If Only I’d Known 5

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Posted by Jodi | Posted in Short Story Snippets | Posted on 12-07-2014

There was no use trying to stay on this floor. Maybe if she finished up somewhere else, she might be able to sneak back. Either way, Jim wasn’t going to let her do anything but what he commanded her to do.

A light touch on her shoulder let Sophie know she wasn’t alone. I’ll go with you. Two working together will help things go faster.

Fine, Sophie sighed, then turned back to Jim. “What floor do you want me to take now?”

“Well, I guess. You did do a pretty good job. I’ll go back to the main floor. Finish up in the basement, then report to me there.”

At least he wasn’t going to tag along with her. He probably would have, if she hadn’t answered back.

“I’ll expect you by two thirty. That’s close to the end of your shift.” He wrinkled his nose.

Plenty of time. Plenty of time, said Eihpos.

“What?”

Sophie jumped. “I didn’t say anything.”

Jim rubbed the back of his neck. “This floor always gives me the creeps.” Elevator doors swished open. “I’m not waiting.” He walked inside. “It won’t take long for this to get back up here for you.” Inside, he pushed a button, the doors closed, and he was gone.

That was too easy, Eihpos cackled. Come on. We need to get started on the rescue. Now.

“But I’m supposed to go to the basement.” One last chance to escape slid away when the elevator opened and the cart seemed to wheel itself inside. The door snapped closed before Sophie could follow.

“If we don’t gather them and get them out of here the world will suffer.” Eihpos’ words bounced like Sophie’s had before.  But these were much more terrifying.

“But they were the monsters of history.” Sophie wouldn’t budge.

Were is the key word. That is it is if you get them out of here. If they stay they will be used to wreak more havoc. The only thing that can stop them is exposure to natural forces.

“But why would they want this?”

It’s not their choice to make. They were twisted by their time and their circumstances. Besides do you really wish them on your world again? Wasn’t once enough?

Disbelief wafted through Sophie and overwhelmed her. Fear was hard to overcome. Even though she had spent little time on studies, there had been stories. “Th…there are so many of them.” How can I get them all out? I don’t even have my cleaning cart anymore.”

The dog was by her side once more. You don’t have to get them anywhere. What you need to do is lead the way.

Before Sophie could think of a way to respond, a crash from the room they’d left rocked the silence.

Eihpos stood at the door, trying to keep it closed. The pressure was too much for her.

If Only I’d Known 4

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Posted by Jodi | Posted in Short Story Snippets | Posted on 05-07-2014

“You….It’s your fault.” The ghostly figure raised an emaciated hand. A boney finger pointed adding accusation to the words.

“Ssssssh,” voices chorused with fear.

Sophie tried to back out of the room, but she found her avenue of retreat blocked. The dog, somehow she knew it was a Basenji, the pet of the pharos, pressed his mussel into her back.

It is too late to leave now. The words grew in Sophie’s mind. Throughout the room heads nodded agreement.

“How did you get here?” Sophie’s words bounced against the ceiling expressing her fear better than any sentence she could form.

“Sssssh.”

How does not matter. What matters is that you have come to rescue them.

“Re…rescue? How? I can’t.” Besides, she didn’t want to.

The figures had all turned toward Sophie. They formed a circle with no escape.

It is not them you need fear. The Basenji joined the circle and faced her.

Silence descended with the whoosh of the elevator door opening.

“Hey, where are you?” Jim called out.

“Ssssh.”

Don’t answer him. Multiple voices had turned to one single one that echoed in her brain. He wants to take you away from us.

“Sophie? Where are you?” Jim’s voice grew louder getting closer. “You’re shift’s half over, and you haven’t gotten a tenth of your work done. Sophie?” The voice trailed off. Jim must be headed for the bathrooms.

“He knows I’m here,” Sophie’s whisper was as quiet as she could make it, but she knew everyone could hear her.  Everyone except Jim, at least she hoped he couldn’t.

You have to go out now. Tomorrow come back and we shall start the plan.

“The plan?” Sophie had always feared conflict.

“That’s why you have me. It is meant to be.” Eihpos, unable to contain hr excitement, did a little dance.

“Why me?” Sophie wanted to run and hide like she always had before. Why she didn’t mystified her.

Eihpos linked her arm through Sophie’s. “You just don’t understand yet how strong you are. That’s why you have me.”

