in my breath and counted.

“One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three–” before the thunder rolled over us. It grabbed my stomach and heart and shook until I thought I would vibrate off the trail.

Ahead of me, I watched Thora’s back stiffen, and she stopped. She raised her hand, and I also stopped, obeying her command.

“What do you hear?” It was a strange question to ask since Thora didn’t “hear” in the normal way. She shot a glance at me which clearly told me to “be quiet.”

It was then that an oversized, white rabbit jumped onto the trail. It stared at Thora. There was something familiar in the rabbit’s eyes. Recognition struck me as Thora bent to scoop him into her arms.

“Thora, no. It’s Zeus.”

It was too late, Zeus had wrapped all four of his bunny paws around her.

“Damn it, Zeus. Can’t you control your animal desires?”

Zeus smiled when he looked at me.

“Oh, Pan. Who do you think you are? You dare to reprimand me for my animal desires? You can’t protect her. She is mine now.”

Zeus’ momentary distraction was all Thora needed. I watched her lips move, and her body shimmer in a diaphanous transformation. Thora’s laughter floated on the breeze. It shook the leafy canopy and doused Zeus with a cold shower of raindrops.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Fearless Leader – Thursday Threads

Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

“Step away from him and slowly lay the knife on the altar,” Abbie said stepping from her hiding spot. Startled eyes swiveled towards her and the automatic rifle she held. The one with the knife did as she told him.

“Let me assure you if I fire this gun, someone’s gonna be dead,” she continued, “Now, line up in front of the altar.”

Abbie watched as twelve robed figures slowly obeyed her command.

Rodger squirmed on the ground, struggling to get to his knees.

“You okay, there, Rodger?” she asked.

“I had everything under control, until you walked in,” Rodger grunted as he worked to escape from the amateur’s bonds.

“I see. Had them right where you wanted them, did you?”

“Exactly,” Rodger said as he continued struggling with the knot.

One of the robed figures moved, perhaps thinking Abbie was distracted.

“Easy there, big boy. Remember? I fire. You. Dead,” Abbie flicked the muzzle at him, motioning for him to move back.

Once free, Rodger walked to Abbie.

“Geez, Abs, if you had just kept quiet,” he began.

“If I had held my tongue, you’d be dead.”

“I was running out of options,” he grinned as he stepped past her.

“Dead,” Abbie repeated, backing out of the cavern.

“Everything is so black and white with you, Abs.”

“What about the device?” Abbie whispered, watching the robed figures.

“I have a plan.”

“Is it as good as this one?”

“We’re clear. Follow me,” Rodger said.

Abbie turned, and they ran.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

 

Nothing But Love, Babe – Thursday Threads

four-women-siting-on-a-NYC-park-bench

Photo by Chris Murray on Unsplash

Jeremy heard the doctor’s question. Shifting in his chair, he stared outside. Water trickled and dripped from the icicles clinging to the eaves. Drip, drip, drip. Each drop marking time with his heartbeat, frozen and somehow still alive.

“Jeremy?” her soft voice prodded.

He looked into her doe brown eyes and remembered Meghan’s eyes. His heart constricted, he felt panic and gasped.

“Easy. Breathe slowly,” she instructed.

He closed his eyes, steadied his breath.

“How do you feel?” she asked.

“I don’t know what to feel.  I mean, how would you feel?” Jeremy glared at her.

She said nothing, waiting.

“You come home early and find rose petals leading to the bedroom. You open the door, thinking she will be there in a sexy negligee. She’s there all right. But she’s not alone.”

Jeremy paused, covering his face with his bandaged hand.

“Go on,” she coaxed.

“I never suspected. They weren’t supposed to know.” Jeremy scrubbed away his tears, “I was so careful. I had a system, a good system. They shouldn’t have found out. I don’t know how they did.”

“But they did?” the doctor pushed.

“They said they loved me. How could they hurt me like this?”

“We found Margot,” she said. Jeremy’s shoulders slumped.

“And Martha, and Madeline,” she said as she walked to the door.

“We also know about Mariah and Makenzie,” the doctor paused, letting the names sink in.

“Perhaps, you got off easy,” she finished.

Jeremey listened as she shut and locked the door.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The Ace – Thursday Threads

Photo by kychan on Unsplash

Her eyes never stopped moving. He watched them roam the room, looking at the rows of filing cabinets and the papers piled on every horizontal surface. The office was dark the way he liked it. The only illumination was a small green-shaded lamp on his desk. He waited until her eyes rested on him.

“Do you know him?” she repeated.

“He is your husband?” he countered, lighting a cigarette as he contemplated her.

Elsa looked at the paper clenched in her hand.

“That doesn’t matter. They said you were good at this. The best.”

