WEP: Deja vu or Voodoo

This WEP entry is the Chapter 5 of my fanfiction novella Magic Senegalese. The story is set in Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe. Please check out the other WEP challenge participants here. To remind you what has gone before in my story, you could read:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Naomi followed Dina’s instructions and found the superstore with no problem. After piling everything on Dina’s list plus a few items of her own into her shopping cart, she endured a long lineup to one of the cashiers. Clearly, Dina was right: everyone in Pittsburgh stockpiled their groceries the day after Shutdown. The line took over an hour to get through.

She stored the bags in the boot and in the truncated backseat of her Beetle and started to retrace her route to the yarn shop. After a while, she realized that she had taken a wrong turn somewhere and got lost. She needed a Pittsburgh street atlas, in addition to the local flora and fauna guide, she thought in irritation. She needed a whole damn encyclopedia to understand this nutty place.

She looked for somebody to ask directions, but strangely, nobody was around. The street felt abandoned, the houses shut up, their paint peeling. Assorted detritus and weeds chocked the front yards. A breeze blew yellow autumn leaves off the trees and across the cracked pavement.

Getting nervous, Naomi watched for any signs of danger. Strangle vines. Steel spinners. How did they even look?  Could they get inside a car? How would she recognize any of those biohazards? She knew how a saurus looked from a TV show, but that was small comfort. It could probably smash her car.

A purely human cry for help from a house she was passing felt like a relief. She stopped. The house looked as abandoned as the rest, its windows boarded. Maybe she didn’t really hear that cry.

“Help!” a childish voice called again.

Damn, she did hear it, and nobody else was in sight, just like yesterday. She had to do something. Naomi checked to make sure the Mace spray was in her purse and climbed out of the car. Prompted by her growing paranoia, she grabbed a crowbar from the car boot. It wouldn’t be much help against a dinosaur, but it made her feel safer. Only then, cautiously, she tiptoed along a narrow gravel path to the porch.

Her head swiveled from left to right, searching for monsters. No creature jumped at her, but the realization hit: the abandonment was an illusion. Although the large window beside the front door was still boarded, and the boards seemed old and grey, the door sported a new padlock.

“Help!” the voice behind the door screamed once more. Frantic fists pounded. “Whoever you’re. Please! They’ll kill me.”

“Okay, wait,” Naomi said. “I’m here. The door is locked. Who is going to kill you?”

“He’s gone to buy food, but he’ll be back soon. Hurry.”

“Is there a back door?” Naomi tried to project a calm reassurance she was far from feeling.

The inside girl sniffled audibly. “It’s locked too,” she said.

“Perhaps I should call the police.”

“He’ll be back soon,” the girl said forlornly. “They won’t have time.”

“Okay.” Naomi studied the crowbar in her hand. “I’ll try to pry the boards off this window.”

She had never done anything like this before—she wasn’t a DIY person—but she persevered. The girl on the other side whimpered piteously. At last, one board came loose. Another. She could at last see the girl inside the house. Huge terrified eyes glimmered in the small face. Elven ears strained up over the short uneven haircut. Another elven child? A dizzying sense of deja vu swept over Naomi.

“One more board, and you could climb through,” she said soothingly. The board moaned, as she pushed the crowbar harder. Naomi didn’t hear the footsteps. Her only warning was a horrified “No!” from inside the house.

She whirled and dropped the crowbar at the sight of a man with a gun, the same one who had mugged Dina yesterday. He might’ve recognized her too, because he smiled maliciously as he mounted the steps.

Naomi’s eyes were glued to his gun, only a couple steps away from her. He said something and sniggered, but she didn’t listen. Feeling strangely calm, she lifted her left hand as if to ward off the bullets, while her right hand crept furtively into the purse hanging at her side. Blindly, she palmed the Mace, set her finger on the trigger, and whipped it out. Squeezing her eyes shut and holding her breath, she stretched her arm into his face and pushed the trigger.

The spray hissed, and the man howled. Something clattered to the porch deck, probably the gun. Naomi backed off and risked a peek. Her eyes and nose stung and watered, but not badly. She could see him. He got a full blast of Mace in the face and was clawing at his eyes, yelling incomprehensible words, probably dire curses, and spinning aimlessly. The girl inside the house screeched too, but Naomi’s unnatural calm persisted. She inched towards him, picked up her crowbar, swung, and brought the tines down on his head. Something crackled loudly. He stopped screaming and dropped. And lay still. Blood oozed from under his head, soaking into the old wood of the porch.

Naomi picked up his gun, put it into her purse, and started shaking. She couldn’t work on the boarded window anymore. Her palms were sweaty, and her arms seemed boneless. They wouldn’t hold the crowbar. It hit the deck with a muted thump. Maybe she didn’t need the crowbar, she thought numbly. Maybe he had the key to the padlock. Feeling detached, her fingers trembling, she searched his pockets and found a key chain. The third key she tried opened the door.

The girl shot out, straight into Naomi’s arms. “Is he dead?” She clutched at Naomi’s jacket.

“I don’t know. Let’s go.” Naomi tugged the girl off the porch. There was another car parked behind hers—his jeep. She avoided looking at the crumpled body on the porch. Her only wish was to escape this place as fast as she could. Holding hands, Naomi and the girl raced to the car.

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37 Responses to WEP: Deja vu or Voodoo

  1. I remember that character. Curious what she did to him besides spray mace. His gun should’ve been faster.

  2. Joey says:

    I’ve lived in the greater Pittsburgh area my whole life. Definitely don’t attempt to go anywhere without a road map!

    I enjoyed the urgency in this piece.

  3. rolandclarke says:

    Crafty use of the theme. Great how you keep riding with the prompts.

  4. Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Not surprised that Naomi’s legs went a tad rubbery. And super impressed at her presence of mind. I am really, really enjoying this continuing tale.

  5. Denise Covey says:

    Hi Olga! You kept me entertained! Love the second half of the story with her breaking into the house. Does she not have magic for this? I was hoping Bad Guy got held up at the supermarket too, but no such luck.
    I must admit i wondered how you’d continue your story with this prompt, but you did great. Now, Ribbons and Candles will take a bit of planning?

  6. Wow, you are doing great integrating the prompts into the growing story. Well done. I was on edge the whole read.

  7. Great story. Loved the pace and the danger.

  8. A gun is only faster if you really mean to use it. He might have wanted her for himself and figured his weapon was all he needed. Great continuation. I can’t wait until the next installment. Great job, Olga, you are the Mistress of the Serial!

  9. Jemi Fraser says:

    That was fun!!! I galloped right through it with the urgency you’ve created hurrying me along 🙂

  10. Her calmness and sense of purpose actually heightened the tension. You really pulled it off well!
    Her state of mind saved both of them.

  11. desk49 says:

    No critique
    did you ask for
    no critique
    will you find

    just letting you know
    I read your story
    from the top to
    the very last line

  12. Adura Ojo says:

    Integrating each prompt into a developing story is no mean feat at all. Well done, Olga.

  13. Toi Thomas says:

    Great continuation of your story. I love how you find a way to make even the slightest connection to the prompts line up with your story. The suspense in this chapter is perfect. Wonderful addition.

  14. Being able to write a continuing story that adheres to each of the WEP challenges is quite a talent! I am duly impressed.

    I didn’t read the earlier installments, but this one is terrific. Your character’s ability to remain calm and take charge, in spite of her fear, makes her a memorable one.

  15. An entertaining and pulse-pounding reading. Great job Olga.

  16. Juneta says:

    Suspenseful did not expect that. I too like the others like how your character was able to think on her feet in this situation.

  17. lgkeltner says:

    Great story with great writing! You had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Nicely done!

  18. Rebecca Douglass says:

    Glad they got away to continue the story!

    I suppose he thought he would just wave the gun at her and make her do what he wanted. He wasn’t prepared to shoot, so she was able to beat him!

  19. DG Hudson says:

    She probably got more satisfaction with the crowbar on his head, the gun would have been noisy and called attention. This way, she and the child got away. Well done. I like this strong female. Well done, Olga!

  20. Nick Wilford says:

    So much tension in this! Fast-paced and exciting.

  21. dixiejarchow says:

    Excellent tension. Maybe instead of saying something like “getting nervous” you could show it through her actions. Nicely done to incorporate the challenge in the longer piece.

  22. I like the coolness of nerves next to the weakening limbs — such a huge array of emotions. I hope in the next piece she meets up with him again and takes a crowbar to his temple. The perv deserves it!

  23. Pat Hatt says:

    He sure deserved the crowbar to the head and then some. Enjoyed the intensity of this chapter indeed.

  24. Intense, indeed! Wow…
    I love the cover model for Magic Senegalese. I also *love* unsplash! 😀

  25. Nilanjana Bose says:

    Very intriguing twist in the tale – has Naomi, the escapee witness to murder, killed a man herself now?

    Olga, this is proving to be thoroughly amazing. Takes some serious creativity to build the prompts into a continuing series like this, kudos!

  26. Great writing, I can only reiterate all the points made previously.

  27. Interesting how Naomi reacted after hitting the villain. I think it shows her vulnerability which gives her more depth as a character.

  28. hilarymb says:

    Hi Olga – what a ghastly story … I’d collapse in a heap and would never keep myself together. I really enjoyed it … and look forward to the next chapter or episode … I do hope the little girl can bond with Naomi – she’ll be having recurring nightmares from ‘today’ … cheers Hilary

  29. Hi Olga,

    Very suspenseful and well written. I enjoyed it very much. And the story continues on…. All the best with the remaining tale!

  30. Kalpana says:

    It’s very impressive how you integrate your story into the prompts. It was certainly a cliff hangar. Well done – can’t wait to read more.

  31. jlennidorner says:

    Very cool story. Now I wonder if the girl she saved will turn out to be even worse; more dangerous than the guy.

    “stopped creaming” Should that be screaming?

    I really like the cover image you chose.

  32. cleemckenzie says:

    I’m impressed how you continue to meet the prompt challenges while developing a cohesive plot line in your novella. Good suspense and I’m a fan of take-charge characters like Naomi.

  33. Jamie says:

    Sounds like the guy got what was coming to him. Good for the hero!

  34. Heart pounding! Good story.

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