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Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Thriller/Suspense · #1343745
Suspense story I've worked on for years. Needs lots of work. This is only the beginning.
I.          Wednesday: 6:30 A.M.

Consciousness returned as bright sunlight seared its way through his eyelids, abating the darkness.  Vague memories of a jagged hole in a wall and a knife swam across his mind’s eye.  The cloying odor of human waste and dried sweat slept on his tongue.  A clogged nasal cavity told him he had been breathing through his mouth for a long time.  He lolled his head to the left, hiding his face from dawn’s blinding beam.  One eye refused to open.  He pried open his left eye and grey, wooden walls peered back at him.  Cobwebs hung empty in the corners.  A doorway broke the endless span of wall.  It opened to nothing but a larger room with decrepit walls.

The pain resumed.  He shifted himself gently, feeling the kinks and bruises on his body awaken.  He shifted to relieve the kink in his back and a rat skittered and loosed a muffled squeal.  It squatted on long hind paws supported by a tail as thick as a quarter at its base.  The rat quivered its black nose in the air, scenting the intruder.  Revulsion shuddered through him alerting the contusions and abrasions to their duty.  Sensing no immediate danger, the rat picked up its prize and began chewing, beady eyes darting constantly, whiskers quivering.  As he squinted through his one good eye he studied the rat and its prize; a bloated jointed worm.  Thick and white, about 2 inches long, with one end sporting a ragged, raw looking wound.  Confusion forced him to look closer but his sore neck limited movement.  Focusing on the rat’s breakfast it looked like... “Like a finger”

“FLIP ME THE BIRD?!” sang through his head.

Crooking his arms backward, he placed his weight upon his forearms.  His battered back muscles screamed in protest and white, hot fire licked up his right arm.  Nerve endings grinding like shredded glass, he yanked his arm off the floor and fell to his right side.  Gripping his right wrist, he screamed in pain.

Dripping tears blurred his vision.  He looked at his right hand and saw a blood soaked bandage wrapped around the stump of his middle finger.  The pounding in his temples cascaded to a cathedral’s bell tolling the hour.  Spots careened across his vision.  With nary a sound, darkness insinuated itself inside him.  His ravaged body sprawled out on the wooden planking with the morning sunshine baking across him.  The thick tailed rat clutched its morbid trophy and scampered to a quieter place.

II.          Wednesday: 7:45 A.M.

Shannon Millney yanked the brush through her red-brown hair still damp from the shower.  “I don’t know Jace.  I’m not sure whether to be pissed off or worried about him.”

Jace flipped a butter knife end over end, “Do you think something happened to him?” he asked.  He leaned against the wall and shoved his other hand in his pocket.
“I don’t know,” she replied ripping through another knot, “I’m sure I’ll see him tonight.”
She took her eyes from an empty spot on the wall and glanced at him.  “Are you going to be here all day?”
“Yeah, I will.  If he shows up, want me to have him call you?”
“Yeah, do that.”
The honking of a car horn interrupted the summer morning.  “My ride’s here.  I should be home about five.”  She pushed the handle of the brush into the back pocket of her jeans.  Over her shoulder as she went out the door she said “See ya then.”

III.          Wednesday: 8:10 a.m.

A lime-green Pontiac pulled up to the curb in front of what was once a modest house and honked twice.  But the years of neglect and weather had taken their toll.  Ragged bushes lined the front of the house.  Paint chipped windows were shadowed by a loose gutter.  The overhanging eave was in severe need of sanding and refinishing.

Jace pulled aside a Snoopy blanket serving as a curtain over the fractured glass of the front door.  He recognized the woman inside the Pontiac and opened the door and ambled his way down the cracked front steps to the car.  He leaned on the passenger side door and heard the whir of an electric motor powering the window down.  Poking his head in the window, “Hi.  You must be Matty.  You here to pick up Bill?”

“Yeah,” Matty replied.  “He ready?”
“Nope, he’s not even here.  I don’t think he came home last night.”
“He didn’t come home?”
Jace shook his head, “Nope.  Did you drop him off yesterday?”
“Unh-unh, he called me and said he was going to run a couple of errands and he was going to take the bus home.”
“When was that?”
Matty cocked her head and thought back to the previous day.  “Around 4:30 or so, just before I left.  I offered to run him around but he said ‘No thanks.’ he had to run downtown.”
“Okay, thanks.  If you see him at work, can you tell him Shannon really wants to talk to him.”
“Sure, have him call me if he needs a ride tomorrow.” 
“I will.  See ya.”  Jace stepped back as the Pontiac pulled off.

As the Pontiac drove away a voice called to Jace, “Can I make my breakfast now?”
Jace looked up at Rina, “Unh.  Oh yeah sure.”

With a nod of her dark brown locks the little girl turned back into the house.  Jace shook his head at the little girl thinking that girl has her father’s attitude and her mother’s mannerisms.  She’s perfect for them.’

IV.          Wednesday: 7:56 A.M.

Sunlight glinted off the chrome and glass monsters that made up morning rush-hour.  Mid-July humidity gripped everything and everyone like an iron band.  Even in the early morning it sucked the life from all present like a black hole beneath the concrete.