“Sophie. Come on. Stop playing games.” Jim’s voice grew louder with irritation. “If you want to keep…”

“I’m here.” Sophie felt herself pushed into the hallway.

Jim stood there. “I’m really getting tired of your games. If you don’t want to work why don’t you stop wasting everyone’s time?” he growled.

It was bad enough that he always had to be mean about something, but Sophie was really tired that he didn’t give her any credit. “Did you check the bathrooms?” she asked.

“Well…”

“And were they clean?”

“Yeah.”

“Then what’s the problem?” She grabbed the cart and headed for the elevator, her temper taking control.

If Only I’d Known 3

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Posted by Jodi | Posted in Short Story Snippets | Posted on 03-07-2014

“I need to get back to work.” It was the only excuse Sophie could think of. It was really creepy to have someone materialize before her. And when that someone looked like her, well to say it was creepy was definitely an understatement.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. We don’t have much time. It’ll be light soon, and you’ll have to leave. Come on. I want to show you my collection.” Sophie’s twin pulled her back into the hall and to a door halfway down.

“It’ll be alright. After all, didn’t you say you didn’t want to end up like Jim?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” There was no getting out of this. “But only if you tell me your name.”

“My name?” Eyes twinkled first blue then brown. “My name huh?”

Sophie nodded.

“Eihpos.” The door squeaked open. She stepped inside, then stuck her head back out. “Come on.”

It was too far to the elevator. Sophie knew Eihpos would catch up with her long before she could even push the button to call for her escape, so she followed inside. Total amazement threatened to overwhelm her. Lining the walls were shelves. Sophie didn’t think she could exaggerate to think that there must be at least three hundred. More than the shelves startled her. On each one, a cat sat motionless. At least at first it seemed that they sat motionless. But when she stopped and looked around, each feline blinked at her one after another, as if following some feline choreographed wave. She’d seen it done on TV when she watched football with her family. This was different. These weren’t people who had planned ahead of time to work together.

“I… I thought it would be dolls or something.” Sophie tried to swallow, but saliva built too rapidly. Finally she wiped the back of her hand across her mouth. It helped a little, but she finally had to take a big gulp.

“These are better. Come on. I want to introduce you.” Eihpos grabbed Sophie’s hand.  “Leave the cart. This will be a lot more fun. No one will know.” The words came out with a gush of excitement.

Sophie couldn’t get rid of her reluctance, but neither could she resist Eihpos’ pull into the midst of all the staring cats.

Don’t be afraid. A dignified dog with a pointy snout materialized to trail beside the two girls. He looked and acted as if he wore a tuxedo. They won’t follow you home. The dog opened his mouth as if to bark, but the only thing that came out was a soft yodel.

”They guard the others,” Eihpos said with a nervous laugh. It was a soft tinkling sound, just the opposite of Sophie’s usual harsh chortle.

“O…others?” Again Sophie looked at the wall.

She doesn’t know. The dog nudged Eihpos with his muzzle.

Before Sophie could ask another question forms started to appear. Soon there was a crowd surrounding her. One, slender with shiny black hair looked so familiar. A band like crown with a snake sat majestically on her head. Another stood against the wall staring at her. His eyes burned through her. A little stub of a mustache twitched. When he licked his lips the urge to turn and run grew stronger than when she’d first stepped from the elevator.

It couldn’t be. These and all the others had stepped out of the pictures of the history books she’d paid so little attention to in school.

If Only I’d Known 2

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Posted by Jodi | Posted in Short Story Snippets | Posted on 20-06-2014

“Oh you’ve done it now,” the voice whimpered. “Quick, get the towels. You need to stop it before it reaches the detectors. If they sense anything’s amiss, the examiners will be here. We’ll never get to spend any time together.”

A gentle pressure on Sophie’s cheek inspired her to action. She grabbed one of the dirty towels and started to wipe the wall. The bubbles popped louder and louder. Fumes wafted into her face. Her eyes burned and tearsstung her face.

“That will not do. Now get back. Let me take care of this.” The towels jerked from her hands. They flew against the wall, moving viciously against the bubbles that grew.

Sophie backed up, thinking she would make a run for the elevator, but one of the towels snapped out with a splat. It landed on the floor in front of her, blocking any retreat.

“No, no, no,” the voice screeched. “I try to help, and you want to leave me alone here.”