“I am.” He leaned back and inhaled turning the end of his cigarette cherry red. “Can I help you…”

“Catch him?” Elsa interrupted and shifted in her chair. Perched on the edge, she leaned forward, gripping the desk’s curved contours, her dark eyes bore into his soul. He wasn’t sure what she hoped to find. Seconds passed like hours. He let the time tick away until she finally spoke. Her voice was soft, but her words cut him like a rapier.

“Yes, and when you catch him, you will kill him.” She swallowed, breathing rapidly as she thrust the crumpled paper across the desk towards him. She unfurled her fist, releasing the death sentence.

He could feel her watching as he carefully opened the paper, watched his face turn ashen as he read it, watched him process the words.

He lifted his head, his eyes locking with Elsa’s.

“I will kill him for you,” he said.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

In A Corner — Thursday Threads

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

“I need you to stay quiet and out of sight,” Marie said, searching her two babies’ faces. “Joshua, take care of Annie, okay?”

His lips form a hard line across his face and Annie looked scared, her sweet two-year-old mind incapable of understanding. Joshua wrapped his arms around her, holding her close.

Marie placed her index finger to her pursed lips, smiled, then closed the cabinet door. Gripping the gun behind her back, she listened as the intruder searched for them.

She turned facing the locked door. He was getting closer. She listened to his footsteps, watched the doorknob shake.

The door shook, bouncing in its frame as the intruder kicked, once, twice. The wood splintered with a sickening sound and cracked around the hinges. One more kick and he would be in. The gun wobbled in her hand. It was heavy, and terror threatened to consume her, as unshed tears blurred her vision.

“This isn’t helping. You’re all they have.”

She inhaled, planted her feet hip distance apart, squared her shoulders and adjusted her grip. Steady now, her terror receded, replaced by anger.

“How dare you break into my home? Threaten my babies?”

A final kick sent the door flying inward, crashing to the floor, it skidded towards her. She didn’t flinch as it stopped inches from her feet. Face to face with the intruder he stared at her for a moment before he howled. It almost sounded like laughter, but she wasn’t laughing.

Marie took aim and fired.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Under Contract — Thursday Threads

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

I freed her from the black velvet hood. She recoiled from my touch, and I placed my hand on her shoulder to steady her. Beautiful blond curls had escaped the manipulated updo and caressed my hand. Breathing deeply, I savored the sweet aroma of strawberries and fear.

I removed her gag. I was sorry for the red marks the silk tie left on her tender skin. Sorry for the force I used to tie it hours ago.

I took my time folding the tie, placing it into the hood and laying the hood on the alter. Kneeling in the dim candlelight, her hands bound behind her, her ragged breathing slowed. I waited, breathless with excitement.

She raised her head seeing the throng of robed, masked figures staring at her.

“Do I need to explain why you are here?” I asked, knowing my voice echoed, ethereal in the marble chamber.

“This…” her voice wavered. She licked her lips. “This is my initiation?”

“You signed the contract?” I said more a statement than a question.

“Yes.”

“You have been sworn to secrecy?”

“Yes.”

“You are here of your own free will?”

“Yes.” Her voice was steadier, but that would change.

“You pledge yourself to The Order of the Seven Assassins?”

“Yes.”

“You will sacrifice yourself upon the Sacred Alter… Tonight?”

She trembled. The witnesses leaned towards her, hoping, waiting.

On her cheek, a single tear left a glistening stain.

Gathered her courage, she inhaled, and in a calm, sure voice, replied, “Yes.”

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

River’s Run — Thursday Threads

Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

River’s eyes flew open.

“River?” Simon scanned her face then checked the monitors.

She yanked off sensors, pulling her IV as she leaped from the exam table and ran to the door.

“What is it?” Simon yelled.

“Reavers,” she called as the door swished open.

Medical instruments clattered to the floor as the ship lurched, rocked by an explosion. Simon stumbled through the doorway. A Reaver slammed him, snarling teeth lunging at his throat. Suddenly, its head twisted violently, and the body crumbled.

River smiled at Simon and ran. Phaser blasts echoed, and Simon heard directions shouted to the crew from Mal, the ship’s captain. River disappeared around a corner.

Rounding the corner, Simon tripped over another dead Reaver. River caught him, whispering, “Run,” before she was off again.

Behind him, Simon saw another Reaver and ran.

The hallway ended with narrow stairs descending into the cargo bay. At the bottom, River swung right, ducking behind a container. Simon tried to follow but the muzzle of Mal’s gun stopped him.

“Mal, what are you doing?”

“You know I‘ll stand for nothing but serenity and bliss on my boat,” Mal said as he took aim and fired.

The shot whizzed past Simon, lodging in the gory, rotting mass of blood and teeth of the Reaver’s head. It’s convulsing body fell into Simon and they tumbled to the floor.

Mal stepped past them to stare at River huddled under the stairs.

“That all of them, Darlin?” he asked.

River nodded.

“For now.”

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Day of Blood

Red clouds

Photo by Laura Vinck on Unsplash

Crimson robes fluttered, flowing behind Bellona like a boiling sea. The doors of the great hall slammed, and Lucina ran to keep up with her sister.