Shannon stared out the open window gazing at the sea of steel fish.  “Bill never came home last night.” She uttered.
Jarred by the news and yanked from a morning reverie of his own, Steve looked over at his passenger, “What do you mean, ‘never came home’?”
“I mean just that.  Didn’t come home.  Didn’t call.  Didn’t leave a note.  No message, no nothing.  He’s always harping on me about it and he turns around and does this.”  Shannon crossed her arms, “Not even eight yet and this is my day.”
He veered quickly into the left turn lane before asking, “Did something happen?”
“Yeah.  We had another fight.  Damn!  I still can’t believe he didn’t come home.  I didn’t think he’d ever actually do it, but he did.  He didn’t come home!”  Her voice skated to an angry edge, “That stupid fuck.  He just walks out.”
“Hey Shan, Relax.  Bill’s not like that, he wouldn’t just walk out.  You should know that by now.  He stuck around through everything else, why would another fight change that?”  Seeing the scowl on her forehead Steve tried a different tact, “When did you last see him anyway?”
With a deep breath she eased the wrinkling of her forehead and answered him, “Yesterday morning, before you picked me up.  Bill was in a pissy mood about the power bill.  Bitching about having to go downtown and pay it.  I got tired of his ranting and I told him that if he had paid it on time for a change he wouldn’t be going through this again.  Told him to get his act together and I left.”  Wiping a hand down her face, “Haven’t spoken to him since.”
“Want me to call him at work later?”
“If you want.” She replied listlessly.
“Did he pay the bill?”
“Power’s still on so I guess so.”
Steve smiled, “Hey, think they’ll have the A/C fixed today?”
“God, I hope so.  I don’t know if I can spend another day in that shop without it; especially in this heat.”

V.          Wednesday: 10:30 A.M.

Steve walked through the doorway separating the garage and the office and over to Shannon’s desk.  “Hey babe, I got some news.  I just spoke to some guy named Paul at Bill’s office.  Bill hasn’t shown up yet.  Called Jace and he hasn’t seen him yet either.  But, Jace did tell me he saw Matty this morning.”
“What did she have to say?”
“Bill called her about 4:30 yesterday, said something about running an errand downtown and then taking the bus home.  That would have been the power bill unh?”
         Shannon nodded her head before dropping it into her hands and muttered, “Bastard’s out of a job now.”
“I thought he straightened up his record?  He still in trouble?”
“Probably.  He was working on it but hell; you know how his attendance had gotten.  This is probably the last straw.  Without that job we lose everything, everything.  How can he do something so stupid?  Doesn’t he get it?  He’s gone too far this time.  Way too far!”
A tall, black man approached from behind Shannon, “Hey, Shan.  Ya got someone up front wants to see you.”
She turned around with a glint of hope in her eyes, “Who is it?”
“I d’know.  Just some delivery guy askin’ for you.”
“Okay, thanks John.”

Shannon and Steve followed John back to the front counter and saw a delivery man leaning with his back to the counter.  Directly behind him sat a bouquet of carnations in a squat glass vase.  Marigolds peeked from beneath the pink and white carnations and sprigs of baby’s breath surrounded the whole bouquet.
John tapped him on the shoulder, “Here she is.”

The delivery man turned around and a smile crept across his face.  He leaned on the counter and swept his eyes hungrily down one side and up the other coming to rest on her full breasts.  Perspiration stuck his blue work shirt to his sides from waist to armpits.  With beads of sweat dripping down his temples, he asked, “You...,” He ripped his eyes from her breasts and consulted his clipboard, “...Shannon Millney?”  His eyes met hers for a second before dropping back to her chest.
Shannon crossed her arms in front of her and lowered her head to catch his eyes.  “Yes.  What do you want?”
Arching his eyebrows approvingly he shoved the clipboard across the counter.  “Sign on the ‘X’.”
Scribbling her name, “Who sent you?”
“My boss.  Hey while you’re at it why not put your number on there.  Maybe I’ll call you tonight.”  His eyes roving over her again, “We can catch a movie and maybe make one of our own.”
Handing him the clipboard she dropped it on the counter as he reached for it, “Go tie your dick in a knot!”
The deliveryman’s jaw dropped and Steve broke into bales of laughter.  The stunned delivery man glared at Steve, doubled over with laughter.
“Keep it up boy and I’ll pull your ass up over your ears.”
Between guffaws Steve shot back, “If... if you’re that desperate for a date... I can give you my number.”
His eyes bulged as he grabbed the clipboard off the counter and stomped away muttering about under his breath
Shannon smiled at Steve, “You are too much Steve.”
Steve stifled his laughter.  “I know, but it’s so much fun.”  He eyed the flowers, “So who’s the flavor of the month?”
“Very funny.”  She picked up the vase and turned them around in front of her.  “I don’t know.”
“Is there a card?”
“Yeah.”  Shannon pulled a card from the plastic trident planted in the bouquet and handed the carnations to Steve.  “Here hold these.”

“My flesh tingles with anticipation of your touch.  Lovingly yours.”

She showed him the card.
“That’s it?”  Steve asks.
“Yep, no name.  Don’t even recognize the handwriting.”
“Florist could’ve written it.”
Steve narrowed his eyes then widened them again, “You don’t think it could be James do you?”
“No.  He knows what kind of flowers I like.  I doubt its Bill for the same reason.”  She looked at Steve from the side of her head, “It’s not you, is it?”
“Me?  Hell no.  Why would I waste good money on a silly bitch like you?”
Shannon smiled.  “Yeah.  By the way you’re an idiot.  You know that don’t you?”
© Copyright 2007 Skurpio (wwharton at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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