Another towel pulled away from the bundle. It stopped in front of Sophie, to stretch out with such speed, she was sure it would hit her in the face. Instead it stopped not more than an inch from her nose. The white tip, with flecks of something brown-black, wavered and pointed at her.

“I…I’m sorry.” Sophie froze, not able to make herself move one way or the other. She gawked at the towel as wavered halfway between ceiling and floor.

“That’s easy for you to say. Now prove it. Get back over here and brush that thing against the wall.” The towel jerked toward her, then flowed out to wrap around her right wrist and pull. Much as the towel had, Sophie snapped around. Without letting up, it pulled her back to the wall where the other towels moved on their own.

Pop, Pop. Froth grew, then burst as the towels slapped against it. Finally the bubbles lost the battle. The final one burst. All the residue was mopped up, absorbed by the white-brown cloth.

“That’s better. Now let’s get to the toilets.”

The towel that had pulled Sophie down the hall dragged her into the women’s restroom. The door of the first stall slammed open. Cleanser flew off the cart, almost hitting her in the head as it went past. It tipped up. White powder turned blue as powdery contents emptied into the water. The toilet flushed. The second door slammed open. The same thing happened after Sophie was pulled to act as witness of the magnificence of whatever creature the voice belonged to.

With all the stalls cleaned, the towel pulled Sophie back into the hallway. Another gentle pressure pushed her against the wall. A heaviness on her shoulders maneuvered her to a sitting position.

“Now we can get to know each other.” The soft female voice giggled.

Before Sophie could argue or find an escape, a form began to materialize. At first grotesque, it solidified into a familiar form. Sophie gasped. It was almost like looking into a mirror. Long blond hair pulled back into to a bushy ponytail bounced with a firm shake of the familiar head.

“How?” Sophie asked.

If Only I’d Known 1

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Posted by Jodi | Posted in Short Story Snippets | Posted on 13-06-2014

“You go take care of the toilets on the third floor,” said Jim. The job had not been good to him, Twenty years of pushing a cart, collecting other peoples garbage had left him with little to show for his years on earth. He wore a uniform of khaki pants and a lighter shaded shirt with frayed cuffs and collar.

“Sure.” Sophie would be glad when she could move on. She had no intention of ending up like her boss.

Yuck. She picked up the bundle of towels and held them away from her body. Brown specks almost overpowered the original white. They didn’t smell bad, but then that was only one test of cleanliness.

“Just put them in your bin. Wow. Nitpickle.” Jim, grabbed his own bundle and tossed it on the end of his cleaning cart. “Since you’re so particular, why don’t you go up to the third floor. The toilets there are more pristine than down in the main section. Wouldn’t want you to get your hands dirty.” His sarcasm bit into her.

“Yes sir.” She turned her back to hide the hurt his words struck in her.

The elevator hummed smoothly up three flights. When the door slid open the chilling emblem for Black Mesa Research Facility stood stark with black print against a white background. A rectangular mountain with a circle was all the creativity the logo’s creator displayed. Somehow the simplicity did nothing to ease Sophie’s apprehension. She wondered if daylight hours would decrease the creepiness. Now dark enhanced an eeriness that increased with each step.

Creaking and squeaking down the narrow hallway, Sophie kept her cart as far away from the doorways as possible. Still, it didn’t feel like it was enough.

Yowl

“What?” Sophie jumped. That sounded like some kind of dog, or wolf. There weren’t supposed to be animals on any level in the building. She knew that much. Besides, the job posting had portrayed Black Mesa as an educational facility. The wages were kind of skimpy, but beggars can’t be choosers, she reminded herself. If she’d listened to Grams and spent more time with the books instead of hanging out with the gang or watching TV, maybe she could have gotten a better job. It didn’t matter. Those idiots she’d worked for back then didn’t know their—

“Stop it.” A piercing female voice cut through the silence. “You shouldn’t talk about people like that.”

“Like what?’ Sophie started to back toward the elevator. Why is that voice so familiar? She looked around, trying to find who’d spoken. There was no one in sight.

“Don’t go. It’s lonely up here.” The voice softened. “Come on I’ll help you, then we can talk.” There was a tug on the cleaning cart. The spray bottle on the front tipped and went off for no reason. What should have been the clean refreshing smell of bleach splattered against the wall, bubbling into mounds that popped one by one with an acrid burning smell.

Sophie coughed, overcome with the tiny moist particles that gathered together in a cloud.