“What are we going to do?” Lucina asked.

Bellona didn’t respond. She wished she had worn her breastplate and whip to the audience. Still, her tongue had provided a brutal lashing.

“Did you have to provoke him?” Lucina panted, intercepting her sister on her march through the palace corridors.

“What?” Bellona’s voice echoed on the marble walls. She stopped before colliding with Lucina.

Lucina trembled as her sister’s proud anger pounded on her soul.

“Bellona, he means to kill you,” Lucina whispered. She clutched Bellona’s sleeve and saw the fire in her sister’s eyes ebb.

“Believe me, I know it. If he wants war, then he has pissed off the right girl.”

Bellona petted Lucina’s hand and attempted to smile. But the anger won.

“Genius thinks he is a special god, but he is a snake. I will chop off his head and condemn his writhing body to the eternal flames of hell.”

Lucina flinched and clenched Bellona’s sleeve wadding into a crumpled ball.

“I will not allow him to continue his assertion that genius is only within the domain of men. Tradition dictates we bestow genius on every human being.”

“What will you do?”

“We are going to the Field of Mars. There we will assemble the Bellonarii and send a messenger to mother. I swear. He will have his day of blood.”

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Big Game Hunting

girls-in-huddle-on-soccer-field

Photo by Jeffrey Lin on Unsplash

This was crazy, or maybe I was nuts. I suspected it bordered on obsession, but I couldn’t help myself.  I had tracked them for weeks, observing them in their natural habitat. Occasionally my best friend, Josh would hang with me. Josh was an expert who often had them eating out of his hand. He gave me tips and offered suggestions, but in the end, I was on my own. Everything depended on my timing, my approach, and a little luck.

I moved carefully so I wouldn’t startle them. I become proficient at knowing where they would be, so I wasn’t always following them. One mistake and they would notice me and bolt. I couldn’t afford to spook them. After a week or two, I knew their honey holes, the places they might be, depending on the time of the day.

Today’s honey hole was the big field behind the gym.

Josh slid in next to me as I manned my hideout by the bleachers.

“Have you gone in for the kill?” he asked.

I glared at him, then shook my head.

“Man, you’re running out of time. What are you waiting for?”

“I’m waiting for my best shot.”

“You mean you’re waiting for her to be alone? Dude. They’re high school girls, they always travel in packs.” Josh shoved my shoulder, hard. “And I ain’t gonna be your date.”

I knew he was right, so I took a deep breath, walked over to Missy and asked her to the Prom.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Graceland (Honorable Mention)

by Jeffrey Rozwadowski via Trover

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a writing challenge called #ThursThreads where each Thursday brings a new prompt to write into your story.  I kept thinking I should enter. The catch is the challenge is open 7 AM to 8 PM Mountain Time on Thursdays only. One day only, challenge closed, and a winner announced. I was determined to enter.

Yesterday, I had cleared my schedule logged on, got the prompt, devised a story, wrote Graceland and submitted it before the deadline. I was pleased I completed the challenge and patted myself on the back. It was a win for me.

Today they announced the winners. My story was awarded an Honorable Mention.

Graceland Cemetery and Arboretum is a wonderful cemetery in Chicago. I visit every fall when the trees are glorious. The first image is one of the many mausoleums on the property and the setting for my story.

Below is my story, I hope you like it. To read other submitted stories and see the list of winners,  Click Here.

Graceland

It had been a long night when Detective Jared got the disturbance call at Graceland Cemetery. With Halloween a week away, he expected a toppled headstone. He drove the winding paths towards the squad’s flashing lights. Officer Fuentes stood outside a mausoleum the size of Jared’s garden shed.

“What’s up?” Jared asked, stepping from his car.

“Caretakers gettin’ keys,” Fuentes said.

“Keys?”

“Yeah. Someone called the office, and she called us.  Gates locked.”

“I thought this was a disturbance call?”

“Take a look.” Fuentes stepped aside for Jared to peer through the glass behind the wrought-iron gate. Inside, crypt doors hung askew, dirt and dead flowers littered the floor. One crypt door lay smashed in pieces.

“No forced entry. This is the only access,” Fuentes said.

The caretaker arrived and silently unlocked the creaking iron gate.

“This one is empty,” Fuentes said shinning his flashlight in a crypt.

“This one too,” Jared replied. “And the others? The others are all empty?”

“Looks like it.”

“Thirty-three souls, defiling consecrated ground. One was worthy.  Return her to her rightful place.” The voice echoed on the marble.

Inside the mausoleum, a wind rose, creating a storm. The light dimmed. The iron gate slammed shut and Jared heard the key in the lock. Swirling dirt clogged his throat, he couldn’t breathe. Fuentes fell to the floor, unconscious. Jared fought, trying to stay alert.

“Please. Find me,” the voice called to Jared as blackness descended.